Saturday 18th April 2015

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Why No One Does Anything About The National Debt

November 18, 2013 Featured Today No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

It is one of the great questions of our time: Why do we seem so complacent about the rising national debt? Every politician in the country says it is unacceptably high, but then changes the topic. The debt is currently well over $17 trillion. That means each American owes approximately $54,000, with each taxpayer owing about $149,000. We all have heard the clever quip about how it is no big deal because we “owe it to ourselves.” That is only partly true. It is true that many American citizens, banks, and investment houses have bought the government bonds that constitute the debt. But so have foreign countries, the Chinese, Japanese, and Saudis, especially. But, regardless of the bondholders, we have to redeem the bonds when they come due. Everyone — Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative — agrees that this constitutes a crushing obligation for the economy. Yet there is no plan in sight from our political leaders to end the coming train wreck.
Why do the politicians shrug and go about their business when the topic comes up? Some say it is a version of French King Louis XV’s confidence that he would be out of office before the crash occurred: “Aprés moi, le dèluge.” No doubt, some of that is going on. Also some wishful thinking.
But, I submit, there is another motivation: There are those who are unwilling to cut back on government spending, regardless of the consequences, until the country has eliminated significantly the differences in standard of living between members of our society.
We must keep in mind that, from the late 18th century on, there have been two conflicting understandings of what is meant by “equality.” Our Founding Fathers understood the word to mean “equality of opportunity”; that there would be no privileges in law granted in the United States to an aristocracy in the “pursuit of happiness.” The Founders accepted that this understanding of equality would do nothing to prevent economic inequality. They accepted that individuals not handicapped by primogeniture, titles of nobility, and class would inevitably achieve varying levels of economic success; that equality of condition could be imposed only by an oppressive government that treated its citizens unequally by limiting their opportunities in business or expropriating their earnings through taxation.
Hence, it has been the consensus American view that all that we would be guaranteed as Americans, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, was that “artificial weight” would be “lifted from all shoulders — to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all — to afford all an unfettered start, and a fair chance in life.” Or, as we hear people frequently phrasing it in our time, we have been guaranteed “equality of opportunity, not equality of results.”
But it should not be forgotten that this is not the only understanding of equality that has been part of our intellectual and political history. Ever since the time of the French Revolution, there have been those who have argued that for “equality” to have any meaning, it must include economic equality; that the freedom to be out of work, homeless, underpaid, starving, and exploited by the rich is not a freedom worth having.
In France, men such as “Gracchus” Babeuf called for the abolition of private property and the redistribution of national wealth. His countryman Louis Blanc called for guaranteed employment for all at a “living wage” through government employment in what he called national workshops. The leaders of the Paris Commune in 1871 took control of sections of Paris and called for government control of prices, wages, and working conditions to ensure a redistribution of France’s wealth, from the landowners and the owners of businesses to the lower classes.
This thinking spread beyond France. In England, the Fabian socialists — led by individuals such as George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells — called for a government takeover of the nation’s resources and businesses to ensure fair wages, fair prices, and humane working conditions. They were called “Fabians” because they called for these reforms to be brought about peacefully and gradually, in a manner similar to the slow, grind-it-out battle tactics of the Roman general Fabius. The Fabians took this position to distinguish themselves from the followers of Karl Marx who called for violent revolution and dictatorship to achieve economic equality for the working class.
I submit that this is the root of the American reluctance to tackle the national debt. Most Americans think of equality in terms of equality of opportunity, in line with the Founding Fathers. But there are those who agree with the understanding of equality rooted in the view of the 18th and 19th-century French radicals. They hold that, as long as there are people in the United States with substantially fewer resources than others, there is a need for expansive government intervention financed by higher taxation, to end that injustice.
The point is not that those who call for greater spending on government housing, food stamps, welfare payments, tuition assistance, single-payer health insurance, and a “living wage” are familiar with the writings of Gracchus Babeuf and the Fabian socialists, only that they are motivated by the same conviction that our society is unjust — and in need of remedial action through government programs and higher taxation — as long as there are people in the country who live with considerably fewer resources at their disposal than the better-off.
It does little good to point out to those who think this way that most of the poor in our time in history have more material resources — indoor plumbing, heated homes, cable television, Internet service, and access to tattoo artists and wigmakers — than the middle class in the 19th century. What matters is not what you possess, but whether you possess less than large numbers of your fellow-citizens. In their eyes, if you possess less than your neighbors — regardless of the differences in education, work, and self-sacrifice between you and them — it is unjust.
The corollary is that the government should spend and tax to whatever level is necessary to end the injustice; that the national debt is not an indication that the government is spending too much, only that it is not collecting enough in taxes.
From all indications, those who hold to this understanding of what is meant by “equality” are becoming an ever-increasing segment of society, one that can be energized by politicians seeking to use their discontent to secure a voting bloc that will keep them in office. It is a serious challenge. It would mean that the political views of the European radicals are threatening to supplant those of the Founding Fathers.
Barack Obama is fond of calling for a “transformation” of the country. If those seeking the European socialist understanding of equality carry the day, it will be a transformation of great proportions.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 2

Attention!

Our On-line Store is currently experiencing problems. If you are ordering a print edition of The Wanderer 

CLICK HERE!

American Sisters accept Vatican reforms on doctrine, theology

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2015 / 04:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a joint report marking the conclusion of a multi-year mandate for reform, members of the LCWR have agreed to corrections called for by the Vatican, and said they will…Continue Reading

Cardinal George, archbishop emeritus of Chicago, dies at 78

DEVELOPING: Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago from 1997 to 2014, died Friday at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer, the Archdiocese of Chicago has confirmed.

We Must Pray For And Defend This Good Bishop

bishopcord

I call on all the readers here to pray and offer fasting and alms for the spiritual defense of Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco. Will San Francisco be the Alamo of the Church in these USA? Today, in the ultra-liberal…Continue Reading

Prominent Catholics call on pope to oust S.F. archbishop

In an unprecedented move, more than 100 prominent Roman Catholic donors and church members signed a full-page ad running Thursday in The Chronicle that calls on Pope Francis to replace San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for fostering “an atmosphere of…Continue Reading

This teacher cannot sue the Catholic Church for firing him because he openly rejects Catholic teachings: Legal experts

OMAHA, NE, April 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Legal experts agree that, if you openly flout Christian teachings, you have no right to sue a religious school for firing you – in most instances. That analysis comes after a sexually active…Continue Reading

PETITION TO POPE FRANCIS: Declare St. John Paul II “Doctor of the Church”!

johnpaul

I, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, do hereby petition our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to declare St. John Paul II Doctor of the Church. I ask that St. John Paul II, who instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, be declared Doctor of…Continue Reading

Cardinal Brandmüller: Advocates for changing Catholic teaching on marriage are ‘heretics’ – even if they are bishops

April 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Cardinal Walter Brandmüller has been among the leading voices critical of proposals stemming from the Vatican’s Synod on the Family that risk subverting Catholic teaching on the sacraments and morality. He was one of five…Continue Reading

Obama administration: Catholic school upholding marriage is ‘sex discrimination’

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — The Obama administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found “reasonable cause” to rule that a Catholic prep school has unlawfully discriminated against a homosexual band director formerly in the school’s employ. Mount…Continue Reading

God or Nothing

ROME, April 10, 2015 – He has said so himself, with candor: “I have the feeling that God has put me here for a short time.” Four or five years, or even less. It is natural that this disclosure of…Continue Reading

USA, 25% more priests in 2015

Good news for the American Church. 595 priests are expected to be ordained in 2015: an increase of 24.7 on the previous year. The news was announced by the United States Episcopal Conference, which nevertheless prefers to err on the…Continue Reading

Catholic school reinstates teacher suspended for defending Catholic teaching on Facebook

SOMERVILLE, NJ, April 10, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — A teacher suspended from a Catholic school for using Facebook to defend traditional marriage has been reinstated. Almost one month ago, Patricia Jannuzzi was suspended from Immaculata High School in Somerville, New Jersey,…Continue Reading

Müller suggests new task for Congregation for Doctrine of Faith

The German cardinal has suggested a new area of responsibility for his dicastery: to provide the “theological structure of a pontificate” andrea tornielli vatican city In one of the numerous interviews he has given over the past few weeks focusing…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

(Vatican Radio)  A communique from the Holy See’s Press office on Thursday announced that Pope Francis will make an apostolic visit to three Latin American countries in early July. It said following invitations from the respective heads of state and the Catholic Bishops, the Pope will be in Ecuador from the 6-8th, Bolivia from the 8th- 10th  and Paraguay from the 10th-12th. Full details of the programme for the visit will be published at a…Continue Reading

