This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dei Filius annotated modernistically

Chap. 1. God, Creator of All Things

DF: The holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church believes and confesses that there is one, true, living God, Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, omnipotent, eternal, immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intellect and will, and in every perfection; who, although He is one, singular, altogether simple and unchangeable spiritual substance, must be proclaimed distinct in reality and essence from the world; most blessed in Himself and of Himself, and ineffably most high above all things which are or can be conceived outside Himself.

Mod: True dogma, as agreed upon by Church councils in the fourth century, with additional beliefs proposed by Church doctors such as Aquinas and Anselm, who base some of their writings on Plato and Aristotle. Because there is no ”evidence” for these propositions, their truth, for us, is made certain by our agreement with them. It is hubris to think we have the total truth in this matter, as the angelic child told St. Augustine on the shore. The child was trying to put the Mediterranean into a hole by buckets and Augustine told him he would never succeed, to which the angel responded that he had more chance of success than Augustine had in trying to understand God.

DF: This sole true God by His goodness and "omnipotent power," not to increase His own beatitude, and not to add to, but to manifest His perfection by the blessings which He bestows on creatures, with most free volition, "immediately from the beginning of time fashioned each creature out of nothing, spiritual and corporeal, namely angelic and mundane; and then the human creation, common as it were, composed of both spirit and body" [Lateran Council IV, can. 2 and 5]

Mod: Very true, but we keep trying, especially in thinking that our sufferings can somehow add to the passion of Christ.

DF: But God protects and governs by His providence all things which He created, "reaching from end to end mightily and ordering all things sweetly" [cf. Wis 8:1]. For "all things are naked and open to His eyes" [Heb 4:13], even those which by the free action of creatures are in the future.

Mod: God sees all things in time as a whole and acts perfectly within time toward them, which is not unorthodox at all. Modernism need not be orthodox. It can affirm eternal truth, but it must have a chance to look beyond just learning.

Chap. 2. Revelation

DF: The same Holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certitude by the natural light of human reason from created things; "for the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" [ Rom 1:20]; nevertheless, it has pleased His wisdom and goodness to reveal Himself and the eternal decrees of His will to the human race in another and supernatural way, as the Apostle says: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by His Son" [Heb 1:1 f].

Mod: This is a pious way to claim that prophets, evangelists and the Church heard God’s voice directly (we now know that probably none of the New Testament writers were contemporaneous with Jesus and that the books attributed to Moses were written centuries after his death). Biblical writers were certainly inspired, as Church writers are, both traditional and modern, but none take dictation.

DF:: Indeed, it must be attributed to this divine revelation that those things, which in divine things are not impenetrable to human reason by itself, can, even in this present condition of the human race, be known readily by all with firm certitude and with no admixture of error. Nevertheless, it is not for this reason that revelation is said to be absolutely necessary, but because God in His infinite goodness has ordained man for a supernatural end, to participation, namely, in the divine goods which altogether surpass the understanding of the human mind, since "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him" [1Cor 2:9].

Mod: It is hubris to think that any have received revelation perfectly. All developed narrative and wrote for and with an audience. Likewise, all of the baptized have the ability to think upon these things in a spirit of love of God and be so inspired, although generally pre-existing knowledge and education helps to avoid error. Ordination, however, is not required. Amos was a dresser of vines.

DF: Furthermore, this supernatural revelation, according to the faith of the universal Church, as declared by the holy synod of Trent, is contained "in the written books and in the unwritten traditions which have been received by the apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself; or, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have been handed down by the apostles themselves, and have thus come to us" [Council of Trent]. And, indeed, these books of the Old and New Testament, whole with all their parts, just as they were enumerated in the decree of the same Council, are contained in the older Vulgate Latin edition, and are to be accepted as sacred and canonical. But the Church holds these books as sacred and canonical, not because, having been put together by human industry alone, they were then approved by its authority; nor because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and, as such, they have been handed down to the Church itself.

Mod: Historically incorrect. The Canon was established in the Fourth Century by a Council of the Church. While the sayings and stories of Christ were undoubtedly based on recollections of the early disciples and Apostles, they were not designed for history but for instruction. All inspiration of the Spirit, then and now, comes through human language and experience and the ability of translators. The Spirit still speaks.

DF: But, since the rules which the holy Synod of Trent salutary decreed concerning the interpretation of Divine Scripture in order to restrain impetuous minds, are wrongly explained by certain men, We, renewing the same decree, declare this to be its intention: that, in matters of faith and morals pertaining to the instruction of Christian Doctrine, that must be considered as the true sense of Sacred Scripture which Holy Mother Church has held and holds, whose office it is to judge concerning the true understanding and interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures; and, for that reason, no one is permitted to interpret Sacred Scripture itself contrary to this sense, or even contrary to the unanimous agreement of the Fathers.

Mod: The Fathers were not unanimous and we constantly learn through study of history and archeology what Christ may have meant that has been obscured by the Church itself or by a misunderstanding of earlier scriptures, particularly the Torah.

Chap. 3. Faith

DF: Since man is wholly dependent on God as his Creator and Lord, and since created reason is completely subject to uncreated truth, we are bound by faith to give full obedience of intellect and will to God who reveals. But the Catholic Church professes that this faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, is a supernatural virtue by which we, with the aid and inspiration of the grace of God, believe that the things revealed by Him are true, not because the intrinsic truth of the revealed things has been perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. For, "faith is," as the Apostle testifies, "the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not" [Heb 11:1].

Mod: Our ability to see uncreated truth is hampered by a world in which unobscured Truth, which is God, is not present, which gives us human freedom to the intellect and the will. Faith is the relation of the soul to God, not an act of loyalty to the very human Church.

DF: However, in order that the "obedience" of our faith should be "consonant with reason" [cf. Rom 12:1], God has willed that to the internal aids of the Holy Spirit there should be joined external proofs of His revelation, namely: divine facts, especially miracles and prophecies which, because they clearly show forth the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are most certain signs of a divine revelation, and are suited to the intelligence of all. Wherefore, not only Moses and the prophets, but especially Christ the Lord Himself, produced many genuine miracles and prophecies; and we read concerning the apostles: "But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal and confirming the word with signs that followed" [Mk 16:20]. And again it is written: "And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place" [2Pet 1:19].

Mod: Miracles are wonderful things. Jesus taught that great works could be accomplished by faith, which differs from obedience. Indeed, Jesus is called the Man of Faith because he worked his miracles not by divine power but faith in His Father.

DF: Moreover, although the assent of faith is by no means a blind movement of the intellect, nevertheless, no one can "assent to the preaching of the Gospel," as he must to attain salvation, "without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all a sweetness in consenting to and believing in truth" (Council of Orange). Wherefore, "faith" itself in itself, even if it "worketh not by charity" [cf. Gal 5:6], is a gift of God, and its act is a work pertaining to salvation, by which man offers a free obedience to God Himself by agreeing to, and cooperating with His grace, which he could resist.

Mod: Faith is a gift from God and the soul must be open to it. In the vernacular of recovery, one must spiritually ”hit bottom.” Penitential practices are designed to engender that experience, but many go through a life in the Church without it, seeking certainty instead of faith, like the Pharisees before them.

DF: Further, by divine and Catholic faith, all those things must be believed which are contained in the written word of God and in tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in her ordinary and universal teaching power, to be believed as divinely revealed.

Mod: We must believe the scriptures, but we can look to theologians and scripture scholars, as well as historians and archeologists to enhance our understanding of them and their value in our lives.

DF: But, since "without faith it is impossible to please God" [Heb 11:6] and to attain to the fellowship of His sons, hence, no one is justified without it; nor will anyone attain eternal life except "he shall persevere unto the end on it" [Mt 10:22; 24:13]. Moreover, in order that we may satisfactorily perform the duty of embracing the true faith and of continuously persevering in it, God, through His only-begotten Son, has instituted the Church, and provided it with clear signs of His institution, so that it can be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word.

MOD: The Church is essential in teaching the truth, but it includes the above-mentioned professions that can aid our understanding of the revealed word, including its origins.

