God and the Double BBQ Sandwich

God and the Double BBQ SandwichIt is no secret that America is polarized. This is a fact that is manifested in so many different ways. Traveling down the highway to Chicago, for example, I came upon two successive billboards that I thought were striking examples of our divided culture.

The first billboard caught me by surprise: it consisted of an electrocardiogram of a heart that suddenly stops beating. The caption read: When you die, you will meet God.

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As we were passing through the snowy night, I was unable to catch more details of this billboard. I do not know who put it out or what I was expected to do. It really did not matter because for a brief moment I thought about what the Catholic Church calls the “Four Last Things” – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Think of these things, Scriptures says, and you will not be lost eternally. The simple phrase served to trigger in me a gentle yet fleeting reflection upon the meaning of life. I am sure I was not the only one to make this quick reflection.

The billboard is clearly polarizing since it is directed toward that strong vein inside the American public that is turned toward things religious, spiritual and eternal. It is a sector of the American public that lives amid the fast, superficial and materialistic aspects of our pop culture yet is not entirely comfortable with them. These Americans are drawn by God, family, honor and country. On the other hand, this billboard would not appeal to other Americans who would tend to disparage the message as backward and unenlightened.

BBQ_sandwichThe second billboard came immediately afterwards and struck me by how contrary it was to the former. It consisted of a massive BBQ sandwich with the caption: Happiness is a double BBQ sandwich.

There is nothing wrong with a double BBQ sandwich or even deriving pleasure from eating one. However, the message behind this billboard is clearly materialistic yet more subtly polarizing. There is no invitation to profound reflection. Rather there is the quick insinuation that happiness can be easily bought by obtaining the immediate object of our desires. In this case, gratification equals happiness. According to the same logic, life should be a long succession of gratifications.

This billboard represents a second, more commercial, vein found in America that I call in the book, Return to Order, the perception of the nation as a co-op. This perspective holds that individuals unite themselves together in society as a means to facilitate each one’s inebriating pursuit of happiness.

How Do We Return to OrderUnder this view, an appreciation of America is tied to its ability to make everything fun and everyone happy. Like a co-op, those who hold this position expect returns on their social union in the form of constant and instant gratification. Happiness consists of participating in the excitement of a party economy that they hope will keep on going.

Of course, we cannot generalize and say that all Americans fit neatly into one category or the other. Sometimes the two can be found in differing proportions inside the same person. Other times, the same person might gravitate toward one or later the other. We might also observe collective swings of the national mood towards one or the other category.

As our crisis deepens, this fascinating interplay of perspectives, this dramatic clash of mentalities becomes the material for a great debate now taking place in America over our future. This discussion is found everywhere—even on highway billboards.

There are many categories that people have used to characterize the nation’s polarization. There is red and blue, conservative and liberal, or retro and metro. Perhaps it is the case to add yet another: God and the double BBQ sandwich.


Christmas Novena

Christmas Novena banner
Christmas Novena Opening Prayer

(To be recited each day)

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment

In which the Son of God was born

Of the most pure Virgin Mary

At midnight, in Bethlehem

In piercing cold.

In that hour, vouchsafe I beseech Thee, O my God,

To hear my prayers and grant my petitions

Through the merits of Jesus Christ and of His most blessed Mother. Amen.

(Mention your intentions here)



Day 1
Christmas Novena Day 1
Prayer: O Great Son of God, you have become man in order to make yourself loved by men. But where is the love that men give you in return? You have given your life blood to save our souls.

Why then are we so hard-hearted, repaying your love with our ingratitude? More than others, I have myself ill-treated you in this manner, Lord.

But your Passion is my hope. For the sake of that love which led you to take upon yourself our human nature and to die for me on the cross, forgive me all the offenses I have committed against you.

I love you, O Word Incarnate. I love you, O infinite goodness. Contrite and repentant, out of love for you, I could die of grief for these offenses. Give me, O Jesus, your love. Let me no longer live in ungrateful forgetfulness of the love you bear me. I wish to love you always. Grant that I may always persevere in this holy desire.

