Sunday, April 06, 2008

Britain CANNOT cut (legal) immigration very much

Economists are generally pro-immigation because they are aware that immigrants improve labour market flexibility and labour market inflexibility is a major barrier to improved national productivity. So the article below from "The Economist" rightly points out that there are major limits on what the British government can do. One can deceive by omission, however and what the article completely glides over is the weak-kneed attitude of the British government towards illegal immigration. They are nearly as bad as the U.S. government over it. Energetic pursuit and deportation of illegals would greatly reduce the social problems of immigration -- as illegals tend to be undesirable immigrants in many ways.

Another category unmentioned is family reunions, which are in fact a large part of current immigration. Restricting such reunions to dependant children and spouses from non-arranged marriages would be an obvious step.

SIX billion pounds is, as Britain's immigration minister Liam Byrne put it, "a big number". This figure is the amount that the government reckons was added to the economy by immigrants in 2006, and a number that it has repeatedly used to justify the record numbers of migrants that Britain has absorbed in recent years.

But there is another big number: 190,000. That is the amount of net immigration that Britain can expect to receive each year unless the government tightens things up, according to a report published on April 1st by the House of Lords economic-affairs committee. Their lordships put these two big numbers together and calculated that they pretty much cancelled each other out. Gross domestic product (GDP) may have grown handsomely thanks to migrants, they said, but GDP per head-each person's share-has hardly budged. Using bald GDP growth to justify immigration was "preposterous and irrelevant", the committee's chairman said.

Strong words, and manna for migration sceptics ("Immigration: the great lies", trumpeted one newspaper, thrilled). The report was actually more balanced than that. It found evidence that immigration had pushed down the wages of the lowest-paid by a fraction but higher-paid people had experienced a small fillip. As far as competition for jobs was concerned, it pointed out that the number of vacancies is about the same now as it was seven years ago, since migrants create jobs as well as taking them. Immigration is pushing up house prices, it observed, which may be good news for some of those who are most vocal about the downside of open borders. And it heard evidence that migrants may push down the "natural" rate of unemployment, since they are more flexible than sluggish Britons about which jobs they take. ("This effect may, however, migrants become more like the native population," noted Stephen Nickell, an economist who gave evidence to the committee.)

This was not, all in all, a bad-news report. But the problem for the government is that it has relentlessly made the case that the economic benefits of migration are vast, in order to buy off those who don't like its social effects. The suggestion that the pay-off is merely neutral is therefore quite a blow. The government's own calculations value the benefits of immigration to Britons at about 30 pounds ($59.4) per person per year. That is not much of a bribe for people who reflexively dislike it-and there may be more of them about. Immigration has raced up voters' worry lists over the past two years and now vies with crime for the top position, according to Ipsos-MORI, a pollster. Some 68% believe that Britain has too many migrants.

But it is hard to cut back. The Lords recommended an annual cap on migrant numbers, a policy that the Conservatives have been plugging as part of a commitment to "substantially lower" immigration. The Liberal Democrats would cut down too but, like the government, they want to tighten the criteria for work permits rather than define a ceiling.

In truth, most immigration to Britain is out of any government's hands. EU citizens, who make up nearly 30% of net immigration, may come and go as they please. (Numbers will increase when Romanians and Bulgarians are given the right to work in Britain, which must be granted before 2014.) Asylum-seekers are entitled by UN conventions to a fair hearing, and the government cannot stop its citizens from marrying foreigners and having children with them.

Such folk account for half of Britain's annual immigration. Of the remainder, the majority are students, prized because they pay hefty tuition fees. The only category left to play with is skilled workers from outside the EU, who make up just one-fifth of all immigrants; and some of them (from American bankers to Brazilian footballers) are among the most useful. Cuts in immigration look on the cards, but it is unlikely they will be substantial.


