So Where Have All the Children Gone?

It seems that in a piece I wrote last week deploring the sharp decline in fertility rates across the affluent West, not everyone agreed with my thesis that a world without children is not something we should welcome, and that couples therefore ought to be encouraged to have more of them.   One irate reader had become so incensed that he accused me of “posturing,” on the grounds that because I’m a tenured professor from Steubenville, where the living is easy, and make heaps of money, I can well afford to have children and so feel  “morally superior” to those couples that do not.

Having thus pilloried my position as one of “unusual privilege when it comes to being able to raise and support a large family,” he ended by saying that “I have found that those who are materially secure tend to have little appreciation of what it is like to be materially insecure.”

Sharing his reaction with my wife, we practically fell down on the floor laughing, since the one constant in our life together has been the complete absence of material security.  In fact, we live so far from the land of plenty that I’m often forced to write articles to help pay the bills.  And just as soon as I finish writing this one, I shall go and share the joke with my colleagues at the University, who will be similarly amused to learn how lucky we are to be making all these big bucks in a place like Steubenville where, my critic tells me, the cost of living “is so exceptionally cheap.”

The whole episode has put me in mind of where I was exactly five years ago this week when, in search of cash, I flew all the way to Utah to give a retreat to a Cistercian community of monks.  As wrenching as it was to be gone so long, we sorely needed the money, and the stipend they offered was truly generous.  So there I was that bitterly cold week in January, high up in the mountains, beset by snow and ice, the occasional moose and, of course, the longing to be home with my wife and kids.

Indeed, I spoke to fewer than twenty souls, the youngest of whom was nearly seventy.  It had been more than twenty years, the Abbot ruefully admitted, since anyone had showed up to try his vocation.  He did not stay long, however, the rigors of monastic life having driven him clean off the mountain.  Meanwhile, my chief worry that week was whether the monks would actually survive long enough to justify my getting paid to give the retreat.

They all managed to pull through, of course, although I’ve since learned that the Abbey itself will not long survive, due to a lack of fresh blood with which to infuse an otherwise dying order.  And why is that?  Because, as I tried to say in the earlier piece on the looming demographic disaster that awaits us, the future belongs to the fertile.  It belongs to those who show up.  And whether it’s a monastery where no one seems willing to show up in order to risk everything for God, or a marriage bed whose mentality of not wanting life bespeaks the refusal to be generous, without at least some openness to life—the defining theme, no less, of love, of eros—there can only be death.  What else follows upon the extinction of love if not death?  A  triumphant thantos is the fate that falls upon those who make no provision for the future.

On at least two fronts, then, the marital and the monastic, the signs unmistakably point to a state of complete demographic demise.   Unless steps are taken to arrest and reverse the trend, it will ineluctably usher in a winter without end.

Well, now, that certainly is an icebreaker.  Is it true?  Surely the signs are not so difficult to read. It should not require, I am saying, the subtleties of rocket science to decipher the data.  People are simply not having as many children as they once did and, that being the case, the numbers available for choosing the religious life when they finally grow up have diminished as well.  Families flush with children have always been sources of vocational life.  And while the figures have not yet reached the levels of devastation we find elsewhere—among the Europeans, say, who appear quite cheerfully to be committing race suicide—nevertheless, when growing numbers of U.S. households are reportedly without children, that is hardly grounds for complacence.  If couples need a reason to procreate, why has it become so elusive a matter nowadays to find one?

What, after all, does sex signify?  Babies.  Yes, there is much else besides, and the culture is so awash with it that soon not even monastic outposts will escape drowning.  But the sexual act must also include an openness to receive life, to venture out into the unknown, the future, into the very arms of the mystery of God. Whose very name means life:  I AM WHO AM! thunders the God of Israel.  Is this not the mode of being that is most purely Catholic?  First you have nature, then grace.  The one to penetrate, the other to perfect.  What on earth would there be for grace to do if, God help us, there were no natures around for grace to baptize?  Or if the weight of nature’s resistance were such that nothing could reach into the very marrow of its life in order to transfigure it all unto glory?  “Grace,” declares the poet Hopkins, “rides time like a river.”  It does not merely skim the surface of the material world, the sphere of sex; no, it bores deep down into the life of men and women, all the way to their hidden and Christ-centered lives.  Only then, says Fr. Hopkins, may Christ “play in ten thousand places, / Lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his, / To the Father through the features of men’s faces.”

What I want to say is this, which is true even when we fail to uphold its lofty standard:  That neither the Christian God, nor the pagan goddess Venus, whose symbolism includes the springs of life and renewal—of fertility and birth—will be satisfied by any false or prophylactic homage.  And that when we see so many couples in flight from life—from the whole meaning and thrust of eros—refusing even to have babies for fear of the attendant grief and challenge of trying to raise them, it is the sexual itself that has given secret shape to their neuroses.  That to say no to life, to the little children we will not suffer to come unto us, is tantamount to  saying no to sex, since the full meaning of the latter necessarily implies an openness to having them.  Where else should they come from?  Petri dishes?

In point of fact, for us to allow any disconnect between the pleasures of intercourse and the purpose and meaning of the act, is to mount an assault no less upon Venus than upon God.  It is to outrage both the mythos on which the whole ancient world depended, and the Logos of the true God on whom that world would later come to depend for its deliverance.  Venus, too, must be given her due.  Daughter of Jupiter (Zeus) and the earth goddess Dione, she represents the fruitfulness of the union between the rain-giving sky and the fecundity of earth.  Thus her claim to being the universal figure for the feminine, the woman whose whole being cries out for love and life.  Why else draw her as emerging miraculously from the sea, as the artist Botticelli famously did, standing her atop a scallop-shell, the Greek and Latin names for which (kteis, concha) point to the whole  mystery of female reproduction.

If the world will not accept this truth, this ancient and binding axiom on which so much depends, then (as I tried to point out in my piece) it probably does not deserve to survive.  A fairly moot point, as it happens, since the consequence of the world’s failure to recognize the exigencies of eros will deplete the planet of people in any case.  The life force having spent itself, a bored and weary race will simply collapse beneath the weight of its own ennui. 

Editor’s note: The image above entitled “The Birth of Venus” was paint by Sandro Botticelli in 1486. 

Regis Martin

By

Regis Martin is Professor of Theology and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Martin is the author of a number of books, including Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Our Search for God (2012) and The Beggar's Banquet (Emmaus Road). His most recent book, also published by Emmaus Road, is called Witness to Wonder: The World of Catholic Sacrament. He resides in Steubenville, Ohio, with his wife and ten children.

  • ForChristAlone

    While the number of children in a family and new recruits to the religious life are very important, they are mere indicators for the malaise of our culture. What is essential to what ails us is that we are living in a world without love. Yes, erotic love suffers in the current milieu but agape love – that selfless love of self as a gift to another – is the cancer. Christ came so that the sick might be healed. The sickness has been diagnosed; now the application of the healing balm.

  • Don

    While I agree that declining fertility rates will create a wide range of problems for many countries, the population of the United States continues to grow at a substantial rate. The demographics of US growth, however, suggest economic and cultural shifts that may be far more concerning than low birth rates. In raw numbers, the population of the US grows by over 2,000,000 annually – like growing a new Denver every year. The problem for the US is that this growth is driven almost exclusively by immigration – legal and illegal. (legal immigration is already the most liberal in the world). While the US history is one of immigration, the nation has never taken on numbers like this over such a long period. Moreover, the growth in public assistance programs to which these newcomers avail themselves are more extensive than ever. Couple those programs with the fact that the vast majority of immigrants are low-skilled and generate little in tax revenue and the economic future of the US looks challenging to say the least.

    • The native indigenous population of N. America would interject at your use of “never” above.

      • Don

        Augustine, I’m certain we have never met so calling my post bigoted is rather judgmental. Before you judge, I urge you to look into the matter for yourself to determine (1) whether my numbers are incorrect. The point of the article was to suggest a shrinking population – I assert the facts do not support that proposition in the US; (2) whether federally funded programs existed a century ago and whether those programs can be sustained in indefinitely. My post indicates that the US today is a much different place than it was a century ago and that, in my view, there will be negative consequences by holding on to an outdated immigration policy. You may disagree with me and I defend your right to do so – but please debate me on the facts rather than resorting to name-calling. I do wish you well.

        • The solution to problem (2) is not doing away with immigration, but cutting the federally funded programs.

          But, in all honesty, you come across as someone who objects to the ethnic make up of those low-skilled immigrants. Let me just point out to you that all the panhandlers I see are always American-born, while immigrants toil under the hard sun manicuring lawns and erecting buildings.

          • musicacre

            I agree! My husband was an immigrant with his family at the age of six, and they NEVER accepted a penny of government money.

          • Don

            Indeed, the elimination of federal programs would do it – but Congress isn’t going that direction nor is it changing direction with immigration policy. Because neither policy is likely to change, my thesis that the US will face a challenging economic future would appear to be valid. Believe what you desire, but my position is based on facts.

            As to your assessment of my position on the ethnicity of immigrants, you are flatly wrong and nothing in my posts suggest otherwise. The fact that you jumped to that conclusion based on a one paragraph post reveals your own bias on the subject.

            • Then it’s Congress’ problem that they further injustice. Your duty before God is to further justice, in spite of the failure of Congress to do so.

              • Adam__Baum

                Justice also demands not dismissing people who are making prudential decisions that differ from yours as being motivated by ethnic bias or xenophobia.

                Nobody has accused you of xenophilia.

                • Oh, but many comments here betray ethnic bias and xenophobia. Justice and charity demands me to point them out, lest bigots and xenophobes live with such sinful notions because nobody in their echo chamber ever pointed this out in them.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    They betray nothing of the sort. You have steadfastly refused to offer any refutation other accusation. In the vernacular, that means “you got nothing”.

      • Adam__Baum

        “Never mind the waves of low-skilled immigration a century ago that made this country great.”

        My immigrant great grandmother, born in 1889, lived to the age of 94. In her last decade of life, she lived with my grandmother. She was naturalized in her 20’s, and kept sixty plus year old municipal tax records for fear of losing that citizenship. I know because she occasionally rumpled through her old trunk to ensure that she still had them and my grandmother explained that she feared deportation, even six decades after becoming a citizen. She raised seven children that lived to maturity on a coal miner’s earnings, no welfare-took in borders, raised chickens and milked a cow. She arrived with five bucks and died with not much more, but she was never a ward of the state and was grateful that she wasn’t in her native country in the teens and 1940’s.

        Not only do I not see xenophobia in Don’s post, I resent comparison of my great-grandmother and those people who asked for nothing but a chance to people slip across the border, get on the dole and brazenly march in the streets demanding suffrage, law licenses and citizenship. Absolutely no comparison.

        • Don

          Thanks Adam – an excellent question for the Bishops!

        • Basically, you’re suggesting that immigrants should live in fear and put up with all kinds of abuses without speaking up. And then you suggest that those hard-working men in the bed of landscaping pickup trucks are on the dole… If this isn’t a xenophobic post, what is?

          • Adam__Baum

            Do you understand the term xenophobic, or is it your “race card”.

            I’m not suggesting IMMIGRANTS live in fear. IMMIGRANTS do not live in fear. IMMIGRANTS enter lawfully. Nobody forces people to enter illegally. My building is full of IMMIGRANTSs who entered lawfully, so I know there’s no reason to “live in fear”.

            Then again, ALIENS don’t live in fear, otherwise they would gather in the streets.

            It is a fact that there are laws that preclude unlawful entry into this nation and every other one. It’s extremely interesting that we are routinely lectured by politicians of other nations whose treatment of illegal aliens lacks the summary approval to all comers they want us to extend to our aliens.

            It is not a suggestion, but a fact, that criminals live in fear. I know an individual who failed to file his 1040, even though he was due a refund and was a CPA, so he lived in fear. If I decide to propel my car down the road in excess of the legal limit, I will fear interaction with the police. Nobody is calling for tax amnesty or the eradication of speed limits, because of the existence of lawbreakers.

            If there’s any injustice here, it’s that this government that fails to ensure that entrants don’t present danger to it’s citizens, whether from a pressure cooker full of missiles or diseases we thought eradicated, because a motley coalition of utopian libertarians, , bleeding hearts, dependency mining politicians and cheap labor seeking mercenaries lobby politicians to ignore legitimate laws.

            • I know what xenophobia is; it’s this: “entrants… from a pressure cooker full of missiles or diseases.”

              QED

              • Adam__Baum

                Like I said the all-purpose race card.

                • Very much indeed.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    At least you acknowledge that all you have is name calling.

    • The hole in your numbers: we need those immigrants to make up for the one million Americans a year that we are killing outright, for the crime of being unwanted.

      • Don

        Respectfully, I don’t believe that is a “hole.” The point of the article is to indicate that the absence of native born children will cause a population decline. I cannot comment as to Europe but in the US, that simply isn’t true because of immigration. We can disagree as to what level of immigration is appropriate, but the numbers are what they are – and they show the US population is growing at a significant pace.

        • In Europe it is true also- just most of their immigration is Islamic, not Mexican.

  • David Mayrose

    They may in fact eventually come from “Petri dishes”.

    • Rusty

      Petri dishes, or any other way that desperate would-be parents can find to conceive a child.

      For all the philosophical musings about love, it is always coupled with reality – what can two people who love one another “do” with their life together?

      Technology, per se, should never be ruled out absolutely – it is inherently useful in achieving certain ends. That does not make it evil. It seems to me that an inflexible approach to sexuality is as much about denial as it is about upholding the highest aims of love. For those of us not perfect enough in pursuing the ideal, for whom the fears and exigencies of life do not permit us to trust in providence absolutely, what is there for us?

      I daresay that while God has set the standard, none of us actually measure up. What then? Forgiveness! That my wife and I have three children, two of whom (twins) were the result of treatment at a fertility clinic, is for no-one to condemn. The particular technology did not involve in-vitro fertilization, but it certainly was assistance outside the act of making love.

      I sometimes find that the simple faith that Christ called us to follow gets lost in rules and regulations set by philosophers and theologians, but not articulated that way by Christ Himself. That I am a sinner and yet have faith (albeit “little” at times) is a mark of the human condition. Repentence is a life-long journey as each of us seek to know and love God more fully, every day.

      Choosing not to have children may or may not be selfish, in the circumstances. To not live up to the ideal is human. Encouragement, not judgment or condemnation, would appear to be the response we are called to provide our fellow Christians.

  • BillinJax

    We have only to observe the success of the Duggar family to see the blessings possible when children are regarded as gifts from God to be given life and loved for His sake. It is just that most of us don’t have the guts to go there out of self doubt or pure fear of our society’s embarrassment.

    • slainte

      The Duggars are good and holy people who placed their faith in God and have been richly blessed. Their quiver is full.

