45 Responses to Arizona: Doing the Job the Feds Will Not Do!

  • This is a failure by the federal government. I don’t know anybody who wants to send people back who are looking for work, but there has to be some kind of order. Why hasn’t the U.S and Mexican governments set up some kind of system where workers can come and go in a legal fashion. Instead of them risking their lives crossing the desert.

  • Nice touch on the “o” in “won’t”, lol

  • And, I’m a proud American with a long and rich Lebanese heritage, which means sometimes people think I have a long and rich Mexican heritage.

  • As I agree I disagree… this new law will only provide police to wrongfully detain or haggle legal Hispanics. I would rather they start fining Businesses $500,000 per illegal. If there is no work many illegals will not try why punish those who are trying to come to our country to make a life for themselves.. punish those who want slave labor!!

  • I have no problem whatsoever with legal immigration. But relatives in Arizona tell me illegal immigration is making life down there hell – kidnappings, drugs, fights between rival gangs.

    The French-born husband of a friend of mine tells me he waited 7 years before he was able to get a green card. Rather bitterly, he says the smart thing to do would have to been fly to Tijuana and head north; naively, he followed the rules…

  • Donna,

    It makes me sick when people who don’t, and never have, lived in AZ make long-winded proclamations about this law or the situation down there. They know nothing. They’re the real “know-nothings” of our time, intolerant fanatics or people who are so deluded and ignorant about the realities of the situation that they shouldn’t even have an opinion.

    I won’t stand for it. I’m not the racist. La Raza and MEChA, the Brown Berets, the radical Chicano professors and peddlers of hate speech against blacks and whites, are the racists.

    People who agree with them or apologize for them are the soft bigots. They should be confronted.

    They don’t care that we have a destabilizing failed state to the south that poses a security risk to the country. All they care about is moralizing and grandstanding.

  • Amen Tito and there are many others who feel the same way. I agree with the stiff fine for anyone or any employer who abets an illegal regardless of country. Our Imimgration Dpt is as laxed as can be. I have often wonder why Custons could not work with employers who use migrant labor and have a system for them to enter and be controlled together and then return after work is completed. No benefits other than shelter, meals and pay. It would less expensive than the walls and fences. Mexico’s President was wrong in his statements. Why hasn’t he built industry in the rural areas for his people and created jobs for them. Why does he not tell people that entering Mexico is regared as a felony and carries jail time. What if our law was the same and we jailed imimgrants for jail time and anyone who abets them.. would we then need walls and and fences.

  • La Raza and MEChA, the Brown Berets, the radical Chicano professors and peddlers of hate speech against blacks and whites, are the racists.

    I agree wholeheartedly.

    Alex V.,

    Amen to fining businesses for hiring illegals.

    That would have an immediate impact!

  • I have often wonder why Custons could not work with employers who use migrant labor and have a system for them to enter and be controlled together and then return after work is completed.

    Guest worker programs are socially corrupting. Employers who wish to hire ‘migrant labor’ should be told to hire citizens and lawful settlers willing to work for the wages offered.

  • Guest worker programs are socially corrupting. Employers who wish to hire ‘migrant labor’ should be told to hire citizens and lawful settlers willing to work for the wages offered.

    This recommendation runs contrary to statements of many of our bishops, I believe.

    Concerning an immigration enforcment raid on a North Portland, Oregon food processing plant (in 2007, I think):
    “Portland Archbishop John Vlazny quickly denounced the raid by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, calling it “an affront to a nation whose tradition has always welcomed the stranger.” Calling for a moratorium on raids until national immigration reform is complete, the archbishop said the arrests tear apart families.”
    http://www.catholicsentinel.com/node/8172

    And a more recent statement by Bishop Slattery of Tulsa contained this recommendation:
    “Some way must be found to give the 11-12 million undocumented workers presently in the country some form of legal status. This need not include citizenship and should exclude anyone convicted of a felony.”
    http://www.dioceseoftulsa.org/article.asp?nID=1458

  • Neither statement refers to guest worker programs.

    That aside, both statements as rendered require elaboration.

    Some way must be found to give the 11-12 million undocumented workers presently in the country some form of legal status.

    And why would that be, your eminence?

    Calling for a moratorium on raids until national immigration reform is complete

    Penal codes are flawed. Do we let the muggers have free rein in urban neighborhoods until they are comprehensively repaired?

  • Thank you Messrs. Edwards and Vargas.

    And both of you make your statements, unlike b@d bishops spambot quotes and hate-filled libs, without accusing anyone that disagrees of being “the face of evil.”

    Let’s review how many sins against the Ten Commandments are b@d bishops endorsing? I make it only four: four, seven, eight and ten.

    And, at their next riot for amnesty, I want Che-worshipping revolutionaries to trot out an American construction worker and his family: whose livelihood was taken by a 12,000,000 undocumented workers and now 25 of them rent the house he lost to foreclosure.

