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Chas Licciardello pours out high-immigration propaganda on ABC TV's program "Planet America"

When listing high-immigration bias at ABC and SBS, we tend to forget the many ABC shows now aimed at the younger demographic (where the ABC had been losing audience dramatically). The ABC have hired a lot of youngish talented comedians out of the vast pool of stand-up comedy talent among young Australians. It’s mostly smart-arse stuff without much pretence to news value, but there are some shows like The Chaser and Planet America that hybridise comedic style with serious debate on current affairs. These are in effect part of the ABC News stable, and their biases matter more.

The problem is that the ABC seems to have selected its comedians for having the right political and social views. One reason these comic shows seem a bit dull, especially to anyone over 30, is that there seems to be almost no difference of opinion or political stance among these comedians. Think how much more interesting it would be if the comedians on these panels actually had different points of view, instead of merely having different comedic styles!


When listing high-immigration bias at ABC and SBS, we tend to forget the many ABC shows now aimed at the younger demographic (where the ABC had been losing audience dramatically). The ABC have hired a lot of youngish talented comedians out of the vast pool of stand-up comedy talent among young Australians. It’s mostly smart-arse stuff without much pretence to news value, but there are some shows like The Chaser and Planet America that hybridise comedic style with serious debate on current affairs. These are in effect part of the ABC News stable, and their biases matter more.

The problem is that the ABC seems to have selected its comedians for having the right political and social views. One reason these comic shows seem a bit dull, especially to anyone over 30, is that there seems to be almost no difference of opinion or political stance among these comedians. Think how much more interesting it would be if the comedians on these panels actually had different points of view, instead of merely having different comedic styles!

Yesterday (Friday 2 February 2018) on Planet America the presenter, Chas Licciardello, produced an absolute rant in favour of high immigration, primarily in the USA, but by implication in Australia too. He had clearly got hold of a stack of dubious statistics from high-immigration sources, including our old favourite myth, the “ageing population” scare.

It is far from the first time this program has done tendentious stuff like this, but this time I have taken the trouble to transcribe it.

I’ll leave it to the experts to pick apart Chas’s errors, but they clearly include some well-known tricks of our own Australian high-immigration spruikers. e.g.

1. Selective assumptions: Chas assumes that we (i.e. the US and by implication Australia too) are heading for a terrible lack of workers, though there are many indications (such as stagnant wages) that both countries have the reverse problem.
2. Selective alarmism. The rather high US birthrate of nearly 2 children per woman, which in fact ensures a surplus of births over deaths, at least until the population is considerably older, is represented as a disaster. Why? Similarly, the staggering rise of the USA’s working population from 45 million in 1950 to around 150 million in 2015 rings no alarm bells, yet a possible decline of just 7 million by 2035 is represented as a disaster. In fact this may be too small a drop, if automation and robots mean that only a much smaller workforce can be kept in work.
3. Misunderstanding of the “dependency rate”. Traditionally this term means the ratio between the number of people of “working age” (traditionally 15-65 years, but today that might have to be raised to at least 20-70 years) to those either too old or too young to work. The trick is to get the naive hearer to imagine that only old people are “dependants”, and that everyone over 65 is on the pension. In fact the dependency rate was often worse in the past, when people had large families and the population was more full of “unproductive” children than it is now.
4. Forgetting that to have a high percentage of the population within “working age” is only good if there is work for them. If not, the extra “workers” just add to the number of persons on social security. And a working age breadwinner without work often means a whole family on social security, whereas a retired person has very likely already paid for their retirement, and may be financially supporting younger dependants.
5. Caricature and moral grandstanding: e.g. assuming that people who dislike high immigration must “hate” immigrants.
6. Ill-defined and contentious statistics: How rigorously was “innovator” defined, for instance? Do we really know how many US patent applicants are by immigrants?
7. Forgetting that the brain-drain of doctors and surgeons and of top graduates into rich countries, which certainly occurs, has cruel effects on poor countries. “All our doctors are in America.”
8. GDP worship, and belief that growth can go on forever. E.g. Chas: “ . . . to slow annual GDP growth by 1.2% this decade! That is a lot.”

No doubt demographers and economists will find further and probably larger holes in Chas’s rant. What a great target its complacent self-righteousness would make for an astute ABC comedian—if only the ABC employed comedians with diverse views!

Below is my transcription of it:

Planet America program, “Episode 1” 2018
ABC TV channel 24. Screened on 2 and 3 February 2018
c. 38 minutes into program as stored online at http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/planet-america/NC1814H001S00

Chas Licciardello’s “Deep Dive into US Immigration”

NOTE ON TRANSCRIPTION by Mark O’Connor:
This is a monologue, with pre-prepared slides, spoken by presenter Chas Licciardello in his trademark emphatic manner with dramatic gestures. Latter part is sub-titled by the program itself, with emphasised words in capitals. Earlier, my under-linings indicate heavy emphasis.

