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The right wing wants a narrative of limited capacities. There are more than enough empty flats in municipality-owned houses alone for the 800,000 refugees our Interior Minister expects for this year. It is just more profitable to sell them or pull down the houses. A question of the political will to put the needs of humans first, and of the political will not to cater for the racist right wing. Something the left ought to say something on. And there is currently a wave of solidarity of people who are fed up with the racism and inhumanity, who take food and other necessities to the railway stations with refugees or to Calais or to the Greek islands. Surely we ought to connect to that, and not to the crisis narrative of the right wing.
Filling those calcifying empty villages [in the East] seems a good idea to me in principle. But how well is that working in practice?
There are always people who do the right thing but they can't always do it full time. In the end it's a political issue of governments. Solidarity didn't win out in the Euro crisis and I am not optimistic it will win out in this instance. See the haggling within Germany in that Zeit article and see the haggling between the EU countries. In the end, people are selfish and evil.
Schengen is toast!
The number of people coming next year and after that will probably not be as high as this year. If however, the numbers don't let up or even if they stay at about half the current rate then we'll run into political problems quickly.
Schengen is toast!
Solidarity didn't win out in the Euro crisis and I am not optimistic it will win out in this instance.
That's not quite true. The framing in the Euro crisis was (and is) that Greece needed money and the taxpayers of the Eurozone gave that money in order to help. Most people are in favour of helping Greece in solidarity and don't quite understand why the Greeks are being ungrateful. We, the left, did not manage to successfully counter this narrative, so far that is. We are working against an economic dogma that has been dominant for a generation, though.
In the issue of granting refuge to people fleeing the wars of the Middle East and Africa there is no such dogma. It is a matter that people can understand without a course in economics as it hasn't been taught for 35 years. You watch the news of the atrocities and then you hear of people who give up their homes and all their possessions and try to escape. That's not that hard to understand and to have empathy with. No, people aren't selfish and evil. People often are scared, and then they become selfish and evil. It is a matter of political activism, if they need to be scared, though, and what or whom they fear. If we remain passive, your scenario might happen.
It's critical to get people into jobs or education quickly. Germany can currently accomodate that need because there are openings due to the economic 'boom' (if you can call it that). If and when that boom sputters out in our age of secular stagnation then what? I hope it happens at the tail end of the refugee crisis. Things could get really nasty. Not just here but in the whole EU. That could really test the meaning of solidarity. If the current numbers are a one-off I'm happy to be proved wrong. But thinking long-term, this won't be the last refugee crisis. There is a host of problems such as climate change, demographics, good old fashioned war, the Middle East burning as violently as ever. Come to think of it, the refugee crisis will never end because those crises themselves will never end. This is where it gets dystopian. Have you ever seen the film "Children of Men" where compassion has been snuffed out by constant stress and turmoil?
Schengen is toast!
It makes all the bickering in the EU look like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.
White privilege is running out all over, better late than never!
'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
If and when that boom sputters out in our age of secular stagnation then what?
My point is that the current inflow of refugees and the solidarity and empathy most people feel with them is a very good opportunity to advance a leftist agenda. There are enough flats to house them, if we no longer place capital's interest before humans' interest. We can employ an army of teachers to integrate the refugees quickly, and this will benefit the refugees and the (native) teachers, and all of us because state spending generates income that is spent... Try to explain that in connection with the working of the Euro!
No, I haven't watched that film, but I get the point. That makes it even more urgent to counter the right wing's campaign of producing fear. Fear about the millions of strangers coming every year and accumulating over the next 15 years... Nonsense. Today's refugees will have moved on or settled in by then. See the Yugoslav refugees. I don't see anything to support the theory that humans are by nature evil and selfish. They must be made that, compassion must be snuffed out by a policy of creating tension and aggression. This policy can, and must, be countered.
Hungarian TV `told not to broadcast images of refugee children' | World news | The Guardian
Employees of Hungarian state television have been instructed not to include children in footage of news pieces about migrants and refugees, a leaked screenshot of editorial advice to journalists at news channel M1 reveals.
Housing is a another sore point. I'd think immigration is one of the most important ways to alleviate our demographic problem. The caveat is that all those empty graying villages are empty for a reason - the jobs are somewhere else and people move accordingly to the metropolitan areas. Which is where we have been having a affordability/supply/gentrification problem.
