Welcome the Skilled Workers of…Tomorrow? 2025? Never?

Via Steve Sailer, excerpts of a Financial Times articles entitled 'Most refugees to be jobless for years, German minister warns': 

Up to three quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time, according to a government minister, in a stark admission of the challenges the country faces in integrating its huge migrant population.

Aydan Özoğuz, commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration, told the Financial Times that only a quarter to a third of the newcomers would enter the labour market over the next five years, and “for many others we will need up to 10”.

…Initially, the influx of so many working-age, highly-motivated immigrants spurred optimism that they would mitigate Germany’s acute skills shortage and solve the demographic crisis posed by its dangerously low birth rate. Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of carmaker Daimler, said the refugees could lay the foundation for the “next German economic miracle”.

But those hopes have faded as a new realism about the migrants’ lack of qualifications and language skills sinks in. “There has been a shift in perceptions,” Ms Özoğuz told the FT. Many of the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Germany were doctors and engineers, but they were succeeded by “many, many more who lacked skills”.

Or, to put it another way, 'German minister finally abandons airbrushing propaganda'. Anyone with reasonable experience of the world could immediately see, in real time, that most of the 2015 arrivals weren't going integrate into Germany. All you had to do was use common sense and knowledge of the world, two aspects of the human condition which were declared to be verboten in Germany from August 2015 to January 1, 2016. 

Those of us who clung to them immediately saw that most of these young males were going to have a hard time integrating, based on the following evidence:

First, most of the new arrivals didn't look very smart or conscientious. Studies show (pdf) that complete strangers can make judgments about someone based only on a photograph with better-than-random accuracy. And of course, we do this all the time, every day, for very good reasons. If I showed you a photograph of people leaving a monster truck rally, and people leaving a classical music concert — showing only their faces — you'd be able to tell which was which. We make these sorts of judgments every time we leave the house, and they're generally pretty reliable. If they weren't, we'd soon notice.

Second, When they were interviewed, all but a few of the migrants showed complete ignorance of the countries they were bound for, which were invariably Germany or Sweden. They knew not a single word of either of those languages, and were ignorant of the history, climate, food, culture, or even size of these countries. When asked why they wanted to go to Sweden or Germany, they always responded because there is money, jobs, work there and Merkel invited us and they need workers and they're building houses for us (g). Occasionally, some would say they had 'relatives' in some German or Swedish city or another. What you almost never heard was "I have an affinity for German culture", or "I believe I can contribute", or "I studied German for five years in school", or "I heard Firm X needs 800 welders, and I have 10 years experience in exactly that kind of welding".

Three, Some of the new arrivals said they were fleeing war or persecution in their home countries. But for every one who said that, there were at least 5 who said they had left their home countries because there were "no opportunities" (keine Perspektiven) for them there. Since most of these interviews were conducted by notoriously gullible German journalists, no follow-up questions were asked. The average German journalist has only a liberal-arts education in which things such as demand curves, marginal cost v. sunk cost, economies of scale, amortization, etc. never come up.

Their only understanding of how national economies work comes from moralizing discussions by leftist sociologists and philosophers, who themselves are usually ignorant of basic economic principles. The journalists therefore graduate knowing as much about how the economy works as a theology student knows about quantum mechanics. The problem is that a theologian can do his job perfectly well without knowing quantum mechanics, but a journalist cannot do his without at least some basic understanding of economic principles. To most German journalists, the "economy" is just a mysterious black box designed by those in power, whether intentionally or not, to exploit the poor. Really, what more is there to know?

So when the "refugee" said they had no prospects at home, the German journalist just shook his head in commiseration at the injustice of the world, thinking of some suitable Brecht poem about how the working class are eternally screwed no matter where they live. While the sensible viewer at home said: Why don't you ask him why he couldn't find a job? After all, even in poor countries, most able-bodied males are able to find work. Why can't this guy? Perhaps because he has no skills? Perhaps because he can't read? Perhaps because he stole from his last employer? Perhaps because he's a drug-dealing murderer like Hamza?

