Bugles Across America

Tuesday, September 10, AD 2013

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;

Rudyard Kipling, Tommy

It never surprises me that when it comes time for a government agency to economize, somehow the fifth assistant briefcase holders never lose their jobs, while this type of idiocy is implemented:

It was then that federal legislation passed stipulating that every honorably discharged veteran had the right to at least two uniformed military personnel to fold and present the flag, and to sound “Taps” at their funeral. Day thought this was good. The bad news, the fine print added, was that if a bugler could not be found, a recording should be used.

Finding a live bugler proved a mathematical impossibility. With 1,800 vets dying every day (at one point, World War II veterans were dying at the rate of one every two minutes), the military had only 500 buglers to share the load. Day estimates there’s considerably fewer now, with general cutbacks and sequestration. Honor guards were thus initially directed to bring boom boxes to funerals, looking to stealthily place CD players behind tombstones, as they prayed the disc didn’t skip or scratch, that the batteries didn’t fail, or worst of all, that instead of “Taps,” they hit the wrong track and accidentally played “Reveille.” “Sounds funny, but it’s happened,” Day growls. 

To add greater insult, the Defense Department then introduced what it calls “ceremonial bugles.” In the venerable Pentagon procurement tradition of the $435 hammer or the $600 toilet seat, the digital bugles cost $530 a throw, and many purists/people-with-taste consider them abominations. Day’s volunteers, when they call them anything printable, tend to refer to these as “fake bugles,” while Day himself just calls it “The Device.” As one Navy musician tells me, “This is it, it’s the last song. Your veteran is dead. And it looks like you’re playing him off with something from Toys’R’Us.”

Just dead servicemen after all.  Unless they reside in Chicago they won’t be eligible to vote in future elections.  So far, so disgraceful.  But then 73 year old Marine Tom Day came to the rescue:

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2 Responses to Bugles Across America

  • Interesting in that the instrument shown in the video would be called a trumpet in the British Army. The bugle is a much shorter valveless instrument with a pronounced conical bore, hung on a cord with tassels, and used by infantry and marines. It is either copper or silver. The trumpet, used by cavalry and artillery, in its simplest form has no valves, but has a very different shape. Straight trumpets are used by the state trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. Originally the bugle was proper to light infantry and rifle regiments – other infantry used drum signals.

    The equivalent of ‘Taps’ is of course the ‘Last Post’ and there are two versions of this – one played on the bugle (Infantry Last Post) and the other on the trumpet (Cavalry Last Post). Other calls, including Reveille, are also different; cavalry Reveille is quite an elaborate call.

    Digital bugles or trumpets – words fail me. Perhaps the vets’ families would settle for a farewell volley over the grave? There may be a shortage of bugles in the US, but there’s no shortage of firearms!

  • In the US Army the term bugle is commonly usually used for both bugles and trumpets although official designations note the distinction.

    When my Dad died John we had him buried with full military honors: taps, volley over grave, presentation of the flag. This was done courtesy of the local America Legion post of which he was a member. It made a hard day easier.

Planned Parenthood, What Happened to the Money?

Tuesday, June 22, AD 2010

A US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has brought out an interesting mystery in regard to the federal funds given to Worse Than Murder, Inc, aka Planned Parenthood:

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on federal tax money funneled into Planned Parenthood and similar organizations raises more questions than it answers about the nation’s largest abortion chain.

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2 Responses to Planned Parenthood, What Happened to the Money?

Big Brother and The Fish Wrapper Industry

Wednesday, June 9, AD 2010

Content advisory in the video for one very crude section.  From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  The Onion exaggerates a bit. Why the Boston Globe probably has at least a few years of death spiral left to it before it has zero subscribers.

The Federal Trade Commission has produced a staff  discussion draft which may be read here, filled with bad ideas to prop up the dead tree media.  Among the worst of the ideas is what boils down to government money being used to subsidize the fish wrapper industry:

Proposals for Increased Government Subsidies, Indirect and Direct A variety of proposals have emerged to allow further government support for journalism through either indirect or direct means. Whatever the means, care must be taken to ensure that government support does not result in biased and politicized news coverage.  🙂

Increase Government Funding

Establish a “journalism” division of AmeriCorps.   AmeriCorps is the federal program that places young people with nonprofits to get training and do public service work.87 According to proponents, this proposal would help to ensure that young people who love journalism will stay in the field. “It strikes us as a win-win; we get more journalists covering our communities, and young journalists have a chance to gain valuable experience – even at a time when the small dailies where they might have started are laying reporters off.”

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2 Responses to Big Brother and The Fish Wrapper Industry

Chris Christie: We Need to Stop the Explosive Growth of Government

Thursday, May 27, AD 2010

If we are going to get ourselves out of the morass of government debt in which we find ourselves, it will only be due to the efforts of men and women like Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Yesterday he announced how he intends to lead New Jersey out of the fiscal wilderness:

As you all know, we have a fiscal crisis in New Jersey: a $10.9 billion deficit on a $29.3 billion budget.

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47 Responses to Chris Christie: We Need to Stop the Explosive Growth of Government

  • If only our President and Congress would recognize the spending problem. With our National debt reaching over 14 Trillion Dollars and the interest on debt soon to be I Trillon, when are we going to realise we can not continue down this path before we implode financially.

  • Texas has a 10% cap (tax assessed property value cannot be >10% from last year). Guess what? Regardless of economic conditions, tax assessed property values magically increased by 10% every year since the cap was in place (over 10 years ago). Perhaps indexing it to inflation would be better.

    at least at 2.5%, it will take a lot longer for taxes to double.

  • Governor Christie, When you’re done fixing things in New Jersey, would you consider moving to Texas to take a shot at our property taxes, please. Best of luck with the unions.

  • I’m liking Governor Christie more each day.

    He should be considered as a possible GOP primary candidate for POTUS.

  • NJ’s taxes are why New Yorkers move there. NJ has lower taxes on everything except for property. Parents would rather pay high property taxes and get the best public schools in the nation than pay high other taxes and get NYC schools. High property taxes also keep NJ a relatively wealthy state which is part of the appeal. The dirty secret in NJ is that they want high property taxes to keep poor people out.

  • RR,

    Which partly explains why Texas is a much more attractive state for families and corporations… no income tax!

  • Yeah, but Texas also has relatively high real property taxes (not as high as NJ, but still fairly high), so I’m not sure that’s it.

  • Yes, Texas does have a high property tax that Governor Perry has yet to make a significant dent in.

    Though having no income tax could still play a minor if not major role in this.

  • The dirty secret in NJ is that they want high property taxes to keep poor people out.

    You mean the poor are being kept out of Newark, East Orange, Paterson, Jersey City, and Union City?

  • You don’t need high property taxes to keep the poor out – all you need are high property values.

  • Median property tax in NJ: 2.4%
    Median property tax in Newark: 1.4%
    Median property tax in Hoboken: 3.3%

    Guess which city has more poor people?

    NJ had the highest median income in the country until 2007 when Maryland overtook NJ by a hair. I’d say NJ is doing a pretty good job at keeping poor people out.

    Jay Anderson, not all taxes are equal. Corporations and middle-class and wealthy families would rather pay property taxes than income taxes.

  • There is considerable variation in per capita income from one state to another, not because there are barriers to the entry of ‘poor people’, but because the aggregate skill sets of populations do vary.

  • RR,

    Good stuff.

    I see what your conveying.

    Though the stereotype of New Jersey is a hard one to let go.

  • It’s laughable to think either political party will achieve a balanced budget. Bill Clinton is the only major public official to accomplish it as a government executive in two generations.

    Federally, we would have to give up wars and bank bailouts. So much for Cheney and Paulson.

    The Iraq War would have been a much harder sell if citizens and corporations would have had to pay for it.

  • “Bill Clinton is the only major public official to accomplish it as a government executive in two generations.”

    He didn’t accomplish it Todd, absent games with social security. That he came within shouting distance was due to two factors completely outside his control: the tech bubble that artificially inflated tax revenues for the years 1995-2000, and the Republicans taking over Congress in 1994 that rescued him from his worst fiscal instincts.

  • The Iraq War would have been a much harder sell if citizens and corporations would have had to pay for it.

    Todd, I think about 75% of federal expenditure over the period running from 2001 through 2008 was financed through tax revenues and about 25% through public sector borrowing. Treasury bills, notes, and bonds are sold and traded worldwide, but I believe they remain predominantly the property of residents of the United States. With some qualification, we did pay for it, just not for every last cent.

  • I cannot help but note that military expenditure has over the last decade increased from about 3.5% to 5.0% of domestic product. Federal expenditure has until quite recently oscillated around 20% of domestic product; the increment attributable to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would thus amount to 7.5% of federal expenditure. Money is fungible, Todd. We did not pay for the other 92.5% but not pay for this 7.5%.

