Politics, Abortion, War, Torture, Usury, and Theft
In every society that elects the people who make and administer its laws, there is a moral obligation on the part of the voters to elect representatives who can be trusted to follow God's natural moral law in the performance of their duties. In practice it is rarely easy to find men and women who can both be relied upon, and who are on the ballot. As George Washington warned in his farewell address, the existence of political parties often leads to special interest politics—politics unconcerned with the common good or with the laws of God. Often we find individual politicians who are moral on a few issues but immoral on others. Not surprisingly, in hopes of receiving votes from Christians, they will attempt to argue that their immoral positions are indeed moral. Without serious sin, one may never support a politician in order to have immoral laws passed. When compromise is necessary, the voter most seek out the candidate holding the fewest immoral positions, placing the greatest emphasis on matters like the rights to life and to religion, without which few of the remaining things matter. Those who boast publicly that they will (or already have) set aside God's natural moral laws are public sinners—for the sake of their own souls, they ought not run for public office, nor should they receive the votes of the electorate. Nor may they give the illusion of having the approval of the Church by presenting themselves for Holy Communion.
• Abortion •
The right to life is of paramount importance. It is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence as the first of three “unalienable Rights” with which all men “are endowed by their Creator.” The Declaration tells us further that it is “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.” The fundamental reason for having a government is to protect the innocent from aggressors, foreign and domestic. In our Bill of Rights, Amendment V guarantees that no person can be put in legal jeopardy of his life without “presentment or indictment of a grand jury ... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Amendment XIV tells us that persons become citizens by being “born or naturalized in the United States,” clearly implying personhood before birth or naturalization, and reiterating: “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law....”
For those innocent of any crime, life is a right which all legitimate governments must protect from the moment of conception until natural death—again, this is the primary reason why governments are formed.
There is no confusion as to when life begins—as to when God creates the soul of a human being. Where there is human life, there is a soul. Outmoded theories (based on the observation of plant life) that life begins only after some number of days following the marital embrace are thoroughly refuted by the knowledge of modern biology; conception takes place when a male and a female gamete unite—we now know that the process differs from the planting a a seed in the soil, with time required for germination. But even in centuries gone by, Christians would never accept a “probability” that conception had not yet occurred, for in dealing with the safety of human life we must act on what we believe to be certain. And even if such certainty could and did exist, early abortion would still be an immoral act of contraception.
• War & Torture •
The natural moral law condemns all of the various forms of violence and theft mentioned in the canon above. Nonetheless, it admits violence and even killing in self defense. A man may arm and protect himself, his family, his friends, his property, and even the innocent bystander from unjustified aggression. In like manner, a nation may arm and defend itself against unjust aggressors at the local, national and international levels. Saint Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, lays out a theory of “just war” that is based primarily on demanding that a belligerent state "make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.” He further “demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority” in the aggrieved state, and that it be waged only for “the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil.”
While Saint Thomas does not say is that actions which are immoral for an individual somehow become moral when carried out by government. Just as I have no right to beat my neighbor, steal his goods, abduct his children, force him into slavery or take his life without serious provocation, no sort of political magic can confer such rights on the state. In the United States, the Congress alone has the power to declare war—but such a declaration must be based upon the principles of the moral law. The United States is a signatory to international conventions prescribing humane treatment for combatants and non-combatants alike. U.S. law clearly recognizes the possibility of war crimes being committed under the guise of law, and provides for their just punishment.
When unjust violence is waged against another nation by our nation, the citizens of that country are justified in viewing us as aggressors. This is particularly true in that we pride ourselves on being a “democratic nation,” wherein the voters get a say in the workings of government through its elected representatives. If we expect to receive the protection of the natural law and the laws of nations, we must be sure to grant the same beforehand. To vote for those urging unjust aggression is to condone it—and, ultimately, to bring aggression upon ourselves, perhaps justly.
• Usury & Theft •
Just as violent actions which are immoral for an individual do not become moral when carried out by government, the same has to be said for fraud, usury, theft, robbery and other forms of economic aggression. Nor is it moral for government to deputize private entities to carry out it aggressions—military or economic.
The United States Constitution is written in language every high school graduate ought to be able to read, at least with a dictionary to look up the few uncommon words like “attainder,” “marque,” “militia,” or legal terms like “ex post facto,” and “habeas corpus.” The Constitution is explicit as to what powers are given to the federal government, and what powers are retained by the States or individual people. Any question about this limited delegation was put to rest by the Tenth Amendment, in the Bill of Rights. The Constitution also provides a method by which the delegation of powers may be amended, which has indeed taken place a few times. To spend money for things or programs not within the scope of the delegated powers is theft—theft on a grand scale, which is in no way legitimized by the fact that it is the government doing the stealing. Every American ought occasionally to sit down at his table with the newspaper and the Constitution, and see whether or not today's actions by the federal government have any basis in the supreme law of the land. It matters not whether the expenditures are for seemingly good purposes like health or education, or mere pork-barrel vote-getting schemes like “bridges to nowhere” or “building land below sea-level between a huge lake and a mighty river”—if they are not within the enumerated powers they are not the business of the federal government. Under our system of government, these are all things for States and municipalities to consider, and for which to take responsibility.
Businesses and corporations are required to keep books, both for tax purposes and to present an honest picture of their financial condition to would-be investors. Generally accepted accounting standards have the force of law for normal people, providing a fair statement of assets, equities, liabilities, income and expenses—people can and do go to jail for falsifying their books. But here again we see the false notion that the government may do what is immoral for the citizen to do. The national debt of the United States runs to nearly 10 Trillion Dollars. But that debt is vastly understated. The number should be closer to 100 Trillion Dollars. This is not the opinion of a few “nut-job conspiracy theorists,” but the analysis of the President of the Dallas Federal Reserve, Richard W. Fisher. He tells us that Medicare A (hospital stays) represents a $34.4 Trillion unfunded liability, Medicare B (doctor visits) $34 Trillion, and Medicare D (prescription drugs) $17.2 Trillion. Add in a $13 Trillion unfunded liability for Social Security and we are at $98.6 Trillion. “This comes to $1.3 million per family of four—over 25 times the average household’s income,” Fisher tells us. That is roughly ten times the debt accounted for on the government's books—a $100 Trillion debt incurred in the name of every American, but in no way authorized by the Constitution! (I believe Fisher missed the unfunded liabilities that will be associated with medical and psychological treatment for those returning from our undeclared wars.) We must demand that our representatives keep books like normal people, and that they spend no money on things not authorized in the Constitution.
In a money economy the definition of usury is far more narrow than it was in the biblical and medieval economies based largely on gathering and barter. In a commercial industrial economy, money is productive—its use can bring into existence things of value that did not exist before. Theologians admit that one may receive interest on a loan to compensate for the lost opportunity to use the money for one's self, and for the risk of non-repayment. But what one may still not do is to charge interest for the loan of something with no value; one may not loan the same valueless thing to several people simultaneously. It is the duty of Congress “to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and .... To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States.” “No state shall ... make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts....” There is no provision for the establishment of a central bank (the Federal Reserve), none for the bank's creation of “money” based on “faith,” and none to allow for the “fractional reserve banking” in which the same “faith-based money” is loaned to five or ten customers simultaneously. The inflation of the currency in return for federal debt debases our money, steals buying power from everyone holding US dollars, constitutes a hidden and unlegislated tax, and causes economic instability. Under Section 19 of the Mint Act of 1792, debasement of the money of the United States was (is?) punishable by death. It is precisely the Fed's ability to create money from nothing and the irresponsibility of Congress and the Executive which has saddled our nation with a many‑Trillion Dollar debt.
We live in a republic where we are supposed to be citizens, not subjects. It is our moral duty to vote for those who will base the running of our country on God's natural moral law. If no one at all is suitable for a particular office, don't stay away from the polls, don't vote for the least evil candidate, but leave that position blank on your ballot. If we fail to do our moral duty, we cheat ourselves, draw hostility from abroad, and fail in our obligation to serve God on this earth—by which failure we jeopardize our eternal happiness with Him in Heaven.
10 September AD 2008
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