Quantifying the Public-Elite Divide on Immigration in Europe

The British think tank Chatham House just completed phase two of an interesting study. The first phase polled 10,000 Europeans on a host of public policy issues, including immigration. The top-line result -- a whopping 56% of European oppose further immigration from Muslim countries -- came out in February 2017. That took wind out of the sails of European press commentators, who were busy denouncing Donald Trump's plans to...stop further immigration from Muslim countries.

Perhaps inspired by this glaring disconnect between public opinion and published opinion, Chatham House decided to conduct a follow-up survey of European elites, which it defined as "individuals in positions of influence at local, regional, national and European levels across four key sectors (elected politicians, the media, business and civil society) – with 1,823 respondents (approximately 180 from each country) who were surveyed through a mix of telephone, face-to-face and online interviews."

A few days ago, the findings came out in a report called "The Future of Europe: Comparing Public and Elite Attitudes". The result: Europeans are hugely more skeptical about immigration, especially from Muslim countries, than the elites who govern them. Here are a few charts:

Attitudes 1

Attitudes 2The report concludes: "These views reveal latent public sympathy for the core messages of the radical right on these topics. There are big socio-demographic differences, however, between those who hold such views. Citizens aged over 60 and with a lower level of education are notably more likely to view European and Islamic ways of life as irreconcilable. On some questions, there is also significant support among the elite sample. One possible explanation for such views among the elite is anxiety over the perceived challenge from Islam to liberal values, a concern that has become manifest in debates in France and the Netherlands over moves to impose partial bans on Islamic dress that covers the face. It may also be a consequence of recent Islamist terrorist attacks and of the fears of an increasingly divided society."

A few observations. First, the authors of the report are using the term "radical right" in the sense of "outside the mainstream". That's obtuse. When only 25% of of Europeans think immigration's been beneficial overall, and nearly twice that number think it's harmful, these views are mainstream. The problem is not that voters have been somehow "seduced" into endorsing "radical right" views. The problem is that only the right has taken up mainstream thinking on this issue. The democratic problem is not the popularity of the "radical" right. The democratic problem is the failure of any mainstream party to reflect the views of a majority of citizens in many EU countries. In the long term, this is an unsustainable and potentially dangerous state of affairs.

Second, these numbers reflect the bubble in which elites live. When urban elites (and yes, I include myself) think about immigration, they spontaneously associate it with (1) great ethnic food and (2) the individuals they know who come from these countries. I can't count the number of times I've heard educated, prosperous Europeans (they have a lot of discreet charm, but they're pretty conformist) make exactly these two points at dinner parties. "Oh, there's a great new Ethiopian place which opened up just a few streets away. Yay immigration!" and "The Iranian guy in my physics Ph. D. program is so nice and smart. Yay immigration!" Sometimes, you hear both cliches in one comment: "The nice Iranian guy in my physics Ph. D. program brought in a delicious lamb dish for us all to share last week! Yay immigration!"

Unless they actually live in run-down, gritty areas of German or French cities (spoiler alert: they don't), these urban elites will be unfamiliar with the nastier realities of immigration. There is no chance of them living next to a run-down high-rise which is taken over by immigrants and turned into a garbage-strewn sinkhole of bottom-barrel prostitution and drug-dealing (g). Nor do they live in streets where spontaneous mobs of clan members beat and terrorize police and bystanders (g). Nor is anyone going to build refugee shelters (g) in the high-rent inner-city neighborhoods they love. If any of these things do happen, our urban elites will discreetly move to more prosperous surroundings, without ever admitting exactly why (not enough dog parks...need more room for the kids...a friend of mine told me about this great place that just came on the market...)

Some form of this divide has, of course, always existed. However, it seems to me that it is growing rapidly now, and that the willingness of elites to frankly acknowledge the divide -- much less actually do anything to bridge it -- is steadily decreasing. That spells trouble, methinks.


One Chart to Rule them All

Many thanks to Marek M., who pointed me to this chart based on a report provided by the German government to the Bundestag on 15 December 2016 (pdf, numbers from p. 245).

This is it -- the one chart everyone needs to see before forming an opinion about immigration to Germany. The One Chart to Rule them All.

The brown line is the number of deportations from Germany in a year. The blue line is the number of illegal entries.

Illegal entries and deportations

Just let that sink in for a minute. 

Now, a few brief comments.

First, the notion that the 2015 influx is just a blip which will work itself out in the long run is false. In the mid-1990s, German policymakers suddenly decided that they would no longer try to actually deport all the people who entered Germany illegally. Starting in 2009, they essentially gave up on the idea of deporting any more than a tiny fraction of illegal immigrants. Even before the migrant influx of 2015, Germany as a whole was only managing to deport about 10% of all the people in Germany who had already been denied asylum

Second, this breakdown in law and order is a result of many thousands of individual choices by actors in every single branch of the German government.

State governments. Organizing and enforcing deportations is the responsibility of individual German states, so the overall total abdication of deportations is a reflection of policy changes in all 16 German states. Some are much more dedicated to enforcing the law than others, but overall, the trend is downward.

Immigration bureaucrats. The individual decision-makers at immigration agencies can invoke dozens of exceptions to permit people who have already been denied asylum to stay in Germany. They can recognize a special exception for family members, or because of medical problems, or find that conditions in the immigrant's homeland are too unstable, or simply decide not to 'enforce' an existing immigration order.

