12 October 2011

Alabama knows how to handle immigration and the jobs crisis


Alabama's new law on illegal immigration has been the talk of the nation. The President has sought the law's demise and misguided religious liberals have pushed for it to be overturned, yet Alabamians are squarely behind the Governor on this issue. Now, I'm a native Alabamian. Most of my formative years were spent here, though most of my adult life thus far has been spent outside of the State. It would be easy to suggest, therefore, that I am biased towards the law, and that would be a true assumption. The opponents of the law claim that the illegals are coming over here seeking a better life, and that is likely true. But how can we allow that at the expense of others? How can we tolerate that to be done at the expense of the people in the State of Alabama who, especially in this time of great economic turmoil, are seeking a better life? As Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us about charity, I realize we are called to help people, I realize we are unable to help everyone, and I realize that we should help those who are closest to us first.

Illegal aliens cost the people of Alabama around $300 million each year. This is a tremendous burden to be borne for those who come across the border in a manner that is against the law, work for money to send back to Mexico or wherever they are from, reap our benefits, and take jobs away from citizens and legal immigrants, get into automobile accidents without insurance, cause a rise in crime, and much, much more. Yes, they want a better life, but so do the people of Alabama.

And what has happened as a result of this immigration bill? Illegals have fled, or at least gone into hiding waiting to see if the President's efforts to foil the rights of Alabama to govern itself will succeed. Of course, the federal judge assigned to hear the case has largely sided with the Governor of Alabama. 

The town of Albertville, which had an hispanic population of around 20%, had 35 students withdraw from school in one day. Shelby County, just south of Birmingham, had 20 students leave. (Read more here.)  Illegals, even if they have gone into hiding, have left their jobs...which, again, they held illegally. What has happened as a result? Citizens and legal immigrants who were out of work now have jobs. At one fell swoop Alabama has made a significant step forward for dealing with the problems of illegal immigration and of unemployment. People who have been out of work for a long time, in some cases well over a year, are now able to have a real chance at employment...now that the practice of hiring illegal immigrants is illegal. So much for the theory that illegal immigrants do the jobs that the "rest of us" do not want to do. One need only look to the jobs done on Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs television program to see that plenty of even white multi-generation citizens will do the jobs that need to be done.

It is worth mentioning, though, that the 1982 Supreme Court ruling requires children of illegal immigrants to be educated. The goal of the Alabama law is not to force children of illegal immigrants out of schools or consign them to a permanent underclass status. The point of the law is to protect the sovereignty of Alabama and the rights of her people.

And what of the radical liberal Christians who say it is un-Christian to turn away the illegal immigrants? I ask, rather, is it Christian to demand that the people of Alabama (or of any State) bear the burden for those who have such little respect for the laws of the land that they enter the country illegally, take jobs that could have gone to a long-unemployed Alabamian, etc.? I say that it is not Christian for the people of Alabama to bear the burden of immigration. Just like the illegal immigrants, Alabamians are seeking a better life, perhaps now more than ever. We cannot sacrifice those closest to us and consider ourselves to have done our Christian duty to our people. We should at the same time welcome immigrants who have come here legally, and we should have reasonable programs for such immigration that provide the opportunity of immigration to as many as possible, but only as many as the United States or any particular State can handle. Immigrants ought not only receive benefits, but they ought to contribute to the country, to the State, and to their community. Immigration can be a great benefit to all people, if done correctly. Christian charity is for everyone, not just immigrants.

Alabama has set a model law for immigration reform and taking steps to solve unemployment problems. It is time for other States to adopt such laws.

11 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street is a communist movement


The Occupy Wall Street is an unfortunate attempt at instilling socialist and communist ideals into the United States. These are ideals inconsistent with America and with the Church, yet Mr. Bloomberg has promised that the so-called occupiers can stay indefinitely, and the President of the US has embraced the movement. Many in the academic community, long known for its liberal and socialist leanings, have endorsed the movement.

Though it appears difficult to get a coherent statement from the "occupiers," there is a central theme of blaming the top 1% of income earners in America (represented by Wall Street) for the problems of the other 99%. All issues of their socialist agenda aside, the problem is that their movement is directed in the wrong location. Rather than blaming corporate America, it ought to blame the government. Decades of mismanagement, fiscal irresponsibility, entitlement programs gone out of control, bailout programs, and much more is far more to blame than anything the corporate sector has done. This does not absolve the corporate sector of any responsibility it may have, though, and corporate greed and moral atrophy have indeed contributed to the economic crisis. However, government programs made it far easier to act on this greed. The economic crisis is a joint responsibility. Yet, this responsibility is not only shared between the government and the corporate sector. Consumer society is also to blame. Society wants more and more and more. They want to finance something with a loan they cannot possibly pay back, and then corporate greed, through programs allowed by the government, make a loan. After this was done on a large scale, bank failure resulted. Handout and entitlement programs run by the government fueled consumer greed as well. Widespread greed, even likely among a lot of the very people occupying Wall Street now, led to the economic crisis. Yet, the "occupiers" want to blame everyone else but themselves.