  • Jay

    Thanks you for the article. My wife and I are having trouble conceiving. I know this might be an odd place to ask this, but do you mind saying a prayer my wife and myself? Thanks you.

    • grzybowskib

      Prayers going up!

    • slainte

      Prayers already remitted on your and your wife’s behalf. May you be richly blessed in this holy endeavor.

    • Prayers for you, as I and my wife struggle with this ourselves (one child in 15 years of marriage).

  • Regis Martin

    Dear Jay, I’d be honored and delighted to do so.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    I can certainly endorse, with laughter, what my colleague writes here about the financial insecurity of the professor’s life. Throughout most of my 25 years of teaching, my salary has easily placed me well below the federal poverty guidelines for a family the size of mine. I make ends meet through an absurd assortment of part-time endeavors, drive rusted out automobiles, take my children to a poverty dental clinic in West Virginia, and I could count on one hand the number of real vacations I have taken in my adult life. Of course, Dr. Martin’s loftier thoughts here are also true. Nothing replaces the joy of children. Even on those long, sleepless nights spent rocking a feverish child, I have always felt it was an incredible privilege to hold another life in my arms. I have made many mistakes in my life, and have a few regrets, as do most people my age, but my biggest regret is that my wife and I were able to have only nine children. A dozen would have been nicer, but I guess I’m just being covetous now…

    • ForChristAlone

      You are an example for the rest of us. And I do not care what people say, at the end of the day they are secretly envious of you and realize that you are far richer than the rest of us could ever hope to be.

    • As Mark Regnerus said when I answered him that I had ONLY two children, only after converting to the Catholic Faith did he hear the adjective “only” in the answer by practicing Catholics to the question about how many children one had.

    • musicacre

      That’s what I tell my daughter now, our only regret is that we had only 6, one in heaven….a dozen would have been nice! Good times, bad time, our children look back at it as their precious childhood which seemed to them to be all adventures!

    • Nestorian

      Yes, but what about regular medical care? Do you have medical insurance for yourself and all your children? If so, that is a HUGE monetary benefit – one that literally tens of millions of Americans have not had access to for decades. How would you have managed to raise your own children without this benefit? The fact is that dental care is at least an order of magnitude less expensive than medical care.

      • That’s where the Roman Catholic Church way outdoes everybody else in the world, Nestorian. There is always medical care available for the needy. They only need ask. And we don’t need the government to do it for us.

        • Nestorian

          And do you know this yourself, from personal experience? When was the last time that you, as a needy person, sought medical care from a Catholic agency, and received it gratis?

          • Yes, I did. It’s been 20 years, but yes I did. And I know that all over the world, there are many Catholic orders working in the medical field even today.

          • fredx2

            Are you saying that such things do not happen?

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        At present, I do have the benefit of a decent medical plan. However, I taught for years at a state university, where I could not afford the monthly premium payments for my wife and children, and so had no insurance. From this experience, I learned that it has always been true that the uninsured are, first of all, charged considerably less for medical benefits than people who have insurance, and they are given much greater leeway in regards to paying off medical bills. In addition, although we did not use them because we wished to avoid entanglements with social agencies, there are a dizzying number of programs to assist the uninsured and the lower income in general. The real issue for Dr. Martin and myself is this: we gave up every material luxury that most Americans take for granted in choosing to follow God’s plan for our families. We have zero “disposable income.” Like the Martins, the Williams family manages to pay its bills (though not always on time) and that is all.

        • Nestorian

          And what about your students – many of whom are probably graduating in droves with huge student loans and dismal job prospects? In case you haven’t noticed, the very young adults whom you earn your living teaching are facing a huge and growing social crisis that individuals of Regis Martin’s generation, and probably of your own, did not face.
          Would you think any less of your students morally if they chose to have few children on account of being in this predicament? In what ways exactly would you explain to them that their massive debt and dismal career prospects fit in with God’s plan for their life?

          • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

            The student loan situation is indeed a crisis, and the faculty have raised the issue many times with the administration, who seem oblivious to the problem. For your information, however, it is not as new a problem as you might think. To be a college professor involves a very, very long period of training. I was 32 years old when I obtained my first full-time position, which is about average for the profession. En route, I borrowed a great deal to finance 10 years of graduate school, and my own student loans were only fully paid off when I was 45 years old. None of that is relevant in a discussion of marriage and children. For most people, there is never “enough” money to accept God’s plan for the family.

            • Nestorian

              On the contrary, it is very relevant. If you took financial risks in having children when you were in debt and in a situation of insecure employment, you are very fortunate indeed in having things work out reasonably well in the end. There are probably many in this country who are roughly your age, and who took similar risks, for whom things did not work out nearly as well.

              As to students of the present, I can assure you, the economy is in the incipient stages of an essentially permanent depression. Statistically speaking, the students for whom you voice your concern in your post will not be nearly as fortunate as you were if they choose to take the same kinds of risks that it seems you may have. They are therefore well-advised to postpone having children as a matter of economic prudence – just as they would have been well-advised as a matter of economic prudence never to have taken out student loans that they cannot pay back in the first place.

              • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

                I have many times advised students to leave Franciscan University because of their intention to go heavily into debt to pursue a B.A. in theology, or something of the sort. I have also discouraged various nieces and nephews from attending school here, and sent them to our competitors. I would even go so far as to say that the business model at Franciscan University unsustainable. However, I also know that the explosion in the cost of a university education is directly attributable to the availability of federal loan programs. Eliminate the possibility of student debt, and you force universities to adopt realistic, morally defensible budgets. Like all universities, Franciscan could immediately eliminate two thirds of all staff positions with no impact whatsoever on the quality of education provided (unless it be to actually improve it).

                • Nestorian

                  OK, but the fact is that, as a faculty member at Franciscan University yourself – as I have in the meantime ascertained you are – probably half or more your own salary is directly dependent upon student loan debt (correct me if I am wrong; I have not attended the faculty meetings where these details were disclosed).
                  Yet you know that a substantial percentage of students who incur this debt will have no way of paying it back. Is your salary thus not based in substantial measure based upon economic exploitation? How can your position of profiting off the backs of their pending indentured servitude possibly be morally justified?
                  The same line of questioning goes, by the way, for Professor Martin.

                  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

                    I think you’re missing the point of where the money comes from, and where it goes. You began your objections with the assumption that university faculty are well-paid, and that our salaries must therefore constitute the significant part of a university budget. This is simply not the case. Universities have exploded into huge corporations, with 90% of their activities having nothing to do with teaching or learning. It’s not quite that bad at Franciscan (yet) but it’s getting there. There are plenty of smaller schools (and some very good Catholic ones) that do not permit students to borrow heavily, and that have little much more reasonable budgets.

                    • Nestorian

                      Yes, but the fact is that you personally – and Dr. Martin also – benefit from the spoils. And I never claimed that you and Dr. Martin were rich, merely that you were financially secure. And whether one is well-paid or not is a relative matter – undoubtedly both you and Dr. Martin earn significantly above the national median income, and the financial benefit of that privilege is magnified by the fact that your area has an unusually low cost of living.
                      Also, correct me if am wrong when I assert that at least half of the annual operating revenues at Franciscan University come, ultimately, from loans that students have incurred. Is that correct or not?
                      And if the model at Steubenville is a corrupt, corporate-driven one, then why don’t you leave and find work at a University that takes advantage of its students less and runs a leaner operation – such as one of the smaller, very good Catholic schools that you mention?

                    • slainte

                      Nestorian the Statist opines,

                      “…And I never claimed that you and Dr. Martin were rich, merely that you were financially secure. And whether one is well-paid or not is a relative matter – undoubtedly both you and Dr. Martin earn significantly above the national median income, and the financial benefit of that privilege….”
                      Thou shalt not covet thy neightbor’s goods Nestorian.
                      Class warfare is boring and trite….an argument for losers.
                      Go to work Nestorian; it’s time you moved out of your parents basement and got a job.

                    • Nestorian

                      I do not think I have “missed the point of where the money comes from.” It comes in very substantial measure from student tuitions, does it not? And I continue to raise moral objections to your willingness to profit personally off these student tuition funds (a substantial percentage of which, in turn, is derived from student loans) if you know that making this heavy financial investment and/or going heavily into debt is a bad economic proposition for your students.

                      Others may be profiting unjustly from the situation to an even greater degree than yourself, but you are responsible for your own moral situation, not theirs. Why do you not extricate yourself from your morally compromised situation by resigning your position?

                    • fredx2

                      I think you are way off base. Your jump to the conclusion that it is “immoral” to be a college professor (and I assume that includes all professors, everywhere) because kids will not be able to pay their loans back is ridiculous. Every kid has a brain, he is not the wimpy victim you portray. He is able to understand that he is taking on debt and will have to pay it back. He will not do so if he thinks he will be unable to pay it back. You consistently paint a super bleak picture of reality. Lighten up, dude.

                    • slainte

                      Statists do not want to hear the verboten words “personal responsibility” or “personal initiative”. They reject what a good education coupled with hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit has accomplished for so many in the United States.
                      The Statist wants to talk about bleak futures, lack of opportunity, dependency on the state, class warfare, coveting thy neighbors opportunities and goods.
                      Marxism did not work in Russia or China nor did Socialism work in Nazi Germany. History has shown that concentration of power in the State leads to tyranny and mass graves.
                      Go away Comrade Nestorian…you are telling an old, worn out and hackneyed story. Not interested!

                    • Adam__Baum

                      All of what you wrote is true, but he’s got a point about student loans. (See post below)

                      Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

                    • slainte

                      It’s about personal resonsibility which includes prudence in not assuming more debt than is reasonable.
                      If a student want to minimize his debt load, take evening classes and work during the day. This may slow down when one receives the degree but it results in less debt and pride in one’s accomplishments. It builds character.
                      I worked through college and grad school which I attended full time…I bet you did too.
                      Working to pay for one’s education and lodging is good. I have no regrets.

                    • Levi Embry

                      Slainte, you do both yourself and Nestorian an injustice. No where did I read Nestorian advocating Marxism or Socialism to any extent. He is merely pointing out what many of our more astute economists have already noted: that our American economy, through the devaluing of the currency, will no longer be able to support the lavish middle class life styles that it has in the past. Thus the ‘disappearance’ of the middle class that you have no doubt read about. He is also pointing out that many college students are encouraged in an imprudent act of spending more than they can afford for an education, and that by profiting from this, the modern faculty member plays a role analogous to the the owner of the casino who is aware that his client has a gambling addiction, but continues to encourage the addict in his habit. While Nestorian is quite possibly too persistent in his wish for a public confession of guilt from the esteemed faculty members that have taken part in this discussion, I don’t think his comments can be disregarded as rubbish. They do make one wonder why someone would pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful through such extensive higher education, only to make one’s livelihood involved in said moral predicament.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “He is merely pointing out what many of our more astute economists have already noted: that our American economy, through the devaluing of the currency, will no longer be able to support the lavish middle class life styles that it has in the past.”

                      That is not at all a uniform, let alone alone unanimous opinion among “astute” economists.

                      http://cafehayek.com/2014/01/cataloging-our-economic-progress-since-1982.html

                      As of now, the debasement of currency has caused an asset bubble, not a loss of purchasing power.

                    • Nestorian

                      18-year olds are naïve, ignorant of the ways of the world, and highly impressionable to being influenced by authority figures who claim to understand the world and offer the 18-year old sound life guidance. In this situation, multitudes of college financial aid officers, college deans and other administrators, lending companies such as Sallie Mae, and other interested parties have been engaging for nearly 20 years now in a massive con job being perpetrated against millions of hapless students. They are promised great jobs upon graduation based on bogus, doctored statistics conjured by college PR flacks, then graduate into dismal economic conditions to begin a lifetime of debt-servitude.

                      Over the past five to seven years, this situation has developed into a social crisis of truly catastrophic proportions. It will continue to get worse until the Ponzi bubble that is today’s system of higher education collapses. When it goes, it will wash away Franciscan University in a tidal flood of financial implosion, along with hundreds and hundreds of other colleges and universities.

                      See http://www.studentloanjustice.org, or “The Student Loan Scam” by Alan Collinge, for more information.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “18-year olds are naïve, ignorant of the ways of the world, and highly impressionable”

                      Only today.

                    • Nestorian

                      So you grant the basic premise of my argument. Thank you.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      No, in the past they were introduced to the real world. You ought to try it.

                      Maybe then, you’d understand what you are complaining about. The “student loan crisis” is a creation of state interference that allowed colleges to bloat and grow inefficient.

                    • slainte

                      You seem to enjoy victimhood status and pointing fingers.
                      Successful people aren’t into that, They don’t waste time waiting for someone else or “the system” to coddle them.
                      Man-up and go make your way in the world. Whining and blaming everyone else are just not attractive traits.

                    • John200

                      Nesty,

                      Listen to Mrs. Health. The last two lines are the way forward for you. Give them a try, you might even attract a Catholic woman, you know, one that knows what a woman and a man are.

                      Then you will laugh at all that krappe you threw around here.

                    • Nestorian

                      Why does pointing out a wide-spread form of con-artistry make me into someone who enjoys victimhood status? That is a complete non-sequitur.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      ” he is not the wimpy victim you portray.”

                      I think he’s projecting.

                    • Nestorian

                      If the kids were not indoctrinated into the prevailing college myths in our society, if they were not conned by colleges and student loan agencies, if professors who knew better, such as Timothy J. Williams, were to inform ALL their students, and not just a select few who happen to be relatives, of the real hazards of student debt, if professors and administrators were to acknowledge openly their conflict of interest in basing their careers on the indebtedness of students who would be better off without it, then the system would not be the corrupt Ponzi scheme that it is.

                      And do not patronize me with your “lighten up dude” exhortations. I do not appreciate it.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Francis: If anybody calls me Francis, I’ll kill ’em.

                      Sgt. Hulka: Lighten up, Francis

                    • slainte

                      Wo is me…get over yourself.
                      You have the list of choices I prepared. Pass them out to your friends and they will no longer be among the un-enlightened proletariat.
                      .
                      You exhibit a major sense of entitlement and no sense of personal responsibility or humility.
                      .
                      The world does not owe you a college education. Go out and work for what you want. There are no free lunches.

                    • Nestorian

                      Stuff it with your “get over itself.” Taking issue with your insults and slurs does not make me narcissistic or full of myself. That is merely another slur, and yet another sin against the Fifth Commandment (“Thou shalt not kill” – i.e., thou shalt not use language to belittle and cause injury to others gratuitously) that is now a matter of public record.

