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No more "liberal" and "conservative" Catholics?

Time continues to speed up unacceptably. And yet I am obliged to accept it. I thought it was about three weeks ago that pasted the URL for this piece on America's web site into a blog post template intending to write about it later. Actually it was almost two months ago, on June 28.

But anyway: I've never found America very interesting, and in fact found it sometimes annoying. But I applaud this decision to stop using "liberal" and "conservative" as qualifiers for "Catholic." Many years ago I read a remark by Henri de Lubac in which he said something to the effect that insofar as these terms refer to anything more than types of personality, both valid and necessary, they have no place in discussions within the Church. (That's how I remember it; I'll try to find the actual statement.) It's stuck with me because I thought it was true.

As some of the commenters on the America piece point out, even if you decide not to use the words, the reality remains--there are liberal and conservative Catholics, even if you're speaking only with reference to the Church, not politics. And that's true. But I think the effort to avoid them is worthwhile. It might force one, even when the topic seems to demand that sort of distinction, to focus on the subject, and not bring in loaded terms which inevitably conjur up all sorts of associations and implications which needn't be involved.

Above all, regardless of the terms, we need to avoid thinking of the Church in factional terms, which makes it nearly impossible not to see some as more Catholic than others. That, too, may be justifiable sometimes. But we shouldn't start there. We shouldn't look for signals that someone is of a certain faction, and then use that as a reason to discard anything he says. We should start with the assumption, and keep it until or unless there is some reason to think otherwise, that those who disagree with us are faithful and have the best interests of the Church at heart.


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James Joyce described the Catholic Church as “here comes everybody.” Oscar Wilde said “The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.” I say the Catholic communion benefits when all stripes gather around the altar. I’ll take liberal and conservative and I’ll listen to both. I’ll take the activist and the contemplative, the wealthy benefactor and the cab driver. Labels can sometimes divide. It is no secret that in the past there have been jabs from Franciscans toward Jesuits, Benedictines toward Dominicans, etc. It is always tempting for this philosophical view or that mission endeavor to think itself better, or “more Catholic” than another. The truth is that we are all one body. We need all flavors to make a whole. If we try to exclude those who hold different viewpoints from the Lord’s Table, we are just another denomination.

Agreed. There's a point where "different viewpoint" can become a not-Catholic viewpoint, but it's really not our business as lay people to make that call.

I have really tried to stop using "liberal" and "conservative" to describe different Catholics, especially since among the people I hang out with, what we really mean is "heretic" and "orthodox." I do still use it if I am talking about someone's liturgical preferences, but that seems different to me.

I see by your blog that you're too young to have direct experience of the real post-VII silly season of the '70s and '80s. Although maybe you grew up in one of the places where it still thrives? Real live heresy was pretty rampant then--not subtle theological deviations but plain denial of fundamental doctrines, like the Real Presence--and it seemed that the hierarchy didn't care and sometimes even approved. That's the climate that produced the tendency you're describing, to equate "liberal" and "conservative" with "heretic" and "orthodox." I've certainly been that way. But that situation isn't nearly as bad as it was, and there is a strain of what I would call "liberal Catholicism" that's not heterodox.

Or at least not very.:-)

Anyway, I guess my point is that those of us who really value orthodoxy need to try not to be merely reactive. I've always figured that if I had been an adult Catholic pre-VII I probably would have been in the progressive party, or at least strongly sympathetic to it.

Actually, the real division today is between Americanist and Universalist Catholics; all other terms are obsolete. Americanist Catholics, by and large, at least in their present incarnation, profess to be "orthodox Catholics" but the proof is in their real values, which seldom contradict American messianic nationalism.

I think it would be really nice if Catholic meant orthodox Catholic and apostate/heretic/schismatic etc would simply be used to denote the other stuff.

Yes, that would be nice. Not likely to happen, but it would be nice.

Americanist Catholics, by and large, at least in their present incarnation, profess to be "orthodox Catholics" but the proof is in their real values, which seldom contradict American messianic nationalism.

That's a strange description of Grant Gallicho.


Whatever terminology you elect to use, I will wager the following will occur:

1. The Church and its apostolates will encounter petty (and sometimes crippling) harassment from institutions of the secular culture. The legal profession will be the most notable (among those who can bring any clout to bear).

2. You won't get diddly/squat out of Commonweal or America (if they continue to exist) other than passive-aggressive tripe. They understand themselves as an elect to be contrasted with the laity, not as confederates of anyone.

3. The Society of Jesus will hit bottom at a census of of about 850 priests in the United States, most of them sexual deviants.

4. Formal secularization of the Catholic colleges will proceed piecemeal.

5. There will be a secular decline in the census of liberal Catholics as the children of the current generation of same fail to see the point.

6. There will be a secular decline in the census of orthodox Catholics as a large bloc of them discover that, push comes to shove, they are men without chests.

7. The hierarchy will equivocate as much as they can manage.

One other prediction: generic evangelical congregations will be suborned by agents of the secular culture and go into steep demographic decline. Conservative protestant bodies without much interest in happy-talk, emotionalism, or contemporary music will persevere, but the rest will discover they lack the necessary defenses as the stupid generation moves into positions of leadership. In the future, prominent counter-cultural protestants will be people like Marvin Olasky (an old line presbyterian) not Bill Bright or Charles Colson (who may have had a denominational affiliation but were not known for it). The pentacostal bodies may stand fast, provided their institutional leadership is not so erratic as Pat Robertson.

A minor prediction: the Institute on Religion and Public Life is not long for this world (which should please Daniel). Recall Peter Drucker: if a job has defeated two or three men in succession, the job is undoable and ought to be abolished. The following were deputies to Richard John Neuhaus (prior to 2009) and his successors thereafter.

1. James Neuchterlein (Retired on schedule 2004. Left the impression of demoralization).

2. Damon Linker (Promoted over the objections of the editorial board. Discovered to be a trojan horse whose understanding of questions in which Fr. Neuhaus was engaged was surprisingly superficial. Dishonorable behavior does not injure you with liberal magazines, so he gets some freelance commissions).

3. Joseph Bottom (Poetry maven. Canned by the board - supposedly for overspending the budget. Again, no chest as can be seen in recent news accounts).

4. R.R. Reno (Insipid. turned the electronic edition over to a collection of juveniles with an arresting circle of friends).


If Dr. Reno does not kill the editorial board from sheer boredom (punctuated by irritation due to the number of Henri Nouwen wannabes who now write for the publication's blog), their demoralization may be so severe that they will accept with equanimity being cut off at the bar by the foundations who have been bankrolling the institute (and who have other things to do with the cash).

Speaking of Joseph Bottum, Mike Potemra at National Review provides a link to a piece Bottum has in Commonweal that Potemra says is "a fascinating and brave article making a Catholic case for same-sex marriage."

Well, I struggled through most of the meandering article, and from what I can tell Bottum thinks the Church should give up its position against same-sex civil marriage and be quiet about any other aspects of it because, well, opposition to it is just making the Church even more unpopular.

But perhaps I'm selling him short -- would love to hear other opinions on it.

I apologise, Maclin, for stupidly offering my opinion. I should have said something about the softness of kittens.


If what I've read of Linker's career is accurate, he deserves considerable opprobrium.

I'm in broad agreement with your predictions. I think the Jesuits may have more life in them than you (and many) suspect. I look for a good deal of liberalizing, in all conventional senses of the term, in evangelical Protestantism, with the possible exception of the Southern Baptists. Certainly the non-denominational ones seem headed that way, toward a theological vagueness like the mainlines but with a lot more emotionalism.

I have no opinion about the IRPL. I've never read FT regularly.

Potemra fancies that instruction in Latin equates to fidelity. My father had instruction in Latin (quite unremarkable in New England high schools ca. 1943) and counted a Basilian priest in his circle of friends. As for the rest, well...

The Bottum business I think is a reminder that there are a great many other-directed people in this world and often less there than meets the eye.

