Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One Nation Under Government

The following piece is inspired by a gentleman I shall refer to as, “Joe Liberal.” Joe Liberal is a socialist with a heart as big as the outdoors and a head just as empty. His tired theories of government and economics put me in mind of the immortal words of Ronald Reagan: “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

Joe Liberal says of the Tea Party that it engages in “economic terrorism.” He also offers this little gem: “if we ruin our credit rating the poor will either join the armed forces and fight for the Neo Cons or die some other way.” [I’m almost positive the vast majority of us are going to “die some other way” regardless of the credit rating…but I digress.]

Finally he elucidates, “Osama’s ‘record spending’ saved this country's ass from a crippling depression . Had the stimulus bill not passed there would have been unimaginable havok [sic] and tragedy in America. At least have the minimum amount of class and dignity to thank our leader for doing his job and pulling us back from the brink of disaster…”

Talk about the minimum amount of class and dignity! Whew…no wonder I was inspired.
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During those final days of the collapsing Marxist experiment in the Soviet Union, Soviet novelist Chingiz Aitmatov retold the following story, which has been paraphrased here.
On one occasion, so it was narrated, Stalin called for a live chicken and proceeded to use it to make an unforgettable point before some of his henchmen.
Forcefully clutching the chicken in one hand, with the other he began to systematically pluck out its feathers. As the chicken struggled in vain to escape, he continued with the painful denuding until the bird was completely stripped. “Now you watch,” Stalin said as he placed the chicken on the floor and walked away with some bread crumbs in his hand.
Incredibly, the fear-crazed chicken hobbled toward him and clung to the legs of his trousers. Stalin threw a handful of grain to the bird, and it began to follow him around the room, he turned to his dumbfounded colleagues and said quietly, “This is the way to rule the people. Did you see how that chicken followed me for food, even though I had caused it such torture? People are like that chicken. If you inflict inordinate pain on them they will follow you for food the rest of their lives.” (Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, pp. 26-27)
Are once proud eagles now naked chickens? The early Americans wanted limited government. They wanted government to protect their persons and properties against foreign and domestic enemies; and then pretty much LEAVE THEM ALONE.

When did the American ideal of government morph into the desire--the actual desire--for a monstrous, intrusive, regulatory, thieving, socialistic, nanny nightmare bureaucracy? Why have so many pledged themselves and all others to be one nation under government?

Joe Liberal’s comments embody the ever spreading and ever insatiable mind-set of “entitlement.” The entitlement mentality is more than willing to sacrifice LIBERTY--true liberty--on the altar of security--FALSE security. People of his persuasion do not want liberty from governmental control. Rather, they want to be taken care of [perhaps not taken care of personally or directly, but they see the government as THE SUPREME AGENCY of managing and enabling peoples' lives--literally from cradle to grave].

As I said, historically, this was not the American ideal, but rather the European statist ideal. Nevertheless, America has many "Joe Liberals" with pipe dreams of utopian, democratic socialism.

These folks long for government to manipulate and control the economy, on nearly every level. For this to happen they are more than happy to have government manipulate and control every aspect of life [which is the inevitability of statism according to F.A. Hayek's classic work, "The Road to Serfdom"].

According to the “Joe Liberals” of the world, Americans are utterly incapable of managing personal liberty. We need the government to put food into our mouths. (In fact, we need the government to regulate the kind of food and the correct amount of food to put into our mouths. Furthermore, government must also restrain the condiments we put on our food before it puts the food into our mouths.)

Government must provide us with health insurance. (Which is not to be confused with actual health CARE.) Government must control how we parent our children--and how we school them. Government must house us. Government must invade our privacy to protect us from ourselves. Government must police our thoughts lest we express things which are politically incorrect or inexpedient....and on and on.

Early Americans cherished independence. The “Joe Liberals” of America today crave DEPENDENCE. Nothing pleases them more than government money and mandates. That is, they suffer from acute, and perhaps incurable, “naked chicken” syndrome. It was a democratically elected socialist [Adolf Hitler] who quipped, "What good fortune for governments that the people do not think."

One simply cannot have both liberty from and dependence upon government in the same sense or within the same relationship. And as Ben Franklin remarked: "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

25 comments:

  1. Couldn't disagree more.

    While America as a society slips farther and farther into depravity, government, by necessity has to grow to keep men from taking advantage of their fellow man.

    While the Founders may have envisaged what you said, they lived in an entirely different context from where we are now.

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  2. Joshua,
    Agreed, the Founders lived in different times.

    Nevertheless, the idea that "bigger" government is "better" government is, at best, misguided. I see no evidence whatsoever that "bigger" government is "better" in any sense of the word.

    Bigger government does not show improved efficiency, more concern for the general welfare [not to be confused with entitlement programs] of the people, nor heightened morality. How exactly is "more" government "better" government?

    You use the term "depravity" with reference to American society. However, depravity is in the warp and woof of the government itself. Why would anyone want to grow and increase the power of godless government?

    Who or what can protect "the people" from being "taken advantage of" by a growing and increasingly powerful, increasingly godless government?

