Some thoughts on activism...

Yesterday, John got me thinking about activism with his very well put essay on Christian rehtoric. J and I were discussing some things last night as far as our own perceptions/ experiences with activism.

My brother-in-law commented in the ensuing discussion the we could perhaps extend this reasoning to WTO protesters and Americans who complain about illegal immigration. I see his train of thought, but I think there are a couple ways the issues differ...

No matter how frustrating Illegal immigration may be, it is not directly a life and death issue. War is just that. The people who die of exposure in the deserts of Arizona and other border states are ultimately there by their own choice*, whereas many victims of war are not.

Chrisitan pacifists are claiming higher moral ground for their beliefs, and they may well be right. I'll wager that, come judgement day, God will have a laundry list for each of us, and whether we voted for hawks will be the LEAST of my transgressions. I am not sure of anyone in the anti-illegal immigration camps claiming moral high ground. (Of course, I am limited here by my own ignorance.)

Emotional, economic arguments, yes. But I am not up on Biblical arguments against border control. On the contrary, Scripture recognizes that politcal boundaries are there, and though God is not subject to them, we are.

As for the idea that we all benefit from an economy that includes illegal labor, I submit that we in turn all pay the price for such a system. Hospitals closing, school systems forced to fund more ESOL programs, prevailing wages dropping in construction fields. Not to mention the sheer exploitation of these people. Really, who thinks it is right, in the developed world, to pay someone $25 per day for hard labor?

WTO protesters-- I cannot even comment. I know only that I agree with some of their points, but not necessarily their motivation. I will say that they have some super talented artists working on their protests though. Those puppets are fantastic!

Activism isn't completely useless. I know that raising awareness is sometimes all we can hope for. Steve Forbes said it best:

In a democracy, that can only happen if there’s a change of heart, a change of conscience. To move the issue forward, I would oppose abortions in late pregnancy, barring emergency. I’d oppose abortions for purposes of sex selection. I’d oppose mandatory government funding. I’d support parental notification. Beyond that, we have to persuade. We’ve got to do it one on one.

To be sure, he was speaking about abortion, but the idea holds for all. One on one. That is the only way to effect true change. Activism will only work if activists commit to personal, relational contact with the world they seek to change.

*I want to be perfectly clear here: I believe that any life lost is mourned, by man and God. I am not in any way trying to minimalize the losses incurred.


wolske said…
Nothing in John's post indicated that this line of reasoning was limited to "life and death issues", so I stand by the fact that it can be applied to other activist issues that feign concern but don't actually DO anything to change the situation (no, complaining is not doing - that was part of John's point).

Which is more exploitative: paying someone $25 for a hard day of work in Gaithersburg, or paying the same person $10 per day for a hard days work in an American factory in Mexico?

Seems like the $25 is the better deal for the worker, so why would they feel exploited? The only people that think they're being exploited, again, are the people who's activism ends at their lips. I'm not saying that hiring someone for $25 to put themselves in harms way is OK; that's exploitive and unconscionable.

And while the bible might not have specific statements on immigration (remember, it was pretty much all open borders two thousand years ago), which sounds like it fits better with God's calling: helping your fellow man by giving him money for services (even if it is less than the daily wage proclaimed by Caesar)? or turning your back on him and telling him to go back to Mexico because his hardship is none of your concern?
wolske said…
and as for "hospitals and schools closing" -- if they were run correctly, additional patients and students would result in additional profits. this model has been proven to work.

it's not the immigrants that are closing these institutions, it's the "free for all" policies... fix the policies, resolve the problem.
Schools are not closing, to my knowledge. They are public funded, however poorly. As for the hospitals, it is illegal for them (and I would also argue immoral) to refuse care to patients based on ability to pay.

I never said John's post was limited to life and death issues, I simply am pointing out that there is a difference in the gravity of the situations, that's all.
I didn't intend to imply that John's post was limited to life and death issues, merely point out that difference in the gravity of the situations.

I think it is a disservice to call the concern feigned. I accept the sincerety of pacifists with question, though I disagree. Ineffective for the most part, yes, but I don't know about feigned.