By far the most common technique they apply is Duldung (toleration), in which someone who has no legal right to be in Germany is allowed to continue staying here as a matter of toleration -- basically, the administrator uses his or her discretion to decide that if an illegal immigrant isn't causing a significant problem or has some argument why he should be allowed to stay, he will be permitted to stay in Germany for a temporary period, which can be renewed indefinitely.

Bureaucrats all over the world, like most people, have a noticeable preference for deciding cases in such a way as to create as little work for themselves as possible.

If Bogdan presents you with an obviously fake-looking medical certificate from a notoriously corrupt doctor, you have one of two choices. Either you continue Bogdan's 'tolerated' status, in which case he goes home happy. Or you start a tedious, time-consuming investigation into the genuineness of the certificate. Followed by the tedious, time-consuming, emotionally draining, stressful process of actually getting Bogdan deported. Bogdan has many chances to appeal a deportation order, so the process will take years. During which both Bogdan and his children will set down ever-deeper roots, making uprooting them that much more difficult.

Example: The attempt of police to pick up a rejected Afghan asylum-seeker to deport from a trade school in Nuremburg recently resulted in an all-out riot in which hundreds of the student's classmates blocked a street and threw bottles and even a bicycle(!) at the police, resulting in nine injured police officers:

 

Who wants all that aggravation?

Notice that this bureaucratic inertia results in perverse outcomes: a well-integrated illegal immigrant who admits he could be deported but argues that he should be allowed to stay simply because he's making a contribution will be at high risk of being deported. An illegal immigrant who lies to authorities and manipulates the system (like the Afghan (g) whose deportation caused the riot) will have a greater chance of being allowed to stay, since disproving his bogus arguments and denying his appeals will take so much effort. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

The courts. The German government sometimes passes laws designed to modestly adjust immigration laws to make them somewhat more restrictive. But none of these will have much effect if courts are generous in recognizing exceptions. German courts are notoriously all over the map when it comes to handling immigration appeals; some are soft touches, while others are rigorous. But the highest German courts often hand down decisions based on the German constitution or human-rights treaties which blow massive holes in the legal framework designed to enforce deportations.

One example is the 2013 decision by the German Federal Constitutional Court (g) on paternity questions in immigration cases. German law rather unwisely provides that a father's decision to officially acknowledge paternity of a child cannot be questioned. This law immediately set up a loophole in immigration law: pregnant women could fly to Germany and request asylum. They would immediately be granted temporary asylum based on a provision of German asylum law which extends automatic recognition to all pregnant mothers.

While being cared for in Germany (at German taxpayers' expense), the human trafficker running the operation pays € 5,000 (the going rate, according to reports) to a German male, who then files an official recognition of paternity. Since the child is now the child of a German father, the child automatically becomes a German citizen when born. And the mother automatically gets a residency permit, since it would be inhumane to break up the family. The father could theoretically be required to pay child support, but the ones who participate in the racket are all on welfare anyway, so they are exempt from child-support obligations. Immigration authorities went to court to argue that they should be able to conduct official paternity tests to disprove the claim of fatherhood, but the Federal Constitutional Court rejected their appeal in 2013. Allowing the authorities to contest the fatherhood claim, the Court reasoned, would create an unacceptable risk that the child might end up stateless.

The result? There are now 700 suspected cases (g) of this form of immigration fraud in Berlin alone. According to the investigative report, many of the mothers ended up becoming prostitutes, working for the human traffickers who imported them and financed the fake fatherhood certificates. The report linked to just above profiles a particularly ironic case: the German 'fake father' who claimed he had a child with an illegal Vietnamese immigrant was actually a far-right extremist an prominent member of the extreme-right NPD party. Apparently the prospect of a quick € 5,000 was more important to this neo-Nazi welfare case than protecting the racial purity of the German Volk. Are you as shocked as I am?

The system is completely broken. Only the foolishly honest or stupid actually get deported, the cunning and the criminal get to stay. Further, everyone across the world understands this: if you somehow manage to set foot in Germany and have some reasonable understanding of German law, there is about a 90% chance you will be able to remain in Germany for the rest of your life, regardless of all the carefully-wrought provisions of German law.

UPDATE: I updated this post on 7 June to reflect that the chart itself is not actually contained in the report, and that the numbers on which the chart is based appear on p. 245 of the linked document.


Do We Still Need Arte? Or License Fees?

Holger Kreitling in Die Welt has an amusing article (g) on Arte, the joint French-German public television channel. Arte is conceived as highbrow television, broadcasting classical concerts, operas, political debates, and documentaries on everything from Claude Sautet to Heidegger to the Thirty Years' war to Bolivian street artists to (as Kreitling puts it) obscure Slovenian bread-making techniques. It is financed by compulsory TV fees (administered by a company called the GEZ in German), yet never attracts more than a tiny fraction of highbrow viewers. As Kreitling notes, a member of the German or French urban haute bourgeoisie is required to announce his social position by declaring either that he has no television, or if he does, that all he watches is Arte. But even for all its failings and occasional pretentiousness, Kreitling still likes it.

And so do I. The only problem is the political programming, which is tiresomely left-wing. There's nothing more superfluous than holding a "theme evening" on Trump's first 100 days on Arte. Every person watching Arte already despises Trump, so all of the Trump-critical documentaries and interviews will have no effect. That's true of all the debate and political programming as well. I am not happy to pay mandatory licensing fees to sponsor the same old debates by the same aging hippies about "the future of ecological Europe" or what have you ("Red Danny" seems to be on every second time I switch to Arte), but I think there's a good case to be made for challenging music and arts programming. I don't have kids but I'm happy to pay taxes for schools because that's part of a healthy and thriving society. People who find classical music and museums boring should still pay taxes to keep them going for the same reason.

