A Founding Father on the Dangers of Credit

A Founding Father on the Dangers of Credit

“the early days of the republic saw many who did not like systems of easy credit”

America did not always have a credit system like the present one. Rather, the early days of the republic saw many who did not like systems of easy credit and saw the dangers of overextended credit as a threat to the ordinary people who might become engulfed in debt.

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John Adams denounced credit as responsible for “most of the Luxury and Folly which has yet infected our People.” He declared that anyone who could devise a way to abolish credit forever “would deserve a Statue to his Memory” (Stephen M. Klugewicz and Lenore T. Ealy, History, on Proper Principles, Essays in Honor of Forrest McDonnald, ISI Books, Wilmington, Del., 2010, p. 265).

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All Cultures Need an Ideal

 All Cultures Need an Ideal

“There must also be an element of striving toward a goal.”

A culture cannot be conceived as a mere collection of individuals. There must be a unifying element that gives the community expression. There must also be an element of striving toward a goal.

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Historian J.H. Huizinga explains that, “This aim is always an ideal not the ideal of an individual, but an ideal for society. The nature of this ideal varies greatly. It may be purely spiritual: celestial bliss, nearness to God, liberation form earthly ties; or: knowledge of self and the mind, knowledge of the divine. It may be a social ideal: honour, respect, power, and greatness for the community” (In the Shadow of Tomorrow, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1936, 1964, p. 42).

The breakdown of a culture is caused by the loss of an ideal and the failure of a people to strive toward it.

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Why Prudence Is Needed in Business

Why Prudence Is Needed in Business

“it is part of prudence to consider all the circumstances”

By Bernard W. Dempsey S.J.*

Prudence is a virtue of the intellect by which we know in any current business what is proper and what is not.

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Prudence demands such care and diligence as the condition of person and the importance of the business require; for it is part of prudence to consider all the circumstances and all the things necessary to the intended end, and to apply them in a suitable manner, place and time (Bernard W. Dempsey, S.J., Interest and Usury, American Council on Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., 1943, p. 145).

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Probing the Libertarian Mind

Probing the Libertarian Mind

“It is hard enough to define a libertarian since, as Boaz admits, they come in so many brands and flavors.”

In reading David Boaz’s The Libertarian Mind (Simon & Schuster, 2015), one is struck by the difficulty of the task he has undertaken. It is hard enough to define a libertarian since, as Boaz admits, they come in so many brands and flavors. However, it is almost impossible to define the libertarian mind.

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In fact, according to libertarian logic, there can be no “libertarian mind” since the collectivity of all libertarians cannot think. What can exist are the human actions and thoughts of individuals that freely choose how to follow what each perceives as libertarian tenets.

Perhaps that is what makes the book so stifling. By refusing to accept generalities, one is forced to individualize all things to infinity and thus be deprived of those broad horizons and grand ideals that make life so interesting and refreshing.

Boaz’s primer on libertarianism is all about the individual and stays micro-focused on choices and associations that make each person happy. Its central tenet is simple enough: “We should be free to live our lives as we choose as long as we respect the equal rights of others.”

The tenet is not problematic in a world where some kind of strong cultural heritage and moral framework exists. In fact, Boaz traces pre-libertarian origins to medieval times where Christianity introduced notions of human dignity, representative government and common law. Inside the close-knit medieval society, choices were maximized within the context of family, faith and community that led to an amazing development of freedom.

However, the Protestant reformation began the long fragmentation of the unity and moral framework of Christendom. The libertarian central tenet comes to be interpreted according to the Enlightenment boilerplate of denying man’s fallen nature and affirming the supremacy of reason. It easily degenerates into the ethos of what Brad S. Gregory so expressively called the “Kingdom of Whatever.”

Indeed, The Libertarian Mind is a mixture of “whatever” the individual deems to be his interest. “Whatever” can consist of the reasonable libertarian outcry against big government and abusive regulations, or its excellent affirmation of free markets, rule of law and property rights. But “whatever” also consists of the throwing off of moral restraints that inhibit gratification and self- interest. Thus, the author obsesses about the urgent need for same-sex “marriage,” the end to pornography restrictions, and the right to legal drug use.

Throughout his explanation, there is a failure to consider the effects of individual action upon others or society as a whole since each determines what it means “to respect the equal rights of others.” Habits like drug abuse, for example, are only seen from the individual’s perspective of happiness and not from that of spouses, children, and society at large, all of which are gravely affected by the person’s decision. There is little notion of the “common good” in the common libertarian mind. The common good is at best, the aggregate sum of the good of its parts.

In this vision of society, where society is viewed simply as a machine made up of the sum of its parts, relationships are reduced to contractual agreements whose members are free to mesh or separate with others as they see fit. Even a person’s link with God has an element of contract. There is a big difference between this society and an organic vision of society, where members resemble a family and see themselves like living cells in the context of the whole body.

In this sense, the libertarian “mind” seems more like a calculator of self-interest than the free subscriptionactual thinking organ. Such a society is operated as a co-op or corporation which can deliver benefits, dividends and abundance in as much as they serve each individual’s interest. But it lacks the warm social bonds of an organic society organized like a family. It is a bland secular society officially stripped of its spiritual elements, from which, to recall the words of Irving Kristol, we can expect “no high nobility of purpose, no selfless devotion to transcendental ends, no awe-inspiring heroism.”

Returning to a moral order allows the maximum human freedom and is a better choice than entering the Kingdom of Whatever.

As seen on americanthinker.com

Can a Society of Spikes and Body-Cameras Long Survive?

Can a society of spikes and body-cameras long survive?

“such security measures will solve little since they address the symptoms not the causes of unrest that are rocking the nation.”

There are many who propose solutions in our post-Ferguson America. In light of recent security breaches, for example, the White House security staff announced that it is considering putting spikes on the fence separating the President and the American people. In a similar vein, many liberal activists are demanding that police be fit with body cameras to document all their actions.

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However, such security measures will solve little since they address the symptoms not the causes of unrest that are rocking the nation.

There is something profoundly wrong with a society of spikes and body cameras. It indicates a lack of trust at all levels of society. It is a telltale sign that the social consensus that once existed and acted as glue to unite the nation is no long holding. When the warm social bonds that keep things together are lost, the cold hard force of the law is the only thing left to keep order. Spikes and body cameras are knee-jerk stopgap measures of self-defense that hide a greater problem.

What is at stake in the present trust crisis is our identity as a people and the values we have long shared.

In his work, The City of God, Saint Augustine offers a definition of a people that can shed some light on our days. He states that “A people, we may say, is a gathered multitude of rational beings united by agreeing to share the things they love.”

Throughout the course of our history we have agree to share many things that we have come to love. Not all these things have been good and we have discarded many of them. We have erred along the way and must acknowledge our shortcomings.

However, many of these things we love have proven to be good and served to be a foundation of our prosperity: rule of law, ordered liberty and the idea that God would bless an America that adheres to a moral code vaguely based on the Ten Commandments. Inside this consensus could be found shared institutions of family, community, manners, morals, beliefs and aspirations that brought us together as a people and favored virtuous life in common.

Our problem today is not the things that we love and agree to share. It is that we no longer agree to love, and we no longer agree to share.

Instead we are taken up by the frenetic intemperance of our days where everyone must have everything instantly and effortlessly without regard for others. We have constructed a self-centered culture that leads people to resent the very idea of restraint and scorn the spiritual, religious, moral and cultural values that normally serve to order and temper what Augustine called a people.

When ideas are no longer shared, everyone takes a “what’s in it for me” angle to life. The purpose of life becomes one’s own self-gratification. Life in society becomes difficult and full of resentments, conflicts and mistrust. We see the results of this attitude in the tide of broken families, shattered communities and empty churches that blight our social landscape. It can be found in charred ruins of today’s riots. We see it also in the cold bureaucratic hand of big government everywhere filling in the void.

That is why it is so important that those who still hold to the good things that have united free subscriptionus stand firm. It is only in those existing social institutions of trust that we will naturally and lovingly order society. We demand from our police the impossible when we ask them to substitute the face of a loving mother with the rough and tough face of a New York cop. Reams of government regulations cannot replace simple moral codes.

The only we can return to some kind of order is if we become a people again. We must have the courage to agree to share the good things that we have always loved and look for other things to love that will inspire us to future greatness. We must forge a new consensus of trust beyond the spikes and body cameras.

As seen on speronews.com

Four Things That Can Replace Common Core

Four Things That Can Replace Common Core

The Core is Rotten

Progressive educators have an obsession for results, especially test scores. Higher scores supposedly prove children will be more “career and college ready” after graduation.

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For this reason, these educators are forever coming up with all sorts of one-size-fits-all programs like Common Core that they believe will solve the problem of flagging test scores.

Since new schemes are always appearing, it would seem that they are not working. Educators should look at those things that work. If scores are the ultimate indicators of success, then it would stand to reason that any proven method to improve test scores should win the enthusiasm of educators everywhere. It should not matter to educators how the scores improve, but only that they improve. Success should be rewarded by adopting such methods.

However, there are methods out there that are proven to be highly successful … and yet are ignored. Moreover, these are methods that can be immediately encouraged by any school district. Every parent can implement them. Best of all, this can be done without costing the taxpayer a single dime.

The children and their futures must be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

But these tried and true methods will not be officially adopted by the liberal education establishment because they go contrary to an agenda that cannot be opposed. The children and their futures must be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. The reason: These methods involve the family and moral values.

While it is unlikely that the liberal education establishment will encourage these methods, the good news is that any parent can implement four things that will boost their children’s test scores and make them more “career and college” ready.

Family Dinner

The first thing parents might do is eat dinner together with their children. Robert Putnam in his book, “Our Kids,” claims family dining is a powerful indicator of how children will do in school.

He quotes researcher Jane Waldfogel who writes that, “Youths who ate dinner with their parents at least five times a week did better across a range of outcomes: they are less likely to smoke, to drink, to have used marijuana, to have been in a serious fight, to have had sex…or to have been suspended from school, and they had higher grade point averages and were more likely to say they planned to go to college.”

Bedtime Stories

The second thing parents can do to boost their children’s chances for success is to read to them. A British philosopher, Adam Swift, recently claimed that those who read to their children can provide an advantage over those who do not read to them. Professor Swift claims the difference can be “as big as between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t.”

Swift’s solution, however, caused quite an uproar across the globe, since he recommended that caring parents restrict bedtime reading so as not to give their children an “unfair advantage!”

Go To Church

The third thing parents can do to improve student test scores and college readiness is to take their children to church.

Robert Putnam writes: “Compared to their unchurched peers, youth who are involved in a religious organization take tougher courses, get higher grades and test scores, and are less likely to drop out of high school.”

He further states that children whose parents attend church regularly are forty to fifty percent more likely to go on to college than those who are unchurched.

Parental Involvement

Finally, intense parental engagement in his education enormously improves a child’s future. The involvement can be as simple as asking about homework, or as serious as regular involvement with the PTA. Many studies conclude that intense parental involvement leads to higher academic performance, better social skills and fewer behavioral problems. When parents get involved, children perform better and go further. Even the schools themselves become better places to learn.

Other methods in the same line might be cited, but these four should suffice to start heading in the right direction.

Sadly, big government solutions call for education schemes that focus on test scores through massive programs like Common Core. The liberal education establishment also insists on pumping more money into failing schools despite evidence that shows that school finances, including teachers’ salaries, do not figure significantly in determining school performance in any schools—good or bad.

What determines a great school is the state of the students’ families. It makes sense since the family is the primary educator of the child. When the family breaks down, education is not far behind. The government can never substitute for the family.

Good education policy should be directed toward improving family involvement. And while government cannot force people to have good families, it can point them in the right direction.

Above all, it should not promote curricula that are hostile to the traditional family. It should free subscriptioninclude classical works that have long success in transmitting perennial values that have always helped children succeed in life. Schools should not be testing grounds for politically correct ideas that undermine the family and social order. Education should not be turned into a testing numbers game.

If there is to be a return to order in education, then it must focus on the family values that work and not the test scores that distort.

As seen on theblaze.com

The Need for the Small Groups

The Need for the Small Groups

“the small group has always played a major role in the formation of the human personality”

As much as the individual is highlighted as the principle social unit, the small group has always played a major role in the formation of the human personality throughout history.

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This is especially true of the family and then other small groups. They provide the diversity and structures that make people so different and so interesting. The need for the influence of small groups comes from human nature and thus is found everywhere and in all times including modern society.

Individualists may deny this great influence but it always appears. Sociologist Robert Nisbet reports that, “No matter how vast or impersonal, how regimented and eternally directed a society may be, close investigations reveal that it is quite literally honeycombed with small groups” (Robert A. Nisbet, The Social Bond: An Introduction to the Study of Society, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf), 1970, p. 89).

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Is More Choice Better?

Is More Choice Better? The problem is that when we are faced with too many choices in modern markets, there is a cost of having choice overload. This can lead to bad decisions, anxiety, stress and dissatisfaction – even clinical depression.

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What is the solution to this dilemma? Author Barry Schwartz free subscriptionclaims the solution lies in relying upon the social structure that normally serve to temper consumption. He says that, “Social institutions could ease the burden on individuals by establishing constraints that, while open to transformation, could not be violated willy-nilly by each person as he chooses. With clearer ‘rules of the game’ for us to live by—constraint that specify how much of life each of us should devote to ourselves and what our obligations to family, friends, and community should be—much of the onus for making these decisions would be lifted.” (Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, New York: Harper Perennial, 2004, p. 112.)

How the Industrial Revolution Created the Masses

How the Industrial Revolution Created the MassesCommunist agitators constantly referred to “the masses” as an essential component of their revolution. However, they did not invent the masses or even create them. Rather, the masses are a product of modern society with its mass media, mass markets and mass production.

Author Lawrence Friedman traces the masses to the Industrial Revolution when he says:

 

 

“The Industrial Revolution vastly expanded the domain of cheap mass-produced goods. Mass production created, in a way, the masses themselves. You would not refer to peasants in a medieval village as a mass, nor even the peasants in all of, say, Germany or France. Mass is a way of describing people who live in a world where one can of soup is exactly like a billion other cans.”

(Taken from Lawrence M. Friedman, The Horizontal Society, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., 1999, p. 70.)

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When Mass Production Backfires

When Mass Production Backfires

“not that there is too much demand for production but rather too much supply.”

The problem of mass production is not that there is too much demand for production but rather too much supply. There is the constant danger of glutted markets. This in turn leads to the need to create demand.

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As author Mark C. Taylor notes: “If people buy only what they need, the wheels of production grind to a halt.”

“The necessity of creating mass consumption to absorb the excess produced by mass production led to the invention of a new industry—advertising. One of the most important purposes of advertising is to create desire where there is not necessarily need” (Mark C. Taylor, Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2014, p. 97).

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