When they weren’t defamed as racists, Tea Party supporters were described as irrational, enraged, seething, livid. Constituents at town-hall meetings who rejected the superficial Democratic Party talking points and demanded answers instead of political spin were portrayed as mobs on the verge of riot. At the very time that real Muslim terrorists were planning a record number of attacks inside the United States right under their noses, political apparatchiks in the Department of Homeland Security warned ominously of imaginary right-wing violence as the nation’s newest terrorist threat. – Tony Blankley
Archive for September 2010
Polling suggests that younger Americans, oblivious to the historical record, are developing increasingly positive views of socialism. Sometime in the not-too-distant future, the United States and Cuba may pass each other going opposite directions, the latter lifting toward freedom and prosperity while the former falls into collectivist decay. – Kevin E. Schmiesing
Child poverty is an ongoing national concern, but few are aware of its principal cause: the absence of married fathers in the home. According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate for single parents with children in the United States in 2008 was 36.5 percent. The rate for married couples with children was 6.4 percent. Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent. – Robert Rector
“In the 17th century, to respond to the hunger of God, the Holy Spirit brought to light St. Vincent and St. Louise, who committed themselves to the construction of a new society based on solidarity and charity. They were able to involve everyone, the well-off and the poor, the king and queen, the great and the little ones.” – José Saraiva Martins
Feel free to publish, post, or pass on Your Weekly Politickle by F.R. Duplantier:
“I’ll oppose social revolution
And income redistribution,
I will take an ax
To the federal tax
And adhere to our Constitution.”
From the archive:
Of my annual earnings Uncle Sam will extract
Fully two-fifths, as a matter of fact.
That’s quite a large portion, but what’s got me burned:
I’ll never see that much in service returned.
Domestic tranquility and the common defense
Are the only two items that are worth the expense.
And who can depend in his golden old days
On the pittance that Social Security pays?
We all know the System is not even sound;
By the time we retire, it won’t be around.
What would I do with a few extra grand?
For such a sweet surplus, here’s what I’ve got planned:
I’ll feast on filets and heave out the hash;
I’ll chuck my old chinos and dress with panache.
I’ll make a deposit on the decent-size house
I’d love to provide for my children and spouse.
(If we just had the money, if only we could,
We’d much rather live in a nice neighborhood.)
Uncle Sam takes too much of the money I’ve earned.
He must have forgotten what the British Crown learned.
Life would be rosy, for the first time in years:
I’d be in the black, instead of arrears.
I’d pay off the balance on each credit card –
Visa, Discover, and Montgomery Ward.
I’d pay off the note on my Chevy “Classique”
And buy me a car that’s not an antique.
I’d undo the default at my old alma mater
And attend our homecoming a persona who’s grata.
Of what would be left — a handsome amount –
I’d put every cent in a savings account!
Well, not every cent — there’s so much to do
With a few grand a year, for so many years too!
I might make provision, in case of disaster,
To ensure that yours truly remains his own master.
I might purchase a policy, term or whole life,
Benefitting my children, grandchildren, and wife.
I might line up a health plan that covers things dental
(Even more comprehensive, in case I go mental).
I could afford these things now, were it not for my tax –
I’m one of those wretches who’ve fallen through cracks.
There are other investments I’d make with each grand –
If my after-tax income exceeded demand.
I’d buy stocks and bonds with my yearly rebates,
Rare books, stamps and coins, and collectible plates.
I’d invest in myself, maybe learn a new skill,
Some trade to fall back on when I’m over the hill.
I’d invest in my children, to help them excel,
And then, in my dotage, they might treat me well.
(Yet another investment that pays dividends
Is to spend some time traveling and making new friends.)
With a few extra grand, I’d no longer be penniless.
For once in my life, I could afford to be generous.
I could give to my church a sizable sum,
Or set up an annual scholarship fund.
I could sponsor a mission and some needy child,
Or save some rare species at risk in the wild.
I could hire some musicians to play in the park
Or pay pyrotechnicians to light up the dark.
I would spend my own money however I please!
Why should I scrimp to put tyrants at ease?
The truth that sets us free cannot be kept to ourselves; it calls for testimony, it begs to be heard, and in the end its convincing power comes from itself and not from the human eloquence or arguments in which it may be couched. . . .
[W]e do not so much accept the truth in a purely intellectual act as embrace it in a spiritual dynamic that penetrates to the core of our being. Truth is passed on not merely by formal teaching, important as that is, but also by the witness of lives lived in integrity, fidelity and holiness; those who live in and by the truth instinctively recognize what is false and, precisely as false, inimical to the beauty and goodness which accompany the splendour of truth. . . .
No one who looks realistically at our world today could think that Christians can afford to go on with business as usual, ignoring the profound crisis of faith which has overtaken our society, or simply trusting that the patrimony of values handed down by the Christian centuries will continue to inspire and shape the future of our society. We know that in times of crisis and upheaval God has raised up great saints and prophets for the renewal of the Church and Christian society; we trust in his providence and we pray for his continued guidance. But each of us, in accordance with his or her state of life, is called to work for the advancement of God’s Kingdom by imbuing temporal life with the values of the Gospel. Each of us has a mission, each of us is called to change the world, to work for a culture of life, a culture forged by love and respect for the dignity of each human person. . . .
[O]nly Jesus knows what “definite service” he has in mind for you. Be open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart: even now his heart is speaking to your heart. Christ has need of families to remind the world of the dignity of human love and the beauty of family life. He needs men and women who devote their lives to the noble task of education, tending the young and forming them in the ways of the Gospel. He needs those who will consecrate their lives to the pursuit of perfect charity, following him in chastity, poverty and obedience, and serving him in the least of our brothers and sisters. He needs the powerful love of contemplative religious, who sustain the Church’s witness and activity through their constant prayer. And he needs priests, good and holy priests, men who are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep. Ask our Lord what he has in mind for you! Ask him for the generosity to say “yes!” Do not be afraid to give yourself totally to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to fulfil your vocation. – Benedict XVI
In Matthew 20, we find parables on the Kingdom of Heaven. The first parable concerns a man who is a grape grower. The harvest is here. The grapes need picking. Evidently, a hiring hall is available. Workers congregate for daily jobs. The owner is early. He hires several workers for a set daily wage. . . . The owner comes by some hours later. Other workers stand around. He hires them on the same basis. . . . The day ends. The workers expect their wages. Those who bore the heat of the day naturally expect higher wages. But the owner pays each worker the same agreed-upon wage, one denarius. – James V. Schall, SJ
This one always bothered me, too. It’s one of the “difficult” parables. It doesn’t register with modern minds. It doesn’t seem fair to us that the late arrivals should be paid as much as the earlier ones. I pondered it for years until I finally made sense of it.
Then, one day the reading came up at Mass and the pastor, a Benedictine priest, explained how it applied to the Kingdom of Heaven, but allowed as how the parable really didn’t make sense in earthly terms. I should have confronted him afterwards and shared my recent insights, but I didn’t. Three years later, it came up again and he said basically the same thing. I didn’t let this opportunity pass.
“Father,” I said as I greeted him outside the church, “I have a bone to pick with you.”
That brought him up short.
“You said the parable of the day laborer doesn’t really make sense in earthly terms.”
“Well, it doesn’t, does it?”
“It has to.”
“Why is that?”
“Jesus wouldn’t say something that didn’t make sense. Plus, there’s another reason.”
“You used to teach English, right?”
“Then you’re familiar with analogies. Analogies compare things that are strange or confusing to things that are familiar and understood.”
“Well, a parable is just a narrative analogy. If Jesus was trying to explain the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven by comparing it to a vineyard, then his description of the dynamics of the vineyard must have made sense to his listeners. They must have understood the story. It had to make sense to them. If it doesn’t make sense to us, then we obviously must be missing something.”
“So what do you think it means?”
“It’s all about property rights and contract law.”