    Biblically, we would say "growing" government is not the answer for lawful society. Rather, godly government is what we need.

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  3. SG: I see no evidence whatsoever that "bigger" government is "better" in any sense of the word.

    JJ: The more men discover ways to screw over their fellow men, the more regulation is needed to keep order and stability in society. More regulation entails more government.

    SG: Bigger government does not show improved efficiency...

    JJ: Efficiency is a separate issue.

    SG: more concern for the general welfare [not to be confused with entitlement programs] of the people,

    JJ: More concern is not the issue. More law and order is.

    SG: nor heightened morality. How exactly is "more" government "better" government?

    JJ: Regulating the depravity of man. There are so many new and innovative ways that people abuse others so there are more and more laws and regulations necessary to constrain men and more people needed to enforce those laws.

    SG: You use the term "depravity" with reference to American society. However, depravity is in the warp and woof of the government itself. Why would anyone want to grow and increase the power of godless government?

    JJ: You're letting a little libertarianism show there with a "government is inherently evil" motif. Government can be good or evil inasmuch as its actions are just or unjust.

    SG: Who or what can protect "the people" from being "taken advantage of" by a growing and increasingly powerful, increasingly godless government?

    JJ: If the time comes where society feels that its legitimate rights have been taken away, then we have the ability to use armed resistance.

    SG: Biblically, we would say "growing" government is not the answer for lawful society. Rather, godly government is what we need.

    JJ: Government can be godly inasmuch as it is just and fair in its dealings. Growing government and having godly government are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I see no biblical instruction that small government is the societal model that God would necessarily have us support.

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  4. (I hope you don't mind this discussion. I've seen you discuss on other blogs, but if I'm mistaken, I apologize. It's all written in good spirit and no one wants to discuss these issues. Please delete if necessary, though.)

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  5. Joshua,
    Thank you for reading and commenting! I don't mind the discussion at all. We need to dialogue about these things.

    I think we're talking past each other just a bit. I spoke of efficiency, concern, and morality in effort to improve upon my rather generic word "better."

    But you are speaking only to the issue of "more law and order." Hence, you are speaking of growing the government exclusively in the realm of law enforcement. (If I read you correctly.)

    Thus, you write of the need for "more and more laws and regulations necessary to constrain men and more people needed to enforce those laws."

    I'm not sure this is accurate. It seems we need more enforcement of the laws/regulations already in place. However, I don't think more enforcement necessarily leads to "growing" government. Nor do I think more regulation leads to less criminality.

    You write: "Government can be good or evil inasmuch as its actions are just or unjust."

    Here we are agreed. Romans 13 is clear that the civil magistrate is the ordained servant of God to praise that which is good and punish that which is evil.

    But what or who determines that which is "good" and that which is "evil"? By what standard is the government to punish and praise? I believe the standard is God's Law. God will and does judge all nations according to His Law. And the civil magistrate should govern accordingly.

    So...while my comments may appear "libertarian," I am actually more inclined to a theonomic paradigm of law enforcement. This I think would work much better than our present judicial system.(I've written quite a bit on this in past entries, and I'll be publishing a few more posts before too long.)

    You write: "If the time comes where society feels that its legitimate rights have been taken away, then we have the ability to use armed resistance."

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. America's citizens are heavily armed compared to European. This may or may not always be the case--depending upon who's doing the regulating. But even in America, armed resistence could be brutally suppressed by draconian methods and the superior force of government. (To see this, read a commentary published in the South concerning "The Northern War of Agression!) ;)

    But you do speak of more laws and more law enforcement. At what point does this become a "police state"? Are we incrementally heading towards a police state? Don't most police states--at least initially--"justify" their tactics as being for the "good of the people"?

    You observe: "Growing government and having godly government are not necessarily mutually exclusive."

    Not "necessarily" no. But do we have an example of a sustained godly, growing civil government in history? I really can't think of any.

    Also, and in closing, my piece has primarily to do with federal government. It seems to me that much--if not most--law enforcement should be done on the local level; where the enforcers are locally known, invested, and accountable to those they serve.

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  6. Joshua,
    One more thing!

    You write: "If the time comes where society feels that its legitimate rights have been taken away, then we have the ability to use armed resistance."

    Who determines what are "legitimate rights"? Greece, Britain, and northern Africa are on fire right now...some say it's only a matter of time and the unrest will spread to America. (I think in a sense--it already has.)

    Do folks who think it's their "legitimate right" for government to manage and enable their lives from cradle to grave have a legitimate beef--when government bankrupts itself and can no longer feed, clothe, house, and educate them?

    To what does one appeal to in order to determine what are "legitimate rights"?

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  8. SG: I think we're talking past each other just a bit. I spoke of efficiency, concern, and morality in effort to improve upon my rather generic word "better."

    JJ: I'm merely arguing that smaller is not necessarily better and I don't think your adjectives are necessarily relevant to size of government either. Government can be efficient, big or small. Government can be moral big or small. (Not sure what you mean by concern, though.)

