We’ve all heard how women make less money than men. Well, this infographic really brings it home. Really something to think about.
We’ve all heard how women make less money than men. Well, this infographic really brings it home. Really something to think about.
Posted by Lizbeth on December 7, 2012
Black Friday is traditionally and mythicly (in the U.S.) the biggest shopping day of the year. If you’re not into consumerism, what are your options today?
What are you doing for Black Friday? Share your plans in the comments.
Posted by Lizbeth on November 23, 2012
I know that New York City is a world away from Idaho Falls, but I found this article (from the New York Times) about the experience of minority students at elite schools in New York City to be very thought provoking. Read the comments on the article, too, they are equally thought provoking.
Share your thoughts on the article in the comments, please.
Posted by Lizbeth on November 21, 2012
Underpaid? Shift worker? Service job? Retail job? Blue collar job? Or you care about all of the above? Check out Interfaith Worker Justice, an interfaith coalition working to improve labor conditions for the workers that make our world go round.
Posted by Lizbeth on October 18, 2012
So now that I discussed the reasons people come to this country, and why that won’t be changing any time soon, I want to talk about what the citizens of the United States can do about this influx of people suffering from injustice in their home countries, in transit, and once they have arrived here.
Number 4 is my preferred option, but very, very difficult. To solve it would mean that fewer people are torn from their families to suffer the dangerous journey north, and those who still came would find good working conditions, decent pay, and a life without fear.
Will you join me on this path? What are your ideas for dealing with the injustice of illegal immigration to the United States? Tell me in the comments.
Posted by Lizbeth on May 2, 2011
Today I want to talk about the reasons people have for leaving their home countries in Latin America and coming to the United States. Why are they so desperate that they cannot wait for the legal methods (aside from their incredible slowness and wait times of decades)?
The violence in Latin America is shocking. Mexico is the worst, and the one we hear about most, but the other countries farther south, especially Guatemala and Honduras, are just about as bad. What is the source of the violence? Right now, it’s due to the drug traffickers using these countries as a base, as Columbia becomes more able to control its countryside and enforce its laws, and the US Coast Guard has shut down the Caribbean sea route for getting drugs into the United States.
Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras have never fully recovered from their civil wars of the 1970s and 80s. Almost all security in the countryside is from private security companies, not the police. The drug traffickers find it incredibly easy to move their products through these countries, bringing drug addiction and violence with them.
The drugs, of course, are coming to the United States. The war on drugs is not working, it only moves the violence from our doorstep to the countries farther south. I don’t know if legalization is the answer, but I do know that our current policies are not working. We cannot expect to have limited immigration from our southern neighbors when we export the violence of our illegal drug market to them.
However, drug violence is not the entire story. Even if that problem were solved (thorny as it is) then something would still need to be done about the economies of these countries. Except for Panama and Costa Rica, most of the children do not go onto secondary education. And in Panama and Costa Rica, there aren’t enough jobs for skilled people, so the education they have is not put to work.
The opportunities, even for illegal immigrants, are so much greater in the United States that it is no surprise that people want to live here instead.
Mexico is a slightly different story. The drug violence is increasing daily in Mexico, and it is no wonder that the people would like to escape it. But when it comes to education, the educational opportunities are much better in Mexico. But the economy of the Mexican countryside is almost entirely farm-based, and not very efficient. It cannot provide a living to the entire population.
To summarize, there are several very complicated problems occurring in Mexico and Latin America, all of which will be difficult to solve and some of which cannot be solved by people from outside the affected countries, however well-meaning.
Monday, a discussion of justice and how it fits with these problems and their solutions.
Read Part Four
Posted by Lizbeth on April 29, 2011
This is the 2nd part of a series. Read the 1st part here.
One root cause of immigration to the United States is the basic demand for cheap labor that doesn’t ask for much, if anything, and will work in almost any conditions. Most citizens will not work under those conditions, understanding their rights and the basic conditions that are legally required.
The labor laws in this country are meant to provide for basic safe conditions, a minimum wage, and safe workplaces. However, in many dangerous industries, those laws are often enforced patchily, usually only after a worker dies. The agricultural industry has also won itself many exemptions to those laws through lobbying. Those exemptions made a lot more sense when most farms were small, family-run outfits, but most agriculture is now owned by corporations who could easily afford the added expense of compliance.
Making labor laws apply to all industry, and uniformly and strictly enforced, would increase the numbers of native-born people willing to work in those jobs. They currently don’t, as they are better educated and know their rights, and are confident of finding a safer job.
The agricultural industry insists, for example, that paying minimum wage would make the price of food go up. (I know there are many farmers who do pay minimum wage, but this discussion focuses on the industry in aggregate.) I am sure the price of food would go up, but I would pay more if I knew that I was supporting minimum wages for the harvesters.