DF: For, to the Catholic Church alone belong all those many and marvelous things which have been divinely arranged for the evident credibility of the Christian faith. But, even the Church itself by itself, because of its marvelous propagation, its exceptional holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in all good works; because of its catholic unity and invincible stability, is a very great and perpetual motive of credibility, and an incontestable witness of its own divine mission.

MOD: The Church cannot use hubris to justify a monopoly on truth, especially among those who know its bloody history of war, inquisition and child abuse.

DF: By this it happens that the Church as "a standard set up unto the nations" [Is 11:12], both invites to itself those who have not yet believed, and makes its sons more certain that the faith, which they profess, rests on a very firm foundation. Indeed, an efficacious aid to this testimony has come from supernatural virtue. For, the most benign God both excites the erring by His grace and aids them so that they can "come to a knowledge of the truth" [1Tim 2:4], and also confirms in His grace those whom "He has called out of darkness into his marvelous light" [1Pet 2:9], so that they may persevere in this same light, not deserting if He be not deserted. Wherefore, not at all equal is the condition of those, who, through the heavenly gift of faith, have adhered to the Catholic truth, and of those, who, led by human opinions, follow a false religion; for, those who have accepted the faith under the teaching power of the Church can never have a just cause of changing or doubting that faith. Since this is so, "giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light" [Col 1:12], let us not neglect such salvation, but "looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith" [Heb 12:2], "let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering" [Heb 10:23].

Mod: Faith is a wonderful thing and includes the responsibility of questioning rather than using loyalty to not question when questioning is necessary, as in what is meant by adultery after divorce or what is the nature of original sin if there were no first parents or whether the sacrifice of Christ was transactional or the divine seeking to experience our human emptiness from sin. Real faith does not run from doubt, it embraces its challenge.

Chap. 4. Faith and reason

DF: By enduring agreement the Catholic Church has held and holds that there is a twofold order of knowledge, distinct not only in principle but also in object: (1) in principle, indeed, because we know in one way by natural reason, in another by divine faith; (2) in object, however, because, in addition to things to which natural reason can attain, mysteries hidden in God are proposed to us for belief which, had they not been divinely revealed, could not become known. Wherefore, the Apostle, who testifies that God was known to the Gentiles "by the things that are made" [Rom 1:20], nevertheless, when discoursing about grace and truth which "was made through Jesus Christ" [cf. Jn 1:17] proclaims: "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, a wisdom which is hidden, which God ordained before the world, unto our glory, which none of the princes of this world know. […] But to us God hath revealed them by His Spirit For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God" [1Cor 2:7,8,10]. And the Only-begotten Himself "confesses to the Father, because He hath hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hath revealed them to little ones" [cf. Mt 11:25]

MOD: That some matters are only known by revelation there is no doubt. Determining which are and which are not requires the tools of scholarship listed above. The Church has nothing to fear from these and everything to gain unless it holds fast to interpretations that ignore simple reality.

DF: And, indeed, reason illustrated by faith, when it zealously, piously, and soberly seeks, attains with the help of God some understanding of the mysteries, and that a most profitable one, not only from the analogy of those things which it knows naturally, but also from the connection of the mysteries among themselves and with the last end of man; nevertheless, it is never capable of perceiving those mysteries in the way it does the truths which constitute its own proper object. For, divine mysteries by their nature exceed the created intellect so much that, even when handed down by revelation and accepted by faith, they nevertheless remain covered by the veil of faith itself, and wrapped in a certain mist, as it were, as long as in this mortal life, "we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith and not by sight" [2Cor 5:6 f.],

MOD: There are some divine mysteries we will never know, but others may reveal themselves in time and faith, especially when aided by not only reason, but the evidence of the scientific and social arts. Indeed, prophetic mysteries shall be revealed with time when these prophesies have been fulfilled. There are other areas where we can only assert a common belief, which cannot come close to the actual truth but can bring us closer to God and each other. This is especially true of the ”Orthodox” Councils of Ephesus, Nicea and Calchedon.

DF: But, although faith is above reason, nevertheless, between faith and reason no true dissension can ever exist, since the same God, who reveals mysteries and infuses faith, has bestowed on the human soul the light of reason; moreover, God cannot deny Himself, nor ever contradict truth with truth. But, a vain appearance of such a contradiction arises chiefly from this, that either the dogmas of faith have not been understood and interpreted according to the mind of the Church, or deceitful opinions are considered as the determinations of reason. Therefore, "every assertion contrary to the truth illuminated by faith, we define to be altogether false" [Lateran Council V].

MOD: The Church does not have a monopoly on knowledge or reason nor can it ignore those instances where established doctrine has been overcome by the advancement of knowledge. The Church must then humbly seek new answers which conform to the revealed truth and to the newly discovered realities. These realities are not deceit and cannot be ignored because they conflict with established teaching. Rather, misunderstanding revelation can be corrected using the human and natural sciences and the revelation itself. The understanding of the Eden story is a prime example. The Eden myth is now known to be an adaptation of the Sumeric story and is so written that the Original Sin therein contained can be seen as blame, which is not the disobedience of one Man but of all. The solution is not only obedience, but to obey the command to forgive so as to be forgiven. Inspiration comes to all ages, including this one.

DF: Further, the Church which, together with the apostolic duty of teaching, has received the command to guard the deposit of faith, has also, from divine Providence, the right and duty of proscribing "knowledge falsely so called" [1Tim 6:20], "lest anyone be cheated by philosophy and vain deceit" [cf. Col 2:8]. Wherefore, all faithful Christians not only are forbidden to defend opinions of this sort, which are known to be contrary to the teaching of faith, especially if they have been condemned by the Church, as the legitimate conclusions of science, but they shall be altogether bound to hold them rather as errors, which present a false appearance of truth.

Mod: This is by far the sloppiest proof texting ever. These scriptures condemn trading faith and revelation for the philosophies of the ancient world, a call that was ignored when doctors of the Church embraced a stoic understanding of sexuality. This paragraph is not demanding faith, it is demanding loyalty. Faith moves forward to see how the natural and human sciences can magnify faith when the opinions of prior theologians and clergy have been found to be incomplete. To say this understanding in the past must always govern is the height of pride. This pride in a stoic sexual philosophy is indeed ruining the Church because it is false.

DF: And, not only can faith and reason never be at variance with one another, but they also bring mutual help to each other, since right reasoning demonstrates the basis of faith and, illumined by its light, perfects the knowledge of divine things, while faith frees and protects reason from errors and provides it with manifold knowledge. Wherefore, the Church is so far from objecting to the culture of the human arts and sciences, that it aids and promotes this cultivation in many ways. For, it is not ignorant of, nor does it despise the advantages flowing therefrom into human life; nay, it confesses that, just as they have come forth from "God, the Lord of knowledge" [1Sam 2:3], so, if rightly handled, they lead to God by the aid of His grace. And it (the Church) does not forbid disciplines of this kind, each in its own sphere, to use its own principles and its own method; but, although recognizing this freedom, it continually warns them not to fall into errors by opposition to divine doctrine, nor, having transgressed their own proper limits, to be busy with and to disturb those matters which belong to faith.

Mod: The Church cannot on one had admire science and with another signal halt. It is not Truth that is threatened by science, but dogmatic pride and even continuing error. Limiting inquiry is no alternative. Rather, working with the natural and human sciences can help the Church perfect itself. These sciences are useful in identifying what is essential truth and what is clerical artifice, such as our Medieval system of governance, which is of man, not God. Indeed, Jesus commanded humble leadership, not of lording power over the Church as the gentiles do.

DF: For, the doctrine of faith which God revealed has not been handed down as a philosophic invention to the human mind to be perfected, but has been entrusted as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding "Therefore […] let the understanding, the knowledge, and wisdom of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progress strongly with the passage of the ages and the centuries; but let it be solely in its own genus, namely in the same dogma, with the same sense and the same understanding.'' [Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, 23, 3].

