Djcnor’s Weblog

Oh, the Native and the Foreigner Should Be Friends

Posted on: January 31, 2009

All the newspapers are talking about the people in all the nations that had been doing so well and now aren’t rising up and demanding that what jobs are left should go to natives.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article5625922.ece

http://www.calgaryherald.com/Technology/story.html?id=1139722

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jan/31/global-recession-europe-protests

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/30/content_10736303.htm

I could go on.

As an past foreign worker (and an aspiring foreign worker), let me disagree. Most people will not have the experience of going to a foreign land and working and living there for a long period of time. But if you really want to understand the character of a country, that’s what’s needed. If you want to understand another country, either go there and work (because otherwise, however long you stay, you’re basically a tourist), or stay home and get to know the people from that country who come to live and work in yours. Either way, that’s how real understanding between people of different countries happens.

Cutting off your country from foreign workers fosters misunderstanding, misunderstanding of the foreign country by your own citizens and misunderstand of your own country by the foreign country. Separation builds misunderstanding. We all know that. It happens in families and between very good friends that are separated.

I wish I had the data on which countries have the largest percentages of their citizens living outside the country. If anyone knows where I can find that information, I would greatly appreciate help.

Here’s one source:

http://www.expatica.com/hr/story/Reporting-on-global-relocation-trends-in-2008.html

This source seems to be considering exclusively expat employees of international companies, folks sent elsewhere on a job assignment by the company they work for anyhow. Think. Are you against this kind of foreign worker? That job would exist, it would just be elsewhere, and the money spent by that employee would be spent elsewhere. Surely there’s a reason for having an expat in the job, rather than a native. There must be, or the company wouldn’t go to the added expense of moving someone in.

More to the point, consider this:

http://www.offshore.hsbc.com/1/2/expatsurvey

which is a survey of expats concerning which places are easiest to make friends in, which are the easiest to live in, which are overall the best. Yes, the US comes out high and the UK, where I am, comes out low.

The first world nations have profited for a long time from the lower prices for good produced by workers whose conditions they would not like to think about. They’ve also profited by people from those same countries coming and working the worst jobs for little pay. Now, they suddenly want those jobs and want the foreigners out.

Out to where? Considering they aren’t paid enough to be able to afford to ship themselves and their accumulated goods home? And have the first worlders checked what’s going on in the home countries yet? It may be that the foreigners would be quite willing to go home. The Poles are leaving Britain. It seems that Poland will be one of the few European countries essentially untouched by the economic crisis. It seems to me that before the rich countries start claiming all their local jobs for natives, they had better think ahead and consider that if things continue on their present course, it may be their people that will be wanting to go work in Poland rather than the other way around. And if Poles are made to feel unwelcome in those “richer” countries, you can bet that natives of those “richer” countries will be made to feel unwelcome in Poland. Welcomes are reciprocal. So are “unwelcomes”. And conditions never remain the same for as long as people expect them to.

Before western nations tighten their grip on expats from elsewhere, they should check how many of their own are expats elsewhere. Which countries’ people are more likely to have the money and skills required for to move themselves and their goods to another country?

Me, I’d erase all borders. There’s hardly a one that doesn’t cause more troubles than it solves. When it comes right down to it, there’s no justification for one person’s life to be more limited than that of another person’s simply because of which side of an artificial line they were born on. But that’s just my opinion.

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2 Responses to "Oh, the Native and the Foreigner Should Be Friends"

You make some really valid points here. I hadn’t thought about your point of why an expat would be in a particular job, as opposed to a local, when it is clearly more expensive. I also liked your point about expats spending their salary in the country where they are living, and boosing local economies by doing so.

Expat 21
“Expat Abroad” in North Africa
expat21.wordpress.com

Hi, expat21,
Sorry I took so long to approve you comment. I’ve been out all day on an interview, which I suspect was unsuccessful, but so it goes.I’ll look in on your blog because I have a feeling we’ll have some intersting observations to share with one another.

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