guardian.co.uk: While the European left dithers, the right marches menacingly on

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: There are many factors that are fueling the rise of nativist right-wing populist parties in Europe. One of these is the global economic recession after September 2008, which was triggered by the bankruptcy of US banking group Lehman Brothers. Another factor has been the lack of any effective opposition to a message that aims to polarize society further.

The rise of xenophobia in Finland, for example, has been fueled by the Perussuomalaiset and little to no opposition by the media to their xenophobic message, according to a doctoral dissertation by Camila Haavisto.

Wilt Hutton’s column below attempts to answer the main challenges facing Europe on the right-wing populist front. He writes: “The trouble is that the longer the left’s response is confused, the more the populist right has begun to make anti-immigrant attitudes culturally acceptable (in Europe).”

Probably the first question we should ask is why the message of right-wing populist parties, which the PS is a part of, are unacceptable in today’s Europe?

Like much of the ongoing debate, your view depends on where you stand: Are you a target or the one attacking immigrants? Are you white or black? Muslim or Christian?

How do you think Europeans should address the right-wing populist message and challenge?

_____________

Wilt Hutton

Immigration: The longer the left’s response is confused, the more the populist right begins to make xenophobia acceptable.  It is hard not to be very uneasy. Every month, there is another milestone passed in the ever onward march of Europe’s populist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, nativist right.

Read whole story.

Here is a comprehensive story by HBL (in Swedish) on the rise of right-wing populism in Europe.

  1. Allan

    The message of the left is what is unacceptable according to the voters. And the left promoting immigration to create themselves a disenfranchised voter base has backfired as well.

  2. Mark

    I found this interesting in the comments for that article:

    If you assume that anyone on the centre-right must be a racist, it is natural to assume that their positions on immigration must be unreasonable. If you assume that “diversity” is always wonderful then demands to limit immigration will always sound outrageous. And if you assume that anyone who disagrees with you is “evil” and “nasty” then it becomes difficult to analyse their arguments in a reasoned manner.

    I agree with this 100%, but an equally opposing conclusion can be formed:

    If you dismiss all attacks on right wing immigration policies as fueled by paranoia about racism, then genuine challenges to xenophobia/racism may go unheard.

    If you assume that all opposition to demands to limit immigration is fueled by a belief in the wonderful nature of diversity, then anti-immigration policies may be passed that restrict economic development and harm existing ethnic relations.

    And if you assume that all attacks on anti-immigration views are inspired by a belief that those who hold those views are nasty and evil, then analysis in a reasoned manner becomes difficult.

    It needs some sense on both sides of the debate. People are genuinely worried about the shift to the right. The writer of the article made good points about certain xenophobic views becoming normalised, and those that criticised the article failed to acknowledge this even as a possibility, when any anti-immigration policy has the possibility to achieve this, whether it’s intended or not.

    What I thought was interesting about the comment I quoted is that it showed that ‘absolutist’ thinking is what is the problem. And whether it’s people on the right taking an absolutist view of criticism from the left, or vice versa, it doesn’t create the basis for genuine discussion.

    A conclusion I draw from writing an article trying to define racism is that even the simplest of tasks, such as considering the social, psychological, legal and moral dimensions of racism is going to be vehemently challenged, with no significant alternative approach to understanding racism offered as an alternative, except to say variously, it doesn’t exist, it’s an ideology, it’s all in your heads.

    That people can hold completely irrational views and still consider themselves rational is no surprise. People are stubborn to admit they are wrong about something. But this issue is just too important and our recent history just far too telling to let a rise in xenophobia and racism to go unchallenged.

  3. Mark

    Allan

    – “And the left promoting immigration to create themselves a disenfranchised voter base has backfired as well.”

    I think you hit on the problem exactly, Allan, but not in the way you intended. This topic has become hugely over-politicised. I wonder why? Who did that?

    I see this mostly from a sociological point of view, and now that the politicians have got hold of the issue, the insights of sociology have been dismissed or discredited as ‘in bed with the Left’. So much for a belief in rationalism over blind hysteria!

  4. Charlie

    Enrique,

    Once in the existence of this blog, will you do an article about crime and welfare in Finland, and the social/cultural background of crime perpetrators in Finland?
    Your articles are always heavy on good will, love, friendship, lollipops, flowers, pretty multicolored fruit baskets, lullabies sung at night by caring foreign-born mothers, all sorts of hopeful things and rosey paintings of immigration and its merits.
    But how about a honest, thorough, figure-filled article on crime perps on Finnish soil?

    I would especially be interested in studies on perps classified by cultural background AND personal wealth.
    See, I’m not picking the easy road here. I’m even taking into account the common argument among left wing writers and organizations that immigrants’ crime stats are higher only because they are poor.

    Problem, it’s misinformation. Studies in other countries show that even if you only compare the crime rate among perpetrators with revenues in the same bracket, people with third world origins still have higher crime rates than Europeans.

    You know, at heart, the main reason of the anti-immigrant vote is the fear of uncivil behaviour by immigrants.

    So here’s your chance. To really do your cause an unequivocal service.
    Prove us that a kid from a family of third world immigrants making X Euros is not more often guilty of criminal acts than a kid from a Finnish family with equal ressources.

    Given that the opposite has been proven elsewhere, I’d be very suprised if you could do it.

    Good luck!

    • Enrique

      Charlie, probably the difference between how you see society and how I do is that I use less “them” than probably you. I have also lived and researched societies that are culturally diverse. One of these was a former Finnish colony in northeast Argentina. If you have read my book on the colony, you will conclude that it wasn’t all those things you mentioned.

      By looking at society through an ethnic-blind fashion you don’t go around feverishly looking for deviance in different groups.

      I believe, Charlie, that your view of society is so distant from mine that we could never find common ground for one main reason: you see immigration as a threat whereas I see it as an opportunity and a natural evolution of any society. Too bad for you because you must spend a lot of time at night worrying about “foreign criminals.”

      You mention “uncivil behavior” by immigrants. I tell you that the insults, stereotypes and myths spread by the likes of some PS MPs is “uncivil behavior.” It’s very simple: you can insult and dislike immigrants but you will never get rid of them. When you throw mud on them you do so on the over million Finns that left this country in the last 150 years. Their dream of a better life is no different than those that are moving to Finland.

      Another point: You cannot bash in a Mr. Hyde mode one group of immigrants and then, like some Dr. Jeckyll, claim that you are in favor of immigration, which is pretty much the message of the PS.

  5. Art

    “The rise of xenophobia in Finland, for example, has been fueled by the Perussuomalaiset and little to no opposition by the media to their xenophobic message, according to a doctoral dissertation by Camila Haavisto.”

    In her dissertation Camilla Haavisto analysed media articles on immigration from 1999 to 2007. According to Haavisto the immigration debate became politicised three years ago, after the 2008 municipal elections. So the reference to Perussuomalaiset is from her interview (although she doesn’t mention xenophobia in it), not some conclusion from her doctoral dissertation.

  6. Charlie

    Again your arguments are vague and purely moral ones.
    But morality is subjective.

    You think that people should make compromises and collaborate with less favoured cultural groups so that they can ultimately progress and iron out their differences.
    That’s not a solution. That’s called an ideal.
    There is not a single democratic country that has welcomed a large population from under-developed countries without seeing a rise in uncivil behaviour largely on the part of the migrants or their children.

