The Constitution Then and Now

Thursday, January 6, AD 2011

I have just finished a rather thorough book on the history of the ratification debates written by Pauline Maeir, titled Ratification: the People Debate the Constitution.  The recurring theme throughout the debates from the Constitution’s opponents is concern that the Framers had created a centralized state that would, especially through its vast taxing powers, become corrupt and tyrannical.  I have been over this to some extent in a previous post, and I once again highlight the words of the Anti-Federalist writer Brutus because it is one of the best expressions of anti-constitutional angst:

Exercised without limitation, it will introduce itself into every corner of the city and country. It [the national government] will wait upon the ladies at their toilett, and will not leave them in any of their domestic concerns; it will accompany them to the ball, the play, and the assembly; it will go with them when they visit, and will, on all occasions, sit beside them in their carriages, nor will it desert them even at church; it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlour, preside over the table, and note down all he eats or drinks; it will attend him to his bed-chamber, and watch him while he sleeps; it will take the cognizance of the professional man in his office or his study; it will watch the merchant in the counting-house or in his store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop and in his work, and will haunt him in his family and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labour, it will be with him in the house and in the field, observe the toil of his hands and the sweat of his brow; it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage; and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States.

Fast forward 223 years later (or more than 100 years if you’re Ezra Klein), where we witness the Constitution being read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Republicans have promised that in every proposed piece of legislation they will cite the constitutional authority for each provision – and contra what the New York Times may think, Congress, and not just the Judiciary,  has the authority and ability to interpret the Constitution for itself as a body (as does the President).  The reason for all this as that conservatives feel that a more filial observance of the powers – and limits to said powers – of the Constitution will reign in the federal government.  In other words, we need to more faithfully interpret the Constitution if we want the federal government to become less centralized and less tyrannical.

So were the Ant-Federalists right?  Reading Maier’s book, as well as any selection of the Anti-Federalist papers, one is almost tempted to label the constitution’s original critics as prophets as indeed many of their worst dreams came true.  Perhaps the most prescient prediction is that the federal government would, in essence, swallow up the states as state and local governments have diminished in power and authority over the years.

It’s also worth remembering that the Constitution was intentionally designed to increase the power of the federal government.  I cringe a little when conservatives claim that the Constitution was designed to limit the powers of the federal government.  Well, in point of fact the Constitution was meant to improve upon the Articles of Confederation and make it easier for the federal government to act.  Under the Articles of Confederation legislation required unanimous consent among the states.  Further complicating matters, some states refused to furnish needed funds to keep the national government solvent.  So the purpose of the Constitution was in fact to enhance federal authority.

But the story doesn’t end there.  The delegated powers were few and well-defined.  One of the principal Anti-Federalist arguments was that the Constitution lacked a Bill of Rights, to which the Federalists responded that the Constitution itself was a bill of rights.  The people need not fear that the federal government would engage in actions that were clearly outside of its delegated authority.  Eventually the first Congress would adopt a bill of rights, partially as a means to placate reluctant ratifiers.

And so now proponents of limited government turn to the Constitution in order to justify a more limited state.  Are we simply wrong?  Perhaps the Constitution’s grant of authority is as broad as the Anti-Federalists feared, and we are clinging to a mistaken notion of what the Constitution does and does not prohibit.  I’m sure several people reading this would tend to agree with that notion.  Anybody remotely familiar with my writing would not be surprised when I say that part of the crisis we face is due to a neglect of the original intent of the Constitution.  The problem lies principally with a judiciary that has mis-interpreted the Constitution so overwhelmingly that they have rendered large parts of it – especially the Tenth Amendment – practically null, while expanding and twisting other elements – notably the commerce clause and 14th Amendment – to fit their needs.  Personally I think the case of Wickard v. Filburn did more damage to the Constitution than any other decision other than Roe.  If you’re not familiar with the case, do read the opinion of the Court as handed down by Justice Jackson, and see how the Court – unanimously – decreed that eating food that you grew on your farm somehow affected interstate commerce.  Once such a tenuous connection was made between private activity and interstate commerce, the floodgates were opened, tempered only slightly by narrow Supreme Court decisions in the late 90s that did not fully reverse the reasoning behind Wickard.

At any rate, I find it mildly amusing that proponents of limited government have transformed from the most virulent opponents of the Constitution to its most vocal supporters.  I suspect that conservatives and leftists will have wildly varying opinions as to what that signifies.

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16 Responses to The Constitution Then and Now

  • I found your final paragraph quite poignant, and I, too, have wondered about that shift. As someone who is very sympathetic with versions of democratic liberalism, I am a strong advocate of limited government and, more specifically, wish to preserve the integrity of the Constitution. Yet I do not sympathize with many who are, as you say, today’s “most vocal supporters” of the Constitution. I think some of the disagreement runs much deeper than a dispute over whether government should be limited. It runs down to what exactly should set the normative standards of limitation. Is it a single right? A set of rights? Is it the nature of free and rational humans beings? Is it human well-being and participation in objective goods? I look forward to continuing to discuss these questions with you and others here on the blog.

    As for the book, I asked for it (but, alas, did not receive it) for Christmas. You’ve got me motivated to just go out and purchase myself. What did you think of it?

  • I enjoyed the book, though it does get somewhat repetitive, and focuses a lot on two conventions: Virginia and New York. Then again, those were probably the most contentious debates and the ones with the best records of the debates. It provides an excellent background into the maneuverings behind ratification, and frankly the Federalists come off as looking a little shady in certain states in finagling ratification.

    It’s also more of a narrative history – it’s not like a Forrest McDonald book that penetrates very deeply into the theoretical arguments. Maier just lays out the debates that took place, state by state, and how everything unfolded. As someone who has read a lot about this particular era, I have to say even I made some new discoveries. I definitely recommend it.

  • One could be of the view that the Articles of Confederation were useless and believe that the federal government should have more power than it had thereunder, but still be a proponent of limited government.

    Jefferson was a proponent of limited government, but wasn’t among the Anti-Federalists who objected to the Constitution. In fact, he supported the Constitution, albeit rather reluctantly unless it contained a Bill of Rights. The “Father of the Consitution”, James Madison, was, like his mentor Jefferson, also a proponent of limited government. (They both, however, seemed to be rather fond of the war powers of the presidency, at least as long as they were the ones wielding them.)

    So, I’m not sure your final paragraph is quite accurate in proclaiming that “that proponents of limited government have transformed from the most virulent opponents of the Constitution to its most vocal supporters”.

  • “At any rate, I find it mildly amusing that proponents of limited government have transformed from the most virulent opponents of the Constitution to its most vocal supporters.”

    Of course it was a fairly early transformation. The Democrats from the time of Jackson tended to strictly construe the Constitution, certainly as it applied to expenditures of funds for internal improvements funded by the Federal government. The Whigs and then the Republicans were for a looser interpretation to allow for internal improvements. Since that time proponents for the expansion of the power of the Federal government have tended to be in favor of a broad, or fanciful, interpretation of the constitution, while opponents of expanded powers of the Feds have taken a strict, or narrow, interpretation of the Constitution. Since the time of the New Deal Democrats have tended to stump for what they call a living Constitution and Republicans have found virtue in attempting to stay as close to the intent of the Founding Fathers as they can. It is easy to point to examples which indicate hypocrisy on both sides, but the broad categories are basically accurate descriptions for both sides most of the time.

    The basic problem of course is an out of control Federal judiciary that has taken a fairly straight forward document and de facto “amended” it thousands of times, and pays far more deference to what courts have written about the Constitution than the actual text of the Constitution. Our Federal Scribes and Pharisees in black robes have followed a well worn path of any group paid to interpret a document and who exercise power in the name of that document: over time their glosses and decisions obscure the meaning of that document and tend to benefit the power of those interpreting the document.

  • “Personally I think the case of Wickard v. Filburn did more damage to the Constitution than any other decision other than Roe. ”

    The first time I read it, I thought to myself, “this justifies a command economy.”

    “At any rate, I find it mildly amusing that proponents of limited government have transformed from the most virulent opponents of the Constitution to its most vocal supporters. ”

    Why amusing? A lot changes in over 200 years, and we have to take relativity into account: compared to what the social democrats in the Democratic Party have established, and would establish further if unchecked, the government established by the US Constitution IS a limited government.

    I agree that it would be useful for small-government conservatives to take the anti-Federalist case to heart, precisely for the reason you mentioned and everyone ought to know: that we would not have our Bill of Rights without their intervention. In another thread I posted Jefferson’s repeal of the Alien and Sedition Acts which I think articulates a vision of limited government that is neither “anti-federalist” in the strict sense of the word, nor does it praise expanding government as today’s social engineers would have it.

    I love the work Thomas Woods has done on the nullification issue, and I’m glad that he and others are restoring legitimacy to this much maligned and misunderstood principle. I think it is through a reassertion of 10th amendment rights that the power of the federal government can be curtailed.

  • Looking back, I probably should have re-worded that last paragraph. First of all, the phrase “limited government” is itself vague. Also, the Anti-Federalists weren’t uniform in their opinions, and some of them opposed the Constitution because it wasn’t active enough.

    Maybe a better way to put it is to observe how views of the Constitution have changed among those most apprehensive about the national government, with justification as you all have pointed out.

  • That is one of my favorite anti-Federalist quotes – from Brutus #6, I believe. You edited the last sentence of that paragraph, which states, “To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstances, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be GIVE! GIVE!”

    I tend to agree with you that Wickard v. Filburn was and is an extremely damaging precedent, allowing interference with local and personal decision making in a brutal way. We might also note that the legislation not overturned by WvF was itself an example of poor constitutional reasoning, so the executive and the legislative share much to blame there.

    I submit that the interpretation of the commerce clause which allowed government to regulate anything which MIGHT get into interstate commerce or MIGHT affect it in some way, combined with the expansive de facto interpretation of the general welfare clause taken by Congress and the courts has, in no small part, gotten us to where we are today.

  • An excellent and thought provoking piece. I hope to read book soon.
    It is possible that those who insisted on a Bill of Rights as an express limit on Federal power may have outwitted themselves. Consider that it is through the incorporation doctrine whereby provisions of the Bill of Rights, originally forseen as a limit on Federal action, are applied to actions of individual states and localities through the language of the 14th amendment, that so much Federal judicial overreaching has occured; from restrictions on school prayer, to lawsuits over nativity scenes, to Roe v Wade. There would have been no basis to intervene in these areas at least not by Federal judical fiat where there not a Bill of Rights to be misused and misapplied in the first place; whatever else to the good that one might want to say about it.

  • Chris,

    I am not sure it was entirely intended to be limits on Federal power alone. While that holds true in some cases (“Congress shall make no law”), in others it seems that the states are implicated.

    For instance, the Federal criminal law was fairly nonexistent for much of the early union, yet you have:

    “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury” and “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”

    and

    “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

  • The Constitution is an old fiddle on which you can play any tune. Endlessly interpreted and re-interpreted, according to the shifting whims of the times and the prejudices of 9 flawed human beings, the document starts out with a magnificent preamble and then descends into much ambiguity and legal mumbo-jumbo that provides much grist but little clarity on the Law of the Land.

    Right off, the First and Second Amendments, i.e., outlining “freedoms” of speech and the right to bear arms, defy clear understanding and universal agreement and have caused arguments for 200+ years that continue to this day and will never be resolved as long as lawyers, justices and academics continue to parse every word for their “intended” meaning only to fall short time and again. Say, where’s the comma in that clause, is it parenthetical or dependent, and so on, ad nauseum.

    Cue the patriotic music while we hear the majestic words uttered with all due sanctity and solemnity in the “people’s House,” as tears well up in the eyes of the Speaker.

    Next up: reading of the Federalist Papers, to be followed by assorted selections of wise musings of the on-board Framers, leaving out Tom Paine or any other dissenter who might rock the Ship of State. Give me Jimmy Stewart, as Jefferson Smith, winging it on the floor instead. At least it’s entertaining.

    Conveniently ignore antislavery crusader William Lloyd Garrison’s assessment of the 1787 Constitution as “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.” Forget the sins of slavery, wrought by the Founders, and Dred Scott, and the 120-year delay in granting full rights to half the human race.

    Let’s jump the the Fourth Amendment — which allegedly guards against unreasonable searches and seizure, or an inherent right to privacy by all citizens, now flouted at every airport, road block or public gathering place where citizens must prove they are not criminals.

    Several volumes await on “due process,” mentioned in the 5th, 6th, 14th, all wide open to whatever and whoever and whenever.

    Yada, yada, yada.

    Thanks, Paul, for playing some new tunes I hadn’t heard before. Always love to hear variations on a theme to keep from nodding off.

  • Jonathan, perhaps a Constitutional law expert could weigh in but my underanding is clearly that until passage of the 14th amendment, the Bill of Rights was viewed as a limit on federal not state actions. It was only through application of the 14th amendment for example that things such as Miranda warnings became binding on state and local police, not just federal law enforcement, or the principal of excluding illegally obtained evidence became binding in state and not just federal prosecutions. Likewise Federal Court decisions on matters involving local school boards or state laws governing abortion would have been unthinkable to the founders, and only crept into our law through application of the incorporation doctrine applying the protections of the Bill or Rights to state and local action via construction of language of the 14th amendment. Perhaps some learrned Constitutional Law scholar can illuminate further.

  • Chris,

    While most incorporation doctrine cases appeared in the late 1890s, textually, there is an inconsistency between the “Congress shall make no law,” included in the first amendment, and others where there is no specific limitation.

    A good place to turn prior to that time seems to me to be Justice Story’s Commentaries – http://www.constitution.org/js/js_344.htm, which appeared in 1833, and predates the series of incorporation cases. Story notes that, in regards to freedom of the press, “It is plum, then, that the language of this amendment imports no more, than that every man shall have a right to speak, write, and print his opinions upon any subject whatsoever, without any prior restraint, so always, that he does not injure any other person in his fights, person, property, or reputation.”

    And again, in regards to the right to bear arms, Story notes: “The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”

    It seems difficult to believe, and Story does not mention the Federal government in either place (as he does in other places) that such rights could expressed for every man, yet have every state restrict the press severely or deny the right to bear arms, and not have these amendments be meaningless.

    I do think, however, that the Bill of Rights has been over-incorporated, and that a more careful jurisprudence would have incorporated some of the amendments, and not others.

  • We might also note that the legislation not overturned by WvF was itself an example of poor constitutional reasoning, so the executive and the legislative share much to blame there.

    Good point. I meant to emphasize that each branch of government has been complicit in all of these developments. In fact in the 90s cases I alluded to – US v. Lopez and another which suddenly escapes me – the Courts acted as a corrective on an over-reaching Congress.

    As for the Bill of Rights, that’s something worth untangling. One thing to keep in mind is that our view of the first ten amendments as something like a unified whole is a somewhat modern interpretation, a point which Maier helpfully makes. It just so happens that there were exactly ten at first, a convenient number that calls to mind the Ten Commandments. But they were not necessarily intended to be taken as a collective whole.

    First of all, there were twelve amendments originally penned by Madison during the First Congress, ten of which (after modification) were soon ratified. Another amendment wasn’t ratified until the late 20th century – the 27th Amendment, which concerns itself with Congressional pay raises. There was another amendment – not ratified – that dealt with representation, and which will also be the subject of my next post.

    It’s also worth keeping in mind that the entire amendment process was a result of developments from the ratifying conventions, and again Maier goes into great detail on this. After the first few states ratified, many of the later ratifying states approved the Constitution but also offered various recommendations for ratification – and there was another side debate in the anti-constitutional camp as many constitutional opponents wanted to offer only conditional ratification, but that’s another subject. There were a whole slew of proposed amendments, some contradicting the others. Finally 12 were penned, ten (and then eleven, but only after 200 years) were adopted.

    So I don’t think we should look at the first ten amendments as a collective. When it comes to the first amendment, the language couldn’t be clearer that it applies only to the federal government. However, it is certainly reasonable to interpret the rest as applying generally to the states.

  • One possibilty is that the states already had such protections in their state constitutions, and therefore the federal one just addressed fed limits. But I don’t know if that was the case. If not, then it seems your argument would be pretty strong.

  • “At any rate, I find it mildly amusing that proponents of limited government have transformed from the most virulent opponents of the Constitution to its most vocal supporters.”

    It’s not a shift at all. The worst-case scenario in the minds of the opponents of the Constitution was nothing compared to the reality of 1937 (or maybe even 1863). Let’s chart it out this way:

    Weak—a–b————-c———d–e–f—-Strong

    A is the limited-government position around ratification, B is the expansive government position of the same era. We breezed past C in maybe the Progressive Era. Now we’re at E, and the two parties represent D and F.

    The debate still stands as to whether there’s anything in the Constitution that prevents govenment from drifting stronger (rightward in my chart). But let’s not pretend that anyone is going to debate the Constitutionality of the food stamp program.

    Likewise, I don’t think it’s fair to say that the Constitution was intended to expand federal power. Sure it was, but on a completely different order of magnitude than we have today.

  • “It’s also worth remembering that the Constitution was intentionally designed to increase the power of the federal government. I cringe a little when conservatives claim that the Constitution was designed to limit the powers of the federal government. Well, in point of fact the Constitution was meant to improve upon the Articles of Confederation and make it easier for the federal government to act.”

    I am no constitutional scholar for certain, but what I remember from some articles on the Constitution’s framing, the Founders desired to build a limited government that could function, and the Articles of Confederation were simply too anarchical to allow the central government to operate effectively. A limited government that cannot act is no government at all. Advocating today for the Constitution our Founders left us is not a contradiction of limited government, but instead an embracing of it. The U.S. finds itself in the position of having a government that falls on the spectrum between the deficiency of anarchy and excess of tyranny someplace between the middle and tyranny. When the Constitution was being written, the government was between the middle and anarchy. This difference in perspective is significant.

    If we want to address the question of “right-sizing” government, I think there are two aspects to consider: form and virtue. With regards to FORM, authentic governance would be placed at the half-way point on the spectrum of forms tyranny and anarchy. With regards to VIRUE, and what all Americans seem to have no cognizance of, is that the integrity of government is built upon the integrity of the people inhabiting office. Likewise, the integrity of the office holders is dependent upon those who put them in office. This would apply to hereditary Monarchy as much as our constitutional Republic with democratic representation. It is true that there are forms of “government” that are intrinsically evil. What is also true is that good government is based more on the virtue of the members of society than it is on governmental forms.

    The danger we face now, and the deep irony is that, living in a country based on a constitution framed to protect faith and morals in temporal living (no matter the inherent flaws of it due to because of its conception in Protestant Rationalism) is seeing men use that same Constitution to erect a nation of faithlessness and immorality enforced by the very branches of government tasked to prevent such a thing from coming to pass. The need for faith and morals is so fundamental because, although God is King and Lord over all the Earth, He has given the governance of ourselves over to us – no matter the form – and we can only execute it to His glory and our good if we adhere to His Faith and Morals. What a fearful responsibility to lay upon such frail and flawed creatures! True governance can only be a gift from God.

Principle of Subsidiarity Violated by ObamaCare

Monday, March 22, AD 2010

Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made a determined effort for universal health coverage, without abortion, in the run-up to the vote on ObamaCare.  In the end, due to the abortion language in this bill, they condemned it in its entirety.

Now I believe that our bishops had the best intentions of wanting universal health coverage, but this violates the principle of subsidiarity.

The Principle of Subsidiarity is the handling of affairs by small-scale, bottommost, or minutest government.

In 1891 Pope Leo XIII wrote an encyclical, Rerum Novarum, which said that government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently. Functions of government, business, and other secular activities should be as local as possible. If a complex function is carried out at a local level just as effectively as on the national level, the local level should be the one to carry out the specified function.

Private insurance agencies cover over 84% of all Americans, with an overwhelming 93% saying they are satisfied with their coverage.

And those that are uninsured, can get readily available treatment for a serious illness.  Including illegal aliens.

So why the bishops haste and aggressive posturing in pushing for something everybody already has and are satisfied with?

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89 Responses to Principle of Subsidiarity Violated by ObamaCare

  • Tito,

    I think you’re absolutely right.

  • I have yet to find a bishop that can explain why they have been pushing for universal health coverage for these many years.

  • I really have to take issue with this. The FACT is that there are people who cannot afford adequate health care.

  • Private insurance agencies cover over 84% of all Americans

    I think the number is more like 68% (you’re forgetting the people covered under government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) In terms of funding it’s more like 50/50 government/nongovernment.

  • RR,

    There will always be people that cannot afford adequate health care.

    It also depends on what you mean by adequate.

    Pope Leo XIII states, “preferential option for the poor”, in Rerum Novarum, but doesn’t say “universal” option for the poor.

    Besides, the poor are covered under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act(EMTALA) and Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act(COBRA).

    The EMTALA states that It requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency healthcare treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions. As a result of the act, patients needing emergency treatment can be discharged only under their own informed consent or when their condition requires transfer to a hospital better equipped to administer the treatment..

  • BA,

    It depends on what statistics you are looking at.

    The 93% I am quoting shows studies “that most Americans are overwhelmingly happy with their own health care”.

  • Neither did Pope Leo XIII say “preferential option for some of the poor.”

    The poor aren’t “covered.” They’re thrown deeper into poverty because of the hospital bills. That is acceptable to you?

    I was planning on writing about this very topic over the weekend. Hopefully, I can get to it tonight. Bottom line is I think you’re wrong and the bishops are right.

  • Why does a massive government takeover of health care have to be the only way to help the poor?

    There were other measures proposed that would have helped lower the cost of health care, which is abysmally high in the US – allowing people to buy insurance across state lines would have been a start.

    And, I have no problem if individual states want to go the Massachusetts way.

    But this federal monster could end up bankrupting dozens of states, causing the loss of millions of more jobs, and further crippling the country with massive debt. How does any of that help the poor? It hurts them.

  • “They’re thrown deeper into poverty because of the hospital bills. That is acceptable to you?”

    There’s no Catholic mandate to create a socialist utopia in which poverty becomes impossible. Sorry.

  • RR,

    Option does not mean absolutely necessary.

    You can’t change the meaning of the word option.

    I was quoting Pope Leo XIII.

    You are making stuff up, like many liberals do. So stop reading into Rerum Novarum what isn’t there, ie, forcing people to pay. This violates the Principle of Subsidiarity, not to mention you can’t force people against their will.

    Maybe you would learn this concept if you lived in the old Soviet Union.

    Over there you’ll learn really fast.

  • Absofreakinlutely right it violates the principle of subsidiarity. If only the USCCB would start talking about this aspect of the matter. But to expect them to do that is wishful thinking I know.

  • Long time reader, first time commenter.

    All EMTALA does is prevent emergency departments from refusing treatment to patients who cannot pay, and keeps EDs from transferring them to other institutions (AKA “dumping”)on the basis of their ability to pay. It does not preclude them from billing the patient for services rendered, which can be considerable. It also does not cover the cost of any prescriptions given as a result of the ED visit, nor does it have anything to do with maintenance care, which can help prevent the need for ED care in the first place.

    I’m not saying I am a proponent of the bill passed yeaterday, nor am I commenting on whether or not the bill passed violates subsidiarity. But EMTALA does not provide for anything more than immedate, acute care- it does not address most of the health care needs of people without insurance.

  • Because subsidiarity does not deny the need for solidarity nor that there are needs for structures to deal with needs which are not met at the local level, this is another poor argument by someone who does not understand subsidiarity. The fact that on the local level, the needs are not met, are not being met, and being left to as they are, people are dying, this demonstrates the need for action beyond the local level. And having an overarching structure also does not deny the local access: indeed, the bill is about _getting insurance_ and making sure insurance _doesn’t act like a ponzi scheme_. Oh well.

  • This post conveys a flawed understanding of subsidiarity. Worse, it violates the principle that all Catholic teaching, including social teaching, must be read as a whole. Subsidiarity does not exist without solidarity, preferential option for the poor, etc.

    Secondly, the post misrepresents the facts. Subsidiarity and solidarity obligate the higher level to step in when the lower order cannot provide. There is plenty of evidence that that situation exists. Also, there is, in some respects, more subsidiarity in the health care bill in that it provides more choices in payers than the present system. In some states, there is no competition in the insurance market and only large, dehumanizing insurers exists – which is itself contrary to the principle of subsidiarity.

  • For Catholic supporters of this bill, make your argument. I do not question your motives. But neither should those, such as myself, that hoped this bill would go down in flames have their motives questioned.

    I admire and adhere to (from the abstract plain of my disicpline, public affairs/political philosophy) the Catholic notion of subsidiarity. This bill is a violation, in my view, of both that of solidarity. I don’t particularly care to argue this point, but the Paul Ryan/Ross Douthat line of thinking is much better: private catastrophic insurance for young and old, some public subsidies but no government control, and finally a more controlled spending curve.

    Our entitlements are about to eat us alive (and yes that includes Wilsonian adventures). Our “culture wars” are about to get a lot worse (“why should I subsidize that sort of lifestyle”?)

    This bill deserved to fail. Now we live with consequences. I hope that its supporters in the Catholic blogosphere respond charitably, and keep their moral preening and motive questioning in check.

  • It’s disingenuous to claim that needs were not being met at the local level when options that might have addressed local problems were never given a chance.

    This was nothing but a power grab, plain and simple.

    The voters of Massachusetts were able to make the decision in their state – why weren’t voters in other states allowed the same opportunity? They’ll make their voices heard in the months to come, that’s to be sure, as this bill is nullified by state legislatures and voters, or possibly overturned by the courts.

  • Henry K & Charles,

    this is another poor argument by someone who does not understand subsidiarity.

    Can’t argue with my post so you attack the poster.

    Typical liberal strategies.

  • Tito, as others have pointed out, we aren’t making anything up. You are simply misunderstanding the principle of subsidiarity.

    jonathonjones, I would love to have seen what you call the “Paul Ryan/Ross Douthat line of thinking.” But some here are arguing that even that would violate subsidiarity. They mistakenly believe that any federal meddling is unCatholic.

