Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

Archive for April, 2008

There is No Condom for the Soul

Posted by Tony Listi on April 14, 2008

For the moment, let me put aside my Catholic belief that contraception is inherently immoral by the authority of the Church, Scripture, and faith. Let me put on my utilitarian cap.

Even so, contraception is still a means to perform an act without having to experience its natural consequences. It obviously allows one to have sex while preventing pregnancy. But it also allows a couple to have sex without any need for loving commitment. A baby is a responsibility that requires mutual commitment; no baby, no commitment.

So what are the consequences of this attempt to avoid consequences? The result is more weak and broken relationships. For what is a relationship without commitment? Merely a social market transaction or exchange. And let’s remember that players in a market are characterized by self-interest, not loving selflessness that should characterize our relationships with the opposite sex.

Sure, contraception will allow one to enjoy sex without having to worry about the economic and moral issues surrounding the conception of new life. But there is no condom for the soul. There is no condom to prevent the emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences of sexual intercourse. And (to put my Catholic cap back on), there is no condom such that one can sin without having to suffer its consequences. The only solution to sin is abstinence; there is no other way to protect your soul. Are you using this kind of protection?

Advertisements

Posted in American Culture, Catholicism, Christianity and Politics, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Religion and Theology, Sex | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“What causes poverty?” is the Wrong Question!

Posted by Tony Listi on April 10, 2008

Watch http://www.isi.org/lectures/lectures.aspx?SBy=search&SSub=title&SFor=poverty

“What causes poverty?” is the wrong question! The real, more useful question we should be asking ourselves is “What causes wealth?” If half the world lives on less than $2 a day, we should naturally ask “What happened to the other half?” From these better questions, we can seek solutions rather than people to blame.

The question “What causes poverty?” seems to imply that wealth is the status quo and poverty is somehow a deviation from that norm. But even a cursory look at history shows this to be a ridiculous premise. History is not the story of how some people become poor but how some people escaped from poverty, the real human norm, and thus became wealthy. I think this a crucial difference of paradigm between the liberal/socialist/communist/Marxist perspective and the conservative/libertarian perspective.

So what causes wealth? Capitalism; free, competitive, and international markets. But that is not all and maybe not even the most important element. Capitalism cannot exist without certain supporting institutions (governmental, financial, social, religious, etc.) and cultural norms that have developed in the West.

Posted in Africa, American Culture, Economics, Foreign Aid, Free Trade, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Poverty, Socialism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Earth Hasn’t Gotten Warmer Since 1998! BBC Manipulated Alarmists

Posted by Tony Listi on April 9, 2008

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/04/bbc_folds_then_folds_again.html

April 07, 2008

BBC folds, then folds again

Marc Sheppard
The BBC appears to have serially caved-in to global warmist activism. There was much online discussion this weekend about a Friday BBC global warming / La Nina related article suddenly changing its wording and with it — its apparent balance. Today, news that an eco-activist has smugly taken credit for coercing the change has joined the conversation. And I’m now adding my discovery of a second amending in which a neutrality-vital sentence that survived the first update has now completely vanished.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Global Warming and Environment, Government and Politics, Science and Politics, The Media, Old and New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Government-Created Subprime Mortgage Meltdown

Posted by Tony Listi on April 6, 2008

Just like the government caused the Great Depression. When will people learn that government interference causes the greatest economic instability and dislocations??

http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo125.html

By Thomas J. DiLorenzo

September 6, 2007

The thousands of mortgage defaults and foreclosures in the “subprime” housing market (i.e., mortgage holders with poor credit ratings) is the direct result of thirty years of government policy that has forced banks to make bad loans to un-creditworthy borrowers. The policy in question is the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which compels banks to make loans to low-income borrowers and in what the supporters of the Act call “communities of color” that they might not otherwise make based on purely economic criteria.

The original lobbyists for the CRA were the hardcore leftists who supported the Carter administration and were often rewarded for their support with government grants and programs like the CRA that they benefited from. These included various “neighborhood organizations,” as they like to call themselves, such as “ACORN” (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). These organizations claim that over $1 trillion in CRA loans have been made, although no one seems to know the magnitude with much certainty. A U.S. Senate Banking Committee staffer told me about ten years ago that at least $100 billion in such loans had been made in the first twenty years of the Act.

So-called “community groups” like ACORN benefit themselves from the CRA through a process that sounds like legalized extortion. The CRA is enforced by four federal government bureaucracies: the Fed, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The law is set up so that any bank merger, branch expansion, or new branch creation can be postponed or prohibited by any of these four bureaucracies if a CRA “protest” is issued by a “community group.” This can cost banks great sums of money, and the “community groups” understand this perfectly well. It is their leverage. They use this leverage to get the banks to give them millions of dollars as well as promising to make a certain amount of bad loans in their communities.

A man named Bruce Marks became quite notorious during the last decade for pressuring banks to earmark literally billions of dollars to his organization, the “Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.” He once boasted to the New York Times that he had “won” loan commitments totaling $3.8 billion from Bank of America, First Union Corporation, and the Fleet Financial Group. And that is just one “community group” operating in one city – Boston.

Banks have been placed in a Catch 22 situation by the CRA: If they comply, they know they will have to suffer from more loan defaults. If they don’t comply, they face financial penalties and, worse yet, their business plans for mergers, branch expansions, etc. can be blocked by CRA protesters, which can cost a large corporation like Bank of America billions of dollars. Like most businesses, they have largely buckled under and have surrendered to their bureaucratic masters.

Consequently, banks in every community in America have been forced to hold a portfolio of bad loans, euphemistically referred to as “subprime” loans. In order to compensate themselves for the added risk of extending these loans, many lenders have increased the lending fees associated with mortgage loans. This is simply an indirect way of doing what banks always do – and what they must do to remain solvent: charging effectively higher rates of interest on riskier loans.

But this is discriminatory!, complained the “community organizations.” Thus, if one browses the ACORN web site, one can read of their boasts of having “predatory lending laws” passed in numerous states which outlaw such fees, prohibiting banks from protecting themselves from the added risk involved in making forced loans to “subprime” borrowers.

These are price control laws, and price controls always cause shortages. Normally, banks would respond to such laws by extending fewer riskier loans. But in this case the banks are forced to continue making the marginal loans by their bureaucratic masters at the Fed and the other three federal bureaucracies mentioned above. So-called predatory lending laws therefore force the banks to “eat” the losses. This is undoubtedly a contributing factor to the bankruptcy of dozens of mortgage lenders over the past year.

Then of course there is the issue of the Fed’s monetary policy having created the housing bubble, characterized by a spectacular escalation of real estate values in every American city over the past decade or so. This created a further problem for the financial institutions that are victimized by the CRA. They are forced to make a certain amount of bad loans, but because of the Fed-created explosion in housing prices, many thousands of subprime borrowers no longer qualified, by a long stretch, for conventional mortgages based on their incomes.

The only way these borrowers could qualify for their mortgage loans (even ignoring their bad credit ratings) was to take out adjustable rate mortgages, some of which had astonishingly low first-year rates in the 3 percent range, and sometimes lower. This is what has largely fueled the subprime mortgage meltdown – the inability of thousands of subprime borrowers to afford their mortgages now that their rates have adjusted upward. Thus, the combination of the Fed’s enforcement of the CRA (with the help of political pressure groups like ACORN) and its post 9/11 monetary policy in general are the reasons for the bursting real estate bubble and the “subprime” mortgage meltdown.

Don’t expect to read about this in the “mainstream media,” however, which generally views groups like ACORN as heroic champions of the poor, laws like the CRA as anti-discrimination laws, and places all of the blame for the subprime mortgage meltdown on greedy capitalists, especially mortgage brokers. Encouraged by such reporting, the odious Senator Charles Schumer of New York has promised federal legislation that will reign in these miscreants, while the Bush administration is proposing an indirect bank bailout by having the Federal Housing Administration cover many of the bad “subprime” loans. This will create what economists call a “moral hazard” by encouraging even more bad loans to be extended in the future. Every banker in America will be glad to extend loans (at high rates of interest) to the most uncreditworthy borrowers if he thinks there is no possibility of default with the FHA effectively guaranteeing the loan.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers Press/Random House). His latest book is Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe (Crown Forum/Random House).

Copyright © 2007 LewRockwell.com

Posted in American History, Economics, Government and Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Note to Rice, ‘Bombingham’ Isn’t Iraq

Posted by Tony Listi on April 6, 2008

Rice, like Bush, is not a true and pure conservative.

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/DianaWest/2008/04/03/note_to_rice,_bombingham_isnt_iraq

By Diana West
Thursday, April 3, 2008

I wonder if Condoleezza Rice was surprised by the headlines over her comment to The Washington Times that America suffers from a national “birth defect” — namely, the practice of slavery at the time of the nation’s founding.

Make that the first founding. She said she considers the civil rights movement to be the nation’s “second founding.” The secretary of state made another point. She said “one of the primary things” that attracted her to the candidacy of George W. Bush “was not actually foreign policy.” Rather, she explained, “it was No Child Left Behind.” She continued: “When he talks about `the soft bigotry of low expectations,’ I know what that feels like.”

Rice has actually said all of this before, including more emphatic remarks on No Child Left Behind and “soft” bigotry. “I’ve seen it. Okay?” Rice said in 2005 to The New York Times. “And it’s not in this president. It is, however, pretty deeply ingrained in our system and we’re going to have to do something about it.” Rice offered as an example her own high school teacher who suggested she was junior college material.

Maybe someone should inform the secretary of state that being underestimated, turned down or shunted aside is, alas, part of the human experience, not the exclusive function of race. But it’s probably too late for that. As secretary of state — not, say, secretary of education — Rice has long been doing “something about it” on the world stage. Instead of different states and school systems, she’s been working with different countries and belief systems. Suddenly, things about the Rice Doctrine — better, the No Country Left Behind Doctrine — begin to fall into place.

I’ve written before about how Rice makes faulty comparisons between the evolution of democratic principle (all men are created equal) in the United States and the introduction of democratic procedure (ballot boxes) to the Middle East, always ignoring both the miracle of our 18th-century Constitution, which contained the blueprint for abolition, and the dispiriting reality of 21st century Islamic constitutions, which charter Sharia states where freedom of conscience (among other things) doesn’t exist. I’ve written also about how she sees the transformation of her once-segregated hometown of Birmingham, Ala., as the blueprint for democratizing the Islamic world. Hers is a worldview personal to the point of autobiographical, as when she explains how, as a daughter of Birmingham (or “Bombingham,” as she has called it), she can relate both to Israeli fear of Palestinian bombs, and Palestinian “humiliation and powerlessness” over Israeli checkpoints, which she sees as a form of segregation. What she never seems to realize is that such “segregation,” far being the sort of prejudice she remembers, is actually an Israeli line of defense against the ultimate prejudice of Palestinian bombs.

Considering her remarks about America’s “birth defect” — an egregious term for any secretary of state to use about a nation that has brought more liberty to more races, colors and creeds than any in history — I am struck anew how deeply Rice’s vision of race in America, or, perhaps, in segregated Birmingham, affects her vision of America in the wider world. It is as if Rice sees American influence as a means by which to address what she perceives as disparities of race or Third World heritage on the international level.

This would help explain her ahistorical habit of linking the civil rights movement to the Bush administration’s effort to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, in a 2003 speech to the National Association of Black Journalists, she argued that blacks, more than others, should “reject” the “condescending” argument that some are not “ready” for freedom. “That view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham and it’s wrong in 2003 in Baghdad,” she said. In 2006, she made a similar point. “When I look around the world and I hear people say, `Well, you know, they’re just not ready for democracy,’ it really does resonate,” Rice told CBS’s Katie Couric. “It makes me so angry because I think there are those echoes of what people once thought about black Americans.”

There’s something shockingly provincial at work here. In seeing so much of the world through an American prism of race, Rice has effectively blinded herself to historical and cultural and religious differences between Islam and the West. To put it simply, neither Baghdad nor Gaza is Birmingham. And nothing in all of history quite compares to Philadelphia.

Diana West is a contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of the new book, The Death of the Grown-up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization.

Posted in American History, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Iraq War, Israel and the Middle East, Political Philosophy, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action, The Constitution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »