Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on basic economics

Here is a podcast on basic economics from Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.

About the speaker:

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the founder and President of the Ruth Institute — a project of the National Organization for Marriage — which seeks to promote life-long married love to college students by creating an intellectual and social climate favorable to marriage.

She is also the Senior Research Fellow in Economics at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

She is the author of Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love in a Hook-up World, (2005) and Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn’t Work (2001), recently reissued in paperback, as Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village.

Dr. Morse served as a Research Fellow for Stanford University’s Hoover Institution from 1997-2005. She received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester in 1980 and spent a postdoctoral year at the University of Chicago during 1979-80. She taught economics at Yale University and George Mason University for 15 years.

The MP3 file is here.

Topics:

  • The study of economics is anti-postmodern – there is objective truth independent of what people think
  • The study of economics believes in fixed principles of human nature
  • Economics studies the allocation of scarce resources that have alternative uses
  • Economics studies how people exchange resources
  • How both people who engage in a voluntary trade always believe that they will be better off
  • How both people who engage in a voluntary trade both benefit from the exchange
  • How incentives motivate people to act
  • Understanding supply and demand
  • Understanding how “free” government services are rationed
  • Understanding opportunity costs
  • How prices signal producers to produce more or less, and consumers to buy or not buy
  • Market-driven prices versus price controls
  • The role of substitution
  • The necessity of allowing failure in a free market

The requirements of economic growth:

  • private property
  • contracts
  • the profit motive
  • competition
  • free trade
  • entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation
  • the rule of law

If you want to learn more about basic economics, I recommend picking up a book or two by Thomas Sowell – the first book I usually give away is “Intellectuals and Society”, and then next “Basic Economics”.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ryan T. Anderson defends traditional marriage at Boston College

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

The Boston College student newspaper reports. I won’t go over Anderson’s case for traditional marriage, because you all know that from reading my previous posts. I want to highlight what went on at the lecture itself.

Excerpt:

Students sat on the floor, wedged between backpacks and pressed back against the walls. Brightly colored “Support Love” t-shirts were sprinkled liberally throughout the audience in Cushing 001 on Thursday night, as students gathered to hear—and question—Ryan T. Anderson, the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at the Heritage Foundation.

Titled “A Case Against Gay Marriage,” Anderson’s presentation was arranged by the St. Thomas More Society (STM), a student-run group at Boston College. Rev. Ronald Tacelli, S.J., the group’s faculty advisor and a professor in the philosophy department, introduced Anderson, stating that the event would be more question-and-answer based, as opposed to the panel that had originally been planned. “When I see the size of the crowd, I think it was a better idea,” he said, eliciting laughter.

The large turnout for the talk can be attributed in part to a Facebook event created earlier in the week by BC Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH). The event, formed in opposition to Anderson’s talk after an email about it was sent out to students on the philosophy and theology departments’ listservs, encouraged students to show up wearing Support Love shirts and to participate in the discussion. “This is not the type of programming that fosters an accepting environment for students,” the event description read. “This event is going to have to rely on the audience for any hope of a balancing opinion presence.”

After Tacelli’s introduction, Anderson began by running down a list of things upon which he would not be basing his argument: morality, sexual orientation/homosexuality, religion, tradition. “I think frequently people have an expectation of what they’re going to hear,” he said. “I make a philosophical and policy argument about marriage.”

He then asked a question of the crowd. “From the looks of the t-shirts, this is probably a challenge for most of the audience,” he said. “I want to know what you think marriage is … that’s actually the question that people in favor of redefining marriage refuse to answer. And they refuse to answer that question by hiding behind what I think is a rather sloppy slogan: marriage equality.”

Anderson said that everyone involved in the debate over marriage is ultimately in favor of equality. “We all want the government to treat all real marriages in the same way. The question is, what type of relationship is a marriage?”

Eventually, they had to move to a bigger room and then they continued:

Tacelli interrupted to inform the crowd that BCPD had requested that the event be moved to a larger auditorium, McGuinn 121. The audience left Cushing slightly before 8 p.m., and Anderson resumed his point on government interest in marriage less than 10 minutes later.

[...]Anderson then concluded his talk and commenced nearly an hour of question and answer, with Tacellimoderating.

Nine students asked questions, with many challenging Anderson on various aspects of his argument, to applause from much of the audience. Most questions focused on his central point—that children who were raised by a heterosexual, married couple were better off than those raised by same-sex couples.

And the Q&A was interesting – it shows that even liberal Boston College students could be civil:

“If further studies came out that show these children are fine—they’re healthy, they grow up to be responsible adults and members of society—would you change your mind?” asked one student

Anderson replied that if the studies showed that there was no difference based on family arrangement, then he would not think that government should be in the marriage business. “I don’t think the government should be recognizing consenting adult love if ultimately it doesn’t make a difference one way or another to the common good,” he said. “If the science came back saying, actually, it’s a wash … then yeah, I wouldn’t care what the law or public policy would be about marriage. I would be surprised—and let me say that it wouldn’t change my opinion about what marriage is, that would just be a study of parenting arrangements.”

