James Poulos is now a father: wife Courtney gave birth to Nikos James yesterday evening. Warm, heartfelt congratulations to them!
More on Why I’m not a Libertarian — Or, When Belief in “the Market” is just risible, sad, and disgusting
1. Sitting in peculiarly busy traffic in downtown Baltimore this afternoon, I read, on the news monitor wrapped around a trashily modern glass building, a headline from the Baltimore Sun that informed me that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has proposed a bill to create a new government agency “that could stop lenders from offering mortgages and other financial products deemed unsafe for consumers.”
Now, first, I’m wholly uncomfortable with adding yet another resources-sucking, power-grabbing, liberty-quashing entity to the behemoth known as the gummint. I love the ultimate sentence of the article: “Consumer protection is part of the Fed’s mandate, but Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the agency has been “asleep at the switch.”” So our answer is more gummint. Hmm, yep, I do agree with the libertarians here
However, the libertarian counter-argument, which, I confess, immediately flashed through my mind whilst I waited to move ahead in traffic, is equally absurd, to wit, that the market — properly unencumbered, of course — is the check on “mortgages and other financial products deemed unsafe for consumers” and a whole host of other yucky things. When corporations become as gargantuan as many of those at the center of our current economic perturbations are, they really exist beyond the controls of the market — sometimes because of the intervention of government, sometimes because they’re just “too good.” They’ve done so well that they outpace competitors to the point that no natural regulation hinders them. At this point, they fall asleep at the wheel, so to speak. Viva Distributism! Long live the small!
2. Though not a libertarian, I’m often sympathetic to many of their causes, I supported Dr. Paul quite passionately, I think that Young Americans for Liberty are doing some great work, and I wrote for the debut issue of Young American Revolution — as part of the conservative contingent of their Old Right coalition, of course. This post, regarding President Moloch’s desire to “shield” science from politics, on YAL’s Web-log, however, utterly terrifies me. Chet Butterworth writes,
Tabling the ethics of human embryo research for the moment, the only ethical way for any scientific decisions to be made is by the market. The market is unbiased and efficient. The market can determine the worthiness of the research and if it considers it worthy the market can produce it better. Through the market the only people who want stem cell research and do not care about any human embryo ethical questions pay. While people like myself do not.
One of the problems admitted by economic theory is the absence of perfect information. Sarah Palin rightly took flack for her brushing off of fruit fly research whilst on the campaign trail. (I’m not interested in debating the merits of such research here; rather, I seek merely to note that she obviously made her comment with no knowledge of why this research occurs.) If the lack of perfect knowledge is even remotely problematic in matters of everyday economic transactions, are we really willing to leave scientific research — the benefits of which often remain unknown until long into the processes — to the whims of people who lack any and all awareness of, let alone training and education in, particle physics, molecular biology, or gene therapy. (Yes, that’s my uncle in the Telegraph.) Maybe it hurts my “libertarian street cred,” but I’d rather have a living uncle than a realm of scientific research guided by the invisible hand.
The market is a good thing. But it’s also a tool of relativism. Matters of life and death seem, to me, to be beyond the very mere matters of supply and demand.
Elsewhere: Mark minces no words.
Filed under: Blogroll, Distributism, Family, Get Real, Health, Obama, Science and Technology | Tagged: cancer research, consumer protection, Dick Durbin, ESCR, free-market health care, gene therapy, libertarianism, the Fed, Young Americans for Liberty | 2 Comments »
As, in the process of re-ordering my life (Read: Shirking as much academic responsibility as possible, lest I permit school to continue to obstruct my education.), I make my gradual, but ultimately triumphant, return to maintaining this humble web-log with greater assiduousness, I intend to offer my thoughts on why, though I most definitely sympathize with many currents of libertarian thought, and have supported l/Libertarian candidates, I not only refuse to call myself a libertarian, but ultimately judge that (collection of) ideology(ies) to be dangerous, internally contradictory alchemy destined to thrust society into authoritarianism of the “less intolerable” sort or, by way of “anarchy” — that is, chaotic individualism run amok —, into absolute, abject despotism.
