Are We in a State of Hysteria Over COVID-19? (1)

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The Undebatable About the Undeniable

We have not entered into the COVID-19 situation undefiled by our past submissions to the “right-think” inquisitors.  We know that from somewhere far above and unseeable has emerged the set of “correct answers” to which we all are expected to bow.  They have isolated a single dimension of the good and turned it into a unique and unassailable token of virtue.  Anyone who dares to ask difficult questions or to propose an alternate solution can only be motivated by evil motives.

If you limit your resources to the Mainstream Media or the statements of politicians and bureaucrats then these “correct answers” seem obvious.  No decent person can possibly object.  We find this token of virtue explicitly defined in the recent statement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (emphasis added):

“I want to be able to say to the people of New York — I did everything we could do,” Cuomo said. “And if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”

Do you imagine that this was a unique statement of virtuous idiocy by the Governor of our fourth most populous state and the center of our financial industry?  Not by a long shot.  For example, “There is no price too high to save a life,” says New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.  No price too high?  What if the “price” paid drives millions into poverty and despair?  Nope, not too high by the leaders of what is now approaching a nation of virtue grasping, hysteria driven recluses.

I implore you to think carefully about these statements.  By voicing these supposedly virtuous ideas the good Governors imply that saving “just one life” from COVID-19 would justify policies that could cause many more deaths and untold human misery.  But, you see, those deaths and that misery occur outside of the narrow window of moral sight allowed by the “correct answer” proto-totalitarians.  Thus we can all skip down the garden path singing of our own indisputable virtue without fear of contradiction.

But the real world cares nothing about our fantasies of virtue.  The reality of consequences absolutely independent of our intentions will inexorably come to pass, for example:

  • The ruination of a young generation’s hope for financial independence, personal responsibility and initiative due to an economic depression, possibly resulting in embrace of Socialism with it sure death and destruction;
  • The increase in suicide, addiction and depression brought on by loss of job, business or retirement savings;
  • The increase in divorce caused by the stress of all the above, resulting in many more broken homes and damaged children;
  • Reduced national resources to deal with issues of all kinds, from public health to national security to economic independence, resulting in significant increases in death and suffering.

The good news is that, here in the United States, there are many brave souls who are willing to publicly question the received wisdom and propose alternate solutions.  This blessing is due to the more robust protection of free speech created by our First Amendment.  But this freedom is under continuing, vicious attack.  Were we to become passive in its defense we could well end up in a situation described for the United Kingdom as it deals with the COVID-19 crisis (emphasis added).

In an emergency, freedom of speech doesn’t stop being important. It becomes more important. The vast majority of people accept there will be restrictions on their everyday freedoms in the next few months.   …   But even in a moment like this there should be not a single restriction on freedom of speech. The right to dissent from the middle-class apocalypticism enveloping the Covid-19 crisis is the most important liberty right now.

And it’s a liberty under threat. The speed and intensity with which questioning extreme responses to Covid-19 has become tantamount to a speechcrime is alarming.   …

How swiftly we become McCarthyites. How naturally intolerance comes to that section of society that thinks it knows best.   …

The right to question this is essential, for two reasons. First, because we should never feel comfortable with restrictions on freedom. Even if we accept them as short-term measures in a mass act of social solidarity to protect life, they should still make us bristle and balk and constantly ask questions: ‘Why is this necessary? When will it end? When will the Coronavirus Bill be repealed?’

And the second reason freedom of speech becomes even more important in a crisis is because of one of the key things that freedom of speech does – it encourages intellectual humility. Freedom of speech is the means through which all of us entertain the possibility that we are wrong. The great service of freedom of speech is that it helps us question ourselves. The unfettered existence of all kinds of interesting, challenging, strange and offensive views is the great and essential guard against our own tendencies to dogma. It invites rethinking, re-evaluation. It gives us that great liberty: the liberty to change our minds.

We must not ignore this warning from our cross-Atlantic cousins.  They are farther down the road to depression and tyranny, but we are on the same road just a few steps back.

The Purpose of Relentless Hysteria (4)

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United Kingdom police use drones to track, identify and publicly shame citizens for v enduring outside to walk their dog.

