Breitbart today carries an immigration story with a photograph. A young woman carries a sign calling for no borders and no nations; it also has an obscenity. Her shirt has the letters CWS with its symbol. What is this organization? CWS stands for Church World Service. It’s a 72-year old humanitarian organization that specializes in refugees.
It’s beyond this blog’s scope to analyze and evaluate CWS in toto. What is immediately noticeable about it, however, is its intense political activism. CWS lobbies Congress. Congress has instituted programs that aid refugees. That is why CWS lobbies Congress. Charity and aid should rightfully be entirely private activity, but it’s political and governmental in our system.
One such Congressional program is the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. The CWS is lobbying against changes in that program that were proposed in 2015 by Congressman Carlos Curbelo (just defeated in his re-election bid) and supported by Marco Rubio.
A Florida newspaper, the Sun Sentinel, produced a 3-part investigative report of “abuses” in the program that started the reform ball rolling. Curbelo’s bill aimed to stop those abuses. Two years ago, the bill was in a subcommittee and it’s still there. It’s probably dead with Curbelo’s loss.
Some abuses: “Cuban immigrants are cashing in on U.S. welfare and returning to the island, making a mockery of the decades-old premise that they are refugees fleeing persecution at home. Some stay for months at a time — and the U.S. government keeps paying.” “More Cubans are coming to Florida in their golden years to retire, able to tap U.S. government assistance even though they never lived or worked here.” “Florida politicians have fiercely fought to protect the special status given to Cuban immigrants, transforming U.S. government assistance from handouts of powdered milk and cheese to a multibillion dollar entitlement.”
CWS opposed the bill. It didn’t address the abuses. It only spoke of the program’s benefits to refugees.
CWS philosophized: “We know from sacred texts across faith traditions that we all have a moral responsibility to welcome the most vulnerable: the widow, the orphan, the refugee, during trying times.” “Let us reflect the best of our nation by extending hospitality and leading by example so that other nations do the same.”
The expression of morality, in their philosophy, is to be the job of government. Government will take from us, and government will distribute to “the most vulnerable”.
Libertarians have a counter philosophy that is Jeffersonian in nature. The “we” that CWS refers to is not our government. It is each of us. Each of us decides how to implement our moral responsibility and what that responsibility is or is not. We decide on whom to aid, when to aid them, where to aid them, in what ways to aid them, and how much to aid them. We have rights. We own ourselves. If government, as it does, forces us to pay for the charity that it decides to bestow, it infringes our rights and it replaces our own decisions. Government then defeats the main purpose for which it is established, which, according to the Declaration of Independence, is to secure the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Securing rights means no more nor less than protecting us against invasions of our rights, these including our decision-making powers.
In the name of exercising moral responsibility, no “one” of government can justly roll over the “many” of us as individuals. If the government does this, it makes us subservient to it. There are few decisions and human actions that do not entail moral considerations and responsibility, maybe all of them do. Either none of this is government’s business, except to secure rights; or else all of it is, which is hardly a condition to which we should aspire.
11:01 am on December 6, 2018
Email Michael S. Rozeff