The State’s (very active) role in family breakdown

I was thinking more about how abortion and no-fault divorce are similar. Here’s a chart I made that shows it more clearly. I included another category: anonymous gamete donation.

states-role-in-family-breakdown
How the State “frees” some at the expense of others

So you can see the pattern. In each case, the State is siding with one person (Party A) while simultaneously providing no legal defense for the other person (Party B). It is obviously unjust for the State to provide Party A with absolute control, and to deny Party B any legal means to stop the action.

Why is this happening? It’s because of how we view freedom. We believe that freedom includes being free from familial obligations. That is bad enough on its own and in fact, stating it that plainly makes it seem pathological. But what is even worse is that we believe that the State has an obligation to uphold that version of freedom, even though it is profoundly unjust for many people. In prior generations, I’m pretty sure this mindset would have been viewed as irresponsibility, not as freedom. Our forebears recognized the difference between liberty and license.

We are living in a time when an entire class of people (Party B) are summarily denied the opportunity for justice so that others can be “free” from their obligations (Party A). One way to view slavery is that the slave has no legal means to stop the slave-owner from doing certain things. That pattern is playing out today under the guise of sexual and reproductive “liberty.” This is more evidence those ideas are regressive. Some people get to be “free” while others, who are directly impacted by that “freedom,” are denied justice as a matter of course.

Now it should be obvious how active the State is in breaking down the family. So much family breakdown happens because of how the State has positioned itself. If the State provided a way for Party B to defend against the action, and denied Party A unilateral capacity to commit the action, so much family breakdown just wouldn’t happen.

See also:

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How abortion and no-fault divorce are similar

One strategic mistake my side of the debate has made is to ignore the divorce issue. The top leadership on my side almost totally ignores it, and I find this not only discouraging, but logically problematic. They just leap over it as if it wasn’t there. I mentioned this before when I wrote about the conservative preference for the children of gays.

Let me distill it as well as I can. Here is how the two issues are related:

Abortion is like no-fault divorce in that the State annuls people’s familial obligations to others who are legally innocent. In both processes, the State has failed to provide any legal means to defend against the process. The process happens at the behest of one party (Party A: petitioner in a no-fault divorce action; woman seeking an abortion) who claims that the process is needed to secure their “liberty” from the other party (Party B: respondent in a no-fault divorce action; unborn child). Party B has no legal means or protection to stop the process. The State sides with Party A 100% of the time, to either actively enforce the action (divorce) or let it happen (abortion).

This is one reason why I say that the leadership on my side of the debate is not logically consistent. We can’t expect to succeed if we ignore the more entrenched foe.

See also:

How the State frees us

As a conservative and former libertarian, I can understand why people don’t see how the state frees us. It does, but it also depends on how you define certain other ideas such as freedom, justice, and oppression. Let me start by using an example with which we can all agree.

Let’s say a person enters your home with the intent to kill you. You manage to hide in a closet somewhere. You call 911, the police arrive, and capture the person. He goes to jail, is convicted, and spends a long time in prison.

The state has freed you, right? How did that work? One of the obligations of the state is to protect the innocent and to render justice. But the potential murderer almost certainly thinks that the state has acted in an oppressive manner to convict him of a crime and throw him into prison.

So it is a matter of perspective. It is a matter of deciding where your ethics originate.

Now, let’s take that concept and apply it in another area: marriage, family, and religion. Marxists, communists, and feminists have argued for decades (if not longer) that these institutions are oppressive and unjust. They’ve made excellent headway using the legal system to suppress those institutions thereby reducing those “injustices.” Even a lot of conservatives and many libertarians are on board with these changes. However, we have seen a corresponding rise in the power of the state. How do we explain this? The state doesn’t give freedom, does it? Well, as we saw with the example above, it sort of does in the sense that it is supposed to render justice. So by suppressing all of the pre-existing social institutions, a lot of people believe that the state is rendering justice and freeing the oppressed. By suppressing those institutions, the state liberates the individual from his familial and religious obligations. It is a very seductive idea, with superficial appeal. I went along with it myself for quite a while.

From a conservative and libertarian perspective, the problem is that the state’s power has gone up rather than down. It is the opposite of what we anticipated when we got on board with “sexual liberation,” which is just another way of saying that the state should free us from familial and religious obligations. The dilemma for conservatives and libertarians who believe in “sexual liberation” is this: those social institutions were founded on the concept of rights coming from “nature and nature’s God.” Those rights have their own obligations, and those institutions served as a buffer between us and the state. But many among us are are endorsing the state suppressing them in order to free us from those obligations. This leaves nothing except the individual and the state, and our rights from “nature and nature’s God” go into the trash can, along with those responsibilities.

That’s how the state frees us.

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Other posts in this series:

Why abortion and capital punishment are not equal

A friend on Facebook posted a link to this homily that was given by a priest in the Diocese of Phoenix, at the Saints Simon and Jude Cathedral last Sunday. It is so good. I’ve talked before about the importance of making proper distinctions. That’s what he does.

If you haven’t already, you will come across liberal Catholics who maintain that abortion isn’t any more important than other “life” issues such as capital punishment, helping the poor, education, etc. This priest demolishes that notion with an interesting and revealing thought experiment. He makes it very clear which political party we need to support in November without mentioning any names. Well worth the 20 minutes.

Evaluating the State as a vehicle for poverty alleviation

Please read my post from yesterday if you haven’t yet. It will help you understand the argument I make today.

Here is a diagram I made based on the essay I linked yesterday. Notice how far removed the recipients are from the donors (taxpayers). Also notice the accountability loop:

modern-state-as-an-occasion-of-sin-diagram
Did Jesus intend for donors (taxpayers) and recipients to be so far removed from each other?

Is Jesus happy with this system? I don’t know. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. The verses in the New Testament indicate that we are to give to the poor directly–that is the plain reading of the texts. Why did he phrase it like that? Was it so that we would be close to the poor, to look at them, to touch them, breathe the same air they breath, see how they live? I think so. In the state-sponsored system, we see how far removed donors and recipients are from each other.

Somebody might counter that this is OK because it is an agency relationship. If so, I disagree. This isn’t a true agency relationship, since it is based on fear/coerced “giving” and the principal (taxpayer) does not have direct control over the agent (the state). For example, try not paying the portion of your taxes that would otherwise go to the poor. Tell the IRS that you will donate that money to a worthy charity instead. See how much control you have (as the principal) over the agent (the IRS). It is actually the other way around. The agent controls the relationship. That is fine as far as it goes (Romans 13:1-7), but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this is a true agency. It isn’t.

philemon-1-14So our state-sponsored poverty alleviation system is not an agency, it is based on fear or coercion, it lacks accountability to the donor (taxpayer), it separates donors from recipients, it fosters moral hazard/rent-seeking behaviors, it thwarts intact family formation, and creates occasions for temptations to various kinds of sin (for the donors/taxpayers, the administrators, and the transfer recipients). A lot of people like this system, even those who are not transfer recipients. I wonder how they get around all of the problems I mentioned. Do the the ends justify the means in this case?

The Modern State as an Occasion of Sin

You may have seen Facebook meme’s like these:

libertarian-jesus-2

libertarian-jesus

socialist-jesus

These are not arguments, only conclusions. I think it is important to understand the underlying argument being made with those kinds of memes. This is the best treatment I’ve seen, especially since it is thoroughly Catholic:

The Modern State as an Occasion of Sin: a Public Choice Analysis of the Welfare State

My thoughts/summary:

By endorsing the state-sponsored method of poverty alleviation, we are creating two types of temptations discussed in the essay (the welfare administrator’s temptation to make capricious decisions in the allocation of tax dollars, and the payment-receiver’s temptation to use deception and/or opportunistic behavior to participate in the program). We have also created a system that is not directly accountable to the people who fund it. The state serves as a wedge between the donors (taxpayers) and the recipients, effectively keeping them apart from each other. This method of poverty alleviation lacks a direct way to be controlled by donors (taxpayers). It is not rightly viewed as an agency relationship for two reasons: 1) donors are required to fund the program. 2) Lacking competence to discover or create morality, this method creates a moral hazard (or rent-seeking) problem. Because of these issues, this method fosters resentment in the donors (taxpayers). Taxpayers are required to fund this method, but there is no corresponding requirement for recipients to be accountable to the taxpayers for how the money was spent.

Continued tomorrow.

