Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How Not To Do It

GK Chesterton, on May 16, 1935, explained to the world why arguing for capitalism just creates more communists- and the solution. Which of these three methods do you prefer, and why?

How Not to Do It
G.K.'s Weekly
May 16, 1935


There are two recognised ways of arguing with a Communist; and they are both wrong. There is also a third way which is right but which is not recognised. Now I have a notion that, for one reason or another, a considerable part of our time will be taken up soon by arguing with Communists. And I should like to sketch very roughly this notion of mine about the right way to do it.
Curiously enough, the two commonest ways of contradicting Communism also contradict each other. The first consists of convicting the Bolshevist of all vices. The second, curiously enough, consists of convicting him of all the virtues. It actually consists of pitting all our vices against his virtues; or his supposed virtues.

This is very much the more dangerous and even suicidal trick of the two; but its nature needs a little explanation. The first common or conventional method is at least simple enough. The Capitalist says to the Communist, “You shall not enter my house, for I know you would burt it down; you shall not speak to my family, for I know you would blow them up; you are a common thief and murderer and I am a highly respectable and moral person; and not as this Russian.” Now I do not like talking like that to a Bolshevist; because I should not like talking like that to a burglar. It is Pharisaical; and the Pharisee is a more ancient enemy of the Christian than the Marxian.

But I rather prefer it to the other method, which I find extremely common, among those who profess to defend property or individualism against the Marxian heresy. It really consists of telling the Communist that he is an idealist, or, in other words, that he must be wrong because he has ideals. In this second case, the Capitalist says to the Communist, “You believe in a lot of nonsense about the brotherhood of men; but I tell you, as a practical man, that every man wants to get as much as he can for himself, and will beat his own brother in business if he can. Every man must obey his acquisitive instinct." (I read these very words recently in an attack on the Bolshevist theory.) "You cannot keep things humming and hustling without private enterprise; and you cannot produce private enterprise unless you bribe or reward it with the glittering prizes of private property." People use these arguments against Communism, as if they were the only arguments against Communism; and then they are surprised that a number of more generous and spirited young people become Communists.

They do not seem to see that, to such young people, the Capitalist in question only seems to be saying, "I am a greedy old scoundrel, and I forbid you to be anything else."

Now the true, full and final argument against Communism is that private property is much more important than private enterprise. A pickpocket represents private enterprise, but we should hardly say that he supports private property. Private property is not a bribe that exists for the sake of private enterprise. On the contrary, private enterprise is only a tool or weapon, that may sometimes be useful to preserve private property. And it is necessary to preserve private property; simply because the other name of it is liberty. On the one hand, it is not merely a conventional respectability; on the contrary, it is only the man with some property and privacy who can live his own life freely. On the other hand, it is not a mere licence to trade, still less a mere licence to cheat; on the contrary, the whole point of property is that in that alone can be naturally nourished the sentiment of honour. It would need some space to expound it here and might take some time to expound it to the Communist. But the Communist would listen at least longer than he would to a man merely boasting of self-righteousness or a man merely boasting of avarice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sometimes the left wing DOES have a point

And when they do, it's a good one. Here's some economic and Occupy myths that are common right now, and while their answers have a definite left wing bent, I think the truth is somewhere between the two. But a challenge. If you are a fiscal conservative, I challenge you to read the ENTIRE bibliography of this article:
MYTH #1: The congressional Super Committee failed because both sides refuse to compromise.
REALITY: The Super Committee failed because Republicans' number one, non-negotiable priority is to protect millionaires and billionaires from paying even one more penny in taxes.1 Democrats repeatedly offered to make deep spending cuts—far deeper than most progressives would like—in exchange for raising taxes on the wealthy and closing corporate loopholes, only to be refused again and again.2 So even though the vast majority of Americans say they want to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits, and raise taxes on the rich and corporations,3 that won't happen until Republicans put aside their extremist stance.
MYTH #2: Nobody knows what Occupy Wall Street is about.
REALITY: Occupy Wall Street may not have a formal list of demands, but anyone who's been paying attention understands the core problems that occupiers are protesting—that corporations have far too much power in our political system, that Wall Street banks crashed our economy but were never held accountable, and that the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans—156 million people—combined.4
MYTH #3: Occupiers should stop protesting and just get a job.
REALITY: As anybody who's looked for a job in the last few years knows, there just aren't jobs out there. That's a big part of why occupiers are protesting. In September, there were four times as many unemployed people as job openings.5 And for those who are lucky enough to find a job, median wages today are lower than they were a decade ago.6
MYTH #4: Occupy Wall Street is intent on provoking violence, especially against banks and the police.
REALITY: Occupations across the country have committed themselves to nonviolent protest, in the greatest traditions of protest movements. Some of their protests have been met with acts of police violence—tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets7—but in many cases, protesters have reminded police that the police officers are part of the 99%, too.8 And in the few cases when people have shown up at Occupy demonstrations and committed acts of vandalism, other protesters have even repaired their acts of vandalism.9
MYTH #5: The biggest crisis facing our country is out of control government spending.
REALITY: The two biggest drivers of our deficit—by far—are the economic crash and the Bush tax cuts.10 We have millions of people out of work, corporations hoarding cash, and factories sitting idle. If we put all those people back to work—rebuilding infrastructure, educating our children, and researching new technologies—it'll shrink the deficit and make our economy stronger for the long haul. And we can easily afford it if we make sure the rich—who are taking home a larger percentage of income than any time since 191711—pay their fair share.
1. "No, 'both sides' aren't equally to blame for supercommittee failure," The Washington Post, November 21, 2011 Washington Post Moveon Link
2. "Wonkbook: In supercommittee, Dems moved right and Republicans moved righter," The Washington Post, November 22, 2011 < Washington Post Moveon Link
3. "CNN Poll: What The Super Committee Produced Is...Exactly What We Don't Want," Talking Points Memo, November 21, 2011 CNN Poll Moveon Link
"Medicare, Social Security & The Deficit," National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, September 2011 Leftwing thinktank moveon link.
4. "Michael Moore says 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined," Politifact Wisconsin, March 10, 2011 Michael More on Politifact as quoted by moveon
5. "Fact: 4 job seekers per opening in U.S.," CNN, September 12, 2011 CNN Moveon Link
6. "Median household income," Wikipedia, Accessed November 22, 2011 Wikipedia Moveon Link
7. "Occupy movement: police reaction in pictures," The Guardian, November 21, 2011 The Guardian (uk) Moveon Link
8. "Occupy Demonstrators Mark Two Months of Protests," NPR, November 17, 2011 National Public Radio Moveon Link
9. "Occupy Oakland protesters assist in cleanup efforts," News 10 ABC, November 3, 2011 Oakland News 10 ABC Moveon Link
10. "Economic Downturn and Bush Policies Continue to Drive Large Projected Deficits," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 10, 2011 'nother leftwing think tank
11. "Income Inequality Is At An All-Time High: STUDY," The Huffington Post, September 14, 2009 Huffington Post