My main objection to, say, a more expensive apple versus the cheaper one at the store down the street, is that I don’t know why the expensive apple costs more. If I knew, from a sign in the store, that the expensive one is paying for better working conditions for the apple pickers, I would be much more likely to buy it. This would mean a revolution in how apples are packed and shipped, but I think it would be worth it.
There will always be dirty jobs that only those who can’t get better will do, but if we could make the pool of jobs smaller, then fewer people would come to the United States to do them, making it easier to manage the numbers and reduce the backlogs (of course also dependent on the laws being reformed, as I discussed yesterday in part one).
Tomorrow I will talk about the reasons in their home countries that cause people to want to leave for the United States.
Posted by Lizbeth on April 28, 2011
Editor’s Note: This is the 2nd of a 2-part series on the sermon,
“Justice, Blind Justice and “God Damned” Social Justice”, given by Rev. Lyn Stangland-Cameron on March 27, 2011. Read Part One.
Another story that illustrates the need for social justice is the story of the babies in the river — people picnicking along the banks of a river discover a baby – floating in the stream – one man wades in and rescues the baby and everyone is outraged but they dry it off and begin tending to it when another baby comes floating down – ad yet another rescue is made. But before that infant can be cared for, yet another man leaps in to save another baby and then more babies come floating along -with everyone in the town busily trying to rescue babies and to find them shelter, food and clothes and mourning in despair because as hard as they try, the babies keep floating by and the entire town is becoming exhausted and anxious until someone determines that what they need to do is to travel upstream to see what is happening there. They decide that what they need to do is find out why the babies are floating in the river in the first place. — In Social Justice, we seek an answer that does not simply address the symptoms but seeks an ending the causes of injustice.
Carl Bankston III, a professor of sociology at Tulane University, explains the history of “ Social Justice” in “Social Justice, Cultural origins of a Perspective and a Theory” (The Independent Review, v. 15, n. 2, Fall 2010, ISSN 1086–1653, Copyright © 2010, pp. 165–178.) Bankston writes,
….the late philosopher John Rawls is the theorist most closely associated with the term (Social Justice and) …it expressed attitudes shaped by two historical experiences: the rise of a mass- consumption economy and the adoption of the civil rights movement….
By the early 1950s, the United States was responsible for 45 percent of world manufacturing output and 18 percent of all exports (Frost 1992). By 1958, economist John Kenneth Galbraith was characterizing the United States as an “affluent society.” In this new economy, according to Galbraith, the fundamental issue was no longer how to achieve sufficient production, but how to distribute what was being produced. He argued that the nation was spending too much on private consumption to the detriment of public goods and public interests. Galbraith, later an associate and advisor of President John F. Kennedy, maintained that the production of private consumer goods without government guidance left corporations to pursue profits through advertising to increase demand for luxuries, while roads fell into disrepair and children attended badly maintained schools. This high private consumption also left the poor behind the rest of society.
We all know the term de’ja vu? Well, does this description sound familiar?
Galbraith proposed steering more investments toward public spending, especially spending for education…
President Kennedy identified the country’s underprivileged segment as an area of increased attention at the beginning of his own administration… Kennedy’s attention to the poor reflected distributional expectations as well as ideas about the relationship between demand and production. In the land of plenty, there should be no shortages for anyone. Not only must prosperity be widely shared, but it must also completely wipe out poverty.
Boosting the poor’s ability to consume had both a demand- side economic rationale and a moral force.
…. the federal assistance programs of the New Deal era—including the Social Security Act of 1935 and its welfare provisions (Aid to Dependent Children, Aid to the Blind, and Aid to the Disabled, and the National Housing Act of 1934) — were at least in part efforts to stimulate the economy by increasing demand. By the postwar period, it had become the common wisdom that spending drove production
The issue that Glen Beck and others continually harp upon is their concern that “Progressives” use the term “social justice’ to “redistribute wealth” — to take from the hard-working rich and give to the undeserving poor has, in my perspective, obviously succeeded in allowing America’s corporations and the very rich to become even richer and even more powerful.
The “political right” are also outraged that their tax monies support moral and social values they deem unworthy: schools and services for illegal aliens, to support “diversity” (members of the BGLT community,) and non-traditional families (single parents and welfare mothers) or even to provide resources for family planning and women
So I think it is time that we UU’s here in Idaho Falls examine our relationship with social justice – with the causes that our social justice team has identified and that we have stepped forward to support -with our stance against torture, for a compassionate national program that would provide heath care for all, with work for peace, with the “350” program that emphasizes a reduction in CO2 and strives for sustainability, with our rallies against bullying and for legislation in Idaho that protects human rights for all including members of the bisexual, gay, lesbian and transsexual community and others.
Two of the seven principles of our Unitarian Universalist Association incorporate the word “Justice”
The second principle reads, “We covenant to affirm and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations, and number six reads “we covenant to affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.
Richard S. Gilbert, long time minister of The UU Church in Rochester, New York, ends “Prophetic Imperative, Social Gospel in Theory and Practice” devotes this text to an exploration and justification for why our Unitarian Universalist churches, societies, fellowships communities, and congregations, ( we may call ourselves by different names but we are one in our covenant) devote so much of our efforts to “social justice” to the very causes that those like Beck and others so condemn. Gilbert, like the mainline Christian denominations recognizes an Old Testament – Hebrew Bible “prophetic imperative” based on Biblical passages like that of the prophets, Micah, Isaiah, Amos and others who,
pointed out the perils of wickedness…the ancient prophets believed that the meaning of life is the struggle for justice in the community. The prophet Micah 6:10”What does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to walk humbly with your God?” and Amos 5: 21, 24 rails against the temple ceremonies and sacrifices that occupy so much time and energy -saying, “I despise your feasts, I take no delight in your solemn assemblies…but let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”
And Gilbert reminds us that the Jesus of the Gospels certainly spoke out against injustice and stood on the side of the forgotten and downtrodden. From the parable of the Good Samaritan to the Sermon on the Mount Jesus did not side with those in power, nor with the rich and powerful but with those in need. Gilbert uses the term “Social Gospel” to describe “that historic turn of the century movement in American churches that sought to relate the churches as a corporate entity to social problems. “Justice making” he says is a contemporary synonym for social gospel.” (p7)
It is from this tradition that reformers like Jane Adams and Albert Schweitzer, Susan B. Anthony, Rachael Carson, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King were born. It is a tradition that recognizes that “freedom, by its very nature places an imperative claim on the free person to expand that freedom to all.” And church leaders realized as well defined the church as “ a social change agent and a transformer of culture…
Gilbert continues, …it is appropriate for the religious community to self-consciously analyze its role in the society as an agency of potential power, a task difficult for the free-church tradition with its stress on individualism.” (p8)
The church then is called to participate as a change agent — to participate not only in “charity” but also in creating systemic change – change that is directed at the underlying causes of social problems rather than merely at their symptoms. Gilbert reminds us that food kitchens, which do a wonderful job of feeding people need to be accompanied by actions and plans designed to root out the causes of the hunger and want. A systemic approach challenges the underlying premise of the American economy which produces poverty in the middle of plenty and deals with public policy issues: taxation, government welfare programs, and income distribution among others.” (p8)
One stark reminder that a systemic approach to justice is needed – that-social justice is necessary is very present in the recent discussions surrounding the cost of education in the US. in a presentation to Susquehanna University Angela Davis, retired professor from the University of California, revealed that a government study by the Justice Policy Institute found that the increase between 1985 and 2000 in spending on education in states was on average 24 percent. The increase on corrections spending was 166 percent!
Rev. Gilbert concludes his work by quoting an un-named soldier of the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War, “People who have principles but no programs,” he said, “turn out in the end to have no principles.”
Posted by Lizbeth on April 3, 2011
Let’s start our conversation about social justice with the sermon by Reverend Lyn Stangland Cameron on March 27, 2011. This is a two-part series. The second part will appear tomorrow.
Excerpts from Glenn Beck on Social Justice
“ Here’s my definition of social justice: Forced redistribution of wealth with a hostility toward individual property rights, under the guise of charity and/or justice.
On my radio program, I said if your church is promoting… “Social or economic justice,” you should run from it or at least get educated on what progressives mean by this.
…Voluntary charity doesn’t go far enough? Give to the poor by taking from the rich? Unfortunately that means theft.
You can boil these justices down to one thing: It is a fancy name for socialism, which is forced redistribution of wealth, which is a fancy name for Marxists.
Excerpts from Beck. March 23, 2011
So what do you think of those accusations that describe churches with social justice agendas as evil? Though people like Beck and other extremists claim and criticize in the name of freedom, or the constitution or Christianity — their language and their malicious attacks, are carefully targeted and crafted to undermine the true spirit of American society – to pit citizen against citizen.
I have long suspected that the real reason that Acorn, and Van Jones, the unions and Rev. Jeremiah Wright have been targeted and denounced so viciously is quite simple— the work done by those individuals and organizations has been on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised; they, Acorn, Van Jones, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the unions all address matters that have to do with justice –social justice!
I believe that the condescending attitudes and attempts to discredit President Obama’s years of experience as a community organizer are not only racist but are also tied to efforts to discredit that work itself. The work of a “community organizer” is most often “social justice” work and for some “social justice” inspires vicious outrage.