    Anti-immigrationists reject the idea that you are morally obligated to promote somebody to a higher level of education or well-being, if it means that the cohabitation necessary for the migrants to reach that new level results in any degradation of the original inhabitants’ quality of life.
    It’s not worth helping them becoming better people if I have to suffer their uneducated, crude ways during the entire time they need to become more sophisticated beings.
    Especially since the result is not a given. Even with considerable educational spendings, immigrants’ children still fail at school more than others since the parents are too uneducated to help them at home.

    The abnormal rate of social failure by Third World immigrant families can’t just be the product of discriminations and economy.
    It’s also due to the simple fact that Third World countries have social systems that produce broken people. And even if you welcome them to a better place, there’s no certainty that you are going to be able to rebuild them. Through family structures, archaisms from the country of origin will permeate and affect descendants for several more generations even after the move to the new country, and impact citizens of the new country in the process.

    I’m not against immigrants, as long as they serve my interests.
    I am against granting extensive social rights and unconditional permanent residence to people who come from poor countries, especially those where the religious has a debilitating influence on the legal and educational systems.
    I want every migrant to be granted a portfolio of rights tailored for him based on his financial, educational and family assets, a portfolio that will also include restriction to the rights of his children.
    The poorer and less educated he is, the least rights he receives so he and/or every delinquent in his direct lineage can be deprived of his rights and expelled from the country if he falters.

    • Enrique

      Charlie, when I read your thread I get the picture of “uneducated monsters” that we must adapt to. Is that what immigration means to you?

      Your view of culture and how it works is outdated. You forget in your argument that people learn and can adapt. They are not some robots being guided by culture. People thought that way in the nineteenth century. Just because people come from poor countries doesn’t mean they are ignorant. Hundreds of thousands of Finnish immigrants left this poor country in the nineteenth century. Were they dumber than USAmericans? And who knows… maybe Europe will be poor and then again we’ll be emigrating to other lands.

      When I speak to you about immigrants I am talking not only as someone who has studied this phenomenon but been and immigrant himself. You need mutual acceptance and equal opportunities to get the process going. You see integration as a one-way process and equal opportunities as something given under certain conditions. The question is not whether your scheme is better than what I suggested. The question is what works.

      –The poorer and less educated he is, the least rights he receives so he and/or every delinquent in his direct lineage can be deprived of his rights and expelled from the country if he falters.

      Yeah, right, Charile. What is this called? How do you want people to embrace Finnish values if you don’t treat them equally?

  7. Charlie

    I don’t deny that some can adapt. In fact, I wrote just that earlier.
    The problem is what happens in between.
    I’m living the present, not the happy future that you are describing.
    The problem is even when striving for equal opportunity and putting a lot of money on the table, it still takes too much time for too many migrants to adapt and there is still an impact on the general population.
    We’re not talking months to adapt here, we’re talking decades, oftentimes generations as in a number of cultural groups, it’s actually the second generation that causes the most problems.
    Again, immigrants do indeed fail more often. Success rate at school is lower. Crime is higher.

    I’m looking for guarantees, not hope.

    You could even say that the majority can adapt. But if 95% of the local population adapts and 75% of immigrants adapt, that’s still an unacceptable discrepancy. It’s the majority but not good enough for our sophisticated social environment.
    What matters is if, at comparable salaries, things like the crime rate and school drop rate are higher among immigrants or not.
    If it’s equal or lower it’s a success, if it’s higher, it’s a failure. Even by 10%.
    10% on a nation’s scale is huge.

    I didn’t say I wanted to deprive migrants of all education.
    But there has to be a middle road so that they understand what their new country of residence is about, without being handed the tools to get jobs that we do not have to give them.
    It’s like a bargain. They try to get the most out of us, so you have to do the same with them.
    Actually, the goal should be to have a certain degree of turnover.
    To have only a minority of immigrants settle long term, and for the rest, to tap into a pool of foreign low class personel that would not have the right to bring their family over and would form a disposable work force.

    The most important is that the migrant doesn’t receive assurance that he can settle down permanently, and his children don’t receive citizenship until after they have proven they are fit for the country (somewhere between 25-30 years of age). So if education fails they’re out.
    If the employment market stumbles they’re out.

    Also, things like political asylum should not be granted based on the situation in the original country only.
    People who are not educated, poor, and not well versed in a major language of the new country, shall not benefit from asyslum rights.
    Actually, asylum rights should be managed by bilateral conventions between countries instead of being a universal right, so that good countries can pick and choose whose rights they vow to protect or not.

  8. Mark

    Charlie

    If you were in charge, I dread to think what kind of mess you would create!

    – “I’m looking for guarantees, not hope!”

    Good luck with that. Since when have human beings ever been predictable?

    “That’s not a solution, it’s an ideal.”

    Actual, it’s an aim, supporting immigrants to adapt to the new environment. If you give up on that aim, then the problems you don’t like all get worse.

    – “There is not a single democratic country that has welcomed a large population from under-developed countries without seeing a rise in uncivil behaviour largely on the part of the migrants or their children.”

    Absolute rubbish. Show me your sources, man, show me your sources.

    So anti-immigrationists reject the idea that you support an immigrant [education] if it takes something away from a native. Well, that just goes to show their complete ignorance of economics, doesn’t it. It’s not a zero sum, Charlie. Education is an investment, i.e., the end product is higher GDP, or basically, more money to go around at the end of the day.

    – “It’s not worth helping them becoming better people if I have to suffer their uneducated, crude ways during the entire time they need to become more sophisticated beings.”

    You arrogant little fucking pup! They were never ‘worse’ people. What you improve is their circumstances, not their value as human beings. And I can tell you that I’ve known many newly arrived immigrants with far more ‘sophistication’ than you are displaying.

    – “The poorer and less educated he is, the least rights he receives so he and/or every delinquent in his direct lineage can be deprived of his rights and expelled from the country if he falters.”

    I see, and when do you start applying this to other Finns? When you think you’ve sorted out these freeloader immigrants and start going after the unemployed and uneducated people in Finland?

    Sadly, your point of view shows an extreme amount of laziness on your part. I think your education has failed, and you are sitting in intellectual poverty, Charlie. I think you should go back to university [I’m pretty sure you haven’t been already] and study social policy, economics or something like that. I say this because you obviously care about this topic, so it’s good to study something you are interested in. Then, perhaps, you will stop throwing this ridiculous labels around and undermining the very fabric of the society in which you live, not that that is likely to succeed with the drivel that comes out of your mouth.

    • Enrique

      – “There is not a single democratic country that has welcomed a large population from under-developed countries without seeing a rise in uncivil behaviour largely on the part of the migrants or their children.”

      In the 1914 census in Argentina, 49.3% of the population of Buenos Aires was foreign (30% nationally). Most of these people were from semi-feudal countries like Spain and Italy. Most of Europe was pretty poor; lots of illiteracy and lack of skills. What was Finland like in 1914?

      You can also add to this list the United States and Canada.

    • Enrique

      Charlie thinks that the minute a person from the developing country steps on Finnish soil he becomes a gang rapist or learns how to siphon the welfare system dry. Would you feel disoriented culturally if what you thought is wrong? Would you lose your Finnish identity? Would you lose the main argument for justifying your loathing of some groups? People learn and can adapt. That includes you, Charlie, and me as well.

  9. Mark

    There is a real irony here, Charlie!

    Most of the people who have views as extreme as yours are poor, uneducated and unemployed. Now if were to take this ‘group’ thing that you keep going on about seriously, then we might be justified in saying ‘let’s kick all extremists out of Finland because most of them are poor, unemployed with poor educational achievement! Now wouldn’t that be a turn up for the books?

