THE SIGNIFICANCE OF YOUR VOTE — PART 2

The Worship of Mammon -- 1909 painting by Evelyn De Morgan. (from here)
The Worship of Mammon — 1909 painting by Evelyn De Morgan. (from here)

In the first post this series, Does Planned Parenthood Use Taxpayer Funds To Pay For Abortions?, we considered how Planned Parenthood effectively uses Federal funds to pay for abortions.

Why do the doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood do abortions? Do people become doctors and nurses to do abortions? Well, most of them don’t.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Of course, voting and supporting our favorite candidates goes beyond the subject of abortion. Although many voters use a candidate’s position as a litmus test, government has a larger objective than preventing abortions.

Laws That Conform To The Golden Rule

Even as the abortionists at “Planned Parenthood” profitably deliver dead babies from their mothers, that management of “Planned Parenthood” portrays their organization as people who care about women. Therefore, even as some note the hypocrisy, others defend the hypocrisy. Thus, Steven Hoyt put up a series of comments following the THE PRECIOUS HUMAN LIFE AND THE ABORTION FACTOR argued that before Christians had the right to condemn the practice of abortion, they had to somehow “prove” their own holiness.

Is argument Biblical? What if we generalize ‘s requirement for judging the sins of others? What if before we call any conduct a sin we must first demonstrate our own holiness? Since the Bible says “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), none of us would be qualified to call anything that someone else did wrong. Therefore, if we are going to follow ‘s suggestions with respect to declaring abortion wrong, we may as well scrap of all our laws.

Given that the Bible itself contains the Mosaic Code or the Mosaic Law, does it make any sense that God wants us to scrap all laws? Is it not more likely that God wants our laws to conform to the Golden Rule.

Matthew 7:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

But What Do Conservative Voters Think?

In Coalition Politics, Necessary and Proper evaluates the Conservatism of the American electorate using various sorts of polling data. Why?  What is the point of  ‘s careful and well presented analysis (That is, even dummies like me can easily follow his logic?)? is trying to figure out which of the Republican presidential candidates deserves the Conservative vote. Here is his conclusion.

For what it’s worth:  The limb I have walked out onto via all this tortured speculation, along with my observation of the two televised debates, convinces me that Marco Rubio is the most conservative Republican candidate who is persuasive and articulate enough to appeal to a 48% span of the general voter population and win the 2016 Presidential election.  You will draw your own conclusion.  My goal was only to get you to think about the consequences of your primary voting strategy. (from here)

Because the American electorate has become so divided, does not think a solid Conservative would win. Therefore, advocates voting for an electable Conservative.

‘s thoughtful post earned a string of comments. Because they have the give and take of thoughtful discussion, these are worth reading.  All the commenters applauded the care took in preparing his analysis, but tannngl challenged his conclusions, preferring to vote for the most consistent Conservative, Senator Ted Cruz. That led to this fascinating defense.

About Ted Cruz, you said “He is my candidate.” In the primaries, each of us should not picking our personal candidate. We’re picking the candidate for others — for millions of voters (greater than 48%).

As I said, the further right a candidate is, the better he/she must be at articulating and persuading. And I don’t mean persuading you — I mean persuading the 10-15% of voters who are uncommitted swing voters and are ideologically quite a distance from the candidate. (from here)

Whereas advocates voting for the best candidate, advocates voting for the best person to be our president.

Which of them is right?

Back To That Preoccupation With Money

Which is right? or ? Before we try to answer that question, let’s consider a bit of conventional wisdom. Because Conservatives don’t want to pay the high taxes for their social programs, Socialists like to call Conservatives selfish and mean. Are Conservatives selfish and mean? Rarely do we closely examine what goes into this Socialist accusation. Unfortunately, most of the news media is of the modern Liberal or so-called Progressive persuasion. So when reporters see a problem, they soon magnify it into a massively dire problem, one that only a massive Federal Government program can fix. Of course, massive Federal Government programs don’t come cheap, and the fact they are generally quite poorly run does not help. After all, isn’t government waste the stuff of legend ( see here, here, and here)?

That being the case, why would we want any massive Federal Government programs, especially when there are other alternatives? That is, how do politicians persuade us to vote for massive Federal Government programs? Well, they use a variety of bait and switch schemes. Their favorite enticement is to offer to make the “rich” pay. This is in fact an age-old practice of demagogues, and it is one the framers of our Constitution specifically designed our system of government to thwart (see THE ADVANTAGE OF A REPUBLIC OVER A DEMOCRACY). Unfortunately, we have failed to heed the framers’ warnings and make the system they created work. We have found the bait too attractive. Each of us sees that big pile of money the Federal Government has at its disposal, and we want some.

Matthew 6:24 New King James Version (NKJV)

You Cannot Serve God and Riches

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

What should we call trying to use the government to get at other people’s wealth? Isn’t it stealing? We don’t seem to think so. Yet consider several examples.

  • Most of the Federal budget goes into Social Security and Medicare, supposedly guaranteed retirement programs. Self-righteous politicians abused our sympathy with by setting up programs for old people who might not otherwise have enough for old age, and then they “borrowed” money from the programs and spent it. That’s is, the Social Security Trust Fund is empty. There is no money in it. So how does the scheme continue to “work”? Our leaders tax the young to pay for the retirement of the old. Unfortunately, because of Social Security people now want retire when they should be working. So we cannot even raise the retirement age so this stupid Ponzi scheme will continue to “work.” Therefore, our leaders will either have reduce benefits or just print worthless money.
  • David Boaz, in The Divide between Pro-Market and Pro-Business, observes that big business is always going to the government for handouts and special favors of some sort. He cites the bailout of Chrysler Corp. (1979) and that humongous 2008 Wall Street bailout as modern examples, and he points to the Chamber of Commerce as the big backer of such government largess.  Isn’t the Chamber for free enterprise? This clash between pro-market and pro-business is an old one.

    Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” to denounce mercantilism, the crony capitalism of his day. Milton Friedman said at a 1998 conference: “There’s a common misconception that people who are in favor of a free market are also in favor of everything that big business does. Nothing could be further from the truth.” (from here)

    Just as some people are greedy for government handouts — Socialism — some greedy businessmen seek the advantages of government cronies —  Crony Capitalism.

  • We pay for schools, welfare programs, highways, sports stadiums, “art,” — we redistribute trillions of dollars of wealth — without blinking an eye. We spend trillions of dollars to finance activities that we use to finance privately. Why? How does government financing make it better? Is it the “fact” that it is somebody else’s money? Easy come. Easy go. And waste by the pork barrel.

Therefore, it seems that both and are right. We should be voting for the best person for the job. Unfortunately, because politicians know how to tempt us with “other people’s money,” unless we settle for a scoundrel of some sort, we cannot get a Republican elected. That’s why we have so much trouble with RINOs.

What Does Bigger Government Mean In Practice?

Rarely do we see a straightforward explanation of what excessive government spending and regulation means in practice. We hear about government debt piling up into the stratosphere, but few can explain what those numbers mean. What is the difference between owing 18-19 trillion dollars and owing over 200 trillion dollars? With complex explanations numbers in both ranges get floated about, but how many of us care? Is somebody going to throw us into jail for not paying this debt?

Therefore, we see the debt and the absurd waste as someone else’s problem, somebody else’s responsibility. Because it is so big it is just numbers, we can ignore that huge debt and the phenomenal waste. Ohhh, we will flippantly say we will never collect Social Security, but what do we do when a politician tries to cut “our” Social Security benefits? Don’t we vote that politician out?

The benefits are here and now. Because we can put them in our pockets, we pay attention to the benefits. The costs, vague and ill-defined, we can put off and ignore.  The costs to our soul, our children and grandchildren we can put off and ignore.

Proverbs 24:13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 My son, eat honey because it is good,
And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste;
14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul;
If you have found it, there is a prospect,
And your hope will not be cut off.

For those who care to look, the costs are already evident. Don’t our schools already stink? Don’t we already vegetate in traffic for hours? Isn’t too much of what we buy made somewhere in China? Are we not suffering a deluge of poor immigrants, foreigners who expect us to speak their language and learn their ways? Is not our president an isolationist, abandoning the world to chaos, unwilling to spend money on anything except bribes: health, education, and welfare programs?

With every cent politicians spend — with every new regulation they create — our leaders steal another bit of our freedom. Increasingly, government controls how we earn our wealth, how we spend our wealth, and who gets our wealth.

  • We “invest” in housing. We give our money to bankers, developers, realtors,…. Shouldn’t we be investing a larger portion of our wealth in making our nation more productive and competitive? Can we all work in service industries?
  • We “invest” ever larger sums in public schools and colleges and give our money to bankers and educrats. Shouldn’t we be spending our money on private schools that actually give us some bang for our buck?
  • We continue to allow our currency to inflate, becoming ever less valuable. At one time it was profitable to track pennies. Now, if we find a penny on the ground, it is not worth the bother to pick it up. What does inflation do to our savings? When everything is made overseas, how will we be able to retire or get a job?

Future generations of Americans — if the government ever allows them learn the truth — will condemn us. In fact, the government may rightly teach them to condemn us. For the sake of spending somebody’s else’s money, future politicians may rightly say we sole ourselves and our children into slavery. Instead living off our own labors and taking responsibility for the education of our own children, we believed scoundrels. We trusted scoundrels who promised us a free education, freeways, inexpensive palatial homes, early retirements, appeased and passive enemies, and so much other rubbish. Future generations may rightly be taught how we let devious politicians con us, that some of those politicians took our money and ran and others put us and our progeny in the chains of debt slavery.

These later politicians will pile upon our children and grandchildren taxes so high and rules so onerous they can never get ahead, but so what? After all, will they not have learned from our example? We cannot be trusted to rule ourselves.

Conclusion

We still have the opportunity to prove the pundits and the politicians wrong. We don’t have to vote for politicians who promise to spend other people’s money on us. We can vote wisely. We don’t have to vote for the best candidate to win the election. We can vote for the best person for the job.

96 thoughts on “THE SIGNIFICANCE OF YOUR VOTE — PART 2

  1. Could it be that the “invisible hand” is neither invisible nor a hand, but merely the interactions of men? If so, then all that is necessary for a market to be just is for men to be just. So what is Justice?

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    1. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

      Could it be that the “invisible hand” is neither invisible nor a hand, but merely the interactions of men?

      Yes! By Jove, I think you’ve got it!

      If so, then all that is necessary for a market to be just is for men to be just. So what is Justice?

      Ah, you had it, but it slipped from your grasp.

      The entire point of Smith’s “invisible hand” concept is simply to note that the natural tendency of the accumulation of voluntary transactions is to improve the condition of society in general. It does not matter what is in the minds of those involved in each free market buy-sell interaction, so long as the interaction itself occurs without coercion.

      These are, in economics terms, “Pareto positive” transactions — meaning that both parties do this to be better off and wealthier, in the sense of trading something of lesser value for something of greater value from the view of each participant. Without coercion, these transactions will tend to be just, for any reasonable value of justice.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, “The proud and unfeeling landlord views his extensive fields, and without a thought for the wants of his brethren, in imagination consumes himself the whole harvest … [Yet] the capacity of his stomach bears no proportion to the immensity of his desires … the rest he will be obliged to distribute among those, who prepare, in the nicest manner, that little which he himself makes use of, among those who fit up the palace in which this little is to be consumed, among those who provide and keep in order all the different baubles and trinkets which are employed in the economy of greatness; all of whom thus derive from his luxury and caprice, that share of the necessaries of life, which they would in vain have expected from his humanity or his justice…The rich…are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society…” The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), Part IV, Chapter 1.

        Smith describes the unintended benefits that happen to happen when rich people get richer. In fact, Smith did not consider the invisible hand to be good–see the aforementioned volume on morals–but merely a consequence, an accident. He actually prefered people to act according to good and noble sentiment, not merely selfishness.

        What you describe is Milton Friedman’s definition of the invisible hand in his introduction to “I, Pencil.”

        You make the analogy of Pareto positive transactions but doesn’t this fall flat when modern advertising is allowed to take such liberties that the consumer can be deceived in the actual value of the thing offered? When the view of one person is altered–often without their knowledge due to subliminal messaging and marketing gags–can the sale be truly called just since they were not estimating the product but lies about the product?

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        1. ” without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society”

          Exactly.

          False and exaggerated stories of a product’s worth have been around a very long time; “a pig in a poke” is not talking about Pokemon. Tales from the Bible to Aesop provide examples to encourage buyers to exercise caution. (And yet here you are, selling socialism and statist control.)

          So, you’re a believer in “subliminal messaging,” hmm?

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Ah, I see the disconnect. I believe that each person is bound by common humanity to aid his fellow man in an active and direct way. You would have each “individual” build up his own wealth and if scraps happen to fall off his table, then the poor can fight the dogs for it. Genius.

            So longevity of a vice means it is to be enshrined as a virtue. If so, legalize prostitution, the exposure of infants, and ritual human sacrifice.

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          2. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            Ah, I see the disconnect. I believe that each person is bound by common humanity to aid his fellow man in an active and direct way.

            And you propose to force him to do so. Your system is “charity at gunpoint” which has always been heavy on the force while the charity corrodes away.

            You would have each “individual” build up his own wealth and if scraps happen to fall off his table, then the poor can fight the dogs for it. Genius.

            As much as you intended this as sarcasm, the recognition of this reality centuries ago really was genius. But despite your acidic description, things work a little differently. This is especially true now that we are, for the moment, not in an age of serfdom.

            In order to “build up his own wealth” these days, a person must think in terms of satisfying a need for a service or product, then set about to produce this service or good and set a price for it so that it improves over the existing satisfactions of such a need. In other words, he is forced to think of and act upon what benefits others in order to achieve benefit for himself.

            You’ve several times suggested that false advertising undercuts this, and you implied that “subliminal messaging” controlled people’s actions. But were this the simple truth, producers wouldn’t have to worry about producing any particular quality of product, they’d simply advertise it and automatically be successful. Reality shows this to be not so simple, and history demonstrates a constant improvement in goods and services as a result of the free market and people seeking to gain from it. And in the free market, both sides of a transaction gain from it, while wealth is created in the form of new and improved goods and services, always driven to satisfy the needs of others.

            It is true that, generally, one side gains money and the other a good or service that they desire more than the money they exchange for it. This means that money flowed one direction in that transaction, and a person who consistently produces more desirable, more valuable goods and services can accumulate money, which is spent then or later on expenses, investment, or expansion.

            But you don’t like this “later” part; it leaves the person with money. You and Pope Francis complain about “inequality”; i.e., that one person has more money than another, and you propose to have a group of (rich, of course) “public servants” decide how much others may have, may accumulate, may consume, and may pass on to their families or other designated recipients. We already do this to a harmful extent in most countries, but you explicitly advocate this on a global scale.

            What would your perfect solution look like? On Day One of the new global fascist regime that “protects the poor, protects the environment, and eliminates inequality,” you take all the money that everyone has and divide it up and redistribute it so that each person has exactly the same amount. (As always, your mastermind group would be get a special allocation from this, but let’s ignore that for the moment.)

            Now, it’s Day Two. Someone needs something from his neighbor — whether it’s food from his farm, a babysitting service, a repair for his car or tools, or whatever. He pays his neighbor for this. But now, at the end of this day, despite the fact that both sides are happy with the deal, he has less money than his neighbor. Inequality again. It won’t take long before those people who work at it will accumulate substantially more money. How often do you redistribute this to “solve” this new “problem”? Every Tuesday? The first of every month? Every day at 5pm?

            And how long will it take under your “beneficent guidance” until any efforts to produce improved goods and services, or any goods and services at all, wither away — leaving the world in the totalitarian misery that statists have so far only been able to inflict upon unfortunate countries? Those countries survived as long as they did — and some still exist this way — due to “black markets” providing a little bit of the benefits of free market exchanges. Those unhappy people engage in these underground fragments of the free market even under threat of death or imprisonment, as it is better than what you propose.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 2 people

          3. Actually, I said that each human person is bound by his common humanity to aid his fellow man in an active and direct way. In no comment have I advocated what you are suggesting. In fact, I think you are deliberately drawing these conclusions because I sincerely think you have no other argument.

            I have suggested that humanity has natural obligations to fulfill the laws of natural justice. Apparently the idea that there could be any law higher than “get what you can while you can” is so oppressive to you, I wonder why you participate in society at all.

            To be perfectly honest, you have very formulaic responses. First, you dismiss whatever I say with a non sequetur about the evils of totalitarianism. Then you go on about how totalitarianism is evil. What little you actually spend addressing my point is entirely overshadowed by the fact that none of your points actually follow from anything I said. From Justice to black markets. How did you get to that end? No study of formal logic could actually divine the answer.

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        2. @mastersamwise

          I think you have latched on to something important — some good ideas — but it seems to me that your good ideas are contaminated by a bad one.

          Government is not a suitable organization for solving the problem of poverty. When government redistributes the wealth, how do we distinguish that from stealing? If we give our officials the power to redistribute the wealth, how do we reconcile an inherent conflict of interest? When none of us is good, no, not one, how do we find people we can trust to appropriately redistribute the wealth?

          Look at what we have right now. Don’t we have a government led by people who claim to care about the poor? Yet what they are doing is bankrupting our country. They are so rapacious — so eager to spend money we don’t have — our leaders are destroying our economy. When they finally succeed in destroying our economy, they will hurt the poor the most.

          In an earlier comment, you mentioned the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity (=> https://citizentom.com/2015/09/26/the-pope-comes-to-america/#comment-66901}. These articles provide an interesting presentation of what those principles mean => http://blog.adw.org/2012/04/subsidiarity-and-solidarity-not-necessarily-what-you-may-think-they-are/ and https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=769.

          Neither the word subsidiarity (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=subsidiary&allowed_in_frame=0) nor the word solidarity (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=solidarity&allowed_in_frame=0) are very old. On the other hand, the ideas of Christian charity and Old Testament Jewish charity are ancient. Neither has much to do with government.

          Frankly, I think government gets in the way of subsidiarity, and government can only mimic true solidarity. When a politician gets onstage and paints his vision of the future for the poor and downtrodden, it can sound wonderful, but that vision always becomes a heartless bureaucracy that gives the rest of us an excuse to do nothing. In time, what was honestly intended to solve a difficult problem itself becomes a problem. Thus, programs such as Social Security and Medicare are bankrupting us, and our government-run schools are just expensive, third rate institutions that indoctrinate children with some very bad ideas..

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Wow, I don’t know how this keeps happening but for some reason, whenever I talk about economic Justice, it is immediately interpreted as “create giant welfare state.”

            The principles of subsidiarity find their modern roots in Pius IX and Leo XIII while their actual roots are as old the first empires. The Jews themselves practiced it, each family of each tribe going to his particular judge for the settlement of grievances. Now, subsidiarity can be misused in two major ways. First, there can be an over emphasis on the smallest units which seeks to usurp the lawful and just authority due to the larger units. The second is where the larger unit usurps the authority of the smaller ones and I think this one is most known to you. The former is a tendancy I see among the radical indvidualists who place the authority and autonomy of the individual above all other concerns.

            This is important to consider when we consider the word solidarity. Again, a fairly modern take on an ancient concept. The word solidarity comes, ultimately from the Latin solidus meaning whole. To form a whole is the most rational end of any human society. No collection of persons congregate to further divide themselves but rather to find ways of living as a unified whole. The word also comes from the Greek meaning whole as in in whole health. No one can be said to be in good health if one part of the body is in conflict with the other. Just as a house divided cannot stand, neither can an unhealthy, unified body stand either. So if the hand did not bring food to the mouth, or the foot did not support the leg, the body cannot function well. The rest of the body must aid the other parts when they are weak otherwise the whole body is compromised. The hand believes he will not feel the loss of the feet until he has to hold up the footless body.

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          2. I am living with the situation you describe as “cannot function well.” Nothing about this situation makes me think that your proposed statist society is a good idea for humanity. The solution you promote is to take some function from my still working hands and other parts and distribute it so that all are equally weakened, and I can no longer use my arms to get around. No thank you; the parts that work well should continue to do so, and thus be able to voluntarily aid other parts less functional.

            I see that you are simply attacking my style, now, and seem to be giving up on actually suggesting how you would force people to act as you think their duty demands without actually coercing them.

            In the real world, charity is an active (and voluntary) part of the free market, until the state comes along and squeezes people out of the charity business for its own purposes. But you want all people to do their duty to their fellow man, so how do you pull it off? The document you came here promoting uses force. What’s your plan?

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 2 people

          3. Pray, can you provide the quote where I actually make that assertion? No, you cannot. The hand will repair the foot because the hand knows the importance of the foot to the health of the body. So even though the hand must reduce its normal work to take care of the foot, it services the entire body.

            If the hand were to act as if the foot was nothing to him, then the damage of the foot would only increase, reducing the effectiveness of the body further and ultimately causing the hands pain.

            The point is that the hands are not independant of the foot but are connected through the whole body. Both parts have not only a need to provide health for the body, but a duty. For if one part decides to withhold his work from the body, then the whole body suffers and the part eventually dies, being separated from the body. If the healthy parts are left to live while other parts are left to die, then the body dies and the healthy parts have acted unjustly since they have allowed the degradation of the body to the death of the other member. That is called Justice since the actions or inaction of one deprived another of basic life. Tell me if this gets too metaphysical. As I understand your position, anything higher than an individual seems to freak you out.

            If that is your definition of Charity, then I really don’t see much use in it besides feeling. If Charity is merely a market force and not the most human act a person can perform, then who here is calling for the bleak society? In previous posts, I have argued for the building up of man. If man’s interactions are reduced to mere money relations, you prove Marx’s points. Seeing as I don’t believe that historical materialism accurately describes reality–though you seem to take up the cause of it quite well with your servile devotion to capital for the sake of capital approach–then I propose we see things for what they are, not what we would like them to be. The simple fact is that, unless Justice enforced through rule of law, can any rule of law be said to be Just? Am I so evil when I believe that man is fundementally good but inclined toward evil? Am I so wrong when I say man needs Justice to guide him towards not only the good for society but the good of himself? Am I so diabolical when I say that any law must have Justice as it’s object or else it will neither be just, produce Justice, or incline anyone towards Justice? We have laws against the unjust taking of life, but why do you not disparage those ordinances of Justice? Why is it that Justice can, for you, extend to certain aspects of life, but not to others? Why is it that you do not trust men not to murder, but trust men to help the poor? How is that Justice? Going back to the question you were either unwilling or unable to answer, what is Justice?

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          4. @mastersamwise

            Yes. You have a diabolical nature. The Bible says no man is good, and that includes you. The Psalms said it. Jesus said it. The Apostle Paul explains why we must admit it. It is why Jesus died for us on the cross, so we could be freed from our sinful nature.

            Ostensibly, government exists to provide justice, but it doesn’t. Government maintains order.

            Unfortunately, we are innately corrupt. So we have a government to protect from each other. Men don’t even have the capacity to provide true justice. Consider. The more power we give our government, the more we have to protect ourselves from our government. To expect justice from something we cannot trust is to expect too much.

            What is justice? It is not particularly easy for us all to agree, but it quite obvious that for some people justice means “I got mine.” That includes a great many of our elected leaders.

            Is the free market perfectly just? Few would claim that it is, but it provides motivation for us to work to satisfy each others needs. Socialism, on the other hand, just makes it easier for people to steal.

            You say you are not a Socialist? Then what is your complaint? What is it you want different? People? Don’t we all? If we are wise, we especially want a better heart than the one we have.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. “It is not particularly easy for us all to agree…” I think this strikes at the heart of the issue. We all want just laws. No man wants tyranny. So what is justice? Whatever we make up? Whatever is popular? My complaint is exactly that; political conservatives will always cry out that socialism is unjust, but when asked for a definition of justice, there are numerous answers ranging from the biblical to the absurd.

            As I said about Thomas More, there is justice outside of what men believe justice to be. It is knowable and it can be achieved in a natural sense to an extent. What neither aids the argument nor improves society is this notion that any man can define justice and believe himself to be right. It is a giant participation trophy that we hand out as a society instead of challenging ideas and rejecting them or improving them. Basically, we tell ourselves as a society that we do not need to strive for anything more than what we come up with ourselves.

            So we can argue about what system provides the most money and social programs or we can get at the heart of the issue and say which one provides the most justice and make man more man-like because since justice simply is a natural virtue emanating from the Divine virtue of Justice as a reflection of the emenator, then it is safe to say we are most fully human, most fully ourselves when we practice justice in all actions, both private and public.

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          6. @mastersamwise

            Justice is a virtue, and we are not born virtuous. We must learn to be virtuous. We must even learn of the need for virtue.

            Because virtue is needed for peace and contentment, I suppose that is why Aristotle defined the search for happiness as the pursuit of virtue.

            Do you think you have a lock on virtue? For example, are you always just? Do you truly know a simple set of rules that everyone can easily use to decide what is just? I don’t think so, and I don’t pretend to be so virtuous or wise myself. I find it difficult enough to follow the Golden Rule as it is, and I sure don’t want our government to constrain me with reams of regulations requiring me to do this and that. Yet that is where we are headed.

            Consider that famous tale wherein King Solomon first demonstrated his wisdom. Two women came before him for judgement, each claiming the same baby as their own. To solve the dispute, King Solomon proposed to divide the baby in half, and THEY BELIEVED HE WOULD DO IT.

            To the surprise of all, King Solomon actually found a way to determine the rightful mother, and he returned her baby back to her.

            In a difficult situation, King Solomon had provided a just solution. Because such justice is so rare, the story has been repeated for thousands of years as proof of King Solomon’s wisdom.

            Because those such as King Solomon are so rare, and because even King Solomon became corrupt, I much prefer a limited government that allows each of us to pursue our own notions of happiness. And there is justice in that. Because each of us is our own worst enemy, when government is limited to protecting our rights, most of the injustice we experience will be the result of our own doing.

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          7. When you take a toy from a child for no reason, even the child knows it is wrong. Is it not written that the law of God is written on the hearts of all men? Thus, all men seek justice, even if they have no word for it.

            One can perceive the good i.e. virtue and still fall short of the ideal. Just because I am not always just does not mean I cannot know what justice is, especially if God wrote it on my heart. If it is written on my heart, then in discovering who I am as a human being will reveal justice. Seeking the Truth requires understanding who are. To abandon that or to allow others to abandon that is to condemn them to unhappiness. Contrary to Cain’s belief, we are actually our brother’s keeper. Who is my brother? My Samaritans.

            If you accept that virtue is happiness, then having each person follow false happiness would actually be unjust. Shall we allow suicide if a person believes it will make them happy? Shall we allow gay marriage because they believe it will make them happy? If the government believes that true happiness is found in oppressing its people, then who is to stop them? In saying that everyone should be allowed to pursue their own happiness, you’re setting your own idea of justice over everyone anyway since no one can do anything that would violate a person’s conception of happiness would be unjust.

            What you propose is that, as a society, we have no further aspirations than to wallow in mediocrity.

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          8. @mastersamwise

            For the most part, I have already responded to what you have to say in this comment in this post => https://citizentom.com/2015/10/26/a-still-more-excellent-way/. So here I will just address some specific questions.

            I concede that each of us inherently knows what C. S. Lewis described a moral law. Nevertheless, merely having possession of a moral law does not seem to provide us sufficient incentive to obey it. In addition, we can wrongly learn to ignore or distort the promptings of the moral law.

            Consider that God did not force Cain to be his brother’s keeper, and ask yourself “why not?” Then consider whether it is appropriate for us to use the power of government to force our neighbors to be each others keepers. Do you really want someone to be your “keeper” who does not love you? Don’t you know that one way to be your brother’s keeper is to make your brother your slave?

            Shall we allow suicide if a person believes it will make them happy?

            As a practical matter, if a sane person wants to kill himself, we cannot stop him. What makes government-assisted suicide wrong is that sane people rarely choose death. The mentally ill require the protection of government, not assistance in hurting themselves.

