Posts tagged “greed

Dictatorship Imminent

soma

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” Aldous Huxley

A remarkable portrait of our contemporary world appeared two months ago with the  daunting title :  “Decline, Decay, Denial, Delusion and Despair”,  but the content is surely true to life. Starting from a street scene to be found no doubt all over the eastern United States, the author concludes that within 15 years an Orwellian dictatorship will descend upon his country as the unwanted effect of wanted causes. But the USA is not typical of the whole world ? The whole world is buying into the American way of life. “Let the buyer beware”!

This autumn in the streets of Wildwood, New Jersey, the author observed pavements encumbered with a host of heavily overweight men and women under 50 years of age rolling around town on government-subsidized mobility scooters to visit one fast-food joint after another in order to gorge on sugar-laden goodies which would give their latest model scooters more work than ever. His amusing name for them ? – “The weight-challenged disabled on their powered mobility enhancement vehicles.” Such is the flight from reality of “political correctness” and its language.

The author seeks causes for this tragic-comic effect : how can the American people that once saved 12% of their income have been persuaded to frighten the obesity statistics off the end of the charts with a debt-laden, sugar-sodden way of life, with no more savings for themselves and with an unbearable burden of debt being bequeathed to their children and grand-children ? Of course there is a lack of self-control on their part, he says, but there must be something more sinister, some mind behind such a mindless scene. He says the mass of citizens are being manipulated by an invisible government that has mastered the modern techniques of mass manipulation.

He quotes a pioneer of these masters from the 1920’s, Edward Bernays: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the masses is an important element in democratic society… Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society… Whether in politics, business, social conduct or ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons… who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses.” They are “the true ruling power of the country,” and they “pull the wires which control the public mind.” For what purpose ? For their own wealth and power.

It is they who have organized today’s financial and economic crisis for their own benefit. They have “wrecked the world economy… shifted their worthless debt onto the backs of taxpayers and unborn generations, thrown senior citizens and savers under the bus by stealing $400 billion per year of interest from them, and enriched themselves with bubble-level profits and bonus payments.” And when the plug has to be pulled on this unsustainable way of life, then our invisible masters have prepared for us a 1984 “dictatorship of tears” with militarized police with millions of bullets, surveillance cameras and drones everywhere, imprisonment without charges and so on and so on. Yet, says the author, it is the citizens’ own fault who have preferred ignorance to truth, sickness to health, media lies to critical thinking, security to liberty.

There is only one thing lacking to this admirable analysis: could our governing elite have run so wild, or our masses have turned so dumb, if either had retained the least sense of a God who judges us all at death, according to Ten Commandments ? Of course not. Catholics, wake up !

Kyrie eleison.   Bishop Richard Williamson

 

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Materialism, Calvinism and The Greed of The West

Well the Season of Greed and Avarice is upon us.

Why has the celebration of the birth of Christ been adulterated to such an extent that we act as if we are deserving of so much more on His Birthday than he had?

Christ “so loved poverty that He chose for His mother not a rich and powerful queen, but a poor and humble Virgin.  He willed to be born, not in a palace, but in a bleak stable, the manger of which, covered with a little straw, was His only couch.” – The Sinner’s Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada.

Where did it all go wrong?  The West’s wealth and love of money is unprecedented historically.   We are told that capitalism is the best  economic system but what happens when capitalism is devoid of morality and a sense of responsibility to our children and our future?

Personal greed and corporate greed have transformed capitalism.   Corporate America panders to our base nature.   It seeks out the latest, coolest, hippest and ultimately the lowest elements of our culture,  repackages them, and seduces our senses, our children, and our pocketbooks.

The “hipsters” behind the scenes of what’s cool push the envelope on every front.  They turn their decadent, sex-obsessed minds on our children and assume them to be of like ilk.  They assume the average male is a vulgar, adolescent, frat-boy, who delights in toilet-humor, sex jokes and freaky stunts.  They imagine the average female to be a shop-a-holic, vain, sex-kitten, who longs to throw off the confining chains of parents, husband and or children.  The imagined male and female become reality when they are fed constant rebellion, entertainment, and not only sex, but “taboo” sex.

