Since the Supreme Court’s infamous 4-1-4 ruling on the Affordable Care Act in June, nearly two dozen states have grappled with whether or not to comply with the first of many forthcoming deadlines found in the rules written (and still being written) by the functionally unconstitutional entity known as the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
November 16th is the deadline, and a flurry of letters are finding their way to Kathleen Sebelius’ desk this afternoon telling her they will not comply with the requirement to set up an exchange. The great debate has been over the enticement written into the law:
Either states create the exchanges, and the Feds will not only pay for the administrative costs but also the cost increases of expanding Medicare and Medicaid, or…
The Federal government will set one up for them and not give states the authority to direct their exchanges. Continue reading →
Last week, many pundits commented on the New York Times op-ed that vindicated Sarah Palin’s infamous “death panels” that drew scrutiny from Democrats and moderate Republicans during the ObamaCare debates of 2009.
See, Republicans boasted, she was right all along! Even the New York Times admits that there will be rationing. Yes, Steven Rattner did write in his op-ed that “unless we start allocating health care resources more prudently—rationing, by its proper name—the exploding cost of Medicare will swamp the federal budget.” Yes, Rattner did write that “elderly Americans are not entitled to every conceivable medical procedure or pharmaceutical.” And yes, he also stated that families that try every available treatment option to extend or improve the life of their elderly relatives are “an enormous societal cost that few other nations have been willing to bear.” Continue reading →
Recently a community voice from Shorewood, WI asked why the political right seems so intent on ending public education? This article is a response to his own. Wisconsin is the epicenter of public sector reforms and the heaven (or hell, depending what you believe) of public education reforms. He used a misguided historical revue to support his premise. That premise: that public education (presumably as we have it now, or under his vision or reform) is what those Puritans desired. Otherwise, why would he make such a blatant endorsement of the first colonists for public education?
Clearly, he’s trying to use the Puritan arrival as a wedge to make a broader point that Conservatives are somehow contradictory in their policies and rhetoric.
He is correct. The first public school was in the home of a pastor, Philemon Poremont, near Boston in 1635. He based their entire curriculum around the Bible studies of the local church and they had a vision of hyper-local public education to increase the intellect, reasoning and understanding of the world around them. The Puritans came from among the Enlightenment, and had a profound respect for higher education.
In his historical journey, the author strangely emphasizes some of the “South’s” methods of focusing on family-based education and “personal responsibility,” and even more strangely emphasizes on only their men receiving education, and even brings up race. The clear inference is that the “political right” is more like the Southern pre-civil war-schooling methods, than they are like the Northern states, who had to drag the Southern states “kicking and screaming into the public education model of the North.”
PRESUMPTIONS WITHOUT A CASE
The problem I have with the entire rabble are the underlying presumptions within. That the fundamentals of education had to change completely, and the principles that make an educated community great (morals, respect for law, full literacy, access to higher education, academic diversity for changing economic sectors) must necessarily change into a more centralized, more expensive, more secular, less accountable system. He makes several false presumptions while making grand generalizations about “social conservatives” (That schools should preach against abortion, and promote a single religious point of view). Really?
“One of the traditions of the American education system has been non-government interference in private and religious schools.”
Actually, the “tradition,” as accurately pointed out in the beginning of the article, was non-government interference in ANY school. Notice how he conveniently changes the terminology to appeal to our common goodness. The American tradition was that the local superintendents or municipal boards that began funding them were allowed to run their schools as they saw fit. The concept of the Federal government being involved was as strange to the first 200 years of American education as Communism was to 1940’s American politics. In fact, it was seen quite the same: anathema, corrupt, a power-play, impractical.
To conclude his piece, the author states quite presumptively:
“Whether one is a social conservative, fiscal conservative or libertarian [as though they all fall into the philosophical box he subtly defined throughout the article]; the goal of ENDING public education holds the promise of ending liberal influence once and for all. [Hmmm… Way to make an argument for it!] That is the real goal of the privatization movement. [What “privatization movement?”] But, if they are successful, I don’t think they are prepared for the unintended consequences. Without a doubt, taking American education back 200 hundred years would be devastating.”
The author abruptly (and awkwardly) ends his article, and I believe it is not a mistake. Rather than explain WHY that would be devastating, or surmising what those “unintended consequences” might be, he ends the conversation with an implied “Selah” moment, as though he just said something completely true, completely devastating and completely irrefutable.
Here’s my take, and yes, I believe I speak for the VAST MAJORITY of Conservatives (social, fiscal, libertarian, or whatever other subcategories one can define) when I say public education isn’t fundamentally wrong. The status quo is what we take issue with.
Why is the political left seemingly intent on KILLING public education? Their policies do not foster economic success, so it would seem logical to deduct that they would not foster educational success. The political left has had a virtual monopoly on public education for at least 60 years, and the influence goes back well over 100 to the time of John Dewey and Horace “the state is the real sponsor/god-parent of the child” Mann. Why do I believe the political left is killing public education? Because they insist on protecting and merely adjusting the policies of the past. The recipe for death is doing the same thing over and over, and society in general shows the fruit of such policies. The “proof is in the pudding,” so to speak:
Because of increasingly more expensive education, state- and federal-funding is a huge portion of public school revenue. This means the local district loses autonomy and must submit to the strings inevitably attached to all funding sources. The money comes from somewhere, why must it be laundered through D.C. or the state Capital first?
Public schools are protectionist
Most public schools are the only choice local parents have, and public funds are only for those neighborhood schools the government has built. About a dozen states have opened up voucher and charter programs to increase competition for students, but like any industry, protected markets become wasteful, inefficient and suffer decreasing results. Yes, it seems cold, but so is the reality of a bad education.
Public schools are unaccountable
The advent of public unions in the mid-20th century changed education for generations. Education was relatively cheap. Retirement was seen as a personal responsibility. Health care was reasonably affordable. Tax revenues were plentiful in a rapidly growing, young superpower. Today, public-sector union membership outnumbers private-sector for the first time in history. These public teacher unions make tenure, shallow-evaluation, no-merit pay, and political power more important than results.
Public schools are amoral
Local schools, possibly for reasons of practicality and scale have become more centralized, reflecting more the diversity of entire communities, rather than individual neighborhoods. Now, instead of local schools reflecting the morals and principles of the parents in the neighborhood, they are forced to be as amoral as possible. Morality is offensive because it says some things are wrong. Rather than parents working hand-in-hand with local schools and teachers in supporting universal values, the schools are forced to become gray slates where the only absolutes are math, language and science. Oh, and tenure.
