Monday, November 21, 2011

500 pounds and the bishops

Back in my Duke days, there was a rally against President Reagan’s proposed cuts to student aid. (Yes, I am that old.) The promoters of said rally tried to motivate us students by saying that 62% of us received some form of federal student aid.

That number resonated with me, but not in the way promoters intended. I took the podium (not long after Duke President Terry Stanford said his piece against the cuts) and said that most of us Duke students were pretty well off and that if 62% of us were getting federal student aid, then that was too much.

That not only put a damper on the rally, it made the local TV news.

The reason I mention this episode is that I think certain Church of England bishops have just made the same mistake the rally promoters did. They have used a number to push their agenda when the same number really cries out against it. The said bishops, including ones I respect, have taken a public stand against a proposal to cap welfare to 500 pounds a week per family. In doing so, the bishops have joined others in much “What about the children?” handwringing.

But my reaction is 500 pounds a week is not chump change and to cap welfare benefits at that point is exceedingly reasonable. Now maybe I’m a hard-hearted meanie, but I doubt it. And I bet I am not the only one who thinks the bishops in error. At the very least, Cranmer also and his commenters are looking askance at 500 pounds a week.

I suspect the bishops by trying too hard to be sensitive and in touch are only proving to many that they are the opposite.

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