Sunday, February 26, 2012

Charity vs Government Provision

Nothing seems more confused today than the understanding and relation of charity and the government entitlement culture.

On the show Jan 18, 2012 show, "The Five" with Progressive Commentator Bob Beckel, they were having a discussion where Andrea Tantaros was speaking with Beckel about conservatism and Rush Limbaugh, and they played a clip where Limbaugh said, "We conservatives do not see black, white, male, female, gay, straight.  We look at people, we see potential. We want the best for everybody. We know what's holding them back, it's government." 

Tantaros:  So Rush's point, Rush actually says that government's holding people back.  I actually think it's government telling people that it's okay to sit on your butts and we'll give you checks every month.

Beckel:  No, I don't think that's what the government says.

Tantaros:  Because it's good for the economy [as a government stimulus].

Beckel: We liberals made a terrible mistake going back 30 years ago, we made a dependent society  because we thought we were doing the right thing.  We had things like public housing, we had welfare payments, and all that bred a dependency, and it was our responsibility. We did it for the right reasons we need to change that.  But the way you change that is not to say its an opportunity society alone that's going to do it.  Its going to require some government intervention, that's our point.

Video of Beckel's statement

The next day Mr. Beckel reviewed it again and said
"what I want to repeat here is that there is going to be a need for government to help certain people in our society, many of whom come from the inner city, many of whom are minorities, and they are going to require some government intervention to help them.  We went too far is what I said, and I still believe, I said it yesterday, and I'll say it again today, we did it for the right intentions in many cases the wrong outcome".

Mr. Beckel's analysis admits that the outcome, the unintended consequence, of the progressive social policy was the creation of a dependency society.  But that we should be content that it was done for the "right reasons" and to prescribe more government to fix it.  A solution that, since it is an essentially symbiotic relationship, would seem doomed to inevitable failure.  This does demonstrate one very important step in addressing and solving issues. We have to admit the instances where we went wrong, and Mr Beckel did that on the behalf of his fellow Progressives.  An admission I am sure many will thunderously hold against him.  While I can agree with Mr. Beckel's statement that there will always be some among us who will need assistance, a helping hand, the unfettered access to "living on the dole" will only make the dependency society increase.  Larger government breeds this and cannot reduce it because it is antithetical to its nature.  We have to break the cycle and understand that an individuals need does not create an unlimited obligation on the part of society to fulfill it.

The seductive nature of government entitlement intervention is the central theme of an article posted by Catholic scholar Professor Paul Rahe.  Professor Rahe’s entire scholarly career [Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, Yale, Cornell, and Hillsdale] has been focused on studying the origins and evolution of self-government within the West. He is also member of the Catholic Church. The prompting for his writing was the recent controversy about government enforced edicts over religious liberty, mandating contraception supply to Catholic organizations. It's message is equally true for Protestant theologians and practitioners whose support of the entitlement "nanny state" overshadows their own message of personal responsibility and liberty.  Professor Rahe's message (hat tip PowerlineBlog) is as universally applicable to Protestant, Evangelical, and even secular organizations as it is to the Catholic brethren he is writing to.

Professor Rahe begins with a history that shows
that the Church worked assiduously to hem in the authority of the Christian kings and that its success in this endeavor provided the foundation for the emergence of a parliamentary order. ... It was the Church that promoted the principles underpinning the emergence of parliaments. It did so by fostering the species of government that had emerged within the church itself. Given that the Church in the West made clerical celibacy one of its principal practices (whether it was honored in the breach or not), the hereditary principle could play no role in its governance. Inevitably, it resorted to elections.

Then he shows the modern loss of that liberty of conscience
This is what the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church forgot. In the 1930s, the majority of the  bishops, priests, and nuns sold their souls to the devil, and they did so with the best of intentions. In their concern for the suffering of those out of work and destitute, they wholeheartedly embraced the New Deal. They gloried in the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt made Frances Perkins – a devout Anglo-Catholic laywoman who belonged to the Episcopalian Church but retreated on occasion to a Catholic convent – Secretary of Labor and the first member of her sex to be awarded a cabinet post. And they welcomed Social Security – which was her handiwork. They did not stop to ponder whether public provision in this regard would subvert the moral principle that children are responsible for the well-being of their parents. They did not stop to consider whether this measure would reduce the incentives for procreation and nourish the temptation to think of sexual intercourse as an indoor sport. They did not stop to think.

In the process, the leaders of the American Catholic Church fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States – the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity – and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor. In its place, they helped establish the Machiavellian principle that underpins modern liberalism – the notion that it is our Christian duty to confiscate other people’s money and redistribute it.

At every turn in American politics since that time, you will find the hierarchy assisting the Democratic Party and promoting the growth of the administrative entitlements state. At no point have its members evidenced any concern for sustaining limited government and protecting the rights of individuals. It did not cross the minds of these prelates that the liberty of conscience which they had grown to cherish is part of a larger package – that the paternalistic state, which recognizes no legitimate limits on its power and scope, that they had embraced would someday turn on the Church and seek to dictate whom it chose to teach its doctrines and how, more generally, it would conduct its affairs.

