Tuesday, September 1, 2015

An Evening of Immigration News and Chat

ARD (Germany's state-run Channel One) had two immigrant/refugee pieces on last night in the prime-time period.

They ran with a "Panorama" special at 8:15, which lasted roughly 45 minutes.  It was a wide collection of information bytes.

At one point, the journalists wanted everyone to know that Merkel's handling of the 2008 banking crisis.....to save the German banks....had cost X amount, and presently....with the immigration crisis in Germany was getting 1/28th of the banking amount.  It was hard to figure how the two connected or how they related in terms of money.....except the journalist wanted some massive funding increase to please their view of the situation.  The banking crisis in 2008...was solved by stabilizing a number banks and keeping the German economy surviving intact.  You can't really compare the two situations.

At another point, they brought up a video clip of a CDU political figure talking about empty houses and apartments throughout various regions of Germany.....with fancy graphics in the background.  It is basically true.....several 'counties' in eastern Germany and to a lesser extent in the western side.....have significant numbers of empty apartments.  The area around Pirmasens (not far from Kaiserslatuern) has roughly ten-percent empty houses/apartments. It'd be very easy to move people in.....but would the landlords fall into line and accept a situation like this?  The odd thing which the journalists left out?  All of these areas with high empty house/apartment situations.....have significant unemployment.  So, if you moved these people into these areas.....they'd have shelter, but probably never find employment.

They did a credible piece showing the complex nature of planning and executing a tent city.  As the German lady explained her exhausting episode.....it will come together but it's not a simple task.  She had to deal with at least twenty different people who are part of the construction and installation team, and they weren't all grasping their part in the episode which ought to normally take months and had to be done in a matter of days.

At some point, they put up the fencing situation....showing video of refugees overcoming the fence.  I admit....the fence was simply a simple and the guys who designed it.....probably knew that a guy with wire-cutters could beat the system.  Then the journalists spoke up on the bordering countries and their discussions to put up fences....showing a graphic with a minimum of eight different borders....all possibly having fences in the future.

So, this show came to an end, then a Hart Aber Fair episode started up....with a live political discussion panel.  You ended up with three pro-immigration enthusiasts, one journalist, and the CSU Bavaria Interior Minister (who wasn't anti-immigrant but he questions where all this is leading onto).

For one of the topics....they finally reached the economic refugee question.....noting that it's less than one-percent of these people who get approved to stay.  They carefully avoided to say the number (like for example of the 450,000-odd in 2014) that ended up being sent out.

If you knew of the 500,000 in the first six months of 2015.....there were only 200,000 that were going to be allowed to stay, it'd probably make a difference on public perception.  But they don't put these numbers out there, and you have to wonder why.  They will only say that a significant number of refugees are economic situations.

The more amusing piece of the show came up when they found a university professor who was an expert on personal conflicts and showed him X number of video clips with anti-immigration or anti-refugee Germans commenting.  He rendered a couple of opinions on why people act 'scared' or 'feel threatened'.  I thought they could have brought an ethics professor onto the show at that point and note that people are entitled to their opinion....even if journalists or political figures attempt to intimidate or challenge them.

At the end of this whole two-hour evening, I sat and pondered upon this reality.  ARD isn't exactly the network where most 18-to-45 year old Germans watch..  Most Germans aren't thrilled by news related shows and it's a rare thing that they flip over to such a programming evening.  So out of eighty million Germans.....how many ended up watching the full two hours?  I have doubts that it goes past two million viewers.  If you were anti-immigrant or anti-refugee....you probably flipped the channel after fifteen minutes because you disagree with the whole thing.

It reminded me of a social setting where you reinforce the perception of the attendees with the goal of the organization.  Two full hours of enthusiasm and news set to an agenda.

What was missing at the end of the evening?  They generally talk over 2015 and the past.  No one says a word about 2016.  You reach a point where you start to ask....where is the point where numbers go back to 100,000 to 200,000 a year?  What if larger numbers of people see the open-door situation and make a decision in September to pack up and make the trail to Germany?   Could the Germans handle 1.5 million refugees in 2016?  It's difficult to say.  All of this.....is fluid, and you can't predict much of anything or anticipate the end of the crisis.

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