Home / General / This is One Scandinavian Policy Trump Could Get Behind

This is One Scandinavian Policy Trump Could Get Behind

Comments
/
/
/
601 Views

2BF0413000000578-3222405-Sanctuary_Although_the_vast_majority_of_Syrian_refugees_live_in_-m-73_1441380822991

Shame on Denmark:

The UN Refugee Agency is condemning a Danish plan to seize cash and valuables from would-be-refugees crossing the border, calling it “an affront to human dignity.”

On Wednesday, the Danish parliament appeared poised to overhaul the country’s immigration system, which would include empowering border authorities to confiscate possessions valued at over $1,450. That money, supporters of the measure say, would help Denmark defray the costs of the more than 20,000 asylum-seekers who crossed into the country in the past year.

“In Denmark, you should support yourself if you can,” said Immigration Minister Inger Stojberg, defending the idea.

How are you supposed to support yourself if the government takes all the assets you might bring that would help you get started in Denmark? The bootstraps rhetoric makes absolutely no sense here and of course isn’t what this is about. It’s racism.

Right-wing parties scored a major victory in Denmark in last year’s election, and in recent months, the center-right coalition government has staked out an anti-refugee position. Government ministers and ruling-party leaders routinely make it clear that the country has no interest in becoming a haven for asylum-seekers. Last month, Rasmussen said that the UN 1951 refugee convention, a law created in the aftermath of the Holocaust, should be reconsidered and the international community should re-think the “rules of the game.”

Shame on Switzerland as well for copying the Danes on this policy.

At least President Trump will have some European allies in the larger front of white nationalism.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • DocAmazing

    The Vikings should have had their longboats confiscated.

  • rea

    When all the Republicans try to emigrate rather than put up with President Hillary, they’ll have to avoid Denmark

    • Bill Murray

      and yet they now will all want to go there. Plus, confiscation of money and goods is not for white people

  • BGinCHI

    This is just like in the Danish TV show “Borgen,” but with the party who loses in the opening episode back in charge.

    For those of you who like political drama, that is must-watch TV.

    The Scandinavian countries are going to struggle with this, since even though they are generally very liberal, they are also very afraid of what they think of as “cultural erosion.” Not a defense, but an observation. We are living in Norway for the year and this is an important subject here. It is in many ways a traditional country that was, before oil changed the economy drastically in the 60s-70s, poor and outside the mainstream of European progress economically. There is a lot of fear and defensiveness. I would like to see them be smart and figure out how to be a more sophisticated member of the global west, but at present they see poor people coming to a wealthy country, which threatens to disrupt what they have built.

    I’m curious whether people think that Germany are going to be able to sustain what they have started. I hope so, but there are cracks already…

    • LeeEsq

      Its a combination of factors. One big elephant in the room issues is that a lot of the refugees and other immigrants are coming from very traditional, conservative, and patriarchal societies and aren’t quite buying modern Western liberalism. In the United States, we know that plenty of American citizens have rejected the social changes of the mid-20th century even though they are more connected to the philosophies and pressures that led to those changes. It shouldn’t be a surprise that people coming from cultures even less connected to the change are rejected the liberalization in personal morality that started in the mid-20th century.

      Most liberal democracies struggle what to do with the part of the population that is illiberal and authoritarian in nature. You can’t force liberalism on people because that would make a mockery of liberalism. The right to be illiberal is implicit in liberalism. At the same time, illiberal tend not to follow a live and let live philosophy. They believe their version of society and morality is correct and believe that imposing it on other people is the proper thing to do because it is for their own good. Too many illiberal people can frustrate some of the basic ideas of liberalism.

      • Clearly the solution to people questioning liberalism is to act illiberal toward them….

        • BGinCHI

          Not to mention the idea of “lib and let lib.”

        • LeeEsq

          Well, thats what the solution seems to be when the illiberal people are White Evangelical Protestants or White Conservative Catholics; a combination of mockery and the stick. If its the solution for them than I don’t see why it shouldn’t apply to illiberal Muslims of color. (Sarcasm).

          In all seriousness, the historian the British historian Dominic Sandbrook in his book White Heat A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties pointed out that the legislation leading to the Permissive Society in the United Kingdom was caused by Parliament ignoring the expressed desires of the average British citizen and going ahead anyway. The liberalization of divorce, the legalization of abortion and male homosexuality, the reduction of censorship and above all the abolition of the death penalty did not poll well with the British people regardless of their age, social class, or political affiliation. All Permissive Society legislation was sponsored as Private member bills rather than Party bills and had supporters and opponents in both parties. It was the party elites imposing change on the British people.

