The Fisherman’s Burden – too many fish in the sea? - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Fisherman’s Burden – too many fish in the sea?

The Fisherman’s Burden – too many fish in the sea?

Published April 13, 2007

After reading a recent Liberal Party advertisement in the papers, shockingly not a joke despite being printed on the first of April, I wasagog with a mix of utter shock and annoyance. I was quietly staring at it, wondering how ignorant some people can be, but then I was gleefully reminded of a certain masterpiece called Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds along with a great quote from Spenser: “with love of blindness and ignorance”. Somehow, I think no quote can better describe the Liberal Party and their pseudoracist propaganda which, funnily enough, is wrapped up in a sweet package of “we care about” the immigrants, that is why we don’t want them here.
While the ad itself is very sly in its use of propaganda, as it is only the latest of their desperate attempts for political survival, it is mainly laughable. First of all, the title in the advertisement is in CAPITAL LETTERS so the lowest common denominator is catered to – something which one could argue is the main objective of the ad – and so we are all asked: Do you want the same problems with foreign workers as in other countries? The question itself is very problematic. To what “other” nations is the ad referring? Can I have a debate here, please? When reading it, one might rightly assume a footnote is in order. I am perplexed. Does the same go for a Danish immigrant or worker and a person from Thailand? Should we curb the influx of Danes to Iceland and vice versa? I want to hear the answer to that question.
However, one of the “arguments” of the ad concerns industrial employment, the field which has the highest number of foreign workers, not to mention that these people are in most instances migrant workers; an important fact that the Liberal Party forgets to take into account. Many of these so-called migrant workers are contracted workers employed by both Impreglio and Bechtel, as the numbers taken off Bechtel’s homepage state: “When the project reaches peak construction this year, the village will house more than 1,500 workers. By comparison, the nearest Icelandic town, Reyðarfjörður, boasts some 650 residents”. Add the Kárahnjúkadam and you have almost 3,000 foreign workers solely for these two projects. It is pretty simple: someone has to build these things.
Another faulty assumption, or perhaps scare tactic, is the claim that foreign workers will be a burden on our welfare system. Now, here is a shocking logical conundrum. The first argument is hinting at the fact that “they” are causing Icelandic workers’ wages to decrease (if you read between the lines) because they accept lower wages for their work. Therefore it can be assumed that the government/contractors are not to be blamed for the slow increase in income amongst industry workers compared to other groups. However, if that were the case, it stands to reasonthat if the contractors were paying such inadequate wages (in theory), then it would result in the workers requiring welfare in addition to their income (instead of the blunt innuendo that they might not work), then these companies would be exploiting all of us, not only the workers. That is what some would call the “Dark Side of Capitalism”. For example, in the United States, a sweat shop would, and will, often hire immigrants, but nowadays they have ooutsourced to China. Getting wages down is the grand scheme, so the problem is not innocent immigrants. Liberals, welcome to Capitalism 101.
The third point they raise reminds me of the famous book called How Statistics Lie, because The Liberal Party says that 9% of the workforce here in Iceland is foreign. Well, first of all you have to take into account what kinds of jobs are being referred to. Are these the underpaid ones that include caring for the elderly, nursing the sick, cleaning our schools and offices? If that is true, you can probably at least double the number. Another simple fact that is ignored in this game of statistical manipulation is the puny size of the population, because comparing our percentage of foreign workers to another country’s is preposterous. Half a million foreign workers, e.g. Sweden, becomes a whole different scenario compared to 27,000. The final point they make is just cheeky. We do not have the resources to teach Icelandic. Please, since when has that become impossible? I would actually agree with that if I did not know that Magnús Þór Hafsteinsson is full of hot air, for example when he alleges that The Social mocrat Alliance wants 3-5 million people to come here (invade).
The scary conclusion that one draws from all this, including the various xenophobic and Islambashing quotes from Liberal Party member Jón Magnússon, is that the increase in foreign people (“Them”) is the main reason for the higher crime rate, general unrest in society and finally the increasingly low living standards for everyone else in Iceland. This kind of logic becomes hysterical especially when you consider that they describe themselves as being a “political movement emphasizing liberal views, democracy and equal citizen’s rights, [that] supports the free market system”, well at least according to their website.
The sad part is that they actually believe that multiculturalism does not exist and has never existed, a fact that history refutes, but also that they are so smug in their Lilliputian thinking that they actually consider themselves as some kind of political martyrs. On his homepage, one candidate for the party managed to link immigration to almost every depravity, destruction, and disease, except perhaps for the fall of Camelot and Crucifixion of Jesus. I say: “Don’t believe the hype”.


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