February 13, 2006

Migrant Flows

This morning's news surf brings this ominous headline usually seen in edgier sites, but now that it has been headlined in Newsweek magazine, it's looming much larger:

The Decline and Fall of Europe

By Fareed Zakaria

Feb. 20, 2006 issue - Cartoons and riots made the headlines in Europe last week, but a far less fiery event, the publication of an academic study, might shed greater light on the future of the Continent. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, headquartered in Paris, released a report, Going for Growth, that details economic prospects in the industrial world. It is 160 pages long and written in bland, cautious, scholarly prose. But the conclusion is clear?Europe is in deep trouble. These days we all talk about the rise of Asia and the challenge to America, but it might well turn out that the most consequential trend of the next decade will be the economic decline of Europe.

Grim news indeed. Of course, I'm aware of the eternal debate of the differential worldviews and quallity of life issues between the USA and the EU and I reject the idea that there should be any competition between us. It is true from my experience that life in Europe is tailored to enjoy a cup of coffe in a human urban setting whilst savoring the fruits of modern civilization. From a jaundiced Yankee eye, that would be a decided deficiency... but then again that particular Yank would be judging whilst also panting furiously on his endless treadmill. A reciprocal view would beequally prejudiced, of course.

Each of us has something to learn from the other.

Europeans don't have to become frenzied capitalists to overcome their economic troubles, but it would seem that they would have to break up the ice of social protection a bit to let innovation flow. There are many ways to be a free market based democracy, even under the relentless sun of the apparently unforgiving logic of the marketplace. We can compete, but we shouldn't take it too literally.

In 25 years, the number of working-age Europeans will decline by 7 percent, while those over 65 will increase by 50 percent. One solution: let older people work. But Europe's employment rate for people over 60 is low: 7 percent in France and 12 percent in Germany (compared with 27 percent in the U.S.). Modest efforts to allow people to retire later have been met with the usual avalanche of protests. And while economists and the European Commission keep proposing that Europe take in more immigrants to expand its labor force, it won't. The cartoon controversy has powerfully highlighted the difficulties Europe is having with its existing immigrants.

What does all this add up to? Less European influence in the world.

Bad news, that. I love Europe. The world needs Europe.

So, what to do? People who know me well, know too that I'm prone to the occassional bright idea (as in the kind that makes the eyes roll into the sockets).

Well, how about this one?:

How about flying the new Airbus 380 over to Mexico and ferry planeloads of Mexican immigrants into the EU, thusly integrating them in the excellently managed EU way?


This would give rioting Mulims a pause... as well as zenophobic Yanks who want to seal off the Southern border. It would be great for Mexico in that it would transform a problem into advantage. We, here in the USA, have learned that Mexican immigrants are wonderful immigrants, legal or illlegal (the latter becmoes the former eventually). They are hard working, family oriented, nurturing each generation to succeed better than the last and they assilimate well without losing their former identity. We are becoming them as fast they are becoming us. ?Muy agradable! They also spur sluggish subcultures in terms of assimilation, as we here in Los Angeles have seen in the transformation of South Central LA (Latinos have bought homes there over the years, changing the ghetto into a better suburb). We are damn lucky to have them. Imagine if there was competition between the USA and the EU for Mexican immgrants? How could we (us Yanks), who believe in the primacy of the marketplace, ever complain about that? Mexico might modernize sooner with a cultural and currency backflow. As they modernize (and begin to need their labor force), they might place a higher value on keeping their workers patriated.

Any way you cut it, it win-win for all. I like win-win scenarios. ?Muy bien, hombre!

(image source)

UPDATE: For more, check out Theodore Dalrymple's article and Anne Applebaum's reply at Cato Unbound.

Posted by Dennis at February 13, 2006 7:17 AM

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