The St. Croix Review

The St. Croix Review

The St. Croix Review speaks for middle America, and brings you essays from patriotic Americans.

Friday, 23 October 2015 16:25

Book Review

Book Review

Who Really Cares -- America's Charity Divide -- Who Gives, Who Doesn't, and Why It Matters, by Arthur C. Brooks. Basic Books, New York, 250 pp., $26, 2006, ISBN-13: 978-0-465-00821-6.

Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity. --Apostle Paul

When I served on the stewardship committee of my parish that was responsible for obtaining every member's pledge, I noted that there were large differences in pledges. In using estimates of occupational incomes, it appeared that several members pledged a tithe, a few in the 12 to 15 percent category, while most fell in the three, four or five percent categories. It also seemed that the giving percentages were higher for the poorer members of our parish.

The pre-elections income tax filings by our wealthy lawmakers were also very enlightening. The charitable giving of some of our rich senators seem to calculate out at about one or two percent of their listed income. But they seemed to be generous in raising taxes to make everyone "charitable." Thus, only liberals view themselves as truly compassionate.

Now comes Arthur C. Brooks with the documented truth about liberals and conservatives and his detailed analysis of the charity divide. He found the reverse was actually the truth. Being a liberal, he had difficulty accepting the results of his own research. America's working poor are, relative to their income, far more generous than their liberal counterparts including the middle class and rich. Not so surprising, the nonworking poor -- those on public assistance instead of earning low wages -- give at lower levels than any other group. In other words, poverty does not discourage charity in America, but welfare does.

In 2004, former president Jimmy Carter claimed that Americans are indifferent to suffering around the world -- we don't really care. Brooks cites a foreign businessman who comes to this country to become better informed about giving and volunteering because many foreigners admire the philanthropic zeal of Americans and consider it the secret of our success.

Another famous foreign visitor to America some 170 years ago was Alexis de Tocqueville. When he came to the United States in 1835, he found a spirit of voluntarism and charity unlike anything he had encountered before. In his classic book Democracy in America, Tocqueville marveled at America's many civic associations, which were supported through voluntary gifts of time and money: "Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations," Tocqueville reported.

The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this many found hospitals, prisons, and schools.

Who is correct about American charity -- Alexis de Tocqueville or Jimmy Carter? To a certain extent, they're both right, according to Brooks. When it comes to charity, America is two nations: one charitable, and the other uncharitable. Most Americans are generous, compassionate people. However, there is also an identifiable slice of the population that does not donate to people in need, does not volunteer, does not give in formal ways, and does not even feel compassion toward others.

Brooks writes about these two Americas and the reason they behave so differently. In the process of investigating the forces of charity and selfishness, he uncovered some hard truths about American culture, politics and economics. But the stakes are higher than showing a few surprising truths. It matters a lot that we are two nations. Charity, he feels, is essential to our health and happiness, community vitality, national prosperity, and even to our ability to govern ourselves as a free people. America's greatest glory lies ahead -- if we become more charitable.

But just as the Charitable America spills abundance onto the rest of us, the Selfish America threatens our prosperity as a nation through the policies it supports and the culture it encourages. It is important to understand what makes people charitable and what makes them uncharitable. Our strength as a nation is affected by our ability to bring more people into the ranks of the generous -- for their good and for ours.

Fortunately, Tocqueville's America is bigger than Jimmy Carter's. There are far more charitable Americans than uncharitable ones. Approximately three out of four families make charitable donations each year. The average amount given by these families is $1800 or about 3.5 percent of household income. About a third goes to religious activities and the rest goes to education, health and social welfare. Charitable donations in the United States add up to about a quarter trillion dollars per year.

American charity doesn't stop with money. More than half of American families volunteer their time each year.

Brooks cites statistics that belie the selfishness of our nation even though one-third is not charitable. Although 225 million Americans give away money each year, the other 75 million never gave to any causes, charities or churches. Furthermore, 130 million Americans never volunteer their time.

Brooks found that among Americans with above-average incomes who do not give charitably, a majority of them say that they "don't have enough money." Meanwhile, the working poor in America give a larger percentage of their incomes to charity than any other income group. People who give money charitably are 43 percent more likely to say they are "very happy" than non-givers and 25 percent are more likely than non-givers to say their health is excellent or very good.

Liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year than conservative families, but conservative families gave more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to middle class to rich. Despite their lower earnings, conservative households in America donate 30 percent more money to charity each year than liberal households.

Also, a religious person is 57 percent more likely than a secularist to help a homeless person. If liberals gave blood like conservatives do, the blood supply in the U.S. would jump by about 45 percent.

Givers are also more sympathetic and tolerant than non-givers. Data from 2002 tell us that givers express less negative prejudice than non-givers toward African Americans, whites, Latinos, and Asians. They are also more sympathetic to Protestants, Jews, Christian fundamentalists and Catholics. Givers are more favorably disposed to everybody than are non-givers.

The political stereotypes break down even further when we consider age: "Anyone who is not a socialist before age thirty has no heart, but anyone who is still a socialist after thirty has no head," goes the old saying. But young liberals -- perhaps the most vocally dissatisfied political constituency in America today -- are one of the least generous demographic groups.

The electoral map and the charity map are remarkably similar. The most charitable states voted for Bush, and the least charitable states voted for Kerry.

In Who Really Cares, Brooks demonstrates conclusively that conservatives really are compassionate, far more compassionate than liberals. Strong families, church attendance, earned income (as opposed to state-subsidized income), and the belief that individuals, not government, offer the best solution to social ills -- all of these factors determine how likely one is to give. Charity matters -- not just to the givers and to the recipients, but to the nation as a whole.

--Del Meyer

Libertarian's Corner: Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bacanovic, Ms. Stewart, and Mr. Libby

Joseph S. Fulda

Joseph Fulda is a freelance writer living in New York City. He is the author of Eight Steps Towards Libertarianism.

There is a certain similarity between the superficially very different above-named persons' legal problems. In each particular case, there was an alleged predicate offense that did not take place, despite massive investigations. What did take place, in each case, is that during the course of these massive investigations the above-named persons made one or more statements that were not true.

This is entirely normal and should not be punishable by law. Why? Any human being exhaustively questioned by a clever attorney -- cleverness being the main selection criterion for attorneys -- will eventually say something false or contradict himself. This is human nature.

It is perhaps even truer when the exhaustively questioned person is innocent of the predicate offense and knows it. Because then panic sets in, and anger, and these very natural human reactions are not conducive to telling things exactly as they happened with perfect consistency.

Let us take these cases one by one. Mr. Clinton, first. As a matter of law, whether or not he did what Ms. Jones alleged -- the predicate offense -- unknown to all but him, Ms. Jones, and Almighty God, the judge ruled that regardless of the facts Ms. Jones had no cognizable cause of action under Arkansas law. But that is not the whole story, for at the time Mr. Clinton was deposed, the judge's future ruling was unknown. What was known, however, to Mr. Clinton is that nothing, absolutely nothing, that happened with Ms. Lewinsky had any bearing whatsoever on the contested scene in a hotel room years earlier. So, being human, knowing how unseemly his conduct with Ms. Lewinsky would look to many, and being the sort of man who abhors humiliating his wife publicly, he told a gentlemanly, but completely irrelevant, lie.

Professor Alan Dershowitz blames Mr. Clinton's then-attorney Robert Bennett for allowing this ridiculously overbroad inquiry into Mr. Clinton's sex life. Because the false answer was immaterial to the case at issue -- Ms. Jones' case -- as a matter of law it was not perjury, which requires that the lie be material. The judge in the case nevertheless, unhappy with Mr. Clinton's behavior, found him in contempt not for lying but for refusing to answer the questions put to him, a rather novel theory for a contempt holding when a perjury charge could not have been made to stick.

Mr. Bacanovic and Ms. Stewart, second. The broker and his client were, again as a matter of law, not insiders. An insider is someone who has direct internal knowledge that would affect the company's stock price. That was true of the executive of ImClone who had learned that the FDA intended to withhold approval for its most marketable commodity. Mr. Bacanovic was at one remove from being an insider; Ms. Stewart was at two removes from being an insider. The predicate offense -- insider trading -- was not even applicable to these two people. But they did benefit from someone who was an insider, and although anyone they sold the stock to had to have been in the market for the stock anyway and would have purchased it anyway, their behavior also appeared to many unseemly. They, too, panicked.

