Solve for the Italian-Libyan equilibrium

Failing to stem the tide of refugees arriving Europe, Italy and the rest of the European Union have agreed to pay Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), the UN-backed interim government that is struggling hold control of the country, to keep them from arriving in Italy and instead put them into detention camps in Libya.

The accord signed Feb. 3, provides for Italy to pay €220 million ($236 million) to the Libyan coastal guard and provide training to help them catch the vessels—primarily rubber dinghies. The Libyan coast guard will be charged with sending the boats back to Libya and putting people into camps. The political instability of Libya is such that there would be little guarantee of the conditions in which the migrants would be kept, according to Arjan Hehenkamp, general director of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Here is one story.  In Libya they understand the Coase theorem:

A security source in Libya spoke to Associated Press late last month saying: “Yesterday’s traffickers are today’s anti-trafficking force.”

I believe the size of the Coasean payments will rise.  If Libya is paid to halt migrants, and finds this a satisfactory or indeed even profitable arrangement, they also will act to…boost the supply of potential migrants.  “Producing potential migrants” will at some point become one of their more significant economic sectors.  And the larger the number of bottled up would-be migrants, the more Italy and/or the EU will pay to stop them.

Yet what is Italy otherwise to do?  I find it striking how underreported this story has been.


Buid a wall over the sea and make Libya pay for it.

The situation in the Mediterranean has always been difficult: In practice, either borders are opened, or immigrants drown: Almost everything else is just a matter of choosing how many people will.The EU could say that anyone that walks into Ceuta or Melilla will be handed a ticket in the ferry and a work permit somewhere, but given the situation in Africa, that means a whole lot of people.

The long term incentive would be not to focus on making it harder for Africans to head north, but to make them not want to, by making Africa more prosperous. The trick is doing that in a continent with institutions that make Venezuela looks like a high functioning society. Corruption is high enough there's very little hope that aid of any sort will make a big difference. But imagine how different the refugee situation would be after a decade of 7% average GDP growth in Tanzania or Namibia. Given how far back they are starting, it'd not be crazy.

Few things would help the world overall any more than seeing the next few decades do for Africa what the last couple did for asia.

+10 to that last sentence

"either borders are opened, or immigrants drown". What about rescue + return to Libya?

And then you can rescue them again three weeks later.

Yes that would be the most humane option. As to P's point, they could just brand them so they'll know which ones are attempting to enter illegally for a second time.

This is not a hard problem to solve. Set low, clear standards for behavior (in simpler times these were called 'laws') and then show a tiny little bit of spine enforcing them.

This is not a hard problem to solve.

This is not a hard problem.

OK, keel haul a few of them, then take them back to Libya.

Honestly, the Italian government has deeper pockets, ample equipment, and personnel to stay one-up on a mess of Maghreb coyotes. They have to be committed to using it.

Boats aren't free.

Isn't this a libertarian blog?

Why does someone in Florence get to decide the future of Africans? By what right do the Italians condemn Africans to a life of poverty and chaos?

Where are the open borders folks, the Bryan Caplans?

Just let them stay. Why does Italian need to be an identity in 2017? Questions that deserve honest answers.

If Europe is predominantly Arab and African in 2150 will our descendants care? Why does that scare Sailer et al? The future belongs to those who have children. If Italians don't care, why should we ?

Humanity votes with the womb. Europe is voting for a specific future. Aside from racism why would anyone care ?

You're asking people to stop being human. Deny human nature at your own risk.

One word: IQ.

You can transform poor Asians in South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore into rich people but there's no evidence that it can be done in Africa. If Algerians were smart, they would've remained a French province. If Moroccans were smart, they'd petition Spain to take over their government or at least enlarge Melilla and Ceuta. Even Tunisians might improve their lives if they joined Italy or created something like Melilla in Tunisia.

If Algerians were smart, they would’ve remained a French province. \

No, they wouldn't, because the pieds noirs wanted to run the place as a South-African style caste society. Algeria's Arab-Berber population had sufficient human capital on hand to run the water works and the electricity plant. The place didn't fall to pieces when the pieds noirs left on bloc. Had the political leadership of the Arab-Berber population been more prudent, they'd have eschewed constructing a command economy, put the oil revenues in a sovereign wealth fund and consumed only the interest-and-dividends, established and enforced secure allodial tenures over the land, disposed of any regulatory features which exacerbated the dysfunctions in Algeria's labor markets, and not invested any sums into a project of harassing Morocco (or Israel, while we're at it).

No, it's the open borders which lead to the drownings. When Australia made clear to the refugees that there was NO WAY, the flow of migrants by boat slowed to a trickle:

They wouldn't drown if they could take a regular boat. Mexicans wouldn't die in the desert if we just let them come in.


