NOBama 2012: A Catholic Case for Romney

Fellow Catholics,

We are approaching the most important U.S. Presidential election for us – by “us” I mean theologically orthodox, politically conservative Catholics – possibly since 1960, when the election of the first Catholic president seemed so possible and actually occurred. I’m grateful to be a contributing member of The American Catholic during this election season, which is one of the most widely-read Catholic blogs in the country. This certainly won’t be the last thing I have to say about the presidential race, but rather the first.

When the GOP primary was getting underway, I was a firm Ron Paul supporter. I knew he would not and could not win, but I supported him anyway because I agree with him on most issues, particularly on the role of our government both domestically and abroad. To support Ron Paul was to support the drastic reduction of the federal government, to reject the arrogant assumptions of technocratic management of economic and social issues from the top-down, and to place a vote of confidence in individuals, families, and local governments to solve social and moral problems. I also believe that this is the fundamental political truth of our time: a state governed by militant secularists cannot possibly effect the common good as it is understood by Christians, people of other faiths, or even those secularists who recognize the value of the natural law tradition that has informed the politics of Western civilization since the time of Plato and Aristotle. And yet if we are destined to have secularists in power, we can at least work to limit their power by limiting government as much as possible.

The corollary of the political truth stated above is that one cannot simply discuss “the role of government” in the abstract, without considering who will actually run the state and what values and assumptions they take with them as they create and execute policies with coercive force. Who exactly will be deciding issues that affect your life and mine? Who will have coercive power over you and yours?

More important than what happens to me or my family, though, is how the Church will be affected by those who rule. Even in her most humiliated and rejected state, which the sex scandals have arguably wrought, the Church is still the light of civilization. If her light is extinguished, driven underground, or forced to hide in the shadows, then it is not simply we Catholics who will suffer (though there is certainly nothing wrong with suffering for the faith), but all of society. The Church can and has survived hideous persecution, but it is not clear that society can survive what it will inevitably become without the Church, as well as all of the other religious organizations that will be affected by federal policies, actively involved in public life. Finally, whether society recognizes its debt to the Church or not is irrelevant.

It may be that God has ordained this as a time of cleansing, a time during which the Church must be forced underground and reduced to a smaller size so that she can be tempered and purified. But we cannot know such things with any certainty. What we can know with at least a little more clarity, on the other hand, is what our duties are as Catholic citizens. It is my view that our first priority is to protect the right of the Church to publicly exist. Usually this doesn’t come up because usually the U.S. government does not enact policies that threaten this public existence. But the status quo has changed, and we now face the prospect of an open, vicious anti-Catholic regime in a lame duck Obama presidency. For this reason, I feel obliged as a Catholic to work for the defeat of Obama-Biden in 2012. In practical terms, this means supporting Romeny-Ryan for the Presidency.

If I haven’t already made it clear, Romney certainly wouldn’t be my first choice. But after Rick Perry crashed and burned early on in the primaries, it became clear that Romney would be the nominee. I never believed for a moment that Gingrich or Santorum would win the nomination, or Ron Paul for that matter. That a man like Romney represents the GOP is indicative of a number of problems that affect the party and will continue to affect it in the coming decades, but this is hardly relevant now.

I do not look at Romney as a man, but as a representative of the broad coalition of interests that support the GOP and resist the Democrats. I look at Obama in the same way, as a representative of an opposite coalition of interests that support the Democrats and resist the GOP. For better or worse, I believe the Church finds itself out of necessity in the GOP coalition.

The reason why is obvious. Put aside the academic policy debates for a moment. Put aside the debate over whether or not concern for the poor necessitates a confiscatory welfare regime, whether water-boarding is an intrinsic evil, whether being pro-life means being pro-subsidized single motherhood, or any of the other heated policy debates that politically-minded Catholics like to have. The reality is that the fate of the Church in the United States, which is not historically Catholic or majority Catholic, will necessarily be determined through a struggle of powers greater than itself.

On one side of the struggle is a coalition that respects the right of the Church to exist, even if it does not fully embrace all of her positions. On the other side of the struggle is a coalition that can barely conceal its violent hostility for the Church and is pursuing policies and programs that will have the practical effect of driving her out of public life. It isn’t my intention to make the hard case for that here, but most of us understand what the far-reaching implications of the HHS mandate will be. We understand that the kind of people who would propose and implement such a thing can be counted upon to press even further, especially when they no longer have an election to win. We are well within reason to label these people enemies.

As a matter of self-defense, then, we must work for the defeat of Obama this fall. There are other prudent reasons to do so as well. Obama’s vision of fairness and justice is irrational and warped. His recent statements on the HHS mandate are proof enough of this. In the view of Democratic Party, it is not simply our obligation to cough up as much as they determine they need to pump into another social program whose practical results are dubious; our refusal to do so is tantamount to actually taking control of someone else’s life and limiting their freedom. If I don’t want to pay for someone else’s birth control, this means I want to “control the decisions they make about their health” or something along these lines. This insane rationale can be extended to just about anything that can itemized by an apparatchik. There is no limit to what this regime believes it can demand of you in the name of its grand social vision, a vision which is sharply at odds, moreover, with the Catholic faith. As Pope Leo XIII wrote:

If, then, by anyone in authority, something be sanctioned out of conformity with the principles of right reason, and consequently hurtful to the commonwealth, such an enactment can have no binding force of law, as being no rule of justice, but certain to lead men away from that good which is the very end of civil society. — Libertas, 10

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a perfect description of the HHS mandate and its underlying principles.

If God, in his wisdom, decides to punish us with four more years of Obama, I will see the good in it. I think it will motivate Catholics to organize and resist in ways they have not yet seen the need to do, and that out of this may grow something wonderful and transformative. But I cannot in conscience actively work for such an outcome. I believe my duty is to resist this categorically evil regime. That is why I will support Romney-Ryan for the White House in 2012. I will do so with a clear conscience as one who would defend the Church, the light of civilization and bride of Christ.

 

 

111 Responses to NOBama 2012: A Catholic Case for Romney

  • ….one cannot simply discuss “the role of government” in the abstract, without considering who will actually run the state and what values and assumptions they take with them as they create and execute policies with coercive force.

    Exactly, well said.

    This post says it all. However, I have to admit I threw up in my mouth a little when I read you were a Ron Paul Supporter….

    Every time I ran into a Ron Paul supporter downtown (usually they were standing at a crosswalk holding a sign trying to get everyone to sign some sort of petition) something always seemed a little “off”.

  • Well, there are “only Ron Paul is acceptable” Ron Paul supporters, and there are people like me, who agree with Paul’s ideals and support Paul as much as they do, but are willing to acknowledge the reality that he can’t win, that he won’t win, that he doesn’t even seem to want to win that badly, and so will eventually have to settle on someone else to support in a concrete, practical sense.

  • The crux of the matter is that “winning matters;” it isn’t everything but it matters.

    We are down by 2, it is a 46 yard attempt, and there are 15 seconds on the clock. Ryan had better be the guy.

  • “We are down by 2, it is a 46 yard attempt, and there are 15 seconds on the clock. Ryan had better be the guy.”

    Ryan is just the holder, and I’m sure he’ll get the snap down and the laces out. But Romney has to be the one to kick it through and I am not sure I trust his leg.

  • If God, in his wisdom, decides to punish us with four more years of Obama, I will see the good in it.

    One good being he should not be able to run again (consecutively), should the US survive him.

    Anything can happen in two months and change, but I am a little encouraged hearing from a few past O supporters that they are going Romney this time around. Not that it matters much in the Lone Star State, but its something.

    As for Ron Paul’s failure to win not mattering, I don’t know. I doubt Texas would have Ted Cruz on the GOP ticket if not for Paul’s influence.

  • c matt says:
    If God, in his wisdom, decides to punish us with four more years of Obama, I will see the good in it.

    One good being he should not be able to run again (consecutively), should the US survive him.

    If Obama wins a second term people will not have to vote any more as Obama’s HOPE AND CHANGE will make Obama Emperor. Obama has instructed the Department of Justice to enforce his 923 new Executive Orders. The Department of Justice has been constituted to judge Executive Orders and not to enforce them at the whim of the Executive. The Affordable Healthcare Act is, in reality, an Executive Order, without informed consent for the people. Chief Justice Roberts found that it is OK to ignore the people who pay for it and make them pay for it, giving Obama access to every senior citizen’s social security. Make Obama say: FREEDOM to the people.

  • Amen! I do not think there is any doubt about the candidate faithful Catholics must support this year. We must support Romney, because Obama clearly is an enemy of the Church.

    If Obama is reelected, he will have gotten away with an unprecedented attack on the Church. Thus emboldened, he will begin new attacks on the Church. And large numbers of Democratic voters and donors, who despise traditional Christianity, will cheer him on, as will the anti-Catholic major media.

  • Romney won me at his Ryan selection. Quoting Jimmy Akin here :the solution to the global poverty problem–to the extent we can achieve it–involves a mixture of providing work as the foremost solution, providing handouts as the backup solution – Romney/Ryan’splan does that exactly!!! Then there is that little bit of the pro-life factor. The R7R ticket is significanlty more pro-life than the O&B ticket, for sure. R&R for the win!!!

  • I am glad that people are familiar with natural law and the scope of such arguments for Catholics on politics. However, it is important to remember that the Church has long argued that there are several principles for assessing candidates. This writer has provided one: freedom of conscience. Another is supplementarity for the purpose of the Common Good. According to this principle the State helps local organizations to provide for the poor.

    Your main argument against Obama is the violation of individual conscience on the HHS mandate. Putting aside the arguments on contraception, the mandate would allow for individuals who are or are not Catholic working at a Catholic institution to make their own decisions on contraception. They would then go to their insurance companies to get “free” access to contraception. This means that Catholic institutions will not be providing contraception. And, you the individual are not paying for contraception for anyone else. Because the government does not provide contraception for people. It is provided through insurance plans. In fact, the attempt to stop this is the one violating conscience since it is telling individuals what to think about contraception. And, there is an added bonus to doing this. It will help with curbing the number of abortions. We are not utilitarians in the Church. But under Natural Law we do have to be informed by the consequences of our actions. And, limiting abortions through a policy that does not violate life is a good.

    However, there is an added reason to vote for Obama. Currently the Paul Ryan budget would change the health care insurance for the elderly to a capped system that does not keep up with the health care inflation rate. This would put the elderly in more jeopardy. And, it would put harder burdens on middle class families who would have to spend more on health care as their wages are decreasing. This violates the Natural Law principle of supplementarity. So, under Natural Law, there are actually much clearer reasons to vote for Obama.

  • “This means that Catholic institutions will not be providing contraception.”

    Except that most Catholic institutions are self-funded and so they are paying for it.

    “Currently the Paul Ryan budget would change the health care insurance for the elderly to a capped system that does not keep up with the health care inflation rate.”

    Though in order to pay for ACA the Obama administration has cut 700 billion from Medicare effective now. That impacts seniors much more than any Ryan plan. Especially since the Ryan plan exempts from cuts anyone 55 or over today and the caps won’t take place for ten years.

  • James Zucker: “[individuals] not Catholic working at a Catholic institution to make their own decisions on contraception.”

    When all is said and done: Put it on the ballot so that all citizens might have a choice and get to choose what their taxes are going to buy. If you are going to impose Obama’s freedom on me, I do not want it. The Affordable Healthcare Act is an Executive Order which gives Obama access to all social security. The premiums are to rise to $240 for Medicare by 2014, leaving most citizens with only one half of their grant. The free contraception is only the bait.

  • Z: Why are wages declining under the Obama-essiah?

    Why is median family income nose-diving?

    Why are there 23,000,000 people either unemployed or under-employed? [...]

    The regime is at war with the Church.

    The casus belli isn’t artificial contraception or gay marriage. They merely are the latest ambushes.

    The Church must be defeated because its teachings on faith, moral and Objective Truth compete for the minds of the serfs against Obama and the collectivists.

    That is the reason, as Mr. Bonchamps stated in a comment elsewhere, the regime is out “to criminalize religious institutions.”

  • Philip and Mary:

    Good points that need a response.

    So, lets start with Philip’s points. It is true that some Catholic institutions, not all, are self funded and so would have to provide these plans. However, two points on this. First, the Obama administration did show some signs so compromise with these institutions so that they would not have to comply. Second, these institutions would be purchasing these plans with such options. This means that the individuals would chose to use these plans. The Catholic institutions would not be purchasing the contraception. They would be purchasing plans that allow for non Catholics and Catholics who use contraception to make that choice. Third, this already exists in 28 states and 8 of these states have no exceptions. Catholic institutions have already found ways to do this.

    Second, as to the points on the executive order. I don’t know where you are getting this from. It is true that Obama is allowed to have the HHS to do certain mandates. However, the ACA is not an executive order. Most of its elements were part of the overall law that was passed by Congress.

    Third, Mary argued that these elements should be placed up to a general vote. Why? Are all rights and actions done by the country put up to a vote. And, since there is no referendum at the national level, this would be impossible.

    Fourth, Philip argued that the Ryan bill is similar to Obama in that Obama cut 700 billion from Medicare. This is just not true. Actually, Conservatives have manipulated what actually happened under the ACA. The actual thing that ACA does is reduce the growth rates of Medicare. The overall growth continues throughout the next 10 years. However, the Ryan plan intentionally caps the amount of money sent to the elderly. So, it cannot keep up with the inflation rate for health care.

    So, what are the reasons why you ought to vote for Obama as a Catholic. First, his plans, as supported by the American bishops, help the poor and fulfill the preferential option for the poor under Catholic Social teaching. His plans do reform Medicare without endangering the elderly. He provides access to contraception for those who individually choose to want it by bypassing the employer and purchasing plans from their insurance. And, this has a track record of reducing the number of abortions in the country. And, Obama is following the need of the state to supplement the works of local organizations. Paul Ryan, a Conservative Catholic, advocates the moral philosophy of Ayn Rand who promotes that individuals should follow their own ego in order to satisfy their individual self interest first. This is not an attack on Ryan as an individual. I am sure that he is a good Catholic. But his overriding social philosophy is not in line with Catholic social teachings.

  • Mr. Zucker, The President is violating the Constitution of the United States in aggressive and singular ways. His violation of the 1st Amendment through the HHS Mandate is the one closes to the hearts of Catholics and as well it should be. His amnesty program for unlawfully present aliens is another. His divisive and dismissive tone is significant to many of us who “cling to our guns and religion.” His support for same sex marriage shouldn’t be ignored. But most of all… most of all… His unmitigated support for abortion.

    Perhaps you need some of the more Christian Left objections though:

    Guantanamo Bay – Closed? Nope. Specific promise broken, that.
    Afghanistan Pull Back – Accomplished? Even Started? Nope. Specific promise broken, that.
    Immigration Overhaul – Accomplished? Started? Nope. Specific promise broken, that.

    Maybe you are a pragmatist though:

    Job Growth – Not even close… Well, in India, but not here.
    Deficit Reduction – Quite the opposite.
    Foreign Relations Improved – Quite the opposite, things are no better with the Russians, the Chinese, the Venezuelans, or the Iranians. Europe is in the midst of a downhill slide and believe that the US is not relevant to their prosperity. Eastern Europe figures they are on their own, Georgia knows they are, Turkey has moved from ally to marginal opponent, and Mexico continues to favor unlawful immigration into the US while fighting a stalemate conflict with narco terrorists.

    Where, pray tell, has this administration succeeded?

    If you are going to explain why we are wrong to oppose President Obama, you had better come armed with more than sophistry.

  • “First, the Obama administration did show some signs so compromise with these institutions so that they would not have to comply.”

    “So, what are the reasons why you ought to vote for Obama as a Catholic. First, his plans, as supported by the American bishops…”

    Though the Bishops have rejected the compromise you refer to. Thus according to other statement you should agree with the Bishops and reject Obama and his false compromise.

    “The actual thing that ACA does is reduce the growth rates of Medicare. The overall growth continues throughout the next 10 years. However, the Ryan plan intentionally caps the amount of money sent to the elderly. So, it cannot keep up with the inflation rate for health care.”

    Not true. Read the link I provided.

  • Obamacare raises insurance costs across the board hurting those most in need, does nothing to address the reason for escalating medical price increases and spends not one page to enact tort reform in 2700 pages of the largest piece of federal legislation in history. It has already forced Catholic schools to drop health insurance for students because of its lack of a conscience clause.

    Now you are either ignorant of these things or are a willing accomplice with evil. Which is it?

  • “Third, this already exists in 28 states and 8 of these states have no exceptions. Catholic institutions have already found ways to do this.”

    Note in this article that the way to get out is closed by Federal rules:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/different-states-contraceptive-rules-leave-employers-room-to-maneuver/2012/02/15/gIQAN3tsNR_story.html

  • Okay, so lots of issues to respond to from both posts.

    Lets start with G Veg:

    The first major point you have made is that the President is violating the Constitution. You provided two major examples. The HHS mandate assumes that the President’s compromise violates either individual freedom to worship or establishes his own religion as national. Neither is the case. In fact, under the compromise, individuals who are either Catholic or not get to make their own choice on contraception and go directly to their insurance company. As for establishing his own national faith, there is of course no basis for this. So, there is no violation of the First Amendment.

    Your second example is on immigration. Actually, the president is fully within his executive office to instruct the justice department to not go after these immigrants. And, he has provided a path for children who did not choose to come here but have shown a desire to become good citizens to remain here. What is the alternative. Would you want to deport 20-30 year olds who did not come here under their own will but now are showing an effort to become responsible citizens? If you say no, then you are suggesting they should simply live in the shadows.

    As for most of the other promises that you claim Obama broke, there are issues there with Republicans who have used the filibuster in the Senate more than all Congresses since the 1960s combined. I am happy to go further but this would take some time to explain. Just tell me if you want to get into that debate.

    But the Ryan issue is central. And, this gets to Phillip. Phillip, you are correct that the link points out that cutting the growth rate will have an impact on future spending for providers. The spending that was cut was from Medicare Advantage. This was passed under Bush. Most medical experts argued that the benefits under this program were largely luxury and could be cut without affecting seniors’ health. This is where the cuts in growth were targeted.

    However, under the Ryan plan, real cuts would take place. This is due to the desire to change the structure of the plan into a voucher based system in which seniors would get a fixed amount of money. This amount does not keep up with health care inflation. So, the damage is much greater.

    The point is that Ryan’s plan does not fulfill the principle of subsidiary. This is why the Catholic Bishops in America came out against the plan.

  • In addition to the inaccuracies in his account of the HHS Mandate and Medicare cuts, Mr. Zucker repeats a line often repeated by many proponents of the HHS mandate, specifically, that it “provides access to contraception.” All one has to do is walk through one’s local CVS and it becomes readily apparent that access to contraception is something no mobile person in the United States lacks. It is a mystery as to why there is any urgency to providing free contraception to people when these products cost just a little bit more per month than a Netflix subscription. Furthermore,

    And, this has a track record of reducing the number of abortions in the country.

    Is an assertion made without evidence (a growing trend). Also, the Church’s opposition to contraception is as absolute as its opposition to abortion, so it peculiar that someone writing under the Catholic banner would be using this as a point in Obama’s favor.

    Paul Ryan, a Conservative Catholic, advocates the moral philosophy of Ayn Rand

    I would suggest reading a few of the other posts and comments written here recently and learn why this statement is nonsense. Then again, if you are one who likes assertions made without evidence, that is perhaps the wrong advice.

    But his overriding social philosophy is not in line with Catholic social teachings.

    His Bishop begs to differ.

  • Sorry to post so soon again. But there were a couple more responses as I was making my arguments.

    First on the self insurance issue. The Obama administration did express a willingness to discuss this issue with Catholics and others who also looked for this exception. The problem has been an unwillingness on Catholic leaders to work through these problems with the administration. However, either way, the individual would have the option to make this choice on purchasing the option.

    Second, on the issue of the ACA itself. The argument has been made that there are no provisions for controlling costs. This is simply not true. The ACA creates regional cross state exchange markets to increase competition. It also forces all people to purchase some form of insurance. This gets rid of the free rider problem, a solution that conservatives like Newt Gingrich advocated until 2008. And, it also spreads out the costs by including more healthy and young people in the risk pool nationally. This means that there is more money in the pool and less sick people. But the sick gain more coverage.

