I marvel at modern technology and innovation. You can have a unique item with a broken part. You need a diagram to explain how to take apart the device.....so you find one that some retired guy from Boston put online. You need the part? Some Chinese guy named Wang makes the parts which went out of stock more than fifty years ago. Wang sells it to you and has it shipped, and it arrives in four days.
TripAdvisor? I marvel at it. You want details on some town in a place you've never been....then you type in the name and find the hotels, bars, restaurants, sites, and travel information. It's shared to you by thousands.....for nothing. Suddenly, something that was utterly complicated two decades ago....is simply and easy.
Last night, in the midst of a German refugee update piece.....the German reporters got onto this unique topic. They had discovered this entire web site with all kinda of TripAdvisor-like advice for a guy wanted to make the trip from the edge of Turkey.....all the way into Germany. Marvelous, would be the best term to use.
You wake up....make your decision on leaving X, and all you really need is a backpack, some basic camping gear (tent), a compass, and a smart-phone.
You cross the border and arrive on day one in Greece. There from the refugee-TripAdvisor-like site is the note on the first town you come to. There's a bakery and a recommendation to pick up bread and some water bottles there. It advises you on a taxi on this street where the guy will take you to the major long-haul bus station for X-amount of Euro. You arrive there and it recommends bus X to get you to the northern border.
Rest stops are noted, along with warnings of who to trust or who to avoid.
Train stations? They will note the name, the restroom situation, and places to buy cheap food.
Border checkpoints? It'll advise on where to cross and who to avoid.
I sat in amazement and watched the simplicity of this refugee site. Any idiot could use the information and make the whole trip in ease.
My humble guess....if I wanted to spend money and ride most of the way.....I could make the trip in fifteen days easily.....walking maybe ten-percent of the whole trip. If I went the hard way.....walking maybe half of the whole trip......maybe four weeks.
Here's the thing....it's out in the open for millions to view. A cousin comes over to your place tonight and you weren't eager to leave your homeland but he talks you into it because of various emails he's gotten from friends. You gather up some cash from friends and relatives, and make the expedition.
If I were in the top levels of the German circle.....I'd be looking at this refugee-TripAdvisor-like site and contemplating the big-picture. I'd be worried. Everyone.....from Pakistan to Burma....can review the details and figure out a way to get on a freighter or aircraft, and somehow make it to Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey. From there.....you just walk on over. Same deal in Africa.....thousands of people could review the travel details and grasp the simplicity of this epic journey.
For 2016? You could be looking at 1.5 million to 3 million people trying to make the journey. There could be forty or fifty different cultures or nationalities.....looking for entry.
I was sitting and gazing over the Wall Street Journal today.....indepth article over Chancellor Merkel and her frustrations with bordering countries who aren't enforcing the rules. She wants them to stop refugees....register them in their country.....and thus face the consequences of handling them (paperwork , taking care of them, and doing their own support system). The EU over the past two decades have dissolved borders and no one has enthusiasm to bring them back.....but Chancellor is making the threat that if countries can't enforce the rules.....border control will be reestablished.
I can remember the 1970s and 1980s when you crossed the border into Germany. You hit a station and the border control guys would either wave you through or make you go through passport control. It could be a 30-second experience or five-minute experience. Lines would form up on Friday afternoon or Sunday evening as you were entering a country. All that went away as the EU came along.
The old border control stations? Well....most sit there....empty....just sitting there....gathering dust. If the Chancellor gave the order.....they probably could open every single station within a matter of a week. But there's the odd problem.....all of the border control and customs folks....have been removed and sent onto new functions. They aren't in place and the new functions would suffer greatly if these folks had to go back passport control and border protection. Thousands of new hires? Probably so.
Even if the border control went back into effect.....how many thousands of refugees would walk around the border each week? Some guy would figure out a new angle and put the deal up on the refugee-TripAdvisor-like site. As fast as they put it up....the border guys would try to figure a new gimmick. Back and forth....like a chess match.
As the German frustration level starts to rise with neighboring countries.....they can simply sit there and act innocent. The EU in some ways....will find that the border and refugee crisis requires some kind of solution which is impossible to create and accept across all partners.