    SG: I'm not sure this is accurate. It seems we need more enforcement of the laws/regulations already in place. However, I don't think more enforcement necessarily leads to "growing" government. Nor do I think more regulation leads to less criminality.

    JJ: There are so many new and ingenious ways of people being unjust to their fellow man. If you look at the laws 20 years ago and only applied those today, you would not be able to prosecute many offenses today. The law evolves and grows to the demands of society. And more regulation acts as a deterrent or a safeguard against criminality. Deregulate and problems come about, a recent example of this being the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act which was a substantial factor in the 2008 collapse.

    SG: I believe the standard is God's Law.

    JJ: It depends on what you mean by God's Law. OT civil Law? Is that a literal and exhaustive code for American society or is it a blueprint for principles to be used in forging a just society?

    SG: So...while my comments may appear "libertarian," I am actually more inclined to a theonomic paradigm of law enforcement.

    JJ: This is the problem I see (along with Schaeffer's philosophy as well): theonomy, in a weak or strong form, does not necessarily lead us to a small government model, but so many act like it's a given that it does.

    SG: But do we have an example of a sustained godly, growing civil government in history? I really can't think of any.

    JJ: I guess I would disagree with you. Growth in government led to the freedom of slaves, civil rights for african americans, women, minorities, protection against terrorism (one of the largest growths in government occurred post 9/11), etc. etc.

    SG: Do folks who think it's their "legitimate right" for government to manage and enable their lives from cradle to grave have a legitimate beef--when government bankrupts itself and can no longer feed, clothe, house, and educate them?

    JJ: I was not discussing welfare. Only the protection of people from injustice, either from companies or individuals: the anti-regulation bent of your post. The increase in welfare and entitlements is a different issue to the one I am addressing. If you want an opposing view from the one you're espousing, Tim Keller's book Generous Justice might be something to look at and maybe write a review about.

    (Reposted for grammar)

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  9. Well...I think we're back to where we started when you began this dialogue with this simple sentiment: "Couldn't disagree more."

    As our discussion has progressed this seems to be the only thing upon which we are agreed, viz. We profoundly disagree.

    Our disagreement is philosophical more than anything. You can attempt to marshal arguments for the virtue of big government and I can mount responses to the contrary. We will look at the same evidences and difficulties and then arrive at very different opinions or "solutions." Thus our differences are not reconcilable. They are fundamental or foundational.

    I quoted Franklin in my closing paragraph.Here is another quote with which I agree.

    "Liberty is the state of being a person within society free from restrictions upon one's way of life imposed by authority. The right to this thing called liberty is a truth which our founding fathers considered self-evident. But it is gradually and inexorably being eroded away and lost at the hands of ever-expanding and intrusive federal, state, and local government control, without any social benefit in return. If we don't wake up to the undeniable loss of liberty we are witnessing in our times, we will wake up one day to find ourselves the victims of a well-intentioned tyranny."
    http://www.mequonnow.com/blogs/communityblogs/119970819.html

    To bolster his opinion, the author gives the insight of CS Lewis: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

    (I don't know where Lewis wrote this, but I suspect it may be from his "The Abolition of Man," where he treats the subject of oppressive elites or government--what he calls "Conditioners"--managing or planning or controlling the lives of those under their authority.)

    You offer, "I was not discussing welfare. Only the protection of people from injustice..."

    No, you weren't discussing welfare per se. However, the term "injusice" has certain connotations, doesn't it? (I think Keller would very much favor the "redistribution" of wealth in the name of "justice." Wouldn't he? Such redistribution, in the name of righting "injustice" is--in my mind--welfare. And such "redistribution" is ALWAYS forced.)

    But I ask again: Who will protect us from government itself? Who will regulate the regulators? Police the police? The answer thus far has been that the people or "society" could defend itself against unjust government.

    But doesn't this proffered solution to oppressive government go against the grain of your thesis, that we need more government to protect us? We need more government to protect us--unless or until we determine to protect ourselves?

    I leave you with these words. "There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man's [elites/government/"Conditioners"] side. Each new power won BY man is power OVER man as well. Each advance leaves him weaker as well as stronger" ("The Abolition of Man," CS Lewis, emphasis his).

    The last word is all yours! Unless of course, I can't restrain myself. ;)

    Thank you again for reading and commenting, Joshua.

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  10. I was hoping that you would offer some biblical basis, rather than a philosophical basis, for your argument for smaller government.

    That was my whole intent in engaging you.

    I have yet to see a biblical basis besides generalized statements about depravity which cut both ways.

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  11. joshuajoyce on Sep. 14, 2011 10:11 AM wrote:
    'I was hoping that you would offer some biblical basis...'

    CEH: And yet, you didn't say that at the beginning. You said,

    ====
    'Couldn't disagree more.'

    While America as a society slips farther and farther into depravity, government, by necessity has to grow to keep men from taking advantage of their fellow man.

