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February 6, 2008 3:01 AM   Subscribe

Oh, I say old chap--do you mind not going all "immigrant" on me, and spitting all over the place? Thank you very much. (how Britain proposes to solve the problem of integrating its migrant population)
posted by hadjiboy (109 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't think immigrant ignore that, for example, you need a fishing license. I am myself an immigrant and I make sure I ask before doing (and many immigrant communities have very large networks).
And I don't remember seeing chinese people spitting around in Melbourne.
What I have seen is, lots of "people that look like immigrants" ignoring the big sign saying "do not take Abalone - Natural Reserve" and walking away with crates of it. And when the police invariabily pops up, its all "no speak english" and the like.
So all the advice should boil down to "don't try to be a smartass or we will kick your ass".
Ir probably boils down to a culture (prevalent in a lot of the countries of origin of the immigrants) that if you don't do it because "its forbidden" someone else will and you end up looking like an ass.
Its it certainly the rule in my country of origin (Italy).
posted by elcapitano at 3:20 AM on February 6, 2008


Typical NuLab waste of time. This could be achieved much more cheaply by erecting large signs at all points of ingress with the rules inscribed in UPPER CASE (in english of course). Johnny Foreigner should have no excuse then.
posted by zemblamatic at 3:24 AM on February 6, 2008


They need to learn the local ways. Vomit don't spit.
posted by srboisvert at 3:46 AM on February 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


I'm very in favor of supporting immigration as much as possible; the old American melting pot idea is an important concept. It's curious that England seems to be more tolerant than America is of immigration these days.

I don't care at all for the tendency of migrants to not learn English, and for the government's willingness to support this. I think this is wrong. A language is a shared worldview, and it's extremely important that all members of a community speak the same one. MORE languages is always better, of course. The more languages you have, the more ways you can think. But everyone, everyone, everyone should speak the core language of the place where they live.

I think requiring immigrants to read and write at least as well as our high school graduates would be appropriate. It's not like, considering modern test scores, that would be difficult or anything.... *sigh*

But, overall... if you speak the language and aren't a felon, we should be happy to give you a green card.
posted by Malor at 4:01 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think requiring immigrants to read and write at least as well as our high school graduates would be appropriate. It's not like, considering modern test scores, that would be difficult or anything.... *sigh*

Proctor: All right, here's your last question. What was the cause of
the Civil War?

Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious
schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists,
there were economic factors, both domestic and inter--

Proctor: Wait, wait... just say slavery.

Apu: Slavery it is, sir.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:05 AM on February 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


Most of the spitting litterers I see in London were born in this country. Disrespect for the commons is unfortunately part of received culture here.
posted by twl at 4:13 AM on February 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Actually, unintended & unknown cultural faux pas are interesting. One of the joys of travelling in India is that you can just drop your rubbish wherever the hell you want. For a start, there are rarely any bins, plus all the locals do it, and finally, it's a valuable source of nutrients for the cows, pariah dogs and - in some places - pigs that roam the streets. At first, it feels like a guilty pleasure, then you get used to it, then you miss it when you return home.

With a large influx of Asians into Australia in recent times (by which I mean East Asians, not subcontinentals) there's been a marked increase in people clipping their nails in public places, like on commuter trains. I don't know about America, but in Australia it's pretty gross to be clipping your nails in public like that.

At my workplace, the cultural diversity people in Human Resources have also set up informative stick-man signs in the toilets. The various panels recommend that you wash your hands after going to the toilet, that you don't put your feet on the seat in order to achieve an eastern-style squatting position, and - quite bizarrely - that you don't squat down & take a dump on the floor. There's gotta be a story behind that final panel, and if I achieve nothing more, I hope to uncover the details behind that story before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:15 AM on February 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


what's the plural of faux pas, anyway?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:16 AM on February 6, 2008


Also faux pas but you pronounce the 's'. Never give a Chinese Egyptian a hat made of green onions.
posted by motty at 4:31 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


England seems to be more tolerant than America is of immigration these days

Uh, unless America has already started building the gas chambers to go along with the concentration camps, I don't think that's true. Have you read the Daily Mail or Daily Express recently? They're a constant stream of racist garbage, and in the Express' case often open support for fascism, in the name of 'great white british culture'. It's quite depressing.
posted by influx at 4:45 AM on February 6, 2008


eponironic!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:02 AM on February 6, 2008


I have to agree with influx based on my own observances here this past year or so. Sometimes I'm really taken aback how blatantly racist the "newspapers" are here. And not just racist against immigrants, but of different parts of Britain itself (ie Scottish vs. English tensions).
posted by like_neon at 5:07 AM on February 6, 2008


Plz to be not posting Spiked Online links kthx

Spiked Online are so full of shit that their methane emissions are a global warming hazard.
posted by mr. strange at 5:16 AM on February 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Malor writes "It's curious that England seems to be more tolerant than America is of immigration these days."

A few people who live in England have mentioned that that's not the case. As a person who lives in neither England nor the US, I can say that, from what I gather from the internet, I've got to agree with them: I hear a little from America indicating intolerance towards immigration. I hear a LOT from England indicating intolerance towards immigration. A lot from all of Europe, actually.
posted by Bugbread at 5:20 AM on February 6, 2008


When I lived in England it was a mark of a true British Lad to hawk and gob a pellet of mucus a considerable distance in as loud and visually impressive a manner as possible. In fact I was considered a bit of a prat because I was a late developer of the skill, mostly dribbling down me' chin upon the attempt. So, things must *really* have changed in the last 18 years over there, or this is a load of shyte.

Vomiting, I had no problem with that. Running away from violent drunks, no problem there, either.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:24 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, Europe's been quite hard hit by migrants in the past decade or so. For a start, there's the EU & the new (second-class) opportunities available to eastern Europeans, but also a huge wave of legal & illegal immigrants from further afield.

Here in Australia, we've had to deal with about a decade of backlash against refugees & immigrants - including a lot of racist shit from our weasel of an ex Prime Minister, and his party's edge-of-the-wedge quasi-fascist sockpuppet creation, the One Nation Party.

And that's in a country where most of the migrants are - by definition - skilled, professionals, or wealthy businesspeople. Because of geographical accident, we get very very very few refugees, compared with Europe, and the previous government's reaction - for votes - was to either lock them up in detention centres in the middle of the desert, or work deals with tinpot pacific island nations to have them lock the reffos up, outside of our jurisdiction, Gitmo style.

If a civilised, educated & multicultural nation like Australia can react so horribly against refugees & immigrants, I hate to think what places like England & France do in response to much larger influxes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:25 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


England seems to be more tolerant than America is of immigration these days

Have you tried to get a job in the US lately? It's hard enough to get into the US on business with a legitimate company with established, repeated contacts. Immigration is crazy strict even between Canada and the US. They're not referring to the press, in that quote, but to the authorities. Part of the reason the press is so anti-immigrants is that the system is so lax and incompetent, allows such a massive rate of flow of immigrants and the infrastructure can't cope. Then you get all the sensationalistic stories of a system failing to cope, and the anger that it produces from the massive amount of resources required to try and react to the demand. Then when the large influx of criminal elements start their credit card fraud rings, people wonder why the hell criminals that were only persecuted by the law and clearly perfectly able of looking after themselves in their own country were given 'asylum' - which should be the main reason (after skilled workers) to allow migration in the first place. The system is unable to cope, and is also being abused on a large scale.

Britain needs to slow immigration in general, in my opinion. If it slowed it all down, it would actually do a better, more efficient job of dealing with immigration demand rather than having many thousands of people arriving at such a rate that any reasonable integration is impossible. Even if people DO learn the language, it still takes time, and so large communities of a common language build up while people cope, and that is divisive. A slower influx of (genuine immigration requiring cases) would integrate much better than busloads of people from one country being dumped in tower blocks to fend for themselves.
posted by Brockles at 5:26 AM on February 6, 2008


England has always had a bit of a problem with immigrants mainly because the place is so small and can hardly deal with the number of Poms that already live there. Most of the English I ever knew might have been a bit prejudiced in some ways, but given their druthers, probably wouldn't have cared too much about migrants if there were more space. I didn't know too many full-on racists over there, and none from my generation.

England needs to reclaim a swathe of the North Sea as land or something, or maybe the South Coast near the Isle of Wight. Maybe they can unsink the blessed Isle off Wales or wherever it was supposed to be, turf out the Fomor.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:40 AM on February 6, 2008


Brockles:
Britain needs to slow immigration in general, in my opinion. If it slowed it all down, it would actually do a better, more efficient job of dealing with immigration demand rather than having many thousands of people arriving at such a rate that any reasonable integration is impossible.


But if Canada has a higher immigration rate (higher than Britain with just under half the population) and doesn't have these problems, could the rate of immigration really be the problem?
posted by loiseau at 5:48 AM on February 6, 2008


Sorry, just over half the population.
posted by loiseau at 5:49 AM on February 6, 2008


"As a person who lives in neither England nor the US, I can say that, from what I gather from the internet..."

I'm sorry, but making assumptions about a country only from what you read on the internet is just retarded. Here in London I'm proud to say I live in one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, but I'm not posting all over the internet about that fact. People who don't like it, however, probably are.

As for the fishing stories, I think you'll find most of these arise form immigrants from Eastern europe fishing for carp in the UK (link). It's not a fish we traditionally eat, it is one they do.

And just for the record, no one says 'I say old chap' anymore, unless you live in a 1950's black and white movie.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:54 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well I hate immigrants, and demand that you dirty foreigners go back to Olduvai Gorge where we all came from. Me? Oh, I'm actually sixth generation red squirrel on my mother's side - so that makes me a native species. You people are always taunting me because my great-great-great-grandfather was a squirrel fucker, but now you can just piss off back to Tanzania and MAYBE we'll let some of you come back to visit on a squirrel exchange program, or something.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:58 AM on February 6, 2008


He's not a red squirrel, that's a filthy lie, typical of his subspecies of Stoat.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 6:03 AM on February 6, 2008


If a civilised, educated & multicultural nation like Australia...

Nice try but not buying that one.
posted by i_cola at 6:06 AM on February 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


England needs to reclaim a swathe of the North Sea as land or something,

Irish Sea preferably. Bridlington and Scarborough are quite nice but Blackpool is a shit hole and everyone in Morecambe is dead or dying.
posted by vbfg at 6:07 AM on February 6, 2008


I don't care at all for the tendency of migrants to not learn English
Malor, I would love to see the statistics, but the idea that today's immigrants are not learning English as fast as in the past has always struck me as a myth. The fact is, learning a second language has always been hard for older people. The pattern, I'm sure, has always been that the kids who come here, and especially the kids born here to immigrant parents, are raised bilingually. The parents, more commonly, get by with a little bit of English, fully knowing that their prospects will be raised the more they know. The learning comes slower, and so insular communities form to help with the transition. But nobody wants to stay only in these communities. Some older people give up, and resign themselves to the smaller sphere, but any young person will try to make it in the bigger society. Why else would they be here?
posted by bitslayer at 6:12 AM on February 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


But if Canada has a higher immigration rate (higher than Britain with just under half the population) and doesn't have these problems, could the rate of immigration really be the problem?

It's got nothing at all to do with size of population. It is due to size of immigration demand relative to the ability of the system to cope with it. Also, it relates to density of population relative to the amount the area in question needs to absorb.

So the rate of immigration IS the problem. It's easy as hell to find somewhere to set up home in Canada - the place is massive. It isn't in England, as the place is already overcrowded and over priced - rarely are genuine immigrants coming from somewhere more affluent and so are unable to afford the high price of housing in the UK - therefore they need help. Nearly ALL immigrants will need help buying a house, or renting them in an already saturated market. It's enormously expensive for anyone to live in England, so coming from a poorer nation will make that many times as hard and so the demand on the system is to provide for these people in some way.

(NB: I am a UK citizen, having moved to the US for work the year before last, then transferred to, and now living in, Canada).

Canada has an incredible ratio of house prices compared to average salary to me. I've gone from (while living in the UK) resigned to being unable to afford a house either at all, or at least never on my own (graduate with 12 years working experience) to coming to Canada and not only could I afford a house on my own, but instantly, I can afford a mortgage and/or rent a decent place, buy a car outright (albeit a piece of shit one) AND save money every month. Cost of living is linked to ease of integration too. I had zero savings, when I came here, and I had no problem at all in getting up and running in no time and while I earn a decent salary, it is by no means stellar. This was aided by the fact I also have no dependants or belongings to ship, mind you.

Someone coming into England as a non skilled immigrant without an existing job offer is absolutely screwed. Hardly any jobs below lower to middle management would leave you with anything like the flexibility I have now. Wages to costs in the UK are prohibitive. Immigrants with families and possessions have a much greater cost of living than I have, and I'm damn sure I can't afford to go and live back in England without any savings.
posted by Brockles at 6:43 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


bitslayer: My grandmother and her sister came to the UK shortly after World War II and both learned English. My friend recently moved to Japan and learned to speak Japanese. So first generation immigrants haven't always just muddled along and not learned the language and I agree with Malor that it should be a priority to learn your host countries native language.
posted by zeoslap at 6:47 AM on February 6, 2008


Malor, I would love to see the statistics, but the idea that today's immigrants are not learning English as fast as in the past has always struck me as a myth.

Two viewpoints - among the middle to older generation, I'd agree with Malor when I was still living there.

But as an alternative point of view, Canada is much much more divided in terms of languages. Communities that allow people to rely on only speaking their own tongue and not English (or french) are common here. I was pretty surprised how many people run businesses here with appalling English. It is noticeable in England, but nowhere near as bad as t could be.

Although I very much agree with the sentiment - any person should be required to learn the one of the official/presiding languages of the country that they intend to populate. It's a barrier that creates a significant divide and hindrance to integration that is easy to remove.
posted by Brockles at 6:47 AM on February 6, 2008


Language learning for migrants is a funny thing. I live in Hong Kong where the second-biggest group of expatriates (English, US, Australian, assorted Europeans) pretty much never bothers to learn Cantonese (there are some awesome exceptions) and their usual excuses are "it's too hard" and "you don't need it anyway". The largest group of expatriates (Filipino maids) don't seem to have too much trouble learning Cantonese at all. I suppose you could say that because the expats are not planning to stay for very long, then learning Cantonese might be a bit of waste of time, but the maids aren't going to stay for that long either.

The other general point though is that the older you are, the harder it seems to be to learn a second language. But I have never met a child from a migrant family in Australia who couldn't speak English fluently or semi-fluently. So I don't really see the problem. It all sorts itself out in time.

Yes it would be great if migrants to any country could learn the official language, if only so they are better able to organise their lives and understand more of what's going on aroud them. But their children will learn it anyway.
posted by awfurby at 7:06 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't see why migrants should be hectored about learning the English language when the locals can't be bovvered.
posted by srboisvert at 7:09 AM on February 6, 2008


Ah, the irony of being lectured about being more liberal about immigration by people from a country that's building a wall along one of its borders to keep immigrants out.
posted by Hogshead at 7:22 AM on February 6, 2008


immigrants and migrant workers are NOT the same thing.
posted by CitizenD at 7:34 AM on February 6, 2008


He's not a red squirrel, that's a filthy lie, typical of his subspecies of Stoat.

Stoat! Stoat, he says! Why this disgusting vole was allowed to ferret his way onto this site remains an impenetrable mystery - no doubt the MeFi gerbilstrators such as Munch Howie and Gnawtex and Flopsy were all drunk on elderflower brandy when he first stuck his ugly head into this our burrow. I strongly suggest that we badger this rat out of our mouse and mole, and hamster his chinchilla, beaver to return.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:37 AM on February 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ah, the irony of being lectured about being more liberal about immigration by people from a country that's building a wall along one of its borders to keep immigrants out.

Hey you built a freaking channel!
posted by ND¢ at 7:38 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]



immigrants and migrant workers are NOT the same thing.


Only in the US. They are exactly the same thing in most other places. They are people that migrate to another country. When they are coming into a country, they are immigrants (legal or otherwise). I think the US uses 'migrant worker' as someone who moves for work within a country as well, which is confusing, but it is not a usage I have seen anywhere else.
posted by Brockles at 7:40 AM on February 6, 2008


What's worse, an ill-adjusted, non-English speaking, first-generation immigrant who's too old and ignorant to learn and obey the laws and customs of the land and who cannot, for the love of George, refrain from spitting and littering as he goes to and fro, or the well-educated, well-connected, socially-acceptable scion of an Mayflower family who cannot, for the love of George, refrain from dumping/pumping/dissipating toxic chemicals into our soil, rivers and atmosphere?
posted by jsavimbi at 7:47 AM on February 6, 2008


England != Britain.

