The Spanish Civil War: Sadly, Still Relevant

Wednesday, August 24, AD 2011

On Sunday I received a request from a Catholic blogger for my suggestions for readings in regard to the Spanish Civil War, a subject which I have always found fascinating.  Here is my response:

The go to man on the Spanish Civil War is Stanley Payne.  He has been writing on the conflict since the Fifties.  He interviewed many of the leaders of the various factions in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies.  Originally a man of the Left, I think it would be fair now to call him a conservative, but what he is above all is a first class historian.

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36 Responses to The Spanish Civil War: Sadly, Still Relevant

  • A much-touted personal account is Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia.” To me, it proved less than the touting.

    Tolerance for me not for thee.

    I used to “see red” whenever a US MSM commie propaganda outlet would cover a reunion of “Lincoln Brigade” murderers.

  • I am fascinated by the Spanish Civil War and have had a difficult time finding good books on the Subject. Warren Carroll’s the Last Crusade is excellent reading.

    I’m already scouring my nearby book stores for your recommendations, thanks Don!

  • One of the disappointments I had with There be Dragons is that it did not delve into the whys and whatfors of the SCW as much as I would have liked, and likewise not in depth as much regarding St. Josemaria. It gave a little of both, but the rather superficial treatment left you feeling somewhat robbed. It seemed the director couldn’t decide whether it was a movie about the war or about the saint, and ended up really being about neither – it seemed to use them both as props or settings to tell the story about the saint’s fictional friend. Not a bad movie if you have that understanding going in, but a bit disappointing if you don’t.

  • Where I was going with that comment – I would love to see a really good documentary on the SCW.

  • The Spanish Civil War seems to be one of those historical events that everyone is supposed to interpret the exact same way. It’s depicted as WWII on a smaller scale. I know very little about the war, but what bothers me is that I’ve only seen Franco’s side defended by extremely anti-communist Catholics. I’m wondering, is this just one of those rare moments with two bad sides (like Mubarak versus the Muslim Brotherhood)? Is it possible to view the world as a Catholic and still accept the common interpretation of the Spanish Civil War?

  • “Is it possible to view the world as a Catholic and still accept the common interpretation of the Spanish Civil War?”

    From an American perspective few of the sides in the Spanish Civil War are too appealing. On the Republican side the main factions were Communists, Socialists (who were often harder Left than the Communists) and Anarchists. There were some moderate Republicans but they were quickly pushed to the side lines. In the areas controlled by the Basque nationalists in Northern Spain the Church was not persecuted and the Basque Republicans were fervent Catholics. They were subdued by the Nationalists in 1937.

    On the Nationalist side we have Falangists, basically fascists modeled after Mussolini’s black shirts, most of the Army, monarchists, fervent Catholics, and the Carlists of Navarre who were probably the most fervent Catholics as a group in the world and who provided the Nationalists their shock troops.

    Of the factions on both sides, my favorites are the Carlists and the Basque Republicans.

    The Republicans were mostly fighting to implement a Revolution and bring to Earth a Leftist utopia, of some Communist, Socialist or Anarchist variant. They wanted to smash the Church and anyone else who stood in their way of bringing this about.

    The Nationalists were mostly fighting to crush the Left and sepratist movements like the Basques and the Catalans, and restore Spain to the glory it had known in the past. They detested democracy, as Americans understand it, as much as their Leftist adversaries.

    A fairly bad choice from an American perspective. However, one point can never be overlooked by a Catholic: on the Nationalist side of Spain Catholics worshiped freely; on the Republican side, outside of the Basque regions, the Churches were shuttered and turned into warehouses, garages, town halls, and the clergy, and faithful Catholics, murdered. I do not think that any faithful Catholic can overlook that.

  • A very concise and compact review Don, I agree wholeheartedly.

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  • Well, certainly the right side won, at least in THIS civil war, Don! 😉

  • I often wondered that there were not “Lincoln brigades” of Catholics… why apparently no organized Catholic military units went to aid the Nationalists. Perhaps for the same reason that none aided the Cristeros in Mexico, an indifference to things Hispanic in the English speaking world, which itself seems to be in part a vestige of the Black Legend. Certainly the “main-stream media” was a formidable roadblock for Catholics trying to find out the truth of what was happening in Spain and Mexico.

  • What about the Hugo Thomas one volume history?

  • Irish Catholics sent about 500 men. They saw very brief action and then were sent home by the Nationalists as being fairly useless. American Catholics sent over a fair amount of money to aid the Nationalist cause, and lobbied hard, and successfully, against any US aid to the Republic. Portugal sent about 20,000 men to fight for the Nationalists, and allowed the Nationalists use of their ports and to use their territory to transport supply. The aid that the Nationalists received from Italy and Nazi Germany is of course well known. There were also White Russian and other right wing volunteers fighting for Franco. The study linked below has a strong Republican bias, but it is one of the very few volumes I am aware of that looks at foreign volunteers for Franco:

    http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Franco-International-Volunteers-Nationalist/dp/0826465382

    Roy Campbell was an English war correspondent who followed Franco’s armies and was sympathetic to the Nationalist cause:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Campbell_(poet)

    Outside of Mexico, almost all of the Latin American states were sympathetic to the Nationalists and extended early diplomatic recognition to the Nationalists.

  • “What about the Hugo Thomas one volume history?”

    Good but dated. We know far more from released Spanish archive records than when he initially wrote it in 1961 and even with updates it is not up to snuff with current scholarship. It still has a warm spot in my heart as it was the first book I read on the conflict.

  • Very pricy is Burnett Bolloten’s The Spanish Civil War. It is worth every penny however for the serious student. The late Mr. Bolloten made an in depth study of magazines, newspapers, pamphlets and other publications published in Spain during the war. You find material in his history you find nowhere else. He is especially good on the byzantine Republican factional infighting.

    http://www.amazon.com/Spanish-Civil-War-Revolution-Counterrevolution/dp/0807819069

  • Is that last one an even-handed account that you just commented on?

  • Bolloten began as a man of the Left Tito and by the end of his career the Franco regime was touting his books as a great scholarly study of the War. Bolloten was an honest man and the facts he brought to light tended to paint the Spanish Republic in a bad light. His scholarship is impeccable and he had no axes to grind.

    I would add that I would not recommend it to general readers. A fair amount of knowledge of Spain in the thirties and Spanish politics of that period is helpful before tackling Bolloten’s works.

  • Just added it to my Amazon Wish List, niiice.

  • The internet is awesome. Thanks, Don.

  • You want even-handed?

    The following is paraphrased from De la Salle Christian Brothers and Marianist sources.

    The holocaust within the Spanish Civil War has been denied far too long. Almost no one in America knows that during the 1930’s Spanish “Civil” War the “republicans” massacred of tens of thousands of Roman Catholic religious and lay people. For decades, the MSM, publishers, and the academy have sold the one-sided idea that Franco and his government (World War II neutrals) were merely fascists. The MSM, et al, egregiously deny the mass murders of Spanish Catholic religious and lay persons committed by the Soviet-led Spanish and international gangsters like Hemingway, Robeson and the so-called Abraham Lincoln brigade.

    There was a general massacre of Roman Catholic clergy and laity in the areas under communist control during the 1936 to 1939 Spanish Civil War. Four thousand Roman Catholic bishops, priests, brothers, and nuns, and tens of thousands of lay Catholic people were martyred. The Lord had called the Spanish religious community to a radical witness. When the republicans found them to be religious, they were arrested and executed. For example, the bolshevists murdered 165 of the order of Catholic school teachers, the De La Salle Christian Brothers, whose brothers have, for over 150 years, served their vocations at Manhattan College. On October 10, 1993, Pope John Paul II proclaimed “blessed”, seven Spanish Christian Brothers and three Spanish Marianists (Carlos Erana, Jesus Hita, Fidel Fuidio). The Marianists are dedicated priests and religious brothers who serve Long Island Roman Catholics at Chaminade High School and Bishop Kellenberg Memorial High School.

    About ten years prior in Mexico:

    Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J. – martyred in Mexico in November 1927

    A picture is worth a thousand words. One of the things that brought the attention of the world to the anti-Catholic persecutions in Mexico was the distribution of the photographs of some of the executions.

    At ten o’clock in the morning, Father Pro was the first to be led out to execution. Carrying his small crucifix and his rosary, he walked steadily across the yard.
    As his last request, Father Miguel asked to be allowed to pray. He knelt in front of the bullet-pocked walls and fervently prayed briefly. He kissed his crucifix and stood.
    Rejecting the traditional blindfold, Miguel stretched his arms out in the form of a cross and facing the firing squad said, “May God have mercy on you. May God bless you. Lord, You know that I am innocent. With all my heart I forgive my enemies.”

    As the firing squad took aim, Father Pro spoke his last words. In a firm, clear voice, he said: “Viva Cristo Rey!” Long live Christ the King.

    I guess that was “one-sided.”

  • I do not think that any faithful Catholic can overlook that.

    One would certainly think that Don.

  • Mr. McClarey’s advice about Burnett Bolloten’s book is really commendable.

    The Spanish civil war has been a very complex event, and the author’s long and (relatively, as is inevitable) unbiased research unfolded and pondered upon lot of documents, some of which – like newspapers – rarely used (at least intelligently) in other books. Bolloten was really able to give voice to the many, conflicting parties involved in this tragedy.

    It is too convenient to write Manichean books, were the righteous persons stand unerringly on one side only. Communism has been a cancer which exploited and exacerbated very real social problems, and this civil war is no exception. So one has to understand the concrete situation, the human plight in which those events could unfold: in this even conservatives and Catholics had their sins. Real life is not easy and is always more complex than ideology or partisanship would like it to be.

    So, if it is certainly true that the left lied for a long time about what happened (and still does), it is a Christian duty to always try to understand the whole: without hiding anything and certainly without feeling ashamed for politically correct reasons, it is God who must prevail, not our faction.

    ***

    As far as Mr. McKenna’s question, I would like to add this: many, many Italians went to Spain with the sincere intent to help that Catholic country wihch they knew was being devastated. Of course, they were part of the Fascist army, sometime proudly so, then they are easily dismissed in block as mean people.

    Again, reality is different from historical hyper-generalization. Similarly, most Soviet soldiers fought animated by the love for their country and even religion, whatever the Party could say in the propaganda. So much more it was the case in Italy, where the regime’s propaganda never attained the level of brain-washing reached in the USSR.

  • There is still a tendency (largely on the Left, it has to be said) to continue to view the Spanish Civil War through the prism of 1930s ideological assumptions rather than in the context of Spanish history. In hindsight it is difficult to see how Spain could have made a peaceful and swift transition to democracy in the mid-1970s had Franco not provided her with four decades of stability. Although his regime was oppressive and stifling, it was far preferable to those the Soviets imposed in eastern Europe.

  • Great info, Don, I look forward to delving into some of the contemporary histories you mention. Hugh Thomas was really my one and only source about this, and of course, Dr. Carroll under whom I studied, and who was a great proponent of the Carlists.

  • Dr. Carroll Tom wrote a passionate book in The Last Crusade which I enjoyed but it was basically derivate of other books. His tome is a useful corrective to most works on the Spanish Civil War due to their Leftist bias. Hugh Thomas managed a considerable feat of scholarship in 1961 with his volume, especially for one so young and in a field that was not his major subject of study. More amazing is that his account is almost completely neutral, not something you commonly find in books on this conflict.

  • Yikes, T Shaw, I don’t think anyone’s calling for equal respect for martyrs and their killers. But the war was fought between fascists and communists, or more accurately between one side which included and was supported by fascists and one side which included and was supported by communists. As Don describes it, there were faithful Catholics on both sides. There’s got to be some hesitation in portraying either side as the heroes.

  • Hi folks,

    Wonderful comments about a fascinating and tragic historical event. It is truly shocking seeing how hate-filled and bigoted the anti-catholics are in today’s Spain. However, secular Spain is pretty much going over the cliff so a lot of their anger is probably because they know they’ve lost the war.

    Concerning SCW books – don’t write off Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia! Orwell was far too complex and individualistic a man to be a straightforward pinko. He hated what he saw of Moscow’s manipulation of the Republican side and was very clear that there would have been a dictatorship whoever won. His book gives a superb personal, “you’re here too” account a part of the conflict.

  • After all these years ones grows very tired of this updated Black Legend of Spain and as is so often the case in these discussions the usual cliche seems to be that “both sides” committed atrocities and that there were no “good guys”. No, both sides did not commit atrocities. Only one side did, the leftist one. If you wish to maintain the fiction that Franco’s defending his country against these monsters by shooting back at them constitues “atrocities”, well, there is nothing I can say.

    Some are saying the Spanish Civil War was “complex”, which is a word used, I presume, to avoid really seeking out the truth and coming to a sensible conclusion. No, there is nothing complex about that war. It was the attempt by the Socialist/Communist forces to utterly stamp out the last vestiges of Catholicism in the land and as a revenge carried out by International Finance against a nation that was not dancing to their tune. And we Americans, both publicly in Hollywood and privately in the secret halls of government, were huge supporters of that Catholic extermination so sought after by the Left.

    It would seem that now, in the era of Zapatero and a frightened and weakened Chuch, that the Left has the last laugh because they are accomplishing just about everything they wanted in the ’30s. The modernist madness of Vatican II and creepy prelates like the unspeakable Casaroli paved the way for the Zapateros of this world. Sad…but there it is.

    Since we’re all recommending books about that terrible conflict allow me to suggest that we seek out and read the life and works of the Scotsman Hamish Fraser, a Communist fighter in that very civil war who ultimately converted and became one of the greatest Catholic journalists of the last century. It was my signal honor to know him and to learn from him what really happened there.

    And as for Gen Franco? God bless the memory of that great man who at least, if nothing else, bought some time and some peace for his beloved Spain.

  • I like you Dan.

    I agree with you, “both sides committing atrocities” is incorrect.

    Thank you for your book suggestion!

  • “No, both sides did not commit atrocities. Only one side did, the leftist one.”

    Completely untrue. A typical example of a Nationalist massacre:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_Badajoz

    There have been few firmer Catholics than the French author George Bernanos. He goes into great detail in regard to Nationalist massacres he witnessed while staying on Majorca during the Spanish Civil War in his A Diary of My Times:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_grands_cimeti%C3%A8res_sous_la_lune

    Historical facts are historical facts no matter what our ideological predilections might be.

  • The late David Eccles was the English representative of one of the Spanish railways at the time. He read of Guernica; as it was within his jurisdiction he asked one of the engineers what was to be done to repair the damage. “Nothing” was the reply. “There was not much damage”.

    It seems that an English reporter in a nearby town had nothing to report. Then he heard of the bombing [some German bombers getting rid of their bombs?] and made up a report of horrendous massacres and damages. “It was written by George Steer, whose familiarity with Basque traditions, passionate support of the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War, and outrage over the bombing may have led him to exaggerate some details, and to emphasize that Guernica was far behind the battle lines and not a military objective”.

    Having been told of this, I tried to do some little research on the subject. The eyewitnesses later interviewed [some two decades later] were across the Pyrenees, and of the Republican persuasion. The earliest book I found was Rudolf Arnheim’s 1973 book, based on the later accounts of eye-witnesses.

  • The Republicans exaggerated the damage to Guernica for propaganda purposes. The Nationalists said that there had been no bombing and the damage was caused by retreating Republican troops. Both of these positions were meretricious. There had been heavy bombing of the town and there was nothing wrong about that. The town had not been declared an open city, there were Basque troops in it in an active theatre of war, and therefore the bombing was completely legitimate.

  • Gironella who fought for the Nationalists during the War, wrote about both the red terror and the white terror in his trilogy: The Cypresses Believe in God; One Million Dead; and Peace After War. These books were published in Spain under Franco. No one could deny, with a straight face at least, that both sides had committed atrocities during the War, even at that time in Franco’s Spain. Leftist historians attempt to maximize the Nationalist atrocities and minimize, or ignore, the Republican atrocities. That is both a sin against history and the truth, and those who are appalled at Republican atrocities, as I am, should not ignore the massacres and atrocities of those fighting against the Republicans.

  • Americans who want to understand Spain and the Spanish Civil War should take to heart this preface that Gironella wrote in the American edition of The Cypresses Believe in God in 1954:

    “Author’s Note for the American Edition

    Spain is an unknown country. Experience proves that it is hard to view my country impartially. Even writers of high order succumb to the temptation to adulterate the truth, to treat our customs and our psychology as though everything about them were of a piece, of a single color. Legends and labels pile up: black Spain, inquisitorial Spain, beautiful Spain, tragic Spain, folkloric Spain, unhappy Spain, a projection of Africa into the map of Europe.

    I defend the complexity of Spain. If this book attempts to demonstrate anything it is this: that there are in this land thousands of possible ways of life. Through a Spanish family of the middle class–the Alvears–and the day-by-day living of a provincial capital–Gerona–I have tried to capture the everyday traits, the mentality, the inner ambiance of my compatriots in all their pettiness and all their grandeur. In Spain the reaction to this novel has been that it is “implacable”. Nothing could satisfy me more.

    This book spans a period of five years, five years in the private and public life of the nation: those which preceded the last civil war, which speeded its inevitable coming. The explosion of that war, its scope, and its significance are described in minute detail.

    A single warning to the American reader: Spain is a peculiar country and its institutions therefore take on unique coloration. Certain constants of the Spanish temperament operate under any circumstance. A Spanish Freemason is not an international Freemason. A Spanish Communist is not even an orthodox Communist. In every instance what is characteristic is a tendency toward the instinctive, toward the individualistic, and toward the anarchic. Spaniards follow men better than they follow ideas, which are judged not by their content, but by the men who embody them. This accounts for the inclemency of personal relationships, the small respect for laws; this, too, is what causes our periodic civil wars.

    To bear all this in mind is important in understanding this book. When the narrative deals with a priest, a policeman, a Socialist, a bootblack, it is essential to remember that it is dealing with a Spanish priest, a Spanish policeman, a Spanish Socialist, a Spanish bootblack, not with generic types. This warning is doubly necessary with reference to Freemasonry, Communism, and Catholicism, the interpretation of which will undoubtedly clash with the American reader’s concept of these doctrines.

    The book’s protagonist–Ignacio Alvear–is a type of young man who abounds in present-day Spain.

    Palma de Mallorca, Spain
    August 1954

    José Maria Gironella”

  • Just to follow up on Donald’s recommendation: You really can’t do better than to read Gironella’s trilogy. Thus far I’ve read the first two, and I want to read the third. They are truly brilliant, and they give you the more immediate sense of the war, and the way that sin begets sin. The sinned against, if they are not killed, often themselves become the sinners. Righteous anger begets unrighteous revenge.

    You don’t for a moment forget what side Gironella fought on, and yet he loves Spain so much he can’t help but make you understand and love even the people who would have shot at him.

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  • I was flipping around the radio dial last night and I ran across Michael Savage (who I wouldn’t normally listen to). He was discussing the Spanish Civil War. Odd coincidence.

41 Responses to Redistributing Grades

  • Ladies and Gentlemen… I present the future of America. * shudder *

  • Hmmm, they are not too willing to share yet they fail to see the comparison. Troubling…

  • Grades are like money in that you have to work hard to get them. Other than that, the analogy breaks down. People who have poor grades aren’t prevented from eating. The need for money as opposed to the need for grades is dramatically different.

    Moreover, at some point money actually becomes excessive, particularly for those trying to live a life of gospel poverty. It’s hard to think of a reason that grades are excessive.

    So the students are right; this is a very poor analogy.

  • How hard does Paris Hilton work for her money again?

  • Other than that, the analogy breaks down.

    The analogy is good because these kids don’t have any money yet, so they are all for redistributing it. What they do have is good grades, so “keep your greedy mitts off it” is their attitude.

  • Though good grades frequently move you along to better schools thus to better long-term earnings. Giving up part of your grade to another (who is often only slightly less adept academically than the one getting a 4.0) can help even the financial field in the long-term. Thus acting in part like redistribution but from a non-financial basis.

    It also reflects in part the affirmative action programs of the 70’s and 80’s where students of lower abilities were admitted to better schools in this interest. (Though it was often justified on the basis of “diversity.”)

    Don’t see why the analogy completely fails though, as noted and as is true for all analogies, it is not perfect.

  • “The analogy is good because these kids don’t have any money yet, so they are all for redistributing it. What they do have is good grades, so “keep your greedy mitts off it” is their attitude.”

    Bingo.

    “People who have poor grades aren’t prevented from eating.”

    Neither are people without money. See food stamps.

    Having gotten rather good grades throughout my academic career, I would note that I have had to work far harder for the money that I have earned since I graduated from law school, than I ever did for the grades I earned in the past.

    A good follow up would be to ask A students in favor of wealth redistribution, after they have graduated, if they would be willing to have positions they qualify for due to their grades given to students with poorer marks. (Congrats on landing that prestigious clerkship with Justice Blank. How about, in the name of equity, changing positions with that newly hired Public Defender who snoozed through Constitutional Law?)

  • “It also reflects in part the affirmative action programs of the 70?s and 80?s where students of lower abilities were admitted to better schools in this interest. (Though it was often justified on the basis of “diversity.”)”

    Phillip, just so you know, this is still going on. Certainly it’s a big part of the law school admissions process. If I were an underrepresented minority (URM), then I’d be in at Harvard Law or at the very least Columbia with my LSAT/GPA. Thousands of students this year will be displaced from their schools of choice by people who worked/studied less in the interest of “diversity.” Luckily, I worked hard enough to be admitted to the school of my choice with enough cushion so my Euro heritage didn’t hold me back.

    My curmudgeonly/Aristotelian talking point on the matter is this: supposing diversity is a good thing in a law school setting. Well, what sort of diversity? A law school is an intellectual setting. Therefore, intellectual diversity is the sort of diversity that is a conceivable good in a law school. Ergo, affirmative action for conservatives. 🙂

  • “Well, what sort of diversity?”

    If an institution is looking for diversity it does little good to forcus only on sex and skin pigmentation while the vast majority of the people admitted hold approximately the same political-cultural-religious views.

  • Yes, that’s precisely my point.

  • I recall Francis that when I was in law school, 79-82, some of my colleagues telling me that I was the first conservative they had ever known. Some said that in a friendly manner and some in a less than friendly manner!

    (Of course my class also voted me most likely to sentence someone to death for illegal parking!)

  • The students can claim that a lot of wealth is unearned (e.g., inherited). Of course, IQ is inherited too but you still need to work to make use of it. So this got me thinking… what if instead of an estate tax, estates are automatically placed in a trust and paid out as a dollar-for-dollar match to the heir’s own earnings? That more closely resembles the effect of genetic intelligence.

  • Why don’t we just have a national sales tax and get rid of income taxes. Then the government won’t keep records on what everyone earns and use it to divide everyone up by classes to pit against each other. It is really no one’s business how much anyone else makes or how they distribute that money to their heirs. We all have different talents and opportunities that lead to higher incomes. Is this fair? Of course not. It’s not fair that some people are attractive, good dancers, or charming while others are ugly clumsy clods. But that’s the way the world is. As Christians we should encourage everyone to give to the less fortunate among us willingly and not try to forcibly create equality where it doesn’t exist.

  • America’s gravest problem is moral not pecuniary.

    The chaste, the honest, the hard-working, the sober wage-earner or “A” student is not the bad guy.

    Tearing down the virtuous does not build up the vicious.

    Once upon a time, the family was the base of society. Now, its base hordes of envious, hateful dependents viciously clawing at each other when they aren’t assailing the virtuous.

    End the Class War!

  • “It’s not fair that some people are attractive, good dancers, or charming while others are ugly clumsy clods.”

    And its not easy being so attractive and charming! 🙂

  • MZ,
    About as hard as my old college roommate who knocked out straight A’s without ever cracking a book.
    No analogy is perfect, and nor are most corrolations. But the analogy here is pretty good, precisely because the corrolations between between work and grades as well as work and income are pretty good.
    This is not to say that other factors are unimportant. Natural talent as well as demographic luck are extremely important. But if you want poorer outcomes generally, weaken the link between work and those outcomes.

  • A book published about 10 years ago, “The Millionaire Next Door,” examined wealth in the US and found the overwhelming majority of millionaires were and are self-made small businessmen and women who live quite modestly in terms of their financial worth. The book also made the point that the old saying “Shirt-sleeves to shirt-sleeves in 3 generations” is still operative. There’s a distinct pattern here: the founder of the family fortune might be content, and indeed might feel more comfortable, living in a run-of-the-mill house in a non-ritzy neighborhood and driving a used car – but normally, he wants his offspring to have all the advantages he didn’t have – fancy private schools, piano lessons, summer camp etc. However, the further one gets away from the source of wealth, the greater the temptation to take it for granted and fritter it away. By the third generation, it is frequently gone.

    Of course, the massive fortunes of people like the Rockefellers belong in their own category and last much longer than the fortunes of Joe Schomo who owns 4 or 5 successful auto body repair shops in Des Moines. Still the book points out that wealth in the US is far more complex than just “the rich get richer.” In reality, some rich get richer, some go from poor or middle class to rich and some sink from the ranks of the rich or middle class into poverty. It’s not a constant.

    I read an article in the WSJ a while back about young unemployed college grads, mostly with humanities degrees, using food stamps to buy gourmet food at Whole Foods – organic rabbit, imported cheese, etc. None of them had any sense of shame or embarrassment about using food stamps and none of them appeared to consider or care that working people who can’t afford WH imported cheese themselves were the ones paying for their meals. No, they were entitled to the best and heck it was Magic Money from Uncle Sugar anyway. I have the feeling that those kids are on the escalator headed down.

  • The reason the analogy is close to perfect is the response of the students, not because a GPA is exactly like money or wealth. In some ways their grades are more earned than wealth, and so bringing up an inheritor of wealth like Paris Hilton probably reinforces the point being made. Better still to bring up the late Sen. Ted Kennedy who had inherited his wealth and was all for redistributive measures which mostly affect income earners.

  • Donna V.,

    The Millionaire Next Door, excellent book.

    It’s amazing that just living simply and within your means reflects the Christian virtue of prudence.

    Then comes along a self-hating American who wants to destroy this by “redistributing” the wealth.

    This video is a perfect analogy of what’s wrong with most progressive/liberal thinking.

  • The Millionaire Next Door was interested in Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth. They found people making hundreds of thousands per year who became millionaires to not be particularly exceptional. PAWs were exceptional.

    As for grades and income, you are dealing with Zero Sum Game theory. If one rejects ZSG for both groups, then the analogy is more palatable. The lack of resonance occurs because people do not believe grades are a ZSG but believe income and wealth are. Perhaps they are wrong in that belief, but this analogy will hardly convince them of it. Like many things on the Internet, it is a backstroking gesture.

  • The Church teaches the principle of the Universal Destination of Goods, and that the right to private property is not absolute.

    Jesus teaches that the rich are in danger of worshiping mammon rather than the Father, and that the path to heaven for the rich is the path of renunciation and generosity.

  • Here’s an excellent piece on the universal destination of goods and private property rights.

  • I liked this quote from the article you posted Pauli, “A fair wage for the work done is therefore “the concrete path by which most men arrive at those goods destined for common use” (LE 19).” Couldn’t agree more. I’ve often thought that the Catholic doctrine of a ‘just-wage’ is the solution to much of our society’s problems.

    A little thought experiment on the minimum-wage: you raise it to say, $20/hr. Millions of jobs are lost. That, to me, is a very interesting fact. Millions of jobs exist which are . . . economically useless . . . in that they do not make enough money to support families. Perhaps the problem with a minimum-wage is not the wage itself, but the work itself. If work cannot produce enough profit to live a decent human life (the very definition of a just-wage), then there is something suspect with that kind of work.

    In other words, if McDonald’s could not survive paying its employees a just-wage, then there is something fundamentally wrong with McDonald’s. Yes, human beings are probably not meant to make change and fry potatoes all day long. Human beings are not machines.

    The ‘correction’ our economy needs may very well require the loss of tens of millions of jobs. Perhaps these tens of millions can be given work that means something: say, intensive non-industrial farming. Just sayin’ . . .

  • Minimum wage jobs are not economically useless. Many people holding them are high-school kids who live at home and do not need to support a family. They are transitional, or they are part-time jobs which old people like who have SS checks coming in. Raising minimum wage jobs hurts these groups most. People who are trying to raise families just need to get better jobs, that’s all. Many groups—public and private—exist to help these people obtain the proper training.

    Perhaps we should lower the working age rather than raise the minimum wage.

  • say, intensive non-industrial farming. Just sayin’ . . .

    Intensive non-industrial farming does not generally result in income greater than $20/hr. People who do make more than $40k/yr farming generally do so by using industrial methods, working far more than 40hrs per week, or employing a number of very low wage workers during work intensive parts of the year.

  • “People who do make more than $40k/yr farming generally do so by using industrial methods, working far more than 40hrs per week, or employing a number of very low wage workers during work intensive parts of the year.”

    You need a lot of land in Central Illinois to make farming pay: at least 600 to a 1000 acres depending upon the fertility of the land. Those farmers farming less than that usually have a regular job in town and farm on the side.

  • Well… what if you own the farm? Then you can make some real money. Wait—that’s business ownership and requires individual initiative and risk! Never mind….

  • If you own the farm, and you use farming methods which a lot of “sustainable agriculture” folks consider “industrial”, you can indeed do really well. If you use “sustainable” techniques, but are able to round out your labor force by taking on low wage workers part of the year, (or more commonly by taking on a bunch of free “interns” who are learning about sustainable agriculture techniques and feeling close to nature) you can sometimes make that work as well. Though even so you might end up putting in so many hours that it wouldn’t work out to more than $20/hr if you were really rigorous with your labor accounting.

    At root, I think the problem here is that many of these “back to the earth” ideas of how just wages and good work would look actually involve a proposal that everyone be much poorer than is now the case — but people don’t understand that when they don’t understand that wages value are, among other things, only worth their ability to buy the products of others’ labor. So, for instance, you can talk about raising the minimum wage to $20/hr, eliminating all the jobs that don’t “make sense” in that world, and then having those people go back to the land, but in reality it wouldn’t work out remotely that way.

  • I agree with everything you said, DarwinCatholic. It’s extremely obvious, and that’s why the main reason I engage people on this topic is for amusement value. Which reminds me, I am paid $0.00/hour to comment on this blog. How am I going to feed a family of 7 on that??

  • “those people go back to the land”

    Almost all “back to the land” movements have been brought about by urban ideologues who are completely clueless about rural life and farming as a means of making a living. The misery brought about by such idiocy is a wonder to behold.

  • Maybe part of the reason I feel so critical of this tendency is that I do share a certain romanticization of farming — but it’s a romanticization laced with a tragic sense, such as Victor Davis Hanson gets across in Fields Without Dreams. I think there is something worth admiring about it all, but it’s important to be clear that while farming may be more “real” in some senses, that’s mostly because that life harder, poorer and more capricious than “wage slavery”. At a civilizational level, you really have to see that fact that very few people are engaged in food growing as being a sign of progress, not loss of touch.

  • “Maybe part of the reason I feel so critical of this tendency is that I do share a certain romanticization of farming”

    Any inklings I had in that way were cured by my first day baling hay as a teenager. Much of farm work is still very arduous, and people who do it regularly often are on the lookout for an easier way to earn a living. Fields Without Dreams is a great study of the black comedy that trying to earn a living from farming often is.

  • Not being a farmer myself, I can’t say much beyond that I trust in the message of farmers Wendell Berry and Joel Salatin–that civilization must be and can be founded upon agriculture. This doesn’t mean everyone is a farmer, but it means many more farmers than we now have, farming in a way that is both profitable and sustainable. If you haven’t read either Berry or Salatin, I highly encourage you to check them out at the library.

    I’ve spent a lot of my work doing manual labor–some of it easy, some of it quite hard. I had a ranger buddy of mine who would always complain before putting on our 100-pound rucksacks, getting ready for a night-jump, followed by a hard march, followed by an assault. I always reminded him, “Yeah, but dude, we’ll feel awesome when it’s over.” And that’s always how it is with hard work that engages both body and mind. Too often, what passes for ‘work’ in our society engages neither!

  • Berry is vaguely on the to-read list for one of these days, but I’ve read a fair amount about what Salatin does on Polyface Farms.

    As far as developing sustainable techniques, I think he’s been pretty brilliant — but I think one has to be very clear when reading about what he’s doing that it’s not a model for how all agriculture could work unless one was willing to settle for a much poorer society. His food costs 2-4x what comparable “industrial” food would cost, and that’s despite the fact that he has a lot of work done by interns/apprentices who work for nothing but room, board and $100/month.

    Not to mention that not many people combine his abilities as farmer, inventor, and marketer which make an operation like his possible — and are willing to forgo the significantly higher wages they could make if they took those skills elsewhere.

    There’s a lot to admire in Salatin’s philosophy on interacting with nature, but his lifestyle is not a route to “just wages” for the many, as if most things were made through that kind of farming (and the analogous craftsman approaches to making various goods) even the “just wages” proposed would go much less far than now. If a $4 hamburger which is premised on $9/hr labor seems unjust — we don’t necessarily find ourselves better off when the hamburger costs $15 and wages are $20/hr.

  • Nine dollars an hour is not an unjust wage for a high-school kid. If you have to support a family, you have no business flipping burgers.

  • Darwin, I think you’re right to point out that an agrarian lifestyle would be “poorer” in terms of material goods. We would not have so many computers or automobiles or even books. But there would be a lot more work for people to do, and lot more food for those workers to eat. What do we really need beyond room and board and friendship and community?

    Wendell Berry is published in Communio quite often (a very good and orthodox Catholic journal!). A recent essay of his is “Inverting the Economic Order”, where he writes “From an economic point of view, a society in which every school child “needs” a computer, and every sixteen-year-old “needs” an automobile, and every eighteen-year-old “needs” to go to college is already delusional and is well on its way to being broke.”

  • “This doesn’t mean everyone is a farmer, but it means many more farmers than we now have”

    Actually we have too many farmers as indicated by the fact that many of them cannot make a primary living farming. The only way for more people to make a living farming would be for food prices to skyrocket, something which is bad for society in a whole host of ways. Farming of course has not been the bedrock of this country’s economy or society for well over a century. In regard to society that might be a bad thing, but in regard to the economy I think that has been a very good thing if one of the purposes of an economy is to lift the general prosperity.

  • I think you’re right to point out that an agrarian lifestyle would be “poorer” in terms of material goods. We would not have so many computers or automobiles or even books. But there would be a lot more work for people to do, and lot more food for those workers to eat. What do we really need beyond room and board and friendship and community?

    It sounds like we’re in agreement that far, then. I guess what I’m less clear on, in that case, is: Why the necessity of raising wages to some arbitrary “just” level and eliminating a bunch of jobs based on that? If room and board and friendship and community is all that’s needed, people would works at McDonald’s and Barnes and Noble, be satisfied with the $8-9/hr wages, and live simply together in groups just like they could on sustainable farms. (Or they could ditch urban life for farms, if they prefer harder manual work and no air conditioning.)

    I guess I’m unclear how justice is served by having people be forced out of current employment patterns (obviously, if they want to all go work on sustainable farms, that would be fine too) if we’re okay with the idea of people being as poor or poorer than now.

  • Darwin, can I just pay you a compliment: it is nice to be able to disagree with you without worrying about it getting personal! Thanks!

    I’m not really proposing a huge minimum-wage increase, but was just fascinated by the thought experiment. I don’t really know what the solution is.

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48 Responses to Thomas Woods and His Critics, The Austrian vs. Distributist Debate Among Catholics

  • Good post, David. Off-topic, but are you in CL?

  • Great post – I agree this discussion is fascinating. IT it is very much improved by the frank admission and acceptance of the principle of the autonomy of the temporal order, and the civility of the contributors to the discussion. I hope to see more posts like this here.

  • I hate this post. I don’t like things that remind me of how poorly read I am. 😉

    In seriousness, thank you very much for writing this; I think it will give people like me a basis for understanding this debate. Now if only you could out enough time to go with the many links!

  • Great roundup. Thanks.

    Let us generalize about right-liberals and libertarians of various stripes (I might be described as paleo-libertarian, but the concept still seems to me to be in development, and I dislike all liberalism):

    Insofar as they are fine with a determinism of the “free market” economic conduct, they are wrong:
    by this I mean a view that the market is incompatible with ethics. “Efficiency” is NEVER to be valued above morality. The “market” has NO “inner logic.”

    Thus a good society is built upon the morality of its people, and culture is more important than politics and the construction of economic structures.

    Market-Determinism, it might be called, is anti-human, just as collectivism is anti-human (Ayn Rand was right about the Soviet Union and wrong about herself).

    Markets come from society. They are social institutions, flowing from law and custom. A market mechanism punishes inefficiency – great. But morality and family (and from family, tribe, and from tribe, nation, if a nation is not to have large-scale internal conflict) must be the foundational basis of organizing influence upon a polis.

  • Chris,

    Absolutely.

  • I have one issue with this debate – it seems too narrowly framed. Although I admire distributism, I don’t really regard myself as one. It’s a little narrow in its focus. And the Austrians are a little kooky and fringe. The real argument is between Catholics who support the postwar experiment in Christian democracy (which, as the pope says, is very close to social democracy in its economic aspects), and the resurgent laissez-faire liberalism that held sway long before Hayek started worrying about welfare states and dictators.

  • I’m curious about something and would like to it throw something out here. I am not very well read on economics, but I’m under the impression there are no major true laissez-faire capitalist voices out there. My impression is that most everyone acknowledges a role of the government in the economy, and that the debate is really one of degree and type of involvement. Is that a fair assessment?

  • resurgent laissez-faire liberalism

    The Libertarian Party is good for 0.7% of the national vote. Dr. Paul won about 5 1/2% of the Republican primary and caucus ballots two years ago; Alan Keyes once did about as well.

  • MM,

    If you really want to talk about real, current alternatives in the current political and economic landscape, I’m not clear that Christian Democracy or even Social Democracy are much on the table either.

    If I were to venture a guess though, I think that the appeal of Distributism for many Catholic readers/writers is that:

    a) It is a specifically Catholic phenomenon, which Social Democracy is not and Christian Democracy only partly is and

    b) For many Catholics, I think that the European example of Christian Democracy and Social Democracy in the post-war years is seen as tainted by what seems to have followed naturally from it: a breakdown of the communal in favor of the individual, and a relationship between individual and state replacing other more subsidiary relationships.

    Distributism, in it more communitarian forms, appeals to those who might be more receptive to ideas of Christian Democracy if they hadn’t seen how it worked out in reality. In that Distributism has (or can have) communitarian elements, yet lacks the centralizing and statist impulses of Christian Democracy, its fans hope that it would fair better.

  • Regarding a supposedly resurgent laissez-faire liberalism….since when exactly? Maybe in the time of McKinley and Taft, but certainly not since the first large-scale American centralizations, which began with Wilson (who could make W. Bush look like the head of the ACLU) and continued with the New Deal and the Great Society and continues right on up to the corporatist spirit and value transferrence of….well, today’s Republicans and Democrats (although, hey, maybe the big banks and companies and major foundations and Wall Street crowds will give a lot less to leftist parties and causes this year, given the economy – typically they fill up those coffers).

    The real argument is, increasinly, between our elites (government, media, big business, big public sector labor unions, ethnic activists, those that transfer instead of create value) and the folks really getting hammered – small business owners, family farms, manufacturers, ect (ie people that make our economy hum and don’t want to think too much about politics as they raise their families). Douthat hinted at this yesterday: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/opinion/06douthat.html?_r=1&ref=rossdouthat

  • My impression is that most everyone acknowledges a role of the government in the economy, and that the debate is really one of degree and type of involvement. Is that a fair assessment?

    I’d say so. These days even anarchists acknowledge a role for government.

  • Chris,

    Thanks for this excellent overview!

    Many of you know that I am intimately involved in this dispute. I was a contributor to the Distributist Review, and was unceremoniously dumped when I began to take more libertarian positions.

    Indeed I have been characterized as a “Distributarian” for my attempt to reconcile the two positions (and I thank you for including my old article, my first attempt at that).

    I have been fascinated with the work of Hayek and Ropke, and I have come to believe ever-more strongly in the positive goodness of economic liberty. I think my evolution is quite similar to David Jones’, in that it is impossible for me not to acknowledge what the Austrians get right.

    Those who want to learn more about my perspective are also invited to read:

    http://joeahargrave.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/markets-and-morality-ron-paul-and-wilhelm-ropke/

    http://joeahargrave.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/the-distributist-manifesto/

  • Blackadder,

    Yes I am in CL. Drop me an email if you desire.

  • The Distributists err when they claim the Austrians are a bunch of heretics. In Catholic Social Doctrine there is the principle of the “Autonomy of the Temporal Order”. The Church does not mandate we embrace a specific economic (or political) model. The Church has been critical of both Socialism and Capitalism in the past, but also recognizes that we live in a global economy today. The prudential application of moral principles can be applied in both a Distributist and Capitalist economic model.

    Actually, the charge is that the Austrians deny that the Church has any sort of teaching role in economic matters (and the concomitant claim that economics is completely separate from ethics). The Church does not mandate any particular order for all polities, but it does provide general principles.

  • (and *affirm* the concomitant claim that economics is completely separate from ethics).

  • Let me also say that I agree with Johnathan Jones about the importance of culture. We cannot have Locke without Burke. We cannot have freedom without values. We cannot have liberty without Christ!

    But having said all that, I believe many of the critics of economic liberalism undermine the free-will that is inherent in human nature, that is a property of the souls God gave us. It is free-will that bestows a dignity upon man above all of the animals; it is free-will that makes us moral beings. To undermine free-will by attempting to micromanage the economy is to degrade humanity, in my opinion. There should certainly be a framework, but within it, there should be as much freedom as possible.

    I think we are voluntary collectivists by nature. So I reject involuntary collectivism as well as voluntary individualism. And I think Christianity is ultimately voluntary collectivism, and what we ought to be working towards.

  • Excellent. Thanks for taking the time to put all that together – I hope to get through it all someday.

    I think a great point made, that deserves to be mentioned again, is that the issue is morality, virtue and character.

    Austrians maybe right about the market (I happen to agree); however, men are not angels. Although the market is the preferred method for ferreting out problems, it fails without Church (conscience) and government (fair broker). The problems we face are that we do not have a church in this country, we have churches and although there is really only One Church in truth, we are not there yet. We also have to deal with the fact that centralized statist power necessarily attracts men of low character and questionable morality, if any. Therefore, the government is not a fair broker.

    The government and the corporatists look out for each other at the expense of everyone else. This is what caused Jesus to flip tables in the Temple.

    We need to have this debate; however, in order for it to be something more than an academic and theoretical one, we need to restore the US Constitution, apply subsidiarity (federalism) and restore the moral order – first within ourselves, our Church, our communities and then elect men of character as our representatives. Then this discussion can have practical results.

    In the current corporatist-statist paradigm neither Austrian theory, nor Distributism have any place. We are given the option of Socialism leading to Communism leading to an evil oligarchy and reducing us to serfs (slaves), or Capitalism leading to corporate usurers being in control leading to an oligarchy and reducing us to employees (slaves). The result is the same either way.

    Me thinks the majority of people given the latter two choices, would prefer either of the former choices as an economic system for this country.

  • In meaning that culture is more important than politics, and that the family is the very foundation of a good society, it should also be noted that the strands of activist statism and liberalism (because even right-liberalism is an invitation to statism, as “freedom” is isolating and people become open to state-sponsored communion, and so I use liberalism to mean “equal freedom”, as enforced equality is left-liberalism) invite hubris. Protection against this is the genius of Madison in Federalist 10, writing that a dim view of human nature is most reasonable for the conduct of public affairs. “The good life of man” he traced to the Greeks, who asked not what kind of society can we mold but how can we mold ouselves to a concept of the good. Such (proper!) questions are why literary insight matters so much to governmental organization – as governmental organization should be concerned with following the good order of souls, which will always gravitate towards communion (hopefully in the Eucharist), no matter their stated desires (and so I agree about humans being “voluntary collectivists).”

  • Actually, the charge is that the Austrians deny that the Church has any sort of teaching role in economic matters (and the concomitant claim that economics is completely separate from ethics).

    The Austrian position is more limited than this. Here, for example, is Woods:

    My position, therefore, in no way involves the claim that the sciences per se, including economics, are exempt from moral evaluation. They are, however, exempt from technical critiques on the part of the Church, since churchmen may speak only as individuals on such questions and not for the Church as a whole. Thus if a certain medicine could be produced only by ripping the hearts out of living human beings, the Church should condemn such a thing, no matter how many doctors were in favor of producing the medicine. But if two kinds of medicines are suggested to treat a particular ailment, and no moral objection can be raised to either one, then in such an area the Church must defer to those who are schooled in that specialized science.

    The confusion arises, I think, from the fact that Catholics often make moral claims which presuppose certain factual assumptions. These assumptions can seem so obvious that a person doesn’t even realize they are there. It just seems like straight morality. So when an Austrian denies the conclusion and says it goes beyond the Church’s competence, it sounds like he is denying a moral teaching.

  • Blackadder: Do the Austrians claim that economics is purely descriptive? If so, then on what basis do they make normative claims?

    Medicine or pharmaceuticals is a product of art subordinate to biology — it’s not exactly a good analogy since all human transactions are moral in nature and cannot be studied in abstraction of their morality. One cannot say that these are just our observations about how operate work in the “marketplace” and they are morally neutral. If economics were just like physics or biology, one could claim the Church has no competence to criticize. But it’s not.

  • “We cannot have Locke without Burke.”

    That’s a good argument for getting rid of Burke.

  • Joe H. Says, “We cannot have Locke without Burke.”

    Why would we want Locke at all?

  • In America, we’re stuck with Locke, and I don’t think he was all bad.

  • @ John C.M.

    LOL

    …Locke, Stocke, and Two Smoking Barrels!

    (Couldn’t resist)

  • It’s not longer a matter of will, intention, rationality, etc.? We’re just stuck with him?

  • Well, I think Locke is a part of the American political tradition via the founding fathers and particularly Jefferson.

    So no, I don’t think you can just will the legacy of Locke’s ideas out of the American political consciousness.

  • Locke’s influence on the Founding is overrated. Locke was but one of many writers that were quoted and cited in the literature of the time, but if you look at the philosophy of the men who truly formed our republic – Madison, Hamilton, Adams, etc – he was not a formative influence in any meaningful way.

  • And how did we even get onto this discussion in the first place? We make some funny detours around here.

  • David & BA,

    CL as in Communion and Liberation?

  • One thing that strikes me as peculiar about the point of origin of this discussion is your identification of ‘Austrian’ economics as the counterpoint to certain trends in Catholic social thought. ‘Austrian’ economics is an odd and controversial set of conceptions and not accepted by aught but a small minority of macroeconomists with an affinity for libertarian notions of justice.

  • jonathanjones02 & DarwinCatholic – All brilliant comments and observations. I agree with them, I think.

    Joe – Blosser referred me over to your blog. Wow, great stuff. You and I will be talking I am sure. I will definitely read the links you provided above. I am especially interested in learning more about Ropke’s thought. If memory serves me correctly ISI publishes some of his works or at least book(s) about his thought. At this moment I am reading the foundational texts of Distributism. I also what to read the newer books of Distributism that the Distributist Review Press is putting out. I also desire to read more Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk, & Karl Polanyi. Maybe I can find time for Ropke as well. You might find this article of interest.

    http://www.mmisi.org/ir/41_01/carlson.pdf

    PB – I agree with you.

    American Knight – Brilliant comments as well. I would slightly differ with you on that it is possible to find small ways to live the Distributist lifestyle in our time. Refer to the works and thought of Wendell Berry, Eric Brende, Rod Dreher, Caleb Stegall, etc. The work and thought of John Médaille and Richard Aleman are especially helpful in this regard. Refer to the Aleman’s recent talk at the Chesterton conference. I am not sure it’s available yet though.

    http://chesterton.org/2010conference.htm

    Maybe he will be kind enough to provide the text of the talk to us. Refer to his podcast interview though on Uncommon Sense #17.

    http://uncommonsense.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=573724

    John Médaille – As a 2001 IRPS grad (last class under Bushman) from UD I salute you. Thank you for all your years of work advocating Distributist thought. What you and others have done with the Distributist Review is simply beautiful. I am really excited about where DR is going.

    WJ, John & Joe – I prefer Burke over Locke… I wonder what Russell Kirk has to say about Locke? I would also remind folks of Masonic influence on Locke’s thought. Blosser is now beating his head on the table. hehe

    http://ressourcement.blogspot.com/2005/09/freemasonry-and-america-part-iii.html

    Tito – yes CL means Communion and Liberation in my case.

  • What concerns me about the Austrians or anarcho capitalists, especially Rothbard’s and even Lew Rockwell’s thought as far as I have read or heard them, is this… They never it seems to me distinguish between the local, state and federal governments. All government is bad, all the time. This is simply not reasonable. This is not in line with Catholic Social Ethics either. Things should be handled at the lowest level possible (subsidiarity) – individual, family, neighborhood, parish, community, state, nation, etc. Government is not evil though, which is the presupposition of the Austrians. I reject that. Government is necessary for the common good in a fallen world.

  • In addition to the above link that I provided here are some others. Here are just some of the historic conversations I have had with Blosser and others on the influence Masonic thought on our Founding Fathers refer below.

    http://ressourcement.blogspot.com/2007/09/george-washington-and-freemasonry.html

    http://ressourcement.blogspot.com/2005/11/how-charles-carroll-influenced-us.html

    Locke and others are talked about in the comments of this last link.

    One could argue the liberalism (classical?) that they Austrians argue for is related to this topic as well.

  • As an attempt to gently guide us back to the topic of the main post. If you had to put me in a box politically I would state I am a traditional conservative, or to use Rod Dreher’s term – a crunchy conservative. Refer to his book, Crunch Cons. Libertarianism for me is like a shoe one size too small. I am very attracted to it at times, but the shoe just doesn’t fit. I like what the Austrians have to say about the monetary policy (i.e. fiat currency & the Federal Reserve), but I can’t swallow their promotion of anarchy, either in the economic or political spheres. I agree with the comments above about the importance of morality and values. A government can enact moral and just laws. A government can regulate the market for the common good. I would just argue this needs to be done at the lowest level possible. I share the same concerns of many above about collectivism.

  • I hear you David. I think matters would be helped if we considered that there is a difference between:

    1) “government” and “the state”, and

    2) “the state” and “the State”

    Re. 1, I think it is arguable that “the state” – the modern state as we know it – is a relatively recent invention. It is a permanent set of coercive institutions operated by professional bureaucrats. Governments, I think, are the sum of administrative institutions. At least that’s how some people would draw the distinction. There are anarchists who say they are “anti-state” but not “anti-government”, and that’s how they do it (crudely, roughly). Personally, I don’t see how you have a government without at least a minimal state – the “minarchist” position.

    I’m closer to minarchism these days, but I do see a positive role for government in providing benefits and incentives to inherently good and socially beneficial activity. Really I’d just like to go back to city-states, in my fantasy land 🙂 Catholic city-states… like medieval Venice… I think those accord much better with CST than say, the reign of the Sun King.

    Re. 2, here much confusion arises, especially among Catholics. I think when the pre-councilar popes, especially Leo XIII, are speaking of “the State” with a capital S, they are speaking about something somewhat different than say, our federal bureaucracy. When I read Aristotle’s Politics, for instance, it seems rather clear to me that in many places in which “State” appears, we might use the word “society” or even “civil society” – as a sphere distinct from coercive authority. And I see a similarity in Leo’s encyclicals. It could mean both, it could mean either.

    So “State” capital S seems to suggest a great deal more, and at the same time, a great deal less from the coercive power.

    I could be wrong I suppose. But if I’m right, then it puts some of the social teaching in a new light.

  • Joe – I am curious to get your judgment of Carlson’s article on Karl Polanyi when you get a free moment.

  • David,

    I have the tab open. That means it will be read today 🙂

    It looks fascinating, and so yes I will comment!

  • David,

    I read the article. Polanyi’s arguments are very familiar to me, and indeed I used to share many of them. At the root I still share them, but I think many of the individual ideas are based in a selective and incomplete historical narrative.

    “Laissez-faire” is a slippery term. But the argument that production for exchange isn’t “natural”, i.e. Aristotle’s argument, is just not obviously true. It makes sense in Aristotle’s world, but then, so did slavery and the total subjugation of women. At the same time, Aristotle recognized the implications of technological progress in a very poetic and perhaps unintentional way when he wrote in Book I of the Politics, justifying the reduction of a man to an instrument of production:

    “For if every instrument could accomplish its own work, obeying or anticipating the will of others, like the statues of Daedalus, or the tripods of Hephaestus, which, says the poet,

    of their own accord entered the assembly of the Gods;

    if, in like manner, the shuttle would weave and the plectrum touch the lyre without a hand to guide them, chief workmen would not want servants, nor masters slaves.”

    Arguably our modern technology has brought us far closer to this fantastic ideal than Aristotle could have ever imagined. So those who use Aristotle to try and justify reactionary economic arrangements today would do well to realize that Aristotle was something of a technological determinist himself.

    Next, the idea that there was this marvelous social order on the eve of the 19th century that laissez-faire broke apart forcibly is only partially true. These processes had been taking place for centuries, and it is arguable that it began with the massive labor shortages caused by the Black Death.

    It also ignores the rise of commercial capitalism in the Middle Ages, and particularly in the Italian city-states, in which there were limited-liability contracts, profitable lending (some would call it usury), and other financial instruments to encourage economic growth. The maritime trading empires of Venice and Genoa especially were built on the “unnatural” form of wealth-getting.

    Alongside commerce and trade existed the Church, whose morality was the foundation upon which all was built. Leo XIII recognized this as a great example of the Church’s positive contribution to civilization in Libertas:

    ” Neither does the Church condemn those who, if it can be done without violation of justice, wish to make their country independent of any foreign or despotic power. Nor does she blame those who wish to assign to the State the power of self-government, and to its citizens the greatest possible measure of prosperity. The Church has always most faithfully fostered civil liberty, and this was seen especially in Italy, in the municipal prosperity, and wealth, and glory which were obtained at a time when the salutary power of the Church has spread, without opposition, to all parts of the State.” (46)

    Here, btw, is another example of Leo’s use of the word “State” meaning something different than our use of the word “state”. Clearly here “State” means more than the coercive power and its bureaucratic appendages.

    This brings me to the last critique I would make of Polanyi: his belief that the artificial, bureaucratic interventions of the welfare-regulatory regime somehow “restored balance” to a social order upset by laissez-faire. I can see how at the time these institutions and interventions were seen as necessary; I believe a century of historical experience has shown that they make the problem worse. The state cannot replace local, organic, spontaneous institutions created through a shared culture and values. Instead it becomes something like a powerful magnet that, through sheer force, draws all of the atomized individuals to it in an undifferentiated mass.

    And the labor unions have proven to be a reactionary force as well. I think they actually prevent the Distributist goal of widespread ownership by bolstering illusions in wage labor. Nisbet mentions “unions and cooperatives” as if they are part and parcel of the same process; I say that the latter will really only begin to thrive as the former finally disappear. I see them as rival visions for improving the lot of the common man.

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  • the Daily Bell
    Let’s Talk About Natural Rights by Dr. Tibor Machan

    When various skeptics question the soundness of the American political system, one of their targets is the idea of human nature. After all, the founders took their political philosophy mainly from John Locke who thought human nature does exist and, based on what we know of it and a few other evident matters, we can reach the conclusion that all human beings have certain rights. This is what is meant by holding that there are natural rights and that they are pre-legal, not a creation of government…

    http://www.thedailybell.com/1357/Let-Us-Talk-About-Natural-Rights.html

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  • “It’s not an either/or solution, it’s a both/and solution. Test everything, hold fast to what is good in both camps.”

    I have been saying this very thing for a couple of years. Both “camps” seem to me to be excessively doctrinal (and academic) in their writings and debates; so much so that I felt the need to withdraw and take a “time out” to digest it all.

    It’s hard enough for non-academics to absorb this stuff without the the exchange of missiles between the two sides.

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The Crisis at Which We Are Arrived

Saturday, July 10, AD 2010

President Obama seems to carry the world view that of an elite academic, that all the problems this nation faces can be solved with government intervention through high taxes and and legislation that enacts social engineering of a society of independence to that of dependence.

Or as the average layman would say, President Obama is a socialist, plain and simple.

I understand the subtleties of his liberal leanings and his good intentions, but the path to Hell is often made with good intentions.  With the failed Communist experiment in Russia in 1988 and the current economic collapse of Greece with Spain and Portugal on the horizon to experience the same, I don’t see how more spending with money we don’t have for welfare programs that we don’t need will solve our economic woes.

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5 Responses to The Crisis at Which We Are Arrived

  • “Or as the average layman would say, President Obama is a socialist, plain and simple.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/09/majority-likely-voters-agree-socialist-accurately-describes-obama/

  • This question was raised recently.
    If they return to power, will the Republicans accuse the Obamacrats of being the party of No?? Hey, news flash, they already are the party of No!

    No more tax cuts. Let the Bush tax cuts expire.
    No more secret ballots. Unions rule.
    No more drilling. Cripple big business and suffocate the little ones.
    No more private insurance. The government is your Nanny now.
    No more Constitution. Rule by Executive order and a puppet Supreme Court.
    No more free speech. Only media approved by the White House permitted.
    No more prosecution for voter fraud or intimidation. We won, you lost Brother.
    No more mention of God. Nancy and Harry are BHO’s anointed angels for us.
    No more sanctity in marriage. Homosexuality is to be taught in school and encouraged.
    And one way or another it must be established (By the U.N. if necessary)….
    No more guns for the citizens. Only those for BHO’s promised Civilian Security Force which is to be as well equipped and funded as our current military.

    In short No More America as we knew it before the messiah who according to our first black president, Bill Clinton, did what any good democrat like say Robert Byrd did (joined the KKK). “in order to get elected” and serve admirably in West Virginia.
    Obama, who has since admitted being Muslim, joined a “Christian” church to mask himself for public consumption by voters.But who knew Rev. Wright’s true colors until it was too late? Well obviously Barack Hussein Obama surely did

  • The furtive enemies of the soul; the most dire threats (fundamentally change) to our country and our way of life; the foes of freedom are in the white House and congress.

  • Weakness and timidity abroad really do threaten a world in which terrorists and fanatics possess, and use, nuclear weapons.

    Not sure exactly where you are going with this. It could be argued that our rather ill thought out ventures abroad also threaten the world. The statement seems to lack a certain balance.

    No disagreement with the other concerns.

  • It could be argued that our rather ill thought out ventures abroad also threaten the world.

    Argued by people paying little attention to the implications of what they are saying. “The World” is not threatened by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is threatened.

Big Brother and The Fish Wrapper Industry

Wednesday, June 9, AD 2010

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

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

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

Increase Government Funding

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

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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.

November 2009, Stupak Never Intended to Vote No on ObamaCare

Monday, March 22, AD 2010

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

Biretta tip to Sydney Carton and Alicia Colon.

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

  • From the Weekly Standard:

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

    Stupak is now urging fellow members to vote it down.

    Update: The Stupak amendment fails 199 to 232.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • I think I remember reading that Stupak is Catholic.

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

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

  • Patrick,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Will,

    Thanks for pointing that out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • @ Jim S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Thank you TM for a mature reply.

  • To Patrick,

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

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

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

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

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

Obama Seems Unable to Face Up to Americas Problems

Monday, March 8, AD 2010

Simon Heffer of London’s Daily Telegraph wrote this timely piece on President Obama’s inability to govern America.  Here are some snippets [emphases mine]:

It is a universal political truth that administrations do not begin to fragment when things are going well: it only happens when they go badly, and those who think they know better begin to attack those who manifestly do not. The descent of Barack Obama’s regime, characterised now by factionalism in the Democratic Party and talk of his being set to emulate Jimmy Carter as a one-term president [We can only hope], has been swift and precipitate. It was just 16 months ago that weeping men and women celebrated his victory over John McCain in the American presidential election. If they weep now, a year and six weeks into his rule, it is for different reasons.