    While the Founders may have envisaged what you said, they lived in an entirely different context from where we are now.
    ======

    So, I took it your hope for biblicalness is a desire to see an exegesis of relevant textual support. And, yet you offered not a textual rebuttal. Only an oblique reference to depravity. So, the response invited kind of an open-ended intuitive rumination.

    If you have a biblical text which is troubling you with regard to conservative & libertarian political philosophy. By all means throw it out that we may discuss it.

    But as to depravity, we need only pause and remind ourselves that the politicians, bureaucrats, judges, and even the police are all at least as depraved as the great unwashed masses.

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  12. Charles: So, the response invited kind of an open-ended intuitive rumination.

    JJ: I agree. I was challenging him to see what he would throw back hoping there would be some biblical support.

    Charles: If you have a biblical text which is troubling you with regard to conservative & libertarian political philosophy. By all means throw it out that we may discuss it.

    JJ: No, that's what I'm asking you about. I see no biblical text with regard to small government. I offer no text. I only ask to see some (read any), and if not, then a small government model shouldn't be advocated as particularly "Christian". (Not saying anyone is doing that here, but as a general rule you see that).

    CEH: But as to depravity, we need only pause and remind ourselves that the politicians, bureaucrats, judges, and even the police are all at least as depraved as the great unwashed masses.

    JJ: I agree, which is why I implied the concept of depravity is a wash. It could play both ways.

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  13. Joshua, I think there is a fascinating book project for the Zondervan "Counterpoints" series which could be written, if the right contributors were found -- and if the most interesting/relevant positions could be isolated for promulgation and defense.

    Ohh, wait... (as I think in real-time, then search) there is: God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government : Theonomy, Principled Pluralism, Christian America, National Confessionalism, and it happens to be published by P&R.

    And then there is: Church, State and Public Justice: Five Views, by IVP Academic.

    I have not studied these subjects closely at the theoretical level -- but I did recently attempt to engage some "Christian Anarchist's" on the larger, but broader, theological/philosophical level.

    My sense is that right now, my generally Conservative take on things causes me no cognitive dissonance. And when individual questions do cause me cognitive dissonance I feel free to depart from the "party line" with regard to this or that point.

    And thus, the cumulative effect, and hierarchy of issues, moves me into the Republican side (based on the premise that America is a two-party nation, a point itself that I would argue on common sense logic).

    Issue one in the hierarchy: the abortion question. The Republican party is all over the lot on its squishiness, but the Democrat party is the party of death. So, on that question to my mind there are no options. And that sort of reminds me that I am at least as much a Republican for negative reasons as for positive. Which is to say, I have great difficulty when I try to think of anything or any position that the Democrats are correct on. I cannot think of anything to commend President Obama on. The only thing I might give him credit for is making the decision to take out Osama Bin Ladin. But then again, I can't say its particularly Christian to "dance on Bin Ladin's grave".

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  14. CEH: Issue one in the hierarchy: the abortion question. The Republican party is all over the lot on its squishiness, but the Democrat party is the party of death.

    JJ: This is not what I was arguing. I was talking about the big government/small government dynamic. There are Republicans who are big government and there are moderate Democrats who are for smaller government.

    As a side note, just to address this point, there are Republicans who are pro-choice (http://www.gopchoice.org/) and Democrats who are pro-life (http://www.democratsforlife.org/). Besides, there are several problems with thinking this way:

    1) The main way people look at how to stop abortion is the SCOTUS nominees. How many Republican SCOTUS nominees were/are pro-choice? Many! It seems that if abortion is a litmus test for you, then it should be a litmus test that those you vote for use when nominating SCOTUS judges. Otherwise, what's the use of you having the litmus test if they don't actually care about that issue enough to make it a litmus test?

    2) Even if Roe v. Wade was overturned, that wouldn't outlaw abortion. It would kick it back to the states, which would mean that probably some states would outlaw it and others (probably most) would keep it.

    3) Practically speaking, what's better? To vote idealistically to overturn Roe v. Wade or to vote pragmatically to actually make circumstances such that less abortions actually occur? What do I mean by this? You can vote Republican because of principles, or you can vote Democratic because you actually want to lower the number of abortions that take place.

    How does that work? Well, for one, the welfare system. Take away the safety net for mothers that are high-risk for abortions and see if the number of abortions won't skyrocket. Republicans generally want to limit or even take away welfare programs. Democrats generally want to keep them in place. So the end-game actually shows fewer abortions because of the consequences of other choices by politicians. It's a more pragmatic way to look at this.

    What's the better way, idealism or pragmatism? I don't know. Perhaps both would be the best, but it usually doesn't work out that way.

    BTW, I'm against abortion. I think it's murder, so don't misread my stance in this post. I'm just thinking about the best way to stop abortion and I don't necessarily think that that is voting Republican.

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  15. JJ: This is not what I was arguing. I was talking about the big government/small government dynamic.

    CEH: In all of these things there is an economy of choices ("economy" in terms of cost, not necessarily always monetary). That is to say (as you allude about abortion) there are tradeoffs.