According to the 2001 census, just 52% of the population of Ceredigion can speak Welsh, down from 59% in 1991, and more than 80% in 1961.

Any English counties that can show a decline like that?

I know Welsh isn't a real language, and that Welsh speakers aren't real people, but still.
posted by ceiriog at 8:02 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know Welsh isn't a real language, and that Welsh speakers aren't real people, but still.

That's hardly the same thing at all. Welsh people are dropping their own language so why should anyone else learn it? That statistic doesn't show any indication of immigrant populations and their language usage.

I mean, don't let me stop you trying to feel hard done by, but your example doesn't have anything to do with immigration. It's more lack of desire among the Welsh to bother with their own language.
posted by Brockles at 8:07 AM on February 6, 2008


Only in the US. They are exactly the same thing in most other places. They are people that migrate to another country. When they are coming into a country, they are immigrants (legal or otherwise). I think the US uses 'migrant worker' as someone who moves for work within a country as well, which is confusing, but it is not a usage I have seen anywhere else.

Certainly that distinction (see Gastarbeiter) between the source of a lot of stress in Germany, at least, in the last few decades.
posted by dd42 at 8:17 AM on February 6, 2008


I don't feel hard done by, just embarrassed that I can't do a simple link to Wikipedia without cocking it up.
According to the census, 80.1% of Ceredigion residents, who were born in Wales are Welsh-speakers, ranging from 58.8% in Aberystwyth and 65.2% at Borth to 94.9% in Llanwnnen and 94.6% at Llanddewi Brefi. These correspond quite closely to the absolute percentage of Welsh-speakers in these areas in 1971 , which was the last census before the huge increase in migration into rural Wales.
In other words, there is very little evidence of "lack of desire among the Welsh to bother with their own language", and lots of evidence to suggest that the decline is due to patterns of migration (outward, as well as inward).
posted by ceiriog at 8:18 AM on February 6, 2008


Brockles:

If you look at StatsCan's most recent release of data from the 2006 census, you will find that, among other things, the rate of increase for first language English and French speakers in Canada has declined slightly since 2001. However, you will also notice that among those whose first language is not English or French, 68% speak English or French in the home either most often or frequently. This is the highest rate observed since the early 20th century. Additionally, use of English or French at home increases with length of time spent in the country.

If someone speaks English poorly in a place of business, cut them some slack. Most likely they are trying to improve.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:28 AM on February 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Really? I'd say that was massively inaccurate for the country as a whole. I know quite a large amount of welsh people, and not a single one of them under 70 could speak Welsh, or knew anyone that could.

I've also, in all my various holidays in Wales, never heard anyone that wasn't on that Welsh channel speaking it (again, below the age of 70). I'm not convinced by that census as being representative of the population (rather than geographical areas). The map on that Wikipedia article suggests most of the population falls below a 37% hit ratio, as well, which sounds more realistic to me. Maybe you just live in a particularly good area for Welsh speaking.

Do they still teach it in schools? All schools?
posted by Brockles at 8:29 AM on February 6, 2008


One of the intents of making people learn English is to reduce cultural ghettoisation. The oft repeated example I've heard is domestic abuse in non English-speaking households. Getting help to leave an abusive partner in hard enough as it is, doing it when you don't speak the language and feel culturally isolated is quite another.

Another point is that its not going to be demanded of everybody, just down as far as semi-skilled workers, (I think) and that again seems fairly sensible - there's no point in someone migrating to a country based on a skill they can't use once they're there due to a language barrier.

Oh, and the spitting thing? I live in the east end of London, in a predominately asian area, and from what I can see, it's the fecking toe-rag english kids that live round here, not the immigrants.
posted by fatfrank at 8:30 AM on February 6, 2008


If someone speaks English poorly in a place of business, cut them some slack. Most likely they are trying to improve.

I'm not criticising it at all. I would have thought that they would have (due to the business they are in) have been the more likely people to needed to have learnt the language - through necessity. I was using it as a, possibly inaccurate, rule of thumb that they simply don't need to because enough of their customers don't require them to.

I was surprised that public service employees weren't chosen for their language ability, or alternatively, were more proficient through constant exposure to English/French.
posted by Brockles at 8:33 AM on February 6, 2008


Those damn immigrants! You know, of course, that so many immigrants want to learn English that this has tripled the Government's expenditure, so the Government in its far-sighted way has decided to cut spending on helping immigrants learn English.

Of course, the British abroad are famous for refusing to learn the language of their adopted country:
Now Spanish authorities say [retired British immigrants] are placing an unbearable burden on scant medical resources and are demanding that the UK pays for their care. And in a move likely to send a chill through the expat community, Spanish doctors - even those who speak English - are now refusing to treat anyone who cannot speak Spanish without an interpreter present.
Guardian

Sure, I'm worried about the environmental problems associated with millions more people in this country, but that's because I think they'll be hardworking and productive and therefore environmentally damaging, and that's really a global problem and I don't have any solution.

Most people's worries over immigration are to do with the arrival of criminals and lazy good-for-nothings. However, our existing underclass is far worse than most new arrivals: the right-wing Conversative Party laments that white English boys do worse than any other ethnic/social group.
posted by alasdair at 8:35 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I dunno - I think there definitely are some populations that should learn not to spit before they are allowed in polite society - but why limit it to immigrants?
posted by madamjujujive at 8:49 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe you just live in a particularly good area for Welsh speaking.

No, I live in an area that used to be over 80% Welsh speaking, and is now hovering about the 50% level, as I said. I hear and use Welsh every day.

Do they still teach it in schools? All schools?

Yes, it's a compulsory part of the National Curriculum to age 16. In Ceredigion, most schools are Welsh medium.

As for the lack of young Welsh speakers, all but 8 of my 169 Facebook "friends" are Welsh speaking, as are all 3200 of the members of maes-e. One or two of these may be over 70, but I doubt it.

Your holiday experiences notwithstanding, the biggest threat to the survival of the Welsh language in its traditional heartlands is in-migration from England, fuelled by an out-of-control housing market which has put property prices out of reach of young people growing up here, whatever language they speak.
posted by ceiriog at 9:00 AM on February 6, 2008


And just for the record, no one says 'I say old chap' anymore, unless you live in a 1950's black and white movie.

Well, that was kind of my point--the idea of integrating people by telling them "not to spit" and "stand in a queue" sounds so... upper-crust British (like the old days of Empire).

Ah, the irony of being lectured about being more liberal about immigration by people from a country that's building a wall along one of its borders to keep immigrants out.

Yes, of course, just because my country is taking part in something I don't agree with, I forfeit the right to criticize injustices taking place in other parts of the world.
posted by hadjiboy at 9:09 AM on February 6, 2008


No, I live in an area that used to be over 80% Welsh speaking, and is now hovering about the 50% level, as I said.

You missed my point. That IS a very good area for the Welsh language speaking population, regardless of the direction of the trend. The national average is 20% as of 6 years ago, and the Welsh National assembly is aiming to increase this to 26% by 2011. I'm surprised you seem to care so much, yet don't seem to have any clue how disproportionately good your area is for the language.
posted by Brockles at 9:09 AM on February 6, 2008


Yes, of course, just because my country is taking part in something I don't agree with, I forfeit the right to criticize injustices taking place in other parts of the world.

Being clearly ironic doesn't mean you can't still say it. Irony doesn't preclude, I think perhaps you are reacting as if they had said "Hypocritical".
posted by Brockles at 9:11 AM on February 6, 2008


Man, are you guys talking about New Yorkers? Those guys just won't STOP spitting.
posted by 235w103 at 9:25 AM on February 6, 2008


Why do people spit anyways? Unless you're chewing tobacco or something, there's no real need to be spitting like that. Strange.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:28 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: you can just drop your rubbish wherever the hell you want
posted by oncogenesis at 9:32 AM on February 6, 2008


Brockles, I have to log off now, but maybe you can look into this and tell me what you think. (You'll have to register though; sorry about that)
posted by hadjiboy at 9:41 AM on February 6, 2008


You missed my point.

