Friday, December 5, 2008

Which country will have largest English-speaking population? The answer is why Crafton is so wrong

You will not be able to guess which country will have the largest English-speaking population next decade.

It won't be the United States of America. Nor Great Britain.

It's China.

This great economic power will be bilingual. Its workforce will be able to extend its skills and reach into even more markets in pursuit of double-digit growth in GDP. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy lost more than half a million jobs last month.

The future for economic success is global. America's survival depends on inviting more of the world into our lives and communities, including its languages out of a sign of respect and simple common sense to sell more of our products to keep Americans employed and neighborhoods healthy.

On that point, the English-only referendum being pushed by Councilman Eric Crafton in Nashville is so backward. In a nation that just lost more than a half million jobs last month and in a state facing a $1 billion budget deficit, the only thing that is going to save us is to catch up with the burgeoning economies in India and China that are eating our lunch and taking our jobs.

To create this wealth in these nations, however, citizens from these countries must come here to our colleges and universities to learn their professions. And if we welcome them, they might just stay and make America the beneficiary of their talents and dreams.

There's more. I was in the Walmart today at Nolensville Road and Harding Place. And the place was jumping with mostly Hispanic customers. The depressed economy doesn't stop their spending because these good people will always find some work. And they pay sales taxes on their purchases, which support government operations here and across the state.

Make Nashville more unwelcoming to them, and they'll take their dollars elsewhere.

Further up Nolensville Road as I passed storefronts with no gang grafitti whatsoever, I stopped by Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church to drop off votive candles for the statues of Our Lady and the Holy Family. And the parking lot was overflowing with cars on a Friday morning. The church was abuzz with people in English language classes and other kinds of instruction to improve themselves as people and the futures of their children.

The place will really be jumping next Friday as close to 10,000 people celebrate the feast day of Our Lady, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531 north of Mexico City. It is going to be an event to remember in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

Crafton and his referendum represent the past. The future belongs to Chinese who will speak English in the greatest global numbers next decade and Americans who welcome the world with tolerance instead of stupid bigotry.

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