Thoughts to Consider

The United Kingdom is perhaps our nation’s closest “relative.”  However, due to differences in history, culture and political system they are a few steps ahead of the United States in the destruction of human liberty.  We therefore should pay attention to what is going on there (as I have, for example in the Rotherham Child Sex Scandal) with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic response.  Note that I’m not saying that the United States is at the same place, but rather a few steps back — thus allowing us a little time to consider how many more we should take in the direction of authoritarianism.

Thoughts worth considering in this respect from our cousin country were offered by former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption to the BBC.

The former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption, QC, has denounced the police response to the coronavirus, saying the country is suffering ‘collective hysteria’. This is an edited transcript of his interview with BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme earlier today.   …

–Dymond: At a time like this, as you acknowledge, citizens do look to the state for protection, for assistance, we shouldn’t be surprised then if the state takes on new powers if it responds. That is what it has been asked to do, almost demanded of it.

–Sumption: Yes that is absolutely true. We should not be surprised. But we have to recognise that this is how societies become despotisms. And we also have to recognise this is a process which leads naturally to exaggeration. The symptoms of coronavirus are clearly serious for those with other significant medical conditions, especially if they’re old. There are exceptional cases in which young people have been struck down, which have had a lot of publicity, but the numbers are pretty small. The Italian evidence, for instance, suggests that only in 12 per cent of deaths is it possible to say coronavirus was the main cause of death. So yes this is serious and yes it’s understandable that people cry out to the government. But the real question is: is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hardworking people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress inflicted on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable and will suffer only mild symptoms or none at all, like the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister.

–Dymond: There will be people listening who admire your legal wisdom but will also say ‘well, he’s not an epidemiologist, he doesn’t know how disease spreads, he doesn’t understand the risks to the health service if this thing gets out of control’. What do you say to them?

–Sumption: What I say to them is I am not a scientist but it is the right and duty of every citizen to look and see what the scientists have said and to analyse it for themselves and to draw common sense conclusions. We are all perfectly capable of doing that and there’s no particular reason why the scientific nature of the problem should mean we have to resign our liberty into the hands of scientists. We all have critical faculties and it’s rather important, in a moment of national panic, that we should maintain them.

Please do think carefully about these ideas, and about the consequences to our nation’s citizens should we respond hysterically to the COVID-19 challenge.

The Purpose of Relentless Hysteria (3)

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The COVID-19 coronavirus

Is the COVID-19 Situation an Instance of this Hysteria Strategy?

I am obviously unable to answer this question.  There is so much information out there — some terrifying, some hopeful, much distorted if not dishonest, all incomplete and uncertain — that no-one has any definitive answers.  The easiest and safest path is to assume that “this time it’s different” due to the situation’s seriousness.  After all, our medical experts, political leaders and major media outlets all appear to agree that the only sensible path is to make decisions based on the “worst case scenario.”

One great tragedy of the past four years is the destruction of credibility that has occurred for our elite class, which certainly includes our political leaders and major media outlets.  I have written extensively about both of these groups in this blog (and collected into a book).

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One reason (among others) to abandon “Wuhan” and/or “Chinese” coronavirus.

On the media front one is not encouraged by their early hope that this pandemic would be “Donald Trump’s Katrina.”  Or we can recall the shameless media “turn on a dime” from describing the coronavirus as “Wuhan” and/or “Chinese” to screeching that it’s “racist” to do so when the daily Progressive talking points changed.  Nor can we ignore the media’s distortions and outright lies in an effort to use the crisis as a political weapon. How can we expect a media intent on weaponizing this situation against a long hated opponent to provide accurate information to the public?

