Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kirbasova revisited: what use is she?

The Kirbasova affair keeps dragging on, and reading conversations about it on various web forums is not good for one's sanity, but gives cause for a variety of interesting observations.

1) So far I haven't seen anybody at all, be they for or against Kirbasova, claim that a mother is not an immediate relative. Could it be that in general Finnish people consider mothers to be immediate relatives? Who would have thought?

2) The people who think that Kirbasova should be sent back generally base it her uselessness for Finland's economy: that she is old, sick, helpless, will pay no taxes, use social services and in general be a net loss. This is all undoubtedly true, but the really interesting thing is that what these people are saying is in fact the direct opposite of what the authorities are saying: the authorities think she is not old, sick or helpless enough to be allowed to stay.

I have long maintained that immigrants must be useful (with the exception of refugees, who should just be law-abiding and try their best to be also useful). "Useful", however, is not measured just in terms of taxes. Finland, like all the other civilized countries, lets citizens and resident noncitizens bring their immediate family members. It is not, especially in case of Finnish citizens' family members, based on any financial use of them. They are useful because some Finn wants them here, and no other usefulness is necessary.

You can marry a foreigner, bring him or her here, and have him or her covered by the social safety net. Yeah, it's nicer from the point of view of the taxpayers if both you and them work and pay your taxes, but you can be unemployed and marry somebody unemployable. You can even be a sick old person and marry another sick old person. Even one who comes from a country that doesn't pay them a decent retirement pension. It is your right as a Finnish citizen.

In fact, if I happened to feel really charitable tonight (don't worry, I am not), I could ask for the old lady's hand in marriage, and they would let her stay. And I am not even a citizen.

The question is not whether Kirbasova can be useful to anybody financially. A Finn happens to want and need her, and that's all the use there needs to be. The question is whether Finns in general consider their parents to be immediate family members, and it seems that the answer is yes.

Yes, I realize that this argument can be reduced to the absurd, and some Finn can claim that he or she needs to move a whole little Sudanese village here for his or her personal happiness. No, I don't think this is a good idea. OTOH, I don't think it's absurd to give Finns the same right to bring their family members here as the other EU citizens living in Finland already have.

As for those who are afraid that all the immigrants' parents immediately move here and the state will have to support them: not gonna happen. To begin with, most of their living parents are probably already here. Inkerilaiset moved here in whole families, refugees and suchlike moved here in whole families, or were and are able to bring their families as refugees. Estonians are EU citizens and can bring their parents as they please. About 40% of foreigners come from the civilized countries, and if their parents move to Finland, their pensions will follow. Of the remaining immigrants, some percentage is young enough to have come with their parents to begin with, and some percentage is too old to have living parents.

Finland can't feed all the poor elderly of the world. Not even all the poor elderly who happen to have been persecuted political activists. Finland should, however, at least try to feed the parents of its citizens, even when said parents don't happen to be Finnish citizens themselves, and don't come from a country that pays them a decent pension. There isn't that many of them.

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