  • Ever More Out-of-Balance

    The correct balance between subsidiarity and solidarity would, of course, fall somewhere in the middle between “every man for himself” and “universal nationally-regulated health insurance system.” And prudential concerns would indicate the need for incremental adjustments.

    But Democrats opted to start from scratch and envision a plan which would transform the existing system into their ideal vision. That was unattainable, so they instead moved as sharply in the direction of that centralized, uniform, and mandatory system as they could possibly go given the political climate.

    Thus we have moved from somewhere in the middle between the extremes, to a spot hugely in the direction of one extreme. It requires only a cursory examination to realize that we’ve both neglected prudence and moved farther away from the balance-point between subsidiarity and solidarity than we started out.

    That’s reason enough to pray for repeal.

    Upheaval In Pursuit Of The Anointed Vision

    But if Democrats, in typical progressive fashion, decided to throw caution to the winds and envision their ideal system, how I do wish they’d have envisioned something compatible with not only the narrow “social justice” concerns of the Church, but more broadly with reality in general as the Church, pillar and bulwark of truth, recognizes it.

    For just as she is not ignorant of science, and so does not ask for impossible physics and medicine merely because social justice champions are prone to wishful thinking; so too she is not ignorant of the frictions which make human social systems imperfect, and so she does not ask for impossible economics and bass-ackward systems of incentives when social justice champions put more stress on the noble motives of their “reforms” than the outcomes likely to occur.

    Thomas Sowell correctly dissects this progressive habit of mind in his classic The Vision Of The Annointed. The plans Obama and Company originally pursued showed all the usual hubris of this group; the plan enacted was less so only because it wasn’t all they originally wanted.

    If they couldn’t resist the unwise urge for grandiosity, why oh why couldn’t it have been something wisely designed around the correct priorities and the need for helpful, rather than perverse, incentives?

    The Right Kind of Incentives

    In envisioning a health care system, we should always have had in mind the system of incentives we wished to create.

    First and foremost, human dignity obligates us to incentivize whatever self-provision the bulk of responsible adults can manage: Thus the Medical Savings Account should be the chief electronic wallet from which health care is purchased. This also puts the major emphasis where subsidiarity suggests it should go, at the individual level.

    Second, we want to get the most out of the pricing system generated by the free market: Thus medical care should be purchased directly by the consumer, directly from the provider, without middlemen (governments, HMOs) serving as pre-paid arbitrageurs who both distort prices by preventing consumer decisions from being transmitted as price-signals.

    Third, we want to provide an escape valve for those who encounter surprise catastrophic health care costs for which it was impossible that they could adequately save, even over a lifetime. Thus catastrophic care insurance — not pre-pay, but “if it happens” insurance — should be a part of the plan. The threshold for “catastrophic,” however, should be sufficiently high as to disincentivize risk-taking lifestyles from promiscuous sex to drunk driving to chain-smoking to radical obesity: It is a feature, not a bug, when a health care system makes such behaviors progressively impoverishing.

    Fourth, we want the poor to have assistance in building up their Health Savings. Vouchers and government-matching inversely proportional to income should keep them saving into their accounts and thus building up a “rainy day” fund.

    Fifth, we want children to be assisted outright. Health care costs for children could be reimbursed by the government at very high percentage rates for very young children, gradually tapering down to 0% by the time the child turns eighteen. Here, incentives are a lesser matter because children are not responsible for paying their own way.

    Sixth, we want voluntary almsgiving at the individual, community, state, and national levels to be incentivized, not displaced (as is usually the case in welfare state systems). A system which reports health care needs similar to the “Modest Needs” website could serve this function.

    The Right Balance of Subsidiarity and Solidarity

    In addition to envisioning the right kinds of incentives, we should also have had a vision in mind for how a system which recognized the complimentary (not always competing) claims of subsidiarity and solidarity would look.

    It’s primary mode of provision would be based on private purchase; its secondary mode of provision would be based on voluntary charity; its tertiary mode of provision would be through government compulsion via taxation.

    Its primary decision-making and governance would be on the level of individuals as they made purchase choices in the health care market; secondary on the level of communities, tertiary on the level of states, and last of all on the federal level.

    Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

    That’s what we ought to have gone for, once we decided to do something grandiose.

    Instead, we have this dog’s breakfast — or will have, for as long as it takes to shove it back inside the dog, God willing.

  • RR,

    You’ve made no points yet you use Henry’s and Charle’s infantile attacks on me as a “reason”.

    Don’t be a slacker and do your own thinking for once instead of getting your marching orders from the Democratic Party.

  • R.C.,

    Well thought out points on balancing solidarity and subsidiarity.

    Sadly Henry K. and Charles weren’t arguing that, they were only mudslinging to smear me. Not debate the substance.

  • Can’t argue with my post so you attack the poster.

    You are the one who attacked the poster with the typical liberal comment. Because I pointed out the problem of your use of subsidiarity. In ecclesiology, it would mean the Pope shouldn’t be able do anything with any canon laws, if one followed your lead.

  • Now you’re offended for being a liberal?

    😉

  • Federal “meddling” may or may not violate subsidiarity – I won’t say that it does in every single case.

    But we also have a Constitution. Why don’t we just get rid of that, so that Obama can single-handedly legislate us into a utopia. And we can print another 50 trillion dollars without any economic consequences to pay for it. Or we can shift all of the burden onto the states, almost all of which are facing severe budget crises. Or we can beg the Chinese and Japanese to keep buying our securities. The US is the greatest debtor nation in the world, but hey, lets not let that stop us from establishing programs with a price tag only a little short of the entire GDP.

    Catholic social teaching isn’t magic, and the Papacy has never insisted on this Fantasia style of government, where the executive waves a magic wand and creates resources ex nihilo for unlimited consumption. To suggest that solidarity or subsidiarity are bankruptcy pacts, or that they allow any politician at any time to ride roughshod over the laws of a particular nation, is a falsification of Catholic social thought, as immoral as it is absurd.

  • I agree with Joe that there is a role for the Federal government, with respect to Restrained Radical, Henry K., and Charles, but like Mr. Hargrave says, not in every single case.

    Where is the line drawn?

  • I have always said, Tito, I am not a liberal. It is wrong to claim I am. It is also an ad homimen.

  • You still don’t know what an ad hominem is. It isn’t a synonym for insult. If Tito were to argue, “because (I think) you are a liberal, your argument is wrong”, THAT would be an ad hominem.

    Identifying an argument one doesn’t like with a label one doesn’t like isn’t the same as rejecting an argument simply because of a label attached to the person making it. I’ll let Tito decide which one of these he’s doing.

  • Henry K.,

    Must have escaped me when you said it in the past.

    I won’t do it again buddy.

    And I was being cute, not nasty.

    (Thanks Joe)

  • The voters of Massachusetts were able to make the decision in their state – why weren’t voters in other states allowed the same opportunity?

    They were. Nobody was stopping them. That’s why Massachusetts was able to do it. Without this federal bill, a handful of other states would’ve followed suit. But too many states would not have. The federal government had to step in.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion of the issues here. I agree with jonathan, Henry, Charles, and RC. We are all saying that the federal government CAN bypass the state and impose health care reform. Tito believes that violates subsidiarity.

  • RR,

    When you say bypass, are speaking in the context of a Catholic or as a U.S. citizen.

    As a Catholic the federal government can step in, if local governments and/or non-governmental organizations are unable to fill that gap.

    And only if it is done in solidarity (since that wasn’t my argument, but I’m throwing it in there to avoid getting this thread hijacked

    From the perspective of a U.S. citizen, I’m all for representative republic, but not at the expense of the minorities, ie, such as the minority party in congress, the GOP. But that’s for another thread, not this thread.

  • Joe

    I very much know what an ad homimen is. You are right, it is not to insult. But it is to use some aspect of the person making the message (claiming they are liberal) to dismiss their argument. He didn’t respond to the argument. He just said “liberals” as if that answered it all. Classical ad homimen. But you know, Joe, your response here is quite typical.

  • Henry,

    It wasn’t an ad hominem.

    Though it’s quite telling that you take it as such.

  • “But you know, Joe, your response here is quite typical.”

    By your standards, THAT’S an ad hominem. Run along now, you’ve failed to make any impression or change anyone’s mind for the 50th time here.

  • As a Scalian, I think the bill is unconstitutional, as is the federal partial birth abortion ban. But I’m neither a judge nor a Constitution worshiper so you won’t ever hear me arguing for or against a policy on constitutional grounds. I’m speaking as a Catholic.

    Most of us here seem to believe that the federal government could impose some form of universal health care without violating subsidiarity, even though we may disagree with this particular bill.

  • RR,

    We agree in theory.

    I think most, if not all of us here, agree with your statement.

    What’s a “Scalian”?

    As in Antonin Scalia and skepticism in the 6th Amendment?

    As for…

    But I’m neither a judge nor a Constitution worshiper so you won’t ever hear me arguing for or against a policy on constitutional grounds.

    We aren’t Ba’al worshipers if that is your point.

  • The Principle of Subsidiarity is the handling of affairs by small-scale, bottommost, or minutest government.

    You are free to think that “Obamacare” violates the principle of subsidiarity. That is a matter of debate. But this definition of subsidiarity is simply incorrect. Subsidiarity means the handling of affairs at the lowest appropriate level. Consider, for example, why putting “national defense” at the level of city government might be a problem. Something tells me that you would not be in favor of that. I point this out as someone who definitely agrees with the impulse to keep things as local as possible.

  • I used “Scalian” as an admittedly imprecise shorthand for a Meaning Originalist (as opposed to an Intent Originalist).

    I think there are too many Americans who think man should serve the Constitution, not the other way around.

  • Tito,

    “Universal” is not a synonym for “socialized” or “federally managed.” There is no contradiction between a goal of universal health coverage and a goal of subsidiarity.

    R.C.’s description is one approach to universal health care. It’s probably not the only one, but it does show that subsidiarity and solidarity work together to promote the common (which can be taken to mean “universal” among other things) good.

    I would only add that subsidiarity is not simply The Principle of Subsidiarity is the handling of affairs by small-scale, bottommost, or minutest government, as you put it. Subsidiarity is the ordering of appropriate functions to appropriate aspects of society. For example, some decisions appear to affect only an individual, but are best made by a family.

  • To clarify, the health care bill may indeed violate subsidiarity, but it does not do so simply because it seeks universal availability of health care. (I don’t know the details of the bill well enough to critique it on that basis; but most federal legislation seems to violate subsidiarity in at least minor ways.)

    Nor are the bishops hypocrites for seeking universal access to health care. That’s all.

  • Most of the time, I find that those who say that the principle of subsidiarity is not violated by the recent health care bill have simply defined the object as “universal health care.” Therefore, since no state can provide universal health care for the United States, or even for all the poor in the United States, subsidiarity is not violated by federal action.

    However, aside from my guess as to how the proponents of such a massive bill excuse its existence, there are the following points from Rerum to consider:

    “The limits must be determined by the nature of the occasion which calls for the law’s interference – the principle being that the law must not undertake more, nor proceed further, than is required for the remedy of the evil or the removal of the mischief.”

    This indicates that reform of the costliness plus programs to remedy the state of the poor who cannot otherwise afford it are to be desired here. The “Obamacare” bill then violates subsidiarity insofar as it goes beyond these measures. And indeed, though in a different context, we find in RN the statement, “But every precaution should be taken not to violate the rights of individuals and not to impose unreasonable regulations under pretense of public benefit.”

    But, then, I think it is also worthwhile to turn to Quadragesimo Anno, which states that although “[w]hen we speak of the reform of institutions, the State comes chiefly to mind,” still:

    “Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.”

    Mutual health organizations, currently heavily regulated, could do such things, and indeed have been proposed. Under this legislation, they are absorbed. Moreover, “Thereby the State will more freely, powerfully, and effectively do all those things that belong to it alone because it alone can do them: directing, watching, urging, restraining, as occasion requires and necessity demands.” Necessity did not demand that the government replace the present system with something much different – it likely demanded reform of the present system and care of the most poor – which was clearly violated.

    Turning also to Mater et Magistra, we see that although “[t]he present advance in scientific knowledge and productive technology clearly puts it within the power of the public authority to a much greater degree than ever before to reduce imbalances which may exist between different branches of the economy,” still and yet, “it must never be exerted to the extent of depriving the individual citizen of his freedom of action. It must rather augment his freedom while effectively guaranteeing the protection of his essential personal rights. Among these is a man’s right and duty to be primarily responsible for his own upkeep and that of his family.”

    I do not think that “Obamacare” leaves the latter to the man. I think it, in fact, does far more than is necessary, and eradicates part of the primary responsibility of the man. Part of the problem of this is that “experience has shown that where personal initiative is lacking, political tyranny ensues and, in addition, economic stagnation in the production of a wide range of consumer goods and of services of the material and spiritual order—those, namely, which are in a great measure dependent upon the exercise and stimulus of individual creative talent.”

    And indeed, the importance and role of the state is reiterated as reinforcing groups and associations, not in replacing them: “As these mutual ties binding the men of our age one to the other grow and develop, governments will the more easily achieve a right order the more they succeed in striking a balance between the autonomous and active collaboration of individuals and groups, and the timely coordination and encouragement by the State of these private undertakings.”

    In many other places in Magister, the Pope discusses the dangers and the need of safeguards against the concentration of power in too few people. Those who see in Obamacare a great good for many people will also find support in that encyclical (as in others), but if they do not find a heavy warning and desire for temperance of state power (which does not exist in Obamacare), then they do not read carefully.

    Finally, turning to Centesimus Annus, we again find the same idea of subsidiarity as a limitation on state power:

    “The State must contribute to the achievement of these goals both directly and indirectly. Indirectly and according to the principle of subsidiarity, by creating favorable conditions for the free exercise of economic activity, which will lead to abundant opportunities for employment and sources of wealth. Directly and according to the principle of solidarity, by defending the weakest, by placing certain limits on the autonomy of the parties who determine working conditions, and by ensuring in every case the necessary minimum support for the unemployed worker.”

    The phrase “necessary minimum support for the unemployed worked” aligns very nicely with the idea of a minimum provision bill combined with a careful reform of existing institutions. It does not align with Obamacare.

    And again:

    “Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”

    And in fact, “One thinks of the condition of refugees, immigrants, the elderly, the sick, and all those in circumstances which call for assistance, such as drug abusers: all these people can be helped effectively only by those who offer them genuine fraternal support, in addition to the necessary care.”

    Obamacare may indeed appear to assist, or even actually assist, with some overarching goals of Catholic social justice. But it is well to remember that the Church is concerned not only with ends, but with means, and with motivations. Making common cause with those who would uphold this sort of legisation as supportable in a Catholic sense would be as dangerous as allying with those who would deny any state actor any role at all in regulation of health care.

  • Michael I,

    You’ve finally made a post around here that I don’t find objectionable in the slightest.

    If I had champagne on hand, I’d drink a toast.

  • 10th amendment period.

  • I think someone misunderstood me, if they interpreted my words to mean that I think this Federal bill, or even one which implemented my perfect plan purely through Federal authority, would be Constitutional.

    The Tenth Amendment clearly states the relevant principles:

    1. The Federal government has just authority only because it is a group of employees hired by (a.) the states, to exercise partially a specific subset of state authority (which the states only have because it was delegated to them by the people); and, (b.) the people, to exercise partially a specific subset of the just authority of individuals (which the people only have because it is delegated to them by God, or to say the same thing another way, because it is intrinsic to their God-given dignity as human beings);

    2. Any authority not delegated to the Federal government by its employers (the states and the people), it does not have;

    3. The Constitution is a sort of employment contract or job description for the Federal government, inasmuch as it is the sole vehicle for specifying the particular enumerated powers delegated to the Federal government by the states and/or the people.

    I’m more prone to verbosity than the Founding Fathers, so their text sums up the above quite succinctly: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

    Now as a matter of fact, the Federal government has no just authority to enact this health insurance bill. I can say this with utter confidence, because the relevant authority was never delegated to them. In fact, in many (perhaps most? I haven’t read enough of their constitutions to say) states, the relevant authority does not even reside in the states, from a textual standpoint. And there’s some question whether, as a matter of Natural Law, parts of the relevant authority resides in individuals at all.

    If individuals lack the relevant authority, they cannot delegate it to their employees, the states; even if they have the authority, they cannot be said to have delegated it unless they actually did so by mutual consent in their adopted constitutions; if the states and the people happen to have the relevant authority, they cannot be said to have delegated it to the federal government unless they actually did so by mutual consent in the Constitution adopted and ratified by the several states; and the relevant authority is, in absolute fact, not listed. It is not among the enumerated powers of the Federal government.

    And this all goes without saying for anyone who has studied the text and the opinions of the Founding Fathers about the meaning of what they wrote. Someone who argues that a national health insurance bill of this type, adopted through procedures of this type, fell within the intended authority granted to Congress by the Constitution as the framers intended, is utterly ignorant of the topic. It is a ridiculous anachronism easily refuted by all commentary on the Constitution, from the Federalist papers to the personal correspondence of the Founding Fathers. It is like saying that, when the Apostle John referred to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved” in his gospel, he intended to convey that he and Our Lord were gay lovers. It is jackassery of the first degree.

    BUT…

    The plain fact is that from the court-packing scheme of FDR onward, where the path of Supreme Court jurisprudence was, through outright extortion, ripped away from anything approaching respect for the text, our Constitutional jurisprudence is chock-full of first-degree jackassery.

    It is also plain fact that Congress doesn’t much give a frog’s fat fanny any more whether they have just authority under the Constitution or not to do, well, much of anything. Since the Senators became directly elected by the people, the state legislatures lost their voice in national governance and the states no longer have any obvious voice by which to prevent federal usurpation of their powers.

    And the people? They watch American Idol, or Jerry Springer, or whatever; it’s hard to keep up.

    So it is in the context of our execrable situation, which is unlikely to change soon, that I am willing to countenance Federal legislation which I hope will be helpful, even though I believe it utterly unconstitutional and would gladly see the constitutional (and subsidiarist) balance restored in the U.S. if it could be.

    I could stick to my principles and say nothing but “Hell, no” to any bill which I thought unconstitutional according to Framer’s Intent; and I would do just that were I in Congress. But as a voter, I know that this message, once uttered, is drowned almost instantaneously in the far louder debate about the merits of the bill, legality be damned.

    And so I wrote the post above, dealing with the lack of merit of the bill, and envisioning what would be the attributes of a truly meritorious bill, if one were ever to be introduced…and if it were wise to jump to a radically revamped system in one fell swoop, which it absolutely isn’t…and if the Federal government had just authority to enact it all by it’s lonesome, which I think it doesn’t and shouldn’t.

    I hope that clarifies my position.

  • To Michael Iafrate (and Joe Hargrave):

    You can count me in with Joe, Michael, about agreeing with what you said in defining subsidiarity. It was precisely correct: an apple of gold in a silver setting.

    So, champagne all around. (Since it’s not like we’re likely to have anything else to celebrate in the near future…!)

  • Bookmarking this page for Jonathan’s comment. It raises a question about when it’s acceptable to support an imperfect bill. Is overreach a nonnegotiable evil? What if ObamaCare also outlawed abortion (ignore the constitutionality for argument’s sake)?

  • R.C. nice post. All except the BUT.

    I posted, “10th amendment, period.”

    Compromise, despite how far we may have fallen is unacceptable.

    When you commit a venial sin do you have an excuse to commit a mortal sin, or an obligation to resist the downward pull and repent?

    If we are to truly live the Catholic faith, we are to be uncompromising. The 10th amendment is right and just and despite the fact that it has been trodden under foot, it it still law.

  • RC,

    It clarifies it, I suppose, but I don’t understand the point.

    We can say “hell no” — we can try and nullify this thing. Legal challenges are already being issued, invoking the interstate commerce clause.

    Here’s the issue for me, at least with regard to this discussion: the Constitution is the law of the land in the US. Now I happen to think that the Constitution, faithfully interpreted, is a subsidiarist document.

    But lets say this healthcare bill was truly subsidiarist – I don’t think it is but for the sake of argument. In that case I still don’t think we have any moral obligation to support it, as some left Catholics appear to be insisting.

    As I said before – fidelity to subsidiarity was never intended by the Papacy to be a bankruptcy pact. I am not going to argue that deficit spending is always and inherently immoral; but I do believe it can become so given the circumstances and the consequences.

    In these circumstances and with the likely economic consequences, not only do I think opposing this bill is NOT immoral or somehow out of step with Catholic teaching; I think promoting it with the full knowledge that it will cost nearly 1 trillion dollars that we don’t have, after Obama bailed out Wall Street, passed a stimulus bill that has failed to create jobs, and expanded the American empire – and with the knowledge that it will place a crushing financial burden on states that are teetering on the edge of fiscal meltdown – could very well be morally questionable.

    There is no mandate in CST to spend money you don’t have, whether you are an individual or a government. You can’t ram the concept of “solidarity” as an abstract ideal down the throat of a real society and body politic that can’t digest it.

    I do believe in solidarity. But I believe in real local solutions – distributism, worker and community ownership of businesses, common good banking, and other means of raising capital to fund the projects and programs that will embody our values as Christians and Catholics.

    This federal program is a nightmare. In my opinion, as a student of Catholic social teaching and the many Papal encyclicals on these questions, I say no Catholic is obliged to support it.

  • Deficit spending of money borrowed from one single entity that makes the money out of thin air at usurious rates is always and everywhere immoral, wrong, stupid and dangerous.

    I agree that no Catholic is obliged to support this debacle; however, we are obligated to oppose it. I am not condemning any one’s soul because some people are ignorant – ignorance may reduce murder to man slaughter, but an innocent is still dead and you did it – I know you didn’t mean to, but they are still dead and you are still guilty, only slightly less so.

  • As someone who has been to an emergency room with no health care (as a live-in volunteer for HIV+ homeless men with substance abuse addictions), I think I can speak from experience about whether this experience was ‘adequate’.

    I am still paying bills, still have poor credit, and am now a janitor working full time, but forced to live with my in-laws and forgo health care for my young son and wife.

    God will judge this nation, I promise you.

  • No doubt Nate, and I think He will find immense good as well as bad. Sounds like you are a bit sour about your present situation. The remedy is in your hands as it is with all able bodied people with no mental handicap. As the father of an autistic young man who will never have the opportunity to make his way in the world unaided, assistance his mother and I happily give him, I have limited patience for people who have sound minds and bodies and then gripe about lack of opportunity. Opportunities for honest employment and advancement are endless in this society for those willing to seize opportunities when they present themselves.

  • Nate,

    I’m not exactly driving around in a Cadillac myself.

    Like I said before: if we didn’t have trillion dollar banker bailouts, failed stimulus packages, and imperial wars, it would be different.

    In fact, I think it would be cheaper for the government to simply pay the tab of anyone with a treatable life-threatening illness than it would be for this monstrosity.

    There is no doubt that we live in a broken society worthy of judgment and possibly condemnation. The federal takeover of healthcare is not going to change that – that, I can promise you.

  • This is the boldest claim to this end on the conundrum with our Catholic principle of Subsidiarity and the USCCB supporting the bill save for the absence of the abortion language.

    If this bill had passed with the Stupak Language, it still would have done a lot of damage to the dignity and sanctity of life.

    People wrongly say that Rerum Novarum does not address Health Care, but it does!

    An excerpt-parenthesis are mine:

    “To cure this evil (of injustice), the Socialists, exciting the envy of the poor toward the rich, contend that it is necessary to do away with private possession of goods (my paycheck and yours) and in its place to make the goods of individuals (through redistribution of monies) common to all, and that the men who preside over a municipality or who direct the entire State should act as administrators of these goods. They hold that, by such a transfer of private goods from private individuals to the community, they can cure the present evil through dividing wealth and benefits equally among the citizens. But their program is so unsuited for terminating the conflict that it actually injures the workers themselves. Moreover, it is highly unjust, because it violates the rights of lawful owners, perverts the function of the State, and throws governments into utter confusion.”

  • RN doesn’t condemn taxation. Some people have to think through their condemnations more thoroughly.

  • As someone who has been to an emergency room with no health care (as a live-in volunteer for HIV+ homeless men with substance abuse addictions), I think I can speak from experience about whether this experience was ‘adequate’.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t such a person be eligible for Medicaid already?

  • RN absolutely DOES condemn what Leo called excessive taxation. Summarizing his list of the positive benefits of worker ownership of productive property, Leo concludes:

    “These three important benefits, however, can be reckoned on only provided that a man’s means be not drained and exhausted by excessive taxation. The right to possess private property is derived from nature, not from man; and the State has the right to control its use in the interests of the public good alone, but by no means to absorb it altogether. The State would therefore be unjust and cruel if under the name of taxation it were to deprive the private owner of more than is fair.”

    Now what constitutes “excessive” or “more than [what] is fair” might be open for debate, but Phillipus’ quote is not limited to taxation.

    It has to do with the FUNCTION of government as well.

    “it violates the rights of lawful owners, perverts the function of the State, and throws governments into utter confusion”

    Sounds like an accurate description of Obamacare to me.

  • Not entirely OT, from Chicago Breaking News:

    While many Chicago parents took formal routes to land their children in the best schools, the well-connected also sought help through a shadowy appeals system created in recent years under former schools chief Arne Duncan.

    Whispers have long swirled that some children get spots in the city’s premier schools based on whom their parents know. But a list maintained over several years in Duncan’s office and obtained by the Tribune lends further evidence to those charges. Duncan is now secretary of education under President Barack Obama.