But no, the typical German journalist will never ask these things (even though he would consider them very relevant for someone of his social class) because the poor are to be regarded as a fungible mass, not as individuals with agency just like him.

In any event, German is now stuck with these people. My personal 20-60-20 prediction hasn't changed much since 2015: The brightest 20% (mostly those who already have an education or job skills) will probably make a successful transition, learning fluent German, getting jobs, and living independently. The bottom 20% will never learn anything but a few crude phrases, and will drift off into the underworld of black-market labor, organized crime, prostitution, and/or drug dealing. The middle 60% will learn a functional form of pidgin German relevant to whatever work they find, which will be intermittent, low-paid labor on construction sites or in warehouses or in government-subsidized job programs. They will never master German grammar or general vocabulary, and will always speak their native language at home. Perhaps a few will find stable work which will actually get them off the welfare rolls, but most won't.

If only German politicians had accepted these obvious facts when they were evident to most people, we could have had a much more honest debate.

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.”

European Welfare States and Immigration

Christopher Caldwell's 2009 book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, is the best book on the European experience with Muslim immigration out there. It avoids the hysterical doom-mongering that plagues North American neo-conservatives and geriatric European reactionaries on this issue. But because Caldwell is an American and is therefore not bound by European taboos, he makes a lot of points which are rarely addressed in Europe.

His 2009 interview in Der Spiegel remains as relevant as ever, since the problems remain basically the same, even as their scale increases: 

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you suggesting there is no open discussion about Islam in Europe?

Caldwell: I think these things are getting much more openly debated than a few years ago. In the Netherlands and Denmark you do have a contentious debate. I think a lot of Danes and Dutch aren't really proud of the way their populist parties are discussing the issue of immigration, but it's generally much better if things are discussed openly….

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In your book, "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe," you cast a skeptical light on Europe's relationship with its Muslim immigrants. In your view, do Muslim immigrants pose a threat to the Continent?

Caldwell: I don't speak of a threat, exactly. This is a very important distinction. The debate up until now has been marked by two extremes. On the one side you have the doomsayer extreme, the people who say Islam is "taking over" Europe. On the other, you have people with the point of view that there's no problem at all, except racism. I think both positions are wrong, and I have tried to set a new tone.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Nevertheless, when reading your book, one leaves it with the impression that you think Europe will have real trouble integrating its Muslim immigrants.

Caldwell: Islam poses difficulties that other immigrant groups do not. Part of it is the growth of political Islam in the world in the last half-century. A large minority of European Muslims feel solidarity with the Muslim community abroad, and they feel at the same time that the West is at war with this world. That makes the transition into a European identity more difficult. But I think the problems at the cultural level are more important.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Such as?

Caldwell: A lot of overly optimistic people expect Muslims to give up, or to modify, their religion over time. They're going to change in some way, but we don't really know how. And attitudes around religion provide a lot of potential for conflict — the attitudes towards women, towards family relations, sexual freedom or gay rights.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The percentage of Muslims in the European population is very low. The total is about 5 percent.

Caldwell: Right. The population of Western Europe is about 400 million, and there are about 20 million Muslims. Nevertheless, the population (of Muslims) continues to grow.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But to what extent is it really growing? You base this argument on a higher birth rate, but a number of studies suggest that in the second or third generations, immigrants have birthrates closer to the national average.

Caldwell: That is true. There are two things that will cause the immigrant descended population in Europe to grow in the coming years. One is that immigrants are still coming and the other is that birth rates, although they are falling, are still higher. But the real issue is not the size of the immigrant population. It is that their culture needs to be accommodated within Europe in a way that requires Europe to change its structures….

SPIEGEL ONLINE: To what extent are your views shaped by the fact that you're an American?