O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, pray for me that your Son may give me the grace to love Him always. Amen.


Day 2
Christmas Novena Day 2
Prayer: O Dearest Infant! Tell me, what have you come on earth to do? Tell me, whom do you seek? Yes, I already know. You have come to die for me, to save me from hell. You have come seeking me, your lost sheep, so that, instead of fleeing from you, my gentle shepherd, I may rest in the protection of loving arms. O my Jesus, my treasure, my life, my love and my all!  Whom will I love, if not you?  Where can I find a father, a friend, a spouse more loving and more lovable than yourself?

I love you, O my God; I love you, my only good.  I regret the many years when I have not loved you as I ought, but rather spurned and offended you. Forgive me, O my beloved Redeemer; I am heartedly sorry for having treated you so coldly.

Pardon me, and give me the grace never more to withdraw from you, but constantly to love you in all the years that still lie before me in this life.  My love, I give myself entirely to you; accept me, and do not reject me as I deserve.

O Mary, my advocate, by your prayers you can obtain whatever you will from your Son. Beseech Him, then, to forgive me, and to grant me holy perseverance until death. Amen.


Day 3
Christmas Novena Day 3
Prayer: O Dear Infant Jesus, would I have been so ungrateful and offended you so often, if I had realized how much you have suffered for me? But these tears which you shed, this poverty which you embrace for love of me, fill me with the hope that you will pardon all the offenses I have committed against you.

My Jesus, I am sorry for having so often turned my back on you. But now I love you above all else. “My God and my all!” From this moment forward, O my God, you shall be my only treasure and my only good. With Saint Ignatius of Loyola I will say to you, “Give me the grace to love you; that is enough for me.” I long for nothing else; I want nothing else. You alone are enough for me, my Jesus, my life, my love.

O Mary, my Mother, obtain for me the grace that I may always love Jesus and always be loved by Him. Amen.


Day 4
Christmas Novena Day 4
Prayer: O Dearest Savior, you have embraced so many outrages for love of me, yet I am incapable of bearing a single insult without immediately being filled with resentful thoughts, I who have so often deserved to be trodden underfoot by the demons in hell! I am ashamed to appear before you, sinful and proud as I am. Yet, do not drive me from your presence, O Lord, even though that is what I deserve. You have said that you will not spurn a contrite and humbled heart. I am sorry for the offenses I have committed against you. Forgive me, O Jesus. I will not offend you again.

For love of me you have borne so many injuries; for love of you, I will bear all the injuries that are done to me. I love you, Jesus, who were despised for love of me. I love you above every other good. Give me the grace to love you always and to bear every insult for love of you.

O Mary, recommend me to your Son; pray to Jesus for me. Amen.


Day 5
Christmas Novena Day 5
Prayer: O Jesus, my sweet Love! I too have caused you to suffer during your life. Tell me, then, what I must do in order to win your forgiveness. I am ready to do all you ask of me. I am truly sorry, O sovereign Good, for all the offenses I have committed against you. I love you more than myself, or at least I feel a great desire to love you. Since it is you who have given me this desire, do you also give me the strength to love you exceedingly.

It is only right that I, who have offended you so much, should love you very much. Always remind me of the love you have borne me, so that my soul may ever burn with love of you and long to please you alone. O God of love, I, who was once a slave of hell, now give myself entirely to you. Graciously accept me and bind me to yourself with the bonds of your love. My Jesus, from this day and forever, I shall live loving you, and, in loving you, will I die.

O Mary, my Mother and my hope, help me to love your dear God and mine. This is the only favor I ask of you, and through you I hope to receive it. Amen.


Day 6
Christmas Novena Day 6
Prayer: O my Dear Redeemer! Where would I now be, if you had not borne with me so patiently, but had called me from this life while I was in the state of sin?

Since you have waited for me till now, forgive me quickly, O my Jesus, before death finds me still guilty of so many offenses that I have committed against you. I am so sorry for having despised you, my sovereign Good that I could die of grief. But you cannot abandon a soul that seeks you.

If hitherto I have forsaken you, I now seek you and love you. Yes, my God, I love you above all else; I love you more than myself.

Help me, Lord, to love Thee during the rest of my life. I seek nothing else of you. But this I beg of you, this I hope to receive from you.

Mary, my hope, pray for me. If you pray for me, I am sure of obtaining this grace. Amen.


Day 7
Christmas Novena Day 7
Prayer: Dear Infant Jesus, crying so bitterly! How much reason you have to weep in seeing yourself persecuted by men whom you have loved so much. I, too, O God, have persecuted you by my sins. But you know that now I love you more than myself, and that nothing pains me more than the thought that I have so often spurned you, my sovereign Good.

Forgive me, O Jesus, and let me bear you with me in my heart, during the remainder of my life’s journey, so that together with you, I may enter into eternity. How often have I driven you from my soul by my sins. But now I love you above all things, and more than all other misfortunes, I regret that I have offended you. I wish to leave you no more, my beloved Lord. But give me the strength to resist temptation. Never permit me to be separated from you again.  Let me rather die than ever again lose your good grace.

O Mary, my hope, obtain that I may always live in God’s love and then die in loving Him. Amen.


Day 8
Christmas Novena Day 8
Prayer: O Jesus, my Savior! When I consider how, for love of me, you spent thirty years of your life hidden and unknown in a poor workshop, how can I desire the pleasures, honors and riches of this world? Gladly do I renounce them, one and all, since I wish to be your companion on this earth, poor as you were, mortified and humble as you were, so that I may hope to be able one day to enjoy your companionship in heaven. What are all the treasures and kingdoms of this world? O Jesus, you are my only treasure, my only Good!

I keenly regret the many times in the past when I spurned your friendship in order to satisfy my foolish whims. I am sorry for them with all my heart. For the future I would rather lose my life a thousand times than lose your grace by sin. I desire never to offend you again, but always to love you. Help me to remain faithful to you until death.

O Mary, the sure refuge of sinners, you are my hope. Amen.


Day 9
Christmas Novena Day 9
Prayer: O Adorable Infant Jesus! I should not have the boldness to cast myself at your feet, if I did not know that you yourself invite me to draw near. It is I who by my sins have made you shed so many tears in the stable of Bethlehem. But since you have come on earth to pardon repentant sinners, forgive me also, now that I am heartily sorry for having spurned you, my Savior and my God, who are so good and who have loved me so much.

This blessed night, during which you bestow great graces on so many souls, grant your heavenly consolation to this poor soul of mine. All that I ask of you is the grace to love you always, from this day forward, with all my heart. Set me all on fire with your holy love. I love Thee, O my God, who became a Babe for love of me. Never let me cease loving you ever more.

O Mary, Mother of Jesus and my Mother, you can obtain everything from your Son by your prayers. This is the only favor I ask of you: pray to Jesus for me. Amen.


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When Institutions Decay

7f441559a42Niall Ferguson’s The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die is intriguing since the title reflects what should be an obvious connection: Social institutions do affect economies.

The noted British historian’s latest book is a compelling demonstration of his thesis. He lays out all the symptoms caused by decaying institutions: slowing growth, crushing debts, aging populations, and an uncivil society. It is clearly a degeneration, and even a great degeneration.

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We can only admire Ferguson in his quest is to go beyond media hype and find out what really went wrong in the West. He rightly claims that “until we understand the true nature of our degeneration, we will be wasting our time, applying quack remedies to mere symptoms.”

In this short essay, Ferguson lists the four principal institutions which he affirms are in decline: representative government, the free market, the rule of law and civil society. The author masterfully shows how each one is suffering in our days. The frightening pileup of debts is threatening to burden those that come after us threatening what Edmund Burke called the “partnership” between the generations which he claims is so essential for representative government to work well. The rule of law is fast becoming the rule of lawyers. The free market is burdened under the scourge of excessive regulation. People simply aren’t getting involved in voluntary associations today diminishing the social capital that keeps free markets free.

These are themes that have long been discussed by scholars over the decades. Ferguson provides urgency and context to our present decline. He provides insight and excellent observations that should serve as a warning long overdue. His style is clear, engaging and at times witty.

