Friday, April 8, 2011

Jesus and the Budget

Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute takes issue with liberal groups' allegations that Jesus would support the Democratic party's position in today's contentious budget battles.  One of the groups is "Catholics For Choice" (meaning "Lapsed Catholics For Abortion"), the group that Frances Kissling (rhymes with Quisling) spearheaded after leaving the convent.  Nancy Pelosi is undoubtedly a charter member.  This group is seeking to influence Catholic legislators to support runaway budgets, in the name of Jesus.  Its deeper purpose is actually to bring the lost sheep back into the fold, where they might vote in conformity with the magisterial teachings of the New York Times. 

Well, if morality is the plain on which the federal budget battle is to be fought, let's get on with it. At the least, as the Sojourners say, the budget is a statement about the nation's priorities—much like a family's budget reflects what its members think important, or not.
But the similarity ends there because a nation, unlike a family, is not bound by tendrils of intimacy and affection. America, especially, is not one big family.
"We the People" constituted ourselves for the several reasons set forth in our Constitution's Preamble, but chief among those—the reason we fought for our independence—was to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Yet nowhere today is that liberty more in jeopardy than in a federal budget that reduces us all, in so many ways, to government dependents.
Our tax system sucks the substance and spirit of entrepreneurs and workers alike, filters that substance through Washington, then sends it back through countless federal programs that instruct us in minute detail about how to use the government's beneficence. Manufacturing, housing, education, health care, transportation, energy, recreation—is there anything today over which the federal government does not have control? A federal judge held recently that Congress can regulate the "mental act" of deciding not to buy health insurance.
The budget battle is thus replete with moral implications far more basic than Sojourners and Catholics for Choice seem to imagine. They ask, implicitly, how "we" should spend "our" money, as though we were one big family quarreling over our collective assets. We're not. We're a constitutional republic, populated by discrete individuals, each with our own interests. Their question socializes us and our wherewithal. The Framers' Constitution freed us to make our own individual choices.

That's powerful stuff, and it breaks the spell our President casts when invoking the "American family," by which he seeks to quell dissent against his vision, and actions, and seduce us into our opening our wallets for his purposes, regardless of how poor, or complicit in evil (i.e., Planned Parenthood subsidies) it make us.  The President is adept at manipulating concepts of solidarity.  His and his party's glaring weakness is their blindness to subsidiarity, and hostility to it when they whiff its scent.  Pilon continues:

Americans are a generous people. They will help the less fortunate if left free to do so. What they resent is being forced to do good—and in ways that are not only inefficient but impose massive debts upon their children. That's not the way free people help the young and less fortunate.
And it's not as if we were bereft of a plan for determining our priorities as a nation. Our Constitution does that quite nicely. It authorizes a focused but limited public sector, enabling a vast private sector of liberty. But early 20th-century Progressives— politicians and intellectuals alike— deliberately shifted that balance. Today the federal government exercises vast powers never granted to it, restricting liberties never surrendered. It's all reflected in the federal budget, the redistributive elements of which speak to nothing so much as theft—and that's immoral.


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