Sunday, February 05, 2012

I read your book (or maybe not)....

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he wants to remind President Obama that he is not Jesus Christ.

"Someone needs to remind the president that there was only one person who walked on water and he did not occupy the Oval Office," Hatch said in a floor speech. "With due respect to the president, he ought to stick to public policy. I think most Americans would agree that the gospels are concerned with weightier matters than effective tax rates.”

Hatch's comments came after President Obama used a National Prayer Breakfast speech to suggest that higher income tax rates for the rich "coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’”
I am reminded of a comment made to me during my active ministry, that when the spirit of God starts moving among a group of people, the Devil gets busy.

Not that Obama was prophesying at the prayer breakfast, nor that Orrin Hatch is motivated by the Father of Lies. But the pattern is familiar to any pastor: prick the audience's conscience, and their response is to attack you for acting holier than them.

And no, I don't think Obama's tone was "holier than thou." Interesting some took it that way, though, isn't it?

In other news, righteous public Christian Rick Santorum rewrites the gospels so that whatever you did for the corporations, you did for God and the greater good:

GOP contender Rick Santorum had a heated exchange with a mother and her sick young son Wednesday, arguing that drug companies were entitled to charge whatever the market demanded for life-saving therapies.[...]

“People have no problem paying $900 for an iPad,” Santorum said, “but paying $900 for a drug they have a problem with — it keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned to think health care is something you can get without having to pay for it.”

The mother said the boy was on the drug Abilify, used to treat schizophrenia, and that, on paper, its costs would exceed $1 million each year.

Santorum said drugs take years to develop and cost millions of dollars to produce, and manufacturers need to turn a profit or they would stop developing new drugs.
And in case Santorum's sympathies are unclear:

"Look, I want your son and everybody to have the opportunity to stay alive on much-needed drugs," Santorum responded to the woman, CBS News reported. "But the bottom line is, we have to give companies the incentive to make those drugs. And if they don't have the incentive to make those drugs, your son won't be alive and lots of other people in this country won't be alive."
It's money that matters. Because, you know, better you should die than increase the burden on society of the surplus population:

"What happens to the cost of health insurance," Santorum said, CNN reported. "There's a reason for preexisting conditions clauses. You want people to get insurance, and if they don't, then they shouldn't be free riding on everybody else. That's exactly what's going to happen with Obamacare."


  1. Shiver. Is there no end to the rationalizing for greed and personal gain? Nope. I knew that already/already...still, surely brother Orrin, our Mormon brother ought give us a more clear understanding of his understanding of Golden Rule(s), Golden Tablets (see Joseph of upstate New York) and such. I know, I´m a bit of a prejudiced lot myself but I can NOT take Mormons spewing ¨Gospel understandings¨ at us AT ALL!

  2. Sherri12:23 PM

    This is the same Rick Santorum who wanted a Pittsburgh area school district where he owned a house to pay the cyber charter school tuition for his 5 children who lived in Virginia when he was in the Senate.

  3. Both Santorum and Hatch are sanctimonious pieces of work. What intrigues me is Obama getting under Hatch's skin to the point Hatch makes this kind of response.

    Santorum, OTOH, the public Christian that he is, makes Tom Coburn look compassionate (Coburn famously told a constituent, during a town hall meeting when "Obamacare" was still being argued over in Congress, that her neighbors should help with her invalid husband who needed professional 24 hour care. Especially coming from an MD, it was a remarkably clueless remark. OTOH, he did offer to find gov't help for her, though he clearly preferred she rely on the kindness of strangers and neighbors.)

  4. "But the bottom line is, we have to give companies..."

    Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

  5. I just did a quick calculation (using prices of stock reagents available at sigma and the synthesis for abilify found on wikipedia): the stuff costs about $50/gram to make. Let's figure that by the time you add in the costs of catalysts and purification and the sorts of good practices that do indeed go on in drug manufacture, the cost of abilify is about $100/gram. That translates to a cost of $1.50 a day (assuming a dosage of 15 mg/day) or about $547.50 a year.

    Let's say by the time the drug company has to pay everyone involved for their efforts in keeping the manufacturing process of the drug, the cost is $3000/year. Now from some quick calculations and some data I found using the great gazoogle, I calculate the cost of a year's worth of abilify to be "only" about $31000. Still, that is over 3x a generous estimate of the actual cost of the stuff.

    I understand the need to make a profit, pay for research (heck, I'm in the biz -- albeit on the academic side of things -- so I certainly appreciate people spending money on scientific research), etc. But there is a point where you have to say enough is enough.

    I don't know how it works in Christianity, but in Judaism, Jewish law places very strict limits on mark-ups, allowed deviations from "market price" and the like (albeit these laws tend to only apply in Judaism for when individual Jews do business with other individual Jews), so it isn't as if the concern of "too much profit" is something beyond the scope of religion and morality.

    I find it odd that some of the same people who are so keen to legislate or otherwise have government act to promote their particular vision of morality when it comes to sexual matters but they declare off limits any moral-based discussion of, for example, corporate profits?

  6. Alberich--

    Christianity certainly has a history of speaking to corporate profits. But more often than not, that voice in Xianity is not listened to. Sen. Hatch (ironically, a Mormon) expresses the usual assumption of most American Xians: church and state are to be kept far apart where the pocketbook is concerned.

    It is certainly within the scope of Xian ethics to discuss profits and the legitimacy of same. Hell, economics first staked its claim as a branch of moral philosophy, to provide a secular alternative to Christian morality in society. But now profit is sacred, holy, heilige (if my German spelling is correct), and religion, esp. Xianity, is not allowed into the agora.

    Thus do we make our servant, our master.