    Plus remember the plan covers all people including especially adults and children with pre-existing conditions. This fulfills the Catholic principles of both subsidiarity and the Common Good.

  • “Phillip, you are correct that the link points out that cutting the growth rate will have an impact on future spending for providers. The spending that was cut was from Medicare Advantage.”

    Actually per the article, both Obama and Ryan limit growth in Medicare. Ryan through market mechanisms and Obama through planning commissions. But I suspect we will provide our competing studies to show this.

    “The point is that Ryan’s plan does not fulfill the principle of subsidiary. This is why the Catholic Bishops in America came out against the plan.”

    I suspect you mean in the interest of solidarity one working group of the USCCB came out against the Ryan plan.

  • The HHS mandate assumes that the President’s compromise violates either individual freedom to worship or establishes his own religion as national. Neither is the case. I

    The HHS mandate forces Catholic institutions to provide coverage for contraception, thereby violating their freedom to practice religion as they choose. So yes, it is a violation of the first amendment.

    ctually, the president is fully within his executive office to instruct the justice department to not go after these immigrants. And, he has provided a path for children who did not choose to come here but have shown a desire to become good citizens to remain here.

    There’s this pesky little document called the U.S. Constitution. It provides for, among other things, checks and balances and separation of powers. Presidents cannot simply make laws on their own authority without consent of Congress. Whether you agree with the executive order is moot.

    As for most of the other promises that you claim Obama broke, there are issues there with Republicans who have used the filibuster in the Senate more than all Congresses since the 1960s combined.

    From April 2009-January 2010 there were 60 Democrats (including Joe Liberman) in the U.S. Senate, a filibuster-proof total. During that same time Democrats had a solid majority in the House. Among the Republicans in the U.S. Senate during the first two years of Obama’s presidency were John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and later Scott Brown. To cry about Republican obstructionism is simply risible.

  • he Obama administration did express a willingness to discuss this issue with Catholics and others who also looked for this exception. The problem has been an unwillingness on Catholic leaders to work through these problems with the administration.

    Yes, it’s truly a pity that Catholic leaders aren’t interested in negotiating away some of their basic freedoms.

  • More about the USCCB not being formally against the Ryan plan:

    http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=14639

  • August 14, 2012, Washington Post: “Romney’s right: Obamacare cuts Medicare by $716 billion.”

    Second, overall law . . . including the death panels . . .

    Third, you should say “the regime” not “the country.” Not only is there no national referendum in the Constit., there is no rule by executive whim, either.

    And fourth, over the next ten years the medicare beneficiaries’ payments will rise because the numbers of citizens over 65 y.o. will rise. That is not inflation. Obama cut those dollars.

    And, if ACA isn’t repealed, medicine will go the same way as colleges and the housing market. Government interference in higher education funding results in college tuition inflation rates two- to four-times higher than the overall inflation rate. Similarly, FHA, FRB, FNMA, FHLMC, HUD, etc. provideed massive infusions of dollars which caused the housing bubble and worsened the devestating great recession.

    Anyhow, I have been paying Medicare contributions for 40+ years. Obama is taking it away. Also, for nearly 50 years, I paid for medicaid with my taxes. I will never see a penny of it; but every arsonist, dope pusher, fornicator, hater, murderer, prostitute, rapist, thief, illegal invader will get health care and will suck dry the health care system.

    There is no justice. Jon Corzine will not be charged. Yet, Bernie Madoff is in jail for four lifetimes? Apparently, Bernie wasn’t a large cash bundler.

  • As to the HHS Mandate, even IF the follow-up compromises reached a point that WAS constitutional, doesn’t it bother you that he began with a policy that was unconstitutional? Surely the recognition that he was comfortable violating the 1st Amendment matters.

    As to Deferred Action, the President does, indeed, have the authority to bar the Executive Branch from removing classes of aliens. However, the President does not have the authority to grant affirmative benefits outside of law. He has granted employment authorization and permission to reenter the US and those areas are governed by statute. These acts are unconstitutional.

    Please get into the other areas… I would LOVE to hear how Senate filibusters and GOP refusal to cooperate is responsible for the President’s failures.

    As best I can tell, the decision to close Guantanamo was entirely within the President’s authority. So too, the decision to continue to war in Afghanistan. But maybe you mean that he “couldn’t” in the sense that it wasn’t politically expedient to keep his promises. That would be a rich definition of moral governance.

    The foreign policy mistakes are legion and I’m guessing you won’t be trying to blame that on the GOP. That leaves us with legislative failures as the point at which GOP meanness is to blame, not the President’s inability to “reach across the aisle” as he said so often before he was elected. The thing is though that the President had control – overwhelming control – of both houses of Congress. That he elected to expend all of his political capital on healthcare reform rather than keeping his promises to immigrants isn’t the GOP’s fault, it is a cold, calculated act of a Chicago politician.

    Again, you had better come to this fight armed with better than vague generalities and soft logic. I’m one of the least qualified people to wage this fight. God help you if you bring some of The American Catholic’s heavy hitters up to bat.

  • Paul:

    Okay, good arguments. Lets go through them.

    It is true that CVS and others provide basic contraception at a cheap price for women. However, many of these forms of birth control do not work for a percentage of the population. This means that many women are not able to use this form of contraception.

    Second, you argued that I have provided no evidence about the link of contraception and fewer abortions. Fair enough. The Guttmacher Institute has done a study showing that out of all the births in America, about 3 million are unwanted. And, out of these 1.5 end in abortions. What happend to the other 1.5 million. The people who did not opt for abortion tended to show a higher rate of using contraception.

    You also argued that the Church would not consider this because of its strict policy against contraception. i would agree that we ought not be utilitarian in this discussion. And, this does get us into a contraception, natural law, and proprotionality debate. i will say that contraception is not dogma. It is doctrine. And, it does have the potential for change. In fact, the advisers to the Pope in the 1960s did call for a change in this doctrine. Either way, the point is that there is an advantage to natural law to provide for people to choose to access contraception and lower the abortion rate.

    Lastly, as to Ryan’s acceptance of Rand’s philosophy, he gave an interview in which he claimed she was the most important contemporary philosopher on politics. And, he requires his staffers to read her regularly.

    The point is that her philosophy stresses moral egoism. And, this shows in his revision of Medicare. He focuses on market mechanisms that would cap the ability of seniors to afford care and service.

  • However, many of these forms of birth control do not work for a percentage of the population. This means that many women are not able to use this form of contraception.

    So that means we ought to violate the U.S. Constitution in order to serve this tiny percentage of the population? Also, what unusual medical conditions preclude condom usage?

    The Guttmacher Institute has done a study

    Okay I stopped reading the paragraph there.

    i would agree that we ought not be utilitarian in this discussion.

    I just finished reading (for the fourth time) C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength. The plot revolves around the sinister agency, the National Institute for Co-Ordinated Experiments, the N.I.C.E. The Deputy Director of the N.I.C.E. is a man named Wither. Wither speaks in an incredibly vague and passive manner, often as a means of avoiding having to directly address objections to his plans.

    That sentence right there just made me flash back to Wither.

    Lastly, as to Ryan’s acceptance of Rand’s philosophy, he gave an interview in which he claimed she was the most important contemporary philosopher on politics. And, he requires his staffers to read her regularly.

    Again, that is at best an exaggeration. Ryan has praised Rand, but he has absolutely denied that she is that important. Seriously, read the other links on this site.

  • Sure, I am happy to debate anyone on the merits of these cases. I hope that you don’t consider all my arguments as vague generalities. So, lets look at the issues.

    First, the major complaint here has been that Obama violated the constitution through these mandates and executive orders. But you have not provided evidence that this is the case. Obama has ordered through the HHS that individuals can go to their insurance companies to purchase contraception out of their own free choice. There was a problem in implementation so he was willing to work with Catholic institutions to provide compromises in implementation. In both cases, he has not violated the first amendment. He has actually fulfilled its mandate by allowing the individual to make their own choice.

    Also, you have argued that the executive order on the immigrant issue is a violation of the constitution because they allow for affirmative steps. Obama has ordered the Justice Department not to go after certain illegal aliens for 2 years. And, he established clear criteria for this. The reason for doing so has to do with the filibuster issue. The Republicans clearly supported the Dream Act up until 2008. Once Obama did so, they filibustered the issue in the Congress. And, they would not support any reforms to immigration. So, after 3 years, Obama has passed an executive order using the same Republican ideas that forestalls deporting 30 year olds who came here through no choice of their own. And, they have to show that they are in school or have served. This is not granting amnesty. So, this order is fully within his purview.

    Second, the argument that Obama was not stifled by the filibuster is simply inaccurate. Yes, it is true that Obama had a 60 Democrat majority. However, some like Lieberman and Nelson did not agree with him on most issues. So, the Republicans were able to use this. Even Mitch McConnell admitted that his first priority was to stop Obama from winning a second term. This led to their uniting and voting as a block each time to stop discussion on issues. When Ted Kennedy left the Senate due to illness, this allowed the filibuster to have more power. And, then Scott Brown became Senator. Throughout this time, the Republicans have used the filibuster more than all of the Congresses since the 1960s combined. This has made making legislation incredibly difficult.

    The foreign policy mistakes need to be better laid out. You cannot simply make a claim that he has made failures and then stop there. He has been able to establish policy that led to the capture and kill of Osama bin Laden. He has led a NATO effort that ousted Qaddafi. And, in the effort, we lost not one person and spent only 1 billion unlike previous ventures under George Bush that lost 1 -3 trillion and 10,000 troops. He has found a way to get us out of Iraq. He has worked with the Russians and Chinese to put more pressure on Syria. His policies are hardly the failure that you point out.

    Finally, you are welcome to argue against my positions. But, I don’t see how they are simply vague and lacking in evidence given the evidence that I have provided.

  • Paul:

    First, you ask for evidence. Then, when I provide it, you dismiss it without argument. I am sure there is some bias that you would want to point out from the Guttmacher Institute. But this does not prove their logic as wrong.

    Second, you accuse of vague generalities. Then, you quote CS Lewis and his metaphorical arguments about the state as if you have made a direct connection with Obama’s administration. Again, you are assuming what you have not proven. You claim Obama violated the first amendment. Lets agree to a rule here. We have to show what has been violated under the Constitution. You argue it is the first amendment. Obama’s HHS mandate allows individuals to purchase plans for contraception. This does not violate an individual’s beliefs. It allows for them to make free choices.

    Paul Ryan has outrightly praised Ayn Rand and has his staffers read her. That is fine. In fact, I am not against considering Rand’s philosophy. But it is important to note that she does not believe in the Common Good. And, this is a primary principle of Catholic Social Teaching.

  • I’m taking the kids to the park – far more important than this argument I assure you. I’ll take a swing by your soap box later. If you are still up on it, I’ll give you as fair an ear as I can.

  • I raised the issue of addressing medical costs which you conflated with insurance costs. Insurance premiums are not a driver of medical costs.

    Mr.Zucker the problem is you are not a serious man. These are serious issues which impact millions of people’s lives. Politics ought not be the sandbox for frivolous ideas to be tested on people like guinea pigs for social experiments.

    The only thing more morally disgusting than your utter disregard for serious economic and political discourse is your blithe disregard for real world consequences your imprudence would have on your fellow man.

  • Paul:

    First, let me address your serious and fair argument. You are right that I was not addressing the issue of medical costs. I was addressing premium costs. At this point, this is the primary issue that everyone is addressing including both Democrats and Republicans. Medical costs are going up due to increasing life spans, new technologies and a growth in the rate of seniors. This is a non unique problem for either the Ryan or the Obama plans. However, both due to try to manage those costs through differing competing visions of how to spread out the overall costs. I would be happy to argue the merits of Obama’s vision. However, let it be said that nothing in his plan leads to immoral actions or to the high costs that you are claiming.

    Second, I am sorry to hear that you think of me in such a poor manner. Throughout these posts, I have never been uncivil or used ad hominems to attack you or the other people whom I am answering. I have had to respond to several different people since I am the only “liberal” here on the site. I made this choice. So, I am not whining. However, my arguments have been backed up and supported by reasons and evidence. You are welcome to disagree with my points. But, I would challenge you to point out where I was uncivil, lacked support, did not explain myself through multiple reasons, or provided crazed conspiracy type arguments. Please point these out specifically. Otherwise, I have to assume you are attacking me instead of the arguments because you are lacking reasons to defend your positions.

    I do enjoy debating. So, I hope we continue this in a serious and fair manner.

  • Philip, If you mainstream abortion, thus making drastic cuts to healthcare for infants through early childhood, and you then make elder-care over age 70 at the behest of your own appointed 15 person panel, you have made dramatic savings in health insurance on the backs of those who presently require the costliest care. If you see that as an ideal to strive for then, yes, Obama is your man.

  • Eileen,

    I don’t think I was making that argument.

  • James,

    You write:

    “it is important to remember that the Church has long argued that there are several principles for assessing candidates.”

    No one has forgotten it.

    “This writer has provided one: freedom of conscience.”

    That is one aspect of what I wrote about. But I am also clear that I am speaking about the rights of the Church as an institution. I suppose you could call it collective freedom of conscience, or institutional freedom of conscience, but we ought to be clear that it is not a question of this or that individual, but rather an entire organization comprised of millions of members. The Church itself has rights, at all times and in all places.

    “Another is supplementarity for the purpose of the Common Good. According to this principle the State helps local organizations to provide for the poor.”

    To provide what, exactly, is the question. Sometimes the best solution is for the state to do nothing, especially when it can be empirically demonstrated that its involvement has hurt the people it alleges to want to help.

    “Your main argument against Obama is the violation of individual conscience on the HHS mandate.”

    A violation of the Church’s right to exist. You want to put me in a box of “individual conscience.” I do consider that important but I also consider the Church’s rights to be more important than those of any one individual. I want to be clear on that.

    “Putting aside the arguments on contraception, the mandate would allow for individuals who are or are not Catholic working at a Catholic institution to make their own decisions on contraception.”

    They already can and do. Any claim that they currently do not or have not would be a bald-faced lie.

    “They would then go to their insurance companies to get “free” access to contraception. This means that Catholic institutions will not be providing contraception.”

    Being forced to pay for something is the equivalent of being forced to provide it. This is a distinction without a meaningful difference. There would be no need for a “mandate” if the government wasn’t trying to force religious institutions to do that which they would not do without the mandate.

    “And, you the individual are not paying for contraception for anyone else. Because the government does not provide contraception for people. It is provided through insurance plans.”

    All employers with over 50 employees will be forced to buy health insurance plans by 2014 or face penalties that could put them out of business entirely. Plans that do not cover abortion/contraception/sterilization will not be legally available. So all of the individuals who own such businesses, many of which may be companies with thousands or millions of shareholders, will be participating in this wickedness unless they break the law.

    “In fact, the attempt to stop this is the one violating conscience since it is telling individuals what to think about contraception.”

    Well, this is a demented statement, completely at odds with reality. There is no HHS mandate now, and individuals are free to think whatever they want about contraception and to purchase it with their own money. If you define this situation as somehow unjust, then you are simply out of your mind. We cannot have a rational discussion.

    I’m not even saying that you can’t have a rational argument for state-mandated contraception coverage. I can see the argument that the Church is an outdated, obscurantist institution whose rights ought to be curtailed and suppressed for the glory of progressive ideals. That is at least a consistent argument, a logical and clear argument. But this insanity, where you try to present the status quo as one in which the Church is actually preventing people from accessing contraception when this is manifestly not the case, earns you nothing but my derision, contempt, and unrelenting resistance. You cannot lie your way into victory, not here, not with me. So just give it up.

    “And, there is an added bonus to doing this. It will help with curbing the number of abortions.”

    Irrelevant. The ends do not justify the means. This is Catholicism 101. If you fail this test, you have no credibility to speak about Catholic teaching on any other subject.

    “We are not utilitarians in the Church. But under Natural Law we do have to be informed by the consequences of our actions. And, limiting abortions through a policy that does not violate life is a good.”

    I can’t believe you missed the part about never doing evil, even if good will come of it, in your catechesis.

    “However, there is an added reason to vote for Obama. Currently the Paul Ryan budget would change the health care insurance for the elderly to a capped system that does not keep up with the health care inflation rate. This would put the elderly in more jeopardy. And, it would put harder burdens on middle class families who would have to spend more on health care as their wages are decreasing. This violates the Natural Law principle of supplementarity. So, under Natural Law, there are actually much clearer reasons to vote for Obama.”

    Well, it isn’t clear to me that you have an accurate or honest view of reality, so I’m going to reserve judgment on the Ryan health plan until I read the details for myself.

  • Correction: there IS an HHS mandate now, and it is being challenged in court. So we’ll see how it turns out. The point stands, though. The situation without the mandate is NOT one in which people are not free to think and act on their preference for contraception, and any suggestion that it is, is a lie unworthy of serious consideration.

  • i will say that contraception is not dogma. It is doctrine. And, it does have the potential for change.

    Sorry, cannot let that stand. Completely and totally wrong, and you should retract that statement for the good of your soul. I sincerely mean that. Contraception is intrinsically evil, period.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

    CCC 2399 Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

    CCC 2370 “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil.

    Humanae Vitae

    Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Paul VI condemned artificial contraception

    John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio

    Only natural family planning provides the only moral basis for a planned family depending on the married couple’s individual circumstances and with guidance from a spiritual adviser. NFP enables husband and wife to always be open to the gift of life.

    No wiggle room on this.

  • Okay, so there are two entirely separate arguments being made here. One is about the rights of religious organizations, in this case the Catholic Church. And, second, there is the theological debate on the status of contraception. I will take Bonchamps argument here. And, I will post again on the theology of contraception in just a minute.

    I do want to make one rule that hopefully we, and I do include myself, can follow. Can we all agree that we have differing versions of what we believe to be true? This is not to make a relativist argument. I firmly believe that we ought to show why our view is correct or incorrect and be evaluated based upon the support we provide. But, can we at least agree that we should not rule out valid forms of arguments on either side simply because we obviously disagree. And, I would ask that there be a level of civility on both sides even though we disagree. Based upon this, I promise to remain within the boundaries of the arguments provided.

    It seems to me that Bonchamps has clarified his argument by arguing the following points:

    1. Obama is attacking the right of the Catholic church and the integrity of its positions to exist violating the constitution and the institution’s liberty of conscience.
    2. Without the mandate, people still have the right to make whatever choice they want and the church is not stopping them so there is no violation of individual conscience.
    3. We cannot evaluate these issues using other types of philosophies like utilitarianism since Catholic natural law thinking is separate from such frameworks.

    Now let me be clear. I put these in this order because they depend upon one another. If the Church’s integrity and freedoms are being violated, then #3 really does not matter. The Church’s protection as an institution and its integrity of beliefs in paramount. This is true both Constitutionally and as a matter of our faith. Also, #2 is important since the Church cannot violate an individual’s conscience in their choices. However, the Church does not have to participate materially in the evil of a choice by any individual.

    Okay, having set that up, lets look at the issues. In order for Obama to have violated the Church’s integrity, he would either have to be #1 forcing them to purchase contraception directly. Or #2 forcing them to give contraception to all of its employees including Catholics. Or #3 forcing to purchase plans with contraception against their will. Obama is not doing #1. He has allowing for Catholics and non-Catholics to bypass the employer and go straight to the employer to purchase plans that include or do not include the option of contraception. He is not doing #2 because he has made an exemption that only institutions with a majority of workers who are not the faith of the institution must have these options in the plans. The only one that he comes close to violating is #3 due to self insurance by certain Catholic institutions. But he has already expressed a willingness to work with Catholic institutions on this issue to make sure that they will not have to violate their conscience on this issue. So, there is no violation of the Constitutionality of the protection of freedom of religion. And, the Catholic Church as an institution is not being attacked. Rather, Obama is attempting to establish a policy that will help to serve people in general who wish on an individual level, both Catholic and non-Catholic, to use contraception.

