Monday, May 19, 2008

The dangers of collective thinking

The Dominion Post reports on a study from Massey University that claims that migrants from the Pacific Islands are a drain on the economy. It makes a number of claims such as:
- Pacific Islanders are more likely to be unemployed;
- Pacific Islanders are less likely to start businesses and be self employed;
- Pacific Islanders have proportionately higher rates of prosecutions and convictions;
- Pacific Islanders are more likely to be victims of violent crime;
- Pacific Islanders are more likely to need welfare including housing subsidies;
- Pacific Islanders on average perform poorly at education.
The author Dr. Greg Clydesdale also suggest that "because of high fertility and current immigration levels, New Zealand will have a significant population that can contribute little to economic growth".
Now such a study is probably meant to indicate there are problems, somewhat cultural around crime, business and education, that Pacific Island communities ought to address if they wish to perform better. This is not something the state can do, and it would be wise for Pacific Island community leaders to listen and consider what value this study may bring. Greater belief in education, confidence to establish businesses and a rejection of welfarism could do a world of good, and I am sure quite a few Pacific Islanders already do that.
However, it will be jumped upon by collectivists of the left and right to condemn and throw blame, when in fact it ignores one simple point - many other New Zealanders are criminals, unemployed, lazy, poorly educated and "contribute little to economic growth", and many Pacific Islanders work hard, and live quiet lives not bothering other people.
Collectivists on the left will blame "society" or "government" for not doing enough for Pacific Islanders, it will claim some don't understand criminal law, some don't get enough welfare or help from the state. The Labour Party sits nicely in that category. Some on the left may call the study racist, dismiss that Pacific Islanders are to blame for their fate and say it is up to everyone else to address it - in other words, Pacific Islanders are on average poorer and committing crimes because they have been failed by others.
Collectivists on the right will say migrants are a drain, there should be less of them and they are "not like us" and we shouldn't "let them take our jobs and money". This may well be Winston Peters and NZ First. Interesting that he keeps Labour in power too.
What I say is simple. Pacific Islanders should be seen as welcome, as are other migrants. However, they are responsible for abiding by crminal laws in New Zealand, and one of the first reforms of the welfare state should be to deny new migrants access to subsidised housing or welfare. Migrants should not come to New Zealand expecting to live off the state.
You see it doesn't MATTER if Pacific Islanders or anyone doesn't "contribute to economic growth" as long as they don't live off of the state. They don't exist to contribute to ANYTHING, other than their own happiness, and as long as they don't expect everyone else to be forced to pay for them, then it shouldn't be anyone else's business.


Anonymous said...

I caught a small part ofSunday on Sunday about Maori who have moved to Australia. The guts of it seemed to be that they were doing very well because they (and all other New Zealander migrants of course) have no access to welfare when they arrive.

No welfare = stand on your own two feet.

Ex-expat said...

There is one huge hole in this arguement though, Asia. Anyone who has travelled/lived there knows that it is a highly collective culture though it tends to be more through community/family linkages than the state. Though the state does have a huge role in their economy.

Anonymous said...

Nicely put, Scott. This post also exemplifies that libertarianism is neither politically right nor left. I take umbrage at being called right-wing, or, much worse, "extreme right-wing" as Comrade Clark likes to say.

Her wee joke, I'm sure ...