    • Enrique

      Allan, one thing I don’t understand, apart from the xenophobic message of some PS MPs, is why are you into getting revenge? Some PS members you hear are like pissed off and out for blood. Do you think that is a way of resolving matters?

  10. Mark

    Charlie

    And another questions comes to mind. Many government projects in Finland are geared towards improving the mental health and wellbeing of the nation. That involves providing support, professional services and promotion of mental health and acceptance of mental illness.

    What about the mental health of immigrants? I suppose according to your plan, living under the constant threat of deportation based I’m assuming on educational grades among other things would greatly increase the mental health burden of immigrants, even though it’s already high. I suppose you would eliminate those services.

    How long before you decide in this little tin pot dictatorship of yours before you decide all people are just faking their illnesses and mental burdens and remove all mental health support services?

  11. Mark

    Charlie

    – “I would especially be interested in studies on perps classified by cultural background AND personal wealth.”

    Ethnicity is not reported in statistics in Finland.

  12. Mark

    Allan

    – From the article you linked to: “Thanks to a large number of preference votes from compatriots, they elbowed aside the white candidates above them on the lists.”

    Not sure what is meant here by ‘preference votes’, but I’m assuming it’s basically a vote. So people are complaining because immigrants won an election vote? That’s called democratic representation. I suppose you are saying that the PvdA are regretting having them on their list? I’ve no comment to make on that. How they construct their lists and how they try to achieve representation is down to the local officials.

    – Title of article you linked to: “Using immigration to turn Britain into a nation of Labour voters is so shameful I can hardly believe it”

    I wholeheartedly agree that politicising immigration is disgusting. Now remind me again who made it into a political issue in Finland?

    Now tell me Allan, my critics on this blog generally support the anti-immigration stance of PS, a political party, and attack me, who does not represent any political party or even political ideology [though some love to label me a liberal] and is not canvassing for anyone’s vote, and yet you accuse me of politicising the issue?

    Something is on backwards here my friend!

  13. Allan

    Allan, one thing I don’t understand, apart from the xenophobic message of some PS MPs, is why are you into getting revenge? Some PS members you hear are like pissed off and out for blood. Do you think that is a way of resolving matters?

    Ah, I don’t think its as much “getting revenge” as much as “getting even”.

    The revolution we never had when Kekkoslovakia ended left the old nomenklatura running business as usual. Its rage against this nomenklatura, or the percieved one, the anger is against.

    Of course, the opposing side has not been ready for this kind of upheaval and now they are trying to discredit the PS with all kinds of classical means, they had all that good time when you could brand everything “neuvostovastainen”.

    Basically, your blog could well be printed in Kansan Uutiset in 1960’s just change “racism” to “facism” and xenophobia “antisoviet”, and then you wonder why people are pissed off and out for blood?

  14. Allan

    Mark, I think the explanation was of an open list vote to someone expecting a closed list vote. So the PvdA had the ponces at the top of the list gathering on candidates to get the immigrant vote being so immigrant-friendly and multicultural. Then when the reality of the preference votes struck the ponces wail. Hypocritical is it not? I would have wanted to have seen Ms. Lipponen’s reactions if Nazima would have dropped her off. But you cant get what you hope for.

  15. Charlie

    The GDP argument is an old one.
    GDP is not the be all end all of economy.
    GDP is not an indicator of budget balance.
    GDP aims to gauge the value generated by good and services.
    Additionally, GDP is widely considered to be an ineffectual indicator of the value generated by public services, which immigrants largely benefit from.
    GDP does not take public debt into account.

    And what gives you the right to force citizens to put a partial indicator (GDP) ahead of crime in their priorities?
    You think every economist supports your views? I already mentioned M. Allais, Nobel Prize in Economy, who thought that government spendings on immigrants didn’t justify the boost to econmic growth they brought.
    Also J. Attali, former head of the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), headed a think tank commission a couple years ago which linked immigration to GDP growth.
    One of his collaborators subsequently gave an interview in the economic press in which he ditanced himself from Attali’s comments, saying that the GDP growth generated by newcomers would be worth it only if the new country was able to select migrants and discriminate against those with substantial welfare needs, so as to not offset GDP growth with abnormal public spendings. Problem is, he said, we as human rights nations are very unlikely to discriminate this openly against the needy and the poor. So in the meantime we have to bear the burden of these migrants.
    But on the other hand, there was also a parliamentary report in the UK a few years ago that showed the risks of actually having too many highly qualified immigrants as they can clog the job marketplace.

    It is also debatable if the economic impact you vaunt justifies allowing the migrant to settle indefinitely with his entire family, brought over thanks to family reunion rights.
    Employability of Third World women is traditionally very low.
    But Third World migrants also have a habit of sending part of the revenue generated in the host country to relatives abroad if they couldn’t come.
    There are African countries like Mali who depend so much on the funds funneled by legal and often illegal immigrants that people would just die by millions if it wasn’t for that cash taken from our economies.
    Poor migrants are also the most prone to consume low price goods imported from other developing countries which somewhat mitigates the benefit of having them here.

    Also, I never said all immigrants were uneducated. I said that I wanted protection against the potential problems caused by those who aren’t.
    You mention the fact that some immigrant communities have had a positive impact on Argentina.
    First of all, Argentina is a middle of the pack country. It’s not hell on Earth like Sudan or Pakistan, but it’s also not a model of prosperity.
    Then it could be argued that immigrants to Argentina came from countries that were similarly or more advanced than Argentina from a social standpoint, even at the time.
    It’s not at all like dropping a family of 8 asylum seekers from Yemen in a Nordic country, nowadays.

    What I say is, the idea that every human life has the same value is a moral principle born from Christian tradition. Universalism is a concept, not fact.
    To speculate by default that every human life has the same value, when people come from cultures with such large differences in development, is much more arbitrary than judging their potential based on education, money and crime stats.
    Nobody is equal.
    The true value of life is determined by one’s abilities to interact with their social environment at the present moment. Not what they might be able to achieve if I spend money to help them, spend time to help them, give them a flat to help them, help them raise their kids the right way, help them speak better, help others better understand them…

    Mark, you say that most people who have the same views as me are poor and uneducated just like the migrants I blame.
    Problem is, even unemployed and uneducated people from a country do not commit as much crime as migrants with the same ressources and level of education.

    You say that it’s impossible to say because Ethnic stats don’t exist in Finland.
    It only means that studies taking cultural background into consideration are not published by the government.
    Other countries follow the same government rules, yet third party studies exist.
    I bet they do in Finland too, but the general left wing press is not too eager to publicize them.

    In Sweden, during a similar controversy on sex crimes, the Swedish government acknowledged they knew of damning figures for several immigrant minorities, but refused to comment on them to not harm their reputation even more.

  16. JusticeDemon

    Charlie

    The issue of correctly weighting statistics has been discussed before at length on this blog. Suffice it to say that wealth and income is far from the only, or even the principal weighting factor. At the very least you should also include age and sex, and you must somehow compensate for unequal opportunities to commit certain offences.

    For now, let’s just focus on your attempt to come over all philosophical:

    What I say is, the idea that every human life has the same value is a moral principle born from Christian tradition.

    Would this be the same Christian tradition that includes the Crusades, the triangular trade and Luther’s Von den Jüden und jren Lügen?

    You might find a more consistent and reliable basis for human dignity in Kant’s Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten and subsequent Kritik der praktischen Vernunft. I know I do.

    Universalism is a concept, not fact.

