Our Purpose

The purpose of Michigan Catholics for the Common Good is to promote a fuller awareness of the ways in which Catholic Social Teaching addresses public policy issues,especially those affecting economic justice.

We do this through research, education,and various programs and events.

We hope you will find here a convenient source of information, movements, invitations to action on how you can contribute your part to building the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Current Concerns

Gerrymandering

President Obama wants to work on gerrymandering after he leaves office. So—What Is Gerrymandering? Why Is It Important?

Here's a definition:

gerrymander [( jèr -ee-man-duhr)]

To change the boundaries of legislative districts to favor one party over another. Typically, the dominant party in a state legislature (which is usually responsible for drawing the boundaries of congressional districts) will try to concentrate the opposing party's strength in as few districts as possible, while giving itself likely majorities in as many districts as possible. The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright ©2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Gerrymandering Explained

Image: Gerrymandering Explained

In the given population of 50 people, dividing it into 5 districts, you would expect fairness would dictate:
60% of 5 = 3 to be Blue
40% of 5 = 2 to be Red.
Instead the second districting gave all 5 to the Blues and the third gave the Reds a majority. The second and third redistricting do not reflect the actual composition of the population.

Let's look at Michigan. Michigan is considered one of the most gerrymandered states. Gerrymandering often results in twisted looking districts, done so to capture voters in a way to change the representation, as was done in the third example above. Here are two gerrymandered districts in Michigan.

Image 1: Gerrymandering MI

Boundaries for Michigan's 11th Congressional District

Image 1: Gerrymandering MI

Boundaries for Michigan's 14th Congressional District

Gerrymandering in Michigan

Look at the Results of the 2014 Election:

Michigan State Legislature

State House

Votes:

Democrats=51.2%

Republicans=48.8%

Seats:

Democrats=43%

Republicans=57%

Democrats dominated in votes, but Republicans dominated in seats.

State Senate

Votes:

Democrats=49.3%

Republicans=50.7%

Seats:

Democrats=29%

Republicans=71%

Democrats got almost 60% votes, but Republicans dominated in seats.

United States Congress

U.S. House of Representatives

Votes:

Democrats=49.1%

Republicans=47.6%

Seats:

Democrats=36%

Republicans=64%

Democrats dominated in votes, but Republicans dominated in seats.

Gerrymandering is an oft-cited reason for voter dissatisfaction and the lack of competitive congressional elections. There is validity to this complaint, as the disparity between the national popular vote for congressional candidates and the resulting seat distribution has become historically large due to redistricting. Simply stated, those who are elected to Congress are increasingly less reflective of the national popular vote.

The Second Vatican Council in the 1960's spoke of citizens' right and duty to vote freely in the interest of advancing the common good. Voting is the basis of American democracy and the health of our democracy requires the broadest possible voter participation. There are many ways that voters can be denied that right to vote. And there are ways to alter the effectiveness of a vote. One of them is gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is being done by the Republicans in Michigan, but the Democrats did it when they were able to.

Redistricting is done every ten years after the census is taken. We need a fair system, that doesn�t favor a party. In most states redistricting is done by the party in charge of the legislature. Several states have started doing the redistricting using a bi-partisan committee. That is one possibility. Here are a few others:

Additional Resources:

Climate Change—Environmental Crisis or Hoax?

Climate Change—Environmental Crisis or Hoax?

Image: Climate Change

There are two sides to this question.

The people concerned about an environmental crisis quote the 97% of studies in juried scientific journals which say there is a crisis and it is created by human activity. The other side of the argument either thinks it is a hoax, or if there is warming, it�s not caused by human activity, or the suggested remedies are too costly. This conflict is no amusing parlor game question with no real world consequences.

The recently elected administration has supported the "hoax" answer to the question. The newly indicated person in charge of the environmental staffing for the Environmental Protection Agency , Myron Ebell, is a "hoax" supporter. The new administration has indicated that it will withdraw from the Paris Accord, which is a pact of over 190 nations pledged to keep the rise in world temperature less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. China, India and the US are the worst contributors to the emissions problems. The commitment of the USA had a big impact on the Chinese agreement to the Accord. Every nation has some "hoax" backers, concerned about the costs of regulating fossil fuel industries. Without the US commitment there could be the collapse of the Accord with major withdrawal by countries where the economy will be affected by limits on fossil fuels.

Pope Francis , in drawing attention to the environmental crisis, calls us to an even broader commitment beyond controlling warming. In his encyclical "Laudato Si!", he speaks of pollution, waste, and the throw away culture. He also talks about the issue of the availability of fresh water, and he warns of how all these factors interact to the detriment of the poor.