Tag Archives: Government

The Power of the Purse – Use it

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While this occurred in May 2016, I only recently became aware of action taken in Tennessee where Republicans finally grew a spine and used their brains to fight against anti-Christian and immoral social progressivism.

We often get myopic about how we can combat the things going on around us, leading to a feeling of helplessness and despair.   While we all know that we can pray and trust in God, we often act as if that’s an afterthought rather than our first line of defense.    God works in strange ways and in uncertain timelines, so us mere humans can sometimes get the feeling that our prayers are not heard if they are not immediately answered.   It’s a somewhat natural reaction, which is why faith and trust are often sheer acts of will as opposed to nice and comfortable emotional joyrides.   I sometimes contemplate the little chicken-and-egg type of sayings, like “I pray because I trust.  I trust because I pray.”   Well, which is it?    It’s both, of course.   I sometimes wonder if the very reason for a seemingly unanswered prayer is either because I didn’t trust enough that God would or could grant my request, or if He needs to test me by fire a little bit – force me to continue to trust even without getting exactly what I want.

So, while it is certainly fine that relying on prayer is a welcome myopia, at least as one of the actions we need to take, we often fail to use our brains in finding other ways to make a difference.

Let’s focus on some of the social issues around us and how we seem to never gain any ground – and in fact we always seem to lose ground.    Whether it’s abortion or same-sex marriage, or whether it’s the new pet of the progressive left, transgender issues (or definition of what gender is, period) we seem to really rely on elections, laws, and Supreme Court decisions.    If we lose an election at the federal level then, well, there’s nothing we can really do.  Worse yet, there seems to be this reluctance to actually stand up for anything when we do have the chance to do it out of some fear of losing power.    We continue to trade moral issues away out of some argument that this will preserve our power so we can do good in other areas.   It’s not exactly the wisdom of Solomon.   It’s the fear of a miser.

Lawmakers in Tennessee disagreed earlier this year.   And it’s a great example of using the power you have to impact behavior.

Here is a story on the subject:  Link to article

Notably, from the article, the bill

Bans UT from spending state funds “to promote the use of gender-neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays, or to fund or support Sex Week,” most of which had already occurred.

What happened here is that the UT-Knoxville “office of diversity and inclusion” went off the rails of what they consider to be diverse and inclusive.   Which isn’t particularly surprising.    Many of these kinds of offices in Universities (as well as corporate America and government offices) long ago went off the rails.    And until now most of the response has been “if you don’t like it, don’t go there.”   Fair enough, but it’s also hypocritical.   These are entities that receive public funding (i.e. tax dollars) and the people making these arguments would be the first to go apoplectic if someone on staff uttered the words “Merry Christmas.”

The office of diversity and inclusion apparently believes that banning all gender-specific pronouns like “he”,”she”,”him”, or “her” so as not to offend anyone struggling with gender identity.   They also picked and chose acceptable and unacceptable religious holidays to make any sort of reference to, and they hosted what can only be called a completely offensive and inappropriate “Sex Week.”

So, the funding arm of the state Congress in Tennessee finally grew a pair and said “enough.”   All funding to that morally bankrupt department goes to actually helping minority students pay for school.    It was the right move, and a good move.   One hopes that either this entire office goes away completely or it rediscovers its actual purpose – which is to actually promote real diversity, encourage dialogue – not just liberal mantras – and be fully inclusive (including Christians and those who want to use boy pronouns to talk about boys.)

I hope this helps set precedent and embolden other legislative bodies.   We can push back – we don’t just have to accept cultural decay.   We might not be able to do it everywhere, but we can do it in a lot of places.   It’s time to use all the tools at our disposal.

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The Vaccination Question, finding the Trail to the Moral High Ground

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Part of being a Catholic is to weigh whether or not any action you take or don’t take in the course of life has not only an explicit moral element, but also an implicit one.    For example, if I work honestly and effectively at my job, the most direct measure of morality of that action is that I am doing what I am called to do at that moment, that I am not being lazy, and that I am using my God-given abilities.    The implicit moral element is that I am not harming my employer financially (at least not purposely, assuming I am doing my job correctly).   If my inaction at work costs the company an account, this is an ancillary result of my laziness.   Harm has been done.

The debate about vaccinations is an interesting one.  On the one hand, there are a lot of opinions that people have regarding vaccines and most people who arrive on one side or the other believe that people who arrive at different conclusions are wrong.    I am not writing this piece to debate whether or not vaccines are perfectly safe and effective.   Full disclosure – we do not vaccinate our children.    This decision was not taken lightly.    However, I am also not against others determining that they feel perfectly comfortable making the decision that vaccines are a safe and effective option for their own children.

My wife and I are quite informed on both sides of the issue.   We recognize there are certain risks in not vaccinating our kids.  We also recognize the risks in vaccinating our kids.   It also bothers me that there seems to be an almost overzealous view of the real risk of contracting many of the things we are vaccinated for.   To be sure, the descriptions are scary.    But the probabilities of contracting these things multiplied by the probabilities that the worst of the consequences, to be perfectly frank, are not.   So it seems to be a reasonable question as to whether or not the certain action of jamming a needle into my kid’s arm and injecting a foreign substance has ramifications that outweigh the probability of harm done from what I am protecting them against.   At least I find this a reasonable question.   But to my chagrin, many do not find it reasonable at all.    According to more and more voices in government and otherwise, not vaccinating is akin to child abuse.   It’s a bizarre idea in my mind to take this leap in logic, but it’s definitely the vibe one gets in not-so-subtle ways when simply trying to do what’s best for your family.

