Moral obligation

View of the Statue of Liberty from Liberty Island

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There is no Statue of Liberty on our southern border, but the words engraved on its base still apply:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As long as we invite illegal immigration by our employment practices, then we have a moral obligation to the 15 million or so people who came here to work for a better life. Every time and everywhere there are guest workers in a time of rising unemployment, then there is an increasing sentiment by the citizens of the countries affected to send the temporarily unnecessary workers home. It occurs regularly here and abroad in times of economic stress.

If we as a nation decide we no longer want to accept immigration from the South, then we have the right to shut our southern entrance to further immigration. However, we still have a moral obligation to the undocumented aliens already here. We cannot, as a practical matter, deport them all nor can we punish them with imprisonment. Nor should we consider punishing their children for the sins of the fathers or mothers. Arresting the undocumented and attempting to deport them is extremely traumatic to families trying to survive paycheck to paycheck. The expense and loss of income can destroy everything that they have worked years to save and/or accomplish.

There should be a fitting balance between the crime committed and the punishment we as a society impose. For illegal drugs, we punish the buyer and the seller. The sale of sex is punished mostly on the seller and sometimes the buyer. Stolen property is punished on both the buyer and the seller. If we punish the seller of illegal labor, then we should equally punish the buyer. If the human resource departments and managers of businesses knew that they faced arrest and incarceration in tents in the heat of summer, they would refuse to hire anyone who might be here illegally. If we punish only with a small fine paid by the company, then company employees can escape their responsibility to the workers and to society.

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Lemming politics

A dead lemming on a stone in the river Revåa i...

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In a recent message, I said that the GOP has gone off the deep end. That started me thinking about why they have done so.  How can thinking adults leave logic and rationality in the dust? This is what I have concluded so far.

Demagogues in the media, you know who I mean, are playing upon our fears to increase their clout and income. Some Americans are following their lead like lemmings racing to a cliff. The TEA Party is acting to corral and shepherd the lemmings so that none dare vary from the course. Thinking for oneself is actively discouraged, and expressing differing thoughts vociferously opposed.

Empathy for our fellow Americans is fading virtue. It is ironic that many who don’t believe in Darwinism, evolution, are those most favoring social Darwinism, survival of the fittest. Monetary success is a mark of divine favor while failure is stigmatized as divine disapproval or plain old laziness. In other words, only those who should succeed are worthy and the rest of us are doomed in this life and the next. Each of us must succeed or fail on our own.  What social Darwinists seem to forget is that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to gain entry into Heaven. Since camels are not native to the US, I think that those preaching divine approval of wealth over helping your neighbor don’t realize that camels are large animals.

Government is criticized as a barrier to freedom, yet it is government that provides the playing field on which we all must compete, and that playing field is not a level one. It does not matter how much wealth one accumulates if our society becomes so divided that the wealthy cannot savor the freedom they claim to seek on our behalf. No one can be free in a cell, whether that cell is in an institution or self-created within a gated community.