But the money should come from general taxes, not the outdated TV licensing fees that so many countries, including Germany, still use as a funding model. There is already a growing revolt against these fees (currently € 17.50 a month), which even includes prison martyrs (g) -- people who refuse to pay the fees on principle and who are eventually sent to jail to serve time as a result. Technically, you don't have to pay the fee if you don't own a TV or radio or any comparable device, but the regulations on this point are baffling to most mortals.

There is endless online debate (g) about how far the government can go to determine whether you are receiving any form of broadcast programming which would trigger the fees. If Agents of GEZ™ knock at your door, which they are wont to do, do you have to let them in? The GEZ itself is a massive and expensive government bureaucracy as are all the myriad public television stations which it finances. This is the point where GEZ-defenders will step in and say "but it's not technically a government agency!" They're right, the GEZ is more of a Quango, but nobody really cares about this distinction. The bottom line is if they determine you have to pay the fees, and they don't, they will sic a team of lawyers on you, and you might well end up in prison.

All this money and bureaucracy might be OK if you got a BBC from it, but Germans definitely don't. The quality of the public television programming in Germany is the target of near-universal scorn. Everyone hates something about public TV: The urban haute bourgeoisie hates the folk-music and Schlager festivals and the exploitative shows made to compete with private-TV soap operas and scandal-fests. Conservatives hate what they see as the stifling one-sided political correctness of news coverage and talk shows. Everyone (including me) considers the vast bulk of German TV drama or comedy shows unwatchable.

It should come as no surprise 70% of Germans oppose the TV license fees (g). Seventy percent. That's a pretty high number in a democracy. Granted, when entrenched bureaucratic and governmental interests favor a policy -- and they most certain favor a continuation of fee-based public TV -- that policy can go on forever in Germany. Just think of the Euro, which was introduced over the opposition of 3/4 of the German population. Currently only the right-wing AfD party has staked out a clear position (g) in favor of abolishing the TV fee. Once again, the German "opinion cartel" funnels voters to the right wing: If you are one of the 70 percent of Germans who opposes the TV fee, the AfD is the only party which openly shares your view.

Fee TV is a zombie policy. You can either wait until it falls apart, or you can drive a stake through it now. Knowing Germany, they'll probably opt for the former. It'll be a pretty ugly process.


Paul Hockenos on German Arrogance

In Foreign Policy:

One year ago, Germany was named the “best country” in the world, according to a poll by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The poll relied on criteria measuring entrepreneurship, power, public education, and quality of life, among others. But for a growing number of Germans, the important thing was that it offered confirmation of their own self-image. Their country slipped to fourth in this year’s poll, behind Switzerland, Canada, and the United Kingdom, but that seems unlikely to do much to dim the self-confidence of a country enjoying a surging economy and growing international cachet.

Whether the field is migration or manufacturing, fiscal policy or renewable energy, Germans increasingly believe that they, and they alone, know best, at least judging from the attitude newly on display everywhere from newspaper columns to parliamentary speeches to barroom chats over beer. In German the phenomenon is summed up in one word: Besserwisserei, a know-it-all attitude, which the Germans themselves admit is somewhat of an engrained cultural trait.

But it’s increasingly clear that one country’s allegedly evidence-based Besserwisserei is another country’s intolerable smugness. Just ask Germany’s European neighbors, and others, including the United States, where resentment of Germans has been percolating for years, under constant threat of bubbling over....

German high-handedness is eliciting angry charges of “moral imperialism” from Hungary, and its central European neighbors, including Slovakia, Poland, and Croatia, largely concur. Meanwhile, during the first round of the French presidential election, candidates from more than one party chastised Merkel for dictating a German eurozone policy. “We order it, you obey, and tout suite,” is how the German publisher Wolfram Weimer critically summed up Germany’s new modus operandi during the bailout negotiations in an article titled “Virtuous Totalitarianism”. U.S. economist Paul Krugman repeatedly blasts Germany for “moralizing” on European fiscal policy, namely Germany’s obsession with budget discipline, which he considers entirely counterproductive. Since Germany’s setting of the onerous terms for the eurozone’s recovery packages, beginning in 2011, surveys in Europe show that many fellow Europeans consider Germans arrogant, insensitive, and egotistical (while, strangely, praising their dependability and influence in Europe)....

Of course, another reason German smugness can get under the skin is the fact that Germany simply isn’t nearly as universally superlative as it might prefer to think. A close corollary of Besserwisserei has always been hypocrisy. So Germany may browbeat other countries about their deficits today, but other Europeans remember that in the 2000s, when the German economy was in the dumps, and again during the financial crisis, Berlin consistently ran budget deficits in excess of eurozone rules — and avoided penalties for it. The deficits were critical for Germany to get its economy going again.

Meanwhile, Germany insists that other countries follow its lead on climate change, shutting down nuclear power stations and switching to clean energy generation. But Germany is Europe’s biggest burner of dirty coal (seventh in the world), and it’s not on track to hit the Paris Agreement’s reduction targets for 2020. Its best-selling export is big, expensive, gas-guzzling luxury automobiles, including diesels. The Dieselgate scandal caught Volkswagen and other German car manufacturers cheating on emissions tests.