  • Not sure about the Old Testament, but from the New Testament, the bishops often quote Matthew 25:35,
    “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,” etc.

    http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/matthew/matthew25.htm#v35

    See, for example, here:
    http://www.usccb.org/mrs/stranger.shtml

  • Concerning Art Deco’s claim that the guest worker program is “socially corrupting”, the bishops have acknowledged there can be social costs associated with the use migrant guest workers. For instance, responding to reform legislation proposed in 2004, the USCCB expressed concern that some provisions would lead to wage erosion, and called for modifications.
    http://www.usccb.org/hispanicaffairs/immigration.shtml

    I have not found an instance where a bishop called for the elimination of guest worker programs.

  • Concerning whether the millions of undocumented workers receive “some form of legal status”, Bishop Wester of Salt Lake City called for legal protection of immigrants’ due-process rights, among other things.
    http://www.sltrib.com/utahpolitics/ci_14135073

    Bishop Hubbard of Albany notes that “Regardless of their legal status, migrants, like all persons, possess inherent human dignity and human rights that should be respected.”
    http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/BishopHubbardArticle100226.pdf

    As I understand it, the bishops want immigrants to have a legal means of recourse if they are exploited or victimized.

  • As I understand it, the bishops want immigrants to have a legal means of recourse if they are exploited or victimized.

    The persons in question do not have ‘legal means of recourse’ becuase they came here on the q.t. That is a function of the calcuations they made at various junctures with reference to their personal situation. Giving them the benefits of legal status post hoc is not a ‘reform’ of immigration law; it is the abolition of immigration law.

    I have not found an instance where a bishop called for the elimination of guest worker programs.

    So what?

  • How can any honest person interpret “welcome the stranger” as “ignore all laws pertaining to immigration”? Because that’s what the bishops do when they speak out against the enforcement of immigration law.

    To me, “welcome the stranger” means just that – in your midst, you welcome any person who is a stranger. You welcome them with kindness and hospitality. But you don’t clamor for immigration anarchy, or make mealy-mouthed sermons that amount to that implicitly.

    I understand the human reasons often cited for illegal immigration. What I can’t tolerate is the political agitation, the visceral hatred and contempt, that so many seem to have or to at least go along with once they get here for this country and for Anglo Americans. You think its a minority. So did I, until I read about incidents like these. This is what they do in Mexico:

    http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/4236314/

    And this is what they do here, in this Snopes-verified incident:

    “On February 15, 1998, the U.S. and Mexican soccer teams met at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Mexican even though most lived in this country. They booed during the National Anthem and U.S. flags were held upside down. As the match progressed, supporters of the U.S. team were insulted, pelted with projectiles, punched and spat upon. Beer and trash were thrown at the U.S. players before and after the match. The coach of the U.S. team, Steve Sampson said, “This was the most painful experience I have ever had in this profession.”

    These are the things that normal Americans see every day, that a lot of over-educated, over-socialized, affluenzaed liberals never do. The plain fact is that a significant portion of the illegal immigrants from Mexico believe that they have a RIGHT to be here. Maybe they’re told that in their own society. Maybe they are told when they get here by the Hispanic versions of the KKK or Neo-Nazis that no one on the left ever talks about.

    But they have a racial and national pride that any white person would be categorized as a Nazi themselves for holding. And they have a hatred for this country and its non-Hispanic inhabitants. This is what they do to the blacks:

    http://www.alternet.org/story/46855/

    “According to Stark, “There is no black gang that encroaches on the 204’s turf. The hate is so prevalent and obvious that activists and city officials can no longer avoid calling it by the name being used by everyone from prosecutors to opinion writers in the L.A. Times: ethnic cleansing.”

    http://thelastgringo.com/serendipity/index.php?/archives/16-LATINOS-ETHNIC-CLEANSING-IN-L.A..html

    When the victims are black, of course, expect at least one conflicted liberal to come down on their side. If they were white, radio silence at best, tacit approval at worst.

    Of course we don’t want to demonize Hispanics. But when I see tens of thousands of Hispanics show up at rallies with swastikas emblazoned on the US or various state flags, I have to wonder, are they saying we’re Nazis, or are they declaring their own race war? Maybe they think Hitler had the right ideas and the wrong race. Or maybe they hate Jews too. Who knows?

  • “For instance my opinion of Mexicans in Mexico has been slowly degraded away over the years. I used to have a whole different opinion of Mexico and its people, but after seeing this continued America bashing by everyday Mexicans over and over my opinion and sympathy for the Mexican’s plight has gone to nearly zero.”

    http://www.diggersrealm.com/mt/archives/002304.html

    Expect a lot more Americans to undergo this change as they learn the truth.

  • Well it is Catholic website, so the bishops’ opinions are generally relevant, and their statements urge immigration reform, not abolition of guest worker programs (such as H2-A and H2-B) that I can tell, so I thought I would just point out what I have found and what I have not found in that regard.

  • I’m still waiting for Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Dolan to condemn Mexico’s brutally exclusive immigration laws as “mean spirited” and like “Nazi German” and “Russian communist” techniques.

    I’ll probably be considered someone’s ancestor before that happens.

  • Not one word from the bishops about this:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA8Br3_FIRg&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    Eradicate the gangs. Treat them like enemy combatants.

  • Well it is Catholic website, so the bishops’ opinions are generally relevant,

    I am sorry, what the bishops do not say about the technics of immigration enforcement, the designated hitter rule, trade winds, Mexican cuisine, and any number of other things is not of much interest to me. What they do say as a consequence of fulfilling their duties does interest me. And, of, course, faithful Catholics face the challenge of following the teachings of the Church when they are lost in a sandstorm of verbiage on ancillary matters from the staff of the bishops’ conference and diocesan chanceries.

  • “Standing before a small white coffin, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said Wednesday that two small girls gunned down last week are martyrs of gang warfare and called on residents citywide to have the courage to rise up against gangs.

    “Mahony delivered the stern words to about 300 mourners attending funeral services for 3-year-old Denise Silva of Boyle Heights. He said each member of the community must take responsibility for escalating gang violence.”
    http://articles.latimes.com/1992-04-16/local/me-934_1_gang-members

    That condemnation of gang violence was from 1992, though the shootings in video was from 2008, so I do not know if that quote will satisfy you or you want something more recent.

  • What they do say as a consequence of fulfilling their duties does interest me.

    Great. I think we are the same page. Now if we only had a quote from a bishop that supports your position I think we can just about wrap this up.

  • Spam,

    So you opposed Health Care Reform because the bishops did?

  • I don’t know about S.pamb.ot, but I’m on the same page as the bishops on both health care and immigration. And I applaud Bishop Olmsted’s affirmation of the excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride as well as his opposition to SB 1070.

  • And I note yet again that the same tactic of opposition to Bishop Olmsted is used by both the Democratic and Republican loyalists.

    From the Democrats/pro-choicers, you hear that Bishop Olmsted just doesn’t understand the realities of the hard choices we must make about women’s health.

    And from the Republicans/conservatives, we hear that Bishop Olmsted just doesn’t understand the realities of how issues of immigration must be addressed.

  • The problem with your analysis is that abortion is an intrinsic evil and can never be justified. While immigraion is a right, it is not an absolute right – the state may limit immigration and enforce those laws including deportation.

    As such, immigration laws are properly the provence of the laity who are called to make such decisions. The bishops present the moral principles which the laity then prudently apply. If the bishops present a plan on immigration, a Catholic in good conscience can disagree.

    The particulars of the abortion case are not clear. But if an abortion was performed, no one may licitly disagree.

  • The bishops present the moral principles which the laity then prudently apply. If the bishops present a plan on immigration, a Catholic in good conscience can disagree.

    Fair enough.

    But it seems to be the case that most conservative Catholics disagree with the bishops whenever a bishop’s position is contradicted by the talking points of the conservative wing of the Republican party. And when the disagreement is voiced by these Catholics, it is usually with ridicule.

    I do wish more Catholics would step out from the boundaries of politics, especially when it comes to morality.

  • I will have to say that bishops’ opinions should be treated with respect. Though Cardinal Mahoney’s comments on the AZ law does deserve contempt.

  • JohnH, Phillip, Art Deco, Greg Mockeridge, Donna V., afl, T. Shaw, and S.pamb.ot,

    While you guys are engaged in good dialogue why don’t you all put up some icon pics for your ID/gravatar?

  • I don’t know how. I’m technologically challenged.

  • So you opposed Health Care Reform because the bishops did?

    Yes. I commented about this briefly at Zippy’s a while back.
    http://zippycatholic.blogspot.com/2010/03/more-funding-for-abortion-is-just.html?showComment=1269530687527#c4629179916212773003

    I’ll leave at that for now to avoid going off topic.

  • Great. I think we are the same page. Now if we only had a quote from a bishop that supports your position I think we can just about wrap this up.

    No, we are not. I am not inhibited from advocating a social policy because my bishop has not pronounced on that specific subject. You have not offered one citation to the effect that an immigration policy which permits settlers but not the issuance of visas to imported servant-laborers is in contradiction to a moral principle articulated by the Church.

    But it seems to be the case that most conservative Catholics disagree with the bishops whenever a bishop’s position is contradicted by the talking points of the conservative wing of the Republican party.

    There is no consensual position on immigration within the Republican Party, much less ‘talking points’.

    The bishops need to elaborate on how the moral and ethical obligations of the faithful are articulated in social policy and how the latter compels lax enforcement of immigration laws, amnesty, &c. If they can actually state things in those terms.

  • I will have to say that bishops’ opinions should be treated with respect.

