Liberty vs. Leviathan

Chronicling Liberty's battle against Leviathan

Relocation

One of my favorite blogs, The Western Confucian, has relocated both geographically and virtually.  His new address is The Pittsford Perennialist.

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Context

In an attempt to add some clarity to blogosphere conversations involving economics and the Catholic Church here’s a brief comment on “common good” and Doug Douma’s post  “Don’t be duped by this dope, errr, Pope” at Libertarian Christians (LC) .

In the post LC quotes a Reuters article that quotes Pope Benedict XVI.  The Reuters quote comes from a response the Pope gave during a Q&A session with reporters on his way to Spain last week.

In addition to being taken out of context (by Reuters, not LC), the Reuters quote does not accurately reflect the transcript of the Q&A session provided by Zenit.

Reuters’ version reads:

The economy cannot be measured by the maximum profit but by the common good,

The Zenit version reads:

Man must be at the center of the economy and the economy must not be measured according to greatest profit, but according to the good of all.

LC comments on the Reuters version that “one cannot “measure the economy” at all; neither by the common good nor by maximum profit.”

First let’s recognize that the Pope and LC are in agreement that the economy can not be measured by profit.

LC also states that the economy can not be measured at all, whether by profit or “common good” [emphasis mine] and welcomes an explanation of how one would measure the economy by the common good.

I doubt whether the Pope would make a case that the economy could quantitatively be measured by the common good.  I think instead he would discuss the implications of what it means for man to be at the center of the economy.  (The economy being for man, not the other way around, man for the economy.)

From this response of the Pope and from what I’ve read of Catholic social teaching (Rerum NovarumQuadragesimo Anno, Centesimus Annus, Caritas in Veritate), I think the point the pope was trying to make is that man, acting man, must be the focus of how we evaluate the economy, not the mere P&L of corporations or the growth rate of the GDP.  The “good of all” or the “common good” is what’s good for all of us (universally) in the context of justice and charity; equal application of the law (GM and Chrysler comes to mind), lack of favoritism for certain classes (TARP and Cash for Clunkers comes to mind) and so on.

Being the head pastor of the universal Church, the Pope would not offer specific economic prescriptions to be enacted in this or that local or national economy.  What he will do though is work to guide the discussion and reflection to the moral and spiritual framework which supersedes the economic framework.  I think in this case he was gently saying that the economy should not be evaluated by aggregate, materialistic statistics so prevalent in our Keynesian world but rather it should be evaluated in the context of “a [moral] framework that honors the dignity of man and allows man to pursue not only material gain but also his higher calling.

*Word cloud of Caritas in Veritate by Wordle

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Leonie!

Today a quick but needed break from the farcical drama of DC to draw attention to the Liberty that is eternal.

This past summer your blogger had the great fortune to be involved in a small way with the making of a movie. It’s a period piece set in nineteenth century France. The main character is Leonie Martin, an older and difficult sister of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The story is about Leonie’s difficulties and the Love that conquered them.

The target release for the film is this summer. A featurette and Facebook page for the movie have recently been created. As with any movie on a budget it’s imperative that word gets out and interest piqued in order to help place it in as many theaters as possible. If you have any interest at all please view the links below and spread the word to anyone in your own network who also may be interested.

Leonie! featurette

Leonie! Facebook page

Leonie! at Holy Trinity Productions

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Fasting

Remember, man, that thou art dust,

and unto dust thou shalt return.

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I’m going to take the opportunity during Lent to reflect more and react less.  If I post at all during Lent it will be on a Sunday.  Have a blessed Lent.

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Winds of more war

If goods don’t cross borders, armies will. ~~ attributed to Frederic Bastiat

In 1941, Roosevelt “…closed the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping, seized Japanese assets in the United States, and placed a truly effective embargo on shipments of petroleum products, iron, steel, and metal products – restrictions that were sure to infuriate the military-dominated government in Tokyo.”

