She’s My Mother So Be Careful What You Say About Her

Monday was my anniversary.

My mother had a turn for the worse yesterday.

My doc did some “work” on Gimpy the Foot a week ago today.

I have to submit all the titles I want for the legislation I want to introduce by Friday.

I moved to a different residence and things are a mess and I can’t do nuthin’ because of Gimpy.

I’m teaching a class at a local university.

 

There are benefits to being so busy and out of it.One of them is that I miss a lot of the trendy, anti-Christian trash that’s floating around. I for sure missed the news that some guy has written a book attacking Our Lady.

I’m glad I got to not know about this for a while. To mis-quote Sara Teasdale, “for every sweet, singing hour of peace count many an hour of strife well lost.” In my situation, I think that’s Sara, saying that ignorance can be bliss.

Fortunately, the inimitable Mark Shea, who blogs at Catholic and Enjoying It, was aware and taking action. He’s written a great discussion about this book, which begins “My autopsy of Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, this Christmas’ assault on the gospel from our now utterly predictable Manufacturers of Culture.”

I’m glad Mark saw it first. He’s better at this sort of thing than I am, and it sounds as if this particular book deserves evisceration at the hands of the best.

Mark’s comments here on Patheos, which are titled Not My Mother, say:

My autopsy of Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, this Christmas’ assault on the gospel from our now utterly predictable Manufacturers of Culture.  Just a little taste:

In terms of content, the book is a by-the-numbers hatchet job written in sensitive, spare, and poetic diction for the delectation of UK and New York Chattering Classes and dipped in a bath of relentless, willful sadness and bitterness. The basic premise is that it has been 20 years since the crucifixion, and Mary is one pissed-off hag, sounding for all the world like a nun in iron grey, short-cropped hair and sensible shoes who has seized the microphone in a We Are Church group process breakout session and is now on the third hour of an extended free association monologue, grousing bitterly about the patriarchy.

(Read more here.)

 

 

The Popular View of Marriage. Agree? Disagree?

This is the popular view of marriage.

Do you agree with it?


Or do you disagree?

Today is my 30th anniversary of my marriage to my only husband.

Today is my 30th anniversary of my marriage to my only husband.

I read a lot of advice on how to stay married, how to be happily married, how to make marriage work.

Most of this advice comes from some “expert” solemnly intoning that if you want your marriage to survive, you have to “work” at it. They usually go on with advice about “date nights” and prenuptial agreements and how to make his and hers careers work and whether or not it’s a good thing to have children. By the time they get through, they make marriage sound like a death march of “work” and rules. Marriage in the marriage experts’ words, sounds like less of life, not more.

Nobody ever asks these how-to-make-marriage-work questions of those of us who’ve managed to muddle through the decades with our one and only life-long loves, raising families, building lives and providing the stability that keeps this nation from falling over from its self-inflicted wounds. I think the reason that no one asks us (aside from the fact that, since we don’t have a degree from an institution of higher learning certifying that we are competent to have opinions about marriage) is that what we have to say is too short, too simple and too flat-out effective to make good copy.

My experience is that when you’ve been up all night with a croupy baby and the family’s tiny bit of spare cash just went to the plumber, date nights become nonessentials. Prenuptial agreements seem a tad silly to people who live from one paycheck to the next. And once you have children, they come first, not your trendy his and hers careers.

What you need to give staying-power to your marriage is … trumpet fanfare and drumroll … love.

You’ve got to love one another. If making your husband or wife happy makes you happy, and if you both feel that way about each other, then you’ve got the makings of a long, happy marriage. If, on the other hand, all you really care about is what makes you happy and you view your relationship with your spouse as some sort of extended sibling rivalry where you compete for who gets what, then you have nothing to offer, because there’s nothing you are willing to give.

My advice, if you want a happy life, is don’t be this kind of person and don’t marry them, either.