    As to your point up here^, it depends on what one means by "big" and "small". There is big in terms of mere size. Bigness has several problems in that bureaucracies tend to bloat and you then have a high number of employees doing a lot of useless, or marginally useful, busywork. That is essentially welfare with the veneer of a legitimate career/job. People sitting around all day producing reports which do not benefit the society much. Labor dept. doesn't create real private-sector jobs, Education dept. doesn't improve education, Energy dept. doesn't reduce cost of energy, nor assist in increasing supply, Commerce dept. doesn't stimulate the market, etc.

    And then there is "big" (not specifically in reference to size, but) in reference to scope. This is what we often refer to as the "nanny state". And this is government regulating more and more of the citizens behavior to finer & finer detail; (eat, drink, smoke, what trees we can cut down on our property). The government which is "large in scope" would have to be also large in size to administer/enforce its regulation of citizen movements, else if a government large in scope was not also large in size then it would have no teeth, and the citizens wouldn't respect (or, fear?) that government.

    But, a government large in size doesn't necessarily have to be large in scope if they are sitting around doing essentially nothing, or nothing worthwhile. But, because sitting around doing nothing is boring and looks bad, then big government naturally evolves in scope (in part) to give the bureaucrats something interesting to do (i.e. manage people's lives for them) and thus the appearance of legitimacy.

    JJ: There are Republicans who are big government and there are moderate Democrats who are for smaller government.

    CEH: I think the point of difference between the two is not are there not some good and bad persons (relatively) in each party?; its whether there is debate within the party. The somewhat fiscally conservative Democrat is nearly extinct, and the few remaining (which haven't switched parties -- a trend which worked itself out in the 90s, and early 2000s) are retiring because of the hopelessness of their cause within the Democrat party. Its not your father's Democrat party, anymore. Barack Obama has brought about the full purging of non_socialists from the national Democrat party.

    This phenomena may not have been noticed at the popular news media level. But, 2010 was a watershed election. Its not that the public embraced Republicans (because the public does have a low opinion of Republicans). Its that that they delivered a virtual wholesale repudiation of the President and the party which emulates him. Looking down deep into the details there was a "700" seat swing in the state legislatures from Democrat to Republican. That was the biggest statehouse sweep in something like 80 years.

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  16. Addendum.
    I should have used the "TSA" (Transportation Security Administration) as an example of creeping pernicious bureaucracy. For the first few years of its existence the TSA did essentially nothing. The running joke was "TSA" was an abbreviation for: "Thousands Standing Around". Now, because of the embarrassment caused by the Christmas underwear bomber of 2009, the TSA has switched from a do-nothing agency to a heavy-handed & ham-handed highly invasive & intrusive creepy big brother agency.

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  17. JJ: As a side note, just to address this point, there are Republicans who are pro-choice (http://www.gopchoice.org) and Democrats who are pro-life (http://www.democratsforlife.org). Besides, there are several problems with thinking this way:

    CEH: Yes. But, it is a trivial point. The Republicans at this point in time will not and can not pass a loosening of abortion laws, else a large percent of the pro-lifers would bolt. It would open up trench-warfare, with notable pro life independents running third party at every election where the Republican wasn't a pro life purest.

    As far as the Democrats, I know of no serious pro life Democrat elected to any high office. Most of the reputed pro life members of the U.S. House voted for Obamacare, after Bart Stupak made a big deal about saying they wouldn't. So, pro life Democrats are about as viable as socialist Republicans. About half of the so-called pro life Democrats in the U.S. House went down in the 2010 midterms. And, those who are left could fit into a Toyota Prius. Expect that small number to be pared down even further in 2012.

    JJ: 1) The main way people look at how to stop abortion is the SCOTUS nominees. How many Republican SCOTUS nominees were/are pro-choice? Many! It seems that if abortion is a litmus test for you, then it should be a litmus test that those you vote for use when nominating SCOTUS judges. Otherwise, what's the use of you having the litmus test if they don't actually care about that issue enough to make it a litmus test?

    CEH: There is no abortion "litmus test" for SCOTUS nominees. There is a "strict constructionist" litmus test. And, it is inferred from that that ROE v. WADE would be overturned because it was essentially fashioned (like legislation) out of whole-cloth with no credible constitutional warrant, i.e, it was a political decision, not a strictly judicial one.


    And, btw, there are currently four solid pro lifers (as far as we can tell) on the SCOTUS, two appointed by George W. Bush, one appointed by his father, and one appointed by Reagan. George W. Bush appointed two solid conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Samuel Alito, and no liberals.

    Reagan appointed two moderates who have agreed to some restrictions (i.e. agreed that states can enact reasonable restrictions). And, Reagan appointed one solid pro lifer (Antonin Scalia), and he elevated one of the two dissenters to the Roe v. Wade decision (William Rehnquist) to Chief Justice. So, his record is mixed. One of the moderates was Anthony Kennedy who was the compromise candidate after Judge Bork was defeated in the Senate. (If you ever get a chance I hope you can do a paper on Judge Bork.) George H.W. Bush appointed one person who upheld Roe v. Wade, so he got burned once. But, he also appointed Clarence Thomas, who very quietly is leading the court further and further to the right, notice here: Partners: Will Clarence and Virginia Thomas succeed in killing Obama’s health-care plan?. So, for the few duds Republican Presidents have appointed, the good ones have out-shined the disappointments.

