Pat Robertson isn’t the only one who talks with God.

Several politicians in the House of Representatives seem to think they know what God thinks as well:

Rep. John Carter (R-TX): “It’s part of God’s plan for the future of mankind.”

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN): “It wasn’t our idea, it was God’s.”

Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO): “We best not be messing with His plan.”

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA): “I think God has spoken very clearly on this issue.”

They’re all Republicans too! How (not) surprising is that? These choice comments came about during the debate over the constitutional ban on gay marriage that took place a few days back that ended up being defeated. Good to know so many of our representatives have a direct hot line to God. It’s just a shame none of them were from Michigan so I could enjoy making certain not to vote for their reelection.

96 thoughts on “Pat Robertson isn’t the only one who talks with God.

  1. Wow, this thread took off today.

    Elwed:

    I shall take this:

    One problem….is that Consi argues like a German

    as the ultimate compliment coming from you. smile

    With regards to:

    I don’t believe I am confused about this.

    I’ve never seen you confused in your writing.  That holds true here.

    Neon:

    Anyway, Consi,…why don’t you take a moment and tell everyone here why government should be in charge of deciding what constitutes a legitimate marriage despite the (clear to me, anyway)words of the First Amendment.

    As a point of interest for me, I would like to know what portion of the First Amendment you believe expressly precludes government from deciding the conditions for what consitutes a marriage amongst its citiznery?

    That aside, every society has to organize itself.  Typically, even from the earliest of times, man has orgainzed around the familial unit.  Defining what constitutes the familial unit defines each society. 

    Why not clans?  Why not 2 wives, 3 wives, 4 husbands?  Well, let’s look at the suggestion of clans that got OB all excited.  Specifically, let’s look at some of the issues that may arise.

    For my example I’m going to take some liberties with zilch, because he isn’t here.

    Now, zilch, he fancies himself as an attractive chap.  And for the sake of this example, let’s say that he is a looker.  The women and the men love him.  zilch the Stud, puts together his little clan and in it, he has 8 wives and 2 male wives.  (As a disclaimer, I don’t know if zilch does, did, or will ever swing that way, but for purposes of this discussion, he did, does, and will).  zilch’s wives are:  Bambi, Candi, Jasmine, Chastity, Porsche, Bunny, Jami, and Cherry.  His male wives are: Bruno and Tex.  zilch is blessed with offspring, 10 in all.  zilch’s children are: Johnny, Jimmy, Joey, Jacob, Jordan, Jamie, Julie, Janice, Jezebel, and PZ (in honor of zilch’s hero PZ Meyers). 

    For 17 years the clan is happy as can be.  Then trouble hits River City.  Bambi, Bunny and Bruno, all file separately for divorce.  The question now arises as to how to divide the familial assets.  zilch really just kept Bruno around as eye candy and Bruno has done nothing in the way of work.

    Bruno seeks full custody of 4 of the kids, none of which he biologically fathered, and partial custody of the rest. Bambi requests full custody of her kids, and Jasmine’s too, and partial custody of the rest.  Bunny wants to sever her parental rights to her children and forget this portion of her life.  zilch and (the remaining) Co. file for full custody of all the kids.

    Chastity’s child, Jamie, has had problems in school.  Chastity wishes to home school Jamie.  zilch is against home schooling.  The rest of the wives and Tex are split on what is best for the child, including a split amongst those in favor of public schooling on what public school Jamie should attend.

    Jordan is Cherry’s child.  Jordan has developed medical problems that require blood transfusions.      zilch and Cherry want the child to receive a blood transfusion.  Tex, as a result of his religion, is adamantly opposed to blood transfusions.  He seeks to enjoin zilch and Co. from allowing any blood transfusions on little Jordan.

    In the meantime, zilch wants to liquidate the family compound.  That property was acquired after the big all day wedding ceremony in which he married all parties at the same time. The real estate agent insists that the listing agreement must be signed by all the parties.

    And then there is Porsche.  Porsche ran a business selling Jesus rugs on e-bay.  The company was never incorporated.  The company has gone bankrupt.  Porsche has filed for bankruptcy, but the company debts far exceed any assets.

    Maybe I’m overly concerned about what might happen.  That said, I don’t see the good outweighing the bad if we were to attempt to sort through the problems above.

  2. I have to agree with Consi here.

    I’ve got nothing against you marrying multiple people, personally. Just like I don’t have a problem without you driving without insurance. The more partners you take on, the more of your resources must be divided. There is a potential risk to the welfare of others, that may or may not depend on the number of partners. As Consi points out with his hypothetical, things can get hairy. IF polygamy is comparable to car insurance, there might by good reason to make monogamy mandatory. That’s a big if, though. At least for now.

    I knew a guy by the name of Zamil. Well-paid chef. Had three (four?) “wives”.. he had to devote time to each of them seperately because he couldn’t get them to get along. Too stiff competition for his time. So he divvied his money amongst the likes of them all. Last I had contact with him, he was still happy with the arrangement after 10 years. He rarely had much money to spend on himself, except if you consider the finances devoted to his brides, who in turn supported him in other ways.

  3. As Consi points out with his hypothetical, things can get hairy.

    Wait… you mean things might get ugly in a divorce??  Really?

    Divorce court has a pretty long list of things that are wrong with it, the big one being how custody cases are settled, but that is a separate argument.  I’m not about to refuse someone a contract based on how bad things get IF it falls apart.  You might as well say no one should get married because they might get divorced, and divorces can get UGLY.  We already have a problem when two people stay together because of what they fear will happen to the children.  That potentially compounds the problem.  Do we make them separate because they can’t stand each other and it might lead to abuse or do we make them stay together to provide stability for the children?  Neither.  We let them choose.

    Just because something causes a problem doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed to do it.  A lot of our freedoms would be revoked if we thought that way.

  4. Consigliere:

    Total lurk post here.  But your argument against polygamy makes no sense to me.  Are polygamists somehow naturally predisposed to soap-opera drama and the inevitable lawsuits that follow?  On a grand scale, yes; people DO fight, couples DO break up, children DO get fucked.  But the blame there lies on the whole of humanity, not merely the portion whom you choose to poke at with your moral majority BS.  Here’s an example, near and dear to my heart; my grandmother.  Every one of her 10 children is a confirmed roman catholic.  And yet, four of them have been divorced.  Six of them are problem drinkers, and at least five are addicted to nicotine.  Oh noes, catholicism should be fucking ABOLISHED!

    And that’s a true story.  Just think about the kind of bullshit I could make up about a group of people I don’t respect.  The way you did.

  5. Consi: Maybe I’m overly concerned about what might happen. That said, I don’t see the good outweighing the bad if we were to attempt to sort through the problems above.

    Overly concerned? Over active imagination more like it.
    Cons, ya gotta tell me … do you write scripts for soap operas full-time or in your spare time?
    Shit you’re good.
    I was trying to come up with something even more preposterous but there’s nothing I could think of to top it.
    I’m not saying that if the marriage laws weren’t discriminatory, such a thing wouldn’t or couldn’t happen but the way you make it sound, it’s something that could be happening daily or weekly; as if it would be the norm.
    Let’s face it, if something like that did happen they could sell their story for a motza; gossip addicted, sexually repressed Americans would lap it up … it’d become a larger grossing movie than Da Vinci Code.
    May I respectfully suggest that for something like your example to actualise there’d have to be some pretty stupid people about.
    I must lead a sheltered life; I don’t know anyone that stupid.
    I hate to say it but I’d suggest there’d be more murderers about than the type of wankers you are holding up as examples of inanity.

  6. I knew a guy by the name of Zamil. Well-paid chef. Had three (four?) “wives

  7. Consi, first: damn, you are funny.  LOL

    Not sure if you are going this way, but it would be correct to say that the multiplier of divorce-proceeding complexity is not the number of participants but maybe the square of the number of participants.  But that is a better argument for pre-nuptual agreements than it is against government forbidding exceptional people from having exceptional living arrangements.

    Life is simplest when you live alone. Why not require that?