    The log is a compilation of politicians and influential business people who interceded on behalf of children during Duncan’s tenure. It includes 25 aldermen, Mayor Richard Daley’s office, House Speaker Michael Madigan, his daughter Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

    But of course, nothing like this could ever happen under the Obama healthcare plan. These liberal pols, who care so much about the poor, would never use their power and influence to jump ahead on government waiting lists for transplants or expensive treatment. Only heartless conservatives would do such things…

  • Well, I don’t condemn taxation; government has legitimate functions that must be funded. How the tax burden should be shared is mostly a question of prudence, though certainly it would be immoral to tax families at the expense of true necessities. I disagree with the proposition that CST somehow endorses low taxes and small government any more than it endorses high taxes and large government. I prefer the former for all manner of prudential reasons, including some grounded in my own life experiences; but many smart good Catholics prefer the latter. It is very difficult to secure confident truths about public policy options because it is so hard to sort out why people do what they do.

    The UCCB is wrong to weigh in in support of this health care bill because it is beyond its charism, which is to speak out against intrinsically immoral things, such as government funding of abortion. They would be wrong to oppose it as well.

    Reminds me of the time the managing partner of my law firm wrote an op-ed piece in favor of gay marriage. He is free to do this of course, but many of us took great umbrage at his being introduced as our managing partner. That office carries with it no special wisdom on the issue, and he should have been more careful to avoid any suggestion that he was speaking on behalf of our firm or that his opinion somehow carries greater weight because of the office we gave him.

  • Donna, isn’t that news report just filthy Chicago political corruption all over? News flash for everyone who doesn’t live in Illinois: this is exactly the political atmosphere in which Obama learned the trade of a politician. Chicago politics have been a sewer forever, as accurately portrayed in this clip from the Untouchables.

    Ness was brought in because Chicago law enforcement was just as corrupt as portrayed in the film.

  • Mike,

    I think the extent to which our Constitution does not conflict with CST is the extent to which we ought to follow it.

    I’m not bringing this up because I think you claimed it, but throwing it out there as relevant to the topic:

    I’ve never seen a Papal document insisting that Americans scrap their Constitution and replace it with the Compendium of the social teaching, or a European-style welfare state. In fact, JP II condemned welfare bureaucracies in Centesimus Annus.

    “By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” (48)

    I think this is precisely why so many people opposed Obamacare, and why Catholics are well within the boundaries of CST if they oppose it.

  • Joe, I agree completely on all counts. Surprisingly (perhaps) I do not at all take issue with those Catholics who support ObamaCare (assuming the abortion issue has been satisfactorily addressed — its own issue of course). I give Catholics a wide berth. That said, I do believe it is arrogant for the bishops to weigh in (as bishops) on something they really don’t know any more than you, me or any other AC commentator.

  • Yeah, I agree Mike… its not “unCatholic” necessarily to support it, though I would remind everyone of those warnings about the welfare state from JP II.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the Catholics who DO support it are insisting that you’re basically an anti-Christ who hates poor people if you don’t support it.

    On a final note, I don’t mind the bishops “weighing in”, in theory: in practice, they only listen to left-leaning researchers. I never hear them talk about fiscal responsibility. Why is that out of the realm of moral teaching? Why is it OK to propose and enact grandiose schemes that could bankrupt a society?

    On a related note:

    People who think this is “consequentialism” are – to put it mildly – incredibly naive (or dishonestly abusing rhetoric, as some people who drop in here from time to time enjoy doing). It is perfectly legitimate and I would argue morally obligatory to consider the consequences of ANY action or policy.

    “Consequentialism” is only when one proposes doing evil to achieve a good end – not taking into account the great evils that could occur from the pursuit of good intentions.

  • Again, Joe, agreed. I pay no mind to those who claim that a Catholic must support ObamaCare for the simple reason that the assertion is stupid and I’m far too busy to deal with such nonsense. I also agree that it is possible for bishops to exercise a prudential opinion as bishops but only if the prudential component is not subject to reasonable debate (one can at least argue that the Iraq War satisfied this standard — though such an argument is not air tight). ObamaCare does not come close. Hence, my accusation of arrogance.

  • Joe:

    Well, of course I want the bill nullified, in the court system or by nearly any other means short of violence.

    You say you don’t understand the point of my second post. I think, from your reaction and “American Knight’s” reaction, that I used the wrong word when I said I would “countenance” a bill despite being opposed to it because it was unconstitutional. A better phrasing would have been to say that, while I would still vote against it and work for its defeat, I was willing to debate its merits, measured against the standards of Catholic teaching, apart from the question of constitutionality.

    Even though its unconstitutionality made me oppose it, I was willing to oppose it on other grounds also; namely, that it wasn’t a good fit with Catholic principles. (And, as I indicated, I fear the mere fact of something being unconstitutional often doesn’t prevent it being enacted these days.)

    With Obamacare, obviously the abortion thing made it not a good fit with Catholic principles. But I thought there were other things, as well, which made it not a good fit. It seemed to me that when a correct balance of subsidiarity and solidarity was taken into account, the result would be nothing like this bill.

    So I laid out what I thought were the relevant guidelines for a bill which would follow Catholic principles and showed how Obamacare didn’t fit. In the process of doing so, I gave a hypothetical example of an approach which would match Catholic principles far more closely.

    That was all in my first post.

    Sometime thereafter, RestrainedRadical came in and, referring to my hypothetical example, said that I thought federal programs like this were constitutional.

    Since that wasn’t what I meant at all, I wrote my second post to make it clear that I didn’t. The sole purpose of my hypothetical example was to show by comparison how much more Catholic (and generally wise) a bill could be, compared to the Obamacare bill. I would not want even my hypothetical example to be implemented by the kind of federal overreach used for the Obamacare bill.

    I hope that helps make sense of what I was saying.

    On another, but related, topic: Joe, can you help me out on something?

    In discussing the government-provided health insurance issue in another forum, I recently had occasion to quote St. Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3, the “if a man refuses to work, he ought not eat” bit.

    I took St. Paul to mean, reasonably enough I think, that Christians are under no moral obligation to subsidize a moocher who is entirely able to pay his own way but chooses to remain dependent on others despite having no disability or hardship to prevent him from gainful employment. I did not apply the verse to folk who’re in need through no fault of their own.

    The fellow replied that this was a “republican interpretation” of St. Paul, and one which he did not accept.

    I was flabbergasted by this. Are there really Catholics who believe that the Church teaches that one is obligated to give alms even when one knows one is not helping the needy, but only enabling a moocher? What could justify that? Is there some passage in an encyclical which can be construed that way?

    I don’t mean to talk behind the fellow’s back; and indeed if he sees this note and chooses to reply, that’s fine.

    But I thought that you, Joe, could perhaps give me insight into this point-of-view. To me it seemed pretty wacky but I’m trying not to dismiss the possibility that there’s some logic to it. Any ideas?

  • RC,

    “Even though its unconstitutionality made me oppose it, I was willing to oppose it on other grounds also; namely, that it wasn’t a good fit with Catholic principles.”

    Same here. I should have read your first post more carefully.

    Now, as for your questions:

    “Are there really Catholics who believe that the Church teaches that one is obligated to give alms even when one knows one is not helping the needy, but only enabling a moocher?”

    Unfortunately, yes.

    This passage is easy, however to misinterpret, if it is meant to apply to public policy. The CCC, 2427, states:

    “Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another.Hence work is a duty: “If any one will not work, let him not eat.”

    So there is your passage, right there in the Catechism. Work is a duty. However, I would add the following considerations:

    Jesus does say that we are to give freely to all who ask (Matthew 5:42). In my view, this means the following: if a person on the street asks for money, we don’t make a federal case out of it, we don’t attempt to do an impromptu background check and grill them with a bunch of questions, and we don’t assume that they’ll spend the money on booze or drugs if they say they’re using it for food or gas.

    I’ve parted with the money in my wallet with a suspicion that the money might not be used well, but without knowing for certain, I erred on the side of charity. I believe this is what we are called to do as Christians.

    However, if we are talking about a situation in which a known liar and moocher asks for money or something else, then I believe we are fully within our rights to deny them, or, if we can, place conditions on our assistance. We will help them, in other words, on the condition that they make a serious effort to improve their position, to the best of their ability.

    In none of these scenarios do we find prescription for public policy. The Gospels are very thin on political theory, probably for a good reason: virtue is only meaningful if it is the result of a free choice. Jesus says “render unto Caesar”, and Paul says to obey the lawful authorities. The Apostles say to obey them only insofar as they do not conflict with God’s laws.

    Of course, Caesar Obama is not authorized by the Constitution to force us to buy health insurance, or to plunder the treasury to finance universal health care, so in resisting Obamacare we aren’t violating any Christian teaching that I know of.

    “Is there some passage in an encyclical which can be construed that way?”

    Absolutely not. The encyclicals do not contradict the Catechism. When they speak of economic issues, the presuppose a desire to work for a living on the part of the poor, as well as various problems that prevent full employment.

    The Church teaches that societies are obligated to find ways to provide employment for all. But the obligation to actually do the work rests upon us as individuals.

    John Paul II condemned the “Social Assistance State”, which at its absolute worst subsidizes idleness and laziness. So I would say Catholics have no grounds for insisting that the state do any such thing.

  • Donald and Joe – I don’t have much of a position on this health care debate. In the face of reality, it all seems like smoke.

  • This so-called health care reform bill and the Bishop’s position on the bill praising the increase access for the poor has caused me to research the Church’s positon on Social Justice. I wasn’t aware what a leftest organization that the US Catholic Bishops are.

    Social Justice is in many ways is a less offensive word for Socialism / Marxism.

    Subsidiarity is lost in current Catholic teachings.

    It is not charity when one is forced by the threat of imprisonment to pay for anothers’s health care through taxes.

    I use to feel good about charity to the Church. I’m less inclined to support the Bishop’s from this point forward.

  • Dan,

    That makes two of us.

    I’m less inclined to support the bishops in anything they push in “our” name.

  • We are obligated to be obedient to our bishops – they are the successors of the Apostles. Of course, that obligation is limited to their authority as Apostles – primarily in matters of faith and morals.

    The Bishops financial charity is not an obligation. I strongly suggest that we do it; however, I have been struggling with this all through Lent. Not because of the bishop – I actually have an excellent, faithful son of the Church, pro-life, loving shepherd as my bishop. I assisted at a Mass he celebrated yesterday and had a chance to speak to his excellency during dinner after. He is a wonderful and loving man and a good bishop. He also told me his schedule is already booked for two years. It is not easy being a bishop, especially these days when administration and litigation takes up so much of his time.

    The Enemy is using our twisted culture to force our bishops to be so busy with ancillary things that they are fatigued when it comes to their apostolic mission. We must pray for them.

    The problem with the bishops’ financial charity is that it is administered by bureaucrats and they are overwhelmingly leftists and barely qualify as Catholic, if at all.

    I fear that my money ends up being used to support the enemies of the Church. I am strongly considering directing those funds to our seminary in the name of my pastor and my bishop, rather than to the diocese. This is a difficult choice. Prayer is helping, but I am such a sinner that I haven’t been inspired one way or the other yet. It is so much easier to make decisions as a secularist – they all lead to hell so it doesn’t really matter.

    I am also considering what to do about being a Knight of Columbus, since I just found out that Bart Stupak is too!

    Pray much my friends our government is quickly working to become the enemy of the Church. We must be prepared, like St. Thomas More, I am my country’s servant, but God’s first.

    Pray also for the poor Catholics who chose to seek (not achieve) good ends by the means of the enemy. Socialism, big government, collectivism are never compatible with our beliefs. We may have to live under tyranny, but we cannot cooperate with it. I know I will be chided for equating tyranny with this so-called health care reform bill – but the facts are the facts – this bill is merely one step toward total government (perhaps global) and marginalization of the Church and then out right persecution. It has happened before, it can happen again. Of course, Judgment could come any time before it happens too.

    Engage all the mental gymnastics you want – this law is not only illicit because it does not subordinate itself to the law of the land – the Constitution, but it also opposes our beliefs while couching itself in the tenets of our faith. The devil is smarter than we are. Don’t be fooled by him – we are children of God and heirs of His Kingdom.

  • Dan, then why don’t you take Glenn Beck’s advice and join another church since you’re obviously taking your cues from him?

    The fellow replied that this was a “republican interpretation” of St. Paul, and one which he did not accept.

    I was flabbergasted by this. Are there really Catholics who believe that the Church teaches that one is obligated to give alms even when one knows one is not helping the needy, but only enabling a moocher? What could justify that? Is there some passage in an encyclical which can be construed that way?

    R.C. – In our conversation I said nothing about having an obligation “to give alms even when one knows one is not helping the needy, but only enabling a moocher.” Those were not the terms of the discussion at all. In fact that way of framing it is so incredibly vague that it’s unhelpful. We were talking specifically about health care. When it comes to health care, the church insists that health care is a human right. Yes, “moochers,” even known “moochers,” deserve health care. Whether or not you should flip a quarter to a person you “know” to be a “moocher” is probably up for debate. Sorry, but health care is not. People that you, based on republican assumptions, deem to be the “undeserving poor” still possess basic human rights whether you like it or not.

  • Michael is correct – the right to life includes the right to adequate care of their health. This is true regardless of what human being we are talking about. Jesus demonstrated that when he healed the ear of the sinner who came to arrest him.

  • Don’t forget about the 10th commandment, Thou Shalt Not Steal.

    By taking money away from people against their will is not Catholic social teaching.

  • ‘But whom do I treat unjustly,’ you say, ‘by keeping what is my own?’ Tell me, what is your own? What did you bring into this life? From what did you receive it? It is as if someone were to take the first seat in the theater, then bar everyone else from attending, so that one person alone enjoys what is offered for the benefit of all in common — this is what the rich do. They seize common goods before others have the opportunity, then claim them as their own by right of preemption. For if we all took only what was necessary to satisfy our own needs, giving the rest to those who lack, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, and no one would be in need.

  • Henry, individuals and households do manage to produce salable goods and services. We are not all just drawing from some endowment left to us.

  • Oh, and when you say you have a ‘need’, you have an implicit purpose in mind.

  • Tito, my friend,

    I believe “thou shalt not steal” is the 7th commandment… 8th if you read a heretic Bible 🙂

    Nate, my other friend,

    The right to health care does not = the right to federally subsidized health care. I agree that the government has a duty to take some action to make health care accessible – it could do so in any number of ways short of this monstrous and unconstitutional power grab.

    I maintain that Catholics are well within the bounds of Church teaching in rejecting Obamacare, and reitirate John Paul II’s and the Compendium’s condemnation of the expansion of bloated welfare bureaucracies, Pope Leo XIII’s condemnation of excessive and unfair taxation, the principle of subsidiarity, AND the fact that CST does NOT require us to dismantle the rule of law in this country – which is the Constitution – in pursuit of utopian ideals we cannot afford.

  • Joe,

    You are correct.

    I had two commandments in mind, but only one came out.

    The 10th is Though Shalt Not Covet.

    Darn N.A.B. Bible. I need to stop reading USCCB propaganda.

    😉

  • Who are the greedy. Those who are not satisfied with what suffices for their own needs. Who are the robbers? Those who take for themselves what rightfully belong to everyone. And you, are you not greedy? Are you not a robber? The things you received in trust as stewardship, have you not appropriated them for yourself? IS not the person who strips another of clothing called a thief? And those who do not clothe the naked when they have the power to do so, should they not be called the same? The bread you are holding back is for the hungry, the clothes you keep put away are for the naked, the shoes that are rotting away with disuse are for those who have none, the silver you keep buried in the earth is for the needy. You are thus guilty of injustice toward man as you might have aided, and did not

  • The redistribution of wealth can never be condoned by breaking 1/5th of the Commandments.

  • Therefore let us use our goods sparingly, as belong to others, so that they may become our own. How shall we use them sparingly, as belonging to others? When we do not spend them beyond our needs, and do not spend them for our needs only, but give equal shares into the hands of the poor. If you are affluent, but spend more than you need, you will give an account of the funds which were entrusted to you.

  • Henry, get to the big “reveal” already.

  • Henry is quoting St. Basil the Great, a Doctor of the Church. I suppose he’s putting chunks up slowly hoping that someone will protest against something so that he can then pounce with an “Aha!”

  • John:

    Yeah, I knew he was quoting someone, and engaged in some kind of point-scoring exercise. I had just reached my “Monty Python chorus” moment: “GET ON WITH IT!”

  • Tito is right again.

    St. Basil is absolutely right to condemn selfish people as robbers and thieves. We should give freely and generously – freely being the operative word.

    What exactly does St. Basil have to say about the role of the state? Oh wait… nothing. At least that I know of. If he did say something, I would be interested in seeing it.

    In any case, we have the political philosophy of the Catholic Church to guide us. And what it says is clear.

  • Listen and groan, all of you who overlook your suffering brethren, or rather, Christ’s brethren, and do not give the poor a share of your abundant food, shelter, clothing and care as appropriate, nor offer your surplus to meet their need.

  • ::wonders if sanctimonious lecturing ever changed anyone’s mind on anything, ever::

  • I dunno, Joe. Maybe you could go post “Liber Gomorrhianus” by St. Peter Damien in its entirety in the gay marriage thread over at Vox Nova and see how long it stays.

  • Health care is certainly a right when the means to provide it are available to a degree – there are circumstances that render it untenable some are natural, we don’t know how to cure cancer, a cure for HIV-AIDS is also elusive. Others are our responsibility. Saddling physicians with so much regulation, litigation and insurance costs not to mention the ridiculous cost of their education is dwindling the numbers of physicians we have. Additionally you cannot secure a right for everyone by destroying the means and the capacity to provide that same to anyone.

    Does Jesus want us to take care of the sick? Of course, to the best of our capacity; however, His primary task is for us to pray for the health of their souls and not simply their bodies. The healing miracles Jesus performed where visible signs of his healing message – primarily healing our souls. Furthermore, most of the sick need comfort more than they need medical treatment. Some of us have chronic illnesses, it sucks, but that is just another cross to bear – frankly, I’d rather bear the cross of diabetes than vanity by seeking to be the one who forces others to ‘charitable’. Judas always comes to mind – he always championed the plight of the poor, while he was pilfering the purse.

    I won’t judge anyone’s interior intentions, not my place, but all y’all who are constantly whining about the poor are usually liars and self-seeking vain, prideful ones at that. Charity must be love, it cannot be force, government cannot love. Government does have a responsibility to ensure that the natural free market, the charitable intent of her citizens and the settlement of disputes are not hampered so as to provide access to medical care, when it is possible. Medical care, for acute physical ailments – not health care per se.

    Health care is broader than medical care it includes food, shelter, exercise, education, etc. government cannot provide that, the only ones that come close to even promising that are socialist at best and totalitarian ultimately. As Catholics, we cannot support that kind of a state.

    Furthermore, what kind of contortion do you have to do in order to categorize killing babies and elderly, giving sexual stimulants to perverts, sex changes to poor twisted souls, etc. as health care and then consider that a right according to CST? Y’all who propose and support this twisted logic should get on your knees and thank God for His Mercy and the Sacrament of Penance.

    Again, I will make the bold statement that Catholics not only cannot support this ‘law’, we must oppose it. It is anti-life, anti-Christian and anti-American. We are commanded to be pro-life, pro-Christ and patriotic.

  • In a free society many people do not understand the differnece between a human right a a human need.

    Health care and food are essential to life and are human needs. But needs do not give one a right to property of others. If I’m hungry I do not have the right to steal from you.

    Charity is when you freely give to someone in need. Non-voluntary redistribution of wealth is not charity, but theivery.

    I’ve encounter the moocher that Micheal talked about and have given him money for food. The moocher turned around and told me he was buying beer with the money I gave.

    I’ve not stopped giving to street people, but now walk the person to the nearest store and buy a sandwich. Sometimes the person looses interst and this weeds out people looking for beer.

    I’m afraid this health care reform bill with it’s affordablity credits will discourgage people from doing what they can do for themselves. With a big goverment program there is no opportunity to weed out the moochers and give to the people with true needs. Moochers will multiply without close managment of resources. If the resources are not mananged correctly there will not be enough for those with true needs. This health care bill will certainly provide more beer for the moochers.

    In a society that is not free, there are no human rights, and plenty of unmet human needs. If we continue down the road to socialism, our rights like freedom of speech and religion will be in jeopordy.

  • Dan,

    Freedom of religion will not be curtailed in the USA. All will be free to practice all manner of religion, well, except those pesky Catholics with all that doctrine and dogma – we can’t have that.

    I refrain from giving money to beggars because I will not enable them in doing harm to themselves, but I will always buy them food and drink (not alcohol) or even a blanket or a jacket. I know they can turn around and sell it for drugs, but I can only exercise the prudence that is possible with the charity that is required.

    Social welfare programs invite a self-perpetuating bureaucracy and like any other system it needs clients. Helping poor people improve their situation will render them no longer poor and so you’ve lost a client. It is far better to waste wealth to increase the quantity of poor. Notice how many more poor people (if you can truly call the poor in America poor compared to the poor elsewhere) since the Great Society.

    Is it really justice to incentivize and perpetuate the less fortunate in a state of dependency while increasing the numbers of those who are dependent?

    I don’t think that is quite what Christ or Holy Mother Church means.

    I think He taught something about not giving a man a fish, but teaching him how to fish.

    Me thinks leftists of all stripes confuse true Charity (Love) with mere sentimentalism.

Grassroots Push for Democrats for Life

Sunday, June 21, AD 2009

Here is a blog I wrote for fladems4life.org- this is the website for Florida Democrats for Life organization- If you are a Democrat and pro-life you should seriously consider joining the National and State chapters for Democrats for Life. There is a lot of freedom for you to bring your ideals and ideas into these growing organizations. I believe it is mostly a waste of time trying to turn Democrats into Republicans or vice versa- there is a philosophy of governance that pulls deeper than individual issues- even big issues like abortion.

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30 Responses to Grassroots Push for Democrats for Life

  • Tim,

    As always, we are in agreement. Though lately I have been wondering if perhpas, as well, conservatives might be won over to the Catholic economic and political perspective.

    Perhaps we need a movement on both sides of the spectrum – one which encourages Democrats to accept pro-life, pro-family values, and one which encourages Republicans to embrace new and better economic ideas. Then we might meet in the middle and shift the whole center of gravity, away from liberalism in its economic and cultural forms, and towards a truly communitarian vision in which the state plays a supporting role (as opposed to no role at all, or too great a role).

  • I somehow found my way here after reading an article about another Christian pro-test about something irrelevant to the mainstream. My instinct is to not waste my time on this, but here it is…STOP MAKING DEMOCRATS OUT TO BE ANTI-FAMILY…just some of us believe that government has NO PLACE IN A WOMAN’S UTERUS…and certainly some middle aged, middle income white MAN has no business pushing for legislation that effect women…pro-choice is not the same thing as pro-abortion. Everyone wants less abortions happening. Only the Catholics also want no birth control, no sex education…gosh, that will work well for preventing unwanted pregnancies…and “family values?”…look at the personal lives of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Riley, Gingrich, the list goes on…hypocrites on ‘family values.’ I teach Sunday school, I pray and I am curious about my faith…but I will be damned to allow the religious right to continue to make abortion a political issue. Keep the church out of my government and I will keep the government out of my church. The Catholic church (and many Catholics) scare me more then any other religious group. So please, do not try to patronize Democrats with this issue. We know the truth…Republicans use it to get single issue voters…it is highly effective. Let the Democrats keep fighting for urgent things that effect the already living…things like energy efficiency, global warming, poverty, urban plight, labor, and health care…

  • Pro-Family Democrat,

    You have no right to tell us what we can and cannot do as Catholics we have freedom of speech.

    You confuse establishing the Church as the official church of the United States to Catholics speaking up about their values. Just as you speak up about your right to kill children in the womb.

  • Tito…

    Again, this time slower for you…no one here is pro “killing children in the womb”….(but those are choice emotional words, well done)…I am not pro-abortion…a concept that seems to be void to most ‘pro-lifers’…if you all would slightly bend to include PREVENTION into your cause we could probably work for a common good…but you are limited in your fight.

    Again…keep your church out of my government and I will keep the government out of your church…you can’t have to both ways. You should be very scared to continue to blur the lines…church-led government like Iran…or Government led church, like Hitler’s Germany and cold war Eastern Europe…are you really wanting to be like that?

  • Joe,

    Yea- it’s strange fighting against sexual liberalism and economic neo-liberalism simultaneously- it puts you on the ‘outs’ with both major political forces in this country anyway. I was being a little polemical about how it is easier to convert to pro-life than to change party affiliation- it did work that way for me though. Even though I hold firm to being a Democrat and working within that party, I don’t vote for the party so much as the candidate- though there are times when I haven’t done the necessary homework and all I have facing me in the ballot box is a name and a party affiliation- for local elections the abortion issue is pretty moot. But philosophically, I can see the Democratic Party taking abortion out at the national level if it gets it’s act together, and combine that natural law legal move with the necessary social program and safety net investments to make sure women are not going to face undue hardships in seeing their children through to birth at minimum.

    One other side note- I agree with Ralph Nadar about how the Dems have in many ways embraced the Republican neo-liberal economics- though both parties have gone in for dubious massive bail-outs for the large investor class- see Jeff Faux’s book The Global Class War- for info on how Clinton began the sell-out of prior Democratic party inclinations on economics. Just because I see a major role for government in such things as directing economic outcomes- I don’t go in for all of the Greenspan/Bush/Obama bail-outs of dubious banking and investment interests- economics is not a zero-sum game, you don’t just print money up to bail out the big boys- you do have to get resources moving with fixed currency exchanges and investments like the Marshall plan and/or Manhattan Projects for morally positive outcomes. I will post my campaign column on “Common good, Common-sense Economics” at a later time.

  • Baby Killing Democrat,

    Your argument sounds like I’m against slavery but I don’t want to push my views of being anti-slavery on others.

    Also I have a right to speak my values, so keep your anti-Catholic views out of the public forum.

    Islam and Catholicism are different. It’s also a straw man argument. You, like many democrats, dwell in relativism and think all religions are the same.

    Just as Hitler came to power pushing socialism, Obama is very similar. Just as Hitler, Obama is a great public speaker. Just like Hitler’s thugs, ACORN rigged the votes in strategic states. Just like the Brownshirts (who were militant homosexuals) the Black Panthers intimidated voterr. (two can play the “Hitler-card”).