                    • slainte

                      Do you realize how gestapo-like and condemning your questioning of Professor Williams is? How entitlement-driven your statements are?
                      .
                      I responded to you because I am not affiliated with academia nor do I derive benefit from the financing vehicles made available to fund the “privilege” of attending a university. I too was once in a position to fund my education and could have incurred substantial debt, but chose not to.
                      .
                      I did not then (when I was 18), nor do I now, believe that anyone owes me anything. I choose not to point fingers or lay blame for any ill informed choices that I may make on others.
                      .
                      Take responsibility for your actions If you recognize that student loans are detrimental to your financial well being, do not
                      take the loans. If you think the student loan program jeopardizes others, educate your fellow students about the downside of these financing vehicles. It is incumbent on all students to exercise reasonable care in financial matters and it starts with funding one’s university education.
                      .
                      If you cannot afford university, defer it until you can. It is a privilege, not a right, to attend university.
                      .
                      I repeat and reiterate….Get over yourself and engage life in a responsible manner. The world does not owe you a university education.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “Taking issue with your insults and slurs does not make me narcissistic or full of myself.”

                      Correct. You established that all by yourself.

                    • Art Deco

                      You began your objections with the assumption that university faculty
                      are well-paid, and that our salaries must therefore constitute the
                      significant part of a university budget.

                      That’s pretty much true of any service enterprise. Across the economy, 62% of national income is in the form of employee compensation. It is higher for service enterprises. Where I used to work, the faculty amounted to about 22% of the labor force (but were, of course much better compensated than the wage-earners the institution employed; they complained about their salaries a good deal, however).

                    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

                      I would say that the faculty ratio here is right about that 20% level you indicate. And yes, we are better paid than the majority of the staff people. But that is how it should be. We spend 10 years in graduate school. They do not. Many have not even financed an undergraduate degree. There is nothing wrong with professionals demanding a professional salary. Nevertheless, it is not faculty salaries that are the cause of the enormous explosion in the cost of a college education. Even at institutions where a greater and greater percentage of the teaching is being shifted to part time adjuncts (and that is almost everywhere) the costs continue to rise. It is all the non-essential things (unrelated to teaching) that universities do that have driven up costs, and especially the exponential growth in administration. Since I arrived at my current university 20 years ago, the number of students has increased about 50%, and the full-time faculty has increased about 30%. However, the number of staff and administrators has increased more than 250%. (Actually, I think it is right about 300%.)

                    • Nestorian

                      Yes, but if you think your own salary is any less implicated in whatever percentages of the total annual university budget is derived from student tuition and student loans than is that of either the provost or the janitor who empties your waste-basket, then you are engaging in an unjustified moral evasion. Mutatis mutandis, whatever student loans contribute as a percentage to the overall 2013-14 operating budget, they contribute as a percentage to your own salary. You are morally accountable both for this percentage and for the salary as a whole, for reasons I previously articulated.
                      That is why I will ask again, as a morally relevant data-point:
                      1) What percentage of your university’s 2013-14 operating budget is derived from student tuition?
                      2) What percentage is derived from student loan funds?

                  • fredx2

                    It is wrong to say that half will have no way to pay it back. Believe it or not, they are almost all going to get jobs. It may not be the job they prefer, but they will all be getting jobs. Or going to the poorhouse. I suspect they willgo out and get jobs. And pay back their student loans. They are not as weak and helpless as you pretend. They are adults, Americans, and will figure out a way to succeed.

                    • Nestorian

                      Newsflash: We are in a great depression (that will not end – economic growth is permanently over), graduating students cannot get jobs, and student loan default rates are soaring. Making $7.50 an hour at McDonalds will fail to save millions of recent graduates from a lifetime of debt servitude. Student loan debt CANNOT be discharged in bankruptcy.

                    • slainte

                      NEWSFLASH:…this country has experienced several severe depressions in its history, let’s not forget the global depression of 1929.
                      Get innovative and look outside your local town for a job. Opportunity will not come knocking at your door…you must go after it, and if you cannot find it, create your own opportunity.
                      The world will not treat you with the kid gloves that your family and/or your college administrators did. It is TOUGH out there, but it is not impossible for someone with fire in his/her stomach to make it. It is that passion and fire that will propel you toward success.
                      You may have to work 80 hours a week….so what! Just do it.
                      Take any job you can and excel at it. If your employer wants you to arrive at work at 8 a.m; show up at 7 a.m…..when everyone else checks out at 6 p.m…you stay and work till 8 p.m.
                      Network and make friends at your workplace and within your industry. Networking and stellar job performance will yield new and unexpected opportunities.
                      Many very successful people started at the bottom.
                      Get humble; lose the entitlement complex; quit whining, and get going!

                    • Nestorian

                      You have been conned by the Unlimited Opportunity/Horatio Alger myth. It’s a product of many generations of very successful pro-capitalist propaganda. To the limited extent that it was ever true, it becomes increasingly less true every day, as we continue to advance into the present Great Depression. And this one will not end.

                    • slainte

                      I attended unversity on scholarship because I worked tenaciously in high school and excelled. I worked part time while I attended university and full time on weekends and during the summers. I spent zero time on vacation.
                      .
                      I worked part time three days a week and full time every weekend while attending graduate school full time. I paid off every single penny of the student loans I incurred to finance my education. Like the school loans you reference, they were not dischargeable in bankruptcy either.
                      .
                      Can you say the same?

                    • Nestorian

                      May I ask how long ago that was? It’s a very relevant point. With rising tuition costs, declining wages, and a skyrocketing cost of living (hidden inflation), doing what you did has been getting steadily more and more difficult for 50 years now. And the pace of the increasing-difficulty arc has accelerated markedly over the past 10 to 15 years.

                    • slainte

                      Mid 1980s. My mother was widowed when we were very young children. All of my siblings and I were solely responsible for paying for college, graduate school, and assisting our mother with household expenses,

                    • Nestorian

                      That was a long time ago. Things are far, far more difficult for today’s college students than they were in your day, for all the reasons that I mentioned.

                    • slainte

                      Research what was happening economically in NYC, where I lived, from the late 70s up to and including the market crash of 1987. History does not support your conclusions.
                      It is dishonorable not to repay debt for which you received benefit. Your students have been unjust enriched.

                    • Nestorian

                      Where have I said that I counsel students to renounce student debt they have incurred? What I am saying is that universities – such as Franciscan University – and also faculty who derive their paychecks from student loans – such as Regis Martin and Timothy J. Williams – have a moral obligation to disclose fully to students the financial peril they face in taking on debt to enroll – BEFORE they choose to do so.

                      Also, regardless of conditions in New York in the 80s, the situation is much, much worse today. For one thing, tuition, on an inflation and per-capita-income-adjusted basis is about triple what it was then. Additionally, New York in the 80s recovered economically – and I assume that you yourself eventually found middle-class success and security in the course of that recovery.

                      Due to Peak Oil, energy resource limits, and the resulting permanent termination of global economic growth – of which we are now experiencing the incipient stages – today’s students, by contrast, face an unending economic depression. The permanent debt-servitudes of millions upon millions of them is therefore assured.

                    • tamsin

                      I think Nestorian has walked out off the last twig on the last branch into thin air. Don’t follow him there. We need you here.

                  • slainte

                    Nestorian the Statist opines: “….Yet you know that a substantial percentage of students who incur this debt will have no way of paying it back….”

                    Just because you lack the intiative, skill, discipline, and industry to generate wealth does not mean that others are similarly situated.

                    This forum is a place of abundance, joy, and plenty where people share ideas, assume person responsibility, focus on families (the larger the better), pray for God’s intercession, and then go out and engage the world.

                    Go to work Comrade…you have sown enough division and discord.
                    Catholics are about Unity, not Division. God, not the State.

                    • Nestorian

                      Student loan debt is a scam. Naïve, vulnerable students are conned by college financial aid offices, student lenders (especially Sallie Mae), and many other interested parties. It happens at Steubenville too.

                      Faculty whose salaries depend upon the perpetuation of the scam look the other way and deny their complicity, as Professor Timothy J. Williams did earlier today after copping to some measure of moral consternation yesterday. And student loan debt CANNOT be discharged in bankruptcy.

                      For more information, see the website http://www.studentloanjustice.org, or read the book “The Student Loan Scam” by Alan Collinge.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      How about “tuition justice”, especially for the place that indoctrinated you?

                    • slainte

                      If all the professors quit Nestorian, who would teach you?
                      You have failed to acknowledge your own complicity in this scheme by failing to take necessary steps to minimize or eliminate unreasonable debt levels. Elsewhere in this blog, I set forth a number of practical alternatives which, if implemented, may allow you to prudently manage or avoid unnecessary debt.
                      These alternatives may delay graduation but ultimately will emancipate you financially.

                    • Nestorian

                      I don’t need teachers; I have been teaching myself successfully for many years.
                      I also have no financial debts of any kind. What makes you think that I do?

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “I have been teaching myself successfully for many years.”

                      You come off like one of those Prevention magazine readers that dismiss the education and experience it takes to be a physician, so there’s really no evidence you have been successful.

                      “I also have no financial debts of any kind. What makes you think that I do?”

                      Your various obsessions.

                    • Nestorian

                      The fact that you assumed that I do have debts is a good illustration of your judgmental arrogance and bigotry – which you put on public display dozens of times a day in posting on various CRISIS threads.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I didn’t assume you had debts, I answered the question you posited to Slainte. As a general rule, I don’t assume anything.

                      “I also have no financial debts of any kind. What makes you think that I do?”

                      The answer was to your question. You are obsessed with student loans, as if that’s the only injustice in the world.

                      There’s a difference between not suffering foolishness gladly (me) and incessant judgmental arrogance and bigotry, which has been pointed out in your postings in this thread by many other posters.

                      Your biggest problem is that of many trolls. You think you can win a war of attrition, armed with a pea shooter.

                    • slainte

                      Wonderful news. You therefore have no reason to complain and no standing to raise the issues you raise. I refer you to my list of alternative choices to ensure you don’t fall into the college debt pit.
                      You may pass on my list of “choices” to all your school friends who will then have no reason to claim “vicitm status” should they decide to assume debt.
                      Forewarned is forearmed.

                    • Nestorian

                      I am not complaining for myself. I am acting as an advocate on behalf of others, including the financially hapless undergraduate and graduate students whom Professors Regis Martin and Timothy J. Williams teach.

                    • slainte

                      The “financially hapless” students, who were not minors, received favorable terms under taxpayer secured student loans which terms they otherwise could not have acquire from conventional lending institutions absent proof of employment and a pledge of collateral as security for debt repayment. The student, alone, determined the amount to borrow and promised to repay that amount.

                      .

                      The students have not alleged thy were coerced into attending university by either Professors Martin or Williams, and they voluntarily elected not to defer their enrollment to university, or to locate alternative means of financing their education.

                      .

                      The students received the benefit of the loan proceeds which yielded an education in the field the students alone selected. Some students financed the cost of lodging using student loans. Having received these benefits, the students should honor their financial obligations.
                      .
                      The university did not guarantee job placement upon graduation.

                    • Nestorian

                      Timothy J. Williams has participated many times in faculty petitions to the Steubenville administration regarding concerns about the student loan situation. As such, he seems to be much less sanguine about his university’s reliance on student loans than you are.

              • fredx2

                First of all, they are supposed to be adults. They should understand that when they take on debt, they have to pay it back. It snould not be for college professors to babysit them like they were infants.

                • slainte

                  The welfare state recognizes that childhood ends at 26 years old…that’s when 26 year old “children” are no longer covered under their parents’ health insurance plans.

              • slainte

                You can choose to attend a college or not.
                You can choose to work full time and go to college at night and thus take out fewer loans.
                You can choose to attend college and work part time thus reducing your debt load.
                You can choose to defer college for a year, work and apply that money to your tuition, and then continue to work while you attend college full time.
                You can work hard in high school, excel and qualify for a scholarship and/or grant.
                You are not locked into one scenario; there are options. Be creative.
                When I attended grad school, the market collapsed in 1987. I worked, went to school full time, took out the bare minimum of loans and got through it. Many thought the world was falling to pieces back then….it didn’t.
                Just get on with it.

          • fredx2

            Once again you mistake his point. His point is not that avoiding children at certain times for certain reasons is always and everywhere evil. His point is that avoiding children to the degree that our society does will kill off our society. So many want ease rather than challenge.

            • Nestorian

              I hope Regis Martin will weigh in at some point so that he can tell us all whether your own or my interpretation (or, most likely, both) of his thought is accurate.

          • Adam__Baum

            “many of whom are probably graduating in droves with huge student loans and dismal job prospects?”

            I wonder if those that voted for the empty rhetoric of “hope and change” will atone for that error (assuming the damage is reversible) in the future.

          • Gail Finke

            Gosh, then I guess they should never have been born. After all, working your way through college and/or working off student debt is an unbearable hardship. Sorry to be sarcastic but, as someone who “only” had two children myself — because I thought that was the responsible thing to do — I now wish I could go back and do it all again. The things I thought were necessities (and believe me, my family is not wealthy) were not, and having to work hard as a young person is not a tragedy. Being alive, having siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews — that’s what is real.

      • slainte

        Your words are those of a contemporary Scrooge…so narrow of mind, so penurious, so covetous, so lacking in the abundance of Catholicism.
        So divisive…..

  • John Uebersax

    Modern Western culture has indeed fragmented the Pantheon. But we should ask: has the Church has contributed to this?

    Could it be that the truth falls somewhere *between* the anything-goes sexual ethos of modern secular culture, and a certain legalistic asceticism of Christian doctrine which emphasizes sexual guilt and shame. I don’t know. I’m merely suggesting that we *consider* the possibility that *part* of the problem has to do with a failure of Christianity to evolve appropriately, and to shed it’s world-denying ‘vale of tears’ attitude.

    • ForChristAlone

      I would hope that you are not laboring under the impression that sexual guilt and shame still exist.

    • BillinJax

      “We still place statues of the crucified, suffering Christ on our altars………….”

      And rightly so! Without the sacrifice of His only son there would be no hope for our ever being redeemed and able to offer praise and thanksgiving to our merciful God.

    • ColdStanding

      What greater representation of love and life has ever been made than our Lord And Redeemer pouring Himself out on the cross? Having said that, your shallow interpretation is all too popular in Church design these days.

    • The Church preaches Christ crucified, like the Apostle did.

    • R. K. Ich

      “We still place statues of the crucified, suffering Christ on our altars
      — not the resurrected Christ, or the Jesus of the wedding feast.”

      Well, the scandal of the cross *is* the point. The Resurrection, the Transfiguration, the Wedding Feast at Cana – these are all funneled through the principle event in which our salvation was won.

      Not sure how common this is in the Roman tradition, but we Anglo-Catholics not only have crucifixes of our suffering Lord, but we also use quite prominently the Christus Rex, a cross displaying the risen King enthroned on the Cross with his arms stretched wide. See the connection? No cross, no glory. No cross, no Resurrection. No cross, no Cana. No cross, no Transfiguration. No cross, no nothing.

