The death of a man (or child) is always a tragedy. The death of thousands is a matter of statistics. Joseph Stalin (recalled by Lady Soames)
Alas mass murdering communist leader Uncle Joe (Stalin) was right as media images of the current mass migration tragedy touch our humanity and impact government policy, whereas statistics, thoughtful analysis of the bigger picture and reasoned actions are overlooked. The current mass migration into the European Union (EU) and associated criminality, (often called the Refugee Crisis although falling outside the unambiguous definition of a refugee, Article 1, 1951 Refugee Convention), conceals a much bigger tragedy.
However, any discussion about mass migration, as for other national issues in a democratic country, should start with examination of democratic legitimacy, desirability (for the People and National Interest) and sustainability (long term viability). These considerations are even more important here because mass migration has largely irreversible consequences. Policy makers, if they are to act for the People, must work within a mandate from the electorate, and the People need to know honestly if mass migration is a good idea and if it will work now and into the future. It is obvious that this has not happened in this country or in the wider EU. Rather, with possible exceptions in eastern European (former communist) EU members, notably Hungary, electorates are being deceived, manipulated, ignored and presented with a fait accompli by the autocratic EU, German/French hegemony and subservient national governments. Obviously the denial of democratic legitimacy, particularly during times of economic distress, could have serious consequences as electorates react against perceived injustices and social costs imposed on them without their consent.
Within the big-picture economic and political backdrop in the EU and this country there is a noticeable emphasis on the redistribution of existing wealth, which is eclipsing the creation of new per capita wealth (wealth for each person). Rather than concentrate on the harder task of making the future cake bigger for everyone, the existing smaller cake is being divided up, by the ruling elite, into somewhat arbitrary portions, sometimes disingenuously. This undermines our ability to make the cake bigger; resources or funding are not available to be used where they could help create future wealth. Unfortunately, new per capita wealth creation is also proving difficult to achieve and obvious metrics (in the UK) such as individual discretionary spending power or productivity have shown little improvement for years, whilst youth unemployment has worsened.
With wealth redistribution, winners are gaining at the expense or loss of others or of exacerbating existing problems. For example, the wealth creating part of the economy is heavily taxed to fund government largesse and bureaucracy of limited economic value (such as foreign aid that funds corruption in other countries); the ‘rich’ are taxed supposedly to provide benefits (for others); poorer countries are losing their brightest and best skilled, and are charged more for products and services thereby helping to fill the public (government) exchequers of richer countries; public debts are piled on future generations; higher prices are paid by consumers to monopolies or government sponsored overpricing (such as with energy); corporatism (crony capitalism of large organisations) gains at the loss of smaller enterprises; large organisations are providing rich pickings for underperforming senior executives. These activities could be described as larceny or looting on a grand scale, and why not take part if you are from a tradition of corruption or of using privileged positions of monopoly or authority (in government) to loot others?
Seen in this context, inward and outward migration today is an extension of existing wealth redistribution rather than a source of new per capita wealth creation. It, therefore, differs from some previous famous mass migrations, for example, the huddled masses (yearning to be free) in the United States or within this country the nineteenth century migrations to the industrial or mining areas. Mass migration into the EU, especially of the low skilled or poorly educated, is reportedly to countries with the most generous taxpayer funded benefits (Germany or Sweden). This country has proved a popular destination for uncontrolled mass migration reportedly for varied reasons, including ease of access, taxpayer funded in-work benefits and a ready supply of low skilled work, while we suffer a substantial outward ‘brain drain’ of our brightest, best and affluent to ‘greener pastures’.
Unless this situation is remedied, the growth primarily in low-paid jobs and large scale low-skilled migration into this country (and the EU), and our own (probably accelerating) ‘brain drain’ can be expected to lead to severe problems including: poor social cohesion and assimilation into mainstream British culture leading to alienation, intolerance and extremism; change, splintering and decline of traditional British culture; criminality and corruption; lower living standards (wage compression and social problems), especially for the poorest and most vulnerable; and unaffordable, under-resourced and over-stretched public services and infrastructure. Is there a better alternative that will reduce or eliminate mass migration together with any associated criminality and fatalities, perhaps by removing its causes and attractions or better still creating a Win-Win situation all round?
Nearly a millennium ago the philosopher Moses Maimonides wrote about the general principle of alleviating poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency, which was later presented as:
Lastly, the eighth and the most meritorious of all, is to anticipate charity by preventing poverty, namely, to assist the reduced brother, either by a considerable gift or a loan of money, or by teaching him a trade, or by putting him in the way of business, so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding up his hand for charity.
To prevent a worse tragedy here and help alleviate suffering or poverty overseas, we need to concentrate on new per capita wealth creation, rather than distribution of existing wealth as the cornerstone of our economy; on trade and training not foreign aid, on inward mass migration and dependency; on high productivity here, not low paid jobs; on protecting and enhancing our unique competitive advantages, including our cultural heritage and quality of life, not letting them wither away; on developing new and improved value-adding products and services. These efforts need to include controlling inward migration in ways that enhance long-term new per capita wealth creation with minimal downside problems. For if we cannot create new per capita wealth we cannot be generous or compassionate, and we cannot improve living standards for others here or improve conditions in other countries and, thereby, reduce the incentives for inward and outward mass migration. Our forefathers, largely without political interference, had a very good track record of creating new wealth here and from here spreading it outwards worldwide: the Industrial Revolution.