State-imposed chaos

In our country individuals want sexual liberty. In order to achieve this, they look to the state to dismantle institutions that impose their values and constraints on the individual (marriage, religion). The state stops recognizing sex differences and the bonds created by sexual activity (as well as gamete activity). This “frees” people from those bonds but also makes them more vulnerable to manipulation from macro forces. Those constraints and bonds pushed back against the power of the state by minimizing the effect of macro forces.

As sexual liberty increases, I see more and more state-imposed chaos. Here is a good example: very poor communities, where social order has broken down dramatically and sexual liberation is in full swing due to the state’s incentives and policies. The breakdown was imposed by the state and is maintained by it. Some people call the chaos “freedom.”

But that kind of freedom doesn’t look like freedom to me. It looks like being anti-authority rather than pro-freedom. Here is something from Psalm 2 to show what I mean (emphasis added):

Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed, saying,

“Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.” 

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision.

It is a quantifiable fact that sexual liberation has expanded the power and scope of the state, yet few people who claim to be liberty-lovers speak out against it. This is because they are positively for it. “Sexual liberation” and “limited government” are diametrically opposed.

Communism and the individual

Libertarianism is known for being concerned with the individual, but people are often surprised to learn that Marxism is as well. Until fairly recently I was under the impression that Marxists were only concerned about growing the power of the state, but after doing my own research I discovered that this is a gross mischaracterization of their intent. Here are a few quotes from Marxists.org to show what I mean:

Socialism means the freeing of the individual from the fetters which weigh upon him under the capitalistic system. (Source)

Quite contrary to commonly accepted ideas it was an intensely humane and tenderly sympathetic spirit that gave birth to Marxism. The widespread impression that there is something remote, cold, and inhuman about the persons and theories of Marx and Engels, and something crippling, regimenting and enslaving about the order of society they sought – that capitalism, with its play on the words individual, individualistic, laissez-faire, revealed a warmth and a human understanding which these others lacked – is wholly false and utterly belied by the Russian society based on Marxian principles. The precise opposite is indeed the truth. The activities of Marx and Engels sprang from a consuming compassion aroused by the trail of horror that marked the course of capitalism; it issued in a widespread amelioration of human suffering. (Source)

We need scarcely say that the notion that the maximum of Socialism corresponds to the minimum of individual liberty is as preposterous a travesty of any great principle as ever entered the perversest head of man. Socialism demands the greatest possible liberty (or licence if you will) of the individual, limited only by the condition of its not infringing on the principle of equality of liberty… one of the aims of Socialism is the minimisation of the positive and mechanical coercion by society of the individual in all departments at human life. (Source)

I’m not proof-texting. Here is a site search for the word “individual” at Marxists.org. There are about 17,000 results. Read a few examples for yourself to see what I mean.

Search for the word “individual” at Marxists.org

 

Uniform units vs. interlocking units

bottles green public domain
Uniform units are more “free” with respect to each other than interlocking units are, but are less able to withstand the effect of external forces. This factory line works because the bottles are all the same. Interlocking bottles would disrupt the system.

Sexual liberty has expanded the power and authority of state enormously. One recent example can be seen in the  Obergefell decision to enforce gay marriage laws on states that did not want those laws. I have not read the decision, but a quick search for the terms “gay” and “lesbian” showed that each term was used 28 and 25 times, respectively. This makes it clear how the category of “sexual orientation,” a false category without scientific support, has influenced the highest court of the United States in a dramatic and detrimental way.

puzzle pieces public domain
Interlocking units are less “free” with respect to each other, but are more able to withstand the effects of external forces. If you push one, you push them all. 

This false category is a recent addition to a political movement that has been dismantling marriage and homogenizing individuals in the eyes of the state–making them all the same. The Obergefell decision contributes to this homogenization process, since marriage laws now must be read in a “gender neutral” way.

Consider how completely uniform units, such as bottles in a factory, are more “free” than interlocking units, but they are also more easily manipulated. This is a metaphor for what is going on in our country with sexual liberation. People want their freedom from any obligation that was not explicitly chosen. But sexual activity bonds us to the people we have sex with, as well as makes new life. So the state steps in to free people from those bonds and obligations. To continue the metaphor, it legally chops off the parts that are interlocking by refusing to recognize that those parts exist.

True liberty includes liberty from one’s passions so that one can do what one is called to do, and perform one’s responsibilities, without internal constraints and conflicts. The founders of the United States understood that we cannot separate liberty and virtue.