      No, Mr. Uebersax, the world isn’t reacting to Christian ascesis. The world is busily trying to fill the divine void with everything but the Divine, as it has always done since Eden. And when the Flesh-veiled God came near the world still rejected Him either as matter-denying gnostics or soul-killing materialists. I *promise* you the relative handful of hardcore ascetics in the history of the Church have not contributed to our culture throwing itself from the precipice of doom into the depths of Tartarus. If anything, it’s that we’ve conformed ourselves to the patterns of this age vindicating their unbelief.

      As for me, the wounds of our Lord made visible in the Crucifix are a great comfort. Luther’s most catholic and Augustinian confessor, Johann von Staupitz (who remained a Roman Catholic), counseled that distraught and scrupulous man to find his comfort in the wounds of Christ, to hide himself there. Once Christianity loses Christ and Him crucified as its center, it has nothing more meaningful to say than a Deepak Chopra or a Joel Osteen.

      • slainte

        You are very Roman Catholic in your stated beliefs.
        What keeps the Anglo Catholics from returning to Roman Catholicism (this inquiry is made respectfully to you)?

        • R. K. Ich

          I can only speak for myself. For starters, I am too dull to see Papal Infallibility as a necessary or authentic component of Catholic unity. An acquaintance of mine once suggested I should just convert and sort that point out later. I told him it would be dishonest of me to do so. I would much rather accept PI and move on, truly, but it wouldn’t be on the proper basis. It’s maddening because I am more often than not a willing apologist for the venerable Roman Church.

          Blessings!

          • Adam__Baum

            “Infallibility as a necessary component of Catholic unity”.

            Well, if that’s the only problem, I can solve that. PI is a necessary component of authority, not unity.

            Now get in the boat and grab an oar. Hanging on the side and kicking still risks hypothermia.

            • R. K. Ich

              You are relentless!

              • ForChristAlone

                I’m with Adam: it’s about authority – the Petrine thing…here’s a hand…come on aboard…we need you to help row this darn boat.

              • Adam__Baum

                Thank you.

          • slainte

            I hope that you may one day come and worship with us and receive Our Lord’s body and precious blood with us.
            We are God’s people and we are not meant to be separated. He wants His children united with Him in Love. Pax tecum.

          • Neihan

            That was a stumbling block for me as well. Sympathy.

            • Adam__Baum

              Ironically, it ensured my retention. I was relentlessly proselytized by Evangelicals in college, who could coax a supporting verse from Scripture from memory at the drop of a hat. I was never impressed by feats of rote memorization, so it lacked the steamroller effect they intended to apply.

              Then one day, I noticed the same verse didn’t mean the same thing to everybody. As the lawyers I used to work with used to counsel, “all language is subject to construction” (even Scripture).

              It made me read, and I found out Sola Scriptura was falling apart even in Luther’s time. The Marburg Colloquy was just the beginning of five centuries of fractiousness. We now have 30,000 and growing other communities all claiming the Bible as their sole source of authority but in manifest disagreement about all manners of things.

              • Neihan

                Absolutely. For my own part I looked around in the sect I was a part of after I converted to Christianity and realized I was surrounded by opinions which could not, in any way, be considered Christian (Bishop Spong and the Jesus Seminar were quite popular, for instance).

                It was because of the wretched, often gnostic or materialistic currents of many modern authors in the sect that I turned to older writers (C.S. Lewis, then Chesterton, then Blessed Newman) and because of them to the Church Fathers, and then finally crossing the Tiber.

                Now I see what an incredible gift to the Church infallibility, including Papal Infallibility, is. I didn’t then, nor even when I first began RCIA – though by then I knew the doctrine to be true.

                I did realize that it required a kind of self-surrender and sacrifice which was never and could never be demanded in (especially mainline) Protestantism, and for me personally it was fear of that as well as my pride which was the foundation of my struggle. Still, I do have a lot of sympathy for those who love Christ yet resist this doctrine in particular, as I did too and no doubt for much baser motives than many others.

                • Adam__Baum

                  I suspect you are bettered by a struggle I never had to face, I only had to face mild opprobrium and mature enough to appreciate what I was given.

    • fredx2

      I find it kind of funny when someone says that Christians “emphasize sexual guilt and shame”. Really? I have been Catholic all my life, went to Catholic schools, and never once got the impression that we were supposed to be ashamed of sex. Or feel guilty about it. There are sexual sins, but those are sins for specific reasons, and shame or guilt has nothing to do with it.
      As to crucifixes – suddenly Modern man has become sissified and cannot bear to see any unpleasantness. But the thing is that GOD suffered for US. We DO need to remember that. Why the bizarre attempt to sanitize religion and make it something akin to Barney the Big Purple Dinosaur? The mass is a re-creation of that first sacrifice. Of course we should have a crucifix there.
      Why would we banish crucifixes with Jesus on them? We have a whole major holiday dedicated to the resurrection (Easter).

  • Matt

    Dear Professor Moneybags,
    I was truly shocked when I read your opinion that even poor people like myself can “afford” children. So shocked, in fact, that I dropped my Iphone into my Starbucks, ruining both.

    • musicacre

      Haha! I’m so literal, I didn’t realize how “rich” this joke was!!

  • BillinJax

    The beauty and wonder of the Conception of a child in the
    womb of its mother was chosen as a target at the very beginning of socialism
    and its liberal agenda to accomplish the “fundamental transformation of America”
    way before the current regime and their announced messiah appeared on the
    national scene. The cry from the desert of dome was that the world God had made
    for us was in grave danger of Over Population. We had to save the earth from
    being over run with new life? The pictures accompanying every deceitful article
    echoing that cry were not of cute toddlers in their mother’s arms or on happy
    playgrounds or in pleasant classrooms learning of the beauty of God’s good
    earth. No, we were shown starving skin and bone figures in poor countries of Africa
    and Asia where Christian missionaries were trying to
    bring the truth of the gospels to the people. Ironically this deceitful campaign
    gained support at a time when tens of millions of innocent humans all over the
    world had just been ritually slaughtered by godless dictators and imperial
    rulers before, during and after World War II.

    One might easily define the demise of American family life by
    its two most revealing concepts, contraception and abortion. One opposed the
    creative nature God granted to the union of a man and a woman joined in Holy
    Matrimony and the other sought to challenge the very involvement of God in the
    equation. Both have at the center of its premise the denial that man is the
    product of the goodness and abundance of God’s love and that man was not made
    in His image and likeness. Therefore, there is no such thing as procreation and
    God had no purposeful design for the ability of mankind to reproduce.

  • Modern man is obsessed with controlling the course of events. This depressing approach couldn’t be more evident than in the unwillingness to pass it on to the future. This approach has a patron “saint”, who did not trust Divine Providence and preferred to control his own destiny: Judas Iscariot.

    • Ann

      Many are also unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary for children. Doing without luxury vacations. Doing without new cars every year. Doing without (insert gadget/want/luxury item). What used to be luxuries are considered “necessities”, but to what end?

      • musicacre

        Yes and it comes back to bite them. If we had had all those “luxury vacations” could those vacations do anything for us now? Whereas my husband and I have the great love of 6 wonderful children…a permanent value vs a trifling! Why is that decision so hard?

        • OLO101

          It is wonderful that you have a beautiful family. People have different goals in life. Your assumptions about the child free are way off base.

      • Rhoda Penmark

        Accusing people who choose not to have children of selfishness, as so many are doing here, reflects a smug self-righteousness and unkindness never seen in the behavior or teachings of Jesus.

        As the oldest daughter in a large Catholic family, I was forced to spend much of my childhood performing the duties of a mother for my younger siblings. When I reached my twenties, I felt that raising kids was work I had already done–spending much more time and effort at it than most of the married “good Catholic” men I knew who had children of their own.

        My mother was verbally, emotionally and psychologically abusive in ways that people from healthy families cannot begin to imagine. She had been neglected and abused in her own childhood and was a horrible role model. I felt that if there was any risk that I would be the kind of mother she was, as a matter of conscience I could not bring children into the world and subject them to it. The multi-generational legacy of maternal child abuse would end with me.

        Many good, moral people make major life decisions for reasons that you cannot comprehend and have no right to judge. My advice to the snarky commenters here is: Look to your own souls. And mind your own business.

        • Nestorian

          Thank you, Rhoda. It’s nice to get a bit of support.

        • Isaac S.

          I think you make a good point that there is much, much more to being a good Catholic than the number of children you have. There appears to be an almost Pharisaical mentality among many conservative/traditional Catholics that the quality of one’s faith is measured by the number of one’s children. My grandparents had eight children in the 50’s and 60’s and no more than two are practicing, orthodox Catholics now. My mother has serious emotional issues that I believe are largely due to not having gotten much attention from her parents growing up; they tried their best but they had too much work to do as farmers and were too tired to give their kids the attention that they needed. Some people are given the grace and charism to have 8, 10, 12, or even more children, and that is amazing and to be commended. Others have large families to satisfy some emotional need or pride of their own (or out of simple lack of self-control or discipline) and greatly struggle at effective parenting. As for people with fewer (or no) children, they also have reasons ranging from selfishness to infertility to long periods of unemployment to everything in between. The Church calls us to be generous in bringing new life into the world but we also are obliged to raise, care for, and educate the children we already have. The exact number and spacing of children are rightly left up to the individual couples’ conscience (while always praying for divine guidance and seeking the Church’s spiritual direction, of course).

      • OLO101

        I have chosen to not have children and I have never been on a vacation, drive a crappy beat up car and have no interest in luxury.

    • Nestorian

      Sir, I would like to inquire: Are you currently unemployed? Are you currently homeless? Are you facing a major medical crisis in the absence of health insurance? Have you ever in your life been in a position to face financial calamities of this sort? If not, then I would ask you to refrain from criticizing those who attempt to “control the course of events,” since the absence of such contingencies in your own life is very likely the result of your own successful attempt at “control.”

      • I’d rather be sleeping in a box, than to be so stingy to not allow room for another human being on the planet.

        • Nestorian

          Your reply fails completely to address the question I raised, which pertained to Divine Providence.

          • I’ve been unemployed in the last six months. I’ve been homeless. I have been turned down for medical insurance due to a major health crisis. NONE OF THE JUSTIFIES MURDER.

            • Nestorian

              I never claimed that murder, by which I assume you mean abortion, is justified. I merely am advancing the point that a small family size by choice is not necessarily indicative of selfishness, but often rather of prudence.
              If one is, for example, married, unemployed, in debt, and without health insurance, as millions today are – both in Italy and the US – then I would say the choice to delay children is prudent, not selfish.

              • As one who took that advice to my eternal regret, and whose son’s life depended on taking the opposite choice than would have been “prudent” given my employment status and his disabilities, I find prudence to be an incredibly sad and false reason for not having children.

                My regret is that in the ten years since, during which my fortunes reversed greatly, we have been unable to conceive again, and my special needs son remains my only child. And to top it off, I just found out that unless we find a way around his intellectual disabilities, he will never even come close to being able to provide for himself the lifestyle I’ve provided for him. My only hope left is to start saving up for a retirement business for myself that I automate to the point that a man with a low IQ will be able to take over one day.

                • Nestorian

                  I have a question for you: Is your son on psychiatric medications – perhaps even antipsychotics? If so, those may be his main problem. (No need to answer this post – I am trying to help in a matter that I understand to be deeply private.)
                  You may want to read e.g. Robert Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic.” It’s an eye-opener regarding the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the profession of psychiatry.

                  • No, he isn’t. He *does* have an MRI-verified scar in his brain though from a traumatic birth- Cerebral Palsy. There is no medication that can help any of his symptoms, so he’s not on any.

                    It is supposed to be in the language center of his brain. Which got him into special ed to begin with. But after 5 years of trying to teach him math, writing, and reading, his scores on academics are actually far lower than his physical education or speech. NONE of his benchmarks are normal for his age however.

                    We are finding workarounds though. Can’t do phonics or the alphabet? Memorize pictures of whole words to read, or use a tablet with picture-to-text-to-speech software. Can’t figure out two digit math? Learn to count to 100, then use legos. Can’t figure out denominations of money? Use a debit card and a smart phone.

                    He’ll never be normal- but I’m stubborn enough that he will be FUNCTIONAL.

                    • Nestorian

                      You have my sincere sympathies and condolences. I hope and pray that things work out for your family and your son.

                • slainte

                  Mr. Seeber, God blessed your child by giving him to you and your wife who so lovingly care for him as parents. I will pray for all of you this evening.
                  You are a tremendous advocate for your son and the disabled.

              • Isabelle

                I am so glad that my parents weren’t prudent! They never had health insurance. My mom had all of her children (seven daughters at home) and my dad was often unemployed. They had no debt as no one would lend to them. We had no car, no television, and sometimes no heat, electric or gas. I remember we got a phone when I was about 13 years old. Still we all managed to go to school each day ( sometimes very hungry), graduate from high school, go to college, get married and to raise families of our own.

                I once asked my mom if she was afraid to have so many children with so little and she said “ I just thought if God gave us children, He would help us take care of them. Her faith was in God. I don’t believe many Catholics have faith in God any more. I believe that is why they are so afraid of life and of sharing it with others. Jesus says, “Do not be afraid!” If we believe Him, we would not be afraid to have all the children he sends to us and consider it a blessing.

              • slainte

                Delaying children for many people may and often does result in an inability to have children which is the most heart breaking reality that ever occurs in one’s life. It has the ability to and does often destroy marriages. You have had the benefit of hearing Mr. Seeber’s testimony in support of that claim; listen to him.
                When a couple is gifted with a pregnancy, accept the gift and thank God for the blessing. If God blesses a couple with ten children, accept the gift and thank God.
                God always makes provision for families.

                • Adam__Baum

                  I worked for a man who was born when his parents were 42. His brother was born when they were 26. This was before the pill. Some couples are fertile, but not very often. They can either be open to children or miss out.

                • Nestorian

                  My wife and I are not able to have children. While regrettable (we would have six, eight, or even ten children if we could), It has not destroyed our marriage, nor is there any threat that it will.

                  • slainte

                    Then you are fortunate that your marriage is intact and that you may elect to adopt a child who needs a good home. There are many.
                    .
                    Pray for those who are not so blessed.

      • Yes to all your questions, at one point or another in my life. Whenever I left them in the Lord’s hands, He did not disappoint me, unlike my feeble attempts at control.

  • hombre111

    Great, as usual. We do live in ironic times, and who knows how it will all work out. History is relentless.

  • Beth
  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    It has been estimated that, on current trends, some 50% of the world’s languages will disappear over the course of this century and up to 90% by the end of the 22nd century. There has probably never been a time in human history, when so many grandparents and grandchildren no longer share a common language.