If you think about it, topical commentary and editorial work has been crucially influenced in the last 30 years by a modest number of lions. Ralph McInerney has died, Richard John Neuhaus has died, Peter Kreeft is 81 years old and not writing much anymore. Michael Novak is 80 and not writing much. Joseph Fessio is 74 and has been entangled in certain troubled projects. Deal Hudson is 68, his publication a shadow of its former self, and he compelled to remain in the background due to a disgrace. The cohorts fixing to succeed these men consist of.... (I'm thinking, I'm thinking).

Over the years, I have been on the mailing list of Ignatius Press and Sophia Press and what not. A large bloc of their material consists of re-issues of books written decades ago. Good books, perhaps, but that sort of thing is disconcerting.

In attenuated form, you see the same thing in starboard commentary of a secular sort. I can think of one opinion journalist of that sort who has emerged in the last 15 years, was born after 1970, and who is not primarily employed in some other pursuit. That would be Megan McArdle, who might be described as vaguely libertarian. (I suppose you could add the perplexing Helen Rittelmeyer, but she emigrated to Australia and appears to be writing little and earning a living doing something else). The under 40 crew at National Review are insipid - stylistically or substantively (and usually both).

I only have a moment right now, but Marianne, I have read the Bottum piece (someone linked to it on Fb) and my reaction was the same as yours. I'd call the piece the exact opposite of fascinating--it took me two determined efforts to win through to the end. Insofar as it has one central point, I think you summed it up better than he did. He's right about a lot of the specifics, of course, e.g. the desacralization of sex, but he's hardly the first to point that out.

I didn't see your comment last night. Or Louise's. I guess I didn't reload the page while reading and replying to Art.

Louise, I hope it didn't sound like I was belittling your comment. I didn't mean for it to sound that way, if it did.

More later today.

No Maclin, I was making a joke! Remember the video I posted about the lovely ladies at the dinner party being frowned upon for offering an opinion? I posted it to FB. I thought you'd get the reference. Sorry if that was too obscure.

Marianne, I'm the person who put that Jody Bottum piece on facebook. I found it fascinating too. America has a culture of public, rational, 'court room style' debate that doesn't exist in the UK, for instance. I remember John Haldane commenting on it after a trip here a few years ago - about how refreshing it was to be treated on TV like someone with a rational argument, not someone who held a personal opinion. Now, in that culture, one is generally expected to give a rational argument for one's attitudes. Bottum's piece is interesting (or I thought so) because he is talking about what happens if the bottom falls out of the rational argument for marriage being between a man and a woman. He thinks it has, because for instance, arguments hanging on natural law have essentially 'religious' or poetic roots, and don't hold up without them. ('Religious' is my term - I think he used the term magical?). So how is some guy whose job it is to write for the papers and I guess sometimes to appear on TV going to defend 'traditional marriage' as being the only kind the state should recognize, if he doesn't have a rational argument to support his case?

I don't accept Bottum's conclusion, that we should give up teaching the Church's teaching on marriage. And that's because I don't accept his premises, which are really that Christian faith stands on rational evidence like icing sits on a cake. And in the end, I guess, that's why I find it so interesting. It's about the standing of faith in a culture based around rational, courtroom style argument.

The only way someone can avoid Bottum's conclusion who does not share my view that faith, and not reason, must be given priority, is to defend the notion that natural law is not based in religious insight / poetry / magic.

I agree that reason is not going to win this battle, and in fact think there's no real possibility that the battle will be won. So one can question whether we ought to even bother fighting it in the political arena.

But I would defend the notion that natural law is not based in religious insight. All that's required for a belief in natural law is a belief in nature, with human nature included in that. But contemporary liberalism has firmly rejected the whole concept of a more or less fixed human nature. In fact the doctrine that there is no such thing is one of their foundation stones.

One could believe in natural law and still conclude that marriage between two people of the same sex is a reasonable social institution. But one would get there by a very different path.

One result of the way Bottum wanders hither and yon, now saying he agrees with the Church and now saying he doesn't, or that it doesn't matter, is that I ended up with the sense that what's really propelling him is that he's just sick and tired of the whole struggle over social issues. I sympathize, but I wouldn't make my feeling sick and tired the measure of the question.

'nature' means something different to people who do not believe in God.

It means something different to your average modern, especially your average liberal secularist. But it's not just because they don't believe in God. You only need Aristotle's idea of nature. But they won't even go that far, at least where human nature is concerned.

I've listened in on a whole lot of debates between atheists and theists where the atheist was unable to grasp a concept of the word nature as meaning anything more that "what happens to be lying around that we didn't make."

Oh, I missed the reference, Louise. Now I remember. That's funny.

Interesting ruminations on the decline of the religious conservative punditry, Art. I hadn't really thought about it but you have a point, though I would never have called Novak a "lion." He's never seemed very impressive to me.

My understanding of natural law - it may be quite defective - is that it is simply a reference to Reality and that the real nature of things is indeed written on our hearts, though ignorance and sin may obscure it. This is the case whether the person believes in it explicitly or not. I don't think I completely or even mostly disagree with Grumpy. I do think the natural law is based on Religion really, but since the Religion describes Reality and natural law is about Reality, well there is the connection. As I say though, my view may be defective and I'm not a philosopher.

Novak co-founded Crisis, which was (bar one) the most impressive of Catholic (non-academic) periodicals before it imploded in 2004.

There is The Latin Mass. Their contributors, while intelligent and engaging, tend to be obscure volunteers (of various ages). The editorial core consists of elderly men (whom I think have other employment). Much the same is true of Touchstone.

Robert P. George is younger (but not young). I think he has a colleague named Ryan Anderson who is young. He is a professor. I cannot see him assuming an editorial role nor the sort of productivity and variegated output of Ralph McInerney.

Please note, secular topical commentary is not faring well either. As I said, very few worth bothering about have emerged in the last dozen years that I can recall. In terms of quality, the more recent additions (bar McArdle) do not compare favorably to their counterparts a generation ago. The quality is in academics who produce occasional journalism (who are not elegant writers, by and large).

I always gave McInerny more credit for Crisis than Novak. At any rate the former seemed the more substantial.

I have read a certain amount of McArdle, and don't think as highly as you do of her. I give her a lot of credit for truly endeavoring to think things through without ideological blinders, but she doesn't seem to have much of a foundation.

Louise, I can't discuss natural law analytically, either, but I think it's based on religion only in the sense that you have to be willing to admit the idea of purposes into nature, at least at a functional level.

More even than natural law in the formal philosophic sense, I think what Maritain called "the pre-philosophy of common sense" has been rejected by same-sex marriage advocates. My objection to it really is based less on morality than on the violation of elemental reason involved in asserting that gender is irrelevant to marriage. Common sense is now bigotry unless its conclusions can be supported by social science research.

Related to Bottum's budgetary issues was his desire to move FT in a different direction. His vision was to turn it into a sort of Catholic version of 'The Atlantic,' hence the new design of the covers, artwork, etc. When Reno and D. Mills took over their immediate attention was given to saving the ship, which apparently had started taking water under Bottum's captaincy.

I loved Crisis when Novak edited it. It's been crap ever since he handed it over to Deal Hudson.

More even than natural law in the formal philosophic sense, I think what Maritain called "the pre-philosophy of common sense" has been rejected by same-sex marriage advocates.

Yes, that makes sense. Thanks for this idea, I find that pretty helpful. Maybe what I mean by natural law is more this "pre-philosophy of common sense." I find the whole "discussion" of so-called same sex "marriage" feels pretty degrading to me. Like people are spending a lot of time and energy debating about why the sky is green.

His vision was to turn it into a sort of Catholic version of 'The Atlantic,' hence the new design of the covers, artwork, etc.

For more than four decades, serious periodicals have either folded or departed the commercial sector for the philanthropic sector. Unless they could build an indestructible cement pipeline from the coffers of the Ford Foundation to the coffers of IRPL, that was not going to work. If you are right, that does explain both his removal from the editor's chair and this article in Commonweal: he's an idiot.

"...serious periodicals have either folded or departed..."

Says a lot about the culture.

I don't know where The Atlantic's money comes from, but I really doubt that subscriptions and advertising for the print edition are paying the bills for both that edition and the massive web site which charges no fees.

"Like people are spending a lot of time and energy debating about why the sky is green."

Yeah. I find myself, between occasional spells of astonishment and indignation, thinking it's not even worth talking about. I guess for that reason I have never had strong feelings about the attempt to counter it by political means. If the majority of people don't see the problem, it's pretty hopeless.

I forgot Ross Douthat. When I used to read him, he was (like Amy Welborn) good at sparking interesting discussions but not at contributing more than modestly to them. (He lacked her talent for policing the comboxes). Every once in a while, I see him and he has improved incrementally over the years.

I used to look at the Townhall site frequently. It occurred to me after a while that the people worth reading were largely those who had entered the world of topical commentary through conventional channels. The effect of the democratization of communications was Phil Spector's idea of the LP album: two hits and ten tracks of junk.

I am not a philosophical sophisticate, so I have no clue about these discussions of 'natural law' (and I imagine laymen like Dreher and Bottum do not know what they are talking about either).

Aside from the sort of argument Burke or Chesterton might make, you have the question posed by Dennis O'Brien twenty years ago (in Commonweal of all places): what is the story of this relationship, and what is its nature? And, of course, it is not the same thing with the same value. We are asked to institute 'gay' 'marriage' and provide legal recognition we do no to ordinary male friendships, because it is a bauble that the Special Snowflakes of the academic/legal/social work bourgeoisie have decided they have to have. It should not be difficult to say 'buzz off'.

Should not be. And one can still say it as an individual to other individuals, or to a whole political movement. But it's not so easy to say it to the cops, which is where this thing is going.

Not so much cops as process servers and power drunk judges. I doubt the police want anything to do with these controversies.

Yeah, I was using "cops" as stand-in for "the government," which in the end comes down to guys who can put you in handcuffs and march you off to jail.

Someone in Oxford, most probably a student, was arrested for saying to a police horse, 'you are gay'. I didn't make that up.

And if it's not the cops, it's the pressure groups: A little taste of East Germany: 'Girlguiding UK' forces Christian guides to swear secular oath:

I didn't know that the Girl Guides had rebranded themselves as Girlguiding UK, though I'm not surprised. Nor am I surprised that a new secular oath has been drawn up for guides who don't wish to invoke a deity. But the harassment of the St Paul’s Harrogate troop until it agreed to drop its Christian oath is a disgrace. ...

What is this, East Germany? When I was a cub scout (not a successful experiment) I belonged to a Catholic pack – 11th Wallington, I seem to remember. No one thought that its religious identity was remotely strange. Today, Muslim girls join the scouts, who have designed a special uniform for them incorporating a headscarf. That's fine by me, but I can't understand why Christian girls in Harrogate (or anywhere else) can't also express their faith in a traditional manner. Incidentally, what a nasty little quote from Jem Henderson, 28, an atheist volunteer leader who was involved in twisting the arm of the St Paul's leaders: "I mean, they’re Christians, therefore they’re capable of turning the other cheek.”

If my own experience of work and family life is any guide, there is a class of superlatively officious people in this world. They are very animated by the thought that somewhere someone is allocating their time and attention and loyalty to things they would not. Nearly all people who fit this description are female or are the sort of men who prefer the company of women but do not charm them in any way an adult male usually does. Such people are thick on the ground in the education and social work apparat.

The thing of it is, public order and civility are good things to promote and certain "consensual, private" activities have a way of fouling the common life and inducing a certain Gresham's law of culture. Also, the common life is thinner and less engaging the more drily transactional are people interactions and associations. These characters actually take little interest in those sorts of problems and trade-offs.

The ascetical writers maintain that there is no such thing as a strictly personal sin -- it all affects the Creation in one way or another.

"the common life is thinner and less engaging the more drily transactional are people's interactions and associations."

The fact that such thin-ness is intangible, unmeasureable, and thus not reduceable to transaction makes it difficult if not impossible for this sort of person to see it. As Russell Kirk said of a character in one of his ghost stories, he did not love precision for the sake of truth, but rather viewed truth as simply an attribute of precision.

Re Rob's first comment: That must be true. If we are sinning, we aren't fulfilling God's purpose for us in the world, so the world is lacking something--someone--it needs.

And that Kirk quote is great, great, great.


