Tamara Rajakariar, MercatorNet
Tamara Rajakariar, MercatorNet
by Patrick Fagan, Witherspoon Institute
By Alexander Boot
The last three centuries have witnessed numerous attempts to replace Judaeo-Christian morality with an equally effective secular code based on rational thought. The same centuries have also witnessed a comprehensive failure of every such attempt.
Immanuel Kant was neither the first nor the last thinker who postulated that, as a rational moral agent, man doesn’t need God to come up with a valid moral code. It’s just that he was a more powerful thinker than the others, and so his failure looks even more spectacular. The greater the height from which one tumbles, the more shattering the fall.
Kant proved beyond any doubt what all those Greeks had shown before him: that, though philosophy can ponder morality from every possible angle, it can’t create it. There’s so much more than reason that shapes human behaviour that rationalism is inevitably found wanting.
Kant and other philosophers dedicated their lives to finding an intellectual justification for their loss of faith. In common with other intelligent men, at some point they began to mistake their ratiocination for reality. They thus convinced themselves, and unfortunately many others, that the Judaeo-Christian code could drop its adjective and thrive as a mere noun.
That was akin to believing that an apple tree will continue to bear fruit after it has been sawn off its roots. Kant was willing to admit that the apples would be slightly different, but he was certain that they’d still have a similar taste and texture. Yet all we got was a pile of rotting wood.
In a way, Kant and his fellow rationalists could be forgiven their mistake. They lived at a time when the fundamental moral tenets of Judaeo-Christianity looked eternally indestructible. Provided we were deft enough, we could separate morality from religion without any adverse effects – like a conjurer whipping the tablecloth off the table without disturbing the cups and saucers. Christianity was the cloth Kant yanked out, morality the cups, and they all ended up as shards of china on the floor.
Resulting modernity has since proved its ability to create widely spread riches beyond those Kant or Smith could even imagine. Yet, with the removal of Christianity as the social and moral focus, material wealth grew in parallel with spiritual poverty. Then, like a snake biting its tail, spiritual and moral poverty turned around and began to destroy material wealth. This, and only this, is the nature of our present economic crisis.
By Peter Saunders, CMF
[...] In recent decades, however, large budget deficits and the resulting increases in debt have led to concern about the long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies and neither Republicans nor Democrats have seemed able to control it. Now they are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea – do they increase taxes risking national unrest, stifling growth and pushing the country back into recession, or do they decrease welfare spending and risk pushing hundreds of thousands over the poverty line?
[...] Despite the fact that America is currently fighting no major war and has lived through a time of great prosperity it is caught in an upward spiral of debt of which over a third is owed to foreign investors. Without a significant decrease in government spending or increase in taxation, this spiral will only increase.
God promised the ancient nation of Israel that if they rejected him they would fall into great calamity including financial calamity:
‘ The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail. All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you… Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.’ (Deuteronomy 28)
Could it be that America is now facing a similar fate – falling not under the sword but under the financial might of creditors both inside and outside its walls? (see more on the biblical analysis of the debt crisis here).
The US had a glorious Christian past but it is now increasingly driven by a secular agenda.
God’s promise to Israel at a similar time was clear:
‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land… But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot (Israel) from my land, which I have given them, and… I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.’ (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Might America turn? It is not too late yet, but it seems it will not be too long before it is.
From Conservative Home
They may not be that common in the real world, but in political circles there’s a lot of people who declare themselves to be both economically and socially liberal – usually with a slight edge of self-congratulation to their words.
By Alexander Boot
A week ago Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s senior Catholic cleric,delivered the kind of courageous message Anglican prelates tend to save until their retirement.
He referred to same-sex marriage as a ‘grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right’, adding that Dave’s chosen re-election stratagem would ‘shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world’. It represents, he said, ‘an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists’.
Truer words have seldom been spoken. And the man who spoke them is qualified to do so: marriage being an ancient Christian sacrament, His Eminence was clearly staying within his remit. It is part of his job to comment on any moral choice we face, and such a choice is discernible behind everything in life.
