Of mission creep and creepy missions


civilservice.jpg“What’s the difference between civil service and government bureaucracy?”

I’m glad you asked.

People need government for a number of functions: making laws, enforcing laws, defending borders, building infrastructure. When a government agency seeks to fulfill one of these legitimate government functions, you’ve got civil service. But when a government agency works toward its own wellbeing rather than the wellbeing of its intended function, you’ve got government bureaucracy.

I’m not sure how fast civil service devolves into government bureaucracy, but as old as our government agencies are at this point, the timetable doesn’t much matter; they’ve all devolved by now. So we’ve ended up with government agencies that devote their time and money to lobbying the government and voters for more funding. Or expanding the administration of the agency in order to increase the number of top-tier jobs. Or hunting down new functions outside the original purview of the agency.

For example, when a school system learns that a significant number of children in its community aren’t reading at grade level, that institution might get around to calling a meeting or even forming a committee. Eventually. But wait till you see even a little slice of its tax revenue threatened. That’s when you see how fast government bureaucrats can move. Closed-door sessions! Emergency plans! Consultants!

It’s not that there aren’t any good workers in a government bureaucracy. It’s not that there isn’t any attention paid to the agency’s intended function. You’ll find good, committed people doing good work, but they aren’t likely to be in control. The skills needed to teach or counsel or build bridges aren’t the same skills needed to become a government bureaucrat. In fact, the ability or interest in doing actual work is generally seen as proof of the inability to lead in a government bureaucracy. Leaders in a government bureaucracy “lead,” which means meetings and conferences and hand-wringing and lunches and more meetings.

Government agencies need adequate money to fulfill their mission. That and no more. Any more and they’ll actually begin to fail at their mission as they begin to concentrate on increasing the number of executives (and their salaries) and on finding other tasks to justify their expansion.

It is into this work environment that political correctness has entered and thrived. No matter what the civil service function of an agency, political correctness is just what the government bureaucrats were looking for. What better way to perpetuate a bureaucracy than to add the demand for systemic thought control under the disguise of a just cause, especially one so counterintuitive that people will only embrace it with constant badgering.

Oh, the endless meetings! Oh, the endless need for more–more administrators, more planning, more money!

To say that government bureaucracy is byzantine is to insult the Byzantines. They actually kept an empire going for a thousand years. I’m afraid the same won’t be said of the modern government bureaucrat.


Disgust is not fear; anger is not hate


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demon.jpgThe language of liberalism is important. It’s designed to make disagreement a pathology. Thus disapproval of gay marriage is homophobia and disagreement with cultural diversity is racism. If you oppose a liberal, you’re literally sick.

I understand that homosexuals don’t, for the most part, feel like they’ve chosen their inclination and don’t think it’s fair they should be expected to control their libidos when heterosexuals around them are living out their ideal of free love. I understand that every human being is just that—a human being—and, regardless of race, deserves to be treated fairly.

However, I don’t think free love is any kind of ideal for a society that wants to produce a healthy new generation, which it must do if it expects to last. I don’t think gay sex is a proper use of the human body any more than I consider masturbation or contracepted sex to be a proper use of the human body. From what I can see, homosexuality is a symptom of something, often of child sexual abuse. But it’s difficult to make a political bloc out of a symptom, so they’ve redefined it as an identity.

Likewise, I don’t think intentionally making a nation more demographically disparate will do anything other than make it less cohesive. A community that loses its cohesion will lose its sense of solidarity, its sense of trust, and its commitment to the common good. Those kinds of losses lead to social decay, even violence. There’s enough organic diversity in America to challenge cohesion. Intentionally adding to it is just plain anti-social. I’m sure there are plenty of well-intended-but-empty-headed liberals out there who think they’re tearing down what’s worst about America, but I suspect at the real heart of cultural diversity is a desire to tear down what’s best.

So I’m disgusted by the sexual revolution, but not afraid of homosexuals. And I’m angry about the meticulously-engineered decline of my race in my own country, but not hateful of minorities.

The virtue of tolerance has become, for the politically correct, the highest virtue. In fact, it is a cheap virtue. We tolerate things that should be changed but can’t be changed. For example, I tolerate a new shoe that is giving me a blister because I can’t walk around barefoot at work. But things tend to be either good, in which case they should be embraced, or bad, in which case they should be opposed. Sure, there are things that are morally neutral, in which case my personal preference is nothing more than that. However, sexual mores and the posterity of a nation aren’t really among them.

So I tolerate the sexual confusion of the day and the intentional undermining of cohesion only because I must. I don’t consider it any great virtue, and often wonder if I’m not enabling my enemies by not showing a little more intolerance of the decay they’re foisting not only on me but my children and their future.