Those stories from the UK, plus the ones about crime and general breakdown, give the U.S. observer an impression of a society pretty much falling apart, and often being actively destroyed by those in charge. There seems to be an element of government which would be happy to arrest people for hippohomophobia and leave actual criminals alone. I keep hoping this is partly a media effect, the fact that bad stories always get more attentions. Of course all the same things are pretty much in evidence here, too, although the First Amendment, or something, tends to keep the anti-hippohomophobia watchdogs from being able to enforce their will.

"... a class of superlatively officious people..."

Indeed. I've been noticing the increase in power of these people for a long time. I think of it as the schoolmarm personality, which is not a slam against against good teachers, but a reference to those who think the teacher's job is the enforcing of a rigid and detailed order. But Nurse Ratchett (sp?) is probably a better type. These people, of both sexes, like nothing better than meetings, rules, regulations, and procedures, the more complex the better. I think we all know them. The law is infested with them now. Hillary Clinton comes across as one. Nothing makes them happier than to be the one who gets to make the fine-tuned rules without which people would just do stuff aimlessly. One of the things Obamacare does is put them in charge of a great deal.

If my own experience of work and family life is any guide, there is a class of superlatively officious people in this world. They are very animated by the thought that somewhere someone is allocating their time and attention and loyalty to things they would not. Nearly all people who fit this description are female or are the sort of men who prefer the company of women but do not charm them in any way an adult male usually does. Such people are thick on the ground in the education and social work apparat.

Oh God help us! Ain't that the truth!

The bullying of such people can be quite subtle, and bullying is part of the human condition, but this type is on the increase I think and strikes me as ironic for a society which claims especially as being anti-bullying.

They are the Dolores Umbridge's of life.

Grumpy, that story was funny apart from the arrest itself which is very scary.

Delores Umbridge-ha, perfect!

And I must say that homohippophobia is pretty great, too.


Except for the apostrophe, Louise.


Yes, Umbridge, *exactly*.

So: Bottum's up. And the rest of the chatterers will become increasingly irrelevant. I expect a new paradigm to emerge with Francis, one that will leave conventional "liberals" and "conservatives" bewildered. But that is maybe projecting my own wishes. I do predict a heart attack for Fr Sirico when Francis' first social encyclical is published.

I had not seen Hillary Clinton as one such, though she may be.

Multiple sources portray her as a terror to work for, but more a diva and foul-mouthed bitch, not a schoolmarm. The buck-raking she and her husband have undertaken since leaving office is most unedifying (Bilge purportedly charges $189,000 per appearance). There is little question she lies without compunction (Benghazi, &c). I occasionally follow the blog Diplomad, which is written by a pseudonymous foreign service officer. He has some piquant opinions: 1. wretched administrator, the major manifestation of which is putting personal retainers and campaign hacks in gatekeeper positions; 2. that her function as first lady of Arkansas was to launder the bribes, something foreign service officers with a background of third world postings recognized immediately but which the press corps did not.

Schoolmarms are conscientious. Hillary! is no such thing.

The thing of it is, school teachers do have to make an issue of certain petty things or entropic tendencies take over in the classroom. However, a certain share of them are unable to turn it off and limit it to strictures functional to the task of order maintenance. This is conjoined to the institutional tendency to add non-academic mush to the classroom discussion or to be evangelic for certain secular causes (with the support of the administration).

"Schoolmarms are conscientious. Hillary! is no such thing." and " teachers do have to make an issue of certain petty things..."

Yes, that's why Umbridge is a way better illustration. If you're not familiar with the Harry Potter books and movies, here she is in action.

But I always thought Hillarycare was a manifestation of the "supremely officious" mentality, and her tendency to signal that mentality was a factor in its defeat. Remember her snide dismissal of the concern that it would drive some small enterprises out of business? And of course Obamacare is surely at least as bad.

I'm all for clarifying the Catholic view vs. right and left, but I don't want a "new paradigm" that simply draws different factional lines.

Oh, and btw, the Kirk quote is great. As it happens I recently read that story--finally got a copy of the Kirk ghost story collection. It's great.

What's the name of that book?


Ha. You've caught me, like the person who realizes the reason you haven't said his name is that you can't remember it. The reason I didn't mention the name of the book was that it wouldn't come to me in the moment that I was making that comment, but I'm sure if I just think for a minute...Ancestral Shadows.

Hmmm. Do I want it used for $4.89 or collectible for $24.88? Just kidding. I've got enough collectible books.


Not sure I'd use schoolmarm to describe Hillary. She's got much more than officious hectoring on her mind, don't you think?

I'd say she leans more toward the “soft totalitarianism” George Weigel discusses here in connection with the HHS regulations requiring Catholic institutions to provide insurance coverage for sterilization, abortifacient drugs, contraceptives. He describes it as “an effort to eliminate the vital role in health care, education, and social service played by the institutions of civil society, unless those institutions become extensions of the state.”

Help -- I think I'm caught in the spam filter again. And you really wouldn't want to miss one of my pearls. ;)

But I always thought Hillarycare was a manifestation of the "supremely officious" mentality, and her tendency to signal that mentality was a factor in its defeat.

My recollection was that the main brain behind the health care mess was Ira Magaziner, a management consultant and co-author of one of Robert Reich's books. IIRC, Magaziner and Reich, ca 1981, were perhaps the most prominent advocates (after Felix Rohatyn) of certain notions then in vogue in the Democratic Party, namely economic planning ("industrial policy"). Skeptics suggested that in the American political context that public planning and investment schemes would turn into patronage free-for-alls. Magaziner was of the opinion that people like him can make better decisions than the capital markets. Magazine had worked for a management consultancy for a number of years; Reich was a law professor; neither had any background in economics or statistics or business administration nor had worked for a productive enterprise.

I think the difficulty you get with these health care plans is that for equalitarian purposes, they cannot abide market allocation methods. OTOH, they do not wish to attempt to sell the public on command-and-control allocation, so you get all these hopeless Rube Goldberg gambits to avoid both.

Allowing unsubsidized fee-for-service for mundane medical care presumes that people are competant to make decisions when given the salient information. If Hillary is schoolmarmish, it may be because she does not believe that. Given that she has advocated that everyone who gives birth get a follow up visit from a state social worker, that thesis is believable. I have certain been in fora like this when snotty Democratic partisans ridiculed the idea of informed consent.

I had forgotten another aspect of this: her Harvard Education Review article published in 1973. Christopher Lasch offered a corrective article to his confused local newspaper in 1992 elucidating her actual views. He was plain about it: Hillary Clinton had advocated abolition of legal minority status.

You cannot, of course, abolish the state of nonage. You can merely transfer authority over the juvenile from one party to another. Yes, officious.

I keep thinking the problems with the spam catcher are over, but they keep coming back.

I didn't mean for "schoolmarm" to be a precision term.:-) Only a suggestive one: the idea of the person with a great desire to control others in relatively petty ways, and what one might expect when that sort of personality comes to dominate an extremely powerful and wide-ranging bureaucratic state. I think "soft totalitarianism" is exactly where it's heading.

"... all these hopeless Rube Goldberg gambits..."

Exactly. As I'm sure you're aware, there is a conservative contingent that thinks Obamacare is expected to be an unmanageable mess, into which "single payer" will ride to the rescue.

Hillary's "it takes a village" always seemed to me to mask, behind a charming slogan that suggests something no one really objects to, a desire to take control of family life. That early paper you're referring to could represent an idea that she later moderated but an impulse that remained.




Yeah that was very good :)

into which "single payer" will ride to the rescue.

You still need a rationing scheme, though you can avoid it for a while by dog-chasing-its-tail subsidy programs. You can ration with prices, ration with queues, ration with scrip, ration with death panels, but you must always ration.

There's no way around it in one form or another, unless you assume an unlimited supply of money and other resources.

"Meanwhile, let us all be of the same mind, all follow the same rule, according to the progress we have made."

It's the second part that often trips people up.

That's scripture, I guess? St. Paul?

I think the tendency for most people is to substitute "what I say" for "the progress we have made."

Philippians 3:16 (or thereabouts).

It's very very different in the King James. Almost unrecognizable. No doubt the newer is more accurate.

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