And it’s no accident that the scandal was uncovered in the United States, far from the reach of German political and cultural power — nor that Germany’s discussion about the scandal has been just as focused on how the German auto companies in question can be saved rather than about the financial or moral atonement they might owe. “It’s obvious that the EU should take over emissions testing and that the commission should impose huge fines on Germany,” Lever says. “But it won’t, because it’s Germany, that’s why. It shows how much power Germany has now.”


David Goodhart on Anywheres v. Somewheres

David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere, on the new political divide that explains a lot more than the old ones:

As with most ideas that are controversial but correct, I predict this one will go through a three-step process of gradual, grudging acceptance:

Step 1: "He's wrong."

Step 3: "Blah, obvious everyone knows this, totally unoriginal, tell me something I don't know."

I left out Step 2, which is "Oh, wait, he's actually right". Because everyone else will. Human nature, folks.


Christopher Caldwell on Christophe Guilluy on French Elites

If you want to understand what's wrong with European immigration policy, Christopher Caldwell's 2009 book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe is the best start:

In his provocative and unflinching book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, he reveals the anger of natives and newcomers alike. He describes asylum policies that have served illegal immigrants better than refugees. He exposes the strange interaction of welfare states and Third World traditions, the anti-Americanism that brings natives and newcomers together, and the arguments over women and sex that drive them apart. And he examines the dangerous tendency of politicians to defuse tensions surrounding Islam by curtailing the rights of all.

He has a long new piece on the French real estate consultant Christophe Guilluy, who was become an improbable analyst of French society. Actually, not so improbable: Choosing where to live strips away the bullshit and lays peoples' actual preferences (as opposed to their public pieties) about multiculturalism, diversity, etc. bare. Guilluy uses urban geography to create an analysis of the divisions plaguing French society:

In our day, the urban real-estate market is a pitiless sorting machine. Rich people and up-and-comers buy the private housing stock in desirable cities and thereby bid up its cost. Guilluy notes that one real-estate agent on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris now sells “lofts” of three square meters, or about 30 square feet, for €50,000. The situation resembles that in London, where, according to Le Monde, the average monthly rent (£2,580) now exceeds the average monthly salary (£2,300).

The laid-off, the less educated, the mistrained—all must rebuild their lives in what Guilluy calls (in the title of his second book) La France périphérique. This is the key term in Guilluy’s sociological vocabulary, and much misunderstood in France, so it is worth clarifying: it is neither a synonym for the boondocks nor a measure of distance from the city center. (Most of France’s small cities, in fact, are in la France périphérique.) Rather, the term measures distance from the functioning parts of the global economy. France’s best-performing urban nodes have arguably never been richer or better-stocked with cultural and retail amenities. But too few such places exist to carry a national economy. When France’s was a national economy, its median workers were well compensated and well protected from illness, age, and other vicissitudes. In a knowledge economy, these workers have largely been exiled from the places where the economy still functions. They have been replaced by immigrants.

After the mid-twentieth century, the French state built a vast stock—about 5 million units—of public housing, which now accounts for a sixth of the country’s households. Much of it is hideous-looking, but it’s all more or less affordable. Its purpose has changed, however. It is now used primarily for billeting not native French workers, as once was the case, but immigrants and their descendants, millions of whom arrived from North Africa starting in the 1960s, with yet another wave of newcomers from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East arriving today. In the rough northern suburb of Aubervilliers, for instance, three-quarters of the young people are of immigrant background. Again, Paris’s future seems visible in contemporary London. Between 2001 and 2011, the population of white Londoners fell by 600,000, even as the city grew by 1 million people: from 58 percent white British at the turn of the century, London is currently 45 percent white.

While rich Parisians may not miss the presence of the middle class, they do need people to bus tables, trim shrubbery, watch babies, and change bedpans. Immigrants—not native French workers—do most of these jobs. Why this should be so is an economic controversy. Perhaps migrants will do certain tasks that French people will not—at least not at the prevailing wage. Perhaps employers don’t relish paying €10 an hour to a native Frenchman who, ten years earlier, was making €20 in his old position and has resentments to match. Perhaps the current situation is an example of the economic law named after the eighteenth-century French economist Jean-Baptiste Say: a huge supply of menial labor from the developing world has created its own demand.

This is not Guilluy’s subject, though. He aims only to show that, even if French people were willing to do the work that gets offered in these prosperous urban centers, there’d be no way for them to do it, because there is no longer any place for them to live. As a new bourgeoisie has taken over the private housing stock, poor foreigners have taken over the public—which thus serves the metropolitan rich as a kind of taxpayer-subsidized servants’ quarters. Public-housing inhabitants are almost never ethnically French; the prevailing culture there nowadays is often heavily, intimidatingly Muslim.

 At the opening of his new book, Guilluy describes twenty-first-century France as “an ‘American’ society like any other, unequal and multicultural.” It’s a controversial premise—that inequality and racial diversity are linked as part of the same (American-type) system and that they progress or decline together. Though this premise has been confirmed in much of the West for half a century, the assertion will shock many Americans, conditioned to place “inequality” (bad) and “diversity” (good) at opposite poles of a Manichean moral order. This disconnect is a key reason American political discussions have turned so illogical and rancorous. Certain arguments—for instance, that raising the incomes of American workers requires limiting immigration—can be cast as either sensible or superstitious, legitimate or illegitimate, good or evil, depending on whether the person making them is deemed to be doing so on the grounds of economics or identity....