What a traditional government might look like in America

houseofburgesses.jpgLet’s face it, the natural politics of man is monarchy, and new monarchies don’t readily emerge in industrialized nations (what does emerge are despots when the whole thing collapses). However, that doesn’t have to mean settling for highly-centralized government in one city controlling the lives of more than 300 million people spread out across four million square miles.

A more traditional political system—one that incorporates the need for solidarity, subsidiarity, simplicity and sustainability—is possible. In fact, it is essential, because unsustainable governments don’t last (duh!).

And the current American system is unsustainable.

The lack of cohesion at the national level—fueled by mass media ever since the 1950s and immigration reform ever since the 1960s—means that solidarity is no longer possible in Washington. Today, everybody of every stripe is in a constantly-agitated state about the national government; no American is happy for long with the U.S. government. In fact, the closest thing to solidarity in America is universal disdain for our national government, Congress even more so than the White House. Subsidiarity—the belief that authority should rest at the most local level practicable—has been undone over the course of more than 150 years now, first by conquest (the Civil War) then by crisis (the Great Depression) then by culture (the emergence of national media and national wealth after World War II). Simplicity—well what needs to be said about that. If you can’t fight city hall, what chance do you have fighting Capitol Hill and the labyrinth of government bureaucracy it has helped create. And spending alone makes it all unsustainable, but deficits aren’t the real problem of sustainability, just one of the symptoms.

Here’s my take on a more traditional political system:

Elections are limited to local leadership positions and legal referenda. People elect mayors, state legislators, and Congressmen. That’s it. Elections broader than this cease to be democratic. I’ve met my mayor. I know people who know him. If he were corrupt beyond the norm, I’d probably know it. If I disagreed with him, I could even work to make something happen, including getting him replaced. I can’t say that about my governor or senator. I certainly can’t say that about the president.

So mayors would choose governors, state legislators would choose senators, and Congressmen would choose presidents. And if mayors choose governors, then people who aspire to be governors will work to become mayors. Similarly, aspiring senators will run for state legislatures, and aspiring presidents will run for Congress. In other words, our best leaders will lead at every level and they will have to pass muster at a local level where they’re most easily scrutinized. This won’t make them suddenly become selfless angels, but there’s a better chance of sifting out some of the worst devils.

There are other things that would have to change as well. Congress has used its power of the purse to manipulate state and local governments even when it has no constitutional authority to do so. That would come to an end by having states fund the national government rather than direct taxes from the people. And the Supreme Court would only have jurisdiction over national laws.

This all has to do with the issue of scale, but scale is the big issue in American government. The political battle we’re allowed to talk about is Big Business vs. Big Government, but what about the battle of Big vs. Small, or to put it better, centralized vs. localized. Once you solve the problem of big, lots of other things fall into place. Government doesn’t become instantly virtuous, but it does become instantly accessible. And when local government screws up, people have the ultimate option of bailing out.

Social justice preaching causes despair



scream.jpgChristianity has come to concern itself primarily with issues of social justice. The message is proclaimed from the pulpit that the Christian’s task is to make the world a better place, this and no more. What this might entail ranges from almsgiving and soup kitchens to political agitation. The clergy largely bypass the first of the great commandments (“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”) in order to go straight to the second (“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”), using Christ’s words in the Gospel According to St. Matthew (“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”) as their justification.

Five centuries ago, Christianity became distorted by the idea of faith without works, in spite of the clear injunction that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead” and “God will render to every man according to his deeds.” Today, Christianity is distorted by the idea of works without faith (in spite of clear teaching that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”)

Heaven alone knows the eternal ramifications for these distortions, but I can tell you the ramifications for souls making it through the here and now: social justice preaching causes despair.

Week in and week out “relevant” preachers tell their congregations that the world is full of wrongs that we’re supposed to be making right. In other words, our job is to do something we are completely incapable of doing. I can barely do anything about the injustice I see in my own workplace and in my own extended family, so what am I supposed to do about injustice around the world? Every answer from the pulpit sounds empty, little more than token gestures.

We’re fathers and mothers and workers, many of whom are underpaid and overworked. Within our own families, we know of substance abuse, divorce, and brokenness. But, we’re told over and over again, there are people “out there” who are victims and we need to be doing something about it. Even when I agree with what the clergy are preaching about social justice–especially when I agree–I leave feeling helpless. And when I’m in the midst of personal hardship, which everyone faces at some point in his life, I also leave feeling neglected.

In the 20th century (maybe even before), the Church tried to baptize secularism, but the result was to secularize the Church. No wonder church attendance is down. I don’t need another voice added to society’s endless political chatter, nor its endless emotional manipulation. I need to worship God, to be reminded who He is and where He is in my life. I need help with the first commandment. That alone would be enough. If churches want to take on more—if they want to take on the second commandment—then ditch the community organizers and bring on the community builders. The church does have a social dimension, but it’s no global utopia. There have been Christian societies, but they weren’t in bed with religious indifferentism. Here’s what God had to say about being faithful when trapped in an unjust world:

“Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”

What no protest? No rally? No political action? Just get married and have babies? And pray?

The fact is, that’s social justice: a community of families worshiping God and helping each other. The fact is most of what comes under the banner of social justice today is opposed to this. In its place, there’s government bureaucracy. In its place there’s a great deal of codependency and enabling.

Look, a just welfare state isn’t all that hard. It has to be local, and it has to help the needy rather than the wanty. It has to recognize the community’s obligation to its needy while also recognizing the needy’s obligation to the community. But if you want social justice, start a family and form a community, and center it all around the first commandment.

Why would a traditional Christian support a president like Trump?



trump.jpgI’m just old enough to remember Donald Trump as a pop culture icon of the 1980s. Bombastic, materialistic, womanizing. Where Ronald Reagan represented the bourgeois conventions and down-home demeanor of his native Midwest, Donald Trump represented the bravado and greed of the Northeast. I’m not much for bravado and greed—not quite in line with the modesty and simplicity of my religion—so why would I support President Trump? Here’s why:

I believe the first order of business for anyone in Washington, D.C., is to undo socialism. Since 1848, socialism has been the primary means of eliminating not only God but the human soul from any consideration when determining what government will do to and for its people. I’m not talking about prayer in school or politicians showing up for photo ops in front of a church on Sunday morning. I mean acknowledging that this world was created with a God-given nature that we have to understand and work with if we want to make anything good happen in it. I mean acknowledging people as something more than economic units. Socialism denies both of these. It is the ultimate social construct, built on unrealities and appeals to grievance and entitlement. In the end, socialism becomes its own sort of religion, one that makes government bureaucracy into a church and entitled individuals and special-interest groups into gods.

Donald Trump seems more serious about undoing American socialism than anyone since Ronald Reagan, and really, he strikes me as more serious about it than even Reagan was. As a traditional Christian, am I expected to be opposed to Trump because he’s bombastic, materialistic, and womanizing? Look, I wouldn’t want him for my pastor, I wouldn’t want him for an in-law, I doubt I’d even want him for a neighbor (although I suspect he’d make a good drinking buddy). But because socialism (or whatever it’s calling itself today–progressivism, liberalism, secularism, globalism etc.) is our primary political threat, I’m glad to have him for a president.

The fact is, the past year has surprised me. I expected Trump to drive liberals crazy (reason enough to vote for him) and undermine as much of their designs as possible for at least four years, but he has done more than that. He has over the last year expressed more ideals than I ever would have thought he had. He actually seems to believe that America is a people and place rather than just a world HQ for some mishmash of competing and contradictory ideologies and business interests. He talks like a real person. Even as he tweets in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way, his work seems to stay focused on his own priorities without regard to the blowing of the wind that comes from the news media.

Quite frankly, if you’re shocked that Donald Trump is crude in his speech, unashamed in his support of big business, and a cad with women, you’re a moron. He has been consistent and more or less open about who he is for decades, and I for one have far more suspicions about wealthy people who got their money while serving in public office (like, say, the Obamas and Clintons) than I do any businessman.

Elections aren’t popularity contests, nor are they canonizations. There are, no doubt, better Christians for whom to vote, but I don’t really care. In fact, I question whether or not any truly virtuous person would even run for national office, so my assumption as soon as you announce your candidacy is that you’re no saint. A saint would never run nor get elected. Instead, I want someone whose going to undo the stranglehold socialism, and the toxic political correctness that has attached itself to socialism, has had on my country for my entire life.

Ultimately, I’d like a nation where the organic connections of family and community are allowed to flourish. I’d like to see a government that focuses on infrastructure, defense, and diplomacy rather than social engineering. I’d like to see the socialist mania that sees everything through the prism of class conflict banished in favor of an outlook that sees the need and the possibility for class cooperation. I don’t know that President Trump would or could ever deliver on any of that. However, I do know that not until American socialism is undone will those ideals have any chance of success. That’s why this traditional Christian supports the president.

Men need man jobs


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WPAmural.jpgConstruction worker, mechanic, truck driver. Teacher, librarian, nurse. We all know each list conjures up an opposite image, one of men at work, the other of women at work.

Reality tends to intervene when we try to impose unreality, and people tend to make the best of things as well as we can when our betters try to make us miserable. I think most men like working in a man’s world and most women like working in a woman’s world, and the job market seems to have shaped up to make it pretty easy to attain that, with a little forethought.

That means men need to go out of their way to seek man jobs. Building things, solving problems, taking risks, fixing things. Truck driver and heavy equipment operator. Construction worker and all the skilled labor that goes with construction. Engineer, whether mechanical, chemical, or just IT. Mechanic. Fireman and policeman.

Working with women isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s a difference between working with women and working in a feminine work environment. The more you wade into the woman’s world of work, the more the workplace becomes dominated by a culture that men find insufferable. A woman working in IT is probably pretty compatible with a bunch of male computer geeks–she’s probably even a welcome novelty. But wade into the world of school teachers and nurses, and a man is likely to find himself on the outs, not just because of misandry (especially from female bosses) but because he simply won’t have the inclinations needed to navigate through what women know as second nature.

A feminine workplace will seem rigidly hierarchical and even underhanded to a man. Ideas are evaluated based on who has the idea rather than the merit of the idea. Status is not just important, it often seems like the goal. The appearance of peace is paramount, but grudges can be held for years, with grievances long past suddenly dredged up at any moment. The open disagreements of a masculine workplace are tantamount to insubordination.

I don’t have to guess that women are just as aggravated by a masculine workplace. It’s well documented; they’ve carped about male-dominated offices for generations now. We all know women hate working with men.

That’s why it’s best to acknowledge that men and women are different, and pick your profession accordingly. Political correctness and the West’s mania for cultural diversity isn’t going away. But neither is human nature. Men can still take a look at their skills and what they like to do and find a way to put them to work in an environment they’ll enjoy working in.

Modern sports are almost masculine


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sports.jpgMy sons participate in sports, and I’m glad of it. At their best, sports cultivate leadership, work ethic, and camaraderie among boys, but it isn’t enough to make men of them. That’s largely because organized sports have become a way for boys to pretend they’re the preening, showboating athletes they see on TV, the ones who are overpaid and under-accomplished when it comes to any real contribution to society.

Boys want a physical challenge. They want a world of their own away from their parents and away from girls. They usually find it in sports if they’re naturally coordinated and competitive (two traits that ought to be cultivated in boys, but which, outside of sports, rarely are). However, large segments of youth sports have been co-opted by emotionally-retarded men and enabling mothers. I don’t for a second believe that parents think allowing a child’s game to empty their wallets and drag their families across state lines weekend after weekend holds any great lesson. From what I see, they’re status driven (their status or their child’s?) and, against all logic, convinced that pursuing a college athletic scholarship is a rational financial plan.

The first task of much of organized youth sports is to cut off boys who aren’t naturally athletic (or who aren’t yet athletic). This happens without much effort. People naturally like most what they do best, so the boys who aren’t very good drop out on their own. The next task is to further divide the boys who remain into two groups: 1) kids who like to play sports and 2) punks. Both groups have athletic aptitude, but the men running youth sports at this higher level (middle school, or thereabouts, and up) really want the punks. Punks have the attitude. They’re the ones who are going to imitate the athletes on TV, fulfilling the childish desires of themselves (too young to blame) and their coaches (old enough to know better). (And please tell me, what kind of man wants to coach boys year after year in recreational leagues and travel teams long after his own boys have grown up and moved on?)

The job of youth sports has become aggrandizing the adults involved by aggrandizing the youth. They’ve got big mouths and they can handle a ball (I’m talking about the youths now), but they become just another version of the special snowflake–rude to the refs, rude to the competition, rude to their teammates. Meanwhile, the job of the family and any traditional community is to raise up boys to be men who can give back to their families and communities. Not quite the same thing.

Long ago, boys trained to become skilled craftsmen, or in some cases, they trained to become warriors. Games were just that: games, played when they could get away from the more serious business of growing up.

When boys get together on their own to play a game, all comers with any enthusiasm are likely to find their place on a team. Sure, someone completely lacking in athletic skill might get hounded off the sandlot (boys can be ruthless), but the need to muster all the players possible for a neighborhood game tends to temper things (not to mention mothers who talk to each other and know when to intervene, if there are any of that type left). And in a family setting, where boys really become men, the straggler among brothers and uncles and cousins is more likely to get help than ridicule.

