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Barry’s Gleanings: Immigration

“THE European Union likes to boast that it is a force for good. But in the past ten days as many as 1,200 boat people have drowned in the waters of the Mediterranean. An unknown number were refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Somalia fleeing war or persecution. They perished in part because the EU’s policy on asylum is a moral and political failure.

In a hastily arranged summit, under way as The Economist went to press, EU leaders set out to do something about the drownings. Before them was a ten-point plan designed to enhance rescues, suppress people-smuggling and spread the burden of taking in refugees. Yet, even if Europe’s leaders embraced the plan in full, it would still fall short.

Officials say 1m migrants are camped on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, waiting to embark on a life that is incomparably better than the one they are leaving behind. The Arab world is engulfed in fighting that is likely to last decades and which has set whole nations adrift. Chunks of Africa are prey to sectarian and ethnic strife and to environmental depredation. An enclave of stability and wealth in an ocean of violence, Europe has not begun to grapple with the choices ahead” says the beginning of an article in The Economist. http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21649465-eus-policy-maritime-refugees-has-gone-disastrously-wrong-europes-boat-people

from

from “Europe’s boat people” – The Economist – April 2015

The Optimist – Summer 2015 – column  “The world is a better place than you think” by Marco Visscer recently wrote, “Immigration: People in the West fear a mass influx of immigrants.  But what would really happen if we loosened the borders?”

“Africans heading for Europe in rickety boats have been all over the news lately.  Some have drowned; more fortunate ones have been rescued.  Thousands have already died this year — dozens of times as many as in past years.  Refugee boat disasters have been the main topic of debate in Europe.

Politicians are searching for ways of dealing with the flood of illegal arrivals; proposals include stricter controls and immigrant quotas.  Meanwhile, commentators fume over the European Union’s inability to provide emergency aid at sea.  The debate over boat refugees appears to revolve around the widely held belief that immigration is undesirable and should be prevented.

But is immigration really something the West should fear?  Will it hurt us if hordes of people come to Europe–or North America–in search of a better life?

It’s impossible to calculate what effect easing immigration controls might have on the global economy.  Some estimates, thug, calculate an annual benefit in the trillions of dollars.  The logic runs as follows: if the unimpeded flow of goods and services makes the world richer, so will lifting bans on the free movement of human beings.

‘Is Migration Good for the Economy?’ asked the title of a 2014 OECD report.  Its answer: a resounding yes.  Immigrants account for almost half of the expansion of the U.S. workforce in the past decade.  They fill niches in fast-growing and declining sectors.  And they do jobs that native-born people are no longer interested in.  So they don’t so much steal work as create it.  And as a group, contrary to public opinion, immigrants contribute more in taxes than they receive in benefits, to which they usually have limited access.  Since they go to school elsewhere, they don’t cost the state money that needs to be “paid back” to even the balance sheet.  And immigrants are more enterprising than nonimmigrants.  In the UK, for instance, they start twice as many businesses as the British.

They help their homelands’ economies, too.  A World Bank report estimated that immigrants would transfer $436 billion to their native countries last year.  That’s more than triple the total amount of development aid in 2014, which clocked in at $134 billion, according to the OECD.  And while development funds are spent mostly on infrastructure projects and humanitarian interventions, money sent home by immigrants goes directly to families.

There’s a fear that if we throw open the gates, “they” will come en masse.  History says otherwise.  After the EU admitted ten formerly communist countries, there was no law to keep 100 million citizens from moving to wealthier parts of Europe.  The gap was considerable: average income in Sweden was eight times that in Romania.  But in ten years, only about four million Eastern Europeans moved between countries–and many later returned home.

This spring, British commentator Philippe Legrain pointed out in The New York Times that Europe could learn from what happened with the U.S.–Mexico border.  Until the 1950s, it was loosely guarded, and Mexicans came north to do seasonal work, but most didn’t stay.  It was after the U.S. decided to close the border that settlement increased.  Evidently, those who want outsiders who enter Europe to leave again should make the borders more porous, not less.

In his 2009 book Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them, Legrain pointed out that immigrants could help fill gaps in the labor market in countries with aging populations.  The EU’s shrinking workforce presents a serious challenge.  It numbered 336 million in 2010; by 2030, the figure will drop to 300 million.  Meanwhile, with its population aging, Europe will need more health care workers.  If it keeps the borders sealed, it will be following a recipe for long-term economic stagnation.