    This gets us to the second issue that you raised. It is true that the Church is not attempting to stop individuals from accessing contraception. And, legally, even if the Church wins on the mandate issue, they do not have the power nor the will to stop individuals from accessing contraception at 7 eleven or any other convenience store. However, that is not my argument. My argument is that the individual’s conscience must be protected. Under this plan, the individual would be able to make a choice to get and use contraception. While the Church may disagree with this, it cannot stop the individual from doing so. And, the Church is doing that to its employees if it says that they will not even provide insurance plans that open up that option. My point is that your argument about the violation of the Church’s conscience works both ways. In this case, the Church is removing the ability of the individual to go to their insurer and make their own decision.

    This then leads to your last point on the issue of utilitarianism. You are right to argue that consequences do not determine our moral decision making. That is strict utilitarianism. But basic Catholic Natural Law teaching tells us to assess every moral decision based upon the intention, the act, and the consequences. In this case, the intent is to provide people with the free choice on how to manage and prepare for their families while also maintaining strong sexual intimacy within their committed relationships. The act itself is not to provide contraception. But, rather it is to provide people with the choice on that issue. And, the positive consequences is that it helps to limit the number of abortions.

    My point was never that the limitation of abortions should determine our moral reasoning. My point is that this is a part of the overall reason why many Catholics do support Obama’s position because it aims for the Common Good without violating basic rights.

    This then brings me to my point on Ryan’s plan. You are welcome to ignore it. However, it raises my initial point that you agreed to in your response. We both agree that Catholic social teaching includes multiple principles: protection of individual conscience, susidiarity, the Common Good, solidarity and preferential option for the poor. My point is that Obama’s overall plans and actions have fulfilled much more of these principles than what Republicans have offered.

    You pointed out that the government is not always needed and this is the point of subsidiarity. True. But that does not mean that the government is not needed in this circumstance. We are currently living in an era of increasing inequality. The richest 20% currently hold 80% of the wealth. Median family income for the middle class has falled by $4000 since 2000. And, 2% of the richest people in America received 97% of the share of income in the country last year.

    This is not an argument for socialism or communism. This is a criticism of the concentration of wealth and income that even Pope John Paul II pointed out in his encyclicals. The point is that local churches and community service groups cannot provide for all of the help needed by the middle class and the poor. Costs are going up while salaries are going down or remaining stagnant. In this environment, Obama’s policies have provided for basic unemployment services for the unemployed, increased food stamps for those in poverty, provided for health care coverage for people who cannot get it through no fault of their own, and has provided for basic coverage for the elderly. In contrast, Ryan’s plan would cap the amount to seniors below the inflation rate for health care and lower taxes on the richest amongst us. We can definitely disagree on the merits of these plans. But, your argument ignoring the points on Ryan’s plans does not show why most of the Catholic principles are not being upheld by Republican ideas.

    Of course, I respectfully look forward to your reply.

  • Chris:

    I was worried about getting into this debate. It is not that I am not prepared for it. I just did not want to get away from the scope of the political issues. And, I know that my response to you has the possibility of creating a firestorm. But, since you did make this argument, I don’t want it to appear that I have no basis to my argument.

    Dogma does not work the way that you are describing. Yes, it is Church doctrine and teaching that contraception is immoral and evil. However, the Pope could have raised Huamane Vitae to the level of dogma. He chose not to. And, he did this because there is considerable debate on whether or not the basis to Huamane Vitae is correct.

    I read Humane Vitae a long time ago. So, I apologize if I miss some of its main points.

    It argued against contraception based upon :

    1. The general definition of sex as procreative, unitive and a sacrament.
    2. Sex must be open to life at all times.
    3. The fear that procreation would lead to a culture of abortion, death and the utilization of women as tools for male pleasure.

    Okay, lets take a look at these issues.

    Lets group 1 and 2 together. Biologically, most times during a woman’s cycle, she cannot conceive a child. Yet, a couple can have sexual intercourse during any of these times of the month. If life were meant by nature to always be connected to sex, one would expect the opposite. And, it is not the case. However, lets even assume that it was. This is a physicalist case against contraception in which we are determined by nature because God created it. However, in so many cases, we don’t argue that nature should determine our destiny (flying, diseases, space exploration, etc). So why in this case? The main argument in favor of why is because we are producing a life, that is Good. But we allow for natural family planning in order to prevent and frustrate life from being produced. So, the real difference here is artificial versus natural means in preventing life to enter in at all times. What is the real problem with this?

    Well there are two possibilities. Humane Vitae first points to the nature of sex itself as procreative and unitive. However, as we just showed, not all sex acts are procreative in nature. So, this could not be the case.

    The second possibility is #3. And, that is due to the negative impacts on women. And, lets be clear, it is obvious that our culture has devolved to this level. We see constant attacks on women sexually through magazines, increased rates of abortion, rape, date rape, etc. However, the problem with this reasoning is a full scale generalization to all people under this. There are plenty of religious Protestants, Catholics, and secularists who use contraception to plan out their families without resorting to any of these negative impacts.

    In fact, 97% of Catholic women use contraception. Why? This is not to justify their actions. But most women do because the stress on the body of having multiple children under a quick period of time is hurtful to health, both physical and mental. Some use of contraception, whether natural family planning or artificial, is used by families in order to provide for the financial means necessary to raise a family, provide for emotional connections, provide for an intimate relationship between husband and wife, and to protect women from multiple different health stresses including ovarine cancer.

    It is true in the end that the current Catholic doctrine under Humane Vitae argues that contraception is evil and not allowed. And, I would agree that the Church has not changed this position nor is it attempting to change this position. But historically it is not dogma. And, the reasoning behind the decision is, in my opinion, not sound.

    But, I could be wrong. Please point out where I am.

  • None of these points are serious arguments from Mr.Zucker. They do amount to mental masturbation however.

    Take for example his thesis that prices are rising in medicine due to increasing age and technology. Life spans and technology have been increasing for 100 years yet is only in the last 30-40 that we have seen costs rise dramatically. The correlation is not just tenuous but is the text book example of “post hoc ergo propter hoc” or the fallacy of correlation not causation.

    This is symptomatic of a larger disease and it is one for which no medicine on earth can cure.

  • Paul:

    True enough except for two significant differences.

    1. The life expectancies of individuals have gone up much more in the recent past due to the increased technologies of the last 30-40 years. Also, the medical profession has since post WWII received a much higher status due to new medicines like pencillin and the move away from fluid theory to germ theory in medicine. So, the medical field has become professionalized in a way that it was not a century ago.
    2. And, far more important, the baby boom created a massive older population for today that is looming in the next 10 years. That group which will live longer, a goal that all Catholics want to see due to our commitment to life, will demand higher costs.

    Again, can we actually deal with the arguments and stay away from personal attacks?

  • “So, the real difference here is artificial versus natural means in preventing life to enter in at all times. What is the real problem with this?”

    The distinction would be in what is a normally infertile period – part of human biology vs. an artificially imposed, non-natural process. The first can be ordered to the Human good as part of God’s ordering of the Human person, the latter not.

    “Well there are two possibilities. Humane Vitae first points to the nature of sex itself as procreative and unitive. However, as we just showed, not all sex acts are procreative in nature. So, this could not be the case.”

    Clearly there are plenty of cases where nature is not fulfilled, this does not deny the nature of the thing. So the fact that most sex acts do not result in procreation does not deny the fact that this is part of the nature of the sexual act.

    “The second possibility is #3. And, that is due to the negative impacts on women. And, lets be clear, it is obvious that our culture has devolved to this level. We see constant attacks on women sexually through magazines, increased rates of abortion, rape, date rape, etc. However, the problem with this reasoning is a full scale generalization to all people under this. There are plenty of religious Protestants, Catholics, and secularists who use contraception to plan out their families without resorting to any of these negative impacts.”

    Though it is becoming more and more clear that while some may use contraception without problems, society as a whole is being negatively impacted. Just as some families deal well with divorce, but in general society is suffering from its effects.

    Though I might ask at this point, why are you so concerned with Catholic social teaching and adherance to it, while you disregard established teaching on contraception. One can equally argue according to standards that the preferential option for the poor ( a phrase which is actually not in magisterial texts) and other aspects of CST are equally subject to change. And since most social programs are now unsustainable, it is fine to cut them.

  • Zookster, buddy:

    What has any of that got to do with giving Obama four more years for massive failures and to complete the devastation?

  • Paul:

    Great points. So, lets go through them.

    The biggest problem with your argument is that you argue that certain things may not be so. But you don’t provide reasons why they ought to be so.

    Let me demonstrate. It is true that just because conception is not possible in every sex act, that this does not rule out procreation as important. But your argument does not show that procreation is essential in all sex acts. And, this is my point on the nature argument. In order for this part of the theological premise to hold, it would have to show that conception is essential to the nature of sex. The Church tried to do this through a physicalist approach. However, sex does not lead to conception in most cases. So, there is no essential nature to the case.

    However, you could argue that the reasoning is more about the good of producing life. Therefore all sex acts should contain conception as possible since it leads to fulfilling this good. But now this would mean that we should not use natural family planning either since we would be frustrating life. You could argue that natural family planning follows the nature God gave us. But this runs us right back into the problems of the first issue that I raised.

    So, we now get to the overall argument about the goods of contraception and sex. Yes, society takes good things and makes them into bad things. This does not make the original thing bad. For example, we have cures for diseases. Some evil people have used this and the scientific process to create biological weapons. So, we create a moral rule excluding the mal practice of science and biological elements, not science itself.

    The reason why I support social teachings of the church is because I believe the rationales are sound. For example, from intuition, do you agree that the good should be pursued and the evil avoided. Well, of course. Is poverty a negative and possibly evil condition that some people live under? Well, I think we would both agree on this as well. And, do you agree on an intuitive level, that we ought to help our neighbor to avoid extreme suffering? Again, we probably both agree. And, for good reason. It is intuitive and morally common sense. And, it is the teaching of the Church.

    Now, we just need to determine which agent is best: communities, individuals, churches, the State, or a combination. This is an argument of sociology, economics, and political science. But I agree with Church teachings on social teachings because we can easily determine its truth.

    In the case of contraception, I don’t see the authorities being sound in their reasoning.

  • “In this case, the Church is removing the ability of the individual to go to their insurer and make their own decision.”

    Except as pointed out above, the Church is the one funding the insurance so it is the Church, and those of link-minded conscience, who are forced to pay for what is readily and inexpensively available.

    Again, which is why the bishops continue to resist the efforts of the Obama mandate.

  • Paul:

    Again, that depends.

    The church would not be providing the insurance in the case of businesses who purchase an insurance plan for their employees. The employees than buy the plans. So, the Church is providing the overall insurance. But the employee chooses and buys the plans and the services.

    You are correct in the case of church institutions that self insure. And, the Obama administration has made it clear that they are open for compromise on that one.

    Either way, there is no clear violation of the freedom of worship. This is opening up choices for employees of Catholic Church institutions. And, by the way, many Catholic Church institutions already allow for this due to that choice like Georgetown.

  • I think you are referring to me.

    “The Church tried to do this through a physicalist approach. However, sex does not lead to conception in most cases. So, there is no essential nature to the case.”

    No, it is not a physicalist approach. It never has been considered so. In fact Martin Rhonheimer, who vigorously argues against any physicalist arguments points out that Humanae Vitae is quite non-physicalist in its argument. That is, natural law, in all that means in reason, sees the value of every sexual act being open to, if not resulting in, conception.

    “The reason why I support social teachings of the church is because I believe the rationales are sound. For example, from intuition, do you agree that the good should be pursued and the evil avoided. Well, of course. Is poverty a negative and possibly evil condition that some people live under? Well, I think we would both agree on this as well. And, do you agree on an intuitive level, that we ought to help our neighbor to avoid extreme suffering?”

    Of course those “rationales” are the same basis for arguing against contraception. Again from the first principle of natural law, the good is to be pursued and evil avoided. The good of sexula intimacy is the gift of self in marriage. This gift logically (rationally) includes the gift of new life. This of course can be modified to include the resort to naturally infertile periods in expressing the unitive aspect which are not violations of the good. But that includes the gift of self-restraint to those periods which further logically (rationally) includes a deepening of virtue of the person and respect for one’s spouse. Such is logically (rationally) not present in artificial contraception which reduces the other to an object of pleasure for the self instead of self-giving open to life.

    Of course we also seek to restrain extreme poverty and meet basic human needs. Of course CST includes the concepts that such programs logically (rationally) must be sustainable and must actually help those it seeks to help without fostering dependency on the govt. The actual implementation of policies and legitimate differences as to these policies actually helping and being sustainable are logically (rationally) subject to debate among Catholics of good conscience. This is also part of the rationale of CST – that Catholics may licitly disagree among policies.

  • James,

    You wrote,

    “He [Obama] has allowing for Catholics and non-Catholics to bypass the employer and go straight to the employer [I assume you meant insurance company] to purchase plans that include or do not include the option of contraception.”

    Again, this is a distinction without a difference:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203646004577215150068215494.html

    One way or another, religious institutions will be forced to pay for contraception under the mandate.

    “But he has already expressed a willingness to work with Catholic institutions on this issue to make sure that they will not have to violate their conscience on this issue.”

    The law is what it is, and no one must or should take such a condescending “willingness” to toss their opponents a few crumbs from the table as anything other than the gesture of contempt that it is.

    “Obama is attempting to establish a policy that will help to serve people in general who wish on an individual level, both Catholic and non-Catholic, to use contraception.”

    I don’t care. He doesn’t have the legitimate authority to do what he is doing. He is abusing his authority and pursuing a tyrannical course. People who wish “on an individual level” to use contraception can individually pay for it with their own money.

    “It is true that the Church is not attempting to stop individuals from accessing contraception. And, legally, even if the Church wins on the mandate issue, they do not have the power nor the will to stop individuals from accessing contraception at 7 eleven or any other convenience store. However, that is not my argument. ”

    But it is the only truth that matters in this debate.

    “Under this plan, the individual would be able to make a choice to get and use contraception.”

    They already have the choice. They just can’t get it for FREE, i.e., force someone else to pay for it.

    “While the Church may disagree with this, it cannot stop the individual from doing so. And, the Church is doing that to its employees if it says that they will not even provide insurance plans that open up that option. ”

    Well, this is simply false. If you know it is false, it is a lie. If you don’t know it is false, it is an error. Now you know. If you keep repeating it, you’re a liar. The Church cannot stop, and does not wish to stop, any individual from buying contraception. The Church does not go around with press gangs and force people off the street to work in its institutions. No one has to work for a Catholic institution. It is a choice. The fact that some people may have to choose between working for a Catholic college or hospital and having their contraceptives/abortions/sterilization procedures covered is not a violation of conscience, it is evidence that religious institutions still get to have theirs.

    ” My point is that your argument about the violation of the Church’s conscience works both ways. In this case, the Church is removing the ability of the individual to go to their insurer and make their own decision.”

    The Church has set conditions for employment at its institutions that anyone is free to review and reject in favor of employment somewhere else. “The individual” can work wherever he is qualified to work. No ability has been removed. If an individual at a Catholic institution can’t get contraception coverage, it is because he voluntarily agreed to that condition, having considered that this good is of a lower priority than employment at a Catholic institution.

    The argument does not “work both ways”, because when it works the way you want it to, the Church’s conscience is violated. When it works the way I want it to EVERYONE IS STILL FREE TO DO WHAT THEY WANT – with their OWN money.

    ” In this case, the intent is to provide people with the free choice on how to manage and prepare for their families while also maintaining strong sexual intimacy within their committed relationships. The act itself is not to provide contraception. But, rather it is to provide people with the choice on that issue. And, the positive consequences is that it helps to limit the number of abortions.”

    Even if I believed that were the intent (and I don’t), it wouldn’t matter. I am not arguing that the Obama regime is trying to force people to buy contraception, that it is trying to force-provide people with these things. Rather, it is forcing institutions to cover the costs of these things, which is a violation of their inherent right to exist.

    And it is still premised on the lie that people don’t have “the choice on that issue.” As long as you believe that people who have nearly unlimited access to birth control without the mandate need the mandate to have “choice on that issue”, you inhabit a fundamentally different reality than I do and we cannot rationally communicate.

    “My point was never that the limitation of abortions should determine our moral reasoning. My point is that this is a part of the overall reason why many Catholics do support Obama’s position because it aims for the Common Good without violating basic rights.”

    Fine. My point stands that basic rights are violated, as well as basic logic and rational thought.

    ” We are currently living in an era of increasing inequality. The richest 20% currently hold 80% of the wealth.”

    I don’t care. Inequality is not injustice when those on the bottom are wealthier than at least half of the planet, if not far more. The American “poor” have a higher standard of living than the middle classes of most of the nations that have ever existed or exist today. We are not talking about Biblical poverty in the United States. If you want to talk global inequalities, then you may have a stronger case for some level of redistribution. But not on a national scale.

    Inequality is only a problem, in this context, for the envious who believe they are entitled to a level of comfort that others have to work hard for.

    “The point is that local churches and community service groups cannot provide for all of the help needed by the middle class and the poor. ”

    Well, I disagree, and there’s no way you can demonstrate such a thing. It is arguable that the primary thing that people need are jobs and business opportunities. I reject the automatic assumption that “help” necessarily = bureaucratic welfare state financed through confiscation and redistribution of private wealth.

    Finally, I’m not “ignoring” Ryan’s plan. I haven’t studied it yet, so I don’t want to comment on it yet. It’s that simple.

  • James Zucker: The Catholic Church needs to hire only Catholic workers to be eligible for an exemption? The Court in Hosanna-Tabor said that 9-0 the state did not have the right to determine who the religious organizations hired but now the Catholic Church will be forced to hire only Catholic people to be eligible for an exemption. The First Amendment says that Obama may not “prohibit the free exercise thereof.” You have spent much ink telling us how much you are giving us freedom, defining conscience and redefining the human being and eternal truths and I tell you that freedom is granted by God, “their Creator”.

    James. Please explain why the HHS mandate was added by Obama after the ACA was passed by Congress? Obama violated the contract, by usurping and using an unauthorized Congressional power.

    And please explain why Obama has given an unauthorized power to Sebelius to write anything Obama tells her to, whenever Obama tells Sebelius to, into the ACA. Obama removed the Mexico City Policy the first day in office as POTUS. A contract with the people and the Catholic church that only one side can change is no contract at all, it is simply bondage. Contraception is the bait. The real game is to overturn the Catholic Church and absorb all that the Catholic Church holds in trust for our posterity, all generations to come.

  • “You are correct in the case of church institutions that self insure. And, the Obama administration has made it clear that they are open for compromise on that one.

    Except the it is actually the majority of Church institutions that are self-funded. It is so problematic that even the Catholic Hospital Association, which supported the Health Care Law, finds there is no room for compromise:

    “The Catholic Health Association was a key ally in Obama’s health care overhaul, defying opposition from church bishops to help the president win approval in Congress. But the group said Friday it does not believe church-affiliated employers should have to provide birth control as a free preventive service, as the law now requires.

    The hospital group’s decision calls into question a compromise offered by the president himself only months ago, under which the cost of providing birth control would be covered by insurance companies and not religious employers. While churches and other places of worship are exempt from the birth control mandate, nonprofits affiliated with a religion, such as hospitals, are not.

    In a letter to the federal Health and Human Services department, the hospital group said the compromise initially seemed to be “a good first step” but that examination of the details proved disappointing. The plan would be “unduly cumbersome” to carry out and “unlikely to adequately meet.”

    “Either way, there is no clear violation of the freedom of worship. This is opening up choices for employees of Catholic Church institutions. And, by the way, many Catholic Church institutions already allow for this due to that choice like Georgetown.”

    Again, it does not follow given that the majority in the Church (even those that supported the law) find it untenable as noted above. There may be some institutions that do not have a problem with contraception (and perhaps abortifacients as these are also mandated.) But this does not deny the reality that the Bishops and many other organizations find it oppressive. As such, it is not only a restriction on freedom of worship, it is a immoral restriction on freedom of religion.

  • Paul:

    Okay, two separate points on this one.

    1. Contraception falls under the same basic Catholic intuition that I expressed in support of CST.
    2. We can disagree over the implementation of CST.

    First, on contraception. I don’t think the Church has ever explicitly argued that natural law is dependent on nature. However, the reasoning in Humane Vitae fell into that problem. The reason is expressed in your own argument. You argued that sex can occur throughout the month during periods of natural infertility. But we cannot use artificial means to stop conception because life is a good that should never be frustrated. However, under Catholic teaching, we do frustrate the possibility of life by planning through natural means to stop having sex at points when life would be created. Why would we do this if life is a good that we do not avoid wanting to create. The reason is because we understand families must be able to have some planning abilities on having children. But, then why not artificial means. Because artificial means would frustrate the natural process. But if physicalist arguments are not what we are aiming at then there is no basis to claim that sex always has a procreative element to it.

    Your other argument is that by abstaining, we create a virtue of self restraint and a lack of selfishness. This may be true. But if the act itself is not immoral, then these side effects are simply possible benefits from abstaining, not necessary elements of determining if the act is moral.

    In fact, couples who use artificial contraception often talk about the ability to create more loving and intimate relationship to the partner whom they are committed. And, that their intimacy expresses a lack of selfishness and a communication of love through this intimacy.

    The problem with your argument again is that you are expressing why something may not be the case. You are not providing for reasons why it is.

    My reasons are the following:

    1. Sex does not have a physicalist or a spiritual reason for tying procreation to all acts of sex.
    2. Artificial birth control is the same as natural family planning unless you are trying to argue that all of God’s natural means are the basis to morality.
    3. Artificial birth control allows for families to plan out their care for children while remaining loving and committed to one another.

  • “First, on contraception. I don’t think the Church has ever explicitly argued that natural law is dependent on nature. However, the reasoning in Humane Vitae fell into that problem.”

    True, but I am not arguing that either. And neither did Humane Vitae. Read Rhonheimer.

    “The reason is expressed in your own argument. You argued that sex can occur throughout the month during periods of natural infertility.”

    That’s only if one thinks I am arguing from physical nature rather that the totality of what is invovled in natural law – the ultimate discernment of which comes through reason. This reason includes taking into account the physical nature of the act, its nature and ends, and the intention in acting.

    “But we cannot use artificial means to stop conception because life is a good that should never be frustrated. However, under Catholic teaching, we do frustrate the possibility of life by planning through natural means to stop having sex at points when life would be created.”

    But only because reason discerns these infertile periods as part of nature and, through reason, we use these naturally infertile periods for legitimate ends (ie the health of the mother, financial resources etc.) Through restraint founded in reason, we reaffirm the meaning of sexuality even if new life is not created. This as opposed to chosing to have sex at any time based upon our control of fertility through artificial contraception.

    “You are not providing for reasons why it is.”

    But I have. Perhaps an assertion without evidence on your part.

  • Okay there are a lot of issues to address here since there are three people giving me different arguments. Don’t get me wrong. I am not whining about this. I am happy to answer the points in all of the arguments. But I am trying to do this in a timely manner. So, I hope that I don’t miss any of the major points.

    All three of you seem to be arguing the following in common points.

    1. Obama violated rights by forcing all institutions including Catholic ones to provide for contraception to their employees.
    2. Individuals have a right to work wherever they want so there really is no right to them to be able to force insurers into providing this “free” care.
    3. Bonchamps made the point that the extreme inequalities don’t matter and this is really just the point of envious people.

    Okay, so first off, in order for Obama to have violated religious liberties, we have all agreed that he had to have forced Catholic institutions to materially support an evil action. But in order to do this, these institutions would have to be either paying for or passing out contraception. They are doing neither. The individual worker is going straight to their insurance provider. So, the employer is by passed. And, the church is not paying for the service or the good. The continuous argument that you or anyone else is paying for this is simply incorrect. The insurance company provides the plan that provides the coverage.

    You are correct that this would be a problem for self insured institutions. However, the Obama administration has argued that it would be open to negotiations on this. Paul argues that most Catholic institutions are self insured. This may be correct. But, please remember that many Catholic institutions don’t agree with the bishops on this one. And, many institutions of Catholic leadership also have such diverse communities that they are willing to provide insurance companies not self insurance. So, the issue is an implementation one.

    The point is that there is no violation of the First Amendment and Bonchamps argument that this is tyranny exaggerates the issue. It is an implementation problem that is being worked out through compromise. And, as I argued before, there are greater side effects that come along with this since it can lead to the good of reducing abortions.

    However, on to the point that I made about the violation of individual rights. Bonchamps missed the point of my argument. In today’s environment of high unemployment, it is extremely difficult to make the argument that an individual could simply up and move to a new job. And, while it is true that contraception can be received at convenience stores, the product is often not good for all women due to health reasons. So, if a Catholic employer tells his or her employee that she cannot choose a certain insurance plan, then this is a violation of that individual’s ability to make choices. And, referring that individual to the rigors of the market place right now would simply be forcing the individual into a difficult circumstance of unemployment.

    However, this gets to the bigger problem with Bonchamps argument. This is not personal. But to claim that extreme inequalities are not important to CST is not consistent with papal teachings. I am not arguing from authority. You are clearly in your rights to tell me I am wrong. But the Popes of recent years have clearly pointed out that capitalism, while better than socialism and communism, has the negative problem of a concentration of wealth and the use of wealth for individual selfishness. The current numbers I gave you were not just regular inequality. They show extreme inequality driven by the greed of the top 10% of our society. These cannot be passed off especially when CST argues for economics to provide for the common good.

    And, your argument missed the greater point that I was making off of this. My point was that under our current circumstances the party that is violating most of CST teachings are the Republicans. While Obama’s implementation may be imperfect, it is the Republican plans that violate the needs of the weakest by curtailing spending on medical expenses for those with special needs, curtailing spending on heating oil for the poor, curtailing spending on education, curtailing spending for the elderly on health care, and trying to veto a health care bill that finally covers all people including those previously excluded due to no fault of their own.

    You can definitely disagree with me on this. Even though the Catholic bishops and the Jesuits at Georgetown feel the same way. However, to argue that Obama is tyrannical is simply not accurate to the facts.

  • Paul:

    I did provide reasons. Let me argue this again.

    First, let me point out that you argued that we ought to use reason informed by faith to point out the totality of the act. Agreed.

    Your argument, if I am correct is that sex should be open to life but we can use natural family planning to plan when we ought to have sex to have children and when we ought to abstain from having sex.

    But, this still does not address why sex should always be tied to procreation. True, it is one of its ends. However, sexual union between partners does not always lead to procreation. So, on what basis do you argue that sex and procreation are always linked? If your argument is that this is one of the great purposes of sex, I agree. But this does not mean that sex only has one purpose. Just as a hand does not have one purpose. Now, you could argue that we ought never frustrate any of the purposes. But we do with natural family planning. We just do it naturally. So, why cannot we do this through artificial means?

    You asked for my reasons then why artificial means can be used. Here they are again:

    1. There is no real difference between artificial and natural family planning unless you use a physicalist approach.
    2. Artificial means do not violate life because married couples use it to plan out when they will conceive.
    3. Artificial means allow for a husband and wife to create a committed and loving relationship without the fear of unwanted pregnancies when the cannot afford them.
    4. Sex has multiple purposes. Procreation is not essential to all acts of sex.

  • JZ- For the sake of clarity and your Catholic bona-fides, can you please confirm or deny the following:

    Do you believe that the use of artificial contraception is morally licit as a means of birth control?

  • Paul:

    So, I am unclear on the ends of this question.

    I thought I made myself clear in the last few emails. Here is a clear and unequivocal statement.

    I believe that artificial birth control is moral as long as it is within a committed relationship of marriage and used for the dual purposes of managing family size and creating a loving and intimate relationship between the spouses.

    I hope this makes it clear.

    Also, I reread your last post. I do agree with you on the method of Catholic reasoning. But, I cannot find in your argument why procreation is an essential part to all sexual acts of intimacy between spouses.

  • James Zucker,

    Barack Hussein Obama is a godless, evil, wicked man of sin and depravity promoting the filth of homosexual sodomy, the murder of unborn children and the redistribution of wealth from those who earn to those who refuse to work. He lies. He cheats. He steals. He murders.

    Everyone has a right to choose – and that choice ends at sexual intercourse. You don’t want a baby? Then don’t wallow in filth like a mindless irresponsible baboon, which is exactly and precisely the style of life that that narcissistic son of a snake promotes and deifies. No abortion! No contraception! You don’t get to choose when life begins. You don’t get to partake of the Fruit of the Tree of Life. If you have sex, then you made your choice.

    And no, it is NOT the responsibility of the Federal govt to provide for the sick, the homeless, the poor, etc. That is your responsibility and mine if we call ourselves members of the Body of Christ. Everytime we abdicate our God-given responsibility to help our fellow man, we sacrifice on the altar of political expediency our citizenship in the Kingdom of God for a pale and worthless imitation that at root is satanic.

    And that is exactly and precisely what you liberals want: Caesar Obama to be god. Never. Never ever. This was a Christian Constitutional Republic, NOT a national socialist democracy which is nothing other than two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner, which in this case is the bloody corpses of over 50 million unborn babies. Death to Democracy! Death to Liberalism! Down with Obama on Novermber 6th! Down with every single liberal progressive Democrat! Viva Cristo Rey!

  • There is a Philip in this thread and a couple different Pauls.Somewhere along the way my name got hijacked when you were addressing Philip, I believe.

    Since the Catholic Church teaches that contraception is intrinsically evil (CCC 2370) then my rule of thumb is: if you don’t respect the teaching authority of the Church instituted by Christ then you sure as hell won’t respect anything I have to say.

    You are an honest about what you apostate, but an apostate nonetheless. Of what point is discussion when you are your own vicar?

  • Paul:

    Okay, so its hard for me to respond to your argument given it is entirely based upon invective and name calling. So, let me try with some personal points first.

    My wife and I have two beautiful girls. We are thrilled to have them and we are completely enthralled to watch them grow up and become the total gifts that God gave to us.

    I also had a son. He was diagnosed with a genetic disorder while in my wife’s womb. The doctors told us that he was likely not to live. However after some great pains in decision making over this, my wife and I believed that he had every right to live and that we had an obligation to love him and give him every blessing possible. He was born. He lived for two months. And, he died in my arms. I am not using this to brag or to praise myself. I went through some extremely dark days back then with many emotions that I am not proud of. And, I just hope that God was as close to me as I believed and felt in His presence during those days. i tell you this because your invective against me as a dark individual who supports a dark leader is simply not fair and not legitimate as an argument.

    I simply asked you for your logical reason based upon reason informed from faith as to why birth control was evil. You have not provided this. You did provide a method of natural law reasoning. It is too bad that you could not follow through on that reasoning and provide a logical explanation of why sex and procreation are always tied together.

    Finally, yes, actually the state does have a role in helping the sick and the weak. This is not because I assert it to be the case. This is the basic teachings of CST. CST preaches the principle of subsidiarity. Yes, we should attempt to take care of the poor locally and without government assistance. And, there are good reasons to do so. However, when local organizations cannot do this alone, the government is an instrument for helping with this. This is the teaching of CST from the popes of the late 1800s to Pope John Paul II. And, John Paul very specifically wrote that while socialism and communism were far worse than capitalism, capitalism tends towards a selfish inequality that does not promote the common good. He called for all citizens of capitalist societies to reorient their values to allow for individualism and competition but to be balanced by compassion.

    Lastly, Paul, I respect you and your beliefs. But honestly, if you believe that persuading someone of the opposite belief system through invective and generalization is a good idea, I can only caution you that it is not. It ends up simply reinforcing the worst stereotypes of Conservatives. I wish you the best. And, I hope we can argue in a more rational way another time. God Bless.

  • Paul:

    Sorry, I just saw that this is another individual. So, let me address your points now more specifically.

    I am now an apostate. Fair enough. Although I am not sure how you can come to that conclusion given that there has always been a dissenting in the church tradition.

    You can definitely argue that I don’t follow the Pope’s every doctrinal command. But there is no rule that this must be the case. This follows a top down mode of the Church that was rejected in Vatican II.

    And, protection of individual conscience is a main stay of the church. Nowhere is it taught that people who disagree on individual teachings are therefore outside of the church.

    Even if I was, that does not mean that you can ignore my arguments. You actually have to provide some backing for your arguments even if they are based upon differences over faith.

    Your only argument is by quoting an authority and its arguments under doctrine. However, doctrine has evolved and changed based upon differences.

    So, you need to show why this doctrine is correct and why your interpretation has to be followed.

  • James,

    “The individual worker is going straight to their insurance provider. So, the employer is by passed.”

    Someone still has to pay for it. That’s what you don’t seem to understand. The individual worker is not paying for it. It isn’t being donated to them. The costs get absorbed into the premiums that these institutions have to pay, so again, either way, they are still paying for contraception coverage. A distinction without a difference.

    “You are correct that this would be a problem for self insured institutions. However, the Obama administration has argued that it would be open to negotiations on this.”

    Talk is cheap. This does not support your position in the least.

    “Paul argues that most Catholic institutions are self insured. This may be correct. But, please remember that many Catholic institutions don’t agree with the bishops on this one. ”

    Also completely irrelevant. We are obviously only talking about those institutions who do care – it is because they exist that this is a controversy to begin with.

    You really think you can obscure the fundamental issues at stake with a flurry of irrelevancies – or you don’t know how to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant.

    “The point is that there is no violation of the First Amendment and Bonchamps argument that this is tyranny exaggerates the issue.”

    It does no such thing. Read the HHS memo asking a Colorado judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against it by a Catholic-owned corporation.

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/08/obama-looks-to-strip-entrepreneurs-of-religious-liberty

    The Obama regime is certainly attempting to foist its view of “reproductive freedom” on an unwilling public. I know I expressed that my primary concern was for the Church as institution, but let me state clearly for the record that I believe forcing ANY company to purchase health plans that, by law, cannot exclude contraception, abortion and sterilization, is an act of anti-religious tyranny.

    “However, on to the point that I made about the violation of individual rights. Bonchamps missed the point of my argument. ”

    How can I miss a point you never made?

    ” In today’s environment of high unemployment, it is extremely difficult to make the argument that an individual could simply up and move to a new job.”

    It is irrelevant. The point is that no one is preventing them from doing so, and thus no one is seeking to or actually “limiting their options.” A bad economy is not a person to be morally accountable for their actions. You may as well complain about seasonal hurricanes depriving people of their right to live wherever they choose without any potential risks.

    This is why I use words like “insane” to describe such thinking and the policies that such thinking lead to. The charge is that Catholic institutions are somehow limiting people’s liberty. But it turns out that it is really the bad economy that is to blame. Well Catholic institutions didn’t create the bad economy and they don’t have a moral obligation to violate their own consciences because the bad economy doesn’t allow someone else to buy something that their own conscience approves of. That’s what living in a free society means.

    “And, while it is true that contraception can be received at convenience stores, the product is often not good for all women due to health reasons. ”

    Buyer beware. The pro-abortion crowd makes the same argument about abortion. If it isn’t made “safe and legal”, then they get an inferior product from back-alley scam artists or something like this. And yet this argument is completely irrelevant, as we all know. The fact that some people might harm themselves obtaining a good or service is not a moral argument for the legalization of that good or service. But this contraception argument isn’t even that extreme. Contraception is legal and no one challenges it – all you’ve got is some contention that over-the-counter birth control may not be as good for some women as that which an insurance plan might cover. And this flimsy appeal is what you would sacrifice the religious liberty of tens of millions of Americans for. Well this is garbage and I am not obliged to agree.

    “So, if a Catholic employer tells his or her employee that she cannot choose a certain insurance plan, then this is a violation of that individual’s ability to make choices.”

    This is a lie. That individual can still make choices. She doesn’t have to work for that employer.

    “And, referring that individual to the rigors of the market place right now would simply be forcing the individual into a difficult circumstance of unemployment.”

    And that isn’t immoral. That’s called life. That’s called respect for private property rights, which is also a pillar of Catholic social teaching in case you’ve forgotten.

    “But to claim that extreme inequalities are not important to CST is not consistent with papal teachings.”

    Papal teachings almost always address global inequalities, and they do not rule out the possibility of the very real sociological concept of relative poverty. Like I said, global inequalities may present a stronger case for some kind of redistribution of wealth, but national inequalities in the United States do not. The American poor are wealthy by comparison to the African poor. This is simply a fact.

    Inequality in and of itself is not injustice. CST has never taught this. In fact, to portray inequality as bad in and of itself is nothing but an expression of deep-seated envy, one of the seven deadly sins.

    “The current numbers I gave you were not just regular inequality. They show extreme inequality driven by the greed of the top 10% of our society. ”

    The numbers you provide do not demonstrate that anyone is being made destitute.

    “And, your argument missed the greater point that I was making off of this. My point was that under our current circumstances the party that is violating most of CST teachings are the Republicans. ”

    Yeah, I tend to miss points when they aren’t clearly made.

    And this claim is absolutely false. The Democrats officially support the butchering of tens of millions of innocent children in the womb, they officially support the moral and social abomination of “gay marriage”, and their welfare policies create a condition of servility and dependency for the vast majority of poor people. They undermine family, local communities, and churches as providers of social support and seek to replace them all with the federal government. The Democratic vision is not one of solidarity, but rather an atomized nightmare in which millions of individuals fight over the scraps from the government table, scraps which only exist because the middle classes have been plundered, swiping their EBT cards in perpetuity without ever finding gainful employment. It is also a vision in which the Church has no meaningful role to play in society as an independent institution.

    “While Obama’s implementation may be imperfect, it is the Republican plans that violate the needs of the weakest by curtailing spending on medical expenses for those with special needs, curtailing spending on heating oil for the poor,”

    That’s a good one! It’s not like Obama and the Dems are relentlessly pursuing green energy policies, its not like Obama threatened to bankrupt the coal industry, its not like this entire policy orientation will drive prices for energy for the poorest Americans through the roof. No, not at all. All you have to do, in your book, to be a champion for the poor is SAY that you’re a champion for the poor. If your policies end up completely screwing them over, it doesn’t matter. You had good intentions.

    The bishops are sadly mistaken on many economic points. The root of the problem is the assumption that the market cannot provide many of these things that people need. The market can provide them. Competition keeps costs down for the average consumer, many of whom are of average means or are poor. Policies that reduce or eliminate economic competition, on the other hand, end up making many goods and services more expensive and more difficult for people of average means to afford.

    But you never think of the consequences of these policies, even as you say that you believe consequences can and should be morally considered. If you really believe in a better economy for the poor, then support policies that increase competition, that incentivize job creation, and that increase the value of the dollar by fighting inflation.

  • I don’t argue, debate or have dialogue with liberals, James Zucker. I pray to God and work for your utter, total and complete defeat. Period. It frankly enrages me to see any self-described Catholic support that godless reprobate of sin and depravity. Death to Democracy! Viva Cristo Rey! I shall now be silent since I am unable to contribute anything to “dialogue.” It’s like dialoguing with the demonic, because that is what Obama and his supporters are.

  • James Zucker: The Catholic Church needs to hire only Catholic workers to be eligible for an exemption? The First Amendment says that Obama may not “prohibit the free exercise thereof.” You have spent much ink telling us how much you are giving us freedom, defining conscience and redefining the human being and eternal truths and I tell you that freedom is granted by God, “their Creator”.

    James. Please explain why the HHS mandate was added by Obama after the ACA was passed by Congress? Obama violated the contract, by usurping and using an unauthorized Congressional power.

    And please explain why Obama has given an unauthorized power to Sebelius to write anything Obama tells her to, whenever Obama tells Sebelius to, into the ACA. Obama removed the Mexico City Policy the first day in office as POTUS. A contract with the people and the Catholic church that only one side can change is no contract at all, it is simply bondage. Contraception is the bait. The real game is to overturn the Catholic Church and absorb all that the Catholic Church holds in trust for our posterity, all generations to come.

  • Bonchamps: Since your posting provides multiple arguments, I will respond to you first. Then, Mary I can respond to you in a separate post. This way, we can keep our points concise.

    Bonchamps:

    Your argument relies upon two essential elements. First, you are arguing that the Obama administration is violating the freedoms of the Church to practice its free beliefs as employers in America. Then, you are arguing that the policies of the Democrats cause massive problems to the society and the poor. These arguments are not really dependent upon one another. But, I would agree we ought to prioritize the first since it deals with values that are sacred both to the Constitution and to the religious faith of Catholics and other Christians.

    You are arguing for the right of the Church to practice its faith. But there is no violation of the faith. And, here is why:

    1. The employees who purchase contraception do so through the insurance company not the employer.
    2. The employer purchases the insurance plans but the individual makes the choice of purchasing the services provided in the plan.
    Your argument that AHA mandates purchasing plans with abortion services is simply incorrect. There is nothing in the AHA that does this. In fact, the AHA allows for people and companies to seek out different insurance plans in exchange markets. The AHA does mandate that one of the choices of insurance companies must have an abortion option. But this is not the same as forcing companies to buy an insurance company that has abortion options.
    3. The closest you come to showing that there is a violation of Church freedoms is in the case of self insured institutions. However, as I argued, the Obama administration has been willing to work with institutions on this issue. You responded by saying this does not matter because there is a violation to freedoms. But this assumes your original point. And, you have not shown that the mandate itself is unfair to institutions. You have shown that there is a possible disadvantage in the implementation that needs to be compromised upon. And, the administration has shown a willingness to do this-not the quality of a tyrannical organization.

    However, by the Church not being willing to compromise on this issue, there is a violation of the individual conscience of its employees. I argued you missed the point on this. You simply replied that I had not made a point. So, let me make it very clear. Employers have rights but employees also have rights. Employees have the right to bargain with their employers for decent health care benefits. For women, contraception is not only often expensive. It can also be important for their health. Your response to my points on convenience stores is that the consequences are not relevant. But, remember my point on Catholic natural law thinking, consequences are important to our overall evaluation of the decision. In this case, the reason why the administration wanted to open free access through insurance companies was to make sure that women’s health issues were covered. If there is an essential violation of rights or morality, then this concern would be relativized or non essential. But you have not shown that such a violation has occurred. So, by not allowing individuals to access their own choices in what plans they can get through insurance plans, the Church is enforcing its own beliefs on their employees.

    You then went further to argue that the economic effects of these decisions were not important due to morality and the difference between relative and absolute poverty. However, the difference between these two issues are not the basis to the papal decisions. Pope John Paul II and other popes argued that the problem with capitalism was not that it produced relative poverty and absolute poverty in different countries. Rather, he argued that the problem with capitalism was its tendency to concentrate wealth at the expense of the Common Good.

    In this framework, my numbers become essentially important. Of course, in Capitalism and in traditional morality, inequalities are natural and a central part of life and capitalism. But extreme inequalities are immoral and harmful to society. 20% of people owning 80% of the wealth, 2% of people getting 97% of the share of the nation’s income, an increasing rate of poverty in the country, and a decline in family income by $4000 over 10 years are example of extreme inequality and concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. This is why the Catholic Church, the pope, and the American bishops have all condemned Republican policies that are contributing to this.

    You have argued that the Democrats are to blame on these issues. On the abortion and gay marriage issue, these are social issues that are more relevant to another discussion on social morality. But on the economic issues, the Democrats are not the ones who have controlled the economic policies for the last 30 years. Since Reagan, top marginal taxes have been reduced to 28%. Under Clinton, they were raised to 39%. Also, since Reagan, we have seen deregulation of the banking and real estate sector. And, under President Bush the marginal taxes were lowered again. These changes led to the concentration of wealth that we see, an increase in poverty, companies moving overseas, an increasing debt and deficit. These issues are important for our assessing of the economy and the moral decisions we make about managing the economy.

    You are welcome to argue if I have the right causes for these consequences. But here is my argument about Republican policies. They have supported tax and regulation policies that have led to the concentration of wealth, the lowered ability for the middle class to support their families, and an increase in poverty. These violate the CST teachings and allow for the richest to benefit from extreme inequalities.

    All of these outweigh an implementation problem in trying to provide employees with the chance to choose their own insurance plans with or without contraception. And, this is hardly tyranny

  • Mary:

    Okay so time for your argument.

    I am having a hard time answering your points because I am unclear on your overall point. You seem to be arguing that the overall point is to destroy the Catholic Church and establish the State as the authority on all issues. However, none of your evidence points to this conclusion.

    First, you point to the issue of the exemption. But you missed the point of the mandate. The mandate is not telling the Church who it can or cannot hire. The point is that all institutions need to provide employees with choices whether or not these employees agree with the religious beliefs of their employers. Also, if Obama’s main intent was to destroy the Church, you would think that the mandate would be targeted at Catholic institutions. It is not. It is for all employers. The problem is in the implementation due to the Church’s beliefs.

    Second, you argued that Obama gave Sebelius complete powers. he did not. He gave Sebelius the power to make a national mandate on contraception to provide for preventative care. I don’t know why he did not go for this during the AHA debate. But I would guess that they assumed this was not a problem. The reason why is because moderate Republicans had been promoting the idea since 2000. And, this was already done in 28 states.

    Thirdly you argued that Obama overthrew the Mexico policy. This is true. He did. The Mexico policy or the gag rule was established by President Bush. What it did was to prevent any family planning institution receiving American federal government money from telling people in foreign country about options including abortion. Liberals, not myself, disagreed with this. This can definitely be argued as immoral under natural law. However, this was not tyranny. The Mexico policy was established by executive order under Bush. So, it can be removed through executive order.

    Lastly, I agree that our freedoms come from God. I just don’t know how this is relevant to our arguments. Freedom of conscience ensures that we have the choice to make decisions unless we know of a direct moral evil that threatens others. In the case of contraception, none of this exists.

    But most importantly you have not shown that Obama is trying to overturn the Church. This is a difference over policy decisions.

  • James,

    “Your argument relies upon two essential elements. First, you are arguing that the Obama administration is violating the freedoms of the Church to practice its free beliefs as employers in America. Then, you are arguing that the policies of the Democrats cause massive problems to the society and the poor. These arguments are not really dependent upon one another.”

    What I said about the policies of the Democrats was solely in response to you. I never made the argument that these points were dependent upon one another. You started bringing up different topics and I replied to some of those points.

    “The employees who purchase contraception do so through the insurance company not the employer.”

    But the employer is still paying for the insurance plan. The cost is still being passed on to the employer. This is nothing but a street hustler game of three-card monte.

    “The employer purchases the insurance plans but the individual makes the choice of purchasing the services provided in the plan.”

    This is irrelevant. The employer still ends up covering contraception.

    “Your argument that AHA mandates purchasing plans with abortion services is simply incorrect. There is nothing in the AHA that does this.”

    Right – which is why the HHS mandate exists. Nice try, though.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obamacare-mandates-coverage-abortion-drug_581969.html?nopager=1

    ” However, as I argued, the Obama administration has been willing to work with institutions on this issue.”

    This is still meaningless. Show me some evidence of this. All you have now are assertions.

    I’ll reply to the rest later.

  • Bonchamps:

    So your rebuttal at this point is that:

    1. The employer still pays at some point.
    2. The employer is purchasing abortion services through the mandate.

    Actually, no the employer does not pay. Yes, the employer has to put some purchase into the insurance itself. But the plans and the services and goods are paid for by the employee through their own choice. And, this has been my argument from the start. This decision provides for the employee to make their own choice.

    Yes, it is true that the mandate does cover some controversial contraception that is argued to be abortificient. However, this is not the same as the argument that this is a wholesale funding of abortion services. The argument is over certain pills that are considered to be abortificients due to the timing of the contraception around conception. This is very different from arguing that the mandate or the AHA is allowing for people to be funded by the federal government to receive abortion services when they are typically done at about the 8th week or after.

    Finally, I think you are incorrect on the other issues that I brought up. They are connected to the larger argument that I was making. My point is that Catholics who vote Democratic are doing so based upon the weighing of much bigger issues than this. We note that the mandate, while problematic, is hardly a sign of tyranny. And, then we look to the overall policies of the Republican party and how, as we believe, they violate the other major principles of CST. So, we make a decision to vote Democratic because we believe that Republican values and policies actually lead to violations of subsidiarity, the Common Good and the preferential option for the poor.

    Considering your original post argued that a true Catholic ought to vote Republican to stop the tyranny of Obama’s policies, all of these arguments are well within the scope of the debate.

    You provided a number of claims against Democratic policies. But you provided no evidence to support your arguments. You are welcome to do this in future posts. But, I would argue that these issues do outweigh the implementation problems that you cited on the mandate. And, you have shown no signs of tyranny or violation of freedom of religious conscience.

  • I probably wouldn’t agree 100% with any of you, but I thought I would throw in my 2 cents…

    James Z says:

    However, as I argued, the Obama administration has been willing to work with institutions on this issue.

    To me this is a, “put up or shut up”, kind of thing. What really happened is Obama said, “We’re willing to deal, but everything you want is off the table.” It wasn’t a sincere offer. It isn’t a real argument. If it isn’t in the Federal Register, it didn’t happen.

    There has been an attempt to redefine the Constitution’s, “free exercise of religion”, as, “freedom of worship”, but that is bogus. Free exercise of religion means that you can’t force people to take an action which violates their religious tenets.

    In the end I think what’s going to happen is that this will be struck down by the Supreme Court. It’s pretty clear that it fails the RFRA law test. I don’t think the actual threat is as large as people make it out to be. SCOTUS will kill it.

    Mary De Voe said:

    Please explain why the HHS mandate was added by Obama after the ACA was passed by Congress?

    I’ll explain it to you. It’s because most of the folks in Congress are cowards, so they write things into laws that say things like, “The specific details will be worked out later by the applicable executive branch agency so we won’t get blamed for it.” They punted, as usual.

    James Z says:

    However, by the Church not being willing to compromise on this issue, there is a violation of the individual conscience of its employees. I argued you missed the point on this. You simply replied that I had not made a point. So, let me make it very clear. Employers have rights but employees also have rights. Employees have the right to bargain with their employers for decent health care benefits.

    Yes, the church is not willing to compromise on the issue that forcing Catholics to pay for birth control for people is a violation of their tenets and the consciences of Catholics and Obama is not willing to compromise on allowing people who object to opt-out based on their conscience. The only legal rights issue here though is whether the government has the right to force people to take actions that violate the tenets of their religion. Nowhere in the Constitution does anyone have the right to employer provided health care or contraception. It does say you have the right to freely exercise your religion though.

    Bonchamps said:

    In fact, to portray inequality as bad in and of itself is nothing but an expression of deep-seated envy, one of the seven deadly sins.

    I wouldn’t argue that it is intrinsically bad, but I think it’s quite clear to anyone who is paying attention that a lot of inequality is caused by rich folks and corporations successfully lobbying the government to stack the deck in their favor. It’s a fairness issue, not an envy issue. Romney pays a lower tax rate than I pay but makes a lot more money. Doesn’t seem fair. Multibillion dollar businesses with thousands of employees are treated as, “small business”, by the tax code because they have a small number of family owners and get tax breaks that the local dry cleaner (an actual small business) can’t get. This is a redistribution of wealth when these folks don’t pay their fair share and the rest of us do. Same thing with these huge companies that pay billions in taxes to other countries but get tax refunds here and companies like WalMart which force their employees into government health insurance for the poor. They are the freeloaders.

    These vulture capitalist guys like Romney and the multitude of CEOs who send jobs overseas and lay off thousands are just as dangerous to this country as Obama IMHO. I can’t say I like either.

    Oh yeah, and most of these CEOs didn’t build these huge multinationals from the ground up using their own money and taking all the risk themselves. They are hired just like the rest of us. Go read Andy Grove’s book where he talks about why CEOs are paid too much and Alan Greenspan’s about how CEOs purposely wreck companies by trading long term viability for short term numbers that will boost the stock price because that’s what gets them bonuses. Then when it goes south they take their golden parachutes and go wreck some other company. The incentives are all wrong…

    It’s unfortunate that according to studies, there are several countries that beat us now in the percentage of people who are able to attain, “the American dream”, of rising above their socioeconomic class. Concentration of wealth here seems the most likely reason. It’s counterproductive for the country.

  • James,

    “Actually, no the employer does not pay. Yes, the employer has to put some purchase into the insurance itself. But the plans and the services and goods are paid for by the employee through their own choice. And, this has been my argument from the start. This decision provides for the employee to make their own choice.”

    So the employer doesn’t pay, and then he does. At the end of the day, the employer is still paying for insurance that covers morally objectionable goods and services. You and Obama can invite me to play three-card montie, but that doesn’t mean I will.

    You’re still lying about employees not being able to make choices too, I see.

    “Yes, it is true that the mandate does cover some controversial contraception that is argued to be abortificient. However, this is not the same as the argument that this is a wholesale funding of abortion services. ”

    It doesn’t have to be “the same argument”, no ever said it was. More irrelevancy, more smoke and mirrors.

    ” The argument is over certain pills that are considered to be abortificients due to the timing of the contraception around conception. This is very different from arguing that the mandate or the AHA is allowing for people to be funded by the federal government to receive abortion services when they are typically done at about the 8th week or after.”

    Another attempted slight-of-hand. The argument is quite simply that the HHS mandate does not allow people to participate in health insurance plans that do not cover morally objectionable goods and services. Citizens are being dragooned into paying for other people’s birth control.

    “My point is that Catholics who vote Democratic are doing so based upon the weighing of much bigger issues than this.”

    Fine. When did I ever say otherwise? I acknowledge that you have your reasons for voting as you do. I disagree with them. I never made the claim that only my reasons are valid.

    “We note that the mandate, while problematic, is hardly a sign of tyranny. ”

    Yes, I know that is what you think. You are unable and/or unwilling to see the implications of the mandate, which are more serious than the mandate itself. I am not basing everything on the details of the mandate. I am arguing that the mandate is a sign of an overall and deep hostility to the Church emanating from this regime and from the left in general.

    “Considering your original post argued that a true Catholic ought to vote Republican to stop the tyranny of Obama’s policies, all of these arguments are well within the scope of the debate.”

    I made no such argument. Again you have serious issues and problems with the truth, or serious reading comprehension deficiencies. I offered my point of view about what I believed my duty as a Catholic citizen was, and made it clear at the outset that I was speaking to other theologically orthodox and politically conservative Catholics. I’m more concerned with people who basically share my views but are allowing their contempt for Romney to keep them out of the campaign.

    At no point did I ever say, or suggest, that a true Catholic had to vote GOP. This borders on slander.

    “You provided a number of claims against Democratic policies. But you provided no evidence to support your arguments.”

    Oh please. What a ridiculous accusation! We’re having a combox discussion and I offered my opinion, in response to things you had said. You never provided any evidence to support your claims about the greatness of those same policies either. How childish!

    “And, you have shown no signs of tyranny or violation of freedom of religious conscience.”

    I can’t convince people to whom these concepts mean nothing, or are radically different than my own, that they are in play. But by my standard of tyranny and religious conscience violation, I have shown it. You’ve chosen to ignore it or define terms differently.

  • From your previous post:

    “Employers have rights but employees also have rights. Employees have the right to bargain with their employers for decent health care benefits.”

    They have the right to bargain, and the employer has the right to say NO. Employees do not have the right to force their employer to pay for their condoms. This is an egregious abuse not only of private property rights, but of the bargaining rights originally defined and defended by the Church in encyclicals such as Rerum Novarum, which absolutely condemned irreligious labor unions.

    “For women, contraception is not only often expensive. It can also be important for their health. Your response to my points on convenience stores is that the consequences are not relevant.”

    The most liberal estimate is 600 dollars per year. Most people make that in a week or less. Cry me a river.

    “In this case, the reason why the administration wanted to open free access through insurance companies was to make sure that women’s health issues were covered. ”

    I don’t give a damn what the reason was. It is totally irrelevant. So please stop talking about it as if it matters, or as if I should care. I don’t.

    “But you have not shown that such a violation has occurred.”

    You not accepting it is not the same as me not showing it. You don’t seem to understand that right now the federal government is being sued precisely because such a violation HAS occurred. Like I said, but I guess you don’t respond to whatever harms your case, a judge in Colorado has already delivered a temporary injunction against the HHS, suspending the mandate until the case can be heard in higher courts. So at least one judge does agree with me and does believe that a violation has a occurred.

    So you can stop uttering this lie now.

    “So, by not allowing individuals to access their own choices in what plans they can get through insurance plans, the Church is enforcing its own beliefs on their employees.”

    Employees who work there voluntarily. Yes, I agree, the Church is “enforcing its own beliefs on its employees”, employees who work under free contract and not under compulsion of any kind. There isn’t a company in existence that doesn’t “enforce its own beliefs on its employees” – its called private property.

    The argument that the Church is “enforcing its own beliefs on their employees” only has relevance if those employees are being forced to work for the Church. They aren’t. So your point is completely meaningless.

    “Pope John Paul II and other popes argued that the problem with capitalism was not that it produced relative poverty and absolute poverty in different countries. Rather, he argued that the problem with capitalism was its tendency to concentrate wealth at the expense of the Common Good.”

    Well, first of all, you’re completely wrong on the first point. Popes have been talking about global inequalities and global poverty for decades now, and have seen it as one of the primary problems of our time. I don’t disagree with them.

    Secondly, capitalism doesn’t concentrate wealth. It diffuses wealth. The state concentrates wealth. The wealthiest man alive is Bill Gates. It is arguable that he does not owe all of his wealth to market forces either. Lets be generous and say half of his fortune, somewhere around 15-20 billion dollars.

    How much wealth does the federal government rake in through taxation, borrowing, and printing cash in a year? In a month? Let me give you a hint: its a little more than 15-20 billion dollars.

    I don’t think JP II ever made the concrete argument that the free market concentrates wealth. Pius XI made that argument, and I flat out disagree with him. But this brings us to the difference between scientific and moral statements. Popes can and have erred on purely technical matters. And this is a technical matter. If the capitalist economy really did what Pius XI claimed it did, then it would be right to condemn it, but it doesn’t. I agree with Pius XI that the situation at that time was evil and should be remedied, but his proposed solution was based on an incorrect assessment of fact and theory, likely because he was surrounded by economists who were fascists.

    “20% of people owning 80% of the wealth, 2% of people getting 97% of the share of the nation’s income, an increasing rate of poverty in the country, and a decline in family income by $4000 over 10 years are example of extreme inequality and concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. This is why the Catholic Church, the pope, and the American bishops have all condemned Republican policies that are contributing to this.”

    This is so simplistic. First of all, I have no idea where you get the 2%-97% figure. But I don’t have a problem with 20% of the people owning 80% of the wealth. I don’t see why that matters, or why I should care. It isn’t making people destitute. Americans still have some of the highest living standards in the entire world. If you really care about people and their conditions, then you need to look at all of the factors affecting their quality of life. Some people having a lot of money doesn’t mean that the quality of life is bad for people who don’t. Only envious people think this way.

    An increasing rate of government-defined poverty is not a serious problem either. One person in one bureaucracy can tinker with one document and the number of people considered “poor” by the state could shrink or grow by millions overnight. These are almost meaningless numbers.

    “But here is my argument about Republican policies. They have supported tax and regulation policies that have led to the concentration of wealth, the lowered ability for the middle class to support their families, and an increase in poverty. These violate the CST teachings and allow for the richest to benefit from extreme inequalities.”

    The reasons for these things are far, far more complex than the policies supported by presidents, and are the product of policies favored by both parties. But that is a different discussion. In any case, the fact remains that very few Americans meet a definition of poverty that I believe justifies voting for a man who is enthuastically pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-religious liberty and anti-private property rights. If you want to vote for him, go ahead. Like I said, my conscience is at peace.

  • RRJP,

    When concentration of wealth is due to policies enacted by the state, I am opposed to it. I think it is the perfect argument for limited government. A government that stays out of economic matters and allows competition to thrive ensures that “big business” is big solely because it met the most real needs in society – and that at any time it could become small or non-existent if it failed to do so.

    But of course, most of the people who complain about the concentration of wealth are leftists who favor a large, intrusive state. They believe the competitive process has concentrated wealth, and this is the worst economic fallacy in existence, the premise of Marxism and every other leftist economic theory.

