On migration 24

This post is inspired by a discussion about migration policy at the EC Representation a few days ago. In short, my position is that (inward) migration, on average, is a good thing. And yes, I know, migration is a sensitive topic for most (ethnic) Latvians because of guys like me, second generation Russian migrants. That being said, some ethnic Latvians may just stop reading it right here since me being a migrant myself might very well explain why I am in favor of more migrants. What follows is for the brave few who want to hear out the arguments.

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Lets start with some scares. Three things are going to haunt this country for years to come: (i) demography; (ii) public debt; (iii) (outward) migration. First, everyone knows the demography story, right? A sharp drop in birth rates in the early 1990s will still catch up with us and, over the not-so-long-run (not the one in which we're dead) will mean there are a lot fewer young people to who can be taxed to pay pensions to quite a few pensioners. Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of this: already in 2004 there were only half of the kinder-gardens that there were in late 1980s. It's coming. Second, in just couple of years time the public debt will be around 60% of GDP, up from less than 10% of GDP in 2007. At the moment, interest rate on much of it are relatively small, about 3-4%. But it would have to be refinanced in just a few years time. Substantially higher interest rates are likely to be charged by the markets. A rather benign 5% interest rate (at which Greece is bailed out by the other eurozone members) implies debt service costs of 3% of GDP! Third, the migration induced by extremely high unemployment rate is likely to impair growth in the medium run because of permanent reduction in the work force. No-one really knows how many have left but the numbers are unlikely to be small. What are the effects of these? Quite simply, the public finances are unsustainable in the long run. After all, this is what the coming fiscal consolidation is all about.

Like it or not, but opening up to migration is one potential solution to this - albeit one that is likely to be effective only in the medium term. There is a trade-off that Latvians must understand: preserving a status-quo will have a price in terms of higher taxes or lower social spending, and/or public goods. And yet, although migration could be a solution to our fiscal problem, it is not unequivocally a good thing. Migration has it problems. It seems to be a blessing for some countries, but a curse for others. Latvia, after all, has been rather unsuccessfully coping with its large Russian minority with the ensuing political dead-locks, culture of (tax) evasion, etc. And what about Belgium? Or, take Africa, whose ethnic fragmentation may well explain substantial part of its backwardness. On the other hand, there are countries that clearly benefit from being a melting-pot of many nationalities, such as the U.S. and U.K.

Migration is not a simple thing. What makes it a blessing for some countries but a curse for the others is a good question, certainly worth a million dollars. And yet, I am convinced that, at the level of principles, we should be open to migration. I am talking about openness as a principle. Openness to new ideas, and the people in which these ideas are usually embodied. Not everyone can take it, as is suggested by historical experience. But I believe that those who can cope with it in a non-destructive way are made better and stronger as a result. The alternative - living in constant fear of the outside influences, does not seem enticing to me.

That said, I do not think migration should be approached in a simple-minded way. Simply opening-up the borders for everyone is likely to produce unpredictable and possibly disastrous results. Migration policy requires careful thinking. It's a bit like recruiting human resources for a firm. We'd like to get the best but we must understand there is huge competition for talent out there. So how is one to proceed?

Let me sketch some criteria for an 'ideal migrant'. Some of these may seem more than a bit cynical but hey, it is well known that economists have no heart.

Age. Clearly, the younger, the better.
Family status. The fewer old-age dependents - the better. The reason is that the civilized world (i.e. the EU) is quite sensitive about something called family reunification. This means that once a migrant settles in, he can usually bring his family with him. And lets face it, we want migrants to help us pay for our pensioners, not bring new ones with them.
Education. People need to understand that nominally opening up to "PhDs in physics, software engineers, and other bright things" is a bit naïve. There is substantial competition for talent out there and Latvia can't possibly compete with the heavy-weights like the U.S., Britain, and many others. This points to an obvious solution: target young people with secondary education and put them through the Latvian system of higher education, possibly enticing them with student loans or other subsidies. This approach has two important advantages. First, it's cost effective since you don't have to pay a (substantial) cost of primary and secondary education. Second, going through student years is likely to forge relationships (with the opposite sex) and that is what REALLY makes people stay in a county. In case you haven't noticed, that's exactly what the U.S. and U.K. do.
Ethnic quotas. To put it bluntly, you may not want to have large diasporas of Chinese, Ethiopians, Asians, etc. The reason is that large diasporas are bad for integration. Large diasporas are more likely to become shut-out, criminalized, and generally more of a liability than a solution to anything. So, don't target a particular country but get a handful from each of a wide range of countries.

