In Part I of this series, I discussed the ethical and political ramifications of the influx of immigrants to our country. In this part, however, I am going to discuss something completely different. In this part we will be looking at the idea that America has enough resources to supply and support the entire world, particularly through immigration.
Now, by its nature, "resources" must be quantifiable, and as such, we are going to use financial terms and business terms to define them, and to show how distribution of the same is, or is not, feasible. I suppose, however, I should lay out a few ground rules before getting into it:
Rule #1: I assume that Americans are not willing to downgrade their lifestyle beyond the basic middle class lifestyle of our country. That lifestyle averages around $60,000 a year per couple.
Rule #2: I assume that consumption of resources will continue at their current rate or grow as the population expands. As much as we say, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," it has only slowed the growth, but not stopped it.
Rule #3: I assume that the economy will continue to inflate at a minimum rate of 2.5% per year over the course of the next decade.
Ok, now that we understand those ground rules, let's get to it...
**ROLLING UP MY SLEEVES**
America's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita (per person) is $63.543.58 per year. That means that if you make $63,543.58 as an individual, you make what is essentially the average value for your money based on what is manufactured, sold, shipped, and served in America if everyone worked and everyone was paid evenly. (Not possible because babies don't work and older people often can't)
In other words, your job is paying you exactly in line with the American average.
But wait a minute, "most people in America do not make $63,543.58!"
You're right! People in America are paid in accordance with their contribution to that GDP number. The more directly responsible you are for making that number go up, the higher a percentage of it you receive. Business owners / CEOs make more because ultimately they bear an extreme responsibility and contribution to that number.
The janitor gets paid $30,000 a year because he does not.
Those in sales, who contribute directly to those GDP numbers, get more than those who are the paper shufflers who do not.
Those who trade in stocks and hedges make big profits. Those who engage in manual labor do not.
Those who stand in front of, and fire back, bullets are going to get bigger signing bonuses than those who support them (sorry had to add a military one there for my veteran friends).
We can debate the "fairness" of this system until the universe ceases to exist, but in the end, even socialist systems do this. The only difference is that the ones getting the "more" in those systems are in the government instead of the businesses.
It's a different grease, but you are still in the same fryer.
Yet, as many will say, "that is just money," except it is not. GDP is all things produced, sold, or serviced in America, not the number of dollars in circulation. In other words, they are what give the dollar value. Every dollar is a little tiny slice of that GDP. The higher the GDP, the more valuable the dollar is. The more it drops, the less valuable the dollar is.
It's over simplified, I know, but I am going somewhere with it anyway.
What about the resources? How do they factor in?
Well, once you drill down into the GDP sectors (and a whole bunch of boring business stuff that you will not read later), you find the following:
America consumes 371.13 gallons of fuel per year per person. That is 1,855.67 gallons per year for a family of five. Multiply that by $2.50 per gallon and you get $4,639.18 per year in just gasoline. That's an annual average, so yours may be higher or lower depending on where you live.
By the way, as a nation we consumed 123.73 billion gallons of fuel in 2020, and that was a down year. The above numbers are based on that year. The problem is that the United States only produces an average of 17.58 billion gallons of vehicle fuel per year. Where does the rest come from?
Yep, the US is paying other citizens in other countries to manufacture oil into gasoline. So what happens when our population goes up, but our refinery capacity and gasoline production do not? Well, prices go up because of supply and demand.
In other words, the United States does not even produce enough gasoline for its current population, and you think that we can just continue to import people with no ramifications? No, that leads to price inflation which cuts into your slice of that $63,543.58. Every nickel that gas goes up because we need more of it means that much less of our GDP that you get to use.
Yet, that is just one sector, what about something else. How about food?
I have scowered the USDA and other government sites for data, and they generally run everything through a break down of types of food, but NPR has put together a fairly reliable number, and that number is 1,996 pounds per year per person, or roughly one ton.
The problem there is that a considerable amount of the food that we eat every year is imported, and once again, creating more demand without creating more supply only makes things more expensive for everyone. Not to mention that it can create more food waste as immigrants typically do not eat the traditional things that America grows. That only makes us more reliant on imports and can lead to additional food waste (which is already an unbelievably big problem in our country).
We can go right down the line, but in the end, most of these immigrants end up working in service related industries, which is a blessing for those who make enough to afford their services, but does not help people who count on lower priced goods in order to keep their family afloat.
Unless, or until, America wants to have a manufacturing revival, which means a lot of curtailing of the EPA, we are kind of stuck in a situation where those coming in will not actually add to the GDP after you factor in the rising costs and inflations; but also that they will drain the resources of, and increase the costs of all forms of taxpayer functions (roads, schools, hospitals, et al) without truly returning enough in taxes per person to cover those increased expenses. Hence even more GDP loss.
In other words, they are being paid for by everyone, even if their services are only available to some.
In order for it to be true that America has enough to bring everyone in, we first have to connect bringing people in to manufacturing and exporting more stuff. Since we are now a service and consumer economy, and not a manufacturing one, that is simply no longer true.
Every immigrant is no longer a manufacturer of goods and services like it was in the past, but rather they are a consumer of the goods and services of the world and a partaker of the global economy. Well, if you do not increase the size of the pie, and just keep slicing it, everyone's slice just gets smaller and smaller.
That is the major difference between immigration back in the 1800s and now. Back then, every immigrant ended up in a factory or trade, and created goods and services which were sold, exported, or used by the country. In other words, every immigrant brought in made the pie that much bigger.
Today, they end up doing a labor job and being paid for it without producing anything tangible. Farm trade exempted, as they do work the farm fields, but they push the other end of the scale on that with increased imports of the foods that they eat from their countries of origin.
I'm not saying it is their fault, but it is also a reality.
We no longer have long automobile assembly lines full of immigrants making cars to go and be sold around the world.
So until someone can make immigration add to the GDP again, it is impossible to argue that importing people is good for our economy's health in the long run.
But then again, maybe we never should have become a consumer economy in the first place...
But that is a different article all together.
This concludes Part II. Monday, I will be writing Part III, which will focus on the extended cost of non-producing immigration to the economic future.