Saturday, February 25, 2012

Here's a novel concept. We let prospective employers and employees meet in the marketplace and hammer out mutually acceptable pay and benefits packages. No minimum wage laws, no federally-mandated health insurance benefits! That would allow women not willing to be "abused" by the Catholic Church to seek employment elsewhere. (As I understand it, they retain that right even in this heavily regulated marketplace!) That would likewise allow the Catholic Church to craft its benefits packages in such a way as not to violate its corrupt, benighted and medieval moral precepts. Sound like a win-win?

We let those hate-filled Amish raise barns and till the soil for each other, even as they educate each other's young in segregated Amish-only schools, don't we? We don't sic the EEOC or IRS on them, do we? Why not cut the Whore of Babylon the same slack? Can it be any worse than the muscular mystics who who bar their womenfolk the use of buttons on their clothing?

We can take this one step further. Rather than subject the Catholics and Amish to income and real estate taxes, how about we exempt everybody from all taxes? Let's make the individual steward of his land, resources, income, capital and property--not the State. Yes, I understand that would spell the demise of State-provided defense, security and dispute resolution services (such as they are). But if people demand those services, the market will surely provide. Indeed, it will provide those services more humanely, efficiently and cost effectively.

Apart from that, there's the "intrinsic contradiction," as UNLV economist emeritus Hans-Hermann Hoppe (author of Democracy: the God that Failed--much recommended!) once put it, "in a property-protecting protection racket." Think of it. The State promises to protect you from the bad guys. But you have to pay the State to protect you from the bad guys. You have to pay or else! Or else what? Or else you forgo those essential State services? If only!

Don't pay the State and the State becomes one of the bad guys: it shakes you down. It threatens you with great bodily injury up to and including death. You think I'm couching the arrangement in overly dramatic terms? Try not paying the taxman. Try resisting him every step of the way. Try thumbing your nose at the written notices, the tax liens, the knocks on the door. Things will escalate. Make no mistake: ultimately, the taxman will kill you.

Yes, it's the price we pay for civilization. But it all comes off as rather uncivilized to me.


Total debt comes to $14.9 trillion? (Actually it's closer to $80 trillion if you include the present value of unfunded social security and medicare liabilities, but let's leave that triviality to one side.)

GDP is $14.5 trillion. The deficit this year is expected to be $1.5 trillion. Expect that kind of deficit spending to continue for years to come. Expect total debt to increase accordingly. How soon before tax receipts aren't sufficient to pay interest on the national debt? What happens then?

The Federal Reserve Bank owns $1.6 trillion of debt? That's 11.0 percent of GDP! Where did the Fed get the money to buy that kind of debt? It created it? Out of thin air? What does mass counterfeiting do to the value of our bank accounts? Does it have anything to do with inflating asset bubbles? How about collapsing asset bubbles (q.v., housing market) and ensuing economic malaise?

Economist John Williams of has answers to my questions. Warning: his ten-minute video is not for the faint of heart:


Thursday, February 02, 2012

It took the Church several centuries to definitively disavow her acquiescence (since the late Middle Ages) to the notion that the state had a moral right and obligation to violently enforce a man’s positive religious obligation to embrace the true religion and worship God according to the approved rites of His Church. For centuries, the Church, as ferociously as the most pious Islamist, endorsed the putting-to-death of apostate Catholics and, where feasible, the political subjugation of all non-Catholics besides, this in the hopes of encouraging the latter to embrace her true faith.

You do concede this is “an awfully truncated summary of a very complex history.” It is also true that Protestants were no better: John Calvin, e.g., pretty much established a “Christian” police state during his heyday in Geneva . I believe you may be overstating the case nonetheless.

Islam does not differentiate between faith and state. For that matter, neither do secular humanists. (They aggressively reject traditional religious mores, even as they insist on translating their effete, not to say warped, notions of the good—e.g., taxpayer-funded abortion, drug prohibition, equal employment diktats—into civil law.) The bifurcation between temporal and spiritual is entirely a Western, i.e., Catholic, development.

Catholic monarchs may well have melded church and state in ways not consistent with the Catholic libertarianism you and I share. The Church may well have failed to disabuse them of the notion they should be melded. But she always upheld the fundamental distinction between the two.

This is not to detract from your criticism of the illibertarian bishops. I also agree libertarianism is the only political philosophy consistent with Catholicism. In your effort to be fair to the other side, I just think you may have gone too far.

While it certainly is true that medeival [sic] Christendom and Islamdom [sic] operated, in several respects, under very different ideological frameworks, as a practical matter apostates, heretics, and infidels fared about equally bad under both regimes, because both took for granted the duty of the state to enforce citizens' positive religious obligations.

Now, it is true that Christianity did not have an analogous institution to jihad, i.e., aggressive war against pagan nations and forcing its citizens to convert or be killed; but Jews under Chrisendom [sic] could accurately be called "dhimmis," and ex-Catholics as good as apostates in Muslim countries. This is a fact.

Nevertheless, you are correct that the medieval Christian innovation that Church and state were at least separate institutions did sow the seeds for a deeper appreciation of the implications for religious liberty, these implications were not realized for several centuries. I don't think the Church is served by apologists whitewashing just how terrible this was for those who did not subscribe to the religious status quo.

Nobody’s whitewashing or apologizing. Again, I think you’re missing vital historical context. At the very least, please recognize there are competing schools of thought on the matter. Take the much ballyhooed persecution of Jews in medieval Spain. My (no doubt obscurantist) sources tell me the persecution was directed at the Conversos: Jews who feigned conversion to the Church with the aim of infiltrating and subverting her.

Jews infiltrating and subverting the Church?! Shades of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion! Only the most rabid anti-Semite would level such a charge! Meanwhile, the prevailing view, i.e., that the Church got its jollies persecuting the Jews (“dhimmis”)just for being Jews, strikes no one as particularly anti-Catholic--not even card-carrying Catholics.

Why, that’s just history! Everybody knows that!

Every people has a story. The Catholics have a story. The Jews have a story. The Methodists, Mohammedans and Mormons have a story. Within the larger culture, some people’s story gets marginalized, while others’ gets mainstreamed. I’ll let you decide under which category the traditional Catholic version of events tends to fall.

Of course the Spanish Inquisition was directed solely at conversos: not because the Church was tolerant toward Jews and advocated their political equality with Christians, but because the Spanish state (with not a peep of protest from the Church) expelled all the Jews in 1492, and so there were no Jews left to subjugate, only heretics with real or alleged Judaizing tendencies.

Of course the Bolshevik Revolution was directed solely at bourgeois turncoats: not because (the overwhelmingly Jewish) Bolsheviks were tolerant toward Christians and advocated their political equality with (the overwhelmingly Jewish) Bolsheviks, but because the Soviet state (with not a peep of protest from the overwhelmingly Jewish Bolsheviks) expelled, exiled or starved all the Christians in the years following 1917, and so there were no Christians left to subjugate, only bourgeois turncoats with real or alleged Christianizing tendencies.

See? Two can play this game.