  8. Typo correction – it should read:

    But that is a better argument for pre-nuptual agreements than it is for government forbidding exceptional people from having exceptional living arrangements.

    Oops.

  9. Consi, you can take that any way you want to wink

    To quote from Georg Herwegh, Das Reden nimmt kein End (1848), on the (first) German Democratic Republic:

    Zu Frankfurt an dem Main –
    So schlag der Teufel drein!
    Es steht die Welt in Flammen,
    Sie schwatzen noch zusammen,
    Wie lange soll das dauern?
    Dem König Schach, ihr Bauern!
    Dein Parla – Parla – Parlament,
    O, Volk, mach ihm ein End!

    I think this debate suffers from a definitional problem. Marriage is an umbrella term used to describe a lot of things, just as marriage probably has taken many different forms throughout human history.

    The two most obvious meanings of marriage are a contract spelling out property ownership (often including women and offspring, with rather nasty implications) and a component of a child-rearing environment.

    Clearly, you can dice and slice things in many different ways. You don’t have to be married to have sex, you don’t have to be married to procreate, you don’t have to married to own property, you don’t have to be married to be part of a family (another fuzzy term), you don’t have to be married to be a caregiver, and so on.

    I don’t believe there is a single best form of marriage. Traditionally in the U.S., society awards benefits to married couples, but does not punish the unwed. As opposed to that, the public debate seems to arrive at a consensus that if the couple happens to be the same sex, not only can’t they receive benefits, they must be explicitely punished by constitutional amendmends. That just ain’t right.

  10. The stupid thing about marriage is that if it were just a legal contract, we probably wouldn’t be having this argument.  If the whole religious wedding thing had absolutely nothing to do with legally joining incomes, taxes, property and such, then possibly there wouldn’t be such a fight over all that stuff when and if the marriage falls apart.  Look… If you have decided that you love someone enough to spend the rest of your life with them, then what the hell does the legality of it mean to you?  Sure, the legal arrangement of marriage solves some things (especially when there are kids involved) but it isn’t necessary.  The problem comes when you mix the legal and emotional committments.  Like people who can’t separate sex and love, some can’t separate finances and love.  That’s how you get ugly divorces.  Take the religion out of it and what you have is a legal contract.  If the religious people insist that the wedding MUST go hand in hand with the legal contract, then what does that say about the ‘sanctity’ of marriage?  The wedding is for God to bless the union.  The marriage is for the state to recognize it.  If one can’t exist without the other, then we have to admit that God is a lawyer and the state exists in service to the church, and if you’re going to say that…. I’m outta here.  That is not what I signed on for and it isn’t what our leaders have been telling us since I was born, and it certainly isn’t what they were thinking when they created this nation.

    And if you DO separate the religion and the marriage, then you’ve just got domestic partnership.  You’ve got no reason to prohibit gays from entering into it or more than one man or woman.  There’s no detriment to the state in any case until and unless there’s a split at some point AND a fight over it.  Religions can bless whatever sorts of unions they want and condemn others, make any sort of wedding ceremony they want to.

  11. In all fairness to Consi, his example isn’t far-fetched or at least it’s not beyond the realm of possibility if poly-marriages were allowed.

    That said the fact that the breakup of such relationships would be complicated and messy isn’t necessarily a valid reason not to allow them. It also doesn’t mean the laws related to marriage contracts couldn’t be modified to take into account polygamy marriages. Had polygamy been the norm from the beginning I’m sure the laws surrounding the breakup of such relationships would already be in existence.

  12. In all fairness to Consi, his example isn’t far-fetched or at least it’s not beyond the realm of possibility if poly-marriages were allowed.

    That said the fact that the breakup of such relationships would be complicated and messy isn’t necessarily a valid reason not to allow them. It also doesn’t mean the laws related to marriage contracts couldn’t be modified to take into account polygamy marriages. Had polygamy been the norm from the beginning I’m sure the laws surrounding the breakup of such relationships would already be in existence.