    I think that is all I really wanted. Not necessarily from anyone one person in particular, but from Catholic sites in general when they examine the Arizona immigration law controversy.

    What do the bishops say and why do they say it? Are the various bishops’ statements generally consistent with each other? Should Catholics feel obligated to line up behind them if they are relatively uniform in their opinion?

    Those are some of the questions on my mind and tried to explore a little here.

  • While you guys are engaged in good dialogue why don’t you all put up some icon pics for your ID/gravatar?

    I am not sure I can get it to work.

  • How to set up a gravatar:

    http://en.gravatar.com/

  • Just want to draw attention to the seriousness of the abuse of migrants in Mexico that Greg refers to and acknowledge that I could not find statements from Catholic bishops on that specific situation.

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/widespread-abuse-migrants-mexico-human-rights-crisis-2010-04-27

  • S.pamb.ot hits the nail on the head, so to speak.

    ” . . . Catholic website, so the bishops’ opinions are generally relevant”

    BINGO!!!!

    Opinion.

    I read books on my commute/RR. One book I read was The Republic. Plato said, “Opinion is not truth.”

    I don’t much care about bishops’ opinions unless they jive with the Scriptures and the Pope.

    Especially since the majority voted for Obama in opposition to Pope Benedict’s non-negotiables, I have no reason to blindly accept any bishop’s OPINION.

    FYI Bamspot BUDDY: Check out OT Tobit on not giving alms to evil people. “Better to put your bread on the grave of a just man than . . . ”

    The criminals (tearing at the guts of many communities) are not the least of Christ’s brothers. And, are breaking at least four of the Ten Commandments.

    But, if you must feed them, send them food in their homelands. And, use your money for your charitable acts.

    Those are my opinions and again opinion is not truth.

    I’m a superannuated accountant who has to look up much of the vocabulary you people use. Plus, what is this gravatar thing?

    BTW: Closed comments on the Second Amend. I am perennially banned at a certain so-called catholic website. Seems totalitarianism resides in socialist saints, as much as stalinists and nazis.

    That’s okay. I had completed my post-doctoral field work in proctology at the time they banned me.

  • Shaw,

    “Closed comments on the Second Amend.”

    I hope you aren’t referring to my post. Comments are closed here because I don’t want two discussions. On my personal blog, where you can read the rest of the piece, you can comment to your hearts content.

  • Thank you, T.Shaw. I’ll try to keep all of that in mind.

  • The USCCB on guest worker programs:
    In May [2006], the Senate passed S.2611, which includes the 200,000 new H2-C visas supported by President Bush as well as pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have worked in the country five years or more.

    Earlier this year [2006], the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the enforcement-only House bill and subsequently called the Senate bill [S.2611] “a good start.”

    Among the bishops’ principles for just immigration reform is a guest-worker program that helps unify migrant families and provides a path to earn citizenship.

    “The bishops are not opposed to border security or national sovereignty,” Torres told Our Sunday Visitor. “But they want to balance the right to migration and the dignity of all human beings.”
    http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=20754

    Bishop Wenski testifying before a House Subcommittee on Immigration Reform in 2007:
    While we appreciate the inclusion in Title IV of AgJOBS legislation [temporary workers provision of S.1348], we strongly oppose the Title’s adoption of a temporary worker program that does not provide workers with the option of pursuing a path to permanent residency. This could create an underclass of workers in our society who are easily exploitable and without full rights and privileges in the society. We also have misgivings about workers having to return home after two years and remain outside of the country for a year. We fear this may result in some workers choosing to stay illegally.
    Other problems we have in Title IV include its unrealistic requirements for health insurance and minimum income levels, and the reliance on the unrealistic triggers found in Title I of the legislation before the temporary worker program can begin to operate.
    http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/meh-wenski-adopted-changes.pdf

    The USCCB (again) on the AgJOBS program:
    The U.S. Catholic Bishops support both permanent and, with appropriate protections, temporary visa programs for laborers. However, any such system must adequately protect the rights of workers. Visa costs must be affordable and wages should be sufficient to support a family in dignity. The program ought to provide for family unity and reunification and allow for worker mobility both within the United States and in making return trips to their home country. Labor-market tests should be employed to ensure that U.S. workers are protected. A segment of work visas should be designed to allow laborers to enter the country as legal permanent residents. In allocating such visas, two factors that should be considered are family ties and work history.
    http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/h2a.shtml

    The USCCB (again) on immigration and border security:
    The Catholic Catechism teaches that in the realm of immigration law all governments have two essential duties, both of which must be carried out and neither of which can be ignored.

    The first duty is to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the dignity and rights of the human person.

    The second duty of government is to secure its border and enforce immigration law for the sake of the common good, including the safety and well-being of the nation’s inhabitants and the rule of law.

    The U.S. Catholic Bishops have outlined various elements of their proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.