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Mayor de Blasio flexing his “virtue” muscles at the expense of public health

Nor have many politicians covered themselves in glory.  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Health Department insisted for long past when information about COVID-19’s seriousness was everywhere that New Yorkers should continue life as usual (including congregating in large crowds).  New York’s Governor (Andrew Cuomo), after bitterly complaining that the Federal Government had abandoned the state, was revealed to have “had a chance to order 16,000 ventilators five years ago for a discount,

Strassel on Pelosi COVID-19 Bill

The Democrat Party Motto (“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”) in vicious action.

but he opted for death panels and lotteries instead.”  Now that New York City is the undisputed epicenter of the viral outbreak these pathetic men are working 24/7 to deflect the blame that they so clearly deserve.  On the national front, who can ignore the Congressional Democrat’s craven use of this public health crisis as a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”  This statement by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D) was followed up with shameful action by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House (D). Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 5.25.51 AMWe see this bad faith and appalling hypocrisy at work with the recent statement by House Speaker that President Trump “Fiddles’ While ‘People Are Dying.”  This from a leader who spent the first six weeks of this year conducting a hoax impeachment and then on February 24 telling citizens of San Francisco “We do want to say to people, come to Chinatown, here we are … come join us.”  What can we conclude but that it is far more important for Democrat leaders to burnish their politically correct “virtue” and pursue their partisan power goals than to protect the lives and jobs of U.S. citizens?

But what about the medical experts?  Can’t we safely rely on their dispassionate, sure and humane knowledge?  This group hasn’t discredited itself over the past four years.  Rather they have been in the background doing their jobs with general competence and kindness.  But this in and of itself doesn’t guarantee that, in the grip of a new and unknown pandemic, they will use the best information or draw the best conclusions.

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The danger of expert “tunnel vision”

Even if they do, there is no reason to assume that the media will accurately understand, let alone explain, this information to the general public.  Nor can we assume that politicians will convert their guidance into policies in the public interest as opposed to their own.  Finally, we can’t assume that these highly specialized medical experts (who by definition have primarily focused their work in one specific area) are capable of integrating other important dimensions (e.g., economic harm) into their policy proscriptions.

The Purpose of Relentless Hysteria (1)

Introduction

Looking back on this blog’s content one obvious theme is the seemingly purposeful deployment of hysteria to advance social-political goals.  I suppose it’s natural for this theme to rise up into view given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic.  While I may cover this particular contemporary issue in detail later, the following excerpt provides a good summary of our current situation.

While we should be concerned and diligent, the situation has dramatically elevated to a mob-like fear spreading faster than COVID-19 itself. When 13% of Americans believe they are currently infected with COVID-19 (mathematically impossible), full-on panic is blocking our ability to think clearly and determine how to deploy our resources to stop this virus.

don-t-keep-calm-the-end-is-nearCertainly the “climate change” community has sought to induce a sense of hysterical doom in the general public for the past 50 years at least.  Although I’ve blogged extensively on this issue, recent explicit statements by this community’s designated leaders have confirmed my point.

‘The planet is burning’, they lie, in relation to climate change, … ‘I want you to panic’, instructs the newest mouthpiece of green apocalypticism, Greta Thunberg

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Progressive hysteria

However the most posts by far have been devoted to the elite Progressive freak-out caused by the election of Donald trump to the Presidency.  In fact, so numerous and wide ranging were these posts that I organized them into my latest eBook, titled The Progressive Riot.  What but hysteria does the cover to this book seek to convey?

But this hysteria isn’t randomly deployed.  No, it has a definite purpose in pursuit of a specific goal, that being to convince the American public that they allowed a man of ultimate evil to attain the highest office in the nation.  It is this sin from which they must repent by throwing him out of office or the beatings will continue.

Perhaps the best summary of my thoughts can be found in a post titled Progressive Insanity (2).

What we are witnessing is a collective nervous breakdown by a group that viewed themselves as the perfect-righteous; confronting the cataclysmic reality that over sixty-million citizens disagreed enough to elect their polar opposite to the Presidency.  In fact, enough citizens in states that had for decades voted reliably for the “righteous” politicians turned traitor to righteousness and voted for an “unrighteous bigot.”  This outcome has launched the elite perfect-righteous into a state of mind-shattering cognitive dissonance from which escape will be at the very least painful and difficult.

What has emerged is a group of people who occupy powerful positions in our nation whose personalities have disintegrated and been reconstituted as seemingly undifferentiated components of a massive social justice mob.  They will believe anything, say anything and do anything, in collectivist unison, to destroy the source of this atrocity committed against their sense of perfect-righteousness.

