Entries from September 2009 ↓

Criminal babysitting

Leanne Shepherd and Lucy Jarrett are detective constables (that translates to “police officers” in English) in the U.K. They job share so their hours are split. Shepherd has a 2-year old daughter, Jarrett a 3-year old daughter. The job sharing allows them trade babysitting with each other. Perfect arrangement, right?

Not so fast. These two police officers are breaking the law. According to a U.K. government agency, neither is registered with the government as a “child-minder” and therefore they are not lawfully allowed to babysit each others’ child. And really, one does have to question how responsible a constable could be. Clearly, no one can simply assume that someone able to exercise the authority of a detective constable would be qualified to care for another person’s child.

Thankfully we live in America where this kind of thing would never happen. Oh wait. Lisa Snyder in Middleville, Michigan has a school bus stop in front of her house. Some of her neighbors need to leave for work before the bus arrives so Lisa Snyder watches their children for 15 to 40 minutes until the bus arrives. She does this for free. Er…that is, she did it for free until Michigan’s Department of Human Service received a complaint that she was running an illegal child care center. Now the state is threatening her with jail time and a $1000 fine. All in the name of “protecting the children”. Because we all know that forcing children into a faceless day care center is much better than allowing parents to make decisions about who is able to watch their children.

Instead of “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” we are fast becoming the land of the regulated and the home of the government.

(Hat tip: Overlawyered)

How important are newspapers?

President Obama has never met a bailout he didn’t like. The latest bailout idea is for the newspaper industry. President Obama said that journalism “is absolutely critical to the health of our democracy.”

He is right on that point. Despotic regimes protect themselves by restricting the flow of information to their citizens. The press has been a check against abuses of power. We do need journalism.

Where he is wrong is in thinking that propping up a dying industry and in placing too much emphasis on a medium that is nearly obsolete. Newspapers are not the only home of journalism. Journalism will continue to exist even when newspapers fold (heh heh).

Even for those who like their newspaper, a government bailout is the worst solution. It will only hasten the demise of newspapers. The reason that journalism is important to our democratic republic is that newspapers (even those that are unabashedly support the President’s agenda – I’m looking at you New York Times) are independent of government interference. That will not be the case when they get government money.

Pravda was entirely funded by the Soviet government and was never seen as a credible source of journalism. Any U.S. newspaper that takes government money will compromise its journalistic integrity and nullify the very reason it exists. Government money can only turn a journalistic organization into a propaganda arm…(cough)PBS(cough).

Newspapers are not the only hope for maintaining our republic and will be completely irrelevant if they take any government money.

Famous failures

Here is a good one. Many times success is preceded by failure.

Can you have too many children?

The Duggars are expecting their 19th child. I have seen a number of Catholics commending the Duggars for their openness to life (I know, the Duggars are not Catholics but there are many Catholics who celebrate their example). But as their family continues to grow, my unease about their decision to have as many children as possible grows as well.

Obligatory disclaimer: I reject the claims (mostly from environmentalists) that large families are irresponsible and that children harm the earth. I believe that low birth rates in Europe and North America are hurting those societies. I also believe that other reasons given for small families, like the ability to provide financially, are exaggerated and focus too much on material concerns.

I have been trying to figure out what about the Duggars bothers me. Don’t they exemplify what the Catholic Church teaches?

The world says that we should have sex purely for its pleasurable aspect. But the Catholic Church teaches that sex is properly understood as being both unitive and procreative. In addition, the Church teaches that we should not be controlled by our base urges. Just because we feel the urge to have sex does not mean that we must submit to that urge. Engaging in sex purely for the pleasure rejects God’s purpose of sex between a husband and wife.

Now the Duggars have come to understand the unitive and creative aspects of sex that the Catholic Church teaches. They are open to life, so much so that they are producing as many children as is humanly possible. I have tried arguing with myself that they should be celebrated for rejecting the contraceptive culture and for embracing life.

Still the nagging feeling I had about the Duggars remained. Yes, they are open to life but it is obvious that there are consequences to that openness. Their decision to continually increase their family does have serious economic concerns. Before their 16th child, they exceeded their financial capabilities (even with their frugal and debt-free lifestyle) to the point that the TLC network and other companies stepped in to complete a new house for them. Now they are able to support their family with the income from their TV show. So they are self-sufficient.

But is their example really in accordance with Catholic teaching? I went to the USCCB to get more information.

Let them [husband and wife] thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. (GS, #50)

With regard to man’s innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man’s reason and will must exert control over them. (HV, #10)

Quotes taken from USCCB Responsible Parenthood (PDF)

Catholics should be aware that there is no teaching that requires us to unthinkingly procreate. In fact, the Catholic Church teaches responsibility for making these decisions. A “let the chips fall where they may” attitude is not taking responsibility. Producing as many children as biologically possible is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. Our bishops teach us that we do have control over our sexuality and we must exert control over our innate drives and emotions.

The Duggars have not yet discovered this aspect of sexuality.

What would Jesus vote for?

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz told his viewers (both of them) that Jesus would vote for public health care. During his comments, he referred to people who disagree with this view as “Bible Thumpers”.

Schultz is wrong; Jesus would not vote for universal health care. The Bible is clear that Jesus is not a Democrat. Then again, Jesus would not vote against it. The Bible is just as clear that Jesus is not a Republican. That’s because Jesus is a monarchist. Put simply, Jesus would not vote.