    Future Worker Program: A worker program to permit foreign-born workers to enter the country safely and legally would help reduce illegal immigration and the loss of life in the American desert. Any program should include workplace protections, living wage levels, safeguards against the displacement of U.S. workers, and family unity.
    “http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/legal.shtml”

    ~~~~~~~
    From these and other resources, I believe it is fair to conclude that our bishops support issuance of visas to temporary workers as long as legal protections against exploitation and abuse of the workers are provided. This leads me to believe they oppose elimination of the temporary workers programs.

  • An article concerning the USCCB’s position on guest worker programs:
    In May [2006], the Senate passed S.2611, which includes the 200,000 new H2-C visas supported by President Bush as well as pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have worked in the country five years or more.

    Earlier this year [2006], the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the enforcement-only House bill and subsequently called the Senate bill [S.2611] “a good start.”

    Among the bishops’ principles for just immigration reform is a guest-worker program that helps unify migrant families and provides a path to earn citizenship.

    “The bishops are not opposed to border security or national sovereignty,” Torres told Our Sunday Visitor. “But they want to balance the right to migration and the dignity of all human beings.”
    http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=20754

    Bishop Wenski testifying before a House Subcommittee on Immigration Reform in 2007:
    “While we appreciate the inclusion in Title IV of AgJOBS legislation [temporary workers provision of S.1348], we strongly oppose the Title’s adoption of a temporary worker program that does not provide workers with the option of pursuing a path to permanent residency. This could create an underclass of workers in our society who are easily exploitable and without full rights and privileges in the society. We also have misgivings about workers having to return home after two years and remain outside of the country for a year. We fear this may result in some workers choosing to stay illegally.

    “Other problems we have in Title IV include its unrealistic requirements for health insurance and minimum income levels, and the reliance on the unrealistic triggers found in Title I of the legislation before the temporary worker program can begin to operate.”
    http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/meh-wenski-adopted-changes.pdf

    ~~~(cont’d)

  • The USCCB (again) on the AgJOBS program:
    “The U.S. Catholic Bishops support both permanent and, with appropriate protections, temporary visa programs for laborers. However, any such system must adequately protect the rights of workers. Visa costs must be affordable and wages should be sufficient to support a family in dignity. The program ought to provide for family unity and reunification and allow for worker mobility both within the United States and in making return trips to their home country. Labor-market tests should be employed to ensure that U.S. workers are protected. A segment of work visas should be designed to allow laborers to enter the country as legal permanent residents. In allocating such visas, two factors that should be considered are family ties and work history.”
    http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/h2a.shtml

    The USCCB (again) on immigration and border security:
    “The Catholic Catechism teaches that in the realm of immigration law all governments have two essential duties, both of which must be carried out and neither of which can be ignored.”

    “The first duty is to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the dignity and rights of the human person.”

    “The second duty of government is to secure its border and enforce immigration law for the sake of the common good, including the safety and well-being of the nation’s inhabitants and the rule of law.”

    “The U.S. Catholic Bishops have outlined various elements of their proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.”

    “Future Worker Program: A worker program to permit foreign-born workers to enter the country safely and legally would help reduce illegal immigration and the loss of life in the American desert. Any program should include workplace protections, living wage levels, safeguards against the displacement of U.S. workers, and family unity.”
    http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/legal.shtml

    ~~~~~~~
    From these and other resources, I believe it is fair to conclude that our bishops support issuance of visas to temporary workers as long as legal protections against exploitation and abuse of the workers are provided. This leads me to believe they oppose elimination of the temporary workers programs.

  • I have heard far more persons discussing that the law is Unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause forbids state and local laws that contradict federal laws in matters where the federal government has authority to act.
    Once again it only applies in situations where the law contradicts the current law. Arizona’s law requires that State/Local authorities hand over suspect illegals to the proper federal authorities. Maybe you have forgetten (since we haven’t enforced these laws) but it’s still a crime to enter our country illegally.
    But as long as we are talking about Constitutionality let’s talk about the Commerce Clause on the Constitution (Article I, Section 8). This clause prohibits states and localities from passing laws that burden interstate or foreign commerce by, among other things, creating “discriminations favorable or adverse to commerce with specific foreign nations.”
    Boycotting Arizona is UNCONSTITUTIONAL so knock it off already. Also to the Arizona government, how about we step up and actually file suit against these cities?

35 Responses to Catholic Worker View of NAFTA/Immigration

  • Thank you for posting this. God help us.

  • EXCELLENT post! When NAFTA was passed, there were Americans who warned against this very possibility–but they were denounced as alarmists. Supposedly industry migrating to Mexico would provide jobs for all the displaced agricultural laborers. As it turned out, the only opportunities available in adequate numbers were across the border, and Americans at the time were definitely hiring. (Quite a different picture from the one the nativists paint: the one that features hordes of swarthy drug-dealer types bent on satisfying their greed by infiltrating our cities.)

  • NAFTA and Bush destroyed the rural economy in Mexico and points south.