I contend that there is a consistent purpose to all of these examples (and so many more) of hysteria-mongering.  It is this thesis that I will explore in the following posts.

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (5)

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This figure shows the utter failure of public education in large U.S. cities.  Note that the displayed percentages are of students who are not proficient in reading.

What Should be Done?

I certainly don’t expect Progressive individuals and organizations to embrace conservative ideas for welfare reform.  However, even this position doesn’t preclude the finding of common ground.  For example, the Progressive community could say something like this:

“While we believe that conservative ideas on welfare reform are fundamentally flawed, we yet agree that the current set of welfare policies has not achieved their intended results.  In fact, on numerous key measures of well-being the beneficiaries of welfare have significantly digressed over the past decades.  Therefore, we will support an open discussion on what has gone wrong and why.  From there we will support an open debate on the reforms necessary to correct past mistakes and increase the likelihood of future success.”

The tragic truth is that virtually no one finds this imagined statement by our Progressive elites to be in the slightest credible.  This is because their power rests on the false assumption of their intellectual and moral superiority. Thus they cannot survive if they ever admit to have been wrong.  Not surprisingly then, what we have observed is retreat into reactionary positions from which any criticism of the Welfare State or proposal for welfare/education reform is viciously attacked.  When “welfare reform” was passed in the 1990s the Progressive community pulled out all the stops to retard and ultimately reverse this initiative.  The Progressive community continues to be opposed to “school choice” even though a majority of disadvantaged parents support it.

In the 1960s and 70s Mainline denominational leadership tied itself to the secular Progressive movement as the vehicle for positive social change.  We can legitimately debate the wisdom of this decision within context of what was known at that time.  However, from the 1980s on it has become progressively more clear that the Great Society and associated policies have had the opposite effect of those claimed to be intended by their supporters.

We Mainline Christians must seriously ask ourselves what we really are accomplishing by our continuing support of these destructive social policies.  If we want an endless supply of people in poor and oppressed communities as recipients of our charity then by all means continue on.  In that direction lies the continued affirmation of a godless elite class who value us only to the extent that we slavishly uphold their power and follow their political line.  In that case Jesus’ words should burn in our souls.

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

Matthew 6:1, 2 (NIV)

If we want to actually improve the lives of the people trapped in these communities then we must open our hearts and minds to the concept of reforms that challenge the current Progressive orthodoxy.  In that direction lies suffering, as we will be subjected to the full force of hatred that holds current policies in place.  We will be called terrible names.  Our motives will be attacked.  Our Christian faith will be denigrated.  Everything will be done that can be to make the world consider us pariahs.  But if we reject their power to destroy we may actually through God’s grace find new paths that lead towards renewal and hope.

18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:18-27 (ESV)

 

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (4)

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Commentary

I suppose some might contend that I’ve placed my thumb on the scales in describing the two cases of this series’ previous post.  After all, they may argue, don’t the Christian organizations who operate within the Case 1 framework also work to resolve the “root causes” of poverty and oppression?  If you limit this critique to intentions then I may be able to agree.  However, if we insist on results then there can be only strong disagreement.

I have already discussed this conflict between “intentions” and “results” in detail (see here for definitions and here for commentary).  Note that the intentions of the Christian organizations in Case 1 and Case 2 were initially identical.  What differentiates them is their response to observing actual results over a significant time period.

The Great Society legislation that created what we now call the Welfare State was passed in the mid-1960s.  At the time the stated intention was to end poverty and racism through aggressively expanded government action and new programs.  Not surprisingly there was significant, though ultimately ineffective, opposition to this set of policies.  However, there can be no doubt that the intentions behind the Great Society by most supporters were very good.

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Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Therefore, when in 1965 a report titled The Negro Family: The Case For National Action, which has become  known as the Moynihan Report was issued by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a sociologist serving as Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the the resulting firestorm was understandable. A “resounding cry of outrage” occurred because Mr. Moynihan dared to challenge the then Progressive party line that it was only “the system” that stood between the black community and full equality in American society.  For this sin Mr. Moynihan was hounded out of the Johnson Administration.

In context of what was known in 1965 we may be able to forgive Progressives for being so politically protective of a new set of government policies.  After all, if they were successful then the twin evils of poverty and racism would have been defeated.

