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Friday, September 29, 2006

Comments

RichB

I wonder if the current approach to immigration in Britain is not, in an odd way, the counterpart to the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq. Both situations started off with a strong humanitarian spirit (I'm giving Bush the benefit of the doubt). Over time, though, it becomes clear that it's not working, the negative consequences are appallingly apparent, a politically priveleged minority benefits while the majority suffers, and yet the policy continues because it agrees with the prevailing intellectual framework for understanding how the world works (reality be damned). Substitute either "the power of free markets and liberal economics to better people's lives" or "the power of American-style democracy to better people's lives", but the end result leaves an outsider scratching their head thinking how can these people be so stupid.

RichB

I wonder if the current approach to immigration in Britain is not, in an odd way, the counterpart to the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq. Both situations started off with a strong humanitarian spirit (I'm giving Bush the benefit of the doubt). Over time, though, it becomes clear that it's not working, the negative consequences are appallingly apparent, a politically priveleged minority benefits while the majority suffers, and yet the policy continues because it agrees with the prevailing intellectual framework for understanding how the world works (reality be damned). Substitute either "the power of free markets and liberal economics to better people's lives" or "the power of American-style democracy to better people's lives", but the end result leaves an outsider scratching their head thinking how can these people be so stupid.

shiva

I am a recent migrant to Britain. I came to London recently to study, found a decent job and work here now. I am glad you have brought this topic up. First of all, I don't think a debate about immigration is necessarily racist. In fact, when sensible people avoid the subject for fear of being labelled racist, it tends to get hijacked by right-wingers, some of whom could be racist. I share your (fairly) gloomy outlook on the effects of unmanaged immigration on unskilled workers' wages and race relations. I think migration is like anything else, it can be good if managed properly, but can have harmful effects if left to get out of control.

In my opinion, there are two very different issues to be considered within this debate. There is very little Britain can do to indefinitely restrict immigration from within the European Union. The principle of free movement of labour within the EC will possibly bring hundreds of thousands of new migrants from these countries, and this will continue until standards of living converge. This cannot be stopped by Britain, unless the terms of membership of the Union are radically altered. The other issue in non-EC immigration. Here, Britain has a fair degree of control over who can come in, and who can stay here indefinitely. It is therefore imperative that a coherent, focussed strategy is developed to deal with this. This needs to be done by setting specific strict qualification criteria that meet the needs of the British economy. As long as these criteria are blind to race, religion or national origin, this cannot be considered racist and can only benefit Britain in the long term.

A. PERLA

shiva: "I think migration is like anything else, it can be good if managed properly, but can have harmful effects if left to get out of control."

And, how, pray tell, do you think it should be "managed", which is certainly NOT the term that could be applied today.

Immigration has two aspects, internal and external to the EU. Once they are inside the EU, the regulations are different.

So, illegal immigrants must be stopped at the frontier because, aside from Britain, nobody else can either employ or afford to keep the hordes arriving. These are not political refugees, but economic refugees risking their lives for what they think is a better life.

shiva: "There is very little Britain can do to indefinitely restrict immigration from within the European Union. The principle of free movement of labour within the EC will possibly bring hundreds of thousands of new migrants from these countries, and this will continue until standards of living converge."

That will work in time, which has been proven. The economic refugees from Portugal and Spain of the '50s & '60s have been assimilated into the rest of Europe. I live amongst many who are second generation now having third generation babies. They are doing as well or as badly as any other French person in an economy plagued with 10% unemployment for the past quarter of a century (sic!)

The French (unannounced) Presidential candidate and present Interior Minister, M. Sarkozy, proposes "selected" immigration, which simply means a list of skills posted in embassies around the world that would recruit such talents.

So, France needs C+++ programmers and Senegal is supposed to provide them? Yeah, right. If France needs such hi-tech talent, they are right to outsource the project to Senegal. That benefits the Senegalese the most.

What France needs, and the statistics show it, is not that much hi-tech talent, but brute force. It cannot recruit enough local talent to do the "dirty work" ... because the French youth want to sit behind a mindless computer taking customer calls all day long. Does anybody wonder why obesity (the American disease) is making inroads in not only France but Europe?

As regards unqualified and semi-qualified skills, the demand for such is fairly limited to the construction industry. The heavy industries of fabrication and assembly (equipments, cars, etc.) is going out of Europe to lower cost climates. This trend is inexorable.

So, the unskilled people that you hire today, these economic immigrants, are the unemployed of tomorrow. Europe simply does not have enough jobs for garbage workers. The Turks and Arabs that manned the production line at Peugeot and Volkswagon are now also unemployed as automobiles are increasingly designed in the high-cost EU states but manufactured in low-cost countries anywhere.

Europe wants potential "yuppies" (Young, UPwardly mobile), that is, skilled talent. It is getting riff-raff who join the second generation ethnics who are not schooled well-enough to find a job. This is kindling material that has already exploded, literally, in the UK and in France.

The only and inevitable solution is one that most of Europe does not approve, that of stopping them before they come. Europeans tend to think that the poor of this world have a right to "sanctuary" in Europe.

But, no one wants to invite them into THEIR house! (Curious, that, don't you think? ; ^ )

Arthur Eckart

RichB, Iraq is a relatively rich Middle Eastern country, given its vast oil reserves. Of course, the U.S. and U.N. placed economic sanctions after Iraq invaded and lost in Kuwait. So, Iraq has the capacity to greatly improve its living standards once stability is restored, which should be an improvement than under Saddam (and his family, including his two sons). Of course, the terrorists streaming into Iraq want the new Iraqi government to fail, in part, because they want Western influence out of the region. It's wrong to say Iraqi and U.S. efforts are not working. Progress is obviously being made. Also, it's obvious most don't understand the Bush Administration's Iraq policy, which includes "smoking-out" terrorists, creating a form of democracy in a region ruled by kings, shifting trillions of dollars of oil from a "madman" to a more responsible government, for the Iraqi people and global economy (which faces a future oil shortage), and I suspect placing a permanent U.S. force in Iraq to combat and control terrorism (similar to the permanent force in Germany, which guarded against the Soviet Union for over 40 years). Consequently, it's a long-term strategy rather than a quick effort.

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