Monday, September 24, 2007

Irrational Maddy

Madeleine Bunting, who specialises in defending religions against secular, humanitarian and rational criticism, has a piece in The Guardian this morning, with the title: A curious irrationality grips the British when it comes to migrants.

Unusually, though, she means this as a criticism. But fear not, she hasn't abandoned irrationality entirely:

Last week, with the intervention of the chief constable of Cambridgeshire police, the focus was on the pressure migrants put on public services; our news story today highlights how some British low-skilled workers can lose out. What gets much less attention is the raft of reports - PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Bank of England, the TUC - acknowledging the beneficial effects of migrant workers overall: they have not led to increased unemployment and have been a major contributor to economic growth.
Presumably they have reached these conclusions through the use of prayer and fasting, because:
... everyone - the government, the Bank of England, local authorities - acknowledges they don't have much of an idea about the numbers. Who's come, who's gone home again? Who is working where or for what wages? How many kids are arriving in schools? How many need a GP?
(source BBC)

Madeleine is convinced that unemployment has not risen as a consequence of migration, but it has increased since 2004, when Poland and the other accession countries joined the EU. Is this a coincidence?

I'm not anti-immigration. I'd like to be able to move anywhere and settle and work anywhere in the world and I'd like everyone to have the same flexibility (I'd just prohibit the provision of welfare and state-financed translation services to migrants, and restore property rights to citizens first).

But for Maddy, this is an article of pure, irrational faith. There are no statistics to prove the beneficial effects of migration, but there are such effects. Regardless of her titles, there is no danger of her succumbing to the insidious snares of rational thought just yet.


Rob Spear said...

Most statistics are wrong. It is therefore irrational to base political theories on statistics.

Peter Risdon said...

We don't have perfect information. It is therefore wrong to use any information at all.