By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jul 17 2018 (IPS) – According to the latest statistics, the total immigrants flow for what goes of 2018 is 50.000 people, against 186.768 last year, 1.259.955 in 2016, and 1.327.825 in 2015. There is such an astonishing difference between the reality and the perceptions that it is clear that we are looking to one of the most brilliant manipulations of history.
The last survey, made on 23.000 citizens of France, Germany, Italy, UK, US and Sweden, shows an enormous disinformation. In five of those countries, people believe that immigrants are three times higher than in reality. Italians think they are 30% of the population when they are 10%, an average which is lower than the media of the European Union.
The Swedes are those closer to reality: they think immigrants are 30%, when in fact they are 20%. And Italians think that 50% of the immigrants are Muslim, when in fact it is 30%, conversely, 60% of the immigrants are Christian, and Italians think they are 30%. And in all 6 countries citizens think that immigrants are poorer and without education or knowledges, and therefore a heavy financial burden. Italians think that 40% of the immigrants are jobless, when it is close to 10%, not different from the general rate. Then, the seventh report on the economic impact of Immigration, from Foundation Leonessa that based its research on the statistics of the Italian Institute of Statistics, presented some totally ignored facts. The 2.4 million immigrants in Italy have produced 130 billion euro, or 8.9% of the Gross Internal Product: an amount larger than the FIP from Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia. In the last 5 years, companies started by immigrants have become 25.8 of the total, with 570.000 companies, or 9.4% of the total. The director of the Pension Italian system, Boeri, said in the Parliament that immigrants give to the system 11.5 billion, more than what they cost. He also stressed that Italy is having a demographic crisis, with seven birth for eleven death.
Well, Salvini, the emerging Italian leader, who has based all his political success on making immigrants the greatest threat to Italy, answered with a twitter: Boeri lives in Mars. And that was the end of the story. For more than 50% of the Italians, Salvini twitter was more conclusive than statistics.
Same has happened with the outgoing Director General of the International Institute for Migration, Swing., that quoted a study conducted by the IOM and McKinsey Global Institute “determined that although only 3.5% of the world’s population are migrants, they are producing nine percent of the global wealth measured in GDP terms, which is more than four percent than if they stayed at home”. This did not make any impact on Trump electors, white rural and red collars, who are convinced that immigration is a threat to the country: while they all come from immigrants…
In other words, facts are irrelevant. Perceptions count more. Let us take Germany, where Merkel is being weakened by the immigration issue, barely escaping a revolt of her minister of interior, Seehofer, who is the leader of the Christian Social Union, the sister party of Bavaria of the CDU, Merkel’s party.
Gladly the shy and timid Trump come to Seehofer’s help, by twitting “the Germans are against their government because of its immigration policy who has brought to an increase in crimes”. The fact that in Germany there is a strong decrease in crime, of course is irrelevant for somebody who has made more than 3.750 false statements, over its 38.187 tweets (as on the 14th of July.). Trumps twitters have 53.111.505 followers (at July 15th)- Well, the total circulation of the 1.331 dailies newspapers in the US, is close to 62 million. But the total circulation of the 100 largest dailies is below 10 million copies. So, whatever they write is massively overwhelmed nu Trump twitters…And Trump is not alone in his campaign…he is aligned with Orban of Hungary, Salvini from Italy, Kazynscky from Poland, Kurz from Austria, Pellegrini from Slovaquia, Zeman from Chechia, all in power; of course we have those in the wings, Le Pen from France, Farage from Great Britain and so on for nearly every European country, with the exception of Spain and Portugal. All together, they have been using immigration, nationalism and xenophobia as the new “alternative right’s tools for success.
Let us go back to the case of Germany, Bavaria, who threatens Berlin’s government, is the richest state of Germany, with a population of 12.240 million people. Munich is the third largest city, after Berlin and Hamburg, with 1.400.000 people, and is the second largest employer in the country, and has attracted immigrants, which are all together less than 200.000. The local daily, the Suddeutsche Zeitung, estimates Muslim at 32.000.
The Alternative fur Deutschland, the extreme right -wing party that in the last elections got 13% of the votes (and 92 Seats in the Parliament,) is based basically in an antiimmigrant platform. In a poll in March narrowly surpassed the center-left Social Democrats for the first time in history. The poll by Insa, commissioned by Bild newspaper, showed the AfD at 16 percent support compared to the SPD at 15.5 percent — a new low for what has traditionally been one of Germany’s largest parties.
AfD in the last polls appears to win over CSU in Bavaria, where Muslim immigrants are rare. But the main basis for AFD come from the old East Germany, where immigrants are one fourth of those in West Germany. So, there is no rational link between reacting to presence of immigrants and vote. AFD gets more votes where there are fewer immigrants.
CDU runs now frantically to extreme right wing, xenophobe positions, so to do not lose to the Afd. It will probably loose anyhow. History shows us that voters always prefer to vote the original than copies. But Germans, and Bavarians, are thought to be rational people. Statistics are clear. Each year there are 300.000 less working people. Of the 80.6 million Germans, only 61% is in working age. In 2050, it will shrink to 51%, and those older than 65 will increase from 21% to 33%. Birth rate in Germany is 1.5%; to have a constant population you need a birth rate of 2.1%. And the immigrant’s huge influx has increased the birth rate to a modest 1.59%. Immigrants tend to imitate local trends and do not have many children. Therefore, it is clear to all, that in two decades productivity will decline dramatically (some say 30%), because of less people working, and there will be not enough payers to keep the pension and social security system going. It will be the end of the German locomotive.