    We daily read and see horrific reports of famine, mass starvation, and pestilence. It’s the Irish Potato Famine being re-played (in HD) in front of our eyes!

    Their cultures, economies and nations are ruined. Let’s wreck the US and our way of life in expiation of our sins!

    Peace and justice! The common good!!!

  • If you want to see how agribusiness has driven them off their land with GM corn, see the last 10 minutes of “The World According to Monsanto”:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6262083407501596844#

    Move the player slider to 1:25:00

  • The proportion of the labor force engaged in agriculture declines as a matter of course in the process of economic development

  • This certainly does a good job of putting human faces on the process of modernization.

    A couple point, though, at the risk of seeming heartlessly capitalist:

    – Although the constitutional reform which allowed ejido privatization was put through around the same time as NAFTA, it wasn’t actually a part of NAFTA, so much at it was part of a broader effort at economic development on the part of Mexico of which NAFTA was also a part.

    – Perverse as it may seem, one of the points of the ejido reform was precisely what is described here: reducing the number of workers employed in agriculture in Mexico. (see this brief piece from 1992 about ejido reform, written by the San Francisco Federal Reserve) Prior to the reform, as the Catholic Worker article also states, 26% of Mexican workers were agricultural workers. However, as the SF Fed article points out, agriculture was responsible for less than 10% of the Mexican GDP. In other words, farmers were among Mexico’s poorer and less productive workers. The belief was that this was that the small plots on communal land of the ejidos caused low productivity and lack of capital investment in improving the land. Mexican authorities believed that allowing privatization and selling or leasing of ejido land would allow larger farms to be established, productivity to increase, and large numbers of former farm workers to go into more productive industries. Usually, having a small percentage of your population engaged in agriculture (while having a large agricultural output) is actually a good thing for your country. For instance, the US has seen steadily increasing agricultural output from 1945 to the present, but has seen the percentage of the population working an agriculture drop from 16% to 2%.

    – Although, as the Catholic Worker article points out, the percentage of Mexican workers employed in agriculture has dropped from 26% to 16% in 20 years, the total agricultural output of Mexico has actually increased steadily throughout that period. That actually means more food, less hunger, and overall improved conditions for Mexicans overall.

    – This kind of drastic societal change always comes at a significant personal cost for those affected. The US went through this same period of increasing agricultural output, but rapidly dropping rural population. We did the 26% to 16% change between 1925 and 1945 — a period which isn’t really remembered fondly. My dad’s mother and her family were directly effected by the US version of this dislocation. They lost their farm in Ryan, Iowa, piled everyone into the Ford, and drove out to California in search of work in the early 30s. Given that Ryan now has a population of only 400, and an average income well under the national average, that may have worked out well in the end. But it was far from fun for the first decade.

  • We did the 26% to 16% change between 1925 and 1945 — a period which isn’t really remembered fondly.

    The banking crises and associated contraction in output during the period running from the fall of 1929 through the spring of 1933 and the aftereffects thereof are why the period is not remembered fondly. These were not a necessary component of the shift from agricultural to non-agricultural employment. (One of the previous generation in my household quit farming in 1949; I cannot recall he ever said it was a wrenching experience).

  • Certainly, the rapid shift from agricultural to city labor wasn’t the only thing going on during the depression, but for a lot of families that “lost the farm” that dislocation was a major part of the story. We even got Grapes of Wrath out of it, for all that’s worth.

    It was also the motive behind some of FDR’s more idiotic policies — like destroying large quantities of food in order to keep prices up.

    After all, for rural banks, one of the main sources of bank failures was when heavily leveraged farmers got hit with falling prices and the dust bowl at the same time, and so starting defaulting on their mortgages and heading out for the coasts. (What made it a lot easier on them than Mexican peasants, however, is that they mostly had at least an 8th grade education, which amounts to rather more than a high school education these days. And they spoke the language.)

  • Darwin,

    You make excellent points. Part of the limits of human understanding is the consequences our actions will produce. Often the consequences are not what we expected and can frequently be for the worse (I think Health Care Reform will be an excellent example.) But one also has to look at what NAFTA has accomplished. There has been a human cost but also a human gain. The whole truth needs to be looked at so that it can be objectively assessed and good maintained and the bad corrected.
    I think such an approach is consistent with Catholic Social teaching. As Benedict XVI noted in Caritas in Veritate, charity must be in accord with the truth. Otherwise it becomes mere sentimentalism. So a detailed, economic analysis of NAFTA along with the personal stories is required by CST so that the truth can lead charity.

  • Yes, and if it wasn’t clear from what I wrote above: I am in favor of NAFTA (and the changes to the Mexican constitution allowing for the privitization of the ejidos) because I think that it will, in the end, be to the common good of Mexicans.