  • Federally, we would have to give up wars and bank bailouts. So much for Cheney and Paulson.

    Todd, the federal government followed in 1930, 1931, and 1932 a policy of allowing bank failures to be resolved through leisurely bankruptcy court proceedings; the government also elected to ignore a rapid increase in the demand for real balances. Sound money, and all (one of Dr. Paul’s fetishes). Worked just swimmingly.

  • Jay,

    Yeah, but Texas also has relatively high real property taxes (not as high as NJ, but still fairly high), so I’m not sure that’s it.

    Not defending TX property taxes, but dude, they’re a walk in the park compared to Michigan’s. MI has a 6% sales tax and an income tax to boot. I haven’t figured out TX sales tax yet, it appears that for some reason it ranges from 6 to 8% and there is no income tax. Though if you want to travel fast and with little traffic, you’ll likely be paying a toll. 😉

  • Paying taxes is part of good citizenship. The problem with the tax system, federally, states, and locally is that they trend to unfairness.

    I think Steve Forbes’ idea of a flat tax might have some merit, were it applied equally to big corporations. Have a decently high tax rate, and apply it vigorously once a business or individual achieves a certain level of worth. Small businesses can compete more effectively when corporations like WalMart have to pass on their higher tax rates to consumers–assuming people would even want to pay real prices for crap when they could get better cheaper from places other than China.

  • Flocks of flying pigs around Kansas City and Utica. Todd and I agree on something.

  • I think Steve Forbes’ idea of a flat tax might have some merit, were it applied equally to big corporations. Have a decently high tax rate, and apply it vigorously once a business or individual achieves a certain level of worth. Small businesses can compete more effectively when corporations like WalMart have to pass on their higher tax rates to consumers–assuming people would even want to pay real prices for crap when they could get better cheaper from places other than China.

    This would only remotely make sense if you abolished the capital gains tax on securities — it hardly makes sense to tax a company’s profit heavily, then turn around and tax the investors who own the company again because the company had enough money left to pay them a dividend.

    I rather doubt it would have the effect that Todd is envisioning in re Wal Mart, however, in that small companies buy things from large companies, so the small companies would see their costs go up almost as much as Wal Mart. (Though it would make it more attractive to a be a small business owner, would doubtless be a good thing.)

    Also, frankly, the kind of efficiencies that a Wal Mart (or to use less tainted names, a Kohls or a Kroger or a Safeway or a Home Depot) manage to achieve would be very difficult to outweigh with any imaginable tax rate. Fast communication and the ability to build complex data systems to manage efficient supply chains are the things that would need to be banned in order to cripple the ability of large retailers to operate, and I would imagine that most people would not go for that.

  • Yes it does make sense.

    Incorporated enterprises garner the advantages of limited liability; if they go public, they also have access to capital markets. If they seek the advantages of asking to be treating as a ‘person’ as a matter of law, they can pay taxes like one. When I last had to study the question, state corporate taxes were usually quite modest (< 3% of net profits), so a flat assessment of 1/3 of net profits by the federal government would be in order.

    Capital gains need to be calculated appropriately (i.e. an index derived from the GNP deflator applied to the purchase price), but that is a different question.

  • US corporate income taxes are already about 35% on corporate taxable profits, though corporations with taxable income less than $100,000 end up paying much less due to the graduated tax table.

    After paying these taxes, corporations can distribute the remaining profits to their shareholders in the form of dividends, which are then taxed again as personal income (though at a rate somewhat lower than standard earned income or capital gains.)

    Are you and Todd arguing that there need to be significantly heavier taxes at both these stages? Or just that similar rates of overall taxation should be maintained but through a simpler, flat tax system. (The latter I have little argument with, the former is likely to have effects on the economy that most people would not enjoy much.)

  • I don’t think “fairness” should necessarily play a part in debates over corporate taxation. The best reason I’ve heard for taxing corporations at the same rate as people is that it makes it harder for business owners to cheat taxes by taking advantage of lower corporate tax rates.

    Dividends should only be taxed once and capital gains should only be taxed if the principal was never taxed.

    All this can be accomplished by replacing all taxes with a VAT. A digital VAT card, like a debit card, would allow the VAT to be levied progressively. Don’t know if that’s feasible on a large scale though.

  • Indded, fairness and corporate taxation don’t go together very easily. Among tax scholars, there are four cardinal objectives of a tax system:
    1. horizontal equity: the idea that people with similar abilities to pay ought to bear similar tax burdens.
    2. vertical equity: the idea that people with greater abilities to pay ought to bear greater tax burdens.
    3. administrability: the system should be administrable as a practical matter.
    4. efficiency: the tax system ought not to affect economic decision-making (i.e., interfer with normal market decisions).

    While mose people agree with these principles, they are tricky to apply with confidence, especially #2. And broad-based corporate income taxes are especially difficult to evaluate under #1 and #2 because the true economic burden (as opposed to the nominal legal burden) is passed on in ways that cannot be reliably understood or identified. Economists agree that the actual individuals who bear corporate tax burdens are the corporations customers, employees, and investors, but no one knows in what proportions, though there is common agreement that the answers depend by industry and are very temporally fluid. In other words, the corporate tax burden is distributed quite randomly and mysteriously, despite its paradoxical popularity. The best policy explanation for the tax is that corporations do burden their communities and must pay for those burdens. There is widespread disagreement among economists as to what extent this is the case. The best practical explanation for the tax is simply that most voters like the idea of sticking it to the corporations and have not figured out that corporations can no more bear a tax burden than a tree or bridge — some living breathing humans pay the tax.

  • Are you and Todd arguing that there need to be significantly heavier taxes at both these stages? Or just that similar rates of overall taxation should be maintained but through a simpler, flat tax system. (The latter I have little argument with, the former is likely to have effects on the economy that most people would not enjoy much.)

    Todd will have to speak for himself. I have run my electronic pen at length in the past on the appropriate manner of calculating tax liability and it seems to bore people silly. Given public expenditure in the range of 35-40% of domestic product, I think an assessment of roughly a third on corporate income (with no deductions or exemptions as they constitute a subsidy to favored business sectors) is about right.

  • Indded, fairness and corporate taxation don’t go together very easily.

    You have three businesses. For one, an impersonal and amorphous set of owners is not liable for the corporation’s actions and holds liquid shares. For the other, a discrete set of owners is liable and holds illiquid shares. For a third, a discrete set of owners is not liable but holds illiquid shares. Do you tax all three businesses at the same rate?

  • Dividends should only be taxed once and capital gains should only be taxed if the principal was never taxed.

    ‘Dividends’ are only dividends once they have been remitted to the shareholder. They are only taxed once as we speak.

    Capital gains are appropriately taxed, and taxed at the same marginal rate as the remainder of your income, if by ‘gain’ you mean an increase in the real value of the property in question, not an increase in the nominal value derived from currency erosion.

  • I don’t see why they shouldn’t be taxed identically. Incorporation costs are covered by incorporation fees. Share liquidity is paid for by exchange fees.

  • AD, I think you know what people mean when they talk about the double taxation of dividends. Tax capital to be used for dividends as corporate profit or as individual income, not both. I’d prefer the latter.

    Capital gains are appropriately taxed like the rest of your income only if the principal was tax-deferred. If investing with post-tax capital, a capital gains tax would be inappropriate.

  • If investing with post-tax capital

    I do not care if you paid for your Xerox shares with savings from your paycheck or if you paid for them by selling Kodak shares.

  • AD, it makes a big difference. Taxing the gains from taxed capital favors consumption over savings. Not taxing gains on taxed capital or taxing capital+gains at realization treats consumption and savings neutrally.

  • Real soon the idiots in congress, bumbledom (you call it bureaucracy), 500,000 “community organizers”, and the public employees’ unions are going to run out of other people’s , i.e., the private sector’s money.

    It’s already happened in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, . . .

    There is weak economic growth because the private sector is being strangled by regulations and taxes.

    Anyhow, dividends are what’s left of corporate net income after taxes paid that is proportionately paid (not retained in the corporation) to the corporation’s owners/shareholders. Then, the distributed net income after taxes in the form of dividends is taxed a second time.

    Forget clueless university economics profs. The real world knows that zero corporate income taxes would result in economic growth and create far more wealth and tax revenues than the present demogogic set up of “tax the evil rich” laws and the politics of class envy/hatred.

  • Ideally, personal income tax liability would be a flat rate on one’s total income less a dollar value credit for yourself and each dependent. People whose computed liability was negative could be compensated by an addition to savings accounts dedicated to expenditures on medical treatment and long-term care. If the funds in these accounts exceeded a certain referent value, the excess remittance could then be forwarded to the tax ‘payer’, but it would (for the able bodied and working age) have to be capped at a particular percentage of earned income lest we remanufacture AFDC and general relief. Everybody faces the same marginal rate, but average rates vary considerably according to income. This is about what Milton Friedman proposed in 1962, and has the added benefit of allowing one to eliminate the miscellany of means-tested subsidies to mundane expenditure that the government offers and much of Medicaid as well.

    If you are concerned about savings rates, you can reduce income tax rates and add consumption taxes to finance the state and achieve policy goals. The United States has been running a balance of payments deficits on current account for 28 years, so concerns of that nature are appropriate. Since consumption taxes are regressive, they should be used sparingly.

    AEI has a discussion of the pros and cons of various proposals for consumption tax.


  • AD, the poor need subsidies other than for medical care. I wouldn’t place any restrictions on their use of the subsidies.

    The only problem I have with Friedman’s negative income tax is that it necessarily undercompensates. I’ve come to believe that the poor should be subsidizes out of poverty, not some lesser amount that guarantees to keep them in poverty. Yet, itt would disincentivize work completely if people were compensated 100% of the amount they fell short. The only way can I see to bring everyone out of poverty without completely disincentivizing work is a work requirement, even if it’s government make-work.

    Our current income tax system can easily be turned into a consumption tax system by eliminating the tax on capital gains and dividends. Behavioral economics would still recommend a VAT since it looks more like a consumption tax and therefore would encourage more savings even though its functionally identical to an income tax without capital gains or dividend taxes.

    There are various methods of making a consumption tax progressive. The best method I’ve come across is to have a very high VAT then issue everyone a digital discount card that gives users steep but diminishing discounts with use.

    You link to Bradford’s X-tax. I supported it when it was proposed years ago. Bradford’s the one would thought that corporate taxes should match personal income taxes to reduce the opportunity for business owners to cheat.

  • rr,

    If I had more time I’d add more, but I’ll just say this:

    The conversion of our income tax system into a consumption tax would involve something a bit different than exempting capital gains and dividends; it would basically involve (i) permitting a deduction (or exemption) from the tax base for all savings and investments and (ii) requiring inclusion in the tax base all withdrawals from such savings and investments. You are correct to suggest that it could be accomplished by amending our current Code to do this. Think of an IRA system with no limits and no distribution requirements; the taxpayer pays tax as he spends based on his own needs and desires as he discerns them. Progressivity can be preserved via graduated rates. The most controversial aspect of such a system among tax scholars is the treatment of bequests at death (not charitable gifts — those present independent policy considerations). My own view is that such transfers should be considered consumption so that 100% of one’s lifetime income is taxed as it is expended. There are a number of advantages to such a system, but one important one is that it would treat the consumption and saving choice as a neutral one — an objective that is applauded by most economists.

    The expenditure (i.e. broad-based consumption) tax was first developed by British economist Nicholas Kaldor many decades ago, and was promoted by renown Harvard tax professor William Andrews in the 1970s and 1980s. The Reagan Administration seriously considered the idea, but concluded that its economic and policy advantages were not sufficient to overcome political disadvantages. Senator Sam Nunn proposed such a system a few years ago, but it garnered little interest except among academics.

    A negative consumption tax could be developed akin to Friedman’s negative income tax, of course, but would carry with it the same policy and incentive challenges.

    Our current tax system is a hybrid of multiple sorts. For example, the IRA/401(k) aspect makes it partly a consumption tax, just as the earned income tax credit has attrubutes of a negative income tax.

    If you are genuinely interested in tax policy I suggest you pick up the latest addition of “Public Finance” by Richard and Peggy Musgrave. While they lean a bit left in terms of their policy preferences, their text really is the single best source for folks with serious interest.

  • Mike, either would work. Either tax all income then don’t tax capital gains or exempt savings then tax the principal+gains at withdrawal. The methods result in identical tax burdens. As I stated before, besides differences in administerability, the only other difference is perception. People will save more if savings are tax-deferred even if taxing them first and not taxing them later produces exactly the same tax burden.

    Thanks for the reading recommendation.

  • rr, you improve the real incomes of the impecunious by extinguishing their direct and indirect tax liabilities. They are perfectly capable of allocating their income between their various immediate objects. The sticky point is that providing for a selection of contingencies requires one have a longer time horizon than is common in certain circumstances and the consequences of failure to prepare can be ruinous. Public insurance, vouchers, and direct provision are appropriate for medical care, schooling, and legal counsel, not for your weekly grocery bill or your monthly rent.

    Because the marginal rates are equal across all strata, one can invariably improve one’s material welfare by taking on additional working hours, with the cost measured in one’s demand for leisure. It is this last point which renders it generally inadvisable to pass unrestricted cash to people with no earned income, unless they be old or crippled. It was tried from 1935 to 1996. Results not too cool.

    Conjoined to this, it would be helpful if the federal and state legislatures ceased pricing low end labor out of the market with minimum wage laws, mandatory fringe benefits, and means tested social programs. That the Democratic congressional caucus elected this time in history to raise the minimum wage is indicative of deep stupidity or deep indifference.

  • rr,
    While either would perhaps work, there is a slight economic difference between taxing all income but deducting net savings versus taxing all income except the return from savings, though both would be steps in the right direction. As for the other distinction, if I understand you correctly (and I may not) the difference between taxing income as it is earned versus as it is spent is far more than perception. It alters the the current savings versus consumption preference calculus. People respond differently to consume or secure 6% after tax return versus consume and secure 4% after tax return. I think we both agree that the current system is not good for saving. I would only clarify that a tax that is imposed on lifetime income as it is expended is economically neutral whereas as the current income tax actually favors consumption. People are encouraged to consume a greater proprtion of their income than than they would in a tax free environment. This is not good tax policy in my view.

  • This is why I support the FairTax. Tax policy makes me crazy.

  • AD, I agree that people need some spending restrictions but it looked like you wanted to limit all subsidies to only health care. Also, not all methods of subsidy allocation work equally well. Vouchers create sticky prices at the voucher amount. I’d rather cut the poor a check then require that they obtain adequate health care coverage, legal counsel insurance, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, and education for their children on their own. Cutting general subsidies to pay for them should only be done for those who fail to obtain the required services.

    I’d also agree that we can’t hand out subsidies to the able-bodied without a work requirement. I only wanted to point out that those who do work should be lifted out of poverty, by subsidies if necessary. I do not accept that those who work to the full extent their bodies allow should still live in poverty.

    I think government subsidies are better alternatives to min wages but I’m not convinced the low federal min wage we have does much harm. It’s too low to do much of anything. Illegal immigrants demand more than min wage.

  • Mike, we both want a pure consumption tax. I’m saying the point of taxation doesn’t make a mathematical difference. A sales tax, a VAT, an income tax exempting savings until withdrawn, and an income tax exempting capital gains, dividends, and interest, all produce mathematically identical results.

    Eric Brown, evasion would be too pervasive with a 30% sales tax on top of state and local sales taxes. I wish it weren’t so but the FairTax is simply unworkable.

  • AD, I agree that people need some spending restrictions but it looked like you wanted to limit all subsidies to only health care.

    No, I was suggesting that if you had a negative tax liability, free-to-spend funds remitted to you should be capped at a % of your earned income bar if you were past the statutory retirement age or adjudicated as disabled. Some standardized contributions to savings accounts for medical and nursing care would be the exception to the cap. The indigent under indictment also have a right to counsel.

    Vouchers create sticky prices at the voucher amount. I’d rather cut the poor a check then require that they obtain adequate health care coverage, legal counsel insurance, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, and education for their children on their own.

    I will have to look up some economic analyses of voucher programs. The only thing I had in mind was vouchers for primary and secondary schooling conjoined to re-incorporation of public schools as philanthropies, a prohibition on charging tuition, and mandatory participation in regents’ examinations. This would act to set a global baseline budget for primary and secondary schooling. Homeschooling families like Darwin’s could cash-out their vouchers for a portion of the family’s state and local tax liability. It would be a liberalization of current practice.

    Again, the only public insurance programs I had in mind were for medical and long-term care. There has been extensive discussion in this forum in the past on better design for these programs.

    I would be pleased if Donald or Blackadder would post their ideas on legal services for the indigent. It has been my impression from reading the newspapers that direct provision by public agency (e.g. the state welfare department) is the least bad way to do this.

    Again, legal services, long-term care, and medical care are subject to somewhat unpredictable spikes in demand over the course of one’s life cycle. Not so groceries, housing, and gas and electric usage, which the government insists on subsidizing as we speak.

    I’m not convinced the low federal min wage we have does much harm. It’s too low to do much of anything.

    They just raised it, and what do you know, we have had a year’s worth of economic growth with no discernable impact on the unemployment rate. Read Casey Mulligan on the administration’s treatment of the labor market. We have had chronically elevated unemployment rates for decades (when compared to what we know of previous decades). Minimum wage laws, benefit mandates, payroll taxes, means tested public benefits, Wagner Act unionism, maladroit health and safety regulations, and employment discrimination law all contribute fragments to this.

  • With minimum requirements (e.g., regents exams) to ensure adequacy, I’m not sure a separate government allocation is necessary. Milton Friedman proposed vouchers as the first step to completely eliminating public funding of education because he thought people will obtain adequate education on their own. I wouldn’t go as far as he does, but for many families (probably most families), vouchers are as unnecessary for education as they are for food or clothing. Admittedly, some families will not spend enough on education. We can measure this by academic achievement instead of by dollars spent. The state can increase the tax liability (or cut free-to-spend subsidies) in exchange for vouchers for those underspending families without doing so for all families.

    Ditto for health care. Mandate adequate coverage with the government stepping in to properly allocate only if the taxpayer refuses to do so.

    It’s possible that across-the-board government allocation for required services like education and health care is cheaper than the “allocator of last resort” approach I outlined above. I’m open to changing my position, if that can be shown.

What We Know Now

Monday, March 22, AD 2010

As it so happened, I was in Washington DC on that National Mall as congress was voting on the mess which is our “health care reform” bill. I hadn’t been to our capitol city before, and it was a simply beautiful afternoon — one on which it was hard to believe that our elected representatives were bringing us one large step closer to a major budgetary crisis point, and Representative Stupak was busy selling out the principles everyone had imagined to be as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar for a rather paltry executive order which may (or may not) come after the fact. (Call me a cynic, but I could well imagine the EO never coming. Though in a sense, why not issue it: It would have no effect and could be repealed at any time. Still, there would be a great deal of justice and truth in Obama using the old Microsoft line, “Your mistake was in trusting us.”)

Still, though sun, green grass, and stone monuments are fresh in my mind, and the largest looming problems in my mind revolve around children wailing that they need a bathroom right now while traveling on the metro (let’s just say that didn’t end well) I don’t want to seem as if I’m discounting the importance of what we’ve just seen. And there seem to be some fairly clear conclusions we can draw:

1) Stupak had no desire to be to abortion what Joe Lieberman chose to be to foreign policy. Lieberman was hounded out of his party and continues to hold office only because of people who disagree with him on nearly every other issue admired his principled stands on Iraq, Israel, etc. If Stupak had brought down the Health Care Reform bill in defense of the unborn, he would have received similar treatment from his own party to what Lieberman has received, and he clearly didn’t want to be that person. Instead, having talking himself into a corner he really didn’t want to be in, he seized upon a fig leaf when it was offered and did what he’d clearly wanted to do all along:

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21 Responses to What We Know Now

  • Thanks for your thoughts on this Darwin. Though I will say this: I am not so sure Stupak’s principles failed today as much as his intelligence. What was he thinking, putting the status of abortion in the health care program in the hands of Obama?

    He was willing to go to war just to keep the Hyde language in the bill, but now he caves and gives the president what amounts to carte blanche? What idiocy. What foolishness! It’s irrational behavior.

    The rabidly pro-abortion Dems who threatened to block the passage of any bill that denied public coverage of abortion are clearly confident that this EO would have little to no effect. Pro-life Republicans also clarified how EOs really work during the debate running up to the vote.

    I will be writing soon on the prospects of nullification.

  • I mentioned upon the election of Brown that it’s possible that his election would result in a more liberal bill. Without Brown, Stupak would’ve had a much better chance of getting his amendment.

    Anyway, surprising indeed.

  • It is rare for a political party to walk off a political cliff in lockstep, but that is precisely what the vast majority of Democrats did in the House last night. Most of them I assume have no idea of the political whirlwind they sowed last night.

  • Donald,
    I hope you are right, but if ‘pro-life’ Dems have not figured out their party by now is there any chance that they ever will?

    Party affiliation first and foremost!!!

  • What do you guys think of Bill McCollum, et al and their posturing to kill this in the courts? Do you think they have a shot? I mean, large parts of this monstrosity strike me as blatantly unconstitutional, but I’m no lawyer.

  • restrainedradical,

    Given that the text of the Senate bill, with its more liberal abortion language, predates Brown, I’m unclear how it is the result of his election. Are you theorizing that if the Democrats still had a 60 seat majority in the Senate they would have been more willing to accept Stupak’s language even though they’d initially refused.

  • I mentioned upon the election of Brown that it’s possible that his election would result in a more liberal bill. Without Brown, Stupak would’ve had a much better chance of getting his amendment.

    Nice try, rr, but I do not think the psychology commonly attributed to battered wives is salable in this forum, whether the huckster is you or David Frum.

  • Nice try, rr, but I do not think the psychology commonly attributed to battered wives is salable in this forum, whether the huckster is you or David Frum.

    Oh yes, pro-lifers were the victims in all this. Aren’t they always? I can’t say I didn’t warn you, not like you were listening anyway. Pro-lifers got more out of this than they deserved politically. It’s time for the pro-life movement to stand up, and admit they are facing the adult consequences for their adult choices. Of course that would mean actually holding leaders accountable and not continually giving them a pass. For all the complaining about McClarey’s favorite representative, he’s probably the only reason you have the half loaf you have.

  • Victims? Not particularly, that I can see. We lost lost a battle but won some side engagements along the way, and while it could have been a lot better, we certainly did better than if we’d simply sat around on our hands. (BTW what’s with all this 2nd and 3rd person?)

    That said, we did lose, and in directly because of a loss of either wisdom or principle on the part of one of the main players. In that sense, it’s hardly surprised to see him blamed.

    The point about battered wife syndrome is more that it hardly makes sense to argue that we somehow would have got even more concessions if we hadn’t pushed for anything at all. The Democratic Party is overwhelmingly pro-abortion at this point, and they run congress, so clearly, if pro-lifers had not tried very hard to get pro-life restrictions forced into the bill, the folks who think that killing the unborn is a form of health care would have had their way in its entirety. If there’s a lesson in all this, it’s that the “let’s shut up and be good patsies for the Dems because they’re only ones who care about people” crew would never have got any pro-life concessions at all if they’d been left to their own (lack of) way.

  • I mentioned upon the election of Brown that it’s possible that his election would result in a more liberal bill. Without Brown, Stupak would’ve had a much better chance of getting his amendment.

    I’d considered this possibility too, but ultimately I don’t think it works. The language to be included in the Conference bill had already been worked out prior to Brown’s election, and it wasn’t the Stupak language (that’s what the whole Cornhusker Kickback thing was all about). If Brown hadn’t been elected we would have ended up with the same result w/r/t abortion.

  • MZ, rr fancies we are responsible for this mess because we did not play the angles in some complicated way, e.g. being frightfully clever and casting a ballot for Martha Coakley. Now, I am not impressed with such a thesis or the bloke who offers it, but then I am just an ass who doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything.

    not like you were listening anyway.

    You got me there. I do not pay you much mind, for reasons you should be able to discern.

  • DarwinCatholic, I disagree with you assertion that “the Democratic Party is overwhelmingly pro-abortion at this point…”

    I’m a 30-year-old pro-life Catholic and spent the last decade voting Republican solely on the abortion issue. But I’m done with that. The Democrats of 2010 are a far cry from the party that silenced Bob Casey 18 years ago. Case in point: as Stupak took the podium last night he was greeted with loud, sustained applause from his caucus. Imagine that, 250 Dems cheering a pro-lifer as he champions the pro-life provisions of a piece of Democratic legislation.

    Frankly, the fact that you and others on this blog find yourselves in the same camp as Planned Parenthood and NOW, lambasting Obama over abortion, should give you pause.

  • What a ludicrous thing to say Mr. Kelley. The Democrat party is the most pro-abortion that it has ever been. Stupak sold out the pro-life cause for a meaningless Executive Order that is unenforceable. That is why he was getting cheers from the overwhelming pro-abort Democrat caucus. Vote Democrat if you wish, but do not delude yourself that you will be voting pro-life when you do.

  • Frankly, the fact that you and others on this blog find yourselves in the same camp as Planned Parenthood and NOW, lambasting Obama over abortion, should give you pause.

    Put that bong down, and crash.

  • Donald:
    I didn’t say I was vetoing Democrat, just said I’m done with the Republicans.

    Art Deco:

  • oops. “voting”

  • Chuckling at Art Deco.

    If the Dems weren’t overwhelmingly pro-abortion, there wouldn’t have been any provisions in this bill for abortion from the beginning. Only a handful of Democrats in the house held out for an abortion exclusion. “Pro-life” senators were bought off with promises of pork. The leadership maintained that the bill will still allow funding of abortion and consider that a cost saving measure. Even going as far as to call this a “life-affirming” bill.

    We know to some Catholics abortion isn’t a big deal to begin with, and to most of them the end justifies the means. But the Church’s teaching on life, abortion, and justice resonates with and informs some of our consciences.

  • I don’t blame those who voted for Brown. I wouldn’t have voted for Coakley. But I did think the celebration was premature.

  • RR,

    Yes, the celebration was premature.

    Let’s see if the Democrats can control both houses of congress come the November elections.

  • ” as Stupak took the podium last night he was greeted with loud, sustained applause”

    Whereas just days before, he was greeted with vicious hate. For everyone from the liberal bloggers to the House Dems to suddenly love Stupak says one thing, and one thing only to me: that he agreed to a deal that will do absolutely nothing for the pro-life cause, because any bill that would, would have been shot down by the pro-abort Dems.

    The viciousness with which he then attacked pro-life Republicans during the following vote was like a victory dance with salt-coated shoes over open wounds. And all they were trying to do was get HIS language in the bill – his reason for berating them was that he had the utmost confidence in Obama’s EO.

    What a chump. What an irrational, foolish man.

  • We also know that the people begging and praying for the congressional critters to obey God and the Constitution aren’t being heard by most, both those in the Capitol and anyone outside of the four block radius.

    According to the reporting there were a 1000 ‘Tea Partiers’ and hundreds of Catholics for Health Reform making their cases.

    The sad fact is there is no such thing as a Catholic who is in favor of this ‘health care reform’. I know you misguided lefties are going break your keyboards responding, but the fact is you are wrong. You may have won this battle, but you are still wrong. Engage whatever mental gymnastics you want, you can’t contort the Catholic faith into making this OK.

    I spoke to these poor fools when I was on the hill the past two days and nights. At one point there was some confusion over the boundaries of the pro-Constitution group and the anti-life group and I ended up on the anti-life group side. I admit that after the confusion was cleared up I stayed there because I wanted the cameras to know that we are not all nuts, in favor of collectivism and that there is NO SUCH THING AS A PRO-ABORTION Christian. The camera men told me to, ‘get out of my face, I’ll film whatever I want’. I was told by Capitol police not to cause a commotion and I told them that I was just correcting a lie. The cops were very cool, they did there job well with a few minor exceptions who were chastised.

    One poor woman holding one of the professionally fabricated signs that were given to them by Demon Pelosi ‘catholics’ told me that I wasn’t allowed to be there. I responded that Catholics aren’t allowed to be for killing babies. I was met with silence. No matter how much we sin, that conscience is always there, as misguided and disfigured as it is – even Judas could have repented.

    The interesting thing was that after the ‘staged’ pro-abortion promoters were scheduled to leave – the pro-life, pro-Constitutionalists stayed and prayed and chanted and prayed. Sure I found the Our Father a little long, you know with the Novus Ordo doxology tagged on to the end of the Lord’s Prayer, but that was OK. We sang the national anthem and said the pledge of alliegence and emphasized REPUBLIC and UNDER GOD! (tangent: funny how Bible-only Chrhstians pray the Lord’s prayer differently that it says in the Bible). Some of the younger fools came to our rally carrying their professional signs and acted like fools – some of us fell for it and engaged, sadly, I wish I had recalled that Jesus didn’t say one word to Herod – but I caved into temptation and engaged.

    I am not sure that all of the ‘Catholics for Health Reform’ were actually Catholic or just very, very poorly catechized Catholics, but they are certainly wrong and misguided. They behaved like ignorant fools. It is sad that each subsequent generation since the 60s is devolving into barbarism. Having attended Mass in DC, I also noticed that the Washington DC diocese is not nearly as conservative and traditional as the western part of the Arlington diocese just across the river. That may have something to do with it – lefties and unorthodox, even downright heretics are in our Church and to be silent is to allow the Devil to sweep souls away.

    Oh – as for those racial slurs – I saw none of that – it hasn’t been proven and none of the thousands that I met behaved that way. Not to mention I met many black Americans that were with the alleged perpetrators. There were also many agent provocateurs among us to malign patriotic Americans – don’t fall for the lies. As for Barney Frank being called a fag**t, I didn’t see any of that either, despite the fact that he is a proud Sodomite. We did call him a treasonous traitor – another term that is accurate for that man.

    There were thousands standing up for life, for America and for freedom to worship and honor God. If you can’t be there in person you must pray and fast with those on the front line. This isn’t a joke. This is how a society succumbs to Jacobins, Leninists and Brownshirts. It is so sad that so many have been mentally conditioned into believing that it can’t happen here and that it isn’t happening.

    Of course, this bill is not ushering in collectivism tomorrow – we’ve been working on that for 100 years and the Enemy bides his time. The damage from this will be slow enough for most to not notice it and that will fool many into thinking their conscience is OK with it and then one day they’ll look back and wonder when it happened – when did we become Communist slaves? Or, worse, actually be happy about it and embrace it.

    Thanks for coming to DC – perhaps we bumped into each other. 🙂

November 2009, Stupak Never Intended to Vote No on ObamaCare

Monday, March 22, AD 2010

Last November during a town hall meeting near the Upper Peninsula Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan, an alleged “pro-lifeDemocrat that recently voted for government funding of abortion, made it clear that he was never going to vote “No” on ObamaCare.

Biretta tip to Sydney Carton and Alicia Colon.

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30 Responses to November 2009, Stupak Never Intended to Vote No on ObamaCare

  • From the Weekly Standard:

    The GOP is now offering its motion to recommit: the Stupak-Pitts amendment which passed the House 240 to 194 in November to ban abortion-funding. If it passes, the bill will have to go back to the Senate for approval, which means at least 25 Democrats will flip-flop on their previous vote on Stupak.

    Stupak is now urging fellow members to vote it down.

    Update: The Stupak amendment fails 199 to 232.

  • “The American Catholic”? Really? So you are American first, and Catholic second? Or what?

  • Yeah, and as Roman Catholic, I’m Roman first and Catholic second. Yeesh.

    You guys should have named this blog The Catholics Who Live in the United States of of America, Don’t Really Hate it, and Aren’t Self-loathing. Not that some would appreciate it, but you’d be denying them juvenile semantic plays.

  • I’m pretty sure I heard about this at the time. Wasn’t it excused by some pro-life leaders (or maybe his spokesman) as a necessary profession of open-mindedness?

    In his defense, a man in Stupak’s position can’t afford to appear totally uncompromising all of the time.

    I am disappointed that so little came out of the Stupak fight. He fought and lost but wouldn’t commit political suicide over it.

    How can pro-lifers limit the damage and strengthen a bipartisan pro-life coalition for the future? If Stupak had real help in the Senate, for instance, he would have had less need to compromise.

    (Juvenile semanticism should often be deleted to stop tangents. Don’t feed the pedants.)

  • I think I remember reading that Stupak is Catholic.

    That being said, and given the smart-mouth remarks previously posted, I would guess that Stupak’s label would best be a “Democrat Catholic” in regards to his way of voting. Political Party man first, God’s second.

  • No one has worked harder than Mr. Stupak to protect the unborn throughout this whole process. No one… not one Republican, not any bishop. I love the Church. I am 100% Catholic, by God’s grace. I am particularly concerned with the plight of the unborn. I think that Mr. Stupak is very sincere and his conscience is clean before God. He and his fellow pro-life democrats have been the voice of reason in this debate. Both pro-abortion Dems and anti-health care reform Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. Neither group has taken account of the poor and downtrodden

  • Patrick,

    If he was sincere, he would’ve voted “no” on the final bill.

  • It puzzles me that he held out for so long to only give in to a worthless piece of paper. Not to be all conspiratorial, but my feelings are that this was done intentionally by the Democratic leadership in order to buy themselves more time. They did not have the support of those on the far left (i.e. Kucinich) who wanted a strong public option and/or a single payer system. So, in order to garner the support of the severe leftists, they made it sound as if there were pro-life democrats who were holding out.

    The thing is: there is no such thing as a pro-life democrat.

  • When given the chance to support his own amendment, Representative Bart Stupak described it as “cynical”.

  • Mr. Stupak straddled two logs, upholding the great tradition of political BS in this cgreat country. He milked the pro-life folks and it is concievable that he was not sorry he lost the vote there. His vote on the Medical reform bill no longer mattered. He was free to abstain in accord with his professed “conscience” or again vote negative on the Reform Bill. To vote for the Bill truly stinks since it allows him to straddle both sides of the debate which in turn allows him to advance his own personal poliltical agenda from the pro-life folks was well as from the abortion folks. A true Solomonic/Satanic choice. He didn’t save the baby, so he cut the baby in half!

  • FYI: Cheboyan is in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Oh yeah, Stupak sucks.

  • Another politician that bears all the traits to be in the Congress of the USA. 1. Liar 2. Cheat 3. favors genocide(abortion). If the Government were serious about health they could make it free for every American (legal) and stop giving away our tax dollars to themselves and foreign countries that are against every thing that we stand for. YOU DO THE MATH……

  • Will,

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    I’m not a Michigander, but it sure is close to U.P.

  • The question I have is this. Did Richard Doerflinger who led the last minute rush to include the Stupak amendment in the House bill know about this, did Nat’l Right to Life know about this. Where has this been. Why are we just know getting it!!!!!!

  • If the Bishops knew about this and if Nat’l Right to life knew about this at the time the Stupak amendment was put in the House bill, then our own Bishops and our own Right to Life groups have betrayed us!!!!!

  • To Patrick:
    Charity for the poor and downtrodden is a good thing. But only if it’s FREE WILL VOLUNTARY! The entire governmental welfare system is corrupt as it is never moral to forcibly take from one person, even if the intent is to give to another person for a “good” intention. The original theft negates any possible “good.” Taxes should only go to things that have equal possible use for everyone, i.e. police, fire protection, infrastructure, etc., never to force anyone to give even one dime to another for nothing in return. Theft by “majority rule” is still theft. All government forced wealth transfer is immoral, period, whether for “health care” or anything else.

  • Stupak went through months of hell from pro-abortion advocates, gets a concession from a politician like Obama, and now he gets this vituperation from people who were singing his praises days before?

    He lost in the Senate and had no good options, supporting his party gave him an opening to fight another day. Pelosi already had votes in reserve, but Stupak just helped out his threatened fellow Democrats who were allowed to vote no. That’s how you advance in a party.

    Stupak has pledged to go back and fix things if it is necessary:

    During the press conference announcing his last hour support for the bill, Stupak said: “the statutory language, we’d love to have it. But we can’t get it through the Senate. And we’re not giving up. If there was something we missed, we’re coming back with legislative fixes. These right-to-life Democrats, who really carried the right-to-life ball throughout this whole debate, we will continue to do that. We will work with our colleagues to get the job done.”

    If he really were only a craven opportunist, he would have abandoned his pro-life fight long ago. His situation is ugly, and the EO is almost useless, but he got more done than if he had just followed the party leadership.

    His months of fighting was a show of loyalty to the pro-life cause. Doesn’t he deserve pro-lifers’ critical loyalty rather than critical rejection?

  • “Doesn’t he deserve pro-lifers’ critical loyalty rather than critical rejection?”

    No. He caved and settled for a useless fig leaf to hide his abject surrender. He deserves all the scorn he is reaping. I regret every positive word I wrote about Stupak. In the final analysis making his peace with his party was more important to him than the pro-life cause.

  • @ Jim S.

    “The development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side.”

    (Words given by Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate.)

    If you ask around I believe you will find that your consideration of paying taxes as theft and thus a moral evil incapable of bearing any good to be very isolated and unacceptable to 99% of people(including Christ Himself see: Mt 22:17-23)

    You mentioned charity, but reduced it to government run almsgiving. Upon further reflection I hope you find that charity is much more dynamic than you propose (see 1 Cor 13 for example).

    As Catholic followers of Christ we should look to HIM and not to figures like Rush Limbaugh for answers. Christ is our model. See how he had compassion on the multitudes and fed them (Mt.15:32), taught them (Mk. 6:34)and yes, healed them of their infirmities (Mt 14:14; 20:34; 1:41; etc… He gave His very life for us and has asked us to do the same (Mt 16:24).

    St John asks: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1Jn. 3:17)

    True charity, a real love of our brothers, is the priviledge and the gift given by God to us. Social Darwinist, ultra-conservative “Christians” may very well find themselves in the same predicament as the rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day, oblivious of the righteous man Lazarus sitting outside his door. (Lk 16:19-31).

  • I missed the part in the Gospels Patrick where Christ decreed that it was the duty of Caesar to take care of the poor. Statist attempted solutions of taking care of the poor have an abysmal track record. Christians have a duty to care for the poor personally. I do not think we have a duty to have the State confiscate funds from taxpayers under the pretext of caring for the poor.

  • Duh. The Catholic faithful haave suffered enough while the Church goes chasing after socialis progressive ideals. I suggest you read the history of Marx, Lennin and Saul Alinsky

  • “Doesn’t he deserve pro-lifers’ critical loyalty rather than critical rejection?”

    I think Stupak deserves our forgiveness and prayers, but not our loyalty. My prayers go out to both Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak for I think both of them have consciences and are suffering and perhaps even condemning themselves more than we are condemning them. They are both casualties, and Lord only knows of all the other casualties due to the tactics used by Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et al. The problem therein lies within me as my heart tells me that there is unconscionable evil abounding in Washington in the form of Obama and Pelosi, those who will continue exploiting others for their own selfish ends, yes, even the perhaps noble motions of Stupak. Once Stupak examined his very ignoble acquiescence of yesterday followed by drinking and partying, one would hope his disillusionment set in about the deal he had just struck. Pelosi and Obama, however, seem to be stuck in perpetual happiness with themselves, totally. We are told to pray for their conversion, but would it do any good? As C.S. Lewis said, “should they be confirmed forever in their present happiness, should they continue for all eternity to be perfectly convinced that the laugh is on their side?” I detected no mocking tone or cavalier attitude in Stupak’s interview today, but perhaps confusion. It is not his intent, nor Ben Nelson’s, to eliminate undesirable elements of society. But what is the intent of our most pro-abort President ever, who would deny medical care to a still-alive aborted fetus, and the 100-percent NARAL rated Pelosi, who voted against the ban on partial birth abortion? I cannot fathom the evil that lurks in their hearts and souls.

  • Read the reply list and you will soon recognize the problem. We are much closer to Anarchy than we are to Socialism. Stupak is playing his own game (anarchy) just like all other congressmen do. Read some history about other empires and how they failed. You need not be a scholar to figure it out. The United States and the Catholic Church needs to step back and look at the one thing that creates good and rejects evil. It is called UNITY. Remember the Trinity?

  • The cynicism is overwhelming. We won’t even allow a matter of days to play out before we cast our stones at Mr. Stupak, who has probably spent the last few weeks and months agonizing over how to do the right thing in the midst of this complex and relatively poor political system. I am amazed that we already feel the authority to judge not only his actions, but his culpability. Time will tell what the fruit of his labors will be, and may we pray that those fruits will be the preservation of many lives; yet, no amount of time will ever reveal to us the inner thoughts or intentions of a man’s heart.

  • Thank you TM for a mature reply.

  • To Patrick,

    It is not the place of the government to take money from its people to freely give to another group of people and we as citizens should not accept this. This precept is not Christian nor Catholic for it breaks the 10th commandment. We are called as Christians to give to the poor and downtrodden. We are not called as Christians to have money taken from us and given to someone else because the government deamed it something good. Charity comes from people not from governments. Our welfare, medicare, etc systems are in a mess and do nothing but hold people down in poverty. Welfare is to help people until they get on their feet not to sustain them their entire lifes even though they have the ability to work. This is evil not good.

  • TM: Since we know that in November 2009 Stupak indicated that he NEVER intended to vote no on Obamacare, where do you get the idea that he has spent “the last few weeks and months agonizing over how to do the right thing?” Your defense of him is clearly negated by what the man said himself, right in front of a camera.

    He used the unborn as pawns in a political game designed to fool gullible pro-lifers and place himself in the spotlight. Now that’s what I call cynicism.

  • Be careful–Stupak will lie about other things as well. The key word is FOOL and we are that FOOL…

  • My only intent in posting this is to edify those who may not know. Bart, Jr., Stupak’s youngest son, committed suicide approximately ten years ago. I don’t know whether this tragic event played any role in Stupak’s initial heroic stance on abortion and his subsequent shameless cave-in, but, in any event, he and his family certainly deserve our prayers.

Now This, This Would be a Sign of the Apocalypse!

Wednesday, January 13, AD 2010

A Republican may be elected to serve out Ted Kennedy’s unexpired term?  It could happen! Public Policy Polling, a Democrat leaning polling outfit shows the election a toss up between the Democrat Coakley and the Republican Brown.  Scott Rasmussen, the best political pollster in the business in my opinion, shows Coakley up by two.  Last week he showed her up by nine.  On Monday Brown raised over a million dollars in one day in internet donations.

If Brown wins the Senate race in the Peoples’ Republic of Massachusetts, it will send a political shock wave across this country the like of which hasn’t been seen in many a year.  If Ted Kennedy’s senate seat isn’t safe, what seat is safe for the Democrats?  Oh, I don’t believe that I should call it Ted Kennedy’s seat per Mr. Brown.

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13 Responses to Now This, This Would be a Sign of the Apocalypse!

  • From where I sit, I do not think there is any chance Scott Brown will be elected. Massachusetts politics are too corrupt.

  • It is an uphill climb Zach, no doubt about that. It is interesting however that Massachusetts does have a history of electing Republican governors fairly recently, so the idea of a Republican winning statewide is certainly not impossible.

  • I don’t expect Brown to win, but then, I didn’t expect Corzine to lose in deep blue NJ either. If Brown comes within a couple of points of Coakley, Dems should still be very nervous. Coakley ran a dreadful campaign, because she expected it would be a waltz. She thought she wouldn’t have to fight for “the Kennedy seat” (ah, Massachusetts – or should I say Massachusettes, like the cool kidz do – once upon a time you rebelled against royalty). The fact that she does, in fact, have a battle on her hands is unnerving her.

    If Brown manages to pull it off, I shall develop a strange new respect for Massachusetts voters.

  • Eric

    It seems “you can’t vote for or support a pro-choice candidate” because “they are baby killers” and “supporting baby killers should get you excommunicated” might be countered with “He’s a Republican” and that’s good enough for some. It also suggests that much of that rhetoric is just political rhetoric, and not indicative of belief when there are these cheers for a pro-choice candidate. So you are right to point this out. Shows quite a few things all in one.

  • From what I can tell thus far, Brown is indeed, essentially, pro-choice.



    His support for minor pro-life initiatives notwithstanding, in my mind, a minimal pro-life position includes opposition to RvW.

    However, his opponent is also pro-choice, and apparently has a voting record more favorable to the abortion industry.

    In this case should Catholics vote for a “lesser evil” or abstain altogether? The ‘Catholic Answers’ voting guide says:

    “In some political races, each candidate takes a wrong position on one or more issues involving non-negotiable moral principles. In such a case you may vote for the candidate who takes the fewest such positions or who seems least likely to be able to advance immoral legislation, or you may choose to vote for no one.”

    “Not voting may sometimes be the only moral course of action, but we must consider whether not voting actually promotes good and limits evil in a specific instance.”


    Tough call. Voting for the Democrat is clearly out. Voting for Brown? I wouldn’t. I would abstain. But by this criteria anyway, one might vote for Brown.

  • The Catholic Answers voting guide fails to meet Catholic moral standards. On the other hand, I thought people said you could never “vote for a pro-baby killer, even if it is the least of evils.” Now when you start reasoning “least of evil” allows prudential decision as to who one should vote for, then people who saw no practical difference between Obama and McCain were fine with voting Obama and not to be condemned as being “pro-death.” I say this not as one who voted for Obama, since I didn’t. I am just pointing out how it is always convenient there are always excuses given for Republicans. But if one “can never bend” then it would seem supporting a pro-choicer is a no-go, and one should either abstain from voting or vote for someone who is going to lose.

    Again, all this shows is the double-standards, nothing else.

  • Coakley is attacking Brown for being pro-life, which he is not:


    Coakley is in favor of partial birth abortions which Brown is against. If I were in Massachusetts I would vote for Brown, although my vote would actually be against Coakley.

    Here is a story exploring the abortion positions of Coakley and Brown.


  • Coakley thinks that if you are a faithful Catholic you shouldn’t work in emergeny rooms because of emergency “contraception”.

    “Ken Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don’t want to do that.
    Martha Coakley: No we have a seperation of church and state Ken, lets be clear.

    Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.

    Martha Coakley: (…stammering) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.”


    Man, if I were in Massachusetts I would crawl over broken glass to vote against this bigot.

  • “The Catholic Answers voting guide fails to meet Catholic moral standards.”

    Then which voter guide does meet them? I’m open to suggestions. How do Catholics – who care about the teaching of the Church, that is – in Europe or other countries where all of the candidates support abortion rights vote? Do they vote? If so, what is their criteria?

    “I thought people said you could never “vote for a pro-baby killer, even if it is the least of evils.”

    What “people” are you referring to?

    “But if one “can never bend””

    If one is obliged to vote, and all the candidates are pro-choice, then it can’t be “bending.” Some Catholics believe they have a moral obligation to vote for SOMEONE – some take it further and say there is an obligation to vote for someone who is likely to win, ruling out third party candidates who have no shot.

    I am not so certain about that. There are times when Acts 5:29 trumps Romans 13:1. This is possibly one of those times – to withdraw from the political process altogether.

    If there is a clear Church teaching on what one is to do in a situation where all of the candidates support an intrinsic evil, I would like to see it. I believe the CA voter guide was based on what JP II said in Evangelium Viate:

    ” In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

    My guess is that they believe this would apply to voters as well.

  • The Catholic Answers voting guide, I think, is based on a false understanding of how to apply natural law principles to specific situations and circumstances. It more or less sets up a proportionalist trap. In my view, it is no more logical than the voting strategy set up by Catholics United that does not understand the hierachy of values.

    If anything, there is a radical modern misunderstanding of the virtue of prudence, which is founded upon the edifice, which Pope John Paul II himself often referred to, of “right reason.” Since Machiavelli wrote The Prince, both virtue and prudence (which is a virtue, obviously) have been radically misunderstood.

    Nevertheless, Catholic Answers’ Voting Guide for “Serious” Catholics is not a magisterial document, which is evident, I think, in the defiencies in its philosophical presumptions and I personally don’t feel obligated to vote in accord with it. The pope’s encylical might have inspired the voting guide, but that doesn’t make it void of errors–not that you suggested anything to the contrary.

    Moreover, I see this growing trend of Senate Republicans with this view — Hutchison, Snowe, Collins. Moreover, I am more appalled that pro-life organizations such as the one in Massachusetts (endorsing Brown) might endorse such candidates in their races if the other person is “more pro-choice.” I would think it better not to compromise your principles and not endorse the less-than-stellar “pro-life” candidate and rather just emphasize how bad the pro-choice candidate’s record is. It really boils down to proportionalist tendencies, which in some respects is inevitable.

    I seriously am very sympathetic to the argument which due to current circumstances makes it “non-negotiable” for voting Catholics to vote Republican, but in effect, it turns the pro-life vote into what African Americans have become to Democrats — a bloc of “sure” votes where Republicans win office and by and large govern as if the very issues we voted for them on are non-issues. The next election they throw us the same old rhetoric and “renew” their committment, but nothing goes differently. The Republican strategist can measure that the most strident pro-life Americans will not vote for a Democrat and even if a nominal pro-life Republican is running, we will judge that it “better than nothing” and vote for the Republican anyway to stop the “worse policies” of the Democrat. This trend seems spiraling and self reinforcing, which I don’t see how we can upset the status quo or change the indifference of some, or even, many Republican elected officials without their losing, or electing those who will upset the status quo — but how can you tell? It’s very difficult.

    I am sure there is a lot of this, in which, you and I probably have acute agreement. My greatest issue, or rather my cynicism, is unlike with slavery or other issues in the past, is that contemporary politics has found comfort in the status quo on all sides of the contemporary moral issues to the chagrin of those who are powerfully convicted, one way or another, on such issues. In other words, with say, slavery, you know that your opponent will try to craft the law in conformity with their views on slavery — either total legality or total illegality. There was no “reducing the number of slaves” rhetoric or strategic incremental methods for bringing about its illegality. This is most obvious to me in the fact that the Republicans have replaced the majority of the post-Roe court or the less-than-desirable amount of pro-life legislation coming off of Republican-controlled committees in Republican-dominated Congresses and so forth. From a practical order, considering current political trends, practices, and circumstances, I don’t buy the Catholic Answers argument for reasons other my philosophical issues with it — it seems to me to just preserve the status quo. Nothing I’ve said means vote Democratic. It does unveil we’ve got a lot of work to do.

    The other difficulty I have — and this is personal — is that by my prudential calculation which I am obliged in conscience to follow is that a pro-choice Republican should not receive my vote, being such a worldview is, more or less, my political antithesis and following my views, a detriment to the common good. Does that mean vote for the pro-choice Democrat? Not necessarily.

