Saturday, June 08, 2013

The adverse impacts of religion on libertarianism

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Libertianism is a 'dirty political movement'. The sad reality is that it shouldn't be. Its dirty not in terms of its motivations or political strategy, so much as its underlying motivations or values, and the problem in this respect comes down to religion. Libertarianism is dominated by conservatives. Worse because the libertarian movement has even appended themselves to the conservatives. The problem is that, by appending themselves to conservatives, whether the Republican Party in the USA, the Tories in the UK, the National Party in NZ, the Liberal-National Party in Australia, and the Conservative Party in Canada, they are doing the following:
1. They are allowing Conservative religious persons to determine the underlying values of the party
2. They are aligning themselves with the incoherent values of the Conservatives
3. They are denying themselves a political identity and a value proposition

The problem with appending themselves to the Conservatives is that they ultimately are delimited by the relationship. They can't grow because they don't convey an independent identity, and they retain only the mere 'sanction' of a 'faction' of the Conservative Party. The problem is more serious in the USA because of the first-past-the-post voting system precludes minor parties from achieving any substantial vote outside the Senate; and even then its hard to get the publicity.

The libertarian movement simply needs to split into its constituent 'factions'. The reason why it needs to do that is because whatever group you construe as 'right' or 'good', they need to convey integrity in order to win. The libertarian party cannot convincingly do that where they are simply an alignment of interests wanting small government. Unfortunately libertarians are so disjointed or uncoordinated, they have a split in organisation, so not only do you not have a division of organisational units on the basis of values, but as in NZ, you will confront a litany of organisational units split on the basis of personalities. In NZ there are 4 main parties; plus 4 very minor libertarian parties. This would be great if they had different policies and values, but they don't. They are all conservative-based parties for the most part. They just differ in degrees...which is inevitably the problem if you have a movement based on 'dogma' rather than contextual principles. The parties in NZ are:
1. ACT Party - gained 1.7% of the vote - its been as high as 8% in prior election
2. Conservative Party - gained 1.3% of the vote
3. Libertarianz - not party structure yet
4. New Liberal Party - new party, nationalism based

There are another of other parties too who could be construed as 'conservative' like NZ First, and of course the centre-right government of John Key's National Party, but they are by no means libertarian. There is also a Decriminalisation Party for marijuana that has a lot of 'grass roots' support. All of the parties above are libertarian if the measure is 'advocacy of small government. The problem is that they are simply splitting the vote. There is no substantive difference between these parties. ACT might be construed as 'conservative' on certain issues more than others because they lack some of the 'dogmatism' we'd associate with conservatives. In fact I find them quite 'contextually' or intellectually engaged on some issues, but on other issues they inevitably fall into conservative The type of division that would actually expand the 'libertarian pie' would be the following split:
1. Randian-style intellectual libertarians - advocating self interest is good; its just an 'enlightened' self-interest
2. Conservative Christian libertarians - perhaps swinging from National support - I would suggest the Christian reconciliation of self interest and social interest/identity demands utilitarianism.
3. Anarcho-capitalist/socialists - who advocate decriminalisation of drugs - a causeless movement which is simply anti-authority, perhaps somewhat jaded or disparaged by personal experience or observation, all too ready to 'dispense with th bathwater'.

This is why it is ultimately hard for the right to expand its market because ultimately it is not an intellectual movement. If politics is going to change, it needs to become intellectual, because the labour/Greens/Nationalist/Maori movements are united in their extortion-based politics of expropriating wealth. There is very little between the Greens and Labour; other than the pragmatism of Labour which sees them selling our or compromising with business in order to win some financial support in the wake of union decline. You'd think this would have led to a renaissance of ideas and the libertarian party driving it. That cannot happen as long as you have Conservatives driving the agenda. We know that libertarianism splits Conservatives and Liberals - so why the focus on 'economic criteria'? You'd have to wonder, particularly since few people would be looking for a radical change in political outcomes, if only because it takes time to change a system - right?