France’s most dangerous political battles play out against this backdrop. The central fact is the 70 percent that we just spoke of: they oppose immigration and are worried, we can safely assume, about the prospects for a multiethnic society. Their wishes are consistent, their passions high; and a democracy is supposed to translate the wishes and passions of the people into government action. Yet that hasn’t happened in France.

Guilluy breaks down public opinion on immigration by class. Top executives (at 54 percent) are content with the current number of migrants in France. But only 38 percent of mid-level professionals, 27 percent of laborers, and 23 percent of clerical workers feel similarly....

As Paris has become not just the richest city in France but the richest city in the history of France, its residents have come to describe their politics as “on the left”—a judgment that tomorrow’s historians might dispute. Most often, Parisians mean what Guilluy calls la gauche hashtag, or what we might call the “glass-ceiling Left,” preoccupied with redistribution among, not from, elites: we may have done nothing for the poor, but we did appoint the first disabled lesbian parking commissioner....

Never have conditions been more favorable for deluding a class of fortunate people into thinking that they owe their privilege to being nicer, or smarter, or more honest, than everyone else. Why would they think otherwise? They never meet anyone who disagrees with them. The immigrants with whom the creatives share the city are dazzlingly different, exotic, even frightening, but on the central question of our time—whether the global economic system is working or failing—they see eye to eye....

Those outside the city gates in la France périphérique are invisible, their wishes incomprehensible. It’s as if they don’t exist. But they do.

The two traditional French parties—the Republicans, who once followed a conservative program elaborated by Charles de Gaulle; and the Socialists, who once followed socialism—still compete for votes, but along an ever-narrowing spectrum of issues. The real divide is no longer between the “Right” and the “Left” but between the metropoles and the peripheries. The traditional parties thrive in the former. The National Front (FN) is the party of the outside.

French elites have convinced themselves that their social supremacy rests not on their economic might but on their common decency. Doing so allows them to “present the losers of globalization as embittered people who have problems with diversity,” says Guilluy. It’s not our privilege that the French deplorables resent, the elites claim; it’s the color of some of our employees’ skin. French elites have a thesaurus full of colorful vocabulary for those who resist the open society: repli (“reaction”), crispation identitaire (“ethnic tension”), and populisme (an accusation equivalent to fascism, which somehow does not require an equivalent level of proof). One need not say anything racist or hateful to be denounced as a member of “white, xenophobic France,” or even as a “fascist.” To express mere discontent with the political system is dangerous enough. It is to faire le jeu de (“play the game of”) the National Front....

In France, political correctness is more than a ridiculous set of opinions; it’s also—and primarily—a tool of government coercion. Not only does it tilt any political discussion in favor of one set of arguments; it also gives the ruling class a doubt-expelling myth that provides a constant boost to morale and esprit de corps, much as class systems did in the days before democracy. People tend to snicker when the question of political correctness is raised: its practitioners because no one wants to be thought politically correct; and its targets because no one wants to admit to being coerced. But it determines the current polarity in French politics. Where you stand depends largely on whether you believe that antiracism is a sincere response to a genuine upsurge of public hatred or an opportunistic posture for elites seeking to justify their rule....

Like much in French intellectual life, Guilluy’s newest book is intelligent, original, and rather slapdash. Its maps, while brilliantly conceived, are poorly explained. Its forays into social science are mis-designed—Guilluy’s “indices of fragility” are based on redundant, highly correlated factors that exaggerate the points he means to make. The book has been assembled sloppily and, it seems, hastily. Long prose passages turn up twice on the same page, as if the editor spilled a cup of coffee while cutting and pasting....

But as the prospect of rising in the world is hampered or extinguished, the inducements to ideological conformism weaken. Dissent appears. Political correctness grows more draconian. Finally the ruling class reaches a dangerous stage, in which it begins to lose not only its legitimacy but also a sense of what its legitimacy rested on in the first place.


Mass Immigration Destroys the Center in France

MAIN-Calais-migrants

Wherever it's allowed to happen, the reckless policy of mass immigration hollows out the political center and feeds the extremes. It's happening in France, and will be happening in Germany soon, as well. The most dangerous threat to European social democracy isn't neoliberalism, or multinational corporations, or lobbyists, or anything like that. The most dangerous threat is mass immigration. If you want social democracy to survive, as I do, you must oppose mass immigration. It's that simple. 

Take France. I've been following the French presidential elections pretty closely. As the vote approaches, Le Pen is holding her own against stiff competition. But another candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has mounted a surprising late rally. He's the leader of "France insoumise" (France Unbowed, or France Defiant), which is the farthest-left party with a major candidate in the elections. He's skimming votes from disaffected socialists who believe the party hasn't done enough to reduce unemployment and protect welfare programs, and from those former Communists who haven't already switched allegiances to the Front National.

And what do he and Le Pen have in common? They are both skeptical of mass immigration. Of course, Mélenchon chooses his words much more carefully (f) -- he says we have to combat misery and war, the root causes, we can't just turn people away in the middle of the Mediterranean, etc. But over and over, he has said it would be best if they never left their home countries, and that he is adamantly against any right to free movement. Macron, the centrist, is still in the race and might make it to the run-off, but there's no question that his liberal stance on immigration and freedom of movement in the EU is hurting him among voters who do not belong to the educated urban haute bourgeoisie.

