Sunday, November 2, 2008

Just Look

This article is taken, lock, stock, and barrel, from Edward Cardinal Egan's column of 23 October, 2008. While I haven't taken the time to get permission from him or Catholic New York Online, I trust they won't mind; if they do, a post in the combox will suffice to get me to cease and desist.

The picture on this page is an untouched photograph of a being that has been within its mother for 20 weeks. Please do me the favor of looking at it carefully.

Have you any doubt that it is a human being?

If you do not have any such doubt, have you any doubt that it is an innocent human being?

If you have no doubt about this either, have you any doubt that the authorities in a civilized society are duty—bound to protect this innocent human being if anyone were to wish to kill it?

If your answer to this last query is negative, that is, if you have no doubt that the authorities in a civilized society would be duty—bound to protect this innocent human being if someone were to wish to kill it, I would suggest—even insist—that there is not a lot more to be said about the issue of abortion in our society. It is wrong, and it cannot—must not—be tolerated.

But you might protest that all of this is too easy. Why, you might inquire, have I not delved into the opinion of philosophers and theologians about the matter? And even worse: Why have I not raised the usual questions about what a "human being" is, what a "person" is, what it means to be "living," and such? People who write books and articles about abortion always concern themselves with these kinds of things. Even the justices of the Supreme Court who gave us "Roe v. Wade" address them. Why do I neglect philosophers and theologians? Why do I not get into defining "human being," "person," "living," and the rest? Because, I respond, I am sound of mind and endowed with a fine set of eyes, into which I do not believe it is well to cast sand. I looked at the photograph, and I have no doubt about what I saw and what are the duties of a civilized society if what I saw is in danger of being killed by someone who wishes to kill it or, if you prefer, someone who "chooses" to kill it. In brief: I looked, and I know what I saw.

But what about the being that has been in its mother for only 15 weeks or only 10? Have you photographs of that too? Yes, I do. However, I hardly think it necessary to show them. For if we agree that the being in the photograph printed on this page is an innocent human being, you have no choice but to admit that it may not be legitimately killed even before 20 weeks unless you can indicate with scientific proof the point in the development of the being before which it was other than an innocent human being and, therefore, available to be legitimately killed. Nor have Aristotle, Aquinas or even the most brilliant embryologists of our era or any other era been able to do so. If there is a time when something less than a human being in a mother morphs into a human being, it is not a time that anyone has ever been able to identify, though many have made guesses. However, guesses are of no help. A man with a shotgun who decides to shoot a being that he believes may be a human being is properly hauled before a judge. And hopefully, the judge in question knows what a "human being" is and what the implications of someone's wishing to kill it are. The word "incarceration" comes to mind.

However, we must not stop here. The matter becomes even clearer and simpler if you obtain from the National Geographic Society two extraordinary DVDs. One is entitled "In the Womb" and illustrates in color and in motion the development of one innocent human being within its mother. The other is entitled "In the Womb—Multiples" and illustrates in color and in motion the development of two innocent human beings—twin boys—within their mother. If you have ever allowed yourself to wonder, for example, what "living" means, these two DVDs will be a great help. The one innocent human being squirms about, waves its arms, sucks its thumb, smiles broadly and even yawns; and the two innocent human beings do all of that and more: They fight each other. One gives his brother a kick, and the other responds with a sock to the jaw. If you can convince yourself that these beings are something other than innocent and living human beings (perhaps "mere clusters of tissues," as one national newsmagazine suggests), you have a problem far more basic than merely not appreciating the wrongness of abortion. And that problem is—forgive me—self—deceit in a most extreme form.

Adolf Hitler convinced himself and his subjects that Jews and homosexuals were other than human beings. Joseph Stalin did the same as regards Cossacks and Russian aristocrats. And this despite the fact that Hitler and his subjects had seen both Jews and homosexuals with their own eyes, and Stalin and his subjects had seen both Cossacks and Russian aristocrats with theirs. Happily, there are few today who would hesitate to condemn in the roundest terms the self—deceit of Hitler, Stalin or even their subjects to the extent that their subjects could have done something to end the madness and protect living, innocent human beings.

It is high time to stop pretending that we do not know what this nation of ours is allowing—and approving—with the killing each year of more than 1,600,000 innocent human beings within their mothers. We know full well that to kill what is clearly seen to be an innocent human being or what cannot be proved to be other than an innocent human being is as wrong as wrong gets. Nor can we honorably cover our shame (1) by appealing to the thoughts of Aristotle or Aquinas on the subject, inasmuch as we are all well aware that their understanding of matters embryological was hopelessly mistaken, (2) by suggesting that "killing" and "choosing to kill" are somehow distinct ethically, morally or criminally, (3) by feigning ignorance of the meaning of "human being," "person," "living," and such, (4) by maintaining that among the acts covered by the right to privacy is the act of killing an innocent human being, and (5) by claiming that the being within the mother is "part" of the mother, so as to sustain the oft—repeated slogan that a mother may kill or authorize the killing of the being within her "because she is free to do as she wishes with her own body."

One day, please God, when the stranglehold on public opinion in the United States has been released by the extremists for whom abortion is the center of their political and moral life, our nation will, in my judgment, look back on what we have been doing to innocent human beings within their mothers as a crime no less heinous than what was approved by the Supreme Court in the "Dred Scott Decision" in the 19th century, and no less heinous than what was perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin in the 20th. There is nothing at all complicated about the utter wrongness of abortion, and making it all seem complicated mitigates that wrongness not at all. On the contrary, it intensifies it.

Do me a favor. Look at the photograph again. Look and decide with honesty and decency what the Lord expects of you and me as the horror of "legalized" abortion continues to erode the honor of our nation. Look, and do not absolve yourself if you refuse to act.

Edward Cardinal Egan

Archbishop of New York

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Vital Issue

The foremost issue in every election is this: should the strong kill the weak?

I say, NO. I say that our government should always prohibit the strong from killing the weak. If the government fails to protect the lives of ANYONE within its jurisdiction, it has failed us all. It has diminished our humanity. If the government draws a line to separate one group, which can be killed legally, from the rest, then be assured that the government can move that line at any time, to include any other group in the list of who can be killed, for any reason or no reason at all.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they are brawnier than their victims, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they are angrier than their victims, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they have better weapons than their victims, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they outnumber their victims, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they have more money than their victims, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they have more votes than their victims, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are of the preferred race and their victims are not, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are given legal privileges that their victims are not, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they are healthy and their victims are not, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they are legally competent and their victims are not, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they are photogenic and their victims are not, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they have no genetic or developmental abnormalities and their victims do, the strong should not kill the weak.