Caldwell: As an outsider, one has the advantage of seeing parallels between European countries as well as differences. I come from a country that has experience with a multiethnic society, and America's history has some lessons for Europe. Just because the European Muslim community is a small one does not mean it is uninfluential or that it can be ignored or that the problems surrounding it are trivial and will go away. Blacks have traditionally made up about only about 10 percent of the US population. But we have a horrible history of race conflict that has shaken our country for centuries.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is America more successful when it comes to integrating immigrants?

Caldwell: For now, yes. I think the first reason is the ruthlessness of the American economy. You either become a part of it or you go home. There are more foreigners in the workplace, and that's where a lot of integration happens. And because most immigrants are in the workplace, you never hear, as you do in Europe, that immigrants don't want to work. No American would dream of saying that.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why do you think that's the case?

Caldwell: There is no welfare state on the scale of that in Europe, and I think welfare states are a bad fit for large-scale immigration. In an ethnically diverse society, people are less familiar with each other, and they are correspondingly less willing to pay taxes for social benefits. Two-thirds of the imams in France are on welfare. There is nothing wrong with being an imam. But I don't think the French are very happy about paying what is effectively a state subsidy for religion in that way.

The welfare state is a key distinction. I can't count the number of times people have asked me: "But you come from America, the nation of immigrants! How can you be so skeptical about Europe doing what America's been doing for centuries?"

The first answer is, of course, that European countries aren't nations of immigrants. Historians will often try to disprove this by pointing to ancient population flows, but they never convince anyone (not least because those population flows were usually accompanied by massive bloodshed). The fact is that European countries have established, centuries-old traditions and attitudes that are odd and opaque to outsiders, but which mean something to people born there.

More importantly, the European welfare state is an obstacle to integrating low-skilled foreigners, because it means they never have to work. Of course, most of them do eventually find jobs, but at rates lower than the native population. The U.S. gives immigrants nothing. They are expected to find jobs by themselves, without hand-holding by the state. Sink or swim.

Of course, immigrant Americans do end up on welfare more frequently than the native population, but America has an Anglo-Saxon welfare state that provides temporary assistance during down times. It is telling that the former U.S. welfare program called "Aid to Families with Dependent Children" was renamed in 1996 to "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families".

Temporary. You will get help for some time, but then it will stop, and you'll need to find another solution: Move in with family members, sell your possessions, beg on the streets. But preferably, you'll find a job. Will there be a welfare case-worker there to help you find it? No, you'll have to find one yourself. Same thing if you're an immigrant. 

Northern European welfare systems, by contrast, provide a permanent, unconditional lifelong cushion of support. (Southern European welfare systems aspire to this but don't have the money or organizational competence to genuinely deliver it). If you simply choose never to even try to find a job, you will continue receiving health insurance, rent support for a small individual apartment, and a basic income, no matter what. It will be anything but luxurious, but it can never be terminated, because the state must guarantee every person in its borders a basic level of existence required by human dignity.

Thus, Americans tend to look at unskilled immigrants as thrifty, God-fearing, hard-working types willing to do nasty jobs. Europeans tend to look at unskilled immigrants as yet another potential addition to the welfare rolls. They're not wrong: in 2006 every fourth welfare recipient (g) in Germany was a foreigner. And that number has skyrocketed: a recent government report leaked to the press showed that as refugees leave the program of temporary refugee assistance and enter the official government welfare rolls, the number only of non-European foreign welfare recipients shot up 132% from 2015 to 2016 — an increase of about 400,000, to a total of 698,872 (g).

That's a whole lot of people to support, potentially for life, with free government-financed education, housing, healthcare, and welfare. Of course, some of these people will seek and find jobs. But they'll be in direct competition with low-skilled native workers. Low-skilled workers have noticed that their wages have stagnated with decades. They are also going to notice fresh competition from hundreds of thousands of foreigners willing to work for a fraction of their wages.

But hundreds of thousands of these newcomers with either never look for a job, or never find one. And plenty of Germans will ask a simple question:

"How does it benefit Germany — or me — for politicians to import hundreds of thousands of foreigners who will simply live here on welfare until they die?"