    When you start drawing analogies such as you have, you know you’re losing the argument.

    If you want to prevent the killing of innocent children in the womb, then outlaw it.

  • Tito,

    your last rant is what makes me think you all are loony…just more proof…so cool, thanks…

    and when you put Acorn, Obama, Hitler and what have into your analogy…your not just losing an argument…your losing your mind.

    My guess is..it’s been awhile since you have been laid…homophobic AND a conspiracy theorist…mix in neo-nazi pro-lifer…been awhile since you had a date I bet.

    You keep on that crusade of yours…good luck. hahaha…

    I need to go wake my baby from his nap…and go meet my family at the pool for some family time…that crazy thing that us anti family Democrats writhe from…hahahaha

    you see, freak? I didn’t “kill my babies”….I just waited to have them when I was ready…thanks to being educated and informed about how babies are made…

    may the Dear Lord forgive you for being such an intolerant and bigoted ass…

  • oh one more thing Tito

    “If you want to prevent the killing of innocent children in the womb, then outlaw it”

    you are so sadly misinformed and ignorant…wow.

    We should do this with so many things…let’s start with murder. That should be illegal…then it would finally not be a problem…drunk driving, that’s another one…mmmm….we are on to something here, Tito!…how about drug use? Excellent…that IS a pesky problem. And while we are at it, how about robbery, home invasion…man, if we just made them illegal…gosh, we should have done this years ago!!!

    Excellent thought process Einstein…

  • While I may not agree with precisely the way Tito addressed you, you did say…

    “just some of us believe that government has NO PLACE IN A WOMAN’S UTERUS”

    And some of us believe that every human being, regardless of his or her location, has a right to exist. It is that simple.

    If I believed that it wasn’t a human life inside a woman’s uterus, I wouldn’t care about it. If the unborn human being has no value, then abortion should be legal.

    If the unborn human being does have value, then nothing can justify abortion. It is really that simple. The government has every right to protect human life. Seeing as how 99% of pro-lifers don’t care about the 99% of medical procedures that don’t involve killing a human being, it is simply false to make this a women’s issue.

    Even moreso in that I think men should be held accountable as well. Please don’t make us out to be misogynistic. This is about parental obligation, not women’s rights. No one has a right to neglect, abuse, or murder their child, man or woman.

  • Baby Killing Democrat,

    Odd that you bring up Hitler then mock me for mocking you.

    Again, it is God that you are angry at, you’re just a troll throwing vitriol at anyone that doesn’t adhere to your disordered view on life.

    I’ll pray for you.

  • I have found myself in the Lion’s Den…so I ask you. You middle aged men who fight for the unborn…what have you done to help the BORN? Have you adopted an unwanted child? Do you want to raise a minority child born to a drug addicted mother? Please do, it would make your argument credible. Do you volunteer at county hospitals to rock the newborn, who has been abandoned while it detoxes from meth? Do you work in the foster care system to give those children an equal chance in the world? Do you support social systems that provide a family with the LIFE LONG support they will need? Not short term…”here are some bottles, diapers and a winter coat…good luck.” WHAT DO YOU DO to help those children? Those children born, here and now…breathing, living, suffering, hurting, hungry and unwanted. Do you help them? I’m betting on ‘NO’

    And again I say to you…prevention is the key. Stop thinking abstinence. Get out of the box. I am NOT a sexual libertarian…or whatever you called Democrats…the most offensive, sexually degrading shows I have seen are on FOX…the “values channel.” Republicans, Catholics, Christians, pro-lifers…you do not have the moral authority. I am not a “baby killer” because I want to see prevented pregnancies for women that do not want to yet be mothers.

    You must separate the radical pro-life movement and include prevention and education.

    But if abortion were to be illegal…the Republicans will lose too much of their base…they know it. It will never change. Bush didn’t change a thing…why? Because you all came back and voted for him again.

    Patronizing your vote.

    good luck in your fight to get Dems on board. Single issue voters are pathetic. If they would give up all the important issues we are working on, so they can go hold up a sign and shout at young girls…good riddance…

    I hear the pitter patter of my son’s feet…he wants to join his siblings at the pool…

    Namaste

  • Does pro family include the prenatal?

  • Pro-abort Troll, I have three kids, including an autistic son, so don’t rant to me about the demands of parenthood, my wife and I have lived them. I have been active in the pro-life movement since 1973. For the last decade I have been on the board of the crisis pregnancy center in my county that gives assistance to women dealing with problem pregnancies. I am currently president of the board. Many of these women we help eventually come back to volunteer with our organization to help other women. We also have an outreach to post-abortive women to help them heal from the bitter despair often engendered from a “safe, legal abortion.” In short I have done what I can to help women in bad situations as a result of pregnancy and abortion. Do I have all the answers to the complex social problem of unwanted pregnancies? I do not. But I do know that killing the child is not a solution, and that the law must protect unborn children as it does born children, if we are to have any pretense of being a civilized society that values human life.

  • Pro-Death Democrat,

    No one here made any claims to “Fox” being the values channel. Most of us don’t even watch tv for that matter. We like to read books mostly.

    I am a board member and a volunteer to a crisis pregnancy center and many more other post-natal care facilities. In addition I pray every day for the end of killing babies as well as praying in front of baby killing facilities such as Planned Parenthood.

    I am a young man in my thirties, but I am old relative to the movement since most of my colleagues are toddlers all the way up to college students who pray with me in front of abortion mills, volunteer with many pro-life organizations that helps pregnant moms and abstinence programs.

    I don’t believe in killing innocent unborn babies and will work until my dying days for the end to the mass slaughter of babies, which is the greatest civil rights challenge in our nations history.

  • Wow- I go out for ice cream and the playground with the family and look what happens to my father’s day blog entry!!

    Well all I can say is that while I am a middle-aged man, my chief pro-life teachers in life have been women. I didn’t just become Catholic and then receive my marching orders from the Pope to become anti-abortion. I had enough life experiences to teach me the true nature of abortion to lead me to oppose abortion with or without a religious conversion. As an update, my wife was one who helped me clear the final hurdles about abortion- she is the one who told me that the only women she can understand would still be pro-choice on abortion are women who have not had children. She is the one who has told me before the births of our children, she is the one who made me promise that no matter what goes down, if there comes a point where there is a choice to be made between her life or the baby she has only seen on ultrasound- go with the baby always! Now I know I am only a middle-aged male, but these kind of witnesses from my female wife have made a deep impact. Maybe the claim will be made that my wife is a self-loathing female- well that logic would follow anyone who opposes a U.S. war and speaks out negatively. Maybe only active duty service men and women should be able to participate in the political debates concerning whether the country should go to war or not.

    I’m not buying it. Now I agree with the need for investments in all kinds of pregnant women/children/family social helps, which is why I am pushing for the Pregnant Women Support Act, it deals with a lot of the root causes of abortion- so don’t paint the pro-lifers with too broad of a brush as being insensitive to women and children already born. We may have strong disagreements on the value of contraception, but there are a host of other ways to address many of the same root causes- shall we work together on those, or just continue to issue angry emails and look upon our opposites as pure bad guys. I personally disagree with many things that mainstream liberals and conservatives put forth, but I also find room for common ground, and I am willing to work on that, even as I keep on trucking with my full list of ideals, pushing the system as is my right to do in a free society.

    I’m not sure that non-religious persons would embrace my way of loving the women in my life- but I have a facebook cause entitled “Dads Protecting Daughters” which shows more of the politics of my heartfelt love and devotion to my female children- girls I would die a thousand painful deaths over to save- the content of my love may be in some ways mistaken, but do not mistake my intent- I love the women in my life, and I do not believe that supporting abortion rights is any way to say I love you to any woman. That’s my humble but strong opinion.

  • This guy gives us yet another opportunity to look at how the pro-choice movement makes a complete mockery out of logic.

    “You middle aged men who fight for the unborn…what have you done to help the BORN?”

    Why would this have any bearing on the argument? Something is either true or it is not. What the person proclaiming that truth does on their spare time has no relevance. The answer to the question may well be, ‘absolutely nothing’. So what? Go back to logic 101. 1+1 = 2 even if Hitler says so. The sky is blue even if Stalin says so. Truth claims have to be evaluated independently of the person making the claim.

    “Do you support social systems that provide a family with the LIFE LONG support they will need?”

    I can’t speak for the others, but I do, as a good in itself. But again it is irrelevant. With or without those systems, either abortion is murder or it isn’t. If it is, it is unjustifiable. If it isn’t, then who cares if there is a system in place?

    “And again I say to you…prevention is the key. Stop thinking abstinence. Get out of the box.”

    This is simply not about abstinence. There are plenty of married people having morally licit sexual relations who nonetheless seek out the services of the abortionist. This is about parental obligation. To make it all about sex reduces the unborn child to nothing else but a consequence of sex. It is that, but it is also more. It is a child of two parents and an independent human being.

    That said, birth control does not prevent abortion. It encourages abortion. It creates a mentality and a lifestyle of sex without consequences, but it only has to fail ONCE, people only have to forget to use it ONCE for that false reality to implode. Then people are left completely unprepared for the consequences, and the less prepared people are, the more likely they are to abort.

    “the most offensive, sexually degrading shows I have seen are on FOX…the “values channel.”

    True, but again, irrelevant.

    “I am not a “baby killer” because I want to see prevented pregnancies for women that do not want to yet be mothers.”

    We all know what a pregnancy is, and what you mean by ‘prevented’.

    A woman isn’t pregnant with a kidney or a spleen, but an unborn child, a unique individual with its own genetic code and potential in life. The only way to ‘prevent’ it from being born is to kill it. So, we have a child, and we have killing. Making it sound political or clinical doesn’t change what it is.

  • Tim, as a pro-life Democrat, I obviously agree.

    If I lived in Florida, I would strongly urge you to run for re-election and I would work for your campaign.

    Joe, this is yet another reason as to why we should run on the same ticket. I’d be willing to be the Vice President for 8 years. So that I can succeed you for another 8 and be in the White House for 16 years (diabolical laughter).

  • Normally liberal Democrats are all in favor of protecting groups of people who are seen as vulnerable, powerless, or discriminated against, particularly women and racial minorities. Wouldn’t it be perfectly logical for them to regard the unborn as an oppressed class deserving of protection as well?

    I realize, of course, that the main reason liberals seem to have a blind spot with regard to the unborn is their insistence upon absolute sexual freedom. However, most liberals don’t seem to have a problem restricting the “freedom” of an employer to sexually harass or intimidate workers, or the “freedom” of pedophiles to access child porn, so even they acknowledge that there are SOME limits on sexual freedom.

  • I think “Pro-family Democrat” is the reason many of us see making the Democratic party pro-life as a practical impossibility.

  • Phillip raises an excellent point. I have paid dues to Dems for Life, but even on the local level, pro-life voices are made VERY unwelcome at Democratic Party gatherings. The (God help us) “Pro-family Democrat” types treat respect for life as hate speech; it’s hard to imagine any common ground with them.

  • I am registered as an independent, but I would not have any qualms voting for a pro-life Democrat. I would even volunteer for a pro-life Democrat and actively participate for Democrats for Life.

    In fact I have done those three things in the past, but only at the local level.

    This is only the beginning, but we shouldn’t lose faith. Continue working within the Democratic Party to begin a dialogue and eventually a change from their pro-abortion platform.

    With God all things are possible.

  • Here’s the plan guys- I know that strong Republicans are pretty biased against the idea that Democrats can pull themselves together on Life issues because of the current establishment/activist hostility to traditionally religious worldviews- it is natural to suppose that an organization that you disagree with to the core could ever change on something that is nearest to your heart. But, I think that there is much more positive in the classic Democratic model as Elaine describes above- and also I don’t think that “Pro-Family Democrat” represents the mass of Democratic voters. This is KEY.

    I recommend Mark Stricherz’ book – Why The Democrats Are Blue- I plan on doing a brief sketch of the book for a blog entry in the future. The book depicts how secular liberalism came to dominate the upper reaches of the Party by way of legal strategies internal to the Party as the Party Boss system was challenged- there was enough to justify reform on the old boy network, but of course, the wrong type of folks took advantage and led the Party down the drain.

    I take it as a given that there is a very large untapped “market” among rank and file Dems- the type of people who vote Democratic for economic and other meat and potato reasons, but disagree with varying intensities to the social liberalism that comes with that package. As evidence, look at how many states voted as a majority for Obama but then also voted down gay marriage or voted for trad marriage definitions. And even though african-americans and hispanics voted strongly for obama, there are probable majorities among these folks who would love to support traditional morality candidates- but they haven’t had many opportunities.

    I would say that the strategy of Republican Catholics to just continue casting aspertions on minorities for voting Democratic- as if everyone should just fall in line and become overnight Republicans- that is beyond wishful thinking. The fact that many of us feel that the establishment Republican strategy of having an end game of sending abortion back to state legislatures- is not even a worthy pro-life strategy in the first place, is another point to consider.