    If you’re for fairness, then you’re necessarily in favor of free competition, which is the fairest social process imaginable. But if you’re just for egalitarianism, for leveling, for making sure that no one can really excel beyond anyone else lest those who don’t excel have low-self esteem or something (this is how leftists really feel), then I say that you don’t have a valid moral argument that I am obliged to consider.

  • “But, this still does not address why sex should always be tied to procreation.”

    Jim,

    Because sex is always tied to procreation. And if I (Phillip) were using a merely physicalist approach as you repeat, that would be the end of it. Because whether we want to accept it or not, sex is ordered towards procreation.

    But as with many things the Catholic reason (and the reasoning in Humanae Vitae) is that there is more than this. The marital act (as opposed to sex itself) is ordered towards the good of the man in woman in their cooperation with God in bringing new life into the world. This cooperation is a reflection of the life-giving relationship of the Trinity. Thus why the unitive aspect also enters in as an expression of life-giving unity that is the Trinity.

    Of course as an act of the human person, it must be a voluntary cooperation of responsible parenthood – a responsible cooperation with God. So if a spouse is ill or if financially one cannot in reason responsibly bring new life into the world, then one can abstain. This abstainance in turn is a cooperation in reason with God’s reason – acting in a humanly responsible way. Using human reason in the given circumstances to cooperate with God responsibly instead of merely procreating.

    But as merely acting on the sexual act without taking into consideration a responsible reason for doing so, using artificial contraception is also, in reason, a violation of the marital act. This because, as in the former, we discard reason in our act, in the latter we eliminate the author of that reason in that cooperation. We set aside our his will and make ours absolute. By casting aside the ability to procreate artificially, we take away our cooperation in that life-giving marital act and make our will absolute.

    At the same time, by taking away the ability to abstain periodically, it is the one who artificially contracepts who reduces the marital act as one of life-giving love into merely a physical act unrestrained by reason.

  • All of that, PLUS . . .

    If Romney gets elected, “ya’ll will be in chains, again.”

  • Paul:

    Great points on why sex and procreation are linked. Here are my answers.

    First, I would accept that your argument is not a physicalist one. Rather, it is one based upon the purpose of creation that is a reflection of God and the Trinity.

    However, here are the problems.

    1. Remember that I have argued and you have agreed that most of the time sex does not lead to any possibility of procreation. I know this is a physicalist argument that you would disagree with. But this becomes important and you will see why in a minute.
    2. Sex has multiple purposes including both procreation and unitive qualities.
    3. We have already admitted that couples have a moral right to manage their pregnancies for a variety of reasons. You have just argued that couples ought to do this by not violating the purpose of sex which is essential to it-procreation.

    Okay, so if these three premises are acceptable, here is my point.

    Every act and thing was created with purposes. The question is whether or not a purpose is essential to the act or one of multiple purposes. Procreation is a purpose to sex and reflects the God given ability in the Trinity to create life out of love. However, if we observe that sex does not always lead to life and, in fact, most of the time does not lead to life, then its essential purpose cannot be for procreation. Rather, that is one of its purposes.

    We have also already admitted that the couple has a moral capability or right to manage these pregnancies. By doing so, they are not frustrating God’s will. They are simply acting in a way to manage their financial and emotional needs. By arguing this, we are showing that the human will and intellect can be used to manage the times and places when having children will be appropriate for their families. So, most of the consequences you claim about the human will distorting God’s desires are really based upon the initial belief that procreation must be tied to all sex acts due to the essential nature of procreation.

    Because of this, we are left again with the question of why artificial is different from natural contraception. Your argument does not admit of a physicalist basis. Rather, it argues from a purpose driven basis as a metaphor or reflection of the trinity. Fair enough. However, you do not show how sex always has this purpose because there is no foundation in your argument to suggest that this is the case. The only resort you really have is to look back at the physical qualities of sex. But to do so would undermine your argument that we are not looking at this from a physicalist perspective.

    Thanks and look forward to hearing your reply.

  • “Paul”

    I actually am beginning to wonder about your reading abilities (as well as reasoning abilities as a result) due to your inability to discern Phillip from Paul.

    Either you are not reading (as is evidenced by this and your earlier errors on the Bishops’ stance on the mandage which they clearly oppose) or are not able to assimilate the argument as to why artificial is distinct from natural family planning.

    Read again. It is there.

  • I’m with Paul W. Primavera.

    This whole debate is pointless. You cannot argue with someone who has turned his back on Church teaching and seeks to rationalize his own rebellion, albeit by faulty logic as well as patent misunderstanding (whether willful or not) of the issues at hand.

    And so I leave you all with this:

    2 Timothy:

    [23] And avoid foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they beget strifes. [24] But the servant of the Lord must not wrangle: but be mild towards all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] With modesty admonishing them that resist the truth: if peradventure God may give them repentance to know the truth, [26] And they may recover themselves from the snares of the devil, by whom they are held captive at his will.

    God bless,

    Lisa

    P.S. James, I hope that God will open up your eyes and see that you are defending sin and error. It is a mortal sin to support a person who supports abortion and who has put himself at war with the Church. Period. The end. I pray you will come to repentance.

  • James – As to your last comment, it seems like you’re arguing a position that’s contrary to the Catechism. Given the amount of space devoted in this thread to contraception, I’m going to assume that this is an important part of your thinking on the overall question of Obama’s candidacy. So you can’t be making a Catholic case for Obama, or arguing against a Catholic case for Romney, if you’re making non-Catholic assumptions. I’m glad that this long, long thread has focused the argument to its core (a rarity online). The core seems to be that you can surmount the obstacles created by the HHS mandate by framing the issue in a non-Catholic way. You’re welcome to do so, but you can’t call it a Catholic case for Obama.

  • The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden.

    Desire True Repentence for Sins.

    Think of Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemani suffering bitter agaony for our sins.

  • Something very wonderful has come out of this blog. The fact that Obama added the HHS Mandate to the Affordable Healthcare Act AFTER Congress had passed it, nullifies informed consent and nullifies congressional consent and nullifies the will of the people. There is no valid ACA because of this unwarranted, unauthorized usurpation of the prerogative of Obama’s constituency to participation in democracy. Obama cannot break faith with congress and his constituents and call it a contract. An Executive Order maybe but not a legal contract. C Justice Roberts ought to have picked that up. more on doctrines and dogmas and Humanae Vitae

  • Thank you, Lisa!

    All of the arguments that James Zucker uses to support his position devolves into these: (1) I can have sex whenever I want to titillate my genitals without responsibility for causing a pregnancy, and I will call that “unitive” because I am uniting with my partner, and (2) I support Obama because government is the dispenser of social justice and human rights.

    None of his arguments invoke holiness and righteousness before the Lord God Almighty, without which no man shall see God, nor do they recognize that our Creator in whose image and likeness we are made is the only granter of human rights. There is no support for chastity and abstinence, no admonition for being righteous and holy. There is every support for placing Caesar in God’s position.

    Now Mr. Zucker, you attend to this very closely:

    “…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2nd Chronicles 7:14

    “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” Matthew 6:33

    There is no health, wealth or prosperity without repentance and conversion. Righteousness and holiness must always and everywhere precede social justice and the common good. Jesus said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Obama is evil because he murders unborn babies and sanctifies the filth of homosexual sodomy. He is a godless, wicked, evil man of sin and depravity. You are in league with him. What does that make you? And yes, 1st Corinthians 6:3 says, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!” You call yourself a Catholic Christian and you make excuses to justify that man’s candidacy. How dare you!

    Death to Democracy, Liberalism and Progressivism! Death to the false gospel of social justice, the common good and peace at any price. Jesus is Lawgiver, King and Judge, NOT that perverse and perverted narcissistic excuse of a man sitting in the Oval Office. God our Creator (as I wrote above) is the dispenser of human rights, NOT that godless government in Washington, DC, and we as a nation deserve nothing but destruction as long as we tolerate such evil. It happened to Israel when King Sennecharib deported them. It happened to Judah when King Nebuchadnezzer deported them. Why do we think that we are exempt from the God who never ever changes?

    I hate and despise and loathe liberalism with every fiber of my being, but I love Jesus the Christ and His Blessed Mother with all my heart.

    Down with Obama, one of the little anti-christs that St. John talked about in his first epistle. Viva Cristo Rey!

  • And by the way, Mr. Zucker, you don’t get to choose when life starts. You unzip your pants – you made the choice. Otherwise, keep it zipped, and I don’t care how many excuses you use that you’re monogamous and your doing it with only your spouse. You and I have no right to partake of the Fruit of the Tree of Life. That’s why God cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden.

    Liberal! Progressive! Democract! Three of the dirtiest words in the English language.

  • Thank you Paul W. Primavera, and Lisa and all: Herewith as I promised:
    On the violation of the will of the people, Obama’s constituency and their freedom to constitute government.

    Obama does not have the authorized or sovereign power to add or subtract anything from a contract with the people of the United States, without voiding the contract, with or against the will of the people, after the contract was passed by Congress, which Obama did, by adding the HHS Mandate to the ACA after the ACA was passed by Congress for the people, violating the will of the people without their informed consent.

    The penalties must fit the crime: Hidden in the ACA are penalties that are the DEATH to all Catholics. The penalty must be commensurate with the crime. And for the same reason that the Catholic Church, and all churches and religious like the Amish and Mennonites, are not taxed, because their tax exempt status is maintained by the taxes paid by their parishioners as citizens. To tax non-profits and churches would be taxation without representation, two taxes, one vote, for the citizens as parishioners. All physical property is held in trust for all generations, our constitutional posterity. The custody of church property is held in trust and cannot be seized by government, nor disposed of, except by the bishop who is responsible for the souls of all his people.

    The punishment must fit the crime. If not accepting the ACA and its hidden agenda, the HHS mandate, is a crime, and it is not, and this is not martial law, the penalty for not taking the ACA, cannot exceed the suffering of not having insurance. How can there be “a money fine” for not having any money? Are we talking about debtors’ prison? (Hillary Clinton had written a two year Federal prison sentence into Hillarycare. Clinton owns 10 healthcare corporations.) The ACA is not a sealed contract, as the addition of the HHS mandate indicates, and therefore prison sentences may be added as the punishment for acts that are not criminal. The ACA is an Executive Order being foisted upon all people as martial law, without the informed consent of the people and without the necessary will of the people. The ACA needs to be put on the ballot after informed consent, to let the people express their will, and freedom.

    After the savaging the media did on Rick Santorum in the death of their newborn infant, and the support you, James Zucker, give to the INFANT BUTCHER in the White House, I must confess, I could not believe that you had any human compassion for another person, including the child you say you have lost to death. Not until this morning. It is incomprehensible to me that anyone could support another individual or policy which would try to curtail the existence of another human being who comes into existence through the will of “their Creator”. Only through God’s will, for until God creates the rational, immortal human soul, with its sovereign personhood and human life, there can be no other person.

    ON DOGMAS Dogmas are discerned truths derived by reason and held by the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church as necessary to believe in order to have the fullness of Faith and salvation. The dogma of the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION is the truth of the preservation of the Mother of God from original sin and every sin as the Angel Gabriel proclaimed: “Hail Mary, FULL OF GRACE”, the dogma of the ASSUMPTION OF MARY INTO HEAVEN comes by reason of Mary being the Mother of God, Jesus Christ.

    ON DOCTRINES Doctrines are TRUTHS revealed by the Revelation of God, Jesus Christ, in His salvivic mission on earth, held and taught by the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church, as Jesus Christ spoke: “Our Father, in heaven” The Triune God, “I, and the Father are ONE”, “This is my Body, This is the Chalice of My Blood” “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church” “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. “Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them”

    BOTH DOGMAS AND DOCTRINES ARE GIFTS OF FAITH AND MUST BE BELIEVED TO RECEIVE THE FULLNESS OF FAITH. Otherwise our faith will dry up like the seeds that fell on the path.

    ON THE INVALID HEALTHCARE ACT. Something very wonderful has come out of this blog. The fact that Obama added the HHS Mandate to the Affordable Healthcare Act AFTER Congress had passed it, nullifies informed consent and nullifies congressional consent and nullifies the will of the people. There is no valid ACA because of this unwarranted, unauthorized usurpation of the prerogative of Obama’s constituency to participation in democracy.

    ACA is an Executive Order. The Supreme Court must judge Executive Orders, and not as Obama has ordered the Court to enforce Executive Orders of the last fifteen years. Papa Obama would murder his own grandchildren instead of suffering the little children.

    ON HUMANAE VITAE The Catholic Church teaches that when a man approaches a woman to quell his sexual desire it is the duty of the wife to do so. When the woman needs a man, it is the duty of the husband to satisfy, appease and fulfill his wife’s sexual desire, that neither husband nor wife burn. Humanae Vitae speaks to the spiritual in the loving embrace of a husband and wife in exercising the graces poured out upon them by the Sacrament of Matrimony, the prayers of the church and God Himself, in expressing and fulfilling God’s command to be fruitful, increase and multiply. Abortion defiles the fruit of the womb and the will of God in creating the life of the immortal soul and sovereign personhood in the fruit of the womb. Contraception denies the will of God in the creation of the Divine in mankind, Lord of Life, God Himself is thwarted in contraception. It is incumbent upon each and every person, having been given Divine Life in the Holy Spirit to cherish and respect the Gift of Divine Life. Contraception disrespects God, man, and man’s procreative powers but most of all contraception, denies the spiritual motherhood and fatherhood of the human person, the husband’s vocation to sanctify his wife and the wife’s vocation to sanctify her husband. The transcendent nature of the Sacrament of human love is lost. Natural Family planning is always open to the divine gift of human life, because, as, in the words of my doctor, sometimes you pop and extra egg or two after menopause. A child so conceived would be extra special in God’s plan for mankind. This, of course, would explain on a physical level St. Elizabeth’s conception of St. John the Baptist, and Sarah’s of Isaac, St. Camillis de Lellis, patron saint of the Knights of Saint John, Hospitalers, whose mother conceived him at the age of 68, and St.Ann’s conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but not wholly, because it is the work of the Holy Spirit, and none of this would have ever happened without God willing it. So, it is with every sovereign human being brought into existence.

    How wonderful it is to know that someone loves you so much that they want there to be more of you.

  • I don’t know why Humane Vitae is talked about as if it is the only Church document with something to say about contraception.

    Casti Connubii, anyone?

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_31121930_casti-connubii_en.html

  • Bon – Some people tend to think that anything before the Council doesn’t count.

  • Most liberals, Pinky, don’t give a hoot what the Church or Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition have to say unless it supports their own personal bias of social justice, the common good and peace at any price. Casti Connubii or Humanae Vitae notwithstanding, they want license and approval to decide on their own when life begins so that they can titillate their genitals with complete abandon. They even want public acclaim for this. Their sin is NO different than what the serpent said to Eve in the Garden of Eden: “You will be like gods!” And using contraception is exactly and precisely that. It is unmitigated hubris for it says: “I am God and I have the wisdom to determine when life begins regardless that I rut in heat like a mindless baboon.”

  • Okay so lots to comment upon since my last entry.

    First, I do want to apologize to Bonchamps. And, I am sincere about this. I had read too quickly through your first entry and thought you were saying what a “true” Catholic ought to do with his/her vote. After a more serious reading of your blog, I would agree that you did not specifically argue for this. I apologize and retract my arguments on this.

    One other thing, though, that I do want to point out. Is there anyway that we can avoid calling our differences “lies”. A lie as far as I understand it is when an individual knowingly provides false information in order to deceive his audience. I don’t know where I have done this. Please point this out. I may have provided incorrect information. And, you are welcome to state that I have made errors. However, a lie carries with it a moral connotation on my morals that makes all my arguments suspect. I would ask that you stop doing this.

    Second, It is really too bad where most of this conversation has devolved. I received several comments from many of you that were simply not based upon a rational attack on my arguments. One of the responses actually stated that my position on contraception was based upon my desire to “unzip my pants” any time in order to satisfy my sexual urges. This was not my position. And, I would have to ask where the author saw me stating that. Also, I was attacked by one of the people here for not truly having compassion for my son who died because I took a different position on the issue of contraception. I am not sure how the author knows this about me or can make these types of accusations about a period in my life that was about extremely sad and filled with hope at the same time. My wife and I experienced great love and we believe God’s support during that time. And, we were incredibly inspired by the life of my son. It is strange to me that any Christian of any denomination would choose to step on such sensitive grounds with the belief that they can morally evaluate my intentions at that time.

    However, the really issue here is that we should be arguing over the reasons for our beliefs. And, those arguments need to be fair or reciprocal in nature. Yes, dogmas and faith do require that we believe on certain statements without question. However, dogmas, doctrines, and faith are also different in degrees of absolute faith. Otherwise everything would be dogma. Also, faith is clearly spelled out in the Bible as requiring defense and evidence. Faith is not simply an emotional acceptance of teachings. This is why various doctors of the Church including Augustine, Aquinas, and Rahner have challenged Church teachings while also upholding them at the same time. So, in our debates, proof texting the Bible and Church teachings while appealing to the authority of the Bishops and Pope is simply not adequate for claiming authority on these issues.

    Rather, arguments must be provided in order demonstrate your defense of these positions. And, attack on my person, motivations, or faith, while they may be correct, are not proofs for the positions that you hold.

    So, let me first deal with Bonchamps arguments from I believe last night:

    You seem to be arguing two major points again:

    1. It is morally objectionable to force Churches and you to pay for others’ contraceptions (your words were for someone’s ability to use a condom).
    2. CST does not criticize the concentration of wealth in capitalism and is irrelevant to our discussion.

    Okay, so on #1. No one is forcing you to pay for someone’s condom. The federal government is mandating that employers provide plans to their employees that open up choices. This means that an employee, Catholic or non-Catholic, can go to their insurance and purchase a plan that includes contraceptive care for whatever reason they believe is necessary including for women’s health issues involving cancer. You are not paying for the person’s contraception. True, premiums might slightly rise. Although this is actually an area that probably is not true. The reason is because the use of contraception lowers the rate of unwanted pregnancies lowering the cost on insurance and therefore dropping premiums. But, even if premiums did go up, you could offer this same argument about anything that insurance companies do with their plans since your money would eventually mingle with the overall money being spent.

    Now, I will admit that self insurance organizations are a problem of implementation. And, you have repeatedly said that you will only believe it when you see the administration actually work with the Church. However, as long as the Church is suing the Obama administration on this issue, there is no room for compromise. This is not because the Church has not right to sue. It is because they are not accepting the invitation to work with Obama on this issue. You might say that they are doing so because the initial action is unconstitutional. However, you have not proven this given my answer above. So, there is no action of tyranny in this case. If you argue that I have not provided evidence for this, please look to these last 2 paragraphs for the warrants that I have provided. These will need to be answered.

    Mary argues that this is still unconstitutional since they were done after HCA passed and through executive order. This is simply a misunderstanding of how the government works. Every president uses executive orders to pass rulings and mandates that are within the executive privilege. Reagan did it far more than Obama. And, President Bush also did this far more than Obama has done. You can argue this is a bad practice. But if the practice is non-unique you cannot claim that this is an act of tyranny while not blaming Reagan and Bush for also being tyrants.

    Now you can argue that there was no precedent that he was basing this on and that this was an act to spread a pro-abortion agenda. However, this is simply not accurate. This policy is already in 28 states. And, 8 of those states did not have the exemptions that Obama offered in even the first mandate. True, there are differences between a state and federal mandate. But the point that this is an attempt to destroy the Catholic Church when it has been used by multiple governors and spread out over different denominations and secular organizations questions that belief. Also, keep in mind that moderate Republicans like Olympia Snowe and about 12 others had promoted this idea since about 2001. Again, this is not to say that she is right. It is to point out that there is no hidden agenda. And, before Bonchamps says that all of this is irrelevant to the moral argument, keep in mind that your argument and Mary’s argument is that Obama is doing this out of a mindset of dictatorship or in the fashion of the communist apparatchik. So, that is why these issues fall in the scope of the argument.