"UK is European center of anti-Semitism"

For a historian, this guy should know better than to dwell on British history as particularly antisemitic. Going back in history all the way to 1290 to make your point is quite pathetic. Britain has a far greater record of tolerance than most European countries. There was neither a Dreyfus case nor a holocaust in Britain -- but there WAS a Disraeli. And nor is the recent upsurge of antisemitism peculiar to Britain. As I understand it, the biggest exodus of Jews from Europe to "safer" (!) Israel is in fact from France. Such obvious hatred of Britain undermines the credibility of all that this fool says

Britain has become the epicenter for anti-Semitic trends in Europe as traditional, age-old anti-Semitism in a country whose literature and cultural tradition were "drenched" in anti-Semitism has developed into a contemporary mix of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, an Israeli historian said Monday. The problem of anti-Semitism in Britain is exacerbated by a growing and increasingly radical Muslim population, the weak approach taken by a timid British Jewish leadership, and the detachment of the British from their Christian roots, said Hebrew University historian Prof. Robert S. Wistrich in a lecture on British anti-Semitism at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "Britain has become the center point for the meeting of anti-Semitic trends in Europe," Wistrich said.

In a wide-ranging two-hour address, the Cambridge University-educated historian, who has just completed a book on global anti-Semitism, traced the roots of British anti-Semitism to its history, culture and literature going back to medieval times. "Anti-Semitism in Great Britain is at least a millennial phenomenon and has been around for 1000 years of recorded history," Wistrich said. [as it has elsewhere]

He noted that the expulsion of all Jews from Britain in 1290 by King Edward I following years of anti-Semitic violence was the first major expulsion of any Jewish community in Europe. Jews were banned from Britain until 1656, when Oliver Cromwell, who had overthrown the monarchy, authorized their return.

Wistrich noted that a Jewish presence was not required in Britain to produce potent and resonating anti-Semitic stereotypes in classic English literature, including in works by Chaucer, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Dickens, Trollope, T. S. Elliot, and D. H. Lawrence, which he said continues to impact British society hundreds of years later today. "The authors are conveying and transmitting to a future generation an embedded anti-Semitism whose influence is impossible to underestimate," Wistrich said. "English literature and culture is in fact drenched in anti-Semitism," he said, adding that British intellectuals fail to understand the long-term impact of this phenomenon.

During World War II, the British refusal to rescue the Jews of Europe and their decision to close the gates of Palestine stemmed not only from a policy of realpolitik but by anti-Semitic sentiments, he said. "Nothing was to be construed as fighting a Jewish war," he said. He noted that the famed British wartime leader, Winston Churchill's, record on Zionism was "far from brilliant, rhetoric aside" noting that he promoted the infamous White Paper, which severely limited Jews from immigrating to Palestine during World War II.

The recent controversial contemporary theory of a Jewish lobby controlling American government policies in the wake of the 2003 Iraq War actually had its antecedents a century earlier, and dated back to the infamous anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, while anti-Israel activities on British campuses was going "strong blast" in the 1970s, he said.

In his address, Wistrich said that today's British media had taken an almost universally anti-Israel bias, especially but not exclusively on the BBC, with context removed from description of Israeli military actions, and Islamic jihadist activity such as suicide bombing never connected to ideology. "Under no circumstance will a Palestinian act of terrorism be referred to as terrorist, They are militants similar to the floor-shop dispute in Liverpool whose workers have decided to go on strike," he said. "Palestinian terrorism is portrayed as a minor pin-prick compared to 'massive' retaliation of this 'rogue' state [Israel]," he said. "You cannot read a British newspaper without encountering a variant of the libel that Zionism is racism or Zionism is Nazism," he said, describing a culture of "barely disguised hatred" when the subject of Zionism of British Jewry or Anglo-Israel relations is broached, unless they are "the good anti-Zionists."

With the media and the elites skewed against Israel - aided by former Israeli academics who routinely condemn the Jewish state and who have attained "historic dissident status and are listened to as the authentic voice of Israel" - the whole discussion of anti-Semitism had become distorted in Britain, with the accuser becoming the accused, he said. "The self-proclaimed anti-racists of the [London Mayor Ken] Livingstone brand lead the pack when it comes to the prevailing discourse about Israel and by implication Jews." "If you bring up the subject of anti-Semitism you are playing the anti-Semitism card and you are [seen as] a dishonest deceitful manipulative Jew or lover of Jews who is using the language of anti-Semitism to disguise hide or silence criticism of Israel," he said.

