While we sit, work, eat and do all of the things that life throws at us, it is remarkably easy to forget how finely everything hangs in the balance.
Birth, its bloody, painful, full of emotion and life, its no wonder that rarely do we consider that where we are born is of any more importance than simply the stories told afterwards- if it was in the car, at home, in the ambulance, or simply at a hospital. Rarely do we consider that where our parents were born matters.
What gets me every time is that it is so damn arbitrary- someone is born to certain citizens in a certain country and voila, they have a certain set of rights, a certain national identity, and can move to certain states without a problem. The nation-state that gives the individual their citizenship equips them to live and work. No one has any say over where they were born; yet where you were born matters so much in this world of boundaries and borders.
Ideology aside and culture footnoted; in the end everybody has blood running through their veins. Everyone, if given a bit of heroin, will enjoy a bit of ecstasy. That’s human.
It’s not so much about what colour you are, what ethnic heritage one has, what matters is where you and your parents hold citizenship. Sure there are issues with racism, sexism etc., I’m not trying to down play them at all, but when push comes to shove if you want a job/the ability to leave your country to work in another, it really matters what citizenship is stamped on your passport.
If you hold an Australian citizenship for instance, one can go to the 22 Schengen states for 90 days without a visa. Get a working holiday for 12 months in Germany if your under 30. Same for Canada. New Zealand is open to you. I already have worked in PNG with minimal fuss for 6 months.
But if you are from Iran/Afghanistan/Pakistan- its a totally different story. The relationship of these states to other countries has significant effects on its citizens, who in the end just happen to be born there. These three are rated 96th, 100th, and 103rd in the ‘Henley and Partners’ visa restriction index respectively. This is compared to Australia’s ranking of 6th.
Call it what you will— luck, clever exploitative relations, unique labour history, ‘island-phenomenon’, but in the end Australia is a very good place to be. But none who are born here ‘deserve’ the Australian lifestyle. No one who is born in Iran ‘deserves’ the Iranian lifestyle. And yet borders exist; we still cling to Westphalia. 1648 seems to be a little dated to still be clinging to— we have had The Wealth of Nations from 1776 after all…
Free ‘trade’ could provide help here. This is the idea that we let goods flow freely around the world without prohibitive import/export taxes. Economics 101 demonstrates that it is the most efficient allocation of the world’s finite resources if everything (such as politics) is kept exogenous to the model. Perhaps inherently flawed and too idealistic but run with me here for a minute.
I propose a challenge that would effect the arbitrary nature of where we are born. Let’s begin a different kind of ‘compassionate’ politics.
Let’s initiate a free movement of labour.
Non-citizens coming over on unrestricted work visas.
For all the current hot topic talk among the left about so-called ‘humanity’ in regards to asylum seekers, this could be made a non issue by the here proposed free movement of labour. Lets really embrace humanity, not just for a few thousand boat people, but for the millions of others who are stuck between and in the arbitrary borders of sovereign states.
And for all the ‘free marketeers’ on the right, time for you to head back to the economic textbooks. Stop just proposing free movements of goods that will end up being more profitable for certain companies and individuals, and do it properly. Can’t claim the title of being in favour of free market economics without having both sides of the equation- free movement of goods and labour.
The Unions will hate this of course- protecting working Australians and their very well paid lifestyles is their prerogative after all.
The unions are not alone, no single Australian is willing to give up the arbitrary rights of citizenship, even though it comes at the expense of millions of other countries’ citizens doing it tough.
A burgeoning work force of work-visa approved individuals from all sorts of countries would change the dynamics of Australia sure, and might actually get us thinking that being arbitrarily Australian is just luck after all. Can we really think that one deserves to be born a citizen and all the privileges that come along with it?
Let’s bring in a new era, one that will mess with both the right and left, rich and less rich. Just a little twist on the old ‘457’ is all that’s required. Need Asylum? Actually jump the queue with this new ‘Australian Free Labour Movement Visa’. Unrestricted and untimed- fly in, line up upon arrival at a ‘Work Visas Here’ desk and sign up. Let lefty ‘compassion’ and right wing ‘free market economics’ put it’s money where its’ mouth is. Lets see what happens.
Josh Lourensz is an aspiring social theorist and co-founder of Garage Blackboard Lectures. Previously working at the Manus Regional Processing Center, Papua New Guinea, and currently located in Berlin, Josh usually resides in Brunswick, Melbourne.