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Food for the Poor Godspy.com: Faith at the Edge



RickCross | 0 posts | Member since 09.15.08


RE: David Brooks explains the Republican Party’s Catholic problem
Angelo said: "Catholics have been voting Republican since Reagan and things have only gotten worse." Here are three points in reply: (1) It is historically incorrect to say that "Catholics" have been voting Repub; Catholics DO NOT vote Dem or Repub. as a block. For example, Clinton-Gore took the Catholic vote in ’92 and ’96, and Gore-Liebermann took the Catholic vote by 6% in 2000. For the first time in 16 years, a Republican presidential candidate took the majority of Catholic voters in 2004. Conservative Catholics have tended to vote Republican since Reagan, but this group is a relatively small percentage of Catholics overall, perhaps 20% of all Catholics in the electorate (estimated by the percentage of Catholics who are not on birth control!) The Catholic vote is pretty much divided between the two political parties, which leads to my second point. (2) At one time, the bishops had enormous leverage over the Catholic vote and Catholic politicians, (Phil Lawler’s book, the Faithful Departed documents this) but since the 1970s, the bishops as a group have exercised little leverage on Catholic politicians who are pro-abortion. The bishop rebukes of Biden and Pelosi this year are proving an exception to the rule. Nevertheless, it has been the rare bishop that publicly challenged these left-wing Catholic politicians BY NAME on their abortion positions in the context of an election. Indeed, the USCC and the NCCB were openly hostile to the Reagan administration in the 1980s, at a time when the prolife movement had been successfully driven out of the national Democrat party. In the Reagan era, Cdl Bernardin set back the pro-life movement perhaps 20 years by his seamless garment doctrine, --which linked the issues of nuclear proliferation and abortion -- at a time when the pro-life movement was making major gains in the public eye and within the Republican party; Bernardin single handedly impeded the pro-life political momentum. (3) This last point addresses the Brookes/ Angelo supposition that Republicans are radical individualist. This supposition sets up a straw-man argument. First off, conservative Republicans are huge supporters of religious and philanthropic giving. Republicans have championed policies since the Reagan years which have been an enormous help to the poor; e.g., Jack Kemp’s enterprise zones, charter schools, school vouchers, welfare reform. Now there may be some Libertarians who call themselves Republicans, but the conservative wing of the Republican party is NOT Libertarian; it does NOT subscribe to radical individualism. What conservative Republicans do believe is in a more limited government and private philanthropy as the most effective ways to deal with social ills, such as poverty, education of the young, health care etc.. The social welfare policies championed by the Democrat party have demonstrably undermined the family, the low-income neighborhoods, and the low-income school systems. Where they have been allowed to flourish, private religious and philanthropic efforts in helping the poor have been much more effective. Conservative Republicans want to help the poor, but they understand the indispensable role of Christian religious charity, voluntary help, and personal initiative.

RE: David Brooks explains the Republican Party’s Catholic problem
FR. SHAWN MATTHEW, OSB said: “… I DID vote FOR someone this year in the Primary - Gov. Mike Huckabee, the Governor of Arkansas. He is very pro family, and also is in favor of implementing social reform legislation that is “too liberal” for the GOP.” Huckabee is very good man and very pro-family and would have been a major asset to the pro-life cause. But his political philosophy is that of a “Christian statist”, which is to say, that he views the government as the principal authority for the remedy of social ills in morals, health and education. Consider the fact that statism, as a political and juridical philosophy, gave us the pro-abortion movement because statism encourages people to view the government and the courts, and not the Church, as moral arbiters. Statism gave us legal positivism, which gave us Roe v. Wade. In regards to statism on issues other than abortion--issues addressing human welfare--the main problem with any form of statism is that it violates the principle of subsidiarity. Statism simultanously allows for moral individualism on matters that are not legislated within the statist framework and it also encourages the erosion of family and local community cohesion, and especially displaces traditional moral law. Subsidiarity, unlike statism, recognizes that parents, families, and communities are best equipped to deal with the moral challenges of the community—indeed, individuals, families, and local communities that are imbued with Christian moral principles, have the prudence to direct action to remedy social ills. County, state, and federal initiatives can legislate proscriptions against certain behaviors, but they cannot realistically enact positive remedies to social ills whose roots reside in moral turpitude, or whose natural remedy resides in the family (such as in the education of the young) because these remedies require moral prudence. Positive law by its very nature strips the individual, family, or local community of the prudential resources to bring about positive change in these matters. Hadley Arkes, Charles Murray, and James Q Wilson, among many others, have demonstrated through their respective research how state and national government cannot educate or remedy social ills that arise from moral turpitude. Religious and other volunteer activities that have free reign to exercise prudential judgment provide real solutions. Pope John Paul II encyclical Centesimus Annus addresses the problem of subsidiarity in detail. Here is a brief excerpt: “In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of State, the so-called "Welfare State". This has happened in some countries in order to respond better to many needs and demands, by remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. However, excesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoked very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the "Social Assistance State". Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good. (rf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno, I : loc. cit., 184-186.)" Huckabee is very pro-life, but he fails to understand the problems of statism and further does not understand the principle of subsidiarity. He would not be the best person to put a stop to the hedonistic anti Christian direction of our culture.