Far from making less of life, marriage puts you squarely in the center of it. You can spend decades as a single person, consuming and pleasing only yourself all day, every day, and never really come in contact with life as the organic reality it is. Life lived that way is a form of stasis. It is fun. But it’s meant to be grown out of. There comes a point in every life worth living when it has to be about more than you and what you can get. Life, to be lived, must ultimately be about what you can give.

Marriage changes you in ways that I never considered before I was married myself, ways that I didn’t understand while they were happening to me. The simplest and most important way that marriage re-aligns you and your life is that you are not one anymore. You are two. That means you are not alone, in both the good and bad of not being alone.

Marriage is a blessing. God blessed us with marriage because He saw that it was “not good” for us “to be alone.” Alone has its place in life. Solitude can be a creative, meditative and fruitful experience. But solitude turned sour is loneliness and loneliness that goes on too long becomes despair or bitterness. Shallow, come-and-go relationships cannot break this cycle. We were made for deeper commitments than that. By our very natures, by the incredible male-female complementarity of humanity, men and women were made to complete one another.

But for marriage to be the blessing God intended, both people have to love the other. The husband has to love his wife. The wife has to love her husband. You basically have to be willing to stick your hands in fire for the man or woman who is your life’s partner, your best and sometimes only friend, the one human being you can always count on to be there, to care, and take your side. God gave you parents to get you grown. He gave you a mate for life to get you the rest of the way home.

I went through the usual mid-life thing during which I counted up my regrets and took a wishful look at what I wished I’d done differently. At the end of the day, I realized that everything I’d done, even the things I regretted, had been on the path that brought me to my husband and children. The one thing in my life that I would never change is them. That, on balance, made the rest of it, if not ok, at least something that I could accept.

If you want your marriage to work, love your spouse. Love them so much that when they are happy, that alone makes you happy. Cherish them. Take care of them. Stand by them. And enjoy them.

Your husband or your wife is God’s gift to you, bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh, heart of your heart. Together you make family and home. These things are the best and the fullness of life in this world.

Pope Benedict: Christmas is more than a party

I had just clicked on “buy” for a couple of Christmas gifts when I saw this reflection by the Holy Father.

In this buy, buy, buy society of ours, we all need reminding that, while Christmas is a time of rejoicing, feasting and fun, what we are celebrating is the coming of the Son of God.

Read the Pope’s thoughts on this below and have a blessed Sunday.

 

 

Vatican City, Dec 9, 2012 / 07:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Pope asked Catholics to prepare for Christmas amid a consumerist society by listening to the voice of John the Baptist, who teaches us to celebrate Christmas as more than a party.

“Our aim today is listening to that voice to give space and welcome to the heart of Jesus, the word that saves us,” said Pope Benedict XVI from his apartment window to pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope asked Catholics to “prepare to see with the eyes of faith the humble stable of Bethlehem, God’s salvation, in this time of Advent.”

“In the consumer society, in which we seek joy in things, John the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so Christmas is experienced not only as an outward party outside, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to people.”

“John plays a great role, but always in relation to Christ,” said the Pope on Dec. 9, following the feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.(Read more here.)

Immaculate Conception: The Door Opening

The Immaculate Conception is the door opening on our salvation.

It is God the Father, preparing the way for the birth of God the Son by first preparing a holy mother for Him.

The idea that God chose to enter the world as a helpless baby, born to a young girl and her carpenter husband in a backwater province of a conquered nation goes against everything we know and believe about what makes a person important.

We live in a world where might makes right and the biggest and meanest get to make all the rules. This disregard for the little people of the world was even more pronounced in that long-ago day when Our Lady was conceived. This tiny spark of humanity, who was destined to become the bearer of the hope of all humankind, was, if possible, even less important to the worldly world than her baby son would be at His beginning.

She was, after all, a girl in a world that to this day regards little girls as less than worthless. She was that half of humanity which was often exposed at birth and left to rot. Even today in large swaths of what we call civilization, baby girls are aborted because they are girls, and if they are born, killed shortly afterwards. Girls in these cultures often get less food, little education and almost no support in their development as people. They are subjected to brutalities ranging from female genital mutilation, to child marriages, rape and battering.

And yet, God chose, with every possibility possible at His disposal, to come into our world through the motherhood of a young woman. God entrusted Himself to a mother from His conception to His eventual death on the cross. It was a woman who gave Him life and who nurtured, shaped and reared Him into young manhood. This does not take anything away from Joseph’s contribution. Fathers are just as important as mothers. But today we are considering the one person who was with Jesus from conception to grave, and who then was there at Pentecost when the Church was born.

Mary is the mother of us all, the essential human contribution to the undoing of the curse of the Fall. She was prophesied at the Fall and she will be there at the real end when Jesus comes again.

And it began with her conception, when God re-created the lost innocence of Eden in a new Eve who would give birth to the salvific Child to undo our transgressions. This great re-wind started then, in her Immaculate Conception. It was the long-awaited door opening. This feast day is our chance to go back and re-learn what has been given to us by a young girl who, conceived without sin as the original Eve had been, did not falter in her mission as that earlier Eve did, but remained sinless until her own death.

God gave us Mary, and Mary, through her obedience and faith, gave us His son.

She is not, as some traditions try to treat her, a mindless incubator we bring out for Christmas pageants and then forget the rest of the year. Our Lady is woven into the story of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. Everything that is wholly human about Our Lord comes from and through her. She gave us her Son, first at His birth and then later at Calvary; and He in turn, gave us His mother.

The Immaculate Conception is a door opening on the end of hopelessness and death. It is a cell-sized point of light shining in the darkness of our own devices. Mary, Our Mother, began the way we all did, as a single cell made in the image and likeness of God.

Christ’s humanity is her humanity. Her dignity is our dignity. She is our mother for the ages.

Oh Mary, conceived without sin …

Confession: Medicine for the Soul

Confession is part of the conversion process in much the same way that taking medicine is part of the healing process.

The season of Advent requires us to examine our consciences and then to take the sins we find there to the confessional. This process of honest self-appraisal and equally honest confession results in an interior cleansing that I don’t think can happen in any other way.

I always mentally draw a line under my past misdeeds after confession and just simply forget them. They are done. Forgiven. Confession peels off the clingy guilts and scrubs away the stubborn stains of what I’ve done and turns me toward a better future.

I’ve also found that if I go to confession often and confess, as I usually do, the same sins over and over, I begin to change. Confession confers grace, including the grace of self-awareness. The desire to keep on committing these sins weakens with repeated confession and I gradually, without even noticing it, do them less and less.

It’s not an act of the will. It’s not even a conscious thing. It just happens.

I’m not a great theologian, so I can’t give you a treatise on why confession works, or even all its merits. I can only tell you that it does work. It is difficult to confess your sins. It can even be painful. But even if the priest in question is not a good confessor for you (and not all of them are good for everyone; we are, after all, individuals) the cleansing, the liberation and the grace of conversion still happen.

Confession, like all the sacraments, does not depend on the personality or even the sanctity of the individual priest. The graces of confession come from God and they are more a function of your honesty and willingness to accept what God offers you than anything else.

The Church guards the sacraments and preserves them from one generation, one historical challenge, to the next. It then makes them freely available to us. These sacraments, each of them, are an opportunity to meet God in this life in a dependable, simple, non-intellectual way. Everyone, from the youngest child to the most erudite intellectual, experiences the same taste of heaven in the sacraments.

The sacraments do not depend on our working ourselves up into an emotional state. They do not require us to understand deep theology. They don’t even require us to be good or holy. All we need to do is be honest about ourselves before God and willing to receive the gift He freely offers us through His Church.

Confession follows self-examination. It is the second step in the three-step dance of conversion. First, we look at ourselves honestly. Then, we ask forgiveness for our sins.

Through the gift of confession, we have the privilege of saying our sins out loud in front of another person. We are given the gift of hearing that we are absolved. And, finally, we can know without doubt that these things we have done are behind us. They are finished, over and through.

We can draw a line under our sins after confession and forget them, safe in the knowledge that God has forgiven us and these sad little sins are no more.

Young Steve Jobs Talks About Our Future

I confess. I am a Mac.

I used to love Steve Jobs’ presentations. His sense of timing, ability to communicate and excite, were unique to him.

I find this old video of a young Steve Jobs talking about Apple at Apple’s beginnings fascinating. Even at this young age and in this overly casual environment, he already had that stage presence. He also spoke from the hippie ethos of that time. This is an interesting look backwards into our recent history. If you enjoy that sort of thing, have a watch.

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Christian Persecution: Number of Chinese Christians Detained Soars 131.8% from 2010

Christian gathering outside of Kumming, China

Springfield News-Leader, A Gannett Company 12/2/12 In China there are more than 1,000 labor camps. There are more Christians in jail for their faith in China than in any other country.

ChinaAid , an organization that tracks persecution of Chinese Protestants, reveals that in 2011, the number of Christians detained for their religious beliefs had soared 131.8 percent from 2010. Arrests and disappearances of Christians intensified immediately preceding the recent Party Congress in China.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation (which monitors persecution of Catholics) reports that the situation for Catholics in China is worse than it was five years ago, and states that almost all underground bishops (those loyal to the Vatican, as opposed to priests who are members of the government-controlled Patriotic Church) are either in jail, under house arrest, hiding, in labor camps or under severe surveillance. (Read more here.)

Supreme Court to Hear Gay Marriage Cases

The United States Supreme Court announced earlier today that it will hear two cases concerning gay marriage.

Whenever a case makes its way to the Supreme Court, the court decides whether or not it will hear the case or let the lower court ruling stand. In these two cases concerning the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, which was a ban on gay marriage that passed in California a few years ago, the Supreme Court has decided that it will hold hearings on the cases and issue a ruling of its own.

While many people are already second-guessing what the Court might do regarding these two laws, I don’t think that’s particularly useful. The Court has always been unpredictable and could be this time, as well. We will have to wait and see what ruling they hand down later this year.

A Yahoo News article concerning today’s announcement reads in part:

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will decide two major gay marriage cases next year that could have a sweeping impact on the rights of same-sex couples to wed. The cases, which likely won’t be decided until June, mark the first time the justices will consider arguments for and against same-sex marriage.

The court will review California’s gay marriage ban, which passed in a 2008 ballot initiative months after the California’s high court had legalized same sex unions and thousands of gay Californians had already tied the knot. Two federal courts have struck down Prop. 8 as discriminatory, leaving the Supreme Court to render a final judgment.

The justices will also hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed under President Bill Clinton that prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. Windsor v. United States was brought by Edith Windsor, a resident of New York who paid $363,000 in estate taxes after her wife died because the federal government did not recognize their marriage. New York is one of nine states (and the District of Columbia) where gay marriage is legal, so Windsor argues that the federal government is discriminating against her by not recognizing her state-sanctioned marriage.

The Obama administration decided last year to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, so Congress has hired outside counsel to argue on behalf of the law. Recently, two federal appeals courts had struck down the law as unconstitutional, virtually requiring the Supreme Court to take the case to settle the dispute between the courts and Congress. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: How Many Christians Have to Die Before We Admit That Boko Haram Are Terrorists?

Why does the US State Department resist calls to say what is obvious to so many and name Boko Haram a terrorist organization? That is the question the following Barnabas Aid article asks. According to the article, ” … calls earlier this year from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and more than 20 American scholars for Boko Haram to be labelled a terrorist outfit largely fell on deaf ears in the US State Department, which in June named only three of the group’s leaders as foreign terrorists.”

At the same time, the terrorist attacks on Christians in Nigerian continue unabated. The bloodshed leads one to wonder just how many Nigerian Christians have to die before the organized attacks on them can be called terrorism?

