Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Religion, Corporations, and Universal Health Care

Activists are now using corporate shareholder votes to push an agenda favoring "universal" health care. According to the May 27, 2008 New York Times, these activists are attempting to get corporate boards to make explicit statements of principle supporting "universal health care" as a goal for all society (as opposed to asking that it be an employee benefit for that specific company). The activists include a mixture of religious and labor groups:
Employers frequently complain about the cost of health benefits for employees and retirees. The shareholder proposal would not require companies to provide health benefits for employees, but asks top corporate executives to view the issue in a broader context, as a question of social policy.

"We are doing what we can as shareholders," said the Rev. Michael H. Crosby, a 68-year-old Capuchin priest who has had discussions with nine companies on behalf of 20 Roman Catholic orders this year. "We come out of a religious tradition, but we are not engaged in a messianic enterprise. We are one voice among many seeking equitable access to health care for all."
Despite the fact that many have argued that these sorts of statements have no place in shareholder debates, the Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that these resolutions must be included on the ballot.