“Obama’s big problem,” a senior Democrat told me, “is that four times as many people watch Fox News as watch CNN.” The Fox network is a remarkable cultural phenomenon which almost shocks those of us from a country where a technical rule of impartiality is applied in the broadcast media [Like the BBC is a bastion of impartiality my left foot]. With little rest, it pours out rage 24 hours a day: its message is of the construction of the socialist state, the hijacking of America by “progressives” who now dominate institutions, the indoctrination of children, the undermining of religion and the expropriation of public money for these nefarious projects. The public loves it, and it is manifestly stirring up political activism against Mr Obama, and also against those in the Republican Party who are not deemed conservatives. However, it is arguable whether the now-reorganising Right is half as effective in its assault on the President as some of Mr Obama’s own party are.

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What Will ObamaCare Look Like

Friday, March 5, AD 2010

[4 updates at the bottom of this post as of 8:08am CST]

If ObamaCare somehow passes through Congress and signed by President Obama, what can Americans look forward to?

Well the Republican Party’s very own potential presidential candidate Mitt Romney did just that as governor of Massachusetts, passing universal health coverage for the entire state.

The results are mixed at best, and scary at worst.

Here are some highlights from the op-ed titled Romneycare model a dud in the Boston Herald by Michael Graham where Massachusetts is “already glowing in the radioactive haze of Romneycare, aka “ObamaCare: The Beta Version.” [emphases mine]:

Shouldn’t Obama have been bragging yesterday about bringing the benefits of Bay State reform to all of America?

As we prepare to wander into this coming nuclear winter of hyper-partisan politics – one in which we’re almost certain to see widespread political fatalities among congressional Democrats – I have to ask: If bringing Massachusetts-style “universal coverage” to America is worth this terrible price, why doesn’t Obama at least mention us once in awhile?

Maybe he thinks of us as the Manhattan Project of medical insurance reform. Too top secret to discuss. More likely, it has something to do with the nightmare results of this government-run debacle. Here are a few “highlights” of the current status of the Obamacare experiment in Massachusetts:

It’s exploding the budget: Our “universal” health insurance scheme is already $47 million over budget [imagine it in trillions for American tax-payers] for 2010. Romneycare will cost taxpayers more than $900 million next year alone.

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11 Responses to What Will ObamaCare Look Like

  • Clearly, the program only failed because it wasn’t properly funded. The rich need to pay their share to ensure everybody has access to health care. Your opposition to health care reform is really a manifestation of your deep-seeded hatred of the poor and fear of those who are not like you. It is shameful for you to use abortion as a smokescreen for your racism.

    //There. Just saved a few folks some time this morning.

  • Steve,

    That is a failure of imagination.

    All problems cannot be solved by throwing more money at it.

    Massachusetts is a model of what will happen to America.

  • Steve, you do deadpan humor better than I do it! You parodied the arguments of the Left to perfection. Well done!

  • Steve,

    I’m enjoying my sucker-pie right now.

    Good one!

    🙂

  • Yes, but Steve forgot to mention fascism. A fatal flaw in any real argument

  • I don;t know enough about Mass to comment.

    However, if public options are doomed to fail, how come they seem to do OK in Canada and Europe and have done for decades?

  • RuariJM,

    Canada and Europe have been subsidized by American military power for the past fifty years. If those ungrateful countries had to spend money on their own military, they wouldn’t have enough money for universal health care. The only our country could afford to ensure health care for all is to do what those countries do – gut our military spending and shut down the one trillion dollar budget.

    Yeah, right! Who else is going to stop Western Civilization from succumbing to the jihadists, if not the American military?

    // I jest. 🙂

  • “universal” health insurance scheme is already $47 million over budget

    Thanks to greater-than-expected enrollment. It’s a good thing.

    Romneycare will cost taxpayers more than $900 million next year alone.

    So what’s an acceptable price tag? The VA budget is $57 billion. Is that too much?

    Besides, most of the $900 million was already being spent to reimburse hospitals for treating the uninsured. The shortfall is $100 million.

    The choice is between insuring the uninsured, reimbursing hospitals for treating the uninsured, making hospitals suffer the losses from treating the uninsured, or allowing hospitals to turn away the uninsured. Pick one.

    Average Massachusetts premiums are the highest in the nation and rising. We also spend 27 percent more on health care services, per capita, than the national average.

    It was probably already the highest before the reform. I do know for a fact that since the reform, the rate of increase has declined both compared to the past and compared to other states. This is consistent with the CBO report which predicts lower costs offset by higher premiums for more comprehensive plans (a net increase in premiums but a decrease in cost). The Massachusetts plan apparently lowered costs more than it increased the price of premiums.

    In Massachusetts, ObamaCare 1.0 is such a mess our governor is talking about imposing draconian price controls.

    The federal government will deal with a larger deficit the way it always does, borrowing. If the federal government was going to impose price controls, it would’ve done so already to save money on Medicare/Medicaid which dwarfs ObamaCare.

    uninsured Bay State residents has gone from around 6 percent to around 3 percent.

    That’s hundreds of thousands of people. That’s great news! A federal program will help millions!

    In conclusion, the Massachusetts plan doesn’t defy logic and works largely as it’s expected to work. Nobody expected it to be free.

    If you oppose ObamaCare, offer an alternative. The way I see it if you take out the public option and include the Stupak Amendment, you have an acceptable plan. Sure, HSA’s would be preferable but if that’s not an option, insurance is still better than nothing.

  • In all seriousness, the rich have no greater right to health care than the poor. The rich are rich not for their own sake, but for the sake of the poor. To those whom much is given, much will be expected.

    Now, having said that, I do not approve of national taxes and national health care schemes. State taxes and state health care schemes . . . I’d have to think about.

  • RuariJM,

    That would explain why the premiere of Newfoundland decided to have surgery in the US and not Canada.

    As well as many more Canadians crossing our border for superior and sorely needed doctors visits.

    Remember, dead patients don’t complain while waiting in line for a transplant.

    That’s why you don’t hear much of them complaining, but there are complaints and it is ugly.

  • I hope Republicans will run attractive candidates for every open House and Senate seat who promise to repeal it. If this Obama/Piglosi/Reid abomination can be crammed down our throats via the nuclear option, why can’t it be repealed via nuclear option once all the Marxist-Alinskyite dirt bags have been voted out of Congress this November? By the grace of God there will be enough of a conservative flip to override ObaMao’s veto.

8 Responses to Obama Believes in the Free Market

  • That puppet can just as easily be on the other hand labeled “Wall Street”

  • Jim,

    When the UAW and SEIU have on record (White House guest log) visited Obama more than any other person or group then your comments make no sense.

  • They don’t have to visit the WH, they just phone their orders over to the Fed & Treasury and they deliver (30 min or less and guaranteed hot).

    Google “_____ Top Campaign Contributors” and put both Obama and McCain in the blank (separate searches) and you’ll see the country is not run from the White House but Wall Street.

    Making a pilgrimage to the WH may make for good back slapping photo ops with “the troops”, but the real decisions are made in the boardrooms of banks and hedge funds. Watch a PBS Frontline Program called “The Warning” and then tell me if you think “big labor” or “big money” is really steering the ship.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/

  • Jim,

    What’s the difference between corporate socialism and worker socialism?

    Answer: ZERO.

    Socialism is inherently wrong.

    From Paragraph 15 in Rerum Novarum: Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal. The first and most fundamental principle, therefore, if one would undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property.

    From Paragraph 17 in Rerum Novarum: Socialists may in that intent do their utmost, but all striving against nature is in vain.

    Socialism didn’t work in the time of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, and it doesn’t work now.

    Period.

  • And furthermore, ultimately it doesn’t matter if Obama believes in the free market or not (and he doesn’). Obama is a murderer of unborn babies, a legitimatizer of filthy putrid activities between men as marriage and ultimately an inherently evil and wicked man.

    ANYONE who supports him knowing the grave evil this man is committing CANNOT be called a Christian, much less a Catholic.

    That doesn’t mean Republicans are God’s Party. What it means is that whatever the Republicans may be, the Democrats ARE the party of death and they must be defeated, muzzled and emasculated.

    I won’t mince words. BTW, St. Paul was worse on Hymenaeus and Alexander in 1st Timothy 1:19-20 than our Bishops are on that reprobate great whore of Babylon, Nancy Pelosi.

    Liberal = evil. Pure and simple.

  • Paul,

    As long as you remember that in that same encyclical, and in every other social encyclical, the Papacy has explicitly advocated a policy of encouraging widespread property distribution, of worker ownership and control of productive property. This is a cornerstone of Catholic social teaching.

    JP II’s Laborem Exercens, along with Rerum Novarum, should be required reading for every Catholic and every American. In my America it would be.

    Fortunately, some Americans are starting to wake up and see that our choices are NOT limited to the following: 1) total nationalization and command economy and 2) individualist Social Darwinism where poor people either get “charity” or nothing at all.

    They’ve been discovering a third option, the option that has ALWAYS been promoted by the Papacy: workers and families and communities come together, through their own will and in view of what they freely know and choose as the good, and take common ownership of businesses that are new or old ones that are failing and have been abandoned.

    MORE CATHOLICS need to be involved in this – otherwise the whole project will be dominated by secular liberals. It was a Catholic priest that started the Mondragon, the most successful cooperative in the world, and now the model for all successful cooperatives. That priest was in turn inspired by Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno. This is OUR political and social philosophy, and we ought to be using it and owning it.

  • you can’t have a free market without competition, and just as in every competition there are winners and there are losers. the problem with liberals is that they haven’t found a loser they didn’t want to turn into a victim. and it doesn’t matter one little bit because their ultimate goal isn’t for fairness, or freedom… it is to usher in more socialism.

    just one of the many services they offer…

  • Ultimately, freedom requires risk. It requires the acceptance of the need for occassional suffering in order to perpetuate it. The reason true freedom is floundering in America and everywhere else that attempts it is that few people are willing to accept suffering. They want the government to solve their problems and create a perfect place where there is no suffering. The government, naturally, is incapable of doing so but rather than be honest about that makes those promises in exchange for the liberties of those who do not speak up. I saw just how many were willing to trade freedom for comfort after 9/11. The Patriot Act was anything but Patriotic and was massively invasive of privacy on a scale not seen before in America, but out of fear and a desire to be comfortable people complied with hardly a word. America will continue to flounder, continue to erode, until people take responsibility for their lives and their actions and surge forward to take the risks and accept the suffering that comes with freedom.

Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

This is a clip of Ronald Reagan warning us of socialized medicine, the very same bill that President Obama and the Democratic Party are trying to ram through congress.

Reagan warns us of how people such as six-time presidential Socialist Party candidate Norman Thomas, and many others, explained how to move their agenda of achieving a socialist state by a Foot-in-the-Door policy of socialized medicine.  Which is eerily similar to what President Obama and the Democrats are doing, against the will of the people with their European socialized health care bill.

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40 Responses to Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

  • I love that clip. It shows why Ronald Reagan will always be “The Great Communicator”. Clear, factual, and with his own depth of Philosophical belief. Unlike most politicians, what Reagan said, he believed.

    After watching the “Bipartisan Healthcare Summit” I was truly astounded at how poor Obama is at communicating without a pre-prepared speech and a teleprompter. The man is rude, cuts people off, stutters and stammers, and has trouble forming thoughts about his beliefs.

    Basically, to anyone who watched the BHS (no, not Barack Has to Stutter) this was a wake up call–Barry isn’t a good speaker, he is a good reader.

  • Is this a real or a parody post? If the latter, well the joke’s on me then…

    But assuming it isn’t – I assume you realize that Reagan was making all kinds of outlandish claims about Medicare, including that it tell doctors where they had to live? I think history had proved him a tint bit wrong – so much so that the party that now idolizes his memory is fighting tooth and nail against “cuts” in this very same Medicare..

    Oh, and as superior as single payer is (and Medicare is single payer by the way), the Obama bill retains the current system of privaet insurers. There is nothing “socialistic” about it. Of course, it attempts to regulate private insurers, including (by the way) how they must deal with abortion – something no Republican has ever supported.

  • MM,

    He was talking about the slow descent to socialism, or does this escape you?

    As for abortion, no matter your hollow arguments, you still voted for the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States of America.

  • You need to study more on what Reagan actually predicted pertaining to Medicare. Also, tell me why his acolytes currently are its biggest defenders? Also, please tell me what abortion protections were put into the Republican-sponsored Medicare Advantage expansion? And please tell me what exactly is “socialist” in the HCR bill?

    Of course, having a policy debate would require moving past mindless slogans – “socialist”, “most pro-abortion president”. Of course, I could also point out to your that your own ideology is almost identical to the liberalism opposed by the Vatican for quite a long time.

  • Awesome Post!

    Reagan also signed the UN declaration against torture and his DOJ successfully tried and convicted a Texas sheriff for waterboarding prisoners, so I guess that he solved those current debates as well!

  • Oh No! But I just realized that Ronald Reagan might disagree with Friedrich von Hayek on this question, who wrote, in his Road to Serfdom, that “Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.”

    And now I don’t know WHAT to think!?!

  • We could also say that Reagan raised taxes pretty much every year of his presidency, and pushed for a very ambitious arms control deal! The modern GOP would denounce him a “lib-uh-ral socialist”!

  • Here is the text of the speech:

    http://www.elephantowners.com/?page_id=68

    Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown. We cannot pay for them just as we cannot pay for Obamacare. The government as an insurer has driven up the costs of medicine for all.

    Oh and Tony, the most pro-abortion President in our history isn’t a slogan, but a reality. You supported him and now you aren’t even going to get health care. He is also producing a political reaction which is going to sweep the Democrats from power in November in Congress and across the country. As a Republican I would like to thank you. Obama is the best thing that has happened to the GOP since Jimmy Carter!

  • “Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown. We cannot pay for them just as we cannot pay for Obamacare.”

    As have Eisenhower’s regarding the military-industrial complex. But few “conservatives” seem to think that that is much of a problem.

    The point of all this, of course, is that it’s rather silly to think that the policy positions of American politicians–Republican or Democrat–should have any bearing on arguments (rather than sloganeering) about what is actually beneficial to the commonweal.

  • However plausible Reagan’s predictions may have been at the time, they have not been borne out by subsequent events. It’s been 45 years since Medicare was enacted, and it hasn’t led to a total government takeover of medicine. In fact, I think there’s a plausible argument to be made that Medicare is one of the main impediments to passing a universal health care plan today.

  • Instituting programs that we cannot pay for is not beneficial to the commonweal, but rather bankrupts the commonweal. As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs, it took up 23% of the federal budget in 2009. Social Security took up 20% and Medicare and Medicaid 19%.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget

    Medicare and Medicaid are going to explode in costs over the next two decades and there is no clue how to pay for them other than for the government to continue to borrow until—well, I guess until we can’t borrow anymore or our economy collapses under the debt burden.

  • I’m not sure how mandating that people purchase something from the private sector constitutes “socialism”?

  • And that’s not even to say it is a good idea. This is strictly speaking toward definition.