Of course, many members of the urban haute bourgeoisie, and probably all church officials, will react with outrage to this question. But that's not going to stop people from asking it, and demanding answers.

Getting High and Assembling IKEA = Hikea

When I was growing up in the 1980s in the USA, the anti-drug hysteria which had gripped the country was at its peak. The massed forces of mainstream pop and political culture drummed a constant message into us youngsters: drugs are dangerous, they permanently damage your brain, they're for losers, one criminal conviction and your entire life will be ruined, you'll have flashbacks, the people you buy them from are dangerous predators.

At least once a week, some prime-time television show would feature a Very Special Episode in which a character took that first fateful toke and then dropped off the deep end, reappearing several episodes later as a scabby-faced ruin selling herself at the truck stop, snorting evil-looking granules through her Harvard diploma.

As might be expected, this drove the more adventurous among us young people to try all the drugs. But doing them was a frightening experience — what if one of those warnings turned out to be true? What if we really were frying our brains forever? What if the trip would never end, and we'd end up gibbering in some mental ward?

And yet, every time we did drugs, it was fine. We had loads of fun, learned a lot, didn't get addicted, and there was no permanent damage. Even a bad trip was just an unpleasant few hours, afterwards everything was back to normal. In the early 2000s, American pop culture gradually changed, and began treating drug use as just a part of growing up. People noticed when the HBO series Six Feet Under featured characters doing drugs, having fun, and returning to their (relatively) normal lives, none the worse for wear. Just as I and all of my friends had done.

And now we've come full-circle. The two young folks above allow themselves to be filmed taking LSD, a crime which, in the worst-case scenario (which won't apply to nice middle-class kids like this), can still earn you a prison sentence in all American states. Yet I'm certain no police department is ever going to bother to track them down, arrest them, and get them to snitch on their dealer, threatening to destroy their entire fucking lives unless they cooperate. And after the trip is over and they've sort of tried to build that dresser, they're fine.

And despite modern America largely abandoning terrifying anti-drug propaganda, drug use among young Americans has declined steadily. You could almost conclude that the propaganda had the opposite of its intended effect.

There might be a lesson here for all of us, no?

‘Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece’

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"Tom, museum curator and expert in Renaissance jewelry, doesn’t think his boyfriend Peter is 'The One.' Peter is perfectly happy with Tom, but Tom is obsessed with the artist Benedetto Emilio Nesci—exciting, passionate, extraordinarily talented… and dead for over 400 years. 

Tasked with researching a bejeweled codpiece, Tom abandons his professional ethics—and his sanity—to try on the codpiece and is transported halfway around the world and back in time, right into Florence, Italy and Nesci’s workroom."

Read more here.

Germany is Not ‘Doing Away with Itself’ and Will Never be Islamized

I must say, following the migrant crisis is most stimulating. But just for clarity's sake, I want to draw a few lines.

I am definitely not a believer in the silly thesis of Eurabia, or, to quote the title of Thilo Sarrazin's 2010 book, that Germany is 'doing away with itself' ('Deutschland schafft sich ab'). It's also silly to talk about the 'Islamization' of Europe.

Germany is not destroying itself and will never be Islamized. There are 4 million Muslims living in Germany right now, and most are, of course, productive, law-abiding citizens. Residents of German with non-German roots have in aggregate lower incomes and less education than ethnic Germans. They are also disproportionately likely to commit crimes and live on social welfare benefits. But the vast majority don't do these things, of course. And the social deficits of 'Muslims' as a whole mask huge differences within the German Muslim population. The principal reason for these somewhat disappointing numbers are Germany's 2.2 million Turks, who do much worse than Germans on almost every measure of social adjustment. Other Muslim subgroups do better than ethnic Germans.