We exalt in arising at 4:30 a.m. on the biggest shopping day of the year to acquire, accumulate and acquiesce to this culture.  The corporations that exploit Christmas also exploit our thirst for human respect.  After all, if we opt out of the spending and gift-giving mania, we are uncharitable scrooges and our friends and family may think we have become religious fanatics.  When we could use the season to counter the culture’s notion of Christ, we instead capitulate.

Why this obsession with the temporal?  Where has our sense of the holy and eternal gone?  Hillaire Belloc said of John Calvin and Calvinism, “In denying the efficacy of good deeds and of the human will, and abnegations, in leaving on one side as useless all the doctrine and tradition of Holy Poverty, Calvin opened the door to the domination of the mind by money.  St Thomas had said it centuries before–that if men abandoned the idea of God as the supreme good they would tend to replace Him…[with]…material wealth” as the supreme good.”   -Hillaire Belloc, The Crisis of Civilization.

If Calvin was right and our good deeds have no effect on our salvation, and, furthermore that we are predestined by the Divine Will to such an extent that man’s free will is nullified, then one can see how man could easily be consumed by temporal matters, and conversely ignore matters of the eternal.  Why be so  foolish as to forego the world’s glitter and glamour if there is no eternal consequence to partaking in it?

“Man cannot freely rise to God and the contemplation of His beauty while he is breathless in pursuit of riches.  A heart filled with material and earthly pleasures can never know spiritual and divine joys.  No it is impossible to unite what is false with what is true; what is spiritual with what is carnal; what is temporal with what is eternal; they can never dwell together in one heart.”   -The Sinner’s  Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada.

Likewise man cannot truly appreciate the gravity of Christ’s birth when we engage in the world’s notion of Christmas which amounts to idolatry and worship of the golden calf.  God requires good deeds of His people and our actions will have consequences.  We must not partake in the corruption of Christ’s birthday.

“Riches are acquired only at the expense of pain and labor; they are preserved only by care and anxiety; and they are never lost without bitter vexation and grief.  But worse than this, they are rarely accumulated without offence against God…”.  -The Sinner’s  Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada.

http://www.realclearreligion.com/materialism_calvinism_the_g.html


“Sacred Duty”

Thou shalt not give any of thy seed to be consecrated to the idol Moloch, nor defile the name of thy God. I am the Lord.   Lv:18:21: 21

A Planned Parenthood affiliate’s newest president and CEO said in an official statement that she regards her work for the biggest abortion business in America to be a holy profession.

Melaney Linton, who will now oversee Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, is determined to further the Life-ending work of Planned Parenthood:

“I am honored and humbled to be entrusted with such a sacred duty…I pledge to do everything in my power to fight back against the ideological attacks on Planned Parenthood and women, so that no teen will ever say she didn’t know how she got pregnant, no one will ever be denied basic reproductive health care, and no woman will ever be forced to bear children she cannot adequately support.”

Starting March 1st, Linton will manage 13 abortion and abortion-referring centers in Southeast Texas and Louisiana, as well as the largest abortion mill in America, located in Houston, Texas.

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast alone performed over 12,000 abortions in 2010 and banked over $17 million – 49 percent of which came from taxpayer dollars. Linton will succeed Peter Durkin, who earned over $200,000 in 2010 by performing this “sacred duty.”

Linton is mistaken when she calls her work “sacred.” There is nothing holy about extinguishing the lives of millions of unborn children as a way to line the company pocketbook. The new CEO vows to fight back against Life-affirming measures that have limited the abortion provider, because it cuts into the proceeds Planned Parenthood receives from every abortion committed.

Planned Parenthood, with their money-hungry abortion agenda, has lured women and young girls into their clinics with the promise of putting them first, but Planned Parenthood’s financial standing is all that matters to the abortion giant. The abortion business refuses to acknowledge the physical, mental, and emotional damage abortion causes, thus, abandoning women because they are no longer seen as a profit.

The Planned Parenthood abortion business is a multi-million dollar company which preys on women to drive up their bottom line. This government-sanctioned killing of children must be brought to an end. As members of the Pro-Life community, we are dedicated to ending the horror Linton and Planned Parenthood so fiercely defend. As long as Planned Parenthood remains devoted to ending innocent human life and committing these unjust moral atrocities, we are dedicated to severing the revenue stream that is responsible for the death of innocent unborn children.

http://www.texasrighttolife.com/a/843/Planned-Parenthood-CEO-claims-work-to-be-sacred 


Elites, Excellence and Altruism

Miss Columbia's Noblest Sons

We are witnessing a surge of popular outrage and even revulsion against an onslaught of ideologically liberal changes affecting the lives of millions of Americans. This outrage is fueled, among other things, by the following:

• Decisions of activist judges favoring homosexual or private property-denying socialist agendas and showing complete disregard for public opinion;

• Junk science academics whose unwarranted and twisted findings are celebrated in the liberal media and establishment and are subsequently used to justify society-changing legislation and regulation;

• Out-of-touch, liberal politicians using legislation or the raw power of government to intervene more and more inappropriately in the lives of Americans, creating in the process a leviathan Socialist State;

• Ideologically-motivated media run amok, showering notoriety on leftist and opportunistic intellectuals, politicians, and entertainment celebrities willing to trumpet the “politically correct” line on a spectrum of controverted issues.

Do Not Confuse “Liberal Establishment” with True Elites

Undoubtedly, the individuals targeted by this furor can somehow be considered as elites. However, they do not represent true elites. Rather, they represent the latter’s corruption. They act contrary to the mission of all true elites which is based on service to the common good and the positive influencing of others, so as to foster goodness and virtue.

There is therefore a danger of conflating the “liberal establishment” with true elites and, while attacking the evils of liberalism, to play inadvertently the game of the left by favoring social egalitarianism. In sum, if we do not make the necessary distinction, we will “throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Thus, it is imperative to have a clear notion of what a true elite is so as not to confuse it with distortions or caricatures. Since society cannot live without a ruling class, the destruction of natural elites will cause them to be replaced with a new class of bureaucrats forming a nomenclature, as happened in socialist countries.

Elites, Excellence and Altruism

The French word élite was incorporated into the English language in 1823 but has its remote origins in the Latin term eligere, “to choose.” It is employed to designate individuals or groups who stand out in a special way in a certain social setting or activity. Thus, elite is used to designate “a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence;” and thus we speak of “the elite of the entertainment world” or “members of the ruling elite;” and “the intellectual elites of the country.”

The philosophical Encyclopedie de L’Agora defines elite as “the best of the best.” Littré  cites fleur [flower] as the first synonym of elite. “The elite of an army is the flower of the army. In the words of Tocqueville, an intellectual elite is distinguished by a disinterested love of truth; and in the sphere of action, an elite is distinguished by courage, as Plutarch teaches us in his Lives of Illustrious Men.”

Distinguishing Between True and Decadent Elites

According to Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “countries which have an elite that is conscious of its responsibility are countries that rise in the firmament of history and brilliantly accomplish their mission. On the contrary, however, nations whose elites are unaware of their responsibility and mission are nations that inevitably fail and plunge into the great catastrophes of history.”

The reason for this, the illustrious Brazilian thinker explains, is that if the “elite has the privileges it has” it must not live to enjoy these privileges but rather “to serve society entirely,” which supposes “that the elite be disposed to make the necessary sacrifices to accomplish its mission.” And, he continues, “The main responsibility or mission of an elite individual—whatever may be the area of his excellence—is to dedicate himself to the common good. This donation of self to the common good consists in having a clear concept of what the elite must do.”

And that is why “if the elite renounces its responsibility to be the social class that sets the tone in society—a moralizing and Christian tone rather than a de-Christianizing and paganizing one—it ceases to be a true elite.”

