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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‘It’s a miracle’: Newborn girl survives two days after being abandoned in a field

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

The survival of a baby who was abandoned by her mother and left in a field for two days has been described as "a miracle" by the doctor attending the newborn girl.

"She had been left alone naked, and weighed less than a kilogram, in part because she was so severely dehydrated," said Doctor Barbara Chomik at the hospital in the northern Polish city of Elblag, according to a report from Central European News.

"It is a miracle that she survived under those conditions for so long. It is simply a miracle," Dr. Chomik said.

The report said that the child's mother, Jolanta Czarnecka, 30, of Ilawa in northeastern Poland, had concealed her pregnancy from friends and fellow workers, and had given birth in a field during a lunch break, then returned to work.

When blood was noticed on her clothing, the woman at first claimed she had accidentally given birth in the toilet and the baby had gone down the drain.

However, when investigation found no evidence supporting her claims, Czarnecka admitted to having given birth to the child in a nearby field and leaving her there.

When searchers found the child, two days after her birth, the little girl was dehydrated and covered with insects.

Czarnecka is facing charges of attempted murder for allegedly abandoning her child.

Czarnecka, who has entered a not guilty plea to the charges against her, could be sentenced to five years in prison if she is convicted.


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To the Christians who think 50 Shades is all sorts of awesome: Please, stop and THINK

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By Jonathon van Maren

It’s pretty depressing when you realize that, in 2014, many people seem to think that destruction of human dignity is a small price to pay for an orgasm.

I suppose when I write a column about a book that just sold its 100 millionth copy I shouldn’t be surprised when I get a bit of a kickback. But I have to say—I wasn’t expecting hundreds of commenters, many saying they were Christian, to come out loudly defending the porn novel 50 Shades of Grey, often tastelessly interspersed with details from their own sex lives.

People squawked that we “shouldn’t judge” those who practice bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (BDSM), and informed me that “no one gets hurt” and that it “isn’t abuse” and said that it was “just fantasy” (as if we have a separate brain and body for fantasy).

Meanwhile, not a single commenter addressed one of the main arguments I laid out—that with boys watching violent porn and girls being socialized to accept violence and torture inside of a sexual relationship, we have created a toxic situation in which people very much are being hurt.

In response to the defenders of this trash, let me make just a few points.

  1. Not all consent is equal.

People keep trumpeting this stupid idea that just because someone consents to something or allows something to happen, it isn’t abusive.

But if someone consents to being beaten up, punched, slapped, whipped, called disgusting and degrading names, and have other things done to them that I will choose not to describe here, does that make it any less abusive? It makes it legal (perhaps, but it certainly doesn’t make it any less disgusting or violent.

Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey? If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

Anyone who works with victims of domestic and sexual assault will tell you that just because someone permits something to happen or doesn’t extricate themselves from a situation doesn’t mean it isn’t, in fact, abuse. Only when it comes to sex are people starting to make this argument, so that they can cling to their fetishes and justify their turn-ons. Those women who defend the book because they think it spiced up their sex life are being incredibly selfish and negligent, refusing to think about how this book could affect other women in different situations, as well as young and impressionable girls.

In the words of renowned porn researcher and sociologist Dr. Gail Dines:

In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Christian [Grey of 50 Shades of Grey] is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings. Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal.

The most likely real-world ending of Fifty Shades of Grey is fifty shades of black and blue. The awful truth in the real world is that women who partner with a Christian Grey often end up hightailing it to a battered women's shelter with traumatized kids in tow. The less fortunate end up in graveyards.

  1. 50 Shades of Grey normalizes intimate partner violence…

…and sickeningly, even portrays it as romantic and erotic. Amy Bonomi, Lauren Altenburger, and Nicole Walton published an article on the impact of 50 Shades last year in the Journal of Women’s Health. Their conclusions are intuitive and horrifying:

While intimate partner violence (IPV) affects 25% of women and impairs health, current societal conditions—including the normalization of abuse in popular culture such as novels, film, and music—create the context to support such violence.

Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction, including: stalking (Christian deliberately follows Anastasia and appears in unusual places, uses a phone and computer to track Anastasia’s whereabouts, and delivers expensive gifts); intimidation (Christian uses intimidating verbal and nonverbal behaviors, such as routinely commanding Anastasia to eat and threatening to punish her); and isolation (Christian limits Anastasia’s social contact). Sexual violence is pervasive—including using alcohol to compromise Anastasia’s consent, as well as intimidation (Christian initiates sexual encounters when genuinely angry, dismisses Anastasia’s requests for boundaries, and threatens her). Anastasia experiences reactions typical of abused women, including: constant perceived threat (“my stomach churns from his threats”); altered identity (describes herself as a “pale, haunted ghost”); and stressful managing (engages in behaviors to “keep the peace,” such as withholding information about her social whereabouts to avoid Christian’s anger). Anastasia becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abuse.

Our analysis identified patterns in Fifty Shades that reflect pervasive intimate partner violence—one of the biggest problems of our time. Further, our analysis adds to a growing body of literature noting dangerous violence standards being perpetuated in popular culture.

  1. Really? Sadism?

I notice that commenters rarely break down what the acronym “BDSM” actually stands for: bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism. If they did, they could no longer make the repulsive claim that “love” or “intimacy” have anything to do with it.

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The definition of sadism is “enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain, especially sexual enjoyment from hurting or punishing someone…a sexual perversion in which gratification is obtained by the infliction of physical or mental pain on others.”

As one of my colleagues noted, we used to send sadists to a therapist or to prison, not to the bedroom. And 100 million copies of this porn novel have been unleashed on our society informing people that getting off on hurting someone is romantic and erotic. It is a brutal irony that people who scream about water-boarding terrorists are watching and experimenting with sexual practices far more brutal. As one porn researcher noted, some online BDSM porn promotes practices and behaviors that would be considered unlawful under the Geneva Convention if they were taking place in a wartime context.

It seems the Sexual Revolutionaries have gone from promoting “safe sex” to “safe words”—just in case the pain gets too rough. And none of them seem to be volunteering information on just how a woman is supposed to employ a safe word with a gag or bondage headgear on.

But who cares, right? Just one more casualty on our culture’s new Sexual Frontier.

  1. “It’s just fiction and fantasy and has no effect on the real world!”

That’s total garbage and they know it. I’ve met multiple girls who were abused like this inside of relationships. Hotels are offering “50 Shades of Grey” packages replete with the helicopter and private suites for the proceedings. According to the New York Post, sales of rope exploded tenfold after the release of the book. Babeland reported that visits to the bondage section of their website spiked 81%, with an almost 30% increase in the sale of things like riding crops and handcuffs.

I could go on, but I won’t. As Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah noted, “It’s like a juggernaut. You’d be surprised to see how very ordinary these people are who are coming in. The book is just an explosion of permission for them to try something new in the bedroom.”

  1. What does this book and the BDSM movement say about the value of women and girls?

I’d like the defenders of this book to try stop thinking with their nether-regions for just a moment and ask themselves a few simple questions: What does sadism and sexual torture (consensual or not) say to our culture about the value of girls? What does it say to boys about how they should treat girls? The youth of today are inundated with porn and sexually violent material—is nobody—nobody—at all worried about the impact this has on them? On the girls who are being abused by boys who think this is normal behavior—and think it is normal themselves?

Dr. Gail Dines relates that when speaking to groups of women who loved the book, they all grow deathly silent when she asks them two simple questions: Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey?

If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

__

This book and the sadism it promotes are an assault on human dignity, and most of all an assault on the worth and value of girls and women. Please consider the impact you will have on your daughters and the vulnerable and confused people around you when you read and promote this book. Anastasia Steele is, thankfully, a fictional character. But real girls are facing these expectations and demands from a culture that elevates a sexual sadist to the level of a romantic hero. Ask yourselves if you want their “love” and “intimacy” to include sadism and domination, or real respect.

Because you can’t have both.

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Ryan T. Anderson

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New York Times reporter: ‘Anti-LGBT’ people ‘deserve’ incivility

Ryan T. Anderson
By Ryan Anderson

As I recounted Monday at The Daily Signal, The New York Times reporter Josh Barro thinks some people are “unworthy of respect.” Yesterday Barro doubled-down and tweeted back at me that “some people are deserving of incivility.” He argued that I am such a person because of my views about marriage policy. You can see the entire exchange on my twitter page.

What Josh Barro says or does doesn’t really affect me. I’m not a victim, and I’ll keep doing what I do. But incivility, accepted and entrenched, is toxic to a political community. Indeed, civility is essential for political life in a pluralistic society.

It also has deep roots.

The Hebrew Bible tells us that all people are made in the image and likeness of God and have a profound and inherent dignity. Sound philosophy comes to a similar conclusion: as rational beings capable of freedom and love, all human beings have intrinsic and inestimable worth. And so we should always treat people with respect and dignity—we should honor their basic humanity. We should always engage with civility—even when we sharply disagree with them. Faith and reason, the natural law and the divine law, both point to the same conclusion.

Just as I think the best of theology and philosophy point to the conclusion that we should always treat people with respect, so I think they show that marriage is the union of a man and a woman—and that redefining marriage will undermine the political common good.

The work that I’ve done for the past few years for The Heritage Foundation has been at the service of explaining why I think this to be the case. Bookish by nature, I thought the best contribution I could make to public life was to help us think about marriage. So while my early work after college was in philosophy and bioethics, and my graduate coursework was in the history of political philosophy, I put my dissertation about economic and social justice on hold so I could devote myself to this debate at this crucial time.

Along with my co-authors, a classmate of mine from Princeton and a professor of ours there, we set out to write a book making what we considered the best philosophical argument for what marriage is and why it matters. Our book seemed to help the Supreme Court think about the issue, as Justice Samuel Alito cited it twice. The reason I’ve written various and sundry policy papers for Heritage, and traveled across the country speaking on college campuses, and appeared on numerous news shows (including, of course, Piers Morgan) is that I know the only way forward in our national debate about marriage is to make the arguments in as reasonable and civil a spirit as possible.

Some people, like Barro, want to do everything they can to shut down this discussion. They want to demonize those who hold contrary viewpoints. They want to equate us with racists and claim we are unworthy of respect and ought to be treated with incivility. This is how bullies behave. In all of recorded history, ours is the first time where we can have open and honest conversations about same-sex attraction and marriage. This discussion is just beginning. It is nowhere near being over.

All our fellow citizens, including those identifying as LGBT, should enjoy the full panoply of civil rights—the free exercise of religion, freedoms of speech and press, the right to own property and enter into contracts, the right to vote and have a fair trial, and every other freedom to live as they choose, consistent with the common good.

Government redefinition of marriage, however, is not a civil right—nor will redefining marriage serve the common good. Indeed, redefining marriage will have negative consequences.

We make our arguments, in many fora, as transparently as possible. We welcome counterarguments. And we strive to treat all people with the dignity and respect they deserve as we carry on this conversation.

One of the most unfortunate parts of my exchange with Barro last night was his reaction toward those who identify as LGBT and aspire to lives of chastity. They freely choose to live by their conviction that sex is reserved for the marital bond of a husband and wife. Some of them also seek professional help in dealing with and perhaps even diminishing (not repressing) their same-sex sexual desires.

I have written in their defense and against government coercion that would prevent them from receiving the help they desire, as New Jersey and California have done. Barro describes my support for their freedom as “sowing misery…doing a bad thing to people…making the world worse.”

There really is anti-LGBT bigotry in the world. But Barro does a disservice to his cause when he lumps in reasonable debates about marriage policy and the pastoral care that some same-sex attracted persons voluntarily seek out as, in his words, “anti-LGBT.” If we can’t draw a line between real bigotry and reasonable disagreement, we’re not helping anyone.

This debate isn’t about restricting anyone’s personal freedom. However it goes, people will remain free to live their romantic lives as they choose. So too people who experience same-sex attraction but aspire to chastity should be free to lead their lives in line with their beliefs, and to seek out the help they desire. We can have a civil conversation about which course of action is best—but let’s leave aside the extremism.

Barro asks, “Why shouldn’t I call you names?” My answer is simple: you should not practice the disdain and contempt you claim to abhor.

All my life, I’ve been educated at left-leaning institutions. Most of my friends disagree with me about these issues. But they’re still friends. And their feedback has made me a better person.

My final tweet to Barro is where I still remain committed: “people on all sides of LGBT debates and marriage debates need to find a way to discuss these issues without demonizing anyone.”

Reprinted with permission from the Daily Signal, where you can find Ryan Anderson's Twitter exchange with Barro.


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