Which is, of course, the vast majority of them.

Mélenchon and Le Pen are winning because they are the only candidates to come out, without waffling and euphemisms, and say one thing clearly: Mass immigration is bad for France.

The poll numbers are almost unbelievably one-sided on this issue. Only 11% (f) of French think immigration has had a "positive" impact on French society, according to an august 2016 poll.

11%. Let that sink in.

The poll also found (f) that 57% of French thought there were too many immigrants in France, that 54% thought immigration had brought changes of which they disapproved, and 60% thought immigration had degraded public services. 65% thought refugees would be "unable" to integrate into French society, and 45% wanted to stop admitting them altogether. 67% thought terrorists had pretended to be refugees to get into France, and 54% thought most immigrants presenting themselves as refugees weren't really refugees.

Now, you could say that these numbers may be exaggerated because of recent Islamist terror attacks -- but then again, when hasn't there been a recent terrorist attack in Europe? Thanks to mass immigration both today and in the past, these attacks, and these poll numbers, are the new normal.

This is why descriptions of Le Pen as "extreme" are false. And why former comrades denouncing Mélenchon for adopting her "extreme" views are fools. Le Pen's views on immigration are solidly backed by an overwhelming majority of the French, who list immigration and security as their top concerns, along with unemployment. And if you think unemployment isn't closely connected to immigration in the minds of many French people, you're naive.

The pro-immigration educated urban bourgeoisie has lost the argument, and lost the middle. If they don't begin generating candidates who actually endorse positions favored by a majority of the people they claim to represent, they will abandon politics to the extremes, which will have a number of drastic consequences -- the first of which will be the destruction of the EU.

The urban haute bourgeoisie has to bear most of the responsibility for undermining the political center in their countries (which has already happened), and for crippling the EU (which seems more likely every day). They will have to swallow their pride and recognize that people in their countries want policies which favor people in their countries. Given their self-satisfaction and their uncanny ability to ignore what's in front of their nose, I'm not anticipating a change until it's much too late.


Tens of Millions Headed Europe's Way

The IMF just published a short paper which a development specialist characterized by this tweet:

A few passages:

How does the historical experience of the African countries compare with the performance of the low-income Asian economies? Historical data for Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Vietnam over the 2000–10 period (Figures 8 and 9) reveal the strength of employment growth in industry and services for the
south and east Asian countries relative to average growth.

The change in employment shares for both industry and services for these countries is higher than for almost all of the sub-Saharan African countries with the exception of services employment growth in Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, and Tanzania (Figure 8 compared with Figure 6). This result was possible for a variety of reasons:

-- There was a very labor-intensive pattern of growth in industry, with annual industry employment growth rates between 6 and 8 percent for Bangladesh and Vietnam and almost 20 percent for Cambodia. This compares with an average employment growth rate of 4 percent per annum for low-income countries with limited natural resources in sub-Saharan Africa.

-- A much lower labor force growth in the Asian economies meant that a lower share of labor got stuck in agriculture. 

-- Even though overall productivity rose rapidly, the strongly labor-intensive growth in industry and services actually dragged down relative productivity slightly in these sectors (the data points for these sectors are found in the lower right-hand side of Figure 9)....

With the majority of new jobs created in countries currently classified as low income (such as Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia), the agricultural sector remains important for creating employment. Stronger growth in other sectors could push this estimate down slightly, but it is unlikely that the labor force in agriculture will shrink over the nextdecade—young people seeking jobs will simply have no other option. If African agriculture realizes its potential, however, agricultural jobs could be more productive, higher-earning jobs.

A major factor in the slow-moving employment distribution is the very high growth rate of the labor force. Indeed, the share of industrial wage jobs in total employment rises only from 2.3 to 3.2 percent because the jobs are growing from such a small base relative to the projected increase in the labor
force.

A major element of structural transformation is the movement of workers from low-productivity to more productive activities....

The analysis shows that a major, and often underappreciated, factor behind the slow employment transformation in sub-Saharan Africa compared with the Asian benchmarks was demographics—a labor force growing much faster in sub-Saharan Africa. But another factor was the importance of the mining sector in the growth and employment patterns of sub-Saharan Africa’s industrial sector, and weak productivity in the service sectors because of the high share of household enterprises. Sub-Saharan Africa has a large labor productivity dispersion within the services sectors, including a highly productive financial sector but a number of low-productivity household enterprises in the trading and personal services sectors. Looking forward to 2020 and using optimistic assumptions on output growth, the prospects are good for overall productivity growth in the region. But the employment absorption in the nonagricultural sectors will occur mainly in the services sector and nontradables industrial sector (construction, utilities) rather than in manufacturing.

This report's interesting for a few reasons. First, it disproves a cliche you see invoked incessantly on German talk shows. This is the idea that Africa's economic problems are caused by Europe's agricultural policies, which favor native farmers over African ones. Because Europe subsidizes cane sugar, goes the cliche, it is no longer economical for African farmers to grow similar crops. This, in turn, causes poverty, which sends people to Europe.

The first problem with this cliche is that it's never accompanied by numbers. The typical set-up is for some German journalist to interview some African farmer, who points to his fields and says European competition is destroying him. The assumption is, as always, that no ordinary person living in a third-world country is capable of being mistaken or, God forbid, shading the truth. I have yet to see a credulous German journalist ever critically examine these statements.

