Tag Archives: U S Foreign policy

Wages to Live By

Wages to Live By

If workers in other countries receive wages that are insufficient to elevate their life beyond poverty, and are producing goods consumed in our country by us, that is an issue of social injustice we are obligated to be concerned about. Addressing the issue of wages on the international level is vital for the sake of the future of our own country, and also because of ethical justice for the workers.

Some people will surely say that the capitalist based free market economy is successful in producing wealth and so we should let nature take its course, let the market set wages, and let the law of survival of the fittest rule in all the affairs of mankind. We should agree with this model that it is competition and struggle that have produced some of the greatest accomplishments of mankind-and some of the worst. If we compare unfettered capitalism to the law of the jungle, or survival of the fittest, then its guiding ethic to place one’s own interest ahead of others and maintain a place at the top of the food chain, at all costs. This ethic could lead to the conclusion that the underpaid workers of the world are a simple necessity for the benefit of others.

We may also consider other voices speaking into this situation. We may choose to view humans as having a higher responsibility than to live by the base rule of survival of the fittest. There may be many factors to consider before casting off our responsibility for the poor of the world. Recognizing that the desperation that stems from poverty will eventually affect us here in the comfort of our affluence, President Truman said in 1947, “The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive.” Therefore it is foolish and short sighted to think only of the economic prosperity of our own country. If we consider the interrelated aspects of our global economy we must consider the economic well-being of other countries as a benefit to world stability.

Because I am a worker I feel especially passionate about this issue. I have been a hard working carpenter most of my adult life, but I have always had good work clothes. The first time I saw carpenters working in bare feet in India, my heart was deeply ashamed at my American affluence. When I traveled to the Philippines I personally met good, hardworking people, who would work 12 or more hours a day, in an electronics factory, just to stay hopelessly poor. I simply think a worker should get paid a decent wage for a day’s work.

Some people say that this economic situation is ok because everything is cheap in their economy. That is a half-truth. True the rent for their shack may only be $25- per month but a computer still costs $800-. That is the situation. It is also true that the industrialization of poor countries by western enterprise has already greatly benefited these countries. But it is also true that these benefits have not been great enough to elevate these people beyond dependence upon us. The benefits are just enough to keep them in financial slavery.

I am not against capitalism, and I am not against rich people-that is their choice. Really, I am as materialistic as any other American. I have a nice computer, nice camera, and beautiful musical instruments. But my things are made mostly by people overseas and therefore I have a vested interest-even an obligation to be concerned about the people who make my stuff. If people are working at slave labor wages, living in want, producing products so that others may live in luxury, then this is an issue of ethical justice; before man and God. A Biblical passage challenges rich people saying, “You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who harvested your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty!” (James 5:3-4)

Major electronics leaders have already taken a huge step in forming the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, (EICC) (http://www.eicc.info/). Membership in this organization is voluntary and its members conduct self-audits of their suppliers down to the third tier. The EICC Code of Conduct monitors in the categories of: Labor, Health and Safety, Environment, Ethics, and Management Systems. Under the labor category it monitors: freely chosen employment, (including child labor avoidance), working hours, (including wages), humane treatment, and freedom of association (unions). Current standards set by the EICC Code of Conduct require workers to be paid wages equivalent to local standards including 50% more for overtime. This standard perpetuates a problem of people working excessively long hours for overtime pay. For example if a worker works at thirty cents per hour for the first eight hours and can get forty five cents per hour for the next four hours they will always want the full twelve hour shift. And if they can get sixty cents per hour for the last four hours of a sixteen hour shift, they will work until they drop. The standards currently established in the EICC Code of Conduct should be modified to mandate a living wage rather than merely conform to local minimum wage and should limit the rate of overtime pay so that workers will have less motivation for working excessively long hours.

The solution is not socialism. The solution is not in an extreme government that will enforce a worldwide minimum wage. The solution is a voluntary elevation of wages by the corporations. If we don’t want international government regulations then the corporations should take the lead voluntarily. This is good ethically and it is good for the worldwide economy. If factory workers can get great paying jobs it will boost the economy in the entire region. American corporations should take the lead in setting a high living wage as the standard for the EICC Code of Conduct.

This issue cannot continue to be ignored by Americans. If we are complacent about this because we are the beneficiaries of the current status quo, we may also be the big losers in the long run. Don’t think that the world will continue on forever without major revolutions. Don’t be so short sighted that we only think of our own immediate needs. We must relinquish our insistence to be at the top of the food chain. We must dream of a better world, beyond our own borders.

Please sign the petition on the Facebook page to let the electronics industry know that as consumers, we would pay more for our products if we could be assured that the increase would go to the workers rather than the profits of their companies.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BigWorldDreams

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2016

Immigration: Race and Religion

A major social problem facing America today is immigration. Our society is being torn apart through suspicion, political ranting, violent terrorism, vandalism, and deep fears. I am deeply concerned for the future of the USA in this area. Immigration is not the real problem; it is the social conflicts that arise from multiple ethnic groups inhabiting the same geographical space. If Americans do not find resources to blend in peace, then our current social problems will escalate to social wars and violence.


            There is a civil war in Syria that has caused the mass exodus of thousands of refugees. Many of these refugees are Muslim and many Americans are fearful of their ability to adapt to American culture, values, and norms. American citizens can see the turmoil in many Muslim countries and do not want that violent unrest imported. The thought of people bombing schools because they are against education is fearful. There is an irony here because it is for humanitarian principles that American immigration policy is welcoming refugees from war torn Islamic countries, and it is possible that in future generations, violence will be our reward.

Islam as a religious institution has aggression and conflict imbedded in its values. I am speaking of an institution not of individual people who must be given the right to be judged on the merits of their own character. Islam has aggression written within its creed, “And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere” (Surah 8:39) and “If you gain mastery over them in war…” (Surah 8:57) and “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (Surah 8:60, Quran).  Islam has 14 centuries of aggression towards outsiders. Its founder led the first violent incursion against Mecca; as the leader is, so follow the people.

American immigration policy has historically served the security of the homeland. Immigration regulation is not expected to allow entrance by individuals with an explicit agenda to harm citizens or promote violence uprising against the government. Currently the USCIS has a rigorous screening policy for Syrian refugees. This is not a racist policy, it is proper concern.

In the beginning of Islam, when Muhamad was delivering his message, the country was a social mess with idolatry, drunkenness, and many other social problems. Islam was able to that stabilize society and so it has always been a religion of social reform. It does not pretend to separate government and religion the way we attempt to do here. Even in America we are in constant tension over this issue. We should be aware that as Muslims gain local majority they will have to choose how to adapt to their new land. Many Muslims choose to see their ancient text with a moderate view and many realize that extremism invalidates their religious credibility.

We are a pluralist society and a nation of immigrants. In the past assimilation was expected but now we value cultural diversity. Our society must choose the minimal level of integration or adaption necessary to live within the borders, and those choosing to live here should acknowledge these norms. Many Muslims do have a history of integration into American society while retaining their ethnic heritage. There are also examples of Muslims pushing Sharia as soon as they gain majority strength.  Considering what Whites immigrants did to Native Americans we should not be naïve about future possibilities. Muslim immigrants are coming to America by their own choice. I hope they are choosing to accept the values of a pluralistic society.

US Aggression

We should also be aware that US foreign policies contribute to terrorism. Our ethnocentric view of the world has led to policies of democratic expansion/imperialism, which will always lead to resistance from the oppressed. President George Washington warned America to not get involved in the conflicts of other countries. Since then we have moved towards policies of intrusion into other governments, especially since World War 2. There is no justifiable excuse to invade countries to replace their rulers; even when their rulers are tyrants. Iraq, Libya, and Syria are examples of our tragic errors. Muslim governments understand dictators because Islam is based upon authoritarian rule. That is their problem and not for Americans to solve! Other cultures may not separate church and state the way we do. Muslims may view our policies as a religious assault. What we see as defending democratic values they may view as a religious war. American leaders have been sadly ignorant of cultural issues. I propose a constitutional amendment to define foreign policy, restraining the American urge to intrude into other governments. As a democracy we need to urge our leaders in this choice.

Race and Majority Power

I have deliberately chosen to use the word “majority” rather than “Whites.” Whites happen to be the current majority in America, but the principles I am discussing apply to other countries and eras where Whites are not the majority. To use the term “Whites” is racist. It makes a certain race guilty of crimes that are committed by most any group in the majority position. Dealing with the issue of majority power and control is my goal, not debasing any ethnic group. Power is the critical issue; power to control a society and its norms, structures, and laws, is the essence of this social problem.