Combat Socialism, Not True Elites

Given the confused state of notions in many minds today, we need to insist that a nation cannot exist, or at least it cannot develop normally, without true elites; because a nation progresses only with the impulse of the best, the most skilled, and the most virtuous.

Because of socialism’s egalitarian essence, it loathes the natural elites that rise thanks to the development and use of talents, free enterprise and the hereditary perpetuation of family values and merits.

What outraged Americans ought to do when corrupted elites favor socialism is not to condemn all elites indiscriminately but to combat the former. In other words, they should target the specific elites that allowed themselves to become corrupted. Without this special care to distinguish between false and true elites, one ends up by inadvertently playing into the hands of the enemy we are trying to defeat: socialism.

Outrage against the liberal establishment has sparked increased talk about America’s Founding Fathers. However, few remember to note, much less ponder on how they were members of the social, cultural, and political elite of their time.

We live in dangerous times that require great clarity of vision and strength in action. Let us eschew all muddled, anti-elitist thinking and rhetoric and remain faithful to America’s principled and battle-seasoned anti-communist and anti-socialist past. Should we do this, the troubles we are going through may well become America’s “finest hour.”

http://nobility.org/2010/10/05/a-society-without-elites-is-a-socialist-society/


Freedom in Danger

From an address delivered on April 4, 1943 by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Today we shall speak about a grave danger facing the world— not America alone. That danger is the threatened loss of something which is on the tongue of everyone, namely, freedom.

A proof that we are in danger of losing it, is that everyone is talking about it. If you suddenly came into a country where everyone was talking about the health of the lungs, you would immediately conclude that a disastrous microbe was rampant. In the last war everyone spoke about “making the world safe for democracy,” and yet the world became so unsafe for democracy, that within twenty-one years democracy had to stumble into another war to preserve itself.

Now, we ought to be worried about freedom, simply because everyone is talking about it! Slaves talk most about freedom; the oppressed talk most about justice; the hungry talk most about food.

We are all agreed that the external threat to our freedom and the freedom of the world comes from the totalitarian states. There is no need to develop this thesis.They are Satan’s vicegerents of tyranny, the anti-Christ’s advance agents of adversity. But our point is that the gravest threat to freedom comes from within; I do not mean within America alone, I mean within the hearts and souls of men throughout the world.While the world is attempting to preserve freedom in the political order, it is surrendering it in those deeper realms upon which the political reposes.

Picture a group of men on a roof-top proclaiming in song and story the glories of architecture, while below saboteurs have already knocked out half the foundations of the house— and you have the picture of modern freedom. Politicians in the upper stories are glorifying freedom while false philosophy in education, and so-called Liberal Christianity, have knocked away its supports.

Firstly, freedom is denied in education today. This may sound bizarre to some educators who have been shouting catch-words about freedom for decades. But I submit they are talking about license—not freedom. They are concerned with freedom from something; not freedom for something; they are interested only in freedom without law rather than freedom within the law. And the proof? Do not many educators today assume that evil and sin are due to ignorance, and that if we educate, we will remove evil? Do not others assume that evil is due to bad environment, bad teeth, or bad glands, and that an increase of material wealth will obliterate evil? Can they not see that these assumptions destroy freedom; for if evil is the result of ignorance, and not the result of a perverse use of freedom, then Hitler is an ignoramus, but he is not a villian? Can they not see that education without a proper philosophy of life can be made the servant of evil, as well as of good? Have they not the vision to see that if evil and sin are to be attributed solely to external circumstances, then man is not free to do wrong? Then wrong is in our environment, but not in us. Is it not inconsistent to praise a free man for choosing what is right, and at the same time, when he does wrong, to deny that he is free?

That kind of education which denies guilt and sin is destroying freedom in our schools, while our soldiers are fighting for it on the battle fronts of the world. Modern religion has also denied freedom. Oh, do not misunderstand! I know it preaches freedom. But here we are searching hearts, not lips. Modern religion denies freedom because it denies hell. In a recent survey of ministers it was discovered that seventy-three percent did not believe in hell.