It doesn't matter if the killers are strong because they have been born and their victims have not, the strong should not kill the weak.

Believe it or not, this is NOT a settled question at this time. In the previous century, numerous governments have adopted a variety of positions on the issue.

All governments have prohibited the strong from killing the weak in SOME cases. But that is not the full story.

Some governments have prohibited the strong from killing the weak in all cases.

Some governments have sometimes merely inhibited the strong from killing the weak.

Some governments have sometimes permitted the strong to kill the weak.

Some governments have sometimes aided the strong in killing the weak.

And some governments have actually REQUIRED the strong to kill the weak.

We are not yet to that last, here in these United States of America, but an Obama presidency could change that. He could easily sweep aside a doctor's right to refuse to perform abortions or even euthanasia on the basis of conscience by executive order. But have no doubt, we are required at times to help pay for abortions. Never mind that every federal dollar that goes to Planned Parenthood allows them to divert a dollar from a different source to abortion. Check the health care budgets of your state, county, and municipality.

And when you vote, remember that the most important issue is whether the government will prevent the strong from killing the weak.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Principles

The election nears. Early voting has been going on for a couple of weeks. I've been interested in politics for over a decade. And I'll admit it, my priorities have changed significantly since the last election.

The first principle of government is that it should protect our rights, particularly to life, liberty and property. I have believed this for over 15 years. I was certain that, in these United States, at least, the right to life was guaranteed and faced no political opposition. So, markets free of taxes, subsidies, guarantees, and regulations were what I was concerned about.

But between that day and this one, one of the Evangelical members of the online political/social disputation community (mentioned in the Obligatory Journey Post) complained about how Catholics worship the Blessed Virgin.

When I see so patently mistaken a position, I feel obligated to refute it. I was generally aware of the bases for the belief that Catholics worship Mary. So I explained that when we say Mary is "full of grace," we are careful to not say she is a source of grace, and that all grace, including hers, comes from God. I described prayer to Mary as a prayer request, and not worship. Then I went to explain her title, "Mother of God."

Let's look at the meaning of the word, "mother."

When a child is conceived of a given woman's oocyte (the technical term for what is often called an "egg cell"), then she is that child's mother. This describes Mary's relationship to Jesus; the Bible says that the Holy Spirit "caused her to conceive," not that it caused conception within her.

When a given woman carries a child through pregnancy and gives birth to that child, then she is that child's mother. In fact, in some jurisdictions, this takes precedence over the genetic relationship. And again, this describes Mary's relationship to Jesus.

When a given woman rears a child to adulthood, we often regard her as a surrogate mother or mother figure, regardless of whether the child is naturally hers or not. Again, this describes Mary's relationship to Jesus.

So, we should be able to agree that genetically, biologically, physiologically, and socially, Mary was Jesus' mother. Now, was there any part of the Incarnation for which Jesus was not God?

I knew that would shut him up. You cannot deny Christ's full and complete Godhood without denying salvation through Him.

It was probably the most important post I ever made there, because immediately after posing that question for my evangelical friend, another came to me: "Was there any part of the Incarnation for which Jesus was not human?"

You cannot deny Jesus' complete and full humanity without denying salvation through Him. And I could no longer regard abortion as merely a tragedy, but as a grave evil -- the intentional slaying of a human person.

If Jesus became human when He became a zygote, then so too did we. So too did all the zygotes put in freezers by IVF doctors. So too do all the zygotes to be cloned and sold like pork bellies for obscene profits and butchered in embryonic stem cell research so that we can grow tumors in lab rats and mice. So too are all the blastulae dumped out onto tampons and sanitary pads by the birth control pills that make it impossible for them to implant in the uterine endometrium. So too are all the embryoes poisoned and ejected by pharmaceutical abortafaecients, and those vacuumed out by curettage. So too are the foetuses ripped apart by D&E, and those that were stabbed in the head so that their brains could be vacuumed out, and the one shot to death in utero less than a month before it was due by its own mother.

I still say that the only reason that we should have government is that we may help each other secure our rights to life, liberty, and property. But of these, life alone cannot be restored once it is taken. This is why a government which does not act to secure the rights of us all -- born or unborn, in good health or terminally ill -- is not and can not be a legitimate government.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The End of Feminism

This post, on Catholic Exchange, is just chock full of interesting insights. The author, Genevieve Kineke, makes this point:

The National Organisation for Women (NOW) has tipped its hand in this debate since the success of Sarah Palin in the national arena. Truly, she seems to have embodied their long-standing mission statement, “Our purpose is to take action to bring women into full participation in society-sharing equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities with men, while living free from discrimination” This ripe claim worked as long as Hillary Clinton was in her ascendancy, but the reality of applying it to the Republican vice presidential nominee rankled NOW to its core, and their keyboards must have overheated.

The result was a hot new mission statement, parading down the feminist runway: “NOW works to end discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society, secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women.” This new creation — wobbling on shaky syntax and wrapped in a hasty cobbling of goals — nevertheless reveals the feminist view of men, who discriminate, impregnate and otherwise harass women as a matter of course.

In other words, modern feminism is not so much about freeing women as it is about hating men. Nor is she alone in this observation. Rush Limbaugh has been saying so for years. But I have to say that where he goes with this -- ridicule and mocking -- is counterproductive. Those women who hate men do so because they have been grievously hurt by them, and what they need is authentic Christian love.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Voting For Catholics

The USCCB has finally made it clear how a faithful Catholic decides where to cast his vote. One starts with these five issues:

embryonic stem cell research
human cloning

A Catholic is going to vote for the candidate who opposes all of these. If there is no such candidate, you vote for the one who will do the least harm on as many of these issues as possible. Only when there is no difference between the candidates on these five issues do you choose on the basis of ANY other issue.

It isn't rocket science, people. Read your candidates' websites and campaign literature. See who NARAL and HLI endorse.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


My view of the Rite of Reconciliation and the Blessed Sacrament is inverted from what I so often see practiced. I am eager to make use of the confessional and approach the Eucharist with fear and trembling.