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why should I trust a man who can't keep marriage vows?

Sorry ladies, I'm leaving you entirely out of this post. Spurred by Newt Gingrich's campaign: I understand the concept of forgiveness. Of second chances. And third chances. And thirteenth chances. *But*- each chance makes trust harder. Each attempt, needs more effort. And when it comes to important stuff like my mortgage or who I vote for- I have to ask why I should trust a man who is paying alimony because he can't stay within his marriage vows. Such a man is simply not worthy of my trust. At all. And he needs to do something truly extraordinary to reverse it. Sorry Newt- you've done nothing making you worthy of being President. Obama hasn't either- but at least he could stay married to one woman.

Monday, November 14, 2011

This is a test

This is a test of various ways to connect Facebook to Blogspot. This is only a test. Anything else you may have heard is entirely false. But apparently, the connection between RSS feeds and notes in Facebook is going away. I'm using the RSS Grafiti app instead. It's what I use to import blogs for Our Peaceful Place, and I just found out I can set it up to import to my wall as well. With any luck, in the next 24-48 hours I'll see this post on my facebook page twice- once as a note, once as a summary.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Can we replace the government with church?

Among small-government conservatives, a dream exists. A dream in which instead of paying taxes to Washington DC, we give to our local churches, who in turn take care of the poor, the sick, the troubled. It's an interesting dream. But is it feasible? Mark Grey of CARA, that is the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate crunches the numbers- and finds that we'd have to *significantly* increase collections to even come close. The average registered Catholic Family only gives $10/week through the Church. Maybe $10 billion nationwide. The US Government spends nearly a trillion on social welfare- the Church would be $990 billion short. Only if Charity is a Duty instead of a Choice could this stand any chance of working.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Hallowmas

I wasn't going to write this until next year- but finding several excellent articles on Hallowmas, which eventually became Halloween, All Saint's Day, and All Soul's day; I just had to write a blog posting on it. Since today is November 1st, it is appropriate to lead off with this excellent article from UCatholic on the history of the Solemnity of All Saints- how, during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian. the number of martyrs exceeded the number of days in the calendar- and so diocese began to celebrate common days to remember their local martyrs. In the Fourth Century, as Christians began to clash with Northern European Druids, a bright evangelist recognized the similarity between the Druid Feast of Summer's End- Samhain- and the Communion of Saints, and so Hallowmas was born. It was another 600 years before the feast of All Saints finally removed the Druid death feasts, a remnant being trick-or-treating, which started with the Hallowmas tradition of groups of mourners going around begging soul cakes. The modern world has a peculiar problem with Catholicism. Few acknowledge that such a thing as “sin” exists. But an occult delight surges in many souls over the frequent aberrations of believers. The denial of sin is what the Communion of Saints is designed to combat- Hallowmas teaches us not only that sin exists- but that forgiveness for sin exists, and that we too (even kids!) can be inspired to lead holy lives regardless of our past sins. The Saints are torches sent by God to illuminate our dark world. How fitting that we celebrate Hallowmas at this time of the year, as the darkness grows and the days grow shorter! We must indeed pray that the Saints should Teach us what they know. Eventually, for some Catholics, even the history got lost and it began to appear that the pagans were co-opting OUR holiday. Even the liturgies of this time, whether the traditional Dies Irae Gregorian Chant or the later "Legimus in ecclesiasticis historiis" sermon are meant to make us one with the Saints- one with the dead- reminding us Tempus Fugit Memento Mori- Time Flies, Remember Death- that this life is short. It is for this reason that Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the real meaning behind Hallowmas is the mission of the Church- the salvation of souls. Not quite the blog posting I meant to write- and next year, I'll write a better one on my understanding of the Christianization of Pagan rituals. But quite a bit of information none the less.
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Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at http://outsidetheaustisticasylum.blogspot.com.