Four Questions Richard Cohen Won’t Answer

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post wrote a February 4 column calling the Pences “bigots” because of their belief that homosexual behavior is morally wrong (a position held, of course, not only vice-presidents, but by evangelical Christians, but by Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews, etc.), claiming that “it is simply wrong to foster a belief that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are immoral.” Now, to label Cohen’s reasoning as “simplistic”, his moral compass as “skewed”, and his Biblical understanding as “deeply flawed” is low-hanging fruit, so I won’t do that.

Instead, I’d like to pose some questions that Mr. Cohen, I daresay, would be loathe to answer. I do so in order to demonstrate that evangelical believers should not fear–but rather take courage–when people like Mr. Cohen say such ridiculous and inaccurate things about us. I’ll not get the chance to ask him face-to-face (though I’d relish the opportunity), but I think that these simple, several questions would unmask a lot about a fellow who can easily sit in his corner office and lob hand grenades at evangelicals, but who likely has never even considered his own inconsistencies, the ramifications of the position he has chosen to take, and (almost certainly) the hypocrisy of writing as he does.

Question #1 in demonstrating the fact that Mr. Cohen speaks as an emperor with no clothing: “can you envision ANY sexual scenario involving two consenting adults which you would find ‘immoral’? Does such a scenario exist in your mind?” I’ll offer some examples, starting with an easy one: sex outside of marriage. Given that a majority of adults today–including some who would call themselves “Christians”–profess to have no moral qualms with fornication, I’d expect Mr. Cohen to give a thumbs-up. But let’s move on to some other possible scenarios (pardon the somewhat graphic nature of at least a couple of these): would Mr. Cohen find polygamy to be morally objectionable? Seventeen percent of Americans, according to the most recent polling (2017), see this as an acceptable practice, but I have no idea which side of the fence Mr. Cohen is on here. What about group marriage, the idea that, say, four men can marry three women? It might seem nutty, but that should be no barrier to our asking the question, as “gay marriage” seemed nutty a quarter-century ago. Would Mr. Cohen endorse group marriage as a morally-acceptable option? Let’s go further: would Mr. Cohen have any reason to object morally to an arrangement involving a 35-year-old man and his 60-year-old mother? That disgusts us with good reason, but I would like to know if it disgusts Mr. Cohen as well.

Now I suppose it’s altogether within the realm of possibility that Mr. Cohen has no moral qualms with any of those scenarios, but I’m going to make the assumption that he does, that he cannot bring himself to say that a man and his mother in a relationship of this nature is a moral thing. Given the benefit of the doubt, question #2 is in order: “on what basis do you make the judgment that this behavior is morally wrong?” OK, you would be willing to call it “immoral”, but why? Is there some standard outside yourself to which you make your appeal, Mr. Cohen, someTHING or someONE to whom you defer when make determinations about moral rightness or wrongness? If so, what is it? Or do you instead look inward, fly your moral sense by the seat of your own moral britches, and “call ’em as YOU see ’em”? Now, Mr. Cohen, it seems fair to say, is uninterested in the Bible’s guidance on issues of morality; as a non-Christian, that’s to be expected, and is his right, of course. But if he seizes the prerogative to say something is “simply wrong”, we reasonably should demand that he supply the answer to this question: WHY is it wrong?

In order to ask question #3, I’m going to make the assumption that he does not appeal to any authority outside his own “inner moral compass” in order to answer moral questions. If I’m wrong, then the question loses some of its value, but still has value with regard to anyone else who derives their sense of morality from within, so here it is: “why should anyone feel compelled at all to adopt your definition of ‘morality’ as being right, or as binding on them?” The evangelical believer says, “this behavior is right/wrong based upon God’s revelation in the Bible”. We don’t always live by it; we don’t always like it, perhaps. But we appeal to a standard outside ourselves. Vice-President and Mrs. Pence believe and act as they do because they submit to the Bible as their standard for moral guidance, and as is true for all believers, they would wish that all would do the same. But if Mr. Cohen can point to no outside, objective standard upon which to base his sense of morality, why should anyone agree with his determinations? He could just as well say, “I think every bedroom should have pink, polka-dotted curtains”, to which we could in amusement say, “nice opinion”, but we would feel no obligation to either agree or act upon his personal opinion. The very same is true with regard to his sense of morality: he’s entitled to his opinion, but why should we care what it is?

