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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Corporations Want Europe to Add Refugees

According to The Guardian, the European Union ministers forced through a plan to relocate Middle Eastern asylum-seekers throughout the EU. The plan would distribute 120,000 souls across all EU countries.

The headline yesterday was that Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic voted against the proposal, but could be forced to take immigrants anyway. These Eastern European governments have been among the most vocal opponents of plans to relocate refugees across the EU. But, according to The Economist, this position ignores economic logic:

A survey by Manpower Group, a consultancy, found that two out of five firms in Poland struggle to fill vacancies. In Hungary, almost half could not get the staff they need. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia fewer employers report difficulties (18% and 28%) but the share has been climbing steadily over the past few years.

Here is their chart showing the difficulty in filling jobs in the EU:

Where immigrants are needed

The argument in the countries that need to fill jobs but do not want migrants is that they can fill skill gaps by drawing in labor from neighboring countries with more similar cultures. This may fill some positions, but wages are much lower in the countries needing labor. The Economist reports that wages in Germany are 150% higher than in Hungary. And Germany’s social safety net is superior.

These statistics point to serious problems in the EU’s local economies. But the real issue isn’t under population in the EU. We have been told for years that the unemployment rate among young Europeans is very high. Trading Economics reports that the overall jobless rate in the Eurozone fell to 10.9% in July, from 11.1% in the previous three months. That means 17.4 million EU citizens are unemployed. But, youth unemployment averages 21.9%. Here are some depressing Youth Unemployment statistics from summer, 2015: (Source: Statista.com)

  • Greece:     53.7%
  • Spain:       49.2%
  • Italy:          44.2%
  • France:     23.6%
  • Germany:   7.1%

So, even if people in certain EU countries understand that there might be an economic upside to allowing immigrants into their country, their opening position is: “why aren’t we hiring our own kids?”

Then there is the anti-immigrant issue that transcends economic concerns, the ethnic makeup of one’s own country, and what migrants may do to impact these old European cultures. No argument about the economic merits of increased immigration will likely sway voters if they believe their way of life will be compromised. The fear of a “mob at the gates” drives anti-immigrant feeling throughout the world.

So, who says Europe needs all of this migrant labor? Much like in the US, it is the corporations who say they can’t fill jobs with the requisite talent. What they really mean is, talent at a price.

Why can’t German firms import Italian or Spanish kids to do the work?

This sounds remarkably similar to tech firms in the US saying that they cannot find STEM workers, and so ask the government to add more H-1B visas so that migrants from India can fill jobs in Silicon Valley.

The global picture is clear: Many jobs now done by humans are being taken over by machines. Computers will ease our transition to declining populations. Even many low-skilled jobs in manufacturing and agriculture can be handled by robots, requiring a large jump in the skills humans need to learn in order to get the fewer, better paying jobs that remain.

A partial solution may be to import some migrants to fill a few low skilled jobs, but adoption of new technologies rather than population growth, is a better way to go about raising the living standards in Europe.

And we must shut off global population growth sometime soon. The Wrongologist has reported before on “The Coming Jobs War” by Jim Clifton, in which Clifton says that globally, some 3 billion people are looking for work right now, and nearly all of them are willing to work for less than the average American or European.

Every society will be more secure economically if they can promote a high resource-to-population ratio. Those countries who can become close to self-sufficient in food, water, energy, and renewable resources will be the only ones with middle-class living conditions.

Middle Eastern migrants understand this. Some may be fleeing for their lives, but the vast majority are simply economic migrants. The EU is being led by the nose to focus on asylum-seekers, when even they are economic migrants.

Although the poorer parts of the world experience very high population growth, and the developed world does not, it is a safe guess that not a single country today has a population that is low enough to guarantee success in the future world economic order.

Think about what Agent Smith said in The Matrix:

Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.

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The Middle East Migrant Crisis

Thousands of migrants–some refugees, some not–are making their way from Islamic countries in the Middle East and Asia to Turkey, then to Greece, Macedonia, Austria and finally, for many, Germany. The largest number come from Syria, but other Islamic countries are represented from as far away as Afghanistan.

The Atlantic reported on the numbers: The number of migrants who have crossed the EU’s borders this year: 340,000. The European Union’s population: 508.2 million. Thus, currently, incoming migrants are 0.067% of the total population. Syria—which is in the midst of a civil war—is the largest source for these migrants. That conflict has created 4 million refugees.

• Of these, 1.9 million are in Turkey (population 75 million),
• 1.1 million are in Lebanon (population 4.4 million),
• 629,245 in Jordan (population 6.459 million).

The US has about 1,500—though that number could increase. There are zero in the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia.

Today’s Afghans and Pakistani refugees are economic refugees. But the Syrians are not economic refugees, they are refugees from war and chaos. They are seeking refuge from a civil war which has been exacerbated by ISIS. That the US, Turkey and the Gulf Countries are actively waging war on Syrian soil vs. ISIS adds to the plight of the Syrians.

And it is about to get worse for the Syrians. From the NYT:

Russia has sent a military advance team to Syria and is taking other steps the United States fears may signal that President Vladimir V. Putin is planning to vastly expand his military support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, administration officials said Friday.

The Russian moves include transport of prefabricated housing units to Latakia, Syria’s principal port city, and the delivery of a portable air traffic control station there.

All this occurs on top of the US, Turkey and Arab forces implementing new plans to enter Syria in order to fight ISIS, primarily using more air attacks. That may explain Russia’s actions, since, from the start of the civil war in Syria, Russia has made it clear that they would not tolerate a “no fly zone” over Syria. In 2013, Russian officials, including a strongly worded statement by Putin,  formally objected to a Syrian “no fly zone”, which may now be precisely a goal of the US.

So, Syrians should expect more instability in the name of creating stability. More will leave town.

This means that the situation is utterly intractable. An intractable situation is not a “problem” that can be “solved”: It is a fact which must be reckoned with.

Over time, it is likely that there will be a huge internal backlash against European politicians, like Germany’s Ms. Merkel, if more migrants are allowed into the EU. Wages are stagnant or falling in Europe and unemployment is still high. The last thing people in Europe want right now is more competition in the labor market. Parties on the extreme right will profit from this while the center right will lose support.

Why are Ms. Merkel and other leaders in the EU willing to pay this price? Theories abound regarding what to do about this tsunami of refugees/migrants. Here is Jim Kunstler: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

So, the idea that the nations currently [believing] themselves “rich” can take in, shelter, and employ the masses fleeing MENA (and elsewhere) is absurd. Somehow the people in charge, plus the intellectual classes who shape opinion and consensus, are going to have to arrive at some clear notion of limits and boundaries.

There have been irresistible human migrations throughout time, and Western nations are witnessing the beginning of another one. But in this case, the current migratory problem is a self-inflicted wound brought about by the Assad regime, and America’s and its allies’ policies of regime change.

The desire to help is human, and universal. Many global organizations embrace the concept of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), which says states forfeit aspects of their sovereignty when they fail to protect their populations from mass atrocities or human rights violations. In that case, it falls on all countries to enforce the R2P. Yet, in this situation, the R2P concept has already failed the Syrian people.

And it shows no sign of improving.

The only solution is to end the perpetual ME war. Western intervention in the region has been a disaster, as far back as the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s. That started this mess with the drawing of arbitrary borders in the ME.

It is now time for locals to take up the R2P.

This means Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt − all ME economic powerhouses with huge armies, have to ally to stamp out the ME hostilities. And to create enforceable ME borders, so that eventually, it will be possible to return today’s refugees to safe areas within their homelands.

Otherwise, the big ME powers will be the ultimate losers in the current ME debacle.

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