How socialism undermines family, community and the dignity of labor

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Free Canuckistan! Thanks for the link, Binks!

I saw this amazing post over on the Pugnacious Irishman, and I would highly recommend you take a look at it. Rich comments on an essay by Charles Murray on whether the United States should start implementing European-style social policies.

Here is Rich’s summary of the Murray article:

In the annual Irving Kristol Lecture given at the American Enterprise Institute Dinner, he argues that while such Europe-style policies might produce an economic benefit or two, they are ill conceived because they suck the meaning out of life.  They do this by enfeebling the institutions necessary for robust meaning in life: family, community, vocation, and faith.  Lastly, he argues that in the next few decades, science will provide ample evidence that such policies are ill conceived.

But how does European democratic socialism destroy human flourishing?

Murray writes:

To become a source of deep satisfaction, a human activity has to meet some stringent requirements. It has to have been important (we don’t get deep satisfaction from trivial things). You have to have put a lot of effort into it (hence the cliché “nothing worth having comes easily”). And you have to have been responsible for the consequences.

There aren’t many activities in life that can satisfy those three requirements…. Let me put it formally: If we ask what are the institutions through which human beings achieve deep satisfactions in life, the answer is that there are just four: family, community, vocation, and faith.

…It is not necessary for any individual to make use of all four institutions, nor do I array them in a hierarchy. I merely assert that these four are all there are. The stuff of life–the elemental events surrounding birth, death, raising children, fulfilling one’s personal potential, dealing with adversity, intimate relationships–coping with life as it exists around us in all its richness–occurs within those four institutions.

Seen in this light, the goal of social policy is to ensure that those institutions are robust and vital. And that’s what’s wrong with the European model. It doesn’t do that. It enfeebles every single one of them.

And then comes Murray’s central thesis. Big government socialism, by taking responsibility away from individuals in the areas of importance and meaning, actually causes more problems than it solves. Murray calls this government involvement in these areas “taking the trouble out” of life.

Murray continues:

The problem is this: Every time the government takes some of the trouble out of performing the functions of family, community, vocation, and faith, it also strips those institutions of some of their vitality–it drains some of the life from them.

It’s inevitable. Families are not vital because the day-to-day tasks of raising children and being a good spouse are so much fun, but because the family has responsibility for doing important things that won’t get done unless the family does them. Communities are not vital because it’s so much fun to respond to our neighbors’ needs, but because the community has the responsibility for doing important things that won’t get done unless the community does them. Once that imperative has been met–family and community really do have the action–then an elaborate web of social norms, expectations, rewards, and punishments evolves over time that supports families and communities in performing their functions.

When the government says it will take some of the trouble out of doing the things that families and communities evolved to do, it inevitably takes some of the action away from families and communities, and the web frays, and eventually disintegrates.

…We have seen growing legions of children raised in unimaginably awful circumstances, not because of material poverty but because of dysfunctional families, and the collapse of functioning neighborhoods into Hobbesian all-against-all free-fire zones.

This next point is something I first read about in George Gilder’s book “Men and Marriage”. When the government steps in and takes away the responsibilities of a man, especially husband and father responsibilities, it destroys the male will to be a responsible contributor to society. If the welfare state awards money to women to raise children without the father, what honor is there in being a good man?

Earlier, I said that the sources of deep satisfactions are the same for janitors as for CEOs, and I also said that people needed to do important things with their lives. When the government takes the trouble out of being a spouse and parent, it doesn’t affect the sources of deep satisfaction for the CEO. Rather, it makes life difficult for the janitor. A man who is holding down a menial job and thereby supporting a wife and children is doing something authentically important with his life. He should take deep satisfaction from that, and be praised by his community for doing so. Think of all the phrases we used to have for it: “He is a man who pulls his own weight.” “He’s a good provider.”

If that same man lives under a system that says that the children of the woman he sleeps with will be taken care of whether or not he contributes, then that status goes away. I am not describing some theoretical outcome.

I am describing American neighborhoods where, once, working at a menial job to provide for his family made a man proud and gave him status in his community, and where now it doesn’t. I could give a half dozen other examples. Taking the trouble out of the stuff of life strips people–already has stripped people–of major ways in which human beings look back on their lives and say, “I made a difference.”

Murray’s article and Rich’s commentary continue, but for me this was the important point. When government distributes wealth, it gets involved in the decision-making of the most important areas of life: marriage, education, parenting, taxes, etc. Speaking as a man, when you take away choice and responsibility from me, you cannot expect me to engage in work or family or community in the same way I would if I were in charge.

By the way, I explained why European socialism leads to the decline of religion in a previous post.

Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant on Milt Rosenberg’s Extension 720 radio show!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Free Canuckistan! Thanks for the link, Binks!

Here is the commercial-free MP3 recording. We Americans need to understand what leftist ideologues do to free speech rights in other countries. It’s going to look a lot like what’s been done by the left in Canada, Europe and in leftist-dominated university campuses the world over. You must listen to this podcast! You will not find a better resource about the leftist threat to our liberties!

Already, we are seeing the Democrats take action to pass “Hate Crime” laws that punish free speech that might offend their favored constituencies! As Trent Franks notes, religious Christians are the likely targets of such laws. Our civil liberties are being threatened, and we need to start learning by studying the defenders of free speech, such as Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant.

What I like best about Ezra Levant

Ezra Levant is Jewish, but he is the best friend that Christians ever had in Canada. One of the victims of the virulently anti-Christian Human Rights Commissions was a penniless pastor by the name of Stephen Boissoin. Boissoin wrote an essay in which he expressed his opinions on gay activism. The case is described by Levant in the audio linked above.

But the main thing is that I have been watching with awe at how this good Jewish man Ezra Levant, who has his own 6-figure legal bill to worry about, has tirelessly supported this Christian pastor’s right to free speech. He not only re-published Boissoin’s letter on his own blog several times, but he has also organized fundraisers to raise funds for Boissoin’s appeal.

Calgary, Thursday, April 30

This one (and the next two) are very special events. They’re dinners to help a victim of Alberta’s human rights commission — Rev. Stephen Boissoin. As readers will recall, because he expressed his religious views on gay marriage, Rev. Boissoin was punished with a six-year government prosecution, and then an outrageous order — punitive fines, a lifetime ban on expressing his views in public or in private, and an abominable order to publicly renounce his religious views. Seriously — you can read the details here. Tickets are $100, with proceeds going to pay for Rev. Boissoin’s appeal. For more info, and to register, click here.

Red Deer, Friday, May 1

Second fundraising dinner for Rev. Stephen Boissoin’s legal defence, 6 p.m. Details here.

Edmonton, Saturday, May 2

Third and final fundraising dinner for Rev. Stephen Boissoin’s legal defence, 6 p.m. Details here.

Ezra Levant is without a doubt the most heroic person in Canada! That is another reason to listen to the podcast. Levant and Steyn are two good men of courage and directness. This is the podcast equivalent of “Gladiator” and “300”. These are courageous, forceful men who have been given a difficult task. They are direct and passionate. PLEASE LISTEN TO THE PODCAST!!!

My previous posts on free speech in Canada

The Conservative Party takes up free speech in British Columbia

The Conservative Party takes up free speech in Ontario

Video of Ezra Levant discussing free speech on the Michael Coren show

Video interview with Ezra Levant by the libertarian Fraser Institute

Impact of the Human Rights Commissions on commerce in Canada

Friday night funny: Obama to ban fully-automatic assault vehicles

Scott Ott at Scrappleface.com has the scoop on Obama’s plan to spur new vehicle sales. No, it’s isn’t lowering the sales tax on new vehicle sales, like communist China did. Obama likes taxes, and sometimes I think he is to the left of communists.

Oh no, Obama has an even better idea!