The final question goes back to question #1 and builds on it, making the assumption that he finds at least some forms of sexual arrangements morally wrong (might I suggest that in the event he doesn’t, we have a whole ‘nother set of questions to raise). Question #4 is this: if you also find some sexual scenarios to be morally wrong, why can we not call you a bigot just as you called the Pences (and evangelicals, et al, bigots)? What’s the difference? Of course there is none; if the Pences are “bigots” because he disagrees with their moral stance, there is nothing to prevent another person from applying the same moniker to Mr. Cohen, with exactly as much credibility. If he morally opposes group marriage, those who advocate its morality can just as credibly call him a “bigot”.

I doubt Mr. Cohen has seriously thought through these questions, of course; folks deep into the zeitgeist such as he rarely do, content as they are to drift along with the mob and crucify those who attempt to swim upstream. But the point is that we need not cower before people who criticize us, but fail to consider the ramifications of their own beliefs. We should instead be ready to ask such questions and, as we are able, engage those with the courage to answer them with the wonderful gospel of saving grace in Christ, available to all of us broken people.

Who is REALLY the G.O.A.T.?

Spoiler alert: it’s probably–finally–Tom Brady. I hate saying that, and I’m still not completely convinced it’s true, because (as I explain below) I think people use the wrong measuring stick to determine such things, but the cumulative evidence, as determined by a system I developed a few years ago, points to Old Tom finally this year ascending to the top spot.

For the uninitiated, one of my sports interests is the question of greatness. I love discussions about who belongs in the Hall of Fame and who doesn’t (well, only for two sports, really, baseball and football; I couldn’t care less about the NBA and don’t know much about hockey). Further for those uninitiated, I have a system I’ve been using for the better part of a decade to try to answer the question, “who is the greatest QB of all time?” By the way, when I say Tom Brady is the GOAT, I restrict that to QB; I maintain my belief that the greatest football player of all time is Jerry Rice…but I digress.

My system is explained thusly: I’m going to give one point for every QB that finished the season ranked in the top half of passer rating for that given season. In other words, if there are 32 teams in the NFL, QBs ranked in the top 16 get a point. QBs ranked in the top quarter (8 in this scenario) get another point. The passing champion gets a third point. Then, if the passing champion leads the second-place finisher by more than the second-place finisher leads the fifth-place finisher, I’m going to give a bonus point for an off-the-charts exceptional season. I’m going to give the championship winning QB two points, and the championship losing QB one point. Thus, the most a QB can get in a given season is 6 points.

Now, a few explanatory thoughts: one, I grant that the QB rating system used by the NFL (not the newer “QBR”) is complicated, impossible to understand, and rewards QB “perfection” with the statistically-weird total of 158.3. It’s weird, I get it…but that doesn’t change the fact that it does rank quarterbacks by the right sorts of things, such that it’s fair to say that, generally-speaking, the best passer in a given year is the guy with the best rating. Since we have no other real way to rate QBs since the beginning of the league, it’s what we have to go with. Two, though Brady now has the most points using my system, I don’t believe that we can look at the point totals and say that the point total rankings determines definitively the positions in order of each QB. I would not dare be so arrogant. What I will say, though, is that we get via this system a decent rank order in the sense of we can say roughly who the “Top Ten” are, who belongs on the second or third tier, etc. Via my system, for instance, we learn that there’s no way we can consider John Elway or Brett Favre as the greatest QBs of all time; neither really belongs in the discussion (in fact, by my system, it’s clear that Favre may only be the third-best PACKER QB of all time). Three, there is no perfect way to compare players across eras. “Babe Ruth wouldn’t hit 60 home runs against today’s pitching”. Well, first, you don’t KNOW that, but you’re just speculating; second, it’s irrelevant. The only fair way to rank players is to compare them to their contemporaries and to ask, “how much better was Sammy Baugh than other QBs of his era, and was he “more better” than Joe Namath (answer: by leaps and bounds)?” My system operates on this basis, because there’s no other way to be objective about it. Four (and mercifully, finally), it really does no good to look at the all-time NFL passer ratings and use that to tell us much of anything, because it reflects the significant ways the game has changed. For fun, try to select the right five out of the following passers who are in the all-time top 20 in passer rating: Matt Schaub, Chad Pennington, Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr, Dan Marino, Roger Staubach, Jim Kelly, Len Dawson, Troy Aikman. You are correct if you said the first five rather than the Hall-of-Famers. Point taken?

Now, before the current rankings and my subjective takes on those rankings, I offer this brief discursus on why I utterly disagree with, yea despise, what I see as the simplistic reasoning which dominates the talk of who the GOAT is (even though I make SOME concession to this reasoning, as the above explanation of my system makes clear). I find it preposterous to count the number of titles won by a QB and on that basis declare said QB the “GOAT”. Yes, I give that stat a place in my system, but I’m still not convinced I haven’t given too much consideration to it. Take away championships appeared in and won, and Peyton Manning actually comes out a little ahead of Brady. While I do think that, all things being equal, winning a championship matters a bit, it’s value is overstated, and for this reason: football is the ULTIMATE team sport. If we were talking golf or bowling, then yes, winning a championship matters more than most anything else, but we aren’t; we are talking about a sport in which a QB is only on the field for, at most, 50% of the plays. Practical examples abound: Aaron Rodgers would have another point (and possibly two) if a backup TE had recovered an onside kick. Aaron watched that play from the sidelines, and yet he is “blamed” by the “how many championships has he won” crowd because he still only has one ring. Peyton Manning would have one (and possibly two) more points if a combination of at least TWO things–neither of which he had any control over–hadn’t materialized: one, on third-and-seven and nursing a 7-point lead against the Ravens, needing only a first down to go to the Super Bowl, the brilliant Broncos coaching staff dialed up a run by a rookie RB rather than putting the success of a seven-yard-gain in the hands of ARGUABLY THE GOAT AT THE TIME. Then, after the Ravens get the ball back, a Broncos safety misplays a ball in a way coached against in MIDDLE SCHOOL to allow a WR to get behind him and tie the game. Manning “loses” one, and maybe two points, because of things out of his control. The greatest examples, though, involve three of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl victories; we can argue about whether or not he is the GOAT, but there’s no argument: Tom Brady is the luckiest QB of all time hands-down. Dear Tom is standing on the sidelines as the offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks makes the dumbest play-call in Super Bowl history, handing the game to the Patriots. Not to be outdone, three years ago, Kyle Shanahan calls for a pass when three runs and a medium-range field goal (by the Falcons’ Pro Bowl kicker) would have won the game for the Falcons. This year, Tom doesn’t even MAKE the Super Bowl if Dee Ford doesn’t line up offsides late in the AFC Championship Game. And NONE of these things have anything whatever to do with either Tom’s strengths or deficiencies as a quarterback. Absent those three strokes of good luck on Tom’s part, and absent Peyton Manning’s stroke of bad luck, and Peyton has more points in my system (and possibly a third ring, which would under these circumstances MATCH Brady’s). The point of this entire paragraph is that there are so many things completely out of the control of a QB that “Super Bowls won” is a relatively poor way to rank QBs.

OK, all of that said, here are the top 28 QBs as rated by my system:

1. Tom Brady 42

2. Peyton Manning 38

3. Joe Montana 35

4. Sammy Baugh 32
5. Drew Brees 32

6. Otto Graham 31

7. Len Dawson 30
8. Bart Starr 30

9. Johnny Unitas 28
10. Fran Tarkenton 28
11. Sid Luckman 28

12. Ben Roethlisberger 27

13. Roger Staubach 24
14. Aaron Rodgers 24

15. Bob Griese 23
16. Ken Anderson 23
17. Brett Favre 23

18. Steve Young 22
19. Dan Marino 22

20. Kurt Warner 20

21. Y.A. Tittle 19
22. Jim Kelly 19

23. John Elway 18
24. Charlie Conerly 18
25. Philip Rivers 18

26. Terry Bradshaw 17
27. Norm Van Brocklin 17
28. Dan Fouts 17

Several observations and opinions: one, everyone on this list is either still playing or in the Hall-of-Fame save one–and he thus is, IMHO without question, the most underrated QB of all time: Ken Anderson. Anderson was an elite passer for a long time, but suffered by losing both of his Super Bowls and playing at the same time as Joe Montana. For the record, the far-and-away most OVER-rated QB of all time is Joe Namath, who gets 7 points in my system. Two, note that there are several QBs on the list currently playing, and the two toward the very top, Brady and Brees, have played longer than probably any of the old-timers. Since my system is cumulative rather than an average, today’s superior training techniques, etc., do mitigate a bit in favor of contemporary players. I see no way to compensate for this, though I suppose I could divide their total points by seasons-played and arrive at an average, but that’s too much work, and I do think there’s something to be said for longevity being SOME part of greatness. Had Otto Graham played five more years at a level at least near the one he established, there would be little discussion to be had: Otto would be the GOAT, hands-down. The fact that some of my readers might have never even heard of him ’tis indeed a pity. Of the top 40 in all-time passer rating, other than Graham, the oldest player retired in 1994 (Joe Montana). Otto (29th) retired almost FORTY YEARS EARLIER (1955). This is astonishing, and makes a good argument that Graham is the real GOAT. Note as well how highly Ben Roethlisberger ranks, 12th in my system and likely to jump into the top ten if he plays another year or two. He seems a certain Hall-of-Famer, but I doubt most people think of him as being this accomplished. But the fact is that he has played at a very high level for a good while and deserves his place among the elite. Most people don’t think of him as being better than Aaron Rodgers, and he may not be, but he’s certainly in his league (and has an extra ring, part of the reason he ranks a tad higher). Next, for the record, two active QBs who do not make this list are Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson. Each has 15 points and each would seem likely to finish in the 20s before they hang it up. That would seem to put each of them in line for the Hall, I would think, though particularly Ryan just doesn’t FEEL to me like a Hall-of-Famer. His ticket to Canton may come down to what he does from here on out. Finally, I was surprised to see Philip Rivers make this list. I do not see him as a Hall-of-Famer, but he is at least borderline. His lack of playoff success hurts him–but as I said above, I think that’s overrated.

Finally, taking my system into account, but also remembering that it’s not perfect, and allowing for some subjectivity to creep in, here are my top-ten QBs of all time:

1. Tom Brady
2. Otto Graham
3. Peyton Manning
4. Joe Montana
5. Johnny Unitas
6. Sammy Baugh
7. Drew Brees
8. Bart Starr
9. Len Dawson
10. I didn’t see Sid Luckman play, and I didn’t ever like Fran Tarkenton, so who knows. MAYBE I’d stretch a good bit for Brett Favre?

More on Harold Baines..

Yesterday, I posted on Facebook my visceral reaction to the news that Harold Baines had been placed among the immortals in Cooperstown. I remarked that this was a travesty, making a mockery of the entire situation. I opined that cronyism was the only conceivable explanation for why a player like Baines—whom I actually liked as a player, a pure hitter with a sweet swing, to be sure—could possibly have been elected to the Hall of Fame. I’ve now had a day to reflect, and I’ve reached a conclusion.

I was too mild in my criticism.

Now, I should disclose that I found an article wherein my favorite all-time baseball writer, Bill James, made the argument a few years back that one could rearrange the actual numbers from Baines’ career, and make the argument that it wouldn’t be crazy to put Baines in. His career batting numbers, on their face, are in fact reasonably similar to Tony Perez, feared first basemen of the Big Red Machine. Perez is himself a rather marginal Hall-of-Famer; though if I were voting, I’d put him in, it’s hard to argue very hard that he’d have been robbed had he not made the cut. But with all due respect to James—who does NOT argue for Baines’ inclusion—Tony Perez played the field, whereas Baines spent the vast majority of his career as a DH. A good DH, without a doubt—but a DH.

To bolster my argument, I thought I would Google “best players not in the MLB Hall of Fame”; one of these articles pops up with regularity. I found a number of different listings on the first page of searching. Did I find Harold Baines mentioned even once? No, I didn’t—and I didn’t expect to (I should mention that there was one site where fans could nominate players and vote on the question; Baines was 39th in the voting). In other words, nobody thought of Baines as a Hall-of-Famer (and, I would argue, with good reason).

So then I went to the stats and looked up Baines’ career. Harold Baines was a really good hitter, and if this were the “Hall of Really Good”, he’d get my vote. But in 22 seasons, Harold Baines once led the American League in one category; he slugged .541 in 1984. Baines was a power hitter, but never once hit 30 in a season. He hit for a good average, but never had 200 hits in a season. The best he ever did in a single season in the MVP voting was in 1985, when he managed to finish…ninth. He was a six-time All-Star, with an impressive appearance in the ASG when he was 40 years old. Six times in the All-Star game is nice, and indicative, as I said, of a very good player—but that’s all. Perhaps most importantly, after he had been retired five years and became eligible for election to the Hall, the highest percentage of votes that he ever garnered—from baseball people who were right there, chronologically “close to the action”, was 6.1%. Well over nine of ten knowledgeable experts on the subject deemed Harold Baines unworthy of the Hall of Fame, in his best season of voting. After falling below 5% in the next year’s voting, Harold Baines fell off the ballot.

But I’m still not done. The aforementioned Bill James developed the sabermetric stat “Wins Above Replacement” (“WAR”), which has become a widely-used metric which asks, “how much better is a given player than a statistically-average ‘replacement’?” This stat has the nice advantage of being able to judge pitchers against batters. So…how did our friend Harold Baines do in WAR?
.
A short list of some of the luminaries who outshone the “immortal” Harold Baines, who managed a lifetime WAR of 38.7 in 22 seasons (if you’re scoring at home, that means he added less than two wins/year to his team’s total over:

• Tony Perez, mentioned earlier as having similar “normal” stats, had a lifetime WAR of 54.0 (23 seasons); now let’s have some fun:
• Elmer Flick had a 53.2 in 13 seasons;
• Silver King (of whom I’d never heard, but with a name like that…) had a 51.4 in just 10 years;
• Al Orth (who?) had a 51.1 WAR in 15 seasons;
• Theodore Breitenstein (I am a pretty big fan, but I’d never heard of this guy): 50.7 WAR, 11 years;
• Nap Rucker (again, who?): 47.5 in 10 seasons;
• Hippo Vaughn, 46.8 in 13 years;
• Murry Dickson (sounds like a grocer): 46.1 in 18 years;
• Noodles Hahn had a WAR of 44.8, in only 8 years. Harold takes a back seat to the immortal…Noodles;
• Cupid Childs had a 44.3 WAR in 13 seasons;
• Julio Franco, a favorite of mine, had a WAR of 43.5, and he hit .250 for the Braves when he was 48 years old;
• Amos Otis, 42.8 in 17 years; Otis, my man!
• Placido Polanco had a WAR of 41.5 in 16 years. In anyone’s wildest dreams, has anyone ever thought, “yeah, that Placido Polanco,
he’s a Cooperstown man!”
• Mark Belanger hit .228 over the course of his career, but was more valuable in 18 years to his team than was Harold Baines (40.9
WAR);
• Nig Cuppy had a 40.5 WAR in just 10 years. Yes, that’s his name. Go read it on his tombstone in Elkhart, Indiana.
• Hooks Dauss had a 40.1 WAR in 15 years;
• And yes, the immortal Pink Hawley, in 10 years, had a higher WAR (39.8).

All told, Harold is tied for 545th in WAR (and I can make a good argument that one of the three guys he’s tied with, Juan Gonzalez, is more deserving of the Hall). As judged by WAR, Harold slots in a little below Rico Petrocelli and a little above Lonnie Smith. In fact, Harold Baines WAR is not the lowest among those in the Hall of Fame; relying on my admittedly spotty memory, and looking at the all-time WAR list, I was able to produce one player who, based on WAR, is less deserving of the Hall. Longtime friends and readers of mine will not be surprised to learn that Bill Mazeroski is that player. I won’t bore you with another rant on how bad the choice to elect Maz was, but even he—WAR notwithstanding—could be said to be one of the finest-fielding second basement in history, and he did have this little hit in the World Series that one year…

Now, I recognize that in the grand scheme of things, five hundred things happened today that matter more than whether or not Harold Baines belongs in the Hall of Fame. And yet as a fan—and particularly as a “fan of immortality” (one of my favorite sports discussions involves who does, or doesn’t, belong in the Hall of Fame), I have to weigh in. Harold Baines was a nice one-way player for a long time, and maybe was better than one or two guys in the Hall of Fame. But this vote cannot possibly be justified.

Why I Would Support a Pro-Choice Justice (In a Heartbeat)

Now that I have your attention…

I am completely pro-life (in the real, “historic” sense of term, not the muddied, newfangled, “Christian Left” sense of it, which can be used to pretty much nullify what has always been meant when we say it): I believe that human life, created in and bearing the image of a holy God, should not be taken in the womb (in 99.998% of circumstances). I believe that we are reaping the fruit of the “sexual revolution” in that many people’s sexual behavior, untethered from Biblical morality, has produced a host of societal issues, not the least of which is the prevalence of abortion. I support the overturning of Roe v. Wade, even knowing that that alone will not solve the problem nor, for that matter, can any legislative or judicial fix; problems of the heart can only be solved via a relationship with God in Christ. Further, I wish every person believed the same way.

At any rate, saying all of that, I would support a pro-choice Justice. If that shocks you, please read on, because we need to understand the issues related to the filling of a Supreme Court vacancy such as has now been presented to the President and the Senate with the impending retirement of Anthony Kennedy.

When asked in a 2016 presidential debate what she was looking for in a Supreme Court Justice, Hillary Clinton said, “I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose.” Here’s the shorthand: “I don’t care about what the Constitution says; I want my political position upheld.” Barack Obama spoke of wanting to choose justices who exuded “compassion”. He failed, of course, to explain why “compassion” should have anything to do with the subject (which it shouldn’t, though in general, I am definitely in favor of compassion!). The issue, when it comes to selecting a Supreme Court Justice (well, any judges, for that matter) should be simple, and has exactly nothing to do with political positions: will you interpret and apply the law as it stands written in light of the Constitution of the United States as it stands written and amended, and will you do it with impartiality?

The position of such current “activist” justices can be more or less summed up in the words of the last justice Charles Evans Hughes, who infamously said, “…the Constitution is what the judges say it is.” Currently, there are several justices who have proven time and again that this is their approach to the law. Justice Kennedy has proven to often rule this way. The fact is that we don’t need a “balanced” Court when it comes to judicial philosophy; this is a simple matter of the right way to approach the law as against a wrong way (exemplified in Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, among others).

The question, then, is not whether a judge personally is “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, to use a hotbed issue; the question is whether or not a justice will seek to determine cases based upon attempting to understand the Constitution as written and amended, or whether other prejudices will cause the justice to invent “rights” in keeping with his/her own imagination. Before Roe is evil in its effects, it is bad law based upon bad judicial reasoning. Harry Blackmun waved a magic wand and found a “right to privacy” that no one in nearly two centuries had been able to find in the Constitution (well, because it isn’t there), and then wrote his opinion in Roe v. Wade, striking down abortion restrictions in all fifty states, based upon this figment of his fertile imagination. Other decisions have, throughout the years, been similarly rendered by activist justices (and one aside: enough with the nonsense, voiced recently by Susan Collins, that overturning Roe would constitute “judicial activism”; no, Ms. Collins, one could overturn decisions on end and not be an “activist” if the basis of the overturning involved an attempt to get back to the clear meaning of the Constitution). And while liberals have tended to applaud judicial activism, often because their ends have been accomplished by judicial shortcutting instead of them having to do the difficult, yet Constitutional, work of changing the law and amending the Constitution, their rights–and all of ours–are in peril. When judicial activists have their way, no one’s rights are safe, because such “rights” are grounded only in the minds of those justices, and not in the bedrock of the Constitution, and while the winds of such thought may blow in a liberal direction currently, such winds might change in the future.

Much better then for justices–all nine, preferably–to ground their reasoning in the Constitution. And if this is the case, it matters little what a judge’s personal convictions might be. And thus we’d be far better off with nine justices who might be personally pro-choice, but who see their roles as interpreting the Constitution as written and amended, rather than nine pro-life justices who see the Constitution as a living–or, better put, mutating–document.

I Don’t Know How to Explain to You that You Should Think

Kayla Chadwick, in an article dated 6/26/17 for Huffington Post, leads with “I Don’t Know How to Explain to You That You Should Care About Other People”. I don’t think I am oversimplifying her main thesis to state it thusly: “caring about other people means adopting liberal ‘solutions’ to the problems facing society”, or perhaps, “if you don’t believe that giving more money to the government–and allowing the government to disburse that money to ‘solve problems’–then the only possible reason has to be that you simply don’t care about people.” End of story, over and out: only people like Ms. Chadwick, who believe in her approach to societal problems, can be said to “care”; everyone who doesn’t march in lockstep with this approach is apparently, by definition, a self-centered cretin.

Well.

Ms. Chadwick references three particular issues, and I’ll happily address each one. First, she says she’ll be “happy to pay an extra 4.3 percent” for her fast food burger, adding that we are “fundamentally different people” (meaning a moral pygmy by comparson) to her if we aren’t willing to fork over an extra 17 cents for a Big Mac. Ah, but if it were only that easy…but I don’t know how to explain to her that she should think. Because if she thought–instead of merely “cared”–she might consider the significant evidence that raising the minimum wage hurts the very people it is ostensibly designed to help. The data is plentiful, and the simple economic common sense of it is hard to argue.

She castigates us for not “caring”, but has she no concern for the huge unemployment rate among youth, particularly among black males? Does she think that raising the minimum wage will make this situation better? Does she not care about the small business owner who is barely scraping by, for whom a significant minimum wage raise will be the end? What about his employees; does she not care for them? And we are already seeing an increase in automation in areas where the minimum wage has surged; does she not care about those people’s jobs?

I’m not finished yet…does she not understand that the price of everything will rise as a result, yielding less of a net gain for those beneficiaries of the minimum wage, and by raising the price of goods and services artificially, as the minimum wage does, places even a higher barrier for those who are unemployed, making them more and more dependent upon the government (and what, might I ask, does it do to these people’s sense of value as members of society?)? Does she not think about such things–and if not, what do we have to do to get her to think? And if she does, does she not care about such things?

Ms. Chadwick’s second line of reasoning involves the funding of public schools. Now, I’m not aware of a movement of any strength to deny funding to public education; there are differences, of course, in considering how much funding should go there. That said, there is ample evidence to show that increasing funding to education does not ensure better educational results. George Will did a piece a number of years back where he reached the somewhat tongue-in-cheek conclusion that if a state wanted better education for its students, it ought to move closer to Canada. Why? Because there was at that time at least a greater statistical correlation between proximity to Canada and strong education results than there was between spending more money and achieving results.

Finally, Ms. Chadwick opines about “pay(ing) a little more with each paycheck” to ensure her fellow Americans can access health care; she says we can SIGN (HER) UP. Those who don’t agree with her conclusion are those who don’t, in her words, “experience the basic human emotion of empathy”, and she laments her inability to make these people care. Wonder if she “cares” about people like my wife and myself, who heard Barack Obama promise that if we liked our insurance, we could keep it. Well, we didn’t like it, no, but we liked it a lot better than our cheapest Obamacare option, which would have provided no more coverage at nearly three times the rate we had paid previously. Credit where it’s due: I’m thankful that Obamacare has a “carve-out” for Christian healthcare cost-sharing, which we’ve been able to access. This is not an option, though, for those who are not Christians; does Ms. Chadwick not care about these people? I would remind her that I’m not speaking of people on the verge of poverty; in our case, while we could likely have found a way to “afford” this monstrosity of Obamacare, we’d have had to make draconian cuts elsewhere. Is it really so simple as “paying a little more with each paycheck”, Ms. Chadwick? What do I have to do to get you to think?

She accuses the American right wing of having an “I’ve got mine, so screw you” attitude for decades, and I won’t deny that there are undoubtedly people on the right wing–and a fair number on the left–whose attitude can be summed up thusly, as judged by their actions. I find it interesting, though, and more than a little hypocritical, that those who would applaud themselves for the willingness to try to do good with other people’s money are, quite often, rather stingy with their own. The examples are many of politicians who favor big government approaches but who are less-than-generous toward charity with their own discretionary spending. In fairness, we could cite politicians on both sides of the aisle who do a poor job of willfully contributing to help others–but it would seem that those who claim to “care” about the poor would be the first and most generous to give. Not so. Even Saint Bernard of the Three Houses (D, Vt.), Patron Saint of Socialistic Impulses, whose tax returns show him to be more generous than, say, Joe Biden or Al Gore, gives at a percentile well below that which the Bible suggests is a generous rate; as a person who tries to live by the Bible’s dictates, I can only say I’d feel guilty if in my current financial circumstances, I were to give at a rate equal to the Senator’s. What do I have to do, Mr. Sanders, to get you to care, at least enough to give generously to people in need?

Here’s the bottom line: all of these are important issues. All of these matter to real people living real lives. There is room for honest discussion and debate when it comes to such matters; it is my belief that genuine conservative principles lead to greater advancement for the poor than do liberal ones. Bring your facts to the table, and I’ll bring mine–but only if you are willing to think. But to assume the moral high ground as an unassailable fact; to close off one’s mind to a reasonable, evidence-based discussion of these things; to castigate others who don’t believe that the government is the ablest distributor of our money as being “uncaring”, “unimaginably callous…selfish, cruel people”–simply because we choose to think differently about the best means to truly help every person in society–is either naive, disingenuous, or both. Regardless, it is to wall itself off from the very thing that is needed: solutions that are first rational and reasonable, and colored by genuine compassion.

If this doesn’t work, then I guess I don’t know how to explain to you that you should think.