So they said this and that about why they sold their stock in ImClone, even though under the law they had the right to sell it for the reason they did, would have been foolish not to, and harmed absolutely nobody by the sale, as would have been the case had they, say, induced people not in the market for ImClone stock by suggesting this was a good buy. But they did not do that; there was no fraud, only panic.

Now let us come to Mr. Libby, third. The predicate offense -- the serious matter of revealing the identity of a covert agent of the CIA -- was known for three years by Mr. Fitzgerald to have not been committed at all. For the release of the identity of Ms. Plame was an unintentional slip by Mr. Armitage, and without intent that was not an offense at all. Moreover, Mr. Libby had nothing whatsoever to do with Mr. Armitage's slip. And nobody thinks or says otherwise. Whether Mr. Libby also panicked or was simply so exhaustively questioned as to be bound to produce some inconsistencies somewhere is beyond my knowledge. The jury didn't believe him. The judge said his guilt was clear. But to my mind it just doesn't matter, for there was no predicate offense.

Mr. Bush has shown the admirable quality, also shown by the late President Reagan, of virtually never dismissing his appointees and of standing by them in trouble. If he truly cares about Mr. Libby -- as he says he does -- but, for once, he also perhaps cares about the political consequences of what would otherwise be seen as a political pardon, he must articulate the above argument with exceptional clarity -- and he must do so by reading from a prepared text.

At the end of his address to the nation, he must announce that the President has no power to pardon a finding of civil contempt, but that Mr. Bacanovic, Ms. Stewart, and Mr. Libby are all pardoned forthwith because of the absence of a predicate offense. He must also announce that he will direct his U.S. Attorneys not to bring any further such charges during the remainder of his term in office, for the simple reason that such charges are unjust. Such a clearly bipartisan statement coupled with three nonpartisan pardons cannot cost Mr. Bush any political capital. But it can enhance his stature as a man of principle -- what he cherishes most about his image -- with the American people.

As this journal went to press, the President commuted Mr. Libby's sentence, without ruling out a future pardon. This is what he should have done -- and still can do. *

"Government is something like fire. Under control it is the most useful of servants; out of control it is a ravaging tyrant." --Clinton Possiter

Friday, 23 October 2015 16:25

Who Really Pays the Taxes?

Who Really Pays the Taxes?

David J. Bean

David J. Bean is a freelance writer living in California.

There are several proposals going through Congress these days that involve spending a lot of money and almost all the methods advanced to pay for them look to increase taxes on businesses and "the rich." Recently a friend gave me something to think about regarding all such taxes.

This friend was attending a fraternal luncheon meeting and the scheduled speaker failed to show up. My friend had often addressed the group about a number of timely subjects so the president asked him if he could fill in for a few minutes. My friend stood up and gave the following talk:

I am sure all of you are aware that a viable business is one that is up and running, making a profit, satisfying its customers, and keeping the shareholders happy. How many of you believe that a viable business pays taxes?

Almost every arm went up. My friend continued: "Well, where does this viable company get all of its money?" Some said "From the bank," while finally, a few said "From the sale of its product or service." "Yes," my friend said, "but more specifically don't all the operational funds the business gets come from its customers? Where else could it come from?" Everyone nodded agreement. "Well, if that is true, who pays the business' taxes? It follows, doesn't it, that the customers do. Isn't that right?" But wait, it gets worse.

Suppose that business gets its raw materials from three other businesses. Where do those three companies get all their money? It must come from their customer or customers of course. So part of the three suppliers, taxes are being paid by our first company and the rest by any other customers the suppliers have. But wait, it gets even worse. How about the trucking company that hauled the raw materials and the laborers who handled the packaging and anyone else who drew a paycheck from a business and was part of the chain of businesses that got the final product to the last customer? Even the "rich" CEO's check must be paid by that business' customers. And his check must eventually cover all the taxes he pays.

And now you can see that the final customer is also the consumer of that good or service and that the costs, including all the chain of taxes that have heretofore been included in the cost of the product or service can no longer be passed along. The chain has ended.

So if you just follow the money, the only conclusion that can be drawn from this analogy is that the final consumer of any product or service pays all the accumulated taxes collected from all the people who drew a paycheck while having anything to do with bringing the product or service to market. In fact, even these working people's personal income taxes are paid by the money they received working for a viable business, for once again, just ask yourself where all their money came from.

So, when you buy an automobile you are paying a portion of the taxes of all the people who dug the ore, the smelter, the steel maker, the machinist, the trucker, the assembler, and even the salesman. When you buy a loaf of bread you are paying a portion of all the taxes of the farmer who grew the grain, the miller, the baker, and the store owner who sold you the bread. Then, to top it off, because a business has to show a profit on its total "handle," the consumer pays the business a profit on all those taxes.

We are not talking here about one specific tax like income tax. To illustrate, let's take a look at a worker somewhere in the middle of the bread-producing chain. This worker receives a wage from which he must pay all the taxes that he pays; sales taxes, income taxes, state taxes, local taxes, union dues, taxes on his telephone. Of course those wages also cover such non-tax items as his personal living expenses. The wages he is paid are carried as an expense by the company he works for and are totally passed on (plus a small profit) to the next supplier in the chain. The next supplier, and each one that follows, does the same thing and a wage worker in each company contributes to the accumulated total hidden tax charge that shows up at the end of the chain in the final product or service. Then, to complete the circular nature of this process, every product or service this worker purchases for his personal consumption contains its own hidden chain of accumulated taxes.

One of the main differences between pre-WW II and now is that the number of taxes we all pay has greatly increased. These taxes were necessary to pay for the war but were never really discontinued. And of course prices today include all the taxes being paid by everyone who has anything to do with getting anything to market. All of those taxes have to be paid by the final consumers.

Today's income tax code runs to over 40,000 pages and is a total waste of resources as there is no one in this country who can give you a straight answer on a tax question. As we just discussed, the consumer winds up paying all the taxes anyway. Thus, all the pain and effort we go through with our present tax system still results in what amounts to a consumer tax. A consumer tax would not solve all our tax problems but why not eliminate all the hypocrisy and just have a consumer tax in the first place. Write your Congressman. *

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." --Francis Bacon

Friday, 23 October 2015 16:25

"A Turning Point" Twenty-Five Years Ago

"A Turning Point" Twenty-Five Years Ago

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (HarperCollins, 2006), associate professor of Political Science, and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. This article is reprinted with permission from Vision & Values, a publication of the Center for Vision & Values.

On Monday, June 7, 1982, President Ronald Reagan arrived in Rome to meet with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, a little over a year since both men survived near-fatal assassination attempts. The two shared not only a commonality of personal experiences but also of political interests -- interests that each felt could change the boundaries of the world and the course of history.

The two discussed how they might together reverse the Cold War division of Europe begun by Joe Stalin after World War II. They were certain the Pope's Polish homeland held the potential to crack the entire Soviet bloc -- to free all of Eastern Europe -- with Lech Walesa's Solidarity labor movement providing the wedge. "Solidarity was the very weapon for bringing this about," Reagan told the Pope, who quickly nodded. They agreed to commit resources to keeping Solidarity -- and hope -- alive in Poland. "Hope remains in Poland," said Reagan. "We, working together, can keep it alive."

A cardinal who was one of John Paul II's closest aides put it this way:

Nobody believed the collapse of Communism would happen this fast or on this timetable. But in their first meeting, the Holy Father and the President committed themselves and the institutions of the church and America to such a goal.

How much of this did we know at the time? None of it, and the media awaiting the pair outside was told as much.

Though Reagan was less than candid before the microphones outside of the Vatican that day, he was an open book when he arrived in London the next day, where he gave his Westminster Address.

There in London that Tuesday, June 8, the American president spoke of a crossroads -- "a turning point." "It is the Soviet Union," assured Reagan:

. . . that runs against the tide of history by denying freedom and human dignity to its citizens. It also is in deep economic difficulty. . . . The dimensions of this failure are astounding: a country which employs one-fifth of its population in agriculture is unable to feed its own people.