    A demand that people be allowed to remain subsistance farmers has a certain romance for moral tourists, but it’s notable that none of us choose to go be subsistance farmers. The intermediate stages may be misable, and the suffering of people who find themselves displaced against their will is real, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not in fact a road to a better situation. My grandmother’s family, for instance, was much better off as a result of losing the family farm and having to move to California. It took a good ten years or more for them to be better off, but in the end they were — and certainly their descendants are.

  • Three of my four grandparents came here from Mexico. It was very rough in the beginning. My maternal grandparents raised 13 children through the depression. All my aunts and uncles are doing exceptionally well in America. Much better than relatives who stayed in Mexico. Disruptions is sometimes painful, but in the long-term helpful.

  • “Usually, having a small percentage of your population engaged in agriculture (while having a large agricultural output) is actually a good thing for your country.”

    As Peter Maurin put so well, a child is an asset on the land, but a liability in the city. It would be far better if most of us lived on the land, farming and making crafts, engaged in a distributist economy that put people before profits.

  • A child is a gift anywhere.

  • Like most people I’m perfectly willing to go along with Nate’s vision as long as I’m not one of the “most” engaged in farming and craft-making.

  • Not so much into basket weaving, eh? 🙂

  • Well, yeah. I don’t mean to sound like a jerk by putting this so bluntly, but if Maurin was right, why is it that even the vast majority of those involved in the Catholic Worker movement do not in fact live on the land farming and making crafts? I would assume that if this was clearly preferable at a human level, more people would be doing it.

  • Darwin,
    It is, of course, because “other people” should be doing it. It always is. People with advanced degrees in social work, philosophy, etc have more refined vocations, such as organizing and leading a society that successfully requires “most people” to engage in land farming and craft-making, for their own good of course.

  • As Peter Maurin put so well, a child is an asset on the land, but a liability in the city. It would be far better if most of us lived on the land, farming and making crafts, engaged in a distributist economy that put people before profits.

    A child is an asset when there are no child labor laws or Social Security, and a liability when there is (which is not to say that we should do away with Social Security or laws against child labor; it’s just to note that it is those laws, rather than the geographical location in which a child grows up, that are responsible for children being an economic liability vs. an economic asset).

  • I reject what my fiancee and I affectionately call “Shire” Distributism – this reactionary view that we’re all going to go back to the land and till the soil for the good of our souls.

    I support anyone who wants to do that but realistically it is never going to become the dominant economy ever again.

    There’s a reason why the Papacy never advocated such a return to the land either. The Papal view of Distributism is much more realistic, it talks about how the idea can be applied in modern society, in modern businesses and modern economies.

  • @Mike,

    lol, yeah – I think Pol Pot was one of those people.

  • I reject what my fiancee and I affectionately call “Shire” Distributism – this reactionary view that we’re all going to go back to the land and till the soil for the good of our souls.

    Shire Distributism. I may have to steal that.

  • To be fair, Maurin did in fact live on the agricultural Catholic Worker communes, so at least he followed his own advice. But though I’m not deeply read in Catholic Worker history, it doesn’t seem to have been an overall good for many families. I recall reading an interview a while back where Dorothy Day’s daughter talked about how intense trying to live up to that rural ideal was, and said that it was one of the reasons why she’s no longer practicing her faith.

  • Well, friends, there are many Catholic Worker farms, and the Catholic Worker movement is still in its infancy – barely 75 years since its founding. Most Catholic Workers that I know do not have advanced degrees, and try to ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. Of course, there are elements of every movement that do not adhere to its founding vision, but those elements will not last.

    Shire Distributism! I will have to use that phrase. But Joe, have you considered that the dominant economy, that of capitalistic industrialism, will collapse one day? I am convinced that it will. And what then?

  • Peter Maurin used a great phrase too – Agronomic Universities – a place where scholars could be workers, and workers could be scholars. Like living in the Shire, but with a great many books and a great many vocations! Love it! Someone want to donate me some land in Missouri?

  • Actually, I think the brilliant thing about “Shire Distributism” is that both proponents and opponents would like the term.

    To me, I think the thing it points out is that Tolkien’s shire was knowingly an idealized place — one which Tolkien wasn’t trying to write about as a realistic society. Tolkien was evoking an image of the English countryside which even to him was just a distant childhood memory. And so he’s not worrying about topics like: If a farmer has four sons, and just the right amount of land to support the family well, which of his sons gets to marry and have a family and inherit the farm, and which three need to work as unmarried laborer or else go find non-family land somewhere else?

    And indeed, I think the disagreement over Shire Distributism is very much one between idealism and practicality.

  • “I reject what my fiancee and I affectionately call “Shire” Distributism – this reactionary view that we’re all going to go back to the land and till the soil for the good of our souls.”

    Having done a fair amount of agricultural labor in my pre-lawyer incarnation I can guarantee that most people would truly hate earning their living by “working the land”. Additionally there simply wouldn’t be enough land for “city-folk” to make a living doing it, even if they adopted an Amish life style.

