This Thanksgiving let us remember the immigrants — 2014

This Thanksgiving, it is indeed proper and right to worship and to give thanks to our God for his many mercies and kindnesses toward us. There is an old Protestant hymn that I still love for this season. It was not written for Thanksgiving Day, as it was written in the 1500’s by the Dutch to celebrate a great naval victory. But, it does express much of what we think about during Thanksgiving.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Thanksgiving is a time when we do remember that Our Lord does not forget us, that he is in charge of his kingdom divine, that victory will someday be won. We also ask him during Thanksgiving, exactly as we do in the Litany for Peace, that in numberless ways he may guard us and keep us safe. Thanksgiving is a time when we should gather in worship and then gather with our families to give thanks.

It should also be a time to remember that we were aliens and strangers in this land (except for those descended from Native Americans). I find it odd that a nation that pictures the welcome that they received from the Native Americans as a good thing, turns right around a couple of centuries later and tries to set impossible limitations on those who came here under the same conditions as their ancestors did. We remember on Thanksgiving that our ancestors found a welcome while refusing to pass it forward.

So, let us give thanks this Thanksgiving. And, I would suggest that there are some who are descended from the early immigrants who ought to give most especial thanks that their ancestors were not treated by the Native Americans in the same way in which they wish to treat modern immigrants. You know, it is really not about whether they “broke the law” or not. It is about the fact that they were welcomed here, were given jobs by companies who were never prosecuted, had taxes deducted from their paychecks (contrary to popular belief), sent their children to the local schools, and are now considered disposable and returnable with no harm and no foul accruing to us who gave them that welcome.

“And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:33-34

Why are college costs so high?

 

State appropriations for public higher education have just faced another tough year. And yet, public institutions have faced many such years over the past three decades. Despite steadily growing student demand for higher education since the mid-1970s, state fiscal investment in higher education has been in retreat in the states since about 1980.

In fact, it is headed for zero.

Based on the trends since 1980, average state fiscal support for higher education will reach zero by 2059, although it could happen much sooner in some states and later in others. Public higher education is gradually being privatized. – American Council on Education, Winter 2012 newsletter.

There have been increasing complaints about college tuition costs. I, myself, have been shocked at the incredible price per year of some colleges. The question keeps being asked as to why the costs are increasing faster than inflation. Well, there is a reason, and it is not what you think.

In this country, the privatization wave has been growing since the 1980’s. That wave has included colleges. Not just the American Council on Education, but other organizations are now beginning to warn on what is the real problem. The real problem is not overpaid university professors. As an aside, I am becoming rather tired of the most common American solution being to lower someone’s wages. The real problem is that the states have slowly been losing their commitment to higher education.

There used to be a time when the states saw the support of higher education as part of opening the doors to the youth of today so that our tomorrow might be better. That is slowly going away under the pressure of pay-your-own-way philosophies. We used to believe that by giving opportunities to youth who might not otherwise be able to attend college, that we could uncover future leaders who might otherwise be underused in an unsuitable job. We used to believe that it was worth investing in our youth in order to ensure their success.

Funding figures show that, whatever we might give lip service to, we have stopped believing that. While many countries, including some of the most successful, subsidize higher education heavily, we are going the other way. While we are seeing more and more foreign higher education graduates come to fill slots in the USA, we fail to see that this is because we are not supporting enough of our own citizens to fill the needed gaps in this country. We blame the teacher, or we blame the professor, or we blame this supposed system. We fail to note that education spending per capita is dropping.

Finally, we leave our youth with an even worse burden. The foreign graduate who comes to work here comes to work here with little debt. They are quickly able to set up a successful practice, or a successful office, or a successful professional career at an early age. Meanwhile, our youth are burdened and shackled to servicing a debt that disables them from setting up successful practices or businesses for several years.

Philosophically, we point to the exceptions (the great entrepreneurs, the great inventors, etc.) and set them up as though they represented what is possible for each and every person. By philosophically making the uncommon person into the common ideal, we make the common person into into an uncommon failure. Not only do we leave our children with massive debt, should they go to college, but then we even look down upon them for failing to be uncommon successes.

I doubt that our spending habits will turn around. The pressure is for us to have more money to spend now, while caring little for the future. The fear that our children have about Social Security is a fear that should be extended to higher education. We are spending our children’s future with Social Security. We are failing to spend for our children’s future with higher education. We are filling the Social Security gap with meaningless political arguments. We are filling the college gap with imported foreign graduates while shackling our children with additional financial burdens.

I hope that someday we will see our way to up our higher education spending before it is too late.