Monday, January 19, 2004

The Revenge of Conscience, pt. 2...

In J. Budziszewski's book, The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man, he takes a look at both liberalism and conservatism, contrasting the errors in both. Here's part of his take in chapter 7, The Problem with Conservatism, "What does the contrast between meritism and charity look like in ordinary human relationships? Consider the governmental policy of paying women cash prizes for bearing children out of wedlock. Liberals want to continue the policy because they cannot tell need from desire. Meritists [conservatives] propose ending it because the subsidies are undeserved. Although a Christian may accept the cutoff, he cannot accept it for the reason given. All of us at all times need and receive many things we do not deserve. The problem with subsidies is that they are not what is needed. They so completely split behavior from its natural consequences that they infantilize their supposed beneficiares; to infantilize them is to debase them, and no one needs to be debased. Very well, says the meritist to the Christian, but we both support a cutoff. The rationales differ, but so what? That makes no difference in practice, does it? But it does. After achieving the cutoff, the meritist thinks his work is done, but the Christian thinks his work has only begun. He must now find another way to offer help; and he had better be prepared to pay the price. For a portrait of that price, think not of a bureaucrat; think of Mother Teresa." Broken Masterpieces comments on the spending habits of America and Europe in his post Really Messed Up Priorities. But I'd like to know how well the Church (of which I am a part) is responding to touch those in need. Do you think we might not like the answer?

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