    I agree 100%.  The problem with Consi is that he frequently is right, but he brings up examples of how society is screwed up, but instead of providing a solution to the particular problem, he uses it as an argument for or against something else.  He’s like Microsoft marketing: 100% right and 100% beside the point.

    As you say, the fact that divorce court’s slinky is kinked is NO reason for or against marriage of ANY sort except the particular sort that causes messy divorce: STUPID PEOPLE, but if you did that, then we would have psych tests for marriage, because let’s face it, we all know someone who probably shouldn’t have made their vows.

    Yes, I DID have my coffee first this time smile

  13. LJ:

    …do you write scripts for soap operas full-time or in your spare time?

    Neither. I do think most soap opera chicks are hot.  Does that count for anything?

    DF:

    But that is a better argument for pre-nuptual agreements than it is for government forbidding exceptional people from having exceptional living arrangements.

    Sure, if you ignore the issues the children will face.

    Elwed:  I think I’ve been tagged and don’t even know it.  I want a translation.

    I think this debate suffers from a definitional problem.

    So do the states that are constitutionally defining marriage.

    SB:

    As you say, the fact that divorce court’s slinky is kinked….

    Good Lord, I thought I was the only one whose brain has been warped by ovrcrowding from useless songs from commercials. 

    “What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound? A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing! Everyone knows it’s Slinky. It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy. It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy. It’s fun for a girl or a boy.” smile

  14. Sure, if you ignore the issues the children will face.

    I am not ignoring those issues – it’s one of many issues to be folded into a prenuptual agreement. 

    If you looked at the record of heterosexual, monogamous marriages in raising children, you could make an argument from adverse consequences against it.  It would be no more valid than yours.  You have a pretty rosy view of the norm, and a pretty high anxiety level about different arrangements.

  15. Consi, fair enough.

    I’ll spare you the history lesson, which you dig up without too much trouble. In a nutshell, what is today known as Germany had a revolution back in 1848, resulting in a republic that soon fell.

    The parliament was located in Frankfurt a.M. and while the counter-revolution raged across the country, the parliamentarians were busy debating, perhaps quite literally while their parliament burned down on top of them. The sentiment expressed by the poem amounts “stop talking and do something, for crying out loud – good riddance, otherwise”.

  16. Actually, what seems to have endangered marriage the MOST was that radical, deconstructing move to allow women to own PROPERTY.  Consi, I’ll bet if you roll that back you’ll do more to “preserve marriage as an institution” than any other single thing. tongue laugh

  17. Just for the fun of it, I would point out that there is some interesting reseach that compares polygamous and monogamous marriages—they looked at a nice-sized sample of Bedoin-Arabs and found significantly higher rates of marital distress, lower life functioning, and higher psychological distress in the polygamous relationships. There’s fuel for you, Consigliere.

    However, if the issue all boils down to “What about the children?”, then no one should marry whatsoever—simple unemotional parings for procreation should be the rule. 

    It seems likely that Consig will cite the data on the consequences of divorce, so before he does so, I’ll point out that there is strong data to suggest that even controlling for parental warmth and caring, the strongest predictor of childhood distress is the parents’ interparental withdrawl and hostility. (Mother’s distress and hostility is particularly problematic.)

    A number of excellent studies demonstrate that it is parental conflict and hostility toward one another that are the most problematic. (Kids from intact distressed homes look about the same as kids from divorced homes—the evidence suggest that the hostility mediates a relationship between poor outcome and divorce.)

    So, if you really want to protect kids, come up with some way to keep couples from hostility. (Lots of luck!)

  18. I have a hunch that sampling of Bedoin-Arabs was an extreme imbalance of power between women and men, tilted in favor of men.  That’s probably a bigger factor than the exact complexities.

    Back to what GM said.

  19. Shelley, I’d bet you that women in polyandrous relationships would have a much lower rate of marital distress.  Would I love to have a stable of husbands to support me in the style to which I would like to become accustomed?  You betcha.  wink

    But the whole marriage thing has ALWAYS been about men’s desire to control the procreating activities of women.  That ain’t gonna change any time soon.

