Proposal that CUUC take a position on Escalating Economic Inequity

UUA: Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
GA: General Assembly
SOC: Statement of Conscience
CSAI: Congregational Study/Action Issue
CSW: Commission on Social Witness

We Unitarian Universalists sharply limit ourselves when it comes to issuing official Statements of Conscience. The UUA process allows for no more than one Statement of Conscience (SOC) to be adopted every two years.

Last Jun, the General Assembly adopted a Statement of Conscience on Income Inequality. It's a denominational statement. Would CUUC adopt it as a statement of our congregation's statement?

How Did this Statement of Conscience on Income Inequality Come About?

In brief: the process begins with selection of a Congregational Study/Action Issue (CSAI) for a four-year period of study and action. At the 2014 June, General Assembly (GA) the delegates selected "Income Inequality" as the CSAI for 2014-2018. At the end of year three, the study and action culminated in adoption of a Statement of Conscience (SOC) about income inequality.

Here's how that unfolded:

2014 Nov. The Commission on Social Witness produced an 18-page study guide for congregations to explore the Income Inequality issue (HERE).

2015 Mar was the deadline for congregations to submit first-year comments on the Income Inequality CSAI to the Commission on Social Witness (CSW).

2015 June, GA: Making use of the comments from congregations, the Commmission on Social Witness (CSW) conducted programs and workshops on the topic of the CSAI and reported on congregational involvement with the issue.

2015 Summer - 2016 Spring: Congregations continued programs of education and reflection, community organizing, advocacy, and public witness on the Income Inequality CSAI.

2016 Mar was the deadline for congregations to submit second-year comments to the CSW. The CSW used these comments to refine the Resource Guide and help prepare for workshops on this issue at the 2016 GA.

2016 June, GA: The CSW conducted a second year of workshops on the CSAI. One workshop included reports on successful practices and discussed future possibilities. Delegates selected another CSAI for 2016-2020: "The Corruption of Our Democracy."

2016 Nov: Using all the input submitted by congregations over two years, and the comments from General Assembly workshops, the CSW issued a first draft Statement of Conscience (SOC) on Income Inequality. The first draft statement and a ballot to place the SOC on the agenda of the 2017 GA was included in the annual congregational poll, conducted with annual membership certification.

2017 Feb was the deadline for congregational poll ballots (a quorum of 25% participation required), and for submission of comments on the draft SOC. A quorum was satisfied, and the CSW then prepared a revised draft of the SOC, incorporating the comments submitted on the first draft. The revised draft was then placed on the 2017 GA agenda.

2017 June, GA: Delegates considered the revised SOC. Early in the GA, a "mini-assembly" on the SOC was held for any interested delegates to discuss and propose amendments to the SOC. The CSW then worked into the night considering all the comments -- which to combine, which to "incorporate" (include in the SOC version to go to the floor for a vote) and which to list as "unincorporated amendments." (When the SOC came to the GA floor, any delegate could move to incorporate any of the unincorporated amendments.) Later in the GA, the SOC came to the General Assembly floor for a vote. A few of the unincorporated amendments were debated, and one of them passed. With approval requiring a 2/3 vote of the delegates, the 2017 GA approved the SOC now titled: "Escalating Economic Inequity."

With the SOC thus adopted at the end of year three, year four is the "Implementation Year" for congregations to work on implementing the Statement of Conscience.

How will CUUC implement this SOC?

That's up to us, of course. We can ignore the statement, consider and discuss it and then decide not to adopt anything, adopt an amended form of the statement, or adopt the SOC as it is. The statement includes a number of suggested actions: it falls to us to decide which ones our congregation will pursue.

A SOC adopted at General Assembly 2017 is HERE.

This has been amended at CUUC Congregational forums on Jan 14, Feb 4, and Mar 11. The resulting proposal that CUUC take a position on Escalating Economic Inequality is HERE.

A special congregational meeting has been called for Sun Apr 29 to vote on whether to adopt this proposal.

Are there further changes you'd like to see? We need to receive them by Apr 8. You may submit a proposed change by Commenting on this post.

1 comment:

  1. Comments by Al Rocchi
    Lines 9-11: A period after "addressing", and then deleting the rest of the paragraph. I'm concerned that the SOC incorporates all sorts of issues that are at best peripheral to economic inequity. While there may be some connections between income inequality and climate change, mass incarceration, etc. I think trying to link so many social issues to economic inequity makes the statement less persuasive.

    Line 4: Delete "locally and globally." There is little if anything about global inequity in the statement, so let's not mention that it's a "moral imperative" to challenge inequity globally. (And if we take out "globally," there's no need to say "locally" either.) Alternatively, I would be favor of adding language that did address inequity on a global level. I think the economic inequity between nations (between rich nations like the US and developing nations) is as much, if not more, of a problem than the economic inequity within the US, which seems to be all that is discussed in the SOC.

    Line 28. A period after "health care" and delete "and automation." While automation changes the nature of jobs, in the past it has created as many jobs as it has displaced. I do not believe automation would necessarily increase inequity as long as the educational system prepares workers for the new jobs created by automation.

    While the SOC advocates increasing support for public education (lines 238-241 and lines 256-267) and includes universal access to quality education as part of a moral economic system (lines 139-140), I don’t think enough attention is paid to the current disparity in educational opportunities. I think this disparity is one major cause (perhaps the major cause) of economic inequity between say the wealthiest 20% and the poorest 20% (or for that matter, the remaining 80%). See for example, Dream Hoarders by Richard Reeves and Our Kids: the American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam. I believe equalizing educational opportunity should be a major focus of actions to address economic inequity. To this end, I would add this action point: Examine the factors leading to disparity in educational opportunities , including college costs, exclusionary zoning, legacy admissions and regressive tax subsidies, and work to eliminate them.

    Lines 45-46. Delete the sentence "The current . . . key factors." The sentence names white supremacy and capitalism as key factors in economic inequality. The reference to white supremacy is unnecessary because the previous sentence mentions "systemic racism and a major factor," and the reference to capitalism in this context is dubious. I don't see capitalism per se as causing economic inequity, as opposed to crony capitalism or oligopoly capitalism.

    Lines 147-148. If an “open immigration system” means open borders, I don’t think most members of CUUC would agree. And while I am in favor of accepting more immigrants, and especially accepting more refugees, it doesn’t seem to me that increased immigration would lessen economic inequity.

    Lines 150-151. “Dismantling the system” doesn’t seem to be an element of a moral economic system and if it is an action point, it seems nebulous.