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Friday, December 24, 2004

Inaugural Prodigality and Moral Values

The New York Times > Washington > Energy Companies Help Lift Inaugural Fund to $8 Million:ExxonMobil, the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, ChevronTexaco and the Southern Company were among more than 20 donors to give the maximum $250,000, which entitles executives to attend the ceremonies, black-tie balls and events with the president. Many others gave smaller amounts in return for fewer perks, like the $100,000 contributed by the military contractors Boeing and Northrop Grumman. The Presidential Inaugural Committee is seeking to raise as much as $40 million to kick off Mr. Bush's second term, with multiple events leading up to the Jan. 20 swearing-in, and has spent much of December soliciting donors across the country, despite the holidays and the exhaustion brought by an election that raised record amounts.
I thought this was the Presidency of Moral Values? Where is the morality in this sort of spending on a party? I'm receiving appeals to send phone cards to the soldiers in Iraq for the holidays, and this so-called Moral Values President is spending $8,000,000 on a party? This doesn't even get to the question of undue influence by the donors. In part because I am a realist. The wealthy always have influence and access that I would not have. This is the way the world works and in large part, it is a functional system. One of the important reasons it generally functions is the moral values of the individuals who are wealthy and/or powerful. It isn't a problem because of the typical condemnation of hypocrisy (about which Christians should be especially concerned given the teachings of their founder), but it is a serious civic problem because we cannot trust the government if it is run by those who lack the moral fiber to understand that greed and wanton displays of wealth are anathama to the civilized. Be afraid of the hypocrisy for these practical reasons.

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