They also wouldn't die in the desert if, instead of merely risking deportation if caught, we, say, amputated their hands for illegal entry and then deported them. It's the same principle as replacing airbags with big spikes aimed at the hearts of drivers; people respond to incentives.

Remember the much-publicized picture of the kid who drowned rafting from Turkey to Greece? Yeah, sure, that would have been avoided if Syrian refugees had been allowed unlimited entry through regularly-chartered ships into the EU. It also would have been avoided if, instead of resettling refugees, the EU had a policy of taking every one of them landing in the Greece and, at gunpoint if necessary, immediately shipping them to a Syrian port, leaving them worse off than if they never left the refugee facilities in Turkey.

They won't drown for long once word gets out.

You're missing the obvious.

European countries can tax themselves at ruinous 90+% rates, even on the middle class. They can tear up infrastructure. They can make Europe a terribly unattractive place to come. The new higher taxes can be spent on basic income payments for anyone remaining in Africa.

The gap between African and European living standards can be closed.

And that will leave Europe for the Europeans instead of being just one more place colonized by the Africans as their populations rockets past 2 billion, 3 billion, 4 billion and 5 billion in the coming century.

"Yet what is Italy otherwise to do?"

Rescue + return to Libya is the obvious one, rather than paying to "rescue" migrants and grant them permanent residence in Italy.

Stop accepting rescue ships working with people smugglers. Put more pressure on neighboring countries like France and Austria to open their borders to Africans traveling through Italy. Cancel birthright citizenship. Cut back government social aid.

Build another Italy in Africa? If that's what Africans want, use the natural resources of Africa to build it.

Italy can make Libya a colony again. I don't think they have the stomach for it though. Civilizing the barbarians there would cost many lives.

Steve Sailer has made a pretty convincing case that Australia's policy towards illegal migrants has been pretty successful. Intercept incoming boats, re-direct migrants to some neutral third world country, never let migrants touch foot on home soil, visibly publicize said policy.

Say Italy/EU pays $10K a head to Morocco, Guyana, Rwanda or Cambodia to take every intercepted migrant. This alleviates the humanitarian problem of letting them drown or sending genuine refugees back to a war zone. But ain't nobody falling over themselves to get to a poor, but peaceful country like Morocco. So it drastically disincentives would-be migrants, particularly if enforcement can get over 50%.

Yes, it might cost more per migrant than either accepting them or directly paying Libya to stop them. But that doesn't take into account the second-order effect of deterring supply. Again, I think Australia's policy pretty clearly demonstrates this. Off the top of my head, boat-driven migrants fell by something like 80%. Is there any reason this wouldn't work in the Mediterranean?

The new Italian interior minister Marco Minniti has made a lot of progress. It's really not that hard to prevent a Camp of the Saints, you just have to be ready to do what it takes to save your continent and put up with being called bad words.

Apparently Minniti didn't even have to do much - seize one boat belonging to one German "charity" and the whole process collapses.

Minefields are useless without men with guns to cover them. So are fences and borders. Italy needs to stop being so nice. They are coming around to the idea that enough of their women have been raped. When that happens they will enforce the border.

Africans only come because Merkel promised them free stuff. Europe just has to stop being stupid. Australia shows it is painless to do if you have a spine.

For one thing you need a neutral third world country that is willing to play along. Morocco isn't super-friendly with Spain (see Ceuta). I don't know about Guyana, Rwanda or Cambodia, but they are really far away.

The story is under-reported because it highlights what a disastrous mistake the overthrow of Qaddafi was for Europe.

Obama said some very nasty things about Hillary's handling of Libya in his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg but they disappeared down the memory hole due to the push to elect Hillary.

Yep. Talking about the mess in Libya means talking about Clinton.

"We came, we saw, he died."

Sadly, this could be said of the US ambassador too.

It was later revealed that 1/3 of the emails she received about Libya came from Sid Blumenthal, a consultant to the Clinton Foundation, and that she regularly forwarded them to staff. Podesta wrote in an email that Blumenthal is lost in a world of conspiracies, while other Dem activists worried about Clinton's reliance on him.

Much of the migration crisis in Europe was caused by Clinton's need for a foreign policy success against a Libyan dictator who had long gone quiet. Europe should send her the bill.

I disagree that the story is under-reported because Trump's Twitter feed, especially his thoughts on professional athletes, are much more important.

Yes no one in the US has ever heard the word Benghazi. Solid point.

Covering the whole disaster of US-EU policy in Libya as if it were only the story of Benghazi is under-reporting it. It's like covering Watergate by ignoring everything that happened except the break-in itself.

Berlusconi had made a similar deal with Gadafi, but then Hillary felt it was necessary to kill Qaffafee, so the floodgates opened up for awhile.

The African population explosion (the UN's 2017 forecast is for sub-Saharan Africa's population to exceed 4 billion by 2100, eight times higher than in 1990, is perhaps the biggest issue facing the world. It would be tragic for Europe to allow itself to be turned into a bigger version of Detroit through fear of being called racist.