Why, then, is Europe allowing the Mediterranean Sea to become a mass grave?” (96).

And what about all those wonderful students who come to the U.S. to study?  Shouldn’t we be accepting all those educated people who want to stay?  Our immigration policies in Europe and the United States should be widened to accept the hard-working and gutsy people who leave their own countries of origin (similar to many of our own ancestors).

Immigrants built the U.S.

Immigrants built the U.S.

Each person has talents to offer

Each person has talents to offer

Some have skills they bring with them

Some have wonderful skills they bring with them

There's room for us all

There’s room for us all

Aloha, Barry (and Renée)

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Angola Update: The Not So Good News

A few months ago,  our “Barry’s Gleaning” post reported good news about Angola and the building going on there to create good housing for those who had been living in slums near the capital city of Luanda.  The source was the China Daily, a Nov. 17, 2014 article, “Changing the face of real estate in Angola” by Li Jing in the business section.  What the Chinese have accomplished in Angola was presented in glowing terms.

The China Daily article notes:

“With its abundance of resources that include crude oil, diamonds and gold, the southern African nation has seen scores of China’s State-owned enterprises and private companies enter its borders hoping for an economic opportunity.

In 2008, CITIC Construction Co, a State-owned enterprise and one of the largest construction companies in the world, joined the nation’s reconstruction efforts.  [See the CITIC website:<http://www.cici.citic.com/iwcm/cici/en/ns:LHQ6MTc1LGY6NDM5LGM6LHA6LGE6LG06/channel.vsml]

‘We are an active and responsible player in the country’s post-war reconstruction process,’ says Liu Guigen, president of the African regional division of CITIC Construction . . .

That year, the company won a bid to build housing in Kilamba Kiaxi, one of the capital city of Luanda’s six urban districts that is located 30 kilometers from downtown. . . .

Last year, the $10 billion project was completed with a total of 20,000 residential homes, 200 retail stores, 24 kindergartens, nine primary schools and eight middle schools. CITIC claims 90 percent of the homes are already occupied.”

That article sounds wonderful and a win-win situation for the Chinese company and the people of Angola.

However,  we’ve found another view that emphasizes the importance of questioning all your sources and not being too sure about what you read.

Travel writer Paul Theroux has quite damning things to say about the Chinese builders in his book The Last Train to Zona Verde:

The Last Train to Zona Verde - The Guardian describes the book as

The Last Train to Zona Verde

In a book review for The Guardian, Robin McKie says The Last Train to Zona Verde is “uncompromising and unsettling.”  <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jun/01/train-zone-verde-theroux-review>  This accurately describes Theroux’s  look at the Chinese in Angola:

“The first Chinese workers to arrive in Angola were criminals, prisoners of the Chinese justice system–thieves, rapists, dissidents, deserters, and worse, an echo of the earliest immigration from Portugal.  . . . The first workers the Chinese sent were convicts shipped in chains, to work off their sentences in forced labor.  Angola, having begun as a penal colony of the Portuguese, became just recently a penal colony for the Chinese.  These Chinese convicts were the labor force for China-Angola development projects–the ugly oversized pastel buildings, the coastal roads, the dredging of the del-water port of Lobito–and after they had served their sentences, the agreement was that they would remain in Angola.  Presumably, like the Portuguese degredados, they would elevate themselves to the bourgeoisie or a higher class of parvenu.

Possibly, again like the Portuguese convicts, the Chinese would become the loudest racists, and for the same reason. ‘The inferiority complex of the uneducated criminal settler population contributed to a virulent form of white racism among the Portuguese, which affected all classes from top to bottom,’ the political historian Lawrence Henderson wrote of the early settlers.  The Portuguese convicts became the most brutal employers and the laziest farmers, and a sizable number turned furiously respectable, in the way atoning whores become sermonizing and pitiless nuns.

After the first wave of Chinese convicts (‘We started seeing them around 2006, a man in Luanda was later to tell me), more shiploads of semiskilled Chinese workers arrived.  As with the early Portuguese convicts, they were all men.  Then, a few years later, women were allowed to work in Angola”  (282-283).

. . . “Some Africa watchers and Western economists have observed that the Chinese presence in Africa–a sudden intrusion–is salutary and will result in greater development and more opportunities for Africans. Seeing Chinese digging into Africa, isolated in their enterprises, offhand with Africans to the point of rudeness and deaf to any suggestion that they moderate their self-serving ways, I tend to regard this positive view as a crock.  My own feeling is that like the other adventurers in Africa, the Chinese are exploiters.  They have no compact or agreement or involvement with the African people; third is an alliance with the dictators and bureaucrats whom they pay off and allow to govern abusively–a conspiracy.

Theirs is a racket like those of all the previous colonizers, and it will end badly–maybe worse, because the Chinese are tenacious, richer, and for them there is no going back and no surrender.  As they walked into Tibet and took over (with not a voice of protest raised by anyone in the West), they are walking into the continent and, outspending any other adventurer, subverting Africans, with a mission to plunder” (265).

*****

Theroux’s view is a good reminder to question everything.  Is the China Daily’s glowing view correct or Theroux’s point of view?  Obviously, we need more than those two accounts.

Have you been there?  What do you know?

Aloha, Renée

Thought for the Day – from Jane Goodall

“People say think globally, act locally.  Well, if you think globally, it is overwhelming and you do not have enough energy left to act locally.  Just act locally and see what a difference you can make.

We are constantly told to buy more, buy, buy, buy!  But do we really need it?  It starts with trying to live a more sustainable life in the small decisions we make every day,” says Jane Goodall, conservationist –  now 80.

from: National Geographic Traveler, May 2015, p.8.

What needs to be done in your garden, your family, or your neighborhood?  You are needed.

P1020861

Aloha, Renée

Barry’s Gleanings: Angola

Angola large color map

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/africa/lgcolor/aocolor.htm

One reason we like to travel is we see the daily news from different perspectives than we find at home in the U.S.  The China English language CCTV, for instance, has a daily news report from Africa – of mainly good news – not just Ebola, HIV, war, and strife.  An example is a Nov. 17, 2014, news article, “Changing the face of real estate in Angola,” by Li Jing in the business section of the China Daily.
“Since Angola’s civil war ended in 2002, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer has surged economically, with a 5.1 percent growth rate in 2013.

The government has invested heavily to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, in an effort dubbed by the leaders as ‘national reconstruction.’ Construction of new roads, railways, schools and hospitals has cost tens of billions of dollars.

With its abundance of resources that include crude oil, diamonds and gold, the southern African nation has seen scores of China’s State-owned enterprises and private companies enter its borders hoping for an economic opportunity.

In 2008, CITIC Construction Co, a State-owned enterprise and one of the largest construction companies in the world, joined the nation’s reconstruction efforts.

‘We are an active and responsible player in the country’s post-war reconstruction process,’ says Liu Guigen, president of the African regional division of CITIC Construction . . .

That year, the company won a bid to build housing in Kilamba Kiaxi, one of the capital city of Luanda’s six urban districts that is located 30 kilometers from downtown. . . .

Last year, the $10 billion project was completed with a total of 20,000 residential homes, 200 retail stores, 24 kindergartens, nine primary schools and eight middle schools. CITIC claims 90 percent of the homes are already occupied.

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos hailed the satellite city project as a model for the country’s post-war reconstruction.

CITIC Construction, which was tasked with mapping out the satellite city’s overall development strategy, worked with about 40 other enterprises from China to install water, sewage and electricity systems.

The companies then set up a 300-strong team to train Angolans on maintenance and security work for the neighborhoods. . . .

Backed by the success in Kilamba Kiaxi, the company is now working with other Angolan city governments to build similar housing projects. It is also exploring opportunities in the nation’s farming sector to help reduce Angola’s dependence on food imports to feed its population of 18 million.

‘Angola has so much fertile land, but it is also a large food importer,’ Liu says. . . .
The company has also invested heavily in the country’s school system.

In May 2014, the CITIC BN Vocational School was founded in Luanda to provide free vocational training for impoverished city youths from ages of 16 to 25. The students can learn skills in electrical and mechanical engineering and will eventually be recruited by the Chinese company after graduation. . . .

Since 1999, when China encouraged its State-owned companies to invest overseas, CITIC Construction has conducted almost 95 percent of its work abroad. It says that 60 percent of its business is in the African market.

‘We are confident that we will expand projects across Africa in 2016,’ Liu says.
CITIC Construction plans to kick off new projects in Kenya and Cameroon at the end of this year” (p. 14).

It’s wonderful to know that good things are happening in Africa.

Aloha & Zaì jiàn, Barry & Renée

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