Thursday, February 16, 2012


I do tend to come off as a Liberal when I take some sort of position or viewpoint. I'm not, necessarily. As with Chesterton, I believe in liberalism but have trouble with Liberals.

It should go without saying that I have trouble with Conservatives, too!

Having mentioned Chesterton, I'll admit to reading him a bit lately (and Beloc as well). He could be the worst sort of prig but he also had some great ideas. And wonderful quotes.

Then, there is the Distributist thing. Anyone of my generation who attended parochial school would have imbibed a bit of Distributist economic theory along with their other lessons. It doesn't seem to have stuck with most of them but then I suppose I tended to think of that sort of thing more than the average kid.

I like to describe myself as a 'practical Distributist.' I think limiting public power would be great ONLY is it is accompanied by an equal reduction of private power. I'm more a fan of Theodore Roosevelt's breaking up of monopolies and supporting the labor movement than of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs -- while recognizing they filled (and fill) a need.

Social Security is a necessity. So, I think, is universal health insurance. I favor many of the programs from the national government but might prefer them to be administered more locally.

But I would choose regulation over programs. Every grant, every federal program, means someone 'owes' the government. Their independence has been compromised. Thus I do not favor, for example, government funding of public radio. If the government wants a radio network let them start one rather than trying to control public radio via funding.

Speaking of health insurance, had we gone with a single-payer approach, that is Medicare-for-all, we wouldn't have this current wrangle between the Catholic bishops and the administration over contraceptive coverage. The Liberals and Conservatives have each staked their claims here without much regard to the actual grounds of disagreement but it is ultimately a fairly narrow question of the limits of religious freedom versus government authority. It might have been better had it gone to the courts so we would have a more-or-less definitive answer.

I, personally, don't think the hospitals and charities under Catholic auspices should be able to claim religious exemption. The schools, yes, as they are more closely integrated with the Church. But it does not matter, really -- we just need the boundary defined so we can move on. It doesn't look like that is going to happen.

At any rate, what it boils down to is a turf war with the Catholic Church, rightly or wrongly, seeing its independence being threatened. I believe strongly in independent religion. It is no surprise that totalitarian regimes go after organized religion. It has always been the strongest counter-balance to government tyranny.

Remember the end of the Communist regime in Poland? Conservatives like to credit President Reagan with ending the Cold War but he was pretty much a passenger in a car driven by Solidarity and the Church (with an indirect boost from Afghan freedom fighters). It's up to the people and their organizations to make real change in the world.

Change is still possible, you know.

Stephen Brooke ©2012

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