The same consideration applies to all of Europe, which has a statistical birth rate of 1.6, which means it will lose close to one million per year. The UN division of Population Statistics consider that Europe should have an influx of 20 million immigrants to retain its course. This is clearly impossible in today political system. With an impeccable observation, a Spanish philosopher, Adela Cortina, has observed that foot players, artist, and rich people, be even Muslim, like princes, are most welcome in Europe. Those who are not welcome are the poor. So, she wrote a book on why we are not in front of a real xenophobia. We face aporofobia, a term she coined using the word apora, the Greek world for poor. In fact, this defense of European civilization is an update of colonialism…
And yet we have plenty of data about the positive impact of immigration. The last is a very complex study over 30 years of immigration, done by the very respected CNRS, the National Center of Scientific Investigation if France, published by Science Advances, on the 15 European countries who did receive 89% of demand for asylum in 2015, the year of the great influx from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. After four years, partly due to the length of the bureaucratic process, the GNP rises by 0.32%. Impacts on the fiscal system are also relevant. Prof. Hippolyte D’Albis, one of the authors, observes that of course initially immigrants are a cost, but this public money is reinvested in the society, and for ten years they produce more wealth than the general population. After ten years they melt in the general statics. It is obvious that the dream of people who come in Europe to escape hunger or wars, is to get a job as soon as possible, pay taxes and contributions to ensure their stability and future, and work hard. At least for a decade. And it is interesting to see the difference between the new right and the old right. The old right was not against immigrants, also because they did provide cheap labor. It was mildly nationalist but was never xenophobe (Jews apart). The alternative right is not interested in statistics and economics. Is interested only to stir fear, to get to the power. Reality is fake news. Trump has claimed that the 250.000 demonstrator against his visit, that kept him out of the center of London, were in fact his supporters. You do not need to be only a narcissist; you need also to reverse reality.
The question, therefore, is what has happened to people. Trump changing a manifestation of 250.00o people intent, would have once ridiculed him. Not now: his tweets are to his supporters undisputed truth. His meeting with Kim brought the vaguest of results, He left the Iran deal, which had several pages of agreement, as one which did not address issues. In the NATO’s meeting, he scolded everybody, and then said that all engaged to increase to 4% their military budget (US is at 3.6%). In the visit to UK, he scolded the beleaguered PM May, defending a hard Brexit, and saluting the resigning Minister of Foreign Affairs and hard Brexiter Johnson as his favorite. He said to May that he did not come to negotiate, but to get what he wanted. He then met Putin, said that the Us was responsible for the bad relations, that Putin was to be believed when he said that there was no Russian meddling in the last elections, and that the Intelligence agencies and the Secretary of Justice, with his Mueller’s probe, were an American disgrace. When, in American history, a President scolding his allies, and praising Us enemies, did not even raised an eyelash from Republican American electorate, which is now Trumpian first than anything else?
Well, a survey, Varieties of Democracy, released last June, says that the concept of Democracy itself is in danger. The survey asked more than 3.000 scholars and country experts to evaluate each of 178 countries on the quality of core features of democracy. At the end of 2016, most people lived in democracies. Since then, one third of the world population, or 2.5 billion have gone through “autocratization”, in which a leader, or a group of leaders begin to limit these democratic attributes, and to rule more unilaterally. Four of the most populous countries, India Russia, Brazil and United States, have been affected by autocratization. Other large countries in democratic decline in the past !0 years include Congo, Turkey, Ukraine and Poland. The US fell from seventh to 31st in just two years. The Congress does not like to be able to reign the President, the opposition party looks unable to have any influence over the governing party, and the Judiciary is becoming much more partisan than balanced. The US Supreme Court looked as a counterweight to the Executive, but now its ranking slipped to no.48. A poll from the McKinsey institute found out that now a full 41% of Americans would not mind to do not live in democracy, if the leader they like would remain in power beyond its constitutional term.
By other hand, it is fact that people elect those they like, and therefore any country has the leader they elect, be Putin, Erdogan, Orban, Trump, and not centuries ego Mussolini and Hitler. If they want to listen to Savers sent by God, , who don’t care about reality, is their right. We can only mourn the growing somnambulism of people…
The serious problem is that this will only bring in a near future a disaster. It is really urgent to create an immigration policy, to establish criteria of those that Industrialized countries need for their ability to remain in the world’s competition. This will not happen. All immigrants are presented as a threat, just as a cynical road to power, regardless of reality. Africa’s population will double in the next decades. Nigeria will grow to 400 million, the present population of Europe. Now 60% of Africa’s population is under 25, compared with 32% in United States, and 27% in Europe. Are Europeans going to machine gun the immigrants, (as some xenophobe are already asking) and decline to a region of old people, with little pension and an inexistent social system? Is Europe going to lose its original identity, and the values that are enshrined not only in the European constitution, but also in the National ones? The French Parliament has eliminated the term “race” from its constitution, and the Portuguese government will give to immigrants who have a stable job after a year, the Portuguese citizenship.
By other hand, to government of Nederland, with the support of the Parliament, has decided that will refuse the return to the children born by Dutch parents enrolled with ISIS: those children have been born and raised in a climate of hate and violence, and they would bring a danger to the Dutch society. Nederland was a symbol of tolerance, and refugees for centuries went to Nederland, flying from religious or political conflicts. Nederland has today a population of 17.2 million people, with a high standard of living. How many are the ISIS children? The astounding number of 145. It would be impossible to find 145 families, where those children would forget the horrors through which they went, without any responsibility, and enjoy the benefits of their nationality, which by international law is considered unwaiverable? Is this the new Europe that its citizens want? The new face of United States is separating more than 5.000 children from their immigrant parents… It looks like is the new face of the West…