If they interview anyone for backup, it's always some "expert" (as often as not with a nose-ring, ponytail or the like) with an advocacy group, who uncritically repeats the canard that Western agriculture policies are screwing African farmers, without ever explaining exactly how this is so, or how significant a factor it actually is, or whether other causes might also contribute to the problem. Oh, and as with all experts with whom the German reporter agrees, no mention is ever made of actual qualifications.

Nor do any of these development experts ever explain how we might eliminate European agricultural subsidies. These subsidies exist because European farmers are politically powerful, and generally popular. The average European wants to see mid-sized (especially organic!) farms continue to operate near them inside their own country, and therefore they support farm subsidies. It's perfectly rational for them to do this. There's nothing wrong with preferring policies which assist people 10 kilometers away from you instead of people 10,000 km away. This is how human nature has always worked, and you defy it at your peril. Especially in France, where farmers can and do bring the whole country to its knees whenever prices drop.

But even aside from these points, the paper shows this argument's just wrong. The point should not be to make it easier for Africans to operate small-scale, low-productivity farming operations. They should be discouraged from doing this. Asian economies became richer by reducing the share of workers in small-scale farming, and redeploying them to more-productive sectors of the economy. Of course, the remedy might come from greatly increasing the productivity of African agriculture by consolidation, but we all know what that means, and how popular that sort of thing is among European Greens.

It would be one thing if population growth were small. But alas, as the paper points out, it's still much too large. Too many young people chasing too few reasonably-paid jobs.

The upshot is clear: For the next decades, without radical policy changes which don't seem likely, sub-Saharan Africa will produce tens -- perhaps hundreds -- of millions more young people than its low-productivity economies can provide meaningful employment for. All of these young people see every day how rich Europe appears on their smartphones. Uncounted millions will try to get to Europe by any means possible.

European politicians pride themselves on how seriously they take the challenge of long-term global warming. But very few are taking the short-term challenge of massive population flows from Africa seriously.


Another Day, Another Incinerated Refugee Shelter

That huge black cloud you saw yesterday was yet another migrant shelter burning down (g). This one was a collection of renovated containers on the Carl-Diem Straße in Mönchengladbach, Germany:

Mg shelter

By the time the firemen got there, there was no choice but to let the entire place burn to the ground in a controlled fire. Residents accuse a 21-year-old Somali man of intentionally setting the fire, and he has been arrested. Somalia, by the way, just peacefully elected a new President who was formerly a mid-level state bureaucrat in Buffalo, New York: "[T]he U.N., African Union, European Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and a host of nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, issued a joint statement congratulating Farmajo and thanking his predecessor for the peaceful transfer of power." 

But it's not as if you could legitimately ask anyone to actually live there. Even though 10.5 million people somehow do.

Back to the arson. This sort of thing happens more than once a week in Germany. And no, it's not right-wingers tossing Molotov cocktails at the shelters. Right-wingers have burned down many migrant shelters, but they almost exclusively do so before anyone has actually moved in (g). The vast majority of fires set by migrants have occurred in occupied shelters. Fortunately, nobody has yet died.

These fires are due either to carelessness or mentally unstable/sociopathic young males taking revenge for all manner of perceived insults, from serving food during the day to non-Muslims during Ramadan to various idiotic personal grievances. According to the XY Einzelfall website (g), there were 89 episodes of arson of migrant shelters in 2016 alone. About half were accidental, half were intentional. Now, the last time I quoted this source, a reader said: "But some of these are hoaxes invented by right-wing media. You should check out Hoaxmap, a map of Germany which lists these hoaxes."

So I did. Hoaxmap currently contains 464 items of apocryphal anti-migrant propaganda which have been refuted, including trivial urban legends such as "they stole my geese!" or "they urinated in a cemetery!". As for false accusations of arson, Hoaxmap lists a grand total of...2. Neither of which was included in the XY-Einzelfall database.

I don't have to tell you who is going to foot the bill for the hundreds of millions of Euros in costs these fires have caused (one incident in Düsseldorf alone, in which migrants burned down a huge storage facility at the local convention center, caused €1o million in damages). Many migrants are now "aging out" of the shelter system and being sent out to seek local apartments all over Germany, government rent vouchers in hand. Yet many property owners are skeptical of renting to migrants, especially unaccompanied young males. All those pictures of buildings completely incinerated by migrants do have an effect.

Now, of course, the German government could have predicted and prevented this by not allowing the country to be flooded with hundreds of thousands of random young males from the world's trouble spots. Women and children refugees are much less likely to, you know, intentionally incinerate their own homes. But Germany decided to allow anyone in, including the 60% of all migrants who presented no documentation of their identity whatsoever (g).

Which means there are going to be a lot more random fires popping up all over. Statistically speaking, coming soon to a neighborhood near you!


Shipping the Mentally Ill to Germany as Asylum Seekers

I've pointed out repeatedly on this blog that I suspect a large portion of the young males who've poured into German in the past few years are not right in the head. Say you live in a place like Kosovo or Tunisia or Afghanistan and you're stuck with a young male child who is borderline mentally retarded or is displaying bizarre and erratic behavior which could affect your family's honor.

He's not exactly marriage material, since your whole extended family (which is where you'd first look for a wife) knows about his problems. You hear that if he can somehow make it to Germany and merely says the word 'asylum' in any language, he will be furnished with an apartment, pocket money, food and clothing, and free education and medical care. He might even be able eventually to get some sort of a job and begin sending money back. And in the best-case scenario, he might be able to import other family members in the name of family reunification. Germans have been incredibly generous with that.

So you scrape up $5000 to bribe a smuggler, and send him off. You now have one less mouth to feed, one less ticking time bomb which could erupt into family shame, criminal liability or litigation at any moment. Plus, you may even get financial remittances from him if everything works out.

As a result, there are now thousands, if not tens of thousands, of reports of very bizarre behavior in Germany coming from young males freshly arrived from the Balkans, Africa, and the Middle East. Probably the least harmful and disturbing signs of mental instability are the countless cases of public masturbation (see above link, if you really must).

But there are other incidents immeasurably more terrifying and bizarre, such as the Syrian asylum seeker who threw his three young children out of a first-floor window onto a concrete parking lot, injuring the two eldest children severely. In November 2016, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison (g) on three counts of attempted murder. Of his own children.

And now comes a 36-year-old Kosovar man, Fatmir H., who yesterday went on an axe-mutilation rampage in the Düsseldorf central train station:

The suspect in an ax attack at a German train station that wounded nine people on Thursday was a mentally disturbed asylum seeker from Kosovo, officials said Friday. They said there was no indication of any political or religious motive for the attack.

German police swarmed the main train station in Düsseldorf around 9 p.m. Thursday after a man on a commuter train began striking exiting passengers with an ax, officials said.

The suspect in the attack was identified in the German news outlet Spiegel Online as 36-year-old Fatmir H. On Friday, police found a doctor’s diagnosis inside the suspect’s apartment, some 20 miles away in the city of Wuppertal, as well as medication indicating that he was paranoid schizophrenic, according to Dietmar Kneib of the North Rhine-Westphalia state criminal police.

The suspect was being treated at a hospital for severe injuries suffered after he jumped off a bridge to try to escape police. Of the nine victims, four suffered serious injuries, though none were in critical condition, officials said....

The suspect, however, was not part of the wave of more than 1 million migrants who have arrived in Germany over the past two years, officials said. He arrived in 2009 and was granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds

The attack occurred as a commuter train pulled into Düsseldorf central station shortly before 9 p.m. local time. The attacker suddenly started to hit passengers with an ax from behind, officials said. One of the passengers managed to push the attacker off the train, and the conductor closed the door, preventing potential further injuries, officials said....

According to police, the attacker tried to get back into the train by beating and kicking the door. When he was unsuccessful, he began walking up and down the platform and downstairs into the main hall. When police officers approached, the man fled across the tracks. The chase ended with the attacker jumping off a nearby bridge.

The brother of the 36-year-old suspect, who knew about his mental issues and knew that he had recently bought an ax, had reported him missing the day of the attack, authorities said. Police said Friday that they have not been able to question the suspect yet because of his injuries.

Among the victims was a 13-year-old girl who suffered severe arm injuries and two Italian tourists. Besides the girl, the other victims are between 30 and 50 years of age, officials said.

More than 500 officers were involved in the police operation, including special forces.

So Fatmir H. enters Germany in 2009. He is put under treatment for schizophrenia. All of this is happening at the German taxpayer's expense, of course -- I rather doubt Fatmir ever had a legitimate job. The authorities give him a residency permit based on humanitarian grounds, presumably because it would be 'inhumane' to send him back to Kosovo since he has a mental illness.

Of course, this raises many more questions: Does Kosovo have a healthcare system? Why yes, it does. It also has mental hospitals. Certainly not ones that meet German standards, but then again, that's true of most countries. Does every mentally ill person in the world have a right to transfer to Germany, so that they can receive care which meets German standards?

If it is inhumane for Kosovars to be treated in Kosovar mental hospitals, doesn't Germany therefore have an obligation to ship every mentally ill person in Kosovo to Germany to receive better care? Where is the justice in permitting one mentally ill Kosovar to 'escape' to Germany and receive Germany-level care, while leaving all the others to their fate? The only distinction is that this guy happened to make it to Germany. That's why he gets the advantage. Is that rational or just?

I'm sure the judge or bureaucrat who allowed Fatmir to stay in Germany thought they were doing the humane thing by bestowing a priceless benefit on Fatmir (a residency permit, something thousands of educated, skilled, law-abiding Kosovars and Albanians crave) simply because Fatmir happened to have illegally entered Germany. But these individual decisions add up to a deeply irrational policy.

And a few more questions: How would you propose to explain to an ordinary German why it's a good idea to let mentally unstable, potentially dangerous people relocate to Germany to live the rest of their lives on welfare?

How does this policy help the thousands of mentally ill Kosovars who can't smuggle themselves into Germany illegally?

Why should Germans add to the risk and expense created by their own indigenous mentally ill people by needlessly importing yet more mentally ill people from other countries?

What benefit does Germany derive from a policy which lets people like Fatmir stay in Germany, costing the German taxpayer millions of Euros, until they explode into violence and mutilate random strangers?

Oh, and in other news, the German government just announced that for the second year in a row, expenses for caring for migrants were higher than expected, over €20 billion (g) for the year 2016. Regional studies show that only about 5% of the migrants (most of whom are young, healthy males) have found any kind of job (g). And the Green Party and Left Party have used their representation in the German government to block the designation (g) of the Maghreb states as 'safe countries of origin', making it more difficult to deport the tens of thousands of young male criminals who recently flooded into Germany from these peaceful, stable countries. 

Germany's immigration policy is not just incoherent, it's masochistic.