To the Middle Class, Germany is Broke and In Decline

[I'm cross-posting this from the immigration blog, since it seems to fit here too]

One of the slogans that pop up in the migrant crisis is that German exports are booming and the country is rich, therefore it can and should accept millions of new migrants.

True, unemployment is low and exports are booming. But that has nothing to do with how ordinary middle-class Germans see their country's financial position. Chancellor Merkel and her party have long sung the praises of the 'lean state', (Schlanker Staat). This translates, as a practical matter, into severe budget cuts in the public sector and privatization. Of course, the German Social Democratic also did party did its part to hollow out the German welfare state in the early 2000s, under Chancellor Schröder. They still haven't recovered from the damage that step did to their reputation.

The result is that many ordinary middle-class Germans experience their country as broke and in decline. They grew up in a country with a solid welfare state and well-funded public services, and have steadily watched those things disappear, slowly but surely, as a result of successive waves of budget-cutting and privatization. Germany doesn't have enough teachers, enough cops, enough university places, enough preschool places, enough money for street repair, for school repair, enough money to keep the trains running on time. 

Some cases in point: In the past decade or so, Germany has cut (g) 16,000 police jobs all over the country, including 3,300 in the most populous state, and 2,900 in Berlin. This comes at a time when violent crime in Germany has been increasing steadily. These cuts explain why migrant shelters are (under)staffed by poorly-trained private security forces working in precarious jobs for minimum wage.

According to a recent confidential government report which a German newspaper had to sue to gain access to, 12,000 bridges in Germany (g) need renovation. 3.8 million square meters need urgent repair, a task that will cost tens of billions of dollars. Since local governments don't have the money for the repairs of their streets, they are turning to private industry (g). The national train concern Deutsche Bahn has increased prices every single year for years at a rate higher than the inflation rate (g), while at the same time on-time performance is reaching historic lows (g).

Germany also doesn't have enough teachers. In Germany's most populous state, Northern Rhine-Westphalia, there is a current deficit (g) of 3,560 teaching jobs to handle current student needs, and other federal states have similar problems. The problem is so severe that many German newspapers have created special 'teacher shortage' (g) rubrics to report on the situation. And these projections are based on the needs of current students, without taking into account the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrant children who will need years of labor-intensive remedial instruction. A leading German newspaper recently asked readers (g) to comment on the state of the public schools their children go to, more than 70% half said the schools were in bad condition, 90% said they had been called on to donate time or materials to repair their children's schools, and many said they didn't let their children use the bathrooms in school because they were so dirty and dangerous.

German governments at all levels have gotten out of the business of building state-subsidized affordable housing. They are not only not building new apartments, they are selling the ones they already own. As a result, rental prices and homelessness have increased (g) in Germany regularly over the past 10 years. According to a recent study, 39,000 more people started living on the street in Germany over the past two years: 'The Federal Working Group for Help for the Homeless expects by 2018 a further 61 percent increase in homeless people. By then, around 540,000 people will have no place to live. The cause for the increase in homelessness are, according to the group, high rents and the increasing poverty of lower income groups.' And Germans are angry about increasing rents. A 2013 study (g) by a tenants' association showed that 90 percent felt that there were not enough affordable apartments in large cities, that 97% believed subsidized housing should be maintained, and 89% felt that the state was not doing enough to provide affordable housing. And this was, of course, before hundreds of thousands of new migrants began competing for low-income housing with government vouchers in their hands.

This might be a good time to mention that real wages in Germany have been stagnant for years, and that many new jobs being created are part-time contract labor with no benefits. It is true that Germans still have an excellent standard of living in many ways, but perceptions matter, and lots of Germans perceive that costs are exploding while their incomes stagnate.

This is the needed background to the current immigration debate. Politicians of all stripes warn that Germany must avoid a situation in which middle-class Germans have to compete with hundreds of thousands of refugees for affordable housing and public transportation, and in which the special needs of migrant children drains resources away from German children. This is already happening, and will get much worse in the coming years. Training teachers and building new affordable housing takes years. Further, it will only happen if there is the political will to spend tens of billions of dollars to do it. That does not exist.

