Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How to build wealth at "the bottom" Part 3

To build wealth among low-income people we've got to get honest about a few critical elements of the U. S. economy today that call for reform.

We could increase the wealth/earning power of millions of low-income families by enacting comprehensive immigration reform.  Such reform would re-frame the entire security (i.e. "build a wall on the southern border) conversation.  Building on the work that has been done on border security; reform should create an efficient, user friendly, guest worker program; complete with green cards/swipe cards that would allow passage back and forth along the southern border as it is to the north. 

As millions of productive workers stepped into the light of the U. S. economy, wages would rise, taxes paid would increase, innovation would emerge and the economies on both sides of the border would expand.  Clearly, continuing refusal to strike a deal on comprehensive reform keeps wages artificially low and explains in large part why we've not been able to achieve a sane policy. 

To be sure, the benefit of a sub-culture that labors for extremely low wages can't be ignored.  The real worry today regarding reform has more to do with the security of our wallets than that of our neighbors who hide in the shadowy places of our economy. This must change.

Further, pathways to citizenship have never hurt our nation.  In fact, openness to immigrants all the way to the full national inclusion of citizenship is a hallmark of American national life and expectation. 

Wealth building at the bottom demands that we embrace policies that intentionally, methodically, and legally work against every expression of segregation in our national and community life.  Nationally, we need to be all shook up!  Inclusionary zoning laws (illegal in Texas) need to be applied across the nation, particularly in our metropolitan areas. 

Housing developers, education systems, health care providers, county and city governments that discriminate on the basis of race or class should be penalized severely.  Discrimination must not be tolerated by individuals, families, communities, states or the broader nation.  If we're honest, we will freely admit that discrimination continues to plague us. 

Faith communities need to step up and help us achieve a new, never before realized sensitivity to the negative forces accompanying discrimination directed toward others who don't seem life us, but in fact, are our brothers and sisters.  We must face the harsh truth that much of the poverty in our nation results from the poisonous dynamics of discrimination and prejudice in personal actions, as well as in public policy. 

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