    I am pretty familiar with the Amish here in Illinois.

    http://www.amishillinois.com/towns/arcola.htm

    I admire their way of life, but it is definitely only a way of life for a highly disciplined, extremely hardworking and tightly knit group.

  • “Someone what to donate me some land in Missouri?”

    Work hard for many years. Then buy it yourself. 😉

  • Peter Maurin used a great phrase too – Agronomic Universities – a place where scholars could be workers, and workers could be scholars. Like living in the Shire, but with a great many books and a great many vocations!

    Whenever I hear ideas like this I can’t help but be reminded of Mao’s line about how “knowledgable youth should go to the country, to be educated from living in rural poverty.” Of course Maurin was a fundamentally decent man, and never would have used the methods Mao used to bring his vision about (which may partly explain why Maurin’s views were never put into practice on a large scale).

  • I like the article linked below on shire economics:

    “Take the idea of the Shire as an ideal community. When I first read the book, I thought the Shire was the most realistic part, and that Minas Tirith, a sort of cross between Camelot and Rome on its seven hills, was artificial. But the Shire is a complete fantasy; no subsistence farming community (and as the hobbits don’t manufacture or trade much, they have to be classed as subsistence) have among their ranks people like Frodo or Bilbo. The Shire is a farming community without farmers. Frodo, Bilbo, Pippin, Merry and even the Sackville-Bagginses are all middle class, and middle classes don’t occur in close-knit farming communities. The middle class is a result of trade, surplus, commerce and an administration that needs well-educated people to run it. Middle classes are an urban phenomena.

    Even Sam is not a farmer, he is a gardener; there is a big difference, farmers grow crops, gardeners grow flowers.

    To cite the Shire, therefore, as a model community to counter the ills of modernism is very unwise. Even in the book, Frodo is regarded by the hobbits are eccentric. In a real Shire, he might be driven out as a witch for knowing Elvish. And without Frodo, would we really want to be like the Daddy Two-foots and Ted Sandymans? A community that is close-knit and anti-authoritarian can also be claustrophic and backward.

    The greatest casualty of modernity is the environment, and Tolkien and his writing appeal strongly to people who wish desperately to preserve the natural world. As Tony Shell says, Tolkien can ‘provide an extraordinarily sublime feeling of immanence and essential vitality to the natural world..’

    But would we all want to do without the trappings of modernity, even to save the natural world? I would do without a car, gladly. Even the washing machine, although beating out clothes on the river bank while exchanging gossip with the other village maidens is not really my thing.

    But doing without medicine, basic healthcare, street lighting, accessible education, juries, pcs, cinemas, freedom of speech, that is another. But these, as well as the destruction of the enviroment, are trappings of modernity. My own grandfather was a ploughman in one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland. But he died within 24 hours of pneumonia from sleeping in a damp, if picturesque, cottage. People who advocate such a return to traditional communities and ways of life are often city folk who forget that such an existence was described as ‘nasty, brutish and short’. because it was.”

    http://lotrscrapbook.bookloaf.net/essay/varda/contents/varda_paradise.html

  • The Shire isn’t exactly a rural society — it’s more an idealized English country village. Think the Highbury of Jane Austen’s Emma. But even more so than in Emma, we only see the members of the essentially idle class. Bilbo (and Frodo later) never had a Baggins estate so far as we can tell, where actual tennant farmers raise crops to produce income. Nor does one get the impression that one can make all one’s money off investments in the Shire (as the Mr. Woodhouse in Emma apparently does) — it’s a country village, with a country village’s upper class, but not London to provide more complex investment for those not actively running an estate or business.

    I’d say that’s probably because Tolkien isn’t attempting to be realistic in his portrayal of the Shire. Minas Tirith and Rohan are portrayed (in the book — unlike in the movie where these cities sit in the middle of totally empty plains) as fairly realistic pre-industrial cities with outlying farmlands and villages. But the Shire (perhaps in part because it very much dates back to The Hobbit, which is more a children’s book in its atmospher; partly because it is an intentional evocation of Tolkien’s childhood memories) isn’t thought out in traditional social structures so much as it draws on traditional characters and institutions without giving much thought to how they’d fit together.

  • Wow look what I started!

    “I’d say that’s probably because Tolkien isn’t attempting to be realistic in his portrayal of the Shire.”

    And neither are some Distributists in their view of politics and economics.

    Nate,

    “But Joe, have you considered that the dominant economy, that of capitalistic industrialism, will collapse one day? I am convinced that it will. And what then?”

    Well, I’m not so sure industry itself will collapse.

    The civilization we have now may very well collapse, though.

    And so I fully support people who want to learn basic survival skills, basic farming skills. I think we should all have some knowledge of these things because we may need them in the future.

    But we should also try to preserve the civilization we have and not give in totally to fatalism. Of course everyone has to make calculations based on what they think the future will hold.

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