  • Wj,

    If you think that Hayek quote is amazing, check out this one (from the Constitution of Liberty):

    Once it becomes the recognized duty of the public to provide for the extreme needs of old age, unemployment, sickness, etc., irrespective of whether the individuals could and ought to have made provision themselves and particularly once help is assured to such an extent that it is apt to reduce individuals’ efforts, it seems an obvious corollary to compel them to insure (or otherwise provide) against those common hazards of life. The justification in this case is not that people should be coerced to do what is in their individual interest but that, by neglecting to make provision, they would become a charge to the public. Similarly, we require motorists to insure against third-party risks, not in their interest but in the interest of others who might be harmed by their action.

    Finally, once the state requires everybody to make provisions of a kind which only some had made before, it seems reasonable enough that the state should also assist in the development of appropriate institutions . . .

    Up to this point the justification for the whole apparatus of “social security” can probably be accepted by the most consistent defenders of liberty. Though many may think it unwise to go so far, it cannot be said that this would be in conflict with the principles we have stated . . . It is only when the proponents of “social security” go a step further that the crucial issues arise. Even at the beginning state of “social insurance” in Germany in the 1880’s, individuals were not merely required to make provision against those risks which, if they did not, the state would have to provide for, but were compelled to obtain this protection through a unitary organization run by the government.

  • Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown.

    Reagan was warning that eligibility for the programs would expand, not cost. That hasn’t happened.

  • “As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs….”

    Funny, I thought that was the Constitution. Thanks for pointing out my ignorance!

  • Eric,

    The moment congress passes this bill, within a generation, we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”.

  • The moment congress passes this bill, within a generation, we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”.

    This strikes me as unlikely. What in the bill do you think will do away with private sector health care?

  • It’s not in the bill.

    But succeeding congresses will expand the bill to include a government option. Will ultimately be a single payer “option”.

    I probably should have said an incremental march towards the elimination of private health insurance.

  • Blackadder,

    Yes, that quote is amazing. I am always impressed by the clarity and nuance of Hayek’s thinking; if Republicans were more consistently Hayekian and Democrats were more consistently social democratic then we might have actual arguments about policy! We would also be living on another planet, of course.

  • Tito,

    Why do you think passing this bill now will make passing those bills in the future any more likely? Usually passing a bill on a subject makes it harder to revisit that subject legislatively, not easier.

  • BA,

    They would not necessarily pass more bills, but it can happen.

    They would also expand the power of said agencies that would squeeze the private sector more and more.

    Not to mention executive orders that can expand the powers of said agencies and restrict those of the private sector.

  • Well, what do you mean by “private sector” anyway?

  • Tito,

    Okay, but all that stuff could happen regardless of whether the current bill is passed. Why is this an argument against the current bill?

  • I ask because it seems that, in your mind, there are these two abstract entities–the “private sector” on the one hand, and “government” on the other–that are necessarily in opposition. But this over-simple characterization does not fit the *actual* way in which the health-care industry (and, for that matter, most other large industries) operates in America.

  • BA,

    Because it is a slippery slope of creeping government involvement in people’s lives.

    WJ,

    Please explain.

  • Can’t–going to bed; briefly, though, I understand your distinction to hold for small businesses, relatively local economies, etc. but not for huge corporate enterprises which sometimes enjoy monopolist status and have the clout to influence legislation in their interests; for such enterprises, any simple distinction like the one you draw seems inadequate for accounting for the facts on the ground.

  • “Funny, I thought that was the Constitution. Thanks for pointing out my ignorance!”

    You are welcome. Without military force to back it up, the Constitution is just another piece of paper.

  • As have Eisenhower’s regarding the military-industrial complex. But few “conservatives” seem to think that that is much of a problem.

    Perhaps becuase the allocation of available resources to military expenditure fluctuates up and down in response to external conditions and is lower now than was the case in 1960.

  • which sometimes enjoy monopolist status and have the clout to influence legislation in their interests;

    The only monopolists in our economy are gas and electric companies and (to some extent) the postal service.

  • (and, for that matter, most other large industries) operates in America.

    That’s just what we need, more crony capitalism.

  • Well, what do you mean by “private sector” anyway?

    Never mind.

  • We could also say that Reagan raised taxes pretty much every year of his presidency,

    You could say that, if you’ve forgotten that legislation is enacted by Congress and that legislative initiative in matters of taxation and appropriation rests with the lower house of Congress, and that the lower house of Congress was controlled by the political opposition for all eight years he was in office.

  • Of course, having a policy debate would require moving past mindless slogans – “socialist”, “most pro-abortion president”.

    Those are not slogans, those are characterizations (the latter quite accurate).

  • Tito: “we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”…slippery slope of creeping government involvement in people’s lives.

    So, the government should not regulate anything that privaet insurers do? So you are fine with them covering abortion, I take it?

  • As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs, it took up 23% of the federal budget in 2009.

    I’m reminded here of an old Lincoln quote:

    All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

    We don’t need to spend anywhere near 23% of the budget on defense to ensure freedom of blogging in the U.S.

  • Blackadder,

    You’re being much too reasonable to be taken seriously on this thread.

  • We don’t need to spend anywhere near 23% of the budget on defense to ensure freedom of blogging in the U.S.

    Just out of curiosity, do you have in mind a scenario of what occurs given particular levels of American military spending?

  • “All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.”

    Considering how fearful Lincoln was during the Trent Affair of the possibility of British intervention, I doubt if he meant that statement literally. Additionally, in an age of ICBMs and the coming age of portable nukes by non-state terrorist groups, things have changed militarily a tad since Lincoln gave that speech.

  • Anyone who cannot see that Reagan was right about his beliefs needs to answer these questions:

    1. Did Medicare achieve the goals intended at the costs it promised? Further, is it almost broke now?

    2. Was Reagan right that Medicare was just a preemptive move to pass Socialized Healthcare?

    My answers for those questions are:

    1. No, it has exploded in size, cost, and is rife with Govt corruption and inefficiency.

    2. Obamacare anyone?

Global Warming Freezing Temperatures Hit the Globe

Tuesday, January 12, AD 2010

As freezing temperatures continue to grip the nation and the world I thought this political cartoon apropos to the many climate change proponents that continue to peddle this pseudoscience.

Which is why I am promoting the possibility of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution for the Separation of Science and State.  The new law would make it possible to separate the radical environmentalists and their socialist allies from imposing their false faith in scientism upon Americans.

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33 Responses to Global Warming Freezing Temperatures Hit the Globe

  • While the U.S. has been unusually cold of late, this hasn’t been true of most of the world.

  • BA,

    Could catch.

    Generally speaking.

    😉

  • The over-politicization of the issue of climate change has generated massive-marketing of misinformation and false presumptions, across the political spectrum, about the reality of climate change. This, I think, is a glaring example of it.

    The theory of global warming concerns the increase of the average temperature of the planet, particularly since the latter part of the nineteenth century. Even the most irreputable sources on the subject, e.g. Wikipedia, even points out this very point in its first line on the subject (“Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation“).

    This is a very basic and fundamental fact in regard to climate change. What are the implications of such fact? The reality of global warming does not claim that we should never see temperatures fall beyond normal trends, even to the point of seeing record temperatures in terms of coldness. Temperatures can, and do in fact, rise in certain areas and fall in others. The rise in global temperature, as the theory asserts it, is not evenly dispersed throughout the planet in every geographic location.

    Those who are convinced of the reality of climate change — which includes our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, by the way, as well as his Venerable predecessor — believe that the average rise of global temperatures in certain places creates ecological, and therefore, profound dilemmas, and even crises, for socio-economic justice particularly for third world nations — the affects of climate change, arguably, effect these people because of their geographical location. An increase in global temperature which arguably causes the rise of sea levels will affect the amount and pattern of precipitation, affecting agricultural yields which still is the source of economic vitality for many poor nations. Other effects include increases in the intensity of extreme weather. I need not go into more detail because the direct point is not to argue for the theory, but to make a criticism toward the pseudoscience claim.

    The bottom line is that pointing out abnormally cold temperatures in one specific geographical region hardly amounts to “throwing a wrench” into the theory — which in its very definition speaks of the average global temperature. The foundations of the theory of global warming is not shaken by such a critcism. It may be, and is, argued against on other grounds and whether those criticisms hold any water is not the point here. But this very criticism here, if anything, unveils ignorance of a very basic premise of global warming which it seeks to discredit.

    It must be said that no reasonable mind can conclude that everyone who believes in climate change are alarmist ideologues — not that anyone ever asserted such a thing.

    But here is a thought for the skeptics: when Galileo wanted to propose the heliocentric model of Copernicus to replace the geocentric model which had been the status quo consensus for quite some time, he had to propose a new theory and account for all the data and phenomenon that was thought to be explained best by the previous working hypothesis and demonstrate that the case for the new hypotehesis was indeed stronger–that is how science works.

    If you don’t believe in, say, evolution, then it follows that one should propose an alternative theory that readily explains the natural phenomenon just as evolutionary theory claims to do and this new theory should account for any failures or lackings in the theory its seeking to replace. It should, in other words, be a better theory. Again, this is how science works.

    Simply put, everyone who believes in climate change is not some liberal alarmist population control freak. I can speak for myself and I surely am not; neither is the Holy Father. If global warming is pseudoscience and nothing more than a conspiracy, I would imagine you would win more converts if you found, say, a counter-theory and argued for it — a theory that explains, despite the fact that global warming is a farce, why the polar ice caps have not gotten the memo. I have never seen whole bodies of glaciers melt because of consistently cold weather. Why are penguin populations dying? Why are sea levels rising? The climate change debate — and the politicization of it — can go back and forth forever. But if you can succeed in undermining the theory at its edifice by proposing a viable scientific alternative, then you might may just have a case. It certainly would be a better one than casting doubt because scientists wrongly dressed up data that, perhaps, didn’t give off the alarmist impression some research donors or other interest groups might have desired — no intelligent mind would conclude that an independent phenomenon’s reality is contingent on human thought about the truth of that reality, even if there was a scandal that involved people who believe in that very reality.

    But maybe this is really a case as to why we should not politicize science.

    That’s my two cents.

  • Eric,

    I’ve not seen anyone explain why the skeptic’s basic argument is wrong. The argument is that whatever warming we are seeing is the Earth’s recovery from the mini ice age, that the RATE of warming has remained consistent over a period of several hundred years, including a few centuries during which humanity’s use of hydrocarbons was nil or very low, that temperature does not correlate perfectly with carbon dioxide levels but does correlate with solar activity, that human civilization has weathered warmer periods than any that are projected for the 21st century (and that could not have possibly been caused by human activity), that Co2 is not harmful and actually has positive benefits, and there is more, but that should suffice for now.

    It is claimed, and I have seen many fancy charts attesting to, that there was a Medieval Warm Period. There are apparently many scientists who accept it, and it was evidently a fact that one of the leading global warmists tried to deny with his “hockey stick graph.”

    I really, honestly, humbly, sincerely would like to understand why these claims are either wrong or lies. Saying that skeptics are paid by big oil is also a non-answer. I don’t know if what I presented here constitutes in your mind a “viable scientific alternative”, but until I see a satisfactory rebuke of these claims, I will remain skeptical, especially in light of the documented anti-life, anti-family, agenda of the secular environmental movement headquartered at the United Nations (an agenda which is acknowledged and rejected by Pope Benedict, I might add – his recognition of warming trends in no way implies a political support for the UN agenda).

    I support less consumerism and materialism as a matter of spiritual health – I certainly don’t need to be frightened with apocalyptic scenarios in order to take seriously the Church’s already consistent moral argument against these things.

    Right now we have international institutions – the UN and the Chinese government – publicly declaring, openly declaring, that population reduction via the one child policy of forced abortion, sterilization, kidnapping and withholding of benefits to the poor has proven an effective means of reducing humanity’s “carbon footprint.” The clear choice is being establish for us by these institutions; begin taking drastic measures to address “overpopulation” or face the consequences of global warming.

    In the face of such inhuman madness, and with the possibility that the challenge of the skeptics might bear fruit if they are given a chance to more fully develop their critique before an international audience, I say we must err on the side of respect for human life, we must err on the side of skepticism for now – while continuing to take seriously the Church’s already powerful argument against excessive consumerism, which has no need of a global warming theory.

  • Eric,

    The science is questionable.

    Then there is the hurdle that this is man-made.

  • “I’ve not seen anyone explain why the skeptic’s basic argument is wrong. The argument is that whatever warming we are seeing is the Earth’s recovery from the mini ice age, that the RATE of warming has remained consistent over a period of several hundred years, including a few centuries during which humanity’s use of hydrocarbons was nil or very low, that temperature does not correlate perfectly with carbon dioxide levels but does correlate with solar activity, that human civilization has weathered warmer periods than any that are projected for the 21st century (and that could not have possibly been caused by human activity), that Co2 is not harmful and actually has positive benefits, and there is more, but that should suffice for now.”

    The theory of global warming posits that the average temperature of the earth is increasing and that the uneven affects of this has, regardless of its cause, negative consequences in certain regards for certain populations. There is in fact legitimate disagreement about whether or not global warming is solely a naturally occuring phenonmenon, a human-induced phenomenon, or some combination of both of these with varying emphasis on human effects. In other words, not everyone who believes in global warming has in fact a universal, identical belief about its causes. It is entirely parallel with the wide acceptance of evolution with a great number of disagreements over the details.

    Moreover, the argument you just posited — that of the skeptics — acknowledges that there is some sort of warming that is the result of a mini ice age. Therefore, there is warming, it is naturally occuring, and there is nothing to be concerned about insofar as human activity. There is an entire camp of global warming proponents who think this very thing and are critical of the analysis of others who accept climate change.

    This counter-argument may even well be true because it acknowledges global warming as a natural status quo which accounts for all the natural phenomenon we see — the criticism is, as it usually is, the extent of human activity influencing global warming if it does at all. That argument does not even deny global warming, in the sense, that there has been an increase in the average global temperature — it is simply a different reading of the same data, with the conclusion that the temperature rise is apart of a greater naturally occuring and repetitive cycle that has nothing to do with human activity and should not be met with great alarm. That is the position of one of my environmental professors when I was a student who completely accepted the reality of global warming as obvious but disagreed with other conclusions he thought to be unfounded.

    “I really, honestly, humbly, sincerely would like to understand why these claims are either wrong or lies. Saying that skeptics are paid by big oil is also a non-answer. I don’t know if what I presented here constitutes in your mind a “viable scientific alternative”, but until I see a satisfactory rebuke of these claims, I will remain skeptical, especially in light of the documented anti-life, anti-family, agenda of the secular environmental movement headquartered at the United Nations (an agenda which is acknowledged and rejected by Pope Benedict, I might add – his recognition of warming trends in no way implies a political support for the UN agenda).”

    I never made a claim about the skeptics having partisan interests. No, I don’t find what you presented as a “viable scientific alternative” because I don’t see how it denies global warming; in fact, the contrary is true. Moreover if you must remain a skeptic, than do so. However I think it is a basic fallacy of logic to say that X makes argument Y, but since X uses Y to promote immoral means, Y must not be true. Moreover, the advocates of a theory cannot be reduced to what some in the movement are saying. I (obviously) believe in the theory of global warming, as do Pope Benedict XVI and countless other pro-life, pro-family, pro-religion people who somehow see no point of contradiction in our belief. The issues at have at their source false philosophical presumptions not climate change — it is merely being wrongly used as an agent, a Trojan horse to promote a moral evil. Climate change itself is not the thing to be opposed in my view.