Even the incorporation of 3 million new mostly-Muslim migrants won't change this state of affairs much. We're just beginning to get information about the migrants coming in now. The consensus seems to be that about 20% have college degrees, and the average level of education seems to be about 6th grade. Assuming they stay, about 30% will probably be able to learn fluent German, and another 30% will learn acceptable German. The top 20-30% in terms of cognitive ability and education — the engineers, lawyers, doctors, accountants, nurses, teachers, pharmacists, dentists, etc. — will adapt successfully to life in Germany. They may not be able to practice their former profession, but they'll find work and integrate easily.

The next-lower 30-40% will get some sort of work, possibly after a very long delay. They'll find work in areas in which a limited knowledge of German isn't a problem. Warehouse worker, tailor, cashier, butchers' or bakers' assistant, mover, electrician, nurses' aide, home healthcare worker, helper in a family-run shop or waiter in a family-run restaurant, Uber driver, park groundskeeper, janitor, etc. The kind of thing that immigrants do now in Germany.

The least-qualified 30-40% will live off social welfare benefits and odd jobs. They won't ever learn more than a rudimentary vocabulary of 500-1000 words, and will be disproportionately likely to commit crimes.

The Magic Pixie Dust crowd wants us to see all the new migrants as a wonderful opportunity. They will immediately start inventing fabulous new products, obediently work themselves stiff, teach Germans how to love again, and fill our neighborhoods with nothing but Vibrant Diversity™. The doomsayers say they'll never find jobs, they'll all turn into criminals, they'll carry out terrorist attacks, live off social welfare benefits for generations after generation, and drag Germany down into poverty and mediocrity.

Neither the Magic Pixie Dust crowd nor the doomsayers are right, if you ask me. The current crop of migrants will have hugely diverse experiences. Some will turn out successful, others,. as I have argued, will greatly increase the scale of existing social problems in German inner cities. I think this is not a good policy outcome, which is why I have been highlighting the very real problems migrants will bring with them. But none of these problems will come within light-years of destabilizing German or any other European society. All West European countries currently have severe social problem in their inner cities, and most have much worse problems than Germany. At no point have these social problems come anywhere near close to threatening the overall stability or prosperity of these countries. And they never will. The numbers just aren't there, and never will be.

And as for Islamization, this is also a chimera. The new immigrants are also going to have a huge variety of approaches to Islam, from fervent fundamentalism to a totally secular viewpoint. Most of the women wear headscarves, but I know from experience that you can't tell anything merely from this practice. So they'll build more mosques in Germany. So what? Doesn't bother me. More than 9 out of 10 Germans will still not be Muslim. The number of Germans who convert to Islam will continue being infinitesimally small. Contemporary Germans are simply not interested in any traditional religion of any flavor, except perhaps Buddhism.

As for undermining 'German values', this is also a silly nebulous fear. How can a country in which the most popular movie in recent years was called 'Fuck You, Goethe!' (misspelled in German!) claim that the masses are still nourished by the elegance of Weimar classicism? As is the case all over the world, Minecraft and Apple will be a thousand times more culturally influential on the average German, whatever their religion, than supposed 'traditional' German values which are kept alive only among aging cohorts of the educated bourgeoisie.

And no, Muslims are not going to take over Europe. Muslim families will probably continue being somewhat larger, but only for a few generations. And as for the notion of millions of Muslims totally swamping Europe, that is not going to happen. As foolish as I find current EU/German policy, the notion that Europe would actually admit massive flows of tens or hundreds of millions of Muslims is just silly. As we have seen recently, European governments can be moved to swift action once they (belatedly) realize the scope of the crisis. There are still open-borders dreamers in the ivory tower, but in the current political climate, they are being totally ignored. 

Macho Behavior by Arab Students Causes Problems in German Schools, Says Immigrant Teacher

The FAZ visits a classroom in Bavaria where migrant children, including a 13-year-old Afghan boy going to school for the first time, get multilingual instruction (g) before being integrated into all-German classrooms. 

The instructor, himself an immigrant from Kazakhstan, tells the reporter that students are generally highly-motivated, but…(my translation): "it's mostly the children from Arabic cultures who cause problems, in part because of their 'macho' behavior." The reporter then writes nothing to see here, people, move along "But at least today there was none of that on display."