            Same-sex “marriage” is insane. Such a relationship is unhealthy. The expression same-sex marriage is an oxy-moron. In a society with limited government, foolish people of the same sex could pretend to marry each other, but such a marriage would not receive legal recognition. Without the possibility of children, such a marriage has no practical relevance. It is only because big government allows politicians to buy votes that we are seeing the legalization of same-sex fantasies.

            Instead of striving to force people to implement your notions of social justice, try something that can work. The most powerful way we influence each other to do what is virtuous is with the power of our own example.

            I can only guess what you mean with this statement.

            In saying that everyone should be allowed to pursue their own happiness, you’re setting your own idea of justice over everyone anyway since no one can do anything that would violate a person’s conception of happiness would be unjust.

            That statement strongly suggests you don’t understand what is meant by limited government and protecting individual rights. When government is limited, we don’t try to use government to give us happiness or to guarantee we will be happy. When government is limited, all we use government to do is stop people from abusing each other. If two adults of the same sex voluntarily choose to pretend they are “married” to each other, I don’t see the point of sticking them in jail. They have made their bed. If they want to lie in it, that is punishment enough.

            Just because something is wrong does not necessarily mean it should be illegal. However, when something is wrong, we should not be forced either to participate or to endorse bad behavior.

            Like

          9. If the natural law that Lewis describes is broken, who does it harm? A crime against one’s nature such as homosexual sex or gender reassignment would be violating the natural law, we can agree. So who is it that enforces the natural law? If the Divine Law is reserved to God by God, then the natural law is by the same token reserved to that person who has authority over nature. Now since nature and its laws emenate from God, God is , of course, the ultimate authority. Yet, it is written in the book of Genesis that man was given dominion over nature. This sharing in the care and authority over nature places man in the unique position of the executor of nature’s laws with God being its legislature. The fall from grace may have abrogated our perceptions of the Divine Law, requiring Revelation to make it known to us, but natural law, being inherent in natural things including ourselves, can still be known and still be executed.

            Following the principles of subsidiarity, positive law i.e. the laws enacted by men in their own legislatures, must be informed by the more general principles of law i.e. corpora of the natural and Divine Laws. To break the natural laws may not cause direct harm to anyone besides the actor, the crime against nature’s law is a crime against nature itself. Man, being the guardian of nature–a duty that has not be abrogated–and the executor of its laws, must punish violations of that law through his own positive laws. Hence murder, which violates the natural laws prohibiting the unjust taking of human life, is punished with the most severe penalties. True, entering into the bedrooms of private citizens is not advisable, nor do I advocate it.

            Instead, the answer lies in the beginning of your reply. Wrongly learning or falsely perceiving the natural law and the good leads to societal strife. Thus, it is the duty of each person, as a human person, to seek the Truth, not as however he sees fit to perceive it, but how it actually is. That requires certain philosophical ground rules, the chief one being that man is by no means in himself an ultimate authority on the good. In other words, man cannot be said to be always right, even when he is wrong. We as a society need to have a firm perception of the Truth with regards to natural law which can only come about by the intellectual work of each human person and firm rejection of any idea that is contrary to reality of what is true, good, and beautiful. In short, we can no longer operate under the false assumption that Truth is subjective. It allows for radical individualism, misguided and idiotic collectivism, and the degradation of the moral framework of civil society. When we live in a time when a growing number of people think it is good to euthanize those with mental handicaps, we have devolved, through our insistence in our individual infallibility, into the worse sort of barbarians.

            Like

        3. @mastersamwise

          Regarding your statement: “Wow, I don’t know how this keeps happening but for some reason, whenever I talk about economic Justice, it is immediately interpreted as ‘create giant welfare state.’ ”

          The some reason is that you’re resisting explaining how you would implement your system of economic justice. You’ve compared it to zen-like “unified body,” and you’ve said that Jews practiced it centuries ago. You’ve danced all around the edges of your own assertion. Why are you avoiding the central question? How would you implement economic Justice? You’re leaving a vacuum, which Keith and Tom attempt to fill in order to further the conversation. Then you criticize their inferences and conclusions as being small minded. Why are you being coy and evasive? It’s YOUR vacuum in the debate…..fulfill your own obligation to fill it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. So am I to understand that, unless I give the entire patrimony surrounding the principle of Iustia–a principle I had not realized was so far out of human consideration–then I am immediately placed into a camp without any request for elaboration?

            Indeed, my first post had one proposition, and two questions. From that, I was deemed a red blooded commie. So apparently suggesting that justice has anything to do with human interaction is somehow pure socialism. “Could it be that the “invisible hand” is neither invisible nor a hand, but merely the interactions of men? If so, then all that is necessary for a market to be just is for men to be just. So what is Justice?”

            If men interacting becomes a market, and that market is to be just, it logically follows that the interactions of men must be just. That is just basic logic. I then asked what justice was. To Keith, it appears that justice is getting whatever you want and if someone else get something then that is good too but entirely inconsequential to the fact that you are building up your own stuff.

            Since this assertion is so obvious and plainly logical, it would be necessary, as I said at the beginning but has yet to actually be addressed, to define justice.

            It does not take much to realize that I am being maligned here. For example, I said, ” I believe that each person is bound by common humanity to aid his fellow man in an active and direct way.” Keith interpreted this to mean “And you propose to force him to do so. Your system is “charity at gunpoint” which has always been heavy on the force while the charity corrodes away.” Can you somehow show how my assertion somehow follows to Keith’s? No, you cannot, because it doesn’t. It is a fabrication and completely illogical.

            Again, I have asked two questions that have gone unanswered, made one proposition so mindbogglingly logical Aristotle could use it as an example of a BARBARA, and really only tipped my own person position once when I made my assertion about human nature. And from that, I am a commie? From that, I am intellectually deficient? Tell me, if someone infers from something that is not present in the thing, it is the fault of the thing or the one making the inference? Basically, if my unanswered questions and assertions dismissed without reason–as I said above in the example, if the rebuttal cannot follow, it cannot be said to be an actual dismissal of the assertion–then the filler that has been added as been completely off topic and meaningless.

