From June 2015:
If refugees need asylum, give it to them, but then simply make sure they pull their own weight by assigning all of them who are unable to find private-sector employment a sufficient schedule of compulsory state-organized labour to more than offset their living expenses. This not only makes it fair for taxpayers, but gives the refugees themselves respectability as contributing members of society (and hence worthy of citizenship eventually), and makes negativity towards them indefensible.
I had expected Italy to be the country to show the way to the rest of the EU for folkish treatment of refugees ever since seeing the positivity of Riace years ago, and now indeed we begin to see policy proposals on a national scale in the direction that we have been recommending ever since the refugee crisis began:
Italy is hosting around 175,000 migrants and refugees, who languish in reception centres for months or even years while their asylum requests are dealt with by an overwhelmed bureaucracy.
They often end up being exploited – in Sicily, young West African men are paid a pittance to pick fruit and vegetables, while young women are forced to prostitute themselves by the roadside to pay off debts incurred from their journeys through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean.
Marco Minniti, the interior minister, will present a plan in parliament on Wednesday by which migrants and refugees will be required to perform “socially useful” work while their claims are assessed, possibly as a condition to receive a weekly living allowance.
Some refugees already perform community service, such as sweeping the streets and maintaining parks and gardens, but until now the work has been on a purely volunteer basis.
“In our town they have been cleaning up the parks, helping to bring decorum to neglected areas,” said Luca Menesini, the mayor of Capannori, a town in Tuscany. “They’ve also made crafts, which were sold at the Christmas markets. It has allowed the foreigners to get to know us and for the locals to realise that not all migrants hang out at street corners, begging or talking on mobile phones.”
Matteo Biffoni, the mayor of Prato, also in Tuscany, said: “It would send a good message to Italians, who don’t appreciate seeing migrants doing nothing all day.”
Also check out this additional story linked from the first one:
The next obvious thing to do is for the Italian navy to start directly ferrying refugees across the Mediterranean so that they don’t incur debts to the shady human traffickers in the first place. Italy could charge a fee for this service to cover transport costs. As long as the fee is lower than what the traffickers charge, refugees would surely choose the state service (which would also be incomparably safer), Italy would be getting the refugees’ money (which they can later effectively give back to the refugees in exchange for their labour) instead of the traffickers (who probably change it to a whole other currency). It is all elementary economics. This too has been our repeated recommendation since the crisis began:
Further down the line, Italy (and all countries which have accepted refugees) should start putting as many refugees as possible into military service. This is a suitable timing for military consolidation by the EU (indeed I have said before that the EU needs an army of its own, or else it has no real power), because unless the EU has the courage to declare war on Hungary, I cannot see any other outcome than more and more other countries following the Hungarian approach. Why not, when they see that there is no practical penalty for doing so? Ethics? You cannot talk ethics to those who care nothing for ethics! All attempts to appeal to Hungary’s sense of basic decency have failed because Hungary has none – otherwise we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place! Civilized discussion can only occur between states which care about the general good, and merely disagree about how best to effect it. As soon as one state starts to think tribally, discussion with that state is over and war preparations must begin. When the EU demands Hungary: “Stop blocking the refugees’ paths!”, and Hungary’s reply is the bully’s typical challenge to his victim: “Or else what?”, then unless the EU’s retort is: “Or else Ahimsa.”, the bully wins. This is reality; anything else is wishful delusion. Imagine if, instead of talking to Israel for the last 70 years, we had promptly invaded it before it had time to acquire nukes. (At least Hungary doesn’t have nukes….. yet. Are we going to wait until it gets some too???)