PARENTS MUST HAVE SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN
The problems in education are many, and the solutions are complex. And they usually involve parents as much as systemic solutions. But parents must have a system they believe in. This is the very reason the federal government must be banned – and in some cases, state government – from ALL local education. In nearly any organization or industry, most decisions must be made as locally as possible, near the source of the problem. This is, in fact the philosophy of the “political right;” running public education like a business as much as possible means it operates better and achieves better results. The “political left” has so badly demonized that process that they cannot possibly tolerate such practices in education, their fortress of power.
But how can one argue with the results? Anyone who believes in free markets and the right of us all to enjoy life, liberty and ownership of property should be consistent and see the benefit of this in the education industry.
WE MUST REDEFINE PUBLIC EDUCATION, NOT FIGHT IT
Is public education a physical school location, or the education of the public? The answer should tell you what side of the spectrum to which you belong. Progressives have ruled the debate by mastering the language we use, and creating the meme. Conservatives believe the local community should promote the education of the public. Liberals believe the local unionized school district should educate the community. Therein lies our difference.
Education is an industry, no matter how you slice it. But is it protected industry, or competitive? The America of 200 years ago, which the author initially praised, then later reviled, was actually quite static. But it was local. Operating public education like the industry that it is, logic would lead you to believe that results would improve, quality would improve, and yes, even market share would improve. Ergo, public schools would likely grow, not end.
ARE WE ACTUALLY, THE TRULY “PROGRESSIVE ONES?”
Conservative policies are, in fact, more “progressive” than our Progressive (liberal) counterparts’ outdated ideas. Imagine that! Rather than trying to bolt the wrong tire on a different part of the car as most liberal “reforms” effectively do, Conservatives want to reinvent the car, not the wheel and make it run more efficiently. Conservatives believe in education, for all races, genders and economic tiers. Yeah, imagine that! Conservatives believe in our schools, locally-funded, locally-educating, and locally-benefiting. Reflecting the beliefs, morals and economic needs of that local community. They believe results should dictate methods and methods should drive results.
Public schools are suffering from cultural decline, yet cultural strength and the infusion of virtue was praised by liberal “reformers” as being the very purpose of the public school system.
“Let the common [public] school be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine-tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged; men would walk more safely by day; every pillow would be more inviolable by night; property, life and character held by a stronger tenure; all rational hopes respecting the future, brightened.” – Horace Mann
Wow – was it arrogance or just plain ignorance? Well, we’re holding them accountable, and their grade is F, and their return on investment is one of deep debt and pending bankruptcy. We, the shareholders in our children and our communities at large want the monopoly to end!
If we want to survive as a culture, public education must succeed. It’s time for a change, and Conservatives want cities to embrace true progress, and end ancient liberalism, not public education.
The only class the Elite Left despises is the wealthy elite they don’t control.
The rich. The target of the left. The fat cats, Wall Street, greedy, old white men who laugh in the face of hungry children and scheme behind closed doors with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to split commissions on the next big tax break. The trust-fund babies who didn’t build that; the heartless no-gooders who refuse to give to charitable organizations that won’t benefit their own coffers. The CEOs who only care about making a profit rather than hire hard-working single mothers.
Thank goodness for Democrats. For without their audacity and shining example of words, not deeds, we would be led off the cliff like a pack of possessed pigs. Because of the hard-working liberal media, professors and politicians, we know the truth. Money is not earned, it is taken; the 1% are not charitable, moral people, but rather a greedy, destructive force. We should be thankful we have the 1% to take on the 1%.
This diatribe worked in 2008, but a lot has happened in the last four years. Well, TRILLIONS have happened. “You didn’t build that,” the “Buffett rule,” the failed stimulus, a phone call to Sandra Fluke, the “Camedon police acted stupidly,” Obama’s one-term proposition, and of course, the daily “I inherited this mess” conjugation. Impressive resume.
Thank goodness for Obama. For without his occasional honesty-when-sans-teleprompter, the Tea Party would not have established its platform. Less government intrusion. Lower taxes. Traditional values. Responsible, honest governance.
I believe that there is no greater teacher than experience. And with an unemployment rate that has hovered at or above 8% for over three years and families’ median net worth falling 40% between 2007 and 2010, people are willing to learn from their mistakes. The 2012 presidential election is a chance to cleanse the palate, and the liberal’s tired tirade against the rich won’t work.
Government is personal. We see the government in our daily lives: when we go to the DMV for emissions testing, when we pay sales tax at the mall, when we pay an extra dollar for a pound of ground beef at the grocery store, when we want to install a fence to block the view of our neighbor’s fake deer and flamingo lawn decorations. And nothing is more personal than our income. With a president who is more concerned with Warren Buffett’s tax rate than the trillions of dollars of debt he has amassed in his first term, we take notice.
Do I really care that Warren Buffett has side-stepped the tax code himself and with his holding company Berkshire, when social security is bankrupt? Am I supposed to be angry that those whose gross income is $1 million or higher only pay a 24.6% tax rate while ObamaCare threatens to push me into a poorly-managed, government-run Medicaid? Or why should I be concerned about Romney’s silver spoon when President Obama has golfed over 100 rounds since taking the oath of office, yet has not met with his jobs council in 6 months?
The ads will be merciless in the coming weeks. The “tax the rich” distractions and the allusions that Romney is trying to buy the election will be leading off the cable news segments each evening. Liberals want to reelect Obama on the promise that they will soak the rich—those evil, greedy individuals who are laughing while the economy implodes on children without healthcare or a next meal.
But they miscalculate how smart we are. No, we didn’t graduate from Harvard, but we do work for a living. We participate in the exchange of goods and services on a daily basis, which teaches more about how the economy operates than all the graduate classes at NYU. We pay our taxes. We learn by experience. And experience tells us to pay more attention to the left hand when the right hand is pointed at the wealthy.
The left hand is wealthy itself, you know. The top 3 wealthiest Americans are Democrats (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison), and “an analysis of the Top 20 Richest People in America (from Forbes Top 100) reveals that a full 60% are actually Democrats.” And peruse the average net worth of the 25 richest congressmen (think hundreds of millions of dollars) to get a taste of the humble existence of those who want to soak the rich. For every Koch Brother on the libertarian Right, there are two David Bondermans and John Doerrs on the left who consider “philanthropy” to be writing checks for non-profit, politically influence groups. (Note: George Soros is merely a parenthetical mention in a sea of billionaire progressives.)