    I am also very fascinated by the fact that for many Republicans his abortion stance is virtually a non-issue and they are advocating that he win to block the health care bill — largely a consequentialist line of reasoning, regardless of one’s views on the health care reform efforts. This is especially true when one considers the line of thinking that amounted to counter-efforts against the pro-choice Republican candidate running for the House in New York that met party opposition for being a “RINO.”

  • Eric,

    “Catholic Answers’ Voting Guide for “Serious” Catholics is not a magisterial document”

    No one, least of all myself, claimed that it was. The problem is that there does not appear to be a magisterial document that addresses this issue. We face a similar dilemma with torture, though in that case, I think it is more clear if one really bothers to look and reflect on all that has been said.

    “which is evident, I think, in the defiencies in its philosophical presumptions”

    It isn’t evident. That is the problem. Perhaps you could explain it again? That such a document would not be “void of errors” is practically a given – I only used it as an example. It is one of the more well-considered examples, too, so I shudder to think what some of the other voter guides looked like.

    “There was no “reducing the number of slaves” rhetoric or strategic incremental methods for bringing about its illegality.”

    Ha! I agree, but tell it to the neo-Confederate historians, whom a surprising number of Catholic conservative intellectuals appear to agree with. On this point I simply know the history too well – it was all or nothing for the South.

  • dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

    Great line, but I doubt the sequel will be any good:



Two Reasons Why Government Drives People Crazy

Wednesday, September 30, AD 2009


1.  Lack of Common Sense: Lisa Synder, of Middleville, Michigan, pictured above, decided to help out a few friends get their kids safely on the school bus.  For free she allowed three other moms to drop off their three kids at her house.  The kids wait for an hour and then Snyder and another mom escorted the three kids and Snyder’s child to the bus.  Some neighbor with way too much time on his or her hands complained to the State and now Snyder faces possible misdemeanor charges for running an unlicensed daycare center!  That’s what you get for being a good samaritan Lisa!  A Republican state rep.,  Brian Calley, is attempting to pass legislation so that the resources of the state are not arrayed against moms helping each other gratis to keep kids safe.

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16 Responses to Two Reasons Why Government Drives People Crazy

  • The Senate Finance Committee (with 5 democrats) shot down the Government Option.

    We still have hope.

  • Tito,

    Zombies are already dead but they keep coming at you. The so-called public option is a zombie.

    You cannot kill it until you kill its master. The master of the Zombie is socialism and socialism’s masters are ignorance and Lucifer.

    Without a fundemental addressing our the philosophy of government we are only chopping at the branches. The root is still sick and no matter how many sick branches you purge the tree will still die.

    This is why people who are becoming aware of the sickness, finally, are seemingly being driven crazy by government.

    We need leaders who follow the rules – The Ten Commandments and the Constitution.

    We get the leadership we deserve. Obviously we don’t deserve much that is good judging by ALL the elected idiot’s actions.

  • The reason they attacked Lisa Snyder is because she’s white and all those kids are white. I’m telling you… it’s RACISM.

  • Pauli,

    I didn’t know you were a liberal. 😉

  • It should be fairly easy for these neighbors to identify the neighborhood kid-hating curmudgeon who called the law. Someone might be cleaning raw eggs and toilet paper off his house and lawn the day after Halloween.

  • You can criticize corporations all you want, but you have to admit there’s no private sector equivalent to this kind of meddling. Only government can be this boneheaded.

    On that note, I’ll share a little personal anecdote about a recent government experience of mine: I recently applied for a position with a large, local law enforcement agency as a statistical analyst. I have completed graduate work at the Ph.D. level in a very rigorously quantitative discipline (including extensive work in statistics, although it’s technically a degree in policy analysis). I’ve also done quite a bit of research on criminal justice policy and law enforcement — in fact, I co-authored a book about the LAPD. So I was probably a bit overqualified for the job — but hey, it’s the worst recession since the Depression, right? Any job is better than no job.

    Guess what? This agency said I was not qualified for the position because — wait for it — I didn’t have at least an associate degree in statistics! Never mind that I could probably teach statistics and econometrics at the university level — I didn’t go to a community college and get that stats major on my diploma.

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  • Government always chooses form over substance and judging from the last election so do a majority of the people (of course most, if not all, were ‘educated’ in government schools).

    Credentials have their place; however, competence is often measured by the actors efficacy and not their assertions.

    j. christian, count your blessings that they rejected you. Sure it is better to have income than not have income; however, being trapped in a job managed by people who are more interested in your 13th grade math skills than your adult analytical skills will kill you — slowly.

    The biggest problem with the entrenched government fiefdoms is that if they actually become efficient and effective at their stated mission then they might actually end up undoing their own fiefdom. Preservation of the status quo and expansion of the budget rules the day with government. Incidentally, that also rules the day with corporations that seek government monopoly-guarantess instead of market competition.

    Many Americans cannot articulate that but they know it in their gut – that is why so many, and not just the right-thinking intellectuals (boy that is a loaded term, perhaps thinkers is better) are upset and seemingly being driven crazy by government.

    As a wise leader once said, “government is NOT the answer, government is the problem.”

  • Where did you get the 61.34% number? Fox News? Forgive me if I don’t take ol’ Grover’s facts and figures at face value. Fox is propaganda, pure and simple.

    #1 leaves me wanting more information. The way the information is presented makes me a little suspicious (not of the government, but of the context).

    #2 is simply picking the WORST example and then assuming that the entire federal government is the same across all agencies. I’ve seen a lot of “waste” in private business too.

    I guess nowadays a socialist is anyone who doesn’t hold the government in complete and utter contempt. There used to be a little more nuance in our political beliefs than there is now. Because I can’t hold the government with the same contempt that you all do (I’ve seen a lot of waste in private business- it just doesn’t get reported like government figures do- it doesn’t make me feel better just because my tax dollars didn’t go to it), I guess I must be a Marxist…

  • John,

    74.317% of what you said is hyperbole.


  • Distrusting government is an American principle.

    Socialism isn’t. Being an active socialist isn’t the same thing as being ‘tolerant’ of socialism but the result is the same.

    Private business does waste and it is punished for it by competative forces.

    Government is a monopoly – there is a reward for waste and no consequence.

    That is the difference. Humans are fallen and weak in the government and in private industry. One rewards our fallen nature, the other doesn’t.

    Distrusting government and encouraging anarchy are not the same thing. The drafters of the Constitution distrusted government because they knew it would be administered by sinners. They didn’t advocate anarchy becuase anarchy is free reign for sinners.

    The developed a balance – LIMITED government. Any logical, God-fearing, patriotic American loves their country, wants a limited government and inherently distrusts it.

    As for Fox News, if that is in fact where the statistic came from, may be better than most mainstream ‘news’ outlets, but it still sucks and is probably a tool for controlled opposition.

    Nevertheless, the fundemental philosophy of politics is far more important than temporal results and statistics.

    John, you may or may not be a Marxist, but accusing the rest of us of painting ALL government with that brush is ridiculous. I haven’t seen one post that espouses that. I also think you have to be blind not to see a Communist conspiracy working in the shadows under the guise of liberalism and progressivism.

  • John,

    The title of the post is “Two Reasons Why Government Drives People Crazy,” not “Two Reasons Why All Government Is Socialism.” True, the tone can be a bit contemptuous at times, but that’s the frustration talking — springing as it does out of anecdotes like the ones shared here.

    As for the percentage of the year worked for the government: I have no idea what the exact number is, but some groups estimate and publish it, and it’s certainly not a low figure when you add in federal, state, and local taxes on property, income, sales, etc. Not to mention fees, fines, and other hidden “taxes.” It’s a fair question to ask: Do we get our money’s worth from all this spending? Maybe there is a better allocation of resources, maybe not. With federal budget deficits running into the trillions, I’d say it’s worth asking.

  • I’ve seen a lot of “waste” in private business too.

    No doubt. However, when a private business fails, it tends to go out of business. When a government operation fails, it tends to get a bigger budget. That’s not a recipe for success.

  • No doubt. However, when a private business fails, it tends to go out of business. When a government operation fails, it tends to get a bigger budget.

    Plus, if a gov’t–well, any non-profit-based-funding group, I suppose– agency manages to slim down for a year or two– they lose their funding, which screws them when something big comes along that they _do_ need to spend on.

  • “This year the cost of government day was August 12, 2009, the day when the cost of government was paid for the year. We spent 61.34% of national income on government this year. I am curious as to how many of our readers believe we are getting our money’s worth.”

    We’re not, and as the blessed William F. Buckley, Jr. once noted, “Thank God we don’t get all the government we pay for.” Off to your rosary now, American Catholic but before you go, thanks for the opportunity to see more examples of why a constitutional republic based on any principle of equal rights for all citizens is inconsistent with a welfare state.