Let me recap a few important points. First, system of higher education is key. In order to attract potential migrants, it needs to be competitive in the world. At the moment, this is not the case for 80% of the Latvian education system. So something needs to be done here. Language laws that don't permit studies in languages other than Latvian need to go as well. There might also be a case for tuition subsidies to foreign students - say, student loans. Second, migration policy must be proactive with embassies in different countries acting as recruiters into Latvia's higher education system. There is a case for targeting the young people with small number of old-age dependents who are fresh out of high school.

There is one more thing that the bravest hearts may want to consider. When we're talking about competing for migrants, host country's language is likely to matter a great deal. Learning any language is a substantial investment and potential migrants are likely to weigh the costs of it with the benefits. As far as a potential migrant is concerned, language grants access to a particular labor market. Naturally, other things being equal, a migrant would want access to the largest labor market as it would increase his chances of finding a job. Thus, small countries like Latvia is at a disadvantage compared to large countries like Germany, or to smaller countries like Sweden that use English as a semi-official language. If you haven't guessed where I am getting, consider an example of Singapore, which has four official languages, one of them being English. Is it just a mere coincidence that Singapore has been doing quite well?

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Komentāri (24) secība: augoša / dilstoša

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Rainis 11.06.2010 13:00
Autors attaisnojas, ka tekstaa neesot rasisma, tacu ja palasaam tuvaak...:

"you may not want to have large diasporas of Chinese, Ethiopians, Asians, etc. The reason is that large diasporas are bad for integration. Large diasporas are more likely to become shut-out, criminalized, and generally more of a liability than a solution to anything...

"Large diasporas are more likely to become (...), criminalized"

faktiski saienojot ar teikuma saakumu sanaak ka kjiiniesi, etiopiesi, "aazieshi", dziivojot diasporaa visi kljuust par noziedzniekiem

otrkaart kaapeec tad juus runaajat par kjiiniesiem un aafrikaanjiem atseviskji ja jau neesat rasists???

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JR 11.06.2010 00:37
Before commenting on main point of this article - immigration, I think it's worth to point out few fallacies of argument which leads to conclusions.
(i) Demography is Europe wide problem, it's the same one in most of European countries. Even tho this doesn't argument alone doesn't show any fallacy, it is leading to wrong result. Modern economy has changed significantly since times of lets say Adam Smith. The three main factors are still the same though their weight have changed big time - labor is still important factor but I think it have lost its role to capital. In modern times these are machines and know-how that make domestic product not human labor. Capital is cheaper than ever and know-hows are made by few individuals not vast masses. Hence, my point is that loss of labor doesn't necessary lead to taxflow decrease, especially if we have such a low base as we do now.
(ii) This point is left with no supporting argument. Public debt will increase? Maybe. But maybe not. Mr. Dombrovsky haven't gave a single argument in favor of such conclusion. I'd say that prognosis that would say that our economy will follow European trend and get out of gutter it's it is as much as justifiable as one provided by author of post. Still this is not the only fallacy of this premise - most of the Europe have public debt at around 60% of GDP. Are they moving to apocalypsys, are they on a verge of disaster? I think not! What makes author think that even if this prognosis is correct it leads to dramatic conclusions in our case and still leaves rest of Europe on safe ground? Hence this is pure speculation!
(iii) (outward) migration is defiantly a problem, even though this process is not without good consequences (as most of bad things) - those who have left are a result of negative selection; those who are capable of adjusting their actions to changed environment and are capable of sustaining proper income level with all the mess crisis have brought are a lot less likely to leave. My conclusion is that if we take economic factors to be cateris paribus, outward immigration will be halting of lets say it should logically slow down. Because of argument provided before. All those who where not capable of sustaining them selves are long gone to better places, like UK.