Immigrants claim that objections to immigration are racially based, but the objectors to immigration claim to simply want to protect their lifestyles and values. Many Americans expect assimilation by immigrants into the American “melting pot” as was the norm in past generations. But the modern paradigm in our pluralistic society is the American “salad bowl” where immigrants retain their former cultural identity and may not even learn the majority language. American culture has been largely shaped by values of the majority white Anglo ethnic group so it is understandable that the majority could fear the loss of their way of life as they are displaced by new ethnicities.

Cultural norms are not evil, they can become oppressive, but in general they are valuable to help us live together. In my sociology text I read, “In any culture, there exists a set of ideas about what is right, just, and good, as well as what is wrong and unjust. Norms are the common rules of a culture that govern the behavior of people belonging to it” (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014 p. 55). The sociologist Emile Durkheim foresaw the turmoil of a society where norms were disrupted through many groups moving into the industrial cities; industrialization and urbanization, and called this a state of “anomie” or normlessness (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014). America is the classic example of this state and the resulting social tension. Many of America’s ethnic majority are simply dreading the loss of social cohesion that comes from shared norms and values. If we are honest, we know that any society on earth would feel the same.

Racial Peace

Racism is elevating our own ethnic race above others and using race as justification for oppression. Anytime we choose elevate our group above others or use privilege to oppress others we engage the conflict attitude, which will destroy America. For multiple ethnicities to dwell together on the same piece of land we must make hard choices. We want everyone to have the right to be proud of their heritage! We want to rejoice in the colorful diversity all around us; this is the future of America! It is our choice.

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2016





Ali, A. Y., & K̲h̲ān̲, V. (2011). The Quran. New Delhi: Goodword Books.

Chambliss, W. J., & Eglitis, D. S. (2014). Discover sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Leon-Guerrero, A. (2014). Social problems: Community, policy, and social action (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Marx, K. (1888). The communist manifesto (F. Engels, Ed.; A. Lutins, Trans.) [Release date 1993 Etext #61]. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23905

New international version. (2005). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

U.S.A., Department of Homeland Security, USCIS History office and library. (2012). Overview of INS History. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/History%20and%20Genealogy/Our%20History/INS%20History/INSHistory.pdf



Immigration and the White Man’s Karma

Immigration and the White Man’s Karma

            A major social problem facing America today is immigration. Our society is being torn apart through suspicion, political ranting, violent terrorism, vandalism, and deep fears. I am deeply concerned for the future of the USA in this area. Immigration is not the real problem; it is the social conflicts that arise from multiple ethnic groups inhabiting the same geographical space. If Americans do not find resources to blend in peace, then our current social problems will escalate to social wars and violence.

Historical Perspective            The history of immigration in America really begins with the immigration of White Europeans. The indigenous Native Americans would rightfully have had a fear of losing their cultural norms, lifestyle, and lands. In retrospect we can see that whatever fears they had were well founded. Historically there were many success stories of the new Anglo immigrants and Native Americans living in harmony. But in the long run, after all the battles, the indigenous people did lose all that was precious to them. The sad irony of today’s immigration conflicts is that the roles are reversed, as the majority White culture is slowly being displaced by arriving ethnicities. We may be sympathetic to the natural fears of Anglos as they feel their cultural norms and lifestyle being displaced. Maybe we could call this problem the story of the White man’s karma!

The next significant migration to America was the forced migration of thousands of African people brought as slaves. The economic principle of cheap labor to support big business was radicalized through slavery. For a long time ethnic cultural conflict was suppressed as one culture used force to subdue the other. A long slow struggle for equality has ensued.

The website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service tells the history of Immigration (USCIS). In America’s first century immigration was free and open. In 1875 immigration law was declared a federal responsibility. Events then led to further legislation to protect the interests of the majority population, “The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Alien Contract Labor laws of 1885 and 1887 prohibited certain laborers from immigrating to the United States. The general Immigration Act of 1882 levied a head tax of fifty cents on each immigrant and blocked (or excluded) the entry of idiots, lunatics, convicts, and persons likely to become a public charge”.

