Saturday, January 28, 2023

A little clarification folks

In looking at a few of the comments on this post, I need to clarify things.  I am not saying capitalism has utterly failed, or we need to bring in the State, or it's time for socialism, Marxism, communism, or anything else. 

I'm saying it's OK to call out corporations and corporate executives when they do bad things, even if they are doing it to make more money.  Or make their companies more money  Or make their investors more money.  It matters not if they happen to create a few extra jobs along the way.  Wrong is wrong, and should be called out as such. 

That's all.  I don't think that's too much of a stretch.  It should have been done far more often than it was.  Because now those corporations have turned coat and become part of the anti-Western juggernaut, which has moved the ball halfway down the field against what conservatives value.  

To be honest, of everything conservatives have defended, from a 'defending capitalism' vantage point, the worst thing was defending corporations cutting corners and diminishing the quality and quantity of goods while pocketing the money at the top.  Because among young people today, so my sons have assured me, they see capitalism as that which gives less, produces less, and results in less, just so those at the top can have it all.  Since this practice was defended in the name of defending capitalism, it's not exactly unfair for them to link the two.  And when that is what they see, it's also not hard to understand why they are casting their nets in other directions.  

Again, it's OK to call out corporations. Not only is it acceptable, in order to defend capitalism, it should have been done every time corporations were doing things antithetical to what capitalism is supposed to accomplish.  Doesn't mean bring in the government or invoke our inner Stalin. It just means let people know that when corporations do such things, even if it does help their bottom line, it is not what capitalism is all about. 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Conservatism's greatest blunder

What youth associate with Capitalism, c. 2023
Was confusing the defense of corporate interests with defending capitalism.  

Back in the 1990s, when I was still in seminary, our oldest son was born.  At that time insurance companies were making news by cutting back on the days they would cover for new mothers.  By the time our oldest came along, it was dropping to a single day - 24 hours from the moment of birth - and then out you go. 

Now, if you've had a kiddo, you know that it takes more than a couple days in some cases for new moms to be ready to move out, or to make sure kids are altogether healthy.  In our case, he was born around 11 AM.  By the next day, he was supposed to be discharged.  The nurses knew neither he nor my wife were ready, though there was no 'smoking gun' problem to cite. They fudged things so she didn't have to leave until noon (and then dragged their feet about another hour getting things ready), so we didn't actually leave until about 1 PM.

That night, fluid developed in our son's throat that caused him to choke and stop breathing.  Fortunately my mother-in-law was staying with us.  As grandmothers are what I call 'pro-parents', she swung into action and was able to get him to cough it out and breath again.  Had she not been there, these two young and stupid parents likely would have been burying a first child. 

By the pediatrician's admission, this would have been avoided with an extra day or two of observation at the hospital.  Because of that, I became a staunch supporter of making insurance companies stop the madness.  I openly supported then President Clinton when he signed in the New Borns and Mothers' Health Protection Act of 1996. That act required insurance companies and hospitals to keep new mothers and newborns in the hospital for at least two days (48 hours).  Though I had several colleagues disagree with me and his legislation because free market and corporate liberty, I maintained something had to be done.  After all, it was obvious that insurance companies were happy to let come what may where kids' survival was concerned.

In subsequent years I had more than one colleague or acquaintance debate me on this (and other similar stances).  In almost every case the argument centered on some 'it's the government's fault, or this or that historical development's fault', but free market!  To which I would say it matters not, fix the cause eventually, but right now things have to be done to keep people from dying.  I especially enjoyed it when colleagues would explain to me that women were having babies for ages before our modern hospitals  (so obviously you don't have to have a hospital) - while deftly ignoring the cataclysmic infant mortality rate accompanying that fact.

The problem was that by the 90s, many conservatives decided that a company doing stuff and things for the bottom line, no matter what, was the deal breaker; the debate stopper.  That was it.  There is no moral compulsion for insurance companies, like any companies, to do anything other than what it takes to make gobs of money.  Never turn to the Government.  Perhaps consumer pressure in a better world.  But first and foremost it was that precious bottom line that was the Holy Grail.  No matter what insurance, or other companies, did, it was that bottom line that mattered.  The fault of anyone and anything might be true, but it always came down to defending corporate interests at all costs. 

That also included the clear and obvious development in the market we've seen in recent years of 'how to give less for more.'  Whether less includes shafting employees, bilking consumers, providing slipshod quality or diminishing quantity for ever higher prices - it was always defended under the principle that a corporation has got to corporation, and that's the important thing. 

If pressed, I would be assured that market forces would save the day.  Eventually those market froces will rise up and smack the corporate interests around and force them into a world where providing  the most for the least and encouraging competition and quality would once again rule the day. As if the global economic context of the market in the age of Lady GaGa was no different than the global context of Tommy Dorsey. 

Of course that didn't happen.  I see more and more conservatives starting to wake up to the realization that corporations have finally learned that countries based on democracy, freedom and equality, as well as civilizations based on loving God and your neighbor as yourself, are no longer needed for that magical bottom line.  Those conservatives may still try some 'it must be the government's fault' appeal. Others might hyphenate the situation.  That is, add something like 'crony' to 'capitalism' to explain what happened.  But more are starting to wake up and smell the frozen coffee.

What happened is pretty simple, and pretty historical, IMHO.  Capitalism arose at a time when multiple other developments kept it in check.  For the longest time, those with the money and power decided it was in their best interests to support and defend and advance such freedom and Golden Rule thinking, along with a robust free market, since that was where the money was.

Today that's no longer the case.  With China, you have 1.4 billion customers.  And a brutal Communist totalitarian regime that has learned it can set its lofty communist principles aside in order to court vast corporate interests, and ensure those interests they have little to fear but an increased bank account when doing business in China.  Likewise, in more than one part of the Islamic world, traditionally conservative states are learning to loosen up a bit - at least for those wealthy and powerful.  We're talking billions of potential costumers here.  What is America, with its paltry 330 million population, next to that? 

In fact, not only are those lofty old Western principles no longer that big of a deal, but increasingly they could be seen as an obstacle.  After all, if you're making bank on countries that routinely oppress, discriminate, marginalize and outright persecute swaths of their population, it's tough to do if you're singing the praises of good old Western democracy and values.  But let people believe that the West is as bad, if not worse, than any other place in the galaxy, and you're free to do as you please.  After all, what right does a slave owning, genocidal racist nation have to complain about doing business in China, huh?  Huh?  

Despite all this, I still see conservatives beholden to the unchecked support of any corporate decision because of course they do.  Last year I caught a radio program interviewing some fellow who wrote a book about the harm being done in the name of transgender ideology.  Apparently his book was banned by Amazon.  His conclusion?  He wasn't happy, but he would gladly defend Amazon's right to ban his own book.  A book that could, by his own admission, help save young people from suffering under the crazy.  He did this because free market and corporate interests you know.  There's saving youth from suffering, but then there is the bottom line. 

There's a time when an unwillingness to see the writing on the wall ceases to be conservatism and becomes foolishness.  I'd say those conservatives continuing to support the goals and agendas of the marketplace today without hesitation, given the marketplace's growing war against that which conservatives are supposed to value, might just be getting close to the second observation.  Or, what they meant by conservative was a world of difference than my understanding of the term in the first place. 

Yes, I've actually seen these fictional characters defended over the years in the name of Capitalism

Long and short summary:  Capitalism should ever have been the means to an end, and not the end itself.  Having forgotten that, and having allowed the market to become the antithesis of the market, has allowed young people to see Capitalism not as conservatives insist it once was, but to see it for what it has become.  And that's something conservatives had best see soon, or they'll loose both bathwater and baby where the economy and society are concerned. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

A little friendly social media advice

 If you're so beholden to the world of social media that you post this:

You might want to reconsider remaining on social media.  I tried to remember a time when I - or anyone I knew - would feel inclined to mention the passing of a relation while tacking on her politics, and I'm at a loss.  There might have been many things I would think of, some good others not, but it wouldn't have dawned on me to mention a "dead acquaintance (+ politics)*"    .  

When you remove God, the State happily steps into the void

*I notice he doesn't mention vaccinated, unvaccinated, masked or anything.  It appears enough to politically label the deceased.  

Monday, January 23, 2023

Step Two

We've already watched the developments in medically altering the bodies of young people based on  the transgender narrative of no objective gender:  

Step one: Nobody is suggesting we should teach minors about changing their bodies to fit their preferred gender identity.  

Step two: Sure we're talking to minors about this, but nobody is trying to change the bodies of minors.

