This week I talked border issues:
I was actually down in Tucson a few days ago. I got talking in the airport bar with a resident of Sierra Vista, a modest town of 40,000 people down there on the border. He told me some of what goes on down there: about coming out of his house one day in a quiet suburban street to encounter “thirty or forty” illegals running down the street in a crowd, laughing and hooting, with a couple of Border Patrol agents in pursuit. “I’m sure most of them got away,” he said.So the incentive for the southern European countries is not so much to stop these illegals as to keep them moving north. That’s why nothing much is getting done. The north European countries are so addled with Protestant liberal guilt, they’ve incapacitated themselves from dealing with the problem.
He also told me the smugglers’ latest trick is lighting fires along the border. The Border Patrol has to go help put them out, so some stretch of border has no protection. “The Border Patrol will get on top of that,” explained my drinking buddy, “then the smugglers will think of something else. It’s an arms race.”
Hey, if it’s an arms race they’re wanting, let’s show them some real arms. Do we not still have stocks of napalm? How about Daisy Cutter bombs, have we decommissioned those? Arms race?—I’d give ‘em arms race.
I just wish I could see some sense of urgency about controlling our borders.
In Europe it’s even worse. The newspapers over there today have gruesome pictures of dead Africans washed up on the shores of Libya after their boat sank and many of them drowned. The boat was actually a smugglers’ boat, trying to get these Africans into Europe. Hundreds of thousands more are gathered on the North African shore hoping to get into Europe.
Why? Obviously because there is no kind of life in their own countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is overpopulated, violent, poor, corrupt, and chaotic. Who wants to live in a place like that?
Why are those countries like that, though? It doesn’t help to say that poverty causes their problems. At the time of its independence in 1957, Ghana, which was then the wealthiest nation in Sub-Saharan Africa, had a per capita income almost equal to that of South Korea: US$490 against US$491 in 1980 dollars.
Ghana’s per capita GDP for 2013 was $3,500; South Korea’s was $33,200, nine and a half times Ghana’s. And in 1957, remember, much of South Korea was in ruins from the Korean War. Remember too that Ghana is one of the more peaceful, better-run nations in Africa.
Maybe it was colonialism. Was it, though? Parts of Ghana were under British colonial rule for ninety years, though other parts never were.
British rule ended in 1957. Hong Kong, by contrast, was a British colony for 150 years, until 1997. It has no natural resources, it’s just a bare rock sticking out of the sea, with seven million people clinging to it. GDP per capita: over $55,000, sixteen times Ghana’s. Mean life expectancy in Hong Kong is 84; in Ghana it’s 66. Perhaps colonialism isn’t so bad.
At last apologists for these failed countries start to sound like they’re just making excuses. At that point you bring out Occam’s Razor and say: Yeah, well, maybe these African places are so poor and messed-up because the people who live there make them that way.
And then the next thought you have is, that if European nations let great numbers of these people in for settlement, they’ll turn European countries—or at least parts of them—into the same kind of mess.
Mostly North European countries, actually. Life for an African illegal in Spain, Italy, or Greece isn’t that great. If they hike up to Germany, or Britain, or Scandinavia, though, they’ve got it made, with lax welfare systems to loot and lots of guilty liberals to appeal to.
The full Radio Derb playbill: