Monthly Archives: November 2012
Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked,
2 Timothy 3:2
Dennis Praeger has a brilliant post up at National Review Online in which he describes leftism as a subsitute religion:
Within mainstream Protestantism and Catholicism, the same dominance of leftist values exists. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — not to mention the Notre Dame faculty — largely holds the same social and economic views as the Democratic party and the New York Times editorial page, though it differs with the Left with regard to same-sex marriage, abortion, and religious-freedom issues such as those pertaining to Catholic hospitals and government-funded contraception. As for mainstream Protestant denominations, they, too, are largely indistinguishable from leftism. Proof? Ask a liberal Protestant minister to name one important area in which he and leftism differ. Ask a liberal Reform or Conservative rabbi the same question. Their silence will be telling.
The truth is that the Left has been far more successful in converting Jews and Christians to leftism than Christianity and Judaism have been in influencing leftists to convert to Christianity or Judaism.
Finally, leftism has even attained considerable success at undoing the central American values of Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum, supplanting liberty with egalitarianism, a God-based society with secularism, and E Pluribus Unum with multiculturalism. (I make this case at length in Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.)
This triumph of the 20th century’s most dynamic religion — leftism — is why, even in the midst of an ongoing recession, the leftist candidate may win. As I wrote in my last column, it’s not just the economy, stupid. Continue reading
The above video by Bill Whittle from 2011 illustrates how deep in the hole we are when it comes to annual deficits. The idea of the Obama administration that the Bush tax cuts must expire for “the rich” earning over 250K (In Chicago that would be a cop and his schoolteacher wife.) has everything to do with politics and almost nothing to do with deficit reduction. Here is why.
If you abolished all of the Bush tax cuts for “the rich” earning over 250K a year, and assuming they did not come up with ways to legally avoid the additional tax by deferring income, the Treasury, further making the rash assumption that increasing taxes does not have any negative impact on the economy, would receive about 70 billion dollars in additional taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This year our deficit is approximately 1.1 trillion dollars. If we eliminate the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers, the increase in taxes would be about 370 billion, according to the CBO, assuming, rashly, that increasing taxes on the middle class would not have a negative impact on the economy and swell the ranks of people qualifying for “freebies” from Uncle Sucker. Continue reading
After their abysmal recent performance in the Presidential election I don’t know how much credence to give a Gallup poll, but these findings have the ring of truth. 53% of the Dems have a positive view of the term “Socialism” and 75% of Dems have a positive view of the Federal government. Under Obama is there much difference in practice? The Democrats are on a rapid path to morphing into a European style socialist party. Continue reading
The seventeenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here and here. Throughout his life Kipling was ever the foe of cant, especially when the cant was dressed up as the latest new thing. In 1919 he aimed his poetic skills at various latest new things in the modern world that Kipling realized were very old bad ideas dressed up with jargon and sold to the gullible. His poem The Gods of the Copybook Headings reads like a current commentary on our predicament, and more is the pity.
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return! Continue reading
Via the Right Scoop comes this video from Steven Crowder, exposing some of the more ridiculous argument from those who support the decriminalization (or legalization) or marijuana:
Please note that Crowder does not address the constitutional issue surrounding federal marijuana prohibition. In fact he goes out of his way to emphasize that there are legitimate arguments to be made that this is not an issue that justifies federal intervention. But as the video highlights, none of the people he interviewed brought up the constitutional argument. Instead, his interviewees relied on tropes that are untrue. He also makes a point about prohibition that I have often made: namely, that the 18th Amendment prohibited the use of a substance that was already legal and widely used by most Americans. Marijuana legalization would make available a previously criminalized substance used by a minority of Americans.
Like Crowder, I believe that the constitutional arguments against federal marijuana prohibition are, at a minimum, compelling. But if you are going to take up the cause of decriminalization, at least make better arguments than these people.
