Following The Money

Dan asks a question:

Why has the church not targeted private insurers for the last thirty
years? They are indispensable players in providing abortion services,
yet as far as I know they have not been highlighted the way pro-choice
politicians have. The Democratic nominee for president is singled out
for his position. Why not the CEO of Aetna?

And then answers it:

Any religion worth its salt will periodically cause great discomfort at
points across the political spectrum, and opposing Democratic health
care reform because it expands coverage may be a coincidence too far.
It makes the leadership’s position look more political than moral –
abortions paid for by the private sector are acceptable, abortions paid
for by the public sector are not.

The answer, of course, is politics. The church needs contributions to survive, and demonizing Congress brings in the dollars because even half of Congress thinks Congress sucks. There is very little risk in saying that Representative So and So is a righteous man for voting for a bill which has no chance of passing ever, and that Representative Such and Such is evil for opposing it. With even the most accessible politicians there is enough distance there to provide a sense of safety, not to mention insulation from lawsuits for calling them mean names.

Thus the choice for a Catholic is easy: If I want the Pope to like me I just vote against this guy who the TV yammerers have been telling me for years on balance sucks just as much as anyone else because they’re all the same, so who cares?. As opposed to … if I want the Pope to like me I have to drop my insurance? The hell? Screw that, Il Papa can just suck it, because my kid needs medication and Benedict’s old rich ass ain’t here.

The answer is also efficacy. As hard as electing a president is, as hard as electing a freaking mayor is, these things are eminently easier to influence than the workings of corporations. Call John Kerry a shitty Catholic and people will be influenced not to vote for him. Call the CEO of an insurance company a shitty Catholic and … what? The hell does he have to care what anybody thinks of him? So long as he’s bringing in money the shareholders and the board and the employees will love him, and you’ve really got very little choice: take the insurance company your job offers you, or piss off.

The reason victories in the fight to change corporate behavior are celebrated in major motion pictures is that those victories are painfully rare these days. And if there ever was a time when the institutional Catholic Church challenged powerful, wealthy corporate authority in any meaningful way, that time is not now, at least in America.


4 thoughts on “Following The Money

  1. The only times in history I can think of when any aspect of the Catholic Church challenged powerful wealthy corporate authority were a) when it was trying to reassert its previous dominance as the ultimate powerful, wealthy authority in a given sector, and b) in the middle part of the 20th C with the faction of the Church that was practicing Social Gospel in Central America. And we all know howthat’s turning out, with Pope Nazinger doing as much as he can to repudiate, delegitimize, and stigmatise the Social Gospel movement, and to apologise for, legitimise, and promote the death-squad-backing, nuns’-heads-on-pikes, union-organizer-massacring, right-wing totalitarian corporate authority that did away with much of the movement in the first place.
    (Just as an aside — I don’t hate Catholics, but I’ve got absolutely no love for the Catholic Church, which throws a long shadow over Canada and its history, and much of that shadow is not exactly stuff the Church ought to be proud of, and much of which the Church ought to pay out its ecclesiastical nose for. I don’t much cotton to an organization that aided and abetted ethnocide with a side order of systemic child rape, thanks.)

  2. I’m not and never have been Catholic, so I know very little about that church and its political dynamic. However, I am a deacon of a mid-sized evangelical church in the Midwest that is probably right-of-center but not strictly speaking, fundamentalist. Having said that, the entire pastoral staff, as well as 90 percent of the congregation, is completely in line with Rush Limbaugh, Faux notNews and Sarah Palin. They think corporations are the life blood of America, poor people who don’t work because they are immoral are the reason for all of life’s problems (as opposed to the poor people we choose to help), and liberals are tools of Satan to destroy Christianity. Few, if any, are going to challenge the institutional structure of the power elite…even though Jesus himself would instruct them to do so.
    All of this, of course, begs the question of why I’m here in the first place. It’s complicated, but I do believe, and I want to practice my faith in a practical way, and to be fair, our church does a better job than most of reaching out to people who really need help. Those are our actions. But the point of view is that a collective effort to help people must only be done in the context of either the free market or Christian institutions; the exact same type of help, hope and compassion, if done by the government or in the guise of any sort of public or quasi-public institution, such as ACORN, is inherently wrong at best and evil at worst.
    It’s the fundamental disconnect between people who rail against socialism while driving their government-subsidized American gas guzzling SUV filled with overpriced gasoline propped up by government support of oil conglomerates on publicly-funded roads to take their kids to public schools, all the while hoping that if their house catches on fire the fire department, supported by public tax dollars, will arrive in time to save their stuff, or that if some dirty fucking hippie dares to step on their property, the publicly-funded police department will respond ASAP and arrest the aforementioned hippie and put his commie pinko ass in a prison funded by taxpayer dollars, all the while proudly displaying yellow ribbon bumper stickers that say “Support the Troops,” unaware that more than fifty percent of their federal tax dollars are spent supporting said troops. These people don’t want socialism? Are you kidding me?

  3. They urged that pro-choice John Kerry be denied communion. They urged that pro-choice Hilary Clinton be shunned at NY’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Pro-choice Rudy Giuliani? Got a wing named after him at St. Vincent’s, one of New York’s largest Catholic hospitals.
    What else do you need to know?

  4. Dan, what else we need to recognize is that the Catholic Church, Inc. is a corporation, and one of the world’s wealthiest corporations. They have hit on probably the most successful advertising campaign in the history of the world, thus maintaining their cash flow through wars and peace, for centuries. That they are always on the side of their fellow corporatists should surprise no one. Given the opportunity they would raise their prices and transfer even more of the world’s wealth to their officers.
    No, really, I’m not a Catholic.

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