Here was Reagan's foreknowledge of the USSR's coming calamity, served up when Soviet experts in American universities were claiming the USSR was fine. Reagan, they said, should not be so arrogant.

Yet Reagan believed America needed to be confident in expressing the superiority of its free-market, democratic system. He said at Westminster:

We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings.

He struggled to understand those Western leftists who chided him for daring to judge the American experiment better than the Frankenstein monster created by the Bolsheviks. Reagan said:

I have often wondered about the shyness of some of us in the West about standing for these ideals that have done so much to ease the plight of man and the hardships of our imperfect world. . . . Let us be shy no longer. . . . What kind of people do we think we are? And let us answer: Free people, worthy of freedom and determined not only to remain so, but to help others gain their freedom as well. . . . Let us now begin a major effort to secure the best -- a crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. . . . [L]et us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny.

Reagan then, as he had the day before with John Paul II, spoke of a "hope," which he now publicly translated into a plan:

What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term -- the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies. . . . For the ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets, but a test of wills and ideas -- a trial of spiritual resolve.

Dramatic as those words ring today, they were downright shocking in 1982. Lou Cannon, then the White House correspondent for the Washington Post, recalls that the press derided the Westminster Address as "wishful thinking, bordering on delusional." In London, Andrew Alexander, a Daily Mail columnist, protested:

To be invited to defend ourselves against Communism is one thing. To be asked to join a crusade for the overthrow of Communism is quite another.

There was no doubt about the Soviet interpretation. Pravda described Reagan's words as a declaration to undermine the USSR -- a rare moment of truth in its pages.

But Pravda was wrong as usual in its response to Reagan's bravado. "Journalist" Georgi Bolshakov issued a warning to Reagan:

. . . if the U.S. Administration supposes . . . it will succeed in "changing history," let it remember that its numerous predecessors in the sphere of organizing "crusades" against Communism finished up in the very place where Washington resolved to dispatch Marxism-Leninism -- the garbage heap of history.

The stage was set, as history waited in anticipation. Who would find vindication: Ronald Reagan or Pravda? Twenty-five years ago, the stakes could not have been higher. Of course, we now know how it turned out, to the delight of a few hundred million inhabitants behind the Iron Curtain -- a thought worth remembering this [August] 2007. *

"Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must first be overcome." --Samuel Johnson

Reagan Lessons for Bush: Searching for "Solidarity" in the Middle East

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (HarperCollins, 2006), associate professor of Political Science, and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. This article is part three in a series of four.

Digging into the past can yield unexpected treasures buried in the annals of history. A great reward for an author is to uncover those golden moments, unearthed when past presidential advisers talk about things they never dared to share while in office. One such example is the striking revelation that Ronald Reagan once privately contemplated sending troops into Poland -- a possibility he discussed with his two most trusted advisers, Secretary of Defense Cap Weinberger and National Security Adviser Bill Clark.

In December 1980, Reagan brought up the idea to Weinberger after one of the pre-inauguration security meetings held at Blair House in the immediate weeks after the November election. Looking back 25 years later, Weinberger -- who died last year -- recalled the intensity of the situation:

There was very considerable worry that the Soviets, with two divisions . . . and the constant military exercises and threatening moves around the borders of Poland, might very well decide to wander in there without any fear of adverse results or reprisals.

Reagan wanted no signals to the Kremlin that such action would be acceptable. "The president was very firm about that," said Weinberger.

The degree to which Soviet tanks almost crossed the border has been only recently revealed in declassified memos. Reagan considered meeting them inside Poland. Weinberger recalled:

I said, "You know, Mr. President, we don't have the ability to project our power that far and we could not, without very substantial help, successfully come to the aid of the Poles if they were invaded." And he said to me, "Stop." He turned to me and said, "Yes, I know that, Cap."

In the weeks and months after martial law was declared in Poland in December 1981, Reagan had similar discussions with Bill Clark. More than two decades after the fact, Clark recalled:

The Soviets and their proxies in Poland declared martial law and started in the summer moving troops up to the border, which looked like another situation as had occurred in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. The President said this just simply can not happen, even if it means meeting force with force.

Importantly, however, Clark qualified his remarks:

Anyone familiar with decision-making processes understands that you consider a full gamut of options. That was one that was considered. But I don't want it to seem or sound more dramatic than it was.

Indeed, "considered" is the operative word. Reagan readily rejected the military option -- for all the right reasons. It was too dangerous -- such a maneuver could have led to World War III. His prudence defied the contemporary caricature of Reagan as an unstable hawk and a puppet whose strings were tugged by manipulating advisers.

Instead, Reagan looked for non-military routes in Poland in the hopes of using the nation as (in his words) "the wedge" to crack the Communist Bloc throughout Eastern Europe. He sought non-militaristic means to "keep hope alive in Poland." As he said in a 1982 speech, the Soviets rightly feared the "infectiousness" of freedom in Poland.

Rather than firing American weapons, Reagan launched an extraordinary covert campaign to aid Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement inside Poland. He resolved that if Solidarity could be saved and sustained, it could be that wedge. In that thinking, he was joined by a prominent Pole named Karol Wojtyla, also known as Pope John Paul II. The alliance that they forged was personal, and changed history.

Likewise, President Bush and his advisers must search added avenues to defeat the enemy. They must find and support Solidarity movements in the Middle East today, inside Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- other potential "wedges" that require strategic policies beyond the military option.


As noted in the first of this four-part series, comparisons between Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush are often unfair because of the uniqueness and gravity of the current president's challenge. Consider:

Reagan became president four decades into the Cold War, whereas Bush is the first post-9/11 president; thus, Bush is presiding over the start of a long War on Terror, not its finish. We should no more expect victory from Bush at this point in the war than we expected from Harry Truman in 1947. Bush seems to have reconciled himself to this essential reality.

Alas, then, perhaps the ultimate contrast in the two men could be the most bittersweet for Bush: Reagan was blessed to be able to enjoy the fruits of his labors in his lifetime, and before his mind was robbed of its memories by Alzheimer's disease -- he watched the Berlin Wall fall the year he left the presidency, and the USSR collapsed two years later. To the contrary, Bush has acknowledged that if he is vindicated in the Middle East, it will not happen while he is president. In fact, he does not expect the changes to take place until he leaves this earth. Bush himself wryly noted this in an October 2005 speech honoring -- you guessed it -- Ronald Reagan. The 43rd president seemed a bit envious.

For now, George W. Bush will need to be content with the strong possibility of leaving the presidency an unpopular president -- like Harry Truman. Yet, he is committed to not exiting the presidency without trying to meet his goals in the War on Terror. Fulfilling that commitment means finding the ingenuity to tap multiple methods for undermining the enemy -- including tactics beyond force in Iraq. *

"The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind." --Thomas Paine

Friday, 23 October 2015 16:25

The Six Pillars of Achievement

The Six Pillars of Achievement

William Barr

William A. Barr had a business career in engineering and has published many articles and books.

In a large London auditorium in March 2007, a standing-room-only audience paid $40 a ticket to witness a public debate between atheists and defenders of the Christian faith. A canvass of attendees afterward gave the atheists 1,205 approvals against 778 nays.

Low attendance in most European Christian churches makes it obvious that the present generation there has lost its former allegiance to the Christian faith. What is more, now European Union atheists do not simply ignore religion but are more inclined to boldly confront the Christian establishment for its "theological hocus-pocus." Michel Onfray, France's foremost exponent of militant atheism, has written a manifesto that has become a best seller in France, Italy, and Spain. He and other atheists have long since left the minority closet and taken to the public rostrum with bravado.

In the last fifty years, say, in the last two generations, European Christian churches have experienced decided erosion in membership, attendance, evangelical vigor, and national influence. The great European medieval cathedrals such as Chartres, Canterbury, Seville, Siena, and dozens of others have been reduced to tourist attractions rather than the compelling symbols of universal Christian faith and observance they once were.

Atheism's open offer to emancipate European people from Christian restraints and superstitions has been called "reverse evangelism" with the hedonistic promise of uninhibited personal pleasure. Yet the erosion of churchgoers in the E.U. may not be entirely due to reverse evangelism by militant atheists. Several other factors causing Europe's backsliding from traditional Christianity may well be other worldly enticements such as television, sports, travel, recreation, and affluence. Other factors relate to the flood of Muslims into Europe made possible by the new open borders, common currency, and the economic normalization installed lately in the E.U. Europe awaits its new identity. Hedonism stands ready to step in as commercial unification has tended to overshadow ancient customs and ethnic traditions.