In my lifetime, to my increasing regret, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has lost much of its moral authority. It has done so largely because it has subordinated its teaching of Catholic moral doctrine to its ambitions regarding an expansion of the administrative entitlements state.

This loss is a loss for us all.  And it restoration will be slow and difficult.  The message fights against the current stream of the entitlement mentality, and the culture of dependency that it has created. But for those who value personal individual liberty, it is a restoration that is needed.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Extremist, labeling as a strategy

A favorite pastime, or is it a strategy, of the liberal left has been to call Conservatives “extremist”, “racist”.  It has been particularly profuse and common from the more liberal quarters of the Democrat hierarchy Barack Obama’s White House , Nancy Pelosi, (here and here), Harry Reed, Debbie Wasserman Shultz (here here  here here and here), and also from Rep. Betty McCollum during a townhall (“the house republican majority has pushed a different legislative agenda and I think its pretty extreme”).  The only way these statements are true is to do violence, as in the Federalist Papers description, to the center and right of the political spectrum and excise them from consideration.
NYTimes: President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.
Democratic Cry "Extremist"
Angry charges of "Extremists!" have become common and ubiquitous. It seems rarely do leading Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, ever talk about Republicans without adding the charge of extremist. Listen to them and it becomes quite clear that they believe "extremist" Republicans in Congress are the root of all evil. And, that these very "extremists' that are responsible for the American credit-worthiness downgrade, loss of competitiveness, high unemployment, and a sluggish economy.
So what was the classic definition of extremist?  To be extreme you had to espouse positions and attitudes that only a small fraction of Americans would agree with or consider reasonable, perhaps like members of the Weather Underground.  The definition of the offense of extremism is less permanent than a politician’s campaign promise, and mutates to permit government policies that few “centrist” people would previously have accepted.  To be repetitively intolerant of the views of perhaps more than half of Americans and to marginalize and denigrate them for political advantage, while currently part of the political tool set, does not make the claims true.
Robert F. Kennedy said, "What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents."
By this definition it seems to be more of a projection by liberals of their own sentiments than a reality of their opposition.  The extreme language and outrageous ad hominem accusations that border on or exceed slander and libel are simply a vehicle to try to eliminate contrary opinion from the marketplace of ideas. 

Two cases of this have presented themselves this week. 
A commenter on my blog calling Dennis Prager a “right wing extremist” (clearly not a listener) in part because of his (and my) stand on Voter ID.  A position in common with close to 80% of Minnesotans and 75% of Americans (here and here) and even 62% of Democrats , which I should imagine clearly makes it not extreme, by any definition.

and the outrageous ad hominem  New Yorker Magazine coverage of Rick Santorum,
To educated liberals of almost any description, Santorum is an abomination. It’s not just that he’s a pro-life, anti-gay, anti-contraception Roman Catholic of the most retrogressive and diehard Opus Dei variety. It’s his entire persona. With his seven kids, his Jaycee fashion code, his nineteen-seventies colonial MacMansion in northern Virginia, his irony bypass, he seems to delight in outraging self-styled urban sophisticates: the sort of folks who buy organic milk, watch The Daily Show, and read the New York Times (and The New Yorker, of course).
What is a Political Extremist?
Extremists can be left-wing or right-wing, but their views are typically far beyond the boundaries of logic.
Political extremist refers to a person or group that holds a set of beliefs that diverge from society's norm to a great degree. Extremist is a derogatory term, and to label someone as such is to accuse him or her of holding radical views that do not hold up to scrutiny or logic. They show disdain for the rights and liberties of others, but resent the limitations of their own activities. Extremists will use drastic measures to gain attention and support their various pursuits, including violence. Groups that are commonly labeled as extremist include Neo-Nazis, white supremacists such as Skinheads, and Holocaust Deniers. Extremists have many ironic qualities, such as the need to define themselves by naming their enemies. They favor censorship of their enemies but use intimidation and manipulation to spread their own assertions and claims.

Laird Wilcox [member of the ACLU] identifies 21 alleged traits of a "political extremist", ranging from behaviour like "a tendency to character assassination", over hateful behaviour like "name calling and labeling", to general character traits like "a tendency to view opponents and critics as essentially evil", "a tendency to substitute intimidation for argument" or "groupthink".  All behaviors prominent in the Democratic tactic of labeling Conservatives.

The tactic of continually labeling Conservatives as “extremists” is yet another instance of the application of Alinsky rules: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” and of course “Rule 6: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.”

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ron Paul at Bethel University

For my libertarian friends I offer a rare treat, an entire Ron Paul Speech, unedited. He was introduced by Representative  Kurt Bills  (R) District: 37B

Ron Paul Spoke at Bethel University Feb 4, 2012
Doors opened at 4:45 p.m. and soon after 5 p.m., the 1,600-seat Benson Great Hall was at full capacity. Several hundred hopeful event-goers were turned away by campus security. The event was sponsored by students at the University.
Paul speaks on his conservative economic ideas and foreign policy of nonintervention, deeply rooted in the Austrian School of economics.

His views on the economy, size of government, and love of the Constitution offer much even to a less libertarian conservative