    In the loss of cultural continuity, how can people, severed from their past have any hope for the future?

    • slainte

      Well, we can all learn Latin.
      That way the world will be unified with everyone speaking, reading, and writing Latin. The orations of Cicero and Julius Caesar would be standard reading material yet again.
      Just think MPS, the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass people would have one less thing to argue about.
      Now how’s that for a global solution to advance cultural continuity? : )

  • Nestorian

    I stand by my point. Regis Martin has been able to count on a full professor’s salary
    as a bare minimum income for quite a long time now (along with health insurance
    for himself and his dependents, a retirement fund, etc.); increasing numbers of
    people are no longer able to count on anything close to it, and face personal
    destitution. And yes, the cost of living in the Steubenville area IS exceptionally
    cheap. It is possible, for example, to buy a NON-DILAPIDATED home large
    enough to house 10 children on a full professor’s salary, something not
    possible in most other parts of the country.

    Additionally, the social structure of the community surrounding the university, the access to inexpensive and caring student help with one’s children, household help, etc.,
    are substantial non-monetary benefits that most social structures in this
    country do not offer. Compare that with the small fortune one must pay
    for these services for often non-caring help in most other social settings. Then there is the fact that being a professor offers Regis Martin the time and flexibility of being a father to a brood of 10 that few other fathers outside the academy enjoy – unless they are unemployed and their family of 10 children therefore destitute.

    And let’s not forget about the free tuition that Regis Martin’s 10 children enjoy if they
    attend Steubenville. Most other people who have 10 children need to be truly rich, in this day and age of $200,000 undergraduate educations and record student loans, to offer their children this option without consigning their children to crippling debt
    combined with dismal job prospects upon graduation.

    If Regis Martin were to continue to add up the privileges he enjoys thanks to being a
    full professor in this way, he would find that they are quite substantial, and
    almost singular. He might find a startling contrast between his own position to be able to raise 10 children and those of his undergraduate and graduate students. It might pay to make some inquiries among them regarding how crippling their student loans and how dismal their job prospects are, and to determine how many of them are even in a position to raise ONE child, let alone 10.

  • Nestorian

    I stand by my point. Regis Martin has been able to count on a full professor’s salary
    as a bare minimum income for quite a long time now (along with health insurance
    for himself and his dependents, a retirement fund, etc.); increasing numbers of
    people are no longer able to count on anything close to it, and face personal
    destitution. And yes, the cost of living in the Steubenville area IS exceptionally
    cheap. It is possible, for example, to buy a NON-DILAPIDATED home large
    enough to house 10 children on a full professor’s salary, something not
    possible in most other parts of the country.

    Additionally, the social structure of the community surrounding the university, the access to inexpensive and caring student help with one’s children, household help, etc.,
    are substantial non-monetary benefits that most social structures in this
    country do not offer. Compare that with the small fortune one must pay
    for these services for often non-caring help in most other social settings. Then there is the fact that being a professor offers Regis Martin the time and flexibility of being a father to a brood of 10 that few other fathers outside the academy enjoy – unless they are unemployed and their family of 10 children therefore destitute.

    And let’s not forget about the free tuition that Regis Martin’s 10 children enjoy if they
    attend Steubenville. Most other people who have 10 children need to be truly rich, in this day and age of $200,000 undergraduate educations and record student loans, to offer their children this option without consigning their children to crippling debt
    combined with dismal job prospects upon graduation.

    If Regis Martin were to continue to add up the privileges he enjoys thanks to being a
    full professor in this way, he would find that they are quite substantial, and
    almost singular. He might find a startling contrast between his own position to be able to raise 10 children and those of his undergraduate and graduate students. It might pay to make some inquiries among them regarding how crippling their student loans and how dismal their job prospects are, and to determine how many of them are even in a position to raise ONE child, let alone 10.

    • Are you falling for the lie that one needs a college education to succeed in life?

      • Nestorian

        As it happens, I agree with you. However, I assure you that it is in Regis Martin’s employer’s, the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s, interest that as few young adults and their parents as possible wake up and recognize the truth. Otherwise, enrollment at the university would fall, the student-loan funded tuitions that keep the university running would drop precipitously, and the university might be forced to lay off even tenured full professors such as Regis Martin.

        • I’m surprised that FU can run on student-loan funded tuitions, without wealthy donors, no other institute I know of does so.

          • Nestorian

            As one with a background in academia at numerous institutions, and as one who has additionally researched the matter, I am in a position to clear up even further the basis for your expressed surprise:

            The fact is that it is only very rare exceptions among colleges and universities, such as Harvard and Princeton and perhaps a small handful of others, that are NOT fundamentally dependent upon tuition, and thus student loans, to meet their budgets. In the vast majority of cases, the vast majority of annual revenues a college derives is from tuition i.e., the continued viability of the institution is fundamentally “tuition-driven.”

            Typical percentages of annual revenues from tuition probably range from 75-90% at private institutions, and are not far behind this at most public institutions, with the dwindling of funds derived from state taxation. As such, a substantial percentage is from student loans that are increasingly leading graduates into a life of debt-servitude.

            Which leads me to another question for Professor Martin: What percentage of your university’s operating expenses are derived from student tuition? What percentage of its operating expenses is derived from student loans? Have you inquired whether this tuition and these loans add up to a good economic value for your students – one that puts them in a position of being able to have 10 children?

            These questions are very directly pertinent to your own financial situation, and to your own ability to raise 10 children, since your own salary, benefits, etc., are also funded by student tuitions and student loans in proportions equal to their percentages of annual university revenues.

            • Nat

              Get a trade, Nestorian. Not only do tradesmen take very good care of their families financially …. but they able to see what is going on outside the books. Your examples of new college grads being unable to afford a large family is hogwash. I know so many large families that do fine…with debt…with no debt…with degrees…without degrees… Get out of your office and breathe the free air.

              • Nestorian

                It is not hogwash. Go to a website like http://www.studentloanjustice.org; there you can see that I am addressing a very serious social problem.
                As to your advice to get a trade, it is good, and I would recommend this to most young people instead of going to college.
                However, this isn’t about me. It’s about Regis Martin and others on this thread who have attitudes toward those with few or no children that are unjustified.

                • Nat

                  Nestorian, the point I think that Regis Martin is trying to make is that people are making the unfortunate decision to NOT have children are doing so with reasoning that is temporal and without trust. Rather that the way we all should, with eternity and trust in God. “Financial difficulties” by western standards are pretty poor reasons to forgo such eternal riches….by that reasoning most of the people of Asia and Africa should never have been born. I know many college grads with debt who did not succumb to fear and now have beautiful families, large and flourishing. I doubt that they are all outliers.

                  • Nestorian

                    And my point in reply is that it is a lot easier to trust when you have the material security that he has (and that you, apparently, also have) than when you are facing the material trials and even destitution that so many millions face today.
                    How does Regis Martin (and you also) know that you are not really trusting in the material security that you both happen to have rather than in God, while at the same time turning around and criticizing others who lack what you have for not trusting – when in fact you might be liable to lose all trust in God yourself if the material security, in which you REALLY trust, were stripped away from you?
                    Also, I want HIM to address my objection, not others on his behalf, such as yourself.

                    • Nat

                      Speaking for myself. When my husband and I started out we had only my student loan to our name. We rented and saved our pennies…as we worked away, him working at his job and me working at saving money in the home, children came. My student loan got paid off and we bought our first little home …then we built and moved a few times…very difficult to do with a lot of kids but we did it together…having babies in all sorts of situations…. scary financial stress sometimes …easier other times…up it went slowly, slowly. If we suddenly had the rug ripped out from under us….as I have seen happen to a couple families I know, spouse dying….business failing….we would survive, and all our 10 kids would be in it with us together. They are here, they exist and love and are loved, whether there is money or not. That is where true riches lie.

                    • Nat

                      I must admit I don’t like how your argument changed from college grads to poverty stricken people and destitution the world over. Are these college grads you speak who are limiting their family size living in destitution in Africa somewhere? All my college grad friends live here, are under 40, and managing fine. They don’t have affluent expectations though, which is probably why they are fine.

                    • Nat

                      Nestorius, you want Regis Martin to defend his position …what about you? You must have a litany of personal financial hardships which form your opinion…. or do you? It sounds a lot like an argument from one who grew up in the 50’s….and came of age in the 60’s. Claim someone else’s hardship, preferable very far away to make it hard for anyone to counter without thorough research and then start swinging with it. This is exactly why my generation looks to their grandparents for advice rather than their parents. A generation that ACTUALLY lived through desperate times (depression … anyone…war) and valued family above all.

                    • Nestorian

                      Are you going to tell me that there may be no one on earth facing material hardships that are more severe than those faced by yourself and Regis Martin? Come on. If you really think that (which I do not think you really think, by the way), then you need to open your eyes and find out how the world works for people beyond your narrow circle of friends – in this and other countries.
                      I have done so, and I therefore know that I stand on firm and legitimate ground in defending these people and the moral legitimacy of their decision – in many, many instances – of having few or no children against the materialistic complacency inherent in Regis Martin’s denunciations of them.

                    • Nat

                      Nestorian, at least Regis Martin and I are arguing from experience. You argue from stats and your office. At least we have lives to lead, you seem sad and bitter, spending all this time justifying why money concerns should trump family and children. If you have any children, I hope that you haven’t burdened them with your sad mindset.

                    • Nestorian

                      So now you are starting to descend into ad hominem insults directed against me, such as that I have no life to lead. In my experience, that is usually a sign that the opposing party in an argument is starting to feel rattled – that they are becoming emotionally insecure and unsure of the position they are advocating. Is that what is going on with you?

                    • Nat

                      That’s okay, Nestorian….no sense in continuing this conversation. I have my family to attend to …. cooking, cleaning, talking, living to do…You just go on and do …whatever it is you do. May you open your heart and allow God to Bless You.

                    • Nestorian

                      May I point out that you also seem to keep coming back over and over again. If there is no sense in continuing the conversation, then why the need for your final post?

                    • Nat

                      I really do mean it and I will even pray for you tonight. You have my word. Open your heart and God will bless you abundantly. Only a closed heart denigrates His greatest gifts.

                    • Nestorian

                      Thank you. I will do the same.

                    • fredx2

                      Oh, we can tell.

                    • fredx2

                      Funny how he noticed an ad hominem against himself immediately, but did not notice it when he does it against Prof. Martin.

                    • Nestorian

                      As I said above, my argumentation against Regis Martin is not ad hominem, but has an evidential basis – namely, that I have observed attitudes of smug complacency to be endemic among tenured Catholic professors.

                    • Nestorian

                      No, they’re here in this country. As I suggested earlier, go to http://www.studentloanjustice.org if you are interested in reading some of their sad stories.
                      And I’m sure Regis Martin could field his share, too, if he were to begin inquiring diligently among his former students.

                    • Nat

                      Sorry Nestorian, I am honestly not interested in checking it out. I have the people I know to go by…. You may think that most grads opt out of large families for financial reasons. Not the ones I know…and we have a lot of children between all of us. All these kids raised on the ideas that God is in control, that children really are the future, and that they are worth sacrificing for, will be running things in 30 years or so…..that will be interesting to see…just doin’ the math. Good day.

                    • Nestorian

                      Your frame of reference for drawing quite sweeping conclusions about what people should and should not do when it comes to having children is very miniscule indeed if you limit your evidence base to just yourself and your small circle of friends. It is certainly no basis on which to draw lessons concerning universal principles of morality – as Regis Martin does, largely on the basis of his own privileged experience, without taking into account the circumstances of those much less privileged than he as morally relevant, in this and similar posts.

                    • fredx2

                      So you treasure your activist website as a source of truth and consider anecdotal stories there evidence?
                      And you keep distorting his position (He did not say that all people at all times must have as many kids as possible, he just said it was bad for society as a whole to become a childless society)

                    • Nestorian

                      I would like Regis Martin to clarify his position, and to defend himself against the charge that his position entails unwarranted moral condemnation of those who choose to have few or no children.

                    • fredx2

                      And your response with what is essentially an ad hominem attack rather than discussing the issues he raised in his article is disingenuous. Rather than any sort of legitimate argument on the merits, all we have heard is a very weak attempt to fix moral blame on everyone except those who are morally blameworthy.

                    • Nestorian

                      It is not an ad hominem attack, because I have an evidential basis for my accusation. That evidential basis is the attitude of smug complacency that I have often observed to be quite a salient feature among the faculty at conservative Catholic colleges and universities.

              • opal

                My friend who works for UPS as a driver has 8….In expensive CT, too. But they live like us. Hand me downs, gardens, no vacations, etc….

    • Beth

      Nestorian, from reading your posts, it seems to me that the greatest difference between those who have many children and those who have few or none by choice is not money, education, etc. It’s Hope. “Hope is the virtue by which we firmly trust that God will give us eternal happiness and the means to obtain it. Hope means that we trust God to care for all our needs.” (BC #62)

      Pray for this virtue and may God grant you His peace with this issue.

      • Nestorian

        Beth, I would dispute that point. If Regis Martin were to inquire among recent graduates of his institution, he would find that money/debt and careers/unemployment represent huge differences between himself and them, on the whole. It’s much easier to be hopeful when you have a good fulfilling job and no debts than when you lack both of these things.

        Which raises the following question: What exactly is your own experience in life with living in debt, on the basis of unsecure or absent employment, etc.? Have you personally been in these situations, yet retained a serene hope throughout? If not, I think you are in no position to preached to those who are unemployed/indebted, yet fail to maintain this hope.

        • Guest

          So, for you hope only exists when things are going as you demand?

        • Beth

          Yes, my husband and I personally have been unemployed (I have not worked outside the home since the birth of our 1st child; we have 8). We have had to trust in the Lord throughout illness of a child (which brought plenty of hospital bills that eventually we were able to pay off). Yes, we continue to trust in the Lord for the future and whatever it brings. It’s not easy but certainly possible.

          And OF COURSE college grads are in a different position than the professor. And MOST couples do not have 8 children ALL AT ONCE. You take each addition to the family as he/she/they come. It all works out, mate! Don’t be so afraid to let God lead your life!

          • Nestorian

            If you have not worked outside the home since the birth of your first BY CHOICE, then that does not count as unemployment. I understand unemployment to be an involuntary circumstance.
            Also, you take it as obvious that college graduates with high debt and no job are in a different position morally from a tenured college professor when it comes to an alleged obligation to have children. I would like to call your attention to the fact that this is by no means obvious to everyone who has commented on his threads; and it is also not clear where the Professor himself stands on the matter, as he has not weighed in on it.

            • fredx2

              Oh, it’s clear. The professor never said that immediately upon graduation, all college students must start having as many kids as possible. this is your invention.

              • Nestorian

                If Regis Martin didn’t mean to imply that, I hope he will clarify it for all of us.

    • Guest

      You make it sound as if people have no choices. Also, where did the author claim to judge another based on how many children he/she has?

      • Nestorian

        I never said the author did so – though it would be interesting if he were to tell us whether he has ever done so. What I did say, in a prior thread, is that I am aware of situations involving faculty and/or their families where this has happened. I will add to that the clarification that I did NOT have Regis Martin himself or any member of his family in mind.

      • Nestorian

        No, I am saying that people’s choices are constrained by circumstances. And the differences between being a tenured professor and, say, an unemployed recent college graduate saddled with considerable student debt is very relevant to evaluating the morality of people’s choices, such as whether to postpone having children/opting to have few versus not.

        • Guest

          But, I do not read the author as saying prudence does not play a role? He is not saying one is required to start having children regardless of any circumstance.

          • Nestorian

            And I say he is wrong. A young married couple with no secure jobs, low income, and high debts – not an unusual situation by any means – is NOT required to have children.
            And believe me, there are many facing this situation today, and worse.

            • Nat

              My husband and I got married with debt and when we had our first child he was making $12 per hour. We now have 10 kids. We aren’t debt free, but able to support our clan and happy with the amazing family God has graced us with. Our ancestors had larger families with less resources…because they knew what was truly valuable and they had greater trust in God. What of Providence and HIS will for those HE brings into the world.? Do you think that your children’s futures, lives, their very existence, depend solely upon you? If you died tomorrow their lives would go on…to what God only knows. They are created for themselves not you….parents are the lucky ones who are there to be part of the beginning of a another’s unique life.

              • Nat

                I have yet to read a biography of any historical figure be it…philosopher…leader….artist…saint….that started out. “He came to be so due to all the right financial decisions made by his parents. Without these, he would have become nothing…..” Many, many great people came from situations that we moderns would consider poverty stricken and “not worthy of bringing new life into”.

                • Nestorian

                  You need to read more. Many great people also came from situations of privilege, and likely would not have accomplished those things for which they are renown in the absence of that privilege. Just offhand, one can start the list with Aristotle and Plato, and add, almost at random, other illustrious names, such as George Washington and most of the other signers of the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

              • Nestorian

                Did you know that world population tended to change very little prior to the rise of the Fossil Fuel Age in the late 18th century? And do you know why? It is because very high infant mortality was a standard, accepted, tragic fact of life. Taking yourself with your 10 children as an example, it would have been entirely normal for 5 or 6 of these not to survive infancy if you had been alive in the 18th century, and for an additional 1 or 2 to die before 6 years of age.

                The very fact that people such as yourself and Regis Martin are privileged to have 10 children all grow up to adulthood in fairly good health is itself a singular historical anomaly associated with the affluent conditions of 20th century industrial societies that few of you even stop to consider.

                • Nat

                  Even though you, with your sad reasoning, think that it cannot … should not be so….I am going to take the incredible, lovely, beautiful, privilege of my 10 children and run with it. Hope your time on this earth improves, Nestorian, mine is full to the brim with happiness.

                  • Nestorian

                    So does the fact that you are happy somehow make you morally superior to me? Does it mean you are right and I am wrong? I think it means neither one of these things, and I would like for you to clarify why you felt the need to bring it up.

            • fredx2

              For some reason, you insist that he says things that he did not say. OK. Have fun.

    • ForChristAlone

      You owe Mr Martin and the rest of us an apology for referring to his children as a brood.

      • Nestorian

        I was not aware that the word “brood” is derogatory in nature. If you can show me that it is, then I will certainly apologize for my accidental indiscretion.

    • fredx2

      Dude, you just make stuff up to suit yourself.
      By the way, my dad was an auto mechanic. Raised 8 kids. How could he and my Mom have ever done that without being professors who lived in the ultra cheap Steubenville area, where they give you all sorts of free goodies?

      • Nestorian

        Auto mechanics make pretty good money. They certainly charge a fortune to fix cars.

  • reets46

    My husband and I were taking a walk around our city neighborhood recently and I suggested to him that there are now more dogs than children. When we were having our own family, there were definitely more children than dogs. Pets are the new children. Have you noticed how splendid the veterinarian offices are today? Your local pediatrician can’t compete…

    • Guest

      Very true. There are pet food supply stores on every corner as big as aircraft hangars. Where our treasure is…

    • ForChristAlone

      And besides, they allow their dogs to do their business in frontof other people’s property. Could you imagine if a parent of 8 marched her children out onto the sidewalks of NYC and had them defecate in the street? But dogs, they are the new protected class of citizen.

  • Bruce

    Here’s a data point. My wife and I are raising seven children (more in the future I hope) on my salary of $47K per year (gross income) in the Cocoa, Fl area. I have decent medical benefits but they’re not free. We would be doing even better if we hadn’t panicked and bought a 2X overpriced house during the bubble in 2006.
    If you’re relatively low income, the government, in effect, actually pays you to have kids. Have you heard of the child tax credit, additional child tax credit, etc? They give you more money for each child with these credits than you spend on basic necessities for each child.
    Children, at least pre-teens, aren’t as expensive as many people think. They don’t eat as much as adults (sometimes I can barely get them to eat at all!) and their clothes can be bought at thrift stores and consignment stores. They can (and probably should) share a room with siblings. Homeschooling materials are cheap or even free. I think the main concern is medical costs but as someone mentioned, there is a lot of help out there for low income people.
    Our recent ancestors raised very large families with much less than we have.

    • Nestorian

      So the state pays you to have children. And why exactly does that fail to make you a “welfare king” and your wife a “welfare queen”?
      It seems to me, for consistency’s sake, that you ought to come in for this sort of denunciation from the multitudes on this website who denounce those on unemployment, on foodstamps, on Medicaid, etc., etc.

      • Bruce

        I agree that it’s a form of welfare and that I get a form of welfare by filling out my tax return accurately. My point is that children aren’t as unaffordable as many people believe.

        • Nestorian

          So does that entitle me, as a taxpayer, to be resentful of the fact that my hard-earned tax dollars help underwrite your personal choice – which I as an underwriting taxpayer had no say in – to support you and your children? If there is not something unfair in this situation, then wby not?

          • Adam__Baum

            Is there anything you aren’t resentful of? You mooched off the taxpayers while getting the degree that apparently hasn’t benefitted you.

            • fredx2

              Hence the student loan stuff

              • Nestorian

                I have no debts of any kind personally. I am an advocate on behalf of the many hapless college students I have taught over the years, and, more recently, have provided with career counseling.

        • Adam__Baum

          You should not agree that it’s a form of welfare. It’s a codified provision based upon the principle of capacity to pay. Unless you are receiving the EITC, which IS welfare funneled through the IRS.

          • Nestorian

            Whether he agrees or disagrees that it’s welfare, it’s mooching either way.

            • Adam__Baum

              No.

              • Nestorian

                “No” is not a counterargument.

            • fredx2

              Then every person who takes a deduction for interest on their home is mooching, right?
              Everyone who gets a tax credit or deduction is mooching, right?

              • Nestorian

                The mooching begins in earnest once one takes more out in reverse taxes than one puts in in taxes. Bruce has stated that this is what he does.
                Whether tax credits or deductions amount to mooching is a more complicated question, but it is not obvious that they do if one is paying out net taxes, or at least not taking in net reverse taxes.

            • Adam__Baum

              No.

      • ForChristAlone

        You’re missing the part about his working for a living. He home schools his children so his family is saving you, the taxpayer, $80,000 for what it would cost for public school education (leaving his kids dumber than you know what). I missed the part where his wife is sitting home watching soap operas on TV and tossing bon-bons in her mouth.

        • Nestorian

          He is lucky to be able to work for a living for such a handsome salary. Many are not so lucky as to be able to work for nearly so much. On the contrary, ever-increasing numbers of families in the US are facing destitution. What about them? Must they have 10 children to pass moral muster? Or do their extenuating financial circumstances permit them to have fewer? Maybe only 8?
          As for whatever he may be the saving the taxpayer by working for $80000, I would hazard to guess that an accurate accounting would reveal that their having 10 children costs the taxpayer considerably more than if they had only 2, or only 4, children under similar financial circumstances. And I say that knowing that they homeschool. But there are other ways in which large numbers of children act as a financial burden on the common good. I’m not saying that’s a reason not to have them, but I am saying that the taxation argument you make cuts both ways, and you should probably withdraw it.

      • Marissa

        He is only on welfare if his child tax credit exceeds the amount he pays in taxes. Otherwise he’s just getting his money back. As someone who wants to see taxation drastically reduced, this guy is simply reducing his taxes (getting his hard-earned money back from the government’s grubby hands). Ask yourself–would you rather this man receive some of his taxes back or would you rather see that money spent on endless wars, enriching financial elites, encouraging illegitimacy and laziness via entitlements, etc.?

        • Nestorian

          Read closely what he said. He said that he gets “more money for each child with these [various tax] credits than you spend on basic necessities for each child.” In other words, he is getting more from the state than what he pays to it.

          How is that not an “entitlement?” And how is he any more deserving of this entitlement than those who collect entitlements while lazy? After all, the essential moral issue is the same: Neither Bruce, the diligently hard-working “welfare king” nor the lazy “welfare queen” whom you and so many others on this site denounce asked me or any other taxpayer whether they could mooch off the system. They just do it. Why should Bruce’s mooching as “welfare king” be any less morally objectionable than your lazy, stereotypical “welfare queen’s”?

          • Adam__Baum

            You really should look up the definition of things before you assume that your regurgitated visceral indignation is accurate.

            • Nestorian

              It doesn’t matter whether it’s welfare, a tax rebate, an entitlement, etc., etc., in a strictly legal sense. What matters here is the MORAL level of analysis: Bruce the “welfare king” is mooching off the state – and my hard-earned taxes – without my permission, just as does the proverbially lazy “welfare queen.”

              • Adam__Baum

                Just stop.

                • Nestorian

                  Why? You can’t stand the fact that you cannot refute my moral logic?

                  • John200

                    Your “moral logic” caused my Coke to jump out of my mouth, all over the screen.

                    Thanks for the laugh; troll on, brother.

              • fredx2

                Bruce works.
                That’s a big difference.

      • Adam__Baum

        There’s a difference between having your taxes moderated based on circumstances and being a ward of the state.

        • Nestorian

          I say there is not. Both are a form of mooching – a form of theft from taxpayers. Nobody put a gun to Bruce’s head forcing him to have more children than he could support without mooching off the taxpayer, just as no one forces the proverbial “welfare queen” to do the same.

          • Adam__Baum

            Then stop talking about things you don’t understand. Living in mom’s basement and trolling is mooching. Think you are transparent? Under 30, single and under or unemployed comes through loud and clear.

            • Nestorian

              Mooching is mooching, whatever legal name it uses as an alias – what is so hard to grasp about that?

    • Nestorian

      Note to Bruce: I want to make it clear to you that I don’t really think you are a moocher. It sounds like you are living a very honorable life. I have used your testimony as an illustration to point out the glaring hypocrisy of so many on this site, who denounce most public social spending as parasitic but try to find some logically inconsistent grounds to justify your tax rebates as somehow exempt from their accusation of social parasitism.

      Just to be clear: My own position is that, in general, no form of public social spending, whether your own or that of persons who receive food stamps, unemployment compensation, etc., is ipso facto socially parasitic. So, by all means, keep claiming every exemption that you can.

      Sorry to catch you in the cross-fire of my polemic.

  • Opal

    Haha. I get this all the time as a mother of 8. We must be rich. Well, hhmm. I can’t afford Starbucks, I don’t think I have been in one in 15 years. I don’t have an iphone. We never go out to eat. We go to the mall once a year. I save every speck of clothing that my older kids where and store it for the next ones. We do activities instead of gifts for Christmas and Birthdays. We get gobs of clothes as hand me downs, so I almost never need to buy anything other than clean white shirts or the random pair of shoes that is needed Right now. We garden, can, freeze and dry tons of food in our back yard and have chickens. Walla, we survive. Does my husband make a good salary? Sure, but we live a far more austere life than most of the poeple that I have met who are classified as “working poor”. Oh, of course, it helps that we were married before having kids and that both of us paid off college debts before leaving our parents’ homes. And we financially did everything right by sacrificing the present for the future. I guarentee you that if most people lived as we did, they could have large families too. But supposedly, that is boring and dull and no fun and painful. Ironically, I see it as the opposite. As we age, we will not be lonely because there will be children living with us until we are in our 70’s. That can be juxtaposed against those who sacrifice children for good times in the early middle ages and are terribly lonely and bored in their late middle age. We will presumably be seeing the excitement of marriage and grandchildren from long before the last one leaves home until we die. How many of my former coworkers and childhood neighbors, lived for those 2 weddings and 3 grandkids and then have nothing left to live for? Our sacrifices will reap a bountiful harvest when we are old. Can everyone say the same?

    • Nestorian

      But you grant something crucial – your husband makes a “good” salary. You are very fortunate. What about people who don’t make a good salary – of whom there are tens if not even hundreds of millions in this country, leaving aside the many billions who do not worldwide? Are they morally entitled to have fewer than 8 children? Are they among the “most” people who could have large families if they lived as you do? Keep in mind that the median salary today is something slightly less than $50,000 – is your husband’s salary a lot higher than that?
      The favorable comparisons you draw between your own family and that of others cannot be justified if the primary breadwinner in the family to whom you compare your own are making a “good” salary also – i.e., at least as much as your husband.

      • ForChristAlone

        The thrust of what she wrote had to do with living sacrificially – working hard, saving, being a good steward of one’s resources (no matter how much one earns), practicing self denial – all in the name of the only thing that is really worthwhile – the love of family – husband for wife, wife for husband, parents for their children, children for their parents and children for one another.

        The saddest commentary on today’s world is children who are in search of the brothers and sisters whom they never had and who they miss dearly.

        • Nestorian

          And the thrust of what I wrote is that her circumstances are dependent upon her husband’s “good salary,” and that she is very lucky to have this. Many, many people do not. What about them? Are they less than “living sacrificially” if they have fewer than 10 children?

          • Guest

            Having a stable income is certainly one variable that must be considered when having a family but that cannot be the sole factor. You write as if having children is only good as long as you have a certain formula that allows the exact amount of cash available. Not only is that not living Providentially it is morally incorrect. Apply your moral reasoning to other aspects of life and see how it works out.

            A man will not get married until he is certain that he has enough money to last him until he dies? Poor people should not marry by your standard.

            Keep in mind even with no kids there is no certainty that one will not have money problems even if one has a “good” job currently.

            • Nestorian

              No, but having no or few kids could be the prudent thing to do, if one has a less secure job and a smaller income than Regis Martin. Being prudent and choosing to have few, or even no, kids does not ipso facto entail a lack of faith in Divine Providence. Yet that is precisely what Regis Martin – and many others on this thread – seem to be saying.
              I feel called to defend those families who earn much less and who have much less job security than Regis Martin against his unwarranted charge that their prudence is really a form of selfishness. How on earth could he possibly know this to be true of every single couple who makes such a decision?

              • mary

                Here’s the elephant in the room: how do you propose readers of this site, i.e. practicing Catholics, go about controlling family size to the degree that you suggest? You never say unless I’ve missed something.

                • Nestorian

                  Modern, scientifically sophisticated Natural family planning techniques work well, so those would be fine with me.

                  • Unfortunately, many faithful Catholics seemingly think that a couple should have children serially throughout the fertile years. This would be imprudent and the Church does leave to the husband and wife to discern the size of their family, as long as it’s done in a moral way.

              • GB

                I did not see him claim people should have a certain number of children or they are axiomatically selfish? I think his general thrust is correct. As a society we see children as a hindrance. People contracept the marital act which is a serious evil.

                • Nestorian

                  And I think his general thrust is wrong, in that there is nothing impeding a married couple from choosing to have a small number of children, yet still move towards genuine holiness as they proceed through their life.
                  Indeed, I would go even further than that and say that it is even possible for a married couple to choose to have NO children and not necessarily have this be an impediment to their holiness.
                  I also think he is presumptuous to assume that most, if not all, couples who choose to have few or no children are doing so on the grounds of selfishness, rather than on grounds of prudence. It is a violation of Christ’s injunction not to judge others, lest you be judged.

                  • fredx2

                    He was not judging anyone. He was talking in generalities.

                    • Nestorian

                      I have a suggestion: Why don’t we ask Regis Martin himself to clear up the prevailing disagreements about what he meant, and whether my interpretations and inferences of what he said are correct?
                      Professor Martin, could you help us out here?

                  • Opal

                    But you are judging us. Just as all of the folks who comment on our family do. I can’t go to the store with my family without hearing a rude comment. If my kids wear hand me downs and one has as stain or a tear people will comment that we have too many kids. If a large family goes to the dentist and one child has a cavity, it is because mom is neglectful. My daughters do Irish dance but we can’t afford the “dress” (funny that those parents with only one or 2 kids who can’t afford anymore kids can afford to buy a $3000 Irish dance dress for an 8 year old but we can’t). I don’t have time usually to care what other people say or do, but I have had people show up at my front door and tell me we are causing global warming because of our family size? Really. Judgementalism goes both ways.

                    • Nestorian

                      I never said that it was a bad thing to have a large family. (Actually, I did say this in a prior thread, on account of resource limits and overpopulation, but that is not a knock on you personally. I accept that your own family situation is a completely honorable and perhaps even noble one.)
                      What I am merely trying to argue – against Regis Martin – is that it is NOT a bad thing NOT to have a large family – or even perhaps no children at all, even by choice.

              • fredx2

                Nobody said that every family had to have lots of kids. The point of the article was that too many today are living lives of selfishness that exclude children – and consider children almost as a negative when in fact they are a positive.

                • Nestorian

                  As I suggested below, why don’t we ask Regis Martin himself to clear up the prevailing disagreements about what he meant, and whether my interpretations and inferences of what he said are correct?

                  Professor Martin, could you help us out here?

                  • Adam__Baum

                    But you repeat yourself.

                    • Nestorian

                      I want to make sure Regis Martin sees it. He has been making himself scarce, yet he was the one who made controversial and incendiary claims in the first place. Where is he to address my objections?

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Maybe he’s content not to wrestle in the mud.

                    • John200

                      Dr. Martin can speak for himself, but I will suggest it’s the prospect of mud wrestling with this specific lunatic that puts him off.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I should have been more explicit. Apologies.

                    • John200

                      No problem. I just want to straighten out the little boy, or at least get the process started.

                      Nesty should be better than his comments.

                    • Nestorian

                      Why do you insist on gratuitously belittling those with whom you disagree? You reveal your own childishness in the very act of branding me as such.

                    • John200

                      Nesty, Nesty, Nesty,
                      You belittle yourself with your claims. As for that childishness you see — look again, that is a mirror.

                      Approximately 80 comments on one thread is a loud and clear indicator, don’t you think?

                      You should be better than that. Mrs. Slainte pointed out the way forward.

                    • Nestorian

                      80 comments is a lot, but the issues at stake warrant it. I am trying to rattle and shake loose some deeply embedded, yet unwarranted moral prejudices against those who choose to have few or no children that prevail in Catholic circles.

                      I am also trying to launch a long-overdue discussion among the faculty at Franciscan University of Steubenville and other Catholic colleges about whether the current student-debt funded model of higher education is morally defensible.

                      Regis Martin and Timothy J. Williams, perhaps you could take discussion of the important student loan issue back to your colleagues over the course of the coming semester? Perhaps you could ask the editors of CRISIS if they would run a post on this issue? I would be happy to author it, as I am well-informed on the relevant issues.

                    • John200

                      Nesty,

                      You think an anonymous combox troll will start a discussion among the faculty at multiple Catholic colleges about the moral defense of an unquestionable, perfectly defensible practice?

                      Good grief, little fellow, get professional help.

                      You are getting in deeper and deeper.

                    • Nestorian

                      If he is afraid to spar with me, then he is not worthy of the stature and prestige he enjoys as a public Catholic intellectual.

                    • slainte

                      Why do you assume that he owes you the time of day? You are not entitled to demand that he speak to you. Have you no sense of decorum or respect for a person who is both an educator and an author as well as a father who is heading a household?
                      Humility is a virtue to be developed.

                    • Nestorian

                      I think I am entitled to demand that Regis Martin address the issues I have raised concerning the morality of choosing few or no children, and concerning the moral tenability of the student-debt model of funding his salary.
                      After all, Regis Martin has gone on public record defending views on the former issue that I think I have shown are morally indefensible. Concerning the student-debt issue, Regis Martin postures in general as a reliable beacon of moral thought and guidance, yet not only does he fail to take into account the relevance of his personal privileges in his moral condemnations of those who choose small families, but he also fails to note the morally problematic and exploitative underpinnings of this material privilege – in the form of the mass-production of college graduate debt slaves.

                    • John200

                      He is not afraid of you. Neither is anyone else.

                      Get help.

                    • Nestorian

                      He is the one who opened this can of worms by posting a pair of controversial blogs dealing with population and family size on Crisis in the first place. As a leading Catholic intellectual, who enjoys the full prestige of that stature in certain circles, I think he has an obligation to clarify and defend his position.

              • Opal

                There is no such thing as job security in this nation anymore. Everyone has to trust in Divine Providence. God provided for our family when our son was born without kidneys and the medical establishment wanted him dead. Almost 13 years later, he is here against everyone’s predictions. God provided when the doctors told me the tumor on my 7th child would kill us both. Nestorian you have to abandon everything to God and allow him to do the work.

                • Nestorian

                  I agree with the need for abandonment. However, I question whether Regis Martin has really abandoned himself as fully to God as he would like to believe, or whether he has rather abandoned himself in substantial measure to his tenured status, his salary, and his other perquisites and privileges. Whenever I see professors act smugly complacent – and I have seen this a lot – it tells me that their abandonment is to their status, not to their God.

          • fredx2

            What you forget is that poorer people often have more children than the well to do. Somehow, they have been doing this for thousands of years. There are all sorts of ways to make do. We are not all pathetic victims at the whim of circumstance. We are the Captains of our destiny, and literally millions have raised large families in circumstances you probably would consider appalling. They, however, consider it a fulfiling life.

            • Nestorian

              I’ll tell you how they made do, until the advances of modern medicine of the early 20th century. Those who bore 10 or 12 children typically had at least half of them die in infancy or early childhood. It was very common for less than half of a couple’s children to make it to adulthood.

      • opal

        I have friends with 12 children who live off of nothing. They are still open to life and Gods’ providence and God has always provided.

        • Nestorian

          Nothing – literally nothing? No, they live off something. What is it, exactly?

      • You are right to some degree and the Church does leave it to the parents’ prudential judgment how many children they will have. The Church merely teaches that there are moral and immoral ways of limiting the size of the family.

    • Adam__Baum

      “I can’t afford Starbucks”

      Nobody can. Beyond the fact they peddle a bitter brew, they have taken political positions that make being a customer material cooperation with evil.

  • Nestorian

    Professor Williams,

    I am reposting my last reply (from this morning) in our exchange from yesterday as a “headline” post, because I think our discussion about student loans has reached a juncture that nicely summarizes all the issues and objections I have tried to raise against Regis Martin’s viewpoint:

    The fact is that I have not “missed the point of where the money comes from” at your university. It is very clear that “the money comes” in very substantial measure from student tuitions, does it not? Somewhere in the vicinity of 80-90% of Franciscan University’s annual operating funds “come from” this source, correct?

    And I continue to raise moral objections to your willingness to profit personally off these student tuition funds (a substantial percentage of which, in turn, is derived from student loans) if you KNOW that making this heavy financial investment and/or going heavily into debt is a bad economic proposition for your students. And you have testified that you DO know this. (And if Regis Martin does not know this, I hope reading through this thread prompts him to do some of his own investigating – if, that is, he is really the “lover of truth” that he probably fancies himself to be.)

    Others may be profiting unjustly from the situation to an even greater degree than yourself (though even this would need to be carefully debated), but you are responsible for your own moral situation, not theirs. That being so, why do you not extricate yourself from your morally compromised situation by resigning your position?

    If you trust in the Providence of God to take care of you and your 9 children in all circumstances, then why don’t you take this courageous, yet morally obligatory step, and trust in God to provide for all the needs of your family in the wake of so doing?

    • Guest

      You start from a faulty premise. Taking a pay check from a university is not illicit cooperation with evil. Your entire point seems to be that student loans are immoral, universities take student loans, therefore working for a university is immoral? That is a strange moral calculus.

      Relying on Providence is the morally right thing to do. What you have not shown is that it is immoral to be involved with student loans.

      • Nestorian

        I believe a strong case can be made that taking student loans as part of one’s salary IS immoral, and as I interpret him, Professor Williams was inclined to agreed with me yesterday. I hope he responds thoughtfully both to my open letter, and to the existential moral challenge I have pointed out to him.

        • GB

          I can’t see how it is immoral? No one demands any student take out a loan?

          • Nestorian

            If Regis Martin and/or Timothy Williams weigh in on this discussion, perhaps I will develop my argument for this claim.

            In the meantime, I refer you to my fairly lengthy exchange with Professor Williams, above this post in the present thread, as well as to my somewhat less lengthy exchange with Theodore Seeber, below this post in the present thread. Reviewing those exchanges should give you some idea of why I have advanced the claim.

            I note once more that Timothy Williams seems to have agreed with this claim in the exchange referenced above. As such, his failure to continue the discussion with me strikes me as an instance where Upton Sinclair’s dictum applies to him with considerable precision: “It is difficult to convince a man that something is true if his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

            • Adam__Baum

              I generally find little to agree with written by Nestorian, but there is something disordered about the government education complex.

              Much of the bizarro nature of the modern academy is based on the fact that they have garnered the ability to grant human pedigrees while being dislocated from any market forces.

              The most recent attempt to “reform” student loans was to nationalize it, and before that the Clinton administration extended the maximum term to 20 years, but that did nothing to eliminate the major source of the problem, tuition growth. As a matter of reference, my Alma Master (Penn State) charged $1,416/year my freshman year. Now it’s tiered, but the Freshman tuition is $12,706. That’s a geometric annual growth rate of just over 6.875% for 33 years. Unless your take home pay is doubling every 10.4 years, you aren’t keeping up.

              If the education industry was publicly traded, they’d be among the most shorted stocks on the Stock Exchange. Employers already know that they aren’t getting value for their money, which is in part why they are pushing so hard for increases in the H1B visas. At the end of the day, having sat through a course on the vag**a monologues doesn’t really help with developing new products or dealing with customers.

              Of course, this means that the debt burden of student loans isn’t a problem, it’s a symptom of the fiscal disorder cause by decades of insulation from the normal economic forces that restrain waste, ineffective and inefficient in most other enterprises in America.

              • When my children graduated from the Natural Sciences College in a major public university, their classes had about 30 or 40 graduates. On the other hand, the Liberal Arts majors were about 2 to 3000! A horrible distortion in education caused by subsidized student loans was that nobody cared to choose a major which would lead to an income after graduation that would be proportional to the loan. Not to mention that any dean at the local university makes north of a quarter of million… for a desk job pushing papers, no need to teach or to publish.

                • Adam__Baum

                  We used to have something called “Forum” classes. named for a circular building called “The Forum”, that had superelevated theater style seating.

                  When it wasn’t being used for the presentation of X rated movies (not a joke), it was used for Freshman and Sophomore level classes. The class would have several hundred, the teacher would lecture, but “office hours” were handled by the apprentices “GA’s” graduate assistants.

                  I remember acing an introductory marketing course when I realized it was all microeconomics with a little terminology, even though I slept through the class when I actually went.

                  On the other hand, upper-level classes in engineering and the natural sciences had no more that the amount you indicated. There was generally 15-25 in upper level econ.

                  • Indeed, the coaches’ salary speaks quite loudly about the actual priorities of universities and also of Americans: panis et circensis.

            • fredx2

              Actor A (Government) provides a loan program in liberal amounts and terms, such that more people than before take out loans
              Actor B, a fully grown person, intelligent enough to go to college, decides to take out a loan to go to college. He does so after evaluating all the benefits and burdens. He knows he will have to pay it back. He and he alone decides how much, if any, debt to take on.
              Actor C is hired to teach students at the college.
              Actor D is an administrator in the student loan program
              Actor E is the President of the United States, who wants to buy the votes of young people by liberalizing the student loan program.
              Actor F is a secretary at the college.
              And you say Actor C is the bad guy?
              And by your reckoning, Actor F is equally as bad?

              • Nestorian

                Actor’s D, E, and C are the bad guys, in that order of ranking. But the worst actors are the unscrupulously predatory student loan companies, particularly Sallie Mae.

          • Nestorian

            No. But many actors con and deceive students into taking out a loan, while deliberately misleading them about what they are really getting into. The marketing tactics that have long been practiced at many colleges are really quite shabby.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      Nestorius, I have been away from this thread, as I must engage from time to time, in my perfidiously immoral activity of teaching. Seriously, in debating everyone here, you have really started to debate only yourself. You have put a lot of words in my mouth, in particular. It is not immoral, but simply imprudent, for students to contract debt, or for universities to finance their activities through tuition. No one is forced to take out a student loan. As with a great many economic problems today, it is the federal government that is primarily responsible for the student loan debacle. If Washington would get entirely out of education, universities would quickly adjust to the diminishing dollars in the marketplace. As far as my institution is concerned, and my livelihood, I pointed out in my posts what I point out to lower-income students all the time, namely that there are less expensive places they can get an education. By the way, your remarks about the tuition benefit extended to faculty dependents are also off the mark. Only one of my children has graduated from my institution, because the others have wanted to study subjects we do not offer. Thus, like all other lower-middle class parents, I have scraped and saved and skimped and borrowed and begged to finance education at three state universities and two other private institutions with which we have no affiliation. Many faculty members here are in the same boat. Finally, your pension remarks are ill-informed as well. We have a defined contribution plan, not a defined benefit plan. I won’t be retiring until I am 70, if I live that long, and I am certain Dr. Martin would say the same. Now, why don’t you stop assuming that large, pro-life Catholic families are all fathered by selfish, rich, Republican bastards.

      • Nestorian

        Dear Professor Williams,

        Thank you for weighing in with your reply to the gauntlet I have thrown down for you.

        To begin with, I disagree with you that the student loan program is principally to blame for the present state of higher education in this country, and for the situation at Steubenville in particular. On the contrary, in its absence, many colleges and universities that exist today would have gone out of business by now. This includes the Franciscan
        University of Steubenville, which would have been an early casualty back in the early 1970s, when it was financially on the ropes before Fr. Scanlan’s time.

        To see why this is so, consider the hypothetical scenario where the federally guaranteed student loan program had never been started in the 1960s in the first place. In that event, the number of students who could have gone to college would have been significantly smaller than in fact it has been. This would have been true, moreover, at every point in time during the 50 year span in which the program has in fact been in
        existence.

        Just consider what your own personal situation would have been in the absence of student loans: The fact that you had a lot of loans to pay
        off suggests that, without them, you might never have completed your doctorate. Indeed, perhaps you never would have been able to attend college as an undergraduate.

        Multiply your situation under the hypothetical scenario where no loans are available by many tens of millions over the span of 50 years, and the long-term end result would have been a system of colleges and universities today that is very much more compact than in fact it
        is. There would both be significantly fewer colleges and universities than there are now, and those that did exist would have a substantially smaller enrollment.

        Steubenville in particular would have been weeded out quite early in the game, as it nearly perished even with the benefit of student loans increasing the pool of available students, thus enabling its survival to the present.

        Of course, this also means that, in the absence of the effects of 50 years of the student loan program, there would have been a substantially smaller number of faculty positions nationwide than there were when you were hired. Had you managed to complete your own doctorate somehow, in spite of that same obstacles, you would have had even smaller chances of landing a tenured position than has been the case for you with the benefit of student loan program in increasing student enrollment, and thus creating demand for your services. And since Franciscan University would have ceased operations long ago, you would have had to find a position elsewhere.

        In truth, though, this debate about whether student loans are responsible for the administrative bloat at Steubenville, or, on the contrary, whether they are responsible for the very fact that your institution exists in the first place, is entirely hypothetical. Therefore, it is not at all relevant in assessing the moral dilemma that you face non-hypothetically, in
        reality, in a context where the student loan program has in fact existed for the past 50 years, and continues to exist now, with all its past benefits and present pitfalls.

        For clarity’s sake, I will articulate my own assessment of the moral situation that you and other faculty at Franciscan University actually face in a separate post.

        Dear Professor Williams,

        Thank you for weighing in with your reply to the gauntlet I have thrown down for you.

        To begin with, I disagree with you that the student loan program is principally to blame for the predicament in which so many millions of graduating college students find themselves. If the federally guaranteed student loan program had never been started in the 1960s

        • fredx2

          OK, so lets summarize. Government subsidizes education and creates gigantic loan program that impoverishes (by your account) students.
          As a result, there are more professorships available.
          Therefore, the professors are morally responsible, not the government.
          Beautiful.

          • Nestorian

            College administrators, student loan offices, student lending institutions, Sallie Mae, and other actors as well – anyone who benefits from the existing Ponzi arrangement shares in the responsibility for its existence. And the suckers…er, students, are the ones who will be left holding the bag when it collapses.

      • Nestorian

        Now for the post that really matters from a moral standpoint: The one that addresses the real world, where student loans exist, and not a hypothetical one, where they do not.

        In the absence of complete information about the financial situation at Steubenville, I am going have to make certain assumptions. These assumptions are a combination of my own extrapolations of what you have written, and additional experience and research into the matter of present-day university finance based on other sources.

        Thus, unless you or someone else corrects me, I will take it as a given that 85% of annual operating expenses at Steubenville derive directly from student tuition dollars. I also will assume that perhaps two-thirds of these tuition dollars derive from student loans. Thus, I estimate that about 57%, or somewhat more than half, of Steubenville’s
        annual operating expenses derive from directly from student loans.

        Clearly, insofar as my extrapolations are accurate, the year-to-year viability of the institution in the REAL world depends both on student tuition and on student loans. If student tuition were suddenly to dry up, the institution would fold, and you would be out of a job. And even if merely the proportion of student tuition that comes out of loans were abruptly to dry up, the end result would be the same.

        (So be careful what you wish for when you advocate for the cessation of the student loan program. Your own academic post would likely not survive the resulting financial devastation.)

        The key point, though, is this: 85% of the sum of every paycheck of yours currently derives from student tuition money. In addition to this, somewhat more than half – 57% – of the sum of every one of your paychecks derives directly from loans that students at the university have taken out to study there this year.

        This means that, in the real, non-hypothetical world where student loans exist and have enabled your institution to continue its existence also, you are morally accountable for the 85% of what you earn that comes from student tuition dollars. You are also morally accountable for the 57%
        of your salary that comes directly out of student loans. More fundamentally, inasmuch as your institution could not continue to operate without both the tuition money and the loans, you are actually morally accountable for ALL of it.

        Now in our previous discussions, you have clearly indicated your concern that student loans, in particular, are exploitative of students. You have, moreover, indicated that you are sufficiently concerned about the exploitative character of student loans at your institution that you have participated in protesting about this state of affairs to the university administration many times.

        Probably, I personally would maintain that student loans – and non-loan-based student tuition as well – are even more exploitative of students than you think they are, but that likely difference of opinion is not strictly speaking germane to my current line of argument. I want to base my assessment of the moral position in which you find yourself as much as possible on what YOU believed to be true even BEFORE we began discussing this issue.

        So, here is what you have to ask yourself before the next time you draw a paycheck – very soon, in other words: Is drawing a salary that is
        fundamentally predicated upon the exploitation of students for their student loan-derived funds at your institution morally defensible or not?
        I maintain that the answer is both simple and self-evident: No, the currently prevailing state of affairs is not morally defensible. As such, I respectfully urge you to resign your professorship as soon as possible, in the interest of your own moral rectitude.

        And if Regis Martin is correct in his apparent claim that God takes care of large families regardless of whether their main breadwinner has a secure income or not, then you have nothing to fear, either for yourself or for your family: God’s Providence will provide, as you courageously embrace his will by stepping away from a position that is unconscionably exploitative of students at your university – both those you have in your classroom every day, and a considerable proportion of the remainder as well.

        • fredx2

          So, you believe that every college professor in every university should quit?

          • Nestorian

            Pretty much, yes. The system as a whole clearly has the character of a Ponzi scheme in its advanced stages of development, where professors, administrators, and other university personnel receive pay-ins from hordes of students who will graduate into a life of perpetual debt-serfdom. It is a manifestly immoral arrangement.

            • The one whose head you metaphorically call for are not the ones running the Ponzi scheme, Washington is. The former ones are merely doing their job in the same way as in the absence of the Ponzi run by the Bernanke.

              • Nestorian

                Those who benefit financially from any Ponzi scheme are also morally accountable for their choice to be part of such an essentially parasitic arrangement.

                • As I said, the Ponzi was foisted on academia, surely with the happy support of deans, but to paint professors as accomplices is rather “rich”.

                  • Nestorian

                    I never said that professors, such as Regis Martin and Timothy J. Williams, are accomplices in deploying the Ponzi scheme. What I said is that they are morally accountable for the benefits they derive therefrom, insofar as they originate from payors into the scheme who never benefit after buying into it and are left “holding the bag” (in this case student loan holders destined to graduate into a lifetime of debt-servitude).
                    .
                    Inasmuch as they are morally accountable, Professors Martin and Williams both have a duty to determine to what extent their own paychecks are of parasitic and exploitative origin, and duly act on the moral imperatives of their conclusions. I have argued – and my arguments have not been refuted – that these moral imperatives include an immediate duty on their part to inform as many students as possible of the financial peril they are in, as well as a duty to resign their professorship before they draw their next paycheck, as the funds are ineluctably morally tainted by their parasitic and exploitative origin.
                    .
                    If Professor’s Martin and Williams disagree with me, then I would say that their commitment, as Catholic intellectuals, to objective truth in all its forms requires them to go to every necessary length to determine for themselves whether the student loans that fund their salaries are indeed a morally justifiable arrangement or not.
                    .
                    (I WOULD say, however, that many university administrators ARE accomplices in deploying the Ponzi scheme – including probably some at Steubenville. I wouldn’t be surprised if Timothy J. Williams concurred with this view.)

      • Nestorian

        Professor Williams,

        Upon rereading your post, I see that my own replies below require a brief prequel. You state “It is not immoral, but simply imprudent, for students to contract debt, or for universities to finance their activities through tuition.”
        Previously, though, you stated the following:
        “The student loan situation is indeed a crisis, and the faculty have raised the issue many times with the administration, who seem oblivious to the problem.”
        But if (1) the student loan situation is a crisis; and (2) moreover a crisis of such proportions that the faculty must raise the issue repeatedly with the administration; then how is it merely imprudent, and not immoral, for the administration to continue requiring students to contract this debt?
        Are you not backing out of your previous intellectual commitments on this issue by ratching back your evaluation from “immoral” to merely “imprudent?”

      • Nestorian

        Professor Williams,

        Thanks again for your reply, but I see that my two posts below in response require a bit of a prequel. In your reply above, you write: “It is not immoral, but simply imprudent, for students to contract debt, or for universities to finance their activities through tuition.”

        Yet yesterday, you wrote: “The student loan situation is indeed a crisis, and the faculty have raised the issue many times with the administration, who seem oblivious to the problem.”

        Here is my question: How is the student loan situation merely imprudent, but not immoral, if it is indeed a crisis? In a similar vein, how is the student loan situation merely imprudent, but not immoral, if the faculty at your university have seen fit to raise it with the administration many times?

        Are you ratcheting back today on intellectual commitments you made yesterday in order to render your position seemingly more morally tenable than it is?

    • fredx2

      You pretend that students are far too stupid to realize that if they take a loan out, they have to pay it back.
      You assume that somehow students are unable to adjust to their financial situation.
      It’s called getting a job, and most people become pretty good at it when they have to.
      You pretend that every student will have made a bad decision by going to college and incurring debt. In fact, a lot of jobs require a college education now, so the student might not even be able to get a job if he did not have the college education.
      You have created a fantasy villain for this problem – college professors.
      College professors are no more morally liable for the fact that students incur debt than secretaries or janitors at the school are. Are they equally as liable? Why not?
      By your reckoning, English professors are particularly immoral people because kids have a hard time making a living with an English degree.

      • Nestorian

        I would certainly say that English professors are particularly immoral if they strenuously encourage students to major in English, when the reality is that this is one of the ten lowest paying majors upon graduation.

        Ditto for European Languages, Professor Timothy J. Williams’ subject, and for Theology, Professor Regis Martin’s subject. Say hello to a job in McDonalds if you major in these subjects.

    • Moral objection to a professor who is paid for providing a service to students who willingly contracted it? Regis is not kidnapping students and foisting his teachings on them tied up, for Pete’s sake!

      • Nestorian

        No. But is Regis Martin ensuring that his students are fully informed as to the financial perils they face by choosing to take on substantial debt to sit in and gain academic credit for his classes?

        To his credit, Timothy J. Williams is at least somewhat aware of these financial perils, and has informed us that he discloses to at least some students – including relatives of his – the financial perils associated with taking on debt to help pay for his salary for taking his classes. He has also informed us that he has participated in petitioning his administrative superiors many times concerning the imprudential and likely morally troubling aspects of the situation.

        But in order really to put his money where his mouth is, and discharge his full moral duty under the actual circumstances that currently prevail (leaving aside all morally irrelevant hypotheticals about reducing government support for student loans, etc., etc.), more is required:

        1) Timothy J. Williams must take immediate steps to inform not merely SOME, but ALL students whose loans contribute to his salary of the financial peril they face. I would argue that “all” includes not merely every student enrolled this semester in Timothy Williams’ classes, but every student currently enrolled and paying tuition to the university.

        2) Before he draws his next paycheck, Timothy J. Williams needs to think long and hard about whether he is justified in taking that portion of it derived from student loans (which corresponds, mutatis mutandis, to the percentage of the 2013-14 university operating budget derived from loans), or whether, on the contrary, he must abjure it as money derived from an exploitative and parasitic economic relationship.

        • When the students show up for for Regis’ class, he has no bearing in their previous decision that brought them. But I don’t know, and you have not indicated that you do, if Regis paints an unrealistic job market to his students or not. Additionally, the idea that all students are incurring in debt is not true. I saved for my children at great sacrifice and they chipped in with the income they got in summer internships and they graduated with no student debt whatsoever.

          • Nestorian

            I am not even certain that Regis Martin has ever seriously thought about the issue – though, of course, he should now. Better late than never.
            .
            It is clear from his statements two days ago that Professor Timothy J. Williams HAS thought about the issue, and even considers it a crisis. He needs to reflect and research much more than he has, however, both the full nature and dimensions of the crisis, and all of the associated moral implications.
            .
            I am trying to steer both Professors Martin and Williams in the right direction, as I have been researching and thinking about this issue for years.

  • Nestorian

    Professor Martin, where are you?? Your recent blog post has raised a number of key controversies, and I for one would be very interested to learn how you would address them.

  • Isaac S.

    While in principle I agree with what Prof. Martin is saying, I find myself wondering who this article is targeted toward and what the he is truly trying to say. I’ve been following the Crisis series on fertility and NFP with some attention and I have to say I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I would imagine that very few non-practicing Catholics (or non-Catholics) read Crisis Magazine, so I would have to assume that these articles are targeted at orthodox, NFP-practicing Catholics. If that is the case, I would have to ask two questions: 1) what number of children is adequate to no longer have a “contraceptive mentality” and 2) what level of material depravation is necessary before one has a “just reason” to not have any more kids in the near future?

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