Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's good for the goose...ain't good for the gander

I try to steer clear of politics on this blog. This is not because I dislike politics or political thought or because I am uninformed or have no opinions on politics. I simply remain unconvinced that one can have an open ended discussion on politics (particularly on the internet) without at least one party devolving into shouts and ad hominem attacks. Two people can have different political opinions or beliefs, and that does not make the other person a de facto idiot, bleeding heart pinko, or Fascist.

People just cannot seem to discuss politics in a civil tone of voice anymore, and that is what I cannot stand. There is a major difference between polemics and politics, and there is a major different between substantive debate and a sound byte. This is also why I avoid political discussions like the plague.

While I avoid taking sides on hobby horse political issues, I do occasionally touch on a political subject when I can discuss the Religious implication of the issue, particularly as it pertains to the Church. I am a registered independent, and feel that I am intelligent enough to figure things out for myself without the need to have to rely on one political party to tell me what to think or dictate to me talking points. My political philosophy is very easily summed up as, "Salvation cometh not from Politicians."

In the same vein, I would argue that "Salvation cometh not from Unions or Corporations either." I have no problem Unions if Unions do what Unions are supposed to do. I've been a member of a Union, and I can tell you from experience that when Unions go corrupt, it's bad to the point of seriously harming the worker not helping the worker. I support the right of people to unionize if they so choose. But Unions need to have regulation like CEOs and major international corporations need to have some regulation. They can become just as self serving of the elite just as much as a Corporation can. That's simply the reality. 

At the forefront this week was the goings on in Legislature in Wisconsin. There are various reports of this on various news websites, at least one of which is here. (There are several other news pieces and articles that I am sure are worth reading, but that was the first one that came up on Google.) I am not here commenting on the events in Wisconsin. I've never lived there; I really don't know much about the brouhaha going on other than what I've read on various news sites. I don't really have a strong opinion on the issues in Wisconsin other than to note that both sides have blown everything completely out of proportion and both appear to be fiddling while Rome Madison burns.

I am always fascinated (and usually at least a bit bemused) to watch Churches (and the clergy therein), particularly the liberal Protestant and Roman Catholic, grapple with this issue of organized labor, particularly the issue of Unions and Strikes. I have been amused by this since seminary when I had to listen (ad nauseum at times) to various professors and fellow seminarians, most of whom were for the most part all of one particular political persuasion, demonize everything from President Bush to the evils of corporations like Walmart to capitalism in general. (Some of those criticisms were more valid than others.) Social Justice was the cry, assuming Social Justice was code word for the platform of one particular wing of one particular political party. (Woe be to ye who would suggest that something like being Pro-Life was a matter of social justice.) I even heard a professor state in a lecture "that if Jesus was alive, he'd be a member of that particular party." (I only rebutted this professor by saying that Jesus was alive, which made that conversation go down hill in a hurry.)

This week, I have watched various people on Facebook trot out the American version of waving the rose (the Rose is the symbol of Britain's Labor Party.) They've tossed out various Church pronouncements in the attempt to give a guilt trip to people who might not be in support of the Wisconsin unions on strike. For instance, I've seen a wave of Facebook updates quoting the encyclical by Pope Leo XIII, "Every precaution should be taken not to violate the rights of laboring individuals [joined together in association] and not to impose unreasonable regulations under pretense of public benefit" (Rerum Novarum. Leo XIII, 1891)." Liberal Protestant Episcopalians, not to be outdone by Catholic moral teaching, trotted out resolutions like General Convention Resolution 2006-COO8.

What I find ironic about the leftward social drift of many mainline denominations like the Episcopal church is the complete moral double standard. They toot their horn and pass resolution after resolution praising workers' rights and unions. When things like Wisconsin come up, up come the snotty Facebook message guilt trips and holier than thou social justice pronouncements.

The great irony is: the Church itself does not allow unions. Clergy can't unionize for higher pay or whatever in hierarchical churches. If clergy went on strike and refused to administer sacraments over pay or pension plans or what have you, that is grounds for the bishop to suspend you, pending an ecclesiatical trial. Particularly in the Episcopal church, clergy can't unionize, strike, and refuse to follow the directives of CEOs bishops. And yet, somehow, we have no problem passing resolutions to wag our fingers at private and public sector businesses in regards to something that the Church can't be bothered to implement with its own workers.

Classic "Do as I say, not as I do" Christian moralism.

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