...but soon we need a massive building program for affordable housing. Otherwise we will have tent cities during this winter and later on massive competition between people who already need social housing today. That would be poison for our social cohesion and the ideal growth medium for right-wing extremists and xenophobia.
Jobs? "low-skill, high-labour turnover occupations that are necessarily migrants' first port of call". Highly-qualified immigrants have a problem getting into appropriate jobs under normal circumstances (the proverbial foreign academic driving taxi). Wasn't Germany supposed to soak up all those young hopeful Spaniards and Greeks? That barrier won't change overnight just because of the Syrians. Then comes the language barrier. And not all will be highly-educated.
Very highly educated people are arriving too. "But the officials on site tell me they expect a share of 15 to 20 percent of adult illiterates" (interior minister de Maiziere) He also said:
... de Maizière warned that integrating the new arrivals could be difficult. Currently there are about four million Muslims in Germany, especially with a Turkish background he said. "Now we will get hundreds of thousands of Muslims with an Arabic background. Which is, according to my French colleague, a significant difference in terms of integration."
Which leads me to another conclusion. There is a practical theory that says welfare states are reliant on the trust generated by a mostly homogenous population. That is actually born out by observation. Mistrust, segregation, and transactional costs rise in such cases as the US, Nigeria, etc. Why do you think the US doesn't have a comprehensive welfare state? Because they don't want 'those people' to have it. Why is every major city in the US neatly segregated by race? In Europe too. So to add another insult towards humanity: people are not only selfish and evil (sometimes), they are xenophobic and racist too.
A long ramble to support my original point: Schengen is toast.
PS: Leading nation alone - Sueddeutsche
Germany has adopted a sharp rhetorical stance during the Greek crisis. Now Berlin shouldn't be surprised that solidarity is lacking in the refugee question. ...
For the first time ever, a significant number of member states say that a problem is irrelevant to them. This tone has a new quality and will not lead to a fast resolution. ... 90% of refugees are taken in by just nine of the 28 member states. The way the appeals towards a fair sharing of the burden are brushed aside threatens the foundation of the EU. The danger for European cohesion becomes obvious.
That's not gonna lead the Eurozone recovery.
That's gonna be a topic on which to explain Europe's recovery. The beauty is in expanding the budget to cover the cost for the integration of refugees (and I did not demand to pay these teachers worse than other teachers). Contrary to other items there is nothing in the German budget that will be cut to compensate for these costs. Didactically useful.
As to housing, apparently I wasn't clear enough: there are empty flats not only in regions without jobs. There are empty flats everywhere, although it is illegal. Affordable flats are missing, because there is almost no social housing in the hand of the public and because there is nothing done to enforce the law. (I checked the figures for Hamburg: not a single fine in 2014 or 2015). This is an important item on any leftist agenda, and of course there are already initiatives working on it. Now, suddenly, everybody is talking about the need for affordable housing. Instead of pitching groups against each other I recommend that we advocate social housing, more social housing, and additionally that the laws against speculation are at last enforced. Actually I recommend that the left demands what we have always demanded, the only thing that has changed is that now we might be heard, because the arrival of so many refugees makes it so urgent.
Which leads me to another conclusion. There is a practical theory that says welfare states are reliant on the trust generated by a mostly homogenous population.
And there is another theory that says that social cohesion--"trust"--is generated by collective efforts and achievements, but that theory is pretty unpopular with the ruling class. Much better to spread the one of the homogenous population, which, by the way, is purely in the eye of the beholder. Class differences don't exist in that theory. How convenient. In Germany such theories are advanced by people with so very German names as Sarrazin or Buschkowsky, and still their fans believe that immigration destroys the homogenity of the population.
Why do you think the US doesn't have a comprehensive welfare state?
Because McCarthy destroyed their entire left.
Why is every major city in the US neatly segregated by race? In Europe too.
More than 50 nationalities in my daughter's school, so no. I can't say much about the US, but in Europe cities are mostly segregated by class, not "race". The lower end of the working class happens to be more immigrant and dark skinned than other segments of the population. That makes anti-immigrant and racist positions even more attractive for the ruling class: they neatly divide working class activism this way.
Empty flats illegal? Whatever. Supply and demand rules supreme, even more so in a bifurcated market where the affordable housing part is under pressure. Build as if your life depended on it (if you can control the NIMBYism - watch that space). A neo-squatter movement that marks down a few hundred properties per city won't matter.