Subscription12And yet, in his search for answers, we are left wondering if the author has dug deep enough.

The work suffers from its limitations as an essay. The 152-page text is taken from his 2012 BBC Radio 4 “The Reith Lectures” which limits the depth of his analysis since the book’s tone is light and slightly entertaining. There is no time to develop in depth those pressing questions that might be found in a more imposing tome with full bibliography and index.

However, there are other questions that might be raised. We are told how the institutions decayed but not why they decayed. Institutions simply don’t self-decay. We should be able to trace this decay to a decadence in men. There is little in the book to indicate what forces were at work in the depths of men’s souls that caused them to abandon these essential pillars. We are also given little clue as to what moral force might be employed to regenerate that which has degenerated.

The problem stems from the fact that Ferguson’s worldview is that of the Scottish Enlightenment when he felt the four pillars now in decline had reached their harmonious apogee. He thus works inside a rationalist and secular framework. As an historian, Ferguson must have observed that religious and moral institutions have always served as the most effective means to bring about a regeneration of society. Indeed, the very four pillars he lists as decaying were largely medieval institutions that developed under the tutelage of the Church. Yet he does not make the leap to suggest that a moral or religious regeneration is possible or even desirable. Such an omission is lamentable.Subscription5.2

Despite this omission, the book does have great value in making a link not often made. Economists have so entered into the abstract world of formulae and numbers that simply ignore such social considerations. Historians tend to concentrate on events and dates. Not often do we see those who admit that social institutions do affect economy. Economy need the support of social institutions to thrive. We ignore to our detriment this central fact so well demonstrated in The Great Degeneration.


A review of The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die by Niall Ferguson, Allen Lane, London, 2012.

American Intemperance in the Twentieth Century: The Installment Plan and the Making of the American Consumer

In his book, Return to Order, author John Horvat described a spirit of unrestraint that dominated culture and economy, which he called frenetic intemperance. The following article is part of a series of articles written by history teacher Edwin Benson that explains some stages by which America adopted this spirit of frenetic intemperance and its consequence in society. This article deals with the making of the American consumer, especially with the introduction of the installment plan.

Herbert Hoover, three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing slightly right, listening to radio.

“Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover said that there would be no more poverty.”

Human beings make economic decisions constantly. Where do we live? What do we do for a living? What time do we awaken? What do we drive? What do we eat? Where do we visit? What are our leisure time activities? What television shows (if any) do we watch? Do we scan through the commercials, watch them, or get up to make a sandwich? All of these, and literally hundreds of other times each day, we make decisions motivated–at least in part–by economics.

With that in mind, it should surprise no one that a fertile ground for frenetic intemperance is the economic structure of our daily lives.

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At the beginning of the twentieth century, a massive change was beginning to take place in the economic life of the average American. Prior to 1920, the majority of Americans lived in areas designated by the Census Department to be rural.[1] Of those, it is safe to say that the vast majority made their living in some sort of agriculture.[2]

That single change to more urban living created several other changes. One of the most significant changes was the fact that most Americans by 1920 had a regular income that could be largely determined in advance. To say that a farmer’s income was uncertain is an exercise in understatement. Weather and economic conditions, far beyond the farmer’s control, could make any given year one of prosperity or disaster. In comparison, the wages of a factory worker were relatively reliable. They were set in advance, and actual payment was made on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Under normal circumstances, the wage laborer could determine monthly income with a fair degree of accuracy.

This, in turn, caused a massive change in the way that income was spent. Even in a good year, the farmer needed to save whatever amount was possible because next year could be worse. The city dweller was far more likely to spend income in excess of needs because of the ability to count on more coming in the future. Sometimes, of course, a disaster could change that picture–but it usually did not.

This change happened gradually. Those raised with a rural sense of thrift were slow to abandon the teachings of childhood, even if they did migrate to some city or town. However, the temptations were many. The well-thumbed Sears, Roebuck Catalogue–itself a revolution in retailing–gave way to department stores where products could be seen, touched, and compared to other similar products. Electricity, indoor plumbing, and central heat, unavailable on most turn of the century farms, were commonplace in cities. The automobile offered both farmers and wage-earners mobility beyond their childhood dreams.