    Instead of focusing a lot of energy trying to convert Dems over to Repubs, or Repubs over to Dems, I would rather spend time now building up a network of traditional religious voters within the Democratic fold- among those who are Democratic already for reasons I have spoken of many times before. This is why I am addressing myself primarily to fellow Democrats- it is not very helpful for Republicans to jump in with more negativism about how “hopeless” the Democratic Party is- I get it- but I think both major parties are “hopeless” on paper, but God trumps the paper, and I believe that there is a numbers game that is to the favor of transforming the Democratic and Republican parties to be much much more pro-life if only the sleeping giants of traditional religious folks awaken and assert themselves. My role is to try to help organize that within the Democratic fold. I would suggest that religious Republicans focus more on getting the Republican party to put abortion on a much higher shelf than it has in the past. For example if Bush/Cheney had spent half the energy they devoted to the case for invading Iraq on bully pulpiting and pushing the Republican Congress to educate the American people to the facts of Life beginning at Conception, with legislation being passed saying the same, putting the issue in front of the Supreme Court repeatedly- then I don’t think we would be sitting here looking at a very diminished Republican party today.

    But my job here is not to keep beating up on Republicans, I need to focus on my party, and since I believe only a strong two major party strategy against abortion will do the trick- I believe my mission is good, and not self-delusional. If or when I come to see that I am wrong, I would probably go with trying to form a Natural Law/Common Good Party rather than join a Republican Party where I disagree with their core assumptions about the nature of the role of the political community, which results in my even finding too many serious flaws in their approach to abortion that I couldn’t find any true enthusiasm- even though I do vote Republican sometimes- mostly at the national level where I have to admit that while establishment Republicans are lukewarm on abortion, Democrats have bacome ice cold. If we use an analogy from Scripture where the unborn are unconcerned- I see establishment Republicans as the Pontius Pilates’ trying to wash their hands of abortion by sounding like impartial, unemotional originalist judges, while the establishment Dems are more like the Chief Priests who are very actively stirring up the people against the rights of the unborn. Not a pretty choice to make- with few heroes out there in the mainstream.

  • I notice that Elaine Krewer is the only lady who’s commented here, so I figured I’d put my oar in just so PFD doesn’t get the notion this is entirely a hangout for middle-aged men.

    Middle-aged woman, here. Mom of four. Doctrinally conservative Catholic with liturgically eclectic tendencies. Pro-life feminist in the tradition of the nineteenth-century suffragists. Have had a crisis pregnancy. Have volunteered with a Birthright center. Been volunteering with kids for a couple of decades. Make regular contributions to those less fortunate.

    I bear you no ill-will, PFD, but if you’re going to sashay into a combox and post a bunch of inflammatory accusations and rambling rants, you shouldn’t be too surprised if some of the gentlemen reading forget they’re gentlemen.

  • Dear readers-

    Good for you! We need to work hard to end abortion by election of more Pro-Life Democrats who will pass laws in this respect and Pray for those who want abortion and have back alley shops they call offices! God will do his thing!

    Respect,

    Robert L. Jones
    A Blue Dog Democrat
    http://www.democratsforlife.org

  • Is abortion wrong because abortion is anti family, against God’s law, and/or coercive?

  • Student,

    That is part of it. But mostly because it violates the Fifth Commandment of “You shall not kill”, ie, killing innocent babies.

  • This blog post and the comments are an excellent witness to both the Catholic faith and the “pro-life, whole life” doctrine it teaches. Pro-family Democrat, you are in my prayers. Kudos to everyone here who will doubtlessly be called “good and faithful servants” by our heavenly Father some day!

  • Thank you so much for this very interesting post. I am pro-life, but disagree with the Republican party about just about everything else. If anything, I am probably a bit more liberal than the Democratic party on many issues. I feel in such a crisis about this. I like what you wrote about “limited government” verses “limited responsibility” and the importance of the common good.

    I was just talking with my husband–actually in tears–because I have always been political and civic minded and voted since age 18, and yet I feel like I have no one to vote for.

    For the record, I am not Catholic, although I am Christian. And also for the record, I am a woman and a feminist and have been pro-life almost all of my life. But that is not what matters. Sadly, I do think that a lot of liberal men who otherwise might be pro-life are bullied by the more radical elements in the pro-choice movement–are told that they have no right to have an opinion about abortion because they are men, which is irrelevant if abortion is murder.

    Anyway. Sorry to crash your party, but I wanted to say that what you are doing is inspiring.

  • Should God’s laws influence (if not control) government’s laws?

  • From: Lila Cuajunco
    Date: Sun, Jul 5, 2009 at 7:03 AM
    Subject: Fwd: FW: Fwd: Fw: OPEN LETTER TO OBAMA
    To: [email protected]

    On Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 1:38 AM, Lila Cuajunco wrote:
    Hi Georgia – Thanks for the Open Letter to Obama. I will send it to my
    congressman.

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Georgia Froncek
    Date: Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 1:47 PM
    Subject: Fwd: FW: Fwd: Fw: OPEN LETTER TO OBAMA

    This letter you are about to read was written by a 4th grade teacher
    recently. She even gave the world her telephone and fax numbers. She
    is a brave, bright, PATRIOT! We are in dire need of more true American
    citizens who are proud of OUR United States of America . WAKE UP
    AMERICA . . . Please . . . Before it is too late!

    April 27, 2009

    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington , DC 20500

    Mr. Obama:

    I have had it with you and your administration, sir. Your conduct on
    your recent trip overseas has convinced me that you are not an
    adequate representative of the United States of America collectively
    or of me personally.

    You are so obsessed with appeasing the Europeans and the Muslim world
    that you have abdicated the responsibilities of the President of the
    United States of America. You are responsible to the citizens of the
    United States.

    You are not responsible to the peoples of any other country on earth.
    I personally resent that you go around the world apologizing for the
    United States telling Europeans that we are arrogant and do not care
    about their status in the world. Sir, what do you think the First
    World War and the Second World War were all about if not the
    consideration of the peoples of Europe ? Are you brain dead ? What do
    you think the Marshall Plan was all about?

    Do you not understand or know the history of the 20th century? Where
    do you get off telling a Muslim country that the United States does
    not consider itself a Christian country? Have you not read the
    Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States ?
    This country was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics and the principles
    governing this country, at least until you came along, come directly
    from this heritage. Do you not understand this?

    Your bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia is an affront to all
    Americans. Our President does not bow down to anyone, let alone the
    king of S Audi Arabia. You don’t show Great Britain , our best and one
    of our oldest allies, the respect they deserve yet you bow down to the
    king of Saudi Arabia. How dare you, sir! How dare you!

    You can’t find the time to visit the graves of our greatest
    generation because you don’t want to offend the Germans but make time
    to visit a mosque in Turkey . You offended our dead and every veteran
    when you give the Germans more respect than the people who saved the
    German people from themselves. What’s the matter with you?

    I am convinced that you and the members of your administration have
    the historical and intellectual depth of a mud puddle and should be
    ashamed of yourselves, all of you. You are so self-righteously
    offended by the big bankers and the American automobile manufacturers
    yet do nothing about the real thieves in this situation, Mr. Dodd, Mr.
    Frank, Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelic, the Fannie Mae bonuses, and the
    Freddie Mac bonuses. What do you intend to do about them? Anything? I
    seriously doubt it.

    What about the US . House members passing out $9.1 million in bonuses
    to their staff members – on top of the $2.5 million in automatic pay
    raises that lawmakers gave themselves? I understand the average House
    aide got a 17% bonus. I took a 5% cut in my pay to save jobs with my
    employer.

    You haven’t said anything about that. Who authorized that? I surely
    didn’t! Executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be receiving
    $210 million in bonuses over an eighteen-month period, that’s $45
    million more than the AIG bonuses. In fact, Fannie and Freddie
    executives have already been awarded $51 million – not a bad take. Who
    authorized that and why haven’t you expressed your outrage at this
    group who are largely responsible for the economic mess we have right
    now.

    You can’t blame ANY of the above on George W. Bush. WHY are you so
    determined to give this country’s dwindling wealth to corrupt
    politicians and your corrupt friends?

    I resent that you take me and my fellow citizens as brain-dead and
    not caring about what you idiots do. We are watching what you are
    doing and we are getting increasingly fed up with all of you. I also
    want you to know that I personally find just about everything you do
    and say to be offensive to every one of my sensibilities. I promise
    you that I will work tirelessly to see that you do not get a chance to
    spend two terms destroying my beautiful country.

    Sincerely,
    Every Real American

    P.S. I rarely ask that e-mails be ‘passed around’…………
    PLEASE SEND THIS TO YOUR EMAIL LIST……it’s past time for all
    Americans to wake up!

    Ms Kathleen Lyday
    Fourth Grade Teacher
    Grandview Elementary School
    11470 Hwy. C Hillsboro,
    MO 63050
    (636) 944-3291 Phone
    (636) 944-3870 Fax
    >
    >
    >

Wyoming News: Mission Abort and Sin Tax Errors

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2009

At the advent of a presidency that has been accused of being the most pro-choice in history, there’s some good news.

Wyoming is now considering jumping on the bandwagon of trying to make abortions more difficult. There are currently three bills before the legislature dealing with the topic of abortion. The first, and one that draws all manner of painful cries from NARAL and other pro-choice organizations, is the requirement that any pregnant woman seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound performed. The complaints here focus on the lack of equipment in some regions of the state, supposedly barring some women from being able to undergo the procedure. To this, I have to roll my eyes. There are people in Wyoming who have to drive two or three hours to reach a grocery store. You have to spend at least an hour on the road to go from one significant town to the next. I think travelling to Casper or Cheyenne or one of our other “large” towns for such an “important” procedure shouldn’t be beyond most Wyomingites’ ability. Of course, the real point is that if a woman sees her baby in the ultrasound, she’ll be smitten with a bout of guilt and won’t be able to go through with it. There’s a reason why we have the phrase “Out of sight, out of mind.”

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5 Responses to Wyoming News: Mission Abort and Sin Tax Errors

  • Regarding the ultrasound procedure: Who is afraid of science now?

    Maybe the next pro-life demonstration can include big paper-mache ultrasound machines to mock the science-fearing pro-aborts.

  • Ryan,

    pregnant woman seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound performed

    It is my experience involved with the pro-life crisis pregnancy movement, that all pregnant women have ultrasounds before having an abortion committed. This is so that the abortuary can determine how much to charge for murdering the child, the older the child the more it will cost. In fact we routinely find that they often exaggerate the age when the client can afford the higher cost. The problem is, it’s an absolute policy that they do not show the ultrasound to the mother, as it is very likely to change her mind. That is the incredible success with our ultrasound programs (80%+).

    So, not only, as daledog points out, are they anti-science, they are in fact anti-woman, and anti-“informed choice”… they are just… pro-abortion.

    On the sin taxes, in principle it is not the government’s place to baby us. However, given that the taxpayer’s bear a significant health-care cost burden due to such ills, and, given that taxes must be collected, I am not that uncomfortable with a disproportionate, but not prohibitive tax on things that are universally bad for us. I don’t know if this case is excessive or not, if it is then the actual amount of tax collected will drop do to people choosing other vices, or via the blackmarket… either case defeats the purpose of the disproportionate tax. I think it’s naive to think that the response would be actual reduced consumption any meaningful sense.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • I think it’s naive to think that the response would be actual reduced consumption any meaningful sense.

    I guess that depends on what “meaningful” is. I did a little hunting around to see if sin taxes are effective at all, and they do make a notable difference. But then, statistically significant (i.e. outside the margin of error) does not necessarily mean a big difference, either, and it was hard to pin anyone down on actual numbers (which is a reason for my ambivalence on the issue).

  • Ryan,

    i guess it’s possible they make a difference, but I think that’s a diminishing return, as the tax becomes oppressive, then the black market takes over and they become widely available without paying it at all. There is of course, many bad effects from this black market.

    Again, if we are to be taxed at all, let it be on vices (tobacco, gambling, speeding, etc.) more than on good behavior, such as, oh, being financially responsible and productive.

    Matt

  • When society as a whole becomes so decadent and corrupt, the government can either sit back and let its people self-destruct (all the while subsidizing that destruction through tax-payer-backed medical procedures), or it can act, like a stern mother with her willful children, to curb the excesses of the populace.

    Third option: don’t do tax-payer-backed medical procedures.

    I’m really uncomfortable with the gov’t setting sin taxes, possibly because of the ease they can be turned on any easy target.
    (side note: so, where’s the sin tax on condoms? ^.^)

The Moral Content of Politics

Monday, October 20, AD 2008

Amy Welborn had a post the other day making a very important point, summing up much of what I’ve been thinking but not successfully putting into words for much of the interminable lead-up to this election. Amy asks:

[I]s Catholic politico-talk, particularly in the present moment, as most of us are engaging in it, taking place essentially on the level of vague assertions, associations and concepts? And – are we avoiding and ignoring the way that government and political processes actually work?

She singles out two particular areas in which Catholic bloggers have often imbued politics with too much weight, and thus divorced it from what it is.

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2 Responses to The Moral Content of Politics