Tag Archives: European Union

Hating Immigrants is the Wild Card in the Electoral Deck

immigration_2280507bNew Orleans   Wow! It must have suddenly become hate-on-an-immigrant day and Hallmark didn’t prepare any condolence cards for the rest of us. In one day the lives of immigrant millions of families were cast into limbo with the split, no-decision 4-4 polling of the Supreme Court and the 52-48 so-called Brexit vote for Great Britain to leave the European Union. President Obama called the Supreme Court split decision, “heartbreaking,” and said the upcoming election would determine “what kind of people we are.”

Meanwhile the United Kingdom showed what kind of people they were, and it was a bit brutish and left little doubt that immigration and the attendant freedom of mobility within the European Union was the wedge issue driving them out of the EU. As reported in the Times,

With net migration to Britain of 330,000 people in 2015, more than half of them from the European Union, Mr. Cameron had no effective response to how he could limit the influx. And there was no question that while the immigrants contributed more to the economy and to tax receipts than they cost, parts of Britain felt that its national identity was under assault and that the influx was putting substantial pressure on schools, health care and housing.

The campaign run by one of the loudest proponents of leaving, the U.K. Independence Party, flirted with xenophobia, nativism and what some of its critics considered racism. But the official, more mainstream Leave campaign also invoked immigration as an issue, and its slogan, “Take control,” resonated with voters who feel that the government is failing to regulate the inflow of people from Europe and beyond.

Prime Minister David Cameron will pay for the misjudgment and shortsightedness in calling the vote and the rejection at the polls with his job, offering his resignation after a couple of month’s transition to sort out the mess. There is pulling of hair and rending of clothes throughout Europe in trying to understand the “turning point,” the vote represents, but it is hard to see it as anything other than backwards. Scotland which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, is likely to press again for independence from the United Kingdom given this debacle.

Meanwhile in the United States the same mess is brewing. Trump of course said, “good for them,” joining the nativist on both sides of the Atlantic. Speaker Ryan who is becoming expert at the convoluted logic of politics claimed the no-decision was somehow a rejection by the Supreme Court of Obama’s executive authority around immigration, knowing that all of this awaits the appointment of a tie-breaking Justice in the hands of the next President. The Republicans once again proved how quickly tragedy can be converted into farce.

But what about the people, the immigrants themselves? The five million or more who were living on the bubble of this decision who were parents of citizens or children raised here, all of whom were hoping for some security and a path to the future? Advocates promised to mobilize, voter registration efforts were highlighted, but in the meantime, the “kind of people we are” will be the kind of people who break up families and deport record numbers of people from the United States, because our politics lacks both a heart and a backbone willing to make hard political decisions even when they are so clearly morally correct.


Want Privacy? Move to Europe

euro_internet_privacy_custom-8ee191296b311315d8f8271fcb0b6672f75ca820-s900-c85Pittsburgh   New internet privacy rules are emerging in Europe with the announcement that there will be one set of rules governing internet data for all 28 countries in the European Union. US companies are already crying like stuck pigs even though the rules do not take full effect for another two years and still have some procedural steps before being completely finalized.

The problems from the tech side: permissions and transparency. The EU rules would require individual user sign-off on every instance where a company wants to use your data. Period. In the USA consumers at best are asked for a blanket permission without knowing the what or wherefore, but increasingly knowing that ticking approval on the box means you can expect ads to follow interminably that try to align your interests and their products. In Europe conceivably you could simply say “no” to use of your data for advertising purposes, while in the USA the constant requests for sweeping approvals almost block usage of your phones and other tools unless you automatically consent. The outline of the new regulatory regime in Europe in this area indicates that penalties and fines for companies aren’t patty cake, but could range as high as “4% of global profit.” One corporate lawyer complained to the Wall Street Journal that ambiguous law and high fines were a “toxic” combination. The EU has their attention!

On the transparency side Europeans are about to learn how they are sorted by the algorithms used by the companies. That’s not to say they are going back office and seeing the code, but they will see the “baskets” and categories where they are grouped. And, they can complain about it and that should be interesting. Add the earlier right of Europeans to “disappear” or have data removed from Google, Yahoo, and the other search engines, and Europe isn’t just a different set of governments from the United States, it’s a whole different world.

Meanwhile Hillary Clinton, in a speech on security coinciding with the most recent Republican shout out, debate, or whatever they call it, pleaded with tech companies to play nicer with the government in the name of security, claiming the techies need to get over the Edward Snowden revelations. I imagine that she’s not asking for a real solution as much as a workaround, but in some way her speech also demonstrated the real difference on privacy and its regulation between Europe and the United States. In Europe the regulations flow from what the individual wants to governing corporate behavior. In the United States it runs the other way and what the corporations want from the individuals ends up in government regulations. There they are worried about individual rights. Here we are just sales figures on profit and loss columns, more data to be crunched, part of the garbage in and the garbage out.

This may be a case where compliance with EU regulations may end up having some benefits that wash over the shores on our side of the Atlantic.