Pope at Mass: Those who do not dialogue disobey God

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday offered the Mass at Casa Santa Marta for his predecessor, the Pope Emeritus, on the occasion of Benedict XVI’s 88th birthday. “I want to remember that today is the birthday of Benedict XVI,” Pope Francis said at the liturgy. “I offered the Mass for him, and I invite you to pray for him, that the Lord might sustain him and grant him much joy and happiness.” In his homily,…Continue Reading

Pope: Christians must not hoard their riches but offer them to the needy

pope753

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that Christians must not hoard their riches, but offer them in service to the needy. He was speaking on Tuesday morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Taking his cue from a passage of the Acts of the Apostles that describes life in the first Christian community, Pope Francis said that a community that is renewed in the Spirit seeks harmony and endures suffering with patience. Referring to the…Continue Reading

Pope focuses on Divine Mercy in Mass for Armenians

(Vatican Radio) On Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, Pope Francis celebrated Solemn Mass for the Centenary of the Armenian Martyrdom. During the Liturgy, the Holy Father proclaimed the great Armenian Saint Gregory of Narek a Doctor of the Church.    Pope Francis processed into the Basilica of Saint Peter flanked by the Catholicoi Karekin II and Aram I of the Armenian Apostolic Church, with the Patriarch Catholicos Nerses Bedros XIX a few…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . The Artful Ploys Of The Noonday Demon

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN The Noonday Devil: Acedia, The Unnamed Evil of Our Time, by Jean-Charles Nault, OSB (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2015), 203 pp. $16.95. Available through www.ignatiuspress.com. Some temptations are bold and brazen in their seduction, and some are subtle and artful. While the temptations of the flesh disorder the appetites and produce uncontrollable…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Can We Use Our Consciences On Contraception?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “Surveys in many countries consistently show that most Catholics believe that decisions of conscience about…Continue Reading

Protecting Freedom Of Religion

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University. (ZENIT made Fr. Flynn’s essay available; all rights reserved.) + + + Great Britain’s Equality and…Continue Reading

A Russian Orthodox Bishop Speaks Plainly To Ecumenists

By JAMES LIKOUDIS In a previous article (see The Wanderer, February 26, 2015, p. 6A) attention was focused on the ecclesiological views of the Metropolitan Hilarion (Aleyev) of Volokolamsk, one of the most important Russian Orthodox bishops as chairman of the Department for External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate. In an important speech delivered at…Continue Reading

Endangered Words And Phrases

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK A reader called my attention to a column by Richard Lederer from his website Verbivore. In it, Lederer offered his readers a long list of words and phrases that most older Americans will recognize right away, but will leave younger readers scratching their heads. I won’t give you his entire list;…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. In the second reading on Good Friday (Heb. 5:8-9), there is a phrase toward the end of the epistle that says: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” I am puzzled by the words “when he was…Continue Reading

The Good Shepherd

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday Of Easter (YR B) Readings: Acts 4:8-12 1 John 3:1-2 John 10:11-18   In the Gospel reading today we hear our Lord telling us that He is the Good Shepherd. We have all heard this many times and, in our minds, we have our own notions of what that means. We can think about…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Catherine Of Siena

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Catherine of Siena lived in the 14th century, a century of great upheaval and confusion in the Church. The Church celebrates her feast on April 29. She not only was a great saint, but her writings and her example were so extraordinary that she is one of the few persons who have been given the title…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… We Worship The Easter Christ In The Eucharist

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “Christ is risen, Alleluia! The Lord is truly risen, Alleluia!” A blessed Easter full of joy in the graces of our risen Lord to you and your families. During the “three days” of the sacred Triduum, this year I received an email note from a parishioner: “I went to church with my mother on Holy…Continue Reading

Did Jesus Christ Found A Church? If He Did, How Can She Be Identified?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 1 Did Jesus Christ, Son of God and Redeemer of mankind, found a visible Church? Simple logic indicates that either He did, or He didn’t. He could not have founded a visible Church for some and an invisible church for others. It cannot be both ways. It is irrational to accept the relativistic idea…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anselm

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anselm was born in France near the Swiss Alps around 1033. At the age of 15, he wished to enter religious life by joining a monastery. Sadly, his influential father was so against it that the monastery refused to accept him. This so discouraged the youth that he drowned his sorrows in worldly pursuits. He deeply…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Marguerite D’Youville

By CAROLE BRESLIN By 1701 the European colonies in North America had expanded beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The Anglo population in the English American colonies had reached 275,000. The French had recently established a colony in Detroit. Catholics, however, were persecuted as Massachusetts passed a law ordering all Roman Catholic priests to leave or face execution. New York passed a…Continue Reading