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Topic: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

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  1. #1

    A challenge to Brady and other conservatives

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    Buy today's Wall Street Journal, Sept 15, 2004. Unfortunately the online version is paid subscription only, the paper itself will be cheaper.

    The reason; section B on the left column has an article titled, "Before Social Security Most Americans Faced Very Bleak Retirement." As an added incentive the right column has this juicy headline, "Forgery Charges Could Damage CBS Credibility."

    However, it's the left side I want to talk about. Brady and the other conservatives have consistently asked for proof that private charity was insufficient in the past. This article provides historical perspective including the limitations of state pension plans, pervasive age discrimination and the impact of the Great Depression and the impact of population migration from the farm to urban areas from the late 19th century into the 1930s (when Social Security was first enacted).

    Rather than quote the entire article I'll simply sum up that if what Brady means by private charity was the poorhouse then all that needs be known is that Justice Benjamin Cardozo wrote for the bare 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court the following, "The hope behind this statute is to save men and women from the rigors of the poorhouse, as well as the haunting fear that such a lot awaits them when the journey's end is near."

    In addition I subscribe to a number of lists and among them are church organists discussing recently the perils of doing good for the homeless. This one from Bud I will quote;

    The Parish Secretary at the Episcopal Cathedral in St. Louis was
    MURDERED by a homeless person.

    St. Matthew's has a door-bell on the outside door to the office. It
    stays locked during the day.

    Old St. Mary's left a side door open that was visible from the rectory
    dining room. The retired housekeeper sat in her easy chair in the window
    and watched TV from there. If she saw a drunk stagger in, she went
    through the sacristy, picked up her trusty broom, and cleared him out in
    a HURRY. She was 81 years old, about 5 feet tall, and afraid of NOTHING
    and NOBODY on the face of this EARTH. I can still remember turning
    around from the organ (fully a city block away and up in the second
    balcony, so I was no help) when I'd hear Rose yelling, "SHOO! SHOO!" and
    whacking some poor drunk over the head with a broom (chuckle).

    One got past her and nearly burned Old St. Mary's down ... I came in to
    practice and found a drunk asleep on the winding stairway to the organ
    loft. I smelled something burning, and opened the closet under the
    stairs where we kept the boxes of votive candles. He had lit them ALL in
    the BOXES in an attempt to get warm. Fortunately there was a fire
    extinguisher at the foot of the stairs.

    After that, the side door was kept locked, and people were asked to go
    through the rectory if they wanted to pray, make a visit to the Blessed
    Sacrament, etc.

    I deplore the actions of the government that emptied the mental
    hospitals without providing a safety net ... in San Diego, approximately
    70% of our homeless are mentally ill, many of them veterans. I used to
    work the annual "Stand Down" in Balboa Park, which attempted to get
    homeless vets' paperwork in order so they could get disability and
    needed medical services.

    St. Vincent de Paul Village, Catholic Charities, Episcopal Community
    Services, etc. do the best they can, and they need our support, but my
    original statement stands. If the churches want to tackle the homeless
    problem, let them lobby local, state, and federal governments, and/or
    fund homeless shelters. Allowing the homeless to camp out in/around the
    church is NOT the way to deal with it.

    In another post Bud added this;

    This is NOT A GOOD IDEA, no matter HOW charitable it may sound.

    My home parish, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Winter Haven FL was burned
    to the ground by a vagrant who discarded a lit cigarette in the
    baptistry, the DAY the three-manual Aeolian-Skinner organ was (finally)
    completed in memory of Fr. Cyril Sturrup, the long-time rector. They
    lost countless works of art, antique stained glass, 16th century Spanish
    silver, irreplaceable vestments, etc. etc. etc.

    They had always left the church unlocked.

    Locally here in San Diego, First Presbyterian Church's four-manual
    Casavant organ suffered extensive damage when a disgruntled street
    person set a fire in the kitchen directly under the choir loft. The
    console was destroyed; the organ suffered major water damage, and had to
    be completely removed and rebuilt.

