Are We All Greeks Now?

Thursday, May 13, AD 2010

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot AirAnother fine econ 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.   Government debt is rapidly becoming the major issue of our time, both here and abroad.  The welfare states erected throughout the world have always had a resemblance to Ponzi schemes,  and all Ponzi schemes ultimately collapse, which is what is happening around the globe.  Robert Samuelson nailed it this week in the Washington Post:

What we’re seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn’t Greece’s problem alone, and that’s why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven’t fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies.

Americans dislike the term “welfare state” and substitute the bland word “entitlements.” The vocabulary doesn’t alter the reality. Countries cannot overspend and overborrow forever. By delaying hard decisions about spending and taxes, governments maneuver themselves into a cul de sac. To be sure, Greece’s plight is usually described as a European crisis — especially for the euro, the common money used by 16 countries — and this is true. But only up to a point.

Euro coins and notes were introduced in 2002. The currency clearly hasn’t lived up to its promises. It was supposed to lubricate faster economic growth by eliminating the cost and confusion of constantly converting between national currencies. More important, it would promote political unity. With a common currency, people would feel “European.” Their identities as Germans, Italians and Spaniards would gradually blend into a continental identity.

None of this has happened. Economic growth in the “euro area” (the countries using the currency) averaged 2.1 percent from 1992 to 2001 and 1.7 percent from 2002 to 2008. Multiple currencies were never a big obstacle to growth; high taxes, pervasive regulations and generous subsidies were. As for political unity, the euro is now dividing Europeans. The Greeks are rioting. The countries making $145 billion of loans to Greece — particularly the Germans — resent the costs of the rescue. A single currency could no more subsume national identities than drinking Coke could make people American. If other euro countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy) suffer Greece’s fate — lose market confidence and can’t borrow at plausible rates — there would be a wider crisis.

But the central cause is not the euro, even if it has meant Greece can’t depreciate its own currency to ease the economic pain. Budget deficits and debt are the real problems; and these stem from all the welfare benefits (unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, health insurance) provided by modern governments.

Countries everywhere already have high budget deficits, aggravated by the recession. Greece is exceptional only by degree. In 2009, its budget deficit was 13.6 percent of its gross domestic product (a measure of its economy); its debt, the accumulation of past deficits, was 115 percent of GDP. Spain’s deficit was 11.2 percent of GDP, its debt 56.2 percent; Portugal’s figures were 9.4 percent and 76.8 percent. Comparable figures for the United States — calculated slightly differently — were 9.9 percent and 53 percent.

There are no hard rules as to what’s excessive, but financial markets — the banks and investors that buy government bonds — are obviously worried. Aging populations make the outlook worse. In Greece, the 65-and-over population is projected to go from 18 percent of the total in 2005 to 25 percent in 2030. For Spain, the increase is from 17 percent to 25 percent.

The welfare state’s death spiral is this: Almost anything governments might do with their budgets threatens to make matters worse by slowing the economy or triggering a recession. By allowing deficits to balloon, they risk a financial crisis as investors one day — no one knows when — doubt governments’ ability to service their debts and, as with Greece, refuse to lend except at exorbitant rates. Cutting welfare benefits or raising taxes all would, at least temporarily, weaken the economy. Perversely, that would make paying the remaining benefits harder.

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25 Responses to Are We All Greeks Now?

  • The problem is not ‘the welfare state’, but a welfare state incorporating perverse incentives, a welfare state not subject to constraints as to its size (relative to the productive economy), public and private consumption financed through borrowing from abroad, and public sector borrowing at times and in circumstances where it is simply inappropriate. Congress and the Administration could fix these problems. They just don’t feel like it.

  • I suppose the term welfare state is a big murky. I regard Greece as such a state, but not the US, though because the term is a loose one it is hard to know where to draw the line. But it is rather difficut for true welfare states (in the narrow sense of the term) to be fiscally responsible in the long run. This is precisely because cradle to grave security diminishes the otherwise organic incentives that are necessary to generate the productivity required to deliver such security. The smaller and more homogeneous the society the more likely it can work, at least for a while, but there will inevitably be serious costs in overall standard of living, very little economic or social mobility, and eventually a serious brain/brawn/character drain absent mettalic curtains.

  • You are conflating two phenomena: 1. the inclination of the government to balance its books and 2. the effect of the relative size of the public sector and what it rewards and what it does not on the economic dynamism of the country in question.

    Bar in exceptional circumstances (and Greece is likely now in such circumstances), the government can balance its books if it so chooses. It chooses not to in part out of habit, in part in thrall to Keynesian notions of the utility of public sector borrowing which (per many economists) apply only when their is exceptional slack in the economy, and in part as a consequence of patron-client politics.

    You might say that fiscal responsibility is difficult in circumstances where so many incomes are politically determined. You might also posit that particular tax and benefit configurations induce demographic implosion. These are different arguments than one which says that annual improvements in per capita income of 1.4% as opposed to 2% render common provision unsustainable.

  • I do understand the two concepts, but they are not so easily disentangled. My point is that the second phenomenon makes the first very difficult in the long run, though not necessarily impossible under certain conditions that probably cannot exist in the US.

  • The per capita income of the United States was, in 1960, about 40% of what it is today. Prior to 1960, the U.S. Government balanced its budget bar in exceptional circumstances (which circumstances were regrettably common during the period running from 1929 to 1955, but that’s another story). Enhanced affluence has not improved the government’s ability to balance its budget, quite the contrary. The United States has also been on a lower growth trajectory than other occidental countries, as has Switzerland. Neither country is given more than its peers to state intervention, but both are on the technologial frontier, meaning improvements in output have to be driven by innovation as well as application.

    Think about applying your hypothesis on a micro scale. You have ten men selected at random from urban neighborhoods at age 23. You are going to find that at age 46 they have quite a range of incomes because of how their skill sets developed over the years. They will likely have quite a range of relative debt loads as well, but that is (bar at the bottom of the scale) going to be derived from their ability and willingness to defer gratification (and various accidents), not their quantum of human capital.