RE: The Democrats are Blowing the Election—and the Catholic Vote
"Dems were actually making inroads among faithful Catholics fed up with George Bush—" Faithful Catholics! Did you mean to write "uninformed faithful Catholics"? I am not aware of any Republican party platform position since 1980, that fundamentally opposes any formal Church teaching dealing with the Natural Law. The Democrat party platforms since 1976 have been full of anti-Natural Law positions.

RE: How to avoid the next war
Angelo, your use of the expression "fear mongering" suggests that all those who oppose your position on the Iraq invasion are in some way morally deficient, or perhaps mentally unstable. This kind of rhetorical flourish is tiresome and counterproductive. Reasonable people can hold different views on the wisdom of the Iraq invasion.

RE: How to avoid the next war
Angelo said: "Fearmongering is how I would describe the overall tone of the Republican Party’s foreign policy stance. It’s a great logical leap to say that characterization implies what you say." According to the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, a fear-monger is one who "deals" or "brokers" in fear, or "who attempts to stir up or spread (fear) that is petty or discreditable." Therefore, fear-mongering is a vice and the fear-monger is a liar, and arguably, those who believe fearmongers are rather dull-witted, imprudent, or deranged. Thus, I stand by my prior assertion, since it is based upon the accepted definition of the term and reasonable inferences therefrom. To call George Bush or John McCain or other Republican party leaders fear-mongers is inflammatory. I just wish that you would refrain from using inflammatory language against Catholics and sincere Christians and patriots who disagree with your positions on war and peace. There is plenty of room for discussion and disagreement over these matters that are clearly matters of prudence without resorting to such language. Peace!

RE: The Right’s Hypocritical Crusade against Wall Street
I don't want to commit any logical fallacies, so let me stick to the facts. 1. The Republicans did not sink the vote on the bill on Monday, the Democrats did. Nearly 1/3 of the Democrat caucus voted AGAINST the bailout. The Democrats hold a majority in both houses. If Nancy Pelosi wanted the bill passed she could have strong-armed 12 of her caucus members to change their votes.... evidently she didn't or she failed. 2. Members of the Congressional Black causus voted 21 for and 18 AGAINST the Bailout on Monday--this according to CNN. If just 12 members of the CBC changed their votes, the bill would have passed. 3. Obama did not acknowledge speaking to any member of the Congressional Black Caucus. So, what's up? Here's a conjecture: that Obama and the Democrats wanted the bill to fail in order to blame McCain and the Republicans. Angelo seems to agree with Obama. 4. No one really knows if the bailout as originally conceived will work. Many learned economists argue that the bailout as currently conceived is a very bad idea because it will continue to encourage risky lending, and it will reward people (rich and poor) who made foolish decisions. 5. We can't take it with us.... it's only money. 6. The greed within Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac is widely acknowledged as the epicenter of the credit earthquake. 7. Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac are creatures of the socialists in the Democrat party. This is well documented. (If there were a Republican who was at the center of this credit market collapse, the Democrats, who control both Houses of Congress, would have had him in jail by now.) Some have asked why the Democrat controlled House and Senate aren't holding hearings. It's because there are not enough mirrors in the hearing chambers. 8. The really big Wall Street credit folks who were part of the subprime lending mess are mostly liberal Democrats. Let's start with Treasury Secretary Paulson's friends at Goldman Sacks (Paulson is a Democrat at heart, and he's proposing to bailout mostly Democrats.) 9. The Republicans tried to call attention to the crisis at Fannie Mae as far back as 2004 (when they still controlled the House and the Senate) but were brow beat by the liberal Democrats, and afraid to being called racists by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. 10. Chris Dodd and Obama are the largest recipients of campaign contributions from Freddi Mac and Fannie Mae. 11. Follow the money.

RE: The Right’s Hypocritical Crusade against Wall Street
Debra Murphy: I like Ben Stein. An all-around good guy, and a tremendous pro-lifer. However, at this moment when he and his closest friends have taken a terrible beating in the market, I would think it ill-advised to take his advice on whose head to lop off. You know the old saying: "Never take advice from a guy over 60 whose just lost 90% of his wealth." (actually, I just made it up ; > ) ) As for Reich, he's the bobcat who has just been given the keys to the chicken coup--never saw a big government he didn't like, and a longtime supporter of GSEs, which are what precipitated the current crisis. Barak Obama’s economics are decidedly left-wing, even socialist leaning. McCain appears inept, Barak will be much worse. Since we're into posting links on how to think our way through this mess without lapsing into economic despair, I'll contribute two. The first is by Henninger, who has written a lot going back years on the problems of Fannie and Freddie (He's also Jesuit trained, by the way, back when Jesuits actually taught logic) and he puts the current crisis into a broader perspective that should ring true for those who are students of human nature and traditional Christian moral principles: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122290454416296295.html The other is by a far-sighted economist of the stripe that contribute to organizations like Heritage Foundation and the Cato institute. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122299032640300401.html The danger that attends any fix in a crisis of this magnitude is to settle for a short-term fix that balloons into a giant long-term nightmare. This is, of course, the pervasive and systemic vice of the political class. On the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, it may not be at the center of our current crisis, and has actually helped calm things down. I think a number of acquisitions have been made possible because of it, for example, Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch. (not that I’m a fan of BofA or ML, just that the acquisition calmed the markets at a particularly delicate time.) Cheers!

