Piero Tozzi

Paul Ryan and the Children of Keynes

Piero Tozzi
By Piero Tozzi
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Note: This article first appeared at The Bell Towers.

September 25, 2012 (TheBellTowers) - Mitt Romney’s nomination of Catholic congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate has generated criticism from certain members of the “Catholic Left,” who accuse Ryan of being a ”cafeteria Catholic” – a charge more typically levied by the orthodox against those who deviate from church teaching on issues of sexual morality – by ostensibly ignoring the poor.

For his part, Ryan, the architect of the GOP’s budgetary “Ryan Plan,” has engaged Cardinal Timothy Dolan in his role as head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, explaining why his budget proposals were consistent with Church social doctrine, with the Cardinal extending the reciprocal courtesy of a thoughtful reply.

This sets up a Left/Right division over which faction bears more authentic allegiance to “Catholic Social Teaching,” or doctrine on social justice issues such as poverty and the right ordering of relations between man, mediating institutions and the State.

Conventional thinking gives Ryan and his party the advantage when it comes to “subsidiarity” – the principle that political and economic decisions are best made at the level closest to those affected by them rather than by a top-down centralized bureaucracy – while crediting the Democrats for their commitment to “solidarity” – acting on behalf of the most poor and marginalized out of an assumed authentic altruism.

Such conventional thinking is only half right, however, for Ryan – at least when not in junior Randian mode – has the better argument not only with respect to subsidiarity, but solidarity as well.

For solidarity cannot be thought of solely in horizontal terms, arms outstretched to the poor who dwell among us – though it certainly does (and should) include that.  It is also vertical, extending into the future and touching the welfare of our children and grandchildren and generations yet to be conceived.

That social justice mandates a “preferential option for the poor” is beyond cavil, but does our vision of the vulnerable extend beyond the here and now to include those yet visible?  A true notion of solidarity must be multi-layered, and not flat.

What happens to the poor when the public fisc empties?  What is the effect of deficit spending counted in the trillions upon our children and their children? What does Standard & Poor’s credit downgrade auger? What about inflationary monetary policy, currency devaluation, and the ineluctable march toward a single-payer health care system?  What do events in Greece portend?

One must ask of politicians who count on the continued innumeracy of a citizenry baffled by numbers larger than twenty – the point at which one runs out of fingers and toes – whether it is all “sustainable,” to borrow a cant phrase.

John Maynard Keynes – whose “pump priming” economic theories, more than six decades after his death, animate the Obama administration’s stimulus policy, as does the “fatal conceit” of a command economy characterized by socialized medicine– was once asked whether such policies were sustainable in the long run.  Keynes’ famous reply: “In the long run, we are all dead.”

To which the proper rejoinder would be: “But our children and grandchildren won’t be!”

The beggaring of generations yet to be begotten was not an apparent concern of JMK, whose indifference might be attributable in part to sexual proclivities not ordered to the propagation of the species.

Which raises the connection between economic and moral profligacy…

Social issues are profoundly economic, and vice versa; the surest way to ensure that the next generation of citizens be well-integrated and productive is to strengthen the family unit headed by a biological father and a biological mother – see the social science research of Pat Fagan, David Blankenhorn and many others on this point – while the surest way to encourage social dysfunction and economic dependency is to undermine the nuclear family.

Yet when confronted by the cost of a health care plan to be borne by future generations, the default solution offered by President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius is to embrace sterility, pushing birth control to eliminate future generations of government dependents. One might also point out that such a reductionist calculus overlooks the fact that such future citizens, were they allowed to come into existence, might also be productive taxpayers as well.  Why the default assumption that they must be tax-consuming wards of the Welfare State?

Catholics who must by moral necessity be concerned with true social justice, balancing the harmonic interplay between subsidiarity and solidarity, should question where authentic allegiance to the common good leads.  Is ObamaCare designed to extend health care to those who lack it? Is the push to increase food stamp rolls designed to alleviate hunger? Is the move toward eliminating workfare requirements at the state level an attempt to promote the dignity of those who receive government assistance by removing stigma?  Or is the aim to foster a culture of Julia-like serfdom while voicing the rhetoric of compassion (and sternly rebuking “greed”), cynically calibrating things to create a dependency caste of 51% that can give one a perpetual governing majority, while squeezing the productive minority?

Members of the modern day Party of Obama are Keynes’ spiritual heirs in ways that the Party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt never fully were: not only are they economic profligates clamoring for an economic policy which threatens to crush future generations under mountain of debt, but they are also moral libertines who, like Keynes with his sexual dalliances, willingly embrace an anti-Culture of sterility, ne’er thinking of the morrow, for when it comes we shall all be dead.  Carpe diem, indeed.

Thus the hootenanny in Charlotte gave us Sandra Fluke and Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards touting mandated funding of contraception by churches and citizens who conscientiously object, and a call for the funneling of billions to Big Abortion.

Abortion, of course, is the starkest violation of intergenerational solidarity, Medea and Agave ripping asunder the mother-child bond.  But so too is every act of contraception, every act of sodomy, a betrayal of future generations.  And, when the top of the inverse pyramid becomes too heavy, due to the children who were never born not being there to help sustain the burden of caring for their elders, the temptation to euthanize – another act of intergenerational violence – arises.  What are the implications of the rationing of health care advocated by Ezekiel Emanuel in his 2009 Lancet article? What are the implications of a party platform that is built upon a right to contraception, abortion and “gay marriage,” coupled with massive government debt?

One cannot build, nor sustain, a culture upon such foundations.

As with Ozymandias, it is the “fatal conceit” of theorists of liberal autonomy to think that civilization with all its contemporary trappings – the iPhones, the “carbon neutral” childless vacations, home delivery of the Financial Times – will remain the same fifty years hence.

Yet they persist in their folly, and label it a virtue.  A number of years ago The Daily Mail ran an article, in which a young woman who worked for an “environmental charity,” related her rationale for aborting her only child and then undergoing sterilization:

Having children is selfish. It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet. . . . I didn’t like having a termination, but it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world. . . . [We] have a much nicer lifestyle as a result of not having children. . . . Every year, we also take a nice holiday — we’ve just come back from South Africa. We feel we can have one long-haul flight a year, as we are vegan and childless, thereby greatly reducing our carbon footprint and combating over-population.

The mystery writer P.D. James once wrote a dystopian novel entitled Children of Men – the title echoes Psalm 90:3 – where the world was struck by a baffling plague of sterility, and the remnant generations noted the dwindling of humanity each year since the birth of the last Omega cohort, a progression toward the Darkness.

The Children of Keynes, who have chosen their sterility and celebrate it, shout “Forward!”

“Forward,” one asks, “toward what?”

Piero A. Tozzi is Senior Legal Counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, where he practices international human rights law.  His areas of responsibility include Latin America, the Caribbean and the United Nations.  He also serves as Senior Fellow with the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkins’ statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

"It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities," Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. "Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

"While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born," she said. "Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection."

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, "People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society."

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the "difficult and confusing time" when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience "negative attitudes."

"What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information," the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the church they attend in New Jersey, "because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey , 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

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President George Bush takes the ice bucket challenge in a video released this week.
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What’s wrong with the viral ‘ice bucket challenge’? A lot, say pro-life leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

Pro-life leaders in the U.S. are warning about ethical problems with the viral "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has raised over $15 million for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease since late July, making its way to the top of American politics, and the entertainment and business worlds in the process.

In recent days, former president George W. Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, TV hosts Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have all had ice-cold water dumped on their heads in support of the effort.

They have been joined by many thousands of everyday Americans eager to do their part to raise funds to find a cure for the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

However, pro-life leaders from Patheos blogger Father Michael Duffy to the American Life League (ALL) are all pointing out that the ALS Association, which is behind the wildly popular fundraising effort, funds and otherwise supports embryonic stem cell research.

Instead, they are urging that pro-life people who want to participate in the ice bucket challenge send their donations to other charities that don't have similar ethical issues.

Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of an unborn child. This is unlike adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, which are considered ethical.

A spokesperson from the ALS Association admitted to American Life League in an e-mail that while the organization "primarily funds adult stem cell research," they are "funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC)..."

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"It is noble to combat a deadly disease," Live Action president Lila Rose said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, but added that "it's such a shame that the ALS Association...chooses to support research that thrives from experimenting on and killing tiny, innocent human beings."

"Embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of pre-born people, is inherently unethical and a violation of fundamental human rights, and even materialists must admit that promises of its benefits have failed to deliver," continued Rose. "There is no good reason to condone this practice; in fact, all it does is taint the ALS Association, whom I'd otherwise be happy to support."

