The National Catholic Review
Image
Small Victories

Although comprehensive immigration reform remains a pipe dream, two small victories can be declared this summer. In Arizona v. the United States, the Supreme Court struck down three out of four provisions of the Arizona immigration law of April 2010: (a) the provision making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for a job or hold one, (b) the provision making it a crime for an immigrant to fail to register with the federal government and (c) the provision authorizing warrantless arrests if the police have probable cause to think a person has done something deportable under federal law.

Days before that court ruling, President Obama issued an executive order lifting the threat of deportation that has hung over young immigrants brought to the United States before the age of 16. Those 30 or younger who have lived in the country for at least five years, are in school, are high school graduates or are military veterans and have no criminal records will no longer be deported. And they will be eligible to apply for a legal work permit, renewable every two years. Unlike the Dream Act, a bill proposed repeatedly in Congress but not passed, this executive order offers immigrants no path to citizenship. Still, it allows some 800,000 young immigrants to remain in the United States and work with legal status.

We hope that the young immigrant activists, or “Dreamers,” who have worked for reform are inspired by these small wins and that fairness in the form of more far-reaching immigration reform will soon prevail.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Jobs are clearly the number one concern of voters this election year. But whether or not there is a change of occupant in the White House, people are beginning to grasp that more than the government investment or tax breaks the candidates are offering will be necessary to once more give American workers a stake in the U. S. economy.

Like the piano players who lost their livelihoods to the player piano, every day men and women are being disloged by the digital revolution from productive roles in society. In their new book, Race Against the Machine, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee show how computerization is hollowing out the American middle class, with everyone from ticket agents to tax preparers to draftsmen, journalists and even lawyers losing jobs to machines. Unemployment and underemployment are threats not just to our standard of living, but even more to the dignity of workers. For, as Blessed John Paul II reminded us in his encyclical letter “On Human Work” (1981), labor is essential to our identity as human beings.

Whoever wins the White House, the challenges of re-engineering the economy will be enormous. Government, business and higher education must work together to promote an economic renewal that places greater worth on workers. The raw-meat capitalism of the last 30 years must be replaced by a more responsible economic system. Germany’s social market model demonstrates that capitalist systems that minimize inequality and let workers benefit from growth are feasible. An economy in which productivity and profitability grow but employment and wages shrink is neither politically nor economically sustainable.

Saying We’re Sorry

Why did it take so long for the United States to formally express regret for air strikes in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers? Partly, at least, because the Pentagon believed it had firm evidence that NATO forces were responding to a sustained and organized attack by the Pakistani military—where no apology was in order. But sometimes we say “sorry” to break out of a stalemate between proud wills in the interest of better relations. That is what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did on July 3. By saying sorry, she gave a face-saving way out for Pakistan to allow the United States transit for crucial supply convoys to Afghanistan and to keep routes open for the drawdown of U.S. forces from that country in 2014.

Learning to say we are sorry is becoming increasingly necessary in U.S. foreign military policy. The apology on July 3 was an outlier precisely because the Pentagon believed the November attack was a lawful defense, not a taking of innocent life. But in an era of cross-border terrorism and counterterrorist drone warfare with noncombatant casualties, the question of how to say sorry for military errors will remain a difficult one for global leaders.

Many innocents have already been caught in the crossfire of the war on terror. If the United States seeks to wage warfare from afar, then it should be clear about the damage incurred and should take responsibility for its mistakes in judgment that result in civilian deaths.

The art of apology is a delicate one. Global leaders may reasonably differ on how it should be applied. Sometimes a call to offer condolences may be preferable to a formal apology. Saying sorry should not be seen as a sign of weakness, but as an inescapable element of statecraft today.

Comments

JOSEPH D'ANNA | 7/20/2012 - 2:58pm
RE: Jobs

It is unlikely that we can rebuild the American economy, until we address the nation’s current account deficit. Since 1975 the U.S. has incurred a net loss of about $10 trillion in capital from the economy due to the current account deficit in consumer goods, petroleum and petroleum products. The loss of this capital means that it is not being recirculated to increase or sustain jobs and the economy.

