Greedy Goblin

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Isn't a foreign worker an oil well?

Political post, but short and original. It's well known that countries abundant of natural resources tend to turn into dictatorships and have lower GDP growth. It's not by mistake or because of some evil conspiracy. It's simply that the leadership doesn't need the people for GDP generation, so they can be suppressed at will. This of course will lead to lower economic growth as the resources are typically non-renewable, deplete over time instead of growing like economies built on people who always advance.

What I want to point out is that foreign workers - may they be illegal immigrants or holders of work visa - count as a natural resource and not as people, because they can't vote and can be deported at will. They are generating GDP without any political power and allow the leadership to simply replace their disgruntled citizen workforce. To see why it's right, we just have to push this to extreme: a country where everyone besides the ruling class is a foreign worker. This country - even if formally a democracy - is equal to a textbook dictatorship, since only the ruling class can vote and the rest of the people can be removed from the population at will.

One more reason to keep those immigrants out (or give them citizenship if they're too good to reject). If you let them in, slowly but surely your country turns into a resource-cursed hellhole as the establishment will consider the people an obstacle instead of the source of their power.


Anonymous said...

> If you let them in, slowly but surely your country turns into a resource-cursed hellhole as the establishment will consider the people an obstacle instead of the source of their power.

This is a valid argument against massive anarchic immigration, but it doesn't really support the EDL-style xenophobia argument which would shut down immigration entirely.

Many modern democracies possess natural resources, and yet those resources haven't turned them into banana republics. So there's presumably some safe threshold below which a barrel of petroleum (or Mateusz the friendly plumber) doesn't imperil the nation.

I had hoped to say "since the USA produces a shitton of oil and gas, it can accommodate a shitton of immigrants as well." But when I actually checked the numbers, natural resources provide only 3% of GDP for the United States. That's lower than I expected, and much lower than the actual percentage of first-generation immigrants (13%). If someone wants to check for errors (or invalid use of statistics) then here's the link:

Eaten by a Grue said...

You are right in that foreign workers are easier to marginalize, but I cannot see how they are exactly equivalent to an oil well. My guess is that a foreign worker is not always powerless. Sure, they cannot legally vote, but dictators are not exactly worried about elections.

To take your example, let's say everyone except the ruling class is a foreign worker. Now you have a whole bunch of foreign workers in the military and perhaps other key positions. This means they can take part in a revolt, and therefore are a potential worry.

Yaggle said...

In United States, most illegal workers from Mexico seem like a gold-mine because they work very hard and do not complain much. But the country they come from (Mexico) has much lower-cost economy(lower wages, lower prices) with cost of living far lower than United States. After done working in United States, usually their plan is to return to Mexico. With money earned in United States they are now relatively wealthy and can retire comfortably in their own country - now how is that economically a good thing for the United States? Short-term it may be good, at least for their employers, but long-term it is better for Mexico than U.S. It is better to invest in workers which will spend their whole life in the country where they work.

maxim said...

I'd say it's the opposite.
The reason foreign workers are being welcomed in the western countries as much as they are is they are much cheaper to deal with than your average european (while providing more bang for the buck, at least when it comes to lower tier jobs).

99smite said...

Hahaha, ineresting way of thinking. I enjoy this line of thought, but I do disagree. As far as I know, Norway has been and still is a well functioning democracy. The income from the norwegian oil resources go into a nation-wide pension fund (as I have heard). Economy and society have been stable. Ok, you could argue that the wise leadership in Norway decided to not be too denpendent of oil income only. Norwegian companies offer a wide variety of services for their employees, especially women. Norway appreciates their female workers as they have invested as much in female students as they did with male students. Probably gender equality has advanced furthest in Norway.

Is this the exception that proves the rule?

Germany recently is overflooded with refugees, m ost of which are "worthless" for the needs of the German economy. It needs highly skilled and specialised experts, not people able to hold a broom and sweep the sidewalks...

Germany struggles to keep women in highly qualified jobs and tries desperately to offe opportunities for female workers so that their cost of education is not wasted after them having children. How can backward oriented families from the near east, who mostly won't let their women get an education of even let them work be a valuable addition to the economy?
Still, dictatorship seems far away, at least as long as you do not count Merkels talents for staying in power as a dictatorial trait...

Then again, every society prospers within its set of laws. If workers are treated lawlessly, they will react correspondingly...

dobablo said...

