I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report. The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut. I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security. Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet. I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome. Let us take the Jew by surprise for once!
Your first effort on this matter is rather good, but I think we can improve upon it. Incidentally, tell the Greek in his portion of the report to work in a subtle reference to one of Tiberius’ victories with the legions. Tiberius claims to despise flattery. The old fraud, he loves flattery if it isn’t obvious, and I want him in a good mood when he is reading this report, probably the most important report of my career.
Aside: Whenever I read about California in the NYT, I get this sort of Dr. Livingston vibe, as if they’ve sent civilized people out into the dangerous wild to gather intelligence on primitive but remarkably sophisticated (meaning: like New Yorkers) tribes. Not as much as I get when reading about the South – there, the vibe is more like: Surprisingly human-like Southerners may be our closest living relatives, after dolphins and Californians. But I digress…
These are not too bad watercolors. They’re not spectacular, but if you don’t know anything about the artist, you probably wouldn’t mind having a poster of one of them, or buying a postcard with the image. You could probably find similar in local art and history museums, sort of the “Local Minor Masters” type of exhibit.
Which is, of course, true. But not everything that calls itself a “right” is a right, and the opportunity for rights freeloading—for policy decisions to masquerade as rights—offers many benefits while abetting intellectual sloppiness and dishonesty. I say that because, once upon a time, a first-year logic student would have recognized the logical errors of begging the question and proof by assertion.
That’s why “rights freeloading” has grown in recent decades, and why those prone to spin new “rights” out of whole cloth usually pursue their artifice in the judiciary rather than the legislature. The latter suggests there are two legitimate views to a question; the courts give us winners and losers.
The problem with such tactics, besides demonizing the loser, is that it also tends to fossilize the discussion: a legislative choice, once adopted, can be undone at the next election. A judicial decision, once enshrined, is practically permanent and accountable to no one.
Finally, ersatz “rights” tend to displace real ones. Glendon shows us the problems of “rights creep,” i.e., the elevation of policy choices to the status of rights. If Gresham’s famous law reminds us that “bad money drives out good,” so—applying Glendon’s insights—I offer Grondelski’s Corollary: “‘rights’ tend to drive out rights.” Consider the track record on abortion: fathers have no right (no “interest,” as the courts put it) in the survival of their unborn children; parents have no rights to prevent their minor daughter from obtaining an abortion without their consent or even in some cases knowledge. Now, on “transgender rights,” other users of a public shower, locker room, and/or bathroom are told they have no rights to a truly single sex environment. On homosexual “marriage,” others have no right to decline to apply their professional talents or services to solemnize what they find ethically or morally wrong; conscience rights are subordinated to state power. Catholic social services are increasingly being driven out of the adoption arena because they have the silly, intolerant notion that a child to be adopted (i.e., a child who has already been objectively hurt by deprivation of a father and mother) has no inherent right to be adopted by afather and a mother.
We’ve lost much of our manufacturing base do to environmental regulations. It is totally not fair to the American worker to expect him to compete in a market stacked against him due to environmental protections that the typical worker in China or Mexico (among others) doesn’t have to abide by.
But what good is mandating that goods be produced with care to the environment when these same goods can be produced elsewhere, the planet be damned, and sold much cheaper (and thereby manufactured more often, damaging the Earth that much more) in the very place where their manufacture has been effectively outlawed… in order to protect the Earth?
Irish Catholics who came to the United States were entering another heavily Protestant country; in fact, Ireland was and is the only English-speaking Catholic nation in the world. But they were entering a nation that gave them far more opportunity, dirt-poor as they were, to succeed and better themselves and their families. Because as bad as it might have been to be Irish in the United States at the time, the United States still respected hard work. Ultimately, it didn’t matter your origins, as long as you pulled your weight. Factories, docks, and early police forces — jobs few others wanted — were all heavily dominated by Irish immigrants, and that in turn shaped the United States as a whole.
And most importantly, the second reason. They left a country where a priest could be shot on sight to live in a place where they could worship openly. They could go so far as to have great parades in the street, and even if some would get upset, no one tried shooting them.
Can you imagine how different that must have felt?