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    Boehner should not honor Obama’s lawlessness

    Posted by TM Lutas on 17th November 2013 (All posts by )

    President Obama’s veto threat of the Upton bill to legally do what he is trying to do by illegal means, delay the individual mandate, has firmly established a sad fact. The United States has a lawless president. Impeachment would be a three ring circus and unlikely to be worth the effort. President Obama has indeed not let a crisis go to waste and is trying to legitimize presidential lawlessness by picking a test case where the he is doing lawlessly what the Congress wishes to do lawfully. It’s a threat of precedent, not a present threat to the lives and health of anyone today.

    A more appropriate response than impeachment would be to wake up America that there is an important and symbolic issue at stake. Speaker Boehner can do this simply by denying the President an honor. He can deny President Obama the use of the House chamber for the State of the Union address. A currently substanceless threat to our legal tradition is responded to by a substanceless slap of rebuke. Let the President write his address and let it be read from the well by a clerk.

    The idea that the President has so dishonored his office that he no longer can enter the House is a powerful image that alerts the people to a problem but does not stop us from carrying on with the serious task of government. Impeachment should not be our first resort. Who wants President Biden? This measure also has the advantage that it plays to Boehner’s strengths and requires no approval from anyone else. He can take this decision unilaterally. He should.

    Cross posted: Flit-TM

    Posted in Politics, USA | 21 Comments »

    Capitalism failure

    Posted by TM Lutas on 14th October 2013 (All posts by )

    From a system perspective, not a human perspective, compensation for work in capitalism is the system’s way of communicating to people that the system needs more or fewer people in a job. Not enough bricklayers means rising salaries and too many means lower salaries. The trend continues until the number of people doing the work roughly matches what is needed at the market clearing price and the people are generally satisfied with the compensation.

    So what does that tell us about the US distribution of population in the labor market? The distribution of compensation is highly skewed and madly demanding more people get into the job of running companies. It’s highly lucrative work that on balance tends to create labor demand. Our lack of labor demand and the resulting salary stagnation are not a harmless consequence.

    But people aren’t rushing into the CEO business anywhere near the numbers necessary to drive compensation down. It’s not like the current crop of CEOs is uniformly magnificent and we simply cannot do better. The wrecked companies littering the corporate landscape around the country are a testament to that. And failure at being a CEO would seem not to carry the same penalties as a spectacularly public malpractice for a doctor or lawyer.

    So why has CEO production not drawn attention of the same people addressing the “IT shortage”? Why doesn’t the CEO grooming process create more candidates that drive costs down? Why is shareholder value being squandered in so many cases in highly compensating a stream of short lived, not very good chief executives, who drive the company into disaster time and again?

    There’s something wrong with our CEO system.

    Cross posted Flit-TM

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Economics & Finance, Politics, Society | 18 Comments »

    Normal legislative practice vs tea party terrorism

    Posted by TM Lutas on 10th October 2013 (All posts by )

    Normal Legislative practice:
    Vote for this must pass bill even though we’ve loaded it with pork barrel spending and changed a few bits of unrelated legislation into it. You’ll hurt the country worse if it doesn’t pass.

    Tea Party terrorism:
    Vote for this continuing resolution to fund the government while we change/defund the Affordable Care Act.

    See the difference?

    Me neither.

    Cross posted on Flit-TM

    Posted in Big Government, Politics, Tea Party | 2 Comments »

    Reality lives in the details

    Posted by TM Lutas on 24th August 2013 (All posts by )

    Sometimes you come across a comment that passingly mentions a central truth that you just want to climb up on a roof and shout it out to the world. That! Pay attention to that!

    Trent Telenko comments on his own excellent post:

    Reality lives in the details.
    You have to know enough of the details to know what is vital and to be able to use good judgement as to which histories are worthwhile and which are regurgitated pap.
    No one has bothered to do that with MacArthur’s South West Pacific Area, especially as it relates to the proposed invasion of Japan.

    Yes, reality lives in the details and we are living in a world that both has more of those details available and has fewer of those details capturing our attention. We leave important details unexamined and fixate on the exciting but unimportant details of celebrity and titillation.

    What makes the situation supremely frustrating is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Computers are both becoming cheaper and more powerful. We’re deploying new technologies such as the Semantic Web to fix it but the progress is agonizingly slow.

    Faster please

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior | 11 Comments »

    How to stop the Executive from running out the scandal clock

    Posted by TM Lutas on 18th July 2013 (All posts by )

    This Politico story on Benghazi led me to consider the question of what would need to be in place to stop the “we need you to stop talking about this until everyone forgets” strategy.

    Early on while everybody is still upset in the first flush of outrage, the executive branch needs to give a time estimate of how long it is going to take to get to the bottom of it all and once they blow that deadline, a critical mass of ordinary people need to have that come up as sort of a reminder. The blowing of the deadline should be its own, separate scandal. Congress should organize hearings at the deadline so that when the administration blows it, they can get as much information as has been learned since then, monitor the resources and energy placed in the scandal to determine if they’re slow walking the thing, and get a better date.

    Posted in Politics | 6 Comments »

    What would Trayvon’s law look like?

    Posted by TM Lutas on 14th July 2013 (All posts by )

    With President Obama inserting himself once again into the Trayvon Martin killing, now ruled self defense by a Florida jury, President Obama now is calling for us to answer the question “how we can prevent future tragedies like this”. The President thinks that “[w]e should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis.”

    I suggest that what is needed is Trayvon’s law. This unwritten, heretofore unconceived legislation would have changed that encounter so that Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

    So what would Trayvon’s law look like? I haven’t a clue because I think that what led Trayvon Martin into that encounter with George Zimmerman has a thing to do with guns or gun violence. But no doubt others will have legislation to suggest. It would be decent and just to consider Trayvon Martin and aim changes to the law so that he would be alive today had that legislation been passed a decade ago. But what would it look like?

    Posted in Law | 47 Comments »

    Citizen Intelligence curious fact of the day

    Posted by TM Lutas on 9th July 2013 (All posts by )

    During the process of putting together Citizen Intelligence, I sometimes run into some things that are quite simple, but are worth remarking on. I’ve decided to put them up here as an irregular series.

    Out of the ~89,000 governments in the United States, ~55,000 of them bond, or borrow money, about 61% of the total. That means 34,000 do not. Which of your governments live within their means and spend all their tax money on providing services and which of them have an invisible drain installed siphoning off unnecessary interest payments to Wall Street? How many of them could, with minimal inconvenience, add a few more percent in services or cut a few percent off their tax bills simply by not bonding or reducing their bonding to large capital items instead of borrowing for operations?

    Note: Updated to make it clear that this is not about the classic large capital expenditure items that most would agree are legitimate projects for bond financing but rather borrowing that could be foregone and where, in some jurisdictions, they manage their cash flow well enough to do without the borrowing.

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Public Finance | 3 Comments »

    Socially transgressive cultural conservatives – our icky future

    Posted by TM Lutas on 3rd July 2013 (All posts by )

    Real social taboos cost you hits in the blogosphere. The persistent reduction in hit count every time I touched the subject of gay marriage finally twigged me to the fact that secular marriage has an entire set of cultural taboos associated with it and if you touch them, people run away. Your hit counts drop. Try analyzing why you have secular marriage at all and people suddenly turn dense, obtuse, and conflate religious with secular marriage at every opportunity. No fear, I won’t go into it in this post. This is more of a meta commentary.

    Gay marriage advocates have skillfully deployed those taboos to achieve what they want, a change in public consensus regarding marriage that is playing out in the slow motion avalanche in favor of gay marriage. They are winning in large part because nobody wants to discuss to consensus what is secular marriage for. It’s too icky.

    Once secular marriage’s split from religious marriage norms becomes large enough, courageous believers are going to dive into the ick and explain it, in great detail. There will be Catholics, Muslims, Jews as well as others explaining what they haven’t had to explain before because of the prior consensus that, if not perfect, was at least close enough to their beliefs to be acceptable. Social conservatives who look like your grandparents will be talking about sex, about dominance, about female and male emotional frailties that generally only come up in rare “moment of clarity” fashion for most people. It will be the biggest orgy of social transgressiveness to happen in decades and the traditional tribes of social transgressiveness are going to be running for the door with their ears plugged up crying out “la-la-la I can’t hear you” in an absolutely clarifying display of hypocrisy.

    I can’t wait.

    Posted in Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Religion, Society | 13 Comments »

    Which is the bigger treason?

    Posted by TM Lutas on 24th June 2013 (All posts by )

    In all the brouhaha over Snowden’s betrayal of his NSA obligations and his country I have yet to see a serious analysis outlining the full problem with this information. The nature of the information, how and why it becomes classified. Non-classified information gathered without a warrant but not accessible without a warrant is an interesting category. Why such information should be classified at all is an under-covered question though most people understand intuitively that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the government’s approach.

    In general this information has been accessible to lawyers in legal cases, ie not classified but has had short accessibility lifespans. Traditionally it has been fairly quickly thrown away because it is too expensive for private companies to maintain that volume of metadata for very long. Test cases are now underway where lawyers who have been turned down by the phone companies as their copies have been overwritten are now seeking the NSA’s copy in an effort to defend their clients from federal criminal prosecution. Criminal law discovery rules are rushing headlong towards a collision with the national security state.

    It is not at all clear that such information should be classified at all and that the first serious crime in the Snowden case might have been committed by as yet unnamed bureaucrats who improperly classified this information to begin with, possibly leading to unjust criminal convictions and obstructing justice for years now. Overclassification is a major issue of long standing in US governance. It creates legal jeopardy where none should exist and impedes government oversight crucial to the functioning of the US system of government.

    At trial (assuming there ever is one) the government bears the burden of proving that the information was properly classified in the first place. But long before this affair ever sees the inside of a court room, we need to hash out whether this classification was proper or should see the light of day.

    Posted in Law, National Security | 30 Comments »

    How often do governments just make restrictions up?

    Posted by TM Lutas on 5th June 2013 (All posts by )

    In an interesting aside regarding security preparations for the 2013 Bilderberger meeting, it came out that a number of no parking signs put up to prevent “vehicles parking on the verge of the Old Hempstead Road” were fraudulent, no law banning parking existed. This is something of a public service the Bilderberger group has provided to the citizens of Watford. Their government is perfectly capable of just making stuff up and restricting liberty on a fraudulent basis. This would not normally be something that would come to light. After all, who checks such trivial matters that the no parking signs on a particular street or verge are actually backed up by legislation establishing that parking is not allowed? You’d have to be a moral cretin to endanger the legitimacy of the state over so small a matter. Yet such moral cretins seem to be in power in Watford. How would you know whether they are not in power in your neck of the woods? It is not so easy to tell.

    Posted in Big Government | 7 Comments »

    Who could have ordered Benghazi edits?

    Posted by TM Lutas on 11th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Sometimes it’s the dog that doesn’t bark that is interesting. The Benghazi attack talking points and their morphing from a discussion of Al Queda terrorism into a witch hunt against a dodgy film maker was designed to protect someone. The question is who? Who was worth embarrassing the US diplomatic and intelligence corps and discrediting us with the Libyan government who knew what was going on? The two popular figures are Barak Obama because, as President, he was in charge and Hillary Clinton because, as Secretary of state, she had responsibility over embassy security. But we all seem to be overlooking a third possibility. Vice President Biden was explicitly put on the ticket to give gravitas and experience to guide President Obama in sticky situations where he might not have experience. What if, 4 years into Obama’s presidency, Biden was still fulfilling that role and he took charge and completely blew it?

    Obama would not want his continued reliance on Biden for urgent matters of national security to come out during his reelection campaign. Biden would be looking to bury the affair and dirty up his 2016 expected rival for the presidential nomination. Clinton would be the logical choice to spill the beans through anonymous leaks and cut outs. She hasn’t yet, which makes the theory less attractive but doesn’t knock it entirely out of consideration. She could have played out the scenario and not liked where it led for her own future regardless of whether it is true or not.

    This is speculation but at least some of the media dogs chasing the story should have chased down this angle and asked the relevant questions. None seem to have done it.

    Posted in National Security, Obama, Politics | 26 Comments »

    Girl Genius is down due to DNS

    Posted by TM Lutas on 12th March 2013 (All posts by )

    For a certain style of geek, the week is not complete without stopping by Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to dip into the mad science world of Girl Genius, a creation of Phil and Kaja Foglio. The series is a three time hugo award winner, twice winning an Eisner award, and three time winner of the Web Cartoonist choice awards. In other words, it’s very good.

    But like many of their mad scientist creations, they’ve been let down by a minion, and their domain has expired. You can, however still reach it via IP number. But curses, the actual comic does not use relative addressing so you have to plug that in separately, like this to get Monday’s tasty bit of a world where mad science rules.

    Posted in Internet | 5 Comments »

    We are at war with North Korea

    Posted by TM Lutas on 11th March 2013 (All posts by )

    North Korea’s official newspaper carried the announcement today. The armistice is no longer in force. We are once again in a state of active war with North Korea.

    It is not just us, by withdrawing from the armistice, North Korea has reignited conflict with:
    South Korea
    USA
    Canada
    Turkey
    Australia
    Ethiopia
    Philippines
    New Zealand
    Thailand
    Greece
    France
    Colombia
    Belgium
    South Africa
    Netherlands
    Sweden
    Norway
    Denmark
    Italy
    India
    Luxembourg

    Since the armistice was signed by a North Korean general on behalf of China, somebody should probably ask China what its position is regarding the armistice and its obligations.

    Posted in Korea, National Security, War and Peace | 14 Comments »

    Queen to UK: Stay away from the NHS

    Posted by TM Lutas on 3rd March 2013 (All posts by )

    The Queen has fallen ill, gastroenteritis to be specific. She has been taken to King Edward VII hospital in London. This hospital bills itself as the leading private hospital in London.

    Why is she not staying at an NHS hospital? Gastroenteritis is not particularly complicated or unusual and should be well within the capabilities of any decent hospital facility of the most rudimentary type.

    The Queen of England’s main role is to provide an example, a symbol. She is doing so today with the choice of her hospital. But is anybody paying attention?

    Posted in Britain, Medicine | 15 Comments »

    2nd amendment penumbras II – disarming non-militia members

    Posted by TM Lutas on 6th February 2013 (All posts by )

    Edit: Ugh, what was I thinking. I haven’t gotten a post this wrong this decade. I reread Heller, which I apparently desperately needed. Mea culpa. I’ll leave this up as penance, and a reminder that I can be a great fool.

    Previous item in series here: I

    If you start from zero on the gun debate, a curious fact emerges. The right to arms is recognized in federal and state law as a military right in the form of milita membership via the unorganized militia. Militas are generally limited to men and only up to age 45 or so. So why don’t gun controllers go after the right to bear arms of those who are not covered? Women’s gun rights are only protected under the penumbra of the 2nd amendment. So why have women’s right to bear arms not been put under any specific pressure by the gun control crowd? Common sense and a little thought explains why attempts to control guns like this simply aren’t done and modern case law on this point is rarer than 3rd amendment case law. The ladies need their weapons to defend against both stranger attack and to equalize matters when boyfriend turns to ex-boyfriend stalker. Those over 45 have similar issues.

    Those excluded from militia statutes have, theoretically, less protection of their right to bear arms, yet in practice this weakness of protection is never exploited. How did a 2nd amendment penumbra manage to grow up as custom without ever having gone through the judicial process.

    Perhaps there have been relevant cases that I missed. Please educate me in comments.

    Edit: I should have made clear in the text, and I manifestly did not, that the right to bear arms is a basic human right held by just about everybody that precedes constitutions and laws and is not limited to military service. That pretty much was the point of Heller, that bearing arms is an individual right.

    This makes the article something of an exercise in looking at it from the other side’s viewpoint and still finding the gun controller position incoherent. The problem of Miller’s ruling against sawed off shotguns still stands.

    Posted in RKBA | 20 Comments »

    2nd amendment penumbras

    Posted by TM Lutas on 30th January 2013 (All posts by )

    The US is ill served by having the gun lobby be the primary defender of the Constitution’s 2nd amendment. The first part of the text is, as the gun controllers correctly note, under analyzed:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    The problem is that the gun controllers don’t seriously analyze it either. What is the militia is a question that has yet to be definitively answered. As clear from the statements of the Founders, the text of federal law, the collective wordings of the state constitutions and state laws, the militia is the whole of the people. Membership in the militia is pretty clear. But that doesn’t answer more than who is in the militia. It says nothing about what it is.

    What does the militia do? It must do either exactly what the military does or some subset of what the military does. How do you describe what the military does? Well the military has a listing of job descriptions called Military Occupation Specialty Code (MOSC). You never hear either side of the gun control debate discuss which MOSC are covered under the penumbra of the 2nd amendment’s recognition that the security of a free state makes a well regulated militia necessary. The gun controllers get the vapors at the idea that the 2nd amendment even has penumbras while gun groups aren’t much interested in potential penumbras beyond the right to ammunition for those guns they want and other ancillary questions strictly related to the subject of pushing lead downrange.

    I would suggest that seriously thinking about what a militia is and what it should be restricted from doing would leave a large body of activities that should be protected by the 2nd amendment but generally aren’t because of the outsized emphasis on the trigger puller protection portion of the text. What are the military missions that are appropriate for the US military that are inappropriate for the militia? That’s a reasonable question. Let’s start with a decidedly non-scary MOSC, quartermaster. The military will occasionally feed the hungry. Does the militia have that right? That seems fairly trivial but yes, they should be able to. But when cities try to stop the feeding of homeless in city parks, is it still trivial?

    When you live in a land of very limited laws, such questions do not arise. Of course you can feed the hungry and nobody need think too hard under what bit of the Bill of Rights is usurpation prevented. We exited that territory a few new deals ago. It’s time to start going over the text without skipping parts.

    Posted in RKBA | 19 Comments »

    Case Study in Conservative Cruelty: George Will

    Posted by TM Lutas on 20th January 2013 (All posts by )

    I don’t think George Will meant to be cruel when he wrote his recent article “The Time Bomb in Obamacare?” but he was and it is a recurring conservative mistake. Will focused on the law and the constitution. He found a bomb and he imagines he is a good bomb squad officer by analyzing the bomb and figuring out how it is going to blow up. What he missed, and it is crucial, is the vital step of clearing away the civilians. That is a cruel oversight and hurts the conservative cause. You have to make sure that people understand that there is a bomb and which direction to run so they do not get blown up.

    The immediate threat for ordinary people is not Obamacare’s constitutional status, but what it will do to ordinary american’s access to care. Institutions that are caught in the payment squeeze will triage because otherwise they go broke and close, which would maximize suffering. Triage means that the lack of funds will cause them to try to maximize who they can save and cut off who they can’t afford to save. If you are going to be triaged, you need to know and you need to make alternate arrangements to pay cash, figure out how to live without needed care, or get your affairs in order. The later people figure this out, the more pain, suffering, and death Obamacare is going to cause.

    Nothing George Will said about the law is wrong. By focusing on the Constitution and the law to the exclusion of the upcoming suffering of the people he ended up reinforcing a pernicious stereotype, one conservatives would do well to lose. Ultimately, the conservative focus on the law and the Constitution has the effect of reducing suffering and increasing the happiness of the people. This approach would be greatly increased in effectiveness if conservatives would directly say so instead of assuming people already knew. A great many people do not know and the conservative brand is suffering for it.

    Posted in Conservatism, Health Care, Obama, Predictions, Rhetoric | 33 Comments »

    After Newtown

    Posted by TM Lutas on 2nd January 2013 (All posts by )

    After the Newtown school massacre, a lot of people feel unsafe and want changes. They are right to do so. But the changes we make should actually make us safer, not just make us feel good. So like any full review, we need to start by describing what we already have.

    The United States has the premier security system on the planet. It has the largest military, by far and has 50 state militaries in the national guard system. It has overlapping layers of federal, state, county, municipal and special purpose police (like the postal and railway police). It also has an amorphous, poorly documented, little discussed system called the unorganized militia. Naturally, the first thing to look at is the unorganized militia. Efforts to oversee and improve all the other parts are ongoing and permanent. We’re unlikely to squeeze major improvements out of those parts without major increases in expenses that we can’t really afford right now.

    The unorganized militia right now, for virtually no taxpayer dollars spent. Its costs are self-funded via license fees and members buy their own weapons, ammunition, and training. It is “bring your own device” defense and gives us somewhere on the order of 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGU) per year according to the best guesses of the academics who study such things. That’s 2.5 million cases of robbery, rape, murder, and other mayhem that often don’t even make it to the FBI crime statistics because just the knowledge of an armed presence defused a situation and made potential criminals think better of what they were going to do.

    Any effort to change the rules under which the unorganized militia arms itself or gets rid of the unorganized militia altogether has to keep an eye on the DGU numbers so they either go up or the other portions of the system pick up the slack as the militia DGU numbers go down. Anything else and we are becoming less safe. This is why conservatives are mad at Sen. Feinstein. The gun control bill she is threatening to introduce will, very predictably, reduce the number of militia DGU and cause more innocent americans to be victims.

    cross posted FLIT-TM

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Political Philosophy, RKBA | 32 Comments »

    Communist Dog Whistles Up a Controversy

    Posted by TM Lutas on 13th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Harry Belafonte advocates imprisoning Obama’s US opposition.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    You never know who is going to show up at the phone bank

    Posted by TM Lutas on 31st October 2012 (All posts by )

    George Lutas and the Attorney General for the state of Indiana

    A snapshot taken today at the local phone bank in St. John, Indiana. The handsome fellow up front? My son. The guy in the back working hard? Greg Zoeller, the Indiana Attorney General. He came in, sat down, and started calling, a very down to earth fellow and a real mensch. Who knows who’s going to show up tomorrow?

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on You never know who is going to show up at the phone bank

    Richard Mourdock open thread

    Posted by TM Lutas on 25th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Today I put up two Mourdock signs on my property (I live on a corner)

    Posted in Elections, Politics | 13 Comments »

    The Christians’ Dirty Deal In Arabia

    Posted by TM Lutas on 15th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Christians are being offered one more round of a longstanding dirty deal, this time in Bahrain. If only they will be loyal thugs, enforcers, secret policemen, and tax men, the royals will protect them as long as is convenient to the monarchy. No choice available to them is a good one for local Christians but taking the deal means pain later instead of pain today so they are most likely to accept.

    For anyone who seriously wants to address the complexities of the Middle East there must be a way to unwind such deals and put an end to them. They are fundamentally incompatible with a free society and a barrier to any reasonable transition path to a sustainable society in the Middle East.

    Posted in Christianity, Islam, Middle East | 6 Comments »

    Incest Idiots

    Posted by TM Lutas on 9th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Just in case the Harvard Crimson decides to nuke my comment on their “IncestFest” OpEd I thought I would share. I might just have been a bit testy.

    Transgression without consequence is not transgressive. The name will stay along with the posing that it is hip, transgressive, and avant garde until incest actually resumes being transgressive in the part of America that Harvard students care about. When HR at major firms negatively flag Kirkland House residents as job candidates is when “IncestFest” will truly become transgressive. That will be about 5 minutes before it is quickly shut down.
     