So what is the nature of the Christian scourge. Well, let's examine some libertarian values to explain the superficiality of their 'conservative' values, and why its a point of contention that's not addressed. The following quotes are a series of extracts from the Acton Institute, a Christian libertarian group in the US. I want to convey the problem with their values or 'core principles'.
"Dignity of the Person - The human person, created in the image of God, is individually unique, rational, the subject of moral agency, and a co-creator. Accordingly, he possesses intrinsic value and dignity, implying certain rights and duties both for himself and other persons. These truths about the dignity of the human person are known through revelation, but they are also discernible through reason".
Well, we immediately fall prey to the dogmatism of intrinsic value of humanity by the grace of god. The problem with this is the failure to distinguish between conditional value and inherent value. A value is something we act to gain or keep. Its contextual relevance lies with particular people, however generally it can be said to apply to a certain type of person, a consciousness to be sure, but what we are concerned with is the 'rational value' as the basis of a modern society that respects values. Dignity by necessity has to be earned. So its not intrinsic; though the capacity is intrinsic. Rights don't come from having 'dignity'; they come from a conceptual agreement demanding a consensus on terms, or an objective understanding of terms. So we can see here that Acton Institute attempts to reconcile reason and divine revelation. And what would they do if these paradigms crossed paths? They'd simply abandon rationality that defied their divinity.
'Social Nature of the Person - Although persons find ultimate fulfilment only in communion with God, one essential aspect of the development of persons is our social nature and capacity to act for disinterested ends. The person is fulfilled by interacting with other persons and by participating in moral goods. There are voluntary relations of exchange, such as market transactions that realize economic value. These transactions may give rise to moral value as well. There are also voluntary relations of mutual dependence, such as promises, friendships, marriages, and the family, which are moral goods. These, too, may have other sorts of value, such as religious, economic, aesthetic, and so on".
This is nonsense of course because a great many people arrive at fulfilment without ever recognising the existence of God. It is equally concerning that these people should make 'social values' more critical than personal values, which they pay scant regard for. They suggest that a person is fulfilled by others. I would argue that whilst others can be a source of validation, they cannot and should not be a substitute for personal  mental understanding. A person's ultimately earns self-esteem by taking pride in a personal contribution to a group, or in their personal sense of efficacy. These Christians might be inclined to preclude divorce, because whilst its a 'voluntarily' relationship, if people marry for 'good or worse', that would preclude divorce. You'd think so based on their conceptual foundation of altruism and social contract. That entails marriage as 'indentured servitude'. Of course they would no doubt sanctify the 'marriage relationship' as a blessing, in which case they are either giving humans an omniscience they don't deserve, or they are sanctifying the marriage as 'god's gift'. This last option introduces dogmatism and the spectre of any 'unfettered' rationalisation to achieve 'god's will'. So state socialism is an abomination; but family chosen socialism is 'pride in renunciation'. This rests on the idea of voluntarism, which they don't make much of a case for. Should people indenture themselves to a relationship for a lifetime? Well, I'd argue 'no' because ultimately people change, for good or worse, and among those qualities which compels change is the 'discretion' of counterparties not to sanction misconduct, or to betray their interests. But of course relationships don't just break for moral breaches. There are more implicit or complex aspirational and security values determined by our experience, intellectual state and psychology. Conservative servitude gives no consideration to these issues. You enter into a marital contract, you defy it and think less of yourself, or you find some pride in renouncing your personal least until you can earn the right to be morally indignant. The Christian is destined to tire of their self-righteousness....and you can expect spurious rationalisations to ultimately defend their actions, which on the day, are going to look highly 'distorted' or misproportionate. i.e. You wanted low-fat milk rather than full cream milk, and you didn't think that was a deal breaker.
"Importance of Social Institutions - Since persons are by nature social, various human persons develop social institutions. The institutions of civil society, especially the family, are the primary sources of a society's moral culture. These social institutions are neither created by nor derive their legitimacy from the state. The state must respect their autonomy and provide the support necessary to ensure the free and orderly operation of all social institutions in their respective spheres".
Social institutions are indeed important, but Acton Institute have inverted their role. They are not a 'source of society's morality', they are an expression of it. You don't get morality from an institution, but rather expect institutions to be structured to affirm certain moral principles, and that those principles are compatible with your own, or you don't sanction those groups. Why must the state support these 'social institutions'? They don't; but instead, they support those who finance support for those institutions. Of course some institutions which in some respect serve government, whether by creating jobs or sanctioning their policies, will indeed find favour with government.
Human Action - Human persons are by nature acting persons. Through human action, the person can actualize his potentiality by freely choosing the moral goods that fulfill his nature.
Not a lot of depth to their ethical prescriptions here. That perhaps explains why they argued above that morality devolves from institutions. If anyone thought they were coming from God, i.e. from the sermon on the mount, people are likely to get a little apprehensive. So we are natural, we are voluntary, we are rational. So why do people break the law, and where is the compelling reason not to? I would argue that there is basically two fundamental justifications for crime, and thus two justifications for offering support to people to avoid crime. Those reasons are (i) 'destitution' as a motivator. If you are going to lose your life, you will do anything to preserve it. This is just common sense because you are effectively pre-moral since morality pertains to a higher 'abstract' framework of values. This is of course why sending British convicts in the 18th century off to Australia did not result in a crime wave there; because their needs for food were in the first instance met, whilst in Britain, they were estranged from that capacity. A conviction for stealing bread. A little disproportionate most would say. But this is the 'morality of causeless renunciation' that persisted at the time. There was no rational science; only the morality of 'non-self' which alienated a person's ego, and would unquestionably make them jaded.
Sin: Although human beings in their created nature are good, in their current state, they are fallen and corrupted by sin. The reality of sin makes the state necessary to restrain evil. The ubiquity of sin, however, requires that the state be limited in its power and jurisdiction. The persistent reality of sin requires that we be sceptical of all utopian "solutions" to social ills such as poverty and injustice.
This is a highly implausible framework of understanding for morality, which conveys a lack of understanding of human nature, i.e. an ancient ignorance founded on 'ancient' ideas accepted dogmatically. Not all people are good, not all are bad, but they are some degree of both for different reasons, in varying contexts. The notion that political power should be constrained because people cannot trust governments might equally apply to any wealthy people, large companies, smart people who intimidate apprehensive people. After all, selfishness is sinful. So why does this not translate into a socialism? Well, it does really in a belated form called utilitarianism, where people take in order to give. Making or profiting is to redistribute at your 'voluntary' discretion. No pressure though; well perhaps a little guilt and political pressure from extorting liberals, and the inevitable fact that you can't take your wealth to heaven or hell, and besides, you don't really like your children do you? This is of course the moral bankruptcy of Conservatism. It really doesn't explain the origin of sin. It suggests that lofty ideas are utopian, irrespective of their value or argument. Moral scepticism abounds - except when viewed through the eyes of the Lord. I think people would be surprised how little state is actually required if it society was based on healthy values. I think they might question how healthy society would be if government was not the presiding 'authority' extorting in the first place, then acting as a misplaced custodian in the second place.
Rule of Law and the Subsidiary Role of Government - The government's primary responsibility is to promote the common good, that is, to maintain the rule of law, and to preserve basic duties and rights. The government's role is not to usurp free actions, but to minimize those conflicts that may arise when the free actions of persons and social institutions result in competing interests. The state should exercise this responsibility according to the principle of subsidiarity. This principle has two components. First, jurisdictionally broader institutions must refrain from usurping the proper functions that should be performed by the person and institutions more immediate to him. Second, jurisdictionally broader institutions should assist individual persons and institutions more immediate to the person only when the latter cannot fulfill their proper functions.
This is a further reinforcement of the idea that religion's moral code of altruism culminates in socialism; not in the first instance, but the second. After serving your needs, you are obliged to serve others. In fact, your selfishness in the form of market participation is ultimately only to serve others. You take to serve others. This was of course the romantic idea behind Robin Hood. Simply ending taxes did not have the same romance as stealing back for noble motives. The best form of slavery is the one that gives. People are not an end in themselves; others are ultimately the end. This of course gives rise to a great deal of hypocrisy, and in these stakes, the liberals are not better, because in the case of their altruism, they want the wealthy to give; at the very least, more than them.