  • Art,
    I’m not suggesting that the US’s deficit is predominantly caused by welfare spending as such — I do recognize that lack of discipline, but then again I’ve never suggested that the US is a welfare state. My point is that welfare states invite serious long term fiscal problems because (i) paying for cradle to grave security requires high tax rates that discourage the work and investment that produce the tax base upon which those rates are applied and (ii) cradle to grave security is a pretty good option compared to work, which increases the need for more spending while simultaneously decreasing the number of workers paying taxes. The ensuing fiscal challenges can presumably be met by living with substantially lower standards of living and greatly reduced economic and social mobility, but most people don’t really want to live with these things, so politicians respond by deficit spending. Now of course you can say then the problem is still one of lack of discipline in such a case, and you’d be right. But one cannot say that welfare state spending does not increase the pressure to deficit spend. And it does so more than most other types of spending because of the perverse incentives that cannot be eliminated, at least in a true welfare state. The bottom line is that cradle to grave security is an expensive proposition in a modern society, and raising the revenue necessary to pay for it encounters both political and economic difficulties.

  • The Scandanavian countries are net lenders despite their larger welfare states. And they have great economic growth. Yes, they have higher taxes but they also have better incentives. They have low corporate tax rates. They use school vouchers. The American tax and welfare system is the world’s most complex yet we have little to show for it.

  • Donald,

    Thank you for sharing that enlightening video clip.

    My opinion of Sweden has increased.

    I’m also now going to add Reason.tv to my video-roll of viewing.

    Incredible.

    He advises the U.S. not to increase taxes for a poorly efficient public sector.

    Sweden owes the vast majority of it’s high level of living standard to “free markets, de-regulation, lowering of progressive tax rates, and privatization of many formerly government owned sectors of the economy”.

    Fascinating.

    And Obama wants us to be more like Europe.

    What a maroon.

  • “Are we all Greeks now?”

    Let’s just say not yet, but we can taste the souvlaki.

  • The problem is not ‘the welfare state’, but a welfare state incorporating perverse incentives…-Art Deco

    No “welfare” scheme can escape “incorporating perverse incentives.” Making “welfare” a State function only adds to the number and intractability of its perverse incentives. This is especially so in any State based on a principle of equal rights.

  • RR,
    First, I acknowledge that our patchwork welfare system is inefficient, likely more inefficent than those employed by other western nations. For that reason I have long favored replacing all transfer payments, including social security, with a negative income tax. My instinct (and that is all it is) is that the additional costs associated with the work disincentive caused by such a program would be overwhelmed by the savings permitted by gutting the existing myriad of programs.

    Regarding Sweden, (I think Don’s video addressed other issues), which incentives exactly are you talking about?

  • Micha is correct. A true welfare state necessarily diminishes the incentive to work or engage in entrepreneurship by rewarding doing nothing, especially if the safety net is more generous than bare subsistence. Without necessity, no invention, as they say. As workers gravitate to participate in the safety net, program costs increase necessitating tax rate increases that add to the discouragement of workers and investors.

    Unlike many conservatives, I do not oppose income or wealth redistribution entirely. While I favor private action, I think government can have a significant role. But government policy must be carefully crafted to strike a balance between assisting the truly needy, especially children and the disabled, and avoiding the enablement of able-bodied adults to avoid work. Crafting such policy necessarily requires imperfect compromises given the competing considerations. All too often liberals have an excessively rosy understanding of human nature. People will take advantage of any system you give them. The capacity for rationalization is not limited to Greek protestors. Indeed, in this very forum I’ve read orthodox Catholic posters insist that it is morally acceptable to walk away from an upside down mortgage even if one can make the payments — because the lender never should have given you the loan, you see. People are self-interested, and while generous welfare programs may be well-motivated they will encourage perverse behavior. Moreover, government assistance inevitably becomes perceived as entitlements that can be relied on as opposed to charity that is uncertain.

  • Mike, I was talking about exactly the things that the video that Don posted talks about. The Scandinavian welfare states are more efficient. Freer trade. Lower corporate taxes. School vouchers. VAT.

    I too would like to see all transfer payments replaced with something like a negative income tax.

  • Restrained Radical,

    You comment here often so why not add a pic to your ID?

  • Charity creates perverse incentives. Perverse incentives can’t be avoided if you want to help the needy but they can be minimized. I have an idea for a welfare system: If you’re able to work, the government can offer $5/hour make-work jobs picking up trash, watering plants, or even just running around in circles.

  • restrainedradical:

    Yes it does, but government charity is far more pernicious in creating such incentives than is private charity. The former is viewed as a legal entitlement whereas the latter as voluntary. The latter cannot be counted on and is understood as a gift that has not been earned.

    “Workfare” proposals have been around forever, but never seem to secure traction. I seem to recall that there are some reasonable and sound explanations for this, but cannot recall what they might be.

  • If you’re able to work, the government can offer $5/hour make-work jobs picking up trash, watering plants, or even just running around in circles

    As someone currently employed by the government, I can honestly say that some public sector employment is nothing more than a thinly-disguised version of this. What some people would do without it, I don’t know. Starvation is not an acceptable answer.

  • I should hasten to add that during my time working for large corporations, I saw plenty of “make work” jobs. Those employees were perhaps in a more precarious situation than their civil service counterparts, but it was a similar type of job nonetheless.

  • “What some people would do without it, I don’t know. Starvation is not an acceptable answer.”

    Repair my roof? Cut my lawn? Wallpaper my kitchen? Paint my garage? Clean my gutters? I’d pay more than $5 per hour.

  • …government policy must be carefully crafted to strike a balance between assisting the truly needy, especially children and the disabled, and avoiding the enablement of able-bodied adults to avoid work. Crafting such policy necessarily requires imperfect compromises given the competing considerations.Mike Petrik

    Ahh, but in a State founded the principle that all men are created equal in the sight of the law making such distinctions between people leads to the creation of legions of bureaucrats trapped into robotically following rulebooks of every growing size, complexity, and loopholes inevitably spawned by such complexity. The “imperfect compromises” ultimately lead to “the enablement of able-bodied adults to avoid work” and some of “the truly needy” being denied State assistance.

    Alas, the attempt to “strike a balance” within a State welfare scheme in a nation founded on a principle of equal, individual rights is thus doomed to be the pursuit of an illusion. In America, that has become a very costly pursuit and the costs are not only borne by the nation in mere dollars and cents.

    Perhaps a welfare State in a nation of culturally and ethnically homogenous people that has a class system is less encumbered by the consequences of the necessary imperfect compromises required by a State welfare scheme. Homogeneity of the populace in a welfare State has been discussed elsewhere. Less commented upon is that in a class system, the bureaucrat who is of the upper class can deny or approve the lower class supplicant based on consideration of individual circumstances with no or very circumscribed possibilities for appealing the decision.

    P.S. There is no such thing as “government charity.”

