We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Why I think Al Bangura will be okay – and what it says about the immigration system

Patrick Crozier has views on the saga of footballer Al Bangura

Many of you will be vaguely aware of the Bangura affair. Al Bangura is the Watford footballer who is about to be deported to Sierra Leone, where, according to him, he is likely to be killed. For extra colour there is some stuff about a voodoo cult and the bizarre ruling that his being a professional footballer with excellent prospects do not count because Sierra Leone is not one of the top 75 football teams in the world. Go figure.

I should point out that I am a half-hearted Watford fan but this does not affect what I am about to say. I would say the same if the guy played for L*t*n. All it means is that I am slightly more familiar with the case.

I have no idea if what Bangura says is true. Frankly, it could be a pack of lies for all I care. Given the stakes involved: the best job in the world or exile to some African shithole, it would hardly be surprising if he were telling the odd porkie. But it does not matter. The way I see it the guy has every right to be here. Not because he is fleeing persecution, not because he is a good footballer, not because he pays his taxes or ‘enriches’ British culture…

But because he is a human being.

I think everybody should be able to live everywhere, subject, of course, to the usual libertarian provisos about property rights.

My guess is that sense and political manipulation of the judiciary will prevail. This has the potential to become a real cause celebre – you can just imagine the stink if he gets sent back to Sierra Leone and does indeed wind up dead – and because of that I do not think it will happen. Or if he does get deported he will soon find a job somewhere else. I hear LA Galaxy are looking to strengthen their midfield.

But it makes me think about all those who are not professional footballers – the ordinary joes who just want to make better lives for themselves or to escape the hope-crushing Kafka-with-machetes world that is so common in Africa. They have to face the more ordinarily-Kafkaesque world of the immigration system without the support of football clubs and their umpteen thousand supporters. For them the difference between prosperity and poverty hangs on a civil servant’s whim. The more honest must be tortured by debates over when to tell the truth and when to lie like crazy. It must be agony.

How the left and right share much in their world views

Over on The First Post, Richard Ehrman has written an article called Immigration: Britain’s wake-up call that gives us a splendid example of how the left and right generally share ‘meta-context’ (the unspoken axioms that we take for granted when we discuss something):

The new population projections are shocking […] Over the next 25 years, the Office of National Statistics expects the British population to rise to 71million, from 60m today. After that, it is on course to hit 75m by mid-century. […] And because we are not producing enough children to replace ourselves, most of this dramatic growth will be due to immigration. […] Population projections have proved wildly out in the past, so this latest version should be taken with a pinch of salt. But it should serve as a wake-up call, too.

If we are going to rely on immigrants to pay our pensions and do the jobs we don’t want to do, we are also going to have to build an awful lot of new houses, roads, schools and hospitals to accommodate them.

The fact the population is growing in Britain is shocking, apparently. Okay, yet for some reason I am not shocked. However why is this something we should regard as a “wake up call”? Personally I am hearing something more like a dinner bell being rung. Richard Ehrman is associated with Politeia, an allegedly market-friendly think tank, so why should ‘we’, by which I very strongly suspect he means ‘we-as-taxpayers’, be building houses, roads, schools and hospitals for anyone? In less benighted times the arrival of more people would have been referred to as a ‘growing market’ (i.e. a good thing) rather than an impending liability which needs a “wake-up call” to alert us to a problem.

Let me quote something very germane that was uttered yesterday at the Libertarian Alliance conference in London, by Shane Frith of Progressive Vision on more or less the same subject:

“The claim that immigration puts strain on ‘vital public services’ is a myth. The reality is that immigration only puts ‘pressure’ on the inefficient state sector such as state schools and NHS hospitals. Vital public services provided by the private sector welcome the additional customers. In the vital field of food supply, you don’t hear Tesco complaining that they hadn’t planned on the increased business – we face no food shortages. Neither does Vodafone struggle with the technical demands of providing mobile phones to all these immigrants. Immigration merely highlights the existing failure of the inefficient, unreformed state sector.”

Quite! If indeed much of Central Europe is decamping from their homelands and heading for this Sceptred Isle, what an excellent time to abolish the decrepit socialist legacy systems (which are rather like running 1980’s era computers in 2007 and then wondering why things do not work) that have inexplicably survived into the Twenty First century. Time to replace them with adaptive market driven approaches that are neither distorted nor crowded out by an idiotic and fantastically inefficient state run medical system, preposterous public sector housing and ever more dumbed down state schools. None of these things, not one, is logically something the state should have anything to do with. As I have argued before, perhaps the changing demographic realities may force exactly the sort of changes that should have been introduced decades ago.

And if that is true, it is yet another reason to thank the latest wave of immigrants. Guys, you might actually save us from ourselves.

Vitajte v Londyne!

