Tag Archives: europe

Euro Refugees: Separating Human Interest from Economic Interest

One of the causes of the rise of the alt-right in western Europe may be the equivocating of economics and compassion when it comes to deciding to whom to grant political asylum. To quote one European politician, “Save the people who need saving. But don’t tell me they’re good for the labor market.”  80% of refugees in Germany are jobless, and the conservatives there have noticed. However, the human rights angle can be successful if truthful–is the applicant truly in danger, and is the government clear on why that matters to a free society?

This longform article from The Atlantic focuses on Germany’s handling of refugees since 2015, especially those from Africa and the Middle East.  While it also addresses the roots of xenophobia, as well as the German processes that could be emulated in the US, its most interesting content describes how economic opportunists are weeded out from the applicant pool, so as not to take the the spot of someone truly needy.

To get a sense of these (refugee applicant) interviews, imagine the following game. You meet someone who claims to be from your hometown, and you have to decide whether he’s telling the truth. You can ask him anything you like: Which high school did you attend? What color is city hall? Do people get around on buses or trains? Is there a McDonald’s? If so, where? The other player may prepare however he wishes, memorizing facts, maps, events. If he convinces you, he gets a million dollars. If he doesn’t convince you, he dies. You have 10 minutes to decide.

Germany also has fascinating uses of technology to verify these narratives–not just passports but mobile phone history, facial recognition, and speech patterns.

What do you think?  How rigorous should a country be in weeding out the criminal or the merely poor, from the displaced and the destitute?

Inequality Series Part II: Tolerance for Inequality

We all know that the Scandinavian countries are famous for their social welfare programs.

Recently, there was a psychological study that sought to compare and contrast Norwegian and American values around fairness and luck (link below).


  • Americans are more tolerant of inequality, even when it is due to pure bad luck.
  • Both nationalities are more tolerant of inequality due to differences in merit.
  • Both groups were willing to accept some societal costs in order to redistribute inequality-by-luck, but this is less true for Americans.

It has been shown empirically that most Americans believe wealth is possible for them to achieve, which could explain the tolerance of having it–even if it is by unfair means; an attitude of, “Good for you on your wealth, however it happened.”

At the same time, “Americans don’t believe that rich people are happier than they are,” which is why many choose to be happy with what they have.

As for government policies that work toward redistribution while costing money and reducing total wealth,“costs don’t seem to be Americans’ big hang-up with redistribution. Rather, their opposition seems to go to an underlying acceptance of fate and the fortunes it brings.”







Renzi’s Resignation

“Italy is not only the past.” stated Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on this week’s 60 Minutes. We featured him, and fellow interviewee Virginia Raggi, on the blog a month ago.

Today, his referendum to drastically reduce the number of parliamentarians was defeated.  He will resign, as he promised to do in the event of rejection of his idea.

MC applauds his vivacity and looks forward to his future accomplishments.  All young (and old)  politicians should be so bold, principled, willing to fight for appreciation–and to keep moving if it is not forthcoming.