    So, my overall point is that there is no violation of our religious freedoms here. There is a problem with implementation. And, before arguing that I provide no evidence for this statement, keep in mind that this is the conclusion of the previous paragraphs that include the evidence. So, that evidence must be answered.

    But this leads to the issue of private conscience. This is important because it establishes why the government has the right to act on the side of labor on this issue. Bonchamps argues that the government cannot do this due to the violation of private property. However, he provides no definition of private property in his argument. Private property exists when an individual works or invests or risks in such a way to make his/her own property. To remove this from him or her would be a violation since the property is an extension of that individual and his/her creativity. The problem with the employer/employee relationship is that no such “private property” exists. Rather, property is invested by the employer and created by the employee. This is why the private property is thus jointly owned by the two and opens up a space for negotiations. The issue then is that employers and employees have agreed that part of the benefits coming from this is to have health care insurance. This is not really under question. The problem in this case is whether the employee has choices in the plans that such an insurer provides. So, the problem with Bonchamps argument is that he assumes that a part of the negotiations between the employer and employee was over the contraception issue. This is not the case. It is an agreement on whether or not insurance will be part of the employee’s benefits. The particulars of what is in the insurance should be up to the individual consumer not imposed by the employers of any faith.

    But this then enters us into the larger social political argument that I made on wealth concentration and inequality. Bonchamps clearly argued that this is not really his concern due to the differentiation between relative and absolute poverty. But this is not my argument. My argument is that the Catholic Church through CST has clearly argued that capitalism, while better than socialism and communism, tends to have the problem of selfish individualism in which profits are seen as for the good of the individual not that of the community. And, I pointed out statistics that demonstrate how this has been happening over the last 30 years. Bonchamps rightly argued that I did not point out why this is a problem in society. Fair enough. Here are two reasons. First, it is immoral since it does not reward the employee for his/her increased labor. Second, it is bad for the economy and the Common Good because it dampens demand and slows down economic growth. This then makes it hard for individuals and families to provide for the development of the ones given to them by God to care for. And, for those who questioned why I rely upon the Church’s CST but not on their teachings on contraception, please note that it is because I have shown that the Church has valid and sound reasons for these beliefs. In the case of contraception, I do not think this is the case and I provided the reasons to demonstrate this.

    I then finished by arguing that Romney and the Republicans do not offer policies that uphold the majority of Catholic positions on CST. I said that Bonchamps did not provide evidence for his positions on the positive points of Republican policies. He said I was “childish” for demanding this due to the limited space on website boxes. I am unclear on this point. How is asking for evidence on a position given on a theological/political blog “childish”? Evidence is the only way that we can evaluate between the soundness of the two positions. Bonchamps also argued that I did not provide such evidence. Fair enough-here goes:

    1. Since the lowering of taxes under President Reagan and President Bush, we have seen a concentration of wealth while there has also been a rise in poverty.
    2. Families have seen a fall in median income after the Bush tax cuts by $4000 and this has affected their ability to save money, purchase a home, provide for education, and provide for health care.
    3. Before Obama’s ACA, 40,000 people died each year due to a lack of health care insurance coverage.
    4. During the era before Obama’s HCA, insurance companies regularly dropped adults and children with pre-existing conditions due to the lack of regulations on insurance companies.
    5. Companies are not hiring right now even though they are sitting on huge profits because as they say there is not enough demand. This has increased unemployment to a level only seen around the Great Depression. And, the Popes have said that such unemployment, lack of work and poverty is an immoral situation.

    The point of all of these is to point out that there are overwhelming reasons for a Catholic to consider voting for Obama in this election. I realize that Bonchamps and others will disagree and state that this is simply my opinion and right to it. True. But one must also provide reasons why my warrants are wrong. Or why my point on how Republican policies don’t uphold CST is wrong.

    Again, I am very welcome to a rational and civil debate between us. And, you are welcome to try to proselytize. You are also welcome to believe that I am an apostate or a wayward Catholic. However, an argument cannot be based upon overgeneralizations and name calling. I will wait for your decision on how everyone would like to respond.

  • Do you have these comments ready/canned or do you type that fast? Do you get it from DNC talking points?

    Anyhow, it would take me all bloody night to address all the counter-factuals you pose.

    So, I will comment in two Latin words: spucatum tauri.

  • James Zucker said: “Also, I was attacked by one of the people here for not truly having compassion for my son who died because I took a different position on the issue of contraception. I am not sure how the author knows this about me or can make these types of accusations about a period in my life that was about extremely sad and filled with hope at the same time. My wife and I experienced great love and we believe God’s support during that time. And, we were incredibly inspired by the life of my son. It is strange to me that any Christian of any denomination would choose to step on such sensitive grounds with the belief that they can morally evaluate my intentions at that time.”
    Mary De Voe said: “After the savaging the media did on Rick Santorum in the death of their newborn infant, and the support you, James Zucker, give to the INFANT BUTCHER in the White House, I must confess, I could not believe that you had any human compassion for another person, including the child you say you have lost to death. Not until this morning. It is incomprehensible to me that anyone could support another individual or policy which would try to curtail the existence of another human being who comes into existence through the will of “their Creator”. Only through God’s will, for until God creates the rational, immortal human soul, with its sovereign personhood and human life, there can be no other person. ”

    Mary De Voe said: ” I must confess, I could not believe that you had any human compassion for another person, including the child you say you have lost to death. Not until this morning.” Mr Zucker: You do not get to slander me for how I respond to you. Should you learn how to read and comprehend what you read, you will see that I found it impossible to believe you in any given situation, especally because of you supporting the INFANT BUTCHER, OBAMA. The rest has been removed by the author, except SLANDERER

  • “3. Before Obama’s ACA, 40,000 people died each year due to a lack of health care insurance coverage.”

    It is getting late and I have to catch a plane tomorrow, but let’s get rid of this myth:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/03/myth-diagnosis/307905/

  • “1. Since the lowering of taxes under President Reagan and President Bush, we have seen a concentration of wealth while there has also been a rise in poverty.”

    Or the continued break-up of the family, which likely is a much stronger contributor:

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2011/12/29/stuck-in-the-33-percent/

  • Ha! What T. Shaw wrote! Love it! Spucatum tauri! That sums up James Zucker and his arguments all in one neat nut shell. But he won’t stop. He’s got to prove himself smarter and more tolerant than any of the rest of us. He’s got to prove that he has a right to contracept at whim and to prove he is correct to vote for a godless man of sin. He has to prove this most of all to himself because he knows deep in his heart that he is wrong. That’s why he goes on and on and on. Meanwhile, in his hubris he defies God Himself by all his useless sophistry and wind-baggage.

    A very long time ago I had a sponsor in a 12 step program who used to tell me, “Paul, ultimately the only person you can spucatum tauri is yourself.” Of course, he didn’t know Latin, but being a Puerto Rican, he did speak Spanish especially when exasperated by defiant, stubborn new comers who couldn’t (or wouldn’t, like our James Zucker) understand the phrase, “Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth because you don’t know anything.” I needed no translation at that point to hear the truth. ;-)

  • “5. Companies are not hiring right now even though they are sitting on huge profits because as they say there is not enough demand. This has increased unemployment to a level only seen around the Great Depression.”

    Or other, more plausable reasons. From CNN no less:

    http://articles.cnn.com/2011-08-08/opinion/frum.economy.hiring_1_strong-firms-job-creation-economic-activity?_s=PM:OPINION

    Good night all.

  • So I lied. Just wanted to put up the money quote from CNN on why no hiring:

    “Then there’s public policy. Employers must fear that the future probably holds heavier taxes, more regulation and higher employee health care costs. The outlook might be worse under a President Obama than a President Romney, but it looks sufficiently ugly either way.”

  • So, I wanted to address the economic arguments first since they are little less emotionally controversial

    Phillip makes a number of important significant arguments. However, I would argue that I have the empirical evidence to show that the points that I am making are stronger. First, it is true that single families are a significant problem for the country. However during the 1990s as wages and economy grew, poverty decreased. This was during a period when single parents were still a significant problem. During a comparative period of lower taxes, the Bush era, poverty went back up. This suggests that single parent families while an issue is not the main problem.

    Second, as for the argument on uncertainty. There was a survey done by the Federal of Businesses. It included both small and large businesses. 68% pointed to the lack of demand as the main contributor to uncertainty, not increases in taxes or regulations. And, I understand that Phillip is talking about long term uncertainty. But, keep in mind that we are currently still operating under the Bush tax rates. So, why aren’t we seeing larger job growth. Even during the Bush administration, 3 million new jobs were created. During the Clinton era of higher taxes, 22 million new jobs were created. And, 11 million of these came before the Republicans took office in the Congress.

    On the 40,000 deaths, I do want to thank Phillip. I was not aware of these problems in the studies. However, there have been more recent studies including a Harvard study that was peer reviewed, recent and controlled for all of the social behaviors that the criticism levied. And, this study showed a much greater number of deaths from lacking insurance care.

    But, I want to address Mary’s points since she continues to attack my character and intentions. I realize that Mary was putting her arguments in context. However, your points on my character as being lacking in compassion especially in the case of my son is extremely questionable.

    So, here is my response to your arguments on the nature of sex and the use of contraception.

    You argued that sex is primarily used for the husband and wife as an obligation to stop or quell the desire for physical pleasure within a committed relationship. You are partially correct. It is true that husband and wife are obligated to one another so that we do not fall to the temptations of adultery or divorce. However, this is not sufficient to the actual definition of the nature or ontology of sex. Your view of sex turns it into a necessary evil that must be satisfied for other purposes. This is not the purpose of sex. The Church herself teaches that sex within a committed relationship leads to a unitive function that helps couples to both satisfy their physical needs and grow in an emotionally compatible and joyful relationship. This is why I can make the argument that a responsible couple using contraception in a committed relationship can do so without turning into the selfish individuals that so many are arguing will happen.

    As for your point that this stops God from producing saints and heroes, this is a highly problematic argument. For one, it is utilitarian in the use of the couples. Second, it would eliminate the justification for Natural Family Planning since the same risk could happen. Third, it would lead to the absurd argumentation that we ought to use abortions. What if Hitler’s mom, Stalin’s mom, or Mao’s mom had had an abortion? We would not have had these terrors. But this is absurd because it leaves out the evaluation of the intent and the act itself.

    My argument is that the couple can have sex with the use of contraception within a committed relationship that is open to life but manages family size for financial and emotional reasons. This is because unity is essential to sex. But procreation, while a significant purpose to sex, is not essential to all sex acts.

    Again, you are all welcome to attack my character, throw out Latin phrases about my blindness and attack me. But none of these arguments are actually dealing with my argumentation. I am happy to leave the website if this is what people want. But please keep in mind that this simply reinforces the view that there is a lack of an openness amongst some to discuss and provide argumentation. Either way. I am fine with the conclusions.

  • ” … However, your points on my character as being lacking in compassion especially in the case of my son is extremely questionable. … ” – as is your using him here to argue against the will of God.

    ” But procreation, while a significant purpose to sex, is not essential to all sex acts. ” – Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the sick, remember the Sabbath to keep it Holy, and have faith that NFP will fulfill your marriage.

    8/16 @ 9:39 pm to Mary: “Lastly, I agree that our freedoms come from God. I just don’t know how this is relevant to our arguments. Freedom of conscience ensures that we have the choice to make decisions unless we know of a direct moral evil that threatens others. In the case of contraception, none of this exists.”
    – The “unless” clause undoes your argument, almost as well as removing God from it.

  • James,

    “Is there anyway that we can avoid calling our differences “lies”.”

    I don’t know what else to call your insistence that the Church is seeking to prevent people from accessing birth control. It is a false statement, and you know it is a false statement. What should I call it?

    “No one is forcing you to pay for someone’s condom.”

    If I have a business that employs more than 50 people by the year 2014, that is exactly what will be happening.

    “The federal government is mandating that employers provide plans to their employees that open up choices.”

    Let me say it one more time: there will be no legally available plan excluding contraception for employers to purchase. It is the simplest of logic:

    *Employers MUST buy health insurance for their employees
    *Employers CANNOT choose health plans that DO NOT include morally objectionable goods and services
    *Ergo, employers are being FORCED to buy health plans for their employees that include morally objectionable goods and services that they otherwise would not have bought for reasons of conscience

    Laws that force people to act against their consciences are unjust, and unjustifiable. Our duty is to disobey them.

    The rest of your points are therefore irrelevant. We have a fundamentally different understanding of what this mandate entails, and you are unable or unwilling to admit that the employer has no choice in the matter. At a certain point, I don’t know what else to call it but dishonest.

    In the case of religious institutions that are not self-insured, again, the institution still has to buy the plan from the insurance provider. So they are still paying for the morally objectionable goods, they just aren’t providing them “directly.” This, as I have said repeatedly, is a distinction without a difference. That is why the bishops have largely rejected the so-called “accommodation.”

    “But the point that this is an attempt to destroy the Catholic Church when it has been used by multiple governors and spread out over different denominations and secular organizations questions that belief. ”

    There isn’t a single state-level plan that does not offer exemptions (morally acceptable exemptions that aren’t clearly a smoke and mirrors distraction like Obama’s “accommodation”) that are acceptable to the Church. So this argument doesn’t hold.

    “Bonchamps argues that the government cannot do this due to the violation of private property. However, he provides no definition of private property in his argument.”

    I think we all generally understand the concept of private ownership. Do I need to define light and heat every time I talk about them too?

    If you want to say we need to explore private ownership more, fine. But this snide little remark about how I provide no definition, as if I should have, is just petty.

    “Rather, property is invested by the employer and created by the employee. This is why the private property is thus jointly owned by the two and opens up a space for negotiations.”

    No. You are completely wrong. Unless there is an employee stock ownership program, or unless it is stipulated in the labor contract somehow, the employee is not a joint owner.

    “The problem in this case is whether the employee has choices in the plans that such an insurer provides. So, the problem with Bonchamps argument is that he assumes that a part of the negotiations between the employer and employee was over the contraception issue. This is not the case. It is an agreement on whether or not insurance will be part of the employee’s benefits. The particulars of what is in the insurance should be up to the individual consumer not imposed by the employers of any faith.”

    This is false from top to bottom, and the liberties you take in assuming what other people have assumed are really astounding.

    When an individual seeks employment from an employer, that employer makes known to the potential employee what the conditions of employment are. In the case of Catholic institutions and businesses owned by Catholics, they make it clear at the outset that they will not in any way contribute to the procurement of morally objectionable goods and services. The employee is free to accept this condition of employment, or, deciding that they would like their employer to cover such goods and services, free to look for employment elsewhere. That situation is perfectly just and perfectly consistent with the principles of a free society.

    No one is entitled to a job that offers health care at all, let alone health care that provides contraception in spite of the moral objections of the employer. To insist that one is entitled to such things is NOT consistent with a free society, but with a tyrannical society in which employers have to spend their money in the service of an ideological agenda, and not in accordance with the dictates of their conscience.

    Businesses are private entities. They are separate from the state. Business owners are not public servants and are not obliged to submit to the ideological agenda of the Obama regime. If you can’t accept this, then you don’t accept freedom at all. You can say you aren’t talking about tyranny, but your words will ring hollow.

    Regarding inequalities:

    “First, it is immoral since it does not reward the employee for his/her increased labor.”

    You have absolutely no way of determining what level of labor is worthy of what level of wages. This is something determined by market forces, by the balance of supply and demand.

    “Second, it is bad for the economy and the Common Good because it dampens demand and slows down economic growth.”

    Keyensian dogmas are not Catholic dogmas.

    “He said I was “childish” for demanding this due to the limited space on website boxes.”

    That’s not what I said at all. This is why I think you are dishonest. I never said anything about limited space in website boxes. I said that I was simply replying to your points, and that is childish you to expect academic “evidence” for every point made in a com-box discussion.

    As for your five points:

    I have a huge, huge problem with the use of statistics to make economic arguments. It takes a great deal of work to establish a mere correlation between two variables, and it is virtually impossible to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between them. I guarantee you that for every correlation you attempt to draw upon to support your policy arguments, I or someone else can find one to counter it. I have had so many debates like this that I don’t even bother anymore.

    The relationship between competitive markets, economic opportunity, and lower consumer prices is well-established. But the relationship is difficult to observe for one major reason: inflation. Both major parties are committed to monetary and financial policies that severely obscure and obstruct the operation of the free market.

    But to think you can take one isolated policy, like the Bush tax cuts, and cite them as the actual cause of a rise in poverty, is simply absurd. There are thousands of different relationships between thousands of different variables that have to be examined in order to determine exactly what causes what. So I reject your argument out of hand.

    Since we are unable to really understand anything by making these facile attempts to correlate variables, I, like the Austrians, would rather pursue principled economic policies. And quite frankly this means that neither party is acceptable to me on economic issues, unless Ron Paul were the GOP nominee.

    With that said, however, I believe taxes should be cut, for all people at all levels, on the principle that private citizens and business will spend the money in ways that will better serve the common good than government will. And it is their money. They earned it through their labor, and the government is only justified in taxing at a level that is required for it to fulfill its legitimate functions.

    It is not the job of the government to eradicate poverty – and poverty in a historical sense has been drastically reduced by the operation of the free market and capitalist investment. If you compare the living conditions of an American living at the bureaucratically-determined “poverty line” now with the conditions of 90% of the world’s population around 200 years ago, for instance, the former would be far wealthier.

    As for these points:

    “3. Before Obama’s ACA, 40,000 people died each year due to a lack of health care insurance coverage.”

    This is unfortunate, but that doesn’t mean that I have to buy ACA or the Obama regime as the best or only solution.

    “5. Companies are not hiring right now even though they are sitting on huge profits because as they say there is not enough demand.”

    Arbitrarily forcing companies to hire people they don’t need isn’t going to help the economy, the poor, or the common good.

  • “This suggests that single parent families while an issue is not the main problem.”

    It is one issue among others. Of which the economic policies of Republicans are a minor feature.

    “But, keep in mind that we are currently still operating under the Bush tax rates.”

    Until Jan 2012. At which point no one knows what is going to happen. Include the 1.2 – 2.7 trillion dollars in taxes which the ACA will impose over the next 10 years. And the taxes that the Obama administration has already imposed. No, these are actual concerns.

    “However, there have been more recent studies including a Harvard study that was peer reviewed, recent and controlled for all of the social behaviors that the criticism levied. And, this study showed a much greater number of deaths from lacking insurance care.”

    Except that studied is specifically premised on patients receiving the most up-to-date medications. Something that will definitely not be provided under the ACA. That means that the ACA causes deaths.

  • Zooks: Unadulterated male bovine excrement.

  • Bonchamps:

    Great points. I am happy to respond to each of your points from my perspective. As usual, you are welcome to disagree with me on any of these issues.

    I want to start with some basic definitional and valued based points on this debate. You argued that private property does not need a definition and it is rather objectionable for me to ask for this given that no one would ask for definitions of other terms like light. The difference is that private property is not as simple to define and is not as clear to anyone given that property is produced in an environment of relationships between employers and employees. Even in CST, there is a recognition of this problem. Popes have always defended the right to private property but they have always cautioned employers to look out for the interests of their employees. Why? Because employees have the dignity of work from God and therefore should be treated fairly in negotiations over property and wages. In this context, health care takes on a new meaning as a right.

    Here are my reasons for arguing this:

    1. Modern health care is absolutely necessary for both quality and quantity of life.
    2. Modern health care while a product and service for sale upholds the dignity of life by looking out for individual’s health.
    3. Part of a society’s obligation is to look out for the common good and provide opportunities for individuals to compete. Without health care due to problems of affording this care, some individuals would be left far behind while others would be promoted due to their wealth.

    As I am sure you know, businesses agreed after WWII to provide for health care plans in their wage structures in order to avoid a single payer system that President Truman and others were pursuing back in the 1940s. So, while I agree with you that until the ACA, there was no forced health care on businesses, there has been a general consent in society for businesses to include this for employees for some time.

