The New Clarion

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Explosive Compound: Immigration Meets The Welfare State

July 7th, 2012 by L-C · 7 Comments · Culture, Foreign Affairs, Politics

Immigration is a hot issue for a number of Western nations, notably America and my country of origin, Sweden. The latter being a notable case is a fact that escapes many of those who don’t count themselves among its 9.5 million people. That is, at least for now; news stories of Sweden’s troubles are starting to trickle out with an accelerating frequency that mirrors the nation’s increasing instability.

What attracts immigrants to a country? The prospects of a better life – as defined and imagined by those immigrants. This last point becomes interesting when you turn the question around: What kind of immigrant does a country attract? The kind that seeks to gain whatever values of whatever nature that the country in question has to offer, noble or not. Retirees move to Spain for the weather and the relaxed atmosphere. Frustrated males move to Thailand for the girls and the not-so-girls.*

Historically, people have moved to America because they wanted to live life by their own terms. We frown upon that in Europe.

Why do people move to Sweden? Insofar as it is a modern industrial society, Sweden doesn’t differ much from other Western (or Northern) European countries. Yet the number of immigrants, refugee and otherwise, that it accepts from the Middle East and Africa every year is, by the standards of both continental Europe and its closer Scandinavian neighbors, record-setting and wildly out of proportion to its own population. “Welfare” is more than a decent guess, but that answer can’t be the whole truth; Norway and Denmark, despite also being social democracies, aren’t having these problems nearly to the same extent.

Proponents of Capitalism know that welfare systems are corrosive to a society’s individuals; Norway and Denmark are no exceptions. But they’re missing the ingredient that would turn their welfare explosive: mass immigration. Onerous as they are, the taxation and redistribution going on in these countries remain relatively stable in the short term because they’re done chiefly by, for, and to a mostly gainfully employed Western populace.

Simply put, they aren’t importing large numbers of unskilled people and putting them on easily accessed, longterm welfare. Sweden is. The consequences in the form of crime, unemployment, social strife, and the increasing alienation of native Swedes, were clear enough yesterday, are painfully so today, and will become catastrophically so tomorrow.

But why was this allowed to happen to Sweden in the first place, and why can’t the increasingly disgruntled Swedes seem to mount an effective opposition to the policies of social engineering enacted and maintained by their elected politicians? That will be the topic for my next entry.


* I know Thailand has more to offer, but stereotypes can be hilarious when they’re at least partially true.

7 Comments so far ↓

  • Inspector

    Mixture… I like that. I was having a fascinating discussion the other day on the subject.

    The short version is that we’ve backed ourselves into a corner with immigration. Without the black market labor, bags of lettuce would be something like $40. Even if we could stop immigration – which we can’t – our economy as we know it could not exist.

    We can’t legalize it, either. If it were legalized, not only would full welfare kick in, but also so would minimum wage laws. The same economic collapse would ensue, but with a welfare collapse, too. Well, a faster welfare collapse than currently.

    The current system is also unsustainable. That same black market is breeding a horrible quality and quantity of crime that I probably don’t need to detail here. And it does drain the welfare system even as it is. (well, again, accelerating the inevitable)

    Damned if we do and damned if we don’t? Not exactly. There is a way out. Just one. We have to end welfare. Before any kind of immigration reform. As I see it, immigration shouldn’t even be discussed absent the context of ending welfare first.

  • c andrew


    One proposal I saw floated was that immigration be legalized but welfare forbidden. The carrot to that stick was that they wouldn’t have to pay the taxes (percentage-wise) that support that welfare.

    Under those circumstances, I might want to leave the country and re-“immigrate.”

    I worked in agriculture; my first 3 jobs as a teenager were milking cows (at 0400 before school), moving sprinkler pipe, and rock picking and bucking hay for another farmer bookended with moving pipe am and pm.

    It’s damned hard work. And in one job I worked with a “wetback” as the politically incorrect term was used back then. And he worked me into the ground. I had nothing but the highest respect for his work ethic and really knew nothing else about him.

    My cousin married a guy who started out as a migrant laborer, working in the fields before and after school. When we did some charity work, planting a welfare farm, this guy did more work than the other 12 of us put together. We were planting tomato seedlings and he planted over half of the crop by himself.

    The funny thing was that he was actually a VP for AT&T (pre-divestiture) at the time. He said, though, that it was like riding a bicycle.

    That’s what immigrants used to do; or at least their children did. Now we freeze the status quo so that moving up economically becomes harder and harder. I lay that at the feet of the welfare state, not just because of the lack of motivation that can infect the populace, but because of the active opposition that the welfare state brings in its train to people improving themselves. And recently we just barely missed the imposition of rules that would prohibit the children of farm families from working on their own farms.

    L-C, this is purely a shot in the dark, but I was wondering if the resentment of the native Swedes toward the free-loading immigrants is being undercut by their acceptance of collectivist ethics and specifically altruism? And that they don’t dare speak the truth that the newcomers are, in fact, freeloaders at best and hostile invaders at worst?

  • L-C

    Inspector: I agree that it’s welfare that should go, not immigration. That has no chance of happening in Sweden, though. I see opposition against open immigration here as being a matter of self-defense in an emergency. Someone who wants the welfare state gone before advocating such controls will have to wait until the country has collapsed.

    Andrew: Indeed. I’ll go into more detail about that. Also, Sweden’s immigrants aren’t hardworking Mexicans. We do get immigrants who want to work, but they aren’t the problem and they don’t counteract the problem of those who don’t.

  • Inspector

    Ahh… er, oops. I realize that I could have worded that better.

    Allow me to rephrase that.

    As I see it, movement toward so-called “open” immigration shouldn’t even be discussed absent the context of ending welfare first.

    Any sort of article establishing that principle needs to make 100% clear that, despite said principle, such measures would be anywhere from foolish to suicidal absent the context of the welfare state having been eliminated. And that, such being the case, nobody is advocating anything of the sort until the welfare state is gone.

    Such articles also need to make more clear the distinction between immigration and citizenship (i.e. the vote).

  • Neil Parille



    The short version is that we’ve backed ourselves into a corner with immigration. Without the black market labor, bags of lettuce would be something like $40. Even if we could stop immigration – which we can’t – our economy as we know it could not exist.


    I hear this all the time, but is it true? We have unemployment of over 8% and the government undercounts it. Without immigrants we wouldn’t have people to do manual labor?

  • Inspector


    Not necessarily at the needed price point. Although caution with claims like that is certainly not unwarranted.

  • Grant


    All I know is that today, in Florida, I bought garlic that was grown in China, and on my way out of the grocery store, there was a white guy – early 20’s – standing on the corner, doing nothing except holding a sign advertising the cheese steak shop up the street, and making (at least) $7.67 an hour for doing it.