So far, Angela Merkel and other mainstream German politicians appear convinced that middle-class Germans will willingly accept competition for housing and scarce public resources and a further reduction in their standard of living, all so that the 'lean state' can accommodate hundreds of thousands of foreigners on the cheap.

I think those politicians are wrong. If middle-class Germans become convinced that their political leaders care more about the needs of foreign newcomers than struggling middle-class Germans, things will get very ugly indeed.

The Birth of a New Blog


Conundrum: This blog is supposed to be about Germany in general, and it's not supposed to be very political. A little political, but not very.

Yet lately, the German immigration crisis has generated so much fascinating controversy that, like a crow toying with a bright, shiny object, I can't seem to let go. The immigration posts are taking over this blog, but the subject is so momentous that I feel obliged -- nay, compelled! -- to keep posting about it. 

Solution? I'm going to split off immigration posts into a brand-new blog called "How Many? Which Ones? The German Immigration Blog" (h/t Ralph for the first part of the title).

Stay tuned here for announcements and links.

Immigration Policy Success: Grateful, High-Achieving Asians in the US

The Economist takes a look at Asian immigrants to the USA, who crushingly outperform other immigrants and Americans on just about every measure of success and integration:

Asia being a big place, Asian-Americans are a various lot, who came at different times, for different reasons and with different levels of education and prosperity. The Japanese mostly arrived before the second world war, the Chinese from the 1980s onwards. The Indians and Chinese are on average well educated and prosperous, whereas the (small numbers of) Cambodians, Laotians and Hmong are struggling.

The Japanese—the only Asian group mostly born in America and more likely than not to marry a non-Asian—are closer in attitudes and educational level to the American population as a whole. But on average Asian-Americans are unusually well educated, prosperous, married, satisfied with their lot and willing to believe in the American dream: 69% of Asians, compared with 58% of the general public, think that “most people who want to get ahead can make it if they are willing to work hard.”

It is their educational outperformance that is most remarkable: 49% of Asian-Americans have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 28% of the general population. Whereas Asian-Americans make up 5.6% of the population of the United States, according to the complaint to the Department of Education they make up more than 30% of the recent American maths and physics Olympiad teams and Presidential Scholars, and 25-30% of National Merit Scholarships.

Among those offered admission in 2013 to New York’s most selective public high schools, Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science, 75% and 60% respectively were Asian. The Asian population of New York City is 13%. Surging immigration is likely to increase the disparity between Asians and other groups, because recent immigrants are even more highly qualified than earlier cohorts: 61% of recent immigrants from Asia have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30% of recent non-Asian migrants.

Why do they do so well? Amy Hsin of the City University of New York and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan examined the progress of 6,000 white and Asian children, from toddlers through school, to find an answer. They rejected the idea that Asians were just innately much cleverer than whites: there was an early gap in cognitive abilities, but it declined to insignificance through school. The higher socioeconomic status of Asian parents provided part of the explanation, but only a small part. Their data suggested that Asian outperformance is thanks in large part to hard work. Ms Hsin and Ms Xie’s study showed a sizeable gap in effort between Asian and white children, which grew during their school careers.

When the researchers asked the children about their attitudes to work, two differences emerged between Asian and white children. The Asians were likelier to believe that mathematical ability is learned, not innate; and Asian parents expected more of their children than white ones did. The notion that A- is an “Asian F” is widespread. Another study, by Zurishaddai Garcia of the University of Utah, shows that Asian-American parents are a lot likelier to spend at least 20 minutes a day helping their children with their homework than any other ethnic group.

Women Jogging Alone at Night

Here's the one migrant post for this week. New week begins Monday!

Kaarst is a small rural community to the west of Düsseldorf. It has 41,000 residents (g) only 6.7% of whom are foreigners. I've been there a number of times. There are plenty of rich fields and pleasant, unspectacular brick homes. The center-right CDU gets 44% of the vote. According to the Königstein system, migrants are resettled to every corner of Germany according to a complex formula. This is meant to ensure equal burden-sharing.

