Subsidiarity and Saddleback

My frustration was showing a couple of weeks ago in a post titled: “Responsibility is differentiated, mutual and complementary, not exclusive, binary and competitive.”

That post consisted almost entirely of the sentence “Responsibility is differentiated, mutual and complementary; responsibility is not exclusive, binary and competitive,” repeated 10 times with each repetition linking to a different longer and deeper discussion of subsidiarity, “sphere sovereignty” or some other framework explaining and exploring the nature of moral responsibility as unavoidably differentiated, mutual and complementary.

My frustration was compounded shortly thereafter by a parade of posters visiting here from Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, most repeating some variation of their pastor’s belief that moral responsibility is exclusive and binary — an either/or, competitive framework rather than a multi-layered, mutual framework of supporting, cooperative and complementary roles.

The members of that congregation believe — rightly! — that “the church” is responsible to meet the needs of the needy, to empower the powerless and to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the least of these.

Unfortunately, due to an ethical and biblical confusion that seems pervasive in that congregation, they therefore conclude that this means that only “the church” bears any such responsibility, and that it is somehow improper or wrong for other actors and agencies, especially governments, to regard themselves as also responsible.

That’s reprehensible theology and, if they really believed a word of it, would reflect an appalling biblical ignorance or illiteracy.

But fortunately they don’t fully believe what they’re saying.

There’s plenty of evidence that they don’t really believe this. I’m sure, for example, that this congregation’s commendable outreach efforts in pursuit of what it claims to believe is its exclusive responsibility includes providing assistance to some families in which a grandmother is raising her grandchildren due to the absence, for whatever reason (death, addiction, incarceration), of their parents.

I’m certain that when the folks from Saddleback encounter such families, they do not seek to seize these children from their grandmothers, or to rebuke those grandmothers for providing such care. That would be consistent with what they claim to believe — that the church is exclusively responsible for those orphans and that this grandmother is thus unjustly usurping the proper responsibility of the church.

But for all their claims of disbelieving in Big Grandmother, they don’t usually act in the lunatic manner that their purported framework of exclusive, binary, competitive responsibility would require.

Despite their vocal denunciations of it, in other words, at some more instinctive level, they appreciate the inescapable nature of subsidiarity. In some unarticulated, only vaguely understood way, they  partially recognize the reality that moral responsibility is always, unavoidably, mutual, differentiated and complementary.

Part of what keeps them from understanding this more clearly, I think, is a murky ecclesiology that makes it difficult for them to explain to me or to themselves what they mean by “the church” when they claim that “the church” is solely and exclusively responsible to care for the poor. Do they mean “the church” as an institution? Or by “the church” do they mean those individuals who belong to that institution, acting individually?

I suspect that if we had been able to discuss that question at greater length than their drive-by declarations in my comment section had allowed, they would have been open to the idea that “the church” could mean both of those things.

That would have been a small but positive step toward getting past the dangerous mistake of viewing responsibility as exclusive. Once it is established and accepted that a Christian bears such responsibility both in their capacity as an individual and in their capacity as a member of the institutional church, then we have opened the door to a fuller, more human understanding of responsibility. Once the possibility of such a both/and is recognized we no longer need to be trapped by an inability to imagine or to understand anything other than either/or. That can open the door to finally understanding more clearly that moral responsibility is always mutual and complementary, and to understanding the foolish destructiveness of trying to think of it as a binary, exclusive, zero-sum competition.

This possibility of both/and is also something that they already know to be true. And because they know it to be true, at least dimly on some level, their actions are never wholly in accord with their professed belief in the inhuman nonsense of exclusive responsibility.

Every church member knows that no church member is only that or exclusively that. Every member of Saddleback Church is also many, many other things as well: a parent, a sibling, a cousin, a neighbor, a friend, a resident, a worker, a fan, a consumer, a user, a producer, a supporter, a contributor, a customer, a client, a traveler, a bystander, a passer-by, a stranger, a citizen.

