“Europe’s economy will soon be begging for every migrant” it says in the leading article of the Viennese “Presse” from December 28th. The chief economist of the Federation of Industrialists, Christian Helmenstein, sees a considerable shortage of skilled workers in the Alpine republic in the coming years. The demographic development actually speaks for it. The baby boomer generation is about to retire and cannot be adequately replaced by the numerically weaker cohorts of their successors.
It therefore makes sense to raise demands for increased immigration, as demography and migration experts like Rainer Münz have been doing for years. However, the question arises as to how exactly those people who are needed by the labor market and who will make a contribution to value creation can be attracted to the country on the river. A modern industrial nation like Austria is not served by illiterate and talented goatherds because they are useless for the domestic economy. Migration to the welfare system is as useful as a goiter.
As an aside, it should be noted that Japan is facing similar demographic problems as Europe, but is not responding with a forced immigration program, but with increased productivity. There is obviously no alternative to the import of labor for aging societies.
In any case, it is appropriate to ask the question of qualified immigration not exclusively from the internal perspective, but also from that of the potential new workers. There won’t be many more to be found within Europe. On the one hand, millions of qualified workers have emigrated from the economies of the former Eastern Bloc since 1989, and on the other hand, there are now attractive jobs in these countries. Potential immigration candidates will therefore have to be recruited outside of Europe.
The “lingua franca” of today is English. If anyone in Asia and Africa has mastered a foreign language, it is English. Austria is thus facing the first hurdle: How many Africans or Asians already have a command of German?
But there is an even bigger obstacle! We owe the following insight to Milton Friedman, 1976 Nobel laureate in economics: “You can have a welfare state and you can have free immigration. But you can’t have both at the same time. ” So it is: The welfare state exerts a magical attraction on the “wrong” migrants. The sad employment situation of those who have moved to Austria or “refugees” since 2015 speaks volumes. A good number of these people live on transfer payments and will continue to do so in the future. Because of the beautiful landscape, many of them didn’t come either. Not even because they are really keen to work on the blast furnace or on the construction site. Rather, it is the prospect of full provision free of charge that draws numerous immigrants to the Central European welfare paradises.
Intelligent, well-educated Africans or Asians who do not see any professional prospects at home and are therefore planning to build up an existence elsewhere are faced with the following alternatives: Either they go to a European welfare state like Austria, where they donate more than half of their income to the tax authorities forced to deliver and treated like underage children by politicians; or they emigrate to one of the classic immigration countries (USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand), where they are not offered lavish social benefits, but – thanks to significantly lower taxes and duties – they have the opportunity to acquire a fortune on their own , but at least to build a middle-class existence.
The answer to the question of where the more capable migrants are going in these circumstances is obvious. Where achievement is punished, but the right to be lazy is raised to the raison d’être, one need not be surprised at a shortage of qualified immigrants. Milton Friedman recognized it decades ago: The welfare state is the root of all evil.