The Necessary Immigration Debate

as mass immigration increases diversity, it reduces social cohesion and civic trust

.. the trust problem is not a simple matter of racist natives mistrusting foreigners, since social trust is often weakest among minorities — which is one reason why the most diverse generation in American history, the millennials, is also the least trusting.

.. It’s one reason why campus politics are so toxic, why Democrats struggle to keep their diverse coalition politically engaged

.. Then linked to these ethno-cultural tensions are the tensions of class, where mass immigration favors stratification and elite self-segregation.

.. regions and cities with the largest immigrant populations are often the wealthiest and most dynamic.

.. The hinterlands are also filled with people who might want to move to wealthier regions (or who used to live there) but can’t because an immigrants-and-professionals ecosystem effectively prices out the middle class.

.. Thus our rich and diverse states also often feature high poverty rates when their cost of living is considered, while second and third-generation immigrants often drift into the same stagnation as the white working class

.. Which in turn encourages them toward mild contempt for their fellow countrymen who don’t want to live under a cosmopolitan-ruled caste system

.. For some pro-immigration Republicans this contempt is Ayn Randian: We’ll all be better off with more hard-working immigrants and fewer shiftless mooching natives. For pro-immigration liberals it’s the predictable cultural triumphalism: The arc of history is long, but thanks to immigration we won’t have to cater to heartland gun-clingers any longer.

In both cases there’s a fantasy of replacement that’s politically corrosive, and that’s one reason why Donald Trump is president and Jeb! and Hillary are not.

.. Hence my own view that keeping current immigration levels while bringing in more immigrants to compete with our economy’s winners and fewer to compete for low-wage work represents a reasonable middle ground.


Richard Rohr Meditation: Contemplation Gives Power to the People

The very emergence of the monks, the early Desert Fathers and Mothers, is an unexpected and surprising third-century movement because there is nothing in Jesus’ teaching to suggest there should be different levels of discipleship in his vision. We are all equally called to follow Jesus, but we created our own caste system; some people were supposed to “get it” and take it seriously, and some were just along for the ride. The very term layperson implies someone who doesn’t know anything. We were left with the professionals and the amateurs. But we were all meant to be professional disciples.

Could meditation or contemplative prayer be the very thing that has the power to both democratize and mature Christianity? Meditation does not require education; it does not need a hierarchy of decision makers; it does not argue about gender issues in leadership or liturgy; nor does it demand licensed officials for sacraments. Meditation does not need preachers and bishops; it does not have moralistic membership requirements. Meditation lives and thrives with dedicated pray-ers who have every chance of becoming healers in their world, each according to his or her gift. And let’s be very honest, Jesus talked a lot more about praying and healing than anything else.

Christians who meditate are self-initiating. Since we no longer have formal rites of passage in our cultures, we need contemplation to change us. Faithfulness to contemplative practice can achieve the same radical inner renewal as sacraments and formal initiation rites. Contemplation addresses the root, the underlying place, where illusion and ego are generated. It touches the unconscious, where most of our wounds and need for healing lie. With meditation or contemplation, I think we have every likelihood of producing actual elders for the next generation, and not just elderly people.

What do slaveholders think?

It is everywhere illegal yet slavery persists in many corners of the global economy. How do its beneficiaries justify it?

 The fact that I was most interested in challenging bonded labour – a contemporary form of slavery – didn’t matter.
.. Around half of the world’s slaves are held in debt bondage in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Debt bondage is a very old form of slavery in which radically marginalised members of society, often from India’s ‘untouchable’ caste, must trade all their labour for single small infusions of cash.
.. Lack of other work, lack of credit, and the need to pay for schooling and marriages effectively guarantee that there is no single contractual debt between the landlord and labourer but rather a string of interconnected informal loans.
.. Workers are often promised that their debt will be repaid within a certain period of time, only to be told that they have somehow incurred new debts. Running debts are occasionally sold to other slaveholders, and in this way a worker can change hands several times.
.. Where slavery is verboten, psychological control through deception and fear is the new coin of the realm.
.. it is the caste system – with Brahmin at the head and ‘untouchable’ beneath
.. the caste-based worldview frames these exploitative labour relations in familial terms.
.. Aanan, who views himself as the caring parent and his workers as children. ‘To manage a group of labourers is like managing a group of primary-school children.
.. We divide them into small groups because larger numbers of workers tend to form a union
.. Aanan says the happiness of his worker is paramount, even though his business model depends on entrapping the vulnerable and working them to the bone
.. Rowdy festivals allow workers to blow off steam, effectively directing frustration away from their abusers
.. When asked if he needs the workers or the workers need him, Aanan explains that: ‘The worker is my cash machine, my fate.’ In this one statement, he has captured a central contradiction inherent in most human-rights violations worldwide
.. It is the emotional pressure that works.’ A key strategy for Aanan is keeping workers indebted while asking for their gratitude and undermining their perception that opportunities exist.
.. In a form of Stockholm syndrome, the oppressed often agree.
.. I have been told by bonded labourers that they genuinely owe a debt – some having worked for years to repay an amount that would have taken 10 days of work at prevailing wages.

.. Bonded labour requires an actual relationship in which the perpetrator is keenly aware of what kind of pressure – threats? violence? promises? –  will ensure compliant work, despite abusive conditions and a lack of pay.

.. Contemporary slaveholders, like contemporary slavery, come in many forms. And these men have other terms for their socioeconomic roles and relationships, including ‘employer’, ‘boss’, ‘landlord’, ‘farmer’, ‘contractor’, ‘master’, and ‘landowner’.
.. Do Aanan and Ahmed not see the scene – debt bondage, child labour, trafficking – as blatantly wrong?
.. In conversations with rights-violators such as Aanan, I heard the same thing again and again: ‘You’re the first person to ask me about my life.
 .. In my talks with powerful-looking but powerless-feeling people, I discovered the power of nostalgia.
.. in rural India, where the caste system is remembered with nostalgia, as it is in Indiana, where an industrial era is remembered wistfully, despite a history of racial exclusion.
.. In times of cultural, political or economic upheaval, rights-violators are often trapped between the awesomely powerful and the completely powerless. What do we know of people who might once have possessed great power, but who are now in decline?
.. Each yearned for the old days, when ‘we were like family’, and each member of the community knew his or her place.
.. respect was expected in exchange for care
.. Labourers, in this nostalgic reckoning, were hard-working, grateful and honest. They held up their end of the cosmic bargain so central to caste, and benefited in turn.
.. rhetorical threats such as ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ ring hollow when mobile phones deliver news about better jobs in growing cities connected by bigger roads. Traditional authority is a depreciating asset for many slaveholders faced with broader social and economic change. Workers are voting with their feet.
.. ‘The worst part of these interviews was that they were not difficult … I never met the monster I anticipated.’
.. Human-rights violators are a far cry from John Rawls’s evil, bad and unjust men. ‘What moves the evil man is the love of injustice,’ Rawls wrote in A Theory of Justice (1971), ‘he delights in the impotence and humiliation of those subject to him and relishes being recognised by them as the wilful author of their degradation.’ 
.. The contemporary traffickers and slaveholders I spoke with are not motivated by a love of injustice. They are instead driven by cultural inertia, a desire for profit or, more frequently, a need for basic sustenance.
.. What came up, time after time, was respect, honour and dignity.
.. real question is how we respond to loss – by lashing out, by learning, by opening up, or by closing down.
.. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was right when he wrote in the The Gulag Archipelago (1973): ‘If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?’