By, say, 1995, there could be no credible doubt that the Great Society had not just failed, but had condemned its intended beneficiaries to multigenerational dependence, poverty and hopelessness.  This is why, though dishonestly said, President Clinton felt obliged in 1996 to say that “the era of big government is over” and sign Welfare Reform into law.

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Amy Wax and Larry Alexander

However, any reform of the Welfare State was anathema to the Progressive movement.  Therefore, a coalition of Progressive groups, definitely including many Christian organizations, opposed and eventually overturned these reforms.  Thus by 2017, when two tenured professors (Amy Wax and Larry Alexander) published an article titled “Paying the price for the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture” there was a powerful Progressive response to destroy their careers and very persons.

In context of what has been known since at least the mid-1990’s this Progressive response is unforgivable (from a political as opposed to a religious perspective).  What Professors Wax and Alexander said was motivated by the tragic results of the Welfare State policies.  What they proposed were ideas to recover the social and cultural capital that had been destroyed by the Welfare State.  It’s legitimate to disagree with their proposals.  In the best case that disagreement would be accompanied by counter-proposals seeking the same better ends.  It’s utterly corrupt in every sense of the word to seek the destruction of people who see the suffering of the Welfare State’s supposed beneficiaries and offer reforms to improve their lives, all while maintaining the very policies that led to the catastrophe.

Make no mistake, this entrenched, vicious coalition of Progressives, including many Christian organizations, is absolutely committed to preventing even the smallest reforms to the Welfare State.  And this commitment exists in spite of well over 50 years of failure.  I simply ask, are these the actions of people who are committed to results that demonstrably raise others out of poverty?  Or are they the actions of people who are content for the supposed beneficiaries of their compassion to fall ever deeper into hopelessness, violence, and despair?  I contend that almost 60 years on it is utterly credible to conclude the latter.

Defeating Progressivism (5)

Math is hard

Moral truth is so much easier than math truth!

The Burning Question

We “commoners” operate under the distinct disadvantage of not spending every waking hour planning the destruction of our political “enemies.”  As discussed in a previous post we just have so many priorities and interests other than the achievement of raw power over others.

We are currently a nation splintered into contending groups who appear to have lost the ability to communicate, let alone cooperate, with each other.  These groups can often (there are numerous exceptions) be be roughly divided into two primary camps.

The first is populated by people who tend to define themselves by associations and interests outside the realm of politics.  To them, though politics may be an important part of life, other domains like faith, family, neighbors, sports, etc. have clear priority.  Although there is no agreed name for this group, I’ll refer to them as the “commoners.”  This is justified not by any presumption of lower ability or value, but rather by the fact that they see themselves as part of a common heritage and culture.  Thus, they have appreciation for the nation and those through whom it was formed and maintained.  If there is a central organizing principle for this camp it is opposition to the idea that the nation must be “fundamentally transformed” in order for it to be valued.

So the question burning in my mind has been:

How can we “commoners” be motivated to set aside all of our sensible other interests for long enough to repulse the proto-totalitarian Progressive project?

A Possible Answer

In this time when family gatherings, church attendance, sports and all other normal human interests have been removed, I simply ask you to focus on these elite Progressive betters revealing their actual mental prowess.

Example #1

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I’ve previously posted on this incident.  This massive math error got past all of MSNBC’s reporters, editors and fact checkers to get onto the air.

Example #2

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The Federalist documented this amazing gaffe by Democrat Presidential Candidate Joe Biden.  To provide context, approximately 400.000 Americans died in World War II, which is 1/375’th of 150 million. In 2017 there were approximately 2.8 million deaths from all causes in the United States.  If we assume that number of annual deaths over the 13 years between 2007 and 2020 the result is 36.4 million total deaths from all causes, or less than one-quarter of 150 million.

Example #3

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Democrat Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager claims that 170 million more Americans than there are Americans go bankrupt every year (!) due to medical debt.  Also, how can only 68 million Americans be “under insured” for health care when 500 million Americans go bankrupt every year due to health care bills?

