Monday, April 5, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.
One hears, at times, frustration expressed that too many Catholics think only in terms of “personal morality” or “personal piety” and that insufficient attention is paid to social or political sin. Certainly, the results of an average Catholic’s examination of conscience might seem paltry on the stage of political activism. How can people worry about paltry wrongs such as, “I lied,” “I took the Lord’s name in vain,” or “I indulged in lustful thoughts,” when there are third world workers being cheated out of their just wages, the environment being destroyed, racism being perpetuated, nuclear weapons being built and imperialist wars being fought? Isn’t it time that we stopped obsessing over these small issues of lying and swearing and sex in order to concentrate on the massive, societal evils that afflict our country and our planet?
This line of thinking strikes me as, in the end, an approach no less dangerous than that of the Pharisee who was so notoriously contrasted with the publican. Why? Because while there are unquestionably social evils that afflict us at a wider level (though there is certainly room for debate as to the precise nature and cause of social evils, I don’t think there’s any question that such things do exist) morality must, in the end, be examined at the level of individual actions. And for us, that means our actions. Societies do not perform sins, people do. While it may make sense to talk about some pervasive evil such as racism as being a “social sin”, racism does not in fact consists of “society” being racist but rather of a number of individual people within a society behaving in a racist fashion. If workers are being treated badly or paid unjust wages, it is not because society does this, but because a certain number of individual people choose to commit those acts.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010 \PM\.\Wed\.
The Washington Post has a new poll out which will please both political parties, since the American people in the main agree with both of them. A majority of people want Congress to scrap the current Health Care Reform bills, and a majority also think Obama has done a bad job of handling the health care issue. Yet a majority also want Health Care Reform passed this year and blame Republicans for lack of progress.
Solid majorities think that the current HCR bills are too complex and too expensive, but majorities also approve of the main components: require employers to provide insurance, require people without insurance to buy it, subsidize people who can’t afford insurance, and require insurance companies to give everyone insurance regardless of their medical histories or problems. So basically, people would love the bill as is, so long as it didn’t cost anything and wasn’t complex.
And in the results most likely to give legislators pause: People say they’re looking for new candidates of incumbents in the next congressional election by a 56 to 36 majority. 71% of people disapprove of how congress is doing its job. And of the 62% of the population that has private insurance (15% have MediCare, 3% have Medicaid and 17% have no insurance) 74% trust their insurance companies to do a “good” or “great” job of processing their claims fairly.
If people like the idea of health care reform, but don’t want it to cost anything or be complex, while distrusting congress and trusting their insurance companies, it sounds to me like nothing is likely to happen on the health care front this year.
Sunday, January 31, 2010 \PM\.\Sun\.
President Obama on Friday attended a dinner at a retreat for House Republicans in Baltimore, MA. The President delivered a speech calling for bipartisanship and following this, there was a Q&A session that played out more as back-and-forth mostly civil, though sometimes heated, arguing. This went on for over an hour!
This was quite interesting considering the almost scripted and narrative (thanks to the mainstream media) nature of American politics. Lucky for the American people, it was televised.
Thursday, January 21, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.
From NPR’s “Watching Washington” Blog:
The Supreme Court Scrambles Politics — Again
Many people will hear about Thursday’s landmark Supreme Court decision freeing corporations to mount political campaigns and say the court has blown up politics as we know it.
By bringing corporations (and by extension, labor unions) back into the electioneering fray, the court has restarted a spending war Congress had tried to restrain over the past generation — most recently with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, best known for its co-sponsoring senators, John McCain (R-AZ) and Russell Feingold (D-WI).
So long as they do not give to candidates directly, corporations can spend whatever they wish to support or oppose candidates for president or Congress. They are free to exercise their rights of free speech under the First Amendment. Just like citizens. Their rights cannot be suppressed on the basis of their “corporate identity,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The ramifications for this year’s congressional elections and the 2012 presidential contest are sure to be profound. What does it mean, for example, for an investment bank such as Goldman Sachs, which had the cash to pay $16 billion in compensation to its employees for 2009, when a major issue before Congress this year is a tax on those bonuses? (Read the whole column here).
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has launched an online petition against the decision. The text reads:
Unlimited corporate spending on campaigns means the government is up for sale and that the law itself will be bought and sold. It would be political bribery on the largest scale imaginable.
This issue transcends partisan political arguments. We cannot have a government that is bought and paid for by huge multinational corporations. You must stop this.
From The Courthouse News Service:
WASHINGTON (CN) – The Supreme Court today killed a central part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and ruled that corporations may spend as much as they wish to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress. The 5-4 vote left intact limits on corporate gifts to individual candidates (read the whole story here).
Following the decision, George Will declared the ruling as a radical defense for freedom of speech. In reply, E.J. Dionne argues that will amount to a corporate take over of politics.
Also see here for the story on the Court’s ruling on campaign finance reform from RealClearPolitics.
Friday, January 15, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.
“Ken Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don’t want to do that.
Martha Coakley: No we have a separation of church and state Ken, lets be clear.
Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.
Martha Coakley: (…stammering) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.”
A charming sentiment from Martha Coakley running for the Senate seat in Massachusetts. For this gem, I award Ms. Coakley the second American Catholic Know-Nothing Award. If I were living in Massachusetts, I would be out next Tuesday to cast my vote against this bigot.