Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March Gilbert Editorial

Dad49hobbits requested that this month's lead editorial be published on line so that he could send links to friends and family to read. His wish is our command. Here is the editorial in full (and here is the link):
Editorial 12.5

“Ideals,” says G.K. Chesterton, “are the most practical thing in the world.” This is why we still defend the family. This is why we insist on the ideal of marriage as a permanent union between... read more...one man and one woman that creates the only proper setting for bringing new souls into the world. Governments and other institutions outside the family must not interfere with this purely natural act.

In the last century, social trends have steadily moved in the opposite direction. Attacks upon marriage and the family are no longer a matter of a few loud critics getting testy at quaint ideas of morality; the ideal of traditional marriage has gone from being attacked to being brazenly ignored. But if society at large does not understand the moral arguments for the family, perhaps it will gain some appreciation for their practical application. And the recent bad news has been good news in this regard. Arguments in favor of marriage and the family have received a significant boost with the collapse of the world’s financial markets and the continuing economic fallout.

An economy built on massive lending and spending cannot be sustained. The reason it cannot be sustained is not merely economic, but moral. A purely consumer economy embraces material wealth as its ultimate goal, and regards people as a commodity to be bought and sold to achieve that goal. Such an economy is selfish and therefore self-destructive.

An economy based on the family is self-sustaining. Its focus is on the nurturing and training of children and not on the mere acquisition of goods. The family ideal as defended by Chesterton is something quite different from the industrialized consumer family, where family members leave the house each morning by the clock and on a strict schedule to pursue work and recreation and a life outside the home. Chesterton's ideal is the productive home with its creative kitchen, its busy workshop, its fruitful garden, and its central role in entertainment, education, and livelihood. Unlike the industrial home, life in a productive household is not amenable to scheduling. It is anything but predictable.

The only thing surprising about this ideal is that it was once shared by almost everyone. Children used to be considered an asset; at some point they began to be seen as a liability.

Chesterton saw the beginning of this problem when he noticed people preferring to buy amusements for their own enjoyment rather than to have children. He pointed out prophetically that children are a far better form of entertainment than electrical gadgets. The irony today is that the retailers that sell the electronic amusements are going out of business because there are not enough people to buy their merchandise.

But there is another reason why children are now considered a liability. The presence of children doesn’t merely make other material desires cost-prohibitive; they are cost-prohibitive in themselves. Children must be educated, and the costs of educating them have become crushing. A college education is the most overpriced product on the market, and the most over-rated as well. Many parents sacrifice nearly everything to send their children to college, where their heads are filled with doubts and destructive ideas that undermine all their parents have taught them.

But there are fewer parents because there are fewer children.

When social security was instituted, each retiree was supported by fifteen workers. Now each retiree is supported by three workers. Those of us who are still working spend fifteen percent of our income to support those who aren’t working.

The lack of domestic life in modern culture is reflected in the fact that its participants don’t have a domestic economy. We don’t produce anything. Workers are now experiencing massive layoffs, but the people losing their jobs (no offense to them) were not producing anything. They were selling things that other people made, or paid with borrowed money to sit at a desk and computer terminal, their wages calculated in such a way that they might also go into debt. Now the financial center of the country has moved from New York to Washington, DC, as Gudge has passed the baton to Hudge, who has promised that all the problems that were caused by too much borrowing will be solved by even more borrowing. Whom shall we borrow from? Our own grandchildren.

But the younger generation cannot pay the debts of the older generation because we have committed demographic suicide. We are paying a very high price, not only for slaughtering our unborn children but for preventing their conception in the first place. In fact, we have demonstrated that we cannot afford the high price.

We have seen the natural consequences of unnatural acts. We are witnessing a monumental economic disaster that is not the result of inflation or recession but of the devaluation of children.

Chesterton reminds us that every high civilization decays by forgetting obvious things. The obvious things are the ordinary things, and we have forgotten them. The world we have created has brought about such great strain and stress that even the things that normal men have normally desired are no longer desirable: “marriage and fair ownership and worship and the mysterious worth of man.” Those are the normal and ordinary things. Those are the things we have lost, and we need to recover them.

“The disintegration of rational society,” adds Chesterton, “started in the drift from the hearth and the family; the solution must be a drift back.”


  1. thanks!


  2. I have sent this editorial to a bunch of people on my email list and have gotten positive responses.

  3. In Mexico, many years ago, when you helped someone they blessed you by saying "God will pay you with children!"


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