          Sometimes the solution is to impose liberalism if possible and wait for society to change.

          • McAllen

            I see what you’re saying, but it seems to me the question of how much a liberal democracy’s laws should accommodate illiberal cultural beliefs, and the question of whether a liberal democracy should impose harsh punishments on refugees who might have illiberal beliefs are very different.

          • Ronan

            Might not be news to all, but I only found out relatively recently that Switzerland only gave women the vote in 71 because it kept getting rejected by all male referendums. Sort of speaks to your second paragraph. Direct democracy can be a harbinger of reactionary policies

            • LeeEsq

              Representative or indirect democracy gives government an opportunity to filer out or go against the worst impulses of the citizens. It isn’t a perfect tool but it helps at times.

      • Brett

        One of the concerns I heard about Sweden was that the Swedish economy is very much built-up around a high-productivity, high-skilled, high-technology way of doing things – which means they’re not really great at absorbing large numbers of low-skilled, impoverished migrants into the economy in the way that, say, the US is. So you end up with concentrations of migrant populations in particular cities with little employment and poverty.

        • BGinCHI

          Hmm. Those meatballs are not going to make themselves round and delicious.

          • Lurker

            Those meatballs are manufactured in automated, industrial-scale processes. Getting employed in a meat-production plant is surprisingly difficult. They are definitely not typical immigrant jobs.

        • LeeEsq

          As opposed to the United States, where we end up with concentrations of immigrant and American born populations in particular cities with little employment and poverty like the Rust Belt cities.

          Even hi-tech Sweden is going to have jobs that require an ability to work and little else like dish washing in restaurants or construction.

      • Thirtyish

        One big elephant in the room issues is that a lot of the refugees and other immigrants are coming from very traditional, conservative, and patriarchal societies and aren’t quite buying modern Western liberalism

        There is an element of truth to this, but I’m not buying that the main driver behind prima facie rejection of refugees in European nations is not racism and old-fashioned xenophobia. There has been a strong uptick in ultra-rightism in Western/Central Europe, targeting not just Islamic immigrants but also extant Jewish populations. As is the case here, racial resentment impels these attitudes and behaviors.

        • Warren Terra

          I’d encourage anyone to check out the BBC radio documentary series A New Life; in particular, the later chapters (after arrival in Germany) are relevant to this. The family, and especially the father, are struggling with the cultural differences and the father’s reduced authority. But they’re adapting, and with a few more opportunities the kids could really have a chance.

          This is of course anecdote (lengthy anecdote!) not data. But I think it’s revealing.

          • Ronan

            I don’t know . My understanding is that individually the second generation in general tends to broadly assimilate into the local culture . Collectively though North African /middle Eastern Migration to Europe is more like central American migration to the US (poorer, less educated). Which also means a lot more moving back and forth, maintaining stronger links with the home country, and replenishing assimilated populations with new groups more regularly , so integration is seen to not be occurring, even when it is in a lot of ways. That’s my guess anyway

        • Robespierre

          There certainly is racism, but I think most is fear of having to support poor people (or worse, having to compete for jobs and welfare). In my own country, Italy, immigrant freakouts were about Albanians first and Romanians later – same race and for Romanians same religion, but among the poorest in eastern Europe.

          Before that, our leading racist party, Lega Nord, was anti-Southern Italians, for the same reasons. And I can’t shake the feeling that if the majority of voters could truly get what it wanted wrt immigrants, our response would be far more savage.

          Edit: also much plain racism, but mostly against black Africans and Gypsies.

          • Ronan

            Yeah. Up until recently a lot of the hostility in ireland and UK was to eastern European migrants. I was speaking to a couple of conservative Germans over the summer when this was developing and they were happy with merkels stance, but wanted greater restrictions on migrants from the Balkans. As you mention, then there’s Italy’s response to Albanian “boat people” in the 90s. And they Roma consistently poll as the most despised minority group throughout Europe.
            Of course race and cultural difference is important, but it’s always more complicated

      • Sly

        Its a combination of factors. One big elephant in the room issues is that a lot of the refugees and other immigrants are coming from very traditional, conservative, and patriarchal societies and aren’t quite buying modern Western liberalism.

        While coming up with solutions to this foundational dilemma of leftist politics – how do you maintain a commitment to the equal dignity of ever person when a lot of people are assholes – I don’t think it particularly controversial to say that “let’s steal their shit” is not a very good one.