This forthcoming post will require some research and much time on my part, so I make no promises of its appearance here on Nathancontramundi. For now, though, I permit Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky to speak at my behest, explaining marvelously why I abjure libertarianism (as well as the noxious conservative liberalism and “libertarian conservatism”) and embrace conservatism — real conservatism, that is, conservatism of the heart and soul, a conservatism of history, community, and place:
[T]he ability of an organism to survive outside of the universe has yet to be demonstrated. Inside it, everything happens in concert; not a breath is drawn but by the grace of an inconceivable series of vital connections joining an inconceivable multiplicity of created things in an inconceivable unity.
These ways of marriage, kinship, friendship, and neighborhood surround us with forbiddings; they are forms of bondage, and involved in our humanity is always the wish to escape. […] But involved in our humanity also is the warning that we can escape only into loneliness and meaningless. Our choice may be between a small, human-sized meaning and a vast meaningless, or between the freedom of our virtues and the freedom of our vices.”
[“Men and Women in Search of Common Ground”, in The Art of the Commonplace. Italicized emphasis original; bold-faced mine. – NPO.]
Perhaps most significant here is Berry’s linking “small, human-sized meaning” to virtue while he pairs “vast meaningless” — that is, our escape from bondage — with vice. Maybe the Devil really is the ultimate libertarian.
Sincerest wishes for a blessed, merry Christmas day and season, and for a comprehensively prosperous 2009, from the bottom of my absent-from-web-logging heart.
Courtesy of The Northern Agrarian, Linus van Pelt explains the true meaning of Christmas.
If you ever ran into Nokesville dad Thomas S. Vander Woude, chances are you would also see his son Joseph. Whether Vander Woude was volunteering at church, coaching basketball or working on his farm, Joseph was often right there with him, pitching in with a smile, friends and neighbors said yesterday.
When Joseph, 20, who has Down syndrome, fell into a septic tank Monday in his back yard, Vander Woude jumped in after him. He saved him. And he died where he spent so much time living: at his son’s side.
“That’s how he lived,” Vander Woude’s daughter-in-law and neighbor, Maryan Vander Woude, said yesterday. “He lived sacrificing his life, everything, for his family.”
Vander Woude, 66, had gone to Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville on Monday, just as he did every day, and then worked in the yard with Joseph, the youngest of his seven sons, affectionately known as Josie. Joseph apparently fell through a piece of metal that covered a 2-by-2-foot opening in the septic tank, according to Prince William County police and family members.
Vander Woude rushed to the tank; a workman at the house saw what was happening and told Vander Woude’s wife, Mary Ellen, police said. They called 911 about 12 p.m. and tried to help the father and son in the meantime.
At some point, Vander Woude jumped in the tank, submerging himself in sewage so he could push his son up from below and keep his head above the muck, while Joseph’s mom and the workman pulled from above.
When rescue workers arrived, they pulled the two out, police said. Vander Woude, who had been in the tank for 15 to 20 minutes, was unconscious. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
[ . . . ]
Vander Woude was a pilot in Vietnam, a daughter-in-law said. After the war, he worked as a commercial airline pilot and in the early 1980s moved his family to Prince William from Georgia. In the years to come, he would wear many hats: farmer, athletic director, volunteer coach, parishioner, handy neighbor, grandfather of 24, husband for 43 years.
He divided his Nokesville farm into multiple plots, offering land to all his sons so they could stay close to home if they wanted, the daughter-in-law said. His eldest, Tom, became a priest. Five others — Steve, Dan, Bob, Chris and Pat — all married. And there was Joseph, who loved helping with all the odd jobs that filled the retired days of his father.
He fathered seven children: one a priest, five other sons married. A loving father who doted on his youngest son, who suffers from Down syndrome. A daily communicant. A veteran. A farmer, working the earth, even subdividing the family farm to keep his progeny close, working the land with him. Twenty-four grandchildren, to boot: Talk about instilling the right values in his sons! I know not what his politics were, but how he lived his life exudes conservatism — real conservatism, that of home and hearth, of God, family and community — from every pore, so to speak. I have no doubt that this man will be missed by many, and that a place awaits him at the eternal banquet. May Thomas S. Vander Woude requiescat in pace. Read the entire touching article here.
Filed under: America, Conservatism, Culture, Family, Roman Catholicism | Tagged: Catholic culture, Christendom College, Eternal banquet, family farm, hearth and home, Thomas S. Vander Woude | 2 Comments »