Example #4

oac-math-woman

This one takes the cake.  I’ve previously commented on Congressperson Ocasio-Cortez’s economic “plans.”   What makes this example the perfect capstone is that it can be legitimately interpreted as (1) “You only question my plan’s math because I’m a WOMAN (you sexist PIG).” or (2)  “Because I’m a WOMAN you can’t expect my math to add up correctly.”  

 

So, here’s my motivational statement to we “commoners” in this time of political peril.

Do we want history to record that we were defeated by “elites” who demonstrated this level of mental acuity?

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (3)

mind-experiment

A Mind Experiment

In order to explore the true nature of what we want to accomplish, consider the following two theoretical cases.

Case 1

A Christian organization identifies a group of people who are undeniably oppressed and impoverished.  They therefore develop support programs that minister to the individual members, families and organizations within this group.  Over a significant time period (i.e., decades) wonderful supportive spiritual, personal, financial and organizational relationships are developed.  Much that is good from a Christian perspective has clearly been accomplished.

However, over that same time period, although good is done, the overall environment in which this impoverished group lives not only doesn’t improve, but in many respects gets demonstrably worse.  For example, crime, including murder, increases.  Schools utterly fail to provide even the most basic educational value to students.  Family life remains utterly chaotic.

The Christian organization is aware of this situation, but refuses to ask why it has occurred, let alone do anything about it.  They rather continue their programs and ministries with only minor modifications.  Beyond this, in their political action they oppose any proposals to significantly change the schools, public safety, personal / family incentives and economics.  They thus, in effect, behave as reactionaries who deem the current policies and resulting environment to be the best that can be practically obtained.

Case 2

This case begins exactly like the first.  However, after a long period of time, say twenty years, leaders in the Christian organization begin to ask serious questions.  While they rejoice in the good that has been accomplished, they also mourn the fact that this impoverished group’s situation has demonstrably grown worse.  They begin to contemplate the tragic fact that, under the current set of social policies, the impoverishment (spiritual, educational, personal safety, economic, etc.) of this group will not be improved in any foreseeable timeframe.  Thus, in effect, the current social policies ensure that there will be an unending supply of victims to whom their Christian good works can be delivered.

Thus, if being kind to victims of impoverishment and oppression is the ultimate end of Christian compassion then this is a perfectly acceptable outcome.  But these leaders reject this ultimate end.  Rather, they conclude that the true ultimate end should be a situation in which this victim group no longer suffers under impoverishment and oppression at all.  In this end they would no longer need the support of Christian charity but would rather take their place in society as peers rather than supplicants.  Then the Christian organization, perhaps enriched by the contributions of this past impoverished group, could move on to other issues that appear most urgent.

But in order to pursue this new and better ultimate end the Christian leaders realize that they will have to confront the power interests that support the status quo.  The realize that their ideas for reform, such as rebuilding of marriage and the family, will be met by accusations of evil motivation.  Powerful political and social organizations will oppose reform of the schools, and will stoop low to attack the reformers.  Anything that smacks of economic self-sufficiency will be denounced as greed even though a massive structure of bureaucrats earn a good living by doling out endless goods, services and money that breed hopelessness and dependency.

 

The Janus Award for Projection and Hypocrisy (2)

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Winner: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

On February 13, 2020 Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer went to the floor of the Senate to denounce President Trump for this tweet.

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Although President Trump was clearly being critical of the judge in question, there is not the slightest hint of a threat.  However, on March 4, 2020 this same Senator Schumer explicitly and directly threatened two Supreme Court justices while standing on the steps of the Supreme Court building.

While Chief Justice Roberts rightly ignored Senator Schumer’s bogus request to “speak up” regarding President Trump’s tweet, he “spoke up” to Senator Schumer’s threat with a stern rebuke.

This morning, Senator Schumer spoke at a rally in front of the Supreme Court while a case was being argued inside. Senator Schumer referred to two Members of the Court by name and said he wanted to tell them that “You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.

This thuggish, two-faced behavior by the Senate Minority Leader (the second highest ranking Democrat national politician) warrants issuance of the second Janus Award.

schumer-SC-threat-2

 

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (1)

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By what metrics should Christians measure the success or failure of their charity, mission and compassion?