  20. And all this time I thought marriage was about having someone around to tell the men what to do and when to do it.  Without wives, men are useless, having neither motivation nor direction.  At least, that’s what my wife tells me.

    p.s.Just kidding, she doesn’t usually actually say it.

  21. I have a hunch that sampling of Bedoin-Arabs was an extreme imbalance of power between women and men, tilted in favor of men.  That’s probably a bigger factor than the exact complexities.

    I don’t know if this is relevent, but similar studies done in southern Africa showed a higher likelihood of adultery in a polygynous marriage than in a monogamous one.  I guess there are some things you can never get enough of.

  22. I have a hunch that sampling of Bedoin-Arabs was an extreme imbalance of power between women and men, tilted in favor of men.  That’s probably a bigger factor than the exact complexities.

    Unlikely, DoF—Remember that the marriages sampled were ALL Bedoin-Arab. Consequently, while it is likely an extreme power difference exists in the population, it exists in both the married-polygamous and the married-monogamous samples. Consequently, differences cannot be attributed to extreme power imbalances. (That’s one of the reasons the study is interesting—it was able to control for number of things including power imbalance, religion, and a number of cultural factors.)

    Shelley, I’d bet you that women in polyandrous relationships would have a much lower rate of marital distress.  Would I love to have a stable of husbands to support me in the style to which I would like to become accustomed?  You betcha. 

    LOL LOL LOL

  23. it is likely an extreme power difference exists in the population

    That’s what I meant – that the balance of power in that culture generally was heavily tilted in favor of men.  I didn’t mean it would only apply to the polygynous marriages.

  24. Consi: Good Lord, I thought I was the only one whose brain has been warped by ovrcrowding from useless songs from commercials.

    “What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound? A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing! Everyone knows it’s Slinky. It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy. It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy. It’s fun for a girl or a boy.

  25. Here’s a quote from Pinker’s the blank slate I kept meaning to look up. From the introduction to the hot button topic:

    Some debates are so entwined with people’s moral identity that one might despair that they can ever be resolved by reason and evidence. Social psychologists have found that with divise moral issues, especially those on which liberals and conservatives disagree, all combatants are intuitively certain they are correct and their opponents have ugly ulterior motives. They argue out of respect for the social convention that one should always provide reasons for one’s opinions, but when an argument is refuted, they don’t change their minds but work harder to find a replacement argument. Moral debates, far from resolving hostilities, can escalate them, because when people on the other side do not immediately capitulate, it only proves they are impervious to reason.

    That just about sums it up for me.

  26. “What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound? A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing! Everyone knows it’s Slinky. It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy. It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy. It’s fun for a girl or a boy.

  27. Wow I’m late to return. Swordsbane, I’m not out to say no to polygamous relationships. I know people for whom is is a comfortable lifestyle and I condone it. I also don’t agree that fear of consequences (except where those consequences have been carefully measured) constitute a strong argument against an individual choice.

    But I do think that this is a topic that isn’t as controversial or involved as homosexual relationship, and as a result, deserves more time and practical application. If we can only get so far as a hypothetical or an anecdote on how good or bad things can get, then we don’t know enough, IMO.

  28. I don’t believe it is a question about knowing enough.  If you don’t think there should be any “tests” for the suitability of a man and a woman to get married, how can you stop at homosexuality or polygamy?  If the people who want to have these types of relationships really care about one another, who am I to stand in their way?  I think polygamy is a stupid arrangement, fraught with all kinds of personal landmines, but I also think it is personal.  The state has no business telling anyone what to do with their emotions as long as you make sure all involved are consenting adults.

    And to those who say: Think of the children, the same argument.  It is perfectly legal to raise a child in any number of disadvantaged environments.  If you >could< make the case for a homosexual or polygamous relationship being disadvantaged (and I haven’t seen anyone who can) so what?  If you don’t make income a requirement for getting married or having children, your lifestyle choice isn’t going to bother me.

    And before you start talking divorce rates and how messy things can get, realize that messy divorces span the entire spectrum of marriage, and until we can find a better way to handle the divorces in court (alimony, palimony and child support) don’t come to me and say “These people should not be allowed to get married because it is likely they will divorce” or “if they do divorce it will be bad”  A divorce is, at best, a failed contract.. at worst the utter ruin of two (or more?) people.  There is NO good side.

    If you get rid of these arguments, you’re left with the religious ones, and as far as I’m concerned, you know where you can stick THOSE.

  29. I’ve got a dog in the fight for the upcoming primaries (yes I do more than just give unsolicited political advice to the readers here) so I have precious little time to write at length.  (No, Shelley I have not forgotten you and I promise to return to that thread after August 2nd.)

    GM, I’ve missed you.  That said, I believe that you are the exception that proves the rule with respect to having a stable (Please take note of GM’s word choice here. I think it is telling. wink) of husbands.

  30. The state has no business telling anyone what to do with their emotions as long as you make sure all involved are consenting adults.

    I disagree. It is in the state’s interest to do what is best for the welfare of all of it’s people. In the instance that polygamy (in this case) is found to be generally or specifically detrimental, and that empowering the state over that specific domain is an improvement over non-involvement, then I see no reason not to empower the state.

    Knowing enough is the issue – the test is in giving people the freedom to do so until domain-specific issues arise. If some of these issues are forseeable, we have to be prepared for them. I’m not looking at talking philosophy; in writing the laws we need far more information than we’ve got. I can pose any finite number of bad arguments, have them ripped apart, and assume there are no more left while I don’t know any better. And I have good reason to believe I don’t know enough to make an informed decision as to the kinds of laws that ought (not) to be written, in specific. I feel certain I’m far from the only one.

    I’m for the freedom to choose, but I’d err on the side of caution until the impacts of this are more well known. That’s the only barrier I see between polygamy and any other kind of marital arrangement that I condone.

  31. It is in the state’s interest to do what is best for the welfare of all of it’s people.

    Just to be disagreeable and callous, but that’s a bold and idealistic claim, assuming the state per se has any interests at all.

  32. Of course it has.  Just like all living organisms and constructs of same, it is interested in its own survival and growth.  Everything else serves these two purposes.

  33. I believe the whole point of our country was to put more weight on the interests of the people in direct competition to the interests of the state.  But those who elevate state interests may not see any difference.

  34. Of course it has.

    Prove it wink

    Just like all living organisms and constructs of same, it is interested in its own survival and growth.  Everything else serves these two purposes.

    Note the term all in the original quote. Does it indeed further the state’s survival and growth to do what’s “best for the welfare of all of it’s people”? Always assuming that the state should be in welfare business to begin with.

  35. I don’t strictly disagree, Elwed. But the state sets the rules that we abide by because, in large part, people don’t lead themselves. I find the notion of democracy grossly idealistic. Helpful to me, yes, but in large part unused, as most people are far more concerned with their immediate lives – the fact that somebody cut them off on the road, or that they lost 20 minutes on the trip because someone was slow to get ready, or that the money’s not coming in fast enough to get lipo, or that gas prices are high.

    Any issue that doesn’t fit in that realm, that can be easily ignored, will be. Democracy’s a great idea, but it doesn’t take much to see that the lay man has no place in it, atm. There’s no competitive drive and no insight. It’s just not important enough (somehow – don’t ask why, cause I don’t know either, although a couple decades of being pissed on in Canada has been enough to cause people to stop voting. The rationale seems to be that if they’re all liars, they’re all the same).

    I’m all for giving people the freedom to pursue power, but the state decides where the people won’t. By and large, the people don’t. Maybe that’s for the better, where, as I’ve mentioned, the people making the decisions are not duly informed on the matter.

  36. But the state sets the rules that we abide by because, in large part, people don’t lead themselves.

    Interesting argument when applied to marriage.  Currently the ONLY legal impediment to marriage is the cash for the fee and that you must be a man marrying a woman or vice verse.  So it must be a heterosexual marriage and monogomous when homosexuality and polygamy have yet to be definitively established as BAD for the family unit, but you ARE allowed to marry if you are habitually abusive, a criminal or poor which HAVE been found to be bad for the family unit.

    Wonderful priorities you got there.

    How about we let people do what they want UNTIL someone can prove it’s a bad idea.  Seems to work for most other things that aren’t political chess pieces.

  37. Well, obviously I can’t “prove it”.  Survival seems to me to be the fundamental interest, although I must admit to a shaky understanding of the term “interest,” especially with respect to “standing” and “rights”.  The state must exist, else it is no state.  Further, every state, as Machiavelli puts it (yeah, I know, that’s an appeal to authority [one which, by the way, I can’t stand] but I’m grasping at straws here, leave me be) every prince wishes to expand his sphere of influence.  I do not believe this to be absolutely required, but most states are implicitly interested in it.  It was not my intent to say what the state should do to pursue these interests.  That is determined by its power base, and is subject to the standard human error (or is that “standard human deviation”?)

      There are many valid and useful models of governance, each of which seems to be suited to a particular society, and circumstance.  The laws of a given state should, ideally, reflect the society for which they are made.  If there is no ideal, perfect, right, or holy set of laws (and I believe there is), then the most useful set, it seems to me, should be that set of laws which leads to the highest function of the greatest number of people in that society.  Of course, what said “function” means is debatable with respect to quality and quantity, focus and derivation. For example, perhaps Saddam Hussein’s regime was actually necessary to keep all the various factions from killing each other off and seriously disrupting society.  It was harsh and cruel by “our” standards, and most societies would not tolerate it, but maybe it was necessary to provide maximal functionality for the majority.

      Each society has its corporate mindset, with variation.  In the USA, there is a large portion of the population which pretends to respect a biblical viewpoint.  Do they ignore it in their personal lives?  Of course.  Will they persecute you if your practice is rare, but no more deviant from their purported standard?  Absolutely.  For instance, if I were invited to speak at First Random Church, Anytown USA, walked up to the podium, and told them the truth about Christmas, Easter, etc., I’d count myself blessed if I were’nt beaten to death with the nearest crucifix or musical instrument.  Is my position deviant?  Provably not.  Is it rare?  Certainly.  It may not be, therefore, the deviancy of homosexuality compared with that of any other sin which merits the vitriol of Churchianity but, rather, its rarity.  After all, if adulterers were abused like homosexuals, the Church would probably be small indeed.

  38. Hey, who’s to say that the interests of the state and the interests of its citizens need be identical.  A business’ interest is profit, while its clients’ interest is value.  Now, the business may achieve profit by cheating its customers of their value, but this will usually result in a long-term loss of profitability.  Does this prevent businesses worldwide cheating their customers?  Hardly.  In the same way, governments’ currency is power, and their citizens’ desire is security in its various forms.  Can governments increase their power by robbing their citizens of their security?  Certainly.  Is it in their long-term best interests to do so?  Probably not.  Abandonment of the weak robs the strong of their security as surely as a more direct approach, because we are all, at one time or another, weak.

      As to the charge of my being an “arch-conservative,” I must plead guilty, with caveats.  Religiously, I am so conservative that I often joke about my annoyance, not that the RCC started holding services in the common tongues, but that they began holding them in Latin (as opposed to Greek) to begin with.  However, that does not make me a judgemental bigot.  We’re all broken, each in our “special” way.  Under the Mosaic Law, I’d have to die by stoning and/or burning on at least a dozen counts that I can think of off the top of my head.  In other words, I’ve no room to talk.  Does that mean I can’t say something is a sin?  No, but it does mean that I must show compassion rather than condemnation, warmth rather than heat, and gentleness rather than judgement.

      As for fiscal conservatism, if that was your meaning, I’m actually about middle of the road.  Simply recognizing that the government’s interests are not necessarily those of its citizens does not mean I support the state versus the people.  The people, after all, are the very reason for the existence of the state.  If such is not the case, it lacks legitimacy.  The weak must be defended and supported.  The able should supply the lack of the unable.  To do otherwise is immoral and barbaric.