Ah the next four years are going to be so enjoyable. When it comes to crony capitalism Adam Smith said it well:
“The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [that is, 'those who live by profit'], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”
Milton Friedman was eloquent on the subject of government supporting private enterprises:
I recently had the pleasure of observing a panel discussion of several areas farmers. It was part of a county leadership program, and this particular event was designed to give the “class” some background on the agriculture industry in the area. The discussion and subsequent tours were nothing short of fascinating. (If you have a chance to look up “precision farming” involving GPS, it is a real marvel of technology.)
At one point, someone in the audience asked what the panel members thought of government farm subsidies. I don’t know what was more interesting: the answer or the fact that each of the seven panelists responded immediately with both unanimity and laughter. Once the initial reaction subsided, one of the farmers explained it in a single sentence, “Subsidies only subsidize those who don’t pay taxes.” For my own part, I was intrigued, so I couldn’t help but ask what the farmer meant by this. Another panel member offered a a more detailed explanation.
Suppose that we can farm a product for $200 an acre. When the product is new, prices may fluctuate. Eventually, however, after this farmer and that farmer starts to charge less in order to be competitive, the price stabilizes for, let’s say, $300. In other words, farmers don’t drop below this price because they can’t drop below this price and still make a living. We need $100 an acre just to support our family and earn a respectable income. Looking at our modest $100 profit, the government kindly decides that us hard working farmers deserve more, so they institute a $50 subsidy. It sounds good at first. We get $100 profit for each acre plus the $50 hand-out from Uncle Sam. We have more income, yes? Here’s the problem. It only takes one farmer to think, “I don’t need to sell my crops for $300 an acre. I was doing just fine on a $100 profit. If I charge $275 an acre, I can undercut the competition and still earn $125 an acre ($75 “pure” profit plus the $50 subsidy), which is more than I was getting before.” You can see where it goes from here. The new competitive price becomes $275 per acre … until the process repeats. Eventually, the market kicks in and the farmers end up selling their crop for $250 an acre. They won’t drop below this, of course, because at this level they are making, with the government subsidy, the minimum $100-per-acre profit ($50 pure profit plus the $50 subsidy) needed to support the family.
Now, while the subsidy had a net change of $0 on the farmer’s well being, it was not entirely neutral. It did produce a product that is now on the market for $50 less than it was otherwise. (Before the subsidy, the crop went to market at $300/acre, and afterwards it went for $250/acre.) The consumer benefits from this subsidy, correct? Well, says the farmer, not all consumers benefit. The $50 per acre came from somewhere, because, contrary to popular belief, the government cannot simply create money out of nowhere. (These were his words, not mine.) In the end, it comes from the tax payers. Thus, if you are someone who pays federal income tax, then you essentially break even in this deal. The only people that actually benefit in the end are those who don’t pay any federal income tax. Thus, in the words of the first gentleman, “Subsidies only subsidize those who don’t pay taxes.”
Admittedly, the economics is probably a bit more complicated than this. For one thing, those who pay federal taxes are not all in the same tax bracket, so a pro-rating of sorts would probably be appropriate to figure out who comes out ahead. Second, the farmers’ “minimum price for supporting a family” is not the only economic force at work in this equation. There is also the amount of crop produced in a given year, the maximum price people are willing to pay for an individual product, etc. On the other hand, we should figure in the bureaucratic overhead involve in collecting and processing the taxes needed for the subsidy, a figure that is often notoriously high for the federal government. Nevertheless, the farmers have a point: subsidies are often not all they are cracked up to be, and the best way to handle market forces is to simply let the market work. The free market will work on its own to drop the price of commodities, but it will do so through innovation rather than compulsory subsidies. Attempts at interference rarely make a difference – at best they offer a compelling illusion. (Unfortunately, it is often compelling enough to win votes.)
The follow up question from the audience was predictable: if subsidies make not difference, then why do you take them? “Ah,” says the concise farmer, “It only takes one to accept them, and then we all have to.” In other words, once individual farmers accept a subsidy, they can then produce the product at a much lower price than those who are not accepting them, effectively putting the second group, those that want to earn their money honestly, out of business. Ain’t government grand?