Step three: It's great that we're increasingly using science to alter the bodies of minors based on transgender theory!  Though we will never do such a thing without the parents knowing about it. 

So now we see the second offensive in this little battle.  This one deals with parents' rights.  It's the same basic three step tactic we've seen a million times.  Start with insisting this movement will never do something.  At some point muddy the water a bit.  Finally rejoice that the we're doing what we were told would never happen.  Thus:   

Step one: Sure we're medically altering the bodies of minors.  But nobody is altering the bodies of minors without their parents' consent.

Step two: Hey, should parents be part of their children's decision to change their gender based on transgender theory? 

See how that works?  If I had a dollar - even fifty cents - for every time liberalism has said it only wants an inch but will never take a mile, only to take ten miles down the road, I could buy Twitter.  Thus Step Three will be when we're told it's a great thing that parents are sent to the cornfield for thinking they should have say about their kids' bodies. 

By now it is so routine that you can bet your bank account on it.  Because it should be obvious that when a liberal movement says it will never go somewhere, that somewhere is exactly where it intends to go. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

It finally happened

I saw a news article about Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday events being held on Monday.  It took this long.  Well, technically, I saw it referenced yesterday on a local news show.  It was an 'about town' segment, where the energetic young reporter was showing what parents could do in the area with their kids on Monday.   He mentioned they would be out of school due to MLK Day.  Until then I forgot the day was around the corner.  

I wrote about this development last year here.  It is no accident of course.  It never was.  I don't mean it was some vast conspiracy.  I merely mean MLK in one context was used for decades in order to drive home one form of the agenda.  Now that is no longer convenient.  Therefore, we're seeing the dawn of a new narrative.

I'm not saying it hasn't been mentioned anywhere.  I can't read every article and watch ever newscast.  I'm sure it has been mentioned before now.  As I said in last year's post, however, it could have been the middle of August 20 years ago, and I would have heard MLK referenced and quoted at least three times in a week.  By December I would hear almost daily countdowns to the holiday.  Now?  I think I've heard more references to Arbor Day over the last year. 

Again, it is no accident. 

Monday, January 9, 2023

A New Year and a new blog

Well, not really.  It's a new year, that much is true.  But pretty much the same blog, with a slight modification.   Fact is, I've grown rather tired out from keeping up with the 'issue' blogging.  I've said many times that I originally started the blog due to prompting from a local priest.  In the day, I did a lecture series in the area on Church history.  It was generally well received and well attended.  When he saw one of the lectures he suggested I write a book.  Because there aren't enough history books in the world.

Problem is, I am no writer.  I can edit others to a degree, but not my own writing.  It's just not something I ever invested in.  I prefer to read, since creativity has never been my strong point.  He suggested I start a blog and practice.  So I did.

In a bit of irony, my new venture was posted on the old Catholic and Enjoying It blog.  Mark felt it was good to promote a new Catholic blog.  Therefore, almost immediately, I ended up with more readers than a new blog like that should have.  It went up from there.  As other sites picked up and would share this or that post, I have to admit, I was happy to see and hear from others regarding my opining.  

Nonetheless, over time I concluded that blogging is a bit like hitting one's head against a brick wall.  Especially if you're on the wrong side of the wall.  I announced I was either quitting, or at least stepping away from, blogging a couple times over the years.  Almost as soon as I did, however, some crazy thing happened that drew me back in.  I believe the last time was the Brett Kavanaugh circus.  When journalists and politicians were saying it's time to get over these old tools of oppression like presumption of innocence, burden of proof and due process, it was hard to stay away. 

Still, as things move on in our family and the direction our society is going becomes clear, I'm pretty sure continuing to rant and rave on a blog is time taken away from things that might be more important. Not that staying in tune with current events and world developments is a bad thing.  But it's not something I get paid to do (with the exception of my stint at Patheos, I've never received money for my blog). 

My sons and I were talking about the state of things a few days ago.  They frequently bring up the futility of discourse in the modern era.  You either agree or you're Hitler.  And since so many of their peers spend so much time 24/7 obsessing over a million triggering topics on social media, that's a lot of chances to be Hitler.   I told them such radicalism isn't new, it's just that today it's universal.  I said that comes from politics becoming the all encompassing everything since love of God, Country and Family have all but been eliminated from society. 

Their response was what set me thinking.  They retorted that certainly we discussed political issues when I was growing up.  To which I responded that yes, we did.  We just didn't do it every stinking day.  In fact, they might be shocked to learn that we went days - sometimes weeks - without debating politics or current events or the latest social issue.  Heck, we even went days without being sexists and racists!  Yes, we did bring such topics up at different times.  And at times those were some pretty heated arguments.  Whether with friends, family, fellow students, coworkers, or whatever, it did happen.  But it didn't happen every day. 

And that was a good thing.  Because in hindsight, if we spent everyday arguing about politics or the latest activist driven issue, I think we'd have gone mad.  We certainly wouldn't have had many friendships.  I'm all for politics, and there was a time that was my college major.  But politics is a bit like a demolition derby.  It's fun to watch, but I wouldn't want to drive in one. 

Problem with today is that politics has become the Alpha and Omega in our nation today.  The beginning and end of everything becomes whether it is politically expedient or not.  I therefore fear that constantly keeping up with it does little more than keep the problem going.  Plus it burns you out.  As I told my sons, it wasn't a daily discussion in my younger years for a reason.  

For instance, my parents were Reagan Democrats (and not because of the rascally Southern Strategy), though my mom's family were staunch Democrats who would never vote for Reagan.  They didn't dislike him - in fact they liked him.  They just wouldn't vote for him (a different age to be sure). As a result, when politics came up it was quite an event.  But here's the thing.  Like my friends, peers, classmates and such, it usually only came up occasionally, perhaps once a visit.  One night they would delve into the political and social debates, but that was it.  The rest of the visit would be reminiscing, discussing Browns football, memory lane and ancient rhymes and such.  The same with my friends.  We might delve into politics (or religion) around a game of cards or at a High Street bar.  But not every day. The rest of the time it was this movie, that rock band, those girls, or whatever.  Even the most opinionated acquaintances I knew didn't spend every day spouting, unless spouting was a career choice. 

Therefore, that's what I'm going to be doing, in tribute to a saner time.  After all, to post every day on some issue means every day I have to delve where my younger, saner self knew not to delve on a daily basis.  Even cutting down blogging to a post a day as I've done  is still a daily delve into the cesspool of political discourse and rhetoric.   

I think it was seeing the collapse of Dave Armstrong that convinced me something has to change.  I like Dave.  We usually agreed more often than not.  Often we would banter about common interests like The Beatles (we're both fans, and we debated the exact degree of influence that their manager Brian Epstein had on their creative output).  We could do so because Dave, like me, was forever against the growing 'I have spoken, now obey or be damned' approach to the social media/punditry age.

Yet look what happened. Rather than end up going there, I decided I would cut back.  I won't 'leave', since I like having the outlet.  Plus it's nice hearing from others on an issue, even when they disagree. And let's face it, with the crazy in the world you can't just walk away.  Also, in the end, the world of social media is the way of modern discourse.  Just like telephones became back in the day.  I just won't do it all the time.  At least do it in terms of focusing on hot button issues and political topics. 

In fact, barring global catastrophe, I will keep 'topic/issue' blogging at once a week. On top of everything else, things are a-changiin' in the family, and time isn't what it used to be.  If I'm going to move mountains to blog, to be honest I'd rather keep it on fun, frivolity, faith or family.  There are certainly enough big family moments coming up this year to keep me busy. 

I figure delving into some big political, social or other ideological issue once a week is about where it was when I wore a younger man's clothes.  Given the relative sanity of that period in history compared to today, I'd say following what worked is a good way to go. 

It won't be one particular day, or even every week.  It wont' be 'Friday Fights!' or such.  I'll just try to keep it to no more than once a week. The rest of the time?  That will be what blogging was meant for: reposting a good article or meme, musing on our latest family fun, big family events, keeping an ongoing record of this or that game (my sons say that's a thing, though often in video form, and it seems fun), or just rambling on about the latest point of interest - as long as it's not hot button.  That will be a random time a week, if that.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Happy New Year and blogging forward

Yes, the Earth has gone around the Sun again.  I say that as a statement of faith of course.  The math says that's what happens.  We've never actually seen the Earth go around the Sun.  It's just what our model of the universe says happens, and that's good enough for me.  As Sherlock Holmes observed, whether the sun goes around the earth or vice versa has little direct impact on my day to day life. 