Now, while again there does certainly exist corporate greed, and I have written on this issue extensively in my own pastoral and academic writings, that someone else has something you do not have is not justification for blaming them for your woes. That honest workers and honest executives go to work each morning and earn their money does not inherently make them evil. That someone has more money than you does not entitle you to a piece of it. What we have is a group of people who have such a sense of entitlement that they pitch a temper-tantrum when they do not get their way. Occupy Wall Street is nothing more than a giant temper-tantrum, and just like with a child who behaves that way, no one who values an orderly and decent Christian society can give into them.

One need only look to the writings of the Church Fathers to be reminded that the world's resources are not distributed evenly or fairly...and that those who have been blessed with large amounts of resources should use it not to fuel greed, but for good. Yes, those who have large amounts of money are bound by the Laws of Christ to provide in some way for the sustenance of the poor. That does not mean, however, that the government should tax and tax the so-called rich for the purpose of giving it to others. Aside from the government's proven irresponsibility with money, providing for the sustenance of the poor does not mean redistribution of wealth - Simple redistribution of wealth, such as in entitlement programs, does not provide real help for the poor. Rather, it provides incentives for the poor to remain on such entitlement programs. The entitlement programs and hand-out programs provide a disincentive to work. Worse than that, it has the potential to create generations of "government zombies," or those who are completely dependent on the government. This is not freedom.

Providing for the sustenance of the poor means giving what you realistically can to those who are truly in need. It does not mean providing welfare with incentives that make it attractive as a way of life. It does not mean encouraging people to live off the hard-earned money of others. It does not mean giving false help, i.e., help that appears to be nice and makes the giver look generous, but in reality does no good for the person in need or for society. Remember the old maxim: give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach him to fish, and feed him for a lifetime. Unfortunately, the socialists camping out on Wall Street for so long without bathing, urinating and defecating on the streets, and behaving generally in a barbarian fashion want this redistribution of wealth. They want Wall Street to open its coffers and give to those who want it. They want to use their presence to force a major change...though they do not seem completely sure at all of what this change ought to be. This is not freedom. This is an attempt at mob rule, and that is how a communist revolution starts.

What is needed is real jobs reform. The government needs real policies to stimulate real jobs, and these policies largely involve the government staying out of the business of micromanaging business. The government's job is to create an environment in which business can thrive. Education also must mean something again. Rather than selling overpriced college degrees to those who do not really need them and likely will not be able to repay their student loans, high school ought to once again provide skills needed to have a decent job and a decent life. 

Unemployment numbers reported now mean very little. Consult Crossing Wall Street, and you'll be reminded that a corporate executive who is now working at McDonald's does not really count. He is employed at a much lower level, even though he is technically employed. In situations like the nation is in now, it is easy for the unemployment level to be manipulated into showing economic growth that simply is not there.

One thing that will help is to lower taxes, not raise them. Never has an increase in taxes resulted in more jobs. It is the very corporations that the "occupiers" are railing against that provide jobs. Corporations with money can hire people. People with money can buy consumer goods. Ironically, it is the top 1%, the so-called "villains" in the uninformed minds of the occupiers, who pay for a lot of the entitlement and hand-out programs.

What is most disturbing, though, is that this Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading. Not only is the same basic event spreading to other cities, the idea of occupation and using mob rule to influence policy is spreading to other aspects of society. One theology professor even suggests that Catholics ought to stage something akin to Occupy Wall Street in order to affect whatever change they want in the Church. Mob rule is not freedom. Mob rule is not an orderly society. Mob rule is chaos.

This whole event reminds me of a much larger scale version of protests I saw in China. It reminds me of the writing of Mao Tse Tung, in which he openly promoted class warfare and mob uprisings. This, of course, resulted in the communist take-over of China that persists to this day. In fact, the Occupy Wall Street movement is aimed as inciting class warfare. Some have explicitly promoted this. No freedom-loving Christian can tolerate that in America.

Greed never leads anywhere good, but neither do uncivilized attempts at mob rule. God is order. All that is opposed to order is opposed to God.