    I’m not sure what you mean by universalism here, unless you are specifically discussing Kantian moral universalism. If so, then you have forgotten to share your refutation of Kant’s argument with the rest of us. From the way that you continue, I get the feeling that you wanted to say “the idea that every human life has the same value is false”. Quite why this sticks in your throat and makes you talk about “concept, not fact” is anybody’s guess.

    My guess is that somewhere deep down you realise that you have thereby set your face against the US declaration of independence (We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family) and the Constitution of Finland (Valtiosääntö turvaa ihmisarvon loukkaamattomuuden ja yksilön vapauden ja oikeudet sekä edistää oikeudenmukaisuutta yhteiskunnassa.) Obviously a solemn pronouncement accepted by billions of people is not therein and of itself true, but don’t you think we deserve something by way of a reason before we tear down the entire edifice of law and abandon core principles like fairness and equity?

    Anyway, after denying Kant’s conclusions without refuting his argument, and similarly dismissing the entire basis of the Finnish legal system, you continue:

    To speculate by default that every human life has the same value, when people come from cultures with such large differences in development, is much more arbitrary than judging their potential based on education, money and crime stats.

    Nobody is equal.

    Kant most certainly did not speculate anything by default.

    At the risk of a mild ad hominem, do you think that a court of law should be persuaded to dismiss your claim against another person purely on the basis that it considers you to be intrinsically less worthy of legal protection than your adversary? Do you think, in particular, that it should be able to do so based on a statistical analysis of the group to which the court feels you belong? Thus “savolaisena junttina hra Charlie ei ole oikeutta samanarvoiseen kohteluun kuin sivistyneempi helsinkiläinen professori, jota vastaan hän on ajannut kannettaan. Tämän lisäksi savolainen on todistajana tilastollisesti epäluotettavampi…”.

    • Enrique

      Allan, it was much earlier than that. Argentina came the closest to becoming an OECD country in 1913. Yes, something went terribly wrong there. Did you know that the Argentine constitution of 1853 gave immigrants the same rights as natives? Immigration was seen as an asset to underpopulated Argentina. In that sense, it was quite an interesting country from an immigration point of view.

  17. Mark

    Charlie

    – “The GDP argument is an old one.”

    The idea of money spent on education being an investment is fairly well accepted, Charlie.

    – “GDP is not the be all end all of economy.”

    Now who said it was?

    – “GDP is not an indicator of budget balance.”

    I’m assuming you are talking about borrowing in order to pay for welfare payments. Though Finland’s borrowing has been very good. Indeed, up until recently, most of Finland’s borrowings were lent out to other countries so as to exploit Finland’s good credit rating.

    – “GDP aims to gauge the value generated by good and services.”

    Yawn…really?

    Additionally, GDP is widely considered to be an ineffectual indicator of the value generated by public services, which immigrants largely benefit from.

    Yawn…I see.

    I’ve made the point before tbut i’m sure local shopkeepers don’t complain when immigrants spend their benefits in their shops or landlords complain when they receive rent payments etc. Likewise, the money very quickly returns to the government through taxation. It’s not like much the money goes out of the country, like a lot of Finnish company profits, for example.

  18. Hmmm

    “Likewise, the money very quickly returns to the government through taxation. It’s not like much the money goes out of the country, like a lot of Finnish company profits, for example.”

    By this logic it should be enough if we all were barbers, doctors and such servicing each other. It is not enough that most of the spent government money returns to the government. There must a sufficient amount of people bringing money in and the spent government money should produce something of value for the people earning the money. From the viewpoint of a taxpayer most of the immigration related costs are expenditures with a slight possibility of some payback somewhere in the distant future. This of course is a generalization and it varies with different types of immigration…

  19. Charlie

    I do not intent to dismiss the entire foundation of the Finnish legal system, for I am not Finnish.
    The main study I allude to was about youths born of immigrants vs. youths born of non-immigrants. So it’s fair to say that age and sex were taken into account.

    By universalism, I meant the notion that there is an inherent value to human life, and as such, anybody who is the recipient of a human life has the right to the same measure of respect.

    I find it quite strange that you would dismiss the contributions of Christianity to universalism based on specific happenings like Luther’s antisemitic writings (I am aware of the importance of Luther in Nordic cultures but that’s one branch of Christianity) or the Crusades, yet point to Kant alone as a purveyor of decisive arguments in favor of universalim.
    Kant’s reflection was very much influenced by Christianity and Christian morals.

    Personally though, I do not dispute the contributions of Kant.

    The only thing that I dispute is the right by the government to downgrade my quality of life by forcing me to cohabitate with destitutes, all in the name of the possible, eventual improvement of their conduct and education.

    What I say is
    – if working to grant less favoured people the same rights has an impact on the safety and quality of life of the most favoured
    – if the least favoured’s social status is at least in part caused by the failure of their original country’s social system
    then they shall not be granted the same social rights as regular citizens of their new country on an unconditional basis.

    You mention the US Declaration of Independence.
    Yet, US law contains plenty of provisions that suggest that the respect due to human life can be overlooked if need be.
    A good example of that would be the Castle Doctrine.
    The Castle Doctrine is the right to inflict physical damage in order to protect property.
    In many US states, it is legal.
    In pratice, it means that whenever an individual threatens your right to possess, the respect due to his life takes a backseat.
    Whatever personal distress may have caused the burglar to try to gain possession of some of your belongings, you are entitled to take his life to avoid that.

    Of course, most humanists feel that this is one of the most violent laws in the civilized world, and generally people who are in favor of immigrant rights also blame this type of laws in the name of common humanist beliefs.
    But this goes on to prove that even in some democratic cultures, protecting your quality of life allows you to re-evaluate the level of respect that is due to another person’s life.

    And I don’t apply that principle just to immigrants. I also support the death penalty, and the physical elimination of drug addicts.

  20. Mark

    Hmmm

    – “By this logic it should be enough if we all were barbers, doctors and such servicing each other.”

    Our economy can sustain that amount of welfare expenditure. The biggest problems are going to come with an ageing population, and in that sense, the 75% of foreigners in Finland who are now working are going to be helping to maintain that ageing population.

    – “From the viewpoint of a taxpayer most of the immigration related costs are expenditures with a slight possibility of some payback somewhere in the distant future.”

    Rubbish. A slight payback? You’re joking aren’t you? 75% of all immigrants in Finland are working. Yes, among Somali’s that drops to 40%, but even that is hardly a ‘slight payback’. Also, many of those unemployed Somalians have obtained qualifications in the area of labour shortage, but still find it difficult to find work. Researchers are at a loss to explain the unemployment rate other than to point to the negative attitudes of employers, many of whom ask for information about country of origin.

    Again, it’s the stick your foot on a man’s throat and then complain he doesn’t stand up argument. Cleary the more racist attitudes there are in Finland towards Somalis, then the harder it is for them to find work even when they are qualified. And then on top of that, they are blamed for the prejudice that stops them being offered work. Sick, just plain sick!

  21. Charlie

    “economy can sustain that amount of welfare expenditure. The biggest problems are going to come with an ageing population, and in that sense, the 75% of foreigners in Finland who are now working are going to be helping to maintain that ageing population.”

    Another token argument. Mass immigration alone has a negligible impact on pension funding.
    It’s not a significant factor. Even countries with a higher immigration and natality admit through state-financed demographic studies that immigration is not a realistic way of helping with pension-induced deficits.

  22. Mark

    Charlie

    – “Another token argument. Mass immigration alone has a negligible impact on pension funding.”