You know what else generates GDP without any political power and allows the leadership to simply replace their disgruntled citizen workforce? Machines.
Western GDP growth from efficiency and technology gains in the 20th century were relatively stable at 2-3% p.a. Periods exceeding those baseline numbers generally happen as a result of a society change substantially increased the working population, such as urban migration, the entering of women into the workforce or time-lagged population booms.
Having said that, the UK does have a strange labour problem at the moment. The economy is constrained by a skilled labour shortage in nearly all areas but faced with an oversupply of unskilled labour, partially due to immigration. The oversupply of unskilled labour is driving a reverse-industrialisation where it is cheaper to use people than machines (a prime example is the almost total replacement of automated car washes by hand washers). The tragedy is that most immigrants do possess in-demand skills, but they are being underutilised because it is politically unacceptable to spend training money on standardisation and accreditation courses to unlock the pre-existing skills of newly arrived immigrants.

souldrinker said...

In globalized world, keeping immigrants away does not work. The capital will simply move to where they live now, your country population loses their jobs as readily as if they were taken by immigrants, and turns to welfare. Welfare recipients can be manipulated by the people who distribute welfare (vote for me, and your monthly allowance will be increased).

Smokeman said...

This is basically the case. We have many facilities here in the US that operate like this. Build a plant (Usually a meat packing or food manufacturing plant.) Ship in foreign workers under one of the visa programs set up to match slave labor (er... industrious foreign workers...) with unscrupulous corporations (er... valued GDP generating companies...)and then use those workers like caged dogs to produce food for sale, cheap.

It's one of the gateways to the "Judge Dredd Future (tm)" (er... profitable global business model...)

The workers are happy with this arrangement at first, as it's better than where they came from. But they are cloistered in "company towns" and are just being used as cheap labor (Looking at YOU, Texas!)

Of course, liberals defend this practice by using poor people as human shields. (But without cheap food, poor people would starve!)

This is not a sustainable practice. Companies that don't engage in what is essentially human trafficking can't compete. And then what do you do with the workers when they're replaced by younger, cheaper versions from the next third world country on the list? Meh... just release them onto the streets. What could go wrong?

Immigration is not and has never been about uplifting humanity. It's about cheap labor.

Smokeman said...


That's exactly right. And in the process, you hand over all your technology and manufacturing systems, thus ensuring that the "emerging markets" you boost for temporary profit will simply not need you at all eventually (Except to buy the products, of course.)

Globalism is lose lose for first world nations. And needs to be abandoned by them.

Smokeman said...

Oh hey, here's an article I saw this morning that's along the vein and season related:

Amazon, of course, touts "Free shipping" to it's well to do customers who demand posh treatment because they're so important. I've always wondered how this was a sustainable practice... it turns out it's not.

To do it, they mercilessly track and monitor their slaves (er... drivers.) under conditions no one who has better choices would endure. Yay for unskilled foreigners who don't have a choice in the matter, right? The "libertarian" view is that these people are "independent agents" in full control of their decisions and not being forced to participate it what is arguably a one sided deal. Now, to clarify... AMAZON doesn't do the merciless tracking itself. It basically tells the contract driver company to do it. That's just straight out of Prince Machiavelli's handbook.

The argument for libertarians is then, "But they were worse off in their original country or condition." Thus tacitly agreeing that they're being used now, but it's somehow for their own good. It's not. It's a non sustainable process that will only result in the process's refinement and wider implementation. We will ALL eventually be slaves with people like Jeff Bezos at end or our chain.

The proper way to handle this is to not allow the immigration in the first place, shutting down slave rings like this from the get go. People in weak countries then have to work to fix their own countries instead of risking a border crossing. Now, I know that western powers have a hand in the misery of less developed countries by trying to use them to make a buck in other ways... but that's a separate problem that also needs to be addressed.

I have a saying, the "Judge Dredd Future (tm)" that I use to describe the dystopia that is coming. And it's coming because of a merging of too-powerful-to-care corporations and governments that pander to them in the chasing of the all powerful GDP and it's god-ordained increase every year.

The first step is corporations own government through lobby and being the producers of the all powerful GDP.

The second step is erosion of employee rights through loopholes like "Not a full time worker" and "contract employees."

Next is to herd people into cities by making it more and more difficult to live in rural areas.

The fourth, and decidedly tipping point step is to digitize all currency and outlaw anonymous currency.

The fourth step is the kicker, as that makes EVERYONE a second class citizen that can be denied access to first class citizen commerce at any time, not just the illegals.

Now tell me how much of a conspiracy nut I am.