Voice of Sanity – June 2017

 

 

 

Piedmont Humanists

Membership: adults $24/year
Seniors/students $15/year
Family: $40/year

Editor: Joyce Bates

All correspondence to:

Email: voice@piedmonthumanists.org 

Regular mail:
Piedmont Humanists
3620 Pelham Rd., Suite 5, #135
Greenville, SC. 29615

June 2017

 

The Voice of Sanity

THE NEWSLETTER OF THE PIEDMONT HUMANISTS

                 Visit our web-site for current issues at:

                         www.piedmonthumanists.org

                          

 

 

CALENDAR

http://www.meetup.com/piedmont-SC-Humanists/

www.piedmonthumanists.org

https://www.facebook.com /groups/piedmonthumanists/

 

The Sunday meeting: There is a meet and greet 10:00AM to 10:45AM

At 11:00AM there is usually a talk, video, or general discussion from 11:00AM to 1:00PM

Location: the Earth Fare 3620 Pelham Road, Greenville.

A review of business done in the board meeting is presented at the 11:00 time on the first Sunday of every month.

Dates for the Sunday meetings are: June 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th.

 

For those new to Humanism a discussion group will meet 10AM Sunday June 25th. Location: the Earth Fare 3620 Pelham Road, Greenville

 

The Free-Thought group will meet at 7:00PM June 1st, 15th, and 29th (Thursdays) for a meal at California Dreaming restaurant; 40 Beacon Drive; near the Pelham Road exit off I85. 

 

The Freethought trivia and pool group will meet at Friar’s Tavern,

1178 Woodruff Road, Greenville, SC 29607.

Meetings will be held 7:00 to 10:00PM on June 8th and 22nd  (also Thursdays).

 

June 10th: Second Saturday Brunch will be at10AM at the Golden Corral, 3240 North Pleasantburg Dr. Greenville, SC 29609.

 

 

IMMIGRATION IN THE US

 

It is estimated that even before the thirteen colonies unified into the United States this region of North America was more popular for settlement than both Canada and the area of the Caribbean. Between 1760 and 1775 three percent of Scotland and 3.2 percent of Ireland had migrated to the Eastern Seaboard. But no real statistics were kept on immigration until 1820.

 

It is true that the Alien and Sedition Acts passed in 1798 allowed the President to imprison or deport non-citizens who were considered dangerous or came from an enemy nation. At any rate three of the four acts were allowed to sunset by 1801 except for the Alien Enemies Act which was kept active and used during World War II to detain German, Italian and Japanese non-citizens.

 

Most of the 19th century saw immigration from Ireland and Germany with each country contributing well over two-thirds of the immigrant flow by 1890. Half the population of Ireland came because the main source of food was destroyed by the potato blight a plant disease ironically caused by a pathogen native to Mexico. Even today there are more people of Irish descent living in the US than there are Irish in Ireland.  The Germans came because of poverty and political unrest that eventually led to the Revolution of 1848.

 

Chinese immigration was triggered by news of the discovery of gold in California. When the vast majority of poor young men who came here failed to make their fortunes they found work building the railroads, working in coal mines, or they started small businesses like restaurants or laundries. These last were in high demand, easy to set up, and required only a limited English vocabulary. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. This act was the culmination of discrimination against race nearly equal to that displayed towards emancipated black slaves at that time. Provisions prevented Chinese from becoming citizens, provided for their deportation, and suspended all Chinese immigration for a period of ten years.

 

The greatest influx of immigrants came at the beginning of the 20th century and continued through WWI. Finally a temporary bill was introduced in 1921 to control the flow of Southern and Eastern Europeans. In 1924 the bill permanently limited immigration to two percent a year from all countries. Unfortunately, the laws also significantly reduced the flood of those escaping from Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 40s.

 

The next major restrictions came during the 1950s to keep out those suspected of supporting Communism and anarchy. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 continued the ban on those coming from Asia and kept quotas of immigrants confined to relatives of US citizens and permanent residents, and those who had extensive education or exceptional abilities.

 

One exception to these rules was the Mexican Brecero program. This program came into being early in World War II to admit agricultural workers across the border when many Americans left farms to work in factories. After it expired in 1964 illegal immigration from Mexico increased every year until the 1980s when sanctions were again introduced, this time against the employers who hired them. Over the years there has been no evidence that this law was effective. Half of the illegal immigrants in the US in 2014 were Mexicans (about 5.2 million). This figure was lower than peak numbers in 2009, but illegals from other Latin American countries have increased.

 

Before the present travel ban citizens of 38 countries were eligible to be in the US for a period of 90 days under the visa-waiver program as long as they did not have citizenship with Iraq, Iran, Syria, or Sudan. There are many types of visas for those wishing to stay longer. Here are a few examples:

EB-1: are for those who have extraordinary ability, advanced degrees or are highly skilled professionals or investors.

