I always find it annoying when "Catholic social teaching" is used to justify demanding mutually exclusive things. For instance, a near open border immigration policy and 2-4x the current minimum wage in order to assure that everyone makes a "living wage".
In truth, I suppose these are not necessarily mutually exclusive -- they are only so if one doesn't want to have truly massive unemployment.
To paraphrase the old I.T. maxim: open borders; high wages; low unemployment -- pick any two. (Personally, I'd go for open borders and low unemployment, while letting wages find their natural balance -- but hard core "social teaching" fans don't seem comfortable with that approach.)
I certainly do believe that that Catholicism has important moral teachings which must be applied to our economic activities. However, I think there are also basic economic realities that must be dealt with. It has been famously stated that you can't fool mother nature. You generally can't fool the economy either.
In the case of high wages vs. immigration: it stands to reason that if we opened the floodgates and started getting at least 5-10 million more immigrants from impoverished nations every year, the job market would be flooded with people for whom making $5/hr is already 5x what they would make at home. Those jobs that they are currently well equipped to do would thus have a much increased supply of people willing to work for low wages.
We've seen this before in our country's history. When immigration of the poor from southern and eastern Europe was at its height, there were vast, impoverished ghettos of recent immigrants who worked for very low wages, were generally scorned by society, and were given the most undesirable jobs available to do. The Church did good work among many of these neighborhoods, as did the Jewish and Orthodox communities which were the spiritual guides among other groups of immigrants. And as hard work and education paid off, these people did not invariably remain poor. Their children moved up into the working, middle and professional classes, and make up much of our population today.
It was a difficult and often tragic experience for many people, but it also created new wealth and opportunities and helped to make our country the great place that it is today. I'd like to see that kind of opportunity made available again, but we can't kid ourselves that you can both open the doors wide to immigration and guarantee everyone an immediate American middle-class existence.
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