Richard Miniter stops short

He could have taken his article to this conclusion but perhaps he thought the baggage that would come with it would distract from his intended points. In order for my ‘friendly amendment’ to make sense, it is important to understand what “multiculturalism” really means. Multiculturalism is not a recent ideology. Only the name is new. Most of you are far more familiar with it as “separate but equal”. Wikipedia says:

Multiculturalism is an ideology advocating that society should consist of, or at least allow and include, distinct cultural and religious groups, with equal status.

Separate but equal … segregationism. Multiculturalism as an ideology is diametrically opposed to integration and assimilation. Some have noted a difference in the formation of terrorists in America as compared with Europe but without necessarily attributing it to America’s still comparatively high cultural emphasis and expectation of newcomers to assimilate.

The absence of significant terrorist attacks or even advanced terrorist plots in the United States since Sept. 11 is good news that cannot entirely be explained by increased intelligence or heightened security. It suggests America’s Muslim population may be less susceptible than Europe’s Muslim population, if not entirely immune, to jihadist ideology. In fact, countervailing voices may exist within the American Muslim community.

So what does this have to do with Richard Miniter? → Continue reading: Richard Miniter stops short

The honest thieves

The other day I was watching the news and saw a story about a sudden influx of Romanian gypsy children into Slough (of all places). Several things struck me about the story.

Firstly, the children they interviewed were entirely candid about the reason they arrived in the UK: state welfare. They had come to Britain because they learned that all you have to do is turn up and you will be provided with free housing and food which is better than what they had in Romania.

They were entirely honest what their motives were. So I suppose unlike in Romania, they do not have to steal to support themselves, they are counting on the British state to do it for them. That said, several shopkeepers were also interviewed and they were aghast at the prospect of these new arrivals.

The second thing that really stuck me was the sheer idiocy of the spokesman that was quoted (I assume he was from Slough Council), who said “we are working to figure out how to reunite these children with their parents”, or words to that effect… as if these parasites were washed up after a storm rather than having intentionally travelled from Romania to Slough. Quite rightly the reporter commented that there was no indication these children were likely to oblige as they were clearly very satisfied with what they were being given.

However my guess is that once they have established themselves, they will indeed be “reunited with their parents”… who will arrive in the UK to do exactly the same.

It is interesting to contrast this with the highly successful influx of Polish, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian and now Baltic immigrants into the UK over the last few years. High initiative, quickly integrating Eastern Europeans attracted by the more dynamic economy of Britain, have joined the work force and broader British society generally to the noticeable benefit of everyone… but in this case in Slough, the welfare system has attracted the worst kind of bare faced parasites from a predatory sub-culture. An interesting contrast and proof yet again that ‘immigration’ is not a problem, it is immigration-plus-welfare-handouts that causes the problems.

F-word or N-word?

Myself I do not think the state should be in the business of subsidising housing. But if it is in that business then I do not think it is tolerable for the state to pick and choose whom to subsidise on the basis of other than individual circumstance – not group belonging.

New Labour minister Margaret Hodge begs to differ. She writes in The Observer today:

We should look at policies where the legitimate sense of entitlement felt by the indigenous family overrides the legitimate need demonstrated by the new migrants. We must debate these difficult questions.

If you have an ounce of conscience or historical background the questions [sic] are not difficult at all. Someone’s sense of entitlement does not trump someone else’s need – by which she necessarily implies it should curtail the second person’s legal rights – because the first person is ‘indigenous’. We know where that leads.

I have often suggested that the New Labour programme is a ‘soft’ form of fascism. I wonder now whether I was rude enough.

Has Mark Steyn got the wrong end of the demographic stick?

Mark Steyn is one of those writers on the “right” who, I suspect, are admired by the sort of folk who read this blog. He is very funny: some of his takedowns on movies and politics have got me laughing out loud. (P.J. O’Rourke remains the Emperor and tends to be less pessimistic and is more libertarian). I mostly supported Steyn’s take on the case for overthrowing Saddam – although I get the impression that he has gone rather quiet due to the mess of the subsequent Coalition occupation of that tortured country. More recently, Steyn has pushed the following thesis: Europe is headed for an Islamist takeover because Those People are, to use the late Orianna Fallaci’s charming expression, “breeding like rats”, and that in 20 years’ time, they’ll be beheading criminals in Birmingham, forcing women to cover up on the Cote’ D’Azur, and they’ll be no more boozing in the Munich Oktoberfest. We are, as Private Frazer would say in Dad’s Army, the old British sitcom, all doomed. No wonder a certain kind of American who tends to despise those “commie Europeans”, is lapping it up.

Steyn bases his thesis on demography. It is both the core but also the main weakness of his book. The problem I have with all such predictions is that the variables have a nasty habit of changing. Even a small change in the birth rate can have a huge impact on the subsequent growth rate of a population set. It is a bit like the law of compound interest. Even a small increase in cost of borrowing money or the yield on a stock can, over 10 years, make a big difference to a mutual fund or the size of your mortgage. Population growth statistics and predictions are like that. Remember the doomongering population scientist Paul Ehrlich? He bet that, by around now, the world’s population would have expanded so fast that we would be starving to death. As the late Julian L. Simon pointed out at the time, Ehrlich’s prediction was hooey. Erhlich overlooked a rather universal trait: as people get richer and no longer have to rely on big families to support parents in their dotage, birth rates fall. It seems to happen pretty much everywhere, including in those countries with very different religious and cultural traditions.

This makes me wonder a bit about whether Steyn is over-egging the point. Demographics is clearly a vital issue, not least in explaining why European growth rates might remain sluggish in the decades ahead. But I cannot help but wonder that Steyn is making the sort of bold extrapolations on population that he would be the first to mock if it was, say, the latest prediction about global warming. Conservatives like Steyn are usually skeptics about Big Predictions, so it seems a bit odd that he has taken up the demographic prediction game with such enthusiasm.

I do not think Steyn is a racist, although in a rather overheated review of his latest book, Johann Hari comes close to making that charge, although even Hari admits that Steyn makes some important points about the follies of multiculturalism and agrees that there is a serious problem with Islamic fundamentalism. But I think Hari does make the important point of questioning whether Steyn has let his own pessimism get the better of him.

Immigration successes… and disasters

It is of course too much to expect much rationality in the debate about immigration occurring on both sides of the Atlantic at the moment. I keep getting completely deranged e-mails from an outfit calling itself Conservative News NYC from across the puddle who are claiming that the USA and Mexico are in a de facto state of war due to the ‘invasion’ of the USA by illegal aliens. They also take the view that anyone who takes a more measured opinion on this is clearly a vile traitor. This is the same outfit who thinks any American who supports Israel is also a traitor, a word they rather like it seems, although of course they preface this with “but we’re not anti-Semitic”. No, of course not, perish the thought.

Now just because I think the fine fellows of Conservative News NYC are barking moonbats that does not mean all is well when it comes to immigration. There are indeed two groups in the USA (and one in the UK) who really are a problem. On both sides of the Atlantic we have an increasingly radicalised and non-integrating community of Muslims amongst whom support is very widespread for values completely antithetical to post-Enlightenment western civilisation.

Add to this in the United States the quite similar, at least in outlook if not action, ethnic fascists of La Raza, the one form of overt in-your-face racist fascism that seems to be quite acceptable for members of the American left to praise and with whom they are quite happy to share a stage (I guess being racist to white people is not really racism, eh Hilary?). At least one good thing about La Raza is that they are a lunatic fringe amongst Hispanics in the USA (much as Conservative News NYC are a radical lunatic fringe amongst US Conservatives). Of course the same could probably be said of Samizdata in many ways as we are hardly mainstream in many of the views we take, so it is not like I am against lunatic fringes per se.

Sadly the same cannot be said for much of the Muslim community who do indeed appear to share a wide range of views with the people we quite incorrectly call ‘extremists’… I say incorrect because it appears they actually reflect increasingly mainstream Muslim opinion, particularly in the UK. They are not extremists, they are merely practising Muslims who actually believe what their religious texts tell them to believe. The problem is not extremism, it is Islam itself and anyone who actually takes it seriously.

One thing both of these groups have in common is that they must be relentlessly confronted and cannot be compromised with or appeased in any way whatsoever. It really is ‘them or us’.

However… → Continue reading: Immigration successes… and disasters

The trouble with foreigners…

… is they are all racists, apparently. The paradox inherent in such a declaration might not be lost on Trevor Phillips, were he not now one of the official arbiters of what is and is not forbidden thought and speech in Britain.

How extraordinarily coincidental that this line should emerge from a New Labour appointee just before the Home Secretary is due to announce that settlement of Bulgarians and Romanians here will still be controlled after they become EU citizens.

‘Isaac Schrödinger’ – fear and loathing in the land of the pure

Much is made of bogus asylum seekers (with considerable justification) but in truth, the basic principle of countries in the west being a haven for those who are oppressed for reasons of their belief is a very righteous one indeed.

And that brings me to the case of ‘Isaac Shrödinger’, the pseudonymous Pakistan born ex-Muslim blogger who is currently seeking asylum in Canada. If ever there was something I would like to see more of in the west, it is ex-Muslims, apostates if you like, who are willing to talk about Islam and say it the way it is.

Read his article and perhaps do as I have done and drop your mouse heavily on his PayPal button to help with his legal expenses… it will give you some serious blogospherical karma points.