We must ask if America is susceptible to the same drift as Europe's. We know that the world is shrinking and is more and more interdependent. We know that America has been an historical outgrowth of Europe in many cultural ways, in particular, in our religious heritage. Are Europe's trends good indicators of our own trends in due course?

We must consider the consequences of secular hedonism if a critical mass of American people abandons Christianity as is happening across the Atlantic. What are the prospects of a Godless society here? We might ask what nations in world history flourished and how and why did they finally fall?

In answer, stability was and is the prerequisite. Rome had to remove the threat of Carthage before Pax Romana prevailed for centuries. In America, the slavery question had to be resolved before the U.S. agricultural and industrial economy could manifest prosperity and growth. No nation, empire, or culture has ever thrived without military/diplomatic self-confidence and the stability it brings. This is the first pillar.

With all threats to stability under control, the five remaining pillars of dynamic national progress, strength, and achievement are responsible citizenry, law and order, uniform values, protected wealth, and exemplary leadership. Together these are the six pillars of a thriving and enduring market, nation, or culture. As in architecture, so it is in national weal; remove any pillar and the structure soon collapses.

When Hitler's Nazi regime employed Germany's military might to run rough-shod over continental Europe in World War II, and Japan's samurai war-lords were doing the same in Southeast Asia, the United States of America was suddenly thrust into two death struggles-across the Atlantic and across the Pacific at the same time. After ten grim depression years and tenacious isolation, the U.S.A. summoned unity and resolve after Pearl Harbor sufficient to emerge in 1945 as the ranking world power, with dominant fleets of ships, planes, and tanks, fully able to prevent any rival to dictate its fate. Now, two generations later, we waver and cringe in the face of a small-scale insurgency in Iraq. Gone are the unity and resolve of the Greatest Generation that carried America to world leadership and unquestioned national security. Pillar One. We need you again.

The true measure of a nation, or culture, economy for that matter, is the sum of its parts, namely, its people. All thriving, vigorous nations in history have had the benefit of citizens who were good parents, well-informed, productive, and involved in the community. When the quality of responsible citizenry functioned, family nurture, sound education, and social concern, the foundation of Pillar Two was in place and progress was sure. We need you again.

America's crowning blessing, conferred by our august Founders, is our Constitution. It has served us so well that the United States has become the model of many other successful democracies since its unique ratification two hundred and twenty years ago. Not only are law and order essential to peace and security, they are necessary for social confidence. Prudent laws, efficient courts, and sagacious judges mete out justice, enforced by respected constabularies. The penal system should serve as a dreaded deterrent to those tempted to violate law and order in our communities. Pillar Three, we need you.

Another valid profile of a nation is the behavior of its people. Social mores are set by ongoing customs, ranging from civility to integrity. Our personal behavior and respect of others are conditioned by how most others act on a daily basis. When a critical mass of citizens abhors vice and pursues virtue, the collective character of a people is manifest. When the infection of "me first" and contempt for the feelings or welfare of the next fellow take hold, the Fourth Pillar, uniform values, is undermined. Oh, for the return of congeniality and mutual respect in our land!

Without question, the invasion of government as the middleman between the sacrificial giver and the deserving recipient is insidious, but to our regret and peril we are so blighted. First, government welfare in its various forms undermines the incentive to strive for independent self-sufficiency that should be every family's hope and dream. Gone is the sense of character and self-worth of the welfare recipient who gladly accepts redistributed money without regard to or knowledge of the time and effort of the taxpayer supplying those benefits. Gone is the elevating virtue of charity by the giver for fellow citizens who are hurting and in need for justifiable reasons such as old age, ill health, or special circumstances. Taken together we are deprived of being our brother's helper by the intercession of impersonal legislators and bureaucrats.

Secondly, private capital formation is essential to free enterprise and the prosperity it produces. Recent income tax reductions have demonstrated once again that prosperity is fed by the increase in disposable income into the economy while higher income taxes and steeper graduated taxation inhibit economic growth and employment. America's envious standard of living derives from private property, a sound currency, well-managed inflation, and sound economic policies when adhered to. Hard-earned goods and services personally handed to a needy neighbor can be noble and beneficial to both. Protected wealth and generous, direct benevolences constitute our vital Fifth Pillar

History is replete with dedicated, timely leaders who inspire and unite the people at a critical moment: Joan of Arc, King David, Charlemagne, Charles Martel, George Washington, and Douglas MacArthur to name a few. Often such leaders are warriors leading warriors, but many more are famous in other ways. For example, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan were leaders who deserve great credit among American presidents for other great achievements. Nevertheless, dedicated, exemplary leadership is the sixth and Last Pillar of progress.

All six of these pillars of progress, strength, and achievement have a common element -- moral will. Each pillar requires most citizens to transcend self-interest for the good of everyone. Such people carry a desire to bless one another for the sake of mutual and eventual benefit. "Morality" by itself can be relative in the eye of the beholder, but moral will catches the spirit that goes beyond avoiding punishment, which is a negative reason, or simple conformity, which is mundane, while moral will generates an altruistic concern, a motive instead which ennobles the giver and blesses the recipient.

In matters of national security, unity, resolve, patriotic fervor, bravery, service, and support all require citizens to put aside by moral will self-interest, aggrandizement, and convenience for the common good in times of crisis or threat. The Pillar of responsible citizenry needs parents who forego selfish pleasures and raise their children carefully, who stay well-informed and involved in local, state, and federal governance, and who become more valuable to employers by self-improvement and job performance. With a prevailing current of moral will, the justice system, the Third Pillar, needs fewer laws and fewer enforcers. All judges and other civic leaders would teach, preach, and practice moral will.

The ideal community is sensitive to the selfish, thoughtless exception among the vast majority that practice civility and behave according to uniform values due to moral will. In such an economy, private property is earned and accumulated by wage earners or salaried workers who contribute to society or the economy as one benefit and dispense charity to the needy as a second benefit, all due to moral will.

The Sixth Pillar, exemplary leadership, finds its leaders from those who inspire willing sacrifice on the battlefield and at home through moral will and therefore are expected to be the right man at the right time. When moral will pervades the population, quality leadership will manifest to the overall benefit of the nation and society.

It is plausible to paint moral will as idealistic and unattainable. Let us examine this argument by conceding that man's natural inclination is self-interest. Consider that notable civilizations down through history reveal large measures of unselfishness for the sake of mutual communal benefit. It should be recognized that populations can be conformed by harsh enforcement of statutes and laws to force communal benefit over reluctant, resentful, selfish constituents, but such despotic nations do not thrive; in fact they wilt in competition with nations where such programs are spontaneous and voluntary by moral will and the six pillars of accomplishment. The best example of this is U.S.A. winning the Cold War over 90-year-old Communist Soviet Russia without firing a shot. A second, more immediate example is our U.S.A./Mexican border and immigration problem in which Mexicans are desperate to live in a land that enjoys the six pillars and the prosperity and freedom they bring. Mexico and most other lands are poor for the lack of moral will.

Not that the U.S.A. is the full embodiment of the six pillars and moral will. We may have been the closest to it in past when we achieved victory in the Cold War. But our high standard of living today is a result of our past behavior. A close examination of our present reality against our past shows that we are in the process of losing our moral will, without which our traditional pillars of progress and prosperity will crumble.

Currently, terrorism is a principal external threat. The despotic rulers of the thirty or so Islamic countries, spurred by the poverty of their people, have resorted to the propaganda of envy to keep their thrones, using guerrilla tactics as their last resort. This would be futile except for our lack of unity. Another threat is the invasion of illegal aliens, a distinct violation of America's tradition of law and order. Again there is a breach of moral will as demagogues seek political advantage by appealing to the growing Hispanic block of voters at the expense of law and order and the burden taxpayers bear to finance their assimilation.

At the present time in the matter of responsible citizenry, the critical mass of informed and involved parents, voters, teachers, and public servants is losing its moral will. Too many parents are not nurturing their children properly. The "feminist movement" has convinced many females to neglect their families in favor of the work place. Ignorant people are susceptible to the demagoguery of politicians who promise something for nothing by way of the redistribution of wealth by the government. In this, America's essential moral will is eroding.

Among the "politically correct" orthodoxies of the present-day establishment is the notion that no one should be judgmental, so that a drug addict is excused, and not held responsible for his behavior, as he should be, if he is to recover from his misbehavior. Or that an abortion of an inconvenient fetus is a women's right.

Large sectors of the American population are separated widely on values as evident in the street demonstrations and political strife that characterize today's national scene. An army of tort lawyers seize on niches and squeeze class action tribute from deep-pocket producers and grieving victims alike. Such contention and exploitation flies in the face of our former moral will.

Graduated tax tables and a labyrinth of tax regulations make the government and politicians dispensers of welfare and benefits for political advantage. Moral will and altruistic compassion are lost in this arrangement.

Americans now find themselves more than a year from choosing a new national leader, if, indeed, the president can be the actual leader. The media coverage and the primary process inhibit any serious candidate from uttering remarks on personal conviction. It seems that our next leader must walk on water and sling mud at the same time. Which candidate could or would elevate America's moral will is a serious question.

Today we flounder, full of doubts, blocked by selfishness, and locked in fear. Cleverness trumps honesty. There is no shining light of virtue to overcome guile. The leadership of mere mortals is insufficient to inspire moral will. Only an enduring, transcending, holy authority can summon self-denial and the pursuit of virtue. Only the Word of God, is able to stand as an eternal source of spiritual knowledge and wisdom to render a universal and permanent moral foundation for all societies.

Our present national prowess is a residue of our former virtue. What would it take to recover our full potential?

We must return to the God whose name is on our money.

We must believe in the God who is honored in our marital and courtroom oaths.

We must thank the God who has blessed our fair land from sea to shining sea.

America: Before it is too late, arise and take heed! Take hold! Embrace God as before! Never spurn the loving blessings He showers on His own.

This is the clinching argument in the choice between hedonistic atheism and our noble Christian heritage. *

"By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes is his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion." --Lord Acton

Friday, 23 October 2015 16:25

What Makes a Country Lovely?

What Makes a Country Lovely?

Haven Bradford Gow

Haven Bradford Gow is a T.V. and radio commentator and writer, who teaches religion to children at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Greenville, Mississippi.

For us to love our country, said Edmund Burke, our country must be lovely.

If Burke meant that only a country which is lovely is loved by its people, then he was mistaken. For many Germans loved Nazi Germany, a nation that couldn't at all be considered lovely. But if we understand Burke's remark to mean that for a country to be worthy of admiration, it must be lovely, then Burke certainly made a valid observation.

But what causes a country to be lovely? The eminent 18th-century British statesman and political philosopher had a ready and trenchant reply. The country that is lovely, declared Burke, is permeated with the spirit of religion and the spirit of the gentleman, qualities without which no civilized society can endure.

The "spirit of religion" is a complicated phrase. What Burke meant is a reverence for God and a corresponding acknowledgment of an authority higher than the state. For Burke it also meant the recognition and protection of God-given rights and the performance of corresponding duties. And for Burke, the "spirit of religion" meant a commitment to shared values and the religious foundation for those values such as tradition, liberty under law, courage, love, integrity, honor, civility, decency, the dignity of the individual because he is made in the image of God, personal freedom and responsibility.

When Burke spoke about the "spirit of the gentleman," he was referring to something more than mere social poise and the ability to win friends and influence people. Cardinal John Henry Newman once described the gentleman as one who is:

. . . tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd. . . . He never speaks of himself unless compelled, never defends himself by mere retort, he has no ears for slander or gossip . . .

The gentle man, continued Newman, is "patient and forbearing"; he resigns himself to suffering because "it is inevitable, to bereavement because it is irreparable, and to death because it is his destiny." And if the gentleman engages in controversy of any kind, said Newman:

. . . his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but less educated minds, who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more involved than they find it.

Burke would have agreed with Newman's sentiments; he, like Newman, meant much more than external gentility. Burke also was talking about the ethical and intellectual discrimination needed to distinguish between truth and error, right and wrong, the noble and the base: The nobility of mind and character which elevates one above the social, intellectual, and moral fads and foibles of one's group and of one's times.

As the social critic and philosopher Russell Kirk observed, Burke believed that the spirit of the gentleman meant "that elevation of mind and temper, that generosity and courage of mind, [and that] habit of acting upon principles which rise superior to immediate advantage and private interest . . ."

Were Burke alive today, he would find little of the spirit of religion and the spirit of the gentleman in our country. He would discover little respect for the canons of civilized and rational discourse; and he would find little observance of the norms and traditions of civility.

Rather, Burke would find the spirit of religion and the spirit of the gentleman considered "effeminate" by those most doubtful of their own sexual identity; he would encounter widespread indifference, if not hostility, toward religion in both private and public life.

He would find increasing numbers who think in slogans, who shout down speakers, who refuse to listen to or consider views contrary to their own; he would see a denigration of the concepts of personal freedom and responsibility; he would witness in our society a virulent assault by those without a sense of community upon the delicate balance between freedom and order, between liberty and license, between tradition and change. And Burke, to his dismay, would discover a violent and tragic rupture of the bond of human affections, the ties that promote unity and communion rather than division; the ties, that is to say, which bind a person to his neighbor, to his family, to his church, to his community, to his country.

To fight today for the resuscitation of the spirit of religion and the spirit of the gentleman would seem to be in a lost cause.

But no great cause is ever truly lost. Consequently, for so worthy a cause we must continue to struggle until these qualities prevail: Qualities that cause a country, as well as an individual, to be lovely. *

"He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has." --Epictetus

Friday, 23 October 2015 16:25

Liberty Revisited

Liberty Revisited

John Howard

John Howard is a highly decorated veteran of WWII (two Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts, battlefield commission). He served in the Eisenhower administration, as President of Rockford Colleg,e and founder of the Rockford College Institute, and co-founder (with Allan Carlson) of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society.

Liberty Revisited. A little story will be a helpful lead-in to this theme. It's about a medieval knight. Late one afternoon, he was returning to the castle, and he was a pitiful sight to see. His horse was limping and he was skewgee in the saddle. His armor was dented, his lance was broken and the proud plume on his helmet was crumpled and hung down over his face. The Lord of the castle saw him coming and rushed out to meet him. "What terrible thing has befallen you, Sir Percy?" he asked.

"Oh, sire," he said, "I have been laboring all day in your service, robbing and pillaging your enemies to the West.

"You've been doing what!!" exclaimed the nobleman.

Thinking he was hard of hearing, the knight replied, much louder, "I have been robbing and pillaging your enemies to the West."

"But I haven't any enemies to the West," was the horrified reply.

"Oh!" said the knight. And then, "Well, I think you do now."

There is a moral to this story. Enthusiasm is not enough. You have to have a sense of direction.

For a long time, Meg Greenfield wrote the editorials on the last page of Newsweek. On December 14, 1998, when she knew she didn't have long to live, she wrote a chilling wake-up call to America. It seems to have disappeared down the memory hole without causing even a sigh from the dormant conscience of the readers.

Her opening statement was:

You look around political Washington for a public figure in an important position of power who also has moral authority, and you will find none. Those in the leadership of both parties who have not been dirtied up in their own political scandals have leapt eagerly to the defense of those on their side who have, shamelessly justifying every kind of sleaziness committed by their party on the ground that the other side does it, too . . . or that the campaign needed the money . . . or that the other side overreacted . . . or something.

The situation she describes is, itself, cause for dismay, but the shattered principle it reflects foretells grave and lasting troubles for us. We need to know that morality is the essential and irreplaceable foundation of a free society. For several generations Americans have not known how precious freedom is to the human soul. The harrowing tales of the Cubans risking, and sometimes losing, their lives as they tried to reach freedom in the United States, and the comparable reports of East Germans gunned down as they tried to scale the Berlin Wall, and of innumerable boat people drowned or captured as they fled from Communism in Southeast Asia -- all these were for us just tragic stories in the news, seemingly unrelated to life in America. The absolute and ultimate importance of liberty to all those refugees simply didn't register with us.

Furthermore, Americans haven't a clue as to what liberty is, or how to sustain it. The British statesman Edmund Burke was a wise and eminent political philosopher and an ardent and articulate champion of liberty. He stated that extreme liberty, which would seem to be perfect liberty, is instead its fatal flaw. Perfect liberty doesn't exist anywhere and shouldn't exist anywhere because, he said, "liberty must be limited to be possessed."

It is startling for us that he should speak of a fault of liberty, for liberty in our minds is a pure unencumbered blessing with no room for anyone to say, "Yes, but." It jars us to be told that there must be limitations. Actually, the limitations he had in mind were not primarily legal restrictions.

Manners are more important than laws. Upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us . . . According to their quality, they aid morals . . . or they totally destroy them.

Burke's declaration that political liberty cannot exist unless it is sustained by moral behavior was a truth thoroughly known to and embraced by our Founding Fathers.

President John Adams' Second Inaugural Address was the first one given in the new Capitol Building. He urged:

May this be the residence of virtue and happiness. Here and throughout our country, may simple manners, pure morals, and true religion flourish forever.

President James Madison wrote:

We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.

President John Quincy Adams wrote:

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.

The solemn, religious character of these quotations reminds us that the first New England colonists uprooted their families to brave the perilous ocean voyage and the appalling dangers and difficulties of establishing a settlement in the wilderness for one purpose only -- to attain freedom, a special kind of freedom, religious freedom. To be free to practice their religion was their only objective. That was the beginning of a new civilization of Christendom. That term does not imply that everyone was a Christian. Rather it denotes an area where the people, whatever their beliefs about God, live according to the tenets of Christianity. It was 170 years after the Plymouth Colony was established, that the American nation was founded as a political entity of Christendom.

The French historian Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s. His book, Democracy in America, is a classic description of the government and of the life of the people in America. Here are a few excerpts.

Christianity directs domestic life. Of all the countries in the world, America is the one in which the marriage tie is the most respected and where the highest and truest conception of conjugal happiness has been conceived. . . . Christianity reigns without obstacles by universal consent . . .

In another chapter he writes:

In the United States, the Motherland's presence is everywhere. It is a subject of concern to the village and to the whole union. The inhabitants care for each of the country's interests as if it were their own.

And later:

By their practice, Americans show they feel the urgent necessity to instill morality into democracy by means of religion. What they think of themselves in this respect enshrines a truth which should penetrate deep into the consciousness of every democratic nation.

Instill morality into democracy by means of religion -- De Tocqueville saw this as the only means by which liberty can be perpetuated in all democratic nations.

In the First World War, every doughboy going overseas received from the government a New Testament for his knapsack. Christendom still prevailed.

Fast forward now to 1939. That was the year of the New York World's Fair. In the early 1930s the Great Depression had been a disaster so severe it is today unimaginable. Millions of people had no jobs and millions lost their homes to mortgage foreclosure. Still the Christian decency of Americans remained solid. Rates of robbery and theft did not skyrocket. People did what they could to help relatives and neighbors. The real America of pre-World War II was captured in a book entitled 1939, The Lost World of the Fair by David Galernter. It offers a portrait of the people, their character and their sentiments. Here are a few glimpses:

New York's Mayor LaGuardia was a legendary, honest servant of the people. "And by the way," a guidebook cautioned, "Don't try any funny stuff. New York was the best policed city of the world . . ."
At popular Jones Beach State Park on Long Island, the flag was lowered by a uniformed staff to the strains of the National Anthem every evening while every bather, picnicker, stroller, game player, and onlooker stood at attention . . .
In 1939, men wore suits or occasionally sports jackets to a fair. Women wore dresses or sometimes a blouse and skirt. Most adults wore a hat.
An American of this era freely accepts certain obligations . . . He lives by the rules because they are the rules, because they give a community a shape, coherence and a shared viewpoint. Thirties America is a rules-following society, an "ought" culture.

At the time of Pearl Harbor, the standards of Christendom were still generally observed, but as David Galernter implied, that condition resulted more from the momentum of long-established custom than from the dominance of religion in daily American life.

Manners and morals do not come naturally to a human being. The acculturation of the young for life in Christendom is carried on by religion, by the families, by educational institutions, by literature and other cultural influences. And the support of these codes of conduct had to be continually reinforced by the culture. Here is one small example of that reinforcement at work.

When our son was baptized in 1956, the clergyman, a much-loved pastor nearing the end of his career, asked the family members to gather around the altar. The minister, having received the baby from my wife, said slowly and quietly:

What I hold in my arms, good friends, is God's greatest gift, a new life. This child at this time is a wonder of potential. How that potential may develop, for better or worse, will mainly be determined by the people gathered at this altar, his family. I charge you to remember that the shaping of this life is in your hands, and I pray that with God's help you may encourage and cultivate that which is good and kind and wholesome, and I pray that you will discover and shield him from that which is self-centered, corrupt, and cruel.

Such ceremonies were reminders to all in attendance of their on-going responsibilities to their children.

The role of literature in nurturing the character of the people was brought into focus half a century ago when the Saturday Review of Literature published an editorial denouncing an award bestowed by The Library of Congress on Ezra Pound for a book of poetry.

While one must divorce politics from art, it is quite another matter to use the word "politics" as a substitute for values. We do not believe that art has nothing to do with values. . . . We do not believe that a poet can shatter ethics and still be a good poet. We do not believe that poetry can convert words into maggots that eat at human dignity and still be a good poet.

The problem is certainly not how to prevent an Ezra Pound, or anyone else, from writing whatever seems important to him. The magazine's editors were concerned with what the community shall prize and praise. What shall be the values and ideals that shape the life of the society, and how can those ideals be perpetuated. The editors were insisting that those who hold major responsibilities in the realm of public beliefs are inexcusably delinquent if they contribute to the destruction of standards of civilized conduct. An echo of Edmund Burke, a century and a half later.

One more illustration of cultural influence. Up until the middle 1960s all the coeducational colleges and universities of America had parietal rules which set an hour at which all women students visiting in a men's dormitory and all the men in a women's dormitory had to leave. Here was the entire majesty of higher education by policy supporting the standards of sexual morality essential for sustaining the institutions of marriage and the family. The rescinding of those parietal rules in the late sixties harpooned sexual morality in America, perhaps fatally.

There were many causes contributing to the collapse of our "ought" society. Of course, the most powerful one of all, and the one that in recent years has extensively eroded the public commitment to all standards of morality, has been the ever-growing, relentless attack on the Christian religion. The morals and manners of piety, truthfulness, honesty, generosity, faithfulness, kindness, helpfulness, integrity, and conscientious civic duty were aspects of the way of life of the Christians who settled America. Christendom wasn't introduced to them in the New World. It simply described the civilization they brought with them. Until the second half of the Twentieth Century, the individuals and organized groups, wishing to do away with one or more of the settled standards of behavior had an uphill battle because they were challenging conduct prescribed by the Bible.

Solzhenitsyn, in his Templeton Prize speech, provides the Communist example of revolutionaries' inevitable assault on religion.

It was Dostoyevski who drew from the French Revolution and its seething hatred of the Church the lesson that "revolution must necessarily begin with atheism." That is absolutely true. . . . Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions.

This is not a surprising feature of revolution, for if people have a fixed and cherished allegiance to God, the perpetrators of the new order must destroy, or at least demean and smother that allegiance. They cannot tolerate an authority superior to their own. In America, the cultural revolution being waged by moral anarchists has been gathering steam for four decades, contaminating our social institutions and eating away at the general observance of many standards of Christendom.

A few illustrations of compromised institutions:

Testimony before the Nixon Drug Commission by a university Chancellor revealed that his university's public literature notified students they would be subject to disciplinary action if they had in their possession more than one week's supply of marijuana. All the students of that university were officially informed that it's OK to break the law, if you do it in moderation.
On April 17, 2002, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision stating which sort of child pornography was legal.
On April 9, 2002, there was a full-page ad in the New York Times urging the legalization of marijuana. It featured a large picture of Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, saying about smoking marijuana, "You bet I did and I enjoyed it." Proud and open defiance of the law from one in a position of exalted authority is devastating to civic order.