Kaarst was required to accept migrants, even though many citizens showed up at a planning meeting to protest this (g). Their objections were overruled, and Kaarst now hosts migrants in various locations (g). If you look at these news articles I linked to, they show that the majority of residents of Kaarst have been welcoming toward migrants. They've helped set up accommodations, held a musical benefit, and invited migrants to help celebrate the Day of German Unity. 

Kaarst is still the kind of place where women jog and walk around alone in the evening without giving the matter a second thought. In fact, much of Germany is that kind of place, which startled and gratified me when I came here.

Now let's look at what happened to one of those women. 

Let me translate an article that just appeared (g) in the local tabloid, "In Kaarst Cemetery: 17-year-old attacked! Police searching for sex criminal with broken incisor". This is my translation, I've just removed some street names for clarity:

Police asking for assistance: Sunday evening, a 17-year-old was the victim of a sex crime. The young woman was walking from Büttgen [a suburb of Kaarst] train station at 8 PM. As she [walked through the town] she was followed by an unknown person on a bicycle.

Near the cemetery he dropped his bicycle and grabbed the victim. He attacked the young woman in a clearly sexual manner. She fought back with all her strength and finally freed herself. She ran straight to her bicycle and fled.

The man followed the 17-year-old but then turned into a field. The victim was injured during the struggle. An ambulance brought her to a hospital.

Police have begun investigations and are now searching for a suspect described as follows:

1.85 meters tall, 18 to 19 years old.

Muscular, powerful build

'Southern' appearance with dark eyes.

Clothes: Gray cap, gray baggy pants, and a gray sweatshirt.

He spoke English and another language unknown to the victim

Rode, according to the victim, a broken-down BMX bike without light.

One Particular Characteristic: His right tooth was half as long as his left.

And on Wednesday morning, at 11:15, a woman tending a grave in this same cemetery was attacked (g) by two men with 'dark complexion', whatever that means. They were both on bicycles. They pushed her bicycle over, rummaged through the contents of her basket, and stole some items. When they were discovered, they pushed her away and rode off.

Let's think this through. The attempted rapist had a 'Southern' complexion, a broken tooth, was a 18-to-19 year old male, and spoke English and another unidentified language. Both he and the cemetery robbers were riding bicycles. (Migrant aid organizations have issued many calls for donations of bicycles.) This is in a small, conservative, 93% ethnic German town. I've been there many a time, and let me assure you, I didn't see many dark-complexioned men with bad teeth who spoke English and some other mystery language (Arabic?). I'd say the chances he's a migrant are at least 70%, wouldn't you?

Incidents like this are, of course, exceptions, but they have a staggeringly disproportionate impact. I know this because I've lived through this movie before and know the ending. There was a massive increase in crime in the US from about 1965 to 1995. Now even though crime had increased, it was still objectively the case that any one person's chances of actually becoming a victim were still very small. I lived in Houston, Texas, which had very high crime rates, but was never mugged myself. 

But the constant drip-drip-drip of press coverage caused a climate of fear. People were constantly thinking and talking about the latest random attack. The public's attitude became cynical and angry, and the laws were made harsher, not only in Houston, but throughout the USA. (This won't happen to the same extent in Germany, where crime legislation rarely changes due to public opinion). Humans overestimate risks of events that are recent, unusual, and dangerous. They always have and always will, this is a constant of human nature. If you're a woman and you went jogging in the park at night in Houston, your chances of spraining your ankle were probably 500 times higher than your chances of being raped. But it's the chance of a horribly violent incident that will change your behavior, even if its likelihood is extremely small

One attempted rape of a 17-year-old girl by a foreigner is going to have 100 times the impact on ordinary Germans' opinions of migrants than 100 migrants successfully learning German and integrating. One completed rape is going to have 500 times the impact. If attacks like this continue and police aren't able to solve or prevent them, there's going to be a big shift in public opinion. And since Germany has cut 16,000 police jobs (g) in the past few years, they're already stretched thin.