            Like

          2. @Necessary and Proper

            I don’t think mastersamwise really knows how to answer you question. That is the point I made here => https://citizentom.com/2015/10/26/a-still-more-excellent-way/.

            It appears he also doesn’t know how to admit he doesn’t know how to answer that question. Instead, for some reason or another we don’t understand justice.

            Justice in a free market is being honest about what you are selling and being honest about paying for what you buy. The rest is just allowing the laws of supply and demand to work.

            Charity on the other hand does not stem from justice. If God did not extend His grace and mercy to us, He would cast us into oblivion, giving us what we deserve. Instead, although we do not deserve it, He loves us. Charity — grace and mercy — stems from love.

            Liked by 1 person

          1. Staying true to my alma mater’s namesake and the font from which I take much of my philosophy, I feel it is my duty to point out that the traveler from Utopia was named “nonsense.” Apart from making Mark Levin’s interpretation laughably fascicle, it tells the reader how to approach the text. In short, the Socrates–since it is modeled after the Dialogues by Plato and the later dialogues of Cicero–of the work is More himself, not the nonsense from nowhere.

            More was, contrary to popular modern opinion, that there was, in everything, an ideal of that thing to be striven towards. Indeed, all of human progress and society was, for More, a movement towards higher truth and not simply workaday interactions of random individuals. More conceived of a society based on a working towards harmony, not the mere avoidance of conflict. For More, these “theories” about how men should live were the MOST real things. Like the sun in Plato’s cave analogy, the most real things are not even the things that cast the shadows but the light itself.

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  2. Edmund Burke, Bill Buckley and Russell Kirk “made a ‘conservative'” out of me, Tom, and Barry Goldwater sealed the deal politically. This all happened before Trump was out of short pants. My complaint is not that Trump is “not conservative enough.” My complaint is that he is an ignoramus without inhibitions in matters relating to international trade and economics.

    Scout

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t doubt Edmund Burke, Bill Buckley, Russell Kirk, and Barry Goldwater have persuaded some people to become Conservatives, but your comments on this blog indicate at least one failure.

      Is Trump an ignoramus without inhibitions in matters relating to international trade and economics? I see little reason to call anyone an ignoramus. The glass windows in my house in my house are just too fragile, but perhaps yours are already broken. Still, there must be at least a few fragile objects inside left intact.

      I think it unlikely that Trump will become our president. For their own reasons, the news media have focused upon Trump and pumped up his campaign. When Trump brought the immigration issue front and center, that did not settle well with them. However, I suspect that they are very happy that the focus on Trump has made it difficult for elected Conservatives such as Walker and Cruz to air their agenda.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Tom, regarding your: “For their own reasons, the news media have focused upon Trump and pumped up his campaign.”

        I think the reason the liberal media covers Trump like Michael Moore’s chins cover his adam’s apple is because they think (whether correctly or incorrectly) that wall-to-wall Trump coverage will gradually turn the stomachs of the swing voters, thus ensuring a Democrat win of the White House. They don’t care if it helps Trump in the primaries, because they think it kills his chances in the general election. The reason I think this is because their coverage isn’t really “favorable” towards Trump. The left’s pundits aren’t lauding Trump’s positions. They’re just shining a bright camera light on his every action.

        And regarding your: “Is Trump an ignoramus without inhibitions in matters relating to international trade and economics?”

        Also, I think the reason Trump has made immigration and protectionism the feature planks in his platform is because he’s trying to steal the union vote away from the Democrats. He thinks these are visceral issues for the unions and their members. On immigration, he thinks he’ll gain more union & blue collar votes than he’ll lose Hispanic votes. And on protectionism, any union & blue collar votes he gains are a plus with very little downside because it’s unlikely he’d piss off the free-trade business lobby so badly that they’d vote for a Democrat. He figures the business lobby will hold their nose and vote for him in the general election, figuring that he can’t unilaterally impose the tariffs he’s talking about anyway.

        – Jeff

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You could be right. We can only guess the extent to which Trump’s positions are calculated for effect. The news media, on the other hand, has largely established itself as being dishonest. While Trump has the virtue of being “newsworthy, the coverage of him has been ridiculous and the attacks have been so vicious they backfired.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. @Jeff Rutherford, who wrote:

          I think the reason the liberal media covers Trump like Michael Moore’s chins cover his adam’s apple is because they think (whether correctly or incorrectly) that wall-to-wall Trump coverage will gradually turn the stomachs of the swing voters, thus ensuring a Democrat win of the White House.

          I would tweak this formulation a bit: The progressive media applied so much attention to Trump assuming that he would be as revolting to their audience as he is to them personally, and his campaign would immediately collapse. They’ve been horrified that this strategy not only failed, it has backfired.

          Trump horrifies establishment Republicans as well. Political cartoons on both sides lampoon him equally. I think that he will ultimately fail, but not so much because of media attention as due to his own difficulties in the details. He has a bit of Rick Perry’s tendencies, and this will eat away at him as things proceed.

          In a sense, Hillary Clinton as the candidate of Democrat choice should work in America’s favor. But citizenship conversions and voter ID opposition and other processes oppose America’s interests. We shall see.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 2 people

      2. Your views will evolve after you have had a chance to study conservatism in its more substantive and historic contexts, Tom. Don’t throw in the towel yet. I don’t think of you as a “failure”, and you shouldn’t either. I think you are just new to these ideas, and are overly attracted to superficial, transitory labelling tricks used by politicians, and will move beyond that once you have had a chance to consider conservatism more fully.