This election is not about voting for the man who promotes fairness. This election is about men and women who demand honesty from their representatives. One rich man pointing at another leaves little for Middle America except the realization that the rich aren’t the problem at all—the government is the problem. Wealth is neither intrinsically good nor evil. It’s what you do with it that determines merit.
The congressmen, senators and the president have become far more influential in our daily lives than the wealthiest private citizens, and we have taken notice. We have drawn a line in the sand. We have validated their merit.
Nothing on the teleprompter can ease unemployment or fix social security, but my vote can. Change from the top down doesn’t just refer to economics, Mr. President.
Solyndra – Founded in 2005; received $528 million in government subsidies in 2009. Result: Bankrupt in 2011. The Chinese and others made solar panels better and cheaper.
Samuel Langley – Tried to build first airplane in history. In 1900, U.S. government funded two flight attempts.
Result: Both times, Langley crashed his plane into the Potomac River. Shortly thereafter, the Wright brothers flew a plane with their own money.
Union Pacific Railroad – Founded in early 1860s with government money to build part of a transcontinental railroad.
Result: Bankrupt, and some officers of the railroad convicted of bribing Congressmen. JJ Hill and The Great Northern Railroad then built a transcontinental railroad with no corruption and no federal subsidies.
Edward Collins Steamship Company – Founded in 1840s to go from New York to England, and also received government subsidies in 1840s and 1850s. Result: Bankrupt in 1858. Cornelius Vanderbilt successfully built ships to go from New York to England with no subsidies.
Government operated fur company – Founded in 1795 with federal money to compete with the British. Result: Near bankruptcy, and shut down in 1822. John Jacob Astor built the American Fur Company in 1808 and flourished with no federal subsidies.
“If you’ve got a business–you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
President Obama had some words for small business owners last week, reminding them that without Government subsidization, infrastructure, education dollars and loans, they would have never existed. Paternal dependence is the new economic bubble. Don’t you forget it.
The president suggested all business owners striking out on their own and fulfilling the American Dream are beholden to teachers, road-builders, bridge-builders, and other government workers. His reasoning of course, is to lead us to believing the wealthiest 1%, which now pays 38% of all income taxes, should pay even more.
By contrast, Mitt Romney stopped in Bowling Green, Ohio and spoke about the President’s words, and discussed the virtues of economic liberty and the dangers of government meddling in free markets. He then asked small business owners to stand. The crowd, without any cue, broke into spontaneous applause as Romney shouted “Thank you! Thank you!”
Which vision of America, and perspective of America’s most productive people do YOU want in a President? While Mitt Romney does not exactly embody traditional Conservative or Libertarian principles, and is more of a Rockefeller Republican than a Coolidge Constitutionalist, he certainly knows the meme a nation needs to pull itself out of the deepest and longest recession in its history. Praising the producers as well as the laborors as ONE CLASS of Americans is not just shrewd politics, but also distinctly American. The Founders would have been clapping with everyone else.
While we have much gratitude to share with our parents, LOCAL teachers, friends and business partners, we have very little obligation to position our ever-benevolent Government at the top of the credit list for our personal accomplishments. The audacity of the mindset is breathtaking.
Everything the Government touches languishes. Great ideas go to government programs to catatonically survive until a better idea comes along to make it an enterprise or industry. Brilliant minds are capable of big dreams when they enter a government institution, but soon fall into an undead state of think-tank do-nothingness and check-writing.
The Pentagon created a technology: the communication of computers, for its own security and efficiency. It took 20 years before businesses like Microsoft, Apple, IBM and AOL made the internet a commercial reality.
NASA landed on the moon and made space travel a reality, but we are now seeing the costs of this industry radically drop as entrepreneurs are finding ways to build rockets and capsules without $20,000 O-rings and $500 bolts. Tickets to space are predicted by the end of the decade.
Even the Federal Government’s foray into modical care for seamen of the late 18th century fell into terrible quality and cost issues that plague the industry to this day. The best and most creative, affordable care is penalized with regulations that make it difficult for the free market to make health care truly competitive and transparent.
THE FOUNDERS’ INTENT AND WISDOM: LEARNING FROM OTHERS’ MISTAKES
The federal government was designed by the Founders to protect the general welfare, not to facilitate its economic health. The concept of paternal government care, democracy, republicanism or managed economic markets were nothing new last century, or in theirs. In fact, the Founders, namely John Adams and Alexander Hamilton knew better than most the history of governments of old and what worked and what didn’t. They knew every great idea had failed eventually, and they determined to build a system that would balance itself when one part became imbalanced. The result would be vibrant, long term growth, economic wealth and what they perceived as the greatest of all, individual liberty.
They certainly accomplished just that. What’s amazing is that despite wars, mass immigration, rapid industrialization and a cultural melting pot, Americans succeeded because of the principles set in place by our Founders. These principles were very simple, and will never be out-dated:
Property – What you earn or buy is yours and cannot be confiscated without your consent
Protection - You have the right to protect your family and possessions by any means necessary
Rule of Law - A nation without laws is a breeding ground for anarchy. Equitable and fair justice by your peers
Personal Responsibility - Human nature is flawed, and altering the realities of failure or success kills responsibility
Limited Government - Because human nature is flawed, government is inherently at war with indivdual liberty. Limiting government, and keeping it as local as possible, minimizes the allure of power on the front end and limits the damage of corruption on the back end.
Republicanism - Pure Democracy has always led to anarchy and tyranny. Every time. Republican representation provides a protection between minorities and majorities, and a buffer between timely wisdom and emotional mobacracy.
When the Federal Government involves itself with subsidization, it alters these principles by perverting reality.
Property is no longer yours, it was given to you by the collective. Protection is no longer a right, because others have a stake in your estate. Rule of Law is questionable, because laws are altered to maintain the perverted relationship, or altogether ignored. Personal Responsibility is lost because success is never truly earned and appreciated, and failure is never truly feared, or learned from. Limited Government is impossible when it receives the power of the purse like a carrot and horse. It will naturally grow, manipulate and perpetuate its existence until it is much larger than intended even by those who enjoy utilizing it. Finally, Republics die when they focus on manipulating the masses they care for, rather than allowing the people to determine their own local fate.