Mod: Many philosophic inventions of the human mind have become doctrine and even dogma. Unlike revelation, they can certainly be revised and improved upon. Indeed, when they have mixed origins in classical philosophy, they have to be. Such philosophy is in places denigrating to women and to the married state. The natural and human sciences are useful in examining these interventions and thereby helping to perfect the Church. The rare sexual orientation of the hierarchy, which has long been unmentioned but below the surface, asexuality, must be revealed and its influence on the doctrines of the Church laid bare, from original sin to sacred continence to the insistence on universal chastity that lies at the heart of Humanae Vitae, to the fail to ordain women. It is not Revelation that modernists attack, but the smug clericalism that gives rise to the cynics proof of God, that the Church must be true because it has survived two millennia of hierarchs who have done their best to kill it. It is a miracle that any of us find Grace.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

The Problem of Corporate Income Taxes

This Note is in response to piece by Howard Gleckman on TaxVox by the Tax Policy Center, which you can read at http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/would-workers-benefit-corporate-tax-cut-not-much

The corporate income tax was formerly referred to as the corporate profits tax, which made who paid for it obvious. The argument that cutting taxes leads to more investment makes about as much sense as saying that cutting taxes on the wealthy, especially dividends and capital gains, leads to investments that spur the economy and employment is true, but not in a good way, unless massive deficits eat up these cuts as bond purchases. This leads us to wonder, why not raise taxes and increase government purchases and transfer payments instead?

The private sector has only so many solid investment opportunities and unless interest rates are sky rocketing, they are adequately funded, usually in response to increases in aggregate demand. Investments do not drive such demand. I am sure Mr. Mnuchin would never tell a private sector client to invest in plant and equipment without a strong customer base. If he would, Goldmann Sachs is better off without him. But as an Executive Producer, he angeled blockbusters, some of the biggest selling movies in Hollywood history. He did not release that cash because no one had the money to go to the movies.

The reality is that whe the bosses and investors pay lower taxes, they get to keep more money, not from investing but by driving labor costs down through outsourcing, job cuts or keeping more of a share of productivity gains than are given to workers in higher wages. In the last 45 years, wages have increased by 11% of total growth, although productivity rose 73.4%. 62% went to the owners of capital. Prior to 1973 these figures tracked together.  http://www.epi.org/productivity-pay-gap/ That would be how to split the taxes.

Lower wages lead to more consumer debt use and we know what that led to. Lower capital gains taxes led to speculation in housing and Internet start-ups, which were also a key factor in the last three recession, starting from the 1986 tax reform to the Clinton-Gingrich capital gains cuts to the Bush cuts, which tracked to the S&L Crisis, the Tech Bust and the Great Recession.

Of course, the question would be moot if employee-owened corporations and cooperatives were a universal phenomenon. Then the workers are the investors and the investors are the workers. Either way, of course, the tax would be paid by the consumer. Of course, if the consumer were also the members of the cooperative and they provided all government social and educational services (including mental healthcare for criminals), as well as their own infrastructure and public safety, then there would be little taxpaying going on at all. Any that did occur would be funded from a Subtraction VAT (with off-sets for providing those services) and a land value tax to compensate people who are left out of the cooperative system, who would simly buy services from the cooperative itself, including the governmental ones. These too would be funded by the liquidity provided by sales.

Any income tax, goods and services tax, corporate profits tax or hidden subtraction VAT can be considered an element of price. Consumers pay the entire price. A GST simply brings that price forward. Income taxes, although funded by the customers (all those movie tickets Mnuchin got a piece of) would still be paid by the wealthier players in the game, if only because accounting for them as part of the Subtraction VAT so that the correct higher rate is paid would violate their privacy and not having a progressive income tax would give them too much of the pie, even more than their current undeserved share.

Dividend and capital gains taxes are lower than normal tax rates because tax is paid by the corporations they own, but only on profits, not wages. Shifting to VAT (both GST and Subtraction) would tax labor and capital at the same rate, allowing income taxes to do the same as a surtax that investors and executives could pay, except that doing so forces disclosure off too much information on their financial affairs. There is no bar for the CEO of Comcast/Univeral from owning Disney stock, but he certainly does not want his board and investors knowing that he might do so. I am sure the CFO, the talent and the CIO all feel the same way.

Tax reform should put in VATs, equalize all income tax rates, which only the rich would pay, and encourage employee-ownership, bot at home and abroad, by diverting some of the retirement taxes included in the Subtraction VAT toward purchasing employer voting stock. The new owners will give the same deal to their overseas brothers and sisters and the problem of how much the rich get (eventually nothing) and dealing with overseas capital will take care of themselves.

And to think, it used to be the Marxists who had no plan. The shoe is on the other foot.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Realignment

The two party system is a function of single member winner take all districts. Adopt proportional representation at the state level and we will look like PR. Many parties, 97% turnout. The LP and GPUSA may one day join coalitions (hard to imagine, they are used to being purists, which is why they are minor) and gain enough followers to be a major party, but only if we shift to proporational.
I used to be in charge of information for the DC Statehood Party, including member records and analysis. We had twice the voters as we did active registrants (most of our membership did not vote having moved or died and DC never purges so it can stop citizen initiatives). Actually, we had 2 Democrats for each party member in our voting base. Three times nothing is still nothing, even after we merged with the Greens.
Trump may drive out the non-racists from the GOP, turning it into a minor party. The Libertarian Republicans, maybe the LP and the Neo-Liberal DLC types could easily grab the White House in 2020 unless opposed by a coalition of Democratic Socialists Bernie Bots), Democratic Greens, Greens and some of those Libertarians in what would be a battle of ages (old v. young). Actually, it will be a battle for the ethnic vote. If the left can Occupy Capitalism and build a base in the workplace, it will have a better chance.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Comments from this weekend’s debate on abortion

There are two rationales for justifying limiting abortion. The one I fear most people are following is loyalty to Church teaching. In the United States, that is not an adequate reason. The obligation to impose Catholicism on secular countries was removed by Vatican II. Such matters of discipline and practice are not dogma so saying that the Church could not change such things at the Council is simly wrong. If the Church cannot force us to Catholicize the United States, it certainly can’t require that we adopt doctrine into law. Doctrine can inform us, it cannot compel us and it certainly cannot compel the national government. Even before Vatican II, JFK affirmed that a Catholic President is not required to do the Pope’s bidding. Mario Cuomo and the Catholic politicians who followed have affirmed the demands of pluralism. Of course, they do a disservice to the Church by not also explaining the constitutional law reasoning behind Roe and the other privacy decisions. It is incumbent on the hierarchy and Catholic advocates to listen to these explanations, else they are sowing discord for pride’s sake.

The hierarchy and the movement need education about just that point. You mention Dred Scott, (who was freed, by the way). The mistake of the case came not from changing the Court but enacting the 14th Amendment, which defined personhood and which, according to Roe, left out the unborn (even though abortion bans had started). Congress can alter the terms, sir. Put up or shut up.

Sin is a matter of conscience and I am not encouraging anyone to have an abortion. Nor are Biden or Pelosi. What takes courage is to go against Republican orthodoxy and do something about the issue beyond fundraising and volunteering for their candidates. Doing so in the name of the Church is scandalous. Enact that $1000 per month per child tax credit and I will reevaluate what I think about your motives.

Slavery was not just a matter of conscience, it was a function of the slave power. White people who dissented in the south were beaten and exiled, if they lived. Add you equate slavery with abortion then the amendment which at least attempted to give freemen rights was also used to justify legal abortion. In both cases, it was a question of state government power imposing moral choices on others. You are confusing moral scorn with freedom of conscience. The moral scorn that banned abortion and sodomy also abused blacks and Latinos and imposed the Slave Power on others in the antebellum south.
Support for the poor is socially decided, as well as individual. In a democratic country you don't get a right of conscience to avoid paying taxes for this. Don't elevate your preference for dine and dash tax policy to a moral viewpoint.

Cardinal McCarrick led a panel that decided no more using Eucharist as a political pawn. By the way, what happened to Sebelius, who was denied Communion, amounted to sedition because she vetoed a law that was unconstitutional on its face, which is her obligation as defined by her oath of office. For someone appointed by a foreign power at the recommendation of its ambassador to use their sacred offices to interfere with the constitutional operations of our government borders on sedition. It only is not because the Sedition Act expired. Of course, promoting abortion is excommunicated. Allowing it is not promoting it. You can allow driving without giving people free gas or cars. You are not talking about really doing something about abortion anyway. You are out to promote the Republican Party or are their fool. Either way, resisting Trump or the GOP (which is not God's Own Party is not a sin, nor is holding the contention that Roe is settled law. Congress can alter personhood, not SCOTUS.

Catholic politicians do not support abortion, it is a constitutional, not a legislative question. They do support the premise that it is not an issue that should be legislated at the state level but have not explained that well to the hierarchy, either publicly or privately. That is a shame. Not supporting mob rule by conservatives at the state level is not supporting abortion, it is opposing mob rule, even if the mob is led by bishops. They don't support the compromise legislation above because it helps their fundraising too, but I contend that they would do better to compromise than the GOP.

One of the reasons Obama won Catholics is that we made this argument online constantly. People got.it. Hillary did not. Now that you have a pro-life President and Congress, don't bother trolling every discussion on NCR. Show us your bill and tell us who will sponsor it and when the Judiciary Committee is holding hearings. If you can't do that, quit moralizing on our politics, trolling NCR and wasting our time. Or admit that the best Congress will do is the status quo and join me and others in fighting for a living wage for families, which will do more for the unborn than any bill I just showed you how to draft. Get the GOP to cooperate with you or quit damning us for supporting the other guys. Your serial calumny is no longer tolerable.

The right to abortion is about abortion but constitutionally it is not about rights at all, except the right to be left alone by the government. The real meat of the decision is and always shall be a limitation of the POWER of state government to impose moral choices on its citizens. I will argue limiting state power every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Slavery is another pro-life diversion. The 14th Amendment at least attempted to limit the Slave Power from reintroducing virtual slavery on Freemen. As long as federal troops were on hand, it stood. The rule of law is stronger now and we are taking down the monuments to that power. The last one is the racist immigration system. It will take an election, but we will do it.

Supporting abortion is a term of art. It is not just allowing abortion to be legal (as if Catholic politicians had a choice, even about judges, because vehemently pro-life judges are usually inferior legal thinkers). It is taking the position that abortion is a positive good that society should encourage. Some zero population growth Greens actually take that position, but it is individual, not a required party plank. The right to abortion is part of a larger right to engage in conduct that the legislature has no business regulating in a free society. Not wanting a theocracy, even a Catholic one, is not a requirement of the faith. Sadly, Pelosi and Biden have done nothing to educate the hierarchy on why Roe says what it says. Doing so publicly may alienate some Catholic voters, but probably not the amount they fear.

The second rationale is that the unborn are persons who need to be protected. This is the only rationale that meets consitutional muster. Abortion can no longer be related simply as a banned medical practice where doctors are fined and women seek the procedure clandestinely or self-induce (although self-inducing is easy with certain drug combinations that could be ordered from China if abortion is banned). The Supreme Court ruled that unless the personhood of the fetus (or embryo) is recognized, the states have no compelling interest to violate the rights of women to be left alone in this matter. In the United States, law is permissive (Amendment 9) and while states have sovereign power (Amendment 10) it is limited by due process and equal protection (Amendment 14).

There is no statute permitting abortion, no law that allows abortion to be repealed or supported or opposed by Catholic legisltors and politicians. As long as the pro-life movement acts as if there is such a law, we will laugh at them. The only way to limit abortion is to advance the pesonhood of the unborn into earlier in the pregnancy. Any regulation that follows from such a change in law must conform to the due process rules that apply to everyone. Rules applying only to abortion will be struck down. The Congress is the only competent forum for such a change in the status of the unborn. State have proven time and again their incompetence in this area and there is a string of decisions on racial and sexual matters that affirm this point.

An Amendment is impossible. There are too many pro-choice states that would block it's ratification.
Congress can restrict abortion under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Doing so would be considered a final compromise and would end the controversy and the ability of the Republicans to rally pro-life donors and volunteers.

Actually, regardless of discussion, you cannot pass a law if you don't do complete work and say how violators will be punished. Law is not a statement of societal values. Many of the pro-life movement seem to think it is. They want that pro-life label and are afraid that if we are not a pro-life nation, God the Ogre-will surely punish us. No. Jesus said when asked about the moral failings of the people killed by the fall of the tower of Siloam that this disaster was not punishment from God (neither were Katrina or Harvey).

If you want an abortion law, it must be federal. States cannot grant personhood, regardless of what libertarians believe, the 14th Amendment is quite clear. Congress has enforcement authority on who is and is not a citizen or because of Roe, a person. The first step is to accept the venue for argument. Should be easy, you might have the votes.

Now that we have the venue, Congress, and the question they can adjudicate, when are the unborn legal persons, we can answer that question, which includes penalties. Note that legal people who are killed by contract deserve that the killer and the person who ordered the murder both be brought to justice. Under equal protection, whether that person is a fetus or a 50-year old man, the penalties must be the same. If not, the discussion is over

There will be unique circumstances for the unborn. If the child is doomed due to genetic faults such that it would be stillborn, there should be no legal consequence for inducing labor for the health of the mother (the Church disagrees, but we are discussion civil, not canon law and the argument that one must follow the other is relativistic Catholicism). In general, a child 25 weeks into gestation can survive with assistance (although that cannot be mandatory either), so the child should be protected. Earlier it can't survive or will be sick.

That is the likely place the debate will end. We could state that all abortions after week 20 must be by induction only (no fetal pain need be treated). Anything before 20 weeks brings up the question of miscarriage. If a fetus or embryo is a person at a certain number of weeks, than all fetuses of the same age are persons. If you can write legal language that passes equal protection rules (as would be required if you tried to not punish mothers) that can recognize the personhood of those aborted but not those miscarried, than you can ban abortion i the first trimester. If you cannot, then you must cry uncle on the first trimester or even on up to week 20. Gone are the days when abortion was banned by sanctioning doctors for bad medical practice rather than taking a life. You are all in. Personhood or bust with murder as the charge and carrying the same penalties. If you want to keep asserting your point, write a bill or accept the status quo. All proposals must be constitutional.


Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day: Occupy Capitalism

Some years, I simply repost prior year columns and take the day (OK, so I take most days off). This year, however, I have something to post.

In the past year, I have been participating in the DC DSA Socialist Book Club. For the last few years, I have been reading more socialist literature, much of which I have reviewed on this blog, starting with Michael Harrington’s last labor of love, Socialism, Past and Future with three reviews waiting on my end table to write.

Harrington’s book was notable in pointing out that Social Democrats in Europe had profound success in socializing the gains of capitalism but had no idea how to move forward to owning and controlling the means of production. Likewise, book after book has prescriptions on what to do in the event that Socialists gain power, but most cannot move beyond the rather unsettling suggestion that the state own capital, albeit with cooperative control of the enterprise, which is never detailed, although Richard Wolff gets close.

It is both true and Marxist truism that how socialism is governed will be up to the workers themselves, however it is the job of the present to suggest some ideas, like how to distribute profit, whether the firm should be controlled by production workers or whether engingineers, sales, distribution and management gets a vote, whether we should practice warm body voting or share voting (it depends) and how managers, especially CEOs are selected and compensated.

That just starts the list, which also includes training doctors, growing food, housing, running an aerospace firm and international cooperative economics. Long time readers know that I have some ideas in this area, the latest being that the first step in Socialism is for workers to control the means of consumption. You can find them all at  http://bindneranalytics.blogspot.com/

Labor has not done well since I joined the labor force when Ronnie was president. Workers are doing even worse under King Donnie. Gutting the Department of Labor seems to be a right of passage for Republican presidents. Getting power is essential, but eight years of an administration friendly to our cause barely got our heads above water. There was no hope of laying the groudwork for Socialism, even when Speaker Pelosi held the gavel. There are simply too many Democrats in the pocket of Capitalists and that is not likely to change. The Greens are no laternative, since their fundraising is to anemic to ever gain a majority. I won’t even mention the weakness of the Socialist and Communist parties.

What shall we do (to paraphrase the famous questions in socialist cirles)? If we cannot win in politics (and we really cannot), then we must take over industry. If our ideas are not better when implemented in a modern company, then history has truly ended and there is no alternative (TINA). I am betting there is. We simply need customers. My recent reading shows that there are plenty of potential customers, from ESOPs to Cooperatives, who might find our ideas useful (some of them are undoubtedly in play in some firms). My experience is that many firms in this class are still run on hierarchical models with pay systems to match. There is plenty of room to grow. It is time for us to Occupy Capitalism, not by sitting it but by giving them a call and taking their money as consultants. If our ideas have merit, there will be more and more clients and our influence will grow, so much so that the leaders of these firms will fund our candidates (and may become them) and THEN we can enact the laws we need to encourage socialism through political means.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sex and pleasure

Sex and pleasure  are good in and of themselves. Procreation is too rare for them not to be. Companionship is good in and of itself. This orientation toward an end is classicalism run amok, coming from stoicism and the idealism of Plato toward sex, which likely reflected his Asexuality which infected the entire field. It is perversion.

Jesus never talked means and ends. It is time to unbaptize classicalism, especially when it is based on an undercurrent of sexual exceptionalism (asexuality).

Do traditionalilsts have a reason originating with Christ that does not depend on sexual proclivity of celibates and/or asexuals? Does it stand on its own if I do not accept a common premise, which is my right in a logical arugment? I kind of doubt it.

Their argument works in a hierarchical culture or even a despotic one. It fails in an individualism/libertarianism and in egalitarianism. Both cultures are legitimate world views. It is time to stop wondering why Humanae Vitae is so ignored, quit hopine all will repent or assume all will be damned and make yourselves useful and deal with reality, starting with the sexual orientation of the clergy through the years, which attracted gay and asexual orientees and led to a peculiar sexual morality. Jesus did not intend his miistry to be weird. Remember that he called married men, probably was himself and that the view that he was celibate is likely an asexual myth.

I am not saying that we cannot look for means and ends. We must always remember, however, that they are logical constructs, not reality. The natural order is a construct to. It lives in langues, not nature. It gets beyond the problem of a perfect deity who cannot be harmed by sin. Such concepts are real based on wide agreement. That agreement is going away, largely because the Catholic Church overplayed its hand and the generations born after World War II (as well as those who fought it) realized that their salvation was not in the hands of the clergy, which on a second look seemed peculiar. Indeed, the heteros in the clergy saw the problem first and fled. Probably too many went in from gratitude for surviving the war and realized the implilcit asexuality was not for them. Until the Church accepts modern sexual categories and looks at how its clergy fits them, it will get more and more isolated. This is bowing to reality, not modernity.

Have the emotional maturity to realize that the critics love the Church and want it to thrive and that maybe, if you try on what we are saying, it might have a better chance. The Gates of Hell prophesy by Jesus says eventually you will. 

We are to live this life fully. Obsessing about your sin or the sins of others is to live in the original sin of blame, the knowledge of good and evil. Fixation on sexual sins causes us to ignore the more important issues of poverty and wealth. It is no wonder that Marx and the secularists condemn us, as we are worthy of condemnation. Indeed, their oracle to us is more useful than the fixation on sexual sins that may not even be sinful if looked at from a healthy sexuality.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Dissent and Obedience in the Church

For the full debate, go to: https://www.ncronline.org/news/parish/church-reform-groups-support-call-year-laity#c-2882847
MGB: Revisiting the whole dissent thing. My dissent on LGBT matters and suggestion that doctrine should change has no impact on me, because I am not gay. While I hope my gay brother finds peace back in the Church, he did leave, largely because of the hateful tones. I will not back hate in my name. Whether hate was intended, it was received that way and when you are the Church, you are responsible for how communication lands.
My dissent on abortion is mostly on law, not doctrine. While I do dissent from the illogic of not having an abortion when a trisomic pregnancy that will assuredly kill the child before birth may also kill the mother as long as the child lives, this is a rare case that most doctors would ignore and most confessors would not even require a penance for. On law, whatever the motivation of the Brennan decision on Roe, the logic is correct. Further, it is obvious when some right wing bishop talks about the abortion law in America that they are ignorant and need not be obeyed. The sad thing is that Catholic politicians have not had the courage to correct these bishops on why Roe is not going away, at least not by repeal, that doing so would repeal most privacy law. While the bishops would love to return to rule by a Catholic mob at the state level, most of us would not.
This goes to the big dissent and obedience argument. It is not contraception and marital chastity, the sense of the faithful has already rejected that and we are not leaving. There will be no small faithful remnant that dotes on every word asexual Catholic bishops speak. Like any dysfunctional organization, we simply ignore the powers that be.
The big argument is about elections. The bishops long for the day that they can speak from the pulpit and be obeyed in the voting booth. Sadly, this happened this year and we got King Donald the Idiot. It did not happen with Obama, who wisely listened to those who said to attack the movement rather than debate the question. It was not made loudly, but it did work on all the Catholics for Obama sites. Catholics voted for Obama those years in the same proportion of the general population. We will see if we can revise this line of argument for the next election and make Catholics MORE likely to vote Democratic again.
In matters of electoral politics, if the Church really wants to have influence, it will ask us first. The bishops can no longer speak in our name without doing so (especially if the Johnson Amendment is repealed - for right now, the Church cannot speak as a group at all except sideways). Simply have a meeting where we can make our arguments and then vote, preferably by secret ballot, on whom to endorse. We used to elect bishops, so none of this Church not being a democracy thing is relevant. It started as one and did well. Of course, the arguments may change some minds, which is the last thing the bishops want, since Truth has a liberal bias.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Four Reasons for Cake Bakers

There are for ways of looking at the motivations of fundamentalist Christian cake bakers who wish to avoid providing services for gay weddings.
One reason is that they think that society allowing gay weddings will bring on divine vengeance.  Frankly, there are a lot of things, like atomic weapons and capitalism that are more likely to that, but the reality is that Jesus said that God does not punish people with natural disasters, which he made clear in Luke 13:1-5 regarding the Tower of Siloam. If that is your logic, bake the cake. The world will not explode.
A second reason is that people may just hate homosexuals, regardless of any biblical teaching.  They are not only abnormal but they vote for Democrats.  Those who admit that have at least been honest, however that kind of hate is covered under the Civil Rights Act.  Bake the cake or face all sorts of legal penalties, although you can probably avoid providing the gay cake topper with two brides or two grooms.  Politely let the couple know that they must order their own cake topper, you don’t carry them in stock.  Being impolite is a sin.
A third reason is that the bakers actually care for the souls of the gay couple and refuse to bake the cake out of fraternal correction.  In Christianity, as the kids now say, we have an app for that.  It is the 18th Chapter of Matthew.  First you quietly admonish them, then add two or three witnesses and then refer to matter to the whole Church (who in my view should be performing the wedding).  When Jesus mentioned the Church, he meant the whole assembly, not just pastor (or overseer or bishop, there were no parish priests or diocese, just communities).  If the person ignores even these, they are to be treated as you treat the heathen and the publican.  Of course, Jesus was known for dining with heathens and publicans, so bake the cake.
The fourth possibility is the most true.  The gay couple in question, unless they have always lived lives of continence, have repented from the kind of promiscuity that is assumed to go with the gay lifestyle (and who would not live it up if they believed that the orientation they were born with damned them to Hell, allowing no sex for the morally disordered).  Leaving behind the wild life for the joys of monogamy, possibly dealing with one or both partner’s children in a parental role (or nieces and nephews in the same way) is considered conversion, as when the lost sheep is found or the prodigal son returns.  In that case, you must surely not only bake the cake, but also order the cake topper as well and encourage the Church to hold the wedding.  If the angels are celebrating, how dare you not share in their joy?
Clergy should take the same test.  Those that can’t see the appropriateness of the fourth possibility should pray about whether the religious or episcopal life is right for them and if not, call Rome as soon as possible to make arrangements to do something else.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Is the clergy objectively disordered sexually?

Whether or not the clergy’s pursuit of chastity for themselves and the rest of us is correct depeds on whether or not it comes from a universal state of sexual being. We will discount for a moment non-chaste homosexual priests (and there are plenty of these) and those who embrace their chastity, either through piety, brain washing or self-loathing. We will also exclude former perfectly healthy heterosexuals, including widowers, who embrace celibacy and chastity, although quite a few of these left the priesthood to marry. I know a few, including a cousin.

This leaves quite a few who simply do not feel attraction to others of either sex. These are called Asexuals. If homosexuals are objectively disordered, certainly asexuals (or aces) are as well because their sexual orientation is not normal in its lack of fecundity, which trads consider the objective goal of sexuality. If sexuality is integral to humanity, then asexuality is objectively disordered. If that is true, then Sacred Continence based on the assumed celibacy of Christ cannot be allowed, because Christ, as the perfect man, could not have been objectively disordered sexually. QED.

If he was the Rabbi at Capernaum before his ministry, knowledge of Jewish religion dictates he was probably married, so the contention is false anyway. Of course, Sacred Continence has no justifiable excuse outside of asexuality, except outright misogyny, which was popular in the stoic wolrd that Christianity merged with when it became the state religion of the Empire. Its continued maintenace certainly has an asexual theme.

Luckily, those of us on the left are more charitable than our asexual traditionalist brothers. Modern psychology recognizes asexuality as another sexual orientation, like heterosexuality and homosexuality. It is not a disorder. Indeed, the biggest champions of the asexual cause are the LGBTQ community. How ironic is that? I encourage celibate asexuals to embrace their identity and in doing so allow LGBTQ Catholics to embrace their’s without being thought of as disordered and without requiring of them a celibacy that may or may not be their personal charism. Unaware asexuals in ministry have done untold damage to their LGBTQ brothers, especially the youth. The first step in atoning for that is self-awareness. Start at http://www.whatisasexuality.com/intro/


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Removing General Lee

When I woke up this morning, I was not planning on writing about removing statues of Robert E. Lee. I certainly did not believe that I would see a Republican Speaker of the House denounce people protesting said removal in Charlottesville, Virginia, although given the conduct of the demonstrators, it is not hard to condemn them. Still, this will take some unpacking. The demonstrators claim that this all about their history. They are correct, so let us start there.

If Abraham Lincoln had not been elected President, the Confederacy would have never been formed. They would have been perfectly happy with a Democratic President who would continue to enforce the Fugtiive Slave Act and continue their economic system, which was based on human bondage, which is the ultimate form of Capitalism. In capitalism, the labor of the worker is wholly owned by the capitalist. Slavery wholly owns the laborer as well, with only in-kind wages provided (which were often produced by the slaves themselves, they were hardly orderign shirts from Europe for them).

Without the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, the calls for abolition would goad slaves to vote with their feet on slavery to the North, for Dred Scott made it clear that they were property, so the now used name African American did not apply. Even though he said otherwise, Lincoln may have even freed the slaves, although he promised he would not. The Confederates did not believe him, so they seceded and fired on Fort Sumter. History makes it clear in the acts secession of each state that slavery was the issue, not self-determination, as some Confederate apologists now claim.

The Union soldiers did not orignially go to war to end slavery, although some eventually found that cause. Their motivation was restoring the Union. They certainly were not anti-capitalists, as many worked within that system, although Lincoln certainly made anti capitalist remarks from time to time. How Lincoln would have handled reconstruction is only vaguely known, although he at least had the 13th Amendment pass, although with a dangerous exception for convicts that was expoited harshly after reconstruction. Johnson handled it badly enough to be bypassed by the Radical Republican Congress and Grant led it well, but not so well that lasted when it lasted past 1872, when federal troops were removed for political expediency. The terms of the 14th and 15th Amendments were not enforced well in either the South or the North after that point, with President Wilson making Jim Crow universal.

Northern and Southern veterans alike began to remember the gallantry of battle and a mutual comradeship rather than the reasons for the war. Northern citizens no longer cared how African Americans (as the 14th Amendment made them) were exploited in both the sharecropper and penal peonage systems. Indeed, they still don’t when these come from the War on Drugs or have to do with immigrant labor in factory and field. As long as they get their bacon and orange juice, they have no qualms about how those who make it are treated.

Confederate monuments and highways are a testament to the historical amnesia to both treason and exploitation. Indeed, the Confederate Battle Flag only began flying when the Civil Rights movement and the coverage of racist push back pricked the conscience of the nation on these issues, although advances in agriculture and road building had already removed the economic imperitive for segregation where cotton is grown. 

De-unionization had still not reached meat packing and the abuse of migrant workers someone had not been noticed until Caeser Chavez brought it to our attention. Indeed, civil rights for Latinos took seperate Supreme Court action to have them considered a protected class rather than inferior whites.

It has taken fifty years for the civil rights movement to advance to the point of demanding the removal of monuments to Confederate treason. It took some time for civil rights action to grow enough to include this demand and the election of Barack Obama made people realize they could demand more, which has led to pushback from those who would retain power through voter suppression. Obama’s election and the FoxNews pushback has emboldened those who feel the charm of Southern glory to admit the outright racism of their desire to preserve Southern culture, which is was as much about racism and economics as it was about history.

The backlash also resulted in Donald Trump, whose record on civil rights in housing is putrid. Indeed, to hide it, you would think he would double-down on both housing enforcement and countering voter suppression. He has not. He gave us the ultimate Beaureguard as Attorney General and is advised by Bannon and Gorka, whose defenders claim have no racism in their background, even though Breitbart News is all about inflaming racism in the masses. Mr. President, give us a break and fire these three clowns and at least make it look like you honor your oath to enforce the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Future We Want

