The Office for Social Justice St. Paul and Minneapolis, a program of Catholic Charities, notes ten major principles that highlight Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching. One regards public policy toward the poor:
The moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor. The "option for the poor," is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community.
The option for the poor is an essential part of society's effort to achieve the common good. A healthy community can be achieved only if its members give special attention to those with special needs, to those who are poor and on the margins of society.
I suspect that the Office didn't have in mind the "special attention" contained in another divisive bill sponsored by the Draz. Draz proposes making drug tests mandatory for all people receiving benefits via the Minnesota Family Investment Program because he sees them as not just drug users, but hard-core needle freaks:
"The whole drumbeat of accountability and welfare spending seems to be getting stronger," he said. "We're sending welfare money to people that are turning it around and pumping it into their veins."
Not everyone in Draz's redneck of the woods agrees with the Republican legislator's assessment of the magnitude of the heroin welfare queen menace. The Winona Daily News reported on Sunday:
The notion that most welfare recipients are also drug users is based on exaggerated stereotypes, and the extra screening would only further aggravate a process many applicants find embarrassing, said Karen Moore, a financial assistant specialist for Winona County Human Services.
"Most of the people that come into this office are just like you and I," she said. "They don't want to be here."
Winona Daily News online editor Jerome Christenson also takes exception to the proposal in Drazkowski has no shame, but we should:
. . .It's hard to tell if this proposal is more mean-spirited or stupid. It is clearly the work of a divisive, politically opportunistic bully.
Once again, Mazeppa's Mr. Family Values paints the poorest and most vulnerable as the social villains responsible for running the state budget into the red. . . .
. . .Dignity. When you're down on your luck, it can be the only thing you have left. To have to pee to prove you and your children are worth being fed, clothed and sheltered adds one more humiliation to families whom circumstance has already humbled. Kicking a person when they're down is the classic act of a bully.
And if that mother, for whatever reason, did smoke a joint or make use of whatever substance the Legislature deems to disapprove of and is turned away, what do we say to the children?
Yes, in this county there are 166 adults enrolled in the program, but they support 237 children. If we take the food from the mother, what will she have to give her child?
Family values? For Draz and his buddies some families are more valuable than others. In fact, some families have no value at all.
He ought to be - we ought to be - ashamed.
The kicker to all this ritual humiliation for the poor?
In the proposed legislation, not only would poor people be subject to a pee test before receiving benefits, but they'd have to pay the cost of the test themselves as well.
Good Christian paradigm Glenn Gruenhagen and nine other Republicans join Draz in support of the bill. So far, there is no Senate companion bill.
Related post (begins with some discussion of the extended Drazkowski family values): Drazkowski: In age of widening wealth gap, let working people choose to earn less
Photo: The Draz option for the poor--kick 'em while they're down. Hint to visitors with impaired reading skills: that's Drazkowski's moral body double, not the Draz himself.