    The ACA has changed this environment. Now businesses must provide some health care plan for their employees and there are requirements of what must go into these health care plans. I never argued that this was not the case. What I did argue was that employers are not being required to purchase plans with contraception. Rather they are contracting companies to come into their business and offer options for the individual to purchase. If an individual chooses to purchase a plan without contraception that will be fine. If an individual chooses to purchase a plan with contraception that will be the individual’s choice. The point of my argument is that when the Church says that the individual should not have the choice, the Church is violating the individual’s ability to make that decision within and between the plans being offered. The employer is not involved in this choice because he is not purchasing the plans or the contraception. And, none of his money is going directly to the plans or contraception. You can disagree with my reasoning. But this is not a lie.

    But this leads us to your overall claim that Obama is enacting a form of tyranny. This is where my objection about the states comes into play. Again, you can disagree with the states proposals. But, there was never a cry of tryanny when the states did this. And, there is an obvious reason why. This policy is one of difficult tensions over public health versus religious freedoms of conscience and personal choice. So, there were attempts to accommodate as many people as possible. And, the same is now happening at the federal level. If your argument is that any law passed by the federal government is viewed as an act of tyranny, then most of the regulatory structure of the federal government would lead to such an indictment. Rather, you must show that there is an attempt to violate individual’s conscience and religious beliefs. And, due to many of the arguments here, you must also show a committed attempt by the Obama administration to go directly after Catholics and Christians in general to do this.

    I have provided arguments above why individual employers are not being violated due to the choice of the employee. And, because this idea has already existed in 28 states and was promoted by moderate Republicans like Olympia Snowe, this idea, while objectionable, cannot be claimed to be a new idea based upon a conspiracy against religious groups.

    So, this gets us to the connected issues of CST thinking and the overall reasons for supporting the Democratic platform that would aid the poor.

    You are right that I am using and relying upon Keynesian thinking. However, I am doing so in order to elaborate upon the general principles of CST.

    CST generally teaches that:

    1. Capitalism is better than the alternatives of socialism and communism.
    2. However capitalism can lead to the selfish acquisition of wealth at the expense of the weakest members of society.
    3. Employers and governments in capitalist societies should both protect individual rights and look out for the common good.

    If you disagree with my summary of CST please tell me where I got it wrong.

    Having started from that basis, I would argue that the Republican policies have exacerbated the difference between the groups in society creating excessive inequalities that are unfair to workers and endanger the Common Good of the economy. Yes, our poor live at a higher level than poor in other countries. But this does not demonstrate that the actions of the rich here are moral if they are not rewarding their employees at a fair level.

    You are right to argue that there is no way for me to determine an exact measurement of what is a fair wage. However, we can show that employers are acting in a way that is not looking for the common good. When the richest are earning 300% increases in their wages as the middle class has only gained 30% increases in wages, when the rich earn 97% of the income in the country, and when the richest 20% have 80% of the wealth, this suggests that the rich are not looking out for the common good but are focused on their own individual interests. And, while Keynesian thought is the basis of my point on dampening demand, this is an issue with the Common Good since the economy cannot grow for the good of all.

    You also correctly pointed out that we cannot draw an exact cause and effect relationship between statistics. So, every argument and stat that I use can be questioned. However, questioning is very different from dismissing. My argument is that the Austrian belief that increased taxes always leads to a drag on the economy does not explain why the Bush 1 and Clinton raise in taxes was followed by an economic boom that helped all classes and made a lot of money for the rich while the Bush 2 tax decreases led to a very weak economy, weak employment creation, and an eventual economic crash in 2008. True this does not prove anything for certain. But it opens the point of criticizing Austrian economic philosophy.

    Lastly, you argued that the deaths of 40,000 people due to a lack of health care is tragic but irrelevant. I would argue that this is the exact problem with our two worldviews. The Austrian world view believes that society is an atomized group of individuals who are only responsible for their own self-interest through competition. However, CST teaches that we are ultimately responsible to one another. So, the deaths of 40,000 people calls us to seek out solutions to solve this for the Common Good. Now, this does not mean that government is the solution. It may be solved through churches, volunteer organizations, or church risk pools. But dismissing the issue is not something that would be allowed. So, my criticism of the Republican policies using this example is definitely within the scope of this debate.

    In the end, the point is that the Obama mandate is not an act of tyranny. It does show a tension of how policy in a diverse society requires accommodations. And, while we will still disagree on voting for Obama v. Romney, I have provided an argument that the Democratic platform does a better job comparably of working on the issues that CST calls for in any society.

  • One correction. I reread the section on the 40,000 deaths. I was incorrect on my reading. You did not argue that we ought to dismiss this issue as irrelevant. You did argue that this does not lead to an acceptance of the Obama ACA. I would agree with you on this point. But, I do think that there is a responsibility under CST to look for what is the best possible solution. And, the principle of CST for subsidiarity opens up the possibility for a government action.

  • James,

    “The difference is that private property is not as simple to define”

    No, it is simple to define. The Church defined it in Rerum Novarum. The fruits of your labor are your property. Whatever you exchange them for is your property. The state can only infringe upon your property to fulfill its legitimate functions, and there is certainly no mandate in CST for a national welfare regime.

    “Because employees have the dignity of work from God and therefore should be treated fairly in negotiations over property and wages. In this context, health care takes on a new meaning as a right.”

    Absolutely false. You can’t leap from a duty to treat people fairly in negotiations to a right to health care! There’s no logical continuity between these concepts.

    “1. Modern health care is absolutely necessary for both quality and quantity of life.”

    Modern health care is still a scarce resource that can’t be produced and distributed to everyone for free by fiat. There are still costs to be paid, and to ignore those costs is criminally irrational. Costs don’t disappear when you deem something a “right.”

    Humanity survived dozens of generations without modern health care. It obviously isn’t necessary to live. The real problem is that some people are irritated beyond belief that some people (the vast majority of people, actually) are able to afford health care and others aren’t. The fact that almost no one had what we would call “quality health care” 100 or 200 years ago never even enters into the equation, and that is why such short-sighted moralizers would hamper and destroy the very historical process that enabled so many people to be able to access affordable and quality care in the first place.

    “3. Part of a society’s obligation is to look out for the common good and provide opportunities for individuals to compete. Without health care due to problems of affording this care, some individuals would be left far behind while others would be promoted due to their wealth.”

    No. Society is not obliged to establish equality of conditions, which is what you are really talking about here. Yes, some individuals do start out with more advantages than others. That, again, is called life. It is not the job of a federal bureaucracy to see to it that this or that group gets an advantage. It is up to family, friends, neighbors, fellow Christians, etc. to help people in their midst, voluntarily, with the resources they have to spare.

    “So, while I agree with you that until the ACA, there was no forced health care on businesses, there has been a general consent in society for businesses to include this for employees for some time.”

    So what? Why does this matter?

    ” What I did argue was that employers are not being required to purchase plans with contraception. Rather they are contracting companies to come into their business and offer options for the individual to purchase. If an individual chooses to purchase a plan without contraception that will be fine. If an individual chooses to purchase a plan with contraception that will be the individual’s choice. ”

    This is really a sickness you seem to have. Who is paying? The “individual”, i.e. the individual employee, is not paying. The EMPLOYER is paying. The EMPLOYER is purchasing the plan. Obamacare mandates that all employers with over 50 employees purchase health plans for their employees by 2014. The HHS mandate establishes that there will be NO PLAN AVAILABLE that DOES NOT INCLUDE morally objectionable goods and services. I’m gong to keep repeating it because it is the truth. If you don’t understand or believe that this is what the mandate does, then we have absolutely nothing more to say to one another.

    “The point of my argument is that when the Church says that the individual should not have the choice, the Church is violating the individual’s ability to make that decision within and between the plans being offered. The employer is not involved in this choice because he is not purchasing the plans or the contraception. And, none of his money is going directly to the plans or contraception. You can disagree with my reasoning. But this is not a lie.”

    In the case of private businesses owned by Catholics, the employer IS purchasing the plans. That is beyond dispute. In the case of religious institutions not exempted by the mandate, again, there is a shell game being played in which the COSTS of the morally objectionable goods and services will be passed on to the employer in the form of higher premiums. You can use the word “directly” all you like, but it is irrelevant. At the end of the day these institutions are still contributing “directly” to the distribution of morally objectionable goods and services.

    The lie I accuse you of, though, is your repeated claims that the Church wants to prevent people form accessing birth control. This IS a lie. The Church is neither able nor willing to stop people from buying birth control on their own, nor does it force anyone to work for them. People who choose to work for Catholic institutions are limiting THEIR OWN access to birth control by voluntarily agreeing to the terms of employment offered by these institutions. THAT is the truth.

    “But, there was never a cry of tryanny when the states did this. And, there is an obvious reason why. ”

    The reason what is what I already said: because there is no state plan that fails to offer acceptable exemptions for Catholic employers.

    And I don’t care in the least about “moderate Republicans like Olympia Snowe.” Stop mentioning her. What she approves of couldn’t mean less to me.

    ” Yes, our poor live at a higher level than poor in other countries. But this does not demonstrate that the actions of the rich here are moral if they are not rewarding their employees at a fair level.”

    You cannot determine what is “fair.” A government bureaucrat cannot determine what is “fair.” This is worked out between employers and employees based on prevailing market conditions.

    “When the richest are earning 300% increases in their wages as the middle class has only gained 30% increases in wages, when the rich earn 97% of the income in the country, and when the richest 20% have 80% of the wealth, this suggests that the rich are not looking out for the common good but are focused on their own individual interests.”

    Even if I were to accept the argument that the income of the wealthiest Americans – who pay most of the taxes and give the most to charity, by the way – was solely the product of “greed”, this would be a problem of their individual souls. I see no demonstrable harm caused to one man by the mere existence of another man’s wealth.

    ” My argument is that the Austrian belief that increased taxes always leads to a drag on the economy does not explain why the Bush 1 and Clinton raise in taxes was followed by an economic boom that helped all classes and made a lot of money for the rich while the Bush 2 tax decreases led to a very weak economy, weak employment creation, and an eventual economic crash in 2008. True this does not prove anything for certain. But it opens the point of criticizing Austrian economic philosophy.”

    First of all, I never said that it was an “Austrian belief that increased taxes always lead to a drag on the economy.” I’m not sure the school holds that exact position or formulates it in exactly that way, and so I would not describe it in such a way.

    It is the morality of taxation that the Austrian school is more concerned with, and myself as well. What gives anyone the right to point guns in your direction and say “work X hours for me out of the year or go to prison?” I accept that we need a limited government to do certain things that private industry can’t do. But beyond these limited, legitimate functions, the state has no right to shake people down in the service of an ideological agenda. The state exists to serve us, not we to serve the state.

    Finally, much of the economic “booms” of recent years have been based upon false, unsustainable premises – such as the expansion of debt and the money supply. So I am not terribly impressed with the tech boom of the 90s, and we know how the housing boom went. Both parties ignore the fundamentals of sound economics.

    “The Austrian world view believes that society is an atomized group of individuals who are only responsible for their own self-interest through competition.”

    Well, this is false. It’s one of those things that, if you keep saying it after you know it is false, becomes a lie. So I’ll leave that to you to think about.

    The Austrian view is simply that the state does not have the moral legitimacy or the technical competency to manage society. But it does not say that society is “an atomized group of individuals”, nor does it say that they are only responsible “for their own self-interest.” This is simply not true. In defending free markets and opposing statism, Austrian economics does not imply or insist that individuals must be rugged individualists, or that there are no organic institutions that make up what we call “society” such as families, churches, and other associations. It is quite obvious that you’ve never read a single thing by the Austrian school and are only using the word because I used it, and you think this is what I believe.

    “However, CST teaches that we are ultimately responsible to one another.”

    There’s no incompatibility between what I believe and what CST teaches. I reject that “responsible to one another” means “morally obliged to support a confiscatory welfare state.”

  • Bonchamps:

    Once again, an excellent debate showing the clarity and differentiation in our opinions. Here are my responses to your points:

    I think the primary part for us to look at is our difference on the role of the state and private property. You are right that Rerum Navarum called for a protection of the labor that we produce and that the state cannot infringe upon this. But there was a also a call under this document to be careful of selfish pursuit of private property without regard to the Common Good. Why would this be the case if an individual is simply protecting his or her own creation. Because a business is not entirely the creation of the owners. Yes, the owners do put in the risk, investment and overall vision. However, the workers also participate in the creation of the products and services. So they are entitled under morality to a fair share in the eventual rewards. You are correct that I cannot establish an exact number of the fair share. However, we can point to when the economy has tilted in an unfair way towards a concentration of wealth in fewer hands. And, we can evaluate that as hurting the common good. I have provided the statistics to demonstrate that this happened in the country for the last 30 years. And, I have provided evidence of how this hurt our society through increased costs to the poor and middle class. This is not supporting of the Common Good. You are right that the solution is not automatically through the state. But CST does teach the principle of subsidiarity in which the State does have a role in reducing the problems in society in order to help local organizations when they cannot do so.

    This gets us to health care. You are correct that showing negotiations between workers and employers does not lead to a direct right for health care. But this was not my argument. My argument was that workers should have a right to health care for the following reasons:

    1. Modern health care is necessary to quality and quantity of life.
    2. Workers cannot afford health care on their own due to rising costs.
    3. Severe inequalities have hurt the ability of workers to access health care in a way that allows them to fully participate in society.

    You answered in two parts. First, you pointed out that we have done without health care for several centuries. True, but there is a reason why we moved away from this. In previous centuries, the rates of deaths and diseases were also much higher. And, life expectancy was much lower. And, this was largely due to the lack of a professionalized health care system. Catholic teaching would praise our current improvements in health care because it allows for better quality and quantity of life and it protects the sanctity of life.

    This leads to your second criticism. You argued that inequalities are simply a part of life. I agree. And, in fact, most people would agree with you. But this is not the argument. The argument is not that anyone wants to get rid of all inequalities. I have repeatedly argued that CST teaches that capitalism is far superior to socialism and communism. However, there is a difference between general inequalities due to differences in birth, talent, skill and choices and excessive inequalities in which the market is not adequately distributing wealth and income as rewards for work. In fact, your own argument admits of this. You at one point in a previous posting said that capitalism diffuses wealth. But when I gave evidence of the concentration of wealth, you then argued this does not concern you. This was a tacit agreement that concentration of wealth is happening. And, the stats that provided demonstrate an extreme concentration of wealth. When the market does this, another agent, the government, is necessary to break this concentration in order to spread out the rewards. This is not necessary in a socialist or communist manner. But as we have done for the last century, it can be used to make sure the market spreads out the rewards in a more fair manner that is not excessive as the stats that I have provided.

    But this leads us to the HHS mandate. Again, I have to disagree with you. This is not a “sickness” or a “lie” on my part. It is a disagreement on how this system works. You are welcome to disagree with me. But using terms like sickness and lie are not arguments. They are simply personal characterizations. My point is simple. Yes, the ACA does force all employers with 50 or more employees to provide insurance. And, there are some basic requirements for these plans. The HHS mandate adds to this. However, you are wrong that the HHS mandate has employers purchase contraception. Rather, it has employers contract with insurance companies that provide that option to employees. So, what is the difference here between my point and yours. My point is that:

    1. The employer contracts the insurance companies not pays for the plans.
    2. The employee makes the choice to purchase contraception from the company. The employer does not pay for this.
    3. The employee pays for the premium, not the employer.

    In order for your argument to be correct, you need to show:

    1. The employer purchases the actual plan with contraception.
    2. The employer purchases contraception for his or her employees.
    3. The employer contributes directly to the premiums for the contraception.

    I am arguing that none of these conditions are true.

    Furthermore, I realize that you don’t care about the Olympia Snowe example. And, I realize that you believe the 28 states are also acting in a tyrannical way. But, your response missed my point. My point was that this was not an attack by the Obama administration on the Catholic Church or any other religious institution. Buy using Snowe and the 28 states, my point was to show that this idea was developed over a long time by different constituencies, was already used in half of the states, and covered all employers not just Catholic ones. So, there is no evidence of a conspiracy to attack or take down the Catholic Church. You can say you don’t care about these issues when it comes to morality. And, you would be right. But this is not my argument. My argument is that these points of evidence show that there is no evidence for a conspiratorial attack on faith.

    This brings me back again to the overall argument on my end for why a Catholic can vote for Obama based upon CST thinking. I realize that you believe Austrian thinking is solely a moral argument about the state. However, they also have an economic argument on their side as well.

    As for the economic argument, Austrian thinkers influenced thinkers like Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of economics. Their overall view on society is an atomized view in which individuals pursue their own self interest and in the process benefit all people. They advocate policies like lowering taxes believing this will help the suppliers to provide more supplies and therefore more jobs to produce those supplies. I think this is a fair way of understanding their argument. I have provided evidence in the past that suggests that they are wrong. I am happy to repeat that argument if you wish.

    But as for the moral argument, yes, they believe that the state is an institution that can perform basic functions like security but has no moral obligation to do anything further. This belief about the state violates the CST teaching on subsidiarity. CST clearly teaches that as many actions as possible should be left to local institutions. However, in the cases where that cannot take place, the state does have a role to help in order to achieve the common good.

    My argument is that, especially on health care, there is a need for the government to do this. The private sector has not shown an ability to lower the costs on health care and provide for all people including those with pre-existing conditions. And, local churches and voluntary organizations do not have the money to cover these costs especially with the increased inequalities of wealth and income. So, the state has a role to regulate and create the conditions where people can access such a basic need for quality and quantity of life.

    You argued that to do this would be immoral due to not having people pay for the costs. But the ACA does not make health care free or entirely based upon taxes from one or multiple groups of people. The ACA provides for regional markets in which businesses and individuals do purchase health care. They do have “skin in the game”. However, what the ACA does is provide subsidies to the poor who cannot afford the health care entirely on their own. And, the ACA mandates everyone purchase some health care policy in order to spread out costs and hold people responsible for using health care in order to solve for the free rider problem-a conservative position until 2008 when Obama advocated for it. Again, I know you will argue that you don’t care because you don’t support all Republicans but a libertarian position. This is fine. But, my point is that this is not a radical left wing policy searching for absolute equality by a tyrannical government position. It is a mainstream position to hold people responsible to pay for a system that they will eventually use.

    So, once again, I would argue:

    1. There is a right to health care because it has evolved into a system necessary to maintain the quality and quantity of life in today’s society.
    2. The state has a role in protecting the Common Good under CST and in today’s environment of extreme inequalities the state needs to step in to solve this problem (not strict equality).
    3. The HHS mandate allows for employees to make choices on the goods and services that they want-not to force employers to pay for contraception.

    As usual I look forward to your response. And, can we please admit that we have a difference of viewpoint not a sickness…

  • “But we allow for natural family planning in order to prevent and frustrate life from being produced.”

    That’s only part of the picture. Natural family planning can be used just as easily for a couple to GET pregnant as to avoid pregnancy. At its root, NFP is simply a series of observations that a couple uses to be aware of the woman’s likely fertility, or lack thereof, at any given time. This knowledge has many other uses besides just avoiding pregnancy — for example, it can help a woman know when to expect her menstrual cycle and can also provide her early warning when she may be approaching menopause or experiencing other hormonal disruptions. In fact there are secular teachers of NFP (usually they refer to it as “fertility awareness”) who embrace the method not for any moral or religious reason but simply because it works WITH nature and not against it — for much the same reason that they embrace organic foods or alternative medicine.

  • James,

    I’ve said all I want to say, and have no desire to repeat myself yet again. I believe you have fundamentally misrepresented the HHS mandate, as well as CST and free market economics. Take care.

  • Z’s problem isn’t what he doesn’t know. It’s that what he knows just ain’t so.

  • Bonchamps:

    Thank you for debating through these issues with me.

    I do have to say that I did find something that I believe I made an error about. I was mistaken in my understanding on how the plan and contraception is paid for. I had thought that companies only contract for the insurance. After doing some reading last night, I now know this is wrong. Employers and employees do both contribute to the policy. Obama’s compromise will have the insurance company pay for the contraception in order to try to separate out the spending. However, if premiums go up, you have a valid point that you are contributing to something you find morally objectionable. I do apologize for this mistake and I thank you for making me aware of this misunderstanding on my part.

    Thank you for your time in this debate. It was informative and enjoyable.

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .