do the math

President Obama's stimulus bill cost $787 billion and it created 30,000 new jobs (according to the government) or (according to the Associated Press) 25,000.


the decline of the newspaper

Permit me, however, to add another factor. Many American newspapers in the course of the last century developed a stultifying self-importance. Hegel, who as far as I know is the first philosopher to edit a newspaper, was present at this attitude's birth. In his diary he wrote: "Reading the morning newspaper is the realist's morning prayer." To Hegel, in other words, the daily paper represents the ascent from superstitious faith in God to realistic faith in science and history. The newspaper's account of world events is the first draft of true scripture, showing God's will at work turning Earth into rational heaven.

But have you tried reading the heavenly editorial pages of, oh, the San Francisco Chronicle or the New York Times? It's impossible, at least if you value lively writing, humor, and sharp thinking. Everything is ex cathedra, written with a drear infallibility far surpassing any pope's. A kindred smugness—Rather is its public face—often grips the news pages, leavened only by the irony oozing from the lifestyle and entertainment reporting. And how few papers retain any sense of local character, most of which has been sacrificed to Hegel's God of universal wisdom, known in the business as the journalism schools and wire services. The only sections responding to the natural limits of human affection and knowledge are the business and sports pages. The latter are superior because they invite readers to share in the athletes' beautiful, unironic, and unashamedly partisan (Go Dodgers!) quest for excellence.
- Charles Kesler in the Claremont Review



Blackadder says:
Let me make an analogy. Why is it that Democrats prefer cap and trade to a carbon tax? Both have the effect of reducing emissions (to the extent that they do) by making things like fuel more expensive. Yet in the latter case, it is clearly government that is responsible for the price increases, whereas in the former case private businesses are the ones who are raising prices, even if the ultimate reason they are doing so is because of the cap and trade scheme. So Democrats prefer cap and trade to a carbon tax because it makes it easier to shift the blame for the policy’s consequences away from themselves.

It’s the same with health care. If premiums skyrocket after the health care bill passes, it won’t be because the government made them go up. No, the insurance companies will be the ones increasing prices. And Democrats can argue that they would not have been able to do so if they had faced competition from a public option, etc.


health care reform and abortion

News from the King's county:
WASHINGTON (AP) - House Democrats are at an impasse over whether their remake of the nation's health care system would effectively allow federal funding of abortion.

At least two dozen anti-abortion Democrats believe it would, and while their opposition is unlikely to stall the legislation in the end, they are at odds with Democratic leaders just weeks ahead of anticipated floor action on the bill.

Lawmakers on the other side say they've compromised as far as they can to address the anti-abortion lawmakers' concerns by specifying that people receiving government subsidies to buy health insurance couldn't use that money for abortions.

Negotiations to find common ground have not yielded fruit.
Pray for the Democrats speaking up for the unborn. They are the only political force standing between now and taxpayer funded abortions.


Bad Catholic Theology on TV

Can a priest withhold absolution from someone in the Confessional?

In tonight's episode of House, Chase visits a confessional. He recently killed a dictator while at work, and his conscience was causing him great grief. He went looking for forgiveness. He asks the Priest, "what do I have to do for God to forgive me?" The Priest answers, "you must accept responsibility for what you have done." This is true - if Chase does not accept responsibility for what he has done, he cannot be forgiven. And Chase does not want to accept responsibility. The television Priest then makes a big mistake! The Priest says Chase's forgiveness is conditional upon his turning himself in to the Police. This is absolutely not allowed. A Priest cannot withhold forgiveness if he thinks the penitent's confession admits a sincere admission of guilt. Requiring Chase to turn himself in to the Police would violate the Seal of the Confessional by forcing him to admit to his sin outside of the Confessional. The Priest could certainly encourage Chase to turn himself in, but he could not make his absolution conditional upon this action.