Mr. Dombrovky, you are not thinking like Russian, and second generation to which you belong doesn't excuse you. You are as pessimistic as typical Latvian, at least as pessimistic as typical Latvian is in hes public appearances. I don't know why and I have never it but being pessimistic in public is our national sport and when I use word 'national' I mean 'the nation of Latvia' (which includes all nationalities).

Inward immigration is not an issue to discuss, it will never happen, there is not a single chance for it to happen in foreseeable future. First of all because criteria you listed are almost the same as for any country which welcomes immigration (group to which many Western countries belong). I suspect there is not much we can do due to EU regulations to make immigration to Latvia a lot less easyer than to any other EU country. Anyhow, welcome to panicers club Mr. Dombrovsky. Though I have no idea, I haven't followed your activities - maybe you are doing this for a long time.

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Ethnic Latvian 10.06.2010 22:30
Slava, thanks for the blog, but on the national card I would not support it. I'll rather stick with me having to work my ass-off till late 70s :)

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Jandžs 10.06.2010 13:14
Dombrovskis: No, you do not know me, but naked sociological engineering advocates are fairly transparent.

R:The RRRunning dead carry their heads under arm very confidently, except when they have to jump the first ditch the head falls down and the body runs smack dab into a tree.

A NOT-VOTE does more than swallowing air ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem....

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R 10.06.2010 12:04
sure, point well-spotted

well, inedeed; the thing is, however, that in the absence of points 1-3 all those bloody well educated fresh graduates will run away from the country as soon as possible (and even take their latvian spouses with them!). not to mention the mundane issues of financing those high education standards.
on a side note, you clearly decided to ignore the most important part of my question: what of 1-5 (thanks to B) latvia has, or will have in the nearest future? the reason for me to ask about the short-run is that judging from the current tendencies the country is not likely to have any long-run at all.

oh(mfg), what a pathos. 'the future as I see it is ... in becoming undead'. this clearly deserves to be put on a brass plate as an instruction for all the future generations to come. awesome, really. i can even see a long line of undeads (btw, what is your preferred specie: zombies, ghouls, ghosts, or vampires?) steering the ship of society, towards negative freedom. full speed backwards.

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V Dombrovsky 10.06.2010 12:04
--> Jandžs


Do I know you?

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Jandžs 10.06.2010 11:30
Dombrovskis. Indeed, the implicit cynicism of your blog presents itself as that of hubris from above, imigration imposed (engineered) on the nation from above in the service of a fantasy empire (the EU?) that does not function, at least not very well. The dysfunctional super centralized government of the U.S. (states rights in abeyance) is not a good example to follow, but you appear to favor going along.

As for 'Negative freedom', it is nothing new or a "what ever it is" as you say. You can hear the words mentioned often in an excellent BBC series call "The Trap" available on YouTube It may not be part of parlance in Latvian academia, but it is not a stranger elsewhere.

My gut reaction to your blog is that of one who has had enough of Domburs Show anti-populist cabal and your participation in it as one who more or less seconds the ad hominem (empty) discussions there. The anti-populist stance of Latvian politicians, social engineers, economists, etc., evokes an ad hominem reaction in many because it treats the concept of community borishly, contemptuously, and ad hominem-like. Of course, ad hominem arguments lead nowhere, on the other hand when one becomes conscious of having fallen into that trap, one may at least not-vote as I repeatedly suggest people do.

As to "negative freedom", I will quote from Paul Virilio's book "Negative Horizon" as I believe it addresses your negativism toward the community. The quote from Part V, The Politics of Disappearance, 1st paragraph:

"If in the past the first political act consisted in making the form of the city apparent at the same time as the figure of citizenship, and this was the underlying meaning of the rites of foundation and the rites of autochthony in the ancient civic space, it seems that we are now witnessing the premises of a fundamental reversal: it is no longer a question of forming 'autochthonous' (i.e., native) citizens along with foreigns coming from whatever sort of synechism, as was the case in the Athenian city, but rather a process of leading to the disapparance of citizenship by transforming the residents into 'foreigners within', a new sort of untouchable, in the transpolitical and anational state where the living are nothing more than 'living dead' in permanent deferment."

