Here are some highlights of my weekly reading and viewing.
Fiona Harrigan, “The Good Samaritans Who Saved Syrian Refugees,” Reason, December 2023.
There is a story about crisis relief that a lot of people believe instinctively, one that’s built into our institutions: Governments and major international organizations, armed with resources and authority, are best equipped to quickly help people harmed by war, hunger, and violence.
Dana Sachs offers a different narrative in All Else Failed: The Unlikely Volunteers at the Heart of the Migrant Aid Crisis. A million migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in the year 2015 alone. As the refugees reached shore in Greece, “traditional relief networks proved themselves incapable of delivering a productive response,” she writes. Major humanitarian groups such as the International Rescue Committee and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “offered only limited support on the ground.” The European Union shelled out “millions of euros in aid but failed to disburse the funds effectively.”
Harrigan does express her disappointment that Sachs won’t reach the conclusion that Harrigan and I share:
There will be humanitarian crises to come, making it all the more important to lay blame and praise at the appropriate feet. Sachs writes moving passages about the boundlessness of human generosity, and she constantly highlights how volunteers with local knowledge kept the humanitarian aid machine moving in Greece. Her account suggests a clear conclusion: that the volunteer effort was better, not out of necessity, but because it is better suited for the task. But she never quite says that aloud.
Fiona Harrigan, “Trump and DeSantis Won’t Stop at Keeping Out Illegal Immigrants,” Reason, November 17, 2023.Excerpt:
This isn’t something that you’ll hear former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis say on the campaign trail. “We talk a lot about illegal immigration,” saidDeSantis at an event last week. “But no one really talks about the legal immigration system and there’s some Republicans that say, ‘As long as it’s legal, it doesn’t matter.’ I don’t subscribe to that.”
Nor are Trump’s second-term crackdown ambitions limited solely to undocumented immigrants, The New York Times reported on Saturday. Instead of targeting legal status, many of Trump’s policies would target ideologies he dislikes. “The visas of foreign students who participated in anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian protests would be canceled,” per the Times. “U.S. consular officials abroad will be directed to expand ideological screening of visa applicants to block people the Trump administration considers to have undesirable attitudes.”
Fiona Harrigan, with a careful attention to facts, has become one of my favorite writers on immigration.
“Marian Tupy: I Saw Communism with My Own Eyes,” PragerU, November 14, 2023.
I’ve been a fan of Tupy’s work for some time. He wrote the piece “European Union” for the second edition of my Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. I knew Marian was an immigrant but I didn’t know from where. He lays out the daily horror of living under Communism. He also says something at the 4:14 point that I wish he had expanded on. It was that under Communism, “You had to become a moral monster.” I believe him, but I will would have liked to see more.
Fiona Harrigan, “Kansas Thinks You Need 1,000 Hours of Training To Remove Hair,” Reason, November 17, 2023.
For the past few years, Green has received sugaring services—a noninvasive, nonhazardous hair removal procedure that involves applying a sugar, water, and lemon juice paste to a client’s skin. A sugaring business, she thought, could be “something that I could do part time” or on “a super flexible schedule that would allow me to stay home with my son and also provide some additional income for our family,” Green tells Reason.
But Green quickly learned that it’s illegal to remove a single hair from a client as a sugarer without a state-issued occupational license.
I didn’t notice until I went to post this that, yes, the author is Fiona Harrigan. She won the trifecta.