BERLIN -- Germany needed workers. Turks needed work...Of course they didn't. And neither will our guest workers unless a three-pronged system of enforcement (wall/military on the border, harsh punitions for employers who hire, and the involvement of local authorities in deportation and arrests) is, well, enforced.
So starting in 1961, the country invited Turkish ''guest workers" to come do the dirty jobs that Germans didn't want.
Nobody grasped that the country -- and the continent, because neighboring nations soon undertook similar experiments -- was on the brink of a transformation whose effects are still reverberating across Europe.
''The idea, originally, was that the foreign workers would stay for as long as economically necessary, then go home," said Michael Bommes, director of the Institute for Migration Research at Germany's Osnabrueck University. ''It didn't quite go like that."
But more recently, as economic growth has slowed, swelling numbers of Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa -- many of them arriving without any visas, or overstaying their visas and melting into the ethnic suburbs -- are being blamed for social stresses from urban blight to chaotic schools. In the words of the late Swiss writer Max Frisch: ''We wanted workers, we got people."What will happen to the construction industry as the housing market continues to cool (and the slowdown is most trenchant in the West)? California's miserable NAEP scores portend the future of the US educational system. Frisch should have done as Randall Parker's been doing and looked to the father of a civilization the US and the Swiss mutually share for a solution. As Plato said through Socrates: "Necessity, who is the mother of invention." Instead of an endless search for cheap labor, companies need to be developing more efficient processes through mechanization and robotization. Machines are workers without being people.
France, in an about-face, has decided it no longer wants to admit the poorest of the poor, just skilled workers who speak fluent French and respect the ideals of secular democracy. Germany and the Netherlands have passed new laws that seem intended to thwart immigration from Islamic lands -- with potential newcomers queried about attitudes toward women's rights, Jews, and gays.This is an obvious response of sovereign nations that are concerned with bettering the lives of current residents, not bettering new comers at the expense of natives. Prudent advice for investors: Don't invest in mutual fund families that advertise. The money you give will be used to bring in more money for the fund rather than growing your investment. Prudent advice for voters: Don't vote for politicians that sell you out to import more supporters. Power will be used to preserve power rather than improving your lot.
Why compromise Occidental culture? Why suppress wages, bring in atavistic diseases, stress infrastructure, increase crime, accentuate the wealth gap, make housing less affordable, create communication barriers (and the deadweight loss that comes from native college students majoring in Spanish instead of architecture or engineering), and prop up the economy of a corrupt Mexico?
Europe's guest worker programs were mostly scrapped during the recessions of the 1970s, but in a pattern reflecting the Hispanic flow into the United States, the movement of Muslims to Europe only accelerated. Those early guest workers routinely overstayed their one- or two-year permits, or lived from extension to extension, but faced scant risk of deportation unless they committed serious crimes.Latin American economies are tied to the US economy. NAFTA, CAFTA, and other hemispheric trading agreements strengthen the interdependency. Living through an American depression beats living through a Nicaraguan depression. When the economy no longer has a short-term use for them, underclass immigrants are still going to come and stay.
While many European governments failed to seriously pursue integration, many Muslim immigrants were equally unwilling to shed their own languages and national identities.A nation within a nation. Sound familiar? Instead of half-heartedly attempting to integrate immigrants after they arrive, why not demand that they be linguistically, culturally, economically, and educationally integrated before they arrive? Build a wall and institute a merit immigration system that forces them to be so.
Indeed, the future of the continent may be written on these darker-skinned faces thronging the streets. Birth rates in some European countries are plunging dramatically. Immigrants earning wages and paying taxes appear to represent the best chance the continent has of keeping its place in the world's economic front ranks.No, finding ways to get Europeans to have babies and remain productive as the population ages is the continent's best shot. That third-worlders must be imported to do low-skilled jobs that otherwise will not get done is a hard propisition to swallow with an EU unemployment rate of 9.4%. If a group is a net liability, bringing in more of them does not ameliorate the situation, it makes it worse.
Many of the original guest workers are now retired, enjoying the comfortable pensions that are the pride of Europe. But their children and their grandchildren are trapped between two worlds, too ''Europeanized" ever to return to the Middle East or North Africa, but lacking the language skills and education to forge ahead in their new countries.Are the children of brown serfs going to happily toil away picking fruit in Californian sun for $5 an hour? Or are they going to desire opulent lifestyles that they do not have the ability or diligence to obtain? The latter. And they are going to resent it.
The progeny of the early workers are filling schools -- and, critics say, jails -- as well as putting heavy demands on social services. The legal status of the offspring is murky, with many entitled to social services and health care without holding citizenship.The only difference is that the US grants birthright citizenship and therefore makes it easier for spawns to receive services.
At the rough-and-tumble Ruetli vocational high school in Neukoelln, where 80 percent of students are of immigrant stock, not a single student from last year's graduating class went on to specialized training or an apprenticeship, the normal routes to decent-paying, blue-collar jobs.Mexican-Americans attempt secondary education at only a fifth the rate of other Americans. Only 53% of Hispanics graduate from high school in four years, compared to 77% of whites and 55% of blacks. Do we want another black underclass that happens to be brown?
The interregna of my excerpts are full of quixotic fluff about how if only integration and understanding would truly occur all would be well. A German politician of Turkish descent criticizes the perceived hardline stance against immigration taken by the US government (are you kidding me?). He laments a country of such historically successful integration questioning unfettered immigration. If the US, with race-based prison riots, witch hunts, affirmative action, criminals waving foreign flags in the street, intractable education, economic, and criminal ethnic/racial gaps, etc is to be considered a success, I shutter at the thought of integrative failure.