Est. May 2008

20 November, 2012

Social Versus Fiscal

Before, during, and now even after the Presidential election, the concept of social conservatism was and is being summarily kicked to the back of the bus by liberals of all stripes, establishment Republicans, establishment neo-conservatives of the old- and new-media, and even by some of the ‘rising stars’ of neo-conservatism among our political class.  ‘Dump social conservative principles’, we’re told; ‘It’s fiscal conservatism you have to embrace as important!’  Mitt Romney’s now-infamous ‘47%’ and ‘gifts’ statements sent neo-con politicians and talking-heads stumbling over themselves like rats abandoning a burning building; Rush Limbaugh’s ‘you can’t beat Santa Claus’ remark just about put these same ‘neo-cons’ on the ceiling.

Listen, folks: unless these so-called ‘neo-cons’ wake up to the fact that without a major change of society’s current mind-set, there’s no hope in hell of fixing the economic mess we’re in.  Simply put, fiscal conservatism is a function of, not a cause of, societal conservatism.

Here’s why.


The entitlement mentality

Boy, howdy, haven’t we heard that phrase beaten like the proverbial dead horse?  Too many people, we’ve been told, have a mindset that they’re due a living courtesy of the federal government, or the state government, or the county, or the city.  We’ve been told time and time again that entitlement programs, particularly of the federal government, are on a downhill slide to insolvency unless something is done to reform them – it’s no longer a question of if the well’s going to run dry, it’s a question of how soon?

But the moment anybody mentions the phrase ‘entitlement reform’, those availing themselves of the freebies and those who are using the freebies to provide themselves with a permanent voting bloc howl as if they’re being boiled in saturated fats or have been smeared with high fructose corn syrup and staked to an anthill because all they see is their freebies being cut off.

Back up in history about, oh, fifty or more years ago.  It was embarrassing to be ‘on the dole’: people questioned your manhood, your ability to take care of your family, your work ethic, etc., etc.  If you were forced onto ‘the dole’, you busted your backside to get off it as soon as possible because you didn’t want that stigma of taking ‘government money’ or ‘government food’.  Fast-forward to today and society doesn’t think like that: today, you have politicians talking about ‘funemployment’ and about how being on extended unemployment benefits actually helps the economy.  Sure, there are still folks out there who think ‘the dole’ is embarrassing, but that number is getting smaller and smaller by the month.

This whole entitlement mindset has to be changed in order for people to re-embrace the ideas of hard work, working for a living, earning a paycheck, and all the rest – that’s a social problem, and, apparently, expecting an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work falls under the aegis of social conservatism.  Unless you fix this social problem of the entitlement mentality, you’re never going to fix the fiscal problems it creates.

Abortion

Abortion isn’t called ‘abortion’ anymore, except by people who are against it; nowdays, it’s called ‘a woman’s right to choose’.  Frankly, that choice ought to have been made before the act, not retroactively – abortion is simply a ‘remedy’ for poor judgment.  Fifty-plus years ago having an abortion was considered anathema; today, it’s considered a-ok, just as pre- and extra-marital sex (the leading causes of abortion) have gone from anathema to a-ok...so long as you use protection.

Ah, yes, ‘protection’.  It’s perfectly acceptable to engage in sex whenever and with whomever you please, so long as you use ‘protection’.  Here’s a bit of advice: you know those folks who say that the only 100% effective method of birth control is abstinence?  They’re right: prophylactics are made by people; things that are made by people eventually break; even the labels on condoms, IUD’s, the Pill, and the rest don’t say they’re 100% effective in preventing pregnancy.  If you don’t want to risk having a baby, don’t perform the act which can make one.  It’s like sticking your hand in a fire – if you don’t want to get burned, don’t do it.

How would fixing the societal problem of ‘free’ sex and abortion solve a fiscal problem?  One, government (meaning your tax dollars) wouldn’t have to subsidize abortion providers (either through direct grants or through nationalized health insurance).  Two, without Roe v. Wade we’d have, potentially (give or take a couple thousand because they’re not 18) right around 50 million or so taxpayers still around paying taxes.  And even if 47% of them weren’t making enough money to pay taxes, we’d still have 25 million or so who were.

Marriage

Over the past fifty or so years, the institution of marriage has really taken a beating.  What with no-fault divorce, radical feminism, artificial insemination, and the like, it’s sometimes difficult to dredge up reasons why two people should get married in the first place.  Put all these anti-marriage societal barricades up and not being married becomes the preferred default.

But what happens when you bad-mouth the institution of marriage and praise the ‘wonderfulness’ of single-parentage? 

Studies have shown that the kids of single parents by and large are in at least one way or another screwed up compared to kids of intact married couples.  Single-parent kids tend to get into more trouble at school and in the neighborhood; they tend to get poorer grades in school; they tend to run afoul of the law more often; they tend to experiment with drugs and alcohol to a greater extent, etc., etc. 

Single parents are at a disadvantage in that there’s only one person to deal with all the responsibilities of home and family – being both the ‘mom’ and the ‘dad’, having to ‘bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan’, having to work a job (most likely part-time in order to be able to care for their kids) or find babysitters/daycare for their children, and all the rest.  This is far from a stress-free environment, folks, and the stress more often than not bleeds over onto the kids, which then leads to the above-mentioned problems the kids have.

And it affects the fiscal because a goodly portion of single parents are on some kind of government assistance – food stamps, direct welfare, and the like.  If they weren’t single (if they were married) there’s a greater likelihood that they wouldn’t need to avail themselves so greatly of government assistance.

Now, granted, there are exceptions to these statements – in fact, I’m friends with quite a few of the exceptions, particularly where it comes to raising kids who aren’t too badly loused up; but exceptions don’t disprove the rule, folks: the vast majority of single-parent problems are rooted in the idea of single-parentage.  And reinforcing the idea of marriage would work to solve both the societal and the fiscal problems.

But I can’t leave this without saying one more thing about marriage.  Some folks will likely be thinking, ‘Well, what if I can’t stay married to him/her?’  My answer: that’s what courtship is all about.  You get to know the person before you commit to the person - and fix in your head the idea that having sex with a person is just as big a commitment (in fact, it may be more so) than a wedding ring and a service in front of the judge or pastor.  So go a’courtin’, get to know one another, and then contemplate life together.  And never, ever get the thought in your head that, ‘Well, if I have his baby, he won’t leave me.’  That’s a sucker-bet every time.

Religion
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams
Religion – or religious beliefs – is a sore spot with a lot of people these days; so sore, in fact, that even though religion isn’t (or isn’t supposed to be) a deciding factor when it comes to election for office, much is always made over a candidate’s religious affiliations, and every two years, it seems, we end up hearing cries of ‘theocracy!!!’ from some nitwit somewhere.


Our modern society has almost made a cottage industry of belittling religion, particularly Christianity, it seems.  Not a day can go by without some story cropping up of some atheist (or atheist group) trying to ban public displays of religion; politicians are subject to ‘gotcha’ questions regarding their religious beliefs, often couched as questions regarding policy (such as the recent one asked of Marco Rubio), which are little more than attempts to discredit them.

Up until about fifty or so years ago (seems a lot of things happened right around the beginning of the 1960’s, eh?) the church – warts and all – was the cornerstone of moral teaching and counsel (I say ‘warts and all’ simply because the church, made up of fallible human beings, makes mistakes).  Tragically, however, the church has ceded far too much ground to secular society in the quest for ‘societal relevancy’, which is simply a euphemism for ‘keeping people in the pews and keeping their donations flowing’.  This abdication by the church – and it was an ‘abdication’; nothing was taken from the church that it didn’t freely give up – has caused incredible impact on the moral fiber of this nation: that which was once considered immoral or amoral has now become acceptable in far too many churches across the nation; accommodations for lust, greed, laziness, pride, and the like are commonplace and are cloaked with respectable terms like ‘inclusiveness’. 

All to the detriment of the ‘salt and light’ function of the church.  The church was once counter-cultural – in the face of immorality, the church once stood firm on a foundation of moral teachings (even when some of the leadership faltered and failed at it); now it’s become a cultural sop, soaking up the world and squeezing itself out all over its members.  And those churches which have soaked-and-squeezed the most are feeling the effects: membership is dropping in most (if not all) of the ‘mainline Protestant’ denominations, and the number of people who say ‘none’ to the question, ‘Which religious denomination are you?’ is rising.  My opinion on that?  The modern church is little different from any other group or club out there – it no longer offers a counter-cultural message, so why waste time becoming a member and blowing an hour or so every Sunday morning when you can get the same thing somewhere else – and not even have to dress up to do it?

The church’s original social message – salt and light and morality – has been badly damaged; right now, fixing it is on a par with fighting your way upstream to a leaking dam with little more than an ice-cream pail full of mortar and a trowel.  But the thing is, if enough people are carrying pails and trowels, the work can get done.  And it must get done in order for the church to return to what it once was – the moral touchstone of the nation. 

What fiscal problems has this caused or contributed to?  Pretty much all of the ones I outlined above, as well as others.  Without a solid grounding in morality (provided by the church) we have ‘free sex’ and abortions; without the teachings of the church on greed, envy, laziness, and pride we have the ‘entitlement mentality’; without the church’s direction on the importance of marriage we have no-fault divorce, single parenthood, and all the rest.

And before you say that you can get all that morality stuff without the church, look back over the past fifty years; are we a more or less moral society?  Are we a more or less religious society?   In the absence of proper guidance from the church, nothing else has bothered to come in and fill the gap, which leads me to believe there’s nothing other than the church which can provide it.

Now, then, I present a question to those neo-conservatives who think social conservatism should take a back seat to fiscal conservatism: please, enlighten us, ladies and gentlemen, how you plan to fix the fiscal problems without fixing the social problems which cause them first?

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