I don’t think that our friends from Saddleback would really want to argue that they bear a responsibility to assist the poor and the weak exclusively in their capacity as members of the church. Yes, they may say that is what they believe — that such responsibility bears on them as church members but not as citizens (or parents, or workers, or customers, etc.). And they may say that it would be improper and wrong for them to attempt to assist the poor and the needy in any other capacity — and that it would somehow be especially evil to attempt to give any thought to the poor and the needy in their capacity as citizens.

But none of them lives like that.

No one could live like that because life itself is — inescapably and unavoidably — differentiated, mutual and complementary. Trying to compartmentalize one’s life to accord with their purported belief in exclusive, binary categories of responsibility would be impossible.

At the very least, I suspect, our friends from Saddleback would concede that when acting in all their other capacities apart from their role as “the church,” they ought not to be making things worse for the poor and the needy that their “the church” has a responsibility to help.

Let’s consider some examples of the sort of thing I mean:

Mr. Smith spends his Saturdays volunteering with a church program that assists poor families who have fallen prey to predatory lenders. Monday through Friday, however, Mr. Smith manages an inner-city check-cashing outlet that hooks those same poor families on roll-over pay-day loans with an APR of more than 2000 percent.

Mr. Jones meets in the evening with a church group that writes letters to lawmakers, advocating for stronger laws against sexual trafficking. When he’s not in church, Mr. Jones can be found managing the brothel in the back of a strip club, where young women from the developing world are kept as virtual slaves.

Mr. Johnson faithfully volunteers one day every week, week in and week out, with the church’s job bank program, helping people gain the financial independence that comes from earning a reliable and adequate paycheck. Mr. Johnson earns his own paycheck as a political pundit, advocating for budget austerity measures and massive reductions in the economy’s aggregate demand to ensure that unemployment remains far above its natural level for years to come.

Those are all extreme examples, and particularly loathsome and sinful examples at that. But the monstrously irresponsible and counterproductive behavior of Messrs. Smith, Jones and Johnson differs only in degree and not in kind from the exclusive notion of responsibility being promoted by our confused friends from Saddleback — and from many, many other places as well.

Note that the extreme compartmentalization of these three hypothetical hypocrites is not just permissible according to the purported belief of our friends. According to what they claim to believe, such extreme compartmentalization and hypocrisy is mandatory for members of “the church.”

For anyone who believes that “caring for the poor is the responsibility of the church and not the responsibility of citizens” such compartmentalization is as obligatory as it is monstrous.

And thus,  not being monsters, most of the people who claim to believe such inhuman nonsense do not behave consistently with their impossible, un-biblical, un-democratic claims. They don’t condemn grandmothers or responsible lenders for “usurping” the role of “the church.” They don’t condemn church members for failing to be pimps or predators in their lives outside of church.

In short, they’re not fully able to sustain the bewilderingly strange lie that responsibility is exclusive, binary and competitive. The world they live in won’t allow them to do so. They may decry subsidiarity as socialism, deeply confused about what both of those words mean, but they can never truly escape the inescapable network of mutuality.

Because that sentence that out of frustration I repeated 10 times — and have repeated here in whole or in part many more times — isn’t just a normative statement. It’s also a descriptive statement. It describes reality — and just because our friends claim to deny reality doesn’t mean they aren’t stuck living in it along with everybody else.

Responsibility is differentiated, mutual and complementary; responsibility is not exclusive, binary and competitive.

  • Anonymous

    Reagan fanfic? Let’s hope they never get around to Reagan slash. And if they did, who would be the other person?

    Ah, of course … Ollie North!

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     What looks suspicious to me is that Bush pushed for invading Iraq within days of 9/11.

    Bush was pushing to invade Iraq _before_ 9/11.  9/11 just gave him something he could use to whip this country into a war-frenzy.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/10/28/65588/-Exclusive:-in-1999,-candidate-Bush-wanted-to-invade-Iraq

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    It’s worth nothing that Bush’s massive, throbbing War-on for Saddam Hussein is one reason I don’t believe the Truthers’ conspiracy theories have any basis in fact.  If BushCo HAD actually staged 9/11, they’d have planted evidence that it was all Saddam Hussein’s fault, not some guy they didn’t care about in a country they didn’t care about.

  • Lori

    Item# 4897 on the “They have no sense of historical reality” list:

    Remember the recent dust up over Michelle Bachmann signing that (ostensibly) pro-marriage pledge that included language which suggested that blacks were better off under slavery? Remember the troll who stopped by to inform us that we were all just picking on Bachmann for partisan reasons because it was obvious that she didn’t actually think that blacks were better off as slaves and signing the pledge was just an political error?

    Yeah, not so much.

    Now that Bachmann is running for president folks have started going back to take a longer look at her. In 2002 her Senate campaign put out a list of her “must read” books. 

     
    John Adams by David McCullough

    Ludwig von Mises by Israel M. Kirzner

    Robert E. Lee by Steve Wilkens

    Understanding the Times by David A. Noebel

    Declaration of Independence

    George Washington’s Farewell Address

    Federalist Papers

    Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell

    Modern Times by Paul Johnson

    The full title of the Wilkens book is Call of Duty: The Sterling Nobility of Robert E. Lee With a title like that you can see where this is going. Wilkens pushes the idea that blacks were happy enslaved to their good Christian masters

     Northerners were often shocked and offended by the
    familiarity that existed as a matter of course between the whites and
    blacks of the old South. This was one of the surprising and unintended
    consequences of slavery. Slavery, as it operated in the
    pervasively Christian society which was the old South, was not an
    adversarial relationship founded on racial animosity. In fact, it bred
    on the whole, not contempt, but, over time, mutual respect. This produced a mutual esteem of the sort that always results when men give themselves to a common cause.
    The credit for this startling reality must go to the Christian faith. 

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/08/09/291362/bachmann-slavery-abolition-must-read/TL;DR—No, the kind of people who support the Tea Party do not have any realistic grasp of history. They simply believe whatever fairy tale makes them feel good. And yes, Bachmann apparently really does believe that slavery was good for blacks. At the very least she believes that saying that slavery was good for blacks helps her candidacy. She has now made fair too many ignorant remarks about slavery for there to be any excuse to pretend that they’re simple mistakes. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Is your father a “grump”?

    Does he show the signs of Fox Geezer Syndrome?  (yes, even conservatives are complaining Fox News is bad for people.)

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    The other day on a thread over at TNC’s blog I saw the best description of the relationship between the current Conservative movement and Reagan—they’re writing Reagan fanfic and have retconed most of his presidency.

    Here, have two internets.  Give the second one to whoever said that first.  :D

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Perfect.  Absolutely perfect.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Nope, surprisingly enough Jimmy Carter.  Believe it or not, Jimmy’s the top.

  • Lunch Meat

    I have a request…can anyone point me to some good, thorough books about US history that were written by historians who are a) at least accepted by intellectually honest moderates and b) not famous for being leftists? Most of my history courses were in a private middle school that I don’t trust for anything (because all I learned is that we’re really a Christian nation, promise!) and the one course I took in high school was not very detailed. I no longer trust all the obvious “facts” I grew up with (like that FDR did not help with the depression) but I don’t know where to start looking for the truth or, honestly, why I should believe what people here are saying just because I trust y’all more and want to agree with you. Also I would like to have some citations on hand to prepared in discussions and the like. If anyone can help me with this I would really appreciate it.

  • Lori
    Is your father a “grump”?

    Does he show the signs of Fox Geezer Syndrome? 

     

    My parents do. Oh how I wish there was a vaccine for FGS or that it would at least respond to antibiotics.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    The hilarious bit is it’s entirely probable that all 3 articles were written by the same troll (there are estimates that suggest half the editors on that site are just Poes out to annoy Schafly. … I admit I’ve considered doing it myself too; but ultimately I’m too lazy for that.)