Between 1900 and 1920 over 14.5 million new immigrants arrived (USCIS 2012). This wave of immigrants was from various parts of Europe, with similar cultural norms as the majority Anglo culture and actively pursued assimilation into the majority culture.

After World War 1 for the first time immigration was restricted with numerical quotas. Then due to illegal immigration and smuggling, the U.S. Border Patrol was established in 1924 (USCIS 2012). After World War 2 regular immigration quotas were still low but immigration policies shifted to aiding refugees fleeing communist countries (USCIS 2012). Current Mexican immigration policies took shape after the war in an age of American economic prosperity, “the Mexican Agricultural Labor Program, commonly called the ‘Bracero Program,’ matched seasonal agricultural workers from Mexico with approved American employers. Between 1951 and 1964, hundreds of thousands of braceros entered the country each year as non-immigrant laborers” (USCIS 2012).

By the mid-20th century, the majority of applicants for immigration visas came from Asia and Central and South America rather than Europe (USCIS 2012). These new immigrants were brought under the humanitarian category rather than as laborers. The humanitarian category covers asylum seekers and refugees which is a major portion of today’s immigration.

Since the terrorist events of 9/11/2001 security has been tightened and overhauled. Multiple agencies were combined under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002, including the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Even though restrictions are tight, in principle the, “United States retained its commitment to welcoming lawful immigrants and supporting their integration and participation in American civic culture” (USCIS 2012). And as Leon-Guerrero says, “the United States still has the most open immigration policy in the world (2014, p. 83).

Major Immigration Dynamics           We can observe from this brief historical overview two key dynamics governing immigration. #1- Economics have been a major factor in who migrates to America; slaves, migrant workers, and special talent workers.  #2- Humanitarian principles also contribute to immigration as people flee wars, oppression, and persecution to find sanctuary in the Land of the Free.

Perspectives from Sociology            The purpose of sociology is to examine the dynamics of how society is formed, how it functions, and seek solutions for social problems. The three dominant sociological theories are: functionalist, social conflict, and symbolic interactionist.

From the functionalist perspective assimilation is the solution. The functionalist view favors the role of the majority and institutions because they maintain the norms and social solidarity within society. It views the struggles of the poor as an acceptable and beneficial to the whole body of society. If the main solution this view offers is assimilation, I think it would be difficult to persuade American minorities of the benefits. (I wonder how this view would treat slavery).

The social conflict perspective is very accurate in describing this social problem but is also the most pessimistic because this conflict does have potential for violence. The conflict perspective is based upon the views of Carl Marx, and would view the majority as desiring to maintain their grip of power over the minority immigrants and encourages conflict to overcome the majority – even violence. The Marxist conflict theory is based upon biological evolution and the principle of natural selection, or “survival of the fittest.” Marx viewed struggle as the essential social dynamic. Viewing immigration tensions primarily through his lens would be very pessimistic with our future only perpetual conflict.

The symbolic interactionist theory focuses on how our society is formed through the labels we use and that all society is a social construct. This means that things like race or gender are concepts developed by society. In the case of immigration they would say that borders are just our inventions and solution would be to deconstruct our social constructs. They may say that terms such as “immigrant,” or “illegal immigrant” are labels we have constructed to perpetuate social roles. If we mix in conflict theory then we may assume that these social roles are negative roles constructed by the majority for oppressing minorities. However, I wonder if this theory places too much weight on the power of symbols to shape society rather than seeing symbols as an outward manifestation of society, and there by ignore the deeper forces that shape our society.

Solutions            I propose that we analyze immigration and the social conflicts that arise from multiple ethnicities inhabiting the same geographical space, through another paradigm. I have been taking some freedom to form my own sociological theory to analyze society. It is very biased towards creationism and personal accountability. My social theory begins with a premise that life was created as good, but humans distort things to create oppressive structures. Capitalism is not inherently oppressive but because of greed capitalism can be horribly oppressive and often needs to be restrained. Gender roles are part of nature as based upon biology, but humans distort nature and use gender as a means of oppression. Even in race, it is natural to value and appreciate one’s own group, but racism is when we elevate our group above others or oppress members of another group or race. To God there is only one race, the human race.