I get it.   I have not immunized my kid against, say, measles.    It is a somewhat uncomfortable choice, but it is an informed one.   But yes, the day could come where my kid contracts measles, and all the world will glare at me and shake a finger as if to say “I told you so.”   Now, as is more likely the case, none of my kids ever contract measles, all will be ignored, or at most I’ll be considered “lucky.”    And in the small chance my kid gets measles, the very highly probably scenario is that it will really suck for a while, and then the kid will recover, and then he or she will have the full immunity that comes with contracting the illness.

I’m not glib about it, and I am not going to spend pages explaining why we made this decision.   But I will address the “community” aspect of this.   It’s a legitimate concern, and one worthy of consideration from a moral point of view.    The argument is this:   because I did not vaccinate my kids, I put other people at risk.   The people at risk, in particular, are those who have weakened immune systems who cannot get vaccinations and others who received vaccinations in the past, but for whatever reason the vaccine has lost its effectiveness.  Doesn’t the moral high ground imply that all of us should vaccinate our otherwise healthy kids?

There’s a very simple answer to this, in my opinion:   No.

I am not saying that this is not worth thinking about.   And if someone comes to a different conclusion on this moral question, then as a matter of conscience go ahead and get your kids vaccinated even if you otherwise would not.

But I do not believe this is the moral high ground.   We are never asked by our Church to do anything to ourselves or to others (in this case, our kids) that causes harm even if it is done with the idea of helping others.    Yes, it’s true that we are asked to sacrifice for others, and in some cases lay down our lives for others.  And perhaps I can even buy the argument that I should willingly vaccinate myself if it really helps others.    But I would never harm, hurt, or kill my own child to save someone else.     As a parent I am first and foremost called to defend and protect my family.   Period.

OK, OK.   I know the immediate response:   But you aren’t harming them!   You’re helping them!    You’re an idiot!

An idiot I may be, but again I am not writing this to get into the pro-vaccine/anti-vaccine debate with all the government propaganda and the anti-big-pharm propaganda and contradicting studies that either side can use to make their point.   I am just saying that some of us have decided – whether you accept it or not or like it or not – that we see more harm than good in injecting vaccines into our children.   Whether harm or potential harm is real or perceived, whether we’re wrong or right, whether we’re idiots or geniuses, in the end we are doing what we believe is in the best interests of our children.   And they are my primary concern.

Now, this doesn’t mean we just don’t care about anyone else.   But it does mean, perfectly honestly, that your appeal to me to do the “moral” thing by inflicting what I perceive to be harm on my child so that your child can be safer is not going to fly.    This isn’t meant to be harsh, it’s just reality:   why would I place your child’s interests above mine?    I wouldn’t, and that’s a perfectly reasonable position.

The other part of this that makes this a bit of an empty appeal, in my opinion, is that my kids are simply very unlikely to (a) get this disease and (b) run into an at-risk person while a communicable state.    Could it happen?   Yeah, I guess it could.    But again, the probabilities are very low, and do not outweigh the certainty of getting vaccinated.

Having said all that, the moral question is certainly not an inappropriate thing to ponder.    But please, people.   Casting final judgment on someone who arrives at a different conclusion than you, either on the vaccine question itself or on the morality of making the decision to not vaccinate, is not helpful.    Nor is it doctrinally certain.    It is a point of view, and nothing more.

One final point I’d like to make isn’t around the moral question, but is with respect to our freedoms and liberties.    We Americans speak a lot of how we’re the land of the free and home of the brave.   But we are also pretty quick to punt the whole liberty thing away in exchange for feelings of safety and security, and we seem willing to impose things upon others in return for our own safety and security.    While there are many examples of this, the vaccine issue is a prime example.   The tyranny of the majority can be a scary thing, especially when the government itself openly encourages citizens to shame, ridicule, and outright bully other citizens to do something these other citizens are not comfortable doing, or are opposed to doing.     It should not even matter the reasons for it (why should a moral objection be excused but a decision based on information not be?).    On this issue, I have experienced first-hand the comments that are supposed to guilt me into changing my mind, the insults around how uninformed I am, and little acceptance that my right as a parent should supersede their own concerns about what that means for their kids.   I can only imagine the founding fathers’ reactions to the scenario where the government mandates the injection of anything into the bodies of individuals, including children, against the will of those individuals and children’s parents.    It’s actually pathetic, in my opinion, that so many feel perfectly fine with the idea of mandatory vaccination, showing no feeling of concern at all for the feelings and opinions of others.    How is that the moral high ground?

This issue should continue to be discussed amicably, and people should be informed fully of both supporting studies as well as an honest presentation of risks of side effects and studies that aren’t all favorable.   Give people all the facts and let them make their own decisions.   That is the moral high ground.