Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Unfortunately, the people/governments didn't understand the logic of expansionary fiscal policies last time around and they're not gonna get it now. The prevailing austerity logic will instead lead to resentments because of the cost generated by the refugees. This mechanism is currently suspended because people know it's an extraordinary charitable outlay. But will it last if people keep coming in masses? You could rightly argue it's not that much money. But if it isn't then what's the stimulus? Some (hopefully properly paid) teachers? I have more hope for a building spree of subsidized housing. But that is a slow process that's already a decade behind. More potential for resentment. Also, as the Zeit article said, wage depression due to the newly arrived is probable in the very sector, i.e. low level service jobs (our 'saviour' from being the 'sickest man in Europe'), that is the problem spot in the labour market. Another vector for huge resentment.

Empty flats illegal? Whatever. Supply and demand rules supreme, even more so in a bifurcated market where the affordable housing part is under pressure. Build as if your life depended on it (if you can control the NIMBYism - watch that space). A neo-squatter movement that marks down a few hundred properties per city won't matter.

Re: theories of trust and social cohesion. Your theory that trust can and needs to be built is essentially correct. Some examples:

  • The areas with the least amount of immigrants have the highest xenophobia (Sachsen represent!). You fear what you don't know etc.
  • I read a story about a Berlin school that had a hard time integrating middle class children with migrants' children. The parents didn't want to send their children to 'these schools'. The turnaround came when the school promised their children would go to class with exactly those migrant children they already knew from kindergarten. Shared experiences, upbringing, etc.
  • Immigrants who directly start working, i.e. who have a job lined up before migrating, have vastly better chances of making it. Trust is built with the people they work with.
This is where I get nervous. Where are the opportunities going to come from? Young children are better off. They can go to school and learn the language within a month, get educated and eventually get into a passable career. The adults have it much harder. They have to learn a new language and try to get into a menial job, possibly competing with other unemployeds. The problem of absorption gets more difficult the higher the flow rate is. If you don't find connections you stay connected just with your own kind and then we'll have ghettoization and the xenophobic culture wars again. For the most of Europe the problem is already there. Says a French newspaper: "Germany may have opportunities in the service sector for the refugees but Italy, Spain and France can't even offer those jobs to their own young people." So in the absence of opportunities for building social cohesion my theory still holds.

In the American case you can't simply dump it all on McCarthy who 'single-handedly destroyed the left'. Racial segregation and social stratification have a longer history than that. Look at Donald Trump who is now having success promoting social benefits but 'only for the right people'. Those people vote and they can't stand the idea of 'welfare queens' with a different skin colour.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Fri Sep 4th, 2015 at 03:25:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, the people/governments didn't understand the logic of expansionary fiscal policies last time around and they're not gonna get it now.

I am sure that the governments have already understood it. Or at least they will get it very quickly if the people apply some gentle pressure to toes, or less gentle pressure by pitchfork... But the people must get it.


You could rightly argue it's not that much money. But if it isn't then what's the stimulus?

Indeed, it is not that much money that reasonable people need to get nervous. And the stimulus is in showing how it works, and demanding that the principle is applied to other groups of the population too. We are unable to enforce that without a humanitarian crisis, because the dogma says that this way hyperinflation comes. Now there is no alternative, the refugees need refuge, period. They are in Europe, and it doesn't matter if we like that or not. There must be some provisions for them, and inadequate or not, they will cost money, but will not cause hyper-inflation.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that the strategy I have in mind cannot fail. Your misgivings make sense. What you don't seem to see is that the alternative is so dystopian that for once we have a majority on our side: if you don't want to give refuge to these people, you must step up the mass murder (for that is the word for what the EU does in the Mediterranean). You must have a watertight police state controlling every movement, and not only movement across borders, really every movement. By doing that you would have given in to the fearmongering narratives of the far right, and they will then demand (and get) more. This is rejected by a far greater share of the population than everything else we had to say. In the case of Greece we had to argue against the dogma of 35 years, but now we are arguing in favour of existing humanitarian law, remember.

