‘Those jobs’ made Donald Trump President of the United States. ‘Those jobs’ inspired the Brexit. ‘Those jobs’ are the jobs fulfilled by people who have no other choice, and are disliked by the people who have a choice, unless during elections, when ‘those jobs’ seem to be precious common good. ‘Those jobs’ are one of our weakest elements, so let’s face it before, during, and after Corona.
‘They came and took our jobs,’ said people in the run up to Brexit. ‘I’ll give your jobs back’, said Donald Trump in the run up to the presidential elections. ‘I’ll create jobs’ said the Australian premier before getting elected. The same complaints and promises have been made by politicians all over the world in the run up to any election.
It is understandable, because a job is what people need in order to sustain themselves. And every time a crisis hits, jobs get lost.
The more fragile the economy, the more precious the jobs.
But a job isn’t a job. When they complain about people having taken their job, and the creation of jobs, we are often talking about a category of jobs that were left unfulfilled by locals anyways. Which is why governments have created this kind of migration schemes based on profession in the first place.
When Crisis Hits
As usual, this system works well in theory: it serves the migrant able to migrate, and it serves the host country able to fill in the professional gaps. However, when a crisis hits, the cracks in this system become clear. When a crisis hits, it turns out that this system is fragile, unsustainable, and leaves the migrants in an extreme vulnerable situation which can even endanger their lives.
It also leaves the host citizens upset, mad, and projecting their anger on these migrants.
In times of Corona, migrants were the ones left behind by government support, regardless the number of years, the amount of work, time and energy they had spent in their host country. In Australia, New-Zealanders who worked here longer than they had in New Zealand had to go to New Zealand to find support. In India, construction migrants preferred to choose walking hundreds of kilometres back to their town of origin, enduring the danger of starvation and physical hardship above the danger of Covid-19. They had no choice; they had no support.
Globally, these categories of migrants, who were good enough before crisis to fill the gaps in the job market, faced an inhuman fate. Reduced to the number on the migration lists, rather than the human being they are, they were sentenced to the goodwill of destiny or people around them; for some it meant sentenced to death.
Besides the economic hardship, they’ve faced discrimination and criminalisation. The non-local became the carrier of the virus; the thief of jobs; the source of the hard times.
Stripped of its humanity, the non-local became the enemy.
It is frightening to experience this dilemma, especially because we had it all seen before. Before World War II, Hitler choose the people to blame for the economic crisis of the 1930s, he pointed a scapegoat and created a horrible propaganda system to convince all people of his story.
The result is one of the most horrifying episodes of human history, one of the darkest times of humanity.
What happened during World War II is one of the most well-known and documented crises of humanity, but it is far from the only one. Throughout history, and still today, genocides are legitimated by leaders to solve the national problems, they justify the killing of certain groups of people for the overall well-being of the nation. Think about the killings by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the slaughter of Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, the increasing discrimination against Muslims in India in times of Corona, genocides on the Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar, and many more.
Closer home, is the spiking racism in the amidst of an economic crisis. Such as the financial crisis in 2008, the Covid-crisis nowadays, but as well crisis on smaller scale such as the overall rising unemployment rate that made British people voting to leave Europe, Americans voting for Trump, and influenced many other electoral behaviours. Moreover, it influenced interpersonal behaviour, such as people looking down on migrants, appointing them for having taken their jobs.
Every time a crisis hits, racism spikes. The scapegoating starts, and people get divided in us and them. It is frightening when one slides down in this kind of mindset and behaviour, but it is even more frightening when leaders use this rhetoric to score political points, or worse to distract people from the real problems. Especially with the above-mentioned dynamics of history.
Haven’t we learned?
However wrong and tremendously troublesome, this behaviour is understandable, since a crisis makes people afraid and reduces lives and thoughts to the certitude, the known, and familiar. However, closing hearts, doors and borders might feel safe when a crisis hits, but sooner or later we have to come out again and be part of the economic system we live at, which worked before because there were migrants filling in the jobs locals didn’t.
Therefore, out of this awareness and understanding, we shouldn’t start blaming and shaming, nor putting anyone in ivory towers, but what we should do is digging to the roots of the problem, and think two steps ahead, so we have our mindset ready today for the next crisis to come.
Before a crisis, we must address this fragility of the job migration systems, both for the migrants and for the locals. At one side we should acknowledge we have gaps in our job market, positions that are not filled without migration.
We can address this gap by either allowing migration (which can be skills we don’t have, or jobs we don’t want to do), or by adjusting our education system, so it creates the job profiles we need. In addition, we can adjust the job market by revaluing those jobs nobody wants, which should be both in terms of rewards as in terms of job content and working conditions. This revaluation will benefit both locals as migrants.
Now ‘those jobs’ become jobs people can do out of choice, and the people who do them out of need will feel respected and humanised.
In addition, not only people, but governments as well have to acknowledge the humanity, skills and value of the migrants they use to fill in the gaps. If they cannot take care of them during a crisis, they should think of adjusting their system before the crisis.
It is unfair to take someone’s skills, time, energy and effort in good times, but let them down in hard times.
If governments and people have understanding of this dynamic in the first place, and this reason and mechanism of job migration, they are strengthened during crisis, both the locals and non-locals, and they will protect themselves and others for the dangerous rhetoric that the migrants are the trouble makers. They’ll understand now that they are scape goats; to whom the fingers are pointed, so all eyes will follow, and be distracted from the real causes of the problem.
This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read
- How this too shall pass
- how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
- how you can contribute to this battle,
- how gratitude lights up the dark,
- how united we will stand strong
- on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis
- how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands,
- how being calm can get us through the storm.
- about Love in Times of Corona
- how to discover your own talents
- why we need stories to hold on to
- how you can be creative and innovative.
- how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
- how to listen to the sound of silence.
- How breath taking Corona really is.
- discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us,
- about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
- about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
- about the position of nature in this entire story
- about nature bouncing back
- about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
- about the game to play
- about star gazing in dark times
- About looking for Meaning
- About how Music Connects
- about what Easter and Corona have in Common
- About the Shark and the Turtle
- About the Irony of Distance
- Why to Hold on
- Fake News
- about The Big Unknown we live at
- about Feeling Alive
- About turning obstacles into opportunities
- about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life
- About where we should go from here?
- About coping with incertitude
- About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
- about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
- How one country could rule them all
- About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic
- about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
- about when the poppy flowers
- about what’s in a number
- masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
- What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
- how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
- why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
- How Spring can happen in Autumn
- How to unlock the lockdown
- Why education matters
- How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)
- The remarkable marketability of health, or not?
- the remarkable rewards of health
- The queeste for global health care
- Health Heroes
- Pains and Gains
- Solidarity 3.0
- Work-Life Balance
- Home sweet home
- Real Connections
- Leadership 3.0
- gratitude 3.0
- Respect 3.0
- Humanity 3.0
- Change Management
- Economic Catharsis
- To consume or not to consume?
- Travel the world, travel your heart
- Barrels of Life
- People, no Number Management
- Back to the Office?
Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark time.