You know, if I were a reporter from a country which is currently inviting hundreds of thousands of completely unknown, unvetted young males from faraway Arabic cultures into its schools and workplaces, I might have expressed a bit more curiosity as to the nature and scope of those "problems." Especially since the source isn't a foaming-at-the-mouth white supremacist but an experienced teacher who himself is an immigrant from a Muslim country.

Is it merely a matter of rude comments? Innocent misunderstandings? Classroom disruption? Beatings? Intimidation? Degrading treatment of female classmates?

I guess we'll never know.

Migrant Children in Germany: “We Love Hitler!”

Ask any German who's lived in the Arab world for a while and interacted with normal people, and you will almost always hear of Arabs who admire, even love Adolf Hitler. Some of the ones I know even stopped identifying themselves as Germans in conversation, to avoid that blood-chilling moment when their conversation partner would say: 'Adolf Hitler very good man! Hero!' It has happened to me — and not just in Arab countries — when I identified myself as German to avoid getting into long conversations about American foreign policy.

But of course it's not just an Arab problem by any stretch. It happened to me most recently on a park bench in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria, where a man who borrowed a cigarette from me started chatting and revealed that he had once lived and worked in Germany but his work permit had been revoked because 'the Jews up there' didn't want more 'Christian Bulgarians' in the country. I was tempted to try to enlighten him, but really, where do you even begin with a comment like that?

Remember, we are not talking about the 15-20% of the educated elite of these societies, who either understand the evil of Hitler or know enough not to discuss the issue with foreigners. We are talking about ignorant or illiterate people. Their views are shaped by attitudes passed down through generations (and either tolerated or encouraged by their governments) and never challenged by an educated person.

But that doesn't mean we have to let these backward prejudices into Germany. Commenter KS brings a report from the front lines of migrant education in Germany right now which I thought worthy of hoisting to the main page: 

When I finished school in 2005, I travelled around some time in Egypt and Jordan and I was astonished by the fact, that the old-fashioned anti-semitism, that I only knew from history books, creepy internet-pages and grandma's honest moments, was pretty much political mainstream in these countries. Including the admiration of Hitler. (I mean, I expected some hatred towards Israel – but the arguments about filthy, conspiring jews were an exact copy of European anti-semitism.) Today I work as a teacher in a class in which pupils, who just came to Germany, learn the German language, before they can attend the regular classes.

Last week I taught about German history. Now my pupils were astonished by the fact, that Germany doesn't admire Hitler anymore. "Aber alle lieben Hitler!" ("But everyone loves Hitler!") was one of the reactions, by a Macedonian boy with a christian-orthodox background by the way. Two boys from Syria applauded him. So I asked politely (to get an honest reaction): "Wer von euch liebt Hitler?" ("Who of you loves Hitler?") Five out of eleven children raised their hands: the two guys from Syria (Kurdish Muslims), two Macedonians (Christian-Orthodox) and one guy from Somalia (Muslim). The children who didn't raise their hands were Roma and two boys from Portugal.

It's hard to imagine anything more depressing than young children taught to admire Hitler, isn't it? Now you could look at this as a glass-half-full optimist: at least these kids will be able to escape the miasma of ignorance and prejudice that poisons their countries of origin (and helps explain why their countries of origin have so many problems). At least they'll escape it while they're in school. Certain schools, that is. At home is a different story.

And I would agree with you, to a point. But an intensive re-education program requires significant resources. It might well work with 10,000, 20,000 or even 50,000 fresh migrants. But with 800,000+? And the millions who will follow thanks to family reunification? Not a chance. If policies don't change quickly, Germany may end up importing millions of new residents — 3-4% of its entire population — who despise Jews and admire Hitler.

I think that's a serious public-policy issue that should be openly and frankly debated right now, don't you?

What I’d Do To/With/For the Immigrants

So, I've been rather hard on Germany's immigration policies lately. But it's not sporting to criticize the authorities without suggesting a workable alternative — no magic pixie dust. Here's a rough sketch of one, off the top of my head. Let me know what you think in comments.

