A call for human decency
Monday there will be a debate about an emergency refugee center in Forssa. The number we are talking about here is 250 people. I expressly say people. Not refugees, not migrants. People! It's good to emphasize this, because there is always a tendency to dehumanize people by putting them into a kind of system. You are this and I am that. This is not the way to deal with people. Not with your neighbor, not with friends, not with people you don't know the last thing about.
What is needed is to give the people that are coming here a chance. A chance on a normal life. A chance to prove that they can contribute to a society that is not shot to hell by local bandits and dictators. Do you think that Finland is doing it's duty already? I am sorry to say but when it comes to giving people who have fled from violence a home Turkey is number 1 in the world. The country takes care of 1.6 million people from Syria. Turkey is big, but this a staggering number compared to the number of people that Finland takes in yearly.
What Forssa needs is to be practical about these things. Forssa is a graying town. Forssa "lost" 3000 children in the last 10 years. In order to reverse this process we new people. In this sense 250 people is not nearly enough. The strangers that come here need initially care that helps them deal with their troubles. This will bring employment in the form of doctors, nurses, psychologists and teachers. In the long run the people that come here can exercise their skills in return. Art, technology and language skills will provide a base for innovation and opening up new markets. Smart business people can make use of their skills. This is not the first time in history. Amsterdam only became a major town after it took in people fleeing from the south. There is no reason that Forssa can't do the same.
No milk today
For the past year I have heard a lot of complaints. Complaints of farmers about the prices they get for their goods. Whether it is milk, grains or meat it is too little. More subsidy please. While I sympathize with the farmers I don't think that's the whole story. I remember very well how the EU started. One of magic terms was CAP. CAP? Yes, Common Agricultural Policy. CAP in action meant subsidies for farmers with the object to provide them a reasonable income. As it happens the designer of this policy was Sicco Mansholt. A Dutch politician. CAP lead to a huge over production of everything. Mountains of butter and meat, lakes of wine and milk. It was obvious that such a situation could not continue and that's why we are where we are at the moment.
One of the things that made lives for farmers better in the past was their ownership of transport and production facilities. Farms used to pool their resources and built a company that could process their milk into butter and cheese. They got a second income from that. The problem is now that these companies don't exist any more in this form. Farmers have for a variety of reasons sold their shares. Maybe they bought a new tractor with it if they were wise or bought a mercedes if they were less wise, but the end result is the same. No income from the intermediate products. That's a problem. When I buy blue mould cheese in the shop the margin is higher than that on pasteurized milk. Yet the producer of milk gets only the benefit of that raw product. No wonder farmers are in trouble!
Now I hear you say, “happy that I am not a farmer!”. And you are right. I am also happy not to be a farmer. But consider what our future economy will be like. We are facing a new wave of robotization. This is initially a good thing. Our grey fathers need their pension. However much we want it, they will not be able to extend their working life a lot. Robots will help in this.
After this happy phase problems will occur. Suddenly robots will do almost everything leaving our population with lots of free time. That's all very nice if we have income to spend, but where does that come from? Not from work! We are in a situation where unemployment and labor productivity are sky high! The benefits of that work will go the capital that is put into it. In other words the share holders reap all the benefits. If you are not a shareholder you will be poor! Begin to feel like a farmer already? Sorry it will be worse.
It's not hard to envisage a society with an elite that has all the wealth and the middle class nothing. Capital is fluid. Tax evasion schemes easily set up when governments compete for the favor of major companies. Only an agreement on EU level can put an end to this behaviour, but when all is said and done this is just a stop gap. What is needed is fundamental shift in economics.
Some of my socialist friends argue that we should (re)nationalize some major companies. That sounds nice, but lessons from former communist states indicate that this usually ends in disaster. Governments should ensure functioning markets, not be an active participant in them. Yet, if we don't want an impoverished middle-class some changes have to be made. A solution might lie in the way that muslims do business! In the islam it's forbidden to ask interest. Also tax is problematic. In order to compensate for this it is required to give the state or a local citizen a 51% share in your business with a yearly fee that can be negotiated. This way the people in the country get their income from economic activity that is generated. This is new kind of economics. Better suited to modern needs than neo-liberalism or socialistic models. It marks a new approach for a new age.