Immigration, Digital Economy Reforms Justify Another Grand Coalition in Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, in parliament in Berlin, September 10, 2014
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, in parliament in Berlin, September 10, 2014 (Wikimedia Commons/Tobias Koch)

German media report that the country’s Christian Democrats and Social Democrats are making progress in talks to form another coalition government.

  • There is reportedly a deal to attract more high-skilled migrants.
  • The parties are willing to spend €12 billion to expand fast Internet access across Germany by 2025.
  • They are also looking at tax incentives to promote digital research and investment.

The plans bely fears that another “grand coalition” would muddle through for four more years and not make necessary reforms. Read more “Immigration, Digital Economy Reforms Justify Another Grand Coalition in Germany”

Democrats, Republicans Split on Diversity and Immigration

Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005
Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005 (Thomas Hawk)

Americans overall have very liberal views of immigration, but there is a partisan divide:

  • An NBC News-The Wall Street Journal poll found that more than three-quarters of Democrats, but less than one-third of Republicans, feel comfortable with societal changes that have made the country more diverse.
  • Democrats, only 29 percent of whom are white and Christian anymore, embrace ethnic and religious diversity as central to the American idea. Republicans, nearly three quarters of whom are white and Christian, see these changes as eroding what they believe America to be about.
  • Not surprisingly, Donald Trump’s supporters worry the most. The Pew Research Center found (PDF) that only 39 percent of them agree diversity makes America stronger.
  • Analysis of post-election survey data by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found that 79 percent of Americans who agree with the statement “Things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country” voted for Trump. Read more “Democrats, Republicans Split on Diversity and Immigration”

American Views on Immigration Are Still Very Liberal

The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, New York, November 5, 2013
The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, New York, November 5, 2013 (Kostas Kokkinos)

Despite the election of a nativist president, America’s views on immigration are still remarkably liberal, an NBC News poll by SurveyMonkey has found (PDF).

  • 57 percent of Americans believe immigration helps the country more than it hurts. 38 percent believe it hurts more than it helps.
  • Asked about the impact of immigration on their own communities, 75 percent say it has either made no difference or made their communities better. Only 22 percent say it has made their communities worse. Read more “American Views on Immigration Are Still Very Liberal”

Immigration Could Be Macron’s Achilles’ Heel

French president Emmanuel Macron attends a military remembrance ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, May 15
French president Emmanuel Macron attends a military remembrance ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, May 15 (Facebook)

Patrick Chamorel makes another fine point in his essay about Emmanuel Macron in The American Interest.

He points out that the French president has barely talked about crime, immigration, integration and terrorism:

His emphasis on the necessary liberalization of the economy disproportionately reflects the preoccupations of the most urban, educated and prosperous sections of the population.

In smaller cities and the countryside, people worry about other things. Read more “Immigration Could Be Macron’s Achilles’ Heel”

Immigration Lessons from Canada

A Canada Day celebration in Ottawa, July 1, 2013
A Canada Day celebration in Ottawa, July 1, 2013 (Adrian Berg)

Joseph Heath, a professor at the University of Toronto, sees five reasons why Canada has been more successful at integrating migrants than Europe and the United States:

  1. Very little illegal immigration. This helps explain the difference in attitudes with the United States but not with Western Europe, where illegal immigration is also low.
  2. A political system that encourages moderation. I think this has more to do with political culture than the system. Heath argues that first-past-the-post makes it difficult for nativists to prevail. Parties need to appeal to the center. But it doesn’t stop nativists from influencing the mainstream right, as they did in the United Kingdom. To stem defections to UKIP that could split the right-wing vote and allow Labour to sneak into first place, the Conservatives felt they had to become more insular. And clearly in a two-party system, like America’s, nativists can come out on top.
  3. Immigrants are part of larger nation-building project. Immigrants ended up strengthening Canadians’ sense of nationhood because, unlike the First Nations, Westerners and Quebecers, they embraced national symbols. Persuasive, but it’s hard to see how other countries could mimic this.
  4. Protection of majority culture clear from the start. This is rooted in Canada’s unique history but could be a lesson to others. Heath argues that the need to appease Quebecers led to equal cultural and language protections for the English and French, as a result of which the majority felt unthreatened by newcomers.
  5. Bringing people in from all over. I think this is the key. There is no “majority minority” in Canada. Heath reports that, in a typical year, no group makes up more than 15 percent of the total number of immigrants. Hence no parallel societies could emerge in Canada, like the predominantly Muslim banlieues of Paris, immigrant-heavy neighborhoods in Amsterdam and Latino districts in major cities across the United States. Their existence hinders assimilation and makes visible the threat immigrants pose to the dominant culture. Read more “Immigration Lessons from Canada”

