Pro-life speaker Anthony Horvath recounts the history of the ‘Culture of Death’ from Thomas Malthus to Charles Darwin to Margaret Sanger to Peter Singer, with an array of personalities in between. Horvath shows why population control proposals permeate the ‘Progressive’ movement for the last 200 years and why, and how, it must be countered today. This presentation was delivered Nov. 20th, 2010, at Concordia University in Seward Nebraska for a Nebraska Lutherans for Life organization.
The title of this post does not do the matter justice. The word ‘abuse’ is too mild, and it might be even more accurate to say that in actual fact the sweeping trend within Christendom is that there is outright plain ignorance on what these terms mean. The charge only matters at all to those …
The platitude is dangerous. On the one hand, when we transmit it, we transmit something we know is not actually true. That’s bad policy right there. On the other hand, it shuts down an important area of human experience that requires extensive critical thinking. In a world filled with evil and malignant men, every good person must be prepared in their mind for what they should do given certain eventualities… because we know from the newspaper and history book that these things do happen. Another danger to the platitude is that it sets people up for guilt after they perform a violent- but righteous- act. Finally, if someone has never actually thought about the matter before and all they’ve been fed is the platitude, they might freeze up and do nothing, or flee when they should fight.
I can think of no better example then the story that emerged out of the Virginia Tech massacre of Liviu Librescu. Here is a survivor of the holocaust, gunned down through the door that he refused to open for the gunman.
From Dorothy Sayer’s lecture titled, “Are Women Human?” 1938.
To oppose one class perpetually to another- young against old, manual labour against brain-worker, rich against poor, woman against man- is to split the foundations of the State; and if the cleavage runs too deep, there remains no remedy but force and dictatorship. If you wish to preserve a free democracy, you must base it- not on classes and categories, for this will land you in the totalitarian State, where no one may act or think except as the member of a category. You must base it upon the individual Tom, Dick and Harry, and the individual Jack and Jill- in fact, upon you and me.
The headline I read today was “New charge on dinner tab is in bad taste.” The opening paragraphs seemed to set the stage for the article:
Nothing succeeds in the travel industry like a bad idea. The latest hidden mandatory add-on is a “health” charge added to restaurant bills. As far as I know, this scam cropped up first in San Francisco, but you can count on it to spread.
The rationale for this one is to cover the employers’ mandatory contribution to the City’s “Healthy San Francisco” health-coverage system. The charge actually is levied on employers, but at least some restaurants are adding a few dollars or percentage points to each customer’s bill to cover this charge.
But, besides all this, there is something which is not seen. The fifty millions expended by the State cannot be spent, as they otherwise would have been, by the tax-payers. It is necessary to deduct, from all the good attributed to the public expenditure which has been effected, all the harm caused by the prevention of private expense, unless we say that James B. would have done nothing with the crown that he had gained, and of which the tax had deprived him; an absurd assertion, for if he took the trouble to earn it, it was because he expected the satisfaction of using it, He would have repaired the palings in his garden, which he cannot now do, and this is that which is not seen. [… etc] He would have become a member of the Mutual Assistance Society, but now he cannot; this is what is not seen. (Frederic Bastiat, 1850)
Mr. Bastiat does a terrific job in showing how taxes put to the socialist’s ends only serves to diminish freedom but what I want the reader to note the connection he draws here between taxation and ‘mutual assistance.’ It is agreed by all that we should like to help our fellow man. Liberals and socialists believe they can do that better by collective administration of coerced funds than individuals can do through churches, charities, and the like.
For example, consider a family with children that would prefer to have the mother stay home to care for those children. Unfortunately, the income isn’t there to support it, and so the mother has to get a full or part time job. Thus, this family becomes enslaved to a societal structure that makes it difficult to act on the principles and priorities they believe. Ah- but upon further examination, the income is there to support it. When we look at the pay stub, thousands of dollars, every month, are being automatically withdrawn by the state and federal government for taxes and social security.
Put this money back into the hands of this family and suddenly it is possible, even easy, to have one of the spouses stay home.
This example is meant to illustrate the principle that taxation has a direct impact on freedom. As Christians, we should not be indifferent to the effect that governmental policies have on individual groups.
There are many people who don’t like the idea of Christianity being involved in politics. The supposition is that spiritual people shouldn’t have an interest in such trivial matters. However, if there is indeed a connection between economics and liberty and human rights, then we see that such things are not trivial at all. Nor can we hope, in the spirit of Christian compassion, that our efforts to use the government for ‘compassionate’ purposes won’t have inevitable consequences. Of all people, Christians shouldn’t be looking around with shocked expressions when the best laid plans of men go awry- for they always do.
Last night I learned that Detroit has put together an ‘income tax’ much like the Federal and State income tax. In other words, it isn’t property tax. (I heard it described as a ‘slum tax’). We wonder why Michigan has been in recession for so long… well, one doesn’t have to look too hard. The last thing that Detroit needs is another reason for people to flee- and I assure you, and I doubt you need to be convinced- a person who pays this income tax will receive absolutely nothing for its dollar.
I’m pretty sure that the founders of this country had a similar view. They wouldn’t recognize the bloated thing we have today. One can guess what they’d say or do. (I have some guesses). Let us just assume that no one even tries anymore to have good, moral, proper, principled reasons for passing legislation any more. That has been abandoned. In its place are just two basic principles: 1. Will the legislation make money for the government (or those donating to officials)? 2. Will it extend the government’s reach?
But it is the nature of the human beast that after enough time has passed- 20 years will do, but in today’s media saturated 24/7 news cycle apparently 20 minutes will do, as well- the things of the past are just that, the things of the past. “Those things won’t happen again.” “Things are different today.” “We’d never let that happen again.” “We are smarter today.”
This, I’m afraid, is all wishful thinking. Very dangerous wishful thinking. Under the cover of this mentality the principles of old are allowed ever deeper reach into the operations of free societies. But God cannot be mocked. If you plant a corn seed you will get a corn plant. If you plant these principles you will reap their fruit. You may delay it a little while or change its expression, that’s all.