Even though the massive triple disasters in Japan and the latest series of Middle East crises, have somewhat re-directed the nation’s energies, the anti-social justice rhetoric keeps getting nastier.
If you were to “Google” “Social Justice” you would discover that some of the most prominent places that term is displayed are on the websites of Unitarian Universalists churches.
For instance, the web page for All Souls UU in Washington DC prominently displays a page entitled,
“A History of Social Justice at All Souls” and is underscored with this quotation.
“Let them be remembered in the Church of All Souls with him who took his place among the lowly and went about doing good.” – Frederick Douglass, 1892
And, the text continues,
The congregation that is now All Souls was founded in 1821 as the First Unitarian Church. From its opening days, the church has answered a call to serve others and to offer a prophetic voice for justice in the nation’s capital. The following are some highlights from this long history of social justice at All Souls. And then the All Souls webpage has links to their church history under these headings
1821 -1865 A Call to Service, Stands Against Slavery
1865 -1925 Education, Women’s Rights, WWI
1925- 1950 Early Civil Rights, Youth, Helping Europe and Japan
1950 -1975 Civil Rights, Helping the Neighborhood, Vietnam
1975 – present, Central America, South Africa, Continuing work.
As a matter of fact not only does Google direct you to Unitarian Universalists churches and the UUA website, but it also leads to many other mainline Christian and Jewish religious groups, and to a wide variety of Non-governmental organizations which all share what appears to be the goal of helping people. So, if Glen Beck is right and the term “social justice “ is an evil, an un-American “socialist” code term — then he must also be correct in asserting that the evil goals of “social justice” are pervasive.
Perhaps the best place to begin to understand why the idea of “social justice” has become such a polarizing term and its opposition a rallying cry for many libertarians, tea partiers, conservatives, and cranks is with a quick history of the idea of “justice.” “Justice” would seem to be something that everyone can agree is a good thing?
So what is justice? A few weeks ago some of us watched the “Justice” session from the Necessity of Virtue video series by Rev Dr. Galen Guengerich – “Justice” Guengerich says relates to loyalty, citizenship, teamwork, fairness, equality and equity. And,
“is a process; a procedure we follow in our political lives to ensure that all of us are maximally free to pursue whatever goals we choose in life. Justice is also a purpose, a set of goals we pursue in our religious lives to ensure that all of us fulfill our potential.”
One legal dictionary defines the noun “justice” as “fairness” and “moral rightness” as a “scheme or system of law in which every person receives his, her, its due from the system, including all rights both natural and legal from the system. It goes on to explain how the nature of law and the courts often leads to those with power and money having advantage and influence on the nature of legal justice. (1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill)
The Center for Economic and Social Justice explains “justice” this way,
Functionally, “justice” is a set of universal principles, which guide people ( in judging) what is right, and what is wrong, no matter what culture and society they live in. (CESJ website)
The center also distinguishes charity from justice by explaining that justice is distinct from the virtue of charity …While justice deals with the substance and rules for guiding ordinary, everyday human interactions, charity deals … cases where (one gives) to relieve the suffering of a person in need…True charity involves giving without any expectation of return. (and it continues) But it (charity) is not a substitute for justice. (CESJ website
So if justice is the system that guides people in judging what is right and fair – then “Lady Justice” is often pictured wearing a blind fold to remind us that all people deserve to be treated equally by the law; old people, and young, that the law provides a level playing field where everyone has equal access to the same rules. Justice is “blind” because whether you are Joe Shmo or Lindsey Lohan it is not OK to take things that do not belong to you!
Blind justice makes for a level playing field, —which fosters justice,— except, of course, even if the playing field is level, chances are that not everyone arrives with similarly equipped or with equal training or physical abilities and that is where “Social Justice” enters the conversation.
According to the Center for Economic and Social Justice, … Social justice is the virtue, which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development. (CESJ website)
A most interesting demonstration of a truly “just” society would have each one of us write down our lives – the salient features – our net worth; financial resources, access to health care, education etc. on a piece of paper and then for all those papers to be placed in a giant jar and then to imagine that each of us were to blindly draw one out – and in a just society the wealth or resources would be pretty evenly distributed and we would then each be fairly content with the life we had drawn!
Posted by Lizbeth on March 30, 2011
The Justice Sunday potluck was a big success. We listened to the conference call with the author of The Big Squeeze, Steven Greenhouse, and we had a good discussion of our own. We concluded that what is really needed is a focus on relationships and community instead of just the individual or the corporation/company. We hope to use this discussion as a springboard for a worship service and for change. Contact this blog (contact form at the Contact Us link on the homepage) if you have further interest in the discussion.
Posted by Lizbeth on March 28, 2010