Excerpt:

Since the Obama administration’s talk of banning so-called ‘assault weapons’ has resulted in a huge spike in semi-automatic weapon sales nationwide, the White House has recently begun a covert ‘whisper campaign’ suggesting the president might also ban U.S.-manufactured cars and trucks with fully-automatic transmissions, now dubbed ‘assault vehicles’.

President Obama reportedly hopes such chatter will give a much-needed boost to U.S. auto sales.

Happy Friday!

Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams are my two favorite living economists

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Free Canuckistan! Thanks for the link, Binks!

Let’s see some of their recent posts.

Is Obama’s weak foreign policy going to get us killed?

My biggest concern about Jimmy Carter II is for the nations that rely on us to protect their liberties. Our armed forces project strength abroad that safeguards the liberties of our allies against our enemies. Thomas Sowell just nails this point in his post about the dangers of weak foreign policy, a point most of us don’t even think about.

As if it is not enough to turn cutthroats loose to cut throats again, we are now contemplating legal action against Americans who wrung information about international terrorist operations out of captured terrorists.

Does nobody think ahead to what this will mean– for many years to come– if people trying protect this country from terrorists have to worry about being put behind bars themselves? Do we need to have American intelligence agencies tip-toeing through the tulips when they deal with terrorists?

…Repercussions extend far beyond issues of the day. It is bad enough that we have a glib and sophomoric narcissist in the White House. What is worse is that whole nations that rely on the United States for their security see how easily our president welshes on his commitments. So do other nations, including those with murderous intentions toward us, our children and grandchildren.

Who caused the subprime mortgage crisis?

Thomas Sowell writes about who caused the subprime mortgage crisis. And he has a new book out about it, too!

Beginning in the 1990s, getting a higher proportion of the American population to become homeowners became the political holy grail of government housing policies. Increasing home ownership among minorities and other people of low or moderate incomes was also part of this political crusade.

Because banks are regulated by various agencies of the federal government, it was easy to pressure them to lend to people that they would not otherwise lend to– namely, people with lower incomes, poorer credit ratings and little or no money for a conventional down payment of 20 percent of the price of a house.

Such people were referred to politically as “the underserved population”– as if politicians know who should and who shouldn’t get mortgages better than people who have spent their careers making mortgage-lending decisions.

My own comprehensive post on this topic is Democrats caused the recession and Republicans tried to stop it.

What happens when the secular left undermines morality?

I’ve blogged about how atheism cannot ground the rationality of moral values, moral duties and moral accountability. The presumption of materialism is inconsistent with rationality, consciousness and free will which are necessary pre-conditions for non-ephemeral morality. So what happens to civil society when atheists push religion out of the public square? Walter Williams explains.

To see men sitting whilst a woman or elderly person was standing on a crowded bus or trolley car used to be unthinkable. It was common decency for a man to give up his seat. Today, in some cities there are ordinances requiring public conveyances to set aside seats posted “Senior Citizen Seating.” Laws have replaced common decency. Years ago, a young lady who allowed a guy to have his hand in her rear pocket as they strolled down the street would have been seen as a slut. Children addressing adults by first names was unacceptable.

You might be tempted to charge, “Williams, you’re a prude!” I’d ask you whether high rates of illegitimacy make a positive contribution to a civilized society. If not, how would you propose that illegitimacy be controlled? In years past, it was controlled through social sanctions like disgrace and shunning. Is foul language to or in the presence of teachers conducive to an atmosphere of discipline and respect necessary for effective education? If not, how would you propose it be controlled? Years ago, simply sassing a teacher would have meant a trip to the vice principal’s office for an attitude adjustment administered with a paddle. Years ago, the lowest of lowdown men would not say the kind of things often said to or in front of women today. Gentlemanly behavior protected women from coarse behavior. Today, we expect sexual harassment laws to restrain coarse behavior.

I personally feel alienated by how impolite, unchaste, unromantic and unchivalrous my generation has become.

What is Obama working on instead of making Americans safer?

Below is the video of the new Republican ad that highlights all the recent bungling by Obama on national security and foreign policy. (H/T Gateway Pundit)

The Patriot Room has more on this effective ad.

