söndag 15 maj 2011

Denmark introduces border controls

For Denmark to introduce border controls with Sweden is an exercise in self-harm. Many Danes live in the southern tip of Sweden because of lower house prices and they commute to Copenhagen to work. They are the ones who will be put to trouble and inconvenience. The Öresund region has been developing as a single integrated economic unit since the bridge was opened 10 years ago, a development further enhanced by the construction of the Malmö city tunnel which opened last December.

Sweden has received waves of immigrants since the end of the war, successively from Finland, Yugoslavia, Greece, South/Central America, Poland, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia. The earlier immigrants were predominantly Christian/Catholic and have generally integrated well, the church itself being an important means through which integration has taken place.

The later immigrants have been predominantly Muslim and it seems that they have not integrated will, with high levels of unemployment and crime. The reasons for this are complex, but one of them is that a substantial and conspicuous minority of them have no respect for the local culture, customs and religion, and no desire to integrate. However, the same is true in Denmark so one wonders who is trying to keep out whom?

The problem of unintegrated immigrants has a strong economic component. Wage-related taxes in both countries are high, which adds to employment costs. In Sweden this is aggravated by extra high VAT on services such as restaurant meals, thereby crippling the very industries where immigrants might have had the best chance of establishing themselves in employment.

There is a general need to establish an alternative model for raising government revenue so that public services and a welfare state can operate sustainably. The left in particular must recognise that it is time to get rid of the job-destroying taxes which have been the main source of funding for the welfare state for the past 60 years.

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