Nonetheless, another thing I accept is that once a year we celebrate the completion of this heavenly cycle.  For Catholics, this falls in the middle of Christmastide.  Christmas itself, as a season, is still going on.  Early on, long before we considered becoming Catholic, my wife and I embraced the '12 Days of Christmas' approach to the holiday. 

As a result, even though the world is fully back to secular rat race mode, we'll still have a few more rounds of celebration.  My second son's fiancĂ©e and her family are back in town. That means he's back to normal.  Of course so are schedules.  As a result, it won't be as much celebrating, but it will be something.  As the boys grow and obligations mount, the time spent in festive undertakings has been diminishing anyway. 

Therefore, like last week and the first part of Christmas, blogging will still be light.  That's not to say I was completely separated from the issue trolling of the day. Mark Shea emailed me and we had a back and forth about some things.  Well, a forth at least.  It went about as well as you could imagine.  But since it was private discourse, I'll do my part and not publically reveal the nitty-gritty.  It's enough to say it did occupy some of my time in the world of online opinion making, however fruitless it was. 

One thing I can say is a shout-out to our new bishop.  Since we became Catholic in 2006, we've had seven pastors and three bishops.  Stability is not a selling point for our parish, or our diocese. I began the journey to the Church shortly before Pope John Paul II passed.  The year we entered was the first year for the new bishop.  As bishops go, he was a bishop.  

Then he had to retire due to health issues, and was replaced by Bishop Brennan.  Now he was a bishop.  Almost immediately he came to town with the message that it's time for Catholics to be Christian again.  Sporting an almost theatrical New York accent, he clearly possessed a sympathy for more traditional Catholicism.  Within months, he had the diocese hopping.  But then he was transferred to his home town stomping grounds in The Bronx.

We wondered who would replace him.  On our parish level, any type of stable shepherding would be appreciated. Then we heard the news - some young priest from Cincinnati was going to be our new bishop.  Bishop Earl Fernandes.  The News Media, ever obsessed with group identity and skin color, made it about him being the first non-Anglo bishop in the diocese.  

Most in the area, being normal human beings, didn't care.  We just wanted someone to shepherd this wayward flock.  And shepherd he has.  The first order of business was doing something that caused the uber-left group that dominated The Ohio University's Catholic ministry to leave. Their one contribution was producing priests who put the lie to the old leftwing notion that there have never been clown masses or beer and pretzel communion.  Once a priest from that ministry spoke to our parish and was clear about the Church's need to embrace gay marriage, abortion rights, and a variety of socialist based ideas.  Exactly what happened to make them leave, I don't know.  Naturally the local news was shocked and doomsday predictions abounded.

But Bishop Fernandes has continued to push the diocese back to a more Christian and traditional based approach to the Faith.  Heck, the guy is an official exorcist, so that says something.  But he's everywhere.  Check the news, open a Facebook page, walk down the street - and there he is.  Almost every day he's meeting someone, somewhere. At a football game, at a homeschool group, at a charity, you can't go two days without seeing him out and among the people.  And he wears the Faith on his sleeve when he does so.

Being snowed in on Christmas Eve, we watched the Midnight Mass at the cathedral.  It was his first as bishop.  I haven't seen a Catholic bishop so filled with fun and joy at his job for some time.  Beyond being one of the finest homilies I've heard in many an age, he seemed almost bursting at the seams with joy and giddiness.  I'd say he's the type of leader who makes the serious faithful want to be better Christians.  I know he makes me want to be a better Christian.  In terms of religious leadership, that's about as good as you get.

So we're looking forward to the coming months.  No, you don't want your own pilgrimage to cue off of others.  But leaders are there for a reason, and one is to inspire.  Something I think that has been lacking in the modern Faith as so many leaders choose compromise, acquiescence and surrender in dealing with the modern world.  We're all waiting to see what he does next.  If it's like the first months since he's been bishop, it should be a ride.

So that is that.  I'll be back once the Christmas season has wrapped up.  Next stop: Twelfth Night and Epiphany.  I might post something if it hits me, and posts gushing over family fun and the latest round of board games are always a possibility.  Otherwise, continue to be blessed during this Christmastime, and I'll be back soon. God bless and TTFN. 

Our new bishop at a homeschool event - all smiles as usual