The Divine Mercy is what most strongly shapes my attitude towards confession. If I am repentant, I will be forgiven, and my penance will be a means by which I can gain greater holiness and avoid further sin. I am always grateful for the unburdening of my soul.

The Blessed Sacrament is my Lord and my God! What person of sense does not approach the Almighty with fear and trembling? If I have any doubts that I might receive unworthily, then I will take a blessing and avoid eating and drinking judgement upon myself. It shocks me that Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, and Speaker Pelosi, can sin so grievously for so many years and still claim to be in communion with Him and His Church. I fear and pray for their souls, and all those like them.

Plans and Suffering

God has a plan. Sometimes, His plan is to let us fail. It accounts for those who choose spiritual wilderness and even damnation, though such is not His desire. He just loves us too much to impose His will upon us without our consent.

It was a Protestant preacher I first heard this from (I paraphrase): "The tool with which God shapes us into what He wants us to be is suffering." Look at those who are most thoroughly aware of God's blessings. They have gained that awareness through suffering. I certainly wouldn't be thankful for all the wonderful things in my life if my dad hadn't thrown me out of his house.

Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my favorite writers. This wisdom she put in the mouth of one of her characters (again, I have to paraphrase): "A test is a gift. It isn't so important whether you pass or fail. But if you refuse the test, you refuse the gift."

We don't know everything. We don't know why we suffer. But we ought to know our suffering has a purpose and that God's grace, goodness, and mercy are infinite. Remember who the fools and villains are in the book of Job -- the ones who told him things like "You have brought this on yourself" and "Curse God and die."

God knows what we need for our salvation. One of the challenges of a Christian life is to trust Him when it seems so far removed from our own desires.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Liberator Online

From Ask Dr. Ruwart in the Liberator Online

QUESTION: In a libertarian society where everything from housing, to health care, to education, to adoption is privatized, how would the minority population -- namely anyone not white, male, straight, and Christian -- be guaranteed equal rights?

For example, being a lesbian, I am afraid that a Catholic hospital (the only one for miles in my small town) will be allowed to deny me treatment, even for a broken bone, just because I'm gay. Personally, I'm of the opinion that if you can't be a doctor to everyone, maybe you should have chosen a different line of work.

MY SHORT ANSWER: Majority rule, which is more or less what we have now, ultimately translates into legalized minority persecution. For example, prior to the success of the civil rights movement, blacks in the U.S. were forbidden, by law, to marry whites, share facilities, patronize the same businesses, etc.

These laws were passed after the Civil War, precisely because blacks were beginning to marry with whites, share facilities, and patronize the same businesses. A few enlightened whites were demonstrating how all could live together peacefully.

Their example frightened the majority who quickly passed laws mandating discrimination. In a libertarian society, these laws could not have been passed because they forced people -- at gunpoint, if necessary -- to stop voluntarily associating. The only legitimate use of force in a libertarian society is self-defense.

Today, same-sex couples find themselves facing the same laws against intermarriage as blacks and whites once did. In a libertarian society, such laws wouldn't be possible. Marriage would be a private contract between two willing individuals who could set the terms to suit themselves.

Your concern, a legitimate one, is that some service providers -- for example, doctors or hospitals affiliated with some religious denominations -- might refuse to treat gay people in a libertarian society. Sadly, they might, even though Christ regularly healed those who did not live by society's norms and were therefore called "sinners."

However, in a libertarian society, we wouldn't have today's morass of medical regulations which limit the number of health care practitioners and facilities. Instead of a single hospital in your neighborhood, you'd likely have more and better facilities to choose from. Most would probably do their best to help anyone who walked through their doors.

Prejudice doesn't end by legal decree. Indeed, people become more resentful towards groups that they are forced to tolerate, associate with, or treat. Consequently, laws which seem to protect minorities often harm them instead.

You suggest that perhaps a doctor who won't treat everyone shouldn't be a doctor. But legalizing that opinion opens the door to legalizing others -- such as "if you aren't marrying to procreate, you shouldn't be allowed to wed." Where would that leave the gay community?

We want freedom of choice, but we don't want others to have it. We can only have freedom if we are willing to give it to others. Ironically, when we honor our neighbors' choices, they are much more likely to honor ours.

Dr. Ruwart, prudently, declines to suggest which religious denominations would require the hospitals affiliated with them to refuse treatment on the basis of same-sex attraction. Not me. I would expect this from Wahhabi Muslims.

Catholic hospitals exist to care for the sick. This is an act of corporal mercy which the Church expects all believers to extend to all who might obtain salvation -- which certainly includes the entire GLBT community. How could we expect to bring this woman to the light of Christ if we do not exemplify His love?

Now, if she wanted a Catholic hospital in a libertarian society to hire her, or provide her with any sort of reproductive therapy outside of a natural marriage, then she would should expect be disappointed. In a libertarian society, nobody would be trying to prevent Catholics from being Catholic.

Dr. Ruwart also declines to comment on the public-good aspect of natural marriage. There is significant public good in children growing up in a natural family, all of them with the same mother and father (and only one of each), all living together. Because this IS a public good, it ought to be encouraged, even by the State. The same cannot be said of any other family structure.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Population Control

Population control and eugenics are inseparable. They are two sides of the same coin. If you want to breed people like sheep, you must be able to control who reproduces and who does not. If you wish to limit population growth, somebody must decide who breeds and who doesn't. There is no escaping the truth of these statements. You can try to hide their truth, but they remain true and their truth will describe what is actually done when anyone seeks to implement population control and eugenics, regardless of which of the two goals actually motivates them.

Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler both sought eugenics. (See The Truth About Margaret Sanger.) Hitler sought to use guns to eliminate those he didn't think should breed. Margaret Sanger preferred the Big Lie to convince them not to breed, and to get them to pay her and Planned Parenthood to keep them from so doing. Otherwise, their evils are comparable.

"The campaign for birth control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical with the final aims of eugenics."
Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

Monday, June 30, 2008

Stone Soup

While reading sinfest, I ran across a google ad link to the Stone Soup Unitarian Universalism blog. If I've ever seen a better simile for Unitarian Universalism than stone soup, I can't remember when. Basically, it's about starting with nothing of your own, accepting whatever other have that seems good to you, and just adding to the mix until you like what you've got.

But it's not Christianity. It completely ignores St. Paul's commandment to "Test everything, [and] hold on to the good." (1 Th 5:21)

God has not left us on our own. As I've said before, God has made sure we have continuing guidance from Him.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Salvation for ET?

