Oscar Wilde once said. “If there is one thing worse than being talked about it is not being talked about”. Donald Trump certainly seems to have taken his advice to heart in the US election campaign with his extreme views on immigration and terrorism, which many politicians tend to avoid by being politically correct.
However in an ever more interconnected world they are issues which need to be addressed and cannot be ignored. The growing inequality in the USA and other western nations has much to do with the mass immigration, which has been taking place during the past twenty-five years. Most of the new arrivals, who have been allowed to remain and avoid deportation, have tended to be without resources and a sufficient education. The lack of academic or technical qualifications has led to low paid precarious jobs or unemployment, which in turn, in most western countries, requires government assistance in the form of social and housing benefits.
The increase in precarious, poorly paid work keeps the average wage low and a subsequent loss of spending power for a squeezed middle class. Those born in western countries, the most educated generation in history, are unable to find jobs compatible with their qualifications or are forced to emigrate to pursue their career. And this at a time when the financial crisis has left many nation states burdened with high national debts, austerity measures and cut backs in public services, placing pressure on governments, forced to increase taxes, which stifles economic growth.
Meanwhile the privileged financial and corporate elite has continued to benefit from increased earnings, bonuses and a range of tax benefits raising the wealth gap to unsustainable levels.
In search of employment, more and more people are drawn to cities transforming them into urban mega-poles. It has been estimated that by 2050 two thirds of humanity will be living in these mega-cities. The global economy has also seen an explosion in real estate prices in sought after locations around the world as the mega-rich seek a safe haven for their money. This has had a catastrophic effect on local markets. As real estate prices increase, those at the lower end of the social scale or in vital public sector employment find it harder to purchase or rent accommodation.
Central areas become prohibitive pushing the middle class to the inner suburbs which become more desirable and expensive which in turn pushes those without resources further out with a consequent increase in environmental, transport and social problems. Young people seeking to step onto the property ladder are faced with much stricter conditions by lenders who require higher earnings to obtain loans and landlords increase rents and seek more security before renting their properties; a double whammy. Unable to buy, millions of poor families are obliged to live in rented public housing or at worst end up homeless.
There will soon be over eight billion people on the planet with the vast majority living in poverty in Africa and Asia. Decades of corruption and exploitation by the West have led to dictatorships and despotic regimes resulting in ethnic violence on a huge scale. Given the ease of communication and travel it is not surprising that hundreds of millions are looking for a better life which they believe can be found in Western Europe, North America and Australia.
However, unlike the migration from Europe during the early and mid-20th century, most of the new arrivals tend to originate from developing countries in Central America or former colonies in Africa or Asia, escaping poverty or persecution. The migrants from Central America have transformed American society where around 20% of the population is now of Hispanic origin. The Arab Spring was supposed to have heralded a new era of democracy and peace throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Instead it has triggered chaos and ethnic or religious violence and an influx of people of the Muslim faith bringing with them dramatic changes to the fabric of our western Judeo/Christian societies, the threat of terrorism and the rise of extremist political parties and personalities like Donald Trump.
No law-abiding society can accept the present situation. While most westerners need passports, visas and proof of resources to travel for limited periods, hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants and their families cross borders illegally each year choosing where they want to live permanently. There has to be a return to an orderly legal immigration policy with quotas depending on a country’s needs for foreign workers. Potential migrants should be required to make their request through official channels and illegal immigrants automatically deported. Refugees fleeing conflicts should be required to seek asylum in a neighbouring safe country on the same continent and not cross the world because they like the idea of living in the west. But thanks to the lack of immigration policies and divergence of political opinions coupled with reckless statements by leaders like Angela Merkel, people trafficking gangs have created a huge lucrative industry out of the misery of millions who risk their lives to reach “El Dorado.”
Only “El Dorado” is a mirage for those who drown, end up in squalid camps, become sex slaves or live on the street. Organised begging and prostitution in most western cities has reached epidemic proportions. And it is becoming a massive burden on Western economies, which simply cannot cope with the influx of millions of people whose different cultures and religions make social cohesion difficult if not virtually impossible.
Ethnic minorities tend to live in segregated communities, which have become breeding grounds for drugs, violent crime, delinquency and terrorism by an alienated youth who feel outcasts without roots. The growth of urban ghettos like the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek or those found in the suburbs of many French cities, demonstrates that the benefits of the multicultural society are an illusion.
In a changing and more precarious world, the U N should become far more active in fixing new laws and rules with regard to the migration crisis. To make the world a better place international cooperation is needed to prevent or stamp out corruption and violence and improve the economic, education and social development of the poor nations to improve the standard of living of the population. The overriding principle has to be for each country to accept responsibility for looking after its own citizens.
If we do not reduce the growing inequality both at home and overseas through a change of mentality and a redistribution of wealth, there will be more poverty and an endless invasion of the rich western democracies until ultimately we are ourselves destroyed by the resulting overpopulation of our cities, social unrest, anarchy and chaos.