That being said, the future as I see it is not in more of the past, but in breaking out in new directions, in becoming undead. The advocates of "negative freedom" (conspicuous consumption and advocating more of it is one such negative freedom) are steering the ship of society and all its communities with all the ships propellers going full speed backward.

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V Dombrovsky 09.06.2010 15:11
In no particular order:

-> Jandžs
Thanks for the contribution, but I am afraid I didn't catch most of what you were trying to say, except that I am guilty of "negative freedom", whatever it is. I think you need to work on making more clear points, unless all you want to do is to express your dislike for someone or for what this someone is saying. If it's the latter, it can be done using fewer words

-> Rainis
I don't think that advocating ethnic quotas makes me a rascist as long as I argue for the same quota for each ethnic group, or alternatively, use a clear and non-discriminating rule for determining these quotas.

-> B
On a related note , I don't know what EU has to say about this. But I think U.S. and Canadan (and maybe others) have immigration policies that work in similar ways. Say, this green card lottery - I think it attaches points also based on your ethnicity - all in the name of ensuring "ethnic diversity", which is essentially the same thing that I am saying.
On too-large diasporas, I might be exaggerating, of course, but larger ethnic groups do find it much easier to be self-sufficient and, therefore, are less likely to be interested in what you might loosely term 'integration'. I think that's what you see in most countries with large ehtnic minorities, even though I am no expert on that subject.

-> R
I think higher education would matter a lot more than your points 1-3 for someone who is 18-22 years old, has secondary education, and wants to obtain higher education. That's the main point.

-> G.D.

Well, I wrote "Sweden uses English as a semi-official language", didn't I? In other words, nearly every Swede speaks very decent English, even though English is not an "official" language.

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Mareks 09.06.2010 12:27
The author is a bit naive about a smart regulation of migration. All policies no matter how carefully implemented have unintended consequencies. Some commentators already pointed out to the consequencies of the imposition of "ethnic quotas". The weakness of the argument lies also in the assumption that social processes that increasingly become "globalized" can be somehow managed and controlled. Latvia is too small, too interconnected and too open to have its own "migration" policies.
The solutions to the aforementioned problems are rather unsexy and tedious. Education, education and even more education of Latvian people in order to raise their productivity.

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Kalvis => G.D. 09.06.2010 10:33
>>> Viena svariga noteikti ir taa, ka, pateicoties 50/50 dalijumam, Latvijaa konkurence kaa uz krievu, taa latvieshu politiskaas skatuves ir visai ierobezhota. Vel svarigaka lieta ir valodu ietekmes jautajums. Latvijaa reali ir bilingvalisms (LAT/RUS), Igaunijaa taa nav: seriali pa TV iet angliski.
Dalījums jau nav 50/50. Krievu valodu par dzimto uzskata 35-40% iedzīvotāju. Latvijas pilsoņu vidū vēl mazāk - ap 25%. Televīzija savukārt ir konservatīvs bizness - viņi raida to, ko ir lētāk dabūt, pie kā klausītāji ir pieraduši. Un, protams, viņiem neviens neuzliek par pienākumu kaut vai subtitrus pievienot latviski. Tās ir pirmkārt mūsu TV lobija darbības izpausmes (kas ir izdevīgi Ēķim un citiem), nevis tikai sabiedrības bilingvisma izpausme.

Telemarketinga cilvēki varbūt ar saviem mērījumiem to var apstrīdēt, bet izskatās, ka krievu seriālu un filmu mērķauditorijas ievērojama daļa ir latvieši. Kad tie latvieši, kuri labi prot krieviski (kam tagad ir 35+ gadi) nonāks līdz pensijas gadiem, tad varbūt situācija mainīsies.

