- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Karrenna Gore Schiff's comment ignored uncounted absentee ballots

Karenna Gore Schiff has learned well the art of lying to the public ("Gore daughter's article assails Bush on issues," July 7). Her statement, "I certainly thought that getting more votes than the other side would feel a lot better than this," is another lie.
During the 2000 presidential election, states in which the results were a foregone conclusion didn't count their absentee ballots. I dare say less than 10 to 15 states actually counted them. And we all know from experience how most soldiers (and many expats) favor the Republicans or, more precisely, despise the Democrats.
So add them to the number of already-shafted Florida military voters and, well, I think you get the idea. Were she to have political aspirations, Mrs. Schiff would need to learn to be responsible in her public statements. On the other hand, considering the party whose flag she would undoubtedly run under, responsible public speaking is not a prerequisite.

Marietta, Ga.

Bahrain is model for treatment of foreign domestic workers

In his July 5 Op-Ed "Slavery continues in new century," Edmund P. Murray describes some of the difficulties common to unskilled immigrant workers across the world, and highlights the case of a 20 year-old Ethiopian woman, Yeshiwork Desta Zewdu, who murdered her Filipino employer in Bahrain. I agree that unskilled immigrants wherever they work are among the most vulnerable members of the labor force, but in Bahrain extensive efforts have been made to protect them.
Bahrain is well-known for its tolerant atmosphere and respect for different cultures, which is partly why many immigrants have chosen to make it their home. Freedom of worship is sacrosanct, and in the capital, Manama, churches, Hindu and Buddist temples, a synagogue and a Sikh Gurdwara can be found alongside mosques. Members of immigrant communities are active in civil society, have their own support networks, and were recently appointed to Bahrain's constituent assembly, the Consultative Council.
The emir, Sheikh Hamad, and his government have made clear that abuses of foreign domestic workers will not be tolerated. Immigrant workers have the right to refer abusive employers to the Human Rights Committee and to a special directorate within the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs which deals with complaints. The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Abdulnabi Al-Shoa'la, announced in April that foreign domestic workers are to be covered by local labor laws.
The overwhelming majority of Bahraini employers treat domestic servants with respect. The abuse which Ms. Zewdu suffered was for the most part perpetrated by her Filipino employer. Islamstresses the importance of every individual's intrinsic worth and it is this thatcharacterizes the approach of the vast majority of Persian Gulf Arabs to their staff. It is common for domestic servants to be treated as part of the family. It should be recognized that Arab states, such as those in the gulf region, provide opportunities for people from some of the world's most underdeveloped countries to earn a decent living and support their families back home.
In the case of Ms. Zewdu, I believe that she will not face execution. Although Bahrain retains the death penalty on the statute book, it has only been used on one occasion since the country gained independence in 1971.
Mr. Murray is very right to highlight the plight of foreign domestic workers, but the example of Bahrain shows how this issue can be tackled.

Gulf Centre for Strategic Studies

'Older' clergy still committed to change role of churches in society

"Resuscitating spiritual passion," the July 6 installment of your special series "Pulpits in peril," includes the quote: "'A lot of seminary training is academic,' says Brad Smith, 42, president of the Leadership Network. 'But learning Hebrew and Greek doesn't fit real-life needs. There is a new kind of clergy who are driven by the question our culture is asking: What is the usefulness of our church to society?'" Mr. Smith continues, "'The older clergy don't think that's a valid question. The newer clergy think it is.'"
I'm a 56-year-old pastor with 21 years in pastoral ministry who was ordained at 41 years of age in the United Methodist Church. Mr. Smith's question is one that I ask myself nearly every day. I am afraid too many congregations have become of no use to anyone but themselves. Sometimes, it is even questionable whether they are of use to themselves, if we're talking about having a positive influence on those who control the local congregations.
Helping to create such a climate of change in a local congregation is extremely difficult. To the question "How many United Methodists (or Presbyterians, etc.) does it take to change a light bulb?" they answer, "What do you mean change? My mother bought that light bulb."
For years, most mainline congregations have seen their job as maintaining themselves with minimal growth or managed loss. They don't even ask what their role is in society.
Mr. Smith's thoughts, however, have less to do with age than with attitude. His generalized statement about older clergy doesn't apply to me or many other "older" clergy I have known.

Mt. Holly United Methodist Church
Fairdale, Ky.

Immigration report not a zero-sum view of economy

While some have tried to put a negative spin on a recent draft report by two researchers at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, the full contents of the report show that its authors do not support new restrictions on legal immigration to the United States ("Immigration groups protest FRB report," June 17).
The report speculates that in the future immigration may lead to lower productivity because it may bring down average U.S. educational levels. However, this is highly debatable, since immigrants fill niches in the labor market that allow Americans to increase their own productivity and make more productive use of capital. In addition, if one measures only legal immigrants, as the New Immigrant Survey (1998) does in a research project led by RAND economist Jim Smith, the results show that "The median years of schooling for the legal immigrants, 13 years, is a full one year higher than that of the U.S. native-born." (The Boston Fed authors used Census data, which includes undocumented immigrants and temporary migrants.) Finally, examining solely educational levels ignores the often considerable investments immigrants make in their own human capital to increase skill levels and earnings once in the U.S. labor market, as extensively documented by Urban Institute economist Harriet Duleep and National Science Foundation economist Mark Regets.
The Boston Fed's authors do not advocate restrictive immigration policies. In fact, they reject them and instead urge additional federal and local help for Latinos to improve their educational attainment, an approach that is not controversial and has wide bipartisan support. The authors write, "The gap between real earnings in the United States and in migrants' home countries and the lack of generalized cross-country convergence in productivity levels suggest that immigration is likely to be both inevitable and, often, relatively efficient as a means of raising global productivity and U.S. standards of living. Redesigning our immigration policies to limit entry to the most highly skilled is not likely to be either effective (since it will not deter immigrants who can walk across the border) nor in our economic best interests."
Restrictionists may grasp at straws to support their zero-sum view of the U.S. economy, but they won't find much to cheer about in the actual contents of the draft report by two researchers at the Boston Fed.


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