Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

Archive for September, 2007

Christian Socialism vs. Economic Reality

Posted by Tony Listi on September 29, 2007

Gerard Jackson

Monday 13 November 2006

Christian socialists, like all lefty intellectuals, argue that poverty is a product of an unjust ordering of society. From there it is only a short step to seeking out the culprit and (you’ve guessed it) the guilty party is the ideology of “neo-liberalism”. More than 60 years ago the prescient Schumpeter wrote that “capitalism (the free market) stands its trial before judges who have the sentence of death in their pockets”. (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, George Allen and Unwin LTD, 1957). But their case against the market is based on a vicious socialist caricature of the real nature of market economics.

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From Protestant to Catholic: The Story of Marcus Grodi

Posted by Tony Listi on September 28, 2007

This is a powerful story. Mr. Grodi was disturbed by the theological relativism and chaos that Protestantism had unleashed….

“It was the essential nature of Protestantism to attempt to bring renewal through division and fragmentation.” (which is to say no renewal)

“I reflected often on Proverbs 3:5-6: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.’ This exhortation both haunted and consoled me as I grappled with the doctrinal confusion and procedural chaos within Protestantism.
The Reformers had championed the notion of private interpretation of the Bible by the individual, a position I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable with, in light of Proverbs 3:5-6.”

“Catholicism was being explained in a way I had never imagined possible – from the Bible!”

“Jesus had prayed for unity among his followers, and Paul and John both challenged their followers to hold fast to the truth they had received, not letting opinions divide them. As Protestants we had become infatuated by our freedom, placing personal opinion over the teaching authority of the Church.”

“I studied the causes for the Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church of that day was desperately in need of renewal but Martin Luther and the other Reformers chose the wrong, the unbiblical, method for dealing with the problems they saw in the Church. The correct route was and still is just what my Presbyterian friend had told me: Don’t leave the Church; don’t break the unity of faith. Work for genuine reform based on God’s plan, not man’s, achieving it through prayer, penance, and good example.”

“I’d been taught for so long to despise “Romanism” that, even though intellectually I had discovered Catholicism to be true, I had a hard time shaking my emotional prejudice against the Church. One key difficulty was the psychological adjustment to the complexity of Catholic theology. By contrast Protestantism is simple….”

“Eventually I realized that the single most important issue was authority. All of this wrangling over how to interpret Scripture gets one nowhere if there is no way to know with infallible certitude that one’s interpretation is the right one. The teaching authority of the Church in the magisterium centered around the seat of Peter. If I could accept this doctrine, I knew I could trust the Church on everything else.”

“‘To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.’ This one line summarizes a key reason why I abandoned Protestantism, bypassed the Orthodox Church, and became a Catholic.
Newman was right. The more I read Church history and Scripture the less I could comfortably remain Protestant. I saw that it was the Catholic Church that was established by Jesus Christ, and all the other claimants to the title “true church” had to step aside. It was the Bible and Church history that made a Catholic out of me, against my will (at least at first) and to my immense surprise. I also learned that the flip side of Newman’s adage is equally true: To cease to be deep in history is to become a Protestant.”
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Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Religion and Theology | 1 Comment »

Trade Is the Best Aid for Africa

Posted by Tony Listi on September 28, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007by Christa BiekerThe 48 countries south of the Sahara desert in Africa make up the most impoverished and diseased region of the world. Although wealthy countries have poured more than $450 billion of development assistance (in 2003 dollars) into the region since 1980, nearly half the population lives on less than $1 per day, the average life expectancy is only 46 years and nearly one-third of children are underweight and malnourished. Despite its noble intent, aid has not rescued Sub-Saharan Africa from poverty. In many cases, it has undermined development, propped up dictators and fueled corruption.
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The Facts on the Uninsured in America

Posted by Tony Listi on September 28, 2007

Despite claims that there is a health insurance crisis in the United States, the proportion of Americans without health coverage has changed little in the past decade. The increase in the number of uninsured is largely due to immigration and population growth – and to individual choice.

How Big Is the Problem? In 2006, according to Census Bureau data:
• More than 84 percent (250.4 million) of U.S. residents were privately insured or enrolled in a government health program, such as Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (S-CHIP).
• Up to 14 million uninsured adults and children qualified for government programs in 2004 but had not enrolled, according to the BlueCross BlueShield Association.
• Nearly 18 million of the uninsured live in households with annual incomes above $50,000 and could likely afford health insurance.

In theory, therefore, about 32 million people, or 68 percent of the uninsured, could easily obtain coverage but have chosen to forgo insurance. That means that about 94 percent of United States residents either have health coverage or access to it. The remaining 6 percent live in households that earn less than $50,000 annually. This group does not qualify for Medicaid and (arguably) earns too little to easily afford expensive family plans costing more than $12,000 per year. However, they could afford the limited benefit plans that are gaining in popularity (see below).

How Serious Is the Problem? According to the Census Bureau, the proportion of people without health insurance was slightly lower in 2006 (15.8 percent) than a decade earlier (16.2 percent in 1997). During the past 10 years the number of people with health coverage rose nearly 25 million, while the number without health coverage only increased about 3.5 million. Both increases are largely due to population growth. Typically, those who lack insurance are uninsured for only a short period of time. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 21 million to 31 million people had been uninsured for a year or more in 2002 – far short of the 47 million figure cited by proponents of universal health care. Of all the people who are uninsured today, less than half will still be uninsured 12 months from now.

Who Are the Uninsured? It is often assumed that the uninsured are all low-income families. But among households earning less than $25,000, the number of uninsured actually fell by about 24 percent over the past 10 years. [See the figure.] The uninsured include diverse groups, each uninsured for a different reason:

Immigrants. About 12.6 million foreign-born residents lack health coverage -accounting for 27 percent of the uninsured. In 2006, 83.6 percent of naturalized citizens had coverage – close to the rate of native-born residents (87.8 percent). In contrast, 45 percent of foreign-born noncitizen residents were uninsured. These 10 million uninsured immigrants were more than 20 percent of the total number of uninsured U.S. residents. Income may be a factor – but not the only one. A partial explanation for this disparity is that many immigrants come from cultures without a strong history of paying premiums for private health insurance. In addition, immigrants do not qualify for public coverage until they have been legal residents for more than five years.

The Young and Healthy. About 19 million 18-to-34-year olds are uninsured. Most of them are healthy and know they can pay incidental expenses out of pocket. Using hard-earned dollars to pay for health care they don’t expect to need is a low priority for them.

Higher-Income Workers. As the figure shows, the fastest-growing segment of the uninsured population over the past 10 years has been middle- and upper-income families. From 1997 to 2006, the number of uninsured among households earning more than $50,000 annually actually increased by more than seven million. The ranks of the uninsured in households earning $50,000 to $75,000 increased 49 percent, while the number of uninsured households earning above $75,000 increased 90 percent.

Why the Poor Are Uninsured: The “Free Care” Alternative. Many people do not enroll in government health insurance programs because they know that free health care is available once they get sick. Federal law forbids hospital emergency rooms from turning away critical care patients regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay. Estimates of spending on free care range from $1,049 to $1,548 for each individual who is uninsured for an entire year. This does not include the more than $300 billion the federal and state governments spend annually on such “free” public health insurance as Medicaid and S-CHIP. Furthermore, there is little incentive to enroll in public programs because families can always sign up when the need arises.

Why the Nonpoor Are Uninsured: State Mandates . Government policies that drive up the cost of private health insurance may partly explain why millions of people forgo coverage. Many states try to make it easy for a person to obtain insurance after becoming sick by requiring insurance companies to offer immediate coverage for pre-existing conditions with no waiting period. Thus, when people are healthy they have little incentive to participate and tend to avoid paying for coverage until they need care.
Some states also impose “community rating,” which forces insurers to charge the same premium to all, no matter how sick or healthy they are when they purchase insurance. This mandate drives up the cost of insurance for the healthy. Because their premiums are far higher than their anticipated medical needs, healthy people are often priced out of the market.

How to Reduce the Number of Uninsured: Limited Benefit Plans. Some of the uninsured would purchase insurance if policies were more to their liking. The state of Tennessee recently conducted focus groups with blue-collar workers and discovered that what people want is very different from what health policy experts think they should have. For example, there was very little interest in insurance for catastrophic events. Instead, people wanted insurance benefits that pay for primary care visits or prescription drugs. Limited benefit plans designed to meet these patients’ demands are the cornerstone of TennCare, the state program to cover low-income families in Tennessee . And these types of plans are gaining in popularity. Insurers say more than a million people already have limited health plans. Employers also are establishing their own plans, especially for part-time workers.

How to Increase the Number of Uninsured: Mandatory Insurance. If millions of people have access to coverage but choose not to enroll, should they be forced to? The logic is simple: If people won’t buy health insurance voluntarily, pass a law mandating that they buy it anyway. This is a requirement of the Massachusetts health reform law and many of the other universal coverage proposals. This is also how auto insurance works in 47 states. The problem is: It doesn’t work! Recent research by Greg Scandlen, published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, found that the rate of uninsured motorists is very similar to the proportion of people lacking health insurance.

Conclusion . Despite claims that the United States is experiencing a health insurance crisis, the proportion of people without insurance coverage has changed little in recent years. Even so, much can be done to reduce the number of uninsured. This could include deregulating insurance markets to allow affordable plans that are attractive to the young and healthy. It could also include subsidizing the purchase of private insurance using the free-care money taxpayers are already providing. Finally, the use of limited benefit plans could be expanded to make insurance coverage more affordable to low-income families.

Devon Herrick is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Posted in Government and Politics, Health Care | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

No Blood for Water!

Posted by Tony Listi on September 21, 2007

I interviewed this Code Pink wacko who was at an Iraq War protest at Texas A&M University at the corner of Texas Ave. and University Drive. And little did you know, we invaded Iraq for its water! Unfortunately, the video cut off on me unexpectedly. Who knows what else I could have gotten on tape if it had kept rolling.

It is just dishonest to unqualifiably say that our soldiers are commiting atrocities in Iraq, as she did. The vast majority of the men and women of our military are good people, well trained and disciplined, and making the lives of Iraqis better. 

Yes, you might say war is an atrocity. But it is a truism hardly worth saying. It’s like saying poverty, evil, or sin is an atrocity. They are all facts of life, of humanity. We can do our best to mitigate their effects and contain them, but we will never eliminate these evils completely. And the attempt to do so cannot be done without destroying humanity itself, an even greater evil. For as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Sirius of the Harry Potter series said, the division between good and evil, light and dark, runs straight through every human heart. Indeed, this is the message of the Bible and Christianity. Indeed, this idea is the basis for the Constitution that the American Founders framed.

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Posted by Tony Listi on September 19, 2007

By Dave Armstrong
Thursday, December 21, 2006

[originally written in 1996]

Evangelical Protestants of the “low church” or non-denominational variety especially, oftentimes exhibit an antipathy to matter as a conveyor of grace (or “blessing”). In other words, they tend to deny the sacramental principle. This hearkens back to the Docetic heresy, with traces of Nestorianism and Donatism. Non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Christians frequently express the notion that matter is a step down, a “reduction” of Christ’s Atonement: Matter vs. Spirit. Catholics (and Orthodox and many Anglicans and Lutherans) believe that the truth is quite the contrary, both prima facie and when examined in scriptural and reasoned depth.

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50 New Testament Proofs for the Pre-eminence of St. Peter

Posted by Tony Listi on September 19, 2007

1. Peter alone is the Rock upon which Jesus builds his Church (Mt 16:18).
2. Peter alone is given the keys to the kingdom of Heaven (Mt 16:19).
3. Peter is individually given the power to bind and loose (Mt 16:19).
4. Peter’s name appears first in all lists of the Apostles (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:16; Lk 6:14; Acts 1:13). Matthew even calls him the “first” (Mt 10:2).
5. Peter is almost always named first whenever he appears with anyone else. In the one exception (Gal 2:9), the context clearly shows him to be pre-eminent (1:18-19, 2:7-8).
6. Peter alone receives a new name solemnly conferred (John1:42; Mt 16:18).
7. Peter is regarded by Jesus as the Chief Shepherd after himself (John 21:15-17), singularly by name, and over the universal church, even though others have a similar but subordinate role (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2).
8. Peter alone among the Apostles is mentioned by name as having been prayed for by Jesus Christ in order that his faith may not fail (Lk 22:32).
9. Peter alone among the Apostles is exhorted by Jesus to “strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22:32).
10. Peter is the first to confess Christ’s Messiahship and divinity (Mt 16:16).
11. Peter alone is told that he has received divine knowledge by a special revelation (Mt 16:17).
12. Peter is regarded by the Jews (Acts 4:1-13) as the leader and spokesman of Christianity.
13. Peter is regarded by the common people in the same way (Acts 2:37-41; 5:15).

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Posted in Biblical Exegesis, Catholicism, Catholicism vs. Protestantism, The Papacy | 4 Comments »

The Keys of the Kingdom: The Papacy and Papal Infallibility in the Bible

Posted by Tony Listi on September 18, 2007

The papacy and papal infallibility have indeed been in existence from the very earliest days of the Church, starting with the apostle Peter and what he and other Christians believed about his leadership and jurisdiction. The papacy and papal infallibility have undergone some development over time but the essential aspects are very biblical and have been preserved from the earliest days of Christianity. There is nothing in the early Church history to contradict it, but rather the various bishops acknowledged the primacy of Rome.

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Posted in Biblical Exegesis, Catholicism, Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Religion and Theology, The Papacy | 15 Comments »

Sola Fide is not Biblical Either: Faith AND Works are Necessary

Posted by Tony Listi on September 18, 2007

The Catholic Church holds that true faith in Jesus Christ is not saving faith unless it bears fruit in good works. Good works are necessary for salvation, and sanctification (process of being made actually holy) is not separate from justification. Whatever good works we do are deserving of reward, not through any merit prior to grace; good works are due to the prior gift of grace to which we have no claim (mystery of free will and grace acting together).

The Bible teaches that God rewards good works, as we shall see, and they are not antithetical to saving grace. And the Catholic Church does not ignore human motivations as a factor in evaluating good works: mere external works without purity of heart and charity are of little worth (1 Cor 13:3).

Catholicism holds that a person cannot save himself (neither does the pope or Mary save anyone). Only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ saves. Catholicism actually condemned the “works salvation” of the Pelagian heresy centuries ago.

Catholicism also holds that man retains a small measure of free will to choose God and the good. God’s grace enables and precedes at every turn, and using one’s free will one may cooperate with that grace. Whoever rejects God and goes to Hell does so of his own free will (any Calvinists out there?).

Both sides agree that faith is absolutely necessary for salvation and that we are clearly commanded by God to do good works. C. S. Lewis (perhaps my favorite author) remarked that either faith or works to the exclusion of the other was like thinking one blade in a pair of scissors was more necessary than others. The tendency in practice is for Catholics to minimize the first aspect and Protestants the second. Thus the split comes over the precise nature of the relationship of faith and works to each other and to justification and salvation.

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The Visible, Hierarchical, Apostolic Church in the Bible

Posted by Tony Listi on September 18, 2007

Catholics believe that the Church is both organism and organization, not merely the former. This organization is divinely instituted and biblical and therefore not optional or of secondary importance.

The bishops, by Christ’s intention, are the successors of the Apostles. The Roman Catholic Church traces herself back historically in an unbroken succession to the Apostles and the early Church (apostolic succession). The RCC thus emphasizes historical and doctrinal continuity.

Protestants emphasize biblical authority, and Catholics ecclesiastical and episcopal leadership, and Tradition. But if the Bible points to and encourages submission to the latter, then the two types of authority cannot (biblically) be opposed.

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Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism | 4 Comments »