James Kanter, in a November 5th article in The New York Times, discusses a recently released forecast by the European Union which predicts a net economic benefit of Europe’s refugee influx by 2017. The EU expects that the driven, younger workers arriving from the Middle East and Africa will fill the labor shortage the aging societies aren’t able to address organically. The tired, the poor, the huddled masses get to work and eat, and Europe, as a whole, benefits. That is not a bad deal. If only every European government could see that. Or our own, on these star-spangled shores.
Social change hurts. It does especially if one believes in the intrinsic value of things staying the same, in conserving the status quo. The migrant experience – from Syria to Germany, from Mexico to the United States, from Myanmar to Thailand, and on – requires one to accept and adapt to change by definition. The fact that immigrants not only signify change but are such willing agents of change themselves makes large portions of host nations uncomfortable. We’ve witnessed the disgraceful reaction from the governments of the Visegrad Group; Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic have all refused to accept their fair quota of the displaced citing predictable objections: fear of religious and cultural change. Much of the rhetoric that has propelled Donald Trump and Ben Carson to a seesaw lead in the Republican primary campaign in the United States centers on limiting immigration and expelling those already here.
How quickly we forget when we were the tired, the poor, and the huddled ourselves.
You have got to read Gary Shteyngart. Anything by Gary Shteyngart. His memoir, “Little Failure,” is a riot, and you might as well start there. Born in Russia to a Jewish family, Shteyngart immigrated to the United States with his parents when Jews were “encouraged” to leave the Soviet Union. Russia’s loss, our gain. Sposibo.