Thursday, November 19, 2015
Let's look at one extreme end of the immigration possibilities: Let's say every disenchanted citizen of every foreign country is free to immigrate into the US. Imagine for a minute that the first step in this unlimited immigration is that half the people in the non English speaking world possessing at least $2,000 per person travel to the United States. In this case, 10% of the world's population comes to America (600 million people), tripling the US population to a total of 900 million.
How would 600 million new immigrants travel to America? Airline travel would amount to this: With an average commercial airliner capacity of 300 people, 2 million airline round trips would be required (but only inbound flights would have passengers). One hundred jumbo airliners would be busy for 20,000 days, or 60 years. Smaller aircraft could be pressed into service, theoretically cutting the required time in half. 30 years. Wow!
Where would the new (60,000 per day) immigrants sleep? At hotels? In the US, there are about 4 million hotel rooms, but only about one million could be accessed by arriving travelers. That boils down to a few weeks' stay before permanent housing would have to be arranged. Can we build 30,000 homes or apartments for couples or for 60,000 singles every day? In recent years, production of towable RVs (an established industry) has been about 20,000 units per year. Manufactured home production has been approximately 70,000 units per year, and new housing starts average 1.2 million each year. The current housing construction rate would have to increase by about 1300% in order to meet the influx, because the present capacity to provide that many new homes is woefully insufficient.
What would the immigrants eat? Could the US increase food production tenfold within a 30 year period? Sounds like a big task for the agricultural and dairy industry.
Fortunately, tripling the population would also dramatically and quickly ratchet up the job market. More builders, more farmers, and more of every skill and trade would be necessary. Demand for raw materials and factories would increase. Commerce would flourish. New cities would spring up. America would need more of everything.
What about the other five billion people who wish they could live in America? We're not going there, because lots of other circumstances would have to be addressed.
So, would America be better off with triple the population? Here's the answer: Maybe. Everything depends on whether or not individuals fulfill their responsibilities to assimilate into the US culture of useful hard work, competition, and rule of law. Would current US citizens object to increased commerce and competition? Some would. Some would welcome new workers and entrepreneurs and new ideas. Some Americans would resent green card holders who “take away jobs,” but others would work smarter and make lemonade out of the circumstances.