You think a downward shift of 30% is something to celebrate, or at least stop whining about, so long as Ceredigion is still above the national average? Hell of a grasp of statistics you got there, bud, not to mention sociolinguistics. Ceredigion has been above the national average since the Normans got here.
posted by ceiriog at 9:55 AM on February 6, 2008


England needs to reclaim a swathe of the North Sea as land or something, or maybe the South Coast near the Isle of Wight.

There's no shortage of space in Britain - just a shortage of space near London (and a couple of other major cities). One continuing problem that governments over the last 40-odd years have had is how to attract development to "the regions".
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 10:05 AM on February 6, 2008


I don't understand the need for spitting and littering, no matter who is doing it. What am I missing? I am subject to insularity, and laziness, and horniness, and spite, and other “coarse and vulgar” impulses of which I am not proud, but the spitting thing just completely eludes me. I don’t recognize any physical need to spit, and nor do I understand how excess phloem production or throat physiology can at all be culturally ingrained. (If anyone has any insights about this, please share them.) I thought spitting was a "guy" thing, but I've seen women do it too, although not as often.

My husband worries that I am going to be bodily injured one of these days due to my habit of following after litterers with a disingenuous “excuse me, excuse me [Sir/Ma’am]! I think you dropped something!” (Again, I admit that I am subject to spite.) If England wants to prohibit spitting and littering (and I’m all for it) then why not just enforce statutes prohibiting spitting and littering across the board, rather than targeting minorities, which is in so many cases insulting and unjust, and which only makes suspect what seems otherwise to be a perfectly reasonable law. I wish my own city of Chicago would (could?) do more to enforce littering statutes. There’s nothing quite like working an eleven hour day, and then waiting for a coveted seat on the subway train, only to discover a seatfull of unwanted French fries and chicken bones. Who does this? Please stop. Or this speaker of English is gonna rip. Out. Your. Trachea. Thanks much.
posted by applemeat at 11:17 AM on February 6, 2008


Dear Immigrants— In Britain, our skin is spotty, our teeth are rotten, our food is boiled, and Father Ted jokes still elicit chuckles. We assume that you're gobbing grabbers, and that Asian is as close to your identity as we need recognize. Please feel free to treat us as poncy imperialists and lager louts to balance that out.

(Caveat: USA! USA! USA!)
posted by klangklangston at 12:09 PM on February 6, 2008


You think a downward shift of 30% is something to celebrate, or at least stop whining about, so long as Ceredigion is still above the national average?

Jesus, what's with the attitude? I never suggested anything of the sort. And as for a lack of a grasp of statistics, don't represent a country based on the particularly favourable (to your point) small sample within it and expect not to be called out.

Then, of course, try and argue that your 50% Welsh speaking is typical when it is more than twice the national average. I don't know what on earth got you so defensive, I'm not trying to say all Welsh people are shit, or celebrate anything at all. Just that your stats were misleading and inaccurate. I think all Welsh people should be able to speak their own language, it always puzzled me that so many people have such little sense of pride in their heritage to not want to learn it and speak it, when the national pride of the Welsh as a whole is so high.

Brockles, I have to log off now, but maybe you can look into this and tell me what you think. (You'll have to register though; sorry about that)

I think it's not relevant. If someone had accused you of being Hypocritical, you may have reason to be defensive. No-one suggested anything to provoke your "So I can't say it because of where I am from" outburst. Noting irony in the situation is not something that necessarily needs to be defended, nor does it stop/limit you commenting, as you implied. I'm aware of the potential link between the two definitions.

What's with all the totally unnecessary defensiveness in this thread? Is it "Everything is intended to be a personal slight" day?
posted by Brockles at 12:10 PM on February 6, 2008


Do we have the room?
posted by A189Nut at 12:12 PM on February 6, 2008


"I know Welsh isn't a real language, and that Welsh speakers aren't real people, but still."

It's not Cornish, that's for certain.
posted by klangklangston at 12:22 PM on February 6, 2008


the idea of integrating people by telling them "not to spit" and "stand in a queue" sounds so... upper-crust British

That's one of the more annoying aspects of India: Indians have no respect for queues. Even if there is one, that doesn't stop one hundred people walking right up to the head of it & trying to get in first.

I've seen the same behaviour countless times from expat Indians all over the world - you might be obviously waiting to be served at a shop, and if an Indian walks in, you have to physically get between him & the counter to block his access, or he'll barge right on past you.

I guess that's just a kind of coping mechanism in a country of more than a billion people. You need to aggressively assert yourself or risk being ignored. Kinda like Americans' incessant loud talking & constant self-embiggenment.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:37 PM on February 6, 2008


I hope to sometime find one of these 300 fluent Cornish speakers and learn it.

*keeps dreaming*

I love its sounds.
posted by ersatz at 2:27 PM on February 6, 2008


Really? It sounds corny to me.

I hope to sometime find one of the 20 fluent Livonian speakers and learn it.

*keeps dreaming*

/part Livonian
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:33 PM on February 6, 2008


I hope to sometime find one of the 12 fluent Genovian speakers and learn it.

*keeps dreaming*

/part Genovian
posted by cillit bang at 2:58 PM on February 6, 2008


Genovia - that's a province of Zembla, isn't it?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:26 PM on February 6, 2008


OK, we'll give some land to the Niggers and the Chinks - but we don't want the Irish!!!!
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 4:09 PM on February 6, 2008


Kinda like Americans' incessant loud talking & constant self-embiggenment.

YOU'RE JUST JEALOUS.
posted by Atreides at 4:33 PM on February 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


erstatz:

If your serious- try

Mr Strange - agree about spiked - basically bastard contrarians.

As someone who lives Cambridge at the moment, I would say that most migrants here working:

1 learn English,
2 don't want to stand out,
3 Want to get on with their lives.

There are people who don't but that's because they are human.

Please don't judge Britain by the media, or the internet, etc.
posted by lerrup at 11:21 PM on February 6, 2008


I find Quebec a really interesting study in immigration and language issues. Contrary to Brockles' experience I find I patronise many small businesses whose immigrant owners not only speak their primary language but at least some of both English and French. My dep (corner store) is this way -- an entire family of Chinese immigrants from teenagers to middle-aged parents who happily and easily serve people in English or French as needed. I run into people like this every day. My observation has always been that while immigrants here are quite protected by multiculturalism (the "melting pot" idea isn't a Canadian bailiwick, though sometimes you'd think some elements of Quebec society wish it were so) it is rare to come across people who aren't at least learning, and even when their English/French is rough, they are humbly trying.

I also have been in intensive French immersion programs for the last 6 months and have met many -- at least 100 on a first-name basis -- brand-new immigrants who are (a) studying French as a second language at an advanced level because they feel it's the natural and logical thing to do when living in a French-speaking society and (b) already speak moderate to fluent English, having learned it in their native country, usually in their elementary and secondary educational systems. In fact, in my classes of people from everywhere from South America to Russia to eastern Europe to China to South Asia, the one common language we all could speak was English (and French, of course, but most comfortably English.) Some of these people had been in Canada less than a week when I met them. And most had pursued French studies so diligently in their homeland that they could already speak French almost as well as I who has studied many years of French.

Let me tell you, it's difficult to justify feeling sorry for yourself as you fuck up in a second language when you know lots of people already on their third... and sometimes more.
posted by loiseau at 12:11 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another thought about immigrants and language.

I am effectively an immigrant, having moved to Quebec from English Canada in the 90s. And I know what it's like to be out of your linguistic element first-hand. It is still tiring for me to operate in French.

At the end of the day, sometimes just talking to Anglophones in English is relaxing and comforting for me. It's like it shuts off a layer of activity that's been busy all day acting as a liaison between my natural tongue and my understanding of language and the structure of grammar, and lets it rest.