  • Micha,
    I don’t think that the Declaration’s claim that all men are created equal is particularly at fault here, though I do agree that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause has very gradually given rise to a culture that seems to demand equal treatment in every way under every circumstances, even though court decisions, while imperfect and not completely consistent, do not demand anything like this. That said, I do agree with your general point that equal protection reasoning, and equal protection psychology, permeates and paralyzes bureaucracies. And I acknowledge that this makes the compromises I describe somewhat more difficult, but improvements can be made. The Clinton Administration’s welfare reform was certainly a step in the right direction, and was not derailed by equal protection obsessions. And it is worth noting that benefits are far more available to mothers with children than single men, which is a terrific example of well-intended rules with perverse incentives.
    I have no brief on the use of the word “charity” to describe transfer payments. I normally don’t prefer the word for the reason you suggest, but it can certainly be justified on the ground that it is the expression of the will of the people to voluntarily tax themselves to provide for others in need, even if imperfectly. The government is acting as the agent of its citizens, nothing more. I understand that this view of government action does not sit well with libertarians, but I’m not a libertarian.

  • There are mixed economies, and there are mixed economies.

    I was once involved in local politics and in that capacity a careful student of the New York State Statistical Yearbook. It has been a while, but working from memory here and bits and pieces of data I have seen in recent years, I will draw up a back of the envelope grocery list:

    –School vouchers
    (for primary and secondary eduction)… 4.5% of GDP

    –Medical Insurance (for acute care,
    structured per Milton Friedman) … 6.0% of GDP

    –L/T Care Insurance (nursing homes,
    group homes, asylums, &c., structured
    similarly to the above) … 2.0% of GDP

    –Unemployment compensation … 1.5% of GDP

    –Remittances to those with a
    negative income tax liability
    (structured per M. Friedman) … 3.5% of GDP

    –Child Protective & Foster Care … 0.5% of GDP

    –Miscellaneous (public defender,
    legal aid society, public service
    jobs & clinics on Indian
    reservations, disaster relief,
    refugee resettlement, deficits
    of mass transit systems). … 0.5% of GDP

    –Intergovernmental transfers to
    impecunious states and localities
    (net) … 1.0% of GDP

    That amounts to 20.5% of domestic product and covers the waterfront (from my perspective, not the President’s). Prior to 1914, the ratio of public expenditure to domestic product in occidental countries was, if I am not mistaken, around 0.10, and some portion of that was devoted to the common provision of the day, most typically manifest in public agencies (schools, asylums, city hospitals, sanitariums, orphanages, veterans’ hospitals, poor houses, &c.). Here in New York, public expenditure apart from welfare, education, and law enforcement typically amounts to about 5.5% of domestic product, I think. Law enforcement at one time amounted to about 2% of domestic product; it is now more than that and money well spent, but other occidental countries may be able to get by with less for similar results. The United States spends about 5% of domestic product on the military and espionage services. I think the global mean might be around 2.5%. Provision of gas, electricity, and water are properly undertaken by public agencies or regulated monopolies and might amount to 2% of domestic product.

    In other words, a welfare state with a baseline of public services can generally be had with a ratio of public expenditure to domestic product of 0.33 (in peacetime and barring a banking crisis), give or take some portion dependent upon local circumstances.

    By way of contrast, at the time Margaret Thatcher took office in 1979, the ratio of public expenditure to domestic product was about 0.43; the output of state-owned industry amounted to 10% of domestic product; and about a third of all metropolitan households were living in public housing. All told, the state sector amounted to about 55% of domestic product.

    Borrowing from abroad (and note that Greece’s balance of payments deficit on current account is running at 14% of domestic product) is not sustainable; routinized public sector borrowing is not (after a generation or two) sustainable. Demographic implosion makes for an unsustainable society as well as an unsustainable state. All of these are phenomena distinct from maintaining a vigorous ethic of common provision.

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Mickey Kaus: Democrat With a Difference

Monday, May 3, AD 2010

Mickey Kaus, blogger and writer, is running against Barbara Boxer in the Senate primary in California.  I have read with enjoyment his KausFiles for years.  Alas, Mr. Kaus is not pro-life.  If he were, I could imagine myself possibly voting for him.  He is taking on some of the major shibboleths of his party.  Here are a few examples:

Unions:

“Yet the answer of most union leaders to the failure of 1950s unionism has been more 1950s unionism. This isn’t how we’re going to get prosperity back. But it’s the official Democratic Party dogma. No dissent allowed.

Government unions are even more problematic (and as private sector unions have failed in the marketplace, government unions are increasingly dominant). If there are limits on what private unions can demand — when they win too much, as we’ve seen, their employers tend to disappear — there is no such limit on what government unions can demand. They just have to get the politicians to raise your taxes to pay for it, and by funding the Democratic machine they acquire just the politicians they need.

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Pro-Lifers Invade the Pro-Abortion City of San Francisco

Tuesday, February 2, AD 2010

Recently the City of San Francisco got to experience a peaceful and powerful Pro-Life march on January 23.  In what is being billed as the largest gathering of Pro-Lifers in San Francisco ever, an estimated 40,000 volunteers from all ages, cultures, and nations descended on what is known to be the most egregious community of new Carthaginians in the country.

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8 Responses to California R.I.P.

California Legislature Calls for Prop 8 to be Thrown Out

Tuesday, March 3, AD 2009

According to an email update just out from Bill May of Catholics For The Common Good (not to be confused with “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good”), the California State Senate passed on Monday resolution SR7, a non-binding resolution calling on the State Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, the amendment to the state constitution which passed back in November, defining marriage in California as between a man and a woman.

Anti-Prop 8 Resolution Passed the California Senate Today

Referring to the sovereign power of the voters as “mob rule”, San Francisco Senator Mark Leno asked the State Senate to adopt SR7, a resolution calling on the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. The measure, that has no force of law, passed 18-14 this afternoon (Monday, March 2).

A similar measure, HR 5, is on the Assembly floor and could come to a vote at any time. Please call your Assembly member and ask him or her to vote “NO”. Details can be found here: http://www.ccgaction.org/family/protectionofmarriage/CA/resaction09-02-17#action.

Perhaps our lawyers can enlighten me, but it seems to me that should the State Supreme Court follow the legislature’s request and overturn the amendment, then the democratic process would have fundamentally broken down.

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19 Responses to California Legislature Calls for Prop 8 to be Thrown Out

  • “Perhaps our lawyers can enlighten me, but it seems to me that should the State Supreme Court follow the legislature’s request and overturn the amendment, then the democratic process would have fundamentally broken down.”

    In a word yes. The idea that an amendment to a constitution can be declared unconstitutional by a court removes the last fig leaf that we are governed by constitutions rather than by the courts that construe what the constitutions mean. If the California Supreme Court follows this advice from the California legislature, this will have ramifications far beyond the issue of gay marriage and far beyond California. It will be a naked and obvious attempt by the Court to substitute its policy preference for a part of the California Constitution. It will be then up to the People to determine whether they rule themselves, or whether they surrender that right to lawyers in black robes.

  • It’s certainly an usurpation of the democratic process. However, many legal scholars believe that courts should perform a counter-majoritarian function, and step in to protect discrete and insular minorities likely to be disadvantaged by the democratic process.

    From a cynical point of view, I suppose it’s not surprising that legal scholars and judges to talk themselves into believing their wisdom is necessary to protect the country from the unwashed masses. But sometimes this intervention is something I would support (e.g. Brown). Other times, not so much. It’s troubling that the court would step in so quickly to overturn a state referendum. Why have referendums at all?

  • Since when are gays a minority group?

    If they can be a minority group then bald white hispanics should be recognized as a minority group as well (me).

  • If a law is unconstitutional, then the Court should overturn it, no matter how it was passed. Democratic majorities possess no claim to greater sanctity just by being democratic majorities.

    However, Prop 8 is an amendment to the Constitution of California. By their very nature amendments cannot be unconstitutional. Moreover, even if this were a mere statute, I don’t think this would be unconstitutional.

  • “By their very nature amendments cannot be unconstitutional.”

    Precisely. I can envisage a court needing to resolve disputes between portions of a constitution that appear to conflict, but obviously any conflict between a portion of a constitution and an amendment to the constitution would have to be resolved in favor of the later amendment.

  • California is not a pure democracy, nor is the United States as a whole. Rather both institutions are representational constitutional democracies, meaning the constitution can trump the will of the people should the will of the people wish to ignore the basic rights afforded to all the citizens. In urging the State Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, the California State Senate — who were elected by the people — are not breaking down the California democratic process but rather upholding it, ensuring that the constitution is maintained. The constitution is, in fact, what maintains peace and order and prevents mob rule.

    But I feel I must respond to your assertion that since the California Constitution nowhere else speaks to the definition of marriage, the only argument the court could use would be some sort of universal outside knowledge that marriage is open to all of any combination of sexes. Unlike the Catholic Church which seeks to be informed by faith — a universal outside source of knowledge — The California Supreme Court has no such mandate. It uses the constitution itself. The means by which it does is published and available in public archives and on the internet. To sum it up, the court made the following reasons for the original decision to uphold the right for same sex couples to marry:

    1- In the case of Perez, the Court recognized that it was not constitutionally permissible to continue to treat racial or ethnic minorities as inferior.

    2- In the case of Sail’er Inn, the Court recognized that it was not constitutionally acceptable to continue to treat women as less capable than and unequal to men.

    3- The court now similarly recognizes that an individual’s homosexual orientation is not a constitutionally legitimate basis for withholding or restricting the individual’s legal rights.

    4- The right of marriage is not directly afforded within the constitution. Rather it is derived from article 1 section 1: the right to privacy, and article 1 section 7: the right to liberty. That is, a man and woman, because of their right to liberty and privacy, can freely enter into the marriage contract.

    5- As the court acknowledges that it is illegal to withhold either the right to privacy or the right to liberty to homosexual people, it would therefore also be illegal to withhold any rights that are derived from these – one being the right to marry. Therefore a man and man or woman and woman could also enter into the marriage contract.

    Currently, because of Proposition 8, the constitution contradicts itself. It allows homosexuals the right to privacy and liberty and then withholds a right derived from these: marriage. Both cannot be upheld by the same document. Trying to determine how to reconcile this is not an exercise in appealing for some secret and esoteric outside knowledge, but basic logic. The options are that homosexuals have the right to liberty and privacy, or they do not.

    Remember, this discussion does not affect the sacramental nature of Catholic Marriage. This is about entering into a contract. The two have been conflated in the media to the detriment of the church and the state. Furthermore, this does not lead to the great fear that anyone can now marry a child or a tree or a goat. The latter two do not have the protection under the constitution and the former cannot freely enter into contracts without the authorization of an adult. This isn’t a slippery slope. This is human rights.

  • Refusal to grant a public recognition of a marriage does not constitute a breach of the right to privacy.

  • Again, I’ll defer to our lawyers on here, but the claim that civil marriage derives from the rights to privacy and liberty and cannot possibly include any definition as to the sex of the parties involved seems like a massive reach to me — though I don’t question that the California Supreme Court did indeed make that reach in throwing out the previous state proposition (which wasn’t a constitutional ammendment as Prop 8 is).

    Again, you’re assuming your conclusion. You’re assuming that marriage is a sex-agnostic arrangment, and then claiming that because marriage does not necessarily have to be between people of the opposite sex that therefore it would be a violation of the constitution to restrict people from entering into it “because they’re gay”.

    As it stands, people who are gay are not restricted from entering into marriage contracts — so long as they do so with someone of the opposite sex. They just can’t do so with someone of the same sex. (Just as people who are natually polygamous are not restricted from entering into marriage contracts, so long as they only do so with one person.)

    Why does this violate democratic and constitutional principles? Because it means that you can no longer define what the constitution means by writing or ammending the constitution. I don’t understand how we can claim to still have a constitutional republic if we don’t take the text of the constitution as written and ammended to have meaning. By that logic, judges could go throwing out any ammendment simply by asserting that it violated their interpretation of some other part of the constitution.

    If we’re to have a constitutional republic, then it would seem to me that judges must accept the text of the constitution as written to be correct and come up with an interpretive framework that fits that. Otherwise, we’re simply being ruled by judges — not by a constitution which we write.

  • I can envisage a court needing to resolve disputes between portions of a constitution that appear to conflict, but obviously any conflict between a portion of a constitution and an amendment to the constitution would have to be resolved in favor of the later amendment.

    I would agree as a theoretical matter, but according to the California AG’s response to the amicus briefs, initiative amendments are subject to judicial review for compliance with the Constitution, and several have been struck down previously. I am not really familiar with the CA state law, but it appears that the CA Supreme Court has previously struck down initiative amendments.

    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/documents/agresponse.pdf

  • What’s interesting to me here is the question: Is the claim in regards to same sex marriage falsifiable. In other words, given the interpretation which judges have come up with is there any way in which the constitution could be written or ammended that _would_ be able to define marriage as being only between two people of the opposite sex — or is this a claim in which once the Judge’s have decided that liberty and privacy demand gay marriage, there’s absolutely no way the constitution could be written that would not be thrown out.

    If the latter, then it’s clearly whatever’s in the judges’ heads that rules the state, not the constitution. One might as well go without the document entirely, since it doesn’t matter what it says.

  • California is not a pure democracy, nor is the United States as a whole. Rather both institutions are representational constitutional democracies, meaning the constitution can trump the will of the people should the will of the people wish to ignore the basic rights afforded to all the citizens.

    Nice try, but you’re missing some important details. The constitutions offer means of amendment. Difficult means, for sure, but nevertheless. The reason for amending the constitution is because particular portions of the constitutions have been deemed insufficient in dealing with particular matters. Once the amendment has been added to the constitution, it is part of the constitution. Thus, in the circumstance of amendments, the will of the people can trump the constitution.

    Let me repeat: it is not unconstitutional to change the constitution, under the guidelines laid out for changing the constitution. Now, you can try to make an argument that, if there is a portion of the constitution with says “A” and you make an amendment that specifically states “not A”, then there is reason for concern. However, this is not the case in the slightest. This “derived” human right you speak of is nowhere enumerated: the derivation of it is questionable at best, a strain of reason to be charitable, and utter doggerel in reality. We’ll get to that in a moment.

    In urging the State Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, the California State Senate — who were elected by the people — are not breaking down the California democratic process but rather upholding it, ensuring that the constitution is maintained. The constitution is, in fact, what maintains peace and order and prevents mob rule.

    In two breaths you contradict yourself. You assert on one hand that the constitution is what maintains peace and order and prevents unruly mobs from issuing whatever order comes around, and on the other hand you state that the constitution can be thrown down by mob rule. If you don’t see this, let me clarify.

    First, the amendment was added to the California constitution through constitutional processes. There’s nothing about it that explicitly conflicts with the constitution (only the court’s interpretations thereof, which is the whole point), and thus the amendment is now part of the constitution.

    Second, the protest against the amendment, as opposed to being quelled by the new law of the land (or more precisely, the newly clarified law of the land), is being railed at.

    Third, the Senate seeking the courts to overturn this amendment is not using the constitutional means to change the constitution. Rather, they are seeking to bypass the constitutional means and are resorting to the “we’re loud enough and we say so” means of overruling the amendment. If that isn’t being ruled by mob mentality, I don’t know what is.

    Now let’s look at the Supreme Court’s decisions:

    1- In the case of Perez, the Court recognized that it was not constitutionally permissible to continue to treat racial or ethnic minorities as inferior.

    While I have no problems with this statement, per se, I would point out that homosexuality is neither a racial trait nor an ethnic background.

    2- In the case of Sail’er Inn, the Court recognized that it was not constitutionally acceptable to continue to treat women as less capable than and unequal to men.

    I could also quibble with the “less capable” part, but just because I think you should state “no one should be deemed less capable simply by their sex (save in those instances where sex matters, such as insemination and pregnancy), but other attributes such as physical strength, health, stamina, etc.” And the reason for stating this is because it seems this statement is geared towards a “women are no less capable than men in marrying women” type of statement, which is immediately dispensed by the “save in those instances where sex matters” clause I think is necessary.

    3- The court now similarly recognizes that an individual’s homosexual orientation is not a constitutionally legitimate basis for withholding or restricting the individual’s legal rights.

    No argument here. However, one should pay close attention to the words “orientation” and “legal rights”. Orientation does not immediately imply action, and legal rights are not so universal that no conditions can be put on them. For example, you have a legal right to own a gun provided you are not a felon or domestic abuser, have filled out the paper work, and have jumped through all the other hoops. Furthermore, just because people want something does mean there is a legal right to it. A person recognized as having a sexual attraction to little children–but does not act on it–doesn’t have a legal right to work in a day care, no matter how much he wants to, simply because it isn’t prudent (and in fact could be quite dangerous, given the temptation).

    4- The right of marriage is not directly afforded within the constitution. Rather it is derived from article 1 section 1: the right to privacy, and article 1 section 7: the right to liberty. That is, a man and woman, because of their right to liberty and privacy, can freely enter into the marriage contract.

    This argument is by far too simplistic and ignores a lot of problems. For example, the right to privacy is not absolute, and the right to liberty hardly means the ability to engage in anything. If a behavior is illegal, for example, it doesn’t matter if it happens in private. It is still illegal. Furthermore, for a behavior that is wrong, but not necessarily illegal, it is not necessarily protected, either, since it does not require the state to put a rubber stamp of approval on it.

    As a note, also realize that the amendment directly targets this argument. The amendment, in defining marriage as between a man and woman, states that allowing “marriage” between two people of the same sex is beyond the scope of liberty.

    5- As the court acknowledges that it is illegal to withhold either the right to privacy or the right to liberty to homosexual people, it would therefore also be illegal to withhold any rights that are derived from these – one being the right to marry. Therefore a man and man or woman and woman could also enter into the marriage contract.

    Accepting the flawed arguments, this conclusion seems inevitable. But the “right” to marriage is not simply a derivation of the rights to privacy and liberty. First of all, the marriage of a man to a woman is a necessary aspect for the protection and continuation of society, being geared around family (both the procreation thereof and the solidarity formed when two families intersect in the marriage vows). Based on this, talking about the “right” to marriage is misleading, because there is a weak obligation (weak meaning that not everyone is obliged to do so, but most should and will) attached to it.

    Second, because of the importance of marriage to the function of society, certain prohibitions have be put up around it, and the above arguments (as stated in your reply) do not address these concerns. In fact, you’ll see why this is a slippery slope argument in a moment. But we see such prohibitions as immediate family members (siblings, parents, children, cousins) cannot marry. A person who is currently married cannot marry again without divorcing first (or waiting for the spouse to die). A person under a particular age (depending on place) cannot marry. There are reasons these limitations have been put into place, reasons beyond rights to privacy and liberty, and reasons that have everything to do with the “right” and necessity of marriage to begin with.

    Now, if marriage is only about “privacy” and “liberty”, what argument is there against incestuous marriages? Plural marriages? Even marriage with little children (assuming the child’s parent co-signs the marriage contract)? Heck, if more than two people can sign a marriage license, why not just one? Who says that “marriage” should just be between humans? After all, this is a matter of privacy and liberty, right?

    So, no, the argument does not hold. The conclusion the courts came to was fallacious because their reasoning was first too simple and second already presupposed the conclusion. Thus this “right” for homosexuals to marry has not even honestly been established as a right to begin with. And thus the amendment is not unconstitutional, and the seeking to overturn the amendment through the courts is in fact a gross violation of the constitution.

  • Here is the brief of the intervenors, the people who support upholding Proposition 8, in response to the amicus briefs and the response brief of the California Attorney General.

    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/documents/hollingsworthresponse.pdf

    For those with a lot of time on their hands, here are all of the amicus briefs.

    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/prop8.htm#amicus

  • Last note. Sometimes writing a long reply means others beat me to the punch. If amendments are up for judicial review even after having been voted into law, then that weakens my argument a little. However, the general protest remains in that amendments are meant to refine how the constitution is interpreted, and thus if the amendment contradicts some interpretations, but not what the constitution says otherwise, then throwing the amendment out because of the interpretation remains a mob rule mentality as opposed to a constitutional mentality.

  • I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t even play one on TV, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express recently, but the whole idea that an amendment to a constitution could possibly be “unconstitutional” is completely incoherent. In order to be unconstitutional, a statute must require or forbid something that is either permitted or forbidden by some constitutional document. But this definition cannot possibly apply to the contents of that constitutional document itself. If it did, then the United States Constitution already contains unconstitutional amendments (18 & 21).

    In other words, if Proposition 8 contradicts anything else in the California constitution, all that means is that the other stuff is repealed by virtue of the inclusion of Proposition 8.

    Someone might make the argument that, in the case of the US Constitution, the 21st amendment specifically refers to the 18th amendment and actually uses the expression “is hereby repealed” and, hence, is a different sort of case. On this view, the text of Proposition 8 stands in a different sort of relationship to the rest of the California constitution than the relationship between the 21st Amendment and the rest of the US Constitution. But this merely raises the question of what we are to do when a constitutional document contains clauses that are logically contradictory–who is the arbiter of such cases?

    The courts are the arbiters of how to interpret constitutional laws and how to apply them in ways that are most consistent with the intentions of lawmakers. Hence, since Proposition 8 is more recent than anything else in the document, it must take precedence in two senses: first, because it reflects more accurately the present intentions of the people of California, and second, because it was passed by referendum and not the legislature, it more accurately reflects the intentions of the people as a whole, who are the statutory “lawmakers” in this particular case.

    In any event, it has never been in the power of the courts to either include or exclude any constitutional texts, their powers are restricted to matters of interpretation only.

  • My argument isn’t on how the court should rule on the constitutionality of proposition 8. I do not and would not deny that I have strong opinions on the matter, nor that I would prefer one ruling over another. My comments, however, were meant to respond to DarwinCatholic’s original post. He worries that when the senate petitions the court to overturn proposition 8’s amendment the stability of California’s democracy is itself at risk. It is not. It is the court that protects our democracy. It is what the founding fathers of the nation used to put the legislative and executive branches of the government in check. And though it may sound counter-intuitive, it is what keeps the majority of the population in check. It keeps any majority from oppressing any minority. It is the reason why women can own property, why black children can attend any school, why you can’t fire a lesbian from her job simply because she is a lesbian.

    On DarwinCatholic’s second post he wrote: “If we’re to have a constitutional republic, then it would seem to me that judges must accept the text of the constitution as written to be correct and come up with an interpretive framework that fits that.”

    I agree with exactly that. The constitution, as written, now has an internal contradiction. Either the amendment negates the original interpretation of the constitution, or the original interpretation of the constitution prohibits an amendment voted in by the people. I have no idea how the court would rule. Perhaps it is true that a later amendment has priority over an earlier interpretation. Perhaps, as John Henry points out, the very fact that previous amendments have been over-turned is because the constitution explicitly gives this power to the judges. But the mere fact that the court can interpret the law–that it is mandated to do so–does not imply that the court is legislating, harming the rights of the people, hurting democracy, or that they have “some sort of universal outside knowledge.”

    It is this power that distinguishes California from Syria and Myanmar.

  • Alex,

    See, the problem as I see it is when you say “The constitution, as written, now has an internal contradiction.” and then continue “Either the amendment negates the original interpretation of the constitution, or the original interpretation of the constitution prohibits an amendment voted in by the people.”

    The constitution (including the Prop 8 ammendment to it) as written has no contradition. The contradiction is between the interpretation previously offered by the court (what they interpreted the existing text to mean) and what the ammendment says. The ammendment contradicts something which the court previously held to have been implicit in the broad rights outlined in the constitution.

    Now, why should the claim that in this case the court’s previous interpretation should have precedence?

    Well, imagine that around 1890 a heavily racist series of administrations had been voted into power, and a succession of presidents appointed racist supreme court justices to the US Supreme Court, who then proceeded to rule in a landmark case that the 13th, 14th, and 15th ammendments to the US Constitution were in contradiction to the Dred Scott v. Sandford verdict, and therefore invalid. The justices throw those three ammendments out.

    Not only would that be a huge setback for civil rights, but it would be something which it was fundamentally impossible for people to resolve at some later date. If elements of the text of the constitution can be thrown out based on how judges interpret other parts of the constitution, then we cease to have a constitutional republic.

    You’re right that our nation’s founders envisioned the courts of checking the power of the executive and legislative branches, and that for a long time this has in part been done by considering the constitutionality of laws. But the whole system falls apart if the court can reject parts of the constitution (including duly passed ammendments) based on their interpretation of other parts of the constitution. The whole point of ammending the constitution is to change what it means. And the whole point of a constitution more generally is that it means what it says and that the only way of changing that is to ammend the constitution.

    We’ve been in tension over that for the last 40-50 years as the national and state supreme courts have increasingly read implicit rights into the existing text and used those implicit rights to overturn legislation. But up until this innovation it was always at least theoretically possible to resolve such disputes by ammending the text of the constitution. However, when we reach the point where courts can reject an ammendment on that basis that it does not conform to the court’s prior opinions (unless as John Henry notes CA has its own process peculiar to the state in which a new ammendment must first pass court scrutiny) it stikes me that we’ve ceased to have a constitutional republic and lapsed into a judicial/oligarchic republic.

    In that sense, there will be a lot less distinction between California and Syria or Myanmar if the state supreme court throws out this ammendment than there was before.

  • It is the court that protects our democracy.

    Alex, here you are missing the point. It isn’t the courts that protect democracy. They have the duty of trying to judge cases and verify constitutionality of things, so they do play a role, but they’re far from the only thing. What you are implying is that the judiciary is the highest order, which it is not. Nationally speaking, it is one of three branches, each of which checks the others. There are checks on the judiciary to keep it from going out of control, which it can do and arguably (though I don’t see there’s much argument against) have done so in the past.

    No, what really protects democracies is a moral and educated populace.

    The constitution, as written, now has an internal contradiction.

    See, you’re still not getting the point of the problem. As written, the constitution has no internal contradictions. The only “contradiction” is between what is now written into the constitution, and what the judiciary attempted to read into it. The fact that the public has the opportunity to add amendments into the constitution that nullify bad interpretations is one of the checks that exists on the judiciary. If the judiciary can then arbitrarily toss those amendments out of the window (as opposed to actually pointing to what everyone can agree is a contradiction), then it has unfettered control over what is, or is not, constitutional. That essentially makes the de facto power of the land, which in turn breaks the whole notion of a constitutional republic.

    It keeps any majority from oppressing any minority.

    The fact that this is at all being construed as oppression is ridiculous. As I mentioned before, this supposed “right” for homosexuals to marry is fabricated out of infantile reasoning. Why can women own property? Because a person’s sex is not an intrinsic part of owning property. Why can black children attend any school? Because skin color is not intrinsic to intelligence, diligence, location, social interaction, etc. How then is marriage different? Precisely because the sex of the parties involved is an intrinsic part of marriage. To make an amendment that makes this explicit no more denies liberty to someone than would, say, making an amendment saying that only woman (or at least people with the functioning organs) can become pregnant.

  • What is so deeply disappointing is that the courts, which are supposed to be so enlightened, don’t understand why these fabricated “rights” are derived from “infantile reasoning,” as Ryan so nicely put it. The courts haven’t been able to reason their way out of a paper bag for years. They exalt their own position and power, and the entire concept of judicial review, above and beyond basic reasoning. Ryan should file an amicus brief; he pretty well demolishes this faulty reasoning in a few paragraphs.

    It boggles the mind that anyone could even think that there is a natural right being violated by the amendment. How can these judges not see that the state’s interest in marriage is not in making individual privacy and liberty sovereign, but in fostering the good of society through the transmission of culture via the family unit? Same-sex marriage is just another chisel blow to an already weakened institution. I would argue that in itself it might not be totally disastrous for society to allow it, but why do we keep drip-dripping poison into our own drink? Divorce, contraception, abortion, and the shifting mores brought on by the sexual revolution… Yes, let’s just add gay marriage to the roster, shall we? Since none of those other things could’ve possibly been detrimental to marriage and family… How can we allow the drastic social experiment we’re undertaking without even a hint of trepidation at where it might lead us? It seems the argument goes, “Well, we’ve already screwed it up, so what’s one more nail in the coffin?”

    Marriage as romantic relationship and private contract above all else? God help us all.

  • Heck, if more than two people can sign a marriage license, why not just one?

    Exactly!!! Who says marriage has to be between *two* people? I’m single and I’m being oppressed! I want the full rights, benefits, and privileges of marriage, too!

    Ridiculous.

Marriage Looks to Win in California

Wednesday, November 5, AD 2008

While there is generally little to rejoice at in the results of yesterdays elections, there is a glimmer of light on the West Coast for those who believe in Christianity and Western Culture: As of this morning California Proposition 8, which would amend the California state constitution with the words “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” looks to be winning out after a hard fought campaign. The LA Times refuses to call it yet, but with 91% of precincts reporting, Prop 8 leads by 350,000 votes, 51.9% to 48.1%.

President Elect Obama had opposed the measure calling it “divisive”, but although Obama won California by 2,400,000 votes, Californians refused to allow to stand to a court ruling earlier this year in which 2000’s Proposition 22 defined traditional marriage by statute.

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13 Responses to Marriage Looks to Win in California

  • Hope for the future. I assume culturally conservative Hispanic votes made up the margin of victory.

  • Yes, not to underestimate the impact of Prop 8, but CA Proposition 4, the “parental notification” law for minors seeking abortion, has been knocked down, yet again. I left California in 2006, but the pro-life movement has worked very hard for notification. Parental Consent would be the next hurdle. This is the most common sense restriction you could have. A child needs permission to be given an aspirin at school, but she can get an abortion, no questions asked. It boggles my mind to see how Prop 8 could pass, yet Prop 4 fail. It is a severe blow to the pro-life movement in California.

  • Traditional marriage passed with something like 61% of the vote last time in CA; now it’s a much thinner margin. I don’t see this as much of a victory anymore, when it’s stood next to the failure of parental notification (Prop 4) and all the other abortion and euthanasia measures in other states. Add to this the possibility of something happening at the federal level on these matters….?

    Really, what hope is there for America if parents think it’s okay for their daughters to get an abortion without their knowledge?

  • It’s becoming my mantra… politics is downstream from culture, politics is downstream from culture. Things like the failure of 4 and the smaller margin of victory for 8 in CA confirm the view that we need to be focusing *as much* on cultural transformation as on political transformation… I generally accept the view that elections merely hold up a mirror to the electorate, and that we get the politicians we vote for, in the obvious *and* more subtle senses.

    I live in South Dakota, where two years ago a comprehensive ban on abortion failed by 10% at the ballot box. Pro-lifers came back with a ban that included exceptions, just to get *something* passed, and guess what? It failed last night, again by double digits. And this is South Dakota, for goodness sake, which hasn’t voted for a Dem president since hometown boy McGovern!

    The law is a great teacher, and there is a feedback loop in the culture-politics relationship (politics can amplify cultural trends), but I think the electoral trends call for a greater focus on cultural transformation, *while maintaining* efforts wrt political transformation.

    But all of that requires evangelization & catechesis, so I’d better get back to work. 🙂

  • Whoopee. Only slightly less than half of Californians think men and women are interchangeable…

    Sorry to be so grumpy. This victory really is worth celebrating. But I don’t see the end in sight for this issue.

  • but I think the electoral trends call for a greater focus on cultural transformation, *while maintaining* efforts wrt political transformation.

    Completely agreed, Chris.

  • And please don’t take down the Obama-Messiah blog!

  • It’s going to get worse before it gets better. We need to realize that internet pornography is the greatest propaganda machine for the sexual revolution. For the dedicated pornography customer, sexuality really is just a consumer choice.

  • Wow, what’s the weather like in the land of the out of touch? I assume quite gloomy. Why don’t you people relax and let people live their lives without you always trying to impose your will on them…

  • Hey Obamabot,

    That was you imposing your will on us… I never tried to redefine marriage. Get the facts straight.

  • Wait till Obama’s Supreme Court choices invalidate Prop 8.

  • Hey jack christian,
    Me simply asking why you do cannot just leave folks alone and let them live their lives is me “imposing my will on you”? Wow, what a weird way to twist that—let me understand your logic, you impose your will on others, someone requests that you stop, you then feel like someone is imposing their will on you for asking you to not impose your will? Yikes.

  • How did I impose my will on others? I didn’t. But then you said….

    Why don’t you people relax and let people live their lives

    …Huh, that certainly sounds like someone trying to impose his will on another…

    And my name isn’t jack, Obamabot.

Defend Marriage. Defend Life. Protect the Future.

Monday, November 3, AD 2008

Readers in California, please don’t forget that as you attempt to chose a pro-Life candidate for President of the US you are also being called to defend marriage by voting Yes on Proposition 8. Whether they are beloved friends, co-workers or relatives, we all probably all know gays and lesbians that we love and care deeply about; many of them may be in long-term loving relationships. But let’s not fool ourselves, a “marriage” between two people of the same sex is not a marriage in Christ. It is not love in the way Christ called us to love one another and the more we head down this path of destroying the institution of marriage, the further we move down the road to our own destruction as a society.

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11 Responses to Defend Marriage. Defend Life. Protect the Future.

  • The only problem I foresee with an affirmative vote on Proposition 8 is that it warrants the marriage of a transgender male and a transgender female. Under Prop 8, such a “marriage” would be “valid” and “recognized” in California.

    We must be wary of accepting transgender marriages because transgender people are disgusting and morally reprehensible. Voting “Yes” on Prop 8 will promote transgender marriages and a disgusting and messy alternative lifestyle. So, an affirmative vote on Prop 8 will encourage transgender marriages.

  • Made recent trip to Southern California. Turned on local teevee news soon as the bags were dumped in hotel room closet. Assaulted by blasts of Prop 6 this and Prop 10 that and stuff from Mexico will poison children. Turned off tube, went to dinner. But glad to see the Prop 8 forces spending oodles of coin on those commercials. Did I see rumor that His Eminence Cardinal Mahony wrote check for 1 million for Pro-Prop 8 effort. A stopped clock is right 2x daily.

  • Actually, no, I’m not a “troll” (and I’m not a plumber or Joe “six-pack” either) but I am very concerned with recent Catholic support for fringe legislation, such as Prop 8 in CA and Amend 48 in CO. It seems fewer and fewer Catholics — especially bishops and cardinals — are thinking about the obvious implications of legislating morality.

    But if “Joe is a troll” has something more useful and substantive to say than just toss slanders toward fellow Catholics concerned with highly questionable legislation, then I’d be happy to hear it! The problem is that you’ve not thought about such implications; have you? Let me pose the question again: What should be done about marriage between two people who are transgender?

    Since you probably won’t be able to fill out the argument, let me. You might think that Prop 8 should be replaced with stronger language: marriage should be between a natural man and a natural woman. Of course the problem is in defining “natural,” because so many people engage in cosmetic surgery over the course of their lifetime. It would be hard to say that a person who has “whitened” their teeth is natural, because natural seems to imply something about not having engaged in some form of cosmetic enhancement. We all have done something to improve ourselves, so it seems like we cannot conceive of natural in this way.

    One might think that natural implies something about being able to bear children. Of course we’d have to extend legislation to legitimize those couples who can no longer bear children, i.e., the elderly. Also, we’d have to accommodate those couples where one or more of the spouses have health problems preventing them from bearing children. Given the way that the Catholic Church has been going recently, you may think that these folks shouldn’t marry _because_ they cannot bear children. Basically, the gist of the Catholic Church’s message has been if you can’t procreate, don’t marry. So, the view that natural implies something about being able to bear children might have greater merit among Catholics.

    The problem I tried to raise in my original post had nothing to do with accepting, endorsing, or condoning same-sex marriage (read it again if you think it does). In fact, I don’t think the state should legislate marriage. I suspect, however, that is how “Joe is a troll” took it.

    I do think there are significant problems with the Prop 8 legislation when we set aside our views of same-sex marriage. Anyone who can think for themselves (rather than relying on what they read in propaganda flyers and the liberal media) would be able to comprehend this with some careful thought.

    I’d like to hear some alternatives to Prop 8 before permitting the state to dictate what is morally acceptable and morally unacceptable.

  • Joe,

    Don’t you think the state overturning the people’s will and declaring what is moral and immoral not imposing their will on the people?

  • Tito,

    I was going to say the same thing. Isn’t the judiciary legislating morality in this instance by forcing us to accept gay marriage as a right? And besides: of course the state can legislate morality! What do you think it’s doing with all those laws against murder?

    Prop. 8 is actually pretty modest in that it makes no claim on the morality of homosexual unions or relationships. It just reinforces the definition of marriage that we already understood and didn’t need redefined by the judiciary.

    In that sense, I agree wholeheartedly with Joe — we shouldn’t even have to be voting on this kind of thing! It’s only because we’ve been put in this position by a rights-inventing judiciary that we have to do it.

  • Tito, did I rule that out somewhere along the line? I don’t think I did. I grant that activist judges brought on the current situation. But the situation has arisen and we have contend with it. To not contend with it is to give in to those commie liberal yellow-bellies.

    j. christian, I don’t think that “reinforcing a definition of marriage” has nothing to do with morality. Also, what’s the definition of marriage? I think people have a hard time accepting the definition as it is outlined in Prop. 8. Polygamists certainly will have a hard time with it, though they seem to be upholding a form of marriage consistent with Prop. 8 (you just have to add a few more women to the mix). Defining marriage in any way is legislating morality.

    And, of course you’re right that we shouldn’t be voting on this kind of measure. It doesn’t belong in a state or country’s constitution at all.

  • One can argue that the state should not be in the business of defining marriage, but since the state deals with marriages already (property rights, divorces, tax implications, etc.) and the courts in CA have not imposed a definition of marriage which is patently false, I can only see it as making it better to pass an initiative defining it more in keeping with what marriage actually is.

  • “the courts in CA have not imposed a definition of marriage which is patently false,”

    Not to nitpick, but did you mean ‘now’ rather than ‘not’.

  • Joe & J. Christian,

    I understand and appreciate your responses.

    I still think that the judicial branch, being forced by liberal activists, brought this upon themselves by trying to impose their (im)morality on the state.