Yesterday we avoided the Boris Burka furore to talk about the mechanics of the Soviet Union’s internal trade settlement mechanism. Which is important because it explains how the eurozone will fail economically in the same way.
Monetary unions may destroy economies. But that isn’t really how they end. Monetary unions are born out of political will. And so that’s how they die.
Italian bond yields surged yesterday when the Italian deputy prime minister said he was ready to play hardball with the EU over the coming Italian budget. “That means doing the same as we did on immigration.” Which is the real buzzword around Europe these days.
If Europe struggles politically because of immigration, that could provide the political poison which sets off a eurozone financial crisis. As with Brexit, when immigration swung what should’ve been a vote about economics.
So let’s examine the hot button issue of immigration and link it to a struggling EU.
But let’s start on the opposite side of the world. Australia’s population hit 25 million on Tuesday. I arrived there when it was about 20 million, 14 years ago. The papers were full of opinion articles about what the rapid growth to 25 million means.
On cue, a riot broke out in Melbourne. This morning’s news tells how a hundred youths from two rival gangs hurled rocks at police and trashed a police car. The “police can’t touch us” they say. Residents barricaded themselves indoors.
Meanwhile, police are worried about the tension between the two gangs:
“Our intelligence at this stage is that there is a bit of tension between two groups of young males.
“We are really trying to unpack that and understand that currently.”
We hope the police don’t offend anyone in the gangs while trying to understand them and their tensions.
Residents of the Melbourne suburb say riots like this used to happen often, but things had calmed down recently.
Buried deeply and well hidden in the news articles are words like “African Australians” and “men of African appearance”. All photos of the youths show only the backs of their hoodies.
Only weeks ago, the issue of Sudanese gangs was in the news. The argument is between those who say they’re a problem and those who deny they exist. Which is a very funny debate to watch.
My former housemate and fellow flying trapeze artist worked in the juvenile justice system on the opposite side of Australia. Largely with African teenagers.
Over in Europe, this sort of thing is old news.
The day after Donald Trump was ridiculed for lamenting about Sweden’s immigration problem on Twitter, there was a riot in an immigrant suburb of Stockholm. In a few weeks, Sweden looks set to vote for an anti-immigrant party to decide who forms government.
In Germany, the most recent manifestation of furore over refugee immigrants is typically German. It features refugees making holiday visits to the hometowns they supposedly fled in fear…
Their German welfare benefits effectively pay for the trip. Because there is little information sharing between the relevant government departments, nobody knows how common it is. But an official admitted “there are such cases”.
A Catholic friend sent over a picture of a Baptist church, presumably in the US. Its holy message on the lit-up board out front was terribly witty: “Heaven has strict immigration policies. Hell has open borders.”
Scrolling through the lists and pictures of stabbing victims and offenders in London, you can draw plenty of conclusions about who gets stabbed and who does the stabbing.
Consider for a moment how all of this looks from the perspective of Japan, my home until November. Immigration here is tiny and usually temporary only. The weather report goes on forever because there isn’t much else happening.
The Japanese think we’re nuts to put up with what immigration is doing to our countries. They don’t question the obvious link between cause and effect for a moment.
But elsewhere, just describing the effects of immigration risk you getting banned in places like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
In fact, merely mentioning them labels people racist. Regardless of how true they may be.
Today’s Capital & Conflict isn’t about the migrants, refugees or the backlash. It’s about the attempt to dupe the electorate. And where that leads Europe.
The political power of pointing out the obvious
The trouble with trying to cover up the obvious is that it’s too obvious.
Telling people that no-go-zones do not exist is an incredibly dumb thing to do.
A study by a Harvard economist recently looked into how we overestimate the migrant share of our populations. The trouble with this is, it doesn’t adjust for impact. Something the human psyche and grandmothers are very good at, as Nassim Taleb explains in his books. You only need to be murdered once, so probabilities and statistics are not the best decision-making mechanism.
Sure, migrants may be a far smaller share of our populations than we think. But adjusted for crime rates, violence, terrorism, welfare and other impacts that migrant populations have, our perceptions are far more accurate than any employed academic can admit.
Migrants do not spread out evenly into their host nations. They concentrate. If a particular suburb is heavily migrant, then all the suburbs around it are heavily affected. Even if only a small proportion of the population in the central suburb is actually migrant, the perception of those around is impacted enormously.
Boris Johnson has figured all this out. He knows Britons see the problems that politicians, academics and the media deny exist. He also knows that people are not racist or nationalist purely because they notice these problems. And that labelling them as such isn’t going to win you votes.
Instead, Johnson made an astute political move with his article. He described himself as one of them by echoing their beliefs and motivations. He says what they can’t. That the burka should not be banned, but it does look odd, oppresses women and more.
It’s a very similar tactic to what Trump uses.
You make a statement that is designed to trigger furore from your political opponents, knowing full well that the people on the streets agree with you based on their real-life experience. Any abuse your critics hurl your way is only going to harm them every time the readers and listeners open their eyes in the real world. A real world that the media and government elite do not live in.
The question becomes whether the leadership of a country changes its policies and direction, like in the US, UK, Austria, Italy, Bavaria, Hungary and Poland, or it keeps going like in Germany, France and Spain. The longer they ignore the problems, the worse the eventual political backlash becomes.
The EU elections promise a spectacular showdown. If Europe’s politics changes, its financial façade will crumble with it.
Until next time,
Capital & Conflict
Category: The End of Europe