In praise of discrimination

What I am about for argue for may strike long time readers of Samizdata as strange, given that I have written so many articles deploring racism, calling for open borders and taking various pro-immigration positions. None of my views on those things have changed one iota but clearly Britain and the western world generally has a problem with the Muslim communities in their midst. If Muslims really do share a broad consensus of opposition to free speech and the social liberalism that defines us, then Muslims are quite unlike any other community who have demonstrably integrated and assimilated over time, such as the Irish, Poles, Afro-Caribbeans, Sikhs, Hindus, Chinese, etc.. If Britain’s Muslims wish to both be separate but also have a veto over how non-Muslims are permitted to discuss them, then they are a cohesive political and social problem. So how does a tolerant, cosmopolitan, pro-immigration, free market capitalist, social individualist (‘libertarian’ if you insist) react to the threat posed by an intolerant and even barbaric cultural-religious minority in the midst of his society? Here is where I put myself ‘beyond the pale’ with some people. The short answer is… discrimination.

I have long argued that intolerant Islamic values are a problem that needs to be opposed, not accommodated. However people in the Muslim community need to be opposed not for being Muslims but for refusing to integrate into British society. As so many ethnic groups have successfully (even if not always effortlessly) integrated and assimilated into tolerant British society, the problem is not mass immigration, the problem is Islam and the antithetical values it brings. In short, the problem is Muslim mass immigration and the refusal to reciprocate tolerance for tolerance.

However it is important to keep in mind that Islam is not a race or an ethnicity, it is a religion, and therefore it is a choice. As a result, when the BBC says that the police have arrested a group of “Asian men on suspicion of terrorist offenses”, they are doing everyone a great dis-service by making a remark which is by any reasonable definition racist in the most literal sense. It does not matter that the people in question are ‘Asian’, what matters is that they are Muslim. Race and ethnicity is not the issue and to suggest otherwise is racist: the political consequences of a specific religion and its associated culture, that is the issue. → Continue reading: In praise of discrimination

Minimum wage and immigration

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of economics is aware what a scam a ‘minimum wage’ is. When an artificial bottom placed on hourly rates is raised ,there are only two rational responses an employer can make: fire anyone whose value is now less than their cost; or raise prices to cover the added cost of doing business.

The raising of prices following a minimum wage hike sends ripples through the economy, like those of a handful a pebbles tossed into a farm pond. At some point everything damps out and the steady state returns. No new value has been created by the higher wages so the end result is roughly enough inflation to wipe out the change.

This analysis misses a detail however. The economy does not respond instantaneously. There is a time lag during which recipients have more purchasing power. They will pay for it later of course: TANSTAAFL. But from the viewpoint of a politician if the gain can be timed to properly coincide with something of value to them, say an election, it is a win. The pain comes later and memories are shorter than the interval betwixt elections.

I realized this morning there is a way in which politicians can hide much of the pain indefinitely: illegal immigration. Think it through. Raise the minimum wage in an environment where there is cheap, willing labour, undocumented and outside the system. What is the rational employer response? Raise wages for legal employees and export the costs to the undocumented workers. Illegal immigrants are not voters so this is a win-win situation to both the ruling class and those who keep them there. The voters get a higher real wage and living standard because the inflationary cost has been shifted. The pain has been exported outside the political game.

Statist politicians cannot do anything about illegal immigration because if they stop it, the deferred inflation will cause prices to rise enough to erase the excess income of their constituents. Employers will have to either drop low end jobs or else raise prices to support them. Voters will not be happy and it is well known the wallet is a bigger determinate of election outcomes than just about anything else. So, QED, illegal immigration is now a structural requirement of the centralized Western bureaucratic state.

A second force drives the need for cheap labour: the demographic transition in modern societies leads to a lowering of birthrates and a consequent labour shortage. Some places, like Japan, are looking to solve this with robots: the real deal kind. Less closed societies are covering the short fall with immigration of both legal and illegal varieties.

There is simply no practical way out of the situation in the short run and politics is all about delaying pain in hopes it will either go away or happen after you are gone.

Legality has nothing to do with it.

There’s plenty of action going on in my last post on immigration. Much is being made in the comments about the distinction between legal and illegal immigration. As ‘permanant expat’ put it:

“Unrestricted” immigration, as practiced by most (Socialist) European governments is a BAD THING…..period. Anyone unable to understand that is living on another planet.
Illegal immigration is a TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE THING…..period. Anyone who doesn’t understand that lives far, far away in another galaxy….
Immigration is a “Death Star”…..but there’s no Luke Skywalker anywhere to be seen.

Out here on the planet Liberty, it strikes me that this distinction between legal and illegal immigration is spurious. Immigration should be discussed on its merits, and merit is NOT something that is dispensed by legislative agencies.

It always surprises me that many ‘libertarians’ who shout the loudest for the free trade in goods and services, are apparently willing to turn around and argue all for government intervention when it comes to the freedom of movement in people.