The Barnabas Aid article reads in part:

As an international groundswell builds against the deadly activities of Islamist militants Boko Haram in Nigeria, why do the Nigerian government and the US State Department remain resistant to labelling the group a Foreign Terrorist Organisation?

Calls for the State Department to designate Boko Haram an FTO are intensifying as brutal attacks against Christians in the North show no signs of relenting. In the latest act of savagery, a group of suspected Boko Haram attackers went from house to house in the predominantly Christian part of the village of Chibok, Borno state, late on Saturday night (1 December). They set people’s houses on fire before slitting the throats of their victims, holding them upside down as when animals are slaughered; ten Christians were killed.
Later that night, gunmen killed five policemen as they attacked churches and government buildings in Gamboru Ngala, near the border with Cameroon. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Christian Nigeria’s Witness for Jesus in the Face of Boko Haram’s Terrorists

Nigerian Christians are withstanding violent persecution at the hands of Islamic terrorists called Boko Haram. Their witness for Christ humbles me today, as if has for quite a long time. I will never forget the voice of a Nigerian Anglican Bishop’s wife as she told me “Those who persist in following Christ until the end will have eternal life.”

Eternal life in Christ was real to her. It sustained her and gave her not only a peace which passes understanding, but courage which passes understanding, as well.

When people are faced with the horror of repeated terrorist attacks as Christians in Nigeria are, and they respond with prayer and fasting as Christians in Nigeria do, I know that I am witnessing the courage that comes only from the grace of a loving God.

One of the many sins that we need to repent of in this Advent season is our indifference in the face of such magnificent courage and faith in Our Savior by our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world, especially in Nigeria.

The excerpted CNA article below describes one such act of courage among the many in Nigeria today.

Msgr. Obiora F. Ike walks in front of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Enugu, Nigeria. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need, www.kirche-in-not.ch.

Lagos, Nigeria, Nov 13, 2012 / 12:17 am (CNA).- After his parish in southern Nigeria was desecrated on Nov. 4, Monsignor Obiora F. Ike called on his parishioners to observe a week of prayer and penance.

“Msgr. Ike has called for seven days of prayer, fasting, penance and reparation for the Christian faithfuls and for the conversion of these perpetrators,” according to a statement on his website.

Around 2:00 a.m. on Nov. 4, attackers entered St. Leo the Great parish in Enugu, vandalizing the building and destroying infrastructure and sacred items.

Everything in the church was destroyed: the altar, sacred vessels, musical equipment, seats, the pulpit, statues, religious images, and the entire microphone system.

The destruction included “the Blessed Sacrament that was desecrated,” according to Msgr. Ike’s statement.

By 4:00 a.m. security agents arrived at the parish and assessed the damage. According to Msgr. Ike, the damage done totals around $63,500.

Sunday Mass at the parish was held outside “under the heavy sunshine.” Msgr. Ike’s sermon that day encouraged the congregation to “remain steadfast in their faith despite all the persecution, religious intolerance and fanaticism.” He also urged them to remain dedicated in prayer and forgive the perpetrators.(Read more here.)

Human Trafficking and Child Labor: Raid of Indian Sweatshop Frees Slaves as Young as 8

The following Yahoo News article describes a raid on a sweatshop in India where enslaved children, some as young as 8 years, were forced to make Christmas decorations.

Many of these decorations are being sold on eBay. Read the excerpt of the Yahoo News article below for tips on how to avoid buying them yourself. Watch the video on the link at the end of the excerpt for more information.

Police and child advocates broke padlocks and busted down doors in a surprise raid of a sweatshop in India, only to find a group of children imprisoned who had been forced to make Christmas decorations.

The children were kept in rooms approximately six feet by six feet and had been forced to work up to 19-hour days making the decorations, which advocates believe may have been intended to be sold on the cheap in the United States.