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G.D. 09.06.2010 03:26
Lielakoties vareetu piekrist. Tikai secinajumi pedejaa rindkopaa, nav skaidrs, kaa ieguti. Cik atceros, empiriski petijumi norada taisni uz to, ka bilingvalas sabiedribas parasti ir atpalikushas. Pat sheit mineetais pozitivais piemers: Singapuura, cik pavirshi esmu lasijis avizes, parasti tiek mineets kaa preteejs piemeers - kaa sabiedriba, kas ir ekstremi segregeeta. Iistenibaa pasaulee nav atrodams neviens veiksmigas (partikushas un ne-segrageetas) bilingualas sabiedribas piemers. UK, US nemaz nav verts piemineet - taas ir izteikti vienvalodas sabiedribas (ok, ASV varbut vairs nav). Tas pats attiecas uz piemineeto Zviedriju, kura arii ir izteikti monolingvaala (Latvija noteikti ir vairak bilinguala nekaa Zviedrija). Nezinu, kur autors ir ieverojis otru valsts valodu - varbut vajag pameginat kaadaa iestaadee kaut ko izdarit angliski. Anglju valoda protams var noderet sarunajoties ar citiem AEiropas stradniekiem...

Protams, valodu izmantojums zinatniskaa videe ir pavisam cits jautajums - tur autoram taisniiba.

Tachu sabiedriibai kopumaa bilingvalisms man liekas, noved pie segregacijas un, kaa rezultats, pie politiskaas degeneracijas. Nav taalu jameklee piemeri. Ir verts apsvert, kadas ir atskiribas starp LV un EST. Viena svariga noteikti ir taa, ka, pateicoties 50/50 dalijumam, Latvijaa konkurence kaa uz krievu, taa latvieshu politiskaas skatuves ir visai ierobezhota. Vel svarigaka lieta ir valodu ietekmes jautajums. Latvijaa reali ir bilingvalisms (LAT/RUS), Igaunijaa taa nav: seriali pa TV iet angliski. Brave hearts dereetu apsvert, cik Latvijas situacija ir labveliga attistibai, it seviski, ja (tikai drosmiigie lai lasa talak :)) njemam veeraa, ka potenciali pozitiva zinatniskaa/tehnbologiju ietekme visdrizak shajaa geografiskajaa vietaa tuvaakajos 100 gados var nakt, pirmkart un galvenokaart, no Vacijas, un otrkaart, no ASV.

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Jandžs 09.06.2010 00:03
Re: Observer. I proposed using English as the lingua franca back in 1991. I know of only one positive response to that suggestion. The deafness of the Latvian government made my local "cultur worker" (kultūras darbiniece) study German. However, English is rapidly gaining ground both as lingua franca to those working in Norway, for example, as well as those living in Ireland and England. The Latvians now converse with Lithuanians and Poles more readily in English than Russian.

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B 08.06.2010 19:31
To R:

I'd also add 5: an open-minded host population. As of now, I really would not want to be a Black or an Asian in Latvia.

Then again, do you really need a good social security system? After all, you probably want to attract people who would work.

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B 08.06.2010 19:24
On ethnic quotas though - would they even be legal under domestic or EU law? And why would large diasporas necessarily be shut out and criminalised - we already have a huge Russian diaspora and things have largely gone OK so far.

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B 08.06.2010 19:22
Not to mention that migrants bring in a lot of intangible things, like culture or language, which on the balance improves both the quality (diversity) of life and the human capital of the host population. The last big migration wave has forced everyone to learn Russian; the new one can encourage people to learn English (or Chinese, etc). This would be a good thing; and yes, I know this is not the most popular idea in Latvia.

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Observer 08.06.2010 14:54
It's ignorant to compare Latvian language situation (and policy) with Singapore. Though I agree that in a case of a well-planned strategy ENGLISH (not Russian) could and even should be used as a mediating lingua franca. Latin, of course, would be better but let's be realists, right?

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KasparM 08.06.2010 13:41
As for the language issues I am sure that both Latvian and Russian will remain important languages in Latvia for a long time. Those who argue that "Latvian is the only official language" deflects the reality. However, English will also become more important and popular.

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R 08.06.2010 13:21
from the migrants' perspective for a country (spherical in vacuum) to be attractive there are a few important features to consider:
1. rich (and rapidly expanding) labour market, aka 'land of opportunity', at least in some spheres
2. social security system, aka 'welcome to sweden'
3. broad language base, i.e. official language of the country spoken by large number of people around the world, aka 'low transaction costs'
4. and only then goes good education system

even though i generally support your point about migration, it would be really nice if you could point out what of these features latvia possesses now, or, given current political and economic situation, is likely to have in the nearest future. without that, as the story goes, it could actually be better to 'rent out latvia and move to estonia'.

and, yeah, you'll be accused in heresy each time you'd try to offer setting up 4 official language

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Jandžs 08.06.2010 13:16
Though agewise I am far older than Dombrovskis, I believe his post is not only cynical, but it is cynical, because it has no respect for community, and for this reason rather old and out of date as a provider of "solutions".

If the breakdown or community began with the industrial age, we are now living in the post-breakdown age. There is no longer any glue that holds communities together, because economists, politicians, behavioral psychologists, etc. now "engineer" first the breakdown and demoralization of community, then bring in their business to a dumbed down proletariat (and middle class), and then throw up their hands, call human nature "evil", and prove themselves dumbed down as well. We can see the dumbed down oligarch syndrome in the likes of leaders of LPP, TP, LZZ et al. I would suggest that for an overview of what ails the post-modern world is very nicely presented by the BBC series called "The Trap". I believe that it would show Dombrovskis as cheerleader for "negative freedom" and import of "democracy" even if it means burning the heretics en masse.

It is interesting that Dombrovskis begins his post by talking about "migration" policies of the EU, rather than the emigration problem of Latvia. From a community's point of view this loss of probably 200,000 people is fatal to Latvia as a sovereign community, but very advantageous for the oligarchs of Visu Labu Latvijai. With the de facto loss of sovereignty, it becomes easy to part with the fundament, jack up the house, and blow sand by way of new imigrants into the basement as well as into the old community's eyes, and Ole!

I partially agree with Dombrovskis implicit premise that sovereignty is gone. Still, its "goneness" has not yet been fully tested. The confidence of the neo-conservative tyranny bases itself on a presumption that past success will continue to repeat itself. I would be less sanguine about that. Latvia is very much a country for which "migration" (emigration) means a catastrophe, and the people (oh, that most hated of words by oligarchs and the Latvian media, re Populism) may yet seek ways of either reconstituting their community by demanding that their room in the house is their room and not anyone elses. Or there are mitigating and softer ways of experiencing a catastrophe so elegantly brought to us by Harvard University and continued by our local geniuses.

The current political and economic leadership is based on what I call the "blue cow" syndrome. It owes much to the blue cows of the Soviet Union being replaced by a new blue cow elite of both Russian and Latvian origins. Dumbing down of the people by negative freedom, thus enabling them to better enjoy conspicuous consumption, which unfortunately leads to having to eat earth to survive is very much to the advantage of the blue cows of Latvia. Though they also will die eventually, they believe that it is their children or grandchildren who will do the dying for them.

The issue of Latvians vs Russians is a fake one, but one that benefits the blue cows. It enables corruption to take place before everyone's eyes, but Latvians dare not say anything, because fear monders suggest that then the Latvian Russians will take over or the Latvian Latvians will start a civil war. Of course, the ethnic conflict may tone down because "if Russial will continue to do better than Latvia, it means that we will not be able to get many Russian immigrants". Dombrovskis tells us all this as a "second generation migrant".

Interestingly, Dombrovskis, an economist, has the same problem that Latvian politicians have: he has no ideas of how to and by what means to facilitate the building up of capital. By all appearances, he, like most everyone in Latvia, is so constipated by positivist ethics that he has no idea of how to bring up the economic level of the people of Latvia to the point that they will be able to afford dental care.

My suggestion of how to improve the situation in Latvia is to advocate not-voting as the first step. While there is great risk in it, we are now living the results of risks brought to us by Harvard economists in cohoots with the Chicago school of Latvianism, which opposes SC with Vienotība.

To end, let me just say that a Latvian community, both today and tomorrow, means Latvians of all origins (my paternal dna links me with Croatia about ten generations ago, while from my mother's side it is both Russian and Tatar) have to build themselves a Latvian community. Else, Dombrovskis will bring us so much stomach turning "inward (EU?) migration" that democracy, community, freedom, dignified work, the present and the future will all go down the same tube.