    Funny that, isn’t it. When we talk about contributions to pension funds, you talk about how small the population is that it’s effect is negligible. But when you talk about the costs of immigrants, suddenly the size of the problem as expressed by anti-immigrationists is totally disproportionate to the size of their popuation.

    As it is, I wasn’t referring to the pension contribution, but rather the fact that immigrants will be doing the low-paid service jobs, such as home care and nursing home care.

    • Enrique

      – “Another token argument. Mass immigration alone has a negligible impact on pension funding.”

      Finland, like most of Europe, lost the boat on maintaining its population young. You would have to bring many immigrants to maintain present levels. So what to do? You can slow the process and as some have suggested build robots to do the job. If I remember correctly, you would have to bring 2 million people by 2040 in order to maintain the present age structure, or 17% of the population is over 65 years. By 2040 29% of our population will be over 65 years, according to Statistics Finland. Apart from financing our social welfare state, the PS and other anti-immigration representatives can keep on building as high walls as they want in Finland because skilled immigrants will seek to go to more friendlier countries.

  23. Hmmm

    ”The biggest problems are going to come with an ageing population, and in that sense, the 75% of foreigners in Finland who are now working are going to be helping to maintain that ageing population.”

    Yes, the ones that are working. In a broader sense if immigration is going to help, the comers’ dependency ratio has to be better than the native population’s. Otherwise you’re only making the situation worse. You can find some stats on this and there are very large deviations between different groups of immigrants. Therefore your argument can only be valid if immigrants are carefully selected.

    “Yes, among Somali’s that drops to 40%, but even that is hardly a ‘slight payback’.”

    Well more important factor in this respect is the dependency ratio. It has much more information included in it. Check it out.

    “Researchers are at a loss to explain the unemployment rate other than to point to the negative attitudes of employers, many of whom ask for information about country of origin.”

    This might be the case. However, unfortunately there is no known fast cure for this. So the unemployment rate and, more importantly, the dependency ratio are likely to remain poor.

    “Again, it’s the stick your foot on a man’s throat and then complain he doesn’t stand up argument.”

    No, youre wrong. I was only stating the unfortunate facts. Where did I “complain”?

    “Sick, just plain sick!”

    And you don’t see how you are putting words into my mouth based on your invalid assumptions. How ironic.

  24. Mark

    Hmmm

    I’m not putting those words into your mouth. I’m talking about how in Finland people complain that immigrants are unemployed and take no responsibility for it as a nation. That’s not pointing the finger at you specifically, that’s talking about a collective responsibility to fight racism.

  25. Mark

    What do you mean by dependency ratio? The number of welfare dependents?

    We have accepted these immigrants into Finland. Now they are here, we have an obligation to do everything we can to help them integrate. If after they have made efforts to train and learn the language, their prospects of finding work are severely limited by the prejudices of employers, then surely it’s time to target racism and not to continue this blaming of immigrants and defamation.

    Or what do you suggest Hmmm? What do you see as the solution?

  26. JusticeDemon

    Charlie

    So you were only pretending to get all rigorous and philosophical? Now you want to accept the Categorical Imperative, but nevertheless maintain that there is no such thing as inalienable human dignity? That’s a major conceptual conjuring trick.

    The term axe grinder springs to mind.

    Kant examined and analysed the nature of moral obligation. His work stands or falls by the standards of that project. If you would like to argue than an Atheist, Shinto or Confucian Kant would have formulated the Categorical Imperative differently, then I would very much like to hear your justifications, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for them. It seems to me that the structure of moral obligation remains the same regardless of the religious and cultural traditions of the investigator, much as the structure of dna would be no different even in Crick and Watson had been Moslems.

    Perhaps you didn’t understand my little ad hominem, so I’ll repeat it this way:

    At the risk of a mild ad hominem, do you think that a court of law should be persuaded to dismiss your claim against another person purely on the basis that it considers you to be intrinsically less worthy of legal protection than your adversary? Do you think, in particular, that it should be able to do so based on a statistical analysis of the group to which the court feels you belong? Thus “as a redneck from Nowheresville, Mr Charlie is less entitled to equitable treatment than the more highly educated and civilised Harvard professor that he is suing. Furthermore, people from Nowheresville are statistically less reliable as witnesses…”.

    A violent example of this might be that the court orders you to pay the professor for the book that he sold you pursuant to the contract that you entered into, but simultaneously dismisses your countersuit requiring the professor to supply the book, on the grounds that you were not fit to conclude the contract.

    I’m just curious as to whether you are willing to take your own lowly place in the human hierarchy that you espouse and calmly accept that others have a right to tread on your face, even in such a fundamental matter as justice.

  27. Hmmm

    ”What do you mean by dependency ratio? The number of welfare dependents?”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dependency_ratio

    Here are some relevant stats (in Finnish)

    http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maahanmuuttajat_Suomessa#Ty.C3.B6llistyminen_ja_huoltosuhde

    “then surely it’s time to target racism and not to continue this blaming of immigrants and defamation.”

    Yes, something needs to be done to make things better. But, as I said before, there are no known quick fixes. So we’ll have to hope it will change over time. Some activity is needed but there is no consensus what should be done and I have no solutions for it. The question of helping immigrants already here is a very difficult one.

    As for the newcomers, as I said before, “your argument can only be valid if immigrants are carefully selected”. Also the door should be “more open” the other way, i.e. easier deportations. These don’t directly help the immigrants already here… at least in short term.

  28. Charlie

    My ideas do not exist as universal morals or ethics.
    The value of a foreigner’s life fluctuates according to where he tries to settle, and depending on how it pertains to the comfort/safety of the “native” populace.
    Forging a categorical imperative out if that is quite a stretch.

    On to your example, you are using discrimination in the context of a legal case where an immigrant suffers directly from a crime at the hands of a “native”.
    Discriminating the immigrant in this case is not useful.
    It’s not wrong because it’s evil, it’s wrong because I don’t see what purpose it serves.
    It does not contribute to the safety of our social environment.
    Maybe discriminating immigrants in court could be used to scare them and drive them away?
    But it would be a long shot. And it could also mean a feeling of impunity for members of the cultural majority which might lead to more crime, this time potentially affecting fellow members of the cultural majority.
    So I don’t think the payoff is that great.

    There are however provisions in most countries that allow for some types of discrimination.
    Jus sanguinis is just one example.
    The point system implemented by Denmark to stave off the neediest of family reunion candidates is another good example. And it’s doable since these people are not yet Danish.

  29. Hmmm

    “PS and other anti-immigration representatives can keep on building as high walls as they want in Finland because skilled immigrants will seek to go to more friendlier countries.”

    On the flip side of the coin bringing in immigrants with larger dependency ratio than the native population will only make things worse. That’s not a solution.

  30. Mark

    Charlie

    – “The value of a foreigner’s life fluctuates according to where he tries to settle, and depending on how it pertains to the comfort/safety of the “native” populace.”

    I’ll tell you now, Charlie, you will never see that kind of approach in Finland. Equality is enshrined in so many different pieces of legislation and is constantly advanced in all areas of public life. Finland is actively striving for more equality, not less. It really is a core value for Finns, I’m glad to say, though we are still a long way from realising it across the board.

    Your view of the ‘value’ of a foreigner is pernicious, obnoxious and reminiscent of Nazi ideology. Right now, the ‘foreigner’ is your enemy, but what happens when you get fed up with the ‘freeloaders’ you perceive in your own country? Anyone that can imagine different rights for different people based on flimsly justifications such as a category as dubious as ethnicity can also conjure up reasons to apply the same logic to other categories closer to home. If you can treat one human being in this way, what really is there to stop you treating people inside Finland the same way eventually?