On July 5, 2002, the Wall Street Journal reported that a new poll by Zogby International found that three quarters of all college seniors believe that the difference between right and wrong is relative. What can one expect when members of the Do-Your-Own-Thing Generation control most of the levers of power and persuasion?

The cultural revolution has been spearheaded by pseudo-civilized agitators who believe human judgment should prevail over God's judgment, if there is a God. They acknowledge no supreme source of moral authority. They have effectively destroyed our free society's system of resolving conflict. Lacking the graces of truthfulness, open-mindedness and restraint -- traits of character essential for peaceably adjudicating disputes -- the moral anarchists have developed great skills in demonizing those who disagree with them, turning their opponents into objects of fear, hatred, and scorn. False witness is their primary weapon in advancing their campaigns. What was once amicable America is now belligerent America.

What has the repression of Christian standards of behavior accomplished? Are children safer and happier? Is the emotional stability of adults in this era of the free-wheeling sexual life-style any greater? Do the citizens have a greater respect than before for the government, the schools, the press, the judiciary, and other social institutions? Do the people trust one another more nowadays? Returning to Edmund Burke's analysis of the impact of manners, we ask if the manners of our time soothe and refine us? Or do they corrupt and barbarize us? Is America's performance on the manners scale what we truly want?

I was once interviewed on a National Public Radio talk show by a bright and articulate college student. I had mentioned that in a properly functioning free society, the people can go about their daily lives trusting each other and not worrying whether someone might harm or cheat them. The young host of the show asked, "Have we ever had a civilization like that?" He surprised me. He was perfectly serious.

I told him when I was a child in the late 1920s my younger brother and I would walk half a mile after dark through a park and across a railroad track to attend a program at the Community House. Our parents had no reason whatever to worry about us. Sometimes our family would drive into Chicago for a day. We parked the car unlocked, often with clothes or packages in it. Even when the keys were left in the ignition, the car and its contents would still be there.

Now it was the talk show host who was startled. He blurted out, "I can't even imagine such a time!" How low have we fallen if the young people, even the highly educated and intelligent ones, haven't a glimmer of understanding about the relatively crime-free, friendly, helpful, "ought" society that used to prevail in their own country?

The absence of moral authority in government, so painfully lamented by Meg Greenfield, now spreads across the whole spectrum of vocations. And liberty languishes.

America has lost its sense of direction. Liberty was once the compass by which America steered its course. Not even knowing now what liberty is, Americans find that no direction is forward. *

"But to manipulate men, to propel them toward goals which you -- the social reformers -- see, but they may not, is to deny their human essence, to treat them as objects without wills of their own, and therefore to degrade them." --Isaiah Berlin

Friday, 23 October 2015 16:25

Jefferson and Lincoln -- Editorial

Jefferson and Lincoln -- Editorial

Angus MacDonald

Jefferson was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, the principle author of the Declaration of Independence, passionate about individual liberty, father of the University of Virginia, an outstanding intellect with a wonderful pen.

Born April 13,1743, he inherited about 5,000 acres of land and dozens of slaves. At the age of nine he began studying Latin, Greek, and French. At a school twelve miles from his home he received a classical education and studied history and science. At 16 years of age he entered the College of William and Mary and studied mathematics and philosophy. He perfected his French, carried his Greek grammar books wherever he went, practiced his violin, and kept reading the classics. He learned Gaelic in order to translate Ossian.

Jefferson was six feet, two-and-one-half inches tall but not a good speaker. He mumbled, due in part to a lisp, giving only two speeches during his presidency. On becoming president, he rode to the White House on horseback without attendants, and then walked to the Senate. When Mr. Merry, British minister, came to present his credentials, President Jefferson met him:

. . . in slippers down at the heels, and both pantaloons, coat and underclothes indicative of utter slovenliness, and indifference to appearances, and in a state of negligence actually studied.

He discontinued delivering the State of the Union Address, preferring to send a written message. He greeted visitors to the White House in a robe and slippers. He relaxed White House protocol by changing formal events into casual entertainments. In spite of these limitations, he had grace and an endearing charm. He was quick with sympathy and vivacious in conversation.

As Secretary of State in Washington's cabinet he was respectful of Washington but a bitter enemy of Hamilton. Hamilton influenced Washington and the two combined to destroy the Republic, said Jefferson, with their affection for the English government. They were monarchists, said Jefferson, and Hamilton's founding of a national bank was a centralizing of the country and a denial of States' Rights. As Hamilton substituted order for confusion, he was creating a powerful political machine, and Jefferson was alarmed. Washington told him that his fears were unfounded, but it made no difference to Jefferson. He was dedicated to what he called a Republic, not a monarchy. He changed his party name to Democrat rather than Republican, which was accurate. Jefferson believed in the supremacy of the people, not the law of the land. If the two were in contrast, the law must be changed to express the will of the people.

Jefferson was an extremist. Between a government and the press, the press was to be dominant. If one or the other had to be abolished, he preferred government to go in favor of newspapers. Even when the French Revolution sank to widespread hatred of tradition and widespread murder in the name of the people, he continued to argue that this must be permitted until the will of the people became dominant. Shay's Rebellion in 1786, a rebellion of farmers in Massachusetts against taxes, prompted that state to the approval of the Constitution. General George Washington put down the rebellion, saying that:

I am mortified beyond expression when I view the clouds that have spread over the brightest morn that ever dawned in any country. . . . What a triumph for the advocates of despotism, to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious.

If the farmers had a grievance, and they had, there had to be a better way than armed insurrection. Jefferson, on the other hand, thought that a rebellion now and then was good for the country.

In dreamy affectation Jefferson preferred that the United States shun commerce, importing manufactures from Europe, sending it food, and keeping the citizens here busy in agriculture for "those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God." This incredible nonsense flowed from his "comprehensive love and benevolence" of the people. Notwithstanding, he had the good sense to carry on what Washington and Hamilton had given him. He had no choice. If the stability of the Founders was rejected he would have to redo what they had done, but he had no talent for that. The only good thing he did during his presidency was the Louisiana Purchase that he thought unconstitutional but needed if we were to prevent France from occupying the western United States. Common sense triumphed over theory.

He was unable to defend the country, and despised the thought of a navy. Because of the trade embargo, which hurt the country a great deal, British ships entered our ports at will, bombed cities, captured ships, cargo, and sailors. Jefferson prattled about peace but eventually ordered American boats into combat. The boats of Jefferson were cheap little things kept in sheds out of the sun and rain until the enemy approached. Then they were to be carted down to the water, manned by the citizens, to attack the fleets that had won at Trafalgar, shattered the French navy at the Nile, and battered Copenhagen to ruin. He was utterly helpless when the clouds of war gathered.

Jefferson was a superb politician, ruling the country as a dictator, but without the people knowing what he was doing. In the words of historian John T. Morse, Jr.:

His influence was singularly shadowy and mysterious. He simply communicated suggestions and opinions to this or that selected one among those who believed in him. The suggestions and opinions were followed not with any consciousness of discipline, but from a true feeling of admiration and confidence toward the statesman who seemed always to speak wisely and think virtuously; who had many times been proved to plan with unrivaled astuteness for the good of the party.

Jefferson believed in the wisdom of the people, and this belief flattered everyone, giving him enormous popularity. He sincerely believed he was honest in spite of suggesting that elected officials should be aristocrats, such as he was, separate from the rubbish of the masses. Safe in his base he criticized vehemently those of persuasions other than his, being the first partisan of the United States -- he utterly destroyed the Federalist Party.


Abraham Lincoln did not inherit wealth. He did not inherit anything, certainly not slaves. His home was typical of the place and period, a little more comfortable than the red man's wigwam: Crude beds were made, as were stools and tables. The wife had a few kitchen utensils, and a washtub. As wealth increased a smoke house and stable might be added. The man had a plow to break the soil and an axe, saw, and a knife.

A young Lincoln worked under the direction of his father until his "coming of age," and he split rails:

. . . four hundred rails for every yard of brown jeans dyed with white walnut bark that would be necessary to make him a pair of trousers.

He was hired to guide a cargo of hogs, pork, and corn down the Mississippi to New Orleans for fifty cents a day and a $60 bonus shared with other workers. He saw Negroes "in chains, whipped, and scourged" and developed an unconquerable hatred for the institution. On another trip he saw "ten or a dozen slaves shackled together with irons." Said Lincoln, "If ever I get a chance to hit that thing, I'll hit it hard." Fourteen years later, writing to his friend Joshua Speed, he wrote, "That sight was a continual torment to me; and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio or any other slave border."

Some details of his early life are of note. When he was keeping store a women overpaid by a sum of four pence. He walked several miles to restore her loss. He walked six miles to get an English grammar book. There was little to no formal education but a lot of argument and speech making in local taverns and grocery stores. Lincoln was a part of these discussions with a fondness for political debates, a sense of humor, and many tales, so that he was a popular figure in every store he entered. He was always close to people.

Lincoln was ambitious for learning and politics. He became a lawyer and sought election and was successful in both. He was never learned in law and practiced only case law, meaning he studied the details of a particular case and argued to the best of his ability. He arguments were always simple and clear. It was said by his biographer, "His power over the jury was very great."

Lincoln made this famous comment:

We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to the slavery agitation . . . . It is my opinion it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

The reaction was violent, including in the North, which detested slavery. The whole nation detested the notion of a divided country and wanted peace, declaring the nation could stand, should stand as one, must stand. The Copperheads of the North wanted Lincoln and the Republicans blocked from power, seeing Lincoln as a tyrant destroying the republic with despotic and arbitrary actions. Lincoln was opposed by the ruling of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision that said slaves were the property of the owners and the court could not permit the destruction of property. Douglas said Lincoln would set aside the ruling of the Supreme Court by the actions of the people. The Democrats, said Douglas, were a national party while the "Black Republicans" were a sectional body whose creed could not be accepted south of the Mason Dixon line.

A resolution of the pro-slavery faction was the Missouri Compromise (1820-21) that allowed states to decide whether or not slaves could be defined as property. Earlier in the century Jefferson said:

. . . this momentous decision . . . filled me with terror. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But it is a reprieve only. A geographical line, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated, and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.

Lincoln was willing to accept as fact that the Negro might not be the equal of the white man for, obviously, at the time he was not, due to the conditions enslavement. Lincoln was willing to pay the white man compensation for the loss of the slaves, and he was even willing to consider sending the slaves back to the country from which they came, but he never swayed from his conviction that slavery was wrong. He said to Judge Douglas there is no reason why the Negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The division of the country, to Lincoln, was a division between right and wrong. If slavery was wrong and if the South demanded its continuance, and if the country outside of the South believed slavery was wrong, the country could not continue divided. One or the other must be supreme. Lincoln said:

The union of these states is perpetual. . . . No State, upon its own motion, can lawfully get out of the Union; resolves and ordination to that effect are legally void.

The Union defeated the South. Few people believe the outcome was in error, but they have forgotten that Lincoln's success was in spite of bullying Republicans in his own party, Democratic reaction to everything, Copperhead extremism in the North, mob violence, and a Supreme Court that said Negroes were property on a level with other material possessions. Violent passions moved everyone, but the common sense of the people cut to the core of the underlying issue and supported the president rather than the bombastic yakkers. President Lincoln led two lives, one that of a simple, ignorant man of the frontier, and the other as a clear thinking, moral leader who shamed and led the country -- the one man growing into the other.

On March 4, 1865, Mr. Lincoln came back to the White House, but with less than five weeks of life before him. Anonymous threats to his life came daily that were later found in his desk labeled "Assassination Letters." Anyone could call on him in the White House, for he was unguarded, and he moved through the streets of Washington like any private citizen. Later, when a guard was forced on him, he complained about the limitation on his freedom and submitted with little grace. April 9, coming up the Potomac and nearing Washington, Mrs. Lincoln said "that city is filled with our enemies." "Enemies! We must never speak of that," he replied.

Good Friday, April 14, Lincoln and his wife went to Ford's theatre to see a play with two friends, sitting in the Presidential box. The vestibule adjacent to the box had been prepared, with a hole to see who was inside, and a lock to keep others out. Just after ten o'clock John Wilkes Booth entered the vestibule, shot President Lincoln at the back of the head and then jumped on the stage, injured, got to a door at the back of the theatre, kept open by an employee who was part of the plot, to a horse waiting for him, and rode into the night. He was later captured, as were other conspirators. Booth was shot. A military tribunal found seven guilty, including one woman. She was hanged with three men. Five were committed to hard labor for life in a military prison. One was given only a six-year imprisonment.


By and large the two political parties in the United States are reflected in Jefferson and Lincoln. The Democratic Party, illustrated by Jefferson, appeals to the people and aims at popularity. Their weakness is that they can descend into mob rule and may achieve a popular dictatorship. The Republican party, illustrated by Lincoln, is less interested in popularity and addresses problems, trying to say something sensible. This method leaves them open to criticism. The Republican Party would like to be popular but puts principle ahead of popularity. Success is difficult in a democracy when truth is not popular. *

"Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society." --James Madison

The quotes following each article have been gathered by The Federalist Patriot at: http://FederalistPatriot.US/services.asp.

Friday, 23 October 2015 16:20

Summary for June 2007

The following is a summary of the June 2007, issue of the St. Croix Review:

The editorial, "The Cost of a College Education," says students assume large debts because they cannot be sure of a good job without a college degree. We should realize that colleges have become trade schools, and trade schools of great worth are not limited to traditional colleges. Employers should act on that knowledge and entrepreneurs should fill the gap.

Allan Brownfeld discusses out-of-wedlock births, single parent homes, and a changing culture among poorer Americans in "Surge of Violent Crime Comes at the Same Time as a Decline in Family Life"; he reviews the uproar over the offensive words of radio "shock jock" Don Imus and discovers a large group who share responsibility in "The Imus Case Should Focus Attention on the Coarsening of Our Culture."

Herbert London, in "Rancor and Policy Decisions," writes that Democrats believe the war in Iraq is lost, and that the U.S. faces no threat from Islamic fanatics, while the Republicans have failed to make the American people aware of the magnitude of the threat of radical Islam; in "Making the World More Dangerous," he deplores the Bush Administration for following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton in his failed deal-making with North Korea and its nuclear weapons; in "The Death of Europe?" he presents evidence that Europeans have lost the ability to defend their freedom in the face of Islamic pressure; in "The San Francisco University Kangaroo Court" he writes that College Republicans stepped on Hezbollah and Hamas flags and University officials have decided to investigate; in "Yale Then and Now" he compares the virtues of the 1894 course catalogue with the shortcomings of the present-day catalogue.

Ralph Peters in "The De-Christianization of Europe" sees the decline of the Christian faith as a phase that will pass with an inevitable religious reawakening. He foresees conflict between native Europeans and Muslim immigrants, with the Muslims fleeing Europe as a result.

In "Nuclear Iran?" Victor Davis Hanson considers the threat posed by Iran, and its seemingly crazy president, and proposes several things the United States should do.

Paul Kengor believes that President Bush, in his struggle with Iran, should look to Ronald Reagan's use of economic warfare against the Soviet Union in "A Blast from the Past: How to Slow Iran's Terror Machine."

In "Our Overwhelming Victory Engine" William Barr writes about the little appreciated and mostly unacknowledged miracle that was the huge industrial output--producing the planes, ships, and tanks, etc.--on the home front of the United States that won WW II.

Thomas Martin, in "On Research at a University" says that most learning in high schools and universities impart "isolated facts disconnected from a philosophy of the whole." He believes that when a student enters a University he connects with intellectual ancestors to continue the "search for the truth of what it means to be a virtuous human being."

Dennis T. Avery and S. Fred Singer continue their discussion about global warming using research gained in the process of writing their recently published book: "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years." This is the question and answer portion of their presentation.

Karl Peterjohn explains why he believes our descendants will be amused at our global warming delusions in "Who Do You Believe?"

In "Writers for Conservatives: 9--On the Frontier" Jigs Gardner writes about his love for the outdoors in his youth and his discovery of Francis Parkman's The Oregon Trail (1894). Parkman and other authors initiated him into the world of hunting and fishing that he sees as an important part of the American heritage.

In "Liberty's Debt to Criminals" Joseph Fulda shows that thieves who target social security numbers (SSNs) have kept the government from using the SSN as a personal identifier, and thereby the public benefits: the government will not use SSNs to infringe on our liberty.

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