Crony Capitalism in DC. Again.

Five years ago, a new quirky-sounding consumer-rights group set up shop in a sleepy corner of Capitol Hill. “Consumers for Paper Options is a group of individuals and organizations who believe paper-based communications are critically important for millions of Americans,” the group explained in a press release, “especially those who are not yet part of the online community.”

This week, Consumers for Paper Options scored a big win, according to the Wall Street Journal. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Mary Jo White has abandoned her plan to loosen rules about the need to mail paper documents to investors in mutual funds.

Mutual funds were lobbying for more freedom when it came to mailing prospectuses — those exhaustive, bulky, trash-can-bound explanations of the contents of your fund. In short, the funds wanted to be free to make electronic delivery the default, while allowing investors to insist on paper delivery. This is an obvious common-sense reform which would save whole forests of trees.

Consumers for Paper Options fought back. The group warned that changing the default from paper to electronic delivery would “Confuse potentially millions of investors who suddenly stop seeing important printed fund performance material from investment firms.”

. . .

This is almost laughable: A D.C. lobbyist forming a sham “consumer” protection to fight for federal rules requiring more paper and envelopes be wasted, while getting paid by the envelope lobby.

But the envelope CEOs and the paper lobbyists aren’t the only ones who care about keeping this junkmail flowing. Those paper mills that exist in the U.S. are deeply threatened by digitization. Among the shrinking list of things that go on paper these days are things the government forces people to put on paper. Allow mutual funds to mail fewer prospectuses, and those paper mills will lose a significant amount of work.

The employees at these mills will see their hours reduced, if they’re not simply laid off. The added costs of mailing me unwanted paper nibbles away the value of my retirement account, but is a tiny uptick in my 401(k) really worth laying off paper mill worker in East Millinocket, Maine?

. . .

Here’s the thing about the federal rule requiring the mailing of the prospectus: It’s absurd and wasteful, and it differs only in degree from most subsidies whose defenders use the same “save the jobs” rhetoric.

In a federal mandate for waste, envelope lobby reveals Washington

Ozymandias and statolatry

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“Inequality”

Workers have choices, too, though some have more choices than others. But if you think that paying the CEO a lot drives down workers’ wages, wouldn’t you also think that other expenses would put downward pressure on wages, too? And which would produce the heavier pressure: $376 million for the CEO or $8.3 billion for the IRS?

. . .

Hillary Rodham Clinton, embracing the Left’s current fervor for Hugo Chávez–style economic populism and nationalism (weirdly, “the Left” includes the Republican presidential nominee, for purposes of this discussion — bang-up job, Republicans!), complains about inequality, and offers as a partial solution higher corporate taxes. Businesses respond to changes in their expenses in different ways. But who do you think is likely to take it in the shorts if you jack up Apple’s tax bill? The designers and programmers who are being offered new six-figure jobs eight times a week at companies all over the country and all over the world, or the parking-garage attendant?

. . .

Sometimes businesses go so far as to relocate their headquarters in response to taxes and other burdens; one way of doing that is the dreaded “corporate inversion,” in which a U.S. company uses a merger to relocate its legal domicile to some sweaty, exploitive, relatively low-tax Third World crap-hole . . . like Canada, the United Kingdom, or Ireland. Mrs. Clinton proposes to put a stop to that by enacting an “exit tax,” which is a really nice way of saying “ransom.” That might cause some trouble for existing businesses considering relocation, but what effect might it have ten or 20 years down the road? Do we really think the people who are smart, creative, and energetic enough to build the powerhouse corporations of tomorrow are going to be too stupid to figure out how to incorporate in Switzerland instead of Delaware?

Mrs. Clinton’s Blame Game

Ozymandias and Statolatry

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No Regulation Without Representation

When law in America can be made by executive “pen and phone” alone — indeed, by a White House press release — we’re faced starkly with a fundamental constitutional question: Is administrative law unlawful? Answering in the affirmative in this far-reaching, erudite new treatise, Philip Hamburger traces resistance to rule by administrative edict from the Middle Ages to the present. Far from a novel response to modern society and its complexities, executive prerogative has deep roots. It was beaten back by English constitutional ideas in the 17th century and even more decisively by American constitutions in the 18th century, but it reemerged during the Progressive Era and has grown ever since, regardless of the party in power.

Is Administrative Law Unlawful?

In this nation, we have a problem where Congress no longer represents the people. Because our representatives are more concerned about re-election, they have abrogated their authority to an unelected bureaucracy that passes rules We the People have no say over but that have a real effect on our daily lives. When we complain to Congress about these regulations, our representatives can play the good cop and claim they agree with us but there is nothing they can do because regulations are passed by the bad cop, bureaucracy.

. . .

It is time for We the People to stand up and let our voices be heard. No longer can our elected representatives allow an unelected bureaucracy do the job they were elected to do. We live in a republic, which means We the People are entitled to have our representatives vote on the laws that affect our lives.

The new slogan for this movement should be “No regulation without representation.” While some are pushing for a constitutional amendment that requires Congress to have a say in the regulation process, this effort should be extended to all 50 states. Each state should not allow its bureaucracy to pass rules absent the consent of the state legislature.

No Regulation Without Representation

Farewell to the Administrative State?

Is Administrative Law Unlawful?” by Philip Hamburger

Ozymandias

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Outcasts

Outcasts, the movie

Outcasts follows the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal as they work on the streets with the poor and forgotten of New York, New Jersey, Nicaragua, Honduras, England, and Ireland. Campo explained the film-making process, and what it was like to work with the Franciscans. Below is the interview, or you can listen to it on iTunes or SoundCloud.

What is Outcasts about?

Joe: Outcasts is a documentary produced by Grassroots Films about the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFRs). I’ve been pretty close to the CFRs since 1988, so I kind of feel like I had the inside scoop. People will see the friars doing a lot of work and see them visible in the street, but I’ve had the opportunity to be very close with them and see what happens on the inside—some of the work that they do that people are not aware of.

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal Serve “Outcasts” in this New Documentary Film

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

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“The Real Value of $100 in Each State”

Prices for the same goods are often much cheaper in states like Missouri or Ohio than they are in states like New York or California. As a result, the same amount of cash can buy you comparatively more in a low-price state than in a high-price state.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has been measuring this phenomenon for two years now; it recently published its data for prices in 2014. Using this data, we have adjusted the value of $100 to show how much it buys you in each state.

. . .

For example, Ohio is a low-price state. There, $100 will buy you stuff that would cost $111.98 in a state at the national average price level. You could think of this as meaning that Ohioans are, for the purposes of day-to-day living, 11 percent richer than their incomes suggest.

The states where $100 is worth the most are Mississippi ($115.34), Arkansas ($114.29), Alabama ($113.90), South Dakota ($113.64), and West Virginia ($112.49). In contrast, $100 is effectively worth the least in the District of Columbia ($84.67), Hawaii ($85.62), New York ($86.43), New Jersey ($87.34), and California ($88.97).

The Real Value of $100 in Each State

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Marriage

While I appreciate the alleged sentiment behind this list—namely, that people shouldn’t rush into making a big decision like marriage—it is precisely this sort of navel-gazing that has contributed to the less-than-favorable views on marriage my generation has embraced.

Notice that nearly everything in this list is inwardly focused. It’s all about me. My potentially unfulfilled desires. My potentially missed experiences. The horror of possibly having some minor regrets about how I spent my time in my teens and twenties. The implication here is that the worst mistake someone can make is to prematurely devote their lives to the betterment of someone else’s or to the raising of a family.

I’m fully supportive of any wise counsel that prompts young people to think through what they want out of life and who they want to spend that life with. But the constant refrain of “don’t marry until you are 100% satisfied with your job, and had the maximum number of travel and sexual experiences” has so far had an unhealthy impact on society and culture.

Marriage is about two becoming one. It is about voluntary sacrifice. It is about loving your neighbor as yourself. No one likes to hear or think about this anymore, but it is undeniably true. And where it is not true, you tend to see broken marriages, families, and dreams.

Don’t Listen to People Who Say You Should Wait Until You’re 30 To Get Married

No creature, no matter how wonderful or beautiful, can fulfill our longing for the original source of wonder and beauty: God. Our desire for such goods are infinite, and creatures in their meager finitude fail tragically to deliver. Still, most of us want to be proven wrong, even if only unconsciously. And the result: we slog blindingly down a path of rampant, romantic idolatry.

Of course, de Botton speaks of marriage as a social institution, not as a sacrament instituted by God. While no marriage will be perfect — and our spouses will disappoint us in ways we lament — the Christian view of marriage does offer a mystical and beautiful dimension that the article fails to touch on. We learn to love through this sacramental “institution,” a love that is responsible for one of life’s greatest gifts: the creation of life. I think de Botton’s article treads closely along the banks of despair, while the Christian understanding of marriage — fallen human beings notwithstanding — is more hopeful.

No one is called to seek perfection in their potential spouse, but there may be a “right person” (or group of potential “right people”) whom God invites us to marry for his purposes. Again, this person is not a flawless mate, but a companion with whom to experience joy, sorrow, love and disappointment while working toward heaven. Not only is this a more hopeful understanding of marriage, but also it’s — rather ironically — a more romantic one. Marriage is much more than a medium for solidifying an emotional high or having our egotistical needs met; rather, it’s something that allows us to love like God does.

Why Marrying the “Wrong Person” Is Reason for Hope

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Mrs. Clinton

Mrs. Clinton’s nomination will have a similarly negligible effect on the lives of American women. It isn’t exactly a Muppet News Flash that women can run for high office in these United States: You can be Sarah Palin and be on a major-party ticket and be called a “c**t” by all the nice people who will be urging you to vote for Mrs. Clinton as a show of solidarity with women. You can be a woman and do a hell of a lot better job running PepsiCo than Mrs. Clinton did running the State Department. You can be a woman and be seriously considered for the Republican nomination in spite of a slightly short political curriculum vitae. You can be a woman and be a Marine.

If your daughter didn’t already know that she could grow up and make of her life whatever her dreams and abilities allow, and learned otherwise only upon seeing a dreadful politician take the next step in her dreadful career, that isn’t a failure of a patriarchal society. You’re just a bad father.

. . .

If you think Mrs. Clinton “cares about women,” ask Juanita Broaddrick or Gennifer Flowers.

Making hay out of ‘making history’

Ozymandias

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Modernity, Scientism, and the ‘Sexual Revolution’

[O]ur current crisis is fundamentally metaphysical in nature. Modernity is a grand project of negation: the very order of being – as classically understood – has been shunned for theories that emphasize right praxis in time; history has become the lens through which things are assigned value. Fulfillment “lies in front of us, not above us,” and whoever speaks of eternal metaphysical truths is branded a reactionary.

. . .

[Augusto Del Noce] regards the “eclipse of authority” characteristic of our age as the greatest reversal ever to have befallen humanity. Authority, at root, means to make something grow, but today it’s understood mainly as a form of repression – indeed as something that impedes growth. The wholesale spurning of authority has only ushered in a mad dash for power – a dreadful substitution.

. . .

We moderns are allowed only one source of real knowledge – science – and so the void caused by the ban on metaphysics has been filled with a scientism. Del Noce asserts that such scientism is based upon hatred for religious transcendence. Intrinsically totalitarian, scientism is “an unproven radical negation of traditional values” and so must rely upon subjugating the will of its adversaries (since it cannot prevail by reason), and upon confining them in “moral ghettos.”

And scientism’s “point of arrival,” he explains at length, is none other than the sexual revolution. To cut a long story short, here’s how you know if you are on the wrong side of history: it’s no longer a question of class warfare (bourgeoisie versus proletariat) but whether or not you are prepared to wage war upon sexual “repression.” History is the judge, Marx once said, and the proletariat its executioner. That role has now shifted to progressives urging the “repressed of the world” to unite.

The social institution most culpable of transmitting repressive morality is, of course, the traditional monogamous family, and as Del Noce notices, “sexual liberation is not desired per se, but rather as a tool to break down the family.”

. . .

A century ago both Mussolini and Gramsci spoke of “socialism as the ‘religion destined to kill Christianity’.” But it later became apparent that total revolution could only be achieved if Marxist revolution became sexual revolution. Or as the Surrealists recognized: “the decisive battle against Christianity could be fought only at the level of the sexual revolution.” In sum, the “erotic offensive” amounts to a “campaign of de-Christianization.”

Del Noce wouldn’t be shocked with the onset of the transgender phenomenon and the current mania for “self identifying” as something other – anything other (gender, race, species) – than what one is. It’s all part of what he saw as the secularization of Gnosticism (rather than of Christianity), whereby it is the self that creates, and freedom consists of negating “the given.” Add a touch of the Hegelian “elimination of the Divine image” and voila: you get the quest for liberation through the disintegration of every form of order, what he called the “great refusal” of 1968.

Given his diagnosis, it comes as no surprise that he doesn’t put much stock in political solutions to the real dangers we are facing.

Modernity as Metaphysical Collapse

Ozymandias

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Divine Mercy

Jesus, I trust in You!

The_Divine_Mercy

You can pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, like the rosary, alone or as a group, silently or aloud, using beads or counting on your fingers. If you travel to and from work in a group, you can pray together. If you’re driving alone, you can pray along with a recording. The chaplet is easy to pray on public transportation (I can testify) – and what you see out the bus windows or on the faces of your fellow train passengers can move you to ask God’s mercy even more fervently.

Why you should give the Divine Mercy Chaplet a try

Chaplet of Divine Mercy

1. Make the Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

2. Optional Opening Prayers
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

(Repeat three times)
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!

3. Our Father
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

4. Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

5. The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

6. The Eternal Father
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

7. On the Ten Small Beads of Each Decade
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

8. Repeat for the remaining decades
Saying the “Eternal Father” (6) on the “Our Father” bead and then 10 “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion” (7) on the following “Hail Mary” beads.

9. Conclude with Holy God (Repeat three times)
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

10. Optional Closing Prayer
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

Jesus, I trust in you! St. Faustina, pray for us.

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The Ruling Class, Politicians

Maybe one needs to be sick to run for office. [Anthony] Weiner is a disciple of New York senator Chuck Schumer.

Schumer famously said, “I was born to legislate.” This goes to the heart of the political sickness—the need to tell others how to live. As economist Walter Williams puts it, “I respect ordinary thieves more than I respect politicians. Ordinary thieves take my money without pretense. (They don’t) insult my intelligence by proclaiming that they’ll use the money that they steal from me to make my life better.”

In the next weeks, as cameras record every utterance burped up by politicians at the political conventions, I’ll take comfort knowing that when politicians can’t force us to do things, people often ignore them (remember, government is force; this is why politicians are important, and dangerous).

Ignoring Politicians

Ozymandias

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