When I was a fourteen-year-old recovering from a bad bout of asthma (we had no health insurance and my parents would not apply for Medicaid), I was thinking in my sickbed about the house of the future.  It would be designed to make recycling easy – and why stop there – it would have facilities to grow food, including creating beef muscle tissue without the cow (we can do that now) so that everyone would have what they want to eat, not what the collective told them to eat.  It would be built by workers laboring cooperatively and paid equally.   People work until they paid back the labor hours that went into constructing the house, plus enough for a lifetime dividend – although most things would be done cooperatively so there would be little need for money.  I called the concept Inter-Independence.
This was needed because we were (and are) fowling the earth, raping the land and on the verge of nuclear annihilation (this was 1977). That is how I became a cooperative (and democratic) socialist. I have written several essays related to this and will look at the various chapters of the book through that lens, so I make no effort or claim to summarize the discussion of the book so far by our Book Club.
The Introduction was an interesting statement of the problem and call for a solution, although it was light on demands – although the succeeding chapters had some of these.
Working for the Weekend showed the need for full-employment – the real definition not the neo-liberal one found in government reports and political debates.  Back when worker pay matched productivity we had wage and price control and a 70% marginal tax rate on the wealthy.  Nixon junked the first and Reagan  the second.  We can’t go back, but we can pursue worker ownership and control, i.e., cooperative socialism.  As for the workday, I like 6.5 hours for 4 days and Fridays off.  Who’s with me!  I also want to shift lesser educated workers to mandatory paid training so that no one toils at a bad job because they are less than fully literate.
Socialist Education raises some interesting points, although I temper any analysis of U.S. educational attainment with a desire to compare the US to the EU as a whole, with their member states compared to our states.  Some American states would be at the top – others worse than anyone else in the world.  Of course, if we were really socialistic, teachers and parents would control individual schools, not the central neo-liberal administration.  High School students would be paid to attend (and unionized) and parents who have not attained full literacy would, as above, be paid to go to school.  Going away from property taxes (or even a land value tax) and toward income tax or Value Added Tax funding would be required for goals so large.
How to Make Black Lives Really Truly Matter highlights Dr. King’s admiration of Henry George, with his citizen’s dividend and land value taxation.  Though George had at times been supported by socialists, the vision as it now stands is heavy on liberty and light on government – which is fine when cooperative socialism is achieved, although by then it won’t be needed. We can (and do) have a Universal Basic Income for Kids in the Child Tax Credit, although it is not generous enough and should be paid through wage or VAT taxes as an offset.  Also, land value taxes cannot be federal without an amendment. This is mostly a state proposition.
Sex class is a wonderful essay that highlights, among other things, the injustice of having women work as caretakers for children while their own children do without or are cared for by relatives or neighbors.  It calls for collective community-controlled living arrangements – and I am all for that – but in the cooperative, not the geographical town or city.  I am also all for men being able to stay home as their wives work – indeed more men doing this removes competition for management and executive positions (although I would eventually make such positions electoral and force the incumbents to bid salaries down in open auction in advance of the election).  I would also provide easy access to child care at school and university for teen and twenty-something parents.
The Green and The Red covers the water front on the environment, going back to the New Deal and up to the problem of carbon emissions and overconsumption by America and the West.  Moving toward a shorter work week will help part of this (see 26-hour suggestion above) as well as decreasing consumption.  Note that consumption is the balm for the working class which has prevented a Marxian revolution for all these years.  Owning a home where you grow your own food will, by nature, lead to less outside work as good production takes time.  Fusion powered electric cars do the rest (preferably with central computer control to end most accidents).
Red Innovation demonstrates how much real progress was publicly funded and expropriated by the capitalists, who use technology in their war with labor and against poor nations.  Instead of making a technology a public resource, I would emphasize innovation in cooperative enterprises, giving innovators a bonus and – to the extent the innovation lasts for years – stock, rather than paying engineers and scientists higher salaries but keeping all the gain from innovation in the hands of the capitalists.  Innovators would be able to retire earlier – with more shares quicker in the cooperative and forgiveness of some of the home mortgage debt.
The Cure for Bad Science seeks to make science more on real-world applications.  After two years of doctoral work in political science building to what would have been a career writing more about mathematics than politics and how to help the polity find better solutions, I have to agree.  I would fund science with an excise tax on anything developed with public funds – with a high enough rate to keep research flowing.  I would also find scientists among those who never got a chance for an education – again, through paid remedial education, either publicly or through cooperative socialist employers (in lieu of taxes).
Finding the Future of Criminal Justice was provocative, especially the suggestion to abolish the police. I would more transform them by dealing with crime as a mental health problem – treating some and separating the rest from society in long term care (i.e., the sociopaths who have been dangerous).  Pimps should also get mandatory treatment or be locked up, with the trafficked women just getting treatment.  Legalizing drugs almost goes without mention – and crime committed while high will especially be a mental health issue.  The truth is that the war on drugs has been the war on black male voters, although they can’t help but lock up white trash meth dealers too.   A police state is needed when on part of society demands another behave – when society lacks the General Will Rousseau wrote about.  It’s time to end the police state. Disarming police and getting the guns also goes without saying.  All the guns, including those used against snitches.
After Gay Marriage wonders what is next, especially for Trans people and for those who don’t want to marry.  In some areas, progress has been made and forgotten about until something happens and many places still have domestic partner provisions, although not all.  I would answer that Employment Non-Discrimination should be next on the agenda.  Hopefully cooperatives won’t have these problems.
Small, Not Beautiful talks about business size.  I agree.  Bigger employers and cooperatives are often better for workers (even if CEOs are overpaid – not a problem for cooperatives).  If we ever do pass a Value Added Tax, it should include provisions forcing larger firms to pay the tax benefits to its 1099 contractors and to bring franchises into the larger organization (or at least allow franchise employees to divert their Social Security employer contribution to buy stock in the larger enterprise).  The use of franchising to avoid unionization must end and cooperative socialism will end it. Smallness is not a boon.  It is the flaw in Distributism, which would throw out our technological civilization in a mistaken search for progress.
The Red and the Black gives one of the best explanations of the differences between capitalism, socialism and the  problems of the Soviets that most of us have read.  Instead of a fund to invest in firms, I would use Social Security employer taxes (credited equally) to buy employers out and have a percentage of that as an insurance fund to pay off employees and retirees should a covered business fail.   Cooperative employees would have make v. buy decisions to see what gets made internally, what the cooperative buys and what members buy (and with how much money).  In what would be a free market for labor, everyone would have an equal base wage – with adjusting stock grants for education, innovation and longevity – which must be compensated as part of the supply cost for labor (and the preference for leisure as one gets older).  The last piece is probably what Marx was searching for in the labor theory of value.
Coda has interesting suggestions, but I suspect it was pre-Bernie.  I have some too. Again, on education, I would compare EU members to US states for apples to apples.  I would transfer state and local government pensions to Social Security.  I would regionalize the states into 7 regions, mostly autonomous.  Of course, there will always be differences between ALEC states (or regions) and Blue states, or regions, even if they year all states go blue, which could happen. We need a special emphasis on outreach in ALEC  states, even though it would be dangerous sometimes.  I would nationalize (or regionalize) Medicaid and Social Security Part D.  Public unions should lead the fight for a seven hour work day (to start).  Lastly and again, I would pay poor people to get educated and trained and insure them through the training provider’s health policy.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

In Capitalist Realism, Is there no alternative?

In Capitalist Realism, Is there no alternative? Mark Fisher makes the point that even anti-capitalism is still a conversation about capitalism. We simply can’t get away from it. It’s why conversations about atheism still talk about God. Michael Harrington wrote about Scandanavia, which could ameliorate capitalism with social democracy but never fire the capitalists. Likewise, even cooperatives like Mondragon and Land O’ Lakes (started by my great-grandfather) still operate with capitalist structures. 

Protests don’t help. Their subject is still capitalism rather than new solutions. Even as we protest the ultimate capitalist POTUS, we take up time from discussing new ideas. We talk about warming, but capitalism is the background (Actually, the solution will likely be found in deveoping habitats for a Mars mission, which can then be replicated on earth, probably built by capitslist, but maybe not). Capitalism gives us video games, smart phones, TV as babysitter and ADHD. The author claims it gives us mental illness, I disagree, since mine was caused by an adrenal tumor. 

Capitalism as PR gives us market Stalinism. PR over substance seems to be how Congress works nowadays. The problem is, they are so caught in their orthodoxy they can’t shake a bad message. Capitalism, like any theology, relies on the lack of memory that things have been different, like how we celebrate Christmas, how every generation thinks it invented sex, how GOP economics thinks it was ever valid and how Trump is a social conservative.

No one is responsible in capitalism (except for making the CEO rich and keeping his taxes low). Alt-A junk mortgages, the run-up in oil prices in NYMEX and the phone scams we all face are about the system getting the CEO rich, although he claims no responsibility for abuses. Frontline, a PBS broadcast was the best source on this. The corporate media said little and FoxNews spread lies about affirmative action housing.

The morals and health of capitalism are hedonistic. Would a socialist humanism be that different? I hope so. GOP morality is a creature of the focus groups of Frank Luntz (my old methods teacher). There is no real ”there” there. Neither will there be any crisis, like 2008, that will give us a proletarian revolution, distributism or libertopia. We have to build it now and crowd out the capitalist hegemony. How? http://BindnerAnalytics.blogspot.com

After Capitalism (New Critical Theory)

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51f68PHs1wL._SS300_.jpg

After Capitalism (New Critical Theory) by David Schweickart goes beyond the usual Marxist excuse that the workers will design their future by actually suggesting a system for social control after capitalism. He has a three-part proposal. 1. Firms will be self governed cooperatively. 2. Assets will be owned by the state at large and enterprises will pay a ten percent tax. 3. Taxes will be distributed geographically for investment in new and existing operations.
It is an interesting proposal, but could uses some fleshing out in how firms will be managed, for example, how they will decide things and pay their executives. As for the rest, I am not sure why new investments and innovative product launches cannot occur within the context of existing socialist cooperatives. The state asset owership and investment system sounds like state control for its own sake. I expect that part of this is a safety net to redo failing cooperatives, but for that I would give a third of cooperative voting shares to an insurance fund to both insure the future incomes of members and to, at the request of a quarter of employee shares, take over the cooperative and reorganize it should mismanagement be found.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Elitism

The obsession with elitism started with resentment against the self-styled New York Jewish Elite. The Jewish was quickly left off and the concept became bi-coastal with Dan Quayle's use of the term Cultural Elite (presumably to include Hollywood and its Jews. The resistance to elitism spoke out for decency and family values, mostly because censorship does not focus group well. What the New York elite was known for was an avante garde sensibility that defied the censors, especially those resisting sexuality.