        And let’s be honest, this tut-tutting about the foreign hordes corrupting our society from within has, in most (all?) circumstances, just been a way to ascribe moral purpose to what was always a “let’s steal their shit” plan from the get-go.

        • Ronan

          Hardly. Causation here doesn’t go , the Danish invite in x amount of refugees to enable them to steal their shit then feign fear of foreign hordes after the fact.
          You and I might not like this policy, and might think that western countries could take in more refugees, but public opinion doesn’t match our preferences, even in countries with quite generous asylum policies. People have legitimate fears and cultural concerns. Writing all of that off as white nationalism, or “sure these are all fictive relationships anyway” really doesn’t respond to that

          • Sly

            Hardly. Causation here doesn’t go , the Danish invite in x amount of refugees to enable them to steal their shit then feign fear of foreign hordes after the fact.

            The previous Danish government invited refugees. The current Danish government, a coalition of right-wing parties that won power this past July, is the one pushing for refugee asset confiscation.

  • LeeEsq

    A too generous reading is that the confiscation is a form of preliminary tax on the services that the refugees are to receive from the Danish government. Whether this is actually going to be the case, the answer is probably not.

    As to shamming the people, and sense this is a government policy the electorate is ultimately to be blamed, I’m coming to the conclusion that your dealing with instincts that are ingrained in humans through evolution. The parts of human psychology that make us want to help our neighbors, and set up things like universal healthcare or social security, seem closely linked to the parts that cause xenophobia. People generally prefer to help people like themselves rather than not like themselves in many circumstances. As the Nordic countries get more culturally diverse, the less generous the people seem to be getting. What this bears for the future of liberal let alone further left thought is to be complicated.*

    *This isn’t limited to White countries, see how the Muslims are treated in Burma and in South Africa, you have freak outs about undocumented aliens from other African countries by Black South Africans that are the same as the ones in the United States against Hispanics. This is deep level hardware in the human brain.

    • Nobdy

      If you want to have a tax have a tax. Of course setting a tax at 100% of any assets over $1,500 is probably a little too harsh even for the likes of Loomis!

    • DocAmazing

      People generally prefer to help people like themselves rather than not like themselves in many circumstances.

      There is nothing like a Dane…

    • Thirtyish

      As to shamming the people, and sense this is a government policy the electorate is ultimately to be blamed, I’m coming to the conclusion that your dealing with instincts that are ingrained in humans through evolution.

      General tendencies, I’ll buy that. Instincts? No. And we’re human beings, for chrissakes. We’re supposed to be capable of things such as compassion, understanding, empathy, and higher thought. I’m not giving anyone a pass on prejudices and behaviors that may have helped survival hundreds of thousands of years ago under very different circumstances. That’s simply enabling bigotry and racism.

      • Origami Isopod

        +1

      • Vance Maverick

        Lee is arguing both that the resident populations are hardwired by evolution to reject the immigrants, and that the immigrants are hardwired by culture to reject the customs of the residents.

        • LeeEsq

          No, that isn’t what I’m arguing. What I’m arguing is that a lot of liberals are ignoring the parts of human nature they don’t like or at least behaving that it can be magically shammed away in the same way that conservatives like to ignore the existence of things like human sexuality. Just because you want people to act in a certain way, doesn’t mean that they will or that you could ignore these parts.

          • Vance Maverick

            Do you mean “shamed”?

            • Lee Rudolph

              “ShamWowed”.

          • Thirtyish

            “Human nature” is a really slippery concept that–shocker of all shockers–tends to be deployed as justification for adhering to “tradition” and the status quo (as well as rationalizing attitudes and mindsets that most liberals would regard as problematic at best). It’s essentially the secular version of “because God said so.” Forgive me if I have little patience with your use of the concept in this discussion.

            • Origami Isopod

              This. “Human nature” is always a tip-off that you’re hearing system justification.

              • King Goat

                Good point.

            • sonamib

              “Human nature” is a really slippery concept

              Indeed. What is the predictive power of “human nature” here? None, there is no model, there are no clearly dictated assumptions, there are no predictions, it’s just unfalsifiable bullshit. You can use it in whatever way you want.

              Hell, for Rousseau, humans are naturally kind, and it’s society that corrupts them. How do we know whether it’s Rousseau or Lee that’s right? After all, Rousseau can handwave oppressive societies by saying that they’re somehow unnatural, and look at those noble savages! Lee handwaves liberal democracy in much the same way, except instead of noble savages we’ve got illiberal savages.