The brutal corruption of modern life effects just about everything. In athletics, it has corrupted teamwork and sportsmanship and turned them into a showboating narcissism that is, quite frankly, more than a little effeminate. Boys need a great deal of help and perspective to navigate youth sports in a way that will really contribute to their development. Ultimately, they need something better to show them how to become men.

Western Treasure: the Gregorian calendar


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1283198681_gregory-xiii.jpgToday, much of the world kisses the ring of the pope. Not Francis, but rather Gregory XIII, who introduced an improved calendar in 1582 primarily for the purpose of returning the celebration of Easter to the day designated 1,200 years earlier at the Council of Nicea. His calendar keeps the date from creeping further and further away from its original place in the seasons primarily by adjusting when leap years are celebrated and by making the year 1582 ten days shorter.

It seems the Catholic Church can make scientific observations and apply them in a way even the secular world can acknowledge–not quite what the popular culture wants you to know. But this isn’t even the best example of the Church “getting” science. Alongside the Galileo affair (the only thing most secularists want you to know about the Church’s relationship with science … and one that is not as black and white as they would have you think), there are a few other key moments in the relationship between faith and science.

For example, at the heart of Christian faith is the belief that God created the universe. In the 13th century St. Thomas Aquinas asserted this as an article of faith, something believed rather than observed. Meanwhile, science, right up into the 20th century, largely believed in an eternal, self-sustaining universe. So once upon a time, Christians believed in a six-day creation. Ends up, that’s closer to the truth than what science believed until a century ago. Since then, astronomy has caught up to the church and recognized that the universe did in fact have a beginning.

Speaking of the origins of the universe brings up the Big Bang Theory. The stuff of science, right? Well yes, but also the stuff of religion. The Big Bang Theory was the proposal of Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Catholic priest, an astronomer and a physics professor at the Catholic University of Leuven.

More important than any of this is the origin of man, and once again, the Church got it right and the scientists played catch up.

Many Darwinists in the 19th and even 20th century assumed that the races of man revealed separate evolutions, a belief that took on its own cult-like fervor with deadly results. The Church rejected that idea in favor of a common ancestry for all mankind, an actual Adam and Eve. Another Galileo moment for which clergymen would eventually apologize? Not quite. Scientists later discovered DNA. Said discovery helped reveal the existence of a common ancestry. Then they once again began the process of catching up, until they were suggesting a common ancestry that began only so many thousands of years ago (you mean like in the Bible?).

So if you’re a Catholic, you can enjoy just a little more when you’re friends who are secular, Protestant etc. wish you a Happy New Year today. You might even whisper a little “amen.”

The four S’s of a healthy society


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consummation of empire.jpgThe formula isn’t that difficult. Four S’s. With them, you can have a healthy society–or at least be well on your way–whether it be a healthy family, a healthy neighborhood, a healthy workplace, a healthy Capitol Hill.

Here they are:

Solidarity. Solidarity is a common bond, a sense that you owe an allegiance to someone and he owes you his allegiance in return. Calls for human solidarity on a global scale tend to be lies or at best sentimental falsehoods because people feel solidarity in layers, like an onion, from family and friends outward. Plus, solidarity is something that must be reciprocated, so that all the warm fuzzies felt for the whole world fall short of solidarity simply because the feeling isn’t mutual.

Subsidiarity. This is the belief that authority rests at the most local level practicable. Thus raising children belongs to the family, managing traffic flow belongs to the city, defending borders belongs to the nation. A healthy society has distributed authority rather than centralized authority. Subsidiarity is the great enemy of the centralized state, which must be why so many liberals hate the family as an institution, along with every other institution that stands between the citizen and government bureaucracy.

Simplicity. The good life is not so difficult. We need adequate food, clothing, and shelter in order to feel secure. Beyond that, we need good relationships. Give people that, and they tend to have happy, fulfilling lives. Get them chasing money, status, or pleasure in place of healthy relationships and you have a recipe for misery. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of money and power to be grasped in a world full of miserable people–new stuff to buy and new policies and propaganda to make the misery someone else’s problem.

Sustainability. Environmentalists have brought a fine word to the fore: sustainability. It’s a great concept, if only people would actually apply it (including environmentalists). A healthy society is sustainable. If pollution will eventually damage our air, land, and water beyond what we need or are able to repair, it’s unsustainable. Agreed. Now let’s apply the same thinking to immigration, casual sex, the emotional fallout of divorce (especially for children), budget deficits, consumption, drug use. An attitude of “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die” isn’t going to help in the long run, nor is an attitude that makes everything a moral imperative, whether it really is or not, in order to justify actions without regard to long-term consequences.