Women currently walk and jog in most places in Germany during the evening. I've been out biking in the fine weather lately, and have passed many of them on my bicycle. If Germany becomes the kind of place where women can no longer do this because of attacks disproportionately committed by migrants, that will be not only a huge loss for German society, but will also trigger enormous anger and resentment. And police statistics confirm that recent immigrants commit crimes, including violent crimes (g) at a higher rate than Germans.

People will be furious that their country is no longer the kind of place where women can walk around without concern at night. They'll be even more furious that this state of affairs came about unnecessarily due to the needless, short-sighted, foolish mass importation of migrants unsuited for life in Germany. No amount of emollient euphemisms from mainstream politicians will calm their anxieties. And they will be looking for someone to blame. I've seen it happen before, and it's not pretty.

Now, The One-Post-A-Week Rule Finally Takes Effect

I've been fascinated by the migrant crisis enveloping Germany, which is why I've been posting so much about it. But frankly, I think I've made all the points and predictions that I thought worth making.

I'll sum up the points I've made in the previous month:

  • Germany is going to accept something like 1 million migrants this year.
  • These people were not screened in any way. Many are legitimate refugees from Syria, many aren't. Germany currently has only the most basic information about who these people are.
  • Germany is not prepared to handle anything like this number of new residents.
  • Between 1/3 and 1/2 of these migrants are not refugees and do not qualify for political asylum, and therefore don't have any legal reason to be on German soil.
  • Most of these migrants come from profoundly dysfunctional countries with primitive educational systems.
  • Almost none speak German, and only about 5-10% speak proficient English.
  • Perhaps 15-20% of the entire mass of migrants have college degrees or the equivalent. Because of the dismal quality of universities in much of the developing world, they will likely not be trained to anywhere near the level of the graduate of a German university, no matter how clever and motivated they may be.
  • Probably at least 15-20% are illiterate, and many others likely have modest cognitive ability. This means they will never learn to speak anything but primitive pidgin German.
  • The majority of these migrants are conservative Muslims, and probably 5-10% would qualify as extremists. Syrian immigrants themselves have repeatedly warned that there are some terrorists and radicals among the migrants.
  • The economic migrants chose Germany as their destination because they believe Angela Merkel 'invited' them and that the German state is going to give them a place to live, money and a job. Almost none appear to have given serious thought to whether they want to or can adapt long-term to a radically different culture.
  • Under current German law, many migrants will be able to secure 'family reunification' visas and be able to bring 3-4 more family members into Germany in the coming years.
  • Germany's system for deporting illegal migrants is broken. Under current law and practice, it is effectively impossible to deport someone who really wants to stay, even if they lied to German authorities, have no legal right to be in Germany, and have committed serious crimes.
  • Germany does not have anywhere enough available housing to provide a brick-and-mortar accommodation to all of these migrants.
  • Hundreds of incidents have conclusively demonstrated that many of these immigrants come from ethnic and religious groups which have long-standing conflicts, and that they have brought these conflicts to Germany.

I think that about covers it. Now for a few predictions. These predictions are based on the fact that, as of now, German political leaders responsible for actually dealing with migrants (not newspaper columnists or public-radio talking heads) know that they face a severe crisis.

  • In the next year or so, Germany is going to radically change its laws on asylum, family reunification, border security, and deportation. If the German Basic Law needs to be changed to make this happen, it will be changed. 
  • To try to reduce violence in overcrowded shelters, German authorities will begin seizing commercial and residential real estate properties.
  • Working- and lower-middle-class Germans will perceive the new migrants as a threat, and will resent the fact that new migrants get housing, cash, and special education and other services for free, while working-class Germans struggle to make ends meet on meager salaries.
  • The current cost estimate for dealing with this crisis, something like €10-12 billion, will turn out to be a hopeless underestimate. Lucky profiteers, whether they make mattresses, cots, portable toilets, or containers, will make millions in windfall profits as German officials desperately struggle to accommodate too many migrants. Same thing for landlords.
  • Germany will try to place migrants in underpopulated areas in the east of Germany, but they will not stay there.
  • The currently most 'respectable' anti-immigrant/Euroskeptic party, the Alternative for Germany, will start getting 15-20% of the vote in the east, and 10-15% in the west.
  • The migrant crisis will further damage the German Social Democratic Party, which is already struggling.
  • Germany is not being invaded, is not going to collapse, and will of course never be 'Islamized'. Those are mindless rhetorical exaggerations. Germany has needlessly imported a galaxy of new, expensive, insoluble social problems, but it will muddle through.

That about covers it. I don't anticipate any major new developments now, except that the problems we already see will continue to exist and, in many cases, get worse.

So from tomorrow on, I'll post about the migrant crisis once a week at most. I've basically said all there is to say. Now time to move on to the pleasures, delights, and curiosities of live in Germany. And other, completely unrelated topics.

Citizens, my work here is done. You may now return to your normal activities.

Which is Better: A Fence, or Clubs and Tear Gas?


Les bien-pensants assure us that border fences are somehow inherently evil. Austria would never think of building a fence on any of its borders, it assures us.

The problem is that migrants continue to stream into Austria, but the escape valve -- further migration to Germany -- is beginning to squeeze shut. Germany is begging other countries to slow down the flow of refugees who want to resettle there, but most of those countries have neither the ability nor the will to do so. Germany invited them here, say officials in Greece, Macedonia, and Croatia, so let Germany figure out what to do with them all. So they all end up in Austria.

Germany is trying to slow down the flow of refugees from Austria, too, and is now telling (g) economic migrants outright: "Don't come, you have no chance of staying, and we will force you to leave our country." The federal government is now considering introducing rapid-response 48-hour asylum decision centers on the German border to ensure that economic migrants are identified and kept out of the country. Of course, the recent changes to asylum laws won't take effect until November 1st, long after they were necessary, and the proposed changes will take much longer. In the meanwhile German officials are desperately looking for ways to slow down migrant flows under existing law.

So Austria has a problem -- it fears getting stuck with tens or even possibly hundreds of thousands of migrants. So the government there has just said that it's going to start enforcing its borders more vigorously, and has warned that there may be scenes of violence (g) as its border guards try to keep out thousands of migrants desperate to make it across Austrian territory to Germany or Sweden.

As you may recall, Hungary was attacked for building a border fence on its border with Serbia, with the Social Democratic premier of Austria even comparing Hungary's leaders to the Nazis. But now that the fence is up, and Hungary made clear it was going to defend the fence, the border is calm. Central European countries are eventually going to adopt severe, effective measures to stop migration. Anything that can't go on forever will stop, Herbert Stein said, and these dramatic numbers definitely can't go on forever.

So when the time comes, countries will have a choice. Either they can build a fence, or they can send teams of black-armored riot police to beat back roving mobs of desperate rock-throwing migrants, clubbing them, spraying them with tear gas, and drenching them with water cannons. Only to see the migrants regroup and try a flash-mob border crossing somewhere else. And don't forget all the individuals who will run across the fields, only to be tackled and clubbed into submission by Darth Vader look-alikes.

Which option is more civilized? Which option is less likely to kill and injure people? Which option is going to remind the world more of Europe's 'dark decades'?

"Good fences make good neighbors," the American poet Robert Frost once wrote. In context, Frost was using this old saw mockingly. But still, there's a reason certain pieces of folk wisdom exist.

Oh, and the image at the top of this post? It's not the vicious, evil, cynical Hungarian border fence. It's the fence Bulgaria built on its Turkish border in 2014. I wonder why we never read dozens of anguished editorials about that fence?

Arab Spring and Arab Immigration

Marc Lynch is an American professor and Middle East expert who blogs at Abu Aardvark. Late last year, he wrote a disarmingly frank and honest article for the Washington Post on what scholars of the Middle East had gotten wrong about the Arab Spring of 2011. Many of them had high hopes at the time, which were later dashed. As I read it recently I thought to myself: 'Some of this wishful thinking and distorted perception reminds me a lot of what I am seeing currently in Germany.'

