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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pope Francis Imitates Pope Benedict

A lot of people who should really know better have been going nuts over the fact that Pope Francis called an Anglican pastor a "brother bishop". Everyone is invoking the fact that Anglican orders have been declared null and void, yada, yada, yada.

There are just two problems with this:

Problem #1: Anglican orders aren't necessarily as null and void as you would think.
Anglican orders were indeed declared null and void. The Anglicans began with valid orders when Henry VIII broke away, but for a period of about a century, the Anglican ordination rite specifically denied the sacrifice of the Mass. By the time they repaired their rite so that it did not do this, there were no validly ordained Anglicans left. Thus, the declaration was based on the fact that Anglican orders had died out.

But Old Catholic holy orders were never declared valid. Old Catholics are another schismatic branch of the Church, sort of the fore-runner of the SSPX and their spiritual brothers in the FSSP. Old Catholics broke off in the 1800s, and they have ALWAYS had valid orders.

The Anglicans have joint communion with the Old Catholics. Anglican ordinations frequently have Old Catholic bishops present at the ordination. If an Old Catholic bishop is present at an ordination, there is a very good possibility that the particular Anglican ordination IS, in fact, valid.

Problem #2: Pope Francis is following Benedict's example.
At the above statement, conservatives around the room are undoubtedly sputtering in amazement. "No, he did NOT! How can Kellmeyer get away with such blatant lies!" Etc.

But Pope Benedict essentially declared a whole raft of Anglican bishops "brother bishops" and in a Church document, no less.

You doubt me?! Hah! Consider the Anglican Ordinariate. Anglican orders are null and void. But in Anglicanorum Coetibus, the document establishing the Ordinariate, Benedict effectively raised the laymen who operate as Anglican priests and bishops to the level of Catholic bishops.
"And, with this virtually schismatic act by the bishop of Calgary, we now clearly see why the Holy Father released the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum CoetibusIf you read through this document, you see a very peculiar thing, which is now clearly explained by the action in Calgary.
AC specifically allows individual Anglican communions within the Catholic Church to be headed by an "ordinary" who is not necessarily an ordained bishop. This is, to say the least, unprecedented. Indeed, given that Anglican orders are not valid, the fact is that every Anglican "priest" and "bishop" is really just a layman who dresses funny.
Yet these laymen, who have baptism as their only valid sacrament, will be treated as retired bishops and ordinaries in their own right - they will be given episcopal powers. The laymen who are the Anglican "priests" and "bishops" will be given their own liturgical rite.
True, they will all have to be properly ordained, but the rite is theirs, promised to them, before the consecrated oils touch their hands or their heads.
Not since Ambrose have laymen been raised to such a high level of authority so quickly."
I don't know why conservative (not orthodox, merely conservative) Catholics are such haters of Pope Francis. The man is following precisely in Benedict's footsteps, but they refuse to see it. Instead of looking for the continuity, they always insist that there is a break with Tradition.  Rightly or wrongly, bishops associate these uncharitable attitudes with communion rails and Gregorian chant. Whether conservative Catholics like it or not, only bishops can accomplish what these lay people want to accomplish. You need bishops as friends. This constant negative attitude is not friendly.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why the Abortion Rate Dropped

The Alan Guttmacher Institute tells us that the abortion rate has reached an all-time low. They attribute this drop to:
  • better contraception, 
  • a lousy economy (incentive to use better contraception), and 
  • definitely NOT to new laws prohibiting certain kinds of abortion.
Pro-life groups attributed the drop:
  • directly to the laws passed over the last twenty years, 
  • the controversies caused by graphic descriptions given during recent prosecution of abortionists like Kermit Gosnell and 
  • new medical technology which allows people to see inside the womb and understand the horrors of abortion.
Who is right? Since I was teaching a critical thinking class this semester, I took the problem to my college students as a case study in examining factors that might contribute to an increase or decrease in abortion rates. So, here are the list of factors we came up with:
Is pregnancy rate up or down? How long?
Is sexual activity up or down? How long?
chastity and virginity pledges
STD fear
Is contraception use up or down? How long?
Physical: Condom, IUD
Chemical: Pill, patch, ring, shot (Depo)
Surgical: Vasectomy/ligation/hysterectomy
Is fertility rate going up or down? For how long?
Man:woman ratio in those subpopulations?
Relation status (married vs. single)
Science (e.g., ultrasound, heartbeat, fingernails (Juno))
Genetic predispositions in parents
genes for violence/psychopaths: spreading or not?
Genetic  abortions
Sex selection abortions
Down’s and other anomalies
Cultural anomalies (e.g., deaf parents sometimes abort normal children)
Religious factors (e.g. Jewish vs. Muslim vs. Hindu vs. Christian)
Laws inhibiting or encouraging
Are laws cause or effect?
What states are showing drops?
Clinic vs hospital vs telemed (at home)
Geographic distribution of clinics
Where is US population versus clinics? (cf. schools closing )
Number and location of abortionists (cf. surgical vs. chemical abortions – can one abortionist do more if most are chemical as opposed to surgical?)
cost of children: is cost same today as 1980 (cell phone cost isn’t)
low income vs. high income
Welfare Benefits
Cultural predispositions
child abuse
partner abuse
drug abuse
Political disposition
Feminism rise or fall (number of women working)
Has the definition of pregnancy changed?
Has the definition of abortion changed?
Is it an abortion if the child died in utero?
Has the definition of person changed?
Cosmetic surgery advances
Electronic interaction
Distraction from sex (texting, Facebook, games, cf. Japan’s drop in birth rate)
Replacement (porn)
Now, there may be more factors, but this is what roughly a dozen people came up with in an hour. I had the students choose and research a factor of their liking to see if they could find a positive or negative correlation to the abortion rate since 1973.

