The Long awaited debate on migration gets on its way
Beoordeeld in het Verenigd Koninkrijk op 20 oktober 2013
Over the last decade Europe appears to be flooded with foreigners escaping civil war, dictatorships, or simply hoping for a better tomorrow. In a week when 300 North Africans were drowned off Lampedusa in the Mediterranean, when in 9 months 30,000 reached Italy illegally (three times more than in 2012), when British newspaper articles reveal that Britain is fast becoming the new "melting pot" with 1,100 new arrivals entering daily, hosting more Poles and Lithuanians in 15 years than in Gdansk and Siauliai - not bad for a country with 20% indigenous youth unemployment, one wonders either whether Oxford University Press, or indeed the author, Professor Paul Collier (who gladly shows off his credentials as a third generation immigrant from Germany, though not a part of the German diaspora) have come up trumps with the year's best seller. The young Arsenal football, Jack Wilshere, may have added a further angle to the argument when criticizing the possible adoption of "foreign" imports in the English national team.
Collier broadens his earlier research on the wealth of the bottom billion among the poorest nations
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
, and admits the truths and fears prevailing among the general public, in part influenced by populist xenophobic and some extremist racist voices, and rather than keeping it as a taboo toxic subject in the political wilderness, blamed on a "foolish" Rivers of blood speech delivered by the "long-dead minor politician" Enoch Powell in 1968, it requires a real open debate. He delivers his short book as an epistle to business, and like minded progressive liberals, supported by his academic social science brethren who continue to paint the current open door policies as ensuring large benefits and are ethically good and imperative, and argues that the question if immigration was "good" or "bad" is neither right or helpful, as it only produces spontaneous irrational knee jerk emotive responses.
Instead, as no one can deny that some migration is more acceptable than no or floods of migrants, Collier pushes the discussion and analysis to focus on the policies that impose limits and controls which prevent explosions in the rates and numbers of new faces. He does this firstly by the traditional approach of identifying what the new arrivals obtain in the host country in the short, medium and longer terms, as well as what the indigenous society in turn obtains both economically and socially; and, finally, more originally, he presents the benefits and losses that arise in the migrants' homeland due to controlled or open migration.
He lays bare the typical myths about migration. Contrary to the supporters of the racist BNP, migrants are not all unskilled, and unless they empty their land and flood the host country they will not affect the employment chances of young working class indigenous persons nor their take home pay. Migrants can cause both brain drain to the home country, as in the case of Haiti, if clever specialists choose not to return home, or brain gain as in the case of clever Chinese, Indians, and Africans studying and working abroad - and Collier lists President Sirleaf of Liberia, Nobel Prize winner, and President Outtarra of the Ivory Coast among these. In the next breath Collier is forced to admit that foreign education and living abroad does not itself guarantee success or produce western liberal ways as is seen for the Marxist President Mugabe and his henchmen in Zimbabwe who turned against their people, and in 30 years transformed a prosperous fertile bread basket into a barren ravaged and failed state.
The BBC / Guardianista Left might be left job smacked to be told that modern migrants do not easily assimilate into the host country and would fail the Norman Tebbit cricket test, partly because it is heavily led by its diaspora with its own agendas who push them to specific geographical areas. It has even led in the UK to the formation of a foreign based political party, Respect, and since the lion share of migrants live in London and the South east they drive up rents and the price of housing, crowding out poor unemployed indigenous workers from moving to growth areas. Furthermore, though not a cause of growing migration, as a consequence it is the skilled migrants who seem to attract new skilled jobs, because employers over the years have chosen not to invest in training and apprenticeships, and such vital though forgotten economic factors drive the angry helpless indigenous community away from the traditional politicians and into pens to listen to single issue anti-party racists.
Collier does mention in passing, but does not stress that the growth of cheaper travel and telephone charges, and the ever use of the internet is the latest reason why new arrivals have less incentive of learning the language of the country, and of integrating into the wider "foreign" society, especially when they hear from western anthropologists and do-gooders that assimilation might be compared to "cultural genocide". It does not take long to arrive at the rabid views of extremist fundamentalists, urging all to stand up to institutionalised racism of the police, to fight against and kill traitorous British Muslims fighting in the Armed forces for the Jihad in Afghanistan, and encouraging girls to be proud when appearing different and distinct to others around them by covering their face with veils, something not related to their own local cultures as they or their parents would never have behaved in such a fashion in their homeland of Pakistan.
The author was unable to overlook the fact that the poorest migrants arrive illegally, and are forced to turn to organized crime and prostitution rings, and that the sole effective solution is not just expulsion - the annual figure of 400,000 in Obama's progressive US, or of trying out multicultural experiments, or again of legalizing all migrants as temporary guest worker status (Germany illustrates the case of its Turkish community staying on indefinitely), but even to consider David Cameron's controversial policy of aid in projects in the developing countries as a means of creating work in the home setting, so avoiding the unnecessary extra psychological burdens of adapting in the dangerous alien world abroad.
He concludes in a manner more akin of the academic that the current strangeness is because past models no longer work and need re-working. Mass migration is definitely not a permanent feature of globalisation; it is in reality a temporary response to an "ugly" changing phase in which prosperity has not yet globalized. Outside the classroom, presenting problems as models, however, is neither very politically correct, much less heartless. What Collier means is in fifty years time Latin America and Africa will have become much more developed, and within a further fifty years by 2100 more integrated with Europeans themselves found migrating away to newer territories of growth, which is another way of saying that academics, and successively politicians are slowly moving along a road of knowledge and eventually will come up with magical solutions. Good stuff one might reply, but not so great for the oppressed poor living today, or waiting for the great day in the future. If then they read that the Irish famine of 1846 has since brought some good to Ireland it is certain to cause outcry to the diaspora of Irish around the globe as such analysis sounds cold, insensitive and in poor taste.
The public debate long in coming should obviously go beyond current bi-lateral schemes, to include the EU, as suggested in October 2013 by the Maltese Premier, Joseph Muscat, to prevent the Mediterranean becoming a living "cemetery", or maybe even the United Nations, Pope Francis and the Vatican (Santa Claus, Uncle Tom Cobley and all if anyone has their mobile numbers) to encourage a wider diffusion of migration away from over-populated states, such as Holland and the UK, towards larger more under-populated ones, like Australia and Canada. However, the more organizations and experts are called upon to enter the equation the longer the worthwhile solutions will arrive.
Migration is a toxic subject not because of Powell. Indeed, had Collier spoke of another Conservative MP, Sir Gerald Nabarro (South Worcester) as a "minor" politician there would be little comment; instead Powell was looked highly by many for his many views, especially because he represented a constituency Wolverhampton South West where South Asian immigrants were prevalent, and immigration was openly discussed since the mid 1950s. Unfortunately, there never existed a Margaret Thatcher with a crusading mission to take the subject of race like a bull by the horns, and to stand up to a leader like Ted Heath with reasoned debate and viable solutions. That chance was lost in all parties, and too often people were led to repeating set phrases of the liberal progressive establishment that race was taboo to be avoided, and Enoch Powell was the devil
Enoch at 100: A re-evaluation of the life, politics and philosophy of Enoch Powell
Faced between the devil and the deep blue sea, Paul Collier sends out a life-line to the middle of the road politicians to come together before reason is drowned out by the extremist Griffins and their band of bullyboys waiting for their day dawning. Migrants may be clever; they are certainly not evil, and migration per se is not toxic. Politicians and academics are paid to get us out of this growing hole which has gone on since Doctor Who. Now with Collier they should get out of the starting blocks quickly and get on with the job in hand!
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