Two etymological tidbits jumped out at me recently. The first was an article in the Register about Governor Jerry Brown in California siding with the Bishops in vetoing a bill that would expand the statute of limitations on abuse cases. Within the article was the following:
Brown also signed A.B. 10, which will raise California’s minimum wage from the current $8 an hour to $10 in 2016. Catholic bishops have supported a responsible living wage.
I’m willing to grant that the author doesn’t necessarily mean to imply that Catholic bishops who support a responsible living wage thereby support raising the legally mandated minimum wage. But I sure never hear authoritative voices in the Church suggesting that the minimum wage law has any unintended side effects. The thinking seems to be that if the law says companies have to pay people more, then God bless it, it will certainly lead to everyone being paid a “responsible living wage.”
Gag. I’ve written quite a bit about the Church’s view of a living wage, so treat yourself to those if you aren’t up to speed (1, 2, 3). Concern for the poor is laudable and essential for Catholics, but this also requires that we recognize which of many approaches actually result in better outcomes for the poor. A law that purports to pay everyone more doesn’t thereby achieve that goal.
Second, I’m constantly told in arguments about Obamacare that the Church supports “universal health care.” Alarmingly, stories keep appearing (no links, I told you I’m supposed to be grading) that suggest that the only reason Catholics don’t support Obamacare is the HHS mandate. Strike that and the ACA gets the imprimatur.
Gag again. So the law says it will increase healthcare access for everyone? Let’s see, “universal health care” as it is universally applied means socialized medicine; pushing prices down to zero while being subsidized via taxpayers. Anytime a price is pushed below its market-clearing level, there will be a shortage as buyers want more but sellers provide less. Here’s your analogue:
I offered Micah the following thought a while ago: I assume that the Church would be very supportive of the notion that all people, regardless of race or nationality, should practice good hygiene, bathing and showering, brushing your teeth, etc. To share its position with the public, the Bishops produce a press release describing the Catholic Church’s support of “ethnic cleansing.”
Oh, that term is usually defined differently by everyone else? Well, “living wage” is usually defined by everyone else as a minimum wage law, and “universal health care” is usually defined by everyone else as socialized, government-run medicine. So if that isn’t what the Church supports, maybe it should choose its words more carefully.