    Several local churches here provide blankets, sleeping pads, food, and
    porta-potties for the homeless OUTSIDE the churches in the parking lot.
    We can do that ... San Diego's average temperature year-round is
    something like 65-70 degrees.

    But doing anything ELSE is INVITING the CHURCH'S insurance company NOT
    to pay if something DOES happen.

    Find a local program that distributes housing vouchers; allowing the
    homeless to camp out in the church is inviting disaster.

    For the record another poster at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Boston posted of a very different experience.

    At St. John's, our outreach to the homeless and poor is not just donations of
    food, clothing and money--we bring those in need to US. It's been this way
    for over 100 years. Six days per week there is at least one hot meal served in
    the undercroft serving hundreds of persons per week. Folks are welcome to "drop
    in" most days, and we are constantly inviting people in to use the restrooms,
    etc. And, yes, we allow some folks to sleep in our doorways and gardens,
    hassle-free. (For more information on our outreach ministry, see
    www.stjohnsbowdoinst.org and click on "Neighborhood Action".).

    So, routinely, each day I may have to step over two people in sleeping bags
    to get in the office door in the morning. Even on Sundays, there may be several
    people sleeping in front of the main entrance to the church until an hour
    before Mass! Not only do we know the folks who sleep in our doorways, but they
    are excellent stewards--they have been known to run off folks who would like to
    start trouble and once, prevented a break-in! They are, in fact, more a part
    of our parish life than some parishioners (and yes, the homeless are invited to
    High Mass and some come regularly). I can't help but think that Jesus would
    approve.

    (Interestingly, this parish is located about 500 feet from the Massachsetts
    State House. What irony!).

    Does this mean there haven't been problems? No, of course not. Minor
    irritations? Yes. Occasionally a "surprise" in the garden? Naturally. Yet, we continue
    to be committed to the challenge "whatsoever you do to the least of us, you
    do to Me".

    Even the more positive experience at St. John's would indicate the problem is larger than the private charity available. Do you really want homeless camped out on the grounds of churches? Is that the best we as a society can afford. Can we choose to do better and if so how? With so many of the homeless Vietnam era veterans can we really say that the current state of veterans affairs is doing the job? And what are we setting ourselves up for when the Iraq veterans finally DO come home?

    But first go buy that Wall Street Journal and get some history. I don't want to read anymore challenges to prove that private charity can solve all our problems.

    Cheers,

    Steve Chandler

  2. #2

    Re: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

    Quote Originally Posted by Pantonality
    Buy today's Wall Street Journal, Sept 15, 2004. Unfortunately the online version is paid subscription only, the paper itself will be cheaper.
    I’ll think about it if I have the chance. If you could cite some of the specific points of the article, it would be helpful. Without having read the article, there’s not much I can say in response to it at this point. But I will say one thing below, read on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pantonality
    If the churches want to tackle the homeless
    problem, let them lobby local, state, and federal governments, and/or
    fund homeless shelters.
    Snip everything before “and/or” and I can agree with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pantonality
    With so many of the homeless Vietnam era veterans can we really say that the current state of veterans affairs is doing the job?
    I’m all for these Veteran’s employer (the government) to provide adequate care for them.

    Okay, now for the thing I said I would say about this issue. Let us assume hypothetically for a moment that private charity is not capable of taking care of all those who require it. What then? What does this mean? I suppose it means that there aren’t enough private citizens who are willing to be sufficiently charitable to cover these supposed needs. There will always be some people who are charitable, but in this hypothetical situation, we find ourselves short of the number needed. This means there are many people (probably the majority, but that’s non-essential) who, for whatever reason, do not wish to give to charity, or do not choose to give enough.

    So what is your solution? Your solution is that if they are not willing to give enough voluntarily, they should be threatened with FORCE and thereby COERCED to cough up what you demand of them.

    Now let me ask you this: Would you feel justified going up to a rich person, or for that matter, a semi-comfortable “middle-class” person, pointing a gun at them or otherwise threatening them with physical force, and demanding they fork over some cash for the needy? Do you think you have a right to do that as an individual? If not, then what makes you think you, in conjunction with other similar individuals, have a right to do this very thing with government as your proxy? If it is wrong for one person to do this, it is wrong for ten people. If ten, then a hundred, and so on… The number of people who may agree with you does not change a wrong thing into a right thing.

    If however you doubt this is what is taking place, then simply try violating any given law and you will quickly see that force, that is the threat of physical force, is what lies behind law. Without force there can be no law. Government’s sole tool is force. Government does not hold the power of persuasion, only coercion.

    So if you wish to be consistent, you will go out today and threaten someone you know is stingy and extort from them some sum that you will then give to the poor.

    But I hear you say that you do not wish to do such a thing as such things are presently illegal (for individuals at least) to do and you may therefore be arrested and punished. To this I answer, “be consistent!” If you are afraid for your own freedom (you don’t want to be thrown in jail), then you are putting your own welfare above that of the needy, are you not? If you are as selfless as you’d have me believe, then you should sacrifice this freedom of yours for the greater good, yes? How selfish of you to only think of your own freedom and comfort when there are people on the streets starving! And how cowardly to want to absolve yourself of guilt by having government undertake this task in your stead.

    Finally, we must consider the subject of government power. A government which has the power to use force to arbitrarily decide what people should be “allowed” to keep is a government poised for tyranny. Such power can hardly be checked effectively, and can easily expand to increasingly oppressive extents. Such power flouts the concepts of individual rights and individual sovereignty. It rejects the concept that individual people are ends in themselves and instead makes each individual a means to the ends of others or the State. It denies that individuals have any sacred rights that are to be held inviolate. When a government can take from its citizens to whatever extent it sees fit (or that the majority sees fit), then its citizens no longer possess inalienable rights, but rather alienable and revocable *privileges*. This is extremely important to understand.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

    Brady, you're a one-trick pony with your "coercion" angle. There's no black and white safety in this world. There's an entire spectrum of possibility, and the truth lies in subtlety, not frying pan to head dogma.

  4. #4

    Re: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

    You can complain all you want about my angle, but that's my view of it, and it's the view that nobody else seems to want to see. I could just as easily say you're a "one-trick pony" because your only angle is that the poor will suffer without people being forced to give.

    And you're exactly right there's no black and white safety in this world. So why do you think it's right to pursue a utopia that will never be? Why do you think you can create that kind of safety through government manipulation?

    And can you explain what "the truth lies in subtlety" means? That's a very ambiguous statement. Or perhaps you meant to say, "the truth lies in ambiguity"?

  5. #5

    Re: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

    Nope, "subtlety" is the right word.

    Brady, what you're talking about is fine as a textbook theory, but it wouldn't work if you had a country to play with. Taxation isn't theft at gunpoint, and it's much more than bread and circuses. We all agree to it so that our society will keep running. Private charities don't collect the garbage, put out fires, inspect our buildings to ensure they won't kill everyone in them during an earthquake, and so on.

    Furthermore, as soon as a government doesn't have the threat of force - in other words, a police department - organized crime takes over. That's happened in former Yugoslavia, for example.

    The question is how and under what circumstances force is applied. That's where subtlety comes in.

  6. #6

    Re: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Batzdorf
    Furthermore, as soon as a government doesn't have the threat of force - in other words, a police department - organized crime takes over. That's happened in former Yugoslavia, for example.
    Right you are. I never said government shouldn’t have force at its disposal – that’s what it’s for. But it’s all about the USE of that force, as I’ll discuss below…

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick batzdorf
    The question is how and under what circumstances force is applied. That's where subtlety comes in.
    You are correct, except that I would say that this isn’t such a subtle issue, but rather a fairly clear-cut one. The answer to the question lies in this vital distinction: The use of force is not the same as the initiation of force. The government has just cause to use force, and for order to exist, there must be some kind of police force. The key, however, is that the government should never initiate force. Police are supposed to respond to initiation of force – not initiate it themselves.

    For instance, the enforcement of laws against robbery and murder is possible and just because it is in response to force initiated by the robber or the murderer. Likewise, laws against fraud can be enforced because they are in response to fraud, which again is the initiation of a kind of force.

    However, law should not be the initiator of force itself. A man who is not sufficiently charitable in the estimation of one or more people is nevertheless not exerting force against anyone by his alleged lack of charity. However, the people who would make him be more charitable against his will on pain of physical force are initiating force against him.

    This is the difference between the proper and improper use of force. Force used in response to and defense against the initiation of force is just. Initiated force is unjust.

  7. #7

    Re: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

    Brady: Are you opposed to all taxation? (Since it is coerced?)

  8. #8

    Re: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

    Jake, I believe alternatives to taxation are a possibility, but only in the somewhat distant future. It would have to be phased in over time.

    But for the interim, I'm okay with paying for services that are the legitimate role of government - namely services securing my rights. Services like the military, police, courts, legislators, etc. I am not okay with people being forced to pay for things that do not secure their rights, and I'm definitely not okay with people being forced to pay for things that violate their rights.

    But for a more thorough response on this issue, check my reply to you in the other thread.

  9. #9

    Re: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

    Brady asked for the article so I've quoted the opening 5 paragraphs and paraphrased the rest. Since Brady has acquiesced that taxation is a necessary function of government for the present the only question remaining is how such taxation is used. To my mind that's something for government to decide and that's what happens now. The various political persuasions lobby for the purposes they feel are appropriate and the executive and legislative branches make their choices. All Brady is doing on this forum is lobbying fellow constituents to support his view as are those who see things differently expressing their views. This is what makes America great.

    When I get suspicious is when people represent their opinions and theories as fact, such as lower taxes will yield a higher standard of living. The situation is simply too complex to be proven. Also, those who would state that the constitution only allows certain uses for tax dollars are not deferring to the Supreme Court as the law of the land. Most every major government program including Social Security and Federal income tax has been challenged to the Supreme Court and upheld. Brady you have the choice to live under the law of the land or move elsewhere, but the IRSsays you will pay taxes and the government will use them as they decide, not you.

    In any case here's the Reader's Digest version of the article.

    Deja Vu
    by Cynthia Crossen

    Published Wall Street Journal September 15, 2004

    Before Social Security Most Americans Faced Very Bleak Retirement

    Getting old is rarely regarded as a happy prospect, but before Social Security aging in America often meant penury and sometimes even the poorhouse.

    When America was a nation of farmers, men and women who could no longer do hard physical labor frequently lived with their children and contributed to the domestic economy by babysitting, tending the garden, sewing or cooking. By 1920, however, when more Americans lived in cities than on farms, old people faced a bleaker future. Urban homes were smaller, and wages paid the rent. Once people became to old to earn a salary, they were, however loved, an economic encumberance.

    "In the US," a government advisor wrote in 1934, "many workers can escape the economic problems of old age only by dying before their period of superannuation sets in."

    Ironically, while life expectancy was rising quickly, many employers shunned older workers. A 1930 survey found that almost a third of 224 American factories had maximum age limits for new employees. Four plants wouldn't hire anyone over the age of 40. In another 41 plants, the age limit was 45. The rest had no fixed limits, but they rarelky hired people over the age of 50.

    Retirement nest eggs, except among the wealthiest Americans, didn't exist. How could they? Even at the peak of the stock market boom in 1929, the average annual income was $1,475 - the equivalent in purchasing power of about $16,000 today. Without health insurance, an aging person's savings would be quickly drained by medical bills.

    From here I'll paraphrase the rest of the article:

    A small number of companies would let older employees coast into retirement. Others offered retirement annuities, but they covered only 2% of all employees. At most factories and offices older workers were simply dismissed when their productivity slipped.

    There were state funded old-age pension plans, but they were underfunded and undersubscribed. They were also vulnerable to regional interests. In agricultural areas relief offices were often closed during harvest season.

    The Depression was a catastrophe for all, but especially the elderly. Thousands wrote Washington asking for help.

    Many ended up in poorhouses financed by local taxes. Most counties had one and they housed the indigent of all kinds, the worst doubled as insane asylums and orphanges. One author stated, "I have ate off trays that looked like they had spent the rainy season laying on a city dump."

    Many European countries had already legislated publicly funded old age insurance. In the US proponents wondered why workers who had been thrifty, diligent should suffer hunger and insecurity in their old age. A postal worker commented that horses owned by the federal government lived out their old age on full rations.

    The remainder of the article was paraphrased in my original post with comments on socialism and the quote from the Supreme Court Justice.


    I hope that's enlightening. It's certainly an easier read than the Congressional testimony links at the SSA.gov site I posted in another thread.

    Cheers,

    Steve
    Last edited by pantonality; 09-15-2004 at 04:27 PM. Reason: to make a point better

  10. #10

    Re: A challenge to Brady and other conservativesw

    Quote Originally Posted by pantonality
    All Brady is doing on this forum is lobbying fellow constituents to support his view as are those who see things differently expressing their views. This is what makes America great.
    Thanks, I agree, and I appreciate your positive attitude about this.

    Quote Originally Posted by pantonality
    Also, those who would state that the constitution only allows certain uses for tax dollars are not deferring to the Supreme Court as the law of the land.
    That’s because the Supreme Court isn’t the law of the land. Observe Article VI:
    Quote Originally Posted by Constitution of the United States of America
    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
    Note that the Constitution actually says the exact opposite of what you’ve said here. According to the Constitution, it is the judges who are bound by the Constitution – not the other way around.

    Quote Originally Posted by pantonality
    Brady you have the choice to live under the law of the land or move elsewhere, but the IRSsays you will pay taxes and the government will use them as they decide, not you.
    The IRS is not the supreme law of the land, nor the Supreme Court. Besides, even if the Constitution did allow for these kinds of laws, do you think that automatically makes them just? Is justice defined as whatever is law? If so, then there can be no such thing as an unjust law.

    That aside, are you aware of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Social Security when it was challenged? Essentially, the ‘Court ruled that employers are agents of the government, and because of that are therefore rightfully required to perform the governmental duty of collecting the tax from their employees (through withholdings). Do you agree with that? Do you think all employers are agents of the government? I think the Supreme Court, when they made that ruling, was seriously out of touch.

    As for the article, I don’t see any real facts presented. I see a lot of editorializing, but not much hard data that can be scrutinized. And I definitely don’t see any kind of coherent argument that private charity was ineffective. In fact, every instance you mentioned was some kind of state-run or tax-funded program. I didn’t see any private charities mentioned.

    Quote Originally Posted by pantonality
    A small number of companies would let older employees coast into retirement. Others offered retirement annuities, but they covered only 2% of all employees.
    Here’s an important point. It must be remembered that the economy has changed a LOT since these times, and the way people think about money and the future has too. No, the reason isn’t because of government interference. The reason is simply that we went from being a primarily agrarian, rural society to a more industrial, urban one. As a result, more and more companies now give their employees 401ks, etc. This hadn’t caught on yet in the early 20th Century, but it eventually did. So just because this was scarce during this transition phase doesn’t mean that somehow this still applies today.

    As a side note, it’s interesting to learn that the Great Depression itself was not only brought on by, but also exacerbated by government interference in the economy. In particular, a bad monetary policy.

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