So in my small way, I can completely understand why Chinese people just really dig getting down with other Chinese people and speaking Chinese, or what have you. It's like when you've been wearing your belt a little too tight all day at work and you let it out a notch or two when you sit down on the couch.
posted by loiseau at 12:18 AM on February 7, 2008


loiseau: true. i recently spent almost a month travelling solo around burma. during that time, i chatted for a couple of hours with an aussie couple, and spent a day with a kiwi guy. all the others i bumped into were europeans, who spoke english reasonably fluently, but even that wasn't enough to compare with the total 'relaxation' i got from speaking with native english speakers, from my part of the world. it's as if the european conversations were at about the 20% level, but the native speakers added the other 80%.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:23 AM on February 7, 2008


The policy is typical New Labour bullshit tinkering in the absence of a genuine attempt to address any real issues. Immigration wouldn't have been half the problematic issue it has been if the state hadn't reneged on previous commitments to public housing and other services. Any serious attempt to defuse tensions would begin with a return to a more just allocation of public resources. Simplest diversionary tactic in the world to blame it all on outsiders coming in.
The reality has always seemed to me to be that's while there's no shortage of casual racism and attempts to make it a wedge issue on the right, working class communities by and large were happy to give fair play to new arrivals and live up to the traditional virtues of minding your own business and taking people as they found them. Rates of intermarriage and so forth were always high, showing that plenty of people were getting along with each other just fine.
Spiked Online was set up by the former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party after their previous effort, Marxism Today, closed down - they'd lost a libel case where they impugned the work of journalists exposing war atrocities in the former Yugoslavia. They lurched rightward into neo-liberal cheerleading and got themselves cushy jobs in various gobshite thinktanks and media rent-a-controversialist roles (one is a regular guest on Beeb radio doing the Moral Maze) thanks to a crony network of fellow-travellers who maintain the cult-like practices of the old groupuscule.
posted by Abiezer at 12:26 AM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


This thread sucks festering monkey testicles.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:02 AM on February 7, 2008


If your serious- try

Thanks, lerrup!

posted by ersatz at 2:36 AM on February 7, 2008


Not spitting or dropping litter would be more likely to make one stand out in the inner city urban areas of the UK. Just like most inner city urban areas in the world.

Immigrants bring a net benefit of £2.5billion/year+ to the UK economy. They are increasing the fertility rate so fast that the NHS can't cope. I see this more as a fault of bad management of the NHS. We 'need' more births in the UK due to the aging population. Concerns with immigration are so tightly bound to racism that it is difficult to have a sensible discussion about either. The government and press exacerbate the situation for their own benefit as having a scapegoat makes their lives easier. More evil, but easier.
posted by asok at 3:35 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Abiezer: Immigration wouldn't have been half the problematic issue it has been if the state hadn't reneged on previous commitments to public housing and other services. Any serious attempt to defuse tensions would begin with a return to a more just allocation of public resources.

I don't really agree. For starters, much anti-immigrant rhetoric comes from the right, where investment in publicly-provided services is hardly a popular cause. What's more, anti-immigrant rhetoric focuses on dubious allegations of preferential treatment for homes, jobs, benefits, etc., which are a product of social welfare provision (and obscure rules for allocating it) rather than otherwise.

In any case, what difference would reality make? Phobia of immigrants is in large part a psychological issue. Remember the 'five star hotel' for asylum seekers in Gravesend that was actually a closed Victorian wreck on the bypass? Reality doesn't have anything to do with the coverage.

See also: the European Union.
posted by athenian at 4:29 AM on February 7, 2008


I wouldn't disagree with much of what you say in your para. two athenian, as I of course don't deny there's an ideologically driven anti-immigrant lobby. I just think they'd have found even less of a popular audience if there weren't genuine grievances for them to fix on. You're right that most of the allegations concerning preferential treatment are bogus, but there's also a section of the white working class who feel abandoned or betrayed by mainstream politics and are susceptible to the far right, even if just as an extreme form of protest voting.
It's similar to the way official "multiculturalism" has been handled imo. While most of the scare stories are bogus and I personally have little time for petty nationalism, there is a kernel of truth in that certain bien-pensant efforts have been cack-handed and ultimately divisive.
posted by Abiezer at 5:09 AM on February 7, 2008


Immigrants bring a net benefit of £2.5billion/year+ to the UK economy.

Yes, but at what cost? The infrastructure that is in place already to deal with immigration is massive and inefficient - part of the reason for the anger toward it. Quoting only half the implications is misleading. I can't find any concrete figures (well, there's a shock that they aren't readily available) but I'd bet my left nut its more than 2.5 Billion.

They are increasing the fertility rate so fast that the NHS can't cope.

Which of course doesn't cost a thing? So because the immigration volume causes UK citizens to have a shit health system - that they are paying more and more for every year, despite it's obvious and highly visible failure - makes the objection about immigration about race, I guess. Of course it's hard to have a useful discussion if you only project one aspect of the issue and dismiss the rest as being blurred by racism - just as you and the government are doing. The objections to the amount of immigrants in the UK is very real, and has plenty of reason to be completely justified when you look at the implications. The anger within it sometimes stems from racism, which allows officials that don't want to accept blame or deal with the issue to dismiss it, but most of the stereotypical "Why should these foreigners get given houses, while my 75 year old Mother can't get a hip operation for 6 months when she's been paying for health care all her life?" has nothing to do with racism. It may raise it, but the objection is valid - money that UK citizens have been told is coming out of their wages for the good of the country and its citizens, is not being spent on its citizens. It's being spent on people from another country. The injustice of that is purely financial, it has nothing to do with skin colour. It is purely 'being let down by your country'. Try removing THAT element, and you may get a sensible immigration discussion. As soon as the government sort their priorities out and halt the extra financial burden until they have stabilised the country as whole, then a controlled immigration influx would be perfectly fine by a hell of a lot more of the population. While it's visibly screwing people over because the money they are entitled to through public services, roads, public housing and the like is being spent elsewhere, its no wonder they're pissed off. Add this to the speed of influx causing such divisive communities within communities, making people feel like strangers in their own country, and the feeling of being considered insignificant to a country with high taxes, high cost of living that is only escalating that they have been paying for all their life makes them very, very angry. And rightly so.

Unfortunately, some twat with a big gob stands in front of these, genuinely objecting, people and words his objection as:

"Why are these pakis getting treated better than the people who pay for this bloody country?"

Bam. Instant dismissal of every single one of their objections - "You only object to them because of their skin colour!". So the anger is dismissed, and the anger from the dismissal is then turned inwards and aimed at the immigrants themselves. Which exacerbates the racism slant, when the majority of the people just object because "we're suffering because you're spending our money on them and not us" rather than any relevance of colour. But that mouthy idiot at the demonstration ruined it for everyone.

I see this more as a fault of bad management of the NHS.

There is bad management in the NHS. But you can't 'manage' greater demand than resources.

We 'need' more births in the UK due to the aging population.

The UK is overcrowded. By really quite a lot. The last thing the place needs is more births. Allowing the population to fall naturally would have been an extremely intelligent thing to do, as it would be to the world in general. The 'aging population' is the result of a baby boom after the second world war. It isn't something that must be maintained as a constant population increase.
posted by Brockles at 6:13 AM on February 7, 2008


Brockles: the fact that anger is genuine doesn't mean it's justified. You make big, unsubstantiated claims about the failure of the NHS that draw entirely on tabloid tropes, and have no evidence behind them. The NHS is not failing in any meaningful sense, and what problems there are within it are not related to immigrants (generally young and healthy) - they are much more likely to be related to old white folks who have, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, stopped dying quickly at age 65 and started living into their 80s. If you want any proof on this, check out how much the NHS will spend on you during each year of your life. Unless you have a serious ongoing condition, the majority of spend will be in the last year or two before you die.

And as for the canard about maternity services, there is no evidence - and I mean none - about the extent to which new immigrants have affected maternity services. There are stats about births to mothers born abroad, but that is a very different thing. A friend of mine was born in Zimbabwe when it was Rhodesia. She is a British citizen and has lived here since the 80s. Born abroad? Yes. My father was born in Poland but lived and paid taxes in London for fifty years. Foreign? Yes. Funny name? Yes. Not entitled to healthcare? Fuck off.

The argument that NHS care, or benefits, or whatever, are 'deserved' or not depending on your nationality or length of residence in the UK is seductive, like most communitarian ideas, but also dangerous in the same way: it divides people into the worthy and unworthy, the good and the bad, and promotes bigotry, injustice and intolerance.

Stop taking the tabloids.
posted by athenian at 7:02 AM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


But as an alternative point of view, Canada is much much more divided in terms of languages. Communities that allow people to rely on only speaking their own tongue and not English (or french) are common here. I was pretty surprised how many people run businesses here with appalling English. It is noticeable in England, but nowhere near as bad as t could be.

Funnily enough, I just had to do an article review on this topic.

