Friday, March 28, 2008

Bleeding heart conservatives?

In the media and policy arenas, conservatives are portrayed as cold and heartless to the needs of others. While of course liberals are full of compassion for the downtrodden and less fortunate. Well, if you consider what conservatives and liberals actually do with their own money the exact
opposite is true.

This is pointed out by a George Will column entitled, "Conservatives more Liberal Givers". And highlighted by charitable giving patterns of Barak Obama who in 2002 gave only $1,050 to charity
despite having income of $259,000; this was the year before he ran for the US Senate. (The last two years his giving has gone up because of royalties from a book he wrote have increased his income dramatically.)

Will highlights Professor Arthur C. Brooks' book, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism."

Will points out:
-- Although liberal families' incomes average 6 percent higher than those of
conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30
percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600
per year vs. $1,227).

-- Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood...

-- Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above

-- In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent
majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was
3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent,
donated just 1.9 percent.

-- People who reject the idea that "government has a responsibility to
reduce income inequality" give an average of four times more than people who
accept that proposition.

Brooks demonstrates a correlation between charitable behavior and "the
values that lie beneath" liberal and conservative labels. Two influences on
charitable behavior are religion and attitudes about the proper role of
All of this flows from one's worldview. Will quotes an individual who says religious beliefs are the biggest indicator of charitable giving patterns. Of course, religion is a major shaper of worldview for most people. If you think it's government's responsibility to care for the poor then you don't need to be personally charitable. However, if you believe you have a God-given responsibility to be personally generous, to help others then you'll be more generous.

Marvin Olasky pointed out in his book, "The Tragedy of American Compassion", the word compassion presumes personal involvement. And that personal element is what really changes lives. Why? Because that's where the moral, spiritual and personal challenge arises, the tough love which is necessary to change lives. (At their core, most of people's personal problems are moral in nature.) And these elements are inherently absent from government social programs.

The moral of the story? Talk is often cheap. What one does with one's time and treasure are the best indicator of who really cares.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is prostitution a victimless crime?

It wasn't surprising when former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was caught engaging a prostitute that supporters of decriminalizing prostitition would speak out. Their usual argument is what private consenting adults do in private is nobody else's business. Of course that argument is also used to criticise anti-gambling, -drug, -adultery, -sodomy and -fornication laws. (Yes, Minnesota still has laws on the books against sodomy and fornication.)

An excellent retort to legalizers of prostitution appeared in the Star Tribune; written by a former prostitute Christine Stark.

As a formerly prostituted child and young adult, I disagree that prostitution should be legalized. Prostitution is an industry of sexual exploitation, predominately of women and youth. Prostituted women and youth are raped, beaten and otherwise tortured by pimps and johns. A study in Canada reveals that prostituted women and girls have a 40 percent higher mortality rate than nonprostituted women and girls.

Many of the women lack high-school educations. Many end up with severe physical, mental and emotional disabilities. Another study also reports that prostituted women have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder than war veterans.

Most prostituted women and youth are coerced by poverty, racism, lack of opportunity, and drug and alcohol addictions. The average age of prostitution is 13 in the United States, so a woman has likely been abused for five years when she turns 18 and supposedly chooses to be a whore.

Another study conducted with thousands of prostituted people found that 89 percent of those interviewed wanted to get out of prostitution immediately. This backs up what those of us used in prostitution know from experience: Prostitution is organized rape and battery of women and youth, and the vast majority of those in it want out now.

Studies in countries where prostitution is legal reveal that when prostitution is legalized, international and domestic trafficking increases, child prostitution increases, and the women are actually treated worse because the johns become more violent. What we need are better laws that treat as sexual predators those who use, rape, batter and kill prostituted women and youth.

I argue private behaviors have public consequences. They undermine the morals of the community and it's appropriate to protect the public welfare. Of course, in our moral relativist, radically individualist society that's not a popular position, yet human nature hasn't changed and the devastation wrought by illicit sexual behavior, for instance, is there for everyone to see. A prime example is the HIV/AIDS crisis which costs society billions of dollars annually and results in untold death, disease and human suffering. It's spread is nearly exclusively through illicit sex and drug use.

Of course laws don't eliminate any activities, just look at laws against murder, but they serve as a societal statement of right and wrong and do discourage the behaviors in question.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Baby selling" and "designer babies" bills pushed in House and Senate

The legislation constitutes legalized baby selling and raises the specter of the state encouraging the new eugenics – designer babies.

The bills, HF 3448 (Tingelstad) and SF 2965 (Higgins), authorize the establishment of legally enforceable gestational carrier agreements which would require Minnesota courts to enforce contracts between an intended parent or parents and a third party birth mother who is hired for money to birth the baby and turn it over to the intended parent.

The Senate bill would also eliminate the use of the word “father” and spousal terminology (husband, wife) in such agreements.

Gestational and surrogacy agreements mean:

Baby selling – not a contract for services

The agreement is structured around the transfer of the baby after birth. Failure of the birth mother to turn over the child would constitute breach of the agreement and the intended parent(s) could sue to obtain the child.

Very few women would serve as surrogates if they were not compensated.

The agreement allows the intended parent(s) to “pay the gestational carrier reasonable compensation” which goes beyond legal, medical or other professional expenses. There is no limit on “reasonable” compensation.

Ignores the “Best interest of the child”
The legislation completely ignores the rights and interests of the unborn child. They’re merely an object in a contractual exchange between the birth mother and intended parent.

There is no provision to guarantee that the child have a mother and a father. And, any rights are based “solely on the evidence of the parties’ original intent.” There is no judicial authority to truly determine what is in the child’s best interest.

Promotes designer children

The intended parent or parents can use donated eggs and/or sperm to create this new child, opening the door for the new eugenics - designer babies.

Destruction of human beings, i.e. embryos

Surrogacy agreements create a market designed to supply embryos. Excess embryos will result in destruction or freezing. Encouraging this market will cause destruction of human life.

Exploits women

Society recognizes prostitution as an exploitation of women for sexual purposes. Compensation of women for reproductive purposes is no different.

The state is redefining the concept of motherhood

Motherhood is now subject to contractual agreements entered into before the baby is even conceived. Redefining the “birth mother” as a “gestational carrier” exposes this effort.

The state is encouraging redefinition of family

Children are becoming commodities created at the whim of people who then “sell” them to other individuals. Gestational and surrogacy agreements weaken the biological/genetic link and sociological basis for family and parental relationships established for generations.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Because it's unhealthy: 2

From Gary Bauer

Liberalism Is Hazardous To Your Health
After decades of the sexual revolution, the feminist movement, Planned Parenthood and “values free” education telling our kids to “explore their sexuality” and “if it feels good do it,” the adverse health effects of liberal moral values are becoming painfully clear. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the results of a study on teen sexual activity. The findings were shocking. “At least one in four teenage American girls has a sexually transmitted disease,” reported the Associated Press.

Some of these diseases will stay with them for a lifetime. Some may cause cancer and infertility. Predictably, the Left used the report to condemn abstinence-based education and to demand more public tax money for condoms and birth control pills. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, told the Associated Press, “The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure, and teenage girls are paying the real price.” But I have to wonder how many teenage girls had sexually transmitted diseases before American taxpayers were forced to subsidize Planned Parenthood?

But wait there’s more. Reuters reports today on another CDC release noting that syphilis rates are up for the seventh straight year. According to the Reuters story, “Homosexual and bisexual men accounted for 64 percent of syphilis cases in 2007,” and “Syphilis rates have been surging in homosexual and bisexual men in the past decade…” This is a major health concern because, according to one CDC epidemiologist, “Syphilis can increase the likelihood of HIV transmission two to fivefold.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One in four teen girls in US infected with STI

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention just reported that one in four teen girls in the U.S. has a sexually transmitted infection (STI). (A little more than 3 million girls.) Among girls who admitted having had sex, the rate was 40 percent.

One in four. 40%.

How does that make you feel about your own daughters chances?

And don't fool yourself into thinking this is just about intercourse. STI's can occur via heavy petting, oral sex, or mutual masturbation.

Wake up, this isn't the 60's anymore when the threat of infection was largely limited to syphilis and gonorrhea. Five decades of foreplay have unleashed approximately 25 STD/STI's.

Do you really believe she will avoid infection by learning how to use a condom or dental dam - at school?

That feeling in your gut is telling you that sex education programs are not working. The reason, IMHO, is because they are driven by an unhealthy ideology. Sadly, however, most sex education sponsors are in denial the ideology exists - even as our daughters pay a heavy price.

Denial is easy to identify. Look for it every time you hear someone demean, belittle or blame abstinence. We should also look for it in the mirror. We will never, ever, protect our daughters until we come clean and tell them that the ideology of the sexual revolution has failed.

In other words, the rise in STDs, teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are the result of a progressive ideology towards sexual behavior - not because of a lack of education about salves, creams, abortions, condoms, dental dams, pills and vaccines.

Go ahead - tell her.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Should Minnesota get rid of contested judicial elections and who should be selecting our judges?

Early last month the Star Tribune came out in favor of the Quie Judicial Selection Commission legislation which is working it's way through the state legislature this session. It's already had a couple of hearings.

The legislation is a constitutional amendment proposal which is quite far reaching. It would eliminate the current contested judicial elections in favor of retention elections, lengthen judge terms from 6 to 8 years, establish a judicial selection committee which would provide the governor with three candidates from which to select a judge, and establish a judicial evaluation committee to review the performance of judges.

What's motivated the commission proposal is fear, especially among some current judges, over the prospect of having full blown, contested elections in the Minnesota. In neighbor Wisconsin, a race for a seat on the Wisconsin state Supreme Court recently saw $6 million spent by the candidates.

I testified last week on the proposed legislation SF 2401. I said that while I don't oppose moving away from contested elections, I believe judicial terms should remain at 6 years and a voter initiated retention election process should be established to remove a bad judge before his or her 6 year term is up.

I said the fundamental principle which should guide any reform is judicial accountability to the public. Different aspects of the proposal move away from public accountability and establish a more elite, legal establishment judicial selection process. For instance, the selection committee would be comprised of unelected, unaccountable individuals deciding who our judges will be. And the performance evaluation group, also unelected and unaccountable individuals, would decide at times in private which judges are qualified and which aren't. Under the proposal, I think judges will be more bland, establishment, MN Bar Association- type lawyers. Unorthodox and particularly talented individuals would have a more difficult time getting appointed to the bench.

I think the legislation goes too far in trying to overall our constitutional judicial system in one fall swoop. The proposal should have been more narrowly drawn.

Will it get on the ballot in 2008? Hard to say. There was quite a bit of opposition, as well as support, from judges. Also, Phil Carruthers, former DFL speaker of the House and a Ramsey County prosecutor testified against it. In favor were Governor Quie and former Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe. Given the wide variety of opinion on the bill, it would probably be hard to get it through all the various committees it has to pass in this year's short legislative session. The more hearings mean the more questions raised. As with most wide ranging legislation, it usually takes more than one session to get it through the process. So 2010 might be a better bet.