Luke 12: 13-14
I long have thought that it as much a mistake to make one’s religion one’s politics as it is to make one’s politics one’s religion. Religion and politics often deal with different spheres of human activity and the tactics that work in one frequently do not work in the other. For example, compromise in matters of religious principle is completely unacceptable to most believers, while compromise is ever bread and meat in politics. My Catholicism informs my politics but does not provide me a political platform, something that Catholicism is simply not meant to do. Traditionally the Church has left almost all political issues up to the wisdom of lay Catholics, being content to enunciate very broad principles to guide human societies.
Some people differ and think that it would be great if this nation had a Catholic political party. I think such a development would be an unmitigated disaster for both the Church and America. Father Longenecker at his Patheos blog has described what a Truly Catholic Political party would stand for. Here are his comments and my fisk:
The TCP would be pro life and pro family. Economic, educational and social policies would be formulated to support children and the traditional family because that is the best environment in which children can flourish. The TCP would always be in favor of small government, local solutions and small property holders.
Virtually every political movement in this country has claimed that what they are proposing will benefit kids and families. Hope springs eternal, but I don’t see how one could be simultaneously in favor of educational and social policies to support children and the traditional family and yet also support small government, let alone local solutions and small property holders, whoever they are. Government is a blunt interest and it is rarely wielded with rapier precision, especially when a laundry list of contradictory policies are embraced as highest priorities.
The TCP would support the poor and the workers against big business, big banks and big government, but the TCP would also support the small business owner and entrepreneur from the tyranny of big unions.
I am certainly no fan of big anything, including, increasingly, Big Religion, but I wonder why the poor and “workers”, I personally know very few adults who do not work, need special protection against Big Businesses. Big Unions certainly are not on my “heart” list, but they rarely are a factor with most small businesses, and entrepreneurs usually are smart enough to start new enterprises in “right to work” states.
The TCP would support a living wage rather than a minimum wage. Banks and credit card companies would be limited in the amount they can loan to families. For low earners the living wage would be subsidized by a heavier tax on those in very high income brackets.
Leaving aside the definition of a living wage, who would pay it? Assuming that government is going to coerce businesses to pay it, how does that accord with this party being in favor of small government? As for limiting the amount that families can borrow, why? I do quite a bit of bankruptcy, and it is only a small minority of American families that can’t handle the debts they incur through borrowing. Shouldn’t we let them decide such questions for themselves?
Ah, the living wage would be subsidized by soak the rich taxes, a funding technique that has never worked in the long and lamentable chronicle of human folly. The rich tend to be clever, or rather can hire very clever people, and they will find a way to get around such taxes, as the Kennedys, for example, did, leaving aside the negative impact on economic growth of such taxes.
“Married couples would receive more tax deductions. Abortion would be outlawed.”
Abortion would be outlawed. How? This party would divide the abortion foes between the Catholic party and the Republican party, leaving the pro-abort Democrat party to new levels of power against a now divided opposition. I doubt that the Democrats with their new found power would be any more in favor of enhanced tax exemptions for married couples than they are now.
The TCP would support subsidies for large families and a wage for mothers who stay at home to raise children. This would be paid for by a “population tax” on manufacturers of contraceptive products.
I confess this proposal did bring a smile to my face, at least from the proposed funding source. However, subsidies for large families never have worked and paying people to raise their own kids, what welfare started as, is completely wrongheaded.
The TCP would support universal, locally funded government health care just as it would support local school districts, local town councils and local governments providing essential services. Health care would be funded from local taxation which provides a local health insurance program–getting rid of the corruption of big insurance in league with big hospitals and health care monopolies.
No doubt local health care would work about as well as most local schools. Leaving aside the fact that a local tax in most sections of the country simply could not generate sufficient revenue for universal health care, we would have the additional problem of how health care paid for from thousands of local systems would interact with each other, especially since local health care would doubtless have widely varying rules and regulations. The paper work increase from this idea would be a bureaucrat’s dream come true and a doctor’s nightmare.
The TCP would encourage locally based self help programs for those on the margins of society. Every effort would be made to empower the powerless rather than building a dependency culture through endless handouts.
This would seem to be a role for private charity rather than the government. It is not a good sign that the Church sponsored Campaign for Human Development never seems to miss an opportunity to jump into bed with Caesar, while supporting left wing groups that specialize in demanding ever more taxpayer largesse.
The TCP would support all that is local in its foreign policy and defense policy. National borders would be defended. Genuine immigrants would be welcomed and integrated into local communities. Foreign policy would support local governments and local solutions abroad while not interfering militarily.
There is very little that is local about either foreign or defense policy by definition. The Church has not seemed very hot about borders lately and the policy of the Church regarding immigration, at least to Western countries, can be summed up in the phrase, “Y’all come.” Foreign policy that is not backed up by military force is only of utility when dealing with nations that are basically friendly to us like Canada, and of absolutely no use elsewhere, as the Obama administration has amply demonstrated. Weakness abroad is merely an invitation to aggression and very big wars in the future.
The TCP would support regulation of a free enterprise economy only to limit monopolies, administer common sense safety and environmental controls, encourage competition and support the small entrepreneur against the Goliaths of industry.
A classic example of the exceptions devouring the rule.
The TCP would use local and state taxation to provide free education and training so that all young people are ready and trained for the workplace without incurring vast debt.
Sayonara small government. You suckers who paid your student loans can go pound sand.
In other words, the TCP would have a preferential option for the poor while also encouraging free enterprise. It would look after the vulnerable, sick, elderly, weak and marginalized while not enabling a dependency culture.
Yep, and FDR ran on a balance the budget platform in 1932. Good intentions are no substitute for resolutely ignoring that the social teaching of the Church has largely been bastardized since Vatican II into screaming for Caesar to throw more money at every problem imaginable. Attempts to find a third way politically by Catholics usually end up with a very long welfare state tail, wagging a puny social conservative mutt.