We’re going to go all AynRand on you today as we discuss the refugee problem currently blowing up in the First World’s face. It’s no longer a situation of thousands of people sneaking across the southern border of the U.S.
As the media and politicians struggle to decide whether these people from North Africa and the Middle East are asylum seekers, refugees, or migrants, no one has noticed that there’s been a step change in the current population movement.
A step change is a sudden, discontinuous change. This is a notion that engineers moved from mathematics and technology terminology into the real world. The original math term was step function.
The Wiktionary defines step function thusly, “A function from the real line to a finite subset of the real line.” Get it? No, we don’t either. But we certainly do understand the concept of the step change, because we can see it before our very eyes.
There have been mass population changes in the past. Just check out any historic map and look for the arrows pointing in all directions. Historians attribute the moves to need for food and land, and that may be at work here today, too. But a huge number of people pouring into Europe today appear to be quite well-fed.
In the post-WW II world, populations were on the move, but many were moving BACK to where they had been displaced from. In 1956, hundreds of Hungarian students fled the soldiers from the USSR, who were squashing the anti-Communist revolution.
Today, North Africa and the Middle East are the main locations losing population right now. War is the ostensible reason for the movement. The international media people trot out women and children for pictures and interviews, but the bigger picture reveals a different view.
Curiously, it seems that most of the people in the crowds are young Muslim men between about 18 and 30 years of age. This makes the phenomenon look more political than personal. IFO thinks Germany needs the labor. So does this Sept. 8, 2015 Washington Post analysis. Germany, while industrialized and rich, has an aging population and thus is running short of workers, the WP said.
This is the same problem most of the rest of the First World has, including the U.S. Why do you think Social Security is in financial trouble? Current estimates of workers vs. people on SS or SSI number about two to one, or two people with jobs supporting one person on SS or SSI.
SSI is not for retired workers, it is for disabled people, including those with backaches and skin rashes. We exaggerate here, but you get the point.
Here is a kinder, gentler, more bureaucratic definition from the US government: “The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.” IOW, welfare.
We actually met a woman many years ago who had been suddenly widowed, and with her two children was living on SSI money. She was trying to set up a business so she could get off the dole, she said. She went back to California not long after we met her.
What is the point of this story? We think she was uncomfortable living in a world where nearly everyone was gainfully employed. Most people hadn’t heard of SSI at the time, and we suspect their reactions when she told them about it were not, um, positive.
This is why we are separating from one another – poor from rich, working from not working. Used to be we all lived and worked together, helping those of our neighbors who needed a hand, accepting help when we needed it.
But government programs have made getting help much easier and more lucrative. Higher taxes have made working at a job pay less than welfare, especially when you can get income under the table, selling handmade jewelry, for example, or tamales.
To get back to the title of this post, we and our politicians should always ask first: is this move good for me (us)? If the proposal increases government debt, it is bad for me and us. If it increases dependency and reluctance to work, it is bad for me and us.
So, don’t do it! Anyone admitted to a new country should show sponsorship, assets and/or talent and work skills. If they can’t, they don’t get in. It worked for us for decades as millions of people arrived on our shores from Europe, enriching us immensely.
This is what Ayn Rand would say, only far more eloquently and with many, many more words!