Check out this post on Obama’s opposition to waterboarding. And this one of Obama’s military spending cuts. A general article listing the administration’s failures on national security and foreign policy. And an essay I wrote on the conservative doctrine of peace through strength. And don’t forget last week’s Friday night funny on Obama’s plan to undo the effects of Bush’s successful national security policies.

Robert Spencer over at Jihad Watch has this post up about how Obama overruled the CIA and FBI in order to release Gitmo detainees into the United States.

Excerpt:They told him these guys were dangerous jihadists, and Obama doesn’t seem to care. They’re coming to your neighborhood whether you or the FBI or DHS like it or not. Relax. What could go wrong?

Spencer asks: “How about putting them up in the White House?”

So, what are Democrats focused on instead of national security?

First, Democrats are busy restricting free speech to protect the hurt feelings of their special interest groups. Here is a speech by Representative Trent Franks about the recent thought crime hate crime bill that the Democrats just passed in the House.

Excerpt:

In fact, Madam Speaker, the essence of America is that all people should be treated with the same respect and should be protected completely equally under the law. To break up people into different categories and say that one group is more worthy of protection than another and then to grant special protection to some groups and not to others, fundamentally diminishes the protection of all of the other remaining groups.

…The First Amendment of our Constitution was crafted because our Founding Fathers recognized that the freedom of thought and belief is the cornerstone of every other freedom. It is the foundation of liberty itself, because, without it, every other freedom, including the freedom of speech, becomes meaningless.

…Not only does this legislation require law enforcement to investigate an individual’s motivations–those are the thoughts and beliefs that seemingly motivate him or her to commit a crime–but it would expand the scope of the prosecution to include individuals or members of organizations or religious groups whose ideas or words may have influenced a person’s thoughts or motivations when he committed a crime.

…Madam Speaker, this would have a devastating and chilling effect on free speech in America. Who could blame pastors, educators or any other cultural leaders if they chose to cease expressing their beliefs for fear of being thrown in prison and charged with a Federal crime? This is not rhetorical speculation. It has already happened in the case of the Philadelphia 11 and in other cases. In the Philadelphia 11 case, 11 individuals were jailed, and they faced $90,000 in fines and 47 years in prison for simply speaking the gospel openly and publicly.

Democrats have to be divisive, and pit one group against another. That is how they get elected – by promising all of their victims government-run salvation from their “enemies”. They thrive on anger, divisiveness, victimization, blame-fixing and resentment.

Second, the Democrats are working hard to raise the unemployment rate by attacking small businesses.

Today’s Washington Post has a front page story: “Small Businesses Brace for Tax Battle,” that catalogues the burden small businesses will face under the President’s massive $4 trillion budget which raises taxes by more than $1.4 trillion.

Gail Johnson, the subject of the Post’s story, is a former pediatric nurse who’s spent “20 years building a chain of preschools and after-school programs that accommodate sick children so working parents can keep their jobs,” but since, “like most small-business owners, Johnson reports her profit on her personal tax return,” she’ll see her taxes go up under the President’s plan – big time.

The WaPo’s article says this:

In a typical year, Johnson’s federal tax bill would be about $120,000.  But starting in 2011, the higher marginal rates would add about $13,000 a year, Hurst said.  Capping the value of itemized deductions at 28 percent would add another $10,000, for a total increase of $23,000.

And Johnson’s tax bill stands to grow dramatically if Obama were to revive a plan to apply Social Security tax to income over $250,000 instead of capping it at the current $106,800.  Because Johnson is an employee and an employer, she would have to pay both portions of the tax, Hurst said, tacking another $30,000 onto her bill.

Johnson said such an increase would force her to consider scaling back operations.

Why do Democrats complain so much about outsourcing and “the rich”? They are the ones who cause businesses to shut down, downsize, relocate overseas or outsource. They push anti-business policies, like tax hikes, card check, global warming regulations, tariffs, etc. If you want more jobs, then make business ownership profitable. Is that so hard to understand?

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

%d bloggers like this: