Local food for locals in Essen

Milton Friedman, among other people, said, among other things, that you can have free immigration without a welfare state open to all, or you can have that welfare state but not free immigration. Something that the Essener Tafel has just confronted as it has insisted that it will not be offering free food from its food banks to people without a German passport.

Yes, that is unfair to the million or so refugees and economic migrants (they’ve not got the two groups sorted out as yet) that Frau Merkel invited into the country. But then so what? There are always going to be parts of life that are unfair and the lack of free food would seem to be a minor one.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the latest politician to criticise a major food bank’s decision to bar foreigners from receiving free food.

The charity Essener Tafel called it a temporary restriction necessary because the share of foreigners using the food bank had soared to 75% in recent years.

The charity says it helps about 16,000 poor people in Essen, a city in the western industrial Ruhr region.

It’s a great and good thing that the needy receive nature’s (perhaps industry’s but still) bounty. So what actually is the problem?

Sartor argued that the exclusion of foreigners was in the interests of fairness, not xenophobia. He said that a large number of foreigners—most of whom were young men—queueing for food had scared away elderly women and single mothers, who had stopped coming to Essener Tafel.

That would be those with full beards who claimed to be children then, would it?

OK, now park prejudice over there by the door. And think a little harder about this – yes, Milton Friedman was right. We can indeed have that free migration or the welfare state, we cannot have both borders and the Treasury open to all. There’s even that interesting interim arrangement. Sure, you can come right on over but you don’t get anything from the welfare system until you’ve been here 5 years. Say. Just as a time limit in order to demonstrate the principle. Or we can have that system which provides for all whenever but you can’t come right on in.

The nasty truth being that resources are limited – that’s what something being an economic good means – and thus there has to be some limit on access to said resources. Elinor Ostrom even won her Nobel for both making this point and outlining how such restrictions can be constructed within a society. “The commons” that she formally studied and the general resources of society available to immigrants and others are still economic resources and still subject to the same strictures.

And here’s where it gets harsh. The universe doesn’t allow the no restrictions on any of it answer. So you’ve got to choose, what is it that you’re willing to limit? Entry or access? Gotta be one of them.

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  1. The fundamental problem here is a matter of rights. Which don’t exist except in the strictly legal sense. There are only obligations. And one can’t really say a person owes another person obligations unless there’s parity. The second person must owe the first matching obligations.
    There has to be some limit on obligations. One can’t be obliged to the entire planet so how can anti-discrimination apply top someone not a german resident?

  2. Surely Germans are clever to devise a cuddly catch-all such as “Dreamers” and find a few anecdotes to argue that none of the scruffy youngsters are responsible for their own situation. Crossing a border to escape war versus crossing a border to earn more money is a minor issue if the target country has a big sign that says, “FREE EATS.”

    By the way, this episode highlights the difference between charity and entitlement: An authentic charity knows its resources are limited and at some point asks whether the recipient needs the charity and whether the gift is doing any good. The eyes-shut government imitation actually maximizes value-signaling the more food it wastes.

  3. Even if we did (and the courts allowed us to) restrict benefits, SE England would still struggle to accommodate all those who would like to come and live (and work) here. (Completely) free movement of peoples is a chimera.

  4. Could there be a market solution – in Baden-Württemberg quite a few of the food banks charge. I’m thinking of the one at Ludwigsburg which I chanced upon after a visit to a FKK club nearby. The prices are low, very low in fact, but the people coming are treated like customers and the balance of locals and immigrants seems ok.
    If only there was a way that the immigrants could participate more in the labour market.

  5. Assuming they are a real charity this could be quite entertaining for us and instructive for SJWs.

    If the government insist that the charity open its doors to all, its donors would be quite entitled to point to Merkel and say, you invited them, that’s what our taxes are for, or words to that effect, and stop supporting the charity. I know that would be my attitude. Result, nobody wins.

    The next step would to be even more localised and give directly to those with a German passport who are in need and miss out the middlemen, it would be quite easy to set up a web page or app. Those little platoons becoming little sections, as it were.

    I suppose that’s why the left hate real charities, they have no control.

    Just a thought, but can they restrict it to Germans rather than EU citizens without falling foul of the ECJ?

  6. Beyond the rights and wrongs of the food bank dispute itself, it seems significant that this charity is willing to publicly deny benefits to migrants, and defend its reasons for doing so. The media gives you the impression that everyone is on board with Mutti Merkel’s plans for transforming Europe, but it’s obvious that there are cracks just below the surface.

  7. “There’s even that interesting interim arrangement. Sure, you can come right on over but you don’t get anything from the welfare system until you’ve been here 5 years. Say. Just as a time limit in order to demonstrate the principle.”

    Why not replace most of the welfare system with an range of competitive insurance schemes? It’s like house insurance or medical insurance. Everyone pays in, and if your house burns down some of the money paid in is paid out to you. Everyone pays in, and if you lose your job some of the money paid in is paid out to you. Or you can pay in extra to cover your family as well. The more comprehensive and generous the cover, the higher the premiums are. There will still be a few charity cases, but that would deal with a lot of it.

    If the principle is that you should only get what you pay for, and the system should be precisely as generous as people think is worth paying for, then markets already have a perfectly feasible solution.

  8. Just a thought, but can they restrict it to Germans rather than EU citizens without falling foul of the ECJ?

    @BIND: Even if they were forced to make that distinction, it would still exclude the majority of those non-EU foreign nationals who are in Germany as temporary refugees or those seeking asylum which has not yet been granted as they have neither EU citizenship, German citizenship nor even a German Residence Permit.

    All they have is an “Ankunftsnachweis” (Arrival Certificate), which is a form of official identification issued by the German government, but little more than that.

    I doubt there will be many Italians or Czechs turning up at the Essener Tafel and suspect the Somalis probably outnumber the Germans alone.

  9. Hold on a minute. I have read The Guardian and I am assured that the need for food banks has arisen only because of the dastardly Tory government and its policies, and that it is all different (and better) in Europe.

    I didn’t realise that our Tory government was in charge in Germany.

  10. About half of refugees are families. The other half are young single men. (I can’t find the citation so you’re welcome to bash this.) Where are the young single women? I was loftily informed that the young single men are waiting to get a job and put some money together, then they will assist their young single countrywomen to flee. Others tell me that the young single male refugees aren’t interested in their countrywomen, they want to get stuck into European chicks. Should local charity (free) f**ks be for locals only?