While most of our recent public debates have centered around topics on which economist’s disagree, Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw recently posted a list of fourteen propositions that most economists accept, which is an excerpt from his popular macroeconomics textbook. I thought it might be of interest to some of our readers, as discussions of the common good and public policy often touch on these subjects:
Almost no matter who you are, the above is almost certainly true. Yet it’s a fact that few people seem to readily grasp.
I was struck by this as I continued to read the exchange between Ross Douthat and Will Wilkinson over whether secular libertarian intellectuals should all pack up and join the Democrats. Will predicts:
…I think intellectual capital flight from the right really does threaten the GOPs future success. If Republicans keep bleeding young intellectual talent because increasingly socially liberal twenty-somethings simply can’t stand hanging around a bunch of superstitious fag-bashers, then the GOP powers-that-be might start to panic and realize that, once the last cohort of John Birchers die, they’ve got no choice but to move libertarian on social issues. Maybe. I like to imagine.
This reads like it comes from some alternate universe, to me,
“The Vatican released the pope’s remarks to Pelosi, saying Benedict spoke of the church’s teaching “on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.” That is an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion.”
The 15 minute meeting was closed to reporters and photographers.
“The Vatican said it was not issuing a photo of the meeting — as it usually does when the pope meets world leaders — saying the encounter was private. The statement said the pope “briefly greeted” Pelosi and did not mention any other subject they may have discussed.”
I wonder if Pelosi is bright enough to realize the snub that the Pope just gave to her pro-abort self?
Update I: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reminds us of why the Pope felt it necessary to repeat Church teaching on abortion to Speaker Pelosi since, judging from her own words, she is woefully ignorant of it.
Update II: The ever perceptive George Weigel wonders if the Pope and the clueless Speaker were at the same meeting.
I continue now with my shameless promotion of Father DiLuzio’s Luke Live performance. Again, we were treated to a wonderful exchange of ideas, marked by a charismatic leader who helped enliven St. Luke’s Gospel and knit the narrative together. Father DiLuzio offered us to begin with the choice of hearing entire chapters at once, or breaking it down into slightly smaller pieces. Having seen yesterday the amazing continunity of a text that, for many of us, originally seemed a disjointed collection of brief non-sequitors, we voted roughly 55-45 to continue being inundated by large chunks of text. And so he began his recitation starting from chapter 18, and the parable of the persistent widow.
In an essay entitled A Campaign of Narratives in the March issue of First Things (currently behind a firewall for non-subscribers), George Weigel writes:
Yet it is also true that the 2008 campaign, which actually began in the late fall of 2006, was a disturbing one—not because it coincided with what is usually described in the hyperbole of our day as “the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression” but because of how it revealed some serious flaws in our political culture. Prominent among those flaws is our seeming inability to discuss, publicly, the transformation of American liberalism into an amalgam of lifestyle libertinism, moral relativism, and soft multilateralism, all flavored by the identity politics of race and gender. Why can’t we talk sensibly about these things? For the past eight years, no small part of the reason why had to do with what my friend Charles Krauthammer, in a nod to his former incarnation as a psychiatrist, famously dubbed “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”
Raising this point is not a matter of electoral sour grapes. Given an unpopular war that had been misreported from the beginning, plus President Bush’s unwillingness to use the presidential bully pulpit to help the American people comprehend the stakes in Iraq, plus conservative aggravation over a spendthrift Republican Congress and administration, plus that administration’s failure to enforce discipline on its putative congressional allies, plus public exhaustion with a familiar cast of characters after seven years in office, plus an economic meltdown—well, given all that, it seems unlikely that any Republican candidate could have beaten any Democrat in 2008. Indeed, the surprise at the presidential level may have been that Obama didn’t enjoy a success of the magnitude of Eisenhower’s in 1952, Johnson’s in 1964, Nixon’s in 1972, or Reagan’s in 1984.
Still, I would argue that the basic dynamics of the 2008 campaign, evident in the passions that drove Obama supporters to seize control of the Democratic party and then of the presidency, were not set in motion by the failures and missed opportunities of the previous seven years but by Bush Derangement Syndrome, which emerged as a powerful force in American public life on December 12, 2000: the day American liberalism’s preferred instrument of social and political change, the Supreme Court, determined that George W. Bush (the candidate with fewer popular votes nationally) had, in fact, won Florida and with it a narrow majority in the Electoral College. Here was the cup dashed from the lips—and by a court assumed to be primed to deliver the expected and desired liberal result yet again. Here was the beginning of a new, millennial politics of emotivism (displayed in an astonishing degree of publicly manifested loathing for a sitting president) and hysteria (fed by the new demands of a 24/7 news cycle).
I think this analysis gets things exactly backwards.
For those in the pro-life movement who may sometimes get discouraged, take a good look at this speech. This struggle for the unborn will be fought until it is won, if not by us, then by the pro-lifers who come after us. Naturally the judges at the speech contest where this speech was delivered disqualified her because of her success at articulating the pro-life message. This decision was later reversed after one of the judges stepped down and our pro-life speaker was declared the winner. Truth will prevail if we have the stomach to proclaim it in season and out of season.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, renowned (by herself) as an “ardent, practicing Catholic” will be meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican tomorrow. Given her latest blunder during a press conference, stating that “500 million Americans lose their job every month” (talking about why the economic stimulus plan had to pass) despite the fact that there are only 300 Americans living in this country and less than 150 million of them working, if that, one might suspect that she’ll inform the Holy Father that “500 million clergyman will lose their jobs if abortion is not promoted worldwide.”