Brandon Stone, A&S ’14, asked whether, if the end goal was providing the best environment in which to raise children, that would also necessitate defining marriage along economic or class lines.

“The idea here is not that we should only recognize marriages that are socially valuable,” Anderson said. “The idea here is that marriage as an institution is a socially valuable institution, therefore the state tries to promote it. But when the state promotes marriage, it has to promote the truth about marriage. Poor people can get married, right—they can form the reality of that comprehensive unit. So it would be unjust to deny poor people the opportunity if they’re actually capable of forming a marriage.”

Further questions centered around legal rights, such as the transferal of property after death; the specific definitions of  “mothering” and “fathering”; and whether a non-child-producing heterosexual relationship could be considered a marriage.

Post-lecture discussion organized by the campus gay student group:

After Tacelli ended the question and answer period, Alex Taratuta, chair of the GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC) and A&S ’14, stood up to announce that GLC would be hosting an after-event discussion for any students who wanted to keep talking.

“Going into the event, GLC’s main priority was the mental health and safety of the students,” Taratuta said in an email. “This is one of the reasons that we held a post-event discussion afterwards; we wanted people to have some time to digest the conversation before going back to their dorms … I think it went better than I expected. I knew it would be well attended, but the amount of support from the student body for the GLBTQ community on campus and even the community as a whole, exceeded my expectations.”

Mike Villafranca, co-president of STM and A&S ’14, stopped by the GLC discussion to speak with the students there.

“I was concerned going into tonight’s talk because I knew nothing about Mr. Anderson, and I was worried that the student reaction would be visceral and angry,” Villafranca said later in an email. “Instead of that, I was impressed by the way that the students from GLC and BCSSH reacted to what Mr. Anderson said. It was clear that they came with ideas about what they wanted to ask, but that they listened to what he had to say, and they challenged him in terms of what he said rather than what they came expecting to hear. I’m glad that the Q&A stayed on an intellectual level and didn’t descend into emotional outbursts, which it easily and justifiably could have done.”

I think if you are going to discuss marriage face-to-face with people who are pro-SSM, then it’s probably a good idea to just stick with the Anderson script. I don’t think it’s safe to discuss this issue unless you are careful about who you talk to and how you talk to them. That’s why I am posting about this lecture – to show you how it’s done in hostile environments. We’ve had a whole slew of people from photographers, to sportscasters, to bakers getting into trouble for telling gay peope directly that they disagree with gay marriage. I don’t think you want to take a chance on that approach of “The Bible says…” because it doesn’t work. Ryan Anderson’s approach seems to work a lot better. The people who get hammered are the ones who don’t take the time to study anything except the Bible, who discriminate by appealing to the Bible, and who are not talking to people who have chosen to hear what they have to say – especially in an academic setting where they are there to learn. “The Bible says” ought to be perfectly legitimate in the United States, but thanks to the people in government, it’s not working any more, and we have to adapt.

If you’re going to discuss marriage with a pro-SSM person, then you should do it like Ryan Anderson does it. An academic setting is best. Talking about principles and policies instead of specific people is best. And a secular case for marriage is best. It’s better if your employer won’t be pressured to fire you. It’s best to stick with public policy and secular reasons for marriage, instead of quoting the Bible to non-Christians – that just makes them angry. When you base your position in facts and arguments, they are less likely to get angry because they can disagree with you more easily by arguing against your facts and arguments. Be ready to show  the public, peer-reviewed data that supports your view of marriage. So again, if you insist on doing it, do it like Ryan.

Warning: your comment is probably not going to be approved, so don’t even bother, regardless of what side you’re on.

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Millionaire gay couple sues Church of England to get gay wedding in a church

Well, that didn’t take long, did it?

The UK Daily Mail reports.

Excerpt:

The first legal challenge to the Church of England’s ban on same-sex marriage was launched today – months before the first gay wedding can take place.

Gay father Barrie Drewitt-Barlow declared: ‘I want to go into my church and marry my husband.’ He added: ‘The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the Church.’

The legal move means an early test for David Cameron’s promise to the CofE and Roman Catholic bishops that no church would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings against the will of its leaders and its faithful.

Ministers set down a ‘quadruple lock’ in the new same sex marriage law – which received Royal Assent last month – which is supposed to protect those churches which oppose gay marriage.

However the guarantees will have to be tested in the courts and gay rights groups have been expecting to bring an early challenge.

How is the suit likely to be resolved?

The article notes that:

[A] succession of past court cases have resulted in defeats for Christians who were in disputes over equality laws, and in particular courts have always found in favour of gays who have challenged Christians.

In recent years notable cases have ended in the sacking of a town hall registrar who refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies, the sack for a Relate counsellor who said he would not give sex advice to gay couples, and defeat for a couple who declined to let a room in their hotel to a gay couple on the grounds that they were unmarried.