If there is no hell, why should there be a heaven? If there is no wrong, and hence no sin for which men ought to be punished, why should there be a heaven where they should be rewarded for their virtues? If there are statues erected to our patriots, why should there not be prisons for our traitors? Whom do they think God is— a kind of grandmother who laughs off the wrong-doing of His children, as if there were no scales of Justice, and He were not the God of Righteousness?

This sugary, pale ersatz of Christianity has set at naught the very words of the Christ Whom they preach— the Christ Who on more than a dozen occasions said there was a hell. Hell is the eternal guarantee of human freedom. If God were to destroy hell, at that moment He would destroy human freedom. So long as there is a hell, we know that He so respects human freedom that He will not by Force or Power destroy even that free will which rises up against Him with an everlasting “I will not serve.” Satan is thus destroying our freedom at the very moment he has let us believe that we are most free. He did so by the very same temptations which failed when he tempted Christ on the mountain at the beginning of His public life.

Satan tried to tempt Our Lord from His Gospel of Love by offering three substitutes. In the first temptation, instead of winning souls through love, Satan suggested that Christ buy them with bread, inasmuch as men are hungry.

In the second temptation, Satan suggested that Christ win them by manifesting great Power over nature, such as throwing Himself from a temple tower unhurt.

In the third temptation, Satan suggested winning souls through politics. He unfurled before the mind’s eye of the Savior all the kingdoms and empires and nations of the world, and in a frightening boast, as if to imply all were his, said: “All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me” (Matthew 4:9).

Our Lord refused to surrender freedom. If souls would not love Him without the bribery of bread, without the exhibitionism of Power, and without selling himself to Caesar, He would still not force them. Freedom would endure through an eternal heaven and an eternal hell.

Satan is now back again in the world, and oh, how he is succeeding in destroying freedom. Souls are today selling themselves out for that bread which today they call security; for that power which is now called Science and Progress, while others, in over a fifth of the world’s surface, have bartered their freedom for dictators and tyrants.

Dostoievsky, that great Russian writer of the last century, was right when in a great flash of genius he warned that the denial of sin and hell in education and religion would end in a world Socialism where men would surrender freedom for a false security. He pictured anti-Christ returning to the world and speaking to Christ, thus: “Dost thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only hunger? And men will come crawling to our feet, saying to us: ‘Give us bread! Take our freedom.’

I wonder if those days are not already here; Finally, in place of free men, the anti-Christ pictures the new Socialistic State in which he and his followers will organize every-thing after convincing people there is no sin— there is only hunger. And Dostoievsky again pictures anti-Christ speaking to Christ: “They will tremble impotently before our wrath, their minds will grow fearful, they will be quick to shed tears like women and children, but they will be just as ready at a sign from us to pass to laughter and rejoicing, to happy mirth and childish song. Yes, we shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life like songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these sins we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves, and they will adore us as their saviour who have taken on themselves their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from us. We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have children— according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient— and they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. What I say to Thee, 0 Christ, will come to pass, and our dominion will be built up. I repeat, tomorrow Thou shalt see that obedient flock who at a sign from me will hasten to heap up the hot cinders about the pile on which I shall burn Thee for coming to hinder us. For if any one has ever deserved our fires, it is Thou. Tomorrow I shall burn Thee. Dixi. (I have spoken).”

This frightening spectacle is already taking place on a large part of the earth’s surface. By denying responsibility to God, men have surrendered their freedom to Satan. Such is the inevitable outcome of the world unless we pray. Pray we must, lest we succumb to the challenge the world hurled at the Cross: “Come down and we will believe.” They were willing to admit that they would believe if He would only show His Power by stepping down from His gibbet! Poor fools! Did they not see that they were asking Him to force them to believe, which would have been the end of freedom? They were free to believe that He was the Son of God, as the thief did, so long as He did not come down to smite them!