    You seem to suggets that it is all about the hard working people in society receiving the most benefits (like that’s how it works! Delusional!). So what happens when you’ve got rid of these lazy foreigners – do you go after the half a million Finns who for whatever reason claim benefits? Will you then ask for a different value and different rights for these groups? Or are we to be persuaded that you have this ‘strict’ attitude only to foreigners. If that is true, why only to foreigners, why would they arouse such disgust in you?

  31. Mark

    Hmm

    – Mark said: ”What do you mean by dependency ratio? The number of welfare dependents?”

    – “Hmm replied: Here are some relevant stats (in Finnish) http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maahanmuuttajat_Suomessa#Ty.C3.B6llistyminen_ja_huoltosuhde

    Thanks for the links; now I understand what they refer to. I have some questions though. The dependency ratio given for Somalis and Iraqis is 9.7 and 9.2, while for Brits and Estonians it’s 1.9 and 2.2, which I would think is slightly higher than for Finns, from what I’ve read elsewhere about the productivety of immigrant groups. But my question is whether those ratios are purely population specific, i.e. Somali population in Finland as a whole, not taking into account other population groups. This must be how it’s calculated or else the stats for Brits and Estonians would be the same.

    If that is true, then the size of the problem in regard to the overall Finnish economy is not being shown. I mean, if the Somali population is small, then the effect of a higher than native population dependency ratio has only a negligible effect on the whole population’s dependency ratio? The dependency ratio therefore tells us that in terms of sustainability, it’s not a good situation. But that is just the same as saying in common sense terms, the more who work the better for the economy. The Finnish article talked about the same problems as usual – problems of acquiring language skills and then problems of being accepted into the labour market. It seems that the majority want to work, which defies some the stereotypes of these groups as being lazy, but that employers don’t trust the situation. In health care, language misunderstandings can have serious consequences for example. This is understandable up to a point, but we have to recognise where the responsibilities lie here.

    Somalis are living with their families and speaking their native tongue. Even if they chose to speak Finnish, who is competent enough to correct their mistakes. I’ve done this – Finnish conversation classes where you get to hear lots of very broken Finnish and have no trust in what is correct or what isn’t. Learning off the television can help, but there is no ‘stop’ button while you look up in the dictionary. In language learning, you need ‘comprehensible input’, and TV is not a context where unknown input can be made comprehensible. So Somalis need to mix more with native speakers to acquire more of the language, where they can ask what stuff means, or to slow down. But then mixing with natives is difficult, partly because of the xenophobia/embarrasment. Also, there are the problems that conversations remain always very superficial and around the same topics, meaning that vocabularly is rarely extended. It is only through deeper friendships that variety and comprehensiveness of communication skills come into play. The other possibility is through work-based communication. But if Somalis or Iraqis cannot get work because they lack language skills, we are in a chicken and egg situation.

    The question is what is the solution? Clearly it is a much more comprehensive and thorough approach to language acquisition. Language training in this context perhaps more than most should be seen as a very valuable investment.

    Some people don’t like foreigners and nothing you will say will change their minds. But lots of people have been persuaded that some foreigners are hurting our economy, and so the reactionary response has been to call on immigration to be stricter, even though we may be very reliant on immigration in the future because of our low reproductive rate in Finland. Part of our economy is already globalised and then English acts as a lingua franca, meaning English speakers ‘integrate’ at least in employment terms. Many Finns are happy to speak English, so this the language of this ‘multicultural’ aspect of Finnish culture is typically English too. But better Finnish language skills for all foreigners ultimately leads to better well-being, as much from the point of view of being able to fully take part in Finnish society.

    State sponsored, comprehensive language learning resources should be widely available for free via the internet. This could include language exchange forums, which people normally have to pay for. There are many Finns who are eager to learn about other cultures and are seeking direct contacts with people.

    The investment required is very small in comparison to the problem as a whole. I really cannot understand why it hasn’t been implemented. That, Hmmm is the solution.

  32. Hmmm

    “I mean, if the Somali population is small, then the effect of a higher than native population dependency ratio has only a negligible effect on the whole population’s dependency ratio?”

    Yes, that’s true. But still the argument that we need immigration to ease the dependency ratio problem is only valid if the immigrants’ DR is better than the native population’s. There is just no way around that. Unfortunately for some groups the DR ratio is far far away from being beneficial for Finland. Therefore on the current immigration figures the argument is not valid, actually the reality is opposite.

    “That, Hmmm is the solution.”

    If only it were that simple. The things you mentioned have a positive effect, but I’m not convinced about their cost effectiveness. Surely all kinds of similar things have been tried out in various European countries but the overall success seems weak.

    The truth is that there are still no guaranteed ways to remedy the situation, but yet many of the “pro-immigration” arguments are based on the assumption that there is.

    The factors in the problem are many and complicated. And surely it’s not right to put the blame only on the immigrants. But until there are some better solutions Finland would be better off not making big decisions on false/unproven assumptions.

  33. Hmmm

    And to add to my last post: as things are the way they are, it is dishonest and deceitful to use the “ageing population” argument when applied to concern all types of immigration.

  34. Mark

    – “State sponsored, comprehensive language learning resources should be widely available for free via the internet. This could include language exchange forums, which people normally have to pay for. ”

    Finnish language services should be provided also with specific resources in Arabic, Somali, Persian Dari, as well as English.

    The language programmes should run from beginners to very advanced. It should focus on spoken language as well as written language (in many courses the focus is too much on formal Finnish). It should have lots of language samples, comprehension exercises, vocabularly builders (flash card games), grammar primers, cultural materials (incorporating cultural exchange), and so on. It should have grading exams for different levels to motivate achievement. It should be account based so that users can track their progress.

    It would take a qualified team of about 25 professionals (IT and Language/communication specialists) about a year to get the vast majority of the work online (5 admin staff: Project manager, IT manager, Language Team Manager, Web Materials Manager and Secretary; 3 programmers; 2 IT support; 12 language learning/teaching specialists – 3 for each language group; 3 communications/educational specialists).

    Project timeline: Recruitment and intitial planning – 3 months. Core development – 6 months. Testing – 2 months; online implementation – 1 month.

    The annual budget would be in the region of €1.5 million, decreasing to about €1 million after the first year. That’s a drop in the ocean in terms of government spending. Money well spent? Absolutely. Number of people benefiting – 100,000 +, many of them Finns who could use the exchange forum to develop contacts with other cultures and to aid foreigners integration. Worldwide, there is a good possibilility that it would become the cornerstone of Finnish language learning.

    One thing that came to mind here is that people might complain that this kind of state sponsored language programme would impact negatively on companies providing language services. But we are talking about learning Finnish, not learning English. The work of professional translation and the work of hundreds of English language teachers in Finland would still be preserved.

  35. Mark

    Hmm

    – “DR is better than the native population’s. There is just no way around that.”

    I don’t see how that is the case, Hmm? DR is not an economic calculation of costs; it’s simply a count of bodies, old ones, working ones and unemployed ones.

    I would have thought there is a point where the DR ‘breaks even’ financially, where the taxes from those employed pays for the pensions/care of those who are aged/unemployed. I haven’t seen any figure given for that.

    Also, the cost of some being dependent on welfare might entail be a smaller cost than the cost of care for the elderly, where the level of dependency is much higher and more expensive than dependency on benefits. No?

