Property, morality and religion

Just read Larry Arnn’s (President of Hillsdale College) Imprimis piece Property Rights and Religious Liberty.  It’s excellent, but ultimately uncompelling as an argument that property rights are insufficient to secure religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Some rambling reactions…

Arnn:

[R]ecognizing that property is at the heart of the political argument we are having these days, [there] are those who say that all that is needed is to protect property rights. Get money right and get property right, these people think, and leave it at that—leave morality and religion out of the political equation. But that way of thinking too is foolish.

Not sure it’s foolish.  I’d like to try it somewhere and see what eventuates.  My prediction would be that such a lucky civilization would follow the arc of history of the United States up until Woodrow Wilson… and then keep going.  

Morality and religion are different things, though they are both your property. Property rights do imply a moral code, but I can’t see any particular philosophy of religion there.

I am inclined to think economic freedom is a prerequisite for “freedom of conscience and religious liberty.”  Arnn seems to agree: “If private property is going to be abolished, everything will have to be abolished.”  

I will agree that an ethical system like Judeo-Christianity is necessary, if not sufficient, to establish the fundamental principle that you are your own property. Not the church’s, not the State’s.

I do not agree that we must have a supernatural underpinning for that.

Arnn:

Yet Churchill went against the advice of all his advisors, including his wife, to make the point publicly that the socialists would never realize their ultimate aims without the use of “some form of Gestapo.” They did not intend this, at least the better of them did not, he said; but this is what it would take for their aims to be successful—this is what it would take to produce an equality of outcomes.

And Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom on precisely that theme.

Questions of “‘Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Whither are we going?’” are answered differently by different supernatural interpreters.  Which Diety can bring “comfort to the soul” is a matter of long extra- and intramural contention.

How do you reconcile the G_d who cares about every sparrow’s fall with your experience? A conversation between Yossarian and Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife in Catch-22 explores this question:

“And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,” Yossarian continued… “There’s nothing so mysterious about it. He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else he’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about — a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatalogical mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?”

“Pain?” Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife pounced upon the word victoriously. “Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers.”

“And who created the dangers?” Yossarian demanded. He laughed caustically. “Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain! Why couldn’t He have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of his celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person’s forehead. Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that. Why couldn’t He?”

“People would certainly look silly walking around with red neon tubes in the middle of their foreheads.”

“They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony or stupified with morphine, don’t they? What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He make of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering. It’s obvious He never met a payroll. Why, no self-respecting businessman would hire a bungler like Him as even a shipping clerk!”

Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife had turned ashen in disbelief and was ogling him with alarm. “You’d better not talk that way about Him, honey,” she warned him reprovingly in a low and hostile voice. “He might punish you.”

“Isn’t He punishing me enough?” Yossarian snorted resentfully. “You know, we certainly mustn’t let Him get away with it. Oh, no, we certainly mustn’t let Him get away scot free for all the sorrow He’s caused us. Someday I’m going to make him pay. I know when. On the Judgement Day. Yes, that’s the day I’ll be close enough to reach out and grab that little yokel by His neck and —”

“Stop it! Stop it!” Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife screamed suddenly, and began beating him ineffectually about the head with both fists. “Stop it!”

Yossarian ducked behind his arm for protection while she slammed away at him in feminine fury for a few seconds, and then he caught her determinedly by the wrists and forced her gently back down on the bed. “What the hell are you getting so upset about?” He asked her bewilderedly in a tone of contrite amusement. “I thought you didn’t believe in God.”

“I don’t,” she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. “But the God I don’t believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He’s not the mean and stupid God you make Him out to be.”

Yossarian laughed and turned her arms loose. “Let’s have a little more religious freedom between us,” he proposed obligingly. “You don’t believe in the God you want to, and I won’t believe in the God I want to. Is that a deal?”

Another interpretation might be that G_d is just uninvolved. That’s not much in the way of comfort, but does answer the problem of evil and maybe of free will.

All in all, I think property rights protect, or at minimum provide the basis for, protection of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. As Arnn says, you can’t really separate these things: It’s not just a fight about property. But, without property rights, the fight is already lost.

Related: The foolish ‘theism’ of government enthusiasts

Ecclesiastic Economics

Global bishops call for ‘complete decarbonisation’ by 2050

Bishops launched a global appeal Monday for a break-through at upcoming Paris climate talks, including a “complete decarbonisation” of the world’s economy and more help for poor countries battling the effects of climate change.

They propose eliminating 95% of reliable energy in 35 years.

What we will depend on as the basis for generating the wealth needed to help poor countries during, and after, the transition is left to God. In this scenario, absent a Miracle, poor countries will be grateful the Bishops and the green fantasists kept them poor. They’ll fare an order of magnitude better than will developed economies.

The Bishops’ understanding of economics fits right in with Bernie Sanders’. He should hire them as spiritual advisors. He does need a Miracle.

The bishops said any agreement “should limit global temperature increases to avoid catastrophic climatic impacts, especially on the most vulnerable communities…

Those responsible for climate change have responsibilities to assist the most vulnerable in adapting and managing loss and damage and to share the necessary technology and knowhow,” they said in a statement.

They’re hiring some bureaucrats to do God’s work: An “agreement” is going to “limit global temperature increases.” The religious fervor is settled.

This ritual invocation has already been attempted, unsuccessfully, by an individual vastly more charismatic and more widely viewed as messianic than these Bishops: “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.

Beyond all this, there’s this other carbon based energy thing called wood. Sans miracle, that’s what the survivors in what used to be known as developed countries will be burning when they are not occupied shoveling horse manure from the decaying streets. They’ll care nothing for poor countries, nor for the Bishops mistaken humanist pieties.

Theoretically, robbing Peter to pay Paul can only work if Peter has something left to rob. There are always Miracles, though.

Speech impediments

Bosch Fawstin’s winning cartoon

The First Amendment is a staple topic of this blog. I highly recommend ‘reading the whole thing’ for all the following:

“Stay Quiet and You’ll Be Okay”
-Mark Steyn

The Washington Post offered the celebrated headline “Event Organizer Offers No Apology After Thwarted Attack In Texas”, while the Associated Press went with “Pamela Geller says she has no regrets about Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that ended in 2 deaths”. The media “narrative” of the last week is that some Zionist temptress was walking down the street in Garland in a too short skirt and hoisted it to reveal her Mohammed thong – oops, my apologies, her Prophet Mohammed thong (PBUH) – and thereby inflamed two otherwise law-abiding ISIS supporters peacefully minding their own business.

It’ll be a long time before you see “Washington Post Offers No Apology for Attacking Target of Thwarted Attack” or “AP Says It Has No Regrets After Blaming The Victim”. The respectable class in the American media share the same goal as the Islamic fanatics: They want to silence Pam Geller. To be sure, they have a mild disagreement about the means to that end – although even then you get the feeling, as with Garry Trudeau and those dozens of PEN novelists’ reaction to Charlie Hebdo, that the “narrative” wouldn’t change very much if the jihad boys had got luckier and Pam, Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer and a dozen others were all piled up in the Garland morgue…

“Stay quiet and you’ll be okay:” Those were Mohammed Atta’s words to his passengers on 9/11. And they’re what all the nice respectable types are telling us now.

The First — and a Half — Amendment
-Victor Davis Hanson

If a Christian cake decorator does not wish to use his skills to celebrate gay marriage — an innovation that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama opposed until very recently — on a wedding cake, then he is rendered a homophobe who must be punished for not using his artistic talents in the correct way.Note that we are not talking about nondiscrimination concerning fundamental civil rights such as voting, finding housing, using public facilities, or purchasing standard merchandise. Meanwhile, are we really prepared to force gay bakers to decorate Christian wedding cakes with slogans that they find offensive or homophobic? Or to insist that an Orthodox Jewish baker must prepare a cake for a Palestinian wedding featuring a map of the Middle East without Israel? Or to require a black-owned catering company to cook ribs for a KKK group? Instead, radical gays demand the exclusive right to force an artist — and a cake decorator is an artist of sorts — to express himself in ways that they deem correct.

Without free speech, the United States becomes just another two-bit society of sycophants, opportunists, and toadies who warp expression for their own careerist and political agendas. How odd that we of the 21st century lack the vision and courage of our 18th-century Founders, who warned us of exactly what we are now becoming.

How Liberals Ruined College
-Kirsten Powers

The belief that free speech rights don’t include the right to speak offensively is now firmly entrenched on campuses and enforced by repressive speech or harassment codes. Campus censors don’t generally riot in response to presumptively offensive speech, but they do steal newspapers containing articles they don’t like, vandalize displays they find offensive, and disrupt speeches they’d rather not hear. They insist that hate speech isn’t free speech and that people who indulge in it should be punished. No one should be surprised when a professor at an elite university calls for the arrest of ‘Sam Bacile’ [who made the YouTube video The Innocence of Muslims] while simultaneously claiming to value the First Amendment…”On today’s campuses, left-leaning administrators, professors, and students are working overtime in their campaign of silencing dissent, and their unofficial tactics of ostracizing, smearing, and humiliation are highly effective. But what is even more chilling—and more far reaching—is the official power they abuse to ensure the silencing of views they don’t like. They’ve invented a labyrinth of anti-free speech tools that include “speech codes,” “free speech zones,” censorship, investigations by campus “diversity and tolerance offices,” and denial of due process. They craft “anti-harassment policies” and “anti-violence policies” that are speech codes in disguise.

Sadly, it hardly ends there. These excerpts touch only three of the more egregious offenders. Other enemies of the First Amendment are left unmentioned. For example, radical feminists, CAGW ‘settled science’ zombies and the IRS.

The establishment of secular State religion

See, your mistake was your naive presumption of goodwill on the part of the SJWs:

I apologize for thinking this was about only equal treatment under the law. I apologize for dismissing conservatives’ fears that this slippery slope would lead to de facto banishment from various sectors of the public square.

I thought people just wanted to be left alone. I was wrong.

For many, they wanted forced conversions.

Bonus at the link: Notes on a essay on dissent by Vaclav Havel.

Free exercise thereof

Some balanced discussion on Religious Freedom Restoration laws from The Cato Institute:

Why isn’t the 1st Amendment enough to protect freedom of religion and freedom of association without specific laws?
Religious Freedom and Discrimination
Roger Pilon 11 minutes

What is “legitimate government interest?”
Religious Liberty and Its Detractors
Mollie Hemingway 9 minutes