Europe has a long history of assisting refugees fleeing conflicts. The wars in the former Yugoslavia displaced millions, most of them from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Germany, Austria and Sweden accepted large numbers. When the Kosovo war erupted, hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians fled to neighboring Albania and the country now called North Macedonia. Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. also accepted refugees. European countries including Germany, Sweden and France have provided refuge to Syrians since the civil war started in 2011. Between 2015 and 2016, Germany alone admitted more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum-seekers, about a quarter of whom were Syrian.
Looking to these examples, countries around the world should offer a haven for Gaza residents who seek relocation. Countries can accomplish this by creating well-structured and internationally coordinated relocation programs. Members of the international community can collaborate to provide one-time financial-support packages to Gazans interested in moving to help with relocation costs and to ease refugees’ acclimation to their new communities.
Much of the concern about technological advances eliminating the need for human workers is rooted in a zero-sum mentality that fundamentally misunderstands how economies evolve. Yes, new technologies will be able to perform some tasks relatively better and at lower cost than humans. Yes, this will lead businesses to use technology, not workers, for those tasks. But the process of creative destruction creates as well as destroys.
New technology will make many workers more productive and thus of greater value to firms, which will compete more aggressively for them in the labor market, driving up their wages and incomes. Higher incomes will increase overall demand for goods and services in the economy, which in turn will increase the need for workers. This dynamic process allows an economy to avoid higher structural unemployment. Moreover, new technology creates novel goods and services, which also increases demand for workers.
This is not just a theory. Consider the remarkable advances in information and communications technology and robotics over the past five decades. These breakthroughs have had profound effects on the labor market – for example, by substantially reducing the employment share of manufacturing and clerical occupations – and the broader economy. But it has not become more difficult for workers to find jobs. There has not been an upward trend in the unemployment rate.
Looking ahead to the next several decades, my main concern is not too many workers, but too few. Falling fertility rates and rapid population aging will reduce the rate of workforce growth in the United States and across much of the developed world. These countries could rely on larger inflows of immigrants to make up for the shortfall, but the political winds are currently blowing in the opposite direction.
I’m trying to get a permit to add a small (80 square foot) laundry room to the back of my house in Los Angeles County and it’s taking many months & tens of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, because of housing status, homeless are exempted from needing permits & can build this under freeways, resulting in the fire that’s shut down the busiest freeway for months. I’m no lawyer but doesn’t the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution make it clear that if it’s legal for homeless, it’s legal for everyone?