Still, the temperate habits of childhood died hard.

To motivate people to buy, another retailing revolution would need to take place. The unlikely revolutionary was the president of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan. Sloan wanted to sell more Chevrolets and displace Ford as the dominant American low-priced car. However, by 1919, Ford had cut his manufacturing costs to the bone and could sell the Model T for less than $525, while the comparable Chevrolet sold for $735.[3] Also, the multi-millionaire Ford owned all the stock in his company and cared little about profits. Sloan knew that GM’s stockholders cared very much about profits. He also knew that he could not cut costs below Ford’s level. The Chevrolet was more attractive and more powerful than the Ford, but that strategy alone was not convincing enough people to spend the extra money.

That year Sloan came up with a solution that changed the face of American retailing. To purchase the Ford, you needed to pay cash on the barrelhead. In a country where five dollars a day was a generous wage for a factory worker, that was a tall order. Sloan would sell you the Chevrolet for $50.00 down and $20.00 a month. Now the thriftier Ford buyer looked like a skinflint while the man making payments on the Chevy appeared to be the better husband and family provider.

Sloan called his innovation “buying out of income” but it came to be more generally known as the Installment Plan. Still, it took some work to convince many Americans that debt was a good thing. According to a GM publication from the mid-1920s, “Rent, heat, light, food, are essential commodities used by the family and are paid for out of current income. … Transportation by motor car is an essential commodity used by the family and is properly purchasable out of current income because the car represents an asset of continuing value.”[4]

It spread faster than the advent of sliced bread. By 1925, GMAC–as the new financing arm was called–had financed over 1,308,000 cars and trucks.[5] By that time, refrigerators, stoves, rugs, furniture, jewelry, radios, and even the house itself could be purchased for a series of “small monthly payments.” This gave rise to a frenzy of new buying just beyond one’s income.

Subscription8.1Every new payment made daily life easier. The refrigerator was so much more convenient than wrestling with 50-pound blocks of ice. No one had to get up two hours before breakfast to build a fire in a stove that was hooked up to gas. The worn out dining set of early marriage could be discarded in favor of new furniture that could seat the whole family when they come over for Thanksgiving. Momma got the wedding ring that she had always deserved. Money previously spent on movies could be saved because the family stayed home to listen to Jack Benny on the radio. With each purchase, it became easier to justify the next.

With all that buying going on, the economy boomed. America had entered a “new era.” Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover said that there would be no more poverty.[6] Questioning the health of the economy became positively unpatriotic. Purchasing created jobs, at least for a while.

Of course, neither Herbert Hoover nor John Q. Public knew what was coming next.


[1] https://www.census.gov/population/www/censusdata/files/urpop0090.txt

[2] For instance, in 1900 there were 5,739,657 farms serving a population of 76,212,168 or one farm for every 13.3 people in the US. In the most recent census (2010) the US had a population of 308,745,538 being served by 2,201,000 farms or one farm for every 140.2 people.

[3] http://modelt.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11:original-model-t-ford-prices-by-model-and-year&catid=5:history-and-lore&Itemid=1, “Hand Book of Automobiles 1919”, National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, page 116.

[4] “Before You Buy Another Car”, GM publication, no date (c. 1925).

[5] Ibid.

[6] “We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. The poorhouse is vanishing from among us. We have not yet reached the goal, but given a chance to go forward with the policies of the last eight years, and we shall soon, with the help of God, be within sight of the day when poverty shall be banished from this nation.” – Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover accepting the Republican nomination for the presidency, August 11, 1928.

A City Without a Soul

City Without a Soul

“Tieling New City is a brainchild of socialist planners”

Near the bustling industrial city of Tieling in northeastern China, there is a brand new city some 6 miles down the road called Tieling New City. The place has everything going for it. Visitors will find excellent infrastructure, government offices, schools, shopping centers and apartment complexes. Land and labor costs are significantly lower than other areas of China. Tieling New City can now hold some 60,000 residents with projections of triple that number in the near future.

