Saturday, July 16, 2011

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ron Paul and Pius IX

John Zmirak, of Taki's Top Drawer, offers a provocative argument in favor of the Ron Paul Revolution and what could be called Tory anti-statism:

It seems clear that the public sphere in America is irretrievably secular. So the only logical response of Christians must be to try to shrink it. Instead of attempting to baptize a Leviathan which turned on us long ago, we’d do much better to cage and starve the beast. We should favor low taxes—period, regardless of the “good” use to which politicians promise to put it. We should oppose nearly every government program intended to achieve any aim whatsoever. We can make exceptions here and there: We can favor the protection of innocent lives, which would cover things like fixing traffic lights and throwing abortionists into prison. But that is pretty much that. Christian public policy should focus not on capturing the power of the State but shrinking it, to the bare minimum required to enforce individual rights, narrowly defined. Likewise, the share of our wealth seized by the state must be radically slashed, to allow for private initiatives and charities that will not be amoral, soulless, bureaucratic and counterproductive (like the secular welfare state). Instead of asking for handouts to our schools in the forms of vouchers, we should seek the privatization of public schools—which by their very nature, in today’s post-Christian America, are engines of secularism. And so on for nearly every institution of the centralized State, which has hijacked the rightful activities of civil society and the churches, and which every year steals so much of our wealth to squander on itself that we can barely afford to reproduce ourselves.

Zmirak concludes, that while he would essentially prefer a return of the Hapsburg dynasty and that the unity of the crown and altar can be persued in some communities, it cannot be done so here in the good ole USA:

In many cultural contexts, the State can fruitfully employ its power to promote the faith and morals held in common by a community. But that can’t happen here. Not in America. Several of our Founders, and generations of our lawyers, have seen to that. We have no more reason to cooperate with the secular state than Irishmen have to trust the British Crown. And that’s how I reconcile Ron Paul with Pius IX.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Colbert on Ron Paul

Stephen Colbert, political satirist and practicing Catholic, has a hillarious piece on Ron Paul's latest performance at the Republican debate:

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Federal Reserve is No Magisterium

Nicholas von Hoffman writes in The Nation:

Paul is the contender who seems to understand that the Federal Reserve Board is not the Vatican and that its chairman, Ben Bernanke, is not the pope. It's a fixed practice by our politicians to treat whoever is the chairman of the Fed as though he were endowed with infallible powers.

On Wall Street, the sharper ones know better. They understand that lowering interest rates every time the stock market swoons will eventually, or even a lot sooner, bring a world of pain down on us. As it is, thanks to the Fed, interest rates are lower than the rate of inflation. This anomalous condition is called "negative interest," and for savers it means that their money is disappearing even as it rests safely tucked away in certificates of deposit.

Our country's pervasive monetary ignorance is finally yielding to the wise instruction of Ron Paul and the bitter lessons of current experience. Inflation has been a problem in this country for many years, primarily from the fractional reserve banking practices of the Federal Reserve system. To Catholics who are interested in the moral problems behind economic phenomena, I urge a reading of this great essay by Professor Jorg Guido Hulsmann called "The Cultural and Spiritual Legacy of Fiat Inflation":
The spiritual dimension of these inflation-induced habits seems to be obvious. Money and financial questions come to play an exaggerated role in the life of man. Inflation makes society materialistic. More and more people strive for money income at the expense of personal happiness. Inflation-induced geographical mobility artificially weakens family bonds and patriotic loyalty. Many of those who tend to be greedy, envious, and niggardly anyway fall prey to sin. Even those who are not so inclined by their natures will be exposed to temptations they would not otherwise have felt. And because the vagaries of the financial markets also provide a ready excuse for an excessively parsimonious use of one’s money, donations for charitable institutions will decline.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

National Catholic Register on Ron Paul

Today's headline piece in the National Catholic Register, "Ron Paul Draws Passionate Support", by Charlie Spiering features two quotations from yours truly:

Paul stands alone among the Republican presidential candidates as one who voted against the Iraq war, stating that it was unconstitutional, since it never received a congressional declaration of war. If elected president, Paul promises to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Thomas Peters, who runs the blog American Papist, contributes to a blog called Catholics for Ron Paul. He noted that since the Vatican hasn’t spoken magisterially about the Iraq war, Catholics can continue to debate the issue. “He [Paul] has philosophical and rational reasons for why he thinks that American involvement isn’t the best choice,” said Peters. “He examines the question using principles of just war theory, specifically speaking about the Christian tradition of a just war,” he added.