Sr. Mary Martha has her own post on this. The ruminations it spawned are just waaay to big for her combox, so instead I'm posting a link to this, once I have it up.

EDIT: If you prefer my take on this to John C. Wright's, what's wrong with you?

Being the devotee of science fiction that I am, I've given thought as to whether aliens would have human rights. The reason humans have rights is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. At least one SF author suggested this means humanoid form (i.e., bipedal, two upper limbs for manipulation, binocular vision, etc), but I don't buy that, because God, both as Father and Spirit, has no form whatsoever. So what does "image and likeness of God" mean?

Well, what are the most significant things we have in common with God?

God is Love. By this, I mean that He wills and seeks the greatest possible good for His beloved. We love in this manner also, and it's considered a very serious defect when a human is not able to love. So aliens, to have human rights, ought to be able to love, and hopefully they normally would love.

God is creative. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Certainly we echo this aspect of His being, and create things all the time. It is this particular lack that convinces me that cetacea are not human, and don't have human rights: they do not create.

And finally, God is rational. He never contradicts Himself. Reason is a means of learning the truth, and it is a gift from God. Far too much of our doctrine is arrived at by reason for us to discard it as not from Him. An alien race not able to use reason would not have human rights. I think that this would include language; if you can't communicate, or think symbolically, I don't think you can reason.

The next question that any Christian would have to ask once he discovered another race made in the image and likeness of God would be, "Do they need salvation?"

Do they sin? We misused our freedom to disobey God, and are still suffering the consequences. They might have never made such a mistake, and might even avoid following our example once they meet us.

If they do sin, has God have provided a savior for them? Or, was Jesus' sacrifice enough for only Earth, or for all of Creation? The former suggests its insufficiency; the latter imposes some really intense problems in travel and communications technology for us to overcome. Both do sort of suggest that the entire universe does exist for us. THAT is reason for some profound gratitude, as God had no need for us or any of the rest of it. It is not waste, however; God has no limits on His resources, after all. He could have even made the infinite multiverses that atheists propose entirely without any evidence beyond the need for more time for a universe so improbable as to support human life to arise.

Regardless, it's only a matter for idle speculation until such time as we meet such extraterrestrials -- if we ever do.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Art of Manliness

I just discovered the Art of Manliness; salute goes to Jay Anderson of Pro Ecclesia. I have barely scratched its surface and already added it to my blogroll and bookmarks. It is a delightful antidote to the sort of PC stupidity that is currently held up as better than manliness, as well as the immature oafishness exemplified by the pornographic culture. Even more so than Waiter Rant or Ask Sister Mary Martha, I am motivated to read everything posted there. It's that good; everything about manliness I hope to promote by my (occasional) focus on heroism is promoted in nearly every aspect of life there. And it is my guess that the vast majority of women would love to have the sort of man that the good men at the Art of Manliness hope to help us become.

Cognitive Dissonance in the Black Community

Which is worse: this, or this? Which gets more attention? Which gets more media play? Which is the huge concern of the Democratic Party? Why do all those portrayed as friends and political allies of the Black community worry so much more about the former than the latter? And why does the Black community let them get away with it?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On Serving (because it's annoying me)

I've been reading Waiter Rant, a blog written by an anonymous fine dining waiter in New York. He's an excellent writer, if regularly more spicy with the language than is family-friendly. It's easiest to start at the beginning and click forward through his 430+ posts one at a time.

Part of the reason I enjoy the blog so much is that the Waiter is a very good writer. But part of it is also because I can relate. I waited tables for a half-dozen or so years. And as a result of reading all that the Waiter had to say, bunches of things have been burbling through my mind while I'm at work, relating to a job I haven't held for six or seven years.

Working for Tips:

I'm of the opinion that those service professionals who work for tips prefer it to a fixed wage. I certainly did. I wasn't a fabulous waiter, but I was fairly good and I did enjoy it. There is satisfaction in knowing you are helping others have a better time, in knowing you are doing a good job, in being a sales professional, and in knowing you have earned the money you've made.

The whole point of working for tips is this: it gives the service pro a direct and powerful incentive to put his patron's wishes first. This is good business sense for both the server and the owners. Any business does best by developing continuing relationships with loyal customers. Such relationships are made by providing good service and good products. Putting the server's compensation directly in the hands of those they serve makes it far more likely that the server will seek to provide good service.

The reason that good service deserves a 20% tip in fine dining restaurants is that the server is required to tip the barkeep and the bussers, and sometimes the hostess and the cooks, for at least 5% of his sales, regardless of what you leave for him. I worked in family restaurants with no bars, so for me that wasn't an issue and 15% was regarded as a solid tip, but in many other places that's not how it will be.

Evangelizing servers:

I have a deep Christian faith, and I laud anyone who is trying to win souls for Christ. I have never, ever seen a tract left for the server do so. I understand your mindset; what could be better for your server than salvation and resting eternally in the Beatific Vision? But it fails because you are leaving two witnesses, which are contradictory.

On the one hand, the tract tells the server, "I love you and want the most wonderful of things to happen for you!" Yet every tract I've ever seen left for a server has always come with either a stingy tip or no tip at all. And so the witness of the tract is contradicted by the witness of the tip.

With a stingy tip, you tell your server these things:
  • I do not value your work, no matter how sasisfying you find it to help people enjoy the blessings of God's creation.
  • I do not value your service, no matter what Jesus said about how his followers should become servants.
  • I do not value you, either.
  • It is stinginess that is next to Godliness, not generousity.
With that witness, you give scandal. You lead your server to the sin of holding Christ and His followers in contempt. You give your server reason to think that Christians are all sanctimonious hypocrites who can mouth prayers one minute, treat others badly the next, and never feel a twinge of conscience. You convince him that Christians are not known by their love. I do not know a single service professional who would not rather serve a generous pimp than a stingy preacher.

Sometimes, the tract is printed to resemble a large, folded bill. That is infuriating enough, but such tracts nearly always chide the server for wanting money, as if the worker was not worthy of his wage! It adds insult to injury.

If you truly wish to have the witness of your tract bear fruit, make sure that your generousity to those not saved shows in your tip.

Advice to Servers:

You're actually a sales professional. As such, it behooves you to not antagonize those whom you depend upon to provide your product and serve your patrons. This particularly includes everyone in the back of the house.

One thing you can do to reduce friction is to remember this: if your patron asks, all annoyed, "Why is it taking so long?", they do not care why their food is taking so long. What they really want to know, and what you should ask the cook, is this: "Table X wants to know, how long for their food?" With that information, you can tell your table what they really want to know, which is when they will eat. Patrons get be much less stressed when you calmly tell them, "We are having some difficulties in the kitchen, and I am sorry, but you should have your food in X minutes."

I would help the cooks any way I could if they were in trouble.

I avoided cussing. There was a cook I worked with, and he used foul language like punctuation in ordinary conversation, and most of us couldn't tell when the cussing went from punctuation to expressions of frustration. On the other hand, I had merely to snarl, "Dog's blood!" and two or three of my coworkers asked me what help I needed.

Finally, a sales professional gets wealthy by developing and cutlivating a regular clientele. Your goal is to wow your customers with such fabulous service that they return often, ask for your section, and tip heavily each and every time. Some customers will never be generous, no matter how good you are. As long as they aren't making things bad for other patrons, consider being as good to them as you can, as an expression of Christian charity or an act of penance.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Testing for God

Jennifer F. has been taking part in a series of interviews on The Cynical Christian. In the second interview, she laments the lack of logical proofs used to evangelize atheists, but also says that she doesn't think that there is much anyone can say to convince an atheist. In this post she speaks more about effective witness, and how it is more important to live a life of charity than to marshal effective arguments.

I would say, rather, that no argument from reason will be convincing if not made with love. But if your heart and life are conformed to Christ, you might suggest one of the Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, in this case, "God, Prove to me that you exist."

Here is how I think it ought to be set up: "You're a person of reason, right? So among other things, you have to admit that you don't know everything and could be wrong, and you want to know the truth, no matter what it is, right? You've asked me to prove God's existence to you, and you're right, that I can't. But God can.

"Well, let's presume that the God that the Catholic Church proclaims is real. That is, He loves us all without limit or exception, knows everything, can do whatever He wants, and made us to know Him as well as we are able, and love Him as much as we can. Now, if all of those things are true, you can test for His existence.

"Silently, within the vaults of your mind, say to Him, 'God, I've heard the claims that the Catholic Church has made about you, and I don't believe it. It's utterly ridiculous. Prove to me that I am wrong.'

"Now, if He does not do this for an honest seeker of the truth, it means one or more of the following things:
  • He doesn't care.
  • He doesn't know.
  • He can't prove it.
  • He doesn't exist.
  • Or, the seeker doesn't really want Him to prove His existence to you.
"If you have been proclaiming with complete certainty God's non-existence for years, my money would be on the last one. See, to be sincere in such a request, you would have to overcome years of certainty of non-existance and approach the test with the expectation that you could be wrong. And if He loves you without limit, that means He would not compel you to believe without your consent. Further, if He is omniscient and omnipotent, there's no reason to think that He would provide you with a proof to convince everyone, but rather only you. It's not like doing so would be a strain on His resources, and He ought to provide you with a proof that cannot be used to compel belief in others."

If this test would be convincing, it would be from God's work, and not my own.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Because It's Annoying Me

A short and random list of television shows I just can't wait to miss.
  • Nip/Tuck
  • Rescue Me
  • Dirt
  • Dexter
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • The Jerry Springer Show
  • Weeds
  • The Tudors
  • Queer As Folk
  • The Shield
How about that ... I think I've included every single F/X Original Series I know of.

I would like to miss Charmed, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Smallville a lot more than I do, but I rarely get to choose what is on the telly. If I did, it would nearly always be "Nothing."

The Blegroll!

Many of you may be familiar with the term, "blegging," which refers to the practice of putting a paypal donation button on one's blog. It's generally regarded as something like a busker putting out a bowl or leaving open his instrument case so that appreciative passers-by can leave tips.

I have avoided the practice. I write this blog with the intention of educating people and converting them to my opinions. I've already made my material public domain, with no effort to protect it in any way (see the sidebar piece labeled "Licensing and Attribution"). Blegging has always seemed a bit too much like self-promotion.

Anyway, my talents and skills are by God's grace, and for God's service. While I may be poor by US standards, I want for little if anything. On the other hand, my conscience has been nagging me for years about tithing. Certainly I am not able to help all the causes, missions, apostolates, and so forth that I think are deserving of money.

But I can encourage you to do so. Hence, the Blegroll, which shall be a series of links (using images if I can find them) for any worthy causes which come to my attention. Please give generously!

edit: If you know of anyone else who deserves our money, is a good steward, and will use it for God's work, let me know in the comments.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Regarding Art

Jennifer F. has written yet another fabulous post; this one regards the purpose of art and the nature that it has when its form follows its true function. Read and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Up the Revolution!

Today is Tax Day, the day most likely to spark a new American revolution. I shall be brief: the difference between taxes and extortion is this: one involves being threatened by armed men when you don't give up your money. The other is illegal.

Check out Tom Purcell's tax day column!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

International Treaties

Once upon a time, I wrote an essay conveying my concerns about how treaties that give legislative authority to extranational bodies were a grave threat to our sovreignity; the Constitution makes a ratified treaty superior to all other laws of the land. I had fretted that this could authorize the UN (or worse, a committee of appointees) power to legislate for us, and supersede our government in so doing. I had imagined that we needed a constitutional amendment to require ratification of every act of a body given authority over us by treaty. Fortunately, I was wrong. Today on Catholic Exchange, I found this:

As the treaty provision at issue was not "self-executing" — in other words, it did not become automatically binding upon ratification by Congress — it could not bind states without further Congressional action. The U.S. Constitution requires action by the legislative, not the executive, branch to transform a non-self-executing treaty obligation into domestic law.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mafia Discourse and the Church Militant

This post is going to ramble. Once again, I've seen a number of things online that just seem to tie together.

This article was on the front page of Catholic Exchange today; in it, Dr. Stanley Williams takes Sean Hannity to task for his use of what Eric Scheske once called "mafia discourse tactics" (and on Fr. Thomas Eutener, at that)! It seems to me that all too often, such tactics are used to avoid the truth.

Then I found a link to this post by Adoro te Devote. She goes on at length about what it means to be a confirmed Catholic -- it means we've volunteered to be part of the Church Militant, to go into spiritual and rhetorical battle to defend and promote the Faith. But she also expounds on the way we are to do this: with caritas. St Paul tells us that without caritas, all other gifts of the Spirit are nothing.

I don't mean to suggest that there is no place for all-out warfare. There are cases where our opponents clearly intend nothing less than our complete destruction, and doing whatever it takes to stop them is called for by the Church. (The Caveman makes the case for executions here, and provides an example of when warfare is so justified.) But such cases are rare. I think the Church is better served by initially giving others the benefit of the doubt, and not presuming hostility before it has been demonstrated.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More blogrollin'

Catholic Analysis has just joined both my personal blogroll and my recommended blogs, on the strength of this post. In truth, what gets me is not the point that Mr. Sorbino is trying to make (which is valid, in my opinion), but the strength and versatility of the image he uses to make it.

It's a very blunt image, and he makes apologies beforehand to the squeamish. This seems prudent to me, by the way; as I am about to use this image,

I suggest strongly that the squeamish stop reading.

The point Mr. Sorbino is making is that contracepted sex does not consummate a marriage. But the image he uses is this: a woman using contraception turns herself into a condom: a disposable thing which, once used for pleasure, becomes a piece of waste. So too do all who engage in sterile sex.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Try to Not Faint

Yes, unprecedented output from yours truly: three posts in one day. I've selected a new template, as you can no doubt see. There's just ONE problem: in too many places, type is rendered in ALL CAPS. That is just really annoying to me, and I can't figure out what to change to fix it. Any help in this matter would be most appreciated. Post it to the comment box or email me: arkanabar at lycos dot com (be sure to put "your site" in the subject of the email so I can tell it isn't spam.)

Too Funny to Not Post

So the Whapsters have posted a bunch of Catholic-specific two cows jokes. I've compiled them here, along with those from their comment box. I was laughing myself silly, reading these.

Franciscan: You have two cows. Moved by the beauty of sister cow, you unleash them. Your ensuing lack of milk allows you to glory in the poverty of Christ.

Capuchins: You have the two cows unleashed by the Franciscans. Your proprietorship of the cows proves that you are closer to the spirit of St. Francis. You put long hoods on your cows.

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal: You have two cows. They are grey, more like the cows St. Francis owned. You write a rap somehow rhyming "lactation" with "transubstantiation." It's cool.

Carmelite: By concession of Pope Innocent IV, you have two cows. You don’t eat them between Sept. 14 and Easter.

Discalced Carmelite: You have two cows. You feed them by arduously dragging hay to their trough, but then you deliver it by truck. Ultimately, abundant hay falls effortlessly from the sky.

Benedictine: You have two cows. You use one to preserve the art of animal husbandry for all time. You kill the other and make intricate, colored markings on its hide.

Dominican: You have two cows. You feel as if you should share one with the Franciscans, but can’t bring yourself to trust them with it.

Dominican, ver 2: You had two cows. Then you had a good meal. Now you have a new book written on vellum.

I also looked in my Dominican library, and found Aquinas' work:

Summa Taurologica: (De Res)

Article 1: Whether the bovine essence is always expressed as two individuated cows?

Objection one: The Musician often asked for "more cowbell." Yet he does not ever ask for more than one cowbell. Therefore bovinity is expressed in one individuated being.

Objection two: The Announcer argued at every game that there was a "Holy Cow!" This is because cowness is sufficient in itself and does not need multiplicity.

Objection three: The Boy also argues that one should "Not have a cow." We witness again the singularity of bovinity.

Sed contra: The Prophet Amos warns us: "Listen, you fat cows of Bashan!" (Amos 4:1). He argues in the plural, thus speaking to more than one.

I argue that, while bovinity can indeed be expressed in an individuated essence, the true completeness of the bovine is best expressed in two cows: namely, an older cow for milk and all your regular carnivore expressions of butcher cuts, and a young cow for veal. Thus, the perfection of the cow is best expressed in two individuated cows, yet each cow contains the essence of cowness, or the potential for succulence.

Reply to objection one: This is because there was only one musician worthy of the skill of playing the cowbell in the band at any one time. If a trio of skilled cowbell musicians were assembled, we'd have more cowbells.

Reply to objection two: Although the Holy Cow is one, it covers a multiplicity of events on the diamond, from a home run to a triple play, so analogically, we could argue for different cows, expressed equivocally in the word "cow."

Reply to objection three: The Boy is speaking metaphorically.

Cistercian: You have a more extraordinary method of procuring milk.

Carthusian: You should have two cows, but they never made it to the Grand Chartreuse as they kept mixing up the difference between "Cistercian" and "Carthusian."

Carthusian, ver. 2: You have two cows. Each has its own little barn. They moo only on Sundays, between 3.00pm and 5.00pm.

Trappist: You have two cows. You do not appreciate their mooing, yet require their milk to craft high quality fudge. You assign them to a novice.

Society of Jesus: You have two cows, but everyone from Louis XIV to Pastor Luke at 1st Community Baptist believe you control the cattle industry. Admittedly, you founded many farms in the bovine tradition, but struggle with what bovinity means in the 21st century.

The De LaSalle Christian Brothers: You have two cows. You sought them out and adopted them after the Jesuits threw them out of their educational field. Ideally, the cows will realize their milk is a gift from God, and their vocation is to share that milk with others for the common good of society.

Opus Dei: You have two donkeys, and tend to them very carefully. You never admit that you engage in this work, but are delighted to meet other covert donkey owners.

Opus Dei, ver. 2: You have two cows. You put one cow in a barn, the walls of which you decorate with pictures of the cow's father and its other ancestors. You send the other cow on the street and tell it to try to "blend in". The second cow comes back to the barn every week in order to get milked by the first cow.

Communion and Liberation: You have two cows, and bring them to huge annual gatherings. You speak to them only in the present tense.

St. Egidio: You gather two cows together in a very old barn and reflect on Scripture. Other cows begin to come, too. You sell their milk for third world debt relief.

Augustinian: Posthumously, two cows claim you as their owner. One of them burns down the northern half of the barnyard.

Salesian: You have no cows, but work to improve the welfare of calves orphaned by factory farming. You are a visionary when it comes to cattle futures.

Salesian, ver. 2: You have two cows. You teach them to stop swearing and to juggle. In turn, they find more cows, teach them to stop swearing and to juggle, then bring them back to you so you can share the love of Christ with all the cows and their calves.

Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP): You have two cows. While acknowledging the legitimacy of modern farming methods, you prefer your own cows to develop organically.

Mercedarian: You had two cows. Long ago they were captured by infidels. They began to convert to avoid being made into shawarma. A ransom consisting of coins and a few novices was sent and the cows came back. Nowadays you teach their descendants.

Society of St. Pius X: You have two cows. You raise them precisely according to USDA standards, c. 1950. One cow denies that the USDA exists and runs off to take care of itself.

CMRI: There have been no true cows since 1958.

Sede vacantist: You have a cow and an ass. You dress the ass as a cow, and proclaim him as the only true cow. You spend the rest of your time insulting your cow.

Knights of Columbus: You have two cows. You teach your cows the secret handshake and they carry prolife sandwich boards at the next march. Later, they will be popular at the annual barbecue.

Norbertine (Premonstratensian, or "White Canon): You have two cows. You and all your confreres refer to them as "kine." You are baffled when other people have no idea what you are talking about.

Neocatechumenal Way - you have two cows that you nurture to a very high degree, then you send them to missionary barns in foreign countries.

Oratorian: You have two cows. You stand them up in a field and tip them over periodically.

Knights Templar: You have two cows. Forward the bovinary!!

Knights of the Garter: You have two cows, of such surpassing beauty, pomp, and elite grace as have never been seen before. All other cows aspire to belong in this herd.

Knights Hospitaler: You have two cows, which are the only source of food for holy pilgrims. Prepare to defend them from the surrounding envious infidels.

Knights of the Swan: You have two cows. They are almost but not quite as beautiful and gracious as those of the Knights of the Garter. They are unfortunately not waterproof...

Usus Antiquior fans: You have a bos taurus. You have two of it. Their barn is facing east. You must light six candles (maybe seven!) when you milk them.

Holy Cross: You have two cows. One of them was recruited by the farms Michigan and Penn State run, but stuck with you because he wanted a high-quality education. The other is planning to go to Uganda after spending a few years at your farm in order to spread the message and spirit of your farm to less fortunate cows.

Congregatio a Sancta Cruce: You see two cows. You work on their footwork and put them on the offensive line.

Legionaries of Christ: You have two cows. You groom them meticulously and feature them in glossy publications to attract more cows to your farm. And don't you say anything bad about the farm's founder.

Catholic Worker: You don't have two cows. And even if you did, you wouldn't consider them yours.

Womenpriests International: You have two bulls. You have a ceremony on a boat and tell everyone that they're really cows now. No milk, but plenty of bull....

"Spirit of Vatican II": You are two cows. One strums a guitar while the other shakes a tambourine. Rearrange the pews.

Death and the Eucharist

From Lifesite News:
[Francis Cardinal] Arinze said that he is regularly asked if a person who votes for abortion can receive Holy Communion. He replies, "Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?

"Get the children for first Communion and say to them, 'Somebody votes for the killing of unborn babies, and says, I voted for that, I will vote for that every time.' And these babies are killed not one or two, but in millions, and that person says, 'I'm a practising Catholic', should that person receive Communion next Sunday? The children will answer that at the drop of a hat. You don't need a cardinal to answer that."

Indeed, it's so obvious that any child can answer it. It takes a self-deluding, self-appointed alternate magisterium, "I am my own personal Pope" type of pride to deny that such a person has abandoned Christ and His teachings.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Paying to Starve the Poor

I've regarded biofuel subsidies as malignant and evil for months, perhaps even a year. Biofuel producers aren't really capable of making a profit, unless they're given half or more of the money they use to buy their corn, and that money is taken from the public treasury. Because it's not their money, they're willing to bid the prices for these things way up. Not only was this driving up the price of tortillas, cornbread, and dog food, but also eggs and dairy products, and to a lesser extent beef and chicken, because those farmers depend on corn to feed their livestock.

But I had no idea, until I read this column by David Warren (whose commentary I highly recommend), just how much misery and evil we were creating. We can look at the food riots in Egypt, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Mexico, and food rationing in Pakistan and China, and proudly proclaim, "This is our tax dollars at work."

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I can at times get inured to the horror and evil of abortion. And then I'm noodling around on Catholic Exchange, and find a link to Men and Abortion. And right on the front page was this video by Flipsyde:

I wept. The Piper brings home, most poignantly, the loss of fatherhood that comes with an abortion. I thank God I never advocated an abortion to anyone, even when I was too self-blinded to see it for the homicide that it is.

Still, I was reminded of another video that made the rounds of St. Blog's last year.

Mes Aïeux - Dégénération

It was the distinctly pro-life second verse that got people's attention. I had just enough French left over from high school to follow the lyrics in the original with the help of the subtitles. That brought home to me just how weak the translation was. It is highly accurate, but the prose used sucks all the impact out of the original language. It was a crying shame. So, fancying myself a bit of a wordsmith, I created English lyrics for the second verse, based on the French, but not directly translated from it. Don't ask me why, but they work better if a French accent is used.
Your great-great-grandmother, she had fourteen enfants/

Your great-grandmother, she had about the same amount/

Your grandmother had three, and found that sufficient/

Your mother just had you, and you were an accident/

And as for you my girl, you go from man to man/

And when things go wrong, you get an abortion/

Sometimes you wake in tears, and cry until the dawn/

On nights you'd dreamt of home, all full of your children....

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Academic Freedom

I found a link to this movie on, where I was reading some of the Western Confucian's essays. While it may or may not be as biased as any of Michael Moore's so-called "documentaries," it surely deserves as much attention. I hope it gets it.

In it, Ben Stein records his investigation of the Intelligent Design movement. He makes the claim that their work is suppressed on the basis of the conclusions they reach instead of their data or methodology. The trailer does not make the case, but then, it isn't supposed to; it's supposed to get people to go see the film.

If Mr. Stein is correct, I think that's unfortunate, though hardly surprising. Every subsidy given to academics has had the net effect of making them beholden to government, and government is always far more likely to be freedom's enemy than its guardian. And from my own knowledge, admittedly mostly anecdotal, nearly every academic discipline has its own acceptable orthodoxy and tolerates no dissent outside of narrow variations.

In his novel Bug Park, hard science fiction author James P. Hogan asserts, through one of his characters, that such orthodoxies only truly die when most or all of their adherents do, and that science is stifled greatly thereby. It wouldn't surprise me if Hogan is correct, and that Mr. Stein is merely finding another example of it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Proof I'm a Nerd AND a Geek

I have just classed John Woo with the Marx Brothers for command of utterly absurd humor.