See if you agree:

I asked a group of the authors from my edited volume “The Arab Uprisings Explained: New Contentious Politics in the Middle East” to write short memos assessing their contributions critically after having another year to reflect. Those memos have now been published as POMEPS Studies 10 “Reflections on the Arab Uprisings” (free PDF available here). Their auto-critique is full of worthy observations: We paid too much attention to the activists and not enough to the authoritarians; we understated the importance of identity politics; we assumed too quickly that successful popular uprisings would lead to a democratic transition; we under-estimated the key role of international and regional factors in domestic outcomes; we took for granted a second wave of uprisings, which thus far has yet to materialize; we understated the risk of state failure and over-stated the possibility of democratic consensus.

One point that emerged in the workshop discussions is the extent to which we became too emotionally attached to particular actors or policies. Caught up in the rush of events, and often deeply identifying with our networks of friends and colleagues involved in these politics, we may have allowed hope or passion to cloud our better comparative judgment. That’s a fine quality in activists, but not so helpful for academic rigor.


As for me, there are a number of areas where I’ve been rethinking things over the last year or two. There are some negative developments that did not surprise me, I should add, even though I had hoped they would be avoided. My earlier book, “The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East,” devoted an entire chapter to demonstrating how each previous round of popular mobilization in modern Arab history had ended up with the consolidation of even more heavy-handed authoritarianism. The disastrous results of the decision by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to field a presidential candidate were easily foreseen. So were the catastrophic consequences of external support to the Syrian insurgency, which has produced unbelievable human suffering but few real surprises to anyone versed in the comparative literature on civil wars and insurgencies. We’ve paid a lot of attention to the problems of Yemen’s transition.


New Arab Public: For a long time I believed that a mobilized Arab public would never again allow themselves to be manipulated and dominated by autocrats. Whatever the tactical setbacks and inevitable ups and downs of difficult transitions, I thought that the generational transformation would keep trends moving in the direction of more open politics. It was this new Arab public that gave me at least some optimism that the region could avoid repeating the failures of the past.

That conviction suffered a near-mortal blow in Egypt, where a shocking number of the youth and public voices who had made the uprisings proved more than willing to enthusiastically support the restoration of military government and violent repression of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was not simply the military’s successful coup that was shocking – such a denouement was always a possibility. The shock was the coup’s embrace by many of the popular forces upon whom hopes of irresistible change had been placed. The new Arab media and social media proved to be just as capable of transmitting negative and divisive ideas and images as they had been at spreading revolutionary ones. Egypt’s military coup traveled just as powerfully as had its revolution. The pan-Arab revolutionary unity of early 2011 has long since given way to sectarianism, polarization between Islamists and their enemies, and horror over the relentless images of death and despair in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

The media generally played a highly destructive role in the post-uprisings environment. For a brief, tantalizing moment, independent television stations and newspapers seemed to constitute a genuine Egyptian public sphere. But that quickly collapsed. Unreconstructed state media offered up a relentless stream of propaganda. Many private media outlets were captured by the state or by counter-revolutionary interests and the airwaves filled with the most vile forms of populist incitement. Meanwhile, transnational broadcasting descended into little more than transparent vehicles for state foreign policies, a change most noticeable – and damaging – with the once proud Al Jazeera. And while social media and new Web sites have certainly offered a plethora of opportunities for information to flow and opinions to be voiced, they have largely failed to supplant mainstream media as a source of news for mass publics.

"[W]e understated the importance of identity politics...we may have allowed hope or passion to cloud our better comparative judgment."

Germany Must House One New Frankfurt Every 10 Weeks

The Ugliest Building in Frankfurt

Let's put the refugee numbers in a little perspective.

Frankfurt is the financial capital of Germany. It has a nice riverside and a world-famous skyline. It was never one of my favorite German cities. The Allies bombed it to pieces, and Frankfurt got a disproportionate number of those boring, hastily-built post-WW II buildings thrown up to provide some sort of housing (see above). But still, it's got world-class museums, some very nice parks, and it's surrounded by lush forest.