My theory holds to the premise that a healthy society is one in which individuals and groups are held accountable for their actions. It recognizes the significant contribution of agency that all humans make to their own life and to society. It also recognizes systemic structural problems which limit human choices and holds those institutions accountable.   From my proposed perspective humans are capable of and expected to rise above basic biological instincts of survival of the fittest and greed of power, to acknowledge our accountability for treating others with justice and compassion. I will continue working on my sociological lens but this is my starting point.

Economics:  If global economics were not so out of balance then workers would not be rushing to America for jobs. Global economic stratification as left about 40% of the world living on under $2- per day (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014, p. 426). The irony is that we are a country with two signs; “help wanted” and “keep out.” We need structural reform on a global level. The USA must be willing to pay a living wage to workers in all countries that produce our goods. We must be willing to promote global economic equality. This may result in our dollar not having the same purchasing power but that will be the price of peace. If economic conditions are better around the world then there will be less incentive to migrate to America which would reduce the magnitude of the problem. I recommend my essay, “Wages to Live By” in the Pages section of this blog.

When resources are low then competition between work groups will result in conflict. Consider the rapidly changing demographics of foreign born workers. In 1970, 4.3 million, and in 2011 there were over 24 million foreign born workers in the USA (Leon-Guerrero, 2014 p. 231). The structures of society should promote equality. All workers within the country, including immigrants, must be paid a living wage. An ancient text promoting equality within a newly formed utopian society (Israel) says, “You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born” (Leviticus 24:22 NIV 2005). This passage specifies that the alien, or migrant worker, must be treated equally within society.

The Bible actually speaks several times about proper treatment of immigrants and it is crazy that with all the religious political talk these passages are ignored. In the 10 commandments we are told to take a day of rest from work. This command is given to Israel which had been slaves in Egypt. Slaves don’t normally get days off work so this command to rest was significant. Now, I can imagine ancient laws that gave nobility a day of leisure but this command is given to all the people. In fact the verse reads, “you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates” (Exodus 20:8 NIV). Even the animals were to rest! These laws were given to Israel, not to all nations. We should use caution before trying to apply the laws of the Bible to America or any nation. However, we do see a valuable principle of justice applied equally to all the people.

Therefore            When greedy human nature goes unrestrained we oppress others for our gain such as over running Native Americans or slavery. Solutions to conflicts in the economic arena work when people recognize a higher mediating Authority and choose to be accountable to It. Government laws as a secondary authority do need to restrain capitalism and provide basic equal opportunities. If employees choose working over starvation or thievery, then even in the lowest jobs they should receive enough to live on. It is fair for government to intervene on their behalf.

Those in power; financial, political, or majority, have a choice to treat others with justice and compassion. If not, perpetual conflict between ethnicities and classes will be the result.

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2016


Chambliss, W. J., & Eglitis, D. S. (2014). Discover sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Leon-Guerrero, A. (2014). Social problems: Community, policy, and social action (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Marx, K. (1888). The communist manifesto (F. Engels, Ed.; A. Lutins, Trans.) [Release date 1993 Etext #61]. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23905

New international version. (2005). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

U.S.A., Department of Homeland Security, USCIS History office and library. (2012). Overview of INS History. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/History%20and%20Genealogy/Our%20History/INS%20History/INSHistory.pdf



Assad Must Stay

American foreign policy, bent on democratic expansion while being ignorant of the cultures beyond its own borders, naively supports the undoing of rulers that are deemed unworthy by American liberal values. In support of the Syrian revolution President Obama proudly proclaimed that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go. He cited the cruelties inflicted by Assad upon the revolutionaries as justification. So the USA in coalition with Saudi Arabia has been arming the revolutionaries. In a radical turn of events this week the Syrian revolutionaries have formed ISIS the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and have invaded Iraq. What our naïve American government does not understand is that Assad understands his people better than we do. There is something in the Islamic culture that only understands heavy handed leadership. Islam at its core is based upon sever authority and when outsiders attempt to meddle then we are messing with things we just do not comprehend. George W Bush began the invasion of Iraq declaring that Iraq would become a democratic “beacon of light” in the region. This was a classic beacon of American arrogance and ignorance. The only hope for American foreign policy is a constitutional amendment that would limit the ability of the USA to interfere in other countries.

Any Revolution Will Do

America seems eager to support almost any revolution under the naive assumption that democracy that will flourish anywhere, regardless of the cultural foundations, and assuming the the goal of democratic imperialism is is good for the whole world.