~ Robert B. Stinnett, Day of Deceit, p. 120

…support of sanctions on foreign companies that: export refined petroleum products, including gasoline, to Iran; help maintain Iran’s domestic refining capacity; provide ships or shipping services to transport such products; underwrite those shipments to Iran; or finance or broker those shipments. Although these proposed sanctions are a serious start, we urge you to consider other, targeted sanctions as may be required to demonstrate our seriousness to the Iranian regime.

~ 47 Christian leaders, amazingly “on behalf of millions of Christians”, urging the Senate to pass economic sanctions against Iran

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The Tax Collector

It only takes the innocence of the young to remind us of the evil of the income tax.

Recently, I was helping my son fill out his federal and state payroll tax forms for his first job. A discussion of what his paycheck would look like due to tax withholding led to a discussion on tithing. He was concerned about how much money he would have once taxes were withheld and didn’t want to tithe on the gross as he’s been taught since he would have no use of the withheld money. I explained that what he would eventually choose to do would be his decision but he had to remember that what he was really paid was the gross not the net; pointing out that his labor cost his employer the gross (and then some) not the net; and reminding him that it wasn’t God’s fault that the government took money away from him.

Obviously, this was not what he wanted to hear and he was quite upset, letting loose with a rant about the unfairness of it all.  It went along the lines of, “That’s my money! It’s my time and my work! It’s not fair for them to take it. I don’t get to keep it so I’m not tithing on it!”

Initially his anger was directed at me. Eventually though, with a little patience and an empathetic explanation (he was preaching to choir after all), he was able to see that his real beef was with the government. For it’s the government that inserts itself between him and the agreement he made with his employer. It’s the government that takes his money. And, it’s the government that puts itself first in line, cutting in front of God in opposition to His admonition for believers to give the the first fruits of their labor to Him.

With my son’s righteous anger now properly directed, I’m happy to report that the story doesn’t end there. The emotions of his anger have subsided, but his curiosity and concern have not. With the first paycheck came questions about each deduction. “What is it? How is it used?”  Now that tax season is here (isn’t it always tax season?), there are still more questions.  “Will I owe more?  Will I get any back?  What if I have to pay?”  Yet another opportunity to explain the welfare state and the government’s illegitimate role in our lives.

Confronted for the first time with the first hand experience of payroll withholding of taxes and Leviathan’s looting of his labor, my son’s instinct was to see the process as theft. To make matters worse, it was a theft that he could not defend himself against. And he’s right, for if he were to resist and be persistent in his resistance he would eventually be confronted with the business end of a gun.

This instinct, born from the innocence of youth, gives all Liberty loving parents a golden opportunity. An opportunity to clearly explain to our children the power of the State and it’s propensity to engage in plunder.

Oh, and on the matter of tithing, he decided to tithe on the gross. Well done, son.

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Gloria in Excelsis Deo

King of kings and Lord of lords

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¡Viva Cristo Rey!

“Long live Christ the King!”  The last words of Father Miguel Pro, S.J. before being executed by firing squad for his faith.

One day after the Feast of Christ the King Catholics celebrate today the Memorial of Blessed Miguel Pro, Jesuit priest and Christian martyr, executed November 23, 1927, on the orders of Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles.  Falsely accused and convicted without trial, his crime was his refusal to submit to the laws outlawing the practice of his Catholic faith.

A master of disguise, the photograph above shows him disguised as a mechanic, his attire for a conference with cab and bus drivers.

The president’s desire to make a spectacle of his execution has given us a treasure of photographs from that day.  Below Fr. Pro walks towards his execution.  Center, he prays before his execution.  At bottom, barely moments before the executioners’ bullets hit.

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Christian libertarian Blog Carnival

The Holy Cause has just released the September edition of the Christian libertarian Blog Carnival.  Be sure to stroll the midway and consider the thoughts and reasoning of each contributor as issues of the day are examined from a Christian libertarian perspective.  As always, they’re excellent.

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Taking a break

It’s been a little bit over a year since this blog was started.  When I began I didn’t realize the degree to which I would become consumed with hit counts, referring urls and daily reading material.  Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”  It’s time to take a break for examination and reflection.

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