Interestingly, Acton Institute contradicts itself here. It argues for rule of law, but then argues that local jurisdictions have more credence as moral agents because they are closer to the person. For me, this ultimately becomes a point of argument because national agencies might have more skills, but a local agency might have more understanding of the specific context of the case. It really doesn't deal with issues when governments are immoral; though it doesn't seem to constrain governments so much that this could not be a problem. Really, it matters very little if you are subjected to local or distant justice; what matters is that it presides over reasonable law. More skilled legislatures afar makes more sense if they are accountable. By accountability I don't mean the unconditional sanction given to a 'representative'. What is this notion of representation anyway? How did it come to be, that we had representation, but no inkling as to whether they were representing our views, or their best estimate of what is good for us. Is that 'estimate' implausible without knowing the context of our lives. Actually it does not matter if we have the discretion to not sanction them - but we are forced to pay tax and in so doing to sanction their institutions, and ultimately to even accept laws that are often flawed, simply because legal tradition never bothered much with integrity.
"Creation of Wealth - Material impoverishment undermines the conditions that allow humans to flourish. The best means of reducing poverty is to protect private property rights through the rule of law. This allows people to enter into voluntary exchange circles in which to express their creative nature. Wealth is created when human beings creatively transform matter into resources. Because human beings can create wealth, economic exchange need not be a zero-sum game".
This is fine as a political solution; but we might ask why wealthy people are not educating the poor to be wealthy. Its not as if they are offering, and are being shot down. They are just not asking. Now, they might rationalise that people need to learn to be independent. But who is to teach them that message? Experience? If its experience, we might wonder why we are all ultimately sinful, because aren't we destined to be good by experience. It does not seem to be working. Might that be because of the lack of intellectual engagement by dogmatic Christian libertarians. Yes, the wonders of capitalism are something to be praised; but how is capitalism compatible with 'faith' except as an equivocation called 'confidence'. We must succeed before we can sustainably bestow our 'utilitarian' surplus upon others. We might however empathise with a wealthy Christian if they were fearful and apprehensive? Reading the Bible, about people 'sinful by nature' and growing atheism, we might wonder if this explains the apparent tragic absence of giving by business people in a Christian country. I don't see Americans drawing that tangent because the bible is fare removed from their lives. But I would suspect that taxation steals the 'nobility' of people to be good Christians. Is the tragedy ultimately that people are spurned into giving; and that paradoxically causes them to fight against giving. i.e. Is the American state making us selfish? But here is my answer - yes - but more importantly - the Christian conception of altruism is backwards. We need to take care of our well-being; and when we do that, we have a natural propensity to take care of others, because we love problem solving. In any country, problem solvers are alienated from and by the 'political process'. Americans though are the most charitable of all, just lack the knowledge to be more charitable because of specialisation, dubious incoherent values resulting in intractable problems. This is why materialistic commercialism has such appeal, and why Bill Gates probably needed to become tired of Microsoft before he helped others. He even conveyed that business does not know how to help people.
We might also examine the mechanics of labour pricing in the context of the current world. Should the utilitarian Christian be giving to charity, or simply be paying their workers more. If the 'noble gesture' is to give to charity, then clearly only a few retiring billionaires are 'contextually' so motivated and appropriately so. Australia has a minimum wage of $15/hour, compared to $7-8/hour in the US.  The difference is that commodities have for the last decade been a huge boon for Australia, so they can afford it. The Australian unemployment rate is 5.5% compared to 7.5% in the US. I'm not criticising market pricing, but wondering why America is not so pensive towards skilled labour? In Europe, people are skilled labourers. The tendency is to simply outsource to emerging markets. Did the US overstate the benefits of Asia and Mexican outsourcing, or did they have other strategic motivations? Whether avoiding tax or growing global market share? Perhaps they simply found Asian governments easier to deal with. It is not as if they have sabotaged their nations capacity to invest in  labour. Workers could have upskilled and certainly some did. Perhaps the problem is that the unskilling was regional, and the mid-West simply was not aspirational or connected with global markets to benefit. The problem I would argue is mixed and unequal. Some who got the skills training benefited whilst those who did not have been replaced with Asian labour. These people live in the same community; and comprise the have's and have nots. You see the same in Asia. Some families who have siblings abroad are rolling in money, whilst others are struggling day-to-day. It seems to be the unevenness of the experience. The positive in Asia is that you are inevitably priced cheap because your cost of living is low, and your economy is growing at 7% per annum. There is still a skills distinction to make as well. Filipino programmers are earning a shrinking discount to those in the West. Their skilled labour justifies higher wages. It is fair to say that 'formal' employment has lost out to informal illegal aliens as well, as people have sought to avoid tax. That is simply one of those distortive, false economies introduced by government. So we can see we have government 'distortions' which are the responsibility of government, and we have government distortions which markets are correcting.
Are Christians simply too tragic or apprehensive to offer any 'altruistic value'? I make no imposition upon them. I am against coercive expropriation. We might ask whether in the market place they should at least be bestowing their 'utilitarian surpluses' upon counterparties with less? Should they not construe that economic surplus as a gift for the poor? I don't want people to do so; but that might be construed as the implication of their utilitarian values. Well, let me give them a bone. In the current context of global labour markets, there is more utilitarian value in a corporation or wealthy individual investing in more jobs in emerging markets than than there is in giving people higher wages. They are certainly doing this to some extent. But here we are in recession, and it makes less sense to develop capacity, and competition makes it hard to raise wages. There is simply no market incentive to do so. Markets are frugal and we need to respect markets for that. I might also mention that extortive liberals are demanding higher (minimum) wages in the West or for corporations to bring jobs back home. This ought to dispel the idea that liberals are in fact caring people, for they seem to be 'self-destructively' spurning the interests of Asians, who have the capacity to generate more jobs. This of course assumes that the motive for US companies investing abroad is purely cheaper labour. The reality is 'tax concessions' might be an important which case, its 'evil government' again distorting markets. The parochial liberal seems once more to be a 'market destroyer' along with government.

The problem of excess global labour arose from authoritarian government and we need to repudiate this as a framework for 'distortion' and not curse capitalism - the cure. So, in this context, it seems sensible to accept that it takes time for markets to create the distortions created by authoritarian governments in the third world. The best we can do is remove the unjustified 'arbitrary' imposts on business, so they can remedy the problem as quick as possible. So accumulation of capital is a reasonable rationalisation that business can make for now. When labour is fully absorbed in 20 years time, we can expect business to face higher wages. That's not to say that workers should have to wait 20 years to 'earn' just wages, the argument is that justice demands unfettered markets free of the distortive impacts of government to function effectively.
"Economic Liberty - Liberty, in a positive sense, is achieved by fulfilling one's nature as a person by freely choosing to do what one ought. Economic liberty is a species of liberty so-stated. As such, the bearer of economic liberty not only has certain rights, but also duties. An economically free person, for example, must be free to enter the market voluntarily. Hence, those who have the power to interfere with the market are duty-bound to remove any artificial barrier to entry in the market, and also to protect private and shared property rights. But the economically free person will also bear the duty to others to participate in the market as a moral agent and in accordance with moral goods. Therefore, the law must guarantee private property rights and voluntary exchange".
The Acton Institute construe 'liberty' to be, not so much a 'gift of god' but a 'trade' in which you start down, and you have to conditionally earn your rights by fulfilling certain obligations. This they call freedom. You are 'duty-bound' to remove barriers in the market; one suspects for the same of the 'utilitarian' common good. We are duty-bound to act in the market place, where own interests as a trader are somewhat removed from us. I frankly don't see how you can construe market activity as anything other than selfish. Market action is based on self-interest; your good, not the counterparts. This is not a license to cause injury, but a question of responsibility. The fact that people guiltily subscribe to others good after the fact, is another 'action' driven by another motive. No one enters trade to lose or surrender all gains, yet the market is indifferent to your non-profit; though it might conceivably have an interest in your loss if you have much to lose. But this is not compatible with any conception of capitalism that I'm familiar with. But then it is, it is compatible with Bill Gates life, given that he can afford to be indifferent to loss. But never so much loss as to give away more than that which he cannot take with him, or to sustain himself to the end of his life, nor is he so humble as to surrender control of his money. That's not to say it was simply a theme to avoid tax.It was probably the best possible means to do what he wanted to do. Why did he wait so long before doing it? It was not a humble decision. He did not humbly consign the job to another. He did not think himself the lesser man to do it. There was rather the pride of efficacy. So where is the personal renunciation here? He thought himself up to the task. Other billionaires will probably simply outsource to his foundation. Good decision? I personally think his philanthropic focus is anti-intellectually focused on doing what markets could be doing if the fundamental abstract issues were being addressed. Having said that, clearly he is not the man for that job. Since he is saving lives and not sabotaging Microsoft Word, the markets appear to be belatedly working. :)
"Economic Value - In economic theory, economic value is subjective because its existence depends on it being felt by a subject. Economic value is the significance that a subject attaches to a thing whenever he perceives a causal connection between this thing and the satisfaction of a present, urgent want. The subject may be wrong in his value judgment by attributing value to a thing that will not or cannot satisfy his present, urgent want. The truth of economic value judgments is settled just in case that thing can satisfy the expected want. While this does not imply the realization of any other sort of value, something can have both subjective economic value and objective moral value".
Economic values are subjective in the sense that they pertain 'contextually' to particular people with specific needs in the specific context of their lives. There is also an over-arching objective value as well, which pertains to the fact that we are living in a world where humans have a particular nature, particular capacities, which are shared with all other humans, and that there are universal values that derive from that nature, like self-esteem, pride, honesty, and human rights. We might wonder what the 'economic Christian' considers to be 'sinful'. Is it the urgency of wanting, or the means they are prepared to go to get it? Everything is subjectively wanted, though we cannot argue that its a subjective value. The objective value derives from its reconciliation with our nature. A thing is either life-affirming or life-negating.
"Priority of Culture - Liberty flourishes in a society supported by a moral culture that embraces the truth about the transcendent origin and destiny of the human person. This moral culture leads to harmony and to the proper ordering of society. While the various institutions within the political, economic, and other spheres are important, the family is the primary inculcator of the moral culture in a society".
There is ultimately a denial or betrayal of causation in this argument because it suggests that the 'truth' is not for us to know, but for us to accept 'voluntarily'. We are passive, compliant sould subjugated to God's standards. This is not destined to work out for us in a political realm where indignant liberals are destined to control power and drive Christians to moral acquiescence, as occurred during WWII.  Morality does not spring from 'heaven eternal', it needs to be fostered in people's minds. The Christian offers no explanation for the escalation of 'sin'. He can only decry the growing selfishness; which is not even an accurate explanation of affairs. In what sense can we consider family the foundation for morality. Ultimately the children are 'blank canvasses' and the parents draw upon historic 'Christian' values - not completely without conscious conviction, but since rationality is not compatible with faith (i.e. acceptance without evidence), there is no prospect of mental efficacy here. Don't we have to look towards the trained values of the parents. I might add that there is no track record of moral rectitude from Christian or state schools. Why? I'd argue that they are equally scornful of the mind.

In this essay it is evident that Christianity ultimately results in a utilitarian perspective of the good, as Christians seek to reconcile the 'selfish' market place with the good of others. I once asked by conservative grandfather why he was a Christian with a high regard for markets. I said to him that markets entail the self-interested trade of value for value. If we don't derive a value, we don't trade. Christianity expounds the importance of giving, not taking. So how does he reconcile these. He was very upset with me for these comments. I dare say, conveying that faith was incompatible with reason; and that his disdain for my comments was actually a deflected disdain for his incapacity to answer me. I'd say that he was actually not prepared to answer these  'unidentified' issues. It is easy to accept that he did not want to judge himself, as life required judgement, but when one judges oneself, one is destined to find truth or error; and he could not acknowledge the inconsistency that would ultimately betray his values. Ultimately this moral ambivalence comes to bite people. In his case, he would lose a great deal of wealth fighting a court case where he simply did not have the legal support or personal conviction to ensure the outcome he deserved. The point of issue; a solicitor who was able to reverse a property purchase at the peak of the 1987 bubble on a technicality. The $4mil property was sold later for $1.8 million because the purchaser could not build a tennis court.

Addendum - Issues raised by a reader
My primary concern here was Christianity and libertarianism, although I do take issue broadly with liberals. I do not deal specifically with Christian liberals. They might well see coercive policy as 'utilitarian', or they might regard altruism as practical as direct intervention, i.e. forcing people to be good. I'd argue that it has the opposite impact, causing people to 'react' and spurn their minds for self-preservation, ultimately culminating in a tragic outcome of evading persecution.
One reader makes an interesting point which I should have drawn attention to explicitly, and that is his argument that "the United States libertarianism represents a belief in freedom in all aspects of society". I have a problem with this because I believe in conveys a 'conservative' repression to not judge 'social' values. It is not that we should not judge, as a Christian purports not to judge, its to say that, unless there is causal reason to attribute another's actions as injurious to us, then we should not be intruding in their lives. i.e. Gay marriage. Unless we can prove that gay marriage injures others, its not reasonable to make negative constraints upon them. Creating a civil union structure is judging them adversely. This argument therefore strikes me a a rationalisation or compartmentalisation of economic and social values. This of course is why the 'conservative' is able to impose their social values upon people. Their 'social value' intrusion, particularly in the context of the family, is destined to have critical 'material' or 'economic' impacts. Leave it to a Christian household to destroy the mind of their children. Are all Christians so jaded? Of course not. But ultimately, they are not 'saved' by faith or dogma; they live and prosper in spite of it. They have a better chance than in pre-Industrial Middle East. American Christians are therefore, thanks to some persuasive rationalisations relatively healthy and productive people. The issue is therefore one of optimising integrity.

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