Friday, January 16, 2009


The Economist magazine, of all the sappy porous-borders rags in the world like “The Age” in Melbourne, or the New York Times, is the most articulate organ in the defiance of common sense.

I was interested, then, in reading how they would manage to put a bad spin on the fact that the global recession is pushing migrants, legal and illegal, back to the land from whence they came. One would think that this would be good news for any domestic workforce, and good news for citizens who don’t want to have the population density of a full sardine can. Or an environment dying from greenbelts developed for immigrant housing, the wildlife that is lost in such development, the extra GHG emitted from the unwanted occupation, the crowding of schools and hospitals, traffic congestion and the stress on infrastructure. Not to mention the increased opportunities now afforded to native born people to be no longer served by staff in language so badly contorted by unintelligible accents that customer “service” has become too often an excruciating test of patience.

The multicultural growthist, defacto one-party state has had, in its quest for employment “equity” (ie. foreign leap-frogging into coveted jobs) a talent for placing people of impenetrable third world dialects into positions where communication is decisively important. PA announcers, weather forecasters, internet support agents, telephone operators----all those jobs where getting the information clearly is crucial, have lately been the province of employees who might as well be telling you the information in ancient Aramaic. Or so it has seemed. It is as if every time I need computer help on the phone or need to hear from which port my plane is loading I get Peter Sellers as he was in “The Party”. Dialing “1” for English is no guarantee of a conversation in English. Pity that sign language can’t be seen on the phone or heard from a loudspeaker. How I fantasize about taking a job with Microsoft in India and giving internet customers bad advice in a Canadian accent that they can’t understand.

All of this, of course, is not a problem that should necessarily be laid at the feet of ESL employees. Rather it is the fault of employers who deliberately chose the cheapest labour source and the governments who oblige their wishes. The foreign employees themselves should not be the target of wrath or abuse. Canadians have experienced excellent service from so many people whose command of either of our two official languages is poor. But still, fluency in the mainstream language is an important job skill, and less than half of our migrants have had even that. This indicates that the motive of corporate Canada, as elsewhere, has never been to serve us, but serve their pocket book. Whatever job skills are lacking here, we have had the resources to train our own nationals. But population growth of the kind that we have suffered lately (1.08 % annually) soaks up dollars that might have been directed to education, training and the repair of infrastructure.

Back to the Economist. Following the template of PC journalism, they focus on the hardships of migrants feeling the pinch of recession rather than on the multitudes of native-born workers whose jobs have been displaced or incomes suppressed by the invasion, or who have endured crowded hospitals and schools in the bargain. Like the plight of the “Kigezi kids”, the poor young workers in London from southern Uganda. Countries that “enjoyed” rapid economic growth and who sucked in foreign labour are now shedding them. A third of Ireland’s 200,000 Polish workers are expected to leave within a year, while Britain and America will also likely see sharp drops in the foreign-born workforce. The Economist cites the International Labour Organization in voicing fears that 20 million jobs will soon be lost and that consequently “the rich will close the doors”--to the applause of our poor, a tiny fact that went unmentioned.

What is classic about the Economist’s analysis is that the deportation of illegal immigrants and the hostility of Britons and Americans to them is evidence of “xenophobia”. An anecdote about Russian skinhead attacks on innocent foreigners is a tried and true red herring. But is it fear of imported cheap labourers or fear of imported cheap labour? A distinction never entertained by PC commentators, as is the possibility that the working class may have a rational reason to fear or resent the loss of their livelihood.

The Economist then devotes six paragraphs to the negative impact that the loss of remittances will have on the homelands of immigrants, on countries who rely on the lucrative flow of migrant money sent home. And if immigration doors are slammed, nations with surplus populations risk social and political upheaval. Dear me, do they mean that those nations might have to come to grips with their overpopulation and finally break down the cultural barriers that impede a solution?

The Economist ends its eulogy for migrants facing re-emigration with a warning that closing borders will make it “tougher for migrants to flow where they are needed.” Needed by whom? And who engineered this need?

As a reader commented, “Pardon me, but I thought the point of a nation was to protect the well-being of its CITIZENS.

1 comment:

Realist said...

What are the chances that Canada will also see an exodus of immigrants due to the economic downturn? We can dream.