Introduction

It is long past time for Christians, particularly those who find themselves in Mainline Denominations, to reconsider their responsibilities with regard to charity, mission and compassion.  For generations we have operated under the unexamined assumption that these Christian duties are best accomplished by the giving of material resources to the poor and oppressed.  This assumption has driven both public policy and in person charitable efforts.

But at some point the question “Is it working?” must be asked and honestly answered if our goal is to truly benefit the poor and oppressed.  And before that, we must determine the metrics by which we measure progress or lack thereof.

religion-politicsI began to indirectly raise these questions in a 2017 series of posts titled Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics.  My primary goal was to examine the almost complete overlap of partisan Progressivism with Mainline political action.  However, in the fifth post of this series I introduced the specific case of Chicago, and pointed out that from the perspectives of crime and education Progressive public policies had not just failed, but had created an apparently permanent underclass.  I closed this post with the following comments.

These catastrophic failures, despite the incessant insistence on their benevolence by Progressives, Christian or otherwise, forces us to wonder about the relationship between intentions and results.  That is, if someone does things or supports policies because of “good intentions,” is that sufficient in and of itself as an act of charity?  Or, does their moral responsibility extend to the realm of demonstrable results?  These two philosophies lead to very different attitudes towards how best to help the poor, with corresponding differences in practical policies.

From there I examined in some detail the differences between “intentions based” and “results based” charitable philosophies, including two specific case studies.  In the ninth and final series post I introduced and discussed the concept of “moral hazard” within context of Mainline Progressive politics and associated charitable activities.  A useful definition for this term is:

Moral hazard is a situation where somebody has the opportunity to take advantage of somebody else by taking risks that the other will pay for. The idea is that people might ignore the moral implications of their choices: instead of doing what is right, they do what benefits them the most.

A year later I again picked up this line of inquiry, this time within the context of Socialism (Questions for Socialists, four posts total).  This is deeply relevant, as it is by this ideology that the Progressive Left, most definitely including many in Mainline Christian denominations, propose to deliver their vision of utopia.

VENEZUELA-CHAVEZ-REMAINS

A Thought Experiment

Let’s imagine that there is a group of people who self-identify as protectors of the world’s poor and oppressed.  Members of this group continually boast about their good intentions for and practical expertise in improving the lot of humanity.  However, as a practical matter, we all know that what is said is not always what is actually in the heart.  Therefore, there is need for a means by which to determine if these people really care first and foremost about improving the lot of the poor and oppressed.

Let’s assume that in a specific nation the ideology and associated means by which these people propose to improve the world are embraced and implemented.  And, that the leadership of this group publicly and forcefully voice their support.

But something goes terribly wrong, and rather than the expected advance towards utopia the country descends into poverty, chaos, violence and starvation.  The fact of this utter failure is unavoidable and undeniable.  Thus, the leaders of this group must decide how to respond.

Response #1

It turns out that these leaders do indeed care first and foremost about the plight of the poor and oppressed.  Therefore, they enter into a state of public repentance followed by a ground-up reassessment of their ideology to determine what went wrong.  Although they may not (or may) throw out all of their ideology, they do honestly look into where it has led to the policies that resulted in such terrible human suffering.  After this process they reengage in the public debate, admitting their failures and seeking to advance updated solutions that they honestly believe will lead to improved human well-being.

Response #2

It turns out that these leaders didn’t really care about the plight of the poor and oppressed.  What they were really doing was to use their pretense of virtue to obtain the power by which to arbitrarily and capriciously rule over others.  Therefore, they fall silent for a time and then begin making up excuses for this humanitarian catastrophe.  These excuses place the blame everywhere but on the ideology and policies that they use in their advance towards worldly power.  They never acknowledge that they had previously supported this practical application of their ideology in a specific country, hoping that it will all be forgotten.

They also, over time, have built a predictable track record of support followed by silence followed by excuses as their ideology repeatedly fails miserably to deliver the promised results.  And yet they continue pretending to be the morally superior elite whom we should follow with unquestioning obedience.

It is from here that I intend to begin a reconsideration of our Christian responsibilities with regard to charity, mission and compassion.