They had freedom so long as He left their faith in their own hands and not in His. His refusal to come down was the guarantee of freedom. The nails which pierced Him were the stars of the flag of freedom; the bruises of His body battered by free men, were the stripes of that flag. His blood was its red; His flesh its blue and its white.

So long as Our Lord hangs on His Cross, man is free! The moment He comes down in Power, man is His slave, and He is man’s dictator. But come down He will not! Freedom will never be destroyed— not even in hell, for even there He leaves man the eternal choice of his rebellious will.

So He did not come down! If He came down He would have made Nazism, Fascism, and Communism before their time. The coming down is the death of love. If He came down, He never would have saved us! It is human to come down. It is divine to hang there!

 http://www.fultonsheen.com/Fulton-Sheen-articles/Freedom-in-Danger.cfm?artid=1


America: Time to Start Over

This must have been what it was like living in the 1930s: politicians running around, fingers in their ears, unwilling or unable to confront a rising conflagration that they helped to light.

Back then, the threat came from a revivified and revanchist Germany. Western leaders stood by while the Germans rearmed, then looked the other way as ever larger chunks of the Continent fell to the blitzkrieg. When the enervated Western elites finally took a stand over Poland, it was too late — the fire was so large that, by the time it was finally quenched, the world lay in smoldering ruin.

Today we face a different, though no less mortal, sort of threat: the wealth of the West has been revealed to be largely illusory, built on the foolish foundations of credit that shift and scatter like sands in the wind. Individuals, governments, and corporations for decades have borrowed against the future, gambling that later economic growth would finance current incredibly high living standards, standards which every good Westerner came to believe their birthright.

It never occurred to these citizens and policy-makers that the economic growth they counted on may never arrive, that their obscene levels of borrowing would themselves be enough to strangle future wealth in its cradle, long before it had a chance to grow.

The reality is this: the total debt portfolio of the United States is conservatively estimated at $130-150 trillion. And that’s just us; add up the red ink of every person, nation, and company on the planet and we’re talking many hundreds of trillions. To put that in perspective, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the whole world was last year a mere $65-70 trillion.

In short, we have been living a “hundred of trillions” lifestyle on “tens of trillions” in actual wealth. The difference between the two sums is money that would have belonged to the future: future kids would have used it to pay for their education, future inventors to invest in their ideas, future couples to buy their first home. It is money they will now never have; we have plucked it from their pockets and purses before they were even born. It’s easy, after all, to rob someone who doesn’t yet exist. So that we could pretend to be richer than we are, we have ensured that our children will be poorer than they deserve to be.

This is a monstrous moral failing, a horrendous crime against our heirs. The difference between ourselves and Bernie Madoff? Not much, really. It is the height of hypocrisy to put a man like Madoff behind bars for engaging in the same sorts of financial shell games that we like our politicians to play. Social Security is every bit as much of a scam as a crooked hedge fund, yet FDR is lionized while Madoff rots in a cell — nothing could better encapsulate the moral and literal bankruptcy of our civilization.

The consequence of all this debt is easy to predict — decay, decline, demise. Such has been the fate of all entities, both public and private, whose commitments have so overwhelmed their resources, and such will be our own fate. We have murdered our future with a million papercuts; our republic was KIA by IOU.

Watching the eunuchs in Washington squabble over the debt crisis is a sobering experience, in that it makes perfectly clear that our political class is every bit as unequal to the times as was its 1930’s counterpart. I shudder to think how pale and poor are the hands that hold the reigns of state in these times of peril. Our politicians really haven’t the slightest clue what they have wrought, nor the faintest idea of the severity that awaits us.

Of course, the thing about democracies is they usually get the political class they deserve. The American voting public proved its utter unworthiness to govern itself when in 2008 it elected an attractive but empty suit to the most consequential office in the world. He shouted hope. What for? We didn’t ask. He promised change. What kind? We didn’t care. He looked good on TV, which is really, when you get right down to it, all that matters these days.

I have come to the conclusion that this crisis is so vast that it is effectively beyond the scope of our present institutions to effectively address. That is because our institutions are part of the problem; indeed, they are the problem.