Paul mentioned the Vatican’s comments regarding the Iraq War when paying tribute to John Paul II’s legacy. “The Pope’s commitment to human dignity, grounded in the teachings of Christ, led him to become one of the most eloquent spokesmen for the consistent ethic of life, exemplified by his struggles against abortion, war, euthanasia and the death penalty,” he said on the floor of the House of Representatives on April 6, 2005, four days after the Pope’s death.

Although initially a supporter of the death penalty, Paul changed his position after studying the issue throughout his political career.

Some religious voters remain skeptical about a vote for Paul, as his strict interpretation for the Constitution pits him against federal legislation to ban prostitution, drugs and homosexual “marriage.”

Peters said, “Ron Paul voted against the marriage amendment, but only because he thought it was non-constitutional, not because he doesn’t think marriage isn’t a union of a man and a woman.”

Ron Paul addressed the March for Life yesterday, but sadly I missed it. There were several Ron Paul supporters at the March, some of them carrying "Ron Paul for Life" banners.

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade) endorsed Dr. Paul for President yesterday, as Casey Khan predicted on Monday.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ron Paul & Jane Roe

The word on the street, with regard to tomorrow's March for Life, is that Norma Leah McCorvey, Jane Roe of the infamous Roe v. Wade, is going to hold a press conference with Dr. Paul at 10:30am at the Phoenix Park Hotel on the Hill.

According to David Freddoso at National Review Online, "The campaign would not directly answer whether she's going to endorse Paul, but they sure hinted at it."

For more on Ron Paul's pro-life views see here & here.

For a fresh approach to the abortion problem, see the We the People Act: HR 300, proposed by Ron Paul.

Friday, January 18, 2008

America: Ron Paul and Catholic Social Teaching

Micheal Sean Winters has written a ridiculous blog post titled "Ron Paul, Libertarianism, and Catholic Social Teaching" for the left oriented Jesuit publication America. Nice title for a piece where only one mere sliver of Catholic Social Teaching is even mentioned. Further, he takes a very narrow view of libertarianism, namely the libertine variety that is often associated with places like the Cato Institute and he claims the libertarian patron saint is none other than the uber-egoist Ayn Rand. Of course, if this was libertarianism properly understood, as a universal philosophy of living life, then Catholics have no place holding such a political philosophy.

However, if there were ever a patron saint of libertarianism, particularly in the modern era, it would probably be the Catholic political philosopher Lord Acton, who famously stated that "Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end." While Acton holds such a high view of liberty, it should be noted that this view does not go beyond what is political. In other words, Winters is correct when he says "[Catholics] do not value human autonomy..." Naturally, the human person is more than just some automaton living out an existence of extreme independence. From birth, we are dependent on parents. At extreme old age and infirmity, we are dependent on our children and our siblings. In our economy, we are interdependent on the actions of our fellow man by making mutual gains from exchange, trade. Most importantly, as Catholics we are dependent on God. Without, the Lord the Giver of life, we'd have no life. Without the sacrifice of the Son on Calvary, we'd have no Resurrection. And so we come to the highest end of humanity, to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and all our souls. Thus, it is not a necessary condition that libertarian political ideal need be construed to encompass all facets of a persons life beyond its practice politically.

Libertarian political thought can be summarized as the Golden Rule in negative form, do not to your brothers as you would have not done to you. This ideal should be seen as a bare minimum for human interaction, and not as a complete universal to human interaction. Caritas to our fellow man is still required, but it does not follow that it is to be carried out through means of brute force and coercion. The Catholic or Christian libertarian simply looks to follow the Golden Rule in negative form regarding political interaction, and in positive form for the balance of his human interaction.

I'd recommend Winters look beyond the libertines to other sources of libertarian thought before spouting his mouth off about things he does not understand. Reading authors like Locke and Cicero, as well as to Catholic sources like John of Salisbury and the Spaniards at Salamanca of the Late Scholastic period to get a sense of where libertarians might be coming from. Besides since when was the Cato Institute the Libertarian Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? Winters argues that since Cato once had a vile conference promoting a book on genetically altered "Designer Babies", that this passes for libertarian thinking everywhere. Winters seems to have no idea that the Cato Institute has never had nor ever will have any amity with Ron Paul. And as to why he didn't get the memo from his New Republic buddies on their well timed smear of Ron Paul, I don't know? In any case, Ron Paul has always been outside what is often held as mainstream libertarianism, namely because he's a pro-life country doctor and family man, that views libertarianism as a political philosophy and not as some means to live a life of decadent license. Ron Paul doesn't exasperate people like Winters at their cosmopolitan dinner parties with talk of eliminating traffic signals. No instead, Paul just goes home to see the grand kids.