    In other words, this sounds like a rather complicated economic calculation, though clearly a useful one.

    I agree that the factors are varied and complicated, but one key factor and complaint is consistent, the lack of language skills. You say that these things must surely have been tried and surely the effects are weak. I think one of your assumptions might be correct, that results are weak if the DR has remained high, but the other might not be correct, that everything is being done on the language front.

    I’m in the position of knowing just how difficult it is to acquire Finnish and I also know the state of teaching materials available publicly and through courses. The university courses in Helsinki are good as a grammar primer and for obtaining some basic vocabularly, but almost useless as preparation for actual speaking. The materials are rather dull, and very stereotypical. No instruction is given in English (even though it’s pretty much the lingua franca) and so there is a lot of confusion about the ‘explanations’ given to students questions. Exercises are monotonous, and conversation is with other people who are as equally handicapped as you.

    Online materials are varied. One online language builder is good at Finland for Thought, but it’s buggy and very limited. Other resources are useful but limited, i.e. to reading a long text and then answering questions. The technology used is very outdated and there is nothing that structures the learning from the ground up. No user accounts for keeping track of exerices done etc.

    What I don’t know is the level of competency at the Työvoimatoimisto courses. I didn’t take those courses because I started working within 2 weeks of arriving in Finland. I trained in London as a language teacher when I set up my own charity for refugees and established a language programme as one of the key services. My background is communications/linguistics/natural sciences/health sciences/welfare research, so I’m in a position to offer a professional opinion on language services.

  36. Hmmm

    “I would have thought there is a point where the DR ‘breaks even’ financially, where the taxes from those employed pays for the pensions/care of those who are aged/unemployed. I haven’t seen any figure given for that.”

    That figure depends on the dependants, as you later suggested. Thus I agree that the statement I made before is a simplification of the problem. Nevertheless it is still a valid statement considering many of the immigrant dependants have special needs and thus would only worsen the break-even ratio for the immigrants. Again, I suspect there are significant differences between different immigrant groups in this aspect as well.

    About the language teaching thing: I’m supportive of trying such things, after all it’s not that big an investment. My point has more to do with future immigration policies… and naturally the dubious way of using the “ageing population needs workers” argument.

  37. Mark

    Hmm

    – “Nevertheless it is still a valid statement considering many of the immigrant dependants have special needs and thus would only worsen the break-even ratio for the immigrants. Again, I suspect there are significant differences between different immigrant groups in this aspect as well.

    That is the nub. It’s like an employer looking at prospective employees; they don’t want to have to invest too much in training and to receive the benefit of the worker’s skills as soon as possible. Of course, that is taking a purely labour market approach. Many immigrants coming here through family reunification or simple because we have offered them assylum (some we offer, some seek) still need to be integrated.

    I assume that you do accept there will be a need for additional labour due to the ageing population, or do you think Finland can achieve its goals through higher productivety? I’m doubtful of the latter. Also, the DR is time specific, in other words, immigrants prospects, even those of Somalis, improve the longer they are here. As we have taken rather more in recent years, it may also be several years before the DR improves, assuming the ratio of increase in immigrants to those already here doesn’t accelerate.

    Personally, I would love to see a proper language learning service set up. Speaking personally, I cannot attend courses any more because of family commitments. Likewise, inhouse courses run by social services run for several weeks and then stop I assume. An online resource would be flexible for learners.

    It’s not a panacea, but it could be a signficant development.

  38. Hmmm

    “Many immigrants coming here through family reunification or simple because we have offered them assylum (some we offer, some seek) still need to be integrated.”

    Yes, those who are already “in” should be integrated and a reasonable amount of resources put into it.

    “I assume that you do accept there will be a need for additional labour due to the ageing population, or do you think Finland can achieve its goals through higher productivety?”

    Yes, but the question, again, is what type of immigration we need. If immigration is sold to the public using the “ageing population” argument, the immigration type should reflect that. Otherwise the reasoning should be based on other arguments. Anything less is lying, or at least hiding the truth. After all the voters make the decisions through elections and they should be aware of the real reasoning behind the policies.

    “Also, the DR is time specific, in other words, immigrants prospects, even those of Somalis, improve the longer they are here.”

    Yes, it is time specific. However, the examples from other countries with more substantial and longer immigration history from certain parts of the world are not that encouraging. Also, the population ageing problem is also time specific. There is a significant “boost” in the problem when the “suuret ikäluokat” leave the work force, but it’s not that bad after that. And there is also the ecological side: it is a real natural resource hog to live this up in the north. Thus, a smaller population in the colder regions is much more ecologically sustainable. But that’s another story…

  39. Mark

    Hmm

    – “Yes, but the question, again, is what type of immigration we need. If immigration is sold to the public using the “ageing population” argument, the immigration type should reflect that. Otherwise the reasoning should be based on other arguments. Anything less is lying, or at least hiding the truth. ”

    This is reasonable. I don’t think the debate about the productivity of groups like Somalis and Afghans should end just by looking at DR. You are pessimistic about longer term trends, but I am not. Even Somalis and Afghans want to work, that is a key factor. The question is whether Finland can facilitate that. Britain, France and Italy are reaping different post-colonial problems, but they are also reaping very many benefits from their multicultural societies. Whether politicians want us to believe it, people on the whole have a good capacity to get on with each other and enjoy each other, whether because or in spite of diversity. This is beyond the questions and arguments. I imagine too that many who have become concerned about immigration will nevertheless happily get on with immigrants. It’s much harder to dislike someone to their face. In that sense, I have optimism.

    Likewise, there is an inevitability about a multicultural world, with English as the lingua franca and the internet and global television as the social mediums. We are talking about new cultures and mixing of old cultures in a fusion of many strands. There is simply little room for ‘purity’ in the modern world, whether racial or cultural.

    – “There is a significant “boost” in the problem when the “suuret ikäluokat” leave the work force, but it’s not that bad after that.”

    Yes, Finland’s population is still growing even though the replacement rate is only 1,73 at the moment (people living longer). Around 2030 the population is expected to start dropping, peaking around 2060, if I remember correctly, although the share of older population is already starting its accelerated growth in the last couple of years.

    Until I see proper figures that calculate the costs of immigration vs. benefits in terms of service sectors etc., then I am not going to assume the worst, i.e. immigrants are just a drain. I think you are too, in the sense that these arguments don’t justify pro-immigration, though for me they don’t justify anti-immigration, either.

    Time scales are absolutely important to any calculations. Also, the interpretation of costs have to be viewed in a broader perspective – are transfers dropping money in a hole, or simply circulating money through the consumption chain? These are more technical arguments requiring economic models.

    II’m not economist, but I can see simple things like ‘money doesn’t last long in my pocket when I’m poor’, in which case, where did it go?

    When I talk about this, I hear a lot abotu investment (good) vs consumption (bad), which frankly often baffles me. But when I try to look at it closer, I don’t see any single event or exchange as falling neatly and squarely into one box, and when it does, it doesn’t stay in that box for long. Money moves, money works.

    Behind it all are human values, decisions and facilitated actions. Money does facilititate action. Investment is sold as something bringing greater value, but then people invest because they expect a profit. Sometimes that profit is taken from new, extra value in the economy, sometimes its a redistribution of wealth, e.g. by convincing some people to give up their wealth in exchange for goods and services.