RE: The Right’s Hypocritical Crusade against Wall Street
DEBRA MURPHY: My problem with the Ben Steins of today is not about their desire to do something, (obviously something must be done) it is in the misdirected focus of lopping bankers heads off while offering no understanding of the role that the US govt played. Knowing exactly what to do is equally important with doing something because, as the great depression showed us, a "cure" can be worse than the disease. There is this strange falsehood circulating all over the mainstream media and in the political classes, that it was (1) unbridled greed and (2) too little regulation of the banking industry that caused the crash we are witnessing today. All I can say about the greed factor is that it is a constant in human nature. You can punish it after the fact, but you can't legislate it out of existence. To point to greed is almost akin to pointing to the air we breath and claiming that if the bank robber hadn't been breathing, there would not have been a robbery. True for sure, but hardly enlightening. But the second falsehood, that there was too little regulation of private businesses, contradicts the facts as I understand them. The facts are that (a) there was too little oversight of government entities, Fannie and Freddie, (b) who purchased bundled paper from private banks that were REGULATED BY FEDERAL LAW to lend to very-high-risk borrowers under the auspices of the Community Reinvestment Act. Both points are critical to understand the problem because government created businesses (so called, Government Services Enterprises) that were UNDER-REGULATED and were deeply entrenched in political machines (mostly Democrats), and these GSEs helped force private banking businesses to ignore standard banking practices on loan risk assessment. It is untrue to say (as Krugman claims) that Fannie and Freddie were "private" companies. They played on a completely different playing field than private companies because they were established by government and they were backed by the tax payer. Their accounting and oversight rules are not the same as other companies. They are not private, they are government. Some economists have noted also other factors that contributed to the crisis, including the very low interest rates by the Federal Reserve over too long a period, that made money cheaper to borrow than the prevailing rate of inflation--a big no-no for those of us who remember the late 1970s. Here's the bottom line, from my perspective: banking must always account for a recognition of lending risks --as the Henninger article points out. Fannie and Freddie absorbed the risks of the private bank loans to high risk borrowers, effectively distorting standard banking prudence. Thus the government directly distorted the normal banking practices (making a few bankers really rich). Also, another government entity, the Federal Reserve Board, had a low interest rate policy that encouraged private banks to lend more, especially to high-risk borrowers; the risk pool grew beyond sustainability, and collectively this pushed major credit holders into insolvency. Risks that were pushed by regulation onto a back-burner have now come to a full boil. If the Federal Reserve interests rates were a few points higher over the course 2001 to 2007, the insolvency crisis may not have been realized for many years into the future. But there is no doubt that even with low interest rates, if not for the CRA--a government policy--and Fannie and Freddie--government businesses--we would NOT have today's credit crisis. Therefore, it was too much Federal interference that was a major factor in the crisis. This is not to say that there should be no regulation (especially of the way the loans were bundled and securitized) but it simply acknowledges the CENTRAL role that bad regulation of the CRA had in the crisis. Now get this, there are news reports that the "Bail out" bill that was passed and signed by Bush on Friday, Democrats had a provision inserted into the bill that will make it even harder for a bank to foreclose on a sub-prime borrowers property. Banks will still be required to continue to lend to high-risk mortgage holders in addition to being forced via court order to lower the homeowners principal along with lowering interest rates below market rates, in the event that the loan goes bad. This is worse than the status quo. Not only does government have the power to force banks to accept high-risk borrowers, the govt now has a new power to determine the interest rates the bank charges and the value of the house that the bank puts on its books. This is breath taking overreach. If these provisions are not changed, I fear the mortgage business in the US will have been effectively socialized.

RE: Thinking Catholic: European leaders blame crisis on “speculative capitalism”
Angelo: It is unfortunate that you focus on one part of the current crisis and ignore the other equally important part. There are two in this tango, speculators and liberal Democrats in government. The "speculative capitalist" did not create the mechanism to produce a several trillion dollar non-serviceable mortgage bundle. It was rather, liberal Democrat politicians who were exploiting politically the US underclasses, and who insisted that banks make loans to borrowers who had no means to repay. And it was these same liberal Democrats who insisted that regulations and oversight of these payouts be eliminated to conceal the fact the these loans were problematic. Indeed, the speculators did take advantage of a situation immorally so, but it was handed to them on a silver platter by liberal Democrat government policy designed to exploit the ignorance of the underclass, in order to expand Democrat political power. It has worked remarkably well... to expand their political powers. And who is now paying the bill? The Calvinist taxpayer.

RE: Alan Greenspan, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian God that Failed
Angelo: The last time I checked, Alan Greenspan and Ayn Rand were not on the ballot this November. So, in light of the totality of Catholic social doctrine, who do you suggest I vote for? Perhaps, as you, we all should look to the New York Times for guidance.

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