So while we're talking about life, liberty, and Catholic Social Teaching, let's see how Winters measures up Paul.


Winters, like most others, derides Ron Paul's foreign policy as isolationist. What practitioner of Catholic Social Teaching does Winters site in refutation? That Catholic paragon known as Harry Truman of course. Winters could at least cite George Weigel or Father Neuhaus, but Truman? You know, the only man crazy enough to deploy nuclear weapons against human beings at two of Japan's largest Christian cities. So, in a truly nuclear move, "[Paul's] isolationist foreign policy views were happily repudiated by Harry Truman and GOP Sen. Arthur Vandenberg more than 50 years ago." I guess the murders at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a smashing success in destroying the idea of an "isolationist" foreign policy. Maybe Winters is referring to the United Nations and all the fruitful works that have resulted with its interventions in Korea, Palestine, and the Balkans. But, then again, mass death comes with the blue helmets too. In any case, in calling Ron Paul a "wingnut" Winters fails to address Paul's invocation of St. Augustine's Just War thesis or his call to consider the Golden Rule when thinking about foreign regimes. It is quite disconcerting when an author at a prominent Jesuit publication derides a non-interventionist foreign policy invoking peace, diplomacy, and trade in an off handed manner by means of Harry Truman, an acolyte of belligerent warmongery. Paul's foreign policy can be rightly described by John XXIII's encyclical, Pacem in Terris, as a method to regulate relations between the US and other states by the principle of freedom. "This means that no country has the right to take any action that would constitute an unjust oppression of other countries, or an unwarranted interference in their affairs." Which is exactly what Ron Paul has consistently called for on the floor of the House of Representatives, in the GOP debates, and on the campaign trail. As for Truman's foreign policy, you know the Satanic idea that we have to kill them over there before they might try to think about killing us over here, Elizabeth Anscombe gets it right reminding us of Saint Paul who argued that we must not do evil that good may come:

"When I say that to choose to kill the innocent as a means to one's ends is murder, I am saying what would generally be accepted as correct. But I shall be asked for my definition of "the innocent". I will give it, but later. Here, it is not necessary; for with Hiroshima and Nagasaki we are not confronted with a borderline case. In the bombing of these cities it was certainly decided to kill the innocent as a means to an end."

Gold Standard

If one does not understand how the Federal Reserve operates, essentially by what is called fractional reserve banking, I can understand how they might not be alarmed by what is being done to our currency. However, through the means of merely printing money with no disciplined approach, the Federal Reserve has dramatically decreased the purchasing power of our currency. To those who worry about the ideal of a Just Wage, they should consider Ron Paul's arguments in favor of the gold standard as a means of reigning in a regime of monetary permissiveness that has consistently operated to serve the best interests of Wall Street bankers and corporate America. Further, monetary permissiveness has hurt most those living on fixed incomes, particularly the elderly. It is my understanding that all government policies, in light of the CST, should consider the common good rather than the private interests of a business elite. I'd hope writers at America who show concern for America's poor would consider how a stable currency comports with a view to the common good, in contrast to the chaos and hyper-speculative activity that results from fractional reserve banking.

Social Welfare Programs

It is true that Dr. Paul wishes, in the long run, to eliminate Federal welfare programs as well as federal income tax. However, he does take the realistic view that Social Security, Welfare, and VA benefits are programs that people have become dependent on which will take time to eliminate. He has consistently said that by reigning in our interventionist foreign policy, that he would use such funding to continue provide Federal welfare for those in need. Which brings us back to libertarians and understanding the human coniditon, where Paul recognizes the fact that many are dependent on such programs and that it would be inhumane to cut people from them cold turkey. Of course what is at stake for these people is their dignity, and as such, it is the hope of some Catholic libertarians that when government forms of welfare are eliminated, private forms of Catholic charity can more than fill the gap with the vigor and love which they have been renowned for hundreds of years. It's time to stop crowding out charity based on caritas, with the bureaucratic form, dull and lifeless.

Next time, when Micheal Sean Winters writes about Ron Paul's policy ideas and Catholic Social Teaching, maybe he could address them substantively, based on research about Ron Paul's actual ideas and not on some libertine caricatures. Hopefully he'll actually address, in some manner, the social teaching of the Church.