  39. What an intriguing thread drift.

    Let’s put the pieces together. If the state’s primary interest is survival and growth and the state’s and the citizens interests need not align, then the question of precedence arises. Depending on which interests prevail, you’ll arrive at fascism at one end of the spectrum and a state that is no more on the other.

    How do you reconcile:

    It is in the state’s interest to do what is best for the welfare of all of it’s people.

    Just like all living organisms and constructs of same, it is interested in its own survival and growth.  Everything else serves these two purposes.

    Hey, who’s to say that the interests of the state and the interests of its citizens need be identical.

    The weak must be defended and supported.  The able should supply the lack of the unable.  To do otherwise is immoral and barbaric.

    Just curious.

  40. It seems to be a potential conflict between what isand what ought to be.  A state is a “living” thing, with its own needs.  It can have various notions about what ought to be the purpose of its existence.  Fulfilment of its needs is sufficient to ensure its statehood, but insufficient to ensure the fulfilment of its purpose.  The state which serves only its own interests may remain and function as a state as well as one which serves its citizens also.  But I write here of a higher purpose, the telos, if you will, for a state as well as a man.  If you have all your physical needs of air, water, shelter, food, sex, etc. met abundantly, will you be happy?  Will you not, rather, count your life wasted if that is all you accomplish?  A state’s needs are also different from its purpose.  When I write that

    It is in the state’s interest to do what is best for the welfare of all of it’s people

    and

    The weak must be defended and supported.  The able should supply the lack of the unable.  To do otherwise is immoral and barbaric

    , these are not in conflict with the needs of the state, but rather the highest purpose to which a state may be put.  Socrates would say that something which does not fulfill its purpose is not acting as that something, as he defines a painter as the art expressing itself through an individual rather than an individual who chooses to paint.  I would disagree, as a monkey remains a monkey, even if it hates bananas.

  41. Curioser, you said that the state’s overriding interests are survival and growth. If the highest purpose the state is put to is the welfare of all citizens and the protection of the weak, I’m not sure that you can reconcile these claims.

    There is a list of four claims on the table, three of them attributable to you and the remaining one to arc. It’s not terribly hard to reconcile subsets of these four claims, but reconciling them all seems difficult. Of course, you haven’t claimed that such is possible or even necessary.

    What it boils down to: Does the state serve the people, do the people serve the state, or neither, or both?

    All of this is really a nitpick on arc’s use of the term ‘all’, but whatever political philosophy one espouses has some bearing on the original topic of this thread.

  42. There are instances of both in reality.  Is your question one of is or ought?

  43. Perhaps, but the same conflict could have been aroused just as easily without the word “all” included. In fact, it seems as though we’ve avoided the notion that you can’t serve everyone – any two people with a conflict and someone’s welfare isn’t being served. Being that we’ve trailed away from that notion would suggest that the word “all” isn’t so important to the discussion after … uh..So what am I missing?

    The state’s decisions affect the welfare of the people. There are two ways in which the welfare of the people can find benefit – when the state decides in that collective favor, and when the people rise against those decisions not in that favor. The latter is more or less off of the table. I don’t see the matter of servitude entering, except where our people are willing slaves to the powers that be.

  44. Curioser, I have stated my question often enough. There are four claims, objectives, interests that are seemingly at odds. How do you reconcile all four of them? Is there a state past or present that did? What kind of state would?

    Arc, I’m just tweaking tails…

    It’s interesting, though, how conservatives and liberals, social or political, approach these questions.

  45. No, there is, to my pitiful knowledge, no state which has reconciled these forces.  The state and the citizenry are separate entities at odds with one-another.  Hopefully, they are at some form of balance.  If the state is too powerful, it’s called oppression.  If the people are too powerful, then they, individually exercising their inherent free will, produce what’s called anarchy.
     
      I do not believe that it is possible for any kind of state to exist which can entirely take care of both itself and its citizens.  If two equal citizens (entities of the same type) cannot have the same interests, how is it possible for a state and a citizenry (entities of disparate types) to have the same interests?

      Adding to the mess is the fact that the “state” is a temporary construct generally of much shorter duration than the family.  Where, then, should the loyalties lie?

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