The good news is that Africa's population explosion ought to be avoidable. Fertility has fallen substantially in mplaces like Bangladesh, with sub-Saharan Africa being the main outlier. Unfortunately, white people dropped the ball on the sub-Saharan African population problem about 20 years ago, out of increasing ignorance about Africa, and are only now barely starting to realize how severe the situation is.

What percentage of the illegal immigrants that cross the Mediterranean from Libya are Sub-Saharan Africans? Aren't most of raft-riders actually North African Arab Muslims from what were once European colonies? It's curious but understandable that the years of colonial relationships demonstrate that the bonds between the indigenous colonials and their one-time masters survive independence. A native Libyan is more likely to make an effort to establish themself in Italy than in Germany because there's already a many decades old relationship. How many Kenyans or Congolese are trying to get to Italy?

Quite a lot, as you will see if you take a walk around the train station in Napoli.

Surprisingly many, from what I've read. Think western Africa (Gambia, Sierra Leone), though, rather than southern.

"Aren’t most of raft-riders actually North African Arab Muslims"?


because there’s already a many decades old relationship.

yes, indeedy. It's not too hard to find photos of the Italian Army hanging arabs in Libya.

2100 is a long way away. I would trust any population projects that far into the future, especially ones bases on extending the line. Current African population is 1.2 billion. China or India alone has more people, on smaller areas. Of course, it's important that all parts of Africa modernize family sizes like everywhere else in the world, but I wouldn't see it as the most important thing in the world. Also the method is general economic and social development of Africa, which is what you would want anyway.

Pay the Libyan coast guards a fixed monthly amount with penalty for any refugee that reaches Italy from Libya. It would be up to the Libyan to decided if they want to put those people into refugee camps from that payment.

Then it would be simpler and cost effective for the Libyan to spend part of that payment to the neighboring countries to stop refugees from entering Libya.

TO avoid making the facilitation of migrants influx into Libya a business they could establish yearly goals for a number of years, cutting Libya's pay check if the number of migrants keeps going up.

The inevitable result is a resumption of European colonial rule in one guise or the other. Yes, the Libyans will extort the gutless Europeans for as much money as they can. But even the Italians will probably find a spine in the end.

The solution to this involves economic growth in Africa. The problem is that Africans are utterly incapable of providing it. They have no institutions to foster it. They have no culture that would encourage it. Above all, their IQs are too low on average. It may be caused by poor nutrition or by the disease burden. Or something else. If it is the first two, African socialism has made this worse by making everyone poor.

The only solution is to import technologically capable elites from elsewhere. Which they are doing with the Chinese. But if this is not enough, Europe will have to provide.

Colonialism isn't "inevitable" at all. First, as has been pointed out, this is exactly the same arrangement that existed between Europe and Qaddafi before. Second, Somalia is a good test case for any alleged inevitability of colonialism. The place has been a mess for over 20 years and yet no Western country has stepped up to try to impose law and order there.

"yet no Western country has stepped up to try to impose law and order there."

The White Man's Burden, bring law and order to the barbarians. The Somalis, perpetual poster-children for the misery of a place without a strong central government based on democratic principles, continues to chug along with their combination of pre-historic social structures and modern technology. Some of them must be satisfied or the place would be uninhabited. But the neo-moderns know better.

Well yes it is. If there is a negative externality for Europe that the Africans are doing nothing to fix, other people will do it for them. They did a deal with Libya before but of course Gadaffi's response was threats. Demands have a way of rising. Extortion leads to more extortion. Which considering that Europe has nuclear weapons and Libya can't keep its own airplanes flying is unlikely to go on forever.

Somalia is a good test case. But so far, no one cares. Somalia produces immigrants and nothing else. But Ethiopia cares because Somalia also produces people who want the Ogaden back. So Ethiopia has been occupying parts of Somalia in installing a government that suits them. Other people might call it colonial control.

" Above all, their IQs are too low on average."

In other words, Africans are, in general, stupid. If you see an African on the street you can safely assume that he's an ignoramus because the average African has a low IQ. That would also mean that it would be a waste of effort to educate or train this African because he's incapable, due to his low IQ, of using his primitive thought processes to understand or absorb the knowledge necessary to function effectively in the complex and sophisticated modern Western world. Better to somehow keep him and his kin corralled somewhere south of the Atlas Mountains.

Chuck, you're playing the ingenue aren't you? You know what he means, we all know that in any population you will find both people who are well above and below the average IQ and that average IQ is no guide to any individual IQ. If you went to the poorer parts of most countries and tested for IQ you would find that the average would probably be lower than the average for the wealthier parts of those countries.

