Economic Justice Archive

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U.S. Jesuit Conference Statement on Taxes and the Fiscal Cliff

Jesuits IHS   Policymakers in Washington face difficult choices as they attempt to reach a deficit reduction agreement before year’s end. Their decisions will have long-lasting implications for our nation’s future, and underlying these decisions is a moral question: What kind of society do we want to be? Presumably a moral one, and being a moral society requires feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, and caring for the sick.

A moral society also shares burdens in difficult times; therefore it asks more from its members who have more. Accordingly, the Jesuit Conference, representing the Society of Jesus in the United States, the largest religious community of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, opposes any deficit reduction plan that requires more from those who have less by balancing the nation’s budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable. Government has a responsibility to provide for its citizens in their time of need, particularly those who cannot provide for themselves.

Recent census data reveals the wealthiest households in the U.S. saw unprecedented income growth over the past ten years while low income and middle class Americans suffered significantly from the economic downturn. Median household income has decreased for all but the top 5% of income groups. Poor and working-class Americans cannot afford to shoulder an even greater portion of our country’s economic burden.

A number of deficit reduction alternatives can reduce our nation’s debt without dramatically altering the social safety net. First and foremost is an increase in revenue, but revenues will not rise if the government continues to provide tax cuts and exemptions for top income earners.

The U.S. Conference of Catholics of Bishops stresses that, “The tax system should be continually evaluated in terms of its impact on the poor.” When faced with the choice of preserving essential services or preserving tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, the moral choice is clear. The Jesuit Conference of the United States supports a tax system that seeks more from the economically prosperous because doing so is a fiscally sound and equitable means to balance the budget. Deficit reduction must not increase the burden on members of our society who have seen incomes decline, jobs disappear, and public benefits evaporate. Rather, now is the time to commit to just and fair deficit reduction policies that foster the common good and protect the most vulnerable members of our society.

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Finding Home in a Homeless Shelter

Fall break of my sophomore year I went on my first service trip. In the house where we stayed hung a small tapestry that read the following quote by B. Cooke:

“We need to find people who mean something to us, people to whom we turn knowing that being with them is coming home.”

At the time, I thought I appreciated these words. However, they have never resonated within me as deeply as they did on this fall break.

Senior year, my fifth (and final) service trip was spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center where we served people experiencing homelessness. The shelter offers many services, including breakfast, a mailroom, showers, a clothing closet, and a long-term storage room.

From Left to Right: Laura Shircliff (Sr.), St. Martin's Client, Shelby Snedeker (Sr.)

I spent a lot of time in the long-term storage room, essentially a large closet stocked with cardboard banana crates. Clients of the shelter can sign up to use one of these boxes and keep any spare clothing or items in their box, rather than carrying everything they own onto the streets each night.

As I worked in this room a striking thought occurred to me, The contents of this box are the only things that belong to this person. However, as the week went on I realized this wasn’t true. The people of St. Martin’s have created a loyal and genuine community in the midst of their suffering. They find joy in this community, not through material things, and in that sense they belong to one another.

One of the client, a man I deeply respect, told me, “There is a lot that I have to be angry and upset about, but I never let it show.”

“Where do you find the strength to stay so positive?” I asked him.

“It’s these people. They’ve been through so much and they don’t deserve any more misery. I care about them and I want them to be happy, so I always try to put on a smiling face for them.”

And he does. He knows most clients by name and greets them with an effervescent charm as they come into the shelter.

The bond that he described is something I not only became aware of as the week went on, but something I became a part of. My fellow group members and I were carefully woven into the fabric of these people’s lives with every moment we shared with them. They graciously included us and made us feel like we belonged with them too. At the end of the week, I was near tears as we pulled away from the shelter, many clients and staff members waving goodbye from the doorway.

I will never forget how after only five days of meeting us, they made this place our home.

Shelby Snedeker
2013 Graduate
Major: English, Creative Writing
Host Site: St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, Albuquerque NM


The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.

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Economic Justice: Corporate Respect for Human Rights in Myanmar

Amnesty International
Corporate Respect for Human Rights in Myanmar
In July, the Obama administration lifted sanctions on the country where several positive reforms were initiated late last year after decades of human rights abuses. Now companies in the US Chamber of Commerce are moving in to capture a potentially lucrative new market.
But we believe human rights must come before profits. Burmese freedom fighter and Nobel Laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has raised the caution flag for corporations doing business in Myanmar — despite recent reforms, the country remains a hard place to do ethical business. Political prisoners, forced labor, and lack of accountability for past and ongoing human rights violations are just a few of the human rights challenges that businesses encounter.
Help Keep the pressure on big business.
Urge President Tom Donohue, of the US Chamber of Commerce, to make sure US companies take Amnesty’s recommendations seriously, and put human rights first while doing business in Myanmar.

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Economic Justice: Support Just Treatment of Workers

As members of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, we believe that we have a moral responsibility to promote the just and ethical treatment of workers, and to intervene when powerful individuals or institutions seek to undermine their fundamental rights as workers and as human beings. We are concerned that the AAR and SBL are using the Hyatt McCormick and the Hyatt Regency hotels for their 2012 meetings despite the fact that the workers have called for a boycott of these hotels.

Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst employer in the hotel industry. Hyatt has eliminated jobs, replaced career housekeepers with minimum wage temporary workers, and imposed dangerous workloads on those who remain. Hyatt has refused to remain neutral as non-union hotel workers organize. In Chicago, they are unique in their refusal to adopt the fair contract that the other hotels in the city have adopted.

This boycott is one of the many courageous steps, including striking, that workers have taken to end Hyatt’s abuse of housekeepers and exploitation of workers. Hyatt workers are not only fighting to secure decent contracts for themselves but also to secure the right and ability to take on a global corporate giant like Hyatt wherever it threatens to undermine the basic rights and working conditions of its workers.

We urge you to follow the courage of the workers, to hear their call for justice, and to pull AAR and SBL business from the Hyatt hotels in Chicago. We pledge to support the boycott by not staying in, entering or spending money in Hyatt hotels and we ask you to do the same.

Urge the leaders of AAR and SBL to support the boycott of the Hyatt hotels as they hold their conferences!

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United Nations World Water Day

International World Water Day is held annually on March 22nd as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. This year’s theme is “Water and Food Security”. Find out more information about food security at this website: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/faqs.html

There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and another 2 billion are expected to join by 2050. Statistics say that each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres. The short video here explains this idea more:



To learn more about this issue of water in your own life and city, attend Creighton Sustainability Council’s Green Bag Lunch: “Making a Habit to Use Water Wisely”.
Thursday, March 22nd, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, CCSJ (Harper, 2067)

 

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A Morning At Holy Family Church

SIena/Francis House group with statue by local artist depicting Jesus as 1st century traveling preacher.

The Siena/Francis House service & justice trips group spent the morning at Holy Family Catholic Church. They took a tour of the church and made sandwiches to be handed out as part of lunch to the homeless guests.

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