The city even won a special recognition from the U.N. Human Settlements Program as an example of “providing a well-developed and modern living space.” The only problem is that Tieling New City is virtually a ghost town with almost no inhabitants. It is a city without a soul.

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Tieling New City is a brainchild of socialist planners who still run the nation with social engineering and old-fashioned communist corruption. These planners spent millions of yuan cleaning up marshland that had been used to dump untreated sewage. The logic was build first and populate later. The project also served as an economic stimulus project. With the downturn in world economy, China is trying to artificially pump up its economy by creating construction jobs, burning up money by throwing up a number of ghost cities like Tieling New City all over the country.

In typical Communist Chinese fashion, these cities are riddled with bad loans and deals crafted by corrupt officials who often trample on the rights of farmers and villagers forced to evacuate the area. This inorganic top-down manner of creating a city out of thin air is a surefire formula for building a city without a soul.

Tieling New City is truly a city without a soul. People simply don’t want to live there. There is no community life. There is no history or warmth. People feel more comfortable in crowded Tieling where they have links with friends, family and place.

Visitors cannot help but get an eerie feeling of being in a corpse-city when, at night, row after row of apartment buildings remain dark and nearly empty, save for a few residents and security guards. The industrial park is not much better. This vacant complex was built to be bustling with some 15,000 employees. Today, only two firms are there, one of which employs around 15 persons. Even with such dismal occupancy, there are still plans to double the park’s size. There is also a warehouse center on the outskirts of town that is virtually unused. Security guards seem to be the only real career opportunity in town with a future.

Despite the lack of enthusiasm for Tieling New City, the socialist planners were not easily discouraged. They came up with a set of socialist plans and schemes to move people in.

According to the Tieling government website, the industrial park created 5,000 jobs for rural workers in 2012. However, officials were soon disappointed to learn that most of the workers found places to live outside the new city. Officials then thought they found the solution when they moved many government offices from Tieling to Tieling New City. However, most government workers just commute from their old homes rather than move to the inhospitable city.

Officials went a step further by closing schools in the old city and forcing some 50,000 students to go to brand new schools in the new city. They hoped (against all hope) that parents would move closer to the schools. Alas, the parents are staying put. Despite the place’s outwardly pleasant appearance, they complain that the absence of community and services make the soulless city unlivable.

In face of such obstacles, socialist planners now believe the problem can be solved by building yet more facilities. According to The Wall Street Journal (8-9-13), the municipal government will be spending another $1.3 billion on new projects. Maybe, just maybe, officials reason, people will be attracted by an art gallery, a gymnasium, an indoor swimming pool, and another (empty) shopping center.Subscribe to Return to Order

What central planners fail to realize is that cities must either be built organically or they will be empty shells. The most important components of the city are individuals, families and communities not warehouses, industrial parks and shopping centers.

As noted in my book, Return to Order, from the exuberant element of life together in society, there springs forth “unique systems of art, styles of life, socio-political institutions, and economic models that differ from the rigid and soulless central planning and one-size-fits-all solutions so prized by socialists and bureaucrats.”

Indeed, so many fail to consider this human element which is essential to sound economy. They think, like the Chinese socialist planners at Tieling New City, that economic health can be bought by simply injecting money into an area without any link to the inhabitants. Bring back family, morals and institutions to a city and it will acquire a soul. Until then, the world is doomed to continue building cities without souls.

Three Very Important American Traditions

people-28782_640M. Stanton Evans lists three important aspects of tradition that shape American life and that need reaffirming today.

First, there is the idea of limits on the power of rulers and magistrates. This becomes especially necessary with the rise of absolutism and, later, totalitarian regimes.

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The second important tradition is the rule of law. This is the means by which members of a society regulate their conduct in accordance with an established set of laws.

Subscription11Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is “the consensual development of such law, as opposed to top-down decree by the supreme authority of the state.” (M. Stanton Evans, The Theme Is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition, Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 1994, p. 78)








When the Home Becomes a Warehouse


“This is where the retailer gains an added benefit from the consumer”

The constant trend in modern commerce is to transfer as much work as possible onto the customer and thus minimize expenses. Customers can therefore be seen labeling, checking out and bagging their purchases. They can order their purchases online and avoid all contact with humans. They can use their iPhone to compare prices and weigh their options. All these tasks are added to the load of today’s overworked and overshopped consumer.

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Few people, however, realize that the so-called warehouse clubs also are a great bargain for retailers. The large no-frills stores cut everything to a minimum by offering little-to-no floor help beyond shopping carts and optional cashiers. Most do not even provide bags since shoppers usually buy in bulk quantities well beyond their immediate needs.

This is where the retailer gains an added benefit from the consumer. With shoppers carrying out cases of canned food or multi-roll packages of paper towels, the warehouse clubs are finding new and free storage space.

Author Craig Lambert notes: “The customer’s home, in other words, becomes the RTO-Audiobook-AD-medium-resaftermarket warehouse. Instead of leasing space somewhere to stock inventory, Costco stores it, free of charge in the customer’s basement, after the sale instead of before it” (from Craig Lambert, Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs that Fill Your Day, Counterpoint, Berkeley, 2015, p. 170).

Freedom Is Not Choice

Freedom Is Not ChoiceThere are those who confuse freedom with choice. They do not realize that freedom is the ability to choose the means to a determined end perceived as good and in accordance with our nature. It is not the choice itself. When a person makes a bad choice or chooses a bad end, the result is not freedom but a type of slavery to the passions. Thus, a person who overeats when satisfying natural hunger or another who chooses an excellent wine with the intent of getting drunk, does not exercise true freedom but rather its abuse. The more we master our nature, the more freedom we have. Supernatural virtue gives us yet more freedom since we not only master our nature but surpass it.Subscription11

Saint Thomas teaches: “But man is by nature rational. When, therefore, he acts according to reason, he acts of himself and according to his free will; and this is liberty. Whereas, when he sins, he acts in opposition to reason, is moved by another, and is the victim of foreign misapprehensions. Therefore, ‘Whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin’” (quoted in Leo XIII, Encyclical Libertas [1888] in The Papal Encyclicals, vol. 2, p. 171, no. 6).

The above excerpt was taken from the book, Return to Order.

When Technology Helps Weaken Communities

When Technology Helps Weaken Communities

“He calls these extra jobs, done free of charge, shadow work.”

In his book, Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs that Fill Your Day, author Craig Lambert claims that so many consumers have assumed the work normally done by those who once worked for producers and retailers. For example, many Americans use self-service technologies and thus perform the service jobs of the supermarket cashier, ticket counter operator or gas pump worker. He calls these extra jobs, done free of charge, shadow work.

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While exhausted consumers may feel more self-sufficient by such shadow work, they also become more isolated. When consumers interact with robots and computers, they lose touch with that human element which is so much an integral part of belonging to communities. When people become accustomed to the cold mechanical actions of machines, they often expect such behavior from those around them.

The result is the decay of community life. Lambert notes that what is missing are “these daily interchanges, swapping pleasantries and small talk with service personnel, [that] help glue a neighborhood, or a town, together.”RTO-Audiobook-AD-medium-res


Does Wal-Mart Carry Everything?

Does Wal-Mart Carry Everything?

“The Wal-Mart abundance is really just a veneer of all the variety that exists.”

There are those who seem to believe that big department store chains like Wal-Mart carry almost everything that exists. This is, however an illusion.

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Writer Chris Anderson observes that this impression is part of the paradox of plenty. He writes: “Walk into a Wal-Mart and you’re overwhelmed by abundance and choice. Yet look closer and the utter thinness of this cornucopia is revealed. Wal-Mart’s shelves are a display case a mile wide and twenty-four inches deep” (Chris Anderson, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, New York: Hyperion, rev. and updated, 2008, p.156).

Anderson notes that the actual proportion of goods that exist is more like a world that is one mile wide and a mile deep. The Wal-Mart abundance is really just a veneer of all the variety that exists.