Tuesday, October 04, 2016

"A modest proposal"

I will comment on this article:

For the record, I know you from the inside out. I’m not only a historian of evangelicalism, I’m also a child of it: born and raised, and then born again. I “asked Jesus into my heart” when I was a kid. I memorized large portions of the Bible. I spent time as a homeschooler, and in the 1990s I had a life-sized photograph of Ronald Reagan on my dorm wall at Bible school.

Since that doesn't correspond to my own background, it would be best for Gloege to avoid stereotyping his target audience. It's presumptuous and often inaccurate.

So, here’s my question, and I want you to answer it honestly. What matters more to you: making abortion illegal or reducing the number of procedures that occur each year?

i) Beware of giving "honest" answers loaded questions. Questions that oversimplify the issues. Questions that pose false dichotomies.

ii) It's not as if Christians currently have a viable choice between reducing the number of abortions per year and outlawing abortion. At present, it isn't politically feasible to ban abortion across the board. And that seems unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. So we're attempting to restrict abortion in various ways. Gloege's alternatives are artificial. That's not even in the cards. 

iii) To set this up as a choice between reducing abortions and restricting abortions is prejudicial. Those are not opposing strategies. Legal restrictions on abortion reduce abortions. 

Or let me put it another way. Which is the better society: one in which abortions are illegal and punished when they occur (because they will), or one in which the surgical procedure is legal, but largely unnecessary?

i) That's ambiguous. If push comes to shove, the priority is saving babies rather than punishing wrongdoers. In a sense, that's "better".

ii) However, a society that refuses to punish wrongdoers is an unjust society. In another sense, that's worse.

We already know how to decrease the abortion rate: make contraception easy to access. 

We already have easy access to contraception. 

Several studies have noted that the majority of women seeking abortions earn less than the poverty level (that’s about $16,000 annually for a family of two). In fact, while the abortion rate has dropped at other income levels, it has increased among those in poverty.

That evades the question of why they are poor. To my knowledge, that's because they tend to be single moms and high school dropouts. 

We could easily go further. Why not advocate for a basic income (something arch-conservative economist Milton Freedman suggested years ago)? 

Isn't that just a euphemism for welfare queens? 

And throw in a few condoms.

How does Gloege propose to make men use condoms if they don't want to? 

Are we afraid anti-poverty programs will create dependent people? Afraid it will be too expensive? Afraid free birth control will lead to increased sexual activity outside of a committed relationship? We can argue about all that if you want. But let’s hold off. 
Just remember: we are talking about reducing abortions. And abortion, you regularly tell me, is no different from murdering innocent children. 
Think about that for a second.

i) I don't need Gloege to tell me to "think about that for a second," as if that's a brand-new thought. He needs to avoid patronizing his target audience.

ii) A culture of dependence is a hotbed for murder. Consider the homicide rates in Chicago. Welfare contributes to the disintegration of the black family. Women don't need to marry. Women don't need a male breadwinner. And it lets fathers off the hook. The taxpayer picks up the tab. 

Fatherless boys are at much higher risk of juvenile delinquency, including murder. Gloege's "modest proposal" reinforces a vicious cycle. 

Shouldn’t we be willing to pay any price?

Actually, no. Policies that bankrupt the country hurt everyone–except the ruling class–including children. Likewise, we shouldn't create a totalitarian state. That's bad for everyone–except the ruling class.

Now tell me: do you really believe what you say? If so, isn’t preventing a holocaust worth a compromise in social or economic policy?

i) That begs the question of whether his "modest proposal" would prevent a holocaust. 

ii) His proposal amounts to extortion. It's like a bank heist gone bad. The robber takes hostages. Threatens to kill them unless $10 million is wired to a Cayman account his name and he is flown by private jet to a country without an extradition treaty. Obviously, we can't give in to extortion. Not because we don't value the lives of the hostages, but because rewarding extortion fuels ever more extortion.

iii) Likewise, if women figure out that they can use the threat of abortion as a bargaining chip to demand goodies, where does that end? What if they demand that the gov't build them a McMansion? Domestic servants? A Mercedes? 

Our last pro-life president launched a war because of a hunch about some aluminum tubes. It cost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. Why not spend something to fight poverty and perhaps reduce abortion in the process?

That's a brainless liberal trope. To begin with, using bad examples doesn't prove anything.

National defense is a necessity, not a luxury. You spend what it takes. We can debate how much we need to spend on national defense. We can debate military priorities. We can debate foreign policy. But military spending isn't optional. You have to allocate adequate funds for national defense. So it isn't comparable to the welfare state. 

I also ask because the pro-life movement has been working on outlawing abortion for, what, thirty-five or forty years now? How’s that going?

i) That's circular. It would be going better were it not for people like Gloege.

ii) The "war on poverty" has been going on for fifty years now. Ever since LBJ's Great Society programs. How's that going? 