          • A certain kind of liberal is surprisingly easily persuaded that Science means liberalism is against human nature, and that traditional communities just happen to be natural. It seems a bit convenient that human nature according to science, apparently, doesn’t at all challenge human nature as it was conceived before science,

          • Sly

            As to shamming the people, and sense this is a government policy the electorate is ultimately to be blamed, I’m coming to the conclusion that your dealing with instincts that are ingrained in humans through evolution.

            We’re not talking about small tribes of fifty people living where everyone knows everyone else who is in the group, which describes 99% of human evolutionary history. We’re talking about groups that comprise entirely fictive relationships built upon membership criteria derived from imagined identities, and as such are infinitely scalable.

            Whether or not we as a species are hard-wired to engage in in-group/out-group behavior is debatable, but if you assume that we are you must admit that we’re really good at shorting that circuit.

            • Ronan

              They are hardly either entirely fictive or infinitively scaleable, in practice. Sharing a language, religion, sectarian /national identity (possibly ideology) are meaningful identities. Ignoring their importance really Is just WEIRD thinking gone wild.

              • Sly

                Sharing a language, religion, sectarian /national identity (possibly ideology) are meaningful identities.

                In practice the are certainly fictive, since they all depend on an idealized (and thus implicitly imagined) criterion for the purpose of establishing a line or demarcation between authentic and inauthentic expressions of that identity. Policing that line is at the heart of in-group/out-group behavior. Identities rooted in language, religious sect, and ethnicity are no different. If they were different, they wouldn’t be constantly policed in this manner.

                And I do not mean to say that the identities themselves are infinitely scalable, but that the process by which they are created is.

              • sonamib

                Yeah, Ronan, I think you’re being too literal and missing the point.

                I’m sure you are aware that sharing a language didn’t use to be a big deal in Europe, right? After all, people speaking Germanic dialects and people speaking Romance dialects were fine coexisting in the Austrian Low countries but they hated those goddamn Northern heretics.

                Language-based identity is a modern construction, and it served mainly to strengthen the Nation-state, which is also a modern construction.

                We could similarly construct a broader identity, that allows people to see immigrants as “us” and not as “them”.

              • Ronan

                But even if the processes are scaleable, look at what it took to scale them them last time, religious, cultural and language homogenization, a lot of which we’re the result of force. State and legal expansion, destroying older customs and norms. War and revolution tearing apart older hierarchies and relationships. For some it was liberating and freeing, others traumatic, all of them disorientating.
                I obviously support the process in the abstract , and the outcome, but my point was simply that Lee’s position really wasn’t that controversial (to my ears). Some People fight the changing and destruction of their world. And a lot like the familiar with their own (including self described progressives and cosmopolitans)

            • Ronan

              We clearly display both strong in group attachments AND an ability to transcend them. I don’t know how this disputes Lee’s point, which is it is A part of “human nature”, not the only aspect

          • sonamib

            Hey Lee, your arguments in this thread look a lot like the European Old Left’s arguments about denying women the right to vote.

            Because, you see, women go to Church more often than men, so they would vote according to their priest’s opinion, and not according their husband’s. They don’t do “real work” so they’re not invested in the struggle for workers’ rights.

      • The Dark God of Time

        Lee does that a lot, disguising it with a lot of hand-ringing about how liberalism hasn’t worked out 100% hunky dory and it’s all the fault of liberals anyway.

  • Trump’s cut off would be $14 and possessions up for confiscation would include a healthy kidney.

    • BGinCHI

      You mean after he sussed out whether any, shall we say, “interesting” daughters were in play.

      • Warren Terra

        You know the joke, that Trump’s marriages are another example of immigrants are doing jobs Americans don’t want to do?

        • BGinCHI

          That was a joke?

          • Bill Murray

            that’s what she said

    • Nobdy

      Only for people with under $1,000,000 assets. We can’t take the assets away from job creators! In fact the assets of the poor and wasteful should be turned over to the thrifty job creators. That kind of transfer would be a great benefit to society. It would be YOOGE!

  • Warren Terra

    I heard an interview with one of the law’s supporters on The CBC’s As It Happens. The dude was going on and on about Syrian refugees landing by private jet (this has apparently happened at least once, and probably only once, in nearby Sweden).