As Americans continue to buy foreign goods and capital is lost, the country becomes poorer and the economy declines - as it has done at an alarming rate since about 1999. As the economy declines, the politicians cuts taxes (e.g., the Bush tax cuts) and/or deficit-spend (The 2009 Stimulus Package) to stimulate the economy. In turn, the nation gets deeper in debt.

Although Americans get extremely agitated by our $16 trillion national debt, most are unaware of or ignore our $10 trillion cumulative trade deficit/capital loss. Unless we stem the trade deficit and the outflow of capital, tax cuts and stimulus spending will only bankrupt the nation at a faster rate – as money continues to go abroad.

Currently, our national candidates will not discuss the problem, because they are dependent on the contributions of Wall Street and international corporations to run their election campaigns. Those entities love our current system, because it increases their profits, at the expense of the 98%. In turn, corporations and political candidates lie to the American people and blame the declining economy on taxes, government regulations and government spending. This gives them an excuse to press for even lower taxes, fewer environmental controls, and reductions in social programs – all of which accelerate the nation’s decline.

Corporate rule is ruining America and the world. We need candidates with integrity and courage, or we and other people throughout the world will have to take to the streets to change our corrupt, destructive governments and political parties.

ANDRE PAPINEAU REV | 7/20/2012 - 1:54pm
Your comment forgot to mention that 3 Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court voted to uphold all four of the Arizona immigration law, but I am sure no Bishop will threaten to withhold the Eucharist from them for their dissent from Church teaching.
ANDRE PAPINEAU REV | 7/20/2012 - 1:54pm
Your comment forgot to mention that 3 Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court voted to uphold all four of the Arizona immigration law, but I am sure no Bishop will threaten to withhold the Eucharist from them for their dissent from Church teaching.
7587652 | 7/20/2012 - 12:00pm
"The art of apology is a delicate one." Doubtless. Saying one is sorry is only one step. Another step would be explaining why it won't happen again. A further step would be explaining how it happened in the first place. An apology is one thing. Asking for forgiveness is quite another. The former belongs to reasonably informed and adult statecraft. The latter is a Christian obligation. In 2000 John Paul II asked for forgiveness and the "purification of memory" for what befell those of Jewish faith, the slave trade in Africa and the abuse of the Native Americans. The sex abuse scandal occasioned the most recent plea from the Church for forgiveness. All these "sorry" events, including the bombing in Pakistan, come under the rubric of an outrageous abuse of power. Military power and the state. Ecclesiastical power and the Church. More than"purifying its memory" the Church needs to secure its promise those crimes will not happen again with an acknowledged public discloure of why they happened in the first place. Purifying the culture within which those crimes arose is far more demanding-and humbling-than asking for forgiveness. Isn't there a lesson in all this for statecraft as well? In the sacrament of its own struggle for justice might not the Church signal a new direction for statecraft and the secular world?
Mike Evans | 7/20/2012 - 10:13am
The machine tool is not the enemy. The computer is not the enemy. In fact, the processes aided by these innovations call for higher trained workers and people with advanced skills to operate and maintain them. The auto worker of today is a far cry from Henry Ford's assembly line where someone just turned left hand threaded bolts. The major problem is that we have systematically reduced job dignity and company loyalty to commoditize labor by treating it as a disposable commodity. The reason so many jobs are off shored is not so much due to lower wages abroad but much lower worker resistance to poor workplace conditions, layoffs and crony hiring, and depressed wages with no benefits or pension costs. Thery pretend that these 'savings' offset the costs of the long distance transportation needed to bring the often sub prime and sometimes hazardouss products to market. It is a mindset that the pundits and even economists have bought into. Finally we are now seeing many companies bring their production back to the USA where pride and workmanship can again be the backbone of the production process. If we just go for cheap, we get what we pay for.

Recently in Current Comment