From the Crow's Nest / Ed Chrostowski
'Air-head' fires a shot at basic human decency
After all the outrageous tripe that has been dished out by bloggers and right-wing zealots in the media, it seems like it would take a lot to stun benumbed audiences.
But Glenn Beck, who reigns as perhaps the head man among conservative broadcasters on the air, has managed to do it. Last week, he said people should leave churches where the clergy preach social and economic justice.
Those are just code words for Communism and Naziism, he said, in effect rejecting basic tenets of all religions, recurring lessons in various biblical parables and the gospel of Mark about "the least of my brethren."
On his March 2 radio show, Beck told his audience, "I beg you, look for the words `social justice' or `economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can." He advised those people to go find another church. He suggested also that worshippers report these purportedly rogue preachers to their bishop, apparently so that they can be made to see the error of their ways.
Indeed, Beck thus defies the teachings of his own faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which long since had added "care for the poor" to its official mission.
Beck has attacked the message of mainline churches and synagogues, as well as evangelical sects, that believe their humanitarian obligation demands feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, tending to the sick and generally nurturing the needy while also trying to improve social conditions that had rendered them needy.
It's hard to believe that Beck, brought up as a Roman Catholic and converted to the Mormon faith about a decade ago, believes his own preposterous advice to leave compassionate congregations because they are "covers" for socialistic political systems. Perhaps he says these things for their shock value, drawing the kind of public attention he needs to justify earnings listed in millions of dollars annually.
On the other hand, that doesn't say much either for the discriminating tastes of audiences that tune him in to hear his latest diatribes, whether they are convinced by them or not.
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There was something of a shock also in other news during the past week, when it was revealed that the State of Connecticut pays longevity bonuses to veteran employees.
Workers and administrators, from six-figure salaried commissioners on down, union and non-union, get these bonuses after 10 years in the state's employ and the checks get bigger at each five-year interval after that.
Using data obtained from the office of the state comptroller, Nancy Wyman, Hearst Connecticut Newspapers (a chain which, incidentally, includes the New Canaan News) report that 35,000 workers received a total of $42.9 million in longevity bonuses in 2009. And this largesse continues at a time when Connecticut is caught in the worst financial bind in its history.
Shocking, too, is the fact that state officials seem to have been unaware of it all and now have some doubts as to whether anything can be done about it.
Meanwhile, the state continues its nickel-and-dime approach, like banking on Keno gambling games and unredeemed can and bottle deposits, to offset budget deficits that will reach $500 million in this fiscal year and will be measured in the billions in years to come.
It is ironic, too, that among the gimmicks contrived as economy measures, are the incentive programs for early retirement to save on payroll money. On the one hand, longevity bonuses are encouraging people to stay on the job and, on the other hand, their bosses are offering incentives for them to retire early.
Of course, it's not unusual for the state to work at cross- purposes. There's always an effort to increase revenues from taxes on cigarettes while at the same banning smoking in restaurants and bars and sending out health cautions. And there are promotions encouraging people to return bottles and cans for the deposits and thus remove them from the streams of trash and litter, juxtaposed with the hope that the deposits on beverage containers will not be claimed by consumers and will be gathered up instead by the state.
State government has been likened at times to the strange paths Alice followed in wandering through Wonderland. Just as in Lewis Carroll's 100-year-old satirical fantasy novel, things do get "curiouser and curiouser."