    “In the face of such inhuman madness, and with the possibility that the challenge of the skeptics might bear fruit if they are given a chance to more fully develop their critique before an international audience, I say we must err on the side of respect for human life, we must err on the side of skepticism for now – while continuing to take seriously the Church’s already powerful argument against excessive consumerism, which has no need of a global warming theory.”

    I obviously will disagree because our disagreement is fundamental. I’m not going to–not that I have to–discontinue believing something I believe to be objectively true because other people who acknowledge the same reality in the context of their false philosophical and metaphisical worldviews interpret that reality in a such a way that they use it to promote a false evil. This happens with just about every movement you can think of.

    And you’re right, the Church makes a case against consumerism rather well. But I doubt the Church believes it “needs” global warming to make that case. Rather by the judgment of the Holy Father and many scientific experts in the Vatican, it does seem to be the case — an objective reality of which they cannot deny because its inconvenient in other respects. All we can do is Catholics is apply ethical norms to whatever circumstances may arise — indeed, I think God asks no more of us than this.

  • Tito,

    Not every proponent of global warming actually believes that it is man-made. I have read entire scientific articles where the scientist in question is convinced of the reality of global warming and at the same time believes that human activity has nothing to do with it.

    There is not a “one-size-fits-all” view on global warming.

  • The theory of global warming posits that the average temperature of the earth is increasing and that the uneven affects of this has, regardless of its cause, negative consequences in certain regards for certain populations

    This is certainly true. At the same time, an increase in the average temperature of the earth also has positive consequences in certain regards for certain populations, regardless of its cause. Whether the negative consequences outweigh the positive consequences for a given amount of warming is not, I think, something we have a good grasp on, particularly given that the field has become so politicized. The views of climatologists prior to the politicization of the field is probably best summed up in the fact that what we call the Medieval Warm Period used to be called the Medieval Climate Optimum.

  • Eric,

    “There is in fact legitimate disagreement about whether or not global warming is solely a naturally occuring phenonmenon, a human-induced phenomenon, or some combination of both of these with varying emphasis on human effects.”

    The atmosphere of urgency – and in some cases, hysteria – surrounding the Copenhagen meeting, the orchestrated propaganda (such as using school children to beg Obama to save the world for the polar bears – a despicable, Goebbels-like tactic), the magnitude of the changes that the environmentalists wish to impose upon the governments and economies of the world, and the fact that population levels are now linked to carbon levels, all suggest to me that the substantial majority of this movement believes that humanity’s actions play a large enough role in GW to warrant drastic, immediate action.

    It is one thing, and I support it, to prepare for a rise in sea levels due to naturally occurring global warming. Such is our duty to the vulnerable and poor peoples of the world.

    But if there is, as you say, legitimate disagreement as to the role that human activity plays in this phenomenon, then Copenhagen (and next, I believe, Mexico City), which aimed at significantly altering the global economic and political systems, is at best an irresponsible, hasty response – at worst it is a thinly-concealed power grab. This is logically undeniable.

    ” No, I don’t find what you presented as a “viable scientific alternative” because I don’t see how it denies global warming; in fact, the contrary is true.”

    Eric, it ought to be clear that the skepticism is with regards to the role that humans play in global warming. Many of the skeptics – as ought to be self-evident from the claims they make – do not deny warming trends. What they are skeptical of is the contribution of humans, and what such a contribution would logically imply on the economic, political, and social fronts.

    If it wasn’t clear before, I hope it is now.

    “However I think it is a basic fallacy of logic to say that X makes argument Y, but since X uses Y to promote immoral means, Y must not be true.”

    That is not my argument, Eric. Because I don’t think you are deliberately trying to misrepresent me, allow me to restate what I said before: “until I see a satisfactory rebuke of these claims.” Meaning, I am not declaring that the immorality of the secular environmentalists renders the theory of AGW false; I am arguing that in light of both their clearly stated motives AND the possibility that they may simply be wrong on the science, gives us a legitimate reason to remain skeptical of their entire political agenda.

    The rest of your post still rests on the incorrect assumption that I am speaking of global warming as such.

    My apologies for not having made it crystal clear, 100% clear in the original post – I am talking about skepticism of man-made global warming, of a human contribution to warming trends that is so great that it warrants the sort of drastic, sweeping changes demanded by radical environmentalists, the UN, the Obama administration and other institutions.

    In this case I would say you are mistaken if you believe that you have incontrovertible proof that human contribution to global warming is as great as the alarmists make it out to be, alarmists who are not on the fringe but who are the driving force of the entire international push to “fight climate change.”

  • And let me make another thing clear – if the skeptics are right about man’s contribution to global warming, that it is not significant or is nil, then the wind will be taken out of the sails of a mounting anti-life agenda. That is why it is important to subject these claims to the closest scrutiny.

    Of course, if the skeptics are wrong, and the human impact is great – so great that it does warrant drastic political action on pain of major worldwide catastrophes that could potentially cause millions of deaths – then it is hard to argue against the logic of population control. We would be obliged to do it, to resist it at every turn, but in that case the wind would be in our faces and we would be bailing water.

    In the interests of making things easier and not more difficult for ourselves, let us remain skeptical. To remain skeptical is no offense to the truth because the skeptics have raised points that I, albeit as a layman, find quite logical. The facts they present, I am in no position to judge, so I can only judge the reasonableness of their claim until someone can say, “these are not the facts.”

  • Joe — I don’t think I actually ever stated whether or not I believe human activity has any affect on warming trends. Even if there is such a thing, I don’t think the lunacy of the alarmists, which is independent in its reality would have any logical bearing over whether human contributions are real or not.

    In fact, I tend to think that global warming is by and large a natural phenomenon — though I am convinced that human activity is minimally a factor, or at least, I’m open to that possibility.

  • Eric,

    I don’t think you did either. So I should apologize for arguing against AGW as if you did argue for it.

    But I do want to get the argument out there. So again, my apologies.

  • Sometimes we endure hard times, my friend.

    Moreover, I want to add — sometimes when we are debating “global warming,” which I look at solely as a scientific subject, there is a lot of reference to political activity by a group of people who believe in global warming which I see entirely as another subject.

    Much of our disagreement is over the emphasis of association.

  • Eric,

    It isn’t another subject if the science is being guided by the politics – which in the light of scandals such as climategate, to me, is a real possibility. Then we do have to question the human motives at play.

    Yes indeed, science in an ideal world should be kept separate. But when scientists are complaining that their critics might use the Freedom of Information Act to access their data, they aren’t talking about science in that case, but something political, something non-scientific at any rate. And when what I think are credible claims are made that the original IPCC reports on climate change were modified by non-scientific, essentially political bodies, then again politics becomes an issue.

    We do not live in a world of “pure science”, but a fallen world in which scientists themselves are not exempt from human problems. The skeptics claim that the Medieval Warm period, or “optimum” as BA said it was once called, was simply removed from history in order to create the now-discredited “hockey stick chart.” So it appears there is a pattern of, if not outright falsification, manipulation of facts and data, historical and contemporary, to present a certain view.

    We cannot blind ourselves to these real events in the interests of keeping science pure. If these scientists themselves may have poisoned the well, we would do well to drink from it with caution.

  • And…

    ” I don’t think the lunacy of the alarmists, which is independent in its reality would have any logical bearing over whether human contributions are real or not”

    I hope you understand, that is not my position. I would never argue such a foolish thing. The lunacy of the alarmists is simply a more pressing reason to take the claims of skeptics seriously. If they are defeated on the facts, the will be defeated politically. If they are not, then the battle is more difficult. So why not see where the skeptics might take us?

  • Again, the Weart book is worthwhile reading. The second edition is updated from the 2003 release, and probably contains more of the mountain of evidence.

    And yes, while the American *weather* is cold and snowy these days, please don’t fall into the usual trap of mistaking weather, which is what’s happening outside the American door at this moment, for climate, which is the pattern of atmospheric conditions for a region or a planet, over a period of time.

    Also yes, there is an increase in warming trends over the past century, and especially the past forty years which is unprecedented in any warming period since the last glaciation.

    So sure, for the first time in eleven millennia, something natural may be happening. It’s possible. But given the correlation of greenhouse gas emissions, it’s not the most likely answer.

    Alarmists have a political and financial motive, even more so than scientists. Of course, they probably won’t be alive when the North Atlantic flushes with glacier melt and the planet springs back into an ice age. But there’s nothing wrong, so they say, with eating, drinking, and being merry with Big Oil in the meantime.

    The worst thing I saw coming out of the UEA e-mails was that scientists think alarmists and skeptics are nuts. Big deal.

  • The worst thing I saw coming out of the UEA e-mails was that scientists think alarmists and skeptics are nuts.

    If so then you must not have looked at them that closely.

  • It is true that below average temperatures in the US does not negate global warming if it is true. It will also be good to remember that when there are above average temperatures this summer, and the media is screaming “Global Warming!!!!!!!!!!”, that does not necessarily prove global warming either.

    Let’s see the data.

  • “Let’s see the data.”

    Have you read the book yet? If the data is unconvincing, then read the book.

    I don’t listen to the media when they doubt climate change; why would I pay attention when they promote it? They’re only trying to sell toothpaste, cars, and Viagra.

  • Actually would like to see the data that apparently is not being presented in the English University studies. Also with what appears to have been not presented in Russian and Austrailian studies. Also with US studies.

  • Phillip, read the book, man.

    As for your second blog link, Big Oil alarmists are well aware that climate trends in the tropics are far less than at the poles. Otherwise, why would Arctic Ocean ice melt more quickly than the Amazon turn into a desert? That politically minded people would zero in on Australia’s Northern Territory isn’t a surprise. They know the global climate is changing, so why not focus on an area where change is minimal?

    As for your other link, the blogger’s problem is that he can’t get raw information. He suspects there’s a problem with the NASA or GISS data, but he can’t prove it. I have no doubt he would like to prove it, and I wish him the best in his quest for information. If I had it on my computer, I’d send it to him.

    As for saving raw data, as a person with a background in science, I’m not really surprised or dismayed by it. As I said before, if you want to consider yourself well-informed on climate change, read a book, not a blog. If you choose not to read the literature, you’ve chosen the easy path of ignorance. At the very least, you should keep yourself informed from the scientists themselves, rather than the global-warming-alarmist talking head on MSNBC.

  • Not an argument Todd. Looking at it from a scientific perspective. Being from a scientific background you know the raw data needs to be saved so questions like this can be addressed. The fact that organizations are refusing to release it, suggesting it be deleted in emails, and fighting FOI requests is concerning.

    Again this is not to say Global Warming isn’t occuring. Just saying release the raw data for independent peer review.

  • BA and Eric,

    I need to be more precise with my retort.

    I don’t believe global warming is man-made.

    But I do allow for the possibility that there is a recurring cycle that allows for global warming now.

    I’m glad we’re all Christian.

  • Stop the presses, hold the phones, cease and desist everything!

    BA and I agree! 100%!

    🙂

  • Blackadder writes January 12, 2010 A.D. at 3:01 pm:
    “While the U.S. has been unusually cold of late, this hasn’t been true of most of the world”.

    Those caught in the largest snowfall of the decade in England and France and much of Europe might take this statement as a shining example of U.S. provincialism.

    Of course, it has not been “unusually cold of late” below the Equator.

  • Eric Brown writes:
    “But here is a thought for the skeptics: when Galileo wanted to propose the heliocentric model of Copernicus to replace the geocentric model which had been the status quo consensus for quite some time, he had to propose a new theory and account for all the data and phenomenon that was thought to be explained best by the previous working hypothesis and demonstrate that the case for the new hypothesis was indeed stronger–that is how science works”.

    As matter of fact, Galileo did not account for the majority of the data. This was done by Kepler, not relying on a heliocentric theory. [NB: Galileo did not “like” gravity; he also opted for the planetary orbits as perfect circles].

    Galileo’s was a mathematical theory. This is why Card. Borromeo suggested that he propose it as such.

  • Would I be considered too impossibly retrograde to wonder if there is much truth in the theories of global cooling so fashionable four decades ago. These scientific fads are rather tiresome, constantly changing as they do. Sounds like phlogiston.

    Curiously global cooling and global warming seem to have the same solution – prevent babies. Might it be that the solution is the driving force behind both theories.

  • I don’t think anyone denies that Global Warming is a reality. After all, modern temperature taking only started around 1850, when it is acknowledged that that was the end of the Mini Ice Age.

    The dispute is the extent to which MAN has caused, or influenced global warming. My personal view after reading a lot of evidence from both sides; MANKIND MAY have influenced warming to a small extent, but the body of evidence appears to support a natural cycle. The bullshit surrounding Co2 as a “Toxic Substance” is simple lunacy – we need Co2 in our lungs to prompt our next breath; and the acidifying of the oceans by the absorption of Co2 has been debunked as patently false. The politicisation of the topic has cast much doubt on the veracity and credibility of those scientists involved. Indeed, last week we had one of the top IPCC scientists stating that in view of current climate events, we may be in for a 30 year or so “Mini Ice Age.” So who can you believe?

    The above link to Climate Change in Australia is interesting; there wer similar droughts and fires there in the late 80’s/early 90’s when I had lived ther for 10 years and returned to NZ in 1988. The ElNino effect does to Oz what they have stated in the loink, but that does not apply to all the South Pacific. El Nino gives us here in NZ strong and wet sth,westerlies, which cause flooding on our west coast, and droughts on the east coast- and generally cooller that normal temperatures.
    This past winter, we had our coldest May on record.
    We had our coldest October since 1945.
    2008 we had more snowfall than for 30 years.
    2009 (last winter) we had more snowfall for 60years – in some areas, the most in living memory.
    Last summer was wetter than usual, and cool.
    This summer is much cooler than usual.
    So what does this mean – I dunno.

    I think God is sitting there in heaven having a chuckle about this conceited creation – humanity – who think they are a prime cause – smarter than Him.

    I think I’ll chuckle along with Him.

  • I was also wondering why it was so cold in South Texas this winter. So I asked the climate scientists over on http://www.RealClimate.org . They explained it was due to a strongly negative arctic oscillation — a shift from the weather pattern going from west to east to a north to south patterns. They gave me links to data showing that the average temp for the entire world was still above normal warmer, and that it was much warming in the West Arctic, some 7C warmer.

    As Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” Or something like that.

    Those with good and sincere hearts will not be dissuaded from mitigating climate change.

  • Pingback: Of Tea Party Terrorists and Cognitive Dissonance « The American Catholic

Where Your CCHD Donations Go To

Sunday, November 22, AD 2009

Today most of your parishes will be collecting for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).  Donald, Christopher, and I have written over and over again of where the money actually goes to, funding for abortions being the most grevious of the lot.

So think twice before donating anything.

(Biretta Tip: Paul Nichols)

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4 Responses to Where Your CCHD Donations Go To

Chavez Threatens War With Colombia

Monday, November 16, AD 2009

Tensions are mounting in Central America as Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez masses troops on the border with Columbia and tells his military to “prepare for war”.

The Venezuelan ambassador to Bogota, Gustavo Marquez, said that the seriousness of the situation could not be overstated and that “there is a pre-war situation in the entire region”.

Diplomatic relations between the South American neighbours are frozen and on Saturday President Chavez escalated the war of words with President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia by saying there was no chance of dialogue.