And here's the thing about abortion in America. The abortion rate hit an all-time high in 1980, but the raw number of abortions hit an all-time high in 1990. Both the rate and the raw number of abortions began a long, steady decline in 1990 that has been essentially constant for roughly the last 25 years. The Washington Post chart is listed here, flipped on its side so it's easier to compare with other charts.

So, for a positive correlation, I would want to see a curve that starts out low, peaks in 1980, stays relatively high until 1990 (perhaps with the little dip in the mid-to-late 1980s) and then a long, steady decline after 1990.

Over the last several days, I looked at every chart I could find: welfare, race comparisons, fertility rates, incarceration rates, mental health rates, immigration rates, welfare rates. Nothing matched. The closest I got was this chart on violence in America (see below). Notice the murder rate: it peaks in 1980, has a dip in the mid-1980s, rises to a 2nd peak in 1990, then begins a long, steady decline. The match isn't perfect, but it has interesting characteristics that are close to providing a positive correlation.

Remember, correlation is NOT causation. The incidence of shark attacks at a beach correlates very nicely with how high ice cream sales are at the same beach, but this does not indicate that sharks like to have their dessert served along with the entree. In the case of the shark, a third factor comes into play. More people are at the beach and in the water when it is hot. More people means more ice cream sales and more possibility of shark attack. Correlation is not causation, but it may indicate that some common factors are in play.

The match between murder and abortion is nice, but ultimately, it doesn't make very much sense. Would a woman really have an abortion simply because someone she knew got murdered? It is quite possible that something in the culture encouraged general violence in those years, but I couldn't see a mechanism for causation. I've heard a lot of reasons given for abortion. I've never heard a woman say, "Yes, I had an abortion because my lover/friend/neighbor got murdered."

But then I ran into this.

When I first saw the graph, I missed it. As you can see from the chart, women aged 40-44 don't get pregnant much. They make up less than 3% of the births in any given year, so it's not like they contribute much to the abortion rate through the abortions they have. I ignored it the first time I looked at it.

Then I looked through all the charts again. Hmmm....  The curve matched so very, very well! It's nearly a perfect inverse correlation. When women 40-44 have babies, the abortion rate for all women is low. When this age cohort stops having babies, the abortion rate for all women is high. When they begin to have babies again, the abortion rate for all women drops. The years match almost perfectly, the correlation is beautiful.

And then I realized it makes an enormous amount of sense. The women in this age cohort are the mothers of the adult women who are actually having babies. These women are the cultural leaders in the feminine world. When older women value children, their daughters have grandchildren. When these older women do not value children, their daughters abort the grandchildren.

The celebrities of the 1980s didn't have or celebrate their pregnancies. The 40-year old celebrities of the 1990s and 2000s do. The baby bumps of these older celebrity women are doing a lot more to curb the abortion rate than the prosecution of Kermit Gosnell (of whom 9 of 10 Americans have never heard).

And this is exactly what the Catholic Church has always taught. What you teach the children doesn't matter nearly as much as what you teach the adults. Even adult children mirror and reflect back the values of their middle-aged parents.

Educating or using contraception or abstinence, passing laws or not passing laws, welfare or wealth, none of it matters. What matters? The culture leaders: the 40-50 cohort. Convince them that abortion is a bad idea, and abortion drops. That's the only way to win. Get the parents.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The 30-Hour Work Week

I read several interesting articles this weekend.

One was not my find. It came from Chris Cain, and it affirmed everything Catholic (and non-Catholic) demographers have been saying for a long time.

The next two were the story of where Obamacare got the idea for the 30-hour work week. Notice why it was originally desired. The point was to avoid layoffs. Hmmm... the fact that it was resurrected tells you something right there, doesn't it? But good Catholics should be interested in getting more time off. We want to return to medieval practice, don't we? Well, that story may not be entirely true.

This is the last one, and it ties up a lot of different things I've talked about on this blog: the aging population, the growth of government, etc.
Those with a keen eye will note that between 1800 and the 1920s, although there are clear periods of faster and slower growth, the rate of growth is consistent and undiminishing (i.e., an approximately straight line on a log-linear plot such as this).  But once the WWII boom wore off, we find a substantial downward curvature in the growth rate after 1960, coinciding with the era of sustained big government without a major war.
Plotting annual growth in real per-capita GDP over time reinforces the case.

To reiterate, between 1800 and 1929, the USA was a small-government nation.  While periods of wartime government expansion took place during the War of 1812, the Civil War, and WWI, in each case the pre-war spending levels were re-established in relatively rapid timeframes.  The period between 1930 and 1959 represents a complex transition period for government expenditures.  The rise of big government began, and was coupled with the extreme economic influence of a truly global war and its geopolitical aftershocks.  After 1960, the USA settled into big government and did not participate in any genuinely major international conflicts that exerted anomalously large effects on government spending patterns.
From 1800 to 1929, there is no significant trend in annual real per-capita GDP (p=0.77).  But between 1960 and 2012, there is a significant negative trend... If we consider the running 20-year growth in real per-capita GDP, and exclude any 20-year periods that include a major war (e.g., the War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI , WWII, and the Korean War), the dismal nature of the American economy during the last 50 years is even more evident.  The 22 worst periods of 20-year growth in real per-capita GDP have all occurred since 1985; 31 of the 32 worst periods of 20-year growth have taken place since 1982.  Of note, in 23rd-worst place is the period from 1866 to 1885, which includes a significant part of the Civil War Reconstruction era.  If we remove this 1866-1885 point based on its major war influence, then all of the 31 worst periods of 20-year growth have occurred since 1982. As generally prosperous as the 20-year period from 1981 through 2000 seemed (incorporating  both the Reagan and Clinton booms), this ranks only in the 33rd percentile over American economic history.  The USA is in economic decline, and has been declining for over a half-century.  This same 50-year period of decline corresponds to the period of largest sustained government expenditures as a percentage of the economy in American history.  Coincidence?  Not likely.
Of course, it is not coincidence, but the growth of government is not the only explanation. The American fertility rate has been dropping for close to 200 years. It went below replacement rate for the very first time in 1972. Within ten years, America's GDP also began to decline. As government grows, the family shrinks.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

ObamaCare Won't Be Repealed

Everyone is complaining that ObamaCare will remove 2.5 million jobs from the economy. They don't realize the ObamaCare reduction in the work force is part of a 200-year long trend.

The "ten-hour" day movement started in 1810, it became the "8-hour day" movement by 1817, granted in England by 1847. The less-industrialized French won a 12-hour workday one year later in 1848. By WW I, most industrialized countries had adopted England's 8-hour day. This cut the effective work force size by at least one-quarter.

1930s child labor laws permanently removed the entire under-16 workforce. 1930s Social Security permanently removed the over 65 workforce. Post WW II government college loans permanently removed 50% of the 18-25 workforce as they were told they needed college degrees to find jobs. Obamacare permanently lowers the work week to 30 hours.

Up to 50% of our jobs will be automated in 20 years. It is not luddite to point out the facts: technology has steadily removed work from human hands for 200 years, and it promises to continue to do so. It will idle the blue-collar work force first, the white-collar last. The people who create the robots (slaves) will become rich while the people who are replaced will not.

The rich are all population control freaks because they realize that their own factories don't need the manpower. The idle poor can be fed, but it would be better if they weren't there at all - people who don't exist don't revolt. The welfare population must remain small and easily controlled. So, it's in their interests to make sure the lower classes don't breed. Free birth control in ObamaCare, destruction of marriage, lousy health care, poverty, females working and/or in school instead of married at home raising kids - these all contribute to a steady reduction in the size of the lower classes.

ObamaCare will not be repealed. The ruling classes can't afford to let that happen.