In the email to American Life League, ALS Assocation Spokesperson Carrie Munk defended the organization, saying that the embryonic stem cell research is being funded by an outside donor, and "the stem cell line was established many years ago."

She added that "under very strict guidelines, The Association may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future," and that currently "donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project."

At least one Catholic archdiocese has spoken up about the problematic relationship between ALS Assocation and unethical research.

"We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in the ice bucket challenge," said a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. "But it's a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit."

Both Fr. Duffy and the archdiocese have recommended money be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa. It is an organization that exclusively researches with adult stem cells. 

One D.C.-area Catholic, Robert Vega, wrote on Facebook that "in light of the absolute dignity of human life and necessity to defend it...I have taken down my Ice Bucket video, untagged myself from my nomination video, and encourage anyone to whom I may have spread the Challenge to do the same."

Embryonic stem cell research, which was a major controversy throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, has quietly, although decidedly, become less popular after many of the exalted promises of its proponents failed to materialize. As LifeSiteNews reported, in 2012 California and Maryland funded a fraction of the embryonic stem cell research projects that they did in 2007. Likewise, Maryland funded nearly twice as many stem cell research projects in 2012 as it had in the prior year -- but only one of the grants was done for an embryonic research project.

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Catholic couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host same-sex ‘wedding’ at their farm

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By Kirsten Anderson
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Robert and Cynthia Gifford

The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) has ruled that the Roman Catholic owners of an Albany-area farm violated the civil rights of a lesbian couple when they declined to host the couple’s same-sex “marriage” ceremony in 2012.

Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who own and operate Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, were ordered by DHR Judge Migdalia Pares and Commissioner Helen Diane Foster to pay $10,000 in fines to the state and an additional $3,000 in damages to the lesbian couple, Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin for “mental pain and suffering.” 

Additionally, the Giffords must provide sensitivity training to their staff, and prominently display a poster highlighting state anti-discrimination laws.

The Giffords’ attorney, Jim Trainor, told LifeSiteNews that the two-year-legal drama and resulting fines all stemmed from a single brief phone call in 2012 that caught his clients off guard.

“The entire interaction between the Complainants and the Giffords transpired during a two to three minute telephone conversation which, unknown to Mrs. Gifford, was being tape recorded,” Trainor said.

“After communicating the fact that they chose not to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies at the farm because to do so would violate the Giffords’ sincerely held beliefs (that God intended marriage to be between a man a woman only), Mrs. Gifford invited the couple to visit the farm to discuss handling their wedding reception, which the couple refused.” 

The Giffords draw a line, Trainor explained, between a ceremony that solemnizes a homosexual relationship and a reception that celebrates the union after the fact.  To participate in the former, they argue, would be a violation of their own religious beliefs, especially because marriage ceremonies on the farm typically take place in and around the couple’s home, where they live full-time and are raising their two children. 

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But the Giffords are willing to serve gay couples in other ways – for example, they allowed another lesbian couple to throw a birthday party for their adopted child on the farm.

Trainor said he believes the decision by DHR goes too far in that it seeks to regulate what the Giffords can or cannot do in their own private home, even though state law only requires “places of public accommodation” to adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

“They consider the farm their home,” Trainor said. “They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there.”

Trainor also said that the Judge and Commissioner should have taken into account the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling, which came down weeks before the DHR notified the Giffords of their decision.

“We're disappointed that neither the Administrative Law Judge nor the Commissioner considered the Gifford's Constitutional (1st Amendment) rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a ‘marriage’ ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs,” Trainor said. 

Trainor said he and the Giffords are evaluating their options for further legal action.

The Giffords could simply ask the DHR to reconsider their decision, but Trainor said he doubts that approach would be successful. In order to formally appeal the ruling the couple would have to go to the New York State Supreme Court. 

But there is another option: The Giffords could file a fresh lawsuit in either state or federal court challenging the constitutionality of the DHR ruling.

While religious liberty has been a hot topic in federal court lately, Trainor said New York’s state constitution “actually offers a lot” of protection when it comes to religious freedom. “Many people view it as more expansive than the U.S. Constitution in terms of religious freedoms.”

However, Trainor emphasized that the Giffords have not yet decided which avenue, if any, they are planning to take in terms of pursuing further legal action.

In the meantime, the Giffords will continue hosting wedding ceremonies and receptions at the farm, Trainor said. However, they are considering hiring a dedicated employee to handle the ceremonies in order to avoid having to directly participate in any future same-sex “weddings.”

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