As that deserves just a bit of explanation, Mission: Impossible 2 is on the telly, and I'm watching Ethan Hunt (the Tom Cruise character) violate the laws of dynamics and probability, and laughing because it's so silly.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Spiritual malaise

One of the most powerful things about the Internet and hypertext markup language is how easy it becomes to connect things.

Like many and perhaps most libertarians, I loathe the War on Drugs (one of several Wars On Rights our government is waging). I find it impossible to credit the idea that making marijuana, opiates, and cocaine illegal has done more good than harm. Criminalizing has had a neglible impact on demand, but has made satisfying that demand so profitable (by driving up the price) that the market can bear even the expenses associated with the businesses all being run by criminals, many of them drug-addled.

Ann Landers once asked a very perceptive question regarding the War on Drugs: "The real question is why are millions of people so unhappy, so bored, so unfulfilled, that they are willing to drink, snort, inject or inhale any substance that might blot out reality and give them a bit of temporary relief." And people do this regardless of the facts that the risks are just about unreal, and the primary result of indulging in recreational pharmacology is to make you stupid. I've been sort of asking myself this question for years, long before my reversion to mere Christianity or to the Catholic Church. As a libertarian, I tended to blame the lack of liberty.

I ought to have known better. The minimal and anecdotal evidence I have doesn't much support that; the US and Europe have unusually high levels of liberty, compared to much of the world, but as far as I know, they are also where people most often seek obliviation through drugs.

And then I ran across this post, by Jennifer F. Here's the pertinent bit, where she describes the feelings brought on by victory and triumph back when she was an atheist:
I'd forgotten about this until now, but up until a few years ago, almost every time something exciting or good happened I would feel a tinge of depression. No matter how great or exciting the situation, for some reason I could never quite feel fully happy about it. Just as my happiness would be about to reach a crescendo, something would make it fall flat, like when a singer just barely misses the high note. I didn't generally struggle with depression in this time in my life; it was just that for some odd reason whenever something particularly good occurred, it would trigger a vague sensation of despair somewhere deep down inside. I didn't understand why this happened, but my best guess was that maybe I had some problem with not feeling like I deserved good things, or that I had some issue with depression that I wasn't acknowledging.

Though those two things may have been factors, I don't think they were at the root of the problem. Thinking back on it today, it's clear that something else, a very real, inconvenient truth was there in the back of my mind when I got that promotion, deposited the big paycheck, bought the cool car, moved into the downtown loft, got that amazing Christmas present, traveled to the interesting places, went to the hip parties, landed a big client: this is as good as it gets...but it's not quite good enough.

The fun wasn't fun enough, the luxuries weren't luxurious enough, the excitement wasn't exciting enough to completely smother out that part of my soul that begged for something more. It wasn't that I wasn't grateful -- to the contrary, I regularly felt overwhelmed with gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life -- it's that there was a subtle but present sense of despair that these things weren't doing what they were supposed to do. I was kind of happy. But why wasn't I fully happy, why wasn't I completely at peace, why was I still a little bit restless, even when I technically had it all?
That's when it hit me square between the eyes: that Godless life she described lined up with Thoreau's description of lives lived in quiet desperation. People are turning to drugs because turning to themselves and their things, as our culture advocates, cannot satisfy. Western culture has turned to drugs in proportion to how far it has turned from God, in an ultimately fruitless attempt to fill the enormous God-shaped holes left in our lives by our unbelief.

So I am left with this conclusion: Rampant drug abuse is a scourge, to be sure. The War on Drugs is an even worse one. Because it's always best to fight evil as early and often as possible, the thing to do about them now is to evangelize.

To repeat the concluding paragraph of my first post on this blog:
One of the themes you will see me revisit, time and again, is the sincere belief that great evils are only rarely defeated by force and laws. Force and laws can resist evil, and that is the proper use of them. But evils, be they terrorism, violence, abortion, pornography, drugs, or what have you, are only suppressed by force and laws. They are defeated only when evil hearts are transformed by love.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Inflation Tax

Today, the federal government burdens us with one of the most dangerous taxes it can impose — the inflation tax. When the federal government finds that it cannot afford its out-of-control spending, and is unwilling to directly tax the public, it resorts simply to creating the money out of thin air.

Inflating the money supply is the easiest form of financing the government. The Federal Reserve, an unelected and unaccountable private organization, pumps more dollars into the economy whenever it chooses. Because the public is forced to accept these bills, the Fed essentially gets away with legally counterfeiting. We cannot possibly expect the government to control spending when it has a blank checkbook.

This greatly benefits the politicians and special interests — they are able to finance the massive welfare-warfare state. But how does this inflation affect you?

Basic economics tells us that the more there is of a good, the less valuable it becomes. This is also true of money. The dollar is worth four cents of what it was when the Federal Reserve was created in 1913.

Day by day, every dollar you have is being devalued. You pay an inflation tax without even realizing it because you are forced by a falling dollar to pay more for goods and services....

I keep some similar items in my quotes file:
"Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist system was to debauch the currency." -- John Maynard Keynes, THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE PEACE

"By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens... The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose." -- John Maynard Keynes, English economist and board member of the Bank of England

I've said before that public goods are very few and far between. Government control of currency is NOT one of them, any more than government control of telecommunications, news media, the water supply, education, health care, or roads. (Now there's a big stack of rants I must remember to do some time.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

I've been tagged!

There's a first time for everything. This is the first time I've been tagged. I checked to see who'd linked me, and up popped Shakespeare's Cobbler, one of the more regular combox commenters. The meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

I keep very few books within close reach. I decided to not count the ebooks I keep on my HD, since not all of them are paged, and it wouldn't really be possible to say which was "closest." Having finished "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," it's now over on my roomate's desk. Most of my other books are not in my home, but for a few that I don't keep within arm's reach.

The closest bound codex type book is one of two references I keep at hand for online discussions regarding the faith and the Church: Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, revided in accordance with the official Latin text promulgated by Pope John Paul II. Page 123, sentences 5-7 are in paragraph 489.
By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age. 129 Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women. 130 Mary "stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him.

And I used to read novels and fiction voraciously. These days, other things are much more important.

Who to tag? I am not going to impose anything on anyone. Whoever feels like it can say so in the combox, and I'll put up a link here.