This is the problem, if substantial populations including parts of the US have lower IQ's than average, what can be done to improve the lives of those people? It really is the question of our time yet few want to ask it, let alone acknowledge IQ differences in populations. The US and many western countries are moving towards a highly stratified society based on IQ, is this a good thing? I don't know but the world seems to show that lower IQ and worse outcomes go together.

What can be done to improve the situation?

The reality is that life has never been easier or better for the stupid, no matter who they are or where they live. These low IQ populations you're worried about don't really need their lives improved, at least in the US, since they occupy houses, generally have jobs, cars, cell phones, televisions and even bass boats and season tickets to NFL games.

The focus on the supposed average low IQ is a replacement for the previous disdain for people with excess cutaneous melanin, something no longer accepted in polite or even civilized circles. Remarkably, however, the populations are identical.

Life is not easy for the stupid in Africa. It is not that easy for the stupid in the West although a large population of non-stupid people making sure as much of life is padded with cotton wool makes it less bad than it could be.

You are simply changing the subject to avoid the obvious.

I know you are trying to be clever but the basic problem is yeah, that is all pretty much true. We have spent a lot of time and money trying to improve African educational outcomes and it has all failed. We have tried to take the cream of the crop from Africa and send them to good universities - and a significant proportion of Affirmative Action places at colleges like Harvard go to people from Africa or whose parents come from Africa. That has not worked out well either.

This may be due to the disease burden - remember we have only just discovered Zika. It may be due to historic levels of poor nutrition either in early childhood or in utero or perhaps even going back generations before conception. Or of course it may be genetic.

Whatever it is, Africa cannot even begin to cope with the modern world. If it is due to disease or poor nutrition, they cannot hope to improve until they become richer. They cannot become richer until they get smarter. The only way out is for someone else to run their countries for them until they have something like a middle class.

A coyote from MX to US can b expensive. How much does a rubber boat captain cost in N. Africa?

Have hurricanes stopped the migration to Florida? If you build it, they will come. And keep on coming. The only event that stopped them from coming was the great recession, which made it all but impossible to sell houses "up north" so they could buy houses in and move to Florida. Sure, the losers kept coming to Florida during the great recession because they didn't own houses they had to sell so they could move to Florida, just like the poor bastards who want to emigrate to Europe. Who's complacent now?

Israel, Hungary, Poland, Jordan, Kurdistan, India and others are not complacent.

But I still say Carthage must be destroyed.

China has grown gangbusters for decades and many Chinese still seem eager to move to the US and other foreign countries, at least provisionally

> I find it striking how underreported this story has been.

If I remember correctly the whole impetus from Clinton/Obama and the Europeans to knock over Gaddafi was because of fear of a flood of refugees. It almost ended the Obama reelection with Benghazi, and event have continued to show the failure of the idea.

Was the european press all for this at the time?

The biggest issue regarding Libya is what the US's actions there did to future efforts to persuade countries to give up their nuclear weapons. It is finally dawning on the foreign affairs pundits that this may be Obama's worst legacy (and Clinton's too). Qaddafi give up his WMD programs in return for trade normalization, What he did not bargain for was a weak president with no strong foreign policy views giving in to a hawkish Secretary of State.

Also, who would have guessed that Lewis Carroll would have so perfectly imagined Hillary Clinton with his "Off with his head!" characterizations of the queen.

" Obama’s worst legacy" I still think actually funding Iran's nuclear program is a bigger problem.

I don't follow this line of argument.

How would Libya go about "producing potential migrants"? My understanding is that they effectively have an open border to the south already. Migrants aren't stupid, and migration patterns have consistently followed a path of least resistance as various nations in the region have tightened or loosened their border controls. If Libya starts enforcing its northern border, I would expect migrants to try other routes (Morocco -> Spain seems likely).

Moreover, I doubt that Italy is paying Libya a piece-rate per refugee returned, so I don't see the incentive. The agreement seems to be a flat rate with Italy saying "we'll give you $220 million, and in return you'll intercept and intern any refugees we point out to you".

Its entirely possible that the Libyan coast guard proves to be incompetent or more interested in fighting or shaking down their countrymen, but I doubt that they will try to increase the supply of migrants.

" Migrants aren’t stupid"
Many of those that choose to comment on the subject in this blog would disagree completely.

The biggest problem in the world right now is the education of African sub-Saharan women... mark my words, this will be a huge problem in a decade or so. Look at TFR of countries like Niger its really really scary...

Can't possibly use the Navy and Coast Guard to defend the shores. It would require the sci-fi nerds to admit the guys who used to stuff them into lockers had some useful work to do.

Nearly all of these "refugees" head for those countries with high levels of government welfare, if that welfare was cut to zero allowing only for private welfare the migration would cease almost overnight. You cannot have an open borders policy and government welfare the two together will ruin any country in the medium to long term. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool or a rogue.

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