First, the pragmatic (or, to skeptics, cynical) principles and/or real-world constraints on which the policy is based:

  1. Immigration policy should put the interests of that country's citizens first. Other interests come into play, but in any democratic country, the will of the people should rule, as long as it is consistent with basic human-rights principles. There is no human-rights principle that says a national of one country has a right to live abroad simply because he or she wishes to. Uncontrolled free migration has never been and will never be a human right.
  2. Every country has a tolerance limit on the number of people from foreign cultures which it can accommodate without negative consequences. The more remote the culture from which the immigrant comes, the bigger the potential for problems. 
  3. The only successful, permanent solutions to the problems behind current refugee flows must come from within the affected countries, through a process of reconciliation and economic development. Germany should support these processes, and does so right now, however imperfectly and inconsistently. Germany's policies under the Nazi era were repugnant, and Germany has historical responsibilities growing out of them. Allowing uncontrolled mass migration is not one of those responsibilities. The difficulties of foreign countries thousands of miles away cannot be solved by German immigration policy, and can be made worse, for instance by brain drain.
  4. Germany cannot fix the root causes of current migration. Germany has no influence on the civil war in Syria. None of the state parties who are supporting proxies in Iraq or Syria (Iran, Russia, Gulf Arab States, etc.) cares about Germany's opinion, or the opinion of the EU. Conditions in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the West Balkans cannot be remedied by any German or EU policy short of military intervention, which should not and will not occur.
  5. Those who are permitted to resettle temporarily in Germany for humanitarian reasons should be selected, to the greatest extent possible, on the basis of greatest objective need and/or danger, as determined by current international human-rights law.

With those in mind, here's my 11-point sketched-on-a-cocktail-napkin plan:

  1. International bodies should drastically increase funding for refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and other areas near war zones. Funding is beginning to dwindle, causing conditions in those camps to deteriorate. For humanitarian and practical reasons, this must be reversed. No matter how many refugees the EU accepts, as a practical matter, most refugees are going to stay in those camps, and conditions need to be improved there.
  2. The EU should build a high-tech fence around its external borders with non-EU nations. The 'dream' of a borderless Europe cannot survive a reality in which large disparities in the standard of living exist. And in fact it is now dead. Sooner or later, fences will be built and patrols increased. Better sooner than later. And when I talk about disparities in standard of living, I am talking about northwest Europe. No MENA migrant is saying to herself: 'If only I could get to Moldova, Albania, or Serbia!' They don't even want to get to Greece, Italy, or Spain. They all want to get to places that have relatively sophisticated and tolerant societies and strong economies. Eastern European states are on the frontline, but they are not the destination. Routine traffic and train checks within the Schengen borders should be increased based on algorithmic modeling of human-smuggling routes.
  3. The punishment for someone convicted of human smuggling will be a minimum of 5 years in prison, followed by deportation, if applicable. If serious injury occurs to migrants, minimum 7 years. If death, minimum 10 years. No exceptions, unless you testify against the other members of the smuggling ring. These harsh penalties should be used as bargaining chips against small fry to get them to inform on higher-ups. Surveillance, sting operations and undercover informants should be used liberally to infiltrate smuggler groups. If these sound like harshly repressive methods, that's because they are. Governments can and should use severe methods against harmful, dangerous exploitation. And these methods work: they decimated the American mafia, which was once thought to be invulnerable. I bet a lot of cops currently enforcing pointless marijuana laws would prefer to fight human smuggling.
  4. None of these measures will stop migration, of course, but they will reduce it substantially, and will gather data for better interdiction strategies. To have controlled, humane, rational, fair system of migration, there is no alternative to a strong, secure border. In the era of drones, satellites, and GPS, this is actually not an insurmountable problem. Where will the funding come from? Some will come from reduced numbers of migrants. Other funding will have to be found. But since there will be overwhelming support for this project in places like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria, I suspect the funding will be found. If you go to Hungary and say: 'Here's €100 million — now please take tens of thousands of new immigrants from Africa and the Middle East', Hungary will say — and has said — no way. Never. Over my dead body. Not in a million years. Hungary will not change its mind on its own, and there is no way to force it to change its policy. If you go to Hungary and say: 'The EU wants to give you €100 million to build a secure, reliable, modern border fence so that you can better control who enters your country', the response will be 'Yes, please!'
  5. All states within Europe, perhaps with the exception of Belarus, should be declared safe countries of origin. All migrants from Albania, Kosovo, etc. should be swiftly deported unless they can qualify for refugee status, meaning they fear for their lives because of war, or other grave threats specifically directed at them personally. Relative poverty does not justify refugee status. Nor do allegations of discrimination, unless they directly threaten life. The stupid code of blood revenge in Albania is definitely not Germany's problem, and not a reason to grant refugee status. The tiny fraction of rural Albanians still involved in this foolish and illegal practice should be encouraged to abandon it, as their fellow citizens already have.
  6. All migrants who arrive in any Western European country should be fingerprinted and have a DNA analysis performed and stored in a secure EU-wide database. They're already fingerprinted, of course, but DNA analysis is cheap and much more reliable.
  7. Germany should set up stations in refugee camps near the Syrian border and at embassies and consulates in other problem areas. Applications will be processed there, at the site. If refugee status is granted, the person will be granted an entry visa into Germany and permitted to travel normally. They will be met at the airport and taken to housing and set up with benefits. They will be permitted to stay as long as the situation in their country of origin justifies. Once the situation stabilizes, they will be returned to their home country. Refugee status was never meant to be permanent. If they have spent a long time in Germany and made a successful transition to German society, they may apply for residency status or citizenship.
  8. Migrants who arrive in Germany without refugee status will be housed in humane detention centers. Their movements will be monitored with ankle bracelets to ensure they do not disappear into the illegal underground. If they do any serious lawbreaking during the period of detention, they will be immediately deported — no questions asked, no appeals. They will be given lawyers and permitted to make a case for refugee status or another argument for being granted residency. If that is denied, and their appeals fail, they will be deported within one month. They will also be warned that if they attempt to return, they will be imprisoned. If they go underground, they will be subject to immediate deportation upon discovery — no questions asked, no appeals.
  9. In consultation with other EU member states, Germany will set an annual upper limit on the number of humanitarian migrants, including refugees, which it will harbor. I'd suggest something like 250,000 per year. A million refugees a year is not sustainable for Germany. Some of those will be allocated for urgent humanitarian cases, such as people with medical conditions that can't be treated in their country, or people who are faced with immediate, deadly threats because of severe, government-sponsored persecution or war. Grants of refugee or humanitarian status should be based on selection for greatest need/threat. They should be rationed out so that the yearly maximum is not exceeded. The willingness of other EU countries to accept refugees will surely increase once secure borders exist and they know that they will be expected only to accommodate a set number of refugees known in advance.
  10. This will mean that thousands of people who do qualify as refugees under international law will be rejected by Germany because Germany has hit its yearly limit. This is unfortunate, but the number of refugees that Germany can handle should and must be determined by Germany, not by the number of refugees out there. Germany will debate about how many refugees it should accept per year, and those who get the most votes for their number limit should win. Those refugees who are rejected by Germany should be encouraged to apply for refugee status in another country, with a notice that Germany found their claims justified, but has no room under the quota.
  11. As for non-humanitarian policy, German should institute a points system to attract immigrants who have shown a specific interest in migrating to Germany and have relevant job and language skills. There should be quotas to ensure that this immigration is spread out among numerous countries, to avoid (excessive) brain-drain effects. If you want to foster a harmonious and welcoming attitude toward immigrants, the best thing you can do is make sure most of the ones you let in are well-educated, employed and productive, bringing ideas and skills that will make them an immediate benefit to everyone, including members of the native population.