“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat” – Mother Teresa
Several seemingly unrelated story lines converged as I read a few articles this weekend (we will only have time to touch on a few of them here). I say seemingly unrelated because the topics varied from abortion, to economics, to democracy. And yet, one theme appeared (if you looked hard enough) in almost all of them – the war on children.
The Fight For Life …
The first is a New York Times Oped titled “The ‘Save, Legal, and Rare’ Illusion.” In it, Russ Douthat does an even-handed job of comparing differences in the “model” of sexual behavior promoted by social conservatives versus social liberals. I don’t contend at all with his comparisons (I thought “even-handed” was pretty high praise for someone like me – who is hardly forthcoming with praise of any sort … one of my many flaws). My contention is that he stretches to write a legitimate column about sexual conduct and makes it about abortion, which is not an illegitimate connection to draw, but risks casting a more important issue as subject to a less important one.
Yes, abortion begins with sex. For as long as humans have kept such records, it appears that pregnancy begins with sex (well, with the one notable exception, of course). Contrary to claims by millions of teenagers that “I don’t know how this happens” – we DO know how this happens.
Yes, historically speaking, higher degrees of sexual promiscuity have lead to higher degrees of “abortion”. Sure, in the old, old days (I’m talking Old Testament here) we lacked the medical technology to abort pre-birth. We just waited until the unwanted children were born and then sacrificed them to pagan gods. (Interesting how the worship of pagan gods that called for greater sexual promiscuity also resulted in the worship of pagan gods that called for child sacrifice. Sort of a “one-hand-washes-the-other” arrangement … I suppose it’s efficient.)
So Douthat’s point is well taken, that the conservative model of reducing abortions would also advocate a reduction in unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. But this is a smaller point than abortion itself.
There are plenty of religious conservatives, myself included, who would say that promiscuity – or fornication in general (even if it’s you’ve “never done anything like this before”) is immoral. BUT, if you’re going to be immoral, do so on your own time. Don’t add murder to the charge. No, I don’t think people should have sex outside of marriage – but if you do, then please use protection and don’t risk the life of a child in the process. It doesn’t make your more moral to do so, it just makes you less of an oppressor.
Yes, sexual purity will reduce abortions. But defending the pre-born is not subject to promoting abstinence. We defend the lives of the innocent for their own sake, not as a gateway to legislating your personal behavior.
Sold Into Slavery …
Just like the baby sea turtles who make it off the beach and into the waters, the fight to survive is not over once a child safely exits the birth canal. In numerous ways around this globe children are routinely sold into slavery, typically for the gratification of their parents.
In India, female children in their pre-teens are sold by their own fathers into a lifetime of sexual slavery for a fistful of dollars. (Side note, if you’d like to help, please check out Project Rescue, where David and Beth Grant work to rescue these oppressed little girls … and their children.)
The selling into actual slavery is overt and obvious, but there are other ways in which the future of the children is laid at the feet of the appetites of the parents. I had a chance this weekend to pick up “Of Public Credit” by David Hume (who Adam Smith called the greatest intellect he had ever met). The essay is nearly 250 years old, and it almost feels at times that there is a language barrier even though Hume wrote in English. In it, Hume takes on (remember, this was 250 years ago) the disturbing pattern of governments inventing debt (central banking, anyone?) and mortgaging all future revenue streams to current promises, instead of saving money back for a rainy day. He notes that they will often rely on “growth” to make up the difference (sound familiar?), and wonders aloud whether such growth, if it actually happened, would result in anything but a continual remortgaging of future revenues to current promises. And if it doesn’t happen? To quote Hume:
As it would have required but a moderate share of prudence, when we first began this practice of mortgaging, to have foretold, from the nature of men and of ministers, that things would necessarily be carried to the length we see; so now, that they have at last happily reached it, it may not be difficult to guess at the consequences. It must, indeed, be one of these two events; either the nation must destroy public credit, or public credit will destroy the nation. It is impossible that they can both subsist, after the manner they have been hitherto managed, in this, as well as in some other countries.
And what does it mean, to mortgage future revenues to current expenditures and promises? It means, quite simply, to sell your children into slavery. You have made a promise against their future production, which is simply a proxy for their life, by which they achieve such production. And what did you get for this promise? Current consumption. You presently received handouts from the government (whether food stamps, housing, medical benefits, or a retirement check) at the expense of the life of your kids and grandkids.
Worse yet, in a democracy you can vote to sell other people’s children into slavery. Well done, brave heroes of the progressive order.
Hume’s commentary is a useful guide as we, in America, are given the rare opportunity to see what happens when these over-promises run their course. Not unlike a younger sibling watching and learning as the eldest child reaps the consequences of their actions, we will get a chance to see what happens when over-promising and over-borrowing runs its course – in Greece. (And, after Greece, there will be Spain, Italy, and Portugal; all of which will likely hit trouble before the U.S.)
What will we learn? Keynesians will argue that Greece failed because they didn’t borrow and spend enough to prop up the economy when it was in distress … but Keynesians are idiots. What will we learn?
Will we learn that spending our children’s future on our own consumption is immoral? Will we learn that votes have consequences, and that defending the vote-buying proclivities of our preferred political parties (and they both do it) because “they’re better than the other guy” will lead us inextricably to the same place? Will we learn that, in a democracy, politicians will always use every means at their disposal to buy votes, and that the only way to secure a future is to deny them the use of the public purse to curry favor? (It’s our money, our productivity, our future, after all.) Will we learn that our children are being sold into slavery while we haggle about the “morality” of various giveaways and people who are “owed” something because of a fraudulent promise made by politicians of long ago?
One hopes we learn something.
“Shave your heads in mourning
for the children in whom you delight;
make yourselves as bald as the vulture,
for they will go from you into exile.” – Micah 1:16