The humanitarian framework for refugees was created for European refugees, and there were far more refugees then than today. I wonder how many families in Europe there are without a history of seeking refuge somewhere in the last one or two generations? Empathy is very strong.  

I see a chance of leftist proposals being heard and being taken seriously, a chance that hasn't been here for a long time. Because we happen to have valid answers, and the right wing, not. :)

by Katrin on Fri Sep 4th, 2015 at 04:53:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "cost of the refugees" is already becoming an issue:

Refugee crisis ′to cost Germany 10 billion euros′ | News | DW.COM | 06.09.2015

According to a report in the Sunday edition of German newspaper, the "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung" (FAS), financial costs for Germany could reach anywhere between 9 and 10.5 billion euros by the end of the year. The figure is based on cost estimates from local governments around the country.

A refugee summit held by the German parliament in July budgeted 5.6 billion euros for an expected 450,000 asylum applications this year. In light of the recent mass influx of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, however, Germany is now expecting to take in some 800,000 by the end of December.

According to Germany's Federal Statistics Office, 2.4 billion euros were spent on caring for some 203,000 new asylum seekers last year.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Sep 6th, 2015 at 05:04:13 AM EST
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Regarding the 450,000 vs. 800,000, I read in an article somewhere in the German media that even the authorities were guilty of comparing apples to oranges: the first number is for asylum applications, the second is for registered refugees (filing asylum applications takes time if it happens at all).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 6th, 2015 at 06:21:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It has been very instructive to see the example of soft power, the Hungarian border guards were overcome by sheer numbers of unarmed people. Unless they had opened fire on women and children with the eyes of the world upon them their role was revealed as futile.
Orban obviously had no stomach for genocide, thankfully. His threats to give three years prison to illegal immigrants were rightly seen as risible by anyone cognizant of what these refugees have suffered to get where they are, when even a cell and three bad meals is a giant upgrade thus a minor risk from starving behind barbed wire in a camp. As if Orban had that many jail cells anyway!
I see a possible paradox here... Conditions for unemployed youth in Europe are already appalling, you'd think that adding tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of refugees, would be a disaster in the making, (whipped up by the hard right for sure, as we see all around).
But it might work the other way too by forcing issues of economics, employment and ostensible homage to equality into the light, speeding up a possible resolution.
The pathos induced by the young child dead on the sand has shown the power of the media to shame those old white hardline racists on the euro right into holding back on massacres, to bend the rules and allow a human corridor to the only country in Europe which can afford to house and give work to so many needy.
This is also karmic, think how many hundreds of thousands emigrated before WW 2 with the rise of the pogroms in Germany. Those emigrants, along with so many Europeans fleeing poverty, went to make the famous melting pot America became as it rose to its industrial and imperial apex (before selling out the bulk of its manufacture abroad.)
I honestly don't think that under our present political conditions we can give a decent life and honest work to millions of immigrants, unless we radically change our political conditions here, getting rid of the ridiculous arms expenses like Trident and F35s, employing people in a new green economy.
I foresee a possible sea change induced by soft power, sheer numbers that dare the authorities to do their worst knowing they won't have the hardness of heart to do so.
More empathy pictures going viral will accelerate this overdue process. White male privilege sees this sea change as threat, to the rest of the world it's just justice.
It's nice to see Europe doing the right thing for 'foreigners', perhaps this kindness will be extended as generously to its own weak and afflicted, such as the poor in Greece getting strangled by austerity.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Sep 10th, 2015 at 08:44:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scandal of Europe's 11m empty homes | Society | The Guardian

He said Europe's 11m empty homes might not be in the right places "but there is enough [vacant housing] to meet the problem of homelessness". There are 4.1 million homeless across Europe, according to the European Union. Guardian

Freek Spinnewijn, director of FEANTSA, an umbrella organisation of homelessness bodies across Europe, said it was a scandal that so many homes have been allowed to lie empty. "You would only need half of them to end homelessness," he said.

That leaves some flats for refugees then.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 5th, 2015 at 06:00:22 AM EST
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