The tenure of former prime minister Tony Blair - considered to be the most favorable British premier to the State of Israel - was a paradox of the British situation today, Wistrich said. He said that Blair's support for Israel during the Second Lebanon War was "the straw that broke the camel's back" for a British premier who had already supported the Iraq War and was closely allied with US President George W. Bush, and helped bring about his downfall.

Today, the rapidly growing Muslim community in Britain numbers at least 1.6 million, compared to about 350,000 Jews. Wistrich faulted British-Jewish leadership for taking a "softly softly approach," which he said was "very strange" and did not bear fruit in contemporary times. "There is a long tradition of doing things behind closed doors and it is different to break with tradition but it should be broken," he said.

The historian noted that the straying of the British from their Christian roots has also created a changed reality in the Anglo-Israeli relationship with no Bible-based reasons or raison d'etre for a Jewish presence in the Holy Land. He cited the recent support of the archbishop of Canterbury for the adoption of parts of Sharia, or Islamic law, in Britain - the same country, which, he noted, was once the birthplace of the US evangelical movement. "The loss of Christian identity in what was the most Bible-believing culture in its day is one of the deeper layers of what has happened here," he said.

He noted some of the biblical remarks of prominent British leaders such as Lord Balfour and Lloyd George would be viewed as anathema today. "You cannot speak or act that way today, or you would be considered the 'biggest threat to civilization' as American evangelicals are."


Old lady forced to pull out own teeth after 12 NHS dentists refuse to treat her

Socialized medicine takes people back to the caves

A grandmother performed her own tooth extractions in despair after being turned away by 12 dentists. Elizabeth Green, 76, was in agony with two front teeth and after a fruitless search for an NHS practitioner, resorted to DIY. Her case is the latest of many to highlight the dwindling availability of NHS dental treatment.

Mrs Green, a former chef, said it was made plain to her that if she could pay for treatment she would have been welcomed. "I feel so angry," she said. "I've worked all my life and paid taxes and then when I need help I can't get it."

Last night she explained how she took matters into her own hands. "Two of my front teeth started getting loose and became more and more painful. "My gum became very sore so I contacted a dentist that I had been to in the past, but they said they were not taking on new patients. "The problem was getting worse so I started ringing round the dentists in the Yellow Pages. "I phoned about 12 but they all said they same thing - 'Sorry, we are not taking on any new NHS patients'.

"I also phoned a dental helpline but they couldn't offer a solution either. The teeth got more and more painful and one evening I couldn't take it any longer so I moved the teeth back and forwards and twisted them and eventually they came out." Mrs Green, a mother-of-five and grandmother of 11, who lives in Winchester, has taken her complaint to her local Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, Martin Tod. He described her case as "a shocking story and an indictment of the current situation".

Mrs Green, whose late husband George served in the Army for more than 30 years, has now joined the waiting list for an NHS dentist in nearby Andover. Since Labour introduced a new contract for dentists in 2006, more than 1,000 practices have stopped providing NHS care and 500,000 fewer patients see NHS dentists. Dentists complain the new system forces them to provide "conveyor belt care" and to "drill and fill" to meet meaningless targets.

Last year, a great grandmother from Scarborough told how she pulled a tooth with a pair of pliers from her husband's toolbox after drinking beer as an anaesthetic. Valerie Holsworth, 67, has repeated the operation six times now. "It is just a matter of tugging and wiggling until the root comes loose,", she said. In October, a survey of patients and dentists exposed a case in Lancashire in which a man had to "remove 14 teeth using pliers".

Helen Clanchy, spokesman for the Hampshire Primary Care Trust, said: "We are very concerned to hear that this patient felt they had no option but to take this kind of drastic action. "We have a dental helpline that is able to offer patients who are unable or have chosen not to register with an NHS dentist, sameday emergency treatment."


Another downgrade of British medical services

High-street chemists are to become "healthy living centres" providing a range of services, under plans outlined in a White Paper (David Rose writes). The NHS could save 3.5 billion pounds in a decade if pharmacists, rather than doctors, diagnosed and treated minor illnesses such as colds, ministers believe.

Pharmacists could also provide flu vaccinations and tests for sexually transmitted infections, as well as health advice. GPs spend the equivalent of an hour a day dealing with minor ailments, equivalent to 57 million consultations a year. Chemists are expected to take care of half of these cases within three years.


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