    The problem for you at that point is it will take some time for the stench to clear from your resumes boys and girls. Perhaps the faux cultural bravehearts might want to rethink “IncestFest” before things get to that.
     
    It is not like the shareholders campaign would take that long to plan or that much money to execute. Anybody who’s read Saul Alinsky could set the plan up in an hour with time to spare. “Excuse me Mr. CEO, are the company’s recruiters at Harvard staying clear of anything to do with Harvard’s celebration of incest, the so called ‘IncestFest’?” HR, PR, and Marketing are already psychologically primed and preprogrammed to react harshly to the question.
     
    The response rate on the fundraising letter in support of the campaign would be epic.

    Posted in Society | 3 Comments »

    Catholic capitalist wealth redistribution I

    Posted by TM Lutas on 28th September 2012 (All posts by )

    After reading Getting Used to Thinking with the Church Takes Practice it was a bit of a challenge to separate out the invective against conservatives from the quoted papal teachings. I applied my rule of thumb with success though and thought I’d share both the rule and the application.

    The rule is simple. The Pope is not usually an idiot; he’s surrounded by some of the better thinkers on the planet who have been managing to keep Catholicism intellectually viable for centuries through an awful lot of tumult; the words they use are often not used the same way as people local to me do and it’s wise to get your definitions straight before flying off the handle. And then there’s all that Holy Spirit miracle stuff but if you’re not a Catholic yourself, I don’t expect you’re going to find that last bit persuasive.

    32. Lowering the level of protection accorded to the rights of workers, or abandoning mechanisms of wealth redistribution in order to increase the country’s international competitiveness, hinder the achievement of lasting development. Moreover, the human consequences of current tendencies towards a short-term economy — sometimes very short-term — need to be carefully evaluated. This requires further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals,as well as a profound and far-sighted revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its dysfunctions and deviations.

    36. Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.

    37. Economic life undoubtedly requires contracts, in order to regulate relations of exchange between goods of equivalent value. But it also needs just laws and forms of redistribution governed by politics, and what is more, it needs works redolent of the spirit of gift. The economy in the global era seems to privilege the former logic, that of contractual exchange, but directly or indirectly it also demonstrates its need for the other two: political logic, and the logic of the unconditional gift.

    39. Paul VI in Populorum Progressio called for the creation of a model of market economy capable of including within its range all peoples and not just the better off. He called for efforts to build a more human world for all, a world in which “all will be able to give and receive, without one group making progress at the expense of the other.” In this way he was applying on a global scale the insights and aspirations contained in Rerum Novarum, written when, as a result of the Industrial Revolution, the idea was first proposed — somewhat ahead of its time — that the civil order, for its self-regulation, also needed intervention from the State for purposes of redistribution.

    42. The processes of globalization, suitably understood and directed, open up the unprecedented possibility of large-scale redistribution of wealth on a world-wide scale; if badly directed, however, they can lead to an increase in poverty and inequality, and could even trigger a global crisis. It is necessary to correct the malfunctions, some of them serious, that cause new divisions between peoples and within peoples, and also to ensure that the redistribution of wealth does not come about through the redistribution or increase of poverty: a real danger if the present situation were to be badly managed. For a long time it was thought that poor peoples should remain at a fixed stage of development, and should be content to receive assistance from the philanthropy of developed peoples. Paul VI strongly opposed this mentality in Populorum Progressio. Today the material resources available for rescuing these peoples from poverty are potentially greater than before, but they have ended up largely in the hands of people from developed countries, who have benefited more from the liberalization that has occurred in the mobility of capital and labour. The world-wide diffusion of forms of prosperity should not therefore be held up by projects that are self-centred, protectionist or at the service of private interests. Indeed the involvement of emerging or developing countries allows us to manage the crisis better today. The transition inherent in the process of globalization presents great difficulties and dangers that can only be overcome if we are able to appropriate the underlying anthropological and ethical spirit that drives globalization towards the humanizing goal of solidarity. Unfortunately this spirit is often overwhelmed or suppressed by ethical and cultural considerations of an individualistic and utilitarian nature.

    49. What is also needed, though, is a worldwide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them. The fate of those countries cannot be left in the hands of whoever is first to claim the spoils, or whoever is able to prevail over the rest.

    Clearly, there’s a redistributionist streak here but within limits. As is proper for a religious leader the Pope isn’t outlining a five year plan and he’s certainly left himself plenty of wiggle in the specific definitions of what constitutes helpful, rather than counterproductive, redistribution. But is any of this compatible with capitalism, and even more specifically with modern conservative capitalist thought? I believe so.

    In the law of the jungle, might makes right and the weak go to the wall. The rich can always buy might and use it to steal from the poor. When the law exists as a fair, even-handed tool that is there for all, it promotes redistribution at such a fundamental level that most people don’t even consider the redistributive effects of it, it’s bedrock foundational for the 1st world because you can’t get rich without it. Yet for a world church, this assumption of the availability of law would be a bad assumption. The rule of law is not everywhere the Catholic Church operates and the Church sees the problems that arise when the law is for the rich and not for the poor. In that sense, conservatives not only support redistribution, we often champion it. This is certainly not the only form of redistribution that conservatives are in favor of but for my part, I’ll be laying out my list in subsequent posts. For everybody else, I encourage you to do so in comments.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Religion | 28 Comments »

    Banned in Sheaville I

    Posted by TM Lutas on 27th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Well, it looks like Mark Shea’s had enough of me again and instituted another ban, sad. While he’s an able Catholic and quite often admirably proclaims the faith, he has political positions that cause him to occasionally go off the deep end. The most recent ban was his mocking of Romney for his Mexican pander by using tan in a can. Except when it emerged that Romney actually didn’t do it, Shea kept on after Romney because of his well established pander reputation. And that’s exactly the moment that Shea stopped being a Catholic apologist and transmogrified (temporarily) into disgusted, grumpy, political hack. I was banned fairly shortly afterwards.
    But Shea does post interesting articles, even when he’s wrong, such as this discourse on the consequences of lying to get Bin Laden. Shea, unfortunately, is so upset with the CIA that he doesn’t notice that there wasn’t any direct lie involved. He also missed that the vaccination of North Waziristan is not being held hostage for honest administrators of vaccine but instead is held hostage for a cessation of drone attacks. Here’s the comment I’m currently unable to post.

    There is a problem with the article. There are several lies operating here. The first is that the CIA operation was a sham vaccination. As I understand it, the vaccine was real enough. The procedure was irregular and tailored to the needs of the CIA but anybody getting stuck actually got vaccinated for polio. I believe that if you teach the administering xanaxonlinebuy nurse to pull back so that you get blood back flow into your sharp at the end of the administration and also dispose the sharps so that they are traceable back to the administering location, you have not lied. It’s the protocol of the program, period.
    I would be interested in hearing how to conduct a blind clinical trial without lying under any definition of lying that would call the actual facts of the CIA program lying. I think you’d have a tough time doing science under that sort of a definition and since the Catholic Church is not anti-science, I suspect that the definition in use would be over-broad.
    The second lie is that the Taliban are stopping vaccination due to to this CIA program. The vaccination would proceed if drone attacks ceased regardless of whether the CIA were to get information via the vaccination program. If you fear DNA samples being taken, keep the sharps and gloves and destroy them yourselves. The reality is that the Taliban are using the health of children as a propaganda weapon to strike at the US government and to the detriment of the lives of the children of North Waziristan.

    Update: Forwarded a link to a related article to him mentioning that he’d banned me. He claims it was an accident. I neither know, nor particularly care how it happened. For whatever reason, it seems to have been undone and that’s the end of it.

    Posted in Religion | 5 Comments »