Look, I know you are suspicious of Planned Parenthood. You think it’s a business (it’s not) whose “profitability” relies on abortion services (it’s actually only a small part of what they do).

Like the sting videos? 

I get it; I know Margaret Sanger was in the eugenics movement and said some things. I don’t know, maybe she was a baby Christian or something. (Kidding, sorry, bad joke.)

Does he think that makes a productive contribution to the discussion?

How about this: if Planned Parenthood opposes anti-poverty programs to save its “abortion business,” I’ll join your fight to have it completely defunded. And I’ll admit you were right all along.

More extortion.

Meanwhile, I simply can’t shake the suspicion that the pro-life movement is more interested in controlling women’s bodies than it is in preserving life. And, yes, I know this is a longstanding canard of the pro-choice movement. And I know you’ll insist you are sincerely concerned about life. I know, because that was me back in the day.But if you really, truly, believe that a fertilized egg is equal to an infant, then you need to prove it.

i) I have nothing to prove to the likes of Gloege. His approval is not my standard of comparison. I'm under no obligation to convince him of my pure motives. He's nobody to me. 

ii) Moreover, he's framed the issue in a way that systematically begs the question. It's not incumbent on me to play his game when he uses marked cards. 

Because when you repeatedly oppose programs that reduce abortions, it makes it look like your concern for “life” is a convenient cover for “control.”

i) He hasn't even tried to demonstrate that welfare and other social programs reduce abortion.

ii) He ignores the role of private charities. 

iii) If he thinks that's a convenient cover for "control," he needs to provide an argument to justify his conspiratorial suspicions. So he thinks prolifers oppose abortion to control women? Is that it?

Keep in mind that childcare often involves men as well as women. Take child support payments. What do prolifers get out of "controlling" women? If their motives are underhanded, you'd expect men to desert the prolife movement since many men prefer sex with no strings attached. Promiscuous men support abortion. 

So, let’s settle the question once and for all. What is your end goal?

One goal is to reduce the murder rate in general (see above).

Let me put it this way: because you are sincerely concerned about life, why not simply work for free access to birth control and anti-poverty efforts and then see what happens.

i) We've already seen what happens. Tried and failed. Repeatedly.

ii) If "poor" women can afford cellphones and cable TV, why not contraception?

iii) What about deadbeat dads? Before we make taxpayers pick up the tab for someone else's child, shouldn't our priority be making parents raise their own kids? 

iv) That also means giving fathers a stake in the process, like joint-custody. 

If you can’t stomach more federal programs or higher taxes, I suppose I understand.

i) Gov't doesn't have any money of its own. It comes from wage-earners. Gloege acts as though people who work hard don't actually need the money they make to live on. Yet many people life paycheck to paycheck. 

ii) When you keep raising taxes, you produce an economic death spiral. Businesses become less profitable. They must pay their employees less. That, in turn, lowers tax revenue. 

iii) Social obligations are concentric. I have a greater obligation to my wife than to your wife. I have a greater obligation to my elderly parents than to your elderly parents. It's not hypocritical to prioritize caring for my own dependents. And if more people did that, it would be better for everyone concerned. 

If an elementary school catches on fire, I will rescue my own kid first. That's not that the other kids are intrinsically less valuable. But my primary duty is to my own kid. After I get him out of harm's way, I may refocus on saving other kids. Mind you, I still have to be careful about risking my own life because I have dependents to support.

It's not hypocritical to simultaneously oppose abortion while opposing social policies that threaten my financial ability to care for my wife, kids, or elderly parents. It is not hypocritical to care about the wellbeing of strangers, or protecting the innocent, even if there are limits to how far I'd go. If I see a teenager drowning in a river, and I'm a strong swimmer, I have a prima facia obligation to save him. If, however, the river is infested with crocodiles, I might not risk it. That doesn't mean I think his life is worthless. But I may have multiple social obligations, including prior obligations. If I'm the sole caregiver for an elderly parent, I must avoid hazardous activities that would endanger my parent. In balancing different duties, higher duties take precedence. I can care what happens to a stranger without taking a bullet for him. Charity comes in degree. 

Maybe, in the end, we both believe abortion is simply a medical procedure with a touch of moral ambiguity. 

That certainly shows you where Gloege is coming from. 

1 comment:

  1. Since single motherhood is a large component of the Amerikan poverty scene, access to abortion has been touted as a way to avoid single motherhood and hence poverty; ie there's no conflict of interest for the libs to suport both contra Gloege.

    The Welfare-Corrections Plantation has always been about control, because dependent people are controlled people; funny how the pro-life side is the one accused of wanting to control women's bodies, particularly how PP and others have and continue to profit from them (eg social workers, politicians, bureaucrats, and other public nuisances).