I have no doubt in my mind that the Holy Father is going to bring up abortion, embryonic stem cell research, contraception, gay marriage and attempt to correct her.
Thoughts? Will the Speaker of the House be formally excommunicated?
It’s really not clear what the plan means; there’s an interpretation that makes it not too bad, but it’s not clear if that’s the right interpretation….So what is the plan? I really don’t know, at least based on what we’ve seen today. But maybe, maybe, it’s a Trojan horse that smuggles the right policy into place.
Not exactly an enthusiastic endorsement. Today’s Washington Post has some of the back story:
Just days before Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner was scheduled to lay out his much-anticipated plan to deal with the toxic assets imperiling the financial system, he and his team made a sudden about-face.
The Vatican is expected on February 21 to announce the date of Father Damien’s canonization. So much has been written about the famed leper priest that I feel no need to discuss here the basic facts of his life. After his death from leprosy grave libels were made against Father Damien, chiefly by a presbyterian minister C.M. Hyde, who, oddly enough, had praised Father Damien during his life.
It’s a commonplace of sorts in Catholic and conservative circles that democracy without virtue will quickly become tyranny. At the same time, this is one of those phrases which seems to drive secular commentators to distraction. How could liberal democracy lead to tyranny when it’s clearly those authoritarian religious people who want to be tyrants?
Damon Linker (the “the theocons are coming” chicken little whom First Things once made the mistake of briefly employing in his younger days, thus giving him the claim to know the “theocon conspiracy” from the inside) has a post on The New Republic blog which seems to me to throw this point into sharp relief. Linker, it seems, tired of attacking “neocons” and decided to go after the more quixotic paleocons as his newest batch of crypto-authoritarians. The following section is fascinating in its thought process:
I have never liked President’s Day. Why celebrate loser presidents like Jimmy Carter and James Buchanan, non-entities like Millard Fillmore, bad presidents, like Grant, with great presidents like Washington and Lincoln? We have had other great presidents, and one of them, although Republican as I am I bridle on bestowing the title upon him, was Andrew Jackson. No one was ever neutral about Old Hickory. He is described as the father of the Democrat party. Actually, both major parties owe their existence to him. The Whig party, the main ancestor of the modern Republican party, was founded in opposition to Jackson’s policies.
During his term as President, George W. Bush had on loan from the British government a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the oval office. The Brits offered to extend the loan to President Obama. Nope, he decided to send the bust packing. Perhaps some of our thoughtful readers might have guesses as to what bust Obama might replace it with?
So you’re a single Catholic sitting at home with nothing to do on St. Valentine’s Day, what are your options? Well there are many things that you can do, especially if you want to resolve your current status as a non-married person. If you’re not called to religious life, you are most certainly called to married life with very few exceptions, yet you’re sitting on your couch still being single. In this column I’ll offer a basic and fundamental template for a single Catholic in pursuing your future spouse(1).
I’ve always found libertarianism to be an attractive political philospohy. But…the libertarian perspective has a couple of traps. The trap Barnett describes is a particularly tough one to get out of: once seduced by a libertarian idea, like “goods and services are produced & distributed more effectively when markets are not interefered with by coercive agents like government”, its apparently obvious correctness turns it into a sort of semantic stop sign.
I went through a phase where if, say, education or healthcare policy came up in conversation, I’d say “Markets! Markets markets markets! MARKETS!” I found these conversations astonishingly unproductive, but I didn’t think to blame myself.
Donald linked below to a discussion of the death of “liberaltarianism”, which led many to ask what exactly that is. As it so happens, I’d been reading about this seemingly contradictory phenomenon on Ross Douthat’s blog the other day. It seems all this goes back to a piece Brink Lindsey originally wrote for The New Republic a couple years ago in which he complains:
Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions.
Though he admits there’s not been much real movement on the part of Democrats to please libertarians, he cites a few things: Read the rest of this entry »
I have this particular video clip of toddling quadruplets laughing their diapers off saved on my YouTube list for quite a long time now. You may have seen this awhile back on America’s Funniest Videos. These four quadruplets never fail to put a smile on my face. So enjoy and get your Saturday off to a great start.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day!
Robert Stacy McCain has a brilliant column here on the death of the idea of a liberal and libertarian alliance. Libertarian sites are noted for their scorn of traditional conservatives. It will be amusing to see how much their economic and small government ideas need to be trashed before they decide that government sanctioned hedonism is not satisfactory compensation for paying for the socialization of America.
As an analyst, one of the things that fascinates me about the latest Obama cabinet snafu is that it centers around data ownership. GOP Senator Judd Gregg had been nominated to head the Commerce Department, but withdrew his nomination yesterday over “irresolvable conflicts“, large among which was disagreement over management of the US Census. Although the Census has traditionally been run by the Commerce Department, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had indicated after Gregg’s nomination that the Census Bureau would be moved to report directly to senior White House officials.
Effectively, this would have created for Emanuel the largest political polling organization in the world — funded at government expense. Having influence into census methodologies, questions asked, and the priorities of census data analysts would not only give political operatives in the White House an incredible data edge of their opponents, it would also give them an inside edge on redrawing congressional districts as the result of the 2010 census.
For those with a great deal of faith in the chances of putting together a truly “bipartisan” cabinet, Gregg’s withdrawal is a setback. However, the fact that other members of the administration were seeking to take from Gregg’s control any politically potent processes, the commitment to real bipartisanship seems to have been shallow anyway. And one hopes that with a new nominee the Census Bureau will stay in the Commerce Department and remain less politicized than it would have if reporting to Rahm Emanuel.