Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bias: Christians are all Right Wing

... And, of course, the furthest right are the Catholics.

I can certainly understand the source of this particular piece of sociopolitical wisdom. It does feel like the loudest mouths on the right are the Christians. Catholicism itself is counter-cultural, tending toward a social conservatism.   The positions the Church takes on issues like Gay Marriage, Abortion, and Sex are inherently seen as being "to the right". Sometime's that truer than others. The Catholic opposition to Gay Marriage is that they are not empowered to change the context of the sacrament. It is not a "Gays Are Icky" statement, though I imagine the strongest voices are, as ever, the ones fighting some private battle with an aversion to "Teh Gey". Marriage requires a man and a woman and always has. The Sacrament of Holy Orders, which creates Deacons, Priests, and Bishops, has also always required a man, but this is a matter of somewhat less contention in the mainstream of society. Similarly, the view that Sex should be saved for marriage is also seen as mediaevally right wing, and I'll cede that point, except to say that such abstinent behavior is a remarkable act of devotion between both parties, toward God. Any 21 year old man would tell you just how hard it is not to screw everyone who's up for it.

Abortion is a particular favourite of mine at the moment because it is argued as being conservative on the basis of women's rights. What about children's rights? What about the right to grow and live and learn and love? If anything, a stance against abortion leans further to the left than the right... but it's all about how you spin it.

The thing is, the Church has many positions that would make the right wing curl up and die. Not executing murderers, rapists, et al. has been described by at least one friend of mine as "Hippy Bullshit", and I live in Canada, who hasn't had a death penalty since well before my time. Jesus spent his earthly ministry healing the sick and curing the incurable, never charging so much as the smallest fee. Without even really demanding that those who were healed believed, though it was a necessary side effect of having been made un-blind, or cleaned of leprosy... but you've heard the rants. Our hopelessly liberal government is sending its money to Africa! Entitlement programs like welfare and publicly-funded health care are - gasp!- socialism! We shouldn't spend one penny on the poor or the ill! Funding healthcare publically means that more people will die and get sick!

... You get the picture.

The part where it becomes a problem for me is that, whether anyone has said that "Jesus told me public healthcare is wrong", people have stuck that label on it. Whether anyone has actually said that "Jesus told me welfare is evil", people are making that argument. What is more Christian than helping the poor? Healing the sick?

When POTUS announced an initiative to encourage volunteer-ism among the young people of the USA, the right was outraged. Why should my child help people if he isn't being compensated? It's far better that he practices Call of Duty online nine hours a day so that when he grows up he can be a doctor or a lawyer or another rich person! Socialism! Rampant Socialism!

Oh, but the yard at the rectory could use a trim. And the parish itself needs a fresh coat of paint. The tabernacle is starting to look a little tarnished! And there goes Father Peter about how the parish is once again forced to contract this all out, and how hard it is to meet both the diocesean assessment and the maintainance cost with the offertory! How dare he suggest I give up my hard-earned money to help the church! What happened to the good old days, when everyone in the parish got together and pitched in, helping where they could, without any thought of reward.

Oh. Oops.

See, though, the thing about public healthcare and welfare is that they're expensive. Why, in the USA alone they cost a whopping 43% of the budget this year! That's more than twice as much as the military at 20% and a whopping seven times the interest on the national debt! Oh the humanity, now they want to spend more money on it? My taxes are high enough already! (Stats courtesy of the CBO)

Settle down, son, let me teach you a brief lesson on statistical analysis. This next statistic is courtesy of the SIPRI's Military Expenditures Database. In 2010, the United States accounted for 43% of all global military expenditures. China was the next largest at 7.3%. Including China, the 14 next most expensive armies accounted for 39.7%. That's all the major NATO players, plus Russia and China. The United States could reduce it's military spending by 8% of its total, and be an even match for 15 other countries, assuming it had no allies, and NATO suddenly attacked alongside Russia and China. Assuming Russia and China were the enemies and the rest of NATO were pitching in, the United States could cut its army in half.

New taxes don't have to be levied to create money for spending. Any Christian could tell you it's wrong to kill people. Spend a little less money on hurting them and a little more money on healing them and you'll be doing yourselves all a favour. Yes, it's going to be expensive... but the population crash when the baby-boomers get too old AND the obese start dying off or taking disability would be more expensive. As a Canadian, you are one of my largest trading partners. As a current worker in the hospitality industry here in Canada, you are my biggest customers. Take care of yourselves. It's good for my chequebook, and for yours.

After all, that's all these people really care about, is money.

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