Pundits have been praising Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin
Republican who chairs the House budget committee, for the courage displayed in
his 2012 budget proposal. But their definition of "courage"
must be different from mine.
While I was finishing my Ph.D. I took a job as an adjunct
professor at a small, state-run college. The experience was a lesson in
humility. Most of the time, fancy graduate degree or not, I was treated like a
cog in a machine--and a suspicious cog at that.
The common good is taking a beating. Economic inequality has accelerated dramatically since the early 1980s, and many think nothing can be done about it. But that verdict is a nonstarter for Christian morality.
Conditions inside poultry processing plants are grim and dangerous, according to a study released by Oxfam America. Workers are denied bathroom breaks, forcing some to wear diapers as they keep up with processing about 45 birds per minute. The workplace conditions are especially challenging for menstruating and pregnant women. The environment is frigid to keep the chickens cool. Floors splattered with water, blood, and fat are slippery. Many of the workers interviewed complained about sexual and racial discrimination. Conditions in unionized plants are better, but only about one-third are unionized. Four industry giants—Tyson, Perdue, Pilgrim’s, and Sanderson Farms—control 60 percent of the market, employing 100,000 people (Washington Post, May 11).