  • Lori

     Here, have two internets.  Give the second one to whoever said that first.  :D 

    Both internets belong to TNC commenters. It turns out that my sketchy memory merged 2 comments from this thread: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/08/rules-for-radicals/243087/#disqus_thread

    Within a longer comment Dex said:

    The closest thing to a leader in the Republican Party is some sort of
    bizarro fanfic portrayal of Reagan’s ghost, which apparently has changed
    his position on everything he stood for since his death, but that’s
    another story. 

    To which WCBound replied:

    I love “Bizarro Fanfic Reagan” and now can’t help but think of the GOP’s use of him as retconning his presidency.

    Bonus LOLs–roas added:

     
    “Bizarro Fanfic Reagan” would be a great name for a band.

  • We Must Dissent

    Is your father a “grump”? Among the people I know who favor those
    positions, they all seem to share a certain outlook on life. They
    generally don’t like other people very much, viewing themselves as
    trapped in a world of fools and idiots. It seems to be a combination of
    resentment and cynicism.

    Being a grump is cleary not a sufficient condition. I usually the world as full of fools and idiots. I had a friend who nicknamed me “Eeyore”. I think that because the world is full of fools and idiots, you cannot trust anything important to private individuals and groups.

  • We Must Dissent

    Is your father a “grump”? Among the people I know who favor those
    positions, they all seem to share a certain outlook on life. They
    generally don’t like other people very much, viewing themselves as
    trapped in a world of fools and idiots. It seems to be a combination of
    resentment and cynicism.

    Being a grump is cleary not a sufficient condition. I usually the world as full of fools and idiots. I had a friend who nicknamed me “Eeyore”. I think that because the world is full of fools and idiots, you cannot trust anything important to private individuals and groups.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In 2000, both sides were trying (in Bush’s case, pretending) to be More Moderate Than Thou, so the actual liberals stayed home in droves.

    I also think that the Green Party had something to do with it.  As both candidates were trying to be moderate, a not-insignifigant amount of leftist voters cast their vote for a third party as a form of protest, figuring that even if the candidate they were voting for did not win, they were stuck with a moderate either way, and the protest vote would get the Democrats to wake up.  

    Which means that there were probably more people who would have preferred Gore than would have preferred Bush, they just would have more strongly have preferred someone even further left than that.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In 2000, both sides were trying (in Bush’s case, pretending) to be More Moderate Than Thou, so the actual liberals stayed home in droves.

    I also think that the Green Party had something to do with it.  As both candidates were trying to be moderate, a not-insignifigant amount of leftist voters cast their vote for a third party as a form of protest, figuring that even if the candidate they were voting for did not win, they were stuck with a moderate either way, and the protest vote would get the Democrats to wake up.  

    Which means that there were probably more people who would have preferred Gore than would have preferred Bush, they just would have more strongly have preferred someone even further left than that.

  • Anonymous

    ohiolibrarian:

    Reagan fanfic? Let’s hope they never get around to Reagan slash. And if they did, who would be the other person?

    Ah, of course … Ollie North!

     
    AAAAHHHHHHH!!  DO!  NOT! WANT!
     
    Lori:

    Item# 4897 on the “They have no sense of historical reality” list…

     
    And who could forget Palin’s thrilling retelling of “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”  Apparently, he was warning the British .
     
    Lunch Meat:

    I have a request…can anyone point me to some good, thorough books about US history that were written by historians who are a) at least accepted by intellectually honest moderates and b) not famous for being leftists?

     
    If one wants a thorough book then one generally has to find a book on a specific aspect of history. So where do you want to start? 

    History, like science, is ultimately people taking a bunch of pieces of information and trying to tell a story with them.  As new information comes to light, the story must be revised.  Still, each author will tell the story differently (see Lori’s post). 