Chas Licciardello: “We spoke earlier about Trump’s immigration framework, which tries to tilt the balance of legal immigration more towards those with particular skills rather than family connections or pure diversity. But the truth is the immigration pool is skilling up anyway. Let’s go deep!

Logo appears: THE DEEP DIVE (sound effects))

Chas Licciardello: “Immigrants are becoming more educated. 38% of native born Americans over the age of 25 have a college degree. But immigrants over the age of 25 who arrived in the last 5 years, 48% of them have a college degree. What about African immigrants? 41% of them have a college degree, even though they most of them arrived on diversity visas. Finally, what about Asian Immigrants? A whopping 75% of 25-34 year old Asian immigrants have college degrees.

Logo appears: Source: Census Bureau, Migration Policy Institute, Pew Research.
Logo: 25-34 y Asian Immigrants 75%

Chas (continuing emphatically): Immigrants are innovators. 35% of US innovators are immigrants, with European or Asian immigrants

Logo: Europeans/Asians = 5x native-born innovators

Chas (continuing): . . . being 5 times more likely to have created innovations than a native-born American. Between 2000 and 2010, immigrants filed about 200 thousand American patents

Logo: 194,600 patents (2000-10)

Chas: Immigrants were twice as likely to be entrepreneurs as native-born Americans.

Logo: 28% of entrepreneurs (= 2x native-borns)
Logo: Source: Information Technology and Information, 2015 Kauffman Index, National Foundation for American Policy.

And immigrants founded over half of America’s 87 $billion start-up companies.

Logo: Skilled Immigrants: founded 44 of 87 $billion start-ups

Chas: In fact 50% of Silicon Valley workers aged 25-44 are immigrants.

Logo: 50% of Silicon Valley workers (25-44)

Chas: And so are 28% of America’s doctors and surgeons. So they are bringing the skills already!
But I don’t want to debate who immigrants should be or where they should come from, because those are questions of opinion. I’d like to focus more on the numbers of immigrants, because that (dramatic hand gesture) is a question of economics. You see, America is AGING! (dramatic fast-paced music)

Logo: Graph labelled Projected US population over 65: (Source: UN World Population Prospects 2008). Graph shows the percentage over 65 rising from about 7% in 1950 to about 12% in 2010, kinking up to about 21%by 2040, and then largely flattening off at around 22%.
Chas (dramatically): This is the percentage of the population that is over 65 today. [Graph shows about 14%]. And this is the percentage of the population that will be over 65 in 15 years time. [Graph shows about 20%.] And the aging of the workforce [sic] [dramatic gesture] is projected by Rand Corp . . .

Logo: The effect of population aging on Economic Growth, the Labour Force, and Productivity
NBER July 2016 “Our results imply annual GDP growth will slow by 1.2 percentage points this decade.”

Chas (continuing): to slow annual GDP growth by 1.2% this decade! That is a lot. Of course as the population ages, there’s going to be less workers, unless you have immigration. For instance, current rates of immigration . . .

Logo: US Working-Age Population (Pew Research Center)
Graph showing US working-age population moving steadily up from around 45 million in 1950 to c. 150 million in 2015.

Chas: ... the working-age population will grow 10 million by 2035, but without immigration it will shrink by 7 million. And by the way, the places that would die[sic] the fastest without immigration, are rural cities [dramatic finger-point at viewers]—Trump country! [double-eyelid wink]

But why does it matter if the working population shrinks? Well, according to the Labor Secretary in 1917 . . .

Logo: Medicare’s hospital trust fund will run out of money in 2029
The Washington Post, 13 July 2017 “Labor Secretary Alexander Accosta pointed out that in 1960 there were 5 workers for every Social Security recipient. By 2035 there will be only two workers for every beneficiary.”

Chas [reads this text, varying the ending to]: for every social security recipient, but by 2035 there will be only TWO workers for every beneficiary, so that each worker has to carry a bigger load. And Medicare is gonna be even more expensive, which is how you end up with headlines like this, about Medicare running out of money.

Logo: Dramatic red flashing arrow point to the Post headline: Medicare’s hospital trust fund will run out of money in 2029

Chas: Well what about America just having more kids, then? [dramatic eye-widening] Too late! America’s fertility rates haven’t been high for decades! And they are just getting worse[sic].

Logo: American Fertility Rate: Source National Center for Health Statistics: Graph showing births per woman falling from nearly 4 to around 2.

Chas: So, bottom-line: whether restrictionists like immigrants or not, America needs to take a heap of them.

Logo: [A visual clip showing an abusive British celebrity chef.]

Chas: Well, probably not THAT one.
[Program Wrap-up]

Comments

Is this mainstream propaganda posing as political satire or is it just a lecture? I couldn't find any punch lines.