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  18. I’m very much enjoying the discussion...a lot of helpful information and perspective. I would like to make two points with regards to Joshua’s comments.

    Joshua writes: “There are so many new and innovative ways that people abuse others so there are more and more laws and regulations necessary to constrain men...I was not discussing welfare. Only the protection of people from injustice, either from companies or individuals...I'm against abortion. I think it's murder...Take away the safety net for mothers that are high-risk for abortions and see if the number of abortions won't skyrocket.”

    First, there is a point of inconsistency. Joshua begins by saying that he wants more “laws and regulations” to restrain crime. He then says that he is NOT discussing welfare. Next, we find that Joshua believes abortion is MURDER.

    But in a twist of logic...he doesn’t advocate “laws” or “regulations” to combat this murder of unborn babies. Rather, he says the best way to stop these millions of murders—is not with law, but with welfare.

    Why favor laws/regulations to
    forcefully “constrain” perceived criminal activity...but not activity which Joshua himself deems “murder”? He wants to protect “people from injustice” by use of law enforcement, but not if those people are unborn. To see less of this kind of “injustice,” viz. murdering preborn babies, Joshua desires that which he previously wasn’t advocating: WELFARE. This, to me, is highly inconsistent.

    Second, there is a point of fact. Joshua says if we take away the “safety net” of welfare, there will be a “skyrocket” effect on murders by abortion. Quite simply, the statistics tell another tale.

    “Nearly one out of every two black pregnancies ends in abortion. Blacks account for more than forty percent of all abortions in America, a rate that dwarfs that of any other race.”
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/257658/black-abortions-forbidden-topic-peter-kirsanow#

    Blacks account for more than forty percent of all abortions in America? Now, couple this with the statistic that Blacks receive just over 37% of all welfare in America. These stats are simply astounding when one considers that Blacks make up only about 14% of our total population. Abortions and welfare—statistically similar--are entirely out of proportion in the Black community.

    What sort of “safety net” is welfare for Black babies when nearly half of them are being killed in the womb?

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  19. SG: First, there is a point of inconsistency. Joshua begins by saying that he wants more “laws and regulations” to restrain crime. He then says that he is NOT discussing welfare. Next, we find that Joshua believes abortion is MURDER.

    JJ: You do see how that played out, didn't you? I told him I was not discussing abortion, but on a different trajectory, I would discuss it. It was an entirely different point.

    SG: But in a twist of logic...he doesn’t advocate “laws” or “regulations” to combat this murder of unborn babies. Rather, he says the best way to stop these millions of murders—is not with law, but with welfare.

    JJ: From a pragmatic perspective, what way is actually going to slow the numbers of abortions? Waiting for the mercy of Presidents who sometimes do what they say they will do in their SCOTUS nominations and sometimes don't? And abortion won't even stop with the overturn of Roe v. Wade. It is short-sighted and reductionist to look at things in only one way.

    SG: Why favor laws/regulations to
    forcefully “constrain” perceived criminal activity...but not activity which Joshua himself deems “murder”? He wants to protect “people from injustice” by use of law enforcement, but not if those people are unborn.

    JJ: I want abortion to stop. Trying to push through laws isn't working. I am for laws changing, but what's paramount in importance to me is to have fewer babies being killed. If you are willing to increase the numbers of abortions so as to take a stand, be my guest, but I don't think that's very practical.

    SG: To see less of this kind of “injustice,” viz. murdering preborn babies, Joshua desires that which he previously wasn’t advocating: WELFARE. This, to me, is highly inconsistent.

    JJ: Again, this is a tangential point and it's not entirely becoming of reasonable debate to bring it up and use it the way you are. It is a separate point entirely, which perhaps at a later time we can debate.

    SG: Second, there is a point of fact. Joshua says if we take away the “safety net” of welfare, there will be a “skyrocket” effect on murders by abortion. Quite simply, the statistics tell another tale.

    JJ: Statistics don't tell anything. Statistics are. Your interpretation of them tells something. You contend that because single black women have abortions now, that taking away welfare will have no effect.

    I don't think that's reasonable. It's much more reasonable to think that if single black women are faced with no (or limited) sources of income (with welfare being taken away) that they would be left with no other option but abortion.

    You can have your opinion about what would happen but I find it weird that you would think that abortions would stay the same if we took away a single mother's financial safety net. I don't think too many people would hold to that, barring crazy partisan rants.

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  20. Joshua,
    You write: "this is a tangential point and it's not entirely becoming of reasonable debate to bring it up and use it the way you are."

    I apologize if I have offended you. I am not nearly as patient or genteel as Charlie. (Charlie knows this quite well.) But my intention is not to be "unbecoming." While abortion may be “tangential,” it is nevertheless one of the greatest moral issues of our time. And since Charlie introduced the topic, and since you responded at some length, I do not believe it to be in poor taste or unreasonable to point out what I think are inconsistencies in your position.