Finland’s Brain Drain: When Talent Leaves a Small Country

Helsinki Finland
Sundown in Helsinki, Finland, August 9, 2008 (WomEOS)

Young Finnish professionals are attracted to major European capitals. They move to Stockholm, Berlin and Amsterdam, as well as farther away. The sun shines in Dubai; the world’s top organizations and institutes are in New York and Washington. The occupations of these migrants are manifold: bankers, graphic designers, computer engineers, photographers and researchers, to name only a few.

They leave Finland because of poor employment opportunities and future prospects. This has been happening for a long time. Finns were moving to North America 100 years ago and to Sweden after World War II — in both cases because growing economies needed factory workers.

The difference with today’s migrants is they are better educated (PDF) and leaving a welfare state that ranks as one of the best places to live in the world according to most indices. The likelihood of them returning has nevertheless fallen sharply. Why? Read more “Finland’s Brain Drain: When Talent Leaves a Small Country”

Merkel’s Plan Strong on Taxes and Spending, Disappointing on Migration

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Brussels, March 15, 2016 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s party promises long-overdue investments in its election manifesto, but a plan for attracting high-skilled migrants is unconvincing.

The Christian Democrats, who are projected to win the most votes in September’s election, pledge to sustain recent increases in spending on digitalization and infrastructure and raise spending on research and development from 3 to 3.5 percent of the economy.

German public investment has languished for years as the Christian Democrats prioritized deficit reduction. The Dutch and Swedes invest twice as much in everything from electricity grids to roads. Read more “Merkel’s Plan Strong on Taxes and Spending, Disappointing on Migration”

EU Threatens Sanctions Against Central European States

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán enters the European Parliament in Brussels for a debate, April 26
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán enters the European Parliament in Brussels for a debate, April 26 (European Parliament)

The European Union is clamping down on its recalcitrant Central European member states.

The European Commission has opened what is called an infringement procedure against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to take in their share of refugees.

This comes on the heels of several probes into Hungary’s and Poland’s right-wing governments. Read more “EU Threatens Sanctions Against Central European States”

How Climate Change Will Be the Biggest Geopolitical Crisis of the Century

Russian Arctic tanker
A United States Coast Guard icebreaker escorts a Russian tanker through the Bering Strait, January 6, 2012 (Coast Guard)

America is out of the environmental protection businesses; so says the haughty God-Emperor Donald Trump, whose word is apparently law.

Too bad even god-emperors cannot change facts. Too bad, especially, for the billions who are almost certain to be disrupted, displaced and decimated by the looming geopolitical effects of climate change.

That basic truth is denied heartily by many who have incentive to play games for short-term gain. These are old-school industrial concerns, for whom environmental regulation hammers a bottom line; alt-right, alt-truthers, for whom simple science is a threat to their incoherent worldview; and shattered working classes, seeking a simple scapegoat for the complicated story of their economic dissolution and disenfranchisement. Read more “How Climate Change Will Be the Biggest Geopolitical Crisis of the Century”

Trump Supporters Haven’t Been Hurt by Immigration or Trade

Seattle Washington port
The port of Seattle, Washington, June 14, 2012 (camknows)

One theory of Donald Trump’s popularity has been turned on its head. Gallup’s Jonathan T. Rothwell argues in a working paper that the businessman’s voters are not in fact motivated by any disproportionate impact from immigration and trade.

Rothwell bases his analysis on interviews Gallup conducted with more than 87,000 American voters, including Trump supporters and Trump opponents. He then compared support for Trump to various other indicators, including proximity to the Mexican border (which Trump has famously promised to wall off), the share of manufacturing in local employment, educational attainment and racial segregation.

Some of his findings confirm widely-held beliefs. Trump’s voters are older than the general electorate and more likely to be retired; more male, more white, less likely to hold a college degree and more likely to work, or have worked, in a blue-collar profession.

But their average household income is actually higher than the general population’s and they are more likely to be self-employed than unemployed. Labor force participation is lower among Trump supporters, but not after adjusting for age.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise altogether. The website FiveThirtyEight previously reported that Trump’s supporters on average earn more than the average median household, belying the notion that they are working class. Read more “Trump Supporters Haven’t Been Hurt by Immigration or Trade”