The President was right, no one is an island. But the Government is certainly not an oasis. It infects, it corrupts and it controls. Even in the hands of good men, government is a dangerous tool and a tempting weapon. So the President was wrong, Government is not the answer. A free community is.
SUBSIDIES OF ANY KIND ARE TROJAN BENEFITS
Texan farmers wanted government assistance in 1887, but President Cleveland vetoed the bill and warned they stand to lose their liberty if they’re willing to sacrifice for security. 50 years later, farmers wanted help, so President Roosevelt attacked an Ohio farmer for growing wheat on his land during the Great Depression, for his own consumption. They ordered his wheat destroyed and charged him a debilitating fine claiming he was manipulating market prices by not buying wheat on the open market.
Conservative, self-reliant men and women still rely on family, friends, neighbors and local government for their success, but not without the Founding Principles being in place. Government exists to protect and execute the rule of law, not to manage the nature its intended to limit.
Henry Ford once said, “Money doesn’t change men, it merely unmasks them.” When you centralize that dangerous reality, you include everyone in the misery of human nature in the name of saving us from it.
Americans everywhere, in construction industries, local schools, entertainment, news, technology, research, manufacturing and services must learn from history that while rejecting government support makes their dreams riskier, the liberty they’ll retain with their coming riches are a far greater reward than the harsh reset failure occasionally forces us to tolerate.
Economic Development groups, School Boards, Research Facilities… seek your success among the private sector and loosen yourself from the chains of Government money; build yourself with those around you, not the government, or you’ll end up the footnote in history, rather than the headline.
I will never forget what my dad told me the night my high school basketball team won the Wisconsin Division I State Championship: “you’ll appreciate this more as time goes on.” At the time, I didn’t think that was possible, but thirteen years later, he was right (as usual). Today I marvel at what my team accomplished because I understand what a rare opportunity it was to play with such talented female athletes, but also because we overcame so many obstacles in order to cut down those nets.
Such victories grow sweeter with time. And over time we will marvel about what took place in Wisconsin on June 5, 2012. Sure, we reelected Scott Walker in a heated recall election, and I don’t intend to re-hash the significance of this victory here, but it’s worth noting what the fiscally-responsible voters overcame, because we will need the same exertion and ardor on a national scale to overcome SCOTUS’s constitutional illusion on taxation come November.
TRUTH BEARS REPEATING. AGAIN.
Votes have consequences. But who says the consequences must be a slap in the face to conservatism? In eighteen months, Wisconsin voters mandated, then re-mandated, a leader that campaigned on fiscal responsibility and limited government. And here is a synopsis of what we put up with in the process:
Governor Scott Walker proposed Act 10 on February 11, 2011. The budget bill was aimed at overcoming the state’s $137 million deficit from the current budget, and by eliminating collective bargaining rights from public-sector unions, communities would now have the ability to adjust revenue by placing competition and authority in the driver’s seat. Hell broke loose on February 12.
Paid protestors and flustered fraternities descended on the Wisconsin State Capitol building within hours. With greasy hair, sleeping bags, drums, banjos, air horns and guitars, the protestors lived in the Capitol’s rotunda singing songs devoted to world peace and human rights. They craftily created a human peace sign, captured perfectly in a photograph displayed on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s website. For weeks, news crews captured their passionate songs and chants that drowned out legislative meetings taking place only a few feet away behind closed doors.
Protestors pushed against the closed doors of the senate chambers, pounding with their fists and shouting about injustices. Other protestors sat in front of the main entrance to the chambers, preventing republican senators from entering; the senators were forced to enter a separate doorway, walking between police officers holding back the rabid crowd.
Speaking from the second-level of the capitol rotunda, Jesse Jackson led the impassioned crowd in a rendition of “We Shall Overcome.” Teachers received fake sick notes written by doctors excusing them from their jobs so they could partake in the festivities, and some even brought their students with them—a nod to alternative education by demonstrating social activism, and apparently, medical fraud.
On February 13, 2011, Republicans called for a vote on the Budget Repair Bill. Fourteen senate democrats, out of ideas (or principles), fled to Illinois and outside of the jurisdiction of state authorities, and remained at “undisclosed locations” for 26 days. Legislative leaders were forced to put off the vote, urging the senators to return to Wisconsin to “do their jobs.” Assembly democrats wore orange t-shirts with “Assembly Democrats for Working Families” printed across the front in bold, black letters—an act of solidarity with their fleeing friends.
Because 20 senators of the 33-member house are required to pass a fiscal bill, the “fleeing fourteen” left only 19 voting senate members at the capitol. Democrats hoped that by postponing the vote, the pressure of local union organizations and protestors would force Walker to negotiate. Senator Chris Larson of Milwaukee said, “It was pretty obvious they [republican senators] weren’t going to listen to the thousands of people protesting.” Yes, that was correct.
Instead of waiting for vacationing senators to return to work, Walker’s assembly called for a vote on the bill on March 9. Even in the hours before the assembly voted, local school districts called emergency school board meetings to extend current teacher contracts, effectively nullifying the budget repair bill’s effects for school districts. The assembly voted. Protestors were enraged. The bill passed.
As quickly as the bill passed, activists demanded the recall of Scott Walker. The recall effort officially began on November 15, 2011, and on January 17, 2012, United Wisconsin, the coalition that spearheaded the recall effort along with the Democratic Party, announced that they had collected one million signatures, far exceeding the 540,208 required.
Donald Duck, Adolf Hitler, out-of-state activists, 25 journalists and 29 circuit court judges also signed the petitions.
Governor Walker requested that the Governmental Accountability Board certify the signatures gathered due to numerous reports of fraud, but a Dane County judge denied his request. Another Dane County judge, David Flanagan, issued a temporary restraining order on March 6 against Walker’s new voter ID law, right after he signed the petition. Because of his restraining order, the voter ID law would not be in effect for the recall election. Of course not.
Facebook provided an extended soap box to the impassioned youth who “stand with the teachers.” Innuendos ensued— the under-appreciation of teachers, lachrymose for hard-working middleclass families thrown under the proverbial bus, and iconic images of the blue fist—which AFL-CIO explains as an image “of solidarity and strength not only for the Wisconsin union movement but for the global struggle for social justice and democracy”– flooded the social media site for months. But the same crowd felt no compassion for Scott Walker’s sons who were also targeted with cruel comments. Of course not.
During the petition push, public-sector unions raised $17.6 million from state and national union organizations, and many protesters were paid to continue their foot battle right through election night. The governor’s family was targeted daily by an irate union supporter who shouted and honked his car horn outside of the family’s private residence. Lawmakers shouted “Shame!” at their republican counterparts entering and leaving the capitol each day.
Unions threatened and boycotted local businesses for supporting Walker, or for simply refusing to post pro-union propaganda visible to their clientele. The protestors caused $270,000 in damage to the state capitol building over the course of their stay (that is what democracy looks like?).
The recall election took place on June 5. Walker was the third governor in U.S. history to be recalled—and the first to survive. Rachel Maddow was stunned. Ed Schultz felt the same, befuddled that a man “who could be indicted in a couple of days” would win the election. CNN interviewed a distraught protestor who claimed, through impassioned tears, that the end of democracy—and the U.S— was upon us.
SO, WHO WON?
The voters won. Regardless of money, pressure, national labor organizations, biased media coverage, cheating, activist judges, distrustful politicians or misinformation, the voters won. We did it once this year and we can do it again. Repealing ObamaCare—and Obama— are much higher stakes for our nation, but regardless of the jeopardous policy, the jeopardous opponent remains the same. Time to lace up, folks. We can celebrate once we repeat.
I’ve heard that there is a “war on women” sweeping across the plains, and the Republican Party is to blame. Conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have taken it upon themselves to attack women, but in this election year, the liberals have conveniently brought this to the nation’s attention. President Obama loves women. He’s on our side. He understands us.
I do agree that there is a war on women—but with an opaque enemy.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation reintroduced to both houses in April, addresses male-female income disparity in hopes of correcting erroneous discrimination against women in the workplace. The bill would provide easier options for women who are targets of wage discrimination, such as disclosing salary information with co-workers. The bill also requires employers to prove that any wage discrepancies are due to business requirements and job duties of those affected employees.
The bill quantifies a common statistic that for every dollar earned by a man, women earn just 77 cents. President Obama called the Paycheck Fairness Act a “common sense bill.” As common sense as operating the federal government on a budget?
Christina Hof Sommers wrote an article in the New York Times on September 21, 2010 making the argument that this bill contains many holes. She explained that women make different career choices than men, and many women chose careers that provide more flex time and work-lifestyle balances, and also chose work locations closer to home, schools and day care. Working women balance the priority of their family and their work, and oftentimes family trumps career.
She goes on to write:
The problem is that while the debate proceeds, the bill assumes the answer: it would hold employers liable for the “lingering effects of past discrimination” — “pay disparities” that have been “spread and perpetuated through commerce.” Under the bill, it’s not enough for an employer to guard against intentional discrimination; it also has to police potentially discriminatory assumptions behind market-driven wage disparities that have nothing to do with sexism.
I would not want to work for a company that monitors my biological clock. I would not want to have a conversation with my manager during a yearly salary review in which he must justify his choices despite (or because of) my sex. I’d like my work to speak for itself. Just like men, I should be paid for my worth, not the writing on the wall.
You want to close the pay gap? Teach women to be indispensable. Any good employer will chase a woman down the hall if she turns down the offer at the conference table because she knows she can get a better offer somewhere else. Employers are funny like that— they want the best talent working for them. How’s that for empowerment?
But while President Obama touts that the Paycheck Fairness Act can quell gender justice, he ignores the single largest wage disparity against women: unemployment. In April, the unemployment rate hovered at 8.1%. The economy added 115,000 net new jobs, while the labor force shrank by 342,000 people in the workforce.
The Wall Street Journal printed a disturbing chart last week, charting the U.S. civilian labor force participation rate, which has been on a sharp decline in the last 3 years. Currently the civilian labor participation rate is at 63.6%, the lowest it has been since December 1981. The Wall Street Journal explains that some of those 342,000 workers are older workers, struggling to find opportunities that match their experiences and skill set, or second household earners, altering the structure of their household due to a lower income.
How many of those 342,000 workers are women? I don’t know, but I can guess. Let’s say 40% of those workers are women. This means that approximately 137,000 women have given up looking for a job, and they don’t intend to search again until economic conditions improve. Some of those women have master’s degrees. Some of those women are second-income earners for their families. Some of those women make up the twenty-something population that is desperate for independence and thirsty for a successful career.
I’m confident the Huffington Post will report on the tragic story of a single mother who survives off her weekly unemployment check because she has given up looking for a job, or the young female professional who cannot afford to pay for her contraception now that she must compete against hundreds of other graduate students for the one open position at the local law firm.
After all, no greater battle exists for a woman then to be turned down post-interview, and no greater pay gap exists than between the employed and unemployed.
On a recent episode of This Week, George Stephanopoulos painfully agreed with Mitt Romney’s statistic that 92.3 percent of all job losses since President Obama took office have occurred to women. Stephanopoulos spoke to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who called the statistic “a ridiculous way to look at the problem,” but then went on to explain that the statistic is “technically accurate.”
Geithner’s uncomfortableness during that interview would be a slap in the face to females. The political party that has produced Code Pink and the National Organization for Women have remained silent on the unemployed female population. It’s as if the liberals don’t support all women.
I read Sarah Palin’s biography, Going Rogue, after her Vice Presidential run in 2009. She wrote honestly and transparently, leaving no details of her high school and early political career out. She played basketball in high school, hunted, raised five children, and took on the Republican establishment that had controlled Alaska’s government for generations—and she won. She changed diapers in the governor’s mansion between meetings. As a candidate in her first political race, she drove across the state, going door-to-door and introducing herself to voters, all the while her youngest children slept in the back seat of the family car. This is a strong woman. Mama grizzly never sounded so cool, and hockey moms were never so boss.
But shortly after Sarah hit the national scene, the liberal media went apoplectic. She’s incompetent, she’s stupid, she has an illegitimate child, she buys expensive clothes, she wrote a few sentences on her hand prior to taking the stage at a 2008 Tea Party convention. The media collectively gasped at what she wrote: “Energy…tax cuts…lift American spirit.”
Liberal women everywhere were outraged at the thought of Mrs. Palin as President of the United States. Helen Thomas, former Whitehouse Correspondent, wrote that it would be a “tragedy” if Palin ran for President. Noeme Emery wrote a Weekly Standard article in 2008 detailing some of the feminist’s outrage against Palin:
“Can someone please tell me what the hell happened?” pled Michelle Cottle of the New Republic, as Sarah made landfall…”A slap in the face to all women,” Cottle called it, especially to “any woman who seriously supported Hillary in this race.” Much more was coming, in much the same tone. “I find it insulting to women, to the Republican Party, and to the country,” said Sally Quinn in a Newsweek/Washington Post blog. In the Baltimore Sun, Susan Reimer found Palin’s selection “insulting on so many levels” that she barely could name them. Ruth Marcus, reading from the same cue cards, sputtered in the Washington Post: “I found Palin’s selection…insulting.” Google the phrase “Palin’s pick is insulting to women,” and you come up with 943,000 entries.
Yes, the horror of it all: witnessing a woman, lacking blue blood, political connections or Sandra Fluke-like organizational sponsorships, rising to the heights of American politics on assiduousness and gusto. Thank goodness feminists fight diligently against such females. We wouldn’t want young girls receiving mixed messages—you can grow up to be anything you want, except a conservative woman.
Instead, our young girls are told they should emulate Sandra Fluke. Ms. Fluke spoke before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on February 23, 2012. Her testimony lamented on the egregious economic burden placed on female law students at Georgetown Law who must pay for their own contraception. Here are a few of her comments:
“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy.
“One told us about how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn’t afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.”
A woman has no choice? She is forced to “go” without contraception? I’m sorry, I think I just stepped into 1851.
Sojourner Truth, a woman born into slavery in 1797 but gained her freedom in 1827, became a well-known anti-slavery speaker. She gave a speech at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, later titled “Aint I a Woman?” The attendees at the convention did not want her to speak. Rumblings erupted in the crowd as she took the stage. “Don’t let her speak…it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have our cause mixed up with abolition…and we shall be utterly denounced.”
Despite her critics, Truth’s speech proved powerful— leaving the female audience stunned and speechless. Here is an excerpt from her speech:
“Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble. I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again….And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But the man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.”
At a time in our country when women’s suffrage began to gain traction, Sojourner Truth looked beyond the disparateness of society to the core of every woman—she has the potential to fix the world. Whether in the board room, in the governor’s mansion, or at home with her children, women succeed on the merits of their ability, not on the accommodation or patronage of her government or her employer.
We don’t need acts of congress to create our futures. We don’t need biased media telling us what women we should support and which we should despise. We don’t need handouts in order to avoid responsibility. Women are smart, and we will fight for our liberties.
Liberty produces all kinds of women — especially the kind that win the war.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave a celebratory speech to Congress on Wednesday, the same week as the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Health Care Act, evoking the core principles of the Declaration of Independence— life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. She could hardly contain her glee:
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is exactly what the Affordable Health Care Act helps to guarantee. A healthier life, the liberty to pursue happiness, free of the constraints that a lack of health care might provide to a family. If you want to be a photographer, a writer, an artist, a musician, you can do so. If you want to start a business, if you want to change jobs, under the Affordable Care Act, you have that liberty to pursue your happiness. And that is why I am so pleased that this week we can celebrate the two year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
Time to start the party.
If you want to pursue your dream career, change your job, or start your own business, the government is here to say you can do so! (Imagine the commemoratory events planned in offices around the country this week: colorful streamers falling from drop ceiling tiles, balloons strung from fire sprinkler heads and Obama’s glowing smile supplanted on “Happy Birthday” sheet cakes.)
I have another idea of what could help those Americans trapped in dead-end jobs, shackled with their inevitable pursuit of depression: capital. Anyone who wants to start their own business needs capital. Why not create a law that anyone who writes a persuasive letter to the federal government, expressing their heartfelt plea for the funds needed to cover start-up costs such as three years of salary, equipment costs and legal fees, will receive a check in the mail? Mrs. Pelosi certainly would support that idea. After all, having sufficient capital to start your own business is the very definition of pursuing happiness.
Although we have many Americans who do not want to be small business owners, their letter would look slightly different. “I have not been on a family vacation in two years, and my kids really want to meet Goofy at Disney World. Can you send a check for $3,000?”
Critics quickly poke holes in my suggestions: but we’re not talking about free vacations; we are talking about providing health care. Health care saves lives. And that provides all Americans life, liberty and the ability to pursue happiness.
Is that so? To what end?
Daniel Webster (1782-1852), a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts, as well as a U.S. Congressman and U.S. Secretary of State, presented a testimony before the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention in 1840, persuasively arguing for the people’s rights to establish qualifications for their elected officials. Early in his testimony Webster said, “No man can be said to have a right to that which others may withhold from him at pleasure.”
That statement, another harbinger for our times, like so many of our Founding Fathers’ words, rebukes our modern-day governmental philosophy that more is better and much more is best. The temptation of holding office coincides with the temptation to trade handouts for reelection. Webster continued:
There may be among legislators strong passions and bad passions. There may be party heats and personal bitterness. But legislation is in its nature general:laws usually affect the whole society; and if mischievous or unjust, the whole society is alarmed and seeks their repeal. The judiciary power, on the other hand, acts directly on individuals. The injured may suffer without sympathy or the hope of redress.
Nancy Pelosi and her counterparts grossly augment their realm of legislative authority by extending “the pursuit of happiness” to include health care coverage. Again, no citizen is denied health care when needed. But that same citizen is required, by law, to pay for services rendered. But the damaging ramifications of the Affordable Health Care Act “benefit” only a portion of the public, rather than protect the general welfare of the whole.
(What better protects the general welfare of the whole than removing government from health insurance? Just look to the housing market as our “lesson learned.”)
Additionally, handing out checks to entrepreneurs does not benefit the whole. The same can be said for food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, child tax credits, Earned Income Tax Credit, student loans and government-subsidized housing.
No limits exist on the government’s ability to grant a benefit, cloaked in the right to pursue happiness, so long as the government denies the spirit of the Constitution and their limited legislative powers. And no elected official can pervert their legislative ability amongst a society that seeks their repeal.
Like Webster asserted to his Convention, “If he dislikes the condition, he may decline the office in like manner as if he dislikes the salary, the rank, or any thing else which the law attaches to it.” And if he chooses not to decline, we the people can remove. Because we are the government.
One of the most significant issues of our day, and a virtual fourth rail in politics is immigration reform. Immigration is regulated under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) created in 1952 by the McCarran-Walter bill, Public Law No. 82-414. Hence, it suffices to say that immigration is a federal issue and as such it would appear that States have no authority – or, colloquially speaking – no business legislating in this domain.
IMMIGRATION IS REGULATED BY FEDERAL LAW, BUT…
The question arises: is the preceding statement wholly factual, especially when the Federal Government has chosen to take a lackadaisical posture in enforcing the immigration laws in the books? If that indeed was the case, that the states had no enforceable interest, you would not be reading an article on the tenth Amendment and immigration here. We DO have a problem. It is not far-fetched to say that the Federal Government has constructively abdicated this duty to the States, by its lukewarm approach to immigration enforcement – often, for political reasons. Arizona, Alabama and Ohio are just a few of the states moving to enforce laws already in place, but completely ignored by those elected and appointed to enforce them.
THE LANDLORD AND TENANT ANALOGY
Imagine a tenant informing a landlord repeatedly that the roof of his home or apartment is leaking and that the tenant stands the risk of losing valuable property if the leak continues. The landlord is a corporate management entity with its headquarters in another state and made promises that it would fix the leak whereas the landlord has not acted on its promises despite the tenant’s desperate pleas. At the same time, the leak is getting bigger and still there is no effective response. The tenant takes the reasonable step of fixing the leak and notifies the landlord. The tenant expects reimbursement for the repairs but instead the landlord sues the tenant.
Such is the standoff today in Federal vs. State immigration enforcement.
Lately, the relationship between the Federal Government and some border states is like that of a Landlord (Federal Government) and the Tenant (States) described above. Many states along the border of the United States and Mexico have been left exposed to the consequences of a porous border and a Federal Government trying to decouple border security from immigration. It is not news that we have witnessed crime spilling across the border due to the drug wars and increasing the crime rates in the towns adjacent to the border. If there is going to be true immigration reform, it starts with securing the border.
UNDERSTANDING THE POLITICS OF THE IMMIGRATION DEBATE
The recent GOP presidential debates have witnessed testy exchanges on the issue of immigration especially with regards to what to do with the millions that are in the United States illegally. As politically-juicy as the candidates’ answers may be and as energizing as it has been rallying some groups of conservatives, debating how to handle these millions is essentially putting the cart before the horse. It can merely approximate an abstract endeavor, when the fundamental problem of securing the border has not first been addressed. Securing it has become the primary issue today because, in addition to its correlation with illegal immigration, it is a gauge of our homeland security as a whole. What stops a terrorist from entering the United States through our porous borders? Right now, random checks and searches is all.
As conservatives who appreciate and empathize with the burden placed on our fellow citizens along the Border States, we should be pressing our candidates about sealing the border. More emphasis should be put on the details of their plans as opposed to mere rhetorical promises that have not been vetted for feasibility or reasonableness.
This section is not directed at ascertaining the merits of any candidate’s plan but it serves to illustrate that it may be easier said than done. For example, fencing the entire length of the border has been proposed but it is becoming clearer that such a fencing plan is largely flawed because of logistic and geographical limitations. Furthermore, assuming the terrain was such that one could fence the entire length of the border, then arises the question of how deep should these fences be built, after all one could construct a tunnel underneath. The cost-benefit of a physical fence along the entire southern border is less than the creative approaches others have taken.
The real and volatile issue in immigration is the messaging whereby there often appears to be little effort made to draw a distinction between “legal” and “illegal” immigration, because of the current economic climate. It is not uncommon to see some people go further and argue against legal immigration so as to preserve jobs for American citizens. Likewise, some sections of laws passed by states and localities, while well-intended to address crime rate spikes, have been too broad or vaguely-stated. Thus, it has created a false inference of targeting a particular segment of the population and has occasionally resulted in the local Chamber of Commerce opposing these laws because of their perception of collateral effect on local business interests. 
Unfortunately, this has also been spun by the liberals to brand Conservatives and Republicans as anti-immigrant, a tactic that has worked effectively for decades and continues to pay huge political dividends to the Democratic Party. The chatter amongst immigrants is that every group – except the Native Americans – has been immigrants at some point in their ancestry. As a result, when many immigrants, especially those that are minorities, become naturalized citizens, they register overwhelmingly as Democrats. However, this is indeed an ideological paradox because immigrants tend to be quite Conservative in their personal philosophy. As a result, the Conservative tent is barely getting broader compared to the liberal side of the aisle.
Added to this is the fact that many of these immigrants originally come from countries where over 80% of the population vote, hence voter turnout here in the U.S. is disproportionately high.
A political reality of the skewed voting percentage of this bloc is the potential to tip the results in favor of Democrats; this is most impacting in “swing states”. Conservatives have to be more tactical in messaging on immigration, especially with the upcoming general elections because change only comes with winning; or rephrased, “the party in power sets the rules.”
There are, however, several aspects of the immigration process that create ambiguous complexity, making the solution to the immigration debacle anything but simple. A common assumption is that nearly all undocumented immigrants are Mexican. Therefore the emphasis is almost exclusively on the southern border. So what of the northern border with Canada and its security? Since it is almost impossible to get an accurate figure of undocumented immigrants, it is reasonable to say that while most are Mexicans, there are other countries that have sizable representation of their citizens amongst undocumented immigrants. Russian, Chinese, even common European ethnicities are found among this demographic. Therefore, the porous border is not the only reason there is a record number of undocumented immigrants.
There is a system of issuing visas that gives preference to some countries over others. Citizens from less-preferred countries, usually the developing nations, go through a more rigorous system to get a visa and often times are denied. In contrast, many developed countries have agreements with the United States whereby their citizens get visas at the point of entry, if the length of stay is less than 90 days. This means the burden of convincing the embassy officials to get a visa coupled with the fear of a future denial has caused many to overstay their visas. The process must be overhauled if we wish for improvement, especially the extremely slow processing time for approving immigrant petitions filed for beneficiaries abroad. To be clear, this is not making excuses for illegal immigration but rather bringing to light some factors that are not discussed in this otherwise hot debate. THE CASE OF DANIELA PELAEZ – REVISITING THE “DREAM ACT”
The case of Daniela Pelaez has demonstrated the fundamental truth of the Immigration debate- conservatives are divided on many provisions of the DREAM Act, most especially the path to citizenship. However, the fervor of the topic of immigration has caused many politicians to camouflage their true beliefs into a hue of politically-correct positions. What we have seen is a spectrum of viewpoints: one end is just allowing certain undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors to enjoy the benefits of in-state tuition but no path to becoming citizenship whereas the other end of supports citizenship based on military and educational exceptions. Naturally, somewhere in between are those politicians who support just military exceptions but not the educational.
The Case of Daniela presents two results that are problematic: the wrong way to do the right thing or the right way that achieves the wrong outcome. Some were dismayed by the position taken by Senator Marco Rubio in meeting Daniela, as well as a number of elected officials from Florida intervening on her behalf, like Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Ms. Pelaez was recently granted a two-year stay of deportation, making it not a reprieve but a postponement of her predicament. I will briefly discuss some uncomfortable aspects of this case.
The most common reason given for barring undocumented immigrants from a path to citizenship is that it rewards breaking the law. As a result, it has come to be labeled the toxic word, “amnesty.” When a minor is brought in illegally by the parents or a child overstays because of the parents, who has broken the law – the parents, the child, or all the above? To illustrate the complexity is the fact that Daniela’s dad, who arguably broke the law, is now a permanent resident. If we assign a lesser level of culpability to minors in Criminal Law and generally treat adults differently from minors in law or the society, why do we struggle to carve an exception to minors who had no say in the transaction that made them undocumented? This is probably because immigration has become a politically-volatile issue; there are fewer jobs to go around and the fact that nothing is being done to secure the border makes any discussion on what to do with undocumented immigrants an ill-timed debate, uncomfortable for voters, business leaders and politicians alike.
THE ROAD AHEAD – SWEET HOME, ALABAMA
States cannot be expected to sit on the fence, so to speak, nor should the State legislators allow the Federal Government to bully them into abandoning their quest to pass immigrations laws that preserve the interests of their states. A State does best in self-determination if the Federal Government does not arbitrarily meddle in its affairs for political reasons. Alabama represents a great example of the shifting of equilibrium that may occur when a State passes immigration reform laws.
When Alabama passed the Hammon-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, it was quite clear that it would have detrimental consequences on the children of undocumented immigrants and those business interests that rely on migrant labor. As such, it was not a surprise that the business organizations in urban areas called for a revision of the law. One can easily opine that businesses which hire these undocumented laborers are breaking the law to start with. However, it is another glaring theater of the conflict between what is ideal and what is real. The argument that these are jobs Americans do not want to do has yet to be disproven, so is it another classic situation of necessity, or is it just doing the right thing the wrong way?
The truth of the matter, and somewhat the reality of today, is that any immigration law passed by a State will be presumed to have discriminatory intent in the court of public opinion, no matter how its written, how limited its scope or necessary its passage. Thus, extra care should be taken in the legislative debates not to use language that could be considered, down the road, as adding credence to the notion that the bill was aimed at a particular group of people. Furthermore, whenever a law adds any burden on regular law-abiding citizens, it has the effect of causing the law to lose the support of the citizens. Finally, and most importantly these laws have to be narrowly construed, not sought to be “catch-all provisions.” As Alabama’s Attorney General Luther Strange has suggested, making tactical changes ensure laws are “easy to defend in court”.
It should be more about what Conservatives are for and not about what they are against; pro-legal immigration. We have real problems today because of yesterday’s politics. Something must be done, but not everything must be done right away. The right approach should be tactical; the messaging must be sincere; the solutions have to be simple and flexible. The immigration debate is one of the most tiresome, but important exchanges of our generation, and Conservatives must do a better job at addressing the right issues at the right time, and engaging their friends and neighbors to understand it beyond the hyperbolic rhetoric they find in social media. We have real solutions, we now need leaders that enact them with the support of an informed public.
Earlier this week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, penned a letter in response to recent visits by White House officials to the group of Catholic Bishops. In an effort to soothe the fiery debate ignited in recent weeks due to the Obama Administration’s mandate on private insurers providing its customers contraception coverage, the church leaders and White House staff discussed “the options.” Dolan’s letter, addressed to his Conference of Catholic Bishops, reaffirms the unapologetic position by the White House:
How fortunate that we as a body have had opportunities during our past plenary assemblies to manifest our strong unity in defense of religious freedom. We rely on that unity now more than ever as HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] seeks to define what constitutes church ministry and how it can be exercised.
The HHS seeks to constitute church ministry and how it can be exercised? This untoward conversation greatly concerned Dolan when White House officials further clarified their position:
At a recent meeting between staff of the bishops’ conference and the White House staff, our staff members asked directly whether the broader concerns of religious freedom—that is, revisiting the straight-jacketing mandates, or broadening the maligned exemption—are all off the table. They were informed that they are. So much for ‘working out the wrinkles.’ Instead, they advised the bishops’ conference that we should listen to the ‘enlightened’ voices of accommodation, such as the recent, hardly surprising yet terribly unfortunate editorial in America. The White House seems to think we bishops simply do not know or understand Catholic teaching and so, taking a cue from its own definition of religious freedom, now has nominated its own handpicked official Catholic teachers.
Even though these conversations existed within the walls of the Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Washington D.C. offices, Dolan makes it clear why the contraception mandate should concern all of us:
They know that this is not just about sterilization, abortifacients, and chemical contraception. It’s about religious freedom, the sacred right of any Church to define its own teaching and ministry.
It is no surprise that the White House believes themselves to be more enlightened than this 46-year old institution that has driven humanitarian efforts alongside past and the present Popes. An institution as grandiose as the government, capable of altering school lunches while juggling CEO compensation plans, vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards and plastic bag usage, surely can deliver the exceptional alternative to the Catholic Church.
It is the very fact that we have allowed our government to take on the role of god that it believes it is god.
In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.” The distorted control we have granted to our elected officials has existed for some time, peaking in our present scenario of an entitlement, welfare-laden state, leading directly to the throne of federally-funded morality (or immorality).
But what we also have today is an opportunity to reshape the debate. The fact that Americans are debating whether the federal government should require private, non-profit and religious organizations to provide contraception to individuals is both good and bad. The argument is good because people who question the acts of their government are people who have the potential to react to unjust laws. The argument is bad because we must entertain the argument at all. King wrote:
[T]here is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. So, the purpose of direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.
Tension exists today— from Sandra Fluke’s passionate testimony pleading for financial provision from the government to support the co-ed lifestyle, to the Susan G. Komen Foundation entering the stage of public disapproval for its decision to cut its voluntary donations to Planned Parenthood (only to reverse course), to the Obama Administration defunding the Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign in lieu of a “lack of interest” from the public— and we are talking.
Every enactment of an Obama Administration law and regulation supplies the Conservative aggregation a fresh opportunity to create tension, but we should approach the theatre of thought with the simplicity of the facts, rather than the subjectivity of public opinion.
After all, opinions change. Truth does not. King reminds us that “human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.”