    Whichever books you end up reading ask yourself these questions: What is the author’s background?  Why did the author write this book? Who is publishing this book?  What sources are being used? What biases might the author be bringing to the story because of background or narrative choice?  Is there a thesis? What story is being told?  What message is being conveyed?  What is being omitted? How is language being used?  (I can give an example if anyone wants one but it would take up some space so I’m not including it here.)
     
    Being able to answer these questions will allow you to judge the work on its own merits and hold to the good while acknowledging its weaknesses (unless it’s so off the rails that you just have to say “there is no good here”).  This way you will be able to honestly discuss topics in history and maintain a viewpoint that adapts to new information.  You also won’t be relying on someone else’s argument from/appeal to authority which is always a plus. 

    Edit: formatting

  • Anonymous

    ohiolibrarian:

    Reagan fanfic? Let’s hope they never get around to Reagan slash. And if they did, who would be the other person?

    Ah, of course … Ollie North!

     
    AAAAHHHHHHH!!  DO!  NOT! WANT!
     
    Lori:

    Item# 4897 on the “They have no sense of historical reality” list…

     
    And who could forget Palin’s thrilling retelling of “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”  Apparently, he was warning the British .
     
    Lunch Meat:

    I have a request…can anyone point me to some good, thorough books about US history that were written by historians who are a) at least accepted by intellectually honest moderates and b) not famous for being leftists?

     
    If one wants a thorough book then one generally has to find a book on a specific aspect of history. So where do you want to start? 

    History, like science, is ultimately people taking a bunch of pieces of information and trying to tell a story with them.  As new information comes to light, the story must be revised.  Still, each author will tell the story differently (see Lori’s post). 

    Whichever books you end up reading ask yourself these questions: What is the author’s background?  Why did the author write this book? Who is publishing this book?  What sources are being used? What biases might the author be bringing to the story because of background or narrative choice?  Is there a thesis? What story is being told?  What message is being conveyed?  What is being omitted? How is language being used?  (I can give an example if anyone wants one but it would take up some space so I’m not including it here.)
     
    Being able to answer these questions will allow you to judge the work on its own merits and hold to the good while acknowledging its weaknesses (unless it’s so off the rails that you just have to say “there is no good here”).  This way you will be able to honestly discuss topics in history and maintain a viewpoint that adapts to new information.  You also won’t be relying on someone else’s argument from/appeal to authority which is always a plus. 

    Edit: formatting

  • Rikalous

    I have a request…can anyone point me to some good, thorough books
    about US history that were written by historians who are a) at least
    accepted by intellectually honest moderates and b) not famous for being
    leftists? Most of my history courses were in a private middle school
    that I don’t trust for anything (because all I learned is that we’re
    really a Christian nation, promise!) and the one course I took in high
    school was not very detailed. I no longer trust all the obvious “facts” I
    grew up with (like that FDR did not help with the depression) but I
    don’t know where to start looking for the truth or, honestly, why I
    should believe what people here are saying just because I trust y’all
    more and want to agree with you. Also I would like to have some
    citations on hand to prepared in discussions and the like. If anyone can
    help me with this I would really appreciate it.

    I recommend Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen. It’s not exhaustive, but it was written to counteract misconceptions about American history.

  • Rikalous

    I have a request…can anyone point me to some good, thorough books
    about US history that were written by historians who are a) at least
    accepted by intellectually honest moderates and b) not famous for being
    leftists? Most of my history courses were in a private middle school
    that I don’t trust for anything (because all I learned is that we’re
    really a Christian nation, promise!) and the one course I took in high
    school was not very detailed. I no longer trust all the obvious “facts” I
    grew up with (like that FDR did not help with the depression) but I
    don’t know where to start looking for the truth or, honestly, why I
    should believe what people here are saying just because I trust y’all
    more and want to agree with you. Also I would like to have some
    citations on hand to prepared in discussions and the like. If anyone can
    help me with this I would really appreciate it.

    I recommend Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen. It’s not exhaustive, but it was written to counteract misconceptions about American history.

  • Anonymous

    Believe it or not, Jimmy’s the top.

    Not really a surprise … he had the balls to correctly describe the malaise and an appropriate response while Reagan just mouthed pretty platitudes about “morning in America.” Tra-la.

  • Anonymous

    Actually I would like to really not recommend Lies My Teacher Told Me. I read it and found a lot of what I would consider misinformation about topics that I had read fairly extensively about. It’s been a long time since I read it so I can’t provide specifics. At least take it’s interpretations (or anyone’s) with a grain or two of salt.

  • Lunch Meat

    If one wants a thorough book then one generally has to find a book on a specific aspect of history. So where do you want to start?

    Well, considering I don’t know anything about anything, I would start with the beginning and go from there? So…colonialism, Revolutionary War, to begin with, then western expansion, early politics, slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction… I’m such a poor student of history I’m not really sure what the areas of study and historical periods are, to be honest. Maybe it would be better to start with an overview that would point me to other, more exhaustive sources.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    I prefer Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, Lizabeth Cohen, and Richard Hofstadter among others.

  • Anonymous

    Lunch Meat, I don’t know about thoroughness–no book that’s reasonably in depth can be all that thorough. But Ira Berlin is an excellent historian for the areas he writes in.

    But really, the best place to begin would be with some colleges and universities. Most have their courses and associated books online, and you can get a pretty good list of accepted books from there. You could also call a history professor at one of those institutions and ask. The receptionist staff in the history department will help you find a professor who would be glad to offer help in finding a few books to get started with (as opposed to the inevitable curmudgeonly jerk who won’t give you–or the president of the institution–the time of day).

  • Anonymous

    Lunch Meat, I don’t know about thoroughness–no book that’s reasonably in depth can be all that thorough. But Ira Berlin is an excellent historian for the areas he writes in.

    But really, the best place to begin would be with some colleges and universities. Most have their courses and associated books online, and you can get a pretty good list of accepted books from there. You could also call a history professor at one of those institutions and ask. The receptionist staff in the history department will help you find a professor who would be glad to offer help in finding a few books to get started with (as opposed to the inevitable curmudgeonly jerk who won’t give you–or the president of the institution–the time of day).

  • Lori

    I think this may be a bit more than Lunch Meat is looking for, but for others who may be looking for good history to read I want to put in another plug for Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways In America by David Hackett Fischer. It’s long (and heavy), but IMO not a difficult read. It’s interesting in its own right and as a bit of an antidote to some of the myths about the founding of America. 

    His scholarship seemed solid to me and other people whose opinions I respect admire him, so I felt like I was on pretty solid ground with him.

    FWIW, he won a Pulitzer for his book on George Washington (I haven’t read it, but IIRC it focuses on Washington as leader of the Continental Army). 

    Because of the 150th anniversary of the war’s start I’ve been reading a lot on the Civil War this year. So far I think I’ve most enjoyed 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart. I finished that book feeling like I had actually learned something and broadened my perspective in a useful way. 

    I’m currently reading The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln & American Slavery by Eric Foner. It came highly recommended, but I haven’t gotten far enough to have an opinion yet. 

     

  • Anonymous

    Lori, If you enjoyed Albion’s Seed, you might be interested in The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers by George MacDonald Fraser. Yes, that’s the author of the Flashman series.

  • Lori

    I’ve heard about that one, but never read it. It wouldn’t normally be top of my list of topics, but the fact that it’s a well-respected history written by the same guy who wrote Flashman does give it a certain draw. 

  • Anonymous

    David McCullogh is a very engaging author to begin with.  You might start with John Adams and 1776 for an introduction into the American Revolution.  (I also greatly enjoyed The Johnstown Flood.) 

    Ian Toll’s Six Frigates is primarily about the beginning of the U.S. Navy but the author does an excellent job putting it within cultural, political and technological context so that one can get a pretty good idea of post-Revolution America up through the War of 1812.  It has a great bibliography and endnotes.

    I just finished Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne and thought it was a pretty good overview of the conflict in the American West.  Gwynne told two parallel stories, the first being that of the Native American tribes, particularly the Comanche, and the second being that of Cynthia Ann Parker and Quanah.  It has a very extensive bibliography and endnotes as well.

    Dash1′s idea was also really good.  I like to go to the local university’s bookstore at the start of the semester and walk down the shelves recording the ISBNs for the various required books.  Oh, hey, it’s that time of year again!

    Edit: formatting

  • Anonymous

    If they were ever regular working people, which mostly they weren’t since mostly they’re lawyers, they stopped being so the moment they started getting paid whatever absurdly high number congresscritters are paid. And they’re certainly not acting in the interests of regular working people. We know this because [insert rant].

    $174,000/year.  Not chump change, but not exactly ‘absurdly high’.  Especially when a fair number could earn 65 times that in the private sector.

    See also this hilarious animation funded by Mike Huckabee. Personally, I find it fitting that the one kid is wearing a Blood Angels helmet -”hyper-religious fascists with an intense bloodlust” is a pretty good descriptor of many in the tea party.

    Holy crap.  You cannot convince me this is not intentional.  And… frankly, this explains a lot about american conservatism, – they’re under the impression the Imperium of Man is a model to be emulated!

  • Lori

    A bit more on the issue of self-education: Last month there were some threads on TNC’s blog where people talked about getting an education outside of college. Not in the spirit of putting down or dismissing going to college, but in recognition that not every can and that even those who do can’t explore all their interests there.

    The discussion focused on good lecture series available online. Several of the ones that got high marks from the Horde were history lectures. Check out both the post and comments here: http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2011/06/steal-this-diploma/240866/

    and here: http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2011/06/that-ghetto-university/241122/

    I can personally vouch for Blight on the Civil War and the Horde is pretty ridiculously smart so I trust their recs.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    $174,000/year.  Not chump change, but not exactly ‘absurdly high’.  Especially when a fair number could earn 65 times that in the private sector.

    And — I realize this is hard to comprehend to people who live in other parts of the country — for someone living in DC, that’s _comfortable_, but it’s not _rich_.  For the sole breadwinner of a family with children, it’s — well, it’s still comfortable, but not enough to meet the sort of cultural obligations that position entails.

    (This is not meant as a “Wah, it’s so hard to make ends meet on a mere $400k!” rant. But when a congressman’s salary is still in the “A run of unexpected expenses will break you” range, you start to see why many of them, while not exactly being on the take, are reluctant to enact policies that would get them blacklisted by the private sector)

  • Anonymous

    Uh-huh. DC probably has people making the same money I do, too. Eleven dollars an hour. From that perspective, a congresscritter has it fucking made.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yes. It turns out that you can react to “I make $200k a year and I am still have to worry about money” by thinking “So fuck those poor people, I’ve got problems enough of my own,” or you can react to it by thinking “So if it’s this hard for *me*, there’s no way that I can dismiss someone making half, or a quarter, or a fifth as much as me as lazy or underserving; to keep it together under those conditions would take a freakign superhero.”

    I don’t know why so many people choose the first instead of the second.

  • Lori

    Uh-huh. DC probably has people making the same money I do, too. Eleven
    dollars an hour. From that perspective, a congresscritter has it fucking
    made.

    Yes, DC definitely has people trying to live on $11/hour and less. They live in lousy apartments in bad neighborhoods. It’s an argument for better jobs in the District, not for paying Congress less though. We already have enough trouble attracting decent people to run for office without telling them that they’re going to have to live in a walk up in southeast.

    Decent real estate is always at a premium in the DC area. The thing that’s irritating to me is that housing prices shot up in several areas faster than the rest of the housing bubble right about the time the army of well-paid lobbyists descended at the start of W’s administration. They did to the real estate market in parts of Maryland and northern Virginia what ex-Californians did to Seattle and Portland.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    Lunch Meat – I don’t know if this is helpful to you at all, but here’s a link to the reading lists I compiled for my PhD Comps. I read … most of these, and I can probably send you comments on several of them if you like. KKS at #38 in the first list is Kathryn Sklar (her husband was my adviser for Early American, so her book was required). http://little-carrot.livejournal.com/237885.html

    http://little-carrot.livejournal.com/238609.html

  • Anonymous

    Of course you can live in a rather nice rooming house in C St. at below market rates. With maid service.

    All you have to do is pretend it’s a church.

  • Anonymous

    As a ‘Barry’ who decided to refrain from posting there yesterday, I agree.  In the end, movement conservatism is a false front of the right, so that they can have a ‘third opinion’ which acts as if it’s impartial.

  • Anonymous

    As a ‘Barry’ who decided to refrain from posting there yesterday, I agree.  In the end, movement conservatism is a false front of the right, so that they can have a ‘third opinion’ which acts as if it’s impartial.

  • Anonymous

    I would say that at best these people are stunningly ignorant, having been lied to by their leaders – with church leaders prominent in those lies.  Frankly, I’v also given up on the (white) Evangelical movement – it still clings to its core as the Confederate slaver false priests; the former anti-slavery evangelicals don’t have the guts to call false priests false priests.

  • Anonymous

    I would say that at best these people are stunningly ignorant, having been lied to by their leaders – with church leaders prominent in those lies.  Frankly, I’v also given up on the (white) Evangelical movement – it still clings to its core as the Confederate slaver false priests; the former anti-slavery evangelicals don’t have the guts to call false priests false priests.

  • Anonymous

    I would say that at best these people are stunningly ignorant, having been lied to by their leaders – with church leaders prominent in those lies.  Frankly, I’v also given up on the (white) Evangelical movement – it still clings to its core as the Confederate slaver false priests; the former anti-slavery evangelicals don’t have the guts to call false priests false priests.

  • Anonymous

    The right-wing of the economics professoriate has been pushing that lie for decades.  The Great Depression and the New Deal were like a slap in the face for them.  Their theories don’t account for what happened, so they wave it away.

    One tell-tale is to see if they show a chart of GNP growth/shrinkage and the unemployment rate during the 1930′s, because that shows incredible change going on just as FDR took office.   Instead, they’ll try to skip over it, and talk about how things were still bad during the late 30′s (without honestly saying how much they had improved).

  • Kukulan

    I know this thread is getting a bit old, but I just ran across
    this which I think is pertinent.

     

    From “Turning
    Poverty Into an American Crime
    ” by Barbara Ehrenreich at Counterpunch:

     

    The viciousness of the official animus
    toward the indigent can be breathtaking. A few years ago, a group called Food
    Not Bombs started handing out free vegan food to hungry people in public parks
    around the nation. A number of cities, led by Las Vegas, passed ordinances
    forbidding the sharing of food with the indigent in public places, leading to
    the arrests of several middle-aged white vegans.

     

    One anti-sharing law was just overturned in Orlando, but the
    war on illicit generosity continues. Orlando is appealing the decision, and
    Middletown, Connecticut, is in the midst of a crackdown. More recently,
    Gainesville, Florida, began enforcing a rule limiting the number of meals that
    soup kitchens may serve to 130 people in one day, and Phoenix, Arizona, has
    been using zoning laws to stop a local church from serving breakfast to
    homeless people.

     

    So, apparently, government does
    have a function: preventing others from helping those in need.

     

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that if you assume some
    people just hate the poor – I mean seriously, viciously, maliciously
    hate the poor – it explains a great deal and has great
    predictive power. Ask yourself how someone who hates the poor would act in any
    given set of circumstances and, sure enough, that’s what they will do.

     

    So the question isn’t so much ‘Why are they doing
    this?’
    as ‘What did the poor ever do to them to inspire such
    vitriol?’