MAILBAG: The politics of exclusion

Who would Jesus have made pee in a bottle before he would give them food?

This was my thought after seeing our current governor and his ruling party in Madison plan to pass a law requiring drug testing of anyone needing food stamps or unemployment insurance. I had also just read an article by Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy, auxiliary bishop of San Francisco, on Pope Francis’ preaching and teaching on capitalism in America magazine. The Pope’s teachings apply to these politicians’ plans and to the United States capitalist economy.

First, the economy is to serve people, therefore the equal dignity of every man, woman and child must be the goal of the economy. Similar economic equality is necessary to support peoples’ psychological, educational, political and personal lives. The U.S.A., a country of great wealth and the highest level of income inequality among developed countries, is perpetuating an injustice toward its citizens.

Second, free markets do nurture human economic freedom, and are central forces bringing millions of people out of poverty. However, “Their freedom is merely instrumental in nature and must be structured by society and government to accomplish the common good.” according to McElroy.

Third, inequality itself has put obstacles in the path of decent educational and job opportunities, especially for the young, causing inequality to perpetuate itself.

Pope Francis concludes, “Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised — they are no longer even a part of it.”

This is exactly what our divide and conquer governor and his ruling party is doing in Wisconsin. They are attempting to divide those impoverished or out of work from the rest of Wisconsin’s society. For some reason they feel the need to dehumanize fellow citizens who are elderly, children, handicapped, low-income workers, or victims of medical emergencies, divorce, or job loss.

In a country founded on the idea that all human beings are created equal and all have the same rights, everyone can understand the moral and patriotic bases of the idea of economic justice for all.

Our founders believed that a representative democracy was the best way to create a society of equal rights for all. However, democracy is being replaced with a divide and conquer philosophy, creating a politics of exclusion instead of inclusion. Unfortunately, some of the same people who wish to exclude certain groups of citizenry from voting and other democratic activities are the same people that are attempting to exclude impoverished families from our economy.

All Americans of all faiths — or none — must work to restructure our country’s economy and democracy to reflect our founding value of human equality. The long history of our country is the story of efforts to make this value reality.

Bill Dagnon, Baraboo