This episode is also a great illustration of the natural law. Chase thinks that he is doing the right thing by killing the dictator - it is justifiable given the monstrous evil. But he cannot avoid the guilt that comes with actually going through with the deed. Guilt is part of nature. Having transgressed the moral law, he seeks the only thing that could ever give him peace - God's forgiveness. He needs to know that he can be forgiven for what he has done. And not any person will do - he has already told House and received his indifference as justification. This is insufficient, and really, no human person's forgiveness can ever really heal the wounds caused by great sins. This type of forgiveness can only be a gratuitous gift of the Divine Person.


Government cannot love

Archbishop Charles Chaput writing in First Things this month:
We need to rededicate ourselves to the work of Christian charity and the Catholic soul of our institutions. Charity is a duty for the whole believing community. But is also an obligation and privilege for every individual member of the Church, flowing from our personal encounter with the mercy of Jesus Christ.

Government cannot love. It has no soul and no heart. The greatest danger of the modern secularist state is this: In the name of humanity, under the banner of serving human needs and easing human suffering, it ultimately, ironically - and too often tragically - lacks humanity. As Benedict forsees in his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est:
The state which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person - every person - needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a state that regulates and controls everything, but a state that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something that often is even more necessary than material support.
It seems to me that Archbishop Chaput always teaches in true Catholic style: he is always giving principles, not policies. Even in this passage, where he is speaking about the extent of government, he does not specifically iron out government's limits - just that there ought to be some. These limits are for lay people to decide. The good Archbishop is not justifying my particular political predilections or anyone else's - he is laying out good authentic teaching, which ought to be listened to and absorbed.


Marriage, Rightly Understood

“St. John Chrysostom suggests that young husbands should say to their wives: I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us… I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.” (CCC 2365)

Matt Talbot on Being "A Liberal"

Here's a fairly honest definition of American liberalism in 2009, followed by a disjointed and unedited rant about the nature of liberalism by yours truly:
"“It meant standing up for unions by supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, refusing to shop at Walmart, Whole Foods and other union-busting stores.

Being a liberal means recognizing that the government has an important role in helping balance society by equalizing the distribution of society’s goods through: 1. A (way more than now) progressive tax system, and 2. redistribution of wealth through both direct payments, and indirectly through support for public education (K through college) that is heavily subsidized and of excellent quality, and other public services."
Matt rightly describes liberalism as essentially a belief in an egalitarian form of justice. American Liberalism is concerned with attaining the power necessary to take from the wealthy and give to the poor - in this way, liberalism advocates for a Robin Hood-esque state. Further, Liberalism is a belief that entails a certain confidence in one's own view of what is just - the rich don't really deserve the money they have earned, even if through legal means, and poor people don't in any significant way contribute to the poverty (loosely defined) they may find themselves in. Liberalism argues that wealth is a consequence of exploitation, and poverty is the result of this exploitation. It does not tolerate or allow for any hierarchy in man's ability to provide for himself. In a way, it robs man of a certain aspect of his dignity - what you have is not really yours, but the result of a system that you cannot escape. No matter whether you work hard or you don't work at all. You are either an exploiter or exploited, and in either case you are a problem. Those who cannot or will not provide for themselves should be provided for by others of more capable means, even if it is against their will. An American Liberal knows what is fair and is confident that they will be able to enact this fairness through the mechanism of American government. An American liberal knows a lot and wants you to know of their great beneficence. They are concerned with poor people (as if others are not) - they are concerned with education (as if others are not) - they are concerned with exploitation (as if others are not) - and perhaps most of all they are concerned that you know that they are concerned with all these things. Liberalism combines a great desire for power and a great feeling of moral superiority, and in this way it is dangerous.


things I lament, no. 352348

Politics today is all about money. Listen to NPR, and tell me if you come across a conversation that isn't primarily about economics. Politics is now entirely divorced from morality, and therefore divorced from justice, being a part of morality. Politics divorced from justice is absurd, especially from a classical point of view, where justice is the entire reason for politics. In short, politics needs more justice-talk.