The Mathematics of Immigration

April 23rd, 2014

A poem by Hollie McNish

He says “those goddamn Pakistanis and their goddamn corner shops
Built a shop on every corner took our British workers jobs
He says those goddamn Chinese and their goddamn china shops
I tell him they’re from Vietnam but he doesn’t give a toss
I ask him what was there before that damn Japan mans shop
He stares at me and dreams a scene of British workers jobs
Of full time full employment before the goddamn boats all came
Where everybody went to work full time every day
A British Business stood their first he claims before the Irish came
Now British people lost their jobs and bloody Turkish are there to blame
I ask him how he knows that fact
He says because it’s true
I ask him how he knows the fact
He says he read it in the news
Every time a Somalian comes here they take a job from us
The mathematics one for one, from us to them it just adds up
He bites his cake and sips is brew and says again he knows the spot
The goddamn Caribbeans came and now good folk here don’t have jobs
I ask him what was there before the goddamn Persian curtain shop
I show him architectures plans of empty goddamn plots of land
I show him the historic maps
A bit of sand, a barren land
There was no goddamn shop before those Pakistanis came and planned
Man I’m sick of crappy mathematics
Cos I love a bit of sums I spent three years into economics
And I geek out over calculus
And when I meet these paper claims
That one of every new that came
Takes away ones daily wage I desperately want to scream
“Your maths is stuck in primary”
Cos one who comes here also spends
And one who comes here also lends
And some who comes here also tend
To set up work which employs them
And all your balance sheets and trends
Work with numbers not with men
And all your goddamn heated talk
Ignores the trade the Polish brought
Ignores the men they gave work to
Not plumbing jobs but further too
Ignores the ones they buy stock from
Accountants, builders, on and on
And I know it’s nice to have someone
To blame our lack of jobs upon
But immigration’s not as plain
Despite the sums inside your brain
As one for one, as him or you
As if he goes, they’ll employ you
Cos sometimes one that comes makes two
And sometimes one can add three more
And sometimes two times two is much much more
Than four
And most times immigrants bring more
Than minuses.

Hollie-CoM_200x130Hollie McNish is a published UK poet from Reading, based between London, Cambridge and Glasgow. She has released two poetry albums and has appeared in venues as diverse as Glastonbury festival, Ronnie Scotts Jazz Bar, London’s Southbank Centre and Cambridge University. This poem, published here by permission, is based on her personal experience and studies. It owes a lot to a book by economist Philippe Legrain titled Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them.

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