H-1B: are for those with a specific occupation. Spouses of these are also eligible for H-1B but are not free to pursue an occupation.

L: are for employees of US companies abroad who wish to transfer workers in their business to work this country.

TN: these are for professionals from Mexico and Canada under the NAFTA trade agreement.

H-2A: these are for hired workers in agriculture, nurseries and landscaping. Apparently, there are no limits to these except for the very effective one of going through the application process. Additionally countries eligible for this visa are susceptible to change on a yearly basis by the Department of Homeland Security.

 

A US citizen can sponsor a spouse, child, parent, or sibling for a “green card” or permanent residency. One who already has a green card can also be a sponsor. The caveat here is the enormous backlogs for those waiting for permanent residency. For example citizens with siblings seeking permanent residency after the fall of the Berlin wall were still waiting for relatives to join them as of 2010. Here is a short table of wait times for sponsored immigrants of US citizens and permanent residents:

 

Category

China

India

Mexico

Philippines

Others

Unmarried adult children of

US Citizens

6yrs

6yrs

17yrs

16yrs

6yrs

Spouses and minor children of

Permanent residents

4yrs

 

4yrs

 

6yrs

 

4yrs

 

4yrs

 

Unmarried adult children

Permanent residents

8yrs

 

8yrs

 

16yrs

 

10yrs

 

8yrs

 

Married adult children of

US citizens

8yrs

 

8yrs

 

16yrs

 

17yrs

 

8yrs

 

Siblings of US citizens

10yrs

10yrs

14yrs

20yrs

10yrs

 

 

In 1996 rules tightened on the ability of undocumented immigrants to get legal status. In 2001 rules tightened on those from certain foreign countries and foreign nationals in response to 9/11. The Department of Homeland Security took over the management of the US Customs and Border Protection, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the US Citizens and Immigration Services.

 

As of 2014 there were slightly over eleven million unauthorized immigrants in the US. There is a certain amount of fraud committed in the hiring of these illegals but much depends on the size of companies who practice it. Of those companies that do and have less than $10 million in revenue, over half are small companies with less the 25 employees. Only seven percent of companies worth more than $10 million practice illegal hiring.

 

The employer based H-1B temporary visas were limited to 65,000 per year in 1997. The US raised the limits temporarily starting in 1999 but they were discontinued in 2003 because of the slowing economy and drop in demand for workers. The number of permits now has been raised again to 85,000 and is still being depleted well before the federal fiscal year ends.

 

Last month this newsletter highlighted another problem with H-1B workers. Since 2006 universities have been exempted from the quota and are unlimited in their freedom to hire foreign workers. As of 2016 this ballooned the hiring to 100,000 additional jobs because for-profit companies realized they could use the educational exemption by affiliating their foreign workers with universities.

 

Lastly, any thought that immigrants are taking advantage of federal government benefits is unwarranted. Eligibility for the following went into effect as of August 22nd, 1996:

 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Not eligible until 5 years or more of lawful permanent residence.

Food Stamps: Not eligible until 5 years or more of lawful permanent residence; lawful permanent residents who have worked for 40 quarters.

Supplementary Security Income: Generally not eligible, but lawful permanent residents with 40 quarters of work history after five years

Medicaid: Not eligible until 5 years or more of lawful permanent residence.

Children’s Health Insurance: Not eligible until 5 years or more of lawful permanent residence. There are state options for children under 21 and pregnant women.

JB

 

References:

Immigration, Stuart Anderson, 2010, Greenwood Guides to Business and Economics

Immigrants; Your Country Needs Them, Philippe Legrain, 2006, Princeton Univ. Press

History of Asian Americans, Jonathan H.X. Lee, 2015, ABC-CLIO, LLC

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/03/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/

 


FREE SPEECH OR FREE RIDE?

 

The Johnson Amendment was a provision attached to the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. It had been proposed by then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and was considered non-controversial being included in the body of the bill without discussion or debate. The text of the amendment affects 501(3) (c) organizations for exemption from federal income tax under certain conditions. Those conditions are that no part any such an organization’s earnings will go to shareholders or individuals; no substantial part of its mission will be to carry on propaganda or otherwise influence legislation (except for certain exceptions); and that it “…does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing of distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”  The amendment applies to both religious and secular 501(c) (3) organizations. An additional benefit is that they are not only tax exempt but their donors can also take tax exemptions.

 

On May 4th the “Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” was signed. This order directs the Department of Treasury that “churches should not be found guilty of implied endorsements where secular organizations would not be.” It is difficult to ascertain what the wording actually means but it implies that secular organizations are allowed more freedom in this respect.