Frankfurt is 238 square kilometers and has a current population of 717,000. Now imagine if all those skyscrapers, apartment buildings, and luxurious villas vanished. You would suddenly have 717,000 people needing to be clothed, fed, and housed right now.

That's what will happen to Germany in the next 72 days.

The German tabloid Bild just reported, based on German security sources, that 150,000 people illegally entered Germany in the last two weeks alone. Currently, 10,000 people are entering Germany each day. You may have heard about those border checks Germany started a couple of weeks ago. Here's how they work: Someone approaches the German border and tries to enter illegally. If they say they plan to file for political asylum, they are waved through.

They all say they plan to file asylum claims. 10,000 a day.

This means that Germany will have to provide shelter, food, clothing, education and medical care for the entire population of the city of Frankfurt -- the fifth largest city in Germany -- by December 10.

And then, assuming the flow keeps up, Germany will have to find room for another Frankfurt by early February. And then another one by the end of March.

And this in a country whose migrant shelters are already packed to 2-3 times capacity and are a daily site of violence.

Can you see why I am posting a lot about this situation?

Albanians and Pakistanis (Why Are They Here?) Stage Hours-Long Riot in Kassel

Yesterday, there was an hours-long riot (g) in a migrant shelter near Kassel. Apparently the cause was an Albanian teenager hitting an 80-year-old Pakistani who the teen thought was cutting in line for food. The riot kept going in waves. Albanians and Pakistanis attacked each other with sticks, pipes, clubs, and tear gas.

Yes, the migrants have tear gas.

50 police were needed to break up the riot. Fourteen migrants and three police were injured, some seriously. Police have now separated the two nationalities. German officials are now calling for migrants to be separated on the basis of ethnicity. Meanwhile, the German police union notes that outbreaks of violence are a daily occurrence (g) in shelters. (h/t MM). Oh, and in the past years, Germany has eliminated 16,000 police jobs, just in time for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of violent young male strangers.

There are many, many questions raised by this latest riot (including how did migrants get tear gas?!) but I'll focus on just one: What are Albanians and Pakistanis doing taking up expensive, scarce space in German migrant shelters?

Albania, as I've pointed out before, is a peaceful, stable country and attractive vacation spot which is very prosperous by world standards, and has been receiving hundreds of millions of Euros in EU aid to get it ready for its admission to the European Union.

Pakistan is not at war, and has problems no more serious than dozens of other developing countries. Add to that the fact that Pakistan is far away from Germany, so only the middle class can afford the bribes necessary to get here. A recent Daily Mail article interviews a few:

It is the same story when I meet Janaid Jamshad, a 25-year-old former student.

Also from Lahore, he has been here for ten days. ‘I came to Germany first in 2013 and they pushed me out again,’ he says with a laugh. ‘I came back when I heard Mrs Merkel was opening the doors. I have claimed asylum and they are processing my application. Because I am young, I hope they will take me.’

Not that everything is rosy for him now. ‘The camp is overflowing,’ he says. ‘I have just been to the doctor in the shopping centre because I have a headache. Even there, there are queues of migrants waiting. The doctors at the camp will only give one pill at a time. So we find other places for medical help, and pay for it.’

Back in the Giessen curry house, I continue talking to asylum claimant Atif. ‘We think having children will help us,’ he says. ‘Our house is very big, and they give us money, too.’

I point out that Karachi, despite the political violence there, is not in a war zone.

He still hopes to persuade the authorities he is a genuine refugee, though, and hopes he won’t be returned to Pakistan because he now has no official national identity — in a deal with the smuggling gang, he handed them his own passport and those of his family when they arrived in Germany. They were the ‘payment’ in exchange for the family’s fake visas and will be used again to smuggle more customers into Europe.

Do these sound like victims of political persecution to you?

Why are they still here, rioting, firing tear gas, and injuring each other and long-suffering German police?