While those who are committed Chavez fans, convinced that he wants only what is best for his people and the region, may accept his claim that this escalation is necessary because Columbia has invited the US to set up military bases in their country, which Chavez sees as presaging a US invasion of Venezuela, most will see this as evidence that Chavez is seeking to establish a national enemy in order to distract his people’s attention from the economic problems the Chavez regime has inflicted on them. His ability to use Venezuelan oil revenues to buy support at home and abroad is suffering because his government-run oil companies have failed to invest in infrastructure and thus have experienced declining output over the last several years.

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30 Responses to Chavez Threatens War With Colombia

  • To be accurate, Venezuela and Colombia are in South America, not Central (actually , Central America does not exist as a separate continent – it is a geopolitical designation like the Middle East).

  • Good point.. Politically, I’d tend to think of Venezuela and Columbia as being part of the Central American sphere, but that may be my own hang-up.

  • Colombia is thrice as populous as Venezuela and has a working military, albeit one occupied in counter-insurgency operations rather than conventional war. Col. Chavez has been (per news reports) been cashiering officers on political criteria. One can easily imagine this will end badly for Venezuela if they come to blows.

  • While I have nothing but contempt for Chavez and his corrupt and near-despotic government, I believe it to be a tragic mistake for Colombia to allow the US to build any military facility in their country. The influence of the US is every bit as malignant as that of Chavez and his ilk.

    I can only hope the people of Colombia will knock some sense into the heads of their leaders and tell them to keep the American rattlesnake at arm’s length.

  • Dan,
    The American rattlesnake’s support for Uribe (and Pastrana before) through Plan Colombia has given the Colombian government the chance to defeat the FARC and ELN sufficiently so that many more people there live in peace than was the case 10 years ago. US extradition is the threat whereby Colombia was able to convince the AUC right wing paramilitary to stand down. It seems the snake has mostly bitten the rabid dogs.

  • It’s not the first time Chávez threatens to do something like this. If my memory serves me well, the last time there were rumours that he wouldn’t be obeyed if he ordered the Armed Forces something crazy.

    The problem with this kind of people is that you get used to see them posing as personae and parroting a ludicrous jargon (all that “Bolivarian” and “21st-century socialism” stuff which, by the way, is pure plagiarism from Peron’s “20-century socialism”, to the extent that it’s fair to say that Chávez is a Peronist) and you start taking them less and less seriously, until one day they mean it.

  • If you are not even aware of the location of Venezuela, I’m not sure we can trust your commentary on it.

  • Michael,

    Glad to see you continue to show up whenever you have something particularly deep to say.

    Given that basically all the commentary here comes from the UK Telegraph, I’m not sure what exactly of mine you think should be discounted. Perhaps my suggestion that we all pray that Chavez not allow his militarism to run away with him and lead his country into an unnecessary and unjust war?

    As for my referring to Columbia and Venezuala as being in Central American — it would have been more precise for me to speak of “Latin America” or simply of “South America”. Arguing about whether Columia is in “Central America” is (given that Central America is not actually a continent, but rather a term used for the most southern reaches of North America) rather like arguing whether Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of the “Middle East”. I’m not going to bother with it — but if you think it’s the most interesting thing about Chavez’s brinksmanship, feel free to enlighten us.

    (I considered correcting the wording in the article as soon as it was mentioned, since I realized I’d simply been sloppy in writing it quickly, but I figured since someone had pointed out the issue via a comment it was more honest to leave it as is.)

  • Politically…part of the Central American sphere

    An argument can be made for that, particularly Venezuela with its Carribean influence.

  • In fact, if you look at it from the point of view whether a Venezuelan-Colombian fracas would be more disruptive to neighbors to the north or those to the south, I would venture to say to the north. The closest southern (really, more southeastern) neighbor would be Brazil, and given the relative size and stability, it would be less impacted than say, Panama, to the north. Perhaps Paraguay, Bolivia or Ecuador would feel it more like Panama, but assuming most of it would occur along the Col-Ven border, they would seem more physically removed.

  • As for my referring to Columbia and Venezuala as being in Central American…

    Ah yes, you finally get around to responding to my comment at this point.

    …it would have been more precise for me to speak of “Latin America” or simply of “South America”.

    Yes. Precisely my point.

    Arguing about whether Columia is in “Central America” is (given that Central America is not actually a continent, but rather a term used for the most southern reaches of North America) rather like arguing whether Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of the “Middle East”.

    No, it’s not. It’s quite obvious what “Central America” refers to, especially to folks who actually care about the region and do not simply make reference to it in order to do some pro-Amerikkka posturing.

  • Michael,

    If you are so incredibly concerned about the region, I’m a bit confused as to whether you’ve posted twice about a mistake I made in terminology, but seem to have no particular concern about Columbia potentially being invaded by Chavez for no very good reason.

    Personally, I have a couple friends who live in Columbia, and I certainly wouldn’t want the delusions of the left’s favorite South American strongman to result in their country being invaded. Is that “pro-Amerikka posturing”?

    Maybe if Chavez had spent some time at the School of the Americas or was considered “right wing” you too could bring yourself to care about Columbia?

  • Yeah. I just don’t care about Colombia. I care enough about it to spell it correctly! (And I know it’s not in Central America.)

  • pro-Amerikkka posturing

    Ah yes – thanks for the few seconds of distraction and enertainment. This typically juvenile behavior is more notable than much of rest, however, given the very significant amount of ideological gymnastics one would need to attempt in an engagement with Darwin (or myself, let’s return to issue of Honduras if you wish) concerning the actions of Chavez – especially if one would wish to deride imperialism, militarism, interfering with the affairs of other nations, ect. ect. ect. Or maybe its in some way ok if the person claims to speak for the “oppressed??” Let us know!

    So how about giving it a shot, then, and leaving these sorts of pleas for attention aside?

  • Touche.

    All right, Michael. We know now that you care about Colombia — though apparently not about other countries you don’t know how to spell. (e.g. “Amerikkka”)

    And we know that I incorrectly imagined one could refer to all the countries with coastline on the Caribean Basin as “Central America”.

    Perish the thought, however that we should allow ourselves to be distracted from these important learnings into not wanting Chavez to start a war or anything. That would be madness.

  • Michael, do you ever even listen to yourself?

  • One would hope not.

  • michael we all know you dont listen to yourself. as for this iccedient venizula should just call it off because if they do anything to the U.S base in columbia the united states will send forces to Venizula and the u.s will win. i also think that the people in venuzlia should stop because they already have there 4 guards back. nobody got hurt and if this happens again. the u.s should just leave the base in columbia for good because next time there will be a war for sure.

  • I just don’t care about Colombia. I care enough about it to spell it correctly!

    You care enough to spell it correctly. That sounds about right.

  • At least the real michael makes sense.

  • “Amerikkka” – the calling card of the Maoist.

  • “folks who actually care about the region…”

    Iafrate can read into men’s souls. What a charism. Must be another example of God choosing an idiot to do his work.

  • Actually the definition of Central America has shifted over time. For example, when Panama was part of Colombia it was not considered part of Central America, although it was always a separate, and rebellious, region of that country. Some definitions of Central America include the southern portions of Mexico. The European Union excludes Belize from its definition of Central America.

  • There’s no evidence that Michael “cares” or does anything whatsoever about the Third World poor other than to mention them occasionally as a prop on behalf of whatever lefty cause he’s supporting as to relatively richer North Americans.

  • He could have also said: United $nakes of Amerikkka as an acceptable alternative.

  • if i didnt care. then why would i put a comment on this article. As you can see you are probably someone who lives in venizula and knows if you guys harm the base in coloumbia we will send more then 15000 men over there and beat you guys like on how we did to any toher country who tried thearting us.

  • Darwin – Are you trying to pretend that you’re against war now?

  • I am and always have been against needless and unjust war — and I see no reason to believe that Chavez invading Colombia would be anything other than needless and unjust.

  • There’s also no evidence that Michael is anti-war. The only wars he ever complains about are those in which America was involved. If it’s one of the thugs that he otherwise admires (Chavez), he doesn’t care.

  • Of course I’d be against a Chavez-started war. That goes without saying. The concerns I have raised are unrelated to that.

Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the world of Catholicism:

reagan pope john paul ii

1. Today is the twenty year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin WallPope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher all played pivotal roles in bringing down Communism and discredited all socialistic and atheistic systems the world over.  Pope John Paul II played the most important role of the three, providing the moral backbone that is needed when confronting these manifestations of evil.

Newt Gingrich, Callista Gingrich, and Vince Haley wrote a timely article concerning this important anniversary titled The Victory of the Cross: How spiritual renewal helped bring down the Berlin Wall.  For this article click here.

2. Dave Hartline has already posted three articles here with us.  His latest is titled, Following the 2009 Election Results which Way is the Tide Turning toward Truth or Relativism?

For the article click here.

For all of Dave Hartline’s articles on The American Catholic click here.

3. Catholic Culture has changed their look again.  Unlike the last time I mentioned their new look, I have to say it is a major improvement.  It’s much easier to find Diogenes of Off the Record (under Commentary).  Blue has replaced what I think was the color pink as it’s primary color and the fonts are much stronger.

For the Catholic Culture link click here.

For Diogenes, which is under Commentary, click here.

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2 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

5th June, 1989 A.D.

Friday, June 5, AD 2009

Tianasquare
Sometimes one image serves to sum up an event in the world’s memory.  For the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, that image is probable the one of the “tank man” — a lone protester who was photographed on June 5th, 1989 when he briefly stood, unarmed, before a tank column and stopped it.

There is not agreement as to who the “tank man” was, and most reports suggest he was arrested by the secret police and executed within the next two weeks.

In those heady days, it seemed possible that within a few years communist dictatorship would be nothing more than a memory, but twenty years later the communist oligarchs in China have learned to accomodate freedom and enterprise enough to remain in power.  And the tank man’s dream remains unrealized.

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4 Responses to 5th June, 1989 A.D.

  • “And the tank man’s dream remains unrealized.”

    I suspect that in the long run the Chinese will remember him and his dream well after the leaders who murdered him and so many others in 1989 are all but forgotten.

  • My 7-year-old son who wants to be a priest told me yesterday that he wants to be a missionary priest. I can’t remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect of wanting to preach about Jesus all around the world like Paul did, and then something about working against “those bad old communists”.

    Honestly, I don’t know WHERE he gets this stuff.

    😉

  • Donald, I pray you’re right about that.

    I watched much of the Tiananmen Square coverage from my father’s hospital room. Dad had had a severe stroke. One day, I was sitting there next to my unconcious father, watching the “tank man” brave the might of the Communist tanks, and I saw my dad’s hand move a little. I looked at him. His eyes were open and he was looking at the television screen. “That’s wrong,” he said. It was the last thing I heard him say. (And very appropriate, if you knew my dad. He was a news hound and could not watch the news without giving us a passionate running commentary on every story.)

    Several days later, my sister told me he had told his then 9 month old grandson, “I love you.” Those were his last words.

    I can’t see footage of Tiananmen without thinking of my father, a crusty old WWII vet who had fought against tyranny and hated it with all his being.

14 Responses to DC Metal

  • Thanks for the laugh! That video was funny.

    I don’t understand the problems the diarist has with building smaller cars, though. Does the Catholic Church have a problem with small cars? WWJD (What would Jesus Drive)?

  • It’s difficult to shoehorn four children into a Focus.

  • Then you must have less children!!!!!!!!

  • Clearly, Jesus would drive a beat up old pickup with the apostles all riding in the back. James and John’s mother would then show up and ask if one of them could ride shotgun.

    And lo, when you enter into the Chevy, who will sit at the right hand of the Son?

    I was always kind of charmed by those post-war German micro-cars, having a fondness for small cars. Still, there’s no point in making cars that people don’t want, it’s simply wasteful. The evidence doesn’t seem to point to a situation where everyone wants tiny cars but Detroit refuses to make them. Rather, the reason why they don’t make more small cars is because there’s a limitted market fo them.

    That may change, but in the meantime there’s the danger that the administration is pushing GM to make a car that will simply push them deeper into trouble.

  • What would Jesus drive?

    Let’s see. A guy with long hair and sandals who goes around preaching peace and love with a bunch of other dudes with long hair and sandals. I’m guessing he’d drive this:

    http://www.idcow.net/idcow/products/ym2032.jpg

  • Suffice it to say, Jesus would’ve needed to drive something large enough to accomodate 13 fully-grown men on numerous round trips between Gallilee and Judea.

    But then, I’m guessing those who ask the question in the first place are probably likely to peg Jesus as the sort who would’ve used public transportation to get him and his disciples from Point A to Point B.

  • “It’s difficult to shoehorn four children into a Focus.”

    Hell, it’s difficult to get four children into a minivan when each one of them is required by law to have his or her own car seat/booster seat. We could easily fit a 5th and maybe even a 6th kid into our minivan if it weren’t for the booster seat requirement for the older kids.

    It’s pretty much gotten to the point where larger families (i.e. more than 4 kids) have to take 2 cars to get where they’re going.

  • DarwinCatholic,
    When I visited Europe I loved seeing those teeny little cars, too! I would never buy one – it just wouldn’t be safe, and no room for kids, groceries, mutt!

    I do think more people want fuel efficient and safe cars. There is a concern that the smaller cars are not safe because there are so many large trucks and SUVs on the highway that upon impact would destroy the small car, regardless of how many airbags it has.

    For me, I want to see more people buy smaller, lighter cars so we don’t have those worries (being trampled by the Suburbans, etc), but it’s also like circumcision. I want more people to reject circumcision so that the boys who aren’t circumcised become the majority (disclosure: my son is not circumcised).

  • Jesus and his twelve comrades were all illegal immigrants engaging in border crossing protests to emphasize the sinful structures of society! They drove around Palestine in a low-rider pickup camel with flames painted on the side.

  • Viona,
    I do think more people want fuel efficient and safe cars. There is a concern that the smaller cars are not safe because there are so many large trucks and SUVs on the highway that upon impact would destroy the small car, regardless of how many airbags it has.

    When you have only 2 feet of steel in front of you a concrete wall is deadly too, not so much with 8 feet of American steel. Big and small cars can be fuel efficient, but small cars just can’t be made as safe as big cars can. I’ll stick with big, safe and efficient… with the emphasis on safe.

    For me, I want to see more people buy smaller, lighter cars so we don’t have those worries (being trampled by the Suburbans, etc), but it’s also like circumcision. I want more people to reject circumcision so that the boys who aren’t circumcised become the majority (disclosure: my son is not circumcised).

    I also want more people buy smaller, lighter cars so that my wife and child will be even safer in her truck. Thank you to all of those people buying smart cars for making the road safer for them.

    I’m with you on circumcision by the way, but we certainly don’t want the government to levy heavy taxes on those who chose to circumcise, right?

    Jay,

    VW van is dead on!

  • i,

    You’ve read Miguel Diaz.

  • Jay: I think you’re right. But the van needs a groovy paint job with gospel verses written in Day-Glo orange and purple.

    When my dad nagged my big brother to get a haircut back in the late ’60’s, my brother’s best argument was to point at the print of the “Last Supper” we had hanging in the kitchen and say “Dad, do you see any buzz cuts there?”