We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile.
Edwin M. Stanton could be a pill. Irritable, sarcastic and often completely unreasonable, no doubt many of the Union Generals who had to deal with him often thought that they were dealing with a very mad man. Mad in an emotional sense Stanton often was, anger often seeming to be the prime emotion he displayed throughout his career, at least after the death of his beloved first wife in 1844 which had a souring impact on his disposition. However, he was also a very able man, and that compensated for his complete lack of tact in dealing with virtually everyone he came into contact with. Prior to becoming Secretary of War he had been one of the ablest attorneys in the country. Doubtless his most famous, or rather infamous case, was in the defense of future Union general Daniel Sickles.
Sickles in 1859 was a Democrat Congressman from New York, already notorious for having been censured for bringing a prostitute into the New York General Assembly chamber. Leaving his pregnant wife at home, on a trip to England he had introduced the same prostitute, Fanny White, to Queen Victoria under an alias, the surname of which was that of a political opponent in New York. Sickles obviously viewed his vow of marital fidelity with complete contempt. However he did not view the vow of fidelity given to him by his wife Teresa in the same light. When he found out on February 26, 1859 that his long-suffering wife was carrying on an affair with the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Philip Barton Key II, the son of Francis Scott Key, the composer of the Star Spangled Banner, he murdered Key the next day in Lafayette Park across from the White House, shooting him through the heart. Sickles immediately surrendered to the Attorney General who lived just a few blocks away.
His trial was one of the most sensational in American history. Public opinion was almost totally on his side, painting Sickles as an outraged husband defending his wife Teresa from a villain who had seduced her. Sickles engaged a stellar defense team which included Stanton. The defense team had a problem. No matter what the public thought as to his motivation, Sickles was manifestly guilty. Stanton hit upon the idea of raising the novel defense of temporary insanity which had never before been successful in the United States. This was a true stroke of legal genius. It allowed the defense to put on endless lurid testimony as to the affair and, in effect, have the dead man tried rather than Sickles. In his closing argument Stanton portrayed the ever adulterous Sickles as a defender of marriage: Continue reading
In 1883, William Graham Sumner published an essay titled “The Forgotten Man” (originally titled “On the Case of a Certain Man Who Is Never Thought Of” – not quite as catchy) which is as relevant today as it was when it was written. The essay is a great exposition of the laissez-faire understanding and approach to social problems and articulates what I believe many on the libertarian right and within the Tea Party believe today. From a Catholic point of view, there is much I find agreeable within it, though there are certain tangents, unnecessary to the main argument, that I would take issue with.
With the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) having been called to task by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), it may not be long before organizations sponsoring the nation’s Catholic hospitals will be called to task by the Pontifical Council for Health Care (PCHC).
According to one member of the PCHC, Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, it’s to preserve the identity of Catholic hospitals. In many nations across the globe, this identity is being threatened as decisions at the local level are being made—using the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity—that undermine Church teaching.
The first step will be taken when PCHC releases its updated Charter for Health Care Workers on June 16, 2013, the “Dignity of Life Day” during the Year of Faith, following CDF review and approval. It’s that review and approval that should be neither overlooked nor underestimated.
The current Charter’s directives are divided into three categories: procreation, life, and death. The revised Charter is said to discuss Church teaching as it concerns bioethics, healthcare coverage, and “orphan drugs” (providing affordable pharmaceutical treatments even though the market for the drugs is too small to make research, production, and distribution economically viable or profitable).
More importantly, the updated Charter will include a fourth section, “the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.”
It’s this fourth category—the second step—that organizations sponsoring the nation’s Catholic hospitals and some professionals working in them will find challenging. While the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity advocate that decisions be made and action taken at the lowest possible level, a Catholic News Agency article is reporting that some employees at Catholic hospitals have taken that definition to mean that providing abortafacients, sterilizations, and abortions is permissible as is genetic experimentation and embryo selection for eugenics.