Human rights group Global March for Children led the raid, but also got help from former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who now serves as the United Nations special envoy for global education.

The 14 children who were freed are now in the process of being reunited with their families, who are scattered across India.

Brown released video to ABC News and Yahoo! News revealing what he says were the illegal conditions in which the children in Delhi were discovered.

“There is no parent in the world who would ever want their child to be subjected to conditions that you see in these films of children in dingy basements, without air, without food, without proper care, being forced into child labor for all these hours of the day. I think every parent who sees these films will want this practice brought to an end as quickly as possible.”

Child advocates say American consumers would likely never know the origin of goods made with child labor, which Brown says has become a global epidemic that needs to be solved.

In a push to garner more attention on the issue worldwide, Brown’s office released a new report today, “Child Labour and Educational Disadvantage – Breaking the Link, Building Opportunity,” which says 91 million children in the global workforce are younger than 12 years old.

In the case of the children rescued in Delhi, he says they were both injured and scared.

“Some of them are lacerated because they’re working with glass. And we found these children in this basement. They were not being paid,” he said. “They had been trafficked themselves. And they were making these Christmas decorations that were being sold in our shops and our web sites in the West.”

Priyanke Ribhu of Global March says many children in India are often lured away from their parents by gangmasters who befriend their parents in the remote villages where they live. The gangmasters reportedly promise parents their kids will be taken to a better place where they will be provided a real education and many great
opportunities they could not receive in their villages. Parents are also often told the children will be able to send money back home to help their families.

Far too often, Ribhu says, the children simply end up locked away behind padlocks only to work 17-,18-, even 19-hour days with no one to help them. Ribhu says holiday decorations similar to those discovered in the recent raid can be found on eBay and in other marketplaces online or in stores.

In addition, she says, the items are often sold off into a sophisticated network of suppliers that make it nearly impossible for retailers or consumers to know whether the goods they are purchasing have been made by child labor.

Ribhu warns, however, there are some tell-tale warning signs American consumers can be on the lookout for if they wish to avoid purchasing products made with child labor. First, she says, if the holiday decorations you are purchasing are not labeled with the country they are made in you might want to be concerned. Next, she says if they have an unusually low price and are marked as “hand made” it is another red flag.

Ribhu also warns to be cautious when examining “hand made” items that are also marked as being made in India.

While child labor was largely outlawed in the United States following the industrial revolution more than 100 years ago, Brown told ABC News and Yahoo! News that India has yet to ban child labor itself. He says currently, the country only has a ban on hazardous working conditions, but he wants to pressure the government to immediately take action to protect children there. (To see a video and read more of this Yahoo News story, go here.)

Protecting Your Little Girl From Our Child Sexualizing Culture

In my opinion, the extreme sexualization of little girls that we see in our culture is a form of psychological violation. It’s also another expression of our growing cultural hostility toward innocence and the idea that any sort of sexuality is ok, no matter who it victimizes.

Adults who find this entertaining are perverse, to say the least. One of the most important things parents of little girls can do is to shield them from this childhood-stealing perversity.

A new campaign by The Parents Television Council offers parents help in the work of protecting their little girls so that they can grow up to be strong, emotionally-healthy women. Read more about it in this article from the Baptist Press.

NASHVILLE (BP) — A new campaign called “4 Every Girl” has been launched by the Parents Television Council to combat the sexualization of girls in American culture.

In recent years, PTC research has documented troubling trends on primetime television in which underage girls are more likely to be sexualized than adults, Tim Winters, PTC’s president, said.

“There is a dramatic rise in the number of teenaged girls who are depicted as victims of violence — especially sexual violence,” Winters said in a news release. “Frankly we’re tired of reporting such depressing data and we want to help do something about it.”

The goal of the 4 Every Girl campaign, online at 4everygirl.com, is “a sharp and swift reversal” of those statistics by advocating for a media environment in which girls are honored, valued and represented by healthy, respectful images, PTC said in October.

“According to the American Psychological Association, the three most common mental health problems for girls — eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem — are linked to the sexualization of girls and women in media,” Winters said. “We hope 4 Every Girl will bring increased awareness and concern and a new light to the work of other organizations in the fight for healthier media images of young girls.”
(Read more here.)

What Is the ‘Fiscal Cliff’?

What is this “fiscal cliff” that commenters and pollsters talk about? What difference does it make to you and me?

The following excerpt from a Yahoo Finance article does a good job of answering these questions.

As usual, our elected officials are taking polls to learn what we the people think about their brinksmanship politics. They use the results of these polls to determine how far they can go in endangering the rest of us and keep their jobs. I don’t read much about them putting our country first, just how they can frame their irresponsibility so that the other guy takes the political fall for it.

BOTH parties are at fault here. NEITHER party appears to give a care about this country.

Pollsters are polling us. Politicians who don’t care about governing are using those polls to determine their next move in the one thing they do care about, which is making the opposite political party look bad.

I doubt that many people who are being polled know what the “fiscal cliff” is, or why it matters to them. I don’t want Public Catholic readers to be that uninformed.

The Yahoo Finance article says in part:

The fiscal cliff refers to the potentially disastrous situation the U-S faces at the end of this year. At midnight on December 31st, a number of laws are set to expire. If the President and the Republicans don’t reach an agreement before then, Americans could face broad government spending cuts and tax increases on January 1st. The combined amount would total over 500 billion dollars. Those 500 billion dollars equal about three to four percent of the nation’s entire gross domestic product. This is what’s referred to as the fiscal cliff.
If there isn’t a resolution, here are the specifics of what will happen.
Taxes would go up for almost every taxpayer and many businesses. The Bush-era tax cuts, which tax relief for middle and upper-class tax payers, would be a thing of the past. So would President Obama’s payroll tax cut which added about a thousand dollars a year to the average worker’s income.
Government spending would be slashed. That means less money for most military, domestic and federal programs. $26 billion in emergency unemployment-compensation would be gone. Medicare payments to doctors would be reduced by $11 billion. Federal programs would take the biggest hit. They stand to lose a total of $65 billion.
If the fiscal cliff isn’t avoided, some investors will be hit hard. Those who receive qualified dividends could see the tax rate on those dividends go from 15% to almost 40% in 2013.
Many business owners believe going over the fiscal cliff will cripple the economy, triggering a deep recession. (Read more here.)

Breeding for Business: America’s Economy Needs More Babies

America needs more babies for its economic health.

At least, that’s what U.S. News and World Report says in it’s recent article “Why a Falling Birth Rate is a Big Problem.” According to the article, America has historically had high birth rates compared to our cousins in Europe. Many economists feel that contributes to our relative economic well-being.

This article, with its what’s-good-for-business viewpoint, fits in perfectly with the way people in the West have approached their children, homes and families for decades now. Its short-term, through-the-peep-hole way of looking at the situation fits this approach, as well. It’s easy to pick out one thing to be concerned about if you focus to a small enough point. In this way, the article is able to give short shrift to long-term trends and social concerns other than what’s-good-for-business.

One thing that seems clear to me is that when any group of people has a sustained birth rate that falls below the replacement level, they are acting out a form of group suicide. The U.S. News and World Report article looks to economic reasons for declining birth rates. I do think that this explanation fits sudden dips in birth rate that correlate with economic downturns, which is what the small-point perspective gives us. But while the article addresses long-term declines in birth rates in a small way, I don’t think it gives them enough consideration for its analysis to have any real meaning.

The situation which leads to what I referenced earlier — a form of group suicide by low birth rate — is not something that occurs due to short-term economic downturns. In fact, the overall trend in decline in birth rates has been steady throughout the West for almost half a century now. While rates do take a slightly less precipitous drop and may even go up a notch or two during times of economic boom, the overall trend has been a steady downward slope for decades.

One factor that correlates closely with this trend is the decline in respect for motherhood and fatherhood and the social/political dismemberment of the family. I have experienced some of this myself.

When I had my second child, there were plenty of people on hand to tell me that “two was enough” and that I shouldn’t have any more.

When I left the House of Representatives to stay home and raise my first baby, more than one person felt called to inform me that I was “wasting my life” by doing so.

Mothers don’t get any respect. Raising little children, guiding them, making a home for them, nurturing, protecting, training and loving them into productive adults, is considered the lowest form of work we can have. It’s so poorly thought of that women will leave their own children at home and go get a job at a daycare, raising other people’s children. That, the paycheck and the clear-cut employment, are what is respected; not raising their own babies.

Children are universally regarded as a burden in our society, rather than a blessing. We look at our own young and make jokes about being around a little baby will drive anyone to birth control. Why is this? Have babies stopped being cute? Are they no longer cuddly? Do our office cubicles and breakroom microwaves really warm our hearts so much that we no longer feel the need to hold our own child in our arms?

What has become of us in the West that we no longer love our own young? What is wrong with people who have no desire to create life?

Has our cultural narcissism and overweening me-ism supplanted our ability to give to the point that we no longer want and cherish our own children?

If we truly want more babies, for, as this article so crassly puts it, the sake of the economy, then we need to start treating mothers, fathers and families with a little more respect. We are a society that has sacrificed everything, including our fertility and the warmth of home and family to the almighty paycheck. In our world, God is a sideshow while the gods of commerce, like the ring of Mordor, bind and rule us all.

How ironic that the same forces for which people have sacrificed their birthright to home and family are the ones that now “need” a higher birth rate. We need babies to make money. Even though, as we’ve been told many times, babies cost money. In fact, we’ve been told that babies cost too much money. And they make us unavailable for all the other things that we are told we should want instead of children.

How to turn this around? How to undo the selfish deed of selling childlessness as a good thing in life?

Maybe we should begin by giving some respect to the people who make good, productive people: A woman and a man, united in marriage.

The U.S. New and World Report article reads in part:

It sounds like one of those stories you can safely ignore: The U.S. birth rate has hit a record low, led by a big drop in the portion of immigrant women having babies.
[Photos: Kennedy Center Honors Led Zeppelin, Hoffman, Letterman ]
This development doesn’t directly affect anybody, since it’s one of those long-term societal trends that occurs in small increments and doesn’t change the unemployment rate, the price of gas, the direction of the stock market or any of the big economic forces that make our lives better or worse today. And since the trend is strongest among immigrants, it sounds like maybe this is something happening in a shadowy part of the economy that doesn’t matter all that much.
But it does matter, and if the trend persists, it could mean lower living standards for most Americans in the future.
It may seem intuitively obvious that a slower-growing or declining population is good for the economy, especially when you think about starving children in poor parts of the world where there’s not enough food for everybody. In places where resources are severely limited–and economic policies are dysfunctional–it may be true that a growing population is a bad thing.
But that’s usually because such economies are static, and instead of creating wealth they typically just divide up what’s already there. That’s not the situation in America, which has a dynamic economy that creates wealth and more than enough resources for all of its citizens.
[See: What Keeps People Out of the Middle Class ]
On the contrary, one of the great strengths of the U.S. economy, especially compared to Europe and Japan, is a relatively high birth rate, which keep the population young, on average, and population growth robust. “Everybody comes into world with one mouth and two hands,” says economist Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University. “It’s generally true that most people produce more than they consume.”
A growing population is good for the economy when rising productivity continually reduces the amount of resources required to produce a given amount of output. Even now, with the U.S. economy in a rut and too many people out of work, productivity is rising, which means a larger population would generate more wealth per person than a smaller one. Boudreaux points out that Manhattan, one of the mostly densely populated places in America, is also one of the wealthiest, whereas rural states like Mississippi are sparsely populated, and much poorer. (Read more here.)


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