In October the wife and I traveled to Rome and the archaeological sites Pompeii and Herculaneum outside of Naples. From our arrival through our departure the evidence that everyday Italians were paying the social costs for German chancellor Angela Merkel’s Open Immigration policy was everywhere. Italians couldn’t strike back at Merkel, so yesterday they avenged themselves on their prime minister, Matteo Renzi, by defeating his signature referendum to streamline Italian government. Judging by what we saw there I’m not surprised.
After landing we caught a taxi from Rome’s airport to the center of Rome to visit the remnants of Nero’s palace, the Domos Aurea. The entrance to the site is very hard to find, and the palace had been demolished by later emperors, leaving most of it under tens of feet of dirt the top of which is currently a city park. Even at noon the park had an edge to it with camps set up full of migrants, groups of mostly African and Middle Eastern men too poor to have a job or place to live but somehow wealthy enough to have smartphones.
The park stank of feces and urine, and the only people who crossed through it were like us – lost tourists searching for the entrance to the Domos Aurea. The Wife and I were exhausted but unafraid, and after finding the entrance to the Palace and buying tickets, we had to kill about 45 minutes, so we found a bench in the park. The park had once been nice but like so much of Rome had fallen into to disrepair and abuse. Some groups of migrants hung clothes on lines strung between trees. Others paced back and forth on the broken sidewalks, chatting on their smartphones. Still more slept beneath tarps on benches, their clothing and other odd possessions in plastic bags by their heads.
It was clear the migrant problem had gotten worse in the year since our last visit. We saw similar scenes elsewhere in Rome and Naples at train stations and city parks. Groups of people aren’t the problem. Groups of idle men, on the other hand, are. Given the crumbling infrastructure of Italy there’s plenty to do, so would it be a human rights violation to give these groups of idle men rollers and buckets of paint to cover the graffiti which seems to appear on anything that’s stationary more than a few minutes?
Italy hasn’t been wealthy since the collapse of the Roman Empire, and even then 95% of the population lived at starvation level. You can’t settle hundreds of thousands of economic migrants into a country that struggles to create wealth for its own people. I’m always amazed when people I consider smart who claim to understand basic supply and demand economics suddenly get stupid when those same economic theories are applied to the labor market. If one day the price of bananas is $.50 a pound and the next day you flood the market with double the amount of bananas, the price is going to go down. Increased supply doesn’t boost demand, and chances are you’re going to have a lot of rotting bananas on your hands.
Italy is full of men without anything to do who have to be supported by Italians. Italians are decent people as most Europeans are, and they want to help, but the EU has not only imported these men, it has made it nearly impossible to create the jobs necessary to support them. So it’s left to the Italians to take care of them.
This is a situation we see happening in the US. Liberal politicians who call anyone racist who dares suggest building a wall between Mexico and the United States live in gated communities in wealthy enclaves like Martha’s Vineyard and Beverly Hills. If Angela Merkel wants to support these migrants, she should take some off the streets of Rome and move them into her own apartment in Berlin. Similarly if Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren want to support illegal immigrants in our country, they can board them in their own homes instead of dumping on the streets of my county, one of the poorest in North Carolina. But liberals won’t do this, and are incapable of seeing their own hypocrisy.
Italian PM Renzi’s ideas for streamlining the Italian government were not in themselves bad. I’ve been told it takes 6 months just to get a Wifi connection set up in Rome. His mistake was to allow the plebiscite to become a vote on the EU. Italians are fed up with EU and so they used it to send a message to Brussels and Angela Merkel. That message was simply, Enough!