 

Traditional political organizations (501(c)(4)s) must disclose their donors for tax purposes thus making identities available to the Department of Treasury. The 501(c)(3)s are not obligated to disclose on condition that they abide by the Johnson Amendment. All these 501 (c)(3) organizations both religious and secular are prohibited from campaigning for or against political candidates. They are, however, allowed to participate in non-partisan activities such as voter education, registration, and “get-out-the-vote” drives.  As for members, they are not forbidden in any way from free speech and press on their own time.

 

There are two kinds of poor behaviors that could occur if the amendment is repealed. The most worrisome would be an incentive for political donors to shift their contributions away from the traditional partisan 501(c) (4) groups to religious and charity organizations in order to achieve a tax exemption. A second problem would occur because churches and welfare groups do not have to disclose the source of donations. Such donations would not only avoid tax but would be unavailable for public identification forever.

 

Also, most 501 (c) organizations have to file Form 990 on their tax returns to provide information about their groups and activities. Churches are exempted from this requirement. Some religious and secular welfare groups enjoying this exemption are very large. The Salvation Army, for example, posted collections of $3.5 billion for the year 2015. Many major political contributors control large foundations which could be exploited for tax free undisclosed political spending.

 

Although the President can issue an order to the Department of Treasury, only Congress can repeal the Johnson Amendment. Presently, such legislation has been reintroduced by House representatives Walter Jones, Steve Sealize and Jody Hice. This legislation has been backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, whose reputation has not been known for encouraging the freedom of same sex couples to marry, enter into civil unions, or adopt children. Nor has it been known to rally for the separation of church and state.

 

There are two organizations that feel repealing the Johnson Amendment will take away the protection that makes sure all 501(c) (3) organizations serve the social and public benefits for which they were intended and nothing else. The National Council of Nonprofits recognizes that donors presently want their money to be used to further the missions of their organizations and not the careers of politicians or pockets of political consultants. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has also recommended the amendment not be repealed. While it would be in favor of changing some IRS rules, it also feels that many churches would be too easily co-opted for political activity and possible private gain.

 

Reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnson_Amendment

http://www.salon.com/2017/02/03/trumps-plan-to-totally-destroy-the-johnson-amendment-creates-a-huge-campaign-finance-loophole-for-churches-to-exploit/

http://www.churchlawandtax.com/blog/2016/october/what-would-repealing-johnson-amendment-actually-mean-for-ch.html

https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/article/national-council-of-nonprofits-opposes-latest-efforts-politicize-charitable-nonprofits-and

 

 

REVIEW AND UPDATE OF THE “MONKEY” TRIAL OF 1925

 

The Scopes “Monkey” trial began when the American Civil Liberties Union offered to finance a case that contested the constitutionality of Tennessee’s Butler Law. Their court case would focus on the fact that the Butler law prohibited the teaching of anything other than the Biblical version of human origins in spite of the fact that the state required teachers to use a textbook containing a chapter on evolution. Businessmen thought this an opportunity to bring attention to their town of Dayton. So they, along with the engineer of a local coal company met with a coach and teacher named John Scopes and convinced him to take part in the project.

 

The trial did indeed attract national attention since the lawyers involved were also nationally known. Clarence Darrow was a member of the ACLU and a prominent labor and criminal lawyer. William Jennings Bryan had been a representative from Nebraska, a candidate for the US presidency, but a firm believer in literal translation of the Bible.

 

Regrettably Scopes was found guilty and was obliged to pay a $100 fine. However, the Butler Act remained in effect until 1967 when it was repealed by the Tennessee legislature. Later Scopes admitted to a reporter that he had really skipped that chapter on evolution and he and his lawyers coached the students on what to say at the trial. The reporter did not file the story until Scopes’ appeal was settled in 1927.

 

When Bryan College in Dayton decided to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2005, it made good on plans to have a bronze statue of the statesman after which it was named placed on the lawn of the historic courthouse. The statue depicted Bryan the age he would have been, 65, while debating for the biblical version of human origins.

 

American Humanist Association member William Dusenberry realized during his visit to Dayton in 2009 that only half of the event was represented on the courthouse lawn. He tried but failed to get funding until in 2014 when he was able to contact Zeno Frudakis, a sculptor famous for his representations of prominent thinkers. Darrow will be depicted jacketless and with suspenders at the age of 68, the way he originally appeared at the trial.

 

Dedication for the bronze statue will be July 14, 2017 in Dayton, Tennessee. The statues will appear facing each other.

 

https://thehumanist.com/arts_entertainment/culture/clarence-darrow-reunite-william-jennings-bryan-dayton-courthouse

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_T._Scopes


Stumbles truths for mature humans:

 

I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear my computer history if I die.

 

I take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

 

Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

 

Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told me how the person died.

 

It is always a bit unnerving when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save changes to a lengthy time consuming report in which I don’t remember making any changes.

 

“Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this item.

 

Bad decisions make good stories.

 

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