I do not believe in God, but I was raised a Christian. My father was a pastor. He ran three churches in rural Maryland between 1977 and 1981. I had to attend all of his services. Three in a row. Sunday after Sunday. My boy head was filled with church songs that are with me to this day, which "the lord has made, which the lord has made." When I turned 13, my father, who was very liberal (and also an economist), placed the decision to attend church on me. It was my choice to go or not. Of course, I chose not to. I did not enter a church again until my father's funeral.
But the values of Christianity never left me. I am what might be called a secular Christian, which in a sense aligns me with a British philosopher who exerted considerable influence on mid-century American theology, Alfred North Whitehead. I'm down with most of the teachings of Jesus Christ. I have no problem giving thanks with other Christians at a dinner table. I even do it with all of my heart. I have deep respect for prayer. One must put aside some time in the day to talk to the universe.
And this brings me to Amy Coney Barrett. She sees herself as Catholic. She is often described as deeply religious. She believes in Jesus. She must be going all the way to heaven. But her nomination is built on lies, and anyone who watched the Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse presentation at her hearing yesterday knows she can only be an enemy of the poor. How can such a person be a Christian, a follower of Jesus?
If you haven't already, please watch Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's 30-minute analysis of exactly why Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a Supreme Court nominee.
Of course, Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board dismissed this analysis, which compressed a lot of information into a very short amount of time, as "Sheldon Whitehouse Does Glenn Beck." Let's leave aside the fact that the right was totally fine with Beck during the Bush and Obama years, and focus on the four key points presented by Whitehouse, points that the WSJ did not challenge.
Unlimited and dark money in politics. Citizens United is the famous one but it's continued since with McCutcheon. And we've got one coming up now.
Knock the civil jury down. Whittle it down to a nub. The civil jury was in the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, in our darn Declaration of Independence. But it's annoying to big corporate powers because you can swagger your way as a big corporate power through Congress, you can go and tell the President you put money into to elect what to do. He'll put your stooges at the EPA, it's all great until you get to the civil jury because they have an obligation, as you know, Judge Barrett. They have an obligation under the law to be fair to both parties irrespective of their size. You can't bribe them, you're not allowed to, it's a crime to tamper with the jury. It's standard practice to tamper with Congress. And they make decisions based on the law.
If you're used to being the boss and swaggering your way around the political side you don't want to be answerable before a jury and so one after another these eighty 5 to 4 decisions have knocked down, whittled away at, the civil jury, a great American institution.
[F]irst was unlimited dark money, second was demean and diminish the civil jury, third is weaken regulatory agencies. A lot of this money, I'm convinced, is polluter money. The Koch Industries is a polluter, the fossil fuel industry is a polluter, who else would be putting buckets of money into this and wanting to hide who they are behind Donors Trust or other schemes?
And what if, if you're a big polluter, what do you want? You want weak regulatory agencies, you want ones that you can box up and run over to Congress and get your friends to fix things for you in Congress.
[T]he last thing is in politics, in voting, why on earth the court made the decision, a factual decision, not something appellate courts ordinarily are supposed to make as I understand it, Judge Barrett the factual decision that nobody needed to worry about minority voters in pre-clearance states being discriminated against or that legislators would try to knock back their ability to vote.
[O]n those kind of cases, there have been 80 decisions handed down by the current court as 5-4 decision, and the business/conservative side of those cases, which almost always coincides with the interests of Republican donors, is 80-0.
What this means is that Amy Coney Barrett's nomination is about increasing the social power of money. All else is secondary, or window dressing. This is what Barrett will do during her entire time on the bench: make money more powerful, which only means making those with money more powerful, which results in making those without money, the poor (Jesus's people), weaker.
Those who are not familiar with orthodox economics (called the neoclassical school) will be surprised to learn that money, until very recently, was exclusively treated as having a function that's socially neutral. Money simply removed the "double coincidence of wants" problem posed by barter. Money bought things. Things bought money. Commodity money; money commodity. C-M-C. Even those on the left side of orthodox economics maintained this neutral view of money in one form or other. (For example, see the Paul Krugman/Steven Keen controversy of 2012.)
But, as a number of Keynesian economists explained in the 1930s and 40s—and this lesson was dropped like hot potato by the reborn neoclassical school of the 1960s—money can be stored or hoarded for the social value it represents. True, for the working and middle classes, the essential function of money is to facilitate exchanges. But for those who have lots of money, its purpose is to exert power over a wide area of social life.
The main way of limiting the social power of money in a capitalist economy is to reduce inequality, which comes down to this: More money for more people results in the reduction of its social power. Only a moment's reflection will make this obvious to a mind that's in working order. The cult of capitalist scarcity has this as its ultimate explanation. We have homeless people on the streets and low-wage workers in the food industry and a gig-economy because money that's not scarce may, sure, improve capitalist productivity, but only at the cost of its social potency. The prime action of socialism in a capitalist context is the dilution of concentrated money-power.
The only thing wacky about Sheldon Whitehouse's 30-minute analysis of the current state of the Supreme Court is that it's presented as wacky by a large section of the mainstream. And the only thing Christian about Amy Coney Barrett, an enemy of the poor, is her name.