Economic decisions, for example, can – or rather should – never be amoral. Whenever they are, they backfire not only on morality but also on the economy. The present state of the economy was caused precisely by divorcing economics from morality, be that on the part of our governments, financial institutions or indeed us, the public.
The Sustainable Demographic Dividend
The fiscal and economic crises enveloping many of the world’s wealthiest nations—from Italy and Japan to the United Kingdom and the United States—have brought to light the economic challenges arising from tectonic shifts in demography in the developed world. Specifically, dependent elderly populations are surging even as productive working-age populations stagnate or shrink in much of the developed world. These demographic trends “portend ominous change in [their] economic prospects: major increases in public debt burdens, and slower economic growth,” according to political economists Nicholas Eberstadt and Hans Groth.
Also at work is another demographic trend sweeping the world: the decline in the number and percentage of children raised in intact, married families. The Sustainable Demographic Dividend focuses on the key roles marriage and fertility play in sustaining long-term economic growth, the viability of the welfare state, the size and quality of the workforce, and the profitability of large economic sectors as diverse as agriculture, household products, and insurance.
By Fr John Flynn, Zenit
Fewer children and diminishing numbers of married couples will have a significant impact on economic growth and the ability of governments to finance welfare programs.
This is the warning contained in a report just published, “The Sustainable Demographic Dividend: What Do Marriage & Fertility Have To Do With the Economy?” It was released by the Social Trends Institute and co-sponsored by a number of family groups and universities.
The Social Trends Institute is a non-profit research group, based in Barcelona, Spain, and New York City, that concentrates on on four subject areas: Family, bioethics, culture and lifestyles, and corporate governance.
The long-term fortune of economies will rise or fall depending on what happens with families, according to the report. There are two main trends that are a cause for concern, First, dependent elderly populations are sharply increasing at the same time productive working-age populations stagnate or even decline in many developed countries.
Second, there is a major decline in the number of children being raised in intact, married families.
By Harry Benson, Parliamentary Brief
Half of all babies born today will experience family breakdown before they have left school. The cost to the taxpayer of picking up the pieces is more than the entire defence budget.
There have been speeches, policy meetings, and a round-table discussion with agony- aunts. But just as it has been for decades under previous governments, family policy under the Coalition has defaulted to managing the consequences of breakdown.
There is no serious policy regarding its prevention. Recently the Centre for Social Justice awarded the coalition a puny two out of ten for its policy on family breakdown. This score looks generous to me.
Family breakdown costs individuals, families, and the taxpayer. This is no surprise. When parents split up, the family income is rarely enough to pay for the extra household.
The direct effect is economic. Half of all lone parents receive tax credits, benefits and housing. The indirect effects are relational, psychological and behavioural. Family breakdown places increased demands on health, police, social services, care, and schools.
The total bill adds up to an astonishing £42 billion per year, according to the Relationship Foundation.
By Jill Kirby, Conservative Home
The Chancellor should reflect on the role of families in creating a thriving economy. Working families experiencing falling incomes are about to suffer NI rises and the loss of tax credits, while rampant inflation is severely denting their spending power. So it’s not surprising that yesterday’s ComRes poll for the Mail showed 64% of the public think the Government doesn’t understand the problems faced by ordinary families.
The Treasury’s decision to cut back on non means-tested payments – such as Child Benefit and the family and baby elements of tax credits – might seem like easy targets, but such moves exacerbate the damaging effect of high marginal tax rates, creating real disincentives to breadwinners to increase their earnings.
George Osborne needs to think of families as engines of growth. It would be great to hear him outline a pro-family fiscal policy with clear incentives for work and family stability, not just to ease the burden on today’s families but to create social and economic capital for the future.
Charlemagne: The Economist
Europeans thought they were progressing towards an ideal civilisation. Now time is up, and it hurts
VIEWED from afar, Europeans are a complacent, ungrateful lot. Nannied from cradle to grave by the world’s most generous welfare systems, they squeal like spoiled children when asked to give up just a few of their playthings. As governments in the euro zone trim benefits and raise the retirement age in the wake of the sovereign-debt crisis, a wail of indignation has rung out and a wave of protests set in. “Unfair!” thundered Antonis Samaras, the Greek conservative opposition leader, this week, at the government’s proposed pension-reform plans. “Totally unfair!” howled Martine Aubry, the French opposition Socialist leader, at her country’s attempt to do the same.
American commentators seem particularly amused to watch Europeans “dismantle” their welfare systems, just as America embraces European-style universal health care. Only a year ago Europe’s leaders were laying into American free-marketry and declaring unbridled capitalism finished. “After listening to two years of stern and self-righteous lectures about the ‘failure’ of the American capitalist model,” writes Walter Russell Mead, an academic, “many Americans…are quietly enjoying the spectacle of the smug Europeans writhing in helpless indecision and pain over the continent’s self-inflicted wounds.”
Millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money will continue to fund abortions in developing countries, after David Cameron ordered that the Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) budget be protected from any cuts.
Critics have attacked such a use of public money, and questioned why money intended for abortions should receive special protection at a time when other budgets are being slashed.
A question by the Conservative MP David Amess revealed that a large proportion of the Department’s abortion funding has been earmarked for the controversial abortion provider Marie Stopes International (MSI).
The decision has outraged critics.
Jim Dobbin, a Labour MP and long standing pro-lifer, said: “I am very much against this use of public money. This is not appropriate spending and it should not be protected.
“I do not see why it is necessary to preserve spending like this on sexual education and abortion.”
By A S Haley
As I wrote in this earlier post, Greece, the home of democracy, is coming apart at the seams. Thanks to years and years of politicians voting more and more benefits, Greek workers are paid for 14 months a year, but work for only 11; they have been able to retire at age 58 on full pensions (women in the public sector can retire at age 48); and all citizens have enjoyed free healthcare since 1983. Students enjoy free higher education, and Greece (along with Ireland) enjoys the highest per capita subsidies from the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.
Now, in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund's plans to assist in the bailout of Greece, certain austerity measures are being adopted. Listen to this account, from the New York Times: Read here
Is Social Justice just ice?
It takes relational justice to melt frozen hearts | Marvin Olasky World
One of the favorite words of President Obama and his supporters is "justice," often combined with the adjective "social." We hear calls for government-imposed economic redistribution through taxes and various kinds of welfare, and advocates of same-sex marriage also talk about "social justice" …
Do Christians have an alternative? We should begin by asking, "What is justice?"—and that question should drive us first neither to Aristotle nor to Bill Ayers, but to the Bible. One observation: Over 50 times God’s inspired writers link the Hebrew word mishpat, "justice," with the Hebrew word tzedek, "righteous." They regularly declare that a central purpose of justice is to increase righteousness, as Isaiah 26:9 states: "When your justice is present, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness."
The Bible also emphasizes justice between individuals. Psalm 112:5 praises the person who "deals generously and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice." Jeremiah 22:13 pronounces: "Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages." Justice isn’t charity—recipients pay back loans and work—but it is generally interpersonal rather than collective: We might call it "relational justice" rather than "social justice."
Sins of the Wallet
C. Anderson, Father R Sirico et al.
Economic hard times are always times of soul-searching. The Register felt it was important to look at the moral dimensions of the economic downturn and asked several prominent Catholic thinkers, "What sins got us into this mess, and what virtues are required to get us out of it?"
Economic hard times are always times of soul-searching, and the global economic crisis even brought a response from Pope Benedict XVI, who said on Oct. 6 that the crisis shows the importance of building our lives on the firm foundation of the word of God. "We see it now in the fall of the great banks," the Pope said. "This money disappears; it is nothing — and in the same way, all these things, which lack a true reality to depend on, and are elements of a second order." The Register felt it was important to look at the moral dimensions of the economic downturn and asked several prominent Catholic thinkers, "What sins got us into this mess, and what virtues are required to get us out of it?" Their thoughts follow.