An article in The Guardian on David Cameron visit to Berlin for talks with Merkel over EU reform discusses the concept of freedom of movement and limiting migrant access to benefits. The assertion throughout the article is on the right to work and travel freely. I wonder to what extent it is a right or wouldn’t it be more intellectually coherent and practical if we see it as a privilege.
George Byczynski, coordinator of the British Poles Initiative, said “... But with regards to people who want to work, want to provide for their families, I think that it is important to make them feel welcome and equal.” I think what you mean is not “people” but “polish people”, I appreciate the attempt to apply a broad principle since British are too “people” but contrary to your assertion and the human rights rhetoric not all “people” are “equal”.
(sorry for quotations, I want to be accurate).
For instance I was born in Afghanistan currently in the UK on an entrepreneur visa. In order to obtain the visa i had to meet strict requirement for instance masters degree equivalent English fluency, once in the UK I pay £25,000 in visa fee till settlement, create two full-time jobs for UK citizens, invest quarter of a million pound in the UK, sever restriction on work/business, requirements on the operation of the businesses, requirement on work schedule and plan, security requirement of regular checking in and reporting to police, no access to benefits, no access to in work benefits and even limits on my children rights in what might be considered crucial to child welfare. The psychological dimension of my life is living under continuous fear if something goes wrong or business is not doing well then one would be sent to the savages of war where i hail from. Even a slightest administrative error could see me removed since i have no right of appeal. so you see the lot of “polish people” is not that bad while compared with “people people”; for all practical purposes polish have equivalent to citizen rights in the UK.
some people are not good enough and its up on them to prove their worth and i am one of them. Before we hastily conclude that some how this is a fault of British people such as lack of compassion or supremacy complex allow me admit that i have found the British the most tolerant and welcoming people, by way of comparison for instance on my way here i was held against my will and without formal arrest or charges at Turkish Airport for several hour, supposedly to obtain superior clearance, more likely due to concerns about my place of birth.
Unfortunately, concepts of privilege and rights are engraved in human nature; to live and work in the UK is considered a privilege, so is the residence right in Poland. as a matter of fact as somebody who has visited Poland this privilege is tightly monitored in Poland than in the UK. as somebody with a different shade of skin i was exposed to things in Poland that were deeply disturbing. so if you are genuinely concerned about equality for people you would make better headways if you start in Poland.
I would love to wake up one day to see we are all equal as “people” because we were born with dignity and have inalienable rights as human beings but here is what we can do in the interim. we need to recognise that there are billions of people around the world who live in poverty and oppression with little glimmer of opportunity or chance to improve their lives while there are few bestowed with privileges that are protected by a megastructure of mighty states. we need to recognise this; we need to acknowledge that the status of the few are not their god given right but the privileges that are created and protected by the state. this would help us in many ways to address racism and inequality which is based on a perverted belief that some people are better than others by certain features. This belief will be dampened once we have a wide recognition that certain people are privileged which is often at the cost of others. We will help to diminish the belief in inferiority of unprivileged by having established that the choices available to them are between bad and terrible because they don't have the rights that the privileged call the "human rights". here is how George Byczynski should have said it “... Polish people should be given privileges they shouldn't be treated like citizens of nonwhite countries. I think that it is important to give them legally protected superior status."