        Scout

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        1. @novascout

          Regarding “Your views will evolve after you have had a chance to study conservatism….”

          It’s difficult to determine who your admonishment is meant for, but if it’s Tom, Keith or me…then I’m forced to assume your tongue is firmly in your cheek.

          – Jeff

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @Jeff Rutherford

            One of *scout’s standard tricks is to pretend to be too stupid to understand what Citizen Tom meant, and then turn that misunderstanding into an insult. I have seen him do this literally dozens of times, and not just to our host.

            *scout is a flavor of progressive with disdain for people who are openly Christian, but maintains that he is the real religious conservative and none of us are using “conservative” correctly. At the same time, he champions statism causes such as the federal operation of schools and fiercely opposes the imposition of voter ID laws.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 2 people

        2. @novascout: I was bitten by smartphone tunnel vision earlier this morning, and didn’t notice the end of the sentence I quoted. Via a laptop, I now see that you were addressing Tom. It still baffles me why you think he needs to study conservatism to overcome some affliction of superficiality (!?). I have been studying conservatism for years, and still learn things every time I come to Tom’s blog. He’ll no doubt parry your comment with tolerance and grace — yet another sign of his conservative value system.

          – Jeff

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @Necessary and Proper (Jeff)

            Thank you for the compliment.

            I think what you and Keith said with respect to novascout’s remarks are more than sufficient.

            As Keith observed, novascout is not making the best use of his talents. Therefore, he harms himself most of all.

            Liked by 1 person

        3. @Keith DeHavelle

          “Flavor” happens to be the punchline of a joke I heard this week:

          “What’s the difference between an oral thermometer and a rectal thermometer?”

          (Just a random thought…in no way related to progressivism, you understand.)

          – Jeff

          Liked by 1 person

          1. One could observe that this bit of humor inserted in an inappropriate spot could be in bad taste. Of course, that might apply to the thermometers themselves.

            *scout and I have a long-running series of skirmishes here. I don’t dislike him, and I appreciate that he is articulate and knowledgeable. But I do not like the techniques he chooses, and how he has decided to make use of his abilities.

            Most leftists worth engaging are open enough about their positions and advocacy, and are not trying to pretend to be what they oppose. *scout, instead, professes conservatism while attacking conservative beliefs. And often, he acts as though he’s set for himself the task of making sure that serious conservative points are not discussed, which he pursues by pretending to ignorance, misunderstanding a minor point, and then launching into critique of this side issue instead of the theme of the post. I engage him primarily to point out that I am aware of his techniques, and to use his misunderstanding as a backdrop to provide a bit of background information to the general reader. It gives me a bit of exercise, something I don’t get much of these days.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

            Liked by 2 people

  3. Heavy-handed protectionism destroys more domestic jobs than it saves, Scatterwisdom. Trump is peddling fools’ gold and fairy dust. He has stated that if Ford wants to build a plant in Mexico, he, as President, would threaten Ford execs with 35% tariffs on every vehicle manufactured in that plant. Tom worries about tax burdens imposed by government – this one should send us all through the roof. What more utter, naked, brutal state interference with capitalist enterprise could be imagined? Why would anyone, domestic or foreign, invest in the US (manufacturing or otherwise) with a highwayman mentality like that sitting in the White House?

    That kind of hoodlumist approach to international trade might succeed in the short term in preventing a manufacturer from moving a plant overseas, but it will also deter the same manufacturer from putting any more plants in the United States. And it certainly would deter foreign manufacturers from putting plants here. Think of the thousands of jobs created by auto plants located here by Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Subaru, Volkswagen, Nissan, Hyundai, etc. etc. Why would any of these enterprises consider locating to the US if the US government or its president were to act out in ways that Trump promises to act?

    Of course Trump is not stupid and knows this is malarkey. But he is playing people who, like you, think it might be remotely possible for him to act on these incendiary ideas. They may produce votes, but they won’t produce jobs.

    As Tom, Keith, and Jeff have noted, we have ample evidence that not interfering with the movement of economic inputs to their most efficient allocations and sitings provides economic benefits across all sectors of the economy. This seems to be a bedrock element of conservative economic philosophy. And it is where economic theory and personal liberty concerns merge in conservative thought.

    Scout

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not so much “hoodlumist” as “statist,” I think, though I agree with the thrust of your comment. Unfortunately, such protectionism has been all too common over US history from all major parties from the Federalists on. Since it is unfashionable at this point to think of all of these presidents and legislators as hoodlums, statists seems the better term.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Keith- protectionism is one of those crack cocaine-type political issues that pols can’t help themselves with (you are right to note that this attraction has lured both parties going back to the virtual beginning of the country). Pols know that the many voters lack the time or energy to gain a basic understanding o international economics. The idea of walling off a country to make it prosperous has some superficial appeal, especially for a large, relatively well-resourced country like the United States. However, the US is better positioned than most countries to reap tremendous economic gain from the free flow of commerce, capital and labor. The gains of trade can be a bit abstract to a portion of the electorate.

        In my earlier reply comment to Tom, I faulted Trump for being an ignoramus on this subject. That probably is far too lenient a judgement. He’s a smart fellow. He is perfectly capable of understanding the benefits of removing artificial regulatory constraints on trade. What I should have faulted him for (and this is a more serious ethical critique) is knowing that what he is saying is hokum, but saying it anyway to juice up people who have not had the benefit of his education and experience.

        Scout

        Like

    2. @novascout

      Because he is not always Conservative as I would like, I don’t agree with everything Trump proposes. Nevertheless, I think it is interesting that Trump seems to have made a “Conservative” out of you. However, you are hardly alone. Trump seems to be drawing a lot criticism from the most unlikely folks. They are most certainly not the usual suspects who complain when a candidate is not Conservative enough.

      Like

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