I feel just as strongly about outsourcing as I do illegal immigration. Both are exploitative. Both do more to line the pockets of executives and shareholders than anything else. And while I understand that my IRA may benefit from this, I will, when able change at least MY investments. Incidentally, that $10 would go a heck of a sight further in MX that the $25 in Gaithersburg.

I was also careful to mention prevailing wage, which is a huge exploitation. Give a day laborer a hammer and call him a framer. Tomorrow, he has a wrench and is a plumber. A good example is drywall hangers, they are now paid around 8-10 per hour, down from 16-20 in years gone by. Have housing prices dropped? Where is the extra money going?

You say helping, I say taking advantage. Why not pay him a decent wage? Better yet, why not help him put leaders in place in his own country who will not be completely corrupt? Ask my brother about life in MX.

Not sure about the putting themselves in harm's way thing, though-- could you please clarify?

Also, I would beg to differ on the open borders 2000 years ago, but that is neither here nor there.
wolske said…
Explain to me how either outsourcing or hiring illegal immigrants is exploitive.

I will agree with you that many cases of both have been accompanied by exploitation, but many have not. Guilt by association doesn't cut it.

"Lining the pockets of executives"... [speechless] [not quite speechless] -- those cheap flip-flops or whatever that you were gushing about a while ago -- I'll bet you a steak dinner that they were not made in America. That you could buy them for under $5 or whatever -- that directly benefits YOU.

As for the value of a dollar in MD vs MX, a large portion of the money goes back to Mexico either way, so again $25 is better than $10. Even if they get $25 and have to redirect $10 to living expenses up here, that's $15 they can send to their family in Mexico... still better than $10. You think they come up here to make LESS money (net) than they could down there? That doesn't make a lick of sense. And you know they have the funds available after US expenses to send back -- I think you quoted $10 billion on one of your previous posts...

ug, you're examples are exhausting -- what was your point about hammers and framers and plumbers? Exploitation is charging customers above average prices to get things done because there are artificial constraints on who can perform the work, often due to licensing. You make it sound like being a jack of all trades is exploiting the customers... tell that to J when someone asks to see his Lighting License when he goes to a gig.

If you want to know where the money is going, you're right, it's going to developers. Developers who are paying Mexicans so they can feed their families and send money home -- again, providing for their fellow man, kind of like Jesus would have wanted. So the best thing you could do is become a real estate developer -- you get to make scads of money, you get to make people's lives better...
I will let J address that "Lighting License" comment, as he has forgotten more about audio/visual work than you or I know.

And, BTW, he has reached something of ceiling until he completes certification at an accredited college.

I have tried to be respectful. I apologize if I have fallen short of that goal.
Big Red said…
The big difference is that I get paid for my knowledge (and preivious experience/training) to do lighting and audio... a production would be a trainwreck if illegals (untrained/unexperienced persons)were behind the scenes. So tell me why it doesn't matter who frames your house? You like the idea of nails missing, possibly causing your structure to be unfit for wind or storms? being a 'jack off all trades' is a good thing, if you have been trained and know what it is you are doing and why, but to give anybody any position because the work is cheap, I hope the contractors don't sleep a wink.

As for the question of exploitation, were the contractors to follow federal and state guidlines built to make sure all hiring and payment was LEGAL, there would be no question, but don't think for one minute that the developers are 'helping their fellow man' are you nuts? sounds like it. they are exploiting the labour pool, and looking over their shoulders every single day. (don't even try to say that they think what they are doing is 'good') What I would give to be the guy with the badge who gets to cart off all the illegals from a job site , in the same paddy-wagon with the boss-man. Let some LEGAL residents get the work.

that's like looking through the phonebook for a gardner and then just going to the Home depot and hiring some illegals, what kind of warm-fuzzy feeling do you get inside when you take away the benefit of proper channels (licsencing/taxation) that go along with AMERICAN business.
You are actually cheating an American out of the money he is LEGALLY trying to earn.... that sure sounds like helping your fellow man to me......
wolske said…

I'm going to stop because it's obvious that there is no changing your mind.

don't get cocky, your kung-fu is not strong.
Big Red said…
My *lips moving* kung-fu is *lips moving* undeniable....


Popular posts from this blog

7 Foods for 1 Entire Month?

Still Daddy's Girl?

To the zit at the lower right corner of my mouth...