    The fellow had a couple of halfway decent points to make in his defense, if they are true: he claimed that priceless family heirlooms would be exempt (though this was not terribly clear, and might be limited to wedding bands), and much more importantly he claimed that Danish citizens seeking state benefits suffered a similar wealth requirement (though this seems extremely doubtful, as the limit is so incredibly low as to prohibit owning of home furnishings and educational materials, and would prevent anyone’s ever getting off of state benefits). Even if it is true that the same limit is in place for native Danes (which as I say seems unlikely), the vigor and publicity with which this government is applying it to refugees would seem to speak volumes.

    • Lurker

      There point here about the state benefit is very likely correct. The Nordic systems have several types of social grants and benefits. Usually, when you talk about “generous Nordic benefits”, you mean the benefits that are income-related, for example the unemployment benefit.

      However, such benefits have eligibility criteria. It is possible not to fulfill them. For example, if you are a healthy person who does not apply for work or study, you don’t get any income-related benefits. In such case, you are eligible only for the last-trench survival benefit. Asylum seekers are not eligible for any other benefit than that.

      The “survival grant” does indeed have very strict income and wealth criteria. You are only eligible if you don’t have any liquid net wealth, which is proven by showing bank statements that prove that you have used up all your savings. The income limit is also very strict, and it is counted before bills, requiring you to default on anything but (moderate-level) rent and utility bills.

      However, normal furniture and such are not counted as net wealth but you are not given income to get them. Technically, the Danish government I probably correct.

  • Robespierre

    Switzerland just introduced the same.

    There’s no reason – valid reason, anyway. They do it because they can, and hurting immigrants is, electorally, a bonus.

  • “In Denmark, you should support yourself if you can,” said Immigration Minister Inger Stojberg, defending the idea.

    Sometimes you just wonder if there’s a “brain existence” gene that’s not universally distributed among human beings.

  • King Goat

    They’ve been extremely generous in taking in refugees, despite some problems associated with that. Now they’re asking the refugees to kick in some to defray the costs of the services and asylum they’re giving them. I guess I don’t see what’s so horrible here (other than, obviously, what these people are fleeing).

    • Robespierre

      Robbing poor people?

      The amount recovered is trivial. It’s about showing voters they’re harsh enough to immigrants.

      • King Goat

        It’s a generous thing to put yourself out to help someone in need. I just don’t see it as awful to say, as you do so, ‘if you’ve got some means to put towards this effort I’m engaging in for you, I expect you to put them towards that as well, otherwise I’m not going to keep helping you.’

        • Ronan

          Afaict That really doesn’t seem to be the spirit it’s done under though . But even assuming that is the reasoning (and not domestic politics) would it really be justified for one of the richest country’s in the world in the richest region to ask refugees to pony up from their relatively minuscule resources to pay for their keep ? What are the norms on this normally (genuine question). Do successful asylum applications come with financial penalties ? How is refugee wealth normally dealt with in these situations ?(I’m asking these questions more generally , in case someone could clarify )

          • DocAmazing

            Even from a coldly practical point of view, it makes more sense to get new immigrants set up with productive jobs so that they might pay greater quantities into the public till.

            Plus the Danes get more and better kebab shops.

          • LeeEsq

            In the United States, asylum applicants are allowed to work but aren’t given government help until after they officially get asylum status.

          • No, you’re right. The spirit it’s done under seems to be that the refugees will be let in, but only as the lowest of penitents. It’s not quite the ethos of the Dickensian workhouse and it isn’t quite “your money isn’t good here,” but it’s close to “you can only use your earnings here if you made that money by working for us.”

            • Lee Rudolph

              the Dickensian workhouse

              Remember, you can’t spell “Dickensian” without “Dansk”!!!

    • djw

      When the strategy for defending a policy necessitates the defender pretend confiscation of virtually all wealth is not meaningfully different than asking for a donation, you’ve probably got an indefensible policy.

    • rea

      There is a nonsubtle difference between means-testing benefits and seizing assets.

      • Lurker

        Theoretically, yes. In this practical example, no.

        The asylum seekers are not living independently but usually in special centers. I don’t know the Danish law but at least here, living in such a center is a requirement for getting the “survival grant”, unless a permit for apartment has been granted. This grant is not high. It is 290 euros in month for a single person, and 245 euros per person for couples. If the asylum seeker centre offers the food, the grant is 85 euros per person.

        If the survival benefit is means-tested in the manner used by Danes, it means that you are told: Show us your possessions. If you have any more than EUR 1,500, you can either leave for street or give it to the state as rent for your place in the asylum seeker centre.

        So, while this may be quite properly means-testing in legal sense, the practical implementation is confiscation, as the asylum seeks is unlikely to be able not to apply for the “survival grant”.

It is main inner container footer text