    But for me, redistributions not only redistribute money, they redistribute risk and decision-making power. These are the three fundamentals in my somewhat amateur economic model. In that sense, I don’t see money given to immigrants as giving them a great deal of decision-making power, so I don’t think that in broader economic terms (set out above) society has lost that much. They are poor, so they also experience more disproportionate risk. They have very little decision making power, they don’t have a great deal of security, and the only money they do have covers necessities. And we imagine them to somehow be draining Finland of its most important resources? It doesn’t add up.

    On a broader scale, my view is that capitalism gives us our toys and necessities, while government should ensure we can afford those necessities.

  40. Hmmm

    “I don’t think the debate about the productivity of groups like Somalis and Afghans should end just by looking at DR.”

    Well the question is not only about the used measurement; the unemployment of 40% you mentioned is still far away from beneficial for Finland even if the DR would otherwise be similar to the natives. The point in this case is about the used justifications for pro-immigration arguments, as mentioned earlier.

    “You are pessimistic about longer term trends, but I am not.”

    This is a difference of opinion and both viewpoints often have good arguments. However, this issue is something that I would not be willing to gamble with. The issue of immigration is often presented as ”now or never, we can always fix things that go wrong”, when the reality is the opposite. Once the “doors are open” it’s impossible to “go back” and fixing things gone wrong is extremely difficult, and poses several potential threats. On the other hand the doors can surely be opened at a later time if it is seen as beneficial. This may come with a financial cost but we have too much to lose in the gamble. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not binary option for me (door open/doors closed) for me, it’s just an expression for stricter/lenient policies.

    “It’s much harder to dislike someone to their face. In that sense, I have optimism.”

    This is one point, yes. However, e.g. Robert Putnam does not have so positive views, Financial Times had an article of his findings a few years back.

    “There is simply little room for ‘purity’ in the modern world, whether racial or cultural.”

    This is true, no question about it. I just think that the rate and speed of “mixing” should be better controlled.

    “I think you are too, in the sense that these arguments don’t justify pro-immigration, though for me they don’t justify anti-immigration, either.”

    Of course not. It’s a question of what type of immigration…

  41. Mark

    Hmm

    I think we’ve had a very productive and respectful discussion, and I thank you for that.

    -“Well the question is not only about the used measurement; the unemployment of 40% you mentioned is still far away from beneficial for Finland even if the DR would otherwise be similar to the natives.”

    Figures can be useful, but what they hide is just as important as what they seem to show, and sometimes more important. For instance, the 40% might include a large influx of recently arrived immigrants that have yet to integrate. If that is true, it doesn’t really show the potential for success. And again, the question of why 40% are unemployed can just as much be a reflection of Finnish prejudice.

    It’s just really important to not let the arguments become too narrow and the statistics to be approached too haphazardly. I think our discussion has shown the picture is quite complicated. I understand caution in the approach to immigration, but what i don’t particularly like is misrepresentation or defamation of ethnic groups.

  42. Mark

    And right on cue:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13437528

    And the last line: The OECD also said there was likely to be an increased need for migrant workers.

    Of course, Hmm would say, yes, but what kind of migrant workers? 🙂 yes, indeed. Happy ones, I hope, to look after happy Finns. Can you imagine some of these PS when they get to 2060 and they are being looked after by the very groups they didn’t want to see in Finland. Now that would be an irony.

  43. Hmmm

    ”For instance, the 40% might include a large influx of recently arrived immigrants that have yet to integrate.”

    Yes, there are usually many hidden facts in statistics. But after all speculation you still won’t find any experts on the subject to claim that 3rd world immigration is beneficial for Finland as it is. In fact, some politicians have openly admitted that this is not the case.

    “the question of why 40% are unemployed can just as much be a reflection of Finnish prejudice.”

    True again. But the fact remains that there are no known quick fixes for it and therefore from the point of view of Finland’s economy the reasons are somewhat irrelevant.

    “The OECD also said there was likely to be an increased need for migrant workers.”

    Yes, but at the same time you can find plenty of sources suggesting that 3rd world immigration is not a good solution.

    “Of course, Hmm would say, yes, but what kind of migrant workers?”

    That’s right. That’s what it all boils down to from the POV of Finland. For me, and the economy, it is sufficient that they are a contributing part of the economy and society… as a whole. The last part of that sentence is important. Naturally I’d prefer if they were also happy and I’m open to the idea of society making some reasonable sacrifices to achieve that.

    And I also thank you for the discussion.

  44. Allan

    Mark, this “problem” you and hmmm are debating about is not because of Finland or Finnish xenophobia and racism.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/a-world-of-long-term-welfare-for-refugees/story-e6freuzr-1226050094427

    What do we find similar: 60% unemployment, coming from Iraq and Afghanistan…

    And Australia is multiculturalist paradise with low employment and they (claim at least to) speak English.

    So what is wrong about Finland that we can solve? As its never anything wrong about the immigrants?

    • Enrique

      –What do we find similar: 60% unemployment, coming from Iraq and Afghanistan…

      But then we have, if I remember correctly, about 4% unemployment among Kenyans. The Chinese do very well as other groups.

      Who said that any country is a paradise? Would it be a paradise if it was only nativist?

      Certainly it takes two to tango but what Mark and I are pointing out is that society must be receptive to immigrants. You can’t bring people here and place them in a hostile or an environment where there is a lot of suspicion. I have said it many times and I will say it again: mutual acceptance and equal opportunities. If you have acceptance you have taken a giant leap in the right direction.

      Don’t you agree?

  45. Mark

    Allan

    If you think there is no racism in Australia, you are living in cloud cuckoo land. Oh, we already know that you are.

    Not that you believe anyone who claims there is racism, but it makes for interesting reading if you are even close to being on the fence:
    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/31004.html

    You are the kind of person that says it is all about the immigrants. I have never once seen you acknowledge that it might be racism. You completely individualise the problem, even when the facts contradict you.

    Let’s look a bit closer at that report you link to.

    Almost a quarter had complete a trade or university qualification within five years.

    Does that sound like lazy benefit scroungers? Nope.

    “While the settlement outcomes for refugees improve over time, the report does find that there are difficulties, especially in the early years, in securing stable employment,” she said.

    Now I wonder why that is.

    The remainder were unemployed, retired, studying full time, engaged in caring duties, doing voluntary work or trying to start a business from which they had yet to receive income.More than 60 per cent of those people without jobs had a poor command of English.

    Well, that is exactly what Hmm and I have discussed.

    And Allan, people generally don’t take this absolutist line that you keep peddling, about saying ‘it’s never anything wrong about immigrants’. People are realistic about the fact that there are a combination of factors, some of them at the individual level.

    What you seem unwilling to accept or understand is that the problems that afflict immigrants are the same as those that afflict the long-term unemployed in any country – a disenfranchisment, isolation, lack or resources, welfare dependency.

    However, the solutions are likely to be the same – activation policies and some level of sanctions. Activation includes personal level employment/training plans. But even then, politicians have to accept some responsibility for society level problems, such as a lack of suitable jobs, racism in the populace, state sponsored racism, employment discrimination, and a lack of resources to retrain or develop effective language skills.

    And just for the record, as someone who has taught English to adult refugees, some people have a natural flair, and others, well, their mouths have just been in the habit of making completely different sounds for 30, 40, or 50 years, and it is a massive struggle to master even the alphabet. For many, the successes are small and hard-fought for, and need to be encouraged constantly.

    Once again, Allan, what direct experience have you actually had of refugees and their integration problems? Not the shit you read in newspapers and your far right propaganda pamphlets, but concrete, hands on experience?

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