The George Romney campaign

by on August 4, 2017 at 2:54 am in Books, History, Law, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

…most important of all was the gulf between the man and the national media, who could not understand each other — Romney’s billboards in New Hampshire read THE WAY TO STOP CRIME IS TO STOP MORAL DECAY; he could not understand why newsmen found the slogan funny; and they could not understand what he meant by moral decay.

That is from the still-engaging Theodore H. White The Making of the President 1968.  And here is Rod Dreher on crime and morality.

1 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 3:06 am

Rod Dreher is a man who left the Church for orientalist Orthodoxy. Enough Said.

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2 dearieme August 4, 2017 at 6:33 am

Orientalist Orthodoxy is what remained of the Church after the Roman pontiff flounced out. Splitter!

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3 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 7:06 am

Says someone whose state religion is founded on phildanering and adultery.

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4 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 11:04 am

Actually no, on political ambition.

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5 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 10:54 am

Tyler’s interns don’t know the difference between non-Chalcedonian churches (aka at times as ‘Oriental Orthodox’) and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Dreher’s Eastern Orthodox. I think his chapel (ministered to by an itinerant priest) is under the authority of a Russian bishop, but I cannot recall.

I think was someone named Jonathan Carpenter who was doxxing Dreher at the time who made an issue of his departure to Orthodoxy. His critics in the Catholic blogosphere who were familiar with his usual guises and poses thought it was amusing that Dreher didn’t realize that if Orthodoxy had been untroubled, it was now troubled as he’d joined it. One of his more assiduous critics took to illustrating her posts on Dreher’s latest blurts with a picture of an Orthodox congregation advertising bingo games.

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6 Matt August 4, 2017 at 9:43 am

I spend a lot of time in Russia, and have studied it a fair amount. I can say that at least the Russian version of Orthodoxy is what you get if you remove all of the admirable parts of the Catholic Church. (I am less sure about the Greek version, and don’t really think that the minor versions – Georgian or Armenian or whatever – are worth worrying about.) Anyone who willingly converts to such a church as an adult has said something pretty bad about themselves, in my opinion. That said, this is hardly the worst thing you could say about Dreher.

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7 Scoop August 4, 2017 at 9:51 am

I know nothing of any Orthodox Church. Can you elaborate on the statement that it’s what you’d get if you removed all the decent bits from Roman Catholicism?

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8 Tanturn August 4, 2017 at 10:10 am

So Orthodoxy still has the pedophilia and communism?

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9 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 11:02 am

There were pederasts in the Catholic clergy, the vast bulk shut away or ejected by 1990. Priests with an interest in prepubescent children were few in number.

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10 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 11:00 am

he Russian version of Orthodoxy is what you get if you remove all of the admirable parts of the Catholic Church.

What are you talking about? Orthodoxy is all about the Liturgy. The condition of the Catholic Church in most occidental countries is such that the Church’s ministry would be improved if Liturgy were all they paid attention to. (As is, few Catholic priests are conscientious about the liturgy at all). If you strip away the admirable parts of Catholicism most places, you don’t get Orthodoxy. You get the Episcopal Church as it would look were it taken over by the creative staff at Hallmark.

Russia Orthodoxy’s actual problem is that it tends to be suborned by the regime and has a lot of corrupt clergy as a result.

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11 Matt August 5, 2017 at 7:42 am

I don’t care about the theology (all nonsense to me), I mean if you get rid of doing things like running hospitals, setting up great universities, supporting learning, actually helping poor people, etc. (Tastes can differ on aesthetic issues, which is what “liturgy” comes down to. I don’t care about that. I care only about practical results in this world – the only world – and Russian Orthodoxy has some pretty awful results there. Not that Catholicisms doesn’t – it might have more bad results if we include its impact on the Americas – but it does has some good results, too. Russian Orthodoxy doesn’t.)

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12 Art Deco August 5, 2017 at 4:08 pm

I don’t care about the theology (all nonsense to me),

Well, you’re being stupid. The theology is an component of the essence of an ecclesiastical body.

The Catholic Church does not run hospitals or universities in the occident. The don’t have the manpower in the religious orders to do either and those in what’s left of the notable religious orders are too corrupt to accomplish anything worth accomplishing, There are some serious Catholic colleges, but they’re run by energetic laymen who are not fool enough to trust their bishops. They’re also quite small.

13 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 10:47 am

Tyler’s interns are now stalking me before I comment on anything.

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14 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 11:52 am

We’re all Art Deco!

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15 Noooooo! August 4, 2017 at 11:59 am

Please don’t say that.

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16 msgkings August 4, 2017 at 12:59 pm

The best part of whomever is sock puppeting Art (no it isn’t me, but I’m a huge fan) is how he reveals Art’s extreme narcissism. As if Art’s so important to Alex and Tyler that they would direct their “interns” to torment him, personally, lion of the comment section. He must be stopped! Interns, do your worst!

17 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 3:37 pm

I can’t agree. I think the mimicking pollutes the comment section worse than anything else. While I rarely agree with Art in style or substance, at least he is participating in good faith.

18 msgkings August 4, 2017 at 4:02 pm

I agree completely, I would prefer none of it (huge fan was a poor choice of words), but Art’s reaction amuses me nonetheless. And I definitely prefer clever trolling to the potty-mouthed inanity some trolls post. The thing is, Art is extremely rude to every poster he deems unworthy, including the blog hosts. That’s not really good faith, he’s asking for it. If he had a little class, the sock puppeting would stop. It’s like Ray Lopez, when he refrains from trolling us about his Filipina hookers, no one messes with him.

19 Careless August 5, 2017 at 3:27 am

I think the mimicking pollutes the comment section worse than anything else

Indeed

20 Tasha August 6, 2017 at 8:09 pm

Art is just angry because Rod banned him from his comment section a few months ago.

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21 Donald Pretari August 4, 2017 at 4:22 am

I think some of the humor came from the association of moral decay with tooth decay in some people’s minds. Moral decay doesn’t sound good, but it’s not particularly terrifying either.

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22 ChrisA August 4, 2017 at 4:48 am

Tyler is getting at moralism, which is perhaps the meta-philosophy of our time. It underlies a lot of current right wing and left wing thought. This is the idea that there is some true morality which others have to be constrained by social structures, law and other means to comply with. In other words, without these constraints we would be savages.

Myself I am a lot more optimistic about humans – we are not solely selfish individuals, we have a lot of genetic programming to cooperate in groups. And we are also capable of learning. So we don’t need Popes or Dictators to force us to be nice to each other, generally we will do this anyway as we realise it is in our interests. Evil people exist but can generally be dealt with by means of tit-for-tat style responses or simply ignoring them. But sometimes evil people do gain control of significant amounts of capability to do harm to others, the most damaging form ironically is when they control governments or organised religions where they can compel others to follow the orders unquestionably.

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23 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 4:52 am

Evil people can’t govern without the cooperation of a large segment of the population. Even in authoritarian states, this is true.

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24 ChrisA August 4, 2017 at 5:03 am

Are you really saying that the North Koreans all support their dictator? Or that the Russians supported Stalin? If you control the media, law courts and schools it can be pretty hard to determine what is evil or not. This is what I mean by not allowing power to be too concentrated. Unfortunately for the moralists, this means that people must be allowed to differ from their preferred moral scheme.

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25 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 7:07 am

I didn’t say “all” or even “most” but just a large segment of the population. I meant (at least) a significant minority. A dictator can’t control a country alone or with just a few top officials. They typically either have the support of some segment of the population for ideological reasons and/or buy it with favorable treatment.

In North Korea there is a complex status system that grants people varying levels of favoritism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songbun.

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26 msgkings August 4, 2017 at 4:04 pm

+1

27 Judah Benjamin Hur August 4, 2017 at 6:24 pm

I used to believe that but came to realize that it’s primarily a justification for killing innocents in war.

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28 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 8:19 am

That is a good message Chris, and better I think than a paranoid “the elites want to destroy our marriages” etc.

For the rest of Dreher, there is a blurred distinction between those who are suffering material privation, and those who are unhappy and want more stuff. People who have stuff should probably be more philosophical, and less greedy.

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29 The Anti-Gnostic August 4, 2017 at 9:39 am

Most criminals just act out of aggressive impulse.

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30 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 9:50 am

I saw an RCT go by yesterday, it said that inmates who practiced a behavioral therapy based on self-acceptance actually had an increase in criminal thoughts. I guess some of them just want our stuff.

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31 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 11:22 am

Murderers, rapists, robbers, and those committing the worst sort of assaults, yes, although with other things mixed in. If you’re looking at burglary or auto theft, it’s mercenary impulses with the thrill of transgression mixed in, I’ll wager. Same with drug dealing.

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32 Borjigid August 4, 2017 at 8:43 am

+1

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33 Tanturn August 4, 2017 at 10:39 am

-1

It depends on where your goalposts are. If you would be fine with a society where morality is solely based on the non-aggression principle, than the criminals can be punished by the state.(“social sanction” will not replace the prison system)

For most people, that is insufficient, including most who make your kind of argument. They simply do not see their own kind of morality as “morality,” it appears natural, obvious, to them, unlike the alien morality of the church. Take the example of child support. It is a massive restriction in freedom by any objective measure, and is justified in moral terms. Is the supposed justice of child support obvious to us all? Obviously not, the historical morality imposed no obligation on a man to support children he had with an unmarried woman, nor did he owe anything to a woman who left him, and many men retain this morality, or, you could say their morality is that of the non aggression principle. Are you willing to embrace it? Probably not.

I am, to be clear, also opposed to child support, as my morality is largely that of tradition rather than modern, leapfrogger morality.

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34 Boonton August 4, 2017 at 6:11 am

What exactly is ‘moral decay’? How do you measure it? How is it not circular? For example, “the way to stop obesity is for people to stop being fat”. Is that a statement that actually says something or does it say nothing?

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35 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 7:10 am

Doesn’t it just mean that crime is being caused by a decline in adherence to a set of shared societal values? There doesn’t seem to be any logical problem with such a statement (whether you agree or not).

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36 prior_test3 August 4, 2017 at 9:30 am

Please see the information below – clearly, America is becoming more moral. The assumption that crime is higher today than in 1968 (leaving aside certain questions – for just one example, rape is undoubtedly reported more frequently now than 50 years ago, but it is hard to know whether the rate of rapes independent of those reported is higher or lower) is simply wrong.

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37 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 9:37 am

I was only trying to argue that the statement makes logical sense and is not “circular reasoning”.

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38 prior_test3 August 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

OK – but I, personally, do not actually think the U.S. has become ‘more moral’ in the sense that George Romney, a Mormon, would likely acknowledge. And yet, if moral decay leads to crime, then the U.S. is clearly not morally decaying.

39 Tanturn August 4, 2017 at 10:43 am

See the FBIs uniform crime reports, the violent crime index and property crime index are about the same as they were in 1968, and higher than they were in 1960.

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40 Tanturn August 4, 2017 at 10:46 am

And please explain why you can be certain that rape is more likely to be reported today. I sense it rests on a religious-type reasoning.

41 spencer August 4, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Is that on a per capita basis

There has been some population growth since 1960–62% for the civilian population.

If that data is not on a per capita basis i would say unchanged crime is quite a record.

42 spencer August 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Typo — 1960 should be 1968.

43 Tanturn August 4, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Yes, spencer, yes it is. How stupid are you?

44 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 8:36 am

You could as well ask “what is virtue?”

I am pretty sure a literature search would show a decline in positive use, perhaps even flipping in pop culture to an opposite meaning: An empty signal.

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45 Aretino August 4, 2017 at 9:33 am

It would show a past decline and recent rise. Aristotelian style virtue ethics is being embraced by traditional Christians.

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46 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

I was raised in a very Aristotelian Lutheranism.

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47 Boonton August 4, 2017 at 9:28 am

“Doesn’t it just mean that crime is being caused by a decline in adherence to a set of shared societal values? ”

That still sounds circular. If you think of the law as a set of shared societal values then yea by breaking the law you’re not adhering to that and if you abide by the law you are adhering to that.

You may say that there are shared societal values that are not laws. For example, a man may be expected to hold the door open for a woman walking behind him. If people adhere less to those non-legal shared values, they are more likely to also adhere less to the legal ones.

But how do we measure that and how do we tell if total adherence is going down versus the things we adhere too are just changing? Except for the President, for example, sexist and racist talk is not as acceptable today as it used to be and we seem to adhere to that more than we used too. On the other side we adhere less to sexual norms that once said those with out of wedlock children or even just divorced should be shunned. Is total adherence falling or the set of things we adhere too shifting?

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48 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 9:43 am

Sorry if my statement wasn’t clear, I expect that Romney was referring to a particular set of values, not just any values that happen to be shared.

If you define morality as a particular set of beliefs/behaviors, it is pretty easy to measure adherence to that morality. You can use surveys to see what people claim to believe, and also measure behaviors that either serve as evidence of or conflict with those moral standards.

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49 Boonton August 4, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Was he? What set of standards? Aside from actual crime can you show me correlation between violations of one set of standards (say not holding door for a lady) and committing crimes? Or was he just playing upon the voters imagination? AS if there was some type of dial called ‘morality’ and if you just turn it up crime goes down.

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50 Careless August 5, 2017 at 11:23 am

How hard are you trying to be obtuse right now?

51 chuck martel August 4, 2017 at 7:00 am

Oswald Spengler’s analysis is sufficient explanation: http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2014/09/according-to-oswald-spengler.html

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52 Evans_KY August 4, 2017 at 7:06 am

More succinctly, how do you legislate morality in America? Do billboards alone work or does it require enforcement?

Rod is generally a stimulating read. His brush becomes too broad at times, but I enjoy his perspective. The rot in society mirrors the rot in the Church. Virtue signaling, gossip cliques, misogyny, partisanship, and a hollow message that fails to reach the people. Massive buildings, manicured lawns, orchestras, and production companies are not the answer. The response should be to modernize the message and roll with the times instead of entrenchment. People are hungry for something more but many churches are failing to bridge that gap. We as a nation have become too self-centered. What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is inconsequential. I see the Benedict Option as a similar stance. We must engage others with an open heart, to retreat is selfish.

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53 rayward August 4, 2017 at 7:10 am

+1. Here is my comment to Dreher’s op/ed in yesterday’s NYT: Sectarianism has been a central feature of Christianity since the first few centuries, as reflected in the Gospel of John (the last of the four canonical Gospels) and especially the three Letters of John that followed (which provided a window into the evolution of such sectarianism): when the author of the Letters refers to “Brothers”, he is not referring to all men and women who were followers of Jesus, but only those who shared the author’s theological views about Jesus. Dreher, in his highly sectarian view, is the contemporary equivalent: in Dreher’s view, you either agree with his theological views or you are not Christian. Dreher and Douthat are two peas from the same pod – read today’s column by Douthat. Dreher writes that Christians today are in a spiritual crisis. Compared to what? Christians in the 1930s and 1940s Europe? Dreher might consider Dietrich Bonhoeffer as his guide, for he faced the ultimate test of what it means to be a Christian. Bonhoeffer wrote of the difference between cheap grace and costly grace, and preached costly grace as the path to salvation. Dreher just wants to go hide.

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54 Larry Siegel August 5, 2017 at 4:38 am

Darn right Rod is an engaging read, but I have my own religion: science, art, nature. I’m a humanist. So, while he wants to withdraw from society, I want to engage with it. How did this basically rationalist discussion group become so enamored with traditional religion?

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55 rayward August 4, 2017 at 7:07 am

Romney and Dreher are separatists, the former a member of the separatist Mormon Church and the latter a promoter of the separatist Benedict Option. Christianity has a long history of sectarianism. Read the Gospel of John and especially the three Letters of John. When the author speaks of “brothers”, he is not referring to followers of Jesus generally but to adherents of his particular theology (and Christology); indeed, New Testament scholars refer to many Christologies not one Christology during the early years of the faith. Here is a recent essay by Dreher in which he promotes the Benedict Option: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/opinion/trump-scaramucci-evangelical-christian.html

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56 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 8:31 am

Evangelicals, especially the mass market variety, have a tortured history with materialism, and now with Trump, power.

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57 Frederic Bush August 4, 2017 at 8:16 am

That Rod Dreher piece is appalling. It seems to argue that alleviating human misery is completely unimportant and that the only thing that matters is worshipping a deity in the correct fashion.

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58 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 8:29 am

I don’t see where he says that. I think his point is more like “If you lose religion, then your society will fall apart, and misery will result.” Correct worship and alleviating human misery are not competing concerns in this viewpoint.

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59 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 8:34 am

A fuller explanation from a Christian point of view: Jesus served the poor, weak, and suffering in society to a radical extent. When we worship Jesus we commune with him and become more like him. An effect of correct Christian worship should therefore be increased concern for the suffering in society and more action on their behalf.

A corollary to this is that one of the main reasons the Church in the West has become weak and impotent is that we aren’t sufficiently transformed to be like Jesus and don’t serve and love others like he did.

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60 derek August 4, 2017 at 8:57 am

It is interesting to read the gospel condemnation of the religious structures of the time. There was a religion, there were strictures and rules, and there was a societal enforcement. But it was evil because it was concerned with itself and it’s self perpetuation as opposed to the best interests of the people who were it’s concern.

Read Matthew 23. The sniffy Conservatives, the nutty left are all described in their focus and ugliness.

“You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.” but in the hands of politicians, activists, judges and journalists the whole focus is on the silly details.

There is a reason for this. The simple rote stuff, as here described as tithing, is easy. But to convince someone that justice or mercy or faithfulness in application is a good idea and best for everyone is really hard if you don’t believe it yourself.

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61 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 8:59 am

As a Christian (and a conservative) I very much agree.

62 steve August 4, 2017 at 10:02 am

We are actually at the point with most Christians where the only way you can tell that they are actually Christians is if they tell you they are as you certainly cannot discern it from behavior.

Steve

63 msgkings August 4, 2017 at 1:21 pm

@steve: true, but true of Judaism too, and other faiths. Most people are nominally something based on what their parents were, and increasingly the parents don’t really practice either. Not that many (Americans, Europeans) actually practice their nominal faiths. Decline of religion is real.

64 Ricardo August 5, 2017 at 12:02 pm

“@steve: true, but true of Judaism too, and other faiths. Most people are nominally something based on what their parents were, and increasingly the parents don’t really practice either.@steve: true, but true of Judaism too, and other faiths. Most people are nominally something based on what their parents were, and increasingly the parents don’t really practice either.”

I agree but I doubt there was ever a golden era when people were truer to their religious beliefs than they are now. Religions tell people to do difficult things and, much like telling people to diet and exercise, people will listen, nod their heads in agreement and then not actually follow through. In some sense, the Christian notion of original sin is vindicated: people really do have selfish, vain, and vindictive impulses (and, for some people, self-destructive excess) and it takes a lot of hard work to moderate these.

65 prior_test3 August 4, 2017 at 9:27 am

‘ An effect of correct Christian worship should therefore be increased concern for the suffering in society and more action on their behalf. ‘

This is the fundamental reason that so many Germans cannot understand why many so called ‘Christians’ in the U.S. oppose universal health care. And yet, that block of ‘Christians’ exists, and plays a significant role in the politics of denying health care to their fellow citizens.

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66 derek August 4, 2017 at 9:33 am

Universal health care in application is not ‘christian’.

67 JWatts August 4, 2017 at 9:41 am

“This is the fundamental reason that so many Germans cannot understand why many so called ‘Christians’ in the U.S. oppose universal health care. ”

When did Germany enact universal health care?

68 prior_test3 August 4, 2017 at 9:55 am

‘ When did Germany enact universal health care? ‘

Yes, that qualifying ‘essentially’ was not typed. It is possible, if one works at it, to not be covered by health insurance in Germany (though it is more or less not allowed), and to have to pay the full amount for health care. Whether this describes .1% or 1% of people in Germany is very hard to figure out (partially because the private health insurers are still required to pay for the health care of their members that do not pay their insurance bill, for example – though they are then welcome to try to reclaim the medical expenses).

As for the answer when did Germany start providing health insurance to an ever growing number of people, the answer is 1883 – https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geschichte_der_Sozialversicherung_in_Deutschland

69 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 9:56 am

It is actually pretty topsy-turvy that Universal Health Care is not considered Christian in the United States.

70 JWatts August 4, 2017 at 10:02 am

“As for the answer when did Germany start providing health insurance to an ever growing number of people, the answer is 1883 – ”

Well I’m sure all those people that went into the Camps and then the Ovens were glad to be covered by universal health care.

71 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 10:07 am

Applying Christian principles to the role of government isn’t a simple question. The first century church had no political voice at all and faced persecution from an oppressive regime. Questions about how to wield political power in an appropriate way simply aren’t being addressed in the New Testament. The Old Testament did spend a lot of time on the question of what is an ideal government for the nation of Israel, and there is perhaps a starting point there, but it’s still very far removed from our modern situation.

I think there is a personal mandate for me, as a Christian, to share a lot of what I have to help the poor. But for government to do the same is quite different: it involves coercively taking from some people to give to others. This already raises philosophical questions about what charity looks like, even when it “works”. But can an institution given this power be trusted to act for good, or will it become an instrument of oppression? Oppressive government that exploits its people has been the norm for most of human history. It can easily happen again, though we can be lulled into complacency by the fact that we have had really good governance for the last few decades or even couple hundred years. Also, a lot of government programs aren’t very effective, and many have even caused harm to the people they try to help.

This is why I’m a Christian, yet oppose government healthcare. I don’t think it’s the only answer; “the government should provide healthcare because of Jesus’ command to help the poor” is a perfectly reasonable position for a Christian to take (and many do). But I don’t think it is obvious that this is the one correct application of Jesus’ teachings.

72 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 10:14 am

Dan, run that paragraph again with values (abortion, pornography, divorce, “defense” of marriage).

The truth is Christians have a long list of things they want to mandate on everyone else.

73 derek August 4, 2017 at 10:31 am

There is a difference between a community worship and political christianity (or Islam, or Secularism). The political strains seek power in some way, either directly or via influence. The Bishops in the Quebec I grew up in had a seat beside the Premier of the province because they delivered the votes. In exchange for a privileged position, having a say in decisions, etc. Sometimes it is closer to power, like the Christian Democrats prior loves. I absolutely agree that it is evil in all its manifestations.

74 Bob from Ohio August 4, 2017 at 11:37 am

“‘Christians’ in the U.S. oppose universal health care”

Everyone in the US has access to health care.

75 chuck martel August 4, 2017 at 6:41 pm

“Jesus served the poor, weak, and suffering in society to a radical extent.”

In what way?

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76 TMC August 5, 2017 at 11:37 am

There’s a book you can get on it.

77 Frederic Bush August 4, 2017 at 11:38 am

“From a Christian point of view, it does not matter if a man gains the whole world if he loses his soul. We could have become as rich and as powerful as any society ever was, and we could have driven poverty, disease, and suffering more to the margins of human experience than any society ever did — and we could still lose our souls.” So eliminating poverty and disease and suffering do not matter if we “lose our souls”.

He also criticizes Islam and American Christianity as being inadequate for the purposes of saving our souls, so it really is only worship in his approved fashion that matters.

Why is this posted in an economics blog? This is theological argument and explicitly discounts the value of economic analysis.

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78 msgkings August 4, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Because this is not just an “economics blog”, isn’t that pretty obvious?

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79 derek August 4, 2017 at 9:02 am

The most striking fact about that time was that it mattered if journalists didn’t get something or mocked it.

How much of what is happening in Washington is explained by people still believing that the Washington Post and NYT and CNN represent and/or affect opinion?

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80 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 9:16 am

And I wonder if you will maintain that protective bias until your deathbed. Perhaps then to explain to St. Peter your support for the pussy grabber, serial liar, and altogether unvirtuous man.

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81 derek August 4, 2017 at 9:38 am

Who peed in your cornflakes this morning?

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82 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 9:44 am

The problem here is that Christian support for Trumpism is riddled with lies, self-deception, and hypocrisy.

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83 derek August 4, 2017 at 10:18 am

Heh. You are funny.

Let me tell you my ‘christian’ view. I believe that anyone who would use the US security apparatus for political purposes should be hung from a tree, and their carcass left until it rots and falls to the ground. Pour les autres. Including everyone involved. I would also have include those who would countenance and support those actions hung as well unless they gave a very good reason why not.

This would likely muck out 3/4 of the media, 7/8 of the political class, 98% of academia.

And you go on about how Trump is the problem.

Trump is doing pretty well exactly what I thought he would do. He is exposing the utter stupidity of the political class. The neocons are showing themselves who they are, and lest we wonder why the post 2000 foreign policy actions have failed so utterly, we now know that they are blinkered fools. The Democrats are being exposed as feckless and deeply corrupt, only interested in power for enriching themselves, and the fiction that they ‘care’ is quite clear. Amazing. The Republicans don’t come off any better; they talk great things but are utterly useless. The bureaucracy is being shown to be riddled with incompetent fools.

We knew this already, but there was a plausible fiction that gave comfort.

The US does very well when it is utterly humiliated. I’m not in the US, and I want a chastened, hardened and capable US. I want these social and class issues to be beaten out as it is right now because we depend on these debates to happen vicariously.

Anyone else but Trump would have resulted in all these serious divisions and dysfunction being swept under some handy carpet. But because of Trump they are out in the open. There are lots and lots of very self important people making utter fools of themselves right now and will no longer be listened to by serious people. This is good.

Trump got to the presidency because of the utter failure of the political class. I’d give it another 6 years of humiliation and despair before some sense actually starts sinking in.

84 TMC August 5, 2017 at 11:38 am

Anon, sometimes you have to go with the lesser evil.

85 TMC August 5, 2017 at 11:40 am

+ 1 Derek. Nailed it.

86 JWatts August 4, 2017 at 9:34 am

“How much of what is happening in Washington is explained by people still believing that the Washington Post and NYT and CNN represent and/or affect opinion?”

WP, NYT, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS & NPR still represent and affect opinion. However, the slice of the pie they represent has shrunk. So, there’s a tendency for that Establishment media group to assume they have some greater mind share (roughly 60-90%) that they historically influenced. Whereas now that mind share is probably something like 30-50%. On a good week, they might get significantly above those numbers but the average is less than half.

Just consider, it’s nearly inconceivable that Trump could have gotten elected with the hostility that this group expressed towards him as late as the early 1990’s. Outside of a few fledgling talk radio stations there was no significant counter balancing influence. Prior to that time (at least after WW2), that Establishment media Group effectively held a 4th Estate Veto power.

Today there is not only an entire other major point of view (Fox, a host of talk radio, various conservative web sites) but also the completely non-professional chaotic side, (Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc). The populace has revoked the Establishment Media’s Veto power. They still have significant influence of course.

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87 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 9:45 am

Trump was manifestly unfit from the beginning, so I guess those traditional sites look pretty good in retrospect.

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88 JWatts August 4, 2017 at 9:49 am

I suspect Trump wouldn’t have won the nomination if that Establishment Group hadn’t tried so very hard to put Trump in the spotlight. So, I’d give them at least a partial assist for Trump’s being President.

Irony’s a bitch.

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89 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 9:52 am

So the mother saying “don’t jump off the roof” is responsible for jumping off the roof?

Small child logic.

90 JWatts August 4, 2017 at 10:07 am

Yes, your interpreting the Establishment Media’s reaction to Trump as a concerned ‘mother’, is indeed small child logic.

In retrospect, it should be clear, that the media attempted to make ridicule the comments that Trump was making. They just failed to realized (because they were living in a bubble) that a large percentage of American’s happened to agree with the statements Trump was making. Ridiculing him about those comments was ridiculing them. And the rube’s understood that their ideas were being ridiculed.

91 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 10:09 am

I thought you might go there. But it really is a dead end.

If this was a test with elitism on one side and populism on the other side, we have the answer. We have the completely non-elite non-intellectual president.

I think it is completely fair to ask how is that working out for you nitwits?

92 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 10:11 am
93 Brian Donohue August 4, 2017 at 10:24 am

How is what working out? The caterwauling has been non-stop, no President has ever had such a combined array of forces working against him from day one. There are a substantial number of people who were gonna spend the next four years pissing down their pant leg regardless- the definition of knee-jerk. Such moaning counts for nothing in my book.

94 derek August 4, 2017 at 10:24 am

How is it working out? Canada is being bailed out by a better than expected economy which means that the US market is doing well.

The Islamic State seems to be getting their asses handed to them.

We are seeing that the bureaucrats in Washington are willing to burn the city out of spite. Nothing like cause to justify a serious mucking out.

I fail to see any downsides yet. Your over the top reaction is just icing on the cake.

95 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 10:28 am

Without the caterwauling would the Senate have voted unanimously to block recess appointments?

Would Senate Republicans have drawn a red line protecting Mueller’s investigation?

I say no, the daily push-back was a necessary part of the political process.

96 JWatts August 4, 2017 at 11:24 am

“I think it is completely fair to ask how is that working out for you nitwits?”

LOL, I didn’t vote for Trump. He was only marginally better than Hillary Clinton. And neither one was fit to be President.

97 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 11:41 am

“LOL, I didn’t vote for Trump. He was only marginally better than Hillary Clinton. And neither one was fit to be President.”

Speaking of the political process, the value network is shaped by much more than voting. Saying things like Trump “was only marginally better than Hillary Clinton” is part of the process and part of the problem. I mean seriously, competence in a direction different than one likes should NOT be judged as “marginally” worse than utter incompetence, even it it comes with some lip-service to values you may have.

But that’s the whole Flight 93, burn it down, thing isn’t it? You consciously endorse (even if you did not vote) for ruin rather than someone else’s vision.

98 Bob from Ohio August 4, 2017 at 11:42 am

“Without the caterwauling would the Senate have voted unanimously to block recess appointments?”

Learn about Senate rules and “unanimous consent” why don’t you.

99 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 11:52 am

So “vote” was the wrong word. Unanimous consent instead. Meaning no vote was necessary because it is “a situation in which no one present objects to a proposal.”

100 JWatts August 4, 2017 at 12:16 pm

“You consciously endorse (even if you did not vote) for ruin rather than someone else’s vision.”

Or phrased another way: http://www.notable-quotes.com/b/george_w_bush_quote_2.jpg

101 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Exactly. In the concrete here and now, it is a simple question. Is supporting a lying imbecile moral or ethical, just because of the side he’s on?

102 JWatts August 4, 2017 at 12:46 pm

“Is supporting a lying imbecile moral or ethical, just because of the side he’s on?”

It says something about your state of mind, that me not voting for Trump is the same as supporting him.

103 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm

You just said Trump was “marginally better” than Clinton. That is supporting him, son.

But it is only “marginally worse” than “they are both bad” punts on the scale of the respective outcomes.

104 JWatts August 4, 2017 at 1:42 pm

“You just said Trump was “marginally better” than Clinton. That is supporting him, son.”

Well here’s the complete quote of what I said:

“LOL, I didn’t vote for Trump. He was only marginally better than Hillary Clinton. And neither one was fit to be President.”

Maybe next time you can extract out every third word and come up with even more obtuse meanings from my posts. 😉

105 MOFO August 4, 2017 at 3:55 pm

“I think it is completely fair to ask how is that working out for you nitwits?”

Just fine, thanks. Nothing of substance has changed, just so much theater in DC.

106 Brian Donohue August 4, 2017 at 10:18 am

“Trump was manifestly unfit from the beginning…”

– check and mate from Anonymous internet dude

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107 The Other Jim August 4, 2017 at 10:47 am

And yet he beat Hillary, in the most historic election of all time.

Tells you a lot about her fitness.

108 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 10:53 am

At least her attractiveness.

109 TMC August 5, 2017 at 11:54 am

Anon, and the likes of him, didn’t care about fit for governing when they voted for Obama, so why all the concern now?

If you gave a crap about fitness, you would have voted for Romney – significantly more capable in every respect. And just a better human being.

Republicans have taken the high road until it lead nowhere, then said to hell with it. Let Trump go in there like a bull in a chinashop. I’ve enjoyed the drama as well as the fact he’s been getting stuff done behind the scenes. Nice thing about running against Hillary, we’ve still taken the high road – a giant among pygmies sort of thing.

110 derek August 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

I don’t think you have to go that far back. If (can’t remember her name) the journalist who did the hit job on Sarah Palin tried that today, would it work? I’m not sure. Things have changed since 2008 in the US. I think that there was still a notion that the benefits of the upper middle class were still viewed as attainable, and someone who wasn’t there could be safely looked down upon. So in a way the media view of Palin represented the views of lots of people. Those views have changed.

The media thought they were influencing when in fact they were saying what people were thinking. In 2016 they were saying what they thought, and that is the case today, but they aren’t reflecting what the population is thinking.

I think it has to do with who makes up the media and so called opinion leaders. Even the reaction to the West Virginia governor is illustrative.

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111 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 3:16 pm

he journalist who did the hit job on Sarah Palin

I think you’re referring to Joe McGinnis or Todd Purdam. I doubt anyone not a died in the melt partisan Democrat took either one seriously. Purdam has a wretched reputation even among Democrats (Bill Clinton thought him a fraud. NB, Purdam’s wife was once Clinton’s press secretary). McGinnis rented the house next door to Palin which had a view overlooking her back yard; that’s just creepy.

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112 derek August 4, 2017 at 8:08 pm

No a woman on tv. Some interview that was as usual edited to make her look like a fool.

In any case, Palin at the time was below the acceptable class line in the US. Trump is above it now. Watching how all the smart people are acting in Washington right now shows how low the country has gone.

Remember, these are the blithering idiots who tried to design a health care system.

113 Skip Intro August 6, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Oh yes, the dreaded Katie Couric and her unfair “Name a newspaper you read” question.

114 Bill August 4, 2017 at 9:13 am

Not a slogan that a P@@sy grabber could use.

Ah, well, maybe, if you were cleansed at Liberty University.

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115 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 9:18 am

Supporting the worst man, for access to power, is literally a devil’s bargain.

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116 Bill August 4, 2017 at 9:57 am

The good news is

That every worst President before him

Gets to Go up a notch

In the worst Presidents list.

Millard Fillmore should be happy.

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117 Bill August 4, 2017 at 9:59 am

Or is that down a notch?

Maybe it should be the Presidential ranking, in which case Millard Fillmore would increase.

What about Richard Nixon? Above or below?

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118 Larry Siegel August 4, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Nixon was very smart. His presidency was a mixed bag, with the opening to China and environmental protection on the positive side. Below (Trump below Nixon.)

119 Hazel Meade August 4, 2017 at 1:29 pm

Ahh. I see the REAL reason for voting for Trump – to make sure that Bush would no longer be the Worst. President. Ever.

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120 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 5:13 pm

George W. Bush as the worst president ever? Paul Samuelson had an excuse when he said that: nonagenarians are kinda dotty.

It’s not terribly prudent to make categorical judgments about politicians without time to see how things shake out. People who were wading into full time work in 1974 are now reaching retirement age. A number of Nixon’s cabinet secretaries are still alive, but largely because he recruited a mess of people with astonishing longevity.

Retrospectively, you can see Nixon’s sinister aspect was (while real) wildly exaggerated at the time; Garry Wills and Nicholas v. Hoffman were among the few Democrats in the media who attempted (in a cack-handed way) to bring a comparative perspective to the issue. Some of his policy failures are attributable to the Democratic caucus in Congress (who sat on their hands when North VietNam invaded South VietNam in 1974). However, he himself promoted mess-inducing price controls, sloppy monetary policy, and fiscal indiscipline. Regarding the initiatives of the previous administration, he had one partial victory: dismantling much of the Office of Economic Opportunity. He also promoted racial-preference schemes and environmental regulation that made promiscuous use of command-and-control regulation.

As for Lyndon Johnson, it was one disaster after another (or one mess after another that others had to clean up later).

Did I mention the Hoover Administration’s monetary policies?

How about Woodrow Wilson’s diplomacy in 1918-19?

121 msgkings August 4, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Bush is lower tier for sure but he’s far from the worst ever. Those are generally considered to be Andrew Johnson, Warren Harding, James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce in some order.

122 TMC August 5, 2017 at 11:57 am

Hazel, I’m pretty sure that Obama took care of that for Carter. Not sure that Bush cared.

123 Bob from Ohio August 4, 2017 at 11:44 am

“Supporting the worst man”

is better than supporting a worse woman.

Trump at least stopped US complicity in foreign abortions. Which is more than Clinton would have done.

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124 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 11:54 am

Buddhists should not make up their own mind?

There is a word for that: Theocracy.

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125 TMC August 5, 2017 at 11:59 am

Typical leftist. Buddhists should be allowed to have abortions, AND Americans paying for them.

126 prior_test3 August 4, 2017 at 9:24 am

At least according to this link – http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm – it is apparent that if one equates moral decay with higher crime rates, then good news – America has become more moral.

United States Population and Rate of Crime per 100,000 People 1960 – 2015

1968 Population – 199,399,000 Total crimes – 3,370.2

2015 Population- 321,418,820 Total crimes – 2,870.2

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127 Viking August 4, 2017 at 10:36 am

Today’s society might have less recreational sex than the 60s society, and also less crime per capita.

The average age of becoming sexually active has increased. Seems like Romney might have had a point.

What is unclear, is whether he would have consider the 2017 population more or less morally decayed than the 1968 population, given gay marriage and societal support of trans-sexuals today, but also less no strings attached sex between unmarried people of the opposite gender.

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128 dan1111 August 4, 2017 at 11:10 am

I admit I’m not an expert, but I’m skeptical of this reading of the 60s. Sure, there was a prominent counterculture in the 60s, and perhaps it was wilder than the equivalent generation today. However, the rest of society was still very traditional. For example, in the 1960s, marriage rates were higher than the present day, and both out of wedlock birth rates and divorce rates were much lower than now.

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129 prior_test3 August 4, 2017 at 12:07 pm

‘Today’s society might have less recreational sex than the 60s society’

It has considerably more – birth control only became legal in the entire United States in 1967, and the pill is more from the 70s.

‘The average age of becoming sexually active has increased’

And yet, the actual age of puberty has decreased – what has declined noticeably is the number of teenage marriages.

‘What is unclear, is whether he would have consider the 2017 population more or less morally decayed than the 1968 population’

He was a Mormon – considering how American society has developed (states with legal pot stores, for example, or the now widespread legal lotteries), that really is not hard to at least imagine. Admittedly, who really knows what was in his heart.

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130 Tanturn August 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm

You are blatantly lying, as anyone who goes to your link can see. Tyler, please ban this asshole.

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131 Tanturn August 4, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Never mind, I misinterpreted the chart.

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132 Tanturn August 4, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Apologize to everyone here except for prior approval.

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133 Anonymous August 4, 2017 at 9:25 am

Speaking of devil’s bargains .. “Trump lawyer’s firm steered millions in [Christian] donations to family members, files show”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/27/trump-lawyer-jay-sekulow-donations

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134 Moo cow August 4, 2017 at 9:56 am

The Lord helps those who help themselves…to the cash.

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135 TMC August 5, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Clinton Foundation can always make room for a talented guy.

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136 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 11:07 am

THE WAY TO STOP CRIME IS TO STOP MORAL DECAY; he could not understand why newsmen found the slogan funny; and they could not understand what he meant by moral decay.

Because it’s non sequitur. The way to stop crime is to deter and punish criminals. You need cops and prisons to do that. A society where moral understandings incorporate categorical imperatives promotes the sort of self-control which generates less crime. That’s a good thing, but not something which can be readily induced by public policy. At the time Romney was putting up those billboards, Michigan’s public officials were falling down on the job of maintaining public order in Detroit and Flint.

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137 Nathan August 4, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for the explanation. I couldn’t see anything funny about it either.

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138 Hazel Meade August 4, 2017 at 1:43 pm

I think this is a rendition of broken windows theory (not to be confused with the broken window fallacy).

Broken windows theory, academic theory proposed by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling in 1982 that used broken windows as a metaphor for disorder within neighbourhoods. Their theory links disorder and incivility within a community to subsequent occurrences of serious crime.

In other words, the less people abide by community social norms, the more such norms will tend to be disregarded, right up to and including increasing rates of more serious crime. And conversely, the more such norms are enforced, the less crime there will be.

The downside of this is, of course, that sometimes the norms being enforced aren’t very good for people, or at least not very good for some class of people. Mandating that women wear headscarves, for instance, might create an atmosphere of greater respect for traditional Muslim values, which might include less crime, but it’s not necessarily great for women.

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139 Ann Ominous August 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm

The “Seven Deadly Sins” illustrate the moral decay issue. They are considered to be important because they lead people to do terrible things beyond the original sin. Now pay attention to the media’s attitude rather than actual prevalence.

Gluttony? We have a problem with it, but don’t promote it.
Greed? Wall Street runs half the economy. You can get a degree in greed at many colleges.
Pride? Marketed on TV as positive.
Lust? Porn aside, our advertisers it to sell everything.
Wrath? Not promoted in general, “Nazis” aside.
Envy? It’s the only rebuttal you see to Greed. Group envy has been renamed “Intersectionality” and you can get degrees in it at many colleges.
Sloth? Usually portrayed negatively.

We’re 2/7 for discouraging the 7 deadly sins.

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140 Art Deco August 4, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Wall Street runs half the economy. Y

The financial sector in toto accounts for about 7.5% of the value-added in the economy. The sort of casino banking practiced in New York and Chicago (and, to a lesser degree, Minneapolis and LA) is a fraction of that.

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141 Bill August 4, 2017 at 6:05 pm

I don’t get it.

If you saw the slogan

“Stop Moral Decay”

Would it be

Pro-Trump or Anti-Trump?*

*Sponsored by the Committee for Political Mouthwash

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142 Friday brown August 7, 2017 at 3:08 pm

When you educate the youth and women you have help is stopping crime and moral decay. So more emphasis should place on education.

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