The old way has brought us to this precipice, and will sooner or later push us over. Time to start dreaming of a new way.

Time to start America all over again.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/07/america_time_to_start_over.html


Humility in a Time of Recession

There has been much discussion about the contribution of unethical behavior to our present economic circumstances. Whether it was borrowers’ lying on mortgage-applications or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s politically-driven lending policies, there seems to be some consciousness that non-economic factors played a role in facilitating what we already call the Great Recession.

Unfortunately evidence is emerging that some people have learned nothing. A recent report, for example, commissioned by the Wall Street Journal illustrates that “losses from mortgage fraud—ranging from falsified credit reports to identity theft—rose 17% last year after declining 57% in the two years after its 2006 peak.”

Of course wider adherence to ethical norms against lying and stealing won’t solve every economic problem. There are heavy technical dimensions to many economic dilemmas which require technical solutions. Nor does every policy-error constitute a moral failure.

Nevertheless those making economic decisions are human beings, and our virtues and vices do shape our purchasing, selling and policy choices. Many such virtues could be highlighted, but one needing extra-attention today is humility.

The word “humility” derives from the Latin humilitas. This in turn comes from humus which means earth or soil, but is also related to homō, meaning man. For the Greeks and Romans, the word underscored the idea that humans are not God or gods. Likewise for the Jews and early Christians, humility was about remembering that humans are fallible creatures who come from and return to the earth: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Some first millennium Christian writers, such as St. John Chrysostom, even described humility as the mother of the virtues, as it prevented vanity from corrupting every other virtue.

So how might a renewed embrace of humility help us to rethink our approach to contemporary economic life?

In the case of consumers, a good dose of humility might well encourage some acceptance that the meaning of life is not simple and is certainly not to be found in how many material things we possess, as important as wealth can be in helping us to live dignified lives. To this extent, greater humility might temper the “I-want-it-all-right-now” mentality that helped generate such high household-debt levels in America and Europe.

Likewise, businesses could benefit from a renewed appreciation of humility. The financial wizard the late Sir John Templeton once wrote that humility was crucial if business was to maintain the open-mindedness that is essential to successful entrepreneurship rather than rest upon their past glories. To this we might add the insight of another prominent entrepreneur, François Michelin, that humility helps business leaders in a market economy remember that the customers are the real masters. More humble business-leaders would also be less-inclined to succumb to the “Masters-of-the-Universe” hubris that helped destroy any number of banks in 2008.

Speaking of hubris, humility also has a role to play in encouraging mainstream economists to accept economics’ limits as a science and acknowledge that not everything about markets can be explained by mathematical models that were supposed to fail only once in a million years. As George Mason University professor of economics Russ Roberts has wisely observed, while “facts and evidence still matter”, economists “should face the evidence that we are no better today at predicting tomorrow than we were yesterday.”

But perhaps those who could do with the biggest bout of humility during recessions are politicians and governments. If the Great Recession has taught us anything, it is that governments should admit many economic problems are beyond their control, and that any claim by politicians to be able to “manage” trillion-dollar economies is arrogant nonsense.

Instead politicians should be modest enough to concede that (1) the seemingly disorderly process of market exchange resolves many challenges that governments cannot; and (2) government overreach invariably causes new problems. Here they would do well to read Adam Smith’s famous warning concerning the “man of system” who “is apt to be very wise in his own conceit, and is so often enamored with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it.”

The fear of the Lord, the Bible says, is the beginning of wisdom. Contrary to received opinion, this verse has nothing to do with frightening people into religious belief. Instead it reminds each of us that we are not the center of the universe and that the sooner we grasp this, the wiser our choices will be. All of us—consumers, business-leaders, and politicians—need to be sufficiently humble to reassess our actions in a time of recession, acknowledge our errors, and then live out the necessary correctives.

To this extent, the virtue of humility may well be a key to understanding our pre-recessionary past and a way of illuminating our path to a better and more economically-prosperous future.

http://catholicexchange.com/2010/09/04/134041/