Wednesday, 16 January 2013

All fear the Romgarians

Distorted reality.
I've just returned from a two-day business trip in Namibia, where I was on the launch of the new Volkswagen Amarok bakkie with the automatic transmission. Two days out of the office in a foreign country,  driving a powerful car through astounding desert scenery, and being wined and dined to the limit ... remind me why my job as an automotive journalist sucks again?

Oh yes, I can't afford buying an Amarok on my salary. Or a Nissan Murano, which is my current test vehicle for the week. Or the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe I fell in love with on another recent test. Or ... yes, my life is in a chocolate factory where I can actually eat a couple of blocks at a time. Just enough to keep me hooked, but not enough to make me sick of it, and never a full slab to gloat over. Keeps you humble. Or just frustrated, haha.

In other news, the views on this blog almost doubled in my absence. Maybe blogging is like wine-making: it's better if you leave it alone for a while? I like to think however that I've got hordes of readers waiting in eager anticipation for my next pearls of wisdom on Romania and South Africa, and the grey bits in between  A bit like I like to think that I'll oneday drive a BMW 6-Series, maybe.

So, Romania ... have you heard about Neil Farage's personal war against allowing Romanians and Bulgarians to flood the UK? Probably trying to protect all the Pakistani, Chinese and South African emigrants already there. It's also tinged at least a little with the fear of all those Romanian gypsies (see previous blog post).

I'd read this story before leaving, and waiting for me upon arrival back at my desk was this little gem just twisting the knife deeper. For those looking for a quick summary, British anti-EU party UKIP is being very vocal in opposing the EU's responsibility to remove movement controls from Romanian and Bulgarian citizens on January 1, 2014. On the surface, the idea is that all of Romania and Bulgaria will immediately emigrate to the sunny skies of Britain, and the little island will promptly sink.

Hey, don't take it from me. In their own words:
Only in November, the Home Secretary admitted to the Daily Telegraph she was powerless, impotent to stop thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians flocking to the UK. There it is, cold as today’s snow that Britain is not in full control of it’s destiny having handed it over to the Eurocrats.
And there we have the real motivation for UKIP: they're stirring up anti-EU sentiment by criticising the the UK's apparent powerlessness to prevent those hundreds of thousands of Romgarians (let's just contract it, shall we?) from flooding in. Darn those 'Eurocrats'. They don't appreciate the sanctity of a good crumpet, and seem awfully bound to agreements made six years ago.

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that there's a link to this blog in one of the UKIP stories - a blog with only one post incidentally - and it yields some interesting gems. Like this:
HALF the population of Romania earns £287 or less per month. They can receive a rise to £307 per month in job seekers allowance from 2014 in the UK, for not working. Even the highest paid group of professionals in Romania is better off in the UK working on minimum wage. 
This is an interesting debate, except it shows all the hallmarks of politics. These stories quoting UKIP patently don't try to speak to any Romgarians. They also don't question a huge assumption made.

Have a look at this story from the BBC, and this story from Romania. Do you spot the little flaw? In Britain, the average UK salary is £26 500 (or £2208 per month - €2661). Romanians on job-seekers allowance may well earn more than they did in Romania, but they will be earning 1/7th of the average UK salary.

The real problem with all this vocal Romgarian fear is that it assumes that Romanians and Bulgaria won't realise this. It doesn't take into account that as difficult as things are in Romania, this is where people have their families and lives. It's not like they'll be queuing up to move to the UK to be welcomed by people like Nigel Farage, and live the good life on 1/7th of the national average salary. Even if they do, chances are they'll return, and because there was less sacrifice required in order to move, logic implies they'll be quicker to return when things go sour.

For me, the deciding factor in this debate is this photo:
Nigel is really afraid the Romgarians will come catch all his fish, you see. That'd make photos like this one really difficult to take.


  1. The Unemployment benifit is one thing, but what about the free housing, child benefit, Free healthcare, free prescriptions, free travel for children, no council tax. Your comments are misguided as you choose to see only one aspect.


    1. My comments aren't misguided - no blog post ever claims to be all-encompassing. My real point is that whatever hand-outs Romanians receive from the UK, it'd still be small change compared to the actual cost of living in the UK versus in Romania. Also, what this highlights is that the benefits offered to UK citizens is overly-generous: you can solve this whole objection by placing restrictions on who receives the benefits (e.g. must have worked and paid tax for five years to qualify).

  2. This is the whole reason I have started blogging about Romania, because I am just so tired of all the hatred. (I am British by the way but have many Romanian friends).

    In response to the previous comment, the view that Romanians will only come here to take benefits is also misguided. Perhaps some will, but others will also come here to work, and its likely that only the Gypsy's will try to take advantage of any benefits rather than your average person. Romanians are more like us than people seem to think at the present; they just want to earn a living and provide a good life for their families, like many people in the world. This is a perfect example of some of the propaganda the media is spreading - that 20+ million people are all going to leave Romania and come here to claim benefits and this is exactly what I try to fight against.

    I look forward to reading more from your blog.