Re: theories of trust and social cohesion. Your theory that trust can and needs to be built is essentially correct. Some examples:
In the American case you can't simply dump it all on McCarthy who 'single-handedly destroyed the left'. Racial segregation and social stratification have a longer history than that. Look at Donald Trump who is now having success promoting social benefits but 'only for the right people'. Those people vote and they can't stand the idea of 'welfare queens' with a different skin colour.
Schengen is toast!
Unfortunately, the people/governments didn't understand the logic of expansionary fiscal policies last time around and they're not gonna get it now.
I am sure that the governments have already understood it. Or at least they will get it very quickly if the people apply some gentle pressure to toes, or less gentle pressure by pitchfork... But the people must get it.
You could rightly argue it's not that much money. But if it isn't then what's the stimulus?
Indeed, it is not that much money that reasonable people need to get nervous. And the stimulus is in showing how it works, and demanding that the principle is applied to other groups of the population too. We are unable to enforce that without a humanitarian crisis, because the dogma says that this way hyperinflation comes. Now there is no alternative, the refugees need refuge, period. They are in Europe, and it doesn't matter if we like that or not. There must be some provisions for them, and inadequate or not, they will cost money, but will not cause hyper-inflation.
Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that the strategy I have in mind cannot fail. Your misgivings make sense. What you don't seem to see is that the alternative is so dystopian that for once we have a majority on our side: if you don't want to give refuge to these people, you must step up the mass murder (for that is the word for what the EU does in the Mediterranean). You must have a watertight police state controlling every movement, and not only movement across borders, really every movement. By doing that you would have given in to the fearmongering narratives of the far right, and they will then demand (and get) more. This is rejected by a far greater share of the population than everything else we had to say. In the case of Greece we had to argue against the dogma of 35 years, but now we are arguing in favour of existing humanitarian law, remember.
The humanitarian framework for refugees was created for European refugees, and there were far more refugees then than today. I wonder how many families in Europe there are without a history of seeking refuge somewhere in the last one or two generations? Empathy is very strong.
I see a chance of leftist proposals being heard and being taken seriously, a chance that hasn't been here for a long time. Because we happen to have valid answers, and the right wing, not. :)
Refugee crisis ′to cost Germany 10 billion euros′ | News | DW.COM | 06.09.2015
According to a report in the Sunday edition of German newspaper, the "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung" (FAS), financial costs for Germany could reach anywhere between 9 and 10.5 billion euros by the end of the year. The figure is based on cost estimates from local governments around the country. A refugee summit held by the German parliament in July budgeted 5.6 billion euros for an expected 450,000 asylum applications this year. In light of the recent mass influx of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, however, Germany is now expecting to take in some 800,000 by the end of December. According to Germany's Federal Statistics Office, 2.4 billion euros were spent on caring for some 203,000 new asylum seekers last year.
According to a report in the Sunday edition of German newspaper, the "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung" (FAS), financial costs for Germany could reach anywhere between 9 and 10.5 billion euros by the end of the year. The figure is based on cost estimates from local governments around the country.
A refugee summit held by the German parliament in July budgeted 5.6 billion euros for an expected 450,000 asylum applications this year. In light of the recent mass influx of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, however, Germany is now expecting to take in some 800,000 by the end of December.
According to Germany's Federal Statistics Office, 2.4 billion euros were spent on caring for some 203,000 new asylum seekers last year.
He said Europe's 11m empty homes might not be in the right places "but there is enough [vacant housing] to meet the problem of homelessness". There are 4.1 million homeless across Europe, according to the European Union. Guardian Freek Spinnewijn, director of FEANTSA, an umbrella organisation of homelessness bodies across Europe, said it was a scandal that so many homes have been allowed to lie empty. "You would only need half of them to end homelessness," he said.
He said Europe's 11m empty homes might not be in the right places "but there is enough [vacant housing] to meet the problem of homelessness". There are 4.1 million homeless across Europe, according to the European Union. Guardian
Freek Spinnewijn, director of FEANTSA, an umbrella organisation of homelessness bodies across Europe, said it was a scandal that so many homes have been allowed to lie empty. "You would only need half of them to end homelessness," he said.
That leaves some flats for refugees then.
20 million Syrians before the war. 12 million have left their homes since, 8 million internal refugees, 4 million emigrated, mostly to Turkey and other adjoining countries. Only 250,000 have made it to Western Europe.
According to his figures.
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A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
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