A calm, realistic look at immigration, worldwide and as it relates to America. The simple fact is that retiring generations of longer-living Americans and Europeans have not produced enough younger workers to support them. The demographic arithmetic is unassailable.
The combination of low birth rates and greater longevity is already bringing the health-care and social-security programs of welfare states into crisis. Social-welfare systems were constructed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries on the basis of a proportion of nine, or in some cases, seven active workers for every pensioner. Now Europe is approaching three workers per retiree, and those retirees are living much longer. (When those who created the first social-security systems chose sixty-five as the age of eligibility, they were counting on the fact that relatively few people would live beyond that age to become burdens on the state.) With increased longevity has also come increased need for medical care, which has become vastly more expensive than anyone dreamed when public health-care systems were first established.
Opinion leaders in the aging societies of Europe and the United States have generally avoided mentioning the relation between the birth dearth and the need for immigration. Consequently, there has been little discussion of what should be obvious: An affluent society that, for whatever reason, does not welcome babies is going to have to learn to welcome immigrants if it hopes to maintain its economic vigor and its commitments to the health and welfare of its population. The issue is not who will do jobs that Americans don’t want. The issue is who will fill the ranks of a labor force that the retiring generation failed to replenish.
And that's not all. Opposition to immigration is getting louder and more organized.
There are also some in the United States who want to close the door to newcomers simply because they are outsiders. Over the course of the twentieth century, that attitude seemed to be fading away, but in recent years sleeping nativist sentiments have been irresponsibly inflamed by anti-immigration groups.
This piece should be required reading for anyone looking at the immigration question. The debate is getting louder and meaner as great numbers of uninformed people join. Voices of ordinary reasoning are getting hard to find.
Southern Appeal points to the link.
Also, a great little interview with Fr. Neuhaus on "Loving the Church" is also worth a look.
Q: A major theme in your book is the importance of a revitalized liturgy for renewing Catholic life. How do you see that occurring?
Father Neuhaus: Don't get me started. The banality of liturgical texts, the unsingability of music that is deservedly unsung, the hackneyed New American Bible prescribed for use in the lectionary, the stripped-down architecture devoted to absence rather than Presence, the homiletical shoddiness.
Where to begin? A "high church" Lutheran or Anglican -- and I was the former -- braces himself upon becoming a Catholic.
The heart of what went wrong, however, and the real need for a "reform of the reform" lies in the fatal misstep of constructing the liturgical action around our putatively amazing selves rather than around the surpassing wonder of what Christ is doing in the Eucharist.
All that having been said, however, be assured that there has never been a second or even a nanosecond in which I've had second thoughts about entering into full communion with the Church of Jesus Christ most fully and rightly ordered through time.