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PK 08.06.2010 12:33
So who do you think is going to pay for the great educational opportunities in Latvia? Already a lot of [not only young] people including underpaid teachers have left the country.
And with most of the smart guys gone, as an economist what do you think, what services/products will Latvia be able to export, is there at least a hint of an understand how the huge debt will be repaid?

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KasparM 08.06.2010 09:38
This is a reasonable assessment that assumes that the basic factors (aging, outward migration) are unavoidable. On the other hand the secondary factors most probably will not remain the same for the period of 20-30 years.

1) The importance of nationalistic issues will decrease. In internal politics already the trend is that ethnicity becomes less important.

Kalvis is right that the necessity (not the inability) to speak Russian is discomforting for the current generation of Latvians. But will it matter for a new generation? I don't think so because mostly they will not be able speak Russian at all so they won't care. Even the current 30 yrs old Latvians often speak very poor Russian. They often overestimate their Russian skills so their discomfort is more linguistic than psychological.

It leads to the next issue that English will become more popular even among different Latvian citizens.

2) Russians won’t be so eager to move to Latvia anymore. At this moment Russian economy is stronger than ours. It is hard to predict but if despite political issues Russia will continue to do better than Latvia it means that we will not be able to get many Russian immigrants. At least not the best stock anyway. Demographically Russia will have the same issues as Latvia but they will have more internal migration from provinces to affluent centers like Moscow etc.

It is also a big possibility that in 5 or 10 years Russians will have visa free travel the EU.

3) The internal politics of the EU. Hard to predict but if the unification process of the EU continues, there is a possibility of a single EU wide immigration policy. Probably with many exclusions and moratoriums for many years but basically the immigration policy will be decided by Brussels.

In short, we should be ready for Asian and African immigrants in any case.

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Rainis 08.06.2010 02:23
gan sajaa gan iepriekseejaa blogaa mani paarsteidz abu autoru atklaatais rasisms: mees negibam kjinieshus un afrikaanjus taapeec ka negribam

tikai daargie draugi skjiet ka Kjinna ir kljuvusi par 2. lielaako pasaules ekonomiju...

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Kalvis 07.06.2010 19:57
>>> There is a trade-off that Latvians must understand: preserving a status-quo will have a price in terms of higher taxes or lower social spending, and/or public goods.
I'm all in favor of further reduction of social spending and public goods. Any function of the state that is not absolutely necessary has to be reconsidered. Yes, that means our "ombud" (Tiesībsarga birojs). It's not good for our political elite to be like the nobles at the time of Ekaterina II (Russia of 18th century) -- namely, to use corporal punishment against serfs, and meanwhile have high dreams about Voltaire and enlightenment.

Other extravagant spending (such as most of what Ministry of Culture is doing) has to go. Wasteful bureaucracy in medicine, state and local governments has to be cut. Social benefits have to be reduced to the bare minimum. Age of retirement should gradually be raised towards 70 years...

>>> Language laws that don't permit studies in languages other than Latvian need to go as well.
At the first glance this sounds nice. Perhaps I or other instructors could learn English, and we could adapt. But the current demand mostly concerns education in Russian rather than English. And that is not going to change anytime soon. Should we allow Latvian and English to the exclusion of any other language? If we can guarantee that nobody raises the issue of language discrimination, this would be fine... But I suspect that inevitably the problem with Russian language will appear.

Which also is sort of OK - I could speak Russian with anyone who is descendant of the native born citizens of Latvia. But I'm not ready to speak Russian with those who arrived to our country after the WW2 - because they should have learned Latvian and adapt to our local laws and customs. And how should I distinguish between the two groups of people? I do not see an easy solution.

Being multilingual in order to lead better lives would be all very nice. But if that multi-culturalism was introduced by the crimes of Josif Stalin, then it is safer to stick with what we have right now. I do not want to be complicit with these crimes commited 60-70 years ago less we once again become slaves of the grand-sons of the officers of NKVD.

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