    Your point with me has been that you favor more law enforcement. You began by saying “More law and order is” the issue of your concern. But on the subject of abortion it seems you are more concerned with welfare than laws which protect the unborn.

    But you do say, “I want abortion to stop... I am for laws changing...”

    I do not doubt your stated desire. However, I wonder if your voting record reflects this? Can you name a single “big government” liberal politician who favors outlawing abortion? (I honestly don’t know of a single one. Do you?) Would federal and then state laws change if left up to the folks with whom you politically align?

    You remark: “Statistics don't tell anything. Statistics are.”

    I’m really not interested in playing semantics. Indeed, all facts must be interpreted to be meaningful. And there are no neutral interpreters of fact. That being said, I think we all can recognize statistics “show” or “tell” as figures of speech. Also, I would be interested to know how my interpretation of the statistics I provided is off base.

    You offer: “You contend that because single black women have abortions now, that taking away welfare will have no effect.”

    Actually, this isn’t my contention and I never said anything remotely similar to this. My contention is that despite taking hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars, every single year, from one group of citizens and giving it another group; has NOT prevented nearly half of all Black babies from being aborted. That’s my contention. I welcome any evidence to the contrary.

    You allege that if welfare were “taken away” from Black women with little or no resources “that they would be left with no other option but abortion.”

    Really?? There would be NO OTHER OPTION but abortion? (And you say this after you tell me, “It is short-sighted and reductionist to look at things in only one way”?) You see, some view welfare as hurting, not helping, the Black community (e.g. Walter Williams, an economist who is himself Black.)

    Williams, et. al. believe the nanny state is largely responsible for the problems within the Black community; that the government has created generations of folks who have a mentality of dependence. (In a sense, you very much seem to agree. Why else would you say single, poor, Black women have “no other option but abortion” unless the state manages their lives?)

    I wonder: How many Black babies have been aborted largely because the community into which they were conceived feels entirely helpless and stuck in poverty because the government has rendered them utterly dependent?

    Well, Joshua, I think I’ll bow out yet again and leave you and Charlie to continue. Thanks again for reading and discussing.

    (I say again, I intend no offense. And as Doug Wilson remarked to Christopher Hitchens: “A gentleman is someone who never insults a man--accidentally.” ;))

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  21. CEH: I should have used the "TSA" (Transportation Security Administration) as an example of creeping pernicious bureaucracy.

    JJ: Well, the oversight over public transportation has been around for many, many years. The federal government always had that right, they just have not exercised it. I don't like it either, though, but it is what it is.

    CEH: There is no abortion "litmus test" for SCOTUS nominees. There is a "strict constructionist" litmus test. And, it is inferred from that that ROE v. WADE would be overturned because it was essentially fashioned (like legislation) out of whole-cloth with no credible constitutional warrant, i.e, it was a political decision, not a strictly judicial one.

    JJ: Strict constructionists are not really strict constructionists. Only when it favors them. This is a different argument as well, and one I don't have time to dive into. You can respond to this, but I don't have time to elaborate or get into it.

    Also, judicial decisions have political influences contained in them all the time, whether conservative or liberal. There is not one side that has no politically influenced decisions and the other does have politically influenced decisions. Both do it and practice it.

    CEH: So, for the few duds Republican Presidents have appointed, the good ones have out-shined the disappointments.

    JJ: I think it depends on how you look at it. Is Roe v. Wade overturned? Will it be overturned? Do you think any politician will be able to appoint and get senate approval for a conservative judge who would swing the vote to a conservative bent?

    How many years have Republicans had to overturn Roe v. Wade? We're going on 40 years now. I don't see it happening anytime soon with politicians using the issue, instead of truly caring about it.

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  22. SG: I apologize if I have offended you.

    JJ: You have not. I just don't have the time to get into an issue that requires a lot of time to defend. I realize that that sounds bad (like I just want to have a hit-and-run discussion), but it is the realities of being a law school student.

    SG: I do not doubt your stated desire. However, I wonder if your voting record reflects this? Can you name a single “big government” liberal politician who favors outlawing abortion?

    JJ: Again, I think we're hitting the pragmatic v. idealistic viewpoint. I'm looking at it pragmatically. The end game is the same whether you vote for a Republican or Democrat for the past 40 years. Roe v. Wade is unchanged.

    SG: And there are no neutral interpreters of fact.

    JJ: Agreed. That's what I was getting at.

    SG: That being said, I think we all can recognize statistics “show” or “tell” as figures of speech. Also, I would be interested to know how my interpretation of the statistics I provided is off base.

    JJ: You improperly infer that current circumstances dictate future circumstances, even changing one of the variables. Because single black mothers have a lot of abortions now in no way means that the number of abortions would not increase dramatically, if one of the variables are altered.

    SG: You offer: “You contend that because single black women have abortions now, that taking away welfare will have no effect.” Actually, this isn’t my contention and I never said anything remotely similar to this.