But, don’t miss what’s also in the document by focusing solely upon how some employees of Catholic hospitals across the globe are undermining their institution’s identity.
The updated Charter is said also to include CDF notes and instructions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life, published in 2003. This document states that while Catholics are free to choose among political parties and strategies for promoting the common good, they cannot claim that freedom allows them to support abortion, euthanasia, or other attacks on human life.
Could it possibly be that CDF is going to use PCHC to fire a first salvo at certain Catholic politicians?
If so, the inclusion of those CDF notes and instructions is putting those Catholic politicians on notice that they no longer will be able to promote their support of anti-life policies by claiming that the Church’s principles of solidarity and subsidiarity support their policy positions.
To read the articles, click on the following links:
The socialists, quasi-socialists and plain old economic illiterates currently at the head of our country could learn a lot by watching the above video of I Pencil and reading the 1958 essay I, Pencil by Leonard E Reed. Go here to read it. The complexities of markets can never be commanded by governments, merely distorted or destroyed. During the hard times that lie ahead in the next four years, remember the pencil! Continue reading
Democrats have been stealing elections for a very long time, but lately they have been working a new angle: exploiting the mentally handicapped for votes. David Horowitz relates what he learned at a Thanksgiving dinner:
But even knowing this, I was not prepared for a conversation I had at Thanksgiving dinner today with my brother-in-law, Henry, who has lived most of his life in a home for the mentally disabled, and though now in his forties has the intelligence level of a six-year-old.
I was taken aback by these words, since Henry had no idea who Obama was, or what a president might be, and would be unable to fill out a registration form let alone get to the polling place by himself. So I asked him how he knew that and how he had registered and cast his vote. In halting, impeded speech he told me that the people who take care of him at the home filled out “the papers” to register him to vote, told him how Obama cared for him, even taught him the Obama chants, and then took him to the polling place to vote. They did the same for all of the mentally disabled patients in their care, approximately sixty in all.
This is so appalling in its contempt for the voting process, which is the very foundation of our democracy, and in its cynical exploitation of my brother-in-law and the other patients in the home, many of whose mental capacities are even more limited than his that I am at a loss for words to express it. I hope poll-watching groups like “True the Vote” will comb the rolls of residents at other homes for the mentally disabled, and attempt to stop this particular abuse. I hope that people who care about our country will make electoral fraud a focus of their political efforts, and work to protect the integrity of the voting process. Continue reading
3. This world-wide and solemn testimony of allegiance and piety is especially appropriate to Jesus Christ, who is the Head and Supreme Lord of the race. His empire extends not only over Catholic nations and those who, having been duly washed in the waters of holy baptism, belong of right to the Church, although erroneous opinions keep them astray, or dissent from her teaching cuts them off from her care; it comprises also all those who are deprived of the Christian faith, so that the whole human race is most truly under the power of Jesus Christ. For He who is the Only-begotten Son of God the Father, having the same substance with Him and being the brightness of His glory and the figure of His substance (Hebrews i., 3) necessarily has everything in common with the Father, and therefore sovereign power over all things. This is why the Son of God thus speaks of Himself through the Prophet: “But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain. . . The Lord said to me, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm, ii.). By these words He declares that He has power from God over the whole Church, which is signified by Mount Sion, and also over the rest of the world to its uttermost ends. On what foundation this sovereign power rests is made sufficiently plain by the words, “Thou art My Son.” For by the very fact that He is the Son of the King of all, He is also the heir of all His Father’s power: hence the words-”I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance,” which are similar to those used by Paul the Apostle, “whom he bath appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews i., 2). Continue reading
Today is the feast day of Christ the King in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar, signaling the ending of the Church year. On this date my thoughts turn to April 30, 1789 when President George Washington commenced the government of the United States under its new Constitution with the first inaugural address. Below is the address. Pay special attention to the second paragraph where Washington acknowledges the role of God in bringing about the American Republic and his final paragraph where he states that America depends upon God’s cotinued blessing: so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:
AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.
Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence. Continue reading