Colin Hart, of the Coalition for Marriage said: ‘The ink’s not even dry on the Bill and churches are already facing litigation. We warned Mr Cameron this would happen, we told him he was making promises that he couldn’t possibly keep.

‘He didn’t listen. He didn’t care. He’s the one who has created this mess. Mr Cameron’s chickens are coming home to roost and it will be ordinary people with a religious belief who yet again fall victim to the totalitarian forces of political correctness.’

Mr Hart added: ‘We now face the real prospect of churches having to choose between stopping conducting weddings, or vicars, and priests defying the law and finding themselves languishing in the dock.’

Yesterday, I blogged about how gay activists are already infringing on religious liberty in the United States. It’s happening here. Isn’t interesting that many people who falsely claim to be Christian nevertheless voted for a President who is in favor of gay marriage? And now we are getting the consequences of gay marriage – the end of religions liberty.

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Ryan Anderson explains how gay marriage is already infringing on religious liberty

Dr. Ryan Anderson writes about the threat to religious liberty in National Review.

Excerpt:

Thomas Messner, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, has documented multiple instances in which laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as laws redefining marriage, have already eroded religious liberty and the rights of conscience.

After Massachusetts redefined marriage to include same-sex relationships, Catholic Charities of Boston faced a mandate to place children with same-sex couples. Rather than go against its principles, Catholic Charities decided to get out of the adoption business — a move that helps neither the orphans nor society. When Massachusetts public schools began teaching grade-school students about same-sex marriage, the town of Lexington’s school superintendent, Paul Ash, defended the decision to the Boston Globe with this statement: “Lexington is committed to teaching children about the world they live in, and in Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal.” A Massachusetts appellate court ruled that parents have no right to exempt their children from these classes.

The New Mexico Human Rights Commission prosecuted a photographer for declining to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” Doctors in California were successfully sued for declining to perform an artificial insemination on a woman in a same-sex relationship. Owners of a bed-and-breakfast in Illinois who declined to rent their facility for a same-sex civil-union ceremony and reception were sued for violating the state nondiscrimination law. A Georgia wellness counselor was fired after she referred someone in a same-sex relationship to another counselor.

In fact, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reports that “over 350 separate state anti-discrimination provisions would likely be triggered by recognition of same-sex marriage.”

In a letter sent to priests, deacons, and pastoral facilitators in 131 parishes, the Catholic bishop of Springfield, Ill., explains that a same-sex-marriage bill state lawmakers are considering this year does not include meaningful protections for religious liberty:

[It] would not stop the state from obligating the Knights of Columbus to make their halls available for same-sex “weddings.” It would not stop the state from requiring Catholic grade schools to hire teachers who are legally “married” to someone of the same sex. This bill would not protect Catholic hospitals, charities, or colleges, which exclude those so “married” from senior leadership positions. . . . This “religious freedom” law does nothing at all to protect the consciences of people in business, or who work for the government. We saw the harmful consequences of deceptive titles all too painfully last year when the so-called “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act” forced Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoption services in Illinois. . . . There is no possible way– none whatsoever — for those who believe that marriage is exclusively the union of husband and wife to avoid legal penalties and harsh discriminatory treatment if the bill becomes law. Why should we expect it be otherwise? After all, we would be people who, according to the thinking behind the bill, hold onto an “unfair” view of marriage. The state would have equated our view with bigotry — which it uses the law to marginalize in every way short of criminal punishment.

Georgetown University law professor Chai Feldblum, an appointee to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, argues that the push to redefine marriage trumps religious-liberty concerns:

For all my sympathy for the evangelical Christian couple who may wish to run a bed-and-breakfast from which they can exclude unmarried, straight couples and all gay couples, this is a point where I believe the “zero-sum” nature of the game inevitably comes into play. And, in making that decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people.

Indeed, for many supporters of redefining marriage, such infringements on religious liberty are not flaws but virtues of the movement.

Now, I have previously written that a good case can be made against same-sex marriage on secular grounds alone, but make no mistake – the more gay rights advance, the more religious liberty declines. This issue is not about equality, it’s about trampling on the rights of anyone who voices any disagreement with the gay lifestyle.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jennifer Roback Morse on the injustice of the American family court system

I find myself thinking about life-long married love on Valentine’s Day, so I’m going to post an article by marriage-defender Jennifer Roback Morse about one of the biggest challenges to life-long married love.

Excerpt:

Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen BaskervilleWith penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family in America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

She explains who is really behind the attempt to destroy marriage, and the answer might shock you.

It’s important for people to understand the real reasons why people are not getting married, so that we can do something to encourage them to marry that really fixes the problem. Talk to any man and he will tell you that aside from the concerns about the economy and the national debt, the main reason why he is not willing to get married is the unfairness of the family courts. If you don’t understand the threats that men are seeing with respect to marriage, it might be a good idea to take a look at this essay by Stephen Baskerville, hosted by the Christian Touchstone magazine. It’s a summary of the book that Dr. Morse reviewed. I consider that book “Taken Into Custody” to be a must-read for anyone contemplating marriage.

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