    JJ: You said this:

    SG: Joshua says if we take away the “safety net” of welfare, there will be a “skyrocket” effect on murders by abortion. Quite simply, the statistics tell another tale.

    JJ: The logical inference is the point I said you made, the same point you are denying that you made. Perhaps I could have said "little effect" instead of "no effect" but the point still remains and it was the thrust of your point. It's not consistent for you to maintain that you "never said anything remotely similar to this."

    SG: Really?? There would be NO OTHER OPTION but abortion?

    JJ: You do realize that the major factor in whether to have a child or abort it is economic, right? This goes for those that do not think abortion is wrong.

    You and I would disagree with a purely economic factor, of course, as life in the womb is sacred. But that's not how people who have abortions view life.

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  23. JJ: Well, the oversight over public transportation has been around for many, many years. The federal government always had that right, they just have not exercised it. I don't like it either, though, but it is what it is.

    CEH: This highlights the dynamic of a representative Democracy --and a pragmatic dynamic, at that. In good faith, citizens defer a lot of potential power to the elected representatives, and the bureaucrats they install. When the politicians and bureaucrats overreach then in a republican democracy, like ours, there is a backlash when that overreach reaches critical mass.

    This happened in 2006 with voter frustration and the subsequent overthrow of the Republican majorities in Congress. This was because of the wars which seemed (and still seem) to go on interminably with no worthwhile goal at this point. It was also partially due to perceived Republican corruption.

    JJ: Strict constructionists are not really strict constructionists. Only when it favors them. This is a different argument as well, and one I don't have time to dive into. You can respond to this, but I don't have time to elaborate or get into it.

    CEH: Let's call them --more or less strict constructionists. At least the ones on the right give some deference to the historical meaning of the Constitution, the ones on the left (it appears to us) use the Constitution merely as a foil.

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  24. JJ: Also, judicial decisions have political influences contained in them all the time, whether conservative or liberal. There is not one side that has no politically influenced decisions and the other does have politically influenced decisions. Both do it and practice it.

    CEH: There is of course political consequences to any change in law. But, the changes in law by conservatives judges (they would argue) is undoing the judicial adventurism of their liberal prior colleagues.

    JJ: I think it depends on how you look at it. Is Roe v. Wade overturned? Will it be overturned? Do you think any politician will be able to appoint and get senate approval for a conservative judge who would swing the vote to a conservative bent?

    CEH: At this point, the parties are so far apart that the only way for anything to be accomplished is to have overwhelming majorities in Congress, as the Democrats had from 2006-2010, and with the Presidency (as the Democrats did from 2008-2010. The danger is when one party has an overwhelming majority then they tend to lose restraint and overreach in their self-perceived mandate.

    JJ: How many years have Republicans had to overturn Roe v. Wade? We're going on 40 years now. I don't see it happening anytime soon with politicians using the issue, instead of truly caring about it.

    CEH: As the SCOTUS goes, not that long. When ROE v. WADE was decided the Court had a dominant liberal majority. And so the decision was 7-2, William Rehnquest (Nixon appointee) and Byron White (Kennedy appointee) in the dissent. Reagan's first opportunity to appoint he wanted (for whatever reason -- presidential legacy, I guess) to appoint a woman.

    Sandra Day O'Connor came recommended (probably by Barry Goldwater) as a conservative jurist. Bare in mind there are other items on the conservative agenda besides abortion. And, O'Connor has been a mixed bag. She didn't merely rubber stamp ROE v. WADE, but the O'Connor standard has been states can enact prudent abortion regulations and restrictions, just so long as the they don't constitute an "undue burden".

    She was appointed for her perceived conservative judicial philosophy, not because she promised, or had the record that showed she would overturn Roe. And, it has proven that her decisions have been favorable to business interests, and curtailed affirmative action to some degree, affirmed 2nd Amendment rights, so she is perceived as conservative in some views. But moderate because she didn't help overthrow Roe.

    The only other two disappointments have been Anthony Kennedy, another conservative moderate, or moderate conservative, in the O'Connor vein, and David Souter. Kennedy has been abut like expected --ruled to left sometimes and the right sometimes. But, Souter was a disappointment because he had come recommended by Sen. Warren Rudman and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, assuring that he was a conservative. All the rest have been solid conservatives.

    But, this lesson proves several points. One, that Presidents do not ask (or elicit a promise) if the nominee will overturn Roe? But, it is guessed from their perceived philosophy that they may.

    Lincoln was reputed to have been asked about the views of a judicial nominee. He reportedly replied, 'We would like to know his views on slavery, but if he told us, we would despise him!'

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  25. Joshua, you complain about this rabbit-trail on abortion because (evidently) you think it a divergence from the topic of this thread. But, is it really? The abortion question does involve (among many things) the fundamental role of government. And that is, when does the government owe a fiduciary responsibility to its citizens, i.e. when is someone a citizen? And, this is the goal behind so-called "personhood" constitutional amendments.

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