Taking Will Kymlicka's (somewhat flawed) study entitled "The Merits of Multiculturalism," he claims that:
...demand for classes in English and French as second language (ESL; FSL) has never been higher, and actually exceeds supply in many cities. According to the 1991 Census, 98.6 percent of Canadians report that they can speak one of the official languages.[footnote 16] This figure is staggering when one considers how many immigrants are elderly and/or illiterate in their mother tongue, and who therefore find it extremely difficult to learn a new language. It is especially impressive given that the number of immigrants who arrive with knowledge of an official language has declined since 1971. [footnote 17] [...] The overwhelming majority do learn an official language, and insofar as such skills are lacking, the explanation is the lack of accessible and appropriate ESL/FSL classes, not lack of desire. [footnote 18] [...] For example, despite Gwyn and Bissoondath's rhetoric about the proliferation of ethnic "ghettos" and "enclaves," studies of residential concentration have shown that permanent ethnic enclaves do not exist in Canada. Indeed, "it is scarcely sensible to talk of 'ghettos' in Canadian cities." [footnote 22] What little concentration does exist is more likely to be found amoung older immigrant groups, like the Jews and Italians, whose arrival preceded the multiculturalism policy. Groups that have arrived primarily after 1971 [the institution of the policy of multiculturalism], such as Asians and Afro-Caribbeans, exhibit the least residential concentration. [footnote 23].

Footnote 16: Some 63 percent of immigrants have neither English nor French as their mother tongue, yet only 309 000 residents in the 1991 Census couldn't speak an official language. Most of these were elderly (166 000 were over 55). See Brian Harrison, "Non Parlo ne inglese, ne francese" (Statistics Canada: Census of Canada Short Article Series, #5, September 1993.)
I would have typed up the rest of the mentioned footnotes, but they're just references without explanation. Anyone who really wants to can drop me a MefiMail, though.

There's some methodological flaws (taking info about non-official-language speakers from the Census alone, for example), but it's generally pretty convincing. Something to chew on, at least.

And if for some reason the TAs for Dr. Behiels' class are googling this article, hey! How ya doing?
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:12 AM on February 7, 2008


ugh, sorry. I forgot to surround the first set of ... with square brackets. It should be [...] demand.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:13 AM on February 7, 2008


You make big, unsubstantiated claims about the failure of the NHS that draw entirely on tabloid tropes, and have no evidence behind them. The NHS is not failing in any meaningful sense

No. The NHS is underfunded, and the NHS is not as good as it should be - this is pretty much fact. Waiting lists, screw ups, bed shortages in some areas etc., etc. These are not tabloid created hyperbole. When people see an underfunded health service they are supposedly paying for, then see huge sums of that same money being spent in housing aid and cost of housing immigrants, two and two is justified in making 4. Especially while their elderly mother is waiting and waiting for a bed for her operation.

Of course old people need more care - that's a no brainer. But no-one should have been surprised at that, and investment made beforehand to cope with it. But the money isn't there. The problem is the money.

I didn't say that the extra burden on the NHS was the problem with the NHS, it's that the money that could help the NHS (and so make it better able to cope with a change in demand) is not available as it is being spent on other things. I said that there is a problem with the NHS that is very obvious to people - as is the major element of the fix. Money. They see an awful lot of money being spent on people that have only just arrived, yet none on the people that live here now and have produced that money for them. If the signs of underfunding weren't so glaringly obvious to people, they wouldn't resent the massive sums spent on immigrants anywhere near as much.

The anger is at poor direction of funds.

A friend of mine was born in Zimbabwe when it was Rhodesia. She is a British citizen and has lived here since the 80s.

I don't know where the hell that came from. It's not relevant. Especially as the first example is of a British citizen, and the second is one that has been paying a big stack of taxes. I also never said anyone wasn't entitled to healthcare. Fuck me, this thread has produced some random aggressiveness.
posted by Brockles at 7:35 AM on February 7, 2008


The argument that NHS care, or benefits, or whatever, are 'deserved' or not depending on your nationality or length of residence in the UK is seductive, like most communitarian ideas, but also dangerous in the same way: it divides people into the worthy and unworthy, the good and the bad, and promotes bigotry, injustice and intolerance.

That sounds like a get-out to me. Let me word it differently - using race, bigotry, injustice and intolerance to excuse the fact that people didn't earn the services that they are demanding is unfair. If france suddenly shipped over a generation of kids and filled our schools, would that be intolerance? or downright unfair? They are using our resources and we are paying for it, and also losing the ability to school our own kids.

If my neighbour runs extension leads into my house and runs all his electrical appliances off my bill, is my objection intolerance or racial or bigotted? No, of course not. Everything costs money, and while it is very noble to try and pretend that it doesn't matter where the money comes from and that everyone is entitled to the same treatment, that only works if everyone is EQUALLY entitled, and not suffering as there is not enough to go around because not everyone is contributing.
posted by Brockles at 7:41 AM on February 7, 2008


Brockles, your argument is that people who haven't paid for the NHS shouldn't get the benefit of it, and that's what I'm describing as a communitarian argument. I don't agree with communitarianism, basically because the soft version of 'just deserts' can rapidly turn into the hard version of 'not one of us'.

You're on weak ground with the NHS anyway because your argument depends on two ideas, first that the NHS doesn't have enough money, and second that the cause of this is immigration.

Well, I suppose we could argue about whether the NHS has enough money, but I'd say it is in a better financial position now than it was ten years ago.

But even if there were no money, I can't imagine how these young, healthy new immigrants from Poland etc could be costing so much money. I would have thought that immigrants currently putting financial pressure on the NHS are the Windrush generation from the 60s and 70s, who are now getting on a bit. But of course, they've paid taxes and are therefore 'good immigrants' rather than recent arrivals who, er, also pay taxes and for some reason are 'bad immigrants'.
posted by athenian at 9:35 AM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Allowing the population to fall naturally would have been an extremely intelligent thing to do, as it would be to the world in general. The 'aging population' is the result of a baby boom after the second world war. It isn't something that must be maintained as a constant population increase."

Uh, you obviously don't understand how capitalism or social services or infrastructure works, do you?

Further, you might want to actually cite some facts if you're going to argue that immigrants are a net drain on the economy. Otherwise, all your "We paid for it" bullshit is at best irrational.
posted by klangklangston at 9:56 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're on weak ground with the NHS anyway because your argument depends on two ideas, first that the NHS doesn't have enough money, and second that the cause of this is immigration.

You're really not reading. I'm not at all saying that the two are directly related. The NHS is constantly claimed to be underfunded. It is constantly cutting back - its not doing that because it needs the beds to store money, is it? Money is also being spent (to a huge degree) on immigration and the resulting care/help requirements (housing etc). It doesn't need to be the SAME money for people to resent one being spent at the seeming expense of the other. It is the cause of the resentment (ie it is not racist based for many) that I am trying to demonstrate. People always try and make out it is "because they are foreign" that is the reason to disapprove of our immigration policy, and I was using one example of how it could not be at all related to race and be perfectly understandable to resent the extra people. Especially if you see them as a load on our system that people are paying for (and not as people per se). This is not a direct "Immigrants are ruining our Health Service" claim. It never was, so stop trying to steer it to one, please.

but I'd say it is in a better financial position now than it was ten years ago.

That bears precisely zero relevance to whether it is underfunded or not right now, of course.

your argument is that people who haven't paid for the NHS shouldn't get the benefit of it

Well, yes. Damn right. That's got jack shit to do with immigrants, mind you. That's like asking a US person to take out a second insurance policy for someone else - some random stranger. Why should they pay for someone else? Although I am not necessarily talking about individuals so much as the basic concept. I believe that people should pay their own way in some form.

Having a common health system is fine as long as people are paying for it. As soon as you abuse the system (ie have more patients than there are people paying for it) the cost goes up for the people that are paying for it. Yet they get nothing from it, and some people are getting something for nothing. I don't think 'pay for what you use' is exclusive. Nor do I think it is a difficult to defend viewpoint.

The 'good immigrants/bad immigrants' that you brought into this brings up where that concept comes from. People just see immigrants as one big group of people. The ones that tar the genuine, contributing, immigrants and make them resented are the illegal ones. There are too many immigrants (total) to be able to effectively weed out the illegals and THEY are the ones that cause the problem for the rest of them. Dealing with them, and the benefit fraud and other associated criminal gangs and activity that is rife in the illegal immigrant population is a police/Customs/Immigration/Passport Office/benefit system/job market workload that costs the country massive amounts of money. If we slow the rate of immigration down, get the legal (and genuine asylum seeker) ones able to work and contribute, the illegals kicked back out and better structure the system, then the extra load associated with 'immigrants' as a whole will be better balanced - the cost of a disproportionately increased population will be balanced by a matching increase in income from taxes from legitimate income.

Immigration itself isn't so much the problem, it is illegal immigration. Unfortunately, the issues with our immigration system are mostly causing the illegal immigration problem and exacerbating it. But people always trawl out "My grandad came here in '45 after fighting for this country and has paid tax for 60 years!!!!" defence when no-one thinks that genuine immigrants are an issue. It's just noise. There is a problem with immigration and immigrants. It causes an issue. But that doesn't by any means that "All immigrants are a problem" so that sort of retort is pointless.

Once we manage the workload down enough so that we can cope with it (in terms of integrating immigrants) then that integration will get cheaper and better - the system will become efficient in many ways. Also, a slower rate of immigration will assist integration.
posted by Brockles at 10:14 AM on February 7, 2008


Uh, you obviously don't understand how capitalism or social services or infrastructure works, do you?

What has the got to do with someone saying that because the population has more old people means that we therefore most increase baby production? It has nothing to do with any of those factors. It is some odd concept about maintaining population numbers for some reason that I seriously can't fathom.

Further, you might want to actually cite some facts if you're going to argue that immigrants are a net drain on the economy.

Everything costs money. A percentage of the population aren't paying for it. QED. Not that hard, was it?

People cost a country money - immigrants or not. A country costs money to run. If everyone is paying, then there is no drain. As soon as people don't pay, there is a drain. Hardly shocking logic, is it? Unemployed people are a drain on the economy too. So are children. Not exactly rocket science, is it? Certainly not 'bullshit'.

Like I say, Immigration issues cause a problem and generate a cost. Being as there are a hell of a lot more immigrants that those that create the '2.5 billion' reported income, I don't think you can say that it is 'bullshit' without YOU coming up with illegal immigration costs to the system + integration of legals + increased associated cost of public housing (etc, etc) being less than that amount.
posted by Brockles at 10:20 AM on February 7, 2008


"What has the got to do with someone saying that because the population has more old people means that we therefore most increase baby production? It has nothing to do with any of those factors. It is some odd concept about maintaining population numbers for some reason that I seriously can't fathom."

In order for economies to function, and for social service entitlements to be paid for, the working population has to continue to expand. The goal is to have as many workers as possible per pensioner, otherwise you can't afford to pay that pensioner. See also: Russia's population crisis. Similarly, infrastructure capacity has to be budgeted for in advance, and a smaller demand means that the economy of scale no longer has as much benefit. See: Highland Park's water troubles.

Frankly, if you can't fathom this, you should bow out of any discussion that involves immigrants or birthrates.

"Everything costs money. A percentage of the population aren't paying for it. QED. Not that hard, was it?"

It's easy to say QED if you beg the question. Is the net benefit from new workers offsetting the drain from some immigrants not paying for the services they require? I mean, if you weren't being ironically retarded with your QED bullshit. And that's a question that has to be answered with cited facts, not just a bunch of hand-waving nativist wanking.
posted by klangklangston at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Malor writes "I don't care at all for the tendency of migrants to not learn English, and for the government's willingness to support this. I think this is wrong. A language is a shared worldview, and it's extremely important that all members of a community speak the same one. MORE languages is always better, of course. The more languages you have, the more ways you can think. But everyone, everyone, everyone should speak the core language of the place where they live."

2nd generation immigrants always learn the local language as their first language, unless they're completely isolated from social contact. It's not really an issue. This is more of a xenophobic thing.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:12 AM on February 7, 2008


In order for economies to function, and for social service entitlements to be paid for, the working population has to continue to expand.

The limiting factor there is the physical size of the country and its infrastructure and how able it is to support a larger population. While the cost of living rises through overcrowding, the number of workers to provide the same budget HAS to increase. This cannot continue forever. Sooner or later, you run out of room.

Russia is kind of a bad example to demonstrate that. It's a tiny bit larger.

A gradual decline in population should be perfectly possible to sustain. Not easy, but possible Probably even necessary. It's only a large drop that becomes difficult. But a permanently rising population simply cannot work - that will be more apparent in the UK long before the US, Russia or the planet as a whole, but it is still perfectly true.

The number of workers doesn't need to expand. Just the money coming from them. If the cost of living is maintained, then an increase in taxation to cover this increase is possible. But if you add more workers instead, it becomes a vicious circle when applied to a small island full of people.
posted by Brockles at 11:12 AM on February 7, 2008


Brockles writes "The number of workers doesn't need to expand. Just the money coming from them. If the cost of living is maintained, then an increase in taxation to cover this increase is possible. But if you add more workers instead, it becomes a vicious circle when applied to a small island full of people."

Even immigrant labor is taxed with FICA (it's not usually cash pay for illegal immigrants anymore, but assumed identities for convenience, with assigned taxes and deductions). The landlord pays the property taxes if they're renting, which derive from the rent income. Sales taxes are paid when purchases are made. In fact, immigrants contribute significantly to our tax base, because they're almost all working and their employers are filing payroll taxes.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:29 AM on February 7, 2008


Russia is an extreme example. The same thing is happening in Germany.

And continuing to increase the tax rate to justify the cost of services is essentially what Highland Park did—to the tune of $900 monthly water bills.

While facile, start here.
posted by klangklangston at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2008


Krinklyfig: This is the UK we're talking about. Not the US. Illegal immigrants are a pure drain on the system, in the UK, as it is impossible to pay them legally (and so tax that income).

klangklangston: But the premise ignores one parameter - the ability of the system to absorb the increase.

If the population increases faster than the growth of industry, there are less jobs per capita and so less income available - the system collapses.

If the population increases to a point where there is not enough room (end case) to allow all the workers to live in the place of work (as in country) the system collapses - also, the greater density of housing for workers leaves less room for industrial buildings. Sooner or later one will edge the other out and you'll either get stalemate or collapse.


The system you describe ignores that parameter as it wasn't considered relevant at the time. It's pretty damn relevant in the UK - it is as crowded as hell, commuting is a nightmare and so living conveniently to work is difficult. This forces the house prices in convenient locations up disproportionately and increases the cost of living. This forces industry to have to offer higher salaries and so reduce their profit margin, and/or streamline to reduce jobs or relocate overseas. The system either bleeds jobs or workers - if there are no jobs, people have to go overseas or into less developed areas where new factories are setting up.

Sooner or later, all areas are developed, and at employment saturation as there is no more room for factories. So the population must stabilise or be transient and just fill up the next area (Europe).

Constantly increasing workforce (and population) is not sustainable. Either within a country or on the planet as a whole. No theories for economic growth matter - it cannot continue indefinitely. This is becoming more obvious sooner in a place as highly developed (yet small) as the UK is. It's just people haven't necessarily worked out that population control is (or will be) necessary yet.
posted by Brockles at 1:06 PM on February 7, 2008


It ignores your made-up parameter, the ability to absorb people, for which you gave no citation. Your anecdotal feeling of crowding isn't evidence, and there're certainly quite a few more crowded places to live, and it's only a little more dense than Germany.
posted by klangklangston at 2:28 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and by the way, this is absolute fucking bullshit: "Illegal immigrants are a pure drain on the system, in the UK, as it is impossible to pay them legally (and so tax that income)."

Illegal immigrants both can be paid "legally" in the UK, and their overall economic production factors into tax takings for legitimate businesses. The pound that an immigrant makes is still spent at a chip shop, just like everyone else. The only way you could claim them as a pure drain was if they only did business with people who were also entirely off the books, which is pure fantasy.
posted by klangklangston at 2:32 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Brockles: People just see immigrants as one big group of people. The ones that tar the genuine, contributing, immigrants and make them resented are the illegal ones.

Well, actually I'd say that illegal immigrants are used as a subject for media attack because the even the tabloids know it's out of order to attack all immigrants.

There are too many immigrants (total) to be able to effectively weed out the illegals and THEY are the ones that cause the problem for the rest of them.

So is the problem too many immigrants, or too many bad illegal immigrants? Because if you don't like immigrants overall, you won't like the fact that the vast majority of recent immigration (and a lot of the tabloid ranting) relates to people who are our fellow citizens of the European Union and therefore perfectly entitled to live in England, just like the 750,000 Brits who are perfectly entitled to live in Spain. The legal reality on immigration is that we're in one big country called Europe, though obviously nationalist sentiment has a bit of a way to go on that one.

Sidebar: in the city where I live, the largest recent immigrant community is Polish, and the third largest is Czech. The second largest is Spanish, but amazingly you don't hear wingnuts in the local papers going on about the flood of Spaniards clogging up hospitals and filling up the streets with their tapas bars. Why not? Because that was the immigration panic of twenty years ago, and central Europeans are the immigration panic of today.
posted by athenian at 2:42 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Illegal immigrants are a pure drain on the system, in the UK, as it is impossible to pay them legally (and so tax that income).

Not so. Even if they are paid cash in hand (as in, no income tax or national insurance contributions) they will still pay VAT on purchases, fuel duty on petrol, etc.
posted by athenian at 2:53 PM on February 7, 2008


Illegal immigrants both can be paid "legally" in the UK,

Rubbish. Total rubbish. Illegal immigrants have to work illegally. They consequently pay no taxes. Your knowledge of UK law is clearly wrong.

Never mind my anecdotal evidence of 34 years as a native to that country, where's your evidence? No amount of continued sputtering proclamations of 'bullshit' will cover the fact that your basic knowledge on the matter is flawed.

The only way you could claim them as a pure drain was if they only did business with people who were also entirely off the books, which is pure fantasy.

That is the only way a company can actually employ an illegal immigrant in the UK. The job would have to be cash in hand, and that in itself is illegal as it is undeclared income/expenditure. There is no legal way to transfer money out of a company into the hands of a person (in the form of wages) that has no legal right to work.

So is the problem too many immigrants, or too many bad illegal immigrants?

Which bit didn't I make clear? I'll say the same thing again: There are too many immigrants to process with the current system. Consequently the system can't keep up, so it loses track and illegal entry becomes easier through lack of control. Illegal immigrants cause issues and, through their actions, the rest of the immigrant population get tarred with the same brush. It reflects badly on them due to the acts of a minority.

is that clearer?

Because if you don't like immigrants overall

I never said a damn thing about not liking immigrants! I'm one myself. Holy fuck, why can't people read today?
posted by Brockles at 2:59 PM on February 7, 2008


Not so. Even if they are paid cash in hand (as in, no income tax or national insurance contributions) they will still pay VAT on purchases, fuel duty on petrol, etc.

Hardly a justification, is it? Paying 40 quid a month total on VAT rather than 25% of a wage, is it? To all intents and purposes they are a drain, pure and simple.

I really don't see what's so apparently evil about saying 'people should pay their damn way".
posted by Brockles at 3:02 PM on February 7, 2008


"Rubbish. Total rubbish. Illegal immigrants have to work illegally. They consequently pay no taxes. Your knowledge of UK law is clearly wrong."

Because I know people who work illegally in the UK, at quasi-legit jobs (magazines and cafés, mostly, though I had a friend who worked for two years for an ad agency without legally being in the country). Usually, they get in with a temporary work visa, then stay, though I know a couple folks who had documents that a "friend lent them." Their pay was docked for taxes.

"That is the only way a company can actually employ an illegal immigrant in the UK. The job would have to be cash in hand, and that in itself is illegal as it is undeclared income/expenditure. There is no legal way to transfer money out of a company into the hands of a person (in the form of wages) that has no legal right to work."

Learn to read. The only way that an immigrant can avoid all taxes is not only to work at a cash-only business, but also shop at a cash-only business and eat at cash only restaurants and use cash-only transit and rent cash-only apartments, etc. etc.

"Hardly a justification, is it? Paying 40 quid a month total on VAT rather than 25% of a wage, is it? To all intents and purposes they are a drain, pure and simple."

Again, you beg the question. How about you scurry off now and try to come up with some proof that immigrants are taking more money in services to care for than they're adding through the taxes they do pay? Or are you too retarded to understand that simple question?
posted by klangklangston at 3:50 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Brockles: I don't say it's evil, but you are setting up a moral judgement that in this context I don't think is appropriate. As I've said before, it's a communitarian or populist approach that says 'they're our services because we're taxpayers and we've paid for them', and I completely disagree with it. They are the State's services, and their delivery has to be guided by requirements of equity as well as the desires of the electorate (expressed through elections rather than the Daily Mail letters page).

My big point is: we took a national decision in 1945 that healthcare, shelter and sustenance were so important they should be provided at a basic level regardless of people's financial abilities. I think it's just as important that they should be provided regardless of people's moral qualifications, whether those are based on criminal record, fat intake or immigration status. As soon as you start accepting that there is a moral test for universal services, you divide people into good and bad, sheep and goats, fatties and healthies, and you are on the road to discrimination and tyranny of the majority.
posted by athenian at 3:50 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Paying 40 quid a month total on VAT rather than 25% of a wage, is it? To all intents and purposes they are a drain, pure and simple.

VAT gets more of people's income than you might think. If you're a legal worker paid one hundred and fifty pounds a week, your total income tax and NIC over the year is a shade over £500, because of the tax allowance you get before income tax/NIC kicks in. If you were a legal worker paid £100 a week, by the way, you'd pay no tax or NIC at all.

Now, say you spend a quarter of your money on zero-rated products like food and children's clothes. Even if you send another quarter of your money back to your family in Ruritania, you still pay £75 a week for VAT-liable goods, making £3,900 over the year. The VAT on that comes to £682.50 over the year - more than you paid in direct taxes, even without petrol duty, alcohol duty and so on.
posted by athenian at 4:00 PM on February 7, 2008


Or are you too retarded to understand that simple question?

What the fuck is your problem? Take your attitude somewhere else. I'm not going to bother responding to you until you stop being a prick. Prove me wrong if you want to carry on.

you still pay £75 a week for VAT-liable goods, making £3,900 over the year. The VAT on that comes to £682.50 over the year - more than you paid in direct taxes, even without petrol duty, alcohol duty and so on.

Sorry, I don't understand that logic at all. Can't compute. Maybe I'm missing something. If you assume that sort of pay, then you can't assume all of it after Ruritania is subject to purchases that involve tax, surely? Rent and the like don't have tax and would surely be the biggest single outgoing, with food being the next (for low wage people). So I'm not sure you can work backwards like that and assume 75 of 100 quid will get VAT'd (to make a hideous shorthand).

Have I missed a sum somewhere?
posted by Brockles at 4:35 PM on February 7, 2008


"Prove me wrong if you want to carry on."

Cite your fucking evidence. That's why I'm being a prick—you keep saying that the immigrants are a net drain on the UK economy without fucking proving it. You keep pretending as if your fallacious syllogisms can stand in for proof, and they can't. Yours is the burden of proof here in asserting a positive claim.

Further, you don't seem to understand how economies work, the fungibility of currency, or anything past what Daily Mail headlines scream at you.
posted by klangklangston at 4:53 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The VAT on that comes to £682.50 over the year

Yeah, I just went back to my 2005 expenses spreadsheet (/geek) and took off all my definitely non-vat applicable expenditures (ie food and rent, basically, I even ignored council tax for parity) and I only gave 1,885 pounds in VAT that year on the rest of it, and that was with 6K in tax coming from my wages. I was earning a hell of a lot more than 150 a week, too. So from that example, I'd have given 75% less to the government per month just through VAT than I did through Income tax and IE as well. It's not an insignificant number, but it certainly isn't more than I paid through direct taxes by any means. I may still have been misinterpreting your post, though.
posted by Brockles at 4:57 PM on February 7, 2008


The argument is that for lower incomes, income tax becomes very small while VAT stays proportional to spending. I'm pretty dubious of athenian's calculations though.

National Statistics says of the £440B in total tax revenue, VAT accounts for £77.4B, Corporation tax £44.3B, Income tax £147B and National Insurance £87.2B. The first two would still be paid indirectly by unregistered workers.
posted by cillit bang at 6:14 PM on February 7, 2008


What's the point of a debate on immigration without dodgy stats?

Brockles: I assumed an income of £150 per week (£100 reference was another example). Of that I assumed 25% non-vatable but you are right that rent should be on that side of the equation. Cillit is also right, however that even zero-vat expenditure ends up as CT or a landlord's income tax in the end
posted by athenian at 11:45 PM on February 7, 2008


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