Tuesday, September 29, 2015

european collective action to help refugees


"In between nervous refugees and the frustrated policemen stepped volunteers clad in orange vests, calming people down, reuniting family members and generally oiling the wheels of a clunky and frequently changing system."

"Major aid agencies like the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, are mounting relief efforts, but some of the quickest responders along the Balkan route have been civilian volunteers.
In addition to locals who have helped out in their cities or areas, young Europeans are venturing across the region to provide urgent, direct and sometimes essential help to struggling refugees.
For some it is an extension of activism at home, often with human rights, anti-capitalist and environmental groups. For others, it is a response to what they have seen and read about the refugee crisis. And for a few, the decision to help came when they were in the Balkans and could no longer look away."

"Along the Balkan route, they not only offer food and drink but also help set up Wi-Fi hot spots and places to recharge cellphones, using their technical savvy to offer cheap and quick solutions to refugees who rely on smartphones for information, communication and navigation.
As different bottlenecks and crisis points appear along the refugees’ route, volunteers coordinate efforts and direct one another to where they are most needed, using social media and interactive maps."

this is pretty cool. Mostly young people using modern technology to reach out to people in need.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Maybe collective action at the national level doesn't work so well (EU)

"Its [the refugee waves] solution would be straightforward in the presence of a central authority empowered to take decisions. But this is not how the EU works. It works through co-ordination and harmonisation – through fiscal rules, banking regulation and neighbourhood policies. But none of them prevented the crisis, and none of them helps solve it. The problem was never a lack of rules or policies. It was the simple fact that certain things in life cannot just be co-ordinated.
Nor are member states big enough to act on their own - not even Germany. Angela Merkel is, for once, on the right side of the argument. But Germany does not have the capacity to absorb all the EU immigrants.
Viktor Orban, Hungary’s populist prime minister, produced a good rendition of the mindset that gives rise to collective action problems. He said last week this was not a European crisis, but a German crisis, since all the refugees wanted to go to Germany. Germany, I would add, acted in a similarly cavalier fashion during the euro zone crises.
The collective action problem is nobody’s fault in particular. It is hard-wired into the system. The EU’s job is not to prevent financial crises, or to save children from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea."

This sounds like when every individual [nation, in this case] wants to adhere closely to its own agenda and ideas, collective action falls flat.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Collective action leads you open to abusers? Wikipedia


"Hundreds of small British businesses and minor celebrities have been targeted by a sophisticated blackmail scam orchestrated by “rogue editors” at Wikipedia, The Independent can reveal.
The victims, who range from a wedding photographer in Dorset to a high-end jewellery shop in Shoreditch, east London, faced demands for hundreds of pounds to “protect” or update Wikipedia pages about their businesses. A former Britain’s Got Talent contestant was among dozens of individuals targeted.
Wikipedia has taken action against what it described as the 'co-ordinated group' of fraudsters by blocking 381 accounts. An investigation had found that the accounts were controlled by Wikipedia users offering to change articles about companies and private individuals in exchange for payment.
In some cases, the requests for money amounted to blackmail, Wikipedia told The Independent."

this is sad, but must be considered in all uses of collective action.  what happens when you have a loose nut screwing up your collective efforts?  How should you handle it?  This should be thought through before you even begin your action.

When your government has lost its heart, you step up


"With hundreds of volunteers and more than 22,000 Facebook followers, Migration Aid offers food, water, medical help and information to refugees who each day cross Hungary by the thousands, even as Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his populist right-wing government wash their hands of them.

All along the Balkan route to Western Europe — through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary — volunteers are stepping in to help refugees, defying their leaders’ indifference or hostility to the new arrivals.
As a solitary train left Budapest’s Keleti station on Thursday, crammed with refugees who thought they were going to Austria, Orban was telling top European Union officials in Brussels that the crisis was 'a German problem.'”

 when government officials have lost their hearts somewhere along the way, citizens can step in and make things better.  This is one place where collective action can make a huge difference.