Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Around the Web

Some interesting articles from around the interwebs. This article talks about how higher taxes drive down home values. With having few other ways to account for budget shortfalls in government, oftentimes money is stripped from homeowners through property taxes. I know that is certainly the case in places like California where so much is committed to government spending without other sources of revenue. Property taxes are hugely expensive, and have become worse over the years, and this helps to relieve government debt. It wasn't an issue before when property values were soaring, but is felt now when homeowners are looking for ways to absorb losses from their home equity.

This article is an op-ed from the Professor over at Harvard whose students walked out on his economics lecture. Not sure how many of you heard of that, but the students were trying to express solidarity with the OWS movement. The professor is an adviser to the Romney campaign, and he gives a very measured, thoughtful response, mainly, "know what you're protesting." He mentions:

[My] reaction was sadness at how poorly informed the Harvard protesters seemed to be. As with much of the Occupy movement across the country, their complaints seemed to me to be a grab bag of anti-establishment platitudes without much hard-headed analysis or clear policy prescriptions. Ironically, the topic of the lecture that the protesters chose to boycott was economic inequality, including a discussion of recent trends and their causes. 

I loved this article from Michael Lewis about the 1%. He's the same guy who wrote Moneyball and The Blind Side. He has also written some other pieces about the economic crisis and writes for Bloomberg. I really like his insights. In this piece he writes from the perspective of the 1% and writes ironically. It's great. An excerpt:

Hence our committee’s conclusion: We must be able to quit American society altogether, and they must know it. For too long we have simply accepted the idea that we and they are all in something together, subject to the same laws and rituals and cares and concerns. This state of social relations between rich and poor isn’t merely unnatural and unsustainable, but, in its way, shameful. (Who among us could hold his head high in the presence of Louis XIV or those Russian czars or, for that matter, Croesus?)

The modern Greeks offer the example in the world today that is, the committee has determined, best in class. Ordinary Greeks seldom harass their rich, for the simple reason that they have no idea where to find them. To a member of the Greek Lower 99 a Greek Upper One is as good as invisible.

He pays no taxes, lives no place and bears no relationship to his fellow citizens. As the public expects nothing of him, he always meets, and sometimes even exceeds, their expectations. As a result, the chief concern of the ordinary Greek about the rich Greek is that he will cease to pay the occasional visit.

That is the sort of relationship with the Lower 99 we must cultivate if we are to survive. We must inculcate, in ourselves as much as in them, the understanding that our relationship to each other is provisional, almost accidental and their claims on us nonexistent. 

Very clever writing.

And lastly, this one about the pro-life 'good war' and the anti-same-sex-marriage 'bad war.' The pro-life is enjoying some pretty widespread support, and as far as the social conservative movements goes, it is both a winning and more easily supportable cause than the anti-SSM movement. For one, the victims of abortions are obvious, but the homosexual marriage victims less so. The author gives some very thoughtful insight:

After more than a generation of no-fault divorce, the very concept of “traditional marriage” is seeping out of our cultural DNA, replaced, sadly, by the core conviction that marriage is no longer a covenant, but a contract — specifically a contract for the fulfillment and enjoyment of adults. Our churches not only acquiesced in this cultural change, many of them continue to facilitate it even as they argue against same-sex marriage. There are many taboos in the modern evangelical church, and one of them is “judging” anyone’s divorce. Even wayward and unfaithful spouses will rationalize their betrayals through long lists of real and imagined slights, and church discipline for adultery and divorce is largely a thing of the past.  

What kind of message does this send? Imagine the incredulity of a Christian college student — themselves too often the product of a broken home, where they had a front-row seat to their parents’ contentious festival of self-love — watching a thrice-married fellow congregant rail against gay marriage. It just doesn’t add up.

The battle over marriage, frankly, needs to broaden. We shouldn’t necessarily speak of “defending traditional marriage” when traditional marriage has already been mortally wounded by no-fault divorce. Perhaps we should instead emphasize marriage restoration over marriage defense. What do social conservatives want? To restore marriage to its rightful place and definition in our culture (which includes defining it as a covenant, not a contract) and to repair what is broken. To be sure, making and winning such an argument is an immense cultural challenge, but as the pro-life movement has demonstrated, courage, persistence, and truth can turn the tide. 

Couldn't agree more.

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