“The money that the vineyard owner uses to pay the wages belongs to him, right? It’s his property?”
“And he can do what he wants with it, right? Hire the laborers or not hire them? Offer them x or 2x?”
“Okay, so he hires the laborers to work in the vineyard. He offers them a set amount and they agree to work for it. That’s a contract that obligates both parties. He later contracts with other workers, but it’s still his own money, and the earlier arrivals have no right to complain about the arrangements he’s made with the later ones.”
I don’t know if I convinced him or not, but it took me years to figure it out myself, and I don’t think I could have unraveled the mystery without my experience in the workforce (an experience that most religous people lack).
When I first started out, I often saw people being paid unequal amounts for the same work and it didn’t seem fair, especially as I was ususally the one paid less. Eventually, I began to understand some of the disparity. Free-lance workers might be paid more than salaried employees for a specific project, for instance, to make it worth their while — and even more for rush jobs. One employee might make more than another because of his longer service, or because he was married and had children and could not afford to do the same work for the same price.
Still, there was always someone who seemed to make more for no legitimate reason. This was hard to accept. Was he related to the boss? Did the boss think he was doing more than he was? Did the boss just feel sorry for him?
Finally, I had an epiphany: It was the boss’s money and he could do what he wanted with it. The other guy had agreed to work for a set amount and I’d agreed to work for less. Maybe, if I’d known what the other guy was making, I’d have asked for more and gotten it. Maybe not. Maybe I wasn’t as productive as I thought I was. Or maybe I was just stupid and didn’t know how to negotiate. It didn’t matter. It was none of my business what the boss paid anyone else. I’d made my deal and was bound by it.
The funny thing is, once I had that insight, the resentment just melted away. My finances didn’t improve, but — when I stopped begrudging other people their good fortune, stopped worrying about whether I was being “cheated” or not — I was able to enjoy something much more valuable: peace of mind.
The story of the Day Laborer is basically the same story as the Prodigal Son, only in a different context. Just like the early arrivals in the vineyard, the Prodigal Son’s brother also concludes that he’s been cheated by a master’s generosity to others.
In fact, it may have been the story of the Prodigal Son that helped me to understand the story of the Day Laborer. That’s because I had always identified with the workers who arrived early, not the ones who came late. On the other hand, as a formerly lapsed Catholic who returned to a welcoming Church, I had a natural affinity for the Prodigal Son and his appreciation for the gift he had no claim on, a gift he had once rejected — and his hope that a more stalwart brother would not resent him.
On September 26th, Venezuela will hold parliamentary elections. Since Hugo Chavez was elected to the presidency in 1998, Venezuela has been transformed from a country with democratic institutions to one where the president controls all branches of government. The upcoming elections serve the purpose of making Chavez look like he is presiding over a free society but in reality provide no real chance for change. – Luis Fleischman
. . . visit the Bobliography, featuring:
Behind The Headlines Commentaries
New American Commentaries
The 90-Minute Radical
Falling Through the Ice
“I’m Creative, You’re Not!”
The Case of the Anguished Airman
The End of Satire?
Thanks for Everything!
Free to Serve
The Real Frank’s Place
Democratic National Convention 1988
Republican National Convention 1988
Wishing We Were Wrong
An Adult Movie Rated PG
Uncle Sam’s Cabin
Tomorrow Is Another Day
1986 TV Season
Different Sides, Same War
My Funny Census Form
Another Sort of Learning
The Devil Made Him Do It
To the Greater Glory of God
Stranger Than Fiction
Right in Your Own Backyard
Reverence for Referents
Enemies of the State
Planned Parenthood in Church
The Old Folks Are Coming!
The Fiddler’s Wife
Developing an Ear for Grammar
A Humble Suggestion
The Mardi Gras Scrooge
Quick Quick Slow
Mad About US (The History Chant)
The Gargoyle of Argyle
The Wonder Kid
A Visit From the Christ Child
Whatever Became of Whats-His-Name?
The Mardi Gras Queen
Only In New Orleans
Spontaneous Krewe of Platefaces