Defend Colorado Now

Intergenerational Justice

Article by Fred Elbel

We often hear about "social justice", "environmental justice", "immigrant rights", and other variations of the concept of justice. The meanings of these terms are frequently obscured, often deliberately. Rather than expressions of rights under the rules of law, such terms are often used to mean conformity to a particular political ideology.

Thus, we see immigrant advocacy organizations blurring the line between "justice" and illegality - between rights duly arising from American citizenship and "justice" for those who violate our immigration laws.

The conservative media, seemingly interested in catering to corporate demands for cheap labor, could care less about the legality of the workforce as long as huge immigration numbers are sustained.

The liberal media also promote interests of illegal aliens as if legal status were irrelevant. They present themselves as the champions of the underdog, and promote "justice" for those thought not able to defend themselves.

And in doing so, the media creates injustices for American citizens. For example, when an illegal alien bids down wages for framing houses to a sub-standard $6 per hour, an American carpenter either becomes unemployed or is forced into the new cheap-labor economy. The open borders agenda results in a stream of one-sided heart-wrenching human interest stories that may generate greater reader interest, but which essentially eviscerates the law of our land and abrogates the concepts of justice, borders and nationhood. Justice under the rule of law becomes supplanted by "justice" for lawbreakers. This agenda is promoted with callous disregard for the concerns of the overwhelming majority of American citizens, as shown in poll after poll.

Focusing solely on the interests of "justice" for immigrants - both legal and illegal - causes us irresponsibly to ignore the unsustainable society we are creating for future generations. The harsh reality is that with our excessively high levels of immigration, America's population will double this century - within the lifetimes of today's children.

In 1965, Congress changed our immigration law, resulting in upwardly spiraling immigration numbers to our present level, which is nearly six times the traditional, sustainable level. Had we maintained a balance where in-migration equaled out-migration, U.S. population would have stabilized by mid-century.

The legacy we are leaving to our children is one where every city will be effectively twice as large, with all the commensurate miseries and demands on our environment - twice as much sprawl, gridlock, congestion, school overcrowding, pollution, and demands imposed upon our farmland and on diminishing aquifers.

Intergenerational justice - the concern about the well-being of future generations - must be given equal consideration to "social justice" for those we invite here legally. Intergenerational justice must certainly be given higher consideration than social justice and "rights" for those who sneak across our borders.

Who, then, would deny the concept of intergenerational justice? Corporate interests demand only an unending supply of cheap foreign labor. The media are still caught up in promoting open-border agendas. The vast majority of politicians are more concerned about campaign contributions, ethnic vote pandering and the next election.

Generation after generation of Americans traditionally have endeavored to leave their country better than it was. Yet Americans today may be the first to fail this legacy by ignoring the explosive population growth that we see in the daily manifestation of ever-growing symptoms. We are stealing from the future for the sake of present economic gain, just as we are stealing from America's working poor today by replacing them with lower-wage immigrants.

Certainly a tremendous disparity exists between standards of living in the first world and developing countries, including America's overpopulated neighbors to the south. Yet the solution cannot be to invite all of the world's poor into our country, because we can only absorb a small fraction. (And yes, realistic solutions must involve strategies to improve living standards of third world countries - in particular with family planning assistance and micro-loans, which have both proven effective).

We are approaching the point of no return by overpopulating our own country for the sake of corporate greed and a misguided attempt to solve other countries' overpopulation problems. The debate about what kind of nation and society we are leaving to future Americans is not occurring, and the silence is deafening.

America has a right - and indeed an obligation - to openly discuss and shape its demographic future. Yet Americans choose not to confront this terribly important issue, and this selfish action is surely a hate crime against future generations. Future generations of Americans deserve nothing less from us than our full compassion and our every effort to ensure them a sustainable future.

(A version of this article appeared in the Denver Post, December 22, 2002, under the title Consider the legacy immigration leaves)