The elite was known to support women’s rights and gay rights, although they were not alone in this. Plenty of Catholics and High Church Protestants agreed with expanding freedom for those the mainstream would suppress, except that the mainstream no longer agreed with the so-called forces of decency, so censorship fell, Will and Grace topped the charts and support for abortion rights (if not abortion) became the majority view (and everyone seemed to look at porn and use contraception). Of course, in a 50% nation, majorities were slim and shifting and some states were decidedly non-elite in their attitudes.

The question arose, was there a compelling state interest for everything from regulating contraception to abortion to denying gays the right to marry. The Court concluded that these issues were private and that moral scorn, even by the majority, was not a compelling interest. It was the equivalent of yelling fire in a theater, not religious freedom. It was rather an attempt at religious power and therefore not protected or a counter-balancne against the liberty of others, most of whom were neither elite nor powerful, they just wanted the same dignity that others have. If supporting that dignity makes me an elitist, I wear the term proudly. Trump says he stands up for decency, but that is a very hard sell from the epitome of the New York elite.

The Pro-Life Movement as a Scam

The question is not about the morality or legality of abortion.  It is whether the Republican Party and the Pro-life movement are using the issue for political purposes without actually doing something about it.  Come on GOPeons.  You have Ryan, McConnell and Trump in charge and any abortion law they write will probably get Kennedy, Gorsuch, Roberts, Alito and Thomas to agree with.  You can even use the nuclear option to stop the filibuster.

Do it already!  I dare you.  I double dare you!

You know in your hearts that they won't and you know why.  Their wedge issue goes away and any moderates in your party will never, ever, vote Republican again, including the major donors.

If you don't think you are being scammed, you are not thinking.  That goes doubly for MSW, who thinks that somehow Roe will be repealed by SCOTUS (because Kennedy, Roberts and Alito have already said no to that option).


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Right Wing Holy Grail, Constitutional Conventions!

MGB:_The other Holy Grail of the GOP Evangelical-Catholic Alliance is outrage over gay marriage. Currently attention is focused on allowing merchants to ignore the Civil Rights Act for religious reasons and there is already a case on the docket. Of course, if the part of the Act which prohibits discrimination in customers is overturned than the Pro-Life movement will have to quit talking about Plessy v. Ferguson on abortion, since Plessy would be restored if cake bakers got a break.

Protection of Marriage can now only be achieved by Constitutional Amendment (unless federal law removes due process and equal protection in the states from the Federal Docket or if Roe is overturned for the same reason). There is no chance that the GOP and get the votes in either house to overturn Marriage Equality, so their only hope is a constitutional convention. Not likely. A populist convention would more likely overturn Citizens United as Roe, Perry, Lawrence or Griswold, although term limits might have a shot, balanced budget, not so much.

The reason amendment efforts have not succeeded, or maybe they have, is because there are no congressional rules to say when they have been met. Must a call be all on the same issue? Must all petitions be submitted within the same Congress? How you answer these determines whether there may already be a valid call. As long as it is up in the air, Congress can dodge it. The GOP, if it wanted to, could pass a concurrent resolution answering all relevant questions as part of the rules of each house. Whether there will ever be 34 states in a call is another matter, since ALEC only has 30 members, but you have the votes to find out if you want to. Again, I double dare you.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Medicare for All, Do We Already Have It?

Medicare for all is a really good slogan, at least to mobilize the base. One would think it would attract the support of even the Tea Partiers who held up signs saying ”Don’t let the government touch my Medicare!” Alas, it has not. This has been a conversation among ourselves on the left and I don’t think we have gotten beyond shouting slogans either.

We need to decide what we want and whether it really is Medicare for All. If we want to go to any doctor we wish, pay nothing and have no premiums, then that is not Medicare.

There are essentially two Medicares, a high option and a low one. The high option has Part A at no cost (funded by the Hospital Insurance Payroll Tax and part of Obamacare’s high unearned income tax, Medicare Part B, with a 20% copay and a $135 per month premium and Medicare Part D, which has both premiums and copays and is run through private providers. Parts A and B also are contracted out to insurance companies for case management.

The low option is the Medicare Advantage (Part C) HMO. You pay a premium and copays, but there is much more certainty, while ABD are more like a PPO, but costs can go much higher. So much higher that some seniors and the disabled get Medicap coverage for the copays.

Medicaid lingers in the background and the foreground. It covers the disabled in their first two years (and probably while they are seeking disability and unable to work). It covers non-workers and the working poor (who are two poor for Obamacare) and it covers seniors and the disabled who are confined to a long-term care facility and who have run out their assets. I am not sure how the long term portion works (and I believe it should be federalized), but for the poor, it takes the form of an HMO, but with no premiums and zero copays.

Obamacare has premiums with income-based supports (one of those facts the Republicans hate) and copays. It may have a high option, like the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (which also covers Congress) on which it is modeled, but I know that the standard option puts you into an HMO. I know that the HMO drug copays for Obamacare are higher than for Medicare Part C, but the office visit prices are exactly the same.

What does it mean, then, to want Medicare for All? If it means we want everyone who can afford it to get Medicare Advantage Coverage, we already have that. It is Obamacare. I know this because I have Obamacare for another 45 days and will then go to Medicare Advantage. They will likely switch me automatically and I will notice no difference. Indeed, except for premiums and copays, I see little difference in coverage between my Medicaid HMO and my Obamacare Marketplace policy with the same provider. My Marketplace premium is $56 higher than Part B, because it includes drug coverage. I don’t expect Part C to be much more.

If Medicare Advantage is Medicare for All, we have it already. Promising it is pandering to people who don’t know the difference. Why do Tea Partiers want to repeal even that? Because they feel they worked for their coverage and no one else has. Admitting we already have it would be a huge facepalm to them.

I suspect that Medicare for All supporters want something even Medicare does not offer with the free Hospital Insurance (which in Republican parlance would be Single Payer Catastrophic), they want free doctor visits and free drugs (like Medicaid) but with PPO level choice (like Medicare Part B and Part D). If you did that, it would take a huge tax increase, exceeding the best private insurance coverage (which also has copays and premiums). It would replace Medicare, not just lower its age of eligibility.

Real single payer would either require a very large payroll tax (and would eliminate the HI tax) or an employer paid subtraction value added tax (so it would not appear on receipts nor would it be zero rated at the border, since there would be no evading it). If the latter were used (and VAT is more progressive than payroll) employers who provide direct medical care would get an exclusion, but third-party insurance would go away, unless the big companies administered the plan the way Medicare and Medicaid are run. The tax rate would be high enough to cover health payroll taxes for employers and employees, income taxes that fund Medicare and Medicaid and private insurance fees by both employers and employees. Gross pay would go down, but net pay would stabilize.

While we are at it, the subtraction VAT would also cover Social Security payroll taxes paid by employers, although these could be converted to Personal Retirement Accounts holding employer voting stock plus an insurance fund of similar companies. If you are a socialist and don’t recognize that as a good thing, submit yourself for reeducation. The tax would also be high enough to fund a Child Tax Credit of $1000 per child per month distributed with pay (and credited against the tax as applicable). If you are a socialist and don’t like that one either, submit yourself for reeducation on basic Marxism (to each according to their need).

If you want to make some of the Republican Catholic Bishops squirm, market this as a pro-life measure and dare them not to endorse it and force the National Right to Life Committee to do likewise.


Democrats have been criticized for not having a position, other than the slogan Medicare for All, in the current health care debate. As you can see, this is a position and it reflects the realities. It also shows that the Health Care Reform debate is ultimately a tax reform debate. Too much money is at stake for it to be otherwise, although we may do just as well to call Obamacare Medicare for All and agree to leave it alone. Sadly, the Tea Partiers will never let that happen until we give them a better deal. They seem to like their presents.