God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: Working Together

posted by jmcgee

Jim WallisOn Friday, I wrote about the invitation from Sen. Harry Reid to speak on the Democrat’s weekly radio address and the difficult decision it presented. I said that I value my independence and non-partisanship, and didn’t want to be perceived as “in the pocket” of any political party. From the responses I’ve received, it appears that the message did rise above the venue. I’ve gotten many favorable emails, phone calls, and comments thanking me for my words.

Two national wire service stories also got the message. The Associated Press headline was Rev. Wallis: Dems, GOP must cooperate, and the story began: “”Democrats and Republicans should work together to find new ways to end poverty, curb government corruption and strengthen families, the Rev. Jim Wallis said Saturday.” And, Reuters wrote the following in their coverage, Democrats tap religious leader for radio talk: “Democrats turned to an evangelical Christian to give their weekly radio address on Saturday, citing a desire to avoid partisanship after last month’s elections that gave them control of Congress.” Friday evening, I was on Fox News’ Heartland show with John Kasich. Although there was the usual bantering, it was a positive discussion.

In the same spirit that I gave the address, I am also writing to the Republican leaders of the House and Senate, requesting a meeting. The letter notes: “What our times demand now is for the same kind of cooperation that is taking place across historic divisions among our religious leaders to be evident in the political leadership of this country. The challenges are too great and the stakes too high for us not to find ways to find common ground by moving to higher ground.”

It is my hope and my prayer that both parties will respond and that they will work together in the new Congress to move beyond the partisanship that has paralyzed and divided our nation.



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Tenoch

posted December 4, 2006 at 11:03 pm


Amen! Keep up the good work Jim!>



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Anonymous

posted December 4, 2006 at 11:39 pm


Excellent! May the Republican leadership respond to your offer to meet also with them. May the leaders of the congress find common ground on those matters which concern us all. Thanks for all that you do Jim, and thanks also to everyone at Sojourners!>



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Mike Hayes

posted December 4, 2006 at 11:40 pm


Last post left off my name.>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 2:03 am


What does working together mean? Does it simply mean adopting the reforms proposed by the Democrats? What exactly do you want the Republicans to do when they come together? I can see why Republican leaders would be reluctant to meet with someone who disagrees with them on literally every issue, and agrees with the opposing party on literally every issue.>



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s holmgren

posted December 5, 2006 at 3:12 am


kevin s And that is what is so frustrating about Republicans — they see no reason to talk to anyone who disagrees with them.Their heels are so dug into whatever it is they believe in that they feel it is a waste of time and energy to consider any other possiblities.>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 3:56 am


“And that is what is so frustrating about Republicans — they see no reason to talk to anyone who disagrees with them.Their heels are so dug into whatever it is they believe in that they feel it is a waste of time and energy to consider any other possiblities.” I don’t think that’s true. What I’m saying is that working together requires compromise. Regardless of what happened in this election or that election, the nation is pretty evenly divided between two major ideologies (I don’t see this as a problem, btw). So, what does compromise look like, given that it would embrace conservative values as much as liberal values. Let’s take an issue like Social Security. Democrats want the status quo in terms of how the system is implemented, while Republicans generally would favor more individuality. Wallis has already claimed that steps toward personal retirement accounts represent a means of dishonoring our parents. While I think this is completely absurd, what is the compromise between the two sides. How do they work together for the mutual good? Take the issue of taxes. Republicans (at the behest of business, no doubt) want to lower them, Democrats want to raise them. Where is the middle. How does Congress forge ahead? On education, Republicans want more accountability for schools, Democrats (at the behest of teachers unions, no doubt) are resistant to such accountability. What does compromise look like? Wallis is a Democrat, or something an awful lot like one. He also thinks he’s a moderate. Therefore, I’m sure he considers a compromise to be something that looks an awful lot like the Democrat agenda. Are Republicans digging their feet in the ground by virtue of fighting for the causes in which they (and their constituencies) believe?>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 5, 2006 at 4:28 am


I liked the transcript. Didn’t get to watch the speech. But liked the transcript. I’ve found that it’s always good to be careful about politicians, though. The way the political campaigns are…they attract certain kinds of people to office. People need to get elected. And therefore do things that help them get elected – including using people. When I read Kevin Hue’s words in October , I rejoiced – in that I hoped that Christians would finally see they were often just being used by politicians who needed to win elections. Not truly respected like they hoped. And…I didn’t mean that in a partisan way. I also felt that Democrats were as capable of doing that as Republicans were. And so…I hope all of us haven’t forgotten that hard lessen that Republican conservative Christians hopefully learned in October. Hey…Christians vote. We’re a commodity to the political world. But that is not necessarily respect. Among Democrats any more than Republicans. Sorry…gotta dash off now.>



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timks

posted December 5, 2006 at 4:43 am


s holmgren said, “And that is what is so frustrating about Republicans — they see no reason to talk to anyone who disagrees with them.” You ought to talk to my new non-Republican friend, Butch. He not only doesn’t want to talk to people with whom he disagrees, he won’t even read anything written by people who might have the same name as someone with whom he disagrees.>



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timks

posted December 5, 2006 at 4:53 am


It was particularly humorous that Reuters said of Jim’s talk: “Democrats turned to an evangelical Christian to give their weekly radio address on Saturday, citing a desire to avoid partisanship after last month’s elections that gave them control of Congress.” Does anyone believe that? I think it is much more likely that Democratic leadership is sensitive to the charge that they are disdainful of religious folks and wanted to build some credibility in that regard. The idea that either party, Dems or GOP, is interested in forsaking partisanship is ludicrous. That is their raison d’etre. That is why they are called “parties”.>



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Kris Weinschenker

posted December 5, 2006 at 6:02 am


It should be interesting to see how the Republicans respond to your letter. They seem to have acted as if they had a ‘monopoly’ on Christianity in the past few years. And I whole-heartedly agree America needs to find a “moral center”.>



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jessie

posted December 5, 2006 at 2:02 pm


Once you get past the rhetoric, you’ll see that Wallis’ “Moral center” and “compromise” means that Republicans have to support big government programs and become more liberal. Wallis doesn’t ask liberals to budge an inch for their uncompromising support of abortion, however (or any of the other positions on issues Kevin mentions). Wallis would have a lot more credibility if he ever challenged the Democrats on anything (besides telling them to say “Jesus hates tax cuts”).>



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Robstur

posted December 5, 2006 at 2:08 pm


And that is what is so frustrating about Republicans — s holmgren? Take a look at the record of Dem’s. 1st time in the histroy of the Senate the Dem’s threaten a fillabuster to prevent the nomination of a Supreem Court Justice…nothing ‘purple’ about that one. Rep. B. Packwood has a few ‘inapproiate relationships’ with a few women who sign affidavids but never file them – just threaten him and he ends up resigning. Even Teddy K. was going to vote him out – something about the pot and kettle comes to mind. Sen. Innoway from HI and Sen. “S” (can’t remember the name just now) from NV had sex with minors and still kept their seat in congress. Rep Foley resigns his seat over accusations – oh, where was the sex? Reagan conseeds and allows the congress to raise taxes as long as they will make the cuts that he wants. The Dems get their request and flip Reagan off about his…no purple there. A few things I have learned on dealing with Dems in general and in MN. 1) Make sure that you get your request first or at least at the sametime. 2) You can never hold a Dem accountable for what they said 24 hours earlier. 3) Sexual misconduct + Rep = out of office, sexual misconduct + Dem = Presidential Material The more I read about Mr Wallis and the people that publish on this sight – the ‘redder’ I become – someone has to keep the balence.>



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Ms. Cynthia

posted December 5, 2006 at 2:27 pm


“We need serious solutions, not the scapegoating of others,” Wallis said. “The path of partisan division is well worn, but the road of compassionate priorities and social justice will lead us to a new America.” – JW Especially the expression “compassionate priorities and social justice” with out exclusivity assigned to anyone. I suspect MLK would say to us something like, “So what have you done to lately to inspire something noble from the spirit of your adversaries?” Knowing first hand what he was capable of, I shutter to think what J. Edgar would have been doing if he had the resources that our vice president has access to today. These are times to reach across the divide and empower those quieter folks who can influence something better than “Winner take all” or “If you are not with us you are against us”. Healing might begin with creating an environment where those who usually disagree with us can take the risk of agreeing with us once in a while without recriminations. I am still waiting to see. What would happen if we can some how manage to have a “fair argument” with one another? After reading Randy Woodley’s piece and going to his site I am wondering if we can’t go back to some of the cultural sources that make democracy in America unique and draw again from its waters. Some how, our Native American fathers know us and our journey better than we know ourselves. They have seen Christ on the cross and they are horrified not only by the torment and suffering of a human being but also the insult and injury to the tree he hangs from. Destruction of the environment leads to the inevidable violence to human kind. We are so far removed from creation that we do not see the relationships. How can we offer a solution to tribal confict in Iraq when we, ourselves are in so much denial of our own tribal nature. What have we been doing lately to model a healthy effective democracy to those who look to us for guidence? Meanwhile the planet is in danger irreversable damage.>



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Mike Hayes

posted December 5, 2006 at 3:06 pm


There are republicans who questioned the war in Iraq for months prior to the more recent change in attitude that pressured for a change of course. Richard Lugar and John McCain were saying months ago that serious mistakes were being made in the conduct of the war. Then Lindsay Graham and most recently John Warner spoke up. others probably have as well, but I’m aware of these. So, reaching out to both parties on the important issue of the war in Iraq makes strategic sense, and I think it is entirely consistent with the “change the wind” tactic that Jim Wallis encourages us all to consider, in “God’s Politics”. Even if there were no republicans willing to consider any of the “‘God’s Politics’ values”, it would make sense for supporters to urge their members of congress to consider the values. The message of the book is that we should urge consideration of “‘God’s Politics’ values” by all candidates who want our vote and all elected officials, of either major party (or independents or third party candidates). In asking for the opportunity to speak to the republican members of congress, Jim is being consistent with what he asks readers to do. In my view.>



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Mike Hayes

posted December 5, 2006 at 4:34 pm


I forgot to include Chuck Hagel. He and John McCain and Richard Lugar had appeared on Sunday morning programs like “Meet the Press” for at least eighteen months prior to now, expressing concerns about the conduct of the war in Iraq. Lindsay Graham began expressing similar concerns, at least six months ago, and John Warner within the last several months. I think it is reasonable to assume that additional republican members of congress would be supportive of a change of course in Iraq. Jim asking republican members of congress to consider hearing from him makes sense. They may choose to ask someone else, and perhaps that person will also urge republicans in congress to consider a change of course. Maybe they would also ask members of congress to support persons in poverty, here and abroad, and support the environment. I suspect that republican members of congress would respond positively to one or more of these issues.>



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Tenoch

posted December 5, 2006 at 4:37 pm


Jim, love the YouTube coverage. You did quite well, especially in response to the childish arrogance and intellectual sloth of the Fox “News” interviewer.>



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mingus

posted December 5, 2006 at 5:20 pm


kevin said: “Wallis is a Democrat, or something an awful lot like one. He also thinks he’s a moderate. Therefore, I’m sure he considers a compromise to be something that looks an awful lot like the Democrat agenda. Are Republicans digging their feet in the ground by virtue of fighting for the causes in which they (and their constituencies) believe?” the onus is on the party that has held the power for the last six years and blew it (resulting in the redistribution of power we saw recently) to do most of the compromising. that’s how the two-party system works. the republicans should count themselves lucky that the impeachment talk has died down.>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 5:23 pm


The interviewer is a panel show host, not a reporter. Further, on the Iraq war, and Wallis always does this, he changes his answer when pressed, then pivots back to the “least of these” related talking points. It seems that the interviewer is agreeing with most of what Wallis says, and concludes the interview by saying “you’re a good man, and I love having you on.” How is he guilty of childish arrogance?>



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Robstur

posted December 5, 2006 at 5:49 pm


Excuse me my ‘blue friends’ butt all I hear is talk about what is going wrong and that we need a change. Well – you have the jaw-jacking done, now put something that concreat on the table and lets talk. If it is civil war in Iraq – how are you going to stop it. Propose something and lets see what happens in the next few months. I want to believe in what Wallis says but my experience is that the ‘left’ in our nation talks that kinda talk but will not walk the walk. I have comprimised on several issues with my blue friends only to be out-witted or stabed in the back with the final outcome. That is where I learned my ‘winner take all’ attitude. I have worked toward making a situation better and came up with a list of what needed to be done so that all involved had their issues covered, only to find out that their issues were delt with first and mine were pushed to the end and ‘surprize’ we ran out of time and/or money – to bad so sad. So Mr. Wallis – what are the ground rules going to be and who is going to monitor them. How are we going to come together on a situation/issue so that we agree on the desired outcome and who will verify that everything is handled fairly. Who will be invited to the table and who will be excluded and for what reasons. Finally – will this be worth our time or is it another exersize doomed to failure. Frankly Mr. Wallis you may think and see purple – but with the way my blue friends in MN have treated me and other more red people – not sure that I want to put my self in that arena again. The double standard I have wittnessed – yes on both sides but more in the blue section – it is hard for me to optomistic. God is not Dem or Rep. God created life – wants the best for His children. He challenges us to protect the weak and opressed. And there are times you have to take the bully down because talking does nothing more than impower them and makes them think you are weak. NO MORE WAR! So let us bring everyone back. Get them all on US soil and let the world do what ever it wants to do. Lets not fight so that women can have an education in Iraq. Let Muslim Law prevail anywhere and everywhere just not in our country. Let the UN handle all the conflicts that are going on – and the US take care of its own – only its own. Not sure that we can agree where were need to secure freedom for anyone else in the world – so lets just take care of US. Later ps. will there be any offical responce to a number of questions about the Bright Eyes video or was I correct in that was a trial baloon? Just wondering…>



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j.

posted December 5, 2006 at 5:56 pm


re: wallis’ being a shill for the dems. just because someone agrees with one particular party on more issues at a particular point in time and votes for that party’s candidates doesn’t make one a shill for that party. i am an independent. i would have no qualms about voting republican given the right candidate and i don’t dismiss all republican ideas simply because of the party. i voted democratic recently and support more democratic policies lately because of what i believe to be a huge moral lapse on the part of the republican party over the last few years. there are certainly republicans that i like. i imagine that certain folks on this board would label me a democrat as they have mr. wallis. i am not, and he similarly claims no affiliation. the distinction is whether one allows the party to do their thinking. i do not believe (nor is there any evidence) that mr. wallis is merely pushing democratic talking points. in a perfect world, we would all be independents…>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 6:49 pm


“i would have no qualms about voting republican given the right candidate and i don’t dismiss all republican ideas simply because of the party. ” Which puts you in a different boat from Wallis. Wolverine made a very good point that Wallis even reflects the party’s obvious blind spots.>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 6:54 pm


“the republicans should count themselves lucky that the impeachment talk has died down.” I think it would have been politically beneficial for Republicans in the long run, but I think our country should count itself lucky not to be dragged through a quixotic impeachment effort. I disagree that the Republicans blew it from a domestic policy perspective. People are NOT asking for tax cuts, they do NOT hate Walmart. Those who would be most affected by SSI reform wholeheartedly support the President’s effort to modernize the system. So, again, what does compromise look like?>



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j.

posted December 5, 2006 at 7:54 pm


“I disagree that the Republicans blew it from a domestic policy perspective.” at least you didn’t say foreign policy. but your examples demonstrate exactly the moral lapse that i think rove has brought to the repubs. no, people don’t hate walmart, but that’s not the right question. does the average american (with a family, earning less than $50K) support a fair living wage for workers? does the average american support a walmart employee’s right not to be locked in a building overnight? i would venture to say yes. but the rove repubs have masterfully created a smokescreen to change the questions to get the answers they want. if i were a republican, i’d be appalled, and i’d want all remnants of this administration out of the picture.>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 8:17 pm


“at least you didn’t say foreign policy.” They had a big old helping hand from their democratic friends on that one. That said, on foreign policy, the Democrats have no plan to compromise with, and I don’t believe we should have taken a different route. “does the average american (with a family, earning less than $50K) support a fair living wage for workers” Depends on what is determined to be a fair living wage, and the effect that will have on the marketplace. Do they support shutting down Walmart to get it done? Not in the slightest. Do they want Walmart to be forced to raise their prices (which will have a disproportionate impact on the poor)? No way. I don’t think that opposing a $10 per hour minimum wage represents a moral lapse, but we’ve gotten off target. What does compromise look like? If it looks exactly like what Democrats want, then it is not compromise.>



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Jim Whitton

posted December 5, 2006 at 8:28 pm


Rev Wallis (Jim) Thank you for your inspiring words on Saturday’s address. You spoke words which truly reflect what is in so many hearts in this country and throughout the world. Lets put the partisan bickering aside. Lets work together to feed the poor, stop war, promote social justice, human rights and equality. May we always keep one question foremost in our hearts. What would Jesus do? May God continue to bless your ministry and leadership. Jim Whitton>



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timks

posted December 5, 2006 at 9:09 pm


Jim Whitton – Thanks for your note: “What would Jesus do?” indeed. The difference between the camps is not in the objectives. All want to feed the poor, etc. The problem lies in the methods to do that. Take feeding the hungry: Some believe that each Christian is personally obliged to do all they can to help the poor in any way they can no matter what. Others say that unless and until the government is directing and funding those efforts, anything else just doesn’t count. Yet others think the Church can only do so much, it requires government partnering with the Church to fulfill that mandate. How do we compromise between such disparate methods when we know that, no matter what we do, there will always be some measure of failure since Jesus told us that, “the poor will always be with you”? My observation is most of the discussions here are between well-meaning people with differences of opinion as to how best to fulfill Christ’s command. The only time we seem to have problems is when folks confuse their political ideology for Christ’s mandate.>



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j.

posted December 5, 2006 at 9:18 pm


kevin – compromise isn’t a recipe. it’s not “one-half pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps” + “one-half welfare state”. compromise, in the sense that jim wallis speaks of it (meaning, what’s good for the country and what is most in line with christ’s example) means working together for the good of the people. in the walmart/workers case a good start is for the republicans to quit the knee-jerk reaction to always side with corporate interests at the expense of the workers who make this country what it is. the reps have lost their right to have it their way thanks to this administration’s dismal record at making people’s lives better. the reps have gone so far off the deep end that yes, compromise is going to hurt them more than it hurts the dems. doesn’t mean that jim wallis is a democrat.>



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j.

posted December 5, 2006 at 9:29 pm


and the moral lapse to which i refer is the rove-ian culture of double-speak and absolutism: “cut and run” “anti-family” “anti-marriage” “raise taxes” the world is not black and white.>



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Robstur

posted December 5, 2006 at 10:15 pm


In my never to be humble opinion – I do not trust the Gov’t because they have more than enough money every year to take care of the social welfair needs of our country and we still have the problem. The ‘one size fits all’ mentality of the beurocrats in DC is what causes so many of the needy to fall between the cracks. Welfair in MN is a $10.20 an hour job with benefits – would in their right mind (no pun intended) would go out and get a job that pays min. wage! SO – go ahead and raise the min. wage Nancy P. and put more people out of work with small companies that are trying to get started. When we finally can get people to go out and get a job for whatever the pay is and then let the welfair system pay them the difference – we might be on our way to solving the problem. But I can tell you now that will never happen with the DFL in MN. Wally Mondale, Wendie Anderson and HHH all got elected by people that they promised to make sure that their welfair check would be in the mail. I work at making sure that we feed the hungry, personally and through my ‘evangelical’ church. We assist in clothing the needy and getting furniture for them – just a bunch of ‘conservative males’ that we are. So maybe I’m a little purple personally but just can’t see where at this time it is worth my effort to spend time ‘jaw jacking’ on the issues. Enough talk – I am into action, get on the wagon or get out of the way. Any apology for ‘Bright Eyes’ yet – hummm?>



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MB

posted December 5, 2006 at 10:24 pm


I’m glad to see that Mr. Wallis is trying to start a discussion with both parties. And Mr. Wallis may in fact lean left. Apparently many of us lean either right or left. I have found in my years that my leanings have changed. This is probably true of others and they may have changed opposite of what I did. Compromise – when people come together and have different ideas, both sides need to compromise. And I believe that even though in some instances – some have tried to say that one side is more apt to give up and be taken advantage of – I’m sure speaking with either party you could hear tales of abuse. There are no easy answers. Many from the right do bring up some valuable insight – their misgivings, and there understandings of why things can’t work in certain ways. But I believe that it can work. I believe that if the two parties are willing to come together and really talk agreements can be made, compromises can be taken by both sides. Yes, each will walk away feeling good in some areas and feel as if maybe we were taking for a ride in another, that’s what compromise is all about. It’s kind of like a marriage. If a marriage works well. Both are willing to sacrifice. Not one completely gets all that they want at the others expense. And hopefully in a good marriage the two united talk, discuss, hash out their differences. And think about how difficult marriage is – you got child rearing. How many come into a marriage with the same ideas as far as discipline, how many, if any kids to have, what size house, where to buy it, if one can buy it, etc – the list is endless. And what if the bottom has fallen out and one gets sick the other is supposed to hopefully take up the slack – sacrifice. The people on the right are not my enemy. I was a people on the right – so in essence I would have to hate myself. Crazy. I truly like some Republican candidates. Just because we see things differently doesn’t make either side right or wrong. I would suspect it really comes more from who we are and what we have experienced that has brought each of us to the perspectives that we hold today. Let’s remember that as we go into this new year that we are first all Americans. We believe in our Country and we love our soldiers and our communities. Though our neighbor may see things differently – this does not make him our enemy. Enemy is a bad word but am having difficulty thinking of another. I apologize for that. We are actually all family in a way. And we all know how well many families get along but we struggle to continue to unite – cause we have a common bond. Let’s remember that as we begin to hopefully all compromise, make sacrifices and hopefully see some good come out of a new beginning. Let’s try some hope for a change and give the other guy, well a little slack.>



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timks

posted December 5, 2006 at 10:27 pm


j. – Corporations are made up of people/workers of all creeds and economic situations. How can someone punish “corporations” without the real possibility of harming the most defenseless or marginal in their employ? Doesn’t working for a corporation offer some sort of protection for individual workers? Is it really worth it to jeopardize that? I’m not a particular fan of WalMart for my own reasons, but attempts to hurt them via legislation will likely backfire. The few times I’ve been to WalMart it seems to me that they are doing society a real service by employing some of those people. That’s no reflection on those people morally, but it does address a reality that some people are more employable than others for whatever reason. Based on the fact WalMart’s parking lot is nearly always full, it certainly appears that many, many other folks are willing to overlook WalMart’s “sins” for the chance to buy food and other goods for their families at low prices. Isn’t that worth considering, too?>



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Mike Hayes

posted December 5, 2006 at 10:27 pm


MB, Well said!>



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j.

posted December 5, 2006 at 11:03 pm


“The few times I’ve been to WalMart it seems to me that they are doing society a real service by employing some of those people.” i absolutely agree with you there. and i have had many arguments with some of my more rabid anti-WalMart friends on that. and i applaud WalMart for opening stores in impoverished areas where Target would never dare venture. But allowing employees to unionize, paying fair wages to an employee trying to scrape by to feed a family, and treating employees like human beings would hardly punish WalMart. in fact, it’s just good business. raising the minnimum wage would have very little impact on the price of a DVD player. there are just too many other variables there. my point is that it is possible to be fair to businesses and employees. the republican party is so tied to the business interests that under the current administration’s policies, the corporate interests trump everything else. there gets to be a point where the deck so stacked against “the least of those” that it becomes immoral.>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 11:11 pm


J, I don’t consider raising the minimum wage to be an anti Walmart measure. I’m not sure Walmart doesn’t benefit from the increasing (at the expense of mom & pop shops who actually pay minimum wage). Unionizing Walmart will, I think have the effect of raising the price of a DVD player, the same way it raises the cost of a Ford (or, rather, prevents Ford form building higher quality automobiles). Either way, are you proposing that we introduce legislation forcing Walmart employees to unionize?>



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timks

posted December 5, 2006 at 11:30 pm


I don’t have any idea what a “fair wage” is for somebody else, and neither does anyone else. To say otherwise is a form of conceit, I believe. How can a I say what is “fair” for somebody else, if I don’t have to suffer the consequences if I’m wrong? I’m all for treating employees with dignity, but again, what you might consider undignified might be no big deal to someone else and not something to be legislated. “Dignity” is too subjective. Safety is another issue altogether, however. People have the right to unionize or not unionize. There are pros and cons to each and the fact that total union membership has shown such a serious decline over the last 40 years tells me that whatever it is they’re selling, many folks aren’t buying. Regarding a federal minimum wage, the same arguments for “fair wage” apply. I wish Sojourners would more often take these kinds of questions into account. If I got any kind of inkling they did, I would be more enthusiastic in my support.>



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j.

posted December 5, 2006 at 11:31 pm


“forcing Walmart employees to unionize?” no forcing necessary.>



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j.

posted December 5, 2006 at 11:33 pm


actually, timks, a “fair wage” or a “living wage” can be easily calculated based on where you live, how many children you have, etc. when people who work a full workweek cannot support their family, they are not being paid a “fair wage”.>



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jessie

posted December 5, 2006 at 11:59 pm


when people who work a full workweek cannot support their family, they are not being paid a “fair wage”. –So, you’re calculating what a “fair wage” is not based on the type of work but on the person working? This seems a little strange. I guess this would mean that a dishwasher would get paid the same whether he was a 16-year-old living at home with his parents or a 40-year-old who has a wife and 5 kids. There would be a lot of rich teenagers out there if you take your point to its logical conclusion. But they have lots of needs, too…I’m thinking Playstations and that new OC dvd set. Actually, there wouldn’t be rich teenagers…there would just be a lot of unemployed people. With only illegal immigrants washing dishes, because no restaurant would pay someone $15/hr to wash dishes. Supporters of a higher minimum wage fail to consider that: 1) many people at minimum wage jobs work at bars or restaurants, where they also receive tips. 2) no one really stays at a minimum wage job for that long…instead they either get raises or move up the economic ladder 3) many of these minimum wage earners are teenagers 4) raising the minimum wage will negatively impact small businesses, will increase unemployment, and will reduce the number of entry level jobs available…these jobs are extremely important for people trying to get out of poverty. But everyone likes the sound of “living wage” and raising the minimum wage.>



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timks

posted December 6, 2006 at 12:00 am


j. said – “actually, timks, a ‘fair wage’ or a ‘living wage’ can be easily calculated based on where you live, how many children you have, etc. when people who work a full workweek cannot support their family, they are not being paid a ‘fair wage’.” That’s pretty glib and displays an unseemly amount of hubris, if you ask me. What if they have 15 kids? What if they smoke four packs a day? How do you decide what factors are important? I see plenty of problems with such a calculation, it is not easy. Have you ever tried it? What would you tell the people who are negatively affected because you left out a variable that turned out to be more important that you thought? If it is so easy, there must be a reason why it hasn’t happened yet. Have you considered what those reasons might be?>



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j.

posted December 6, 2006 at 12:54 am


jessie: 1) Um, not true. 2) Not true – the whole problem is that most people with these jobs have absolutely no leverage with which to work their way up the economic ladder. 3) Hardly a consolation to those who are not teenagers and are desperately trying to work (and stay off welfare, which I imagine you would applaud) and support a family. 4) Myth>



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kevin s.

posted December 6, 2006 at 12:58 am


This si a good point about the fair wage issue. Do we require companies to pay more to a mother of four than for a sinlge person? If that is what is proposed, then I can guarantee you that it will have major ramifications. To be fair, I don’t think you proposed that, but that seemed to be where you are going. We can’t eliminate poverty with the minimum wage. If we could guarantee what you deem to be a living wage, the idea would have tremendous support. My sister has worked in fast food most of her life, in western Michigan, one of the most economically depressed regions in the United States. Nonetheless, she has always been able to eke out a pretty decent living in a managerial role on account of her work ethic. As for the people under her, well, she could relate the horror stories regarding their work ethic. Our economy generally rewards those who work (or, at least don’t steal from the cash register or pull a gun on a customer). Does that mean that every single hard working person has a good job? No. there is simply no way we can guarantee that outcome. If we attempt to do so through government intervention, we do so at the expense of people like my sister.>



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PJ

posted December 6, 2006 at 1:09 am


Thank-you MB for a post of graciousness and hope. Thank you Jim Wallis for elevating the conversation. I find it helpful to hold my words until I can genuinely hold a love and gratitude toward those I wish to dialogue with. We do not need to conceive of political processes as one side wins, or there is limited power to fight over, or compromise is each side giving up something. I FULLY believe Minnesota can send Keith Ellison and Michelle Bachman (political foes) to the Congress and expect they and their colleagues produce the best possible Social Security reforms. Have Congresses been doing that? “No.” Can they? “Yes.” There have been scads of Social Security reform plans over the last 20 years. I think we are fooled by journalists, pundits and politicians who tell us the nation is too divided, the problem is too complex, and it is too hard politically to solve. I think the primary religious voice on this issue is simply to raise the flag on the fundamental stewardship responsibility of a fiscally sound government; expressing the people want the problem solved, justice requires the problem be solved, and their responsibility is to govern. They could solve the problem. They have not. The people overwhelmingly expect it. The same can be said for Iraq, Abortion, immigration policy, etc.>



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Expat R

posted December 6, 2006 at 3:59 am


4) raising the minimum wage will negatively impact small businesses, will increase unemployment, and will reduce the number of entry level jobs available…these jobs are extremely important for people trying to get out of poverty. Precisely the reverse has happened in the UK>



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jessie

posted December 6, 2006 at 4:27 am


J, Supporting data for my points 1-3 are found here: http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2004.htm You will notice that these are govt statistics. Data supporting #4 can be found here: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1568/is_n2_v27/ai_16971711 and pretty much all over the internet if you google it. I think it’s just common sense. Do you really think that, say, raising the minimum wage to $10/hr isn’t going to negatively impact small businesses? Especially those that are just squeeking by? Money doesn’t grow on trees.>



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timks

posted December 6, 2006 at 5:08 am


Expat R said, “Precisely the reverse has happened in the UK” I don’t believe it. I believe those things may have happened, but I do not believe they can be shown as being caused by an increase in the minimum wage.>



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MB

posted December 6, 2006 at 1:12 pm


The dreaded minimum wage. Paying people a wage in which they can provide for themselves. What a concept. If I understand my basic history and I am the first to admit I am no scholar. But this whole idea of a specific/no lower wage is acceptable is because unfortunatley there are people in the business community in whom take advantage of the people who work for them. Not only were people who were working for businesses not being paid enough to live but children were being employed. If that’s what you can call it. People were dying from unsafe work atmosphere’s and no one being held accountable. So as a Nation of people we said No More. So here we are today debating whether or not the peoples’s Government should set a standard for how much an employee should be paid. We are only here because unfortunatley certain businesses do take advantage of their workers, we can’t trust that all “are going to do the right thing”. In a nutshell it’s called greed. This is not just our problem. The idea of paying someone a wage that they can live on is something countries around the world are struggling with today. The Republicans are right in a sense. If you increase American wages – business will just take their work product overseas. It’s cheaper. Yet in reality it is no cheaper for the average American. It is only the top of the top of the business community who see the real benefit from our jobs going overseas. It isn’t the average joe – whose getting a bigger pay check. Big business seems to believe that what they do is more valuable than what the rest of us do. I don’t find that to be the case. I think my garbage man is pretty darn valuable. I am so thankful that my trash is picked up at my house weekly so I don’t have to fool with it. To me his service is invaluable. I applaud his wife who has a husband who comes home probably stinky on occasion because of the garbage of other people. Seriously, what a thankless job – yet how invaluable the garbage man is. How about the mechanic who fixes your car and is constantly caked with grease. Where would we be with out the mechanics who service our vehicles so we can run where ever we need to go. The plumber, or the guy who deals with the sewage. Not a job that I would want – yet they get paid pennies compared to some because of the services they provide. Who wants to pay the dishwasher $10.00 an hour for washing dishes. Well, you know what when I go out to eat I want a clean dish. If it wasn’t for the dishwasher that restaurant who not run smoothly because a restaurant has got to have clean dishes. I’m sorry but for me that dishwashers job is valuable. No it doesn’t have a pretty title and it doesn’t come with a bunch of letters behind the name – but a valuable service nonetheless. The owner doesn’t want to wash them dishes, now does he? He wants to mingle with his clientele, oversee the entire operation, go if he needs to go. The dishwasher, though not glamorous job provides a valuable service. How about our nurses, paramedics, police officers, firemen, let’s not forget our teachers – who unfortunetly go into work today not really knowing if it maybe their last. It’s takes all of us to make our society run. All need to make a wage in which they can provide for their families. If Congress can continue to give itself an automatice pay raise each year for what they do for us – it should be the same for the rest of society. And that isn’t a hit against either party, but both. Small business effected? Give them tax breaks for the amount in which they are having to up their employees wages. I don’t want to see a small business go bust. I’m willing to allow Congress to sit down with small business America and say, “What is it that you need from us so that you can without going belly up give your employees a livable wage.” I can’t help but believe if you allow the average american family to have more money in their pocket they will buy more. We are a consumer driven market – give average people money they can spend and they will spend it. How do you figure a good minimum wage? Well, to me it seems you could start the basics. A family of (3). How much is average housing. How much is average utilities. How much is average health care. How much is average food bill. How much is average car insurance. Figure in all of those and then you have somewhere to start. That is so basic – it’s pitiful. And as far as the whole teenager working and getting $10.00 hr and hour him living high on the hog. It seems to me it wouldn’t be difficult to right in the language something that offers a lower wage for students under the age of 18 living at home. Of course you have to have the stipulation of the ones in which do provide in some way to the support of the famiy, or they themselves or either emanicipated or have responsibility of a child, etc. Personally, I believe that health care needs to come off the back of our employers. But then that’s a whole other conversation.>



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jessie

posted December 6, 2006 at 1:46 pm


MB, All the workers you mention (garbageman, plumber, etc.), with the exception of the dishwasher, make a lot higher than minimum wage. Also, if you say employers can pay teenagers less money, guess what will happen? They’ll start hiring only teenagers. These solutions you’re proposing are just shifting around the costs. If you give small businesses more tax breaks, someone else presumably is going to have to pay those taxes…all of these things cost money. There’s a reason neither party is proposing to raise the minimum wage to $10/hr. It would hurt more than help.>



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kevin s.

posted December 6, 2006 at 3:43 pm


“Precisely the reverse has happened in the UK” The unemployment rate in the UK is on rising, is it not? Either way, without acknowledging that there are SOME detrimental economic effects to increasing the minimum wage, we are simply not playing in the field of reality. “Small business effected? Give them tax breaks for the amount in which they are having to up their employees wages.” So, government should now be in the business of paying wages for preferred employers? That sounds dangerously close to socialism for me. You make a valuable point here, in that you concede that certain actions set off a chain of reactions. The more government involves itself with private business, the more control it has over private business. Republicans do not see governmetn control of private industry as a positive for our economy. Further, history has shown that the impulse to control private enterprise quickly morphs into tyrannical behavior. The conservative ideologue is deeply concerned about this possibility. The liberal ideologue sees it as a risk we must be willing to take. So, again, what does compromise look like.>



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MB

posted December 6, 2006 at 5:13 pm


Except the dishwasher. I realize that the others I mentioned make more than minimum wage. So does my husband, more than double the standard minimum wage. We struggle horribly. I can’t imagine what it is like for the ones who are trying to make it on less than what we have. And in that struggle it’s not a car payment, we have none. It’s not credit card debt, we have none of that also. We struggle to pay the bills that come in monthly. We struggle to put food on our table. I don’t know what the answer to how to solve the problem of people being paid a wage in which they can provide. But I believe a starting point is to at least admit people can’t make it on $5.00 something an hour. That’s a start. It would be wonderful if government did not have to say you can’t pay your laborers less than this. But history has shown us that it is necessary for someone to step in and say enough is enough. Maybe tax breaks aren’t the answer. Seemingly the government seems to like giving tax breaks. It seems in certain circumstances, depending on the income generated alot of tax breaks come into play. I believe they are called loop holes. How many of you out there who don’t want any government intervention, don’t want this to be addressed and changed are making the standard minumum wage. How many are close. As I said earlier, we aren’t nearly close to making the standard minimum wage but we struggle. I would like my husband to make an income which lasts until the next paycheck. Is that truly so much to ask?>



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PJ

posted December 6, 2006 at 6:13 pm


Kevin re: “What does compromise look like?” You find good reasons for no compromise. Are you applying equal effort to finding a “Common Good.” Highlighting the different underlying conceptions of appropriate government involvement, as you have done, is fundamental to finding solutions. But I do not think, at the end of the day, that the vast majority are that far apart on government involvement. Would any minimum wage protection for any class of workers violate your morality or policy? I do not find the minimum wage particularly attractive or unattractive. I do not think it is a major issue. As most issues, I think most of the debate is smoke and mirrors. There is common ground. It would not be that hard to come by. Should we have a minimum wage: Yes. It is widely accepted as part of the economic landscape. It is not greatly helpful or hurtful. What should it be: Use hard numbers. Establish it at a level so it will protect the most vulnerable (i.e. protecting vulnerable persons from being abused by employers)–and not have any substancial impact on business productivity. Then just index changes to something–instead of the constant political exploitation of the issue. I don’t think it is massively difficult. A few numbers. Minnesota raised its Minimum in 2005 by $1.00. After the raise, a total of 83000 persons worked at or below the minimum. The majority are part-time jobs held by persons under age 24 most frequently in food preparation and serving (i.e.many ‘wage + tips’ jobs) Only 12000 of the minimum wage workers are living below the poverty level. And as few as 2500 of those persons are actually at the $6.15 wage. In other words if we desired to change the minimum wage to lift some people out of poverty in Minnesota, it is possible the change might affect as few as 2500 employees out of a workforce of 2,500,000 (.1%). 78% of employees working at or below the minimum are not affected directly by the minimum. And, in fact, one possible negative spillover of increasing the Minimum is if it displaces some low wage workers, it increases the number of workers available to employers who do not comply with the minimum through the use of salried positions (vs. hourly wages). To MB– I am very sympathetic. Frankly, Fight, Fight, Fight. There are ways to inch ahead. Keep reading, keep learning, sieze the little opportunities. $100 here, $500 there–develop a plan. Find someone/group/church to walk the walk with you. Your desire is not too much to ask; but if you keep your values clear; vision in front of you; keep your marriage strong; pray; hope; work hard; and keep grabbing hold of faith and hope–you can work out a life you can be content with. I spent the last three years without employment because my wife became critically ill and I came home to care for her and kids. We were deeply in debt. She died in October. At time of her death we were almost out of debt. I have learned to be grateful. When it seems there is no road map to move forward–have faith and grab hold of a God that knows the beginning from the ending. God loves to care for family. Major stories this week. Immigration visas for nurses ran out (50,000). This region does not know where to find adequate numbers of nurses. In spite of all the losses of high-paying manufacturing jobs, Minnesota manufacturers are restricting capacity because of the inability to find employees. My wife’s homecare nurses (paid lower than hospital RN’s)could make $60,000–and we could not fill her schedule. She would not have had care without new immigrants from Sudan, Liberia, Kenya, Uganda and Eastern Europe; people that left all to make a life they desired.>



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Simon Jones

posted December 7, 2006 at 4:09 pm


The thing I find most annoying about American TV news is the way they shout at the person they’re interviewing. Jim conducted himself as you would expect, I on the other hand might have said “Would you let me finish please!” :-)>



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Art T

posted December 7, 2006 at 11:27 pm


Jim Wallis said Quote: I said that I value my independence and non-partisanship, and didn’t want to be perceived as “in the pocket” of any political party. Given the Leftist ideology of your entire organization I find the above statement to be beyond ludicrous. In reviewing the transcript of your radio address I made 37 margin comments where your rhetoric was Leftist, Democrat and/or twisting the meaning of what Scriptures say. In the final analysis your ideology of Social Justice is nothing more than Socialism in a religious wrapper, a false religion at that. It has been shown throughout history that yours is a failed ideology and inevitably results in equality of poverty and rule by tyranny. To those of you who are born again Christians be not deceived by this false prophet. Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many>



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