What a tangled web we weave …

CPS just can’t seem to keep its story straight.

“From the beginning, the agency seems to take these girls’ word when it benefits their case, and label them liars when it suits them … This case just gets stranger and stranger. There’s still no complaining victim. The allegations spawning the raid were a hoax. The agency can’t figure out how many kids its seized from day to day. And none of the crime victims agree with the state’s allegations, which differ wildly in the media from what DFPS said in court. Just bizarre.”

(GritsforBreakfast is a good source for updates on the case. )

I’ve always had a soft spot for Texas. Of all the southern states, it has the most in common with California – the Spanish and Mexican influence, the Catholic place names, the wild west heritage, the cattle and cotton empires, the independent streak, the sheer “bigness” of the place. I’ve liked every Texan I’ve ever met, and there are many Texas transplants in California’s rural hinterlands.

I used to think of Texas as a kind of uncorrupted California, what California might have become if the radicals hadn’t taken over. So this whole fiasco surprises me. If you live in Texas, perhaps you could fill me in. Is the “Eldorado roundup” just another side of the Texas personality, the dark side of Texas frontier “justice”? Or is this completely out of character for your state?

Bring Back Early Marriage

The FLDS situation has brought certain social issues back into the spotlight, the most prominent being early marriage. It is alleged that some (probably not many) FLDS females marry and conceive children when they are as young as 13. This – quite apart from the related issues of forced (arranged?) marriage and polygamy – has scandalized many people and is often cited as an abuse in itself. Therefore I think the question of early marriage deserves its own treatment, lest we Catholics get carried off by media presuppositions and the winds of popular opinion.

The demise of early marriage is a significant cause of the culture of immorality that surrounds us today. Most people are not particularly zealous for virtue, even in the best of times. Yet, they can be enticed by social norms to live generally moral lives – and one of the most important of these norms is a culture of early marriage. By “early” I do not mean 13, necessarily, but an age of 15-22 for most people. That is the age when hormones are naturally raging, and they are raging for the natural purpose of finding and keeping a spouse.

Postponing marriage beyond these years frustrates the design of the Creator for all but the most virtuous. Some are indeed called to celibate religious vocations, and others to celibacy in the world, and they are promised the necessary graces to live out these vocations. But such people are never the majority in any society. For the majority, the result of frustrating nature is the emergence of an open culture of fornication and vice, in which legions of marriageable but unmarried people end up accumulating a vast number of sexual partners before getting married.

The median age for marriage has now reached 25 for women, and 27 for men. The median age for first intercourse is still about 17. As a result, today’s women average six partners in a lifetime, while men average twenty (the male average is skewed by a small number of men reporting a very large number of partners). Obviously the trend toward late marriages, because it results in high rates of promiscuity, contributes indirectly to all of the ills associated with promiscuity. According to Michael P. Orsi:

“This tendency toward later marriage or no marriage has been the cause of a great deal of our social deterioration. The high incidence of pre-marital sex, a decrease in population, a higher incidence of infertility, a growth of the abortion industry, the financial burden placed on society due to out of wedlock births causing single-parent households, an increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the rise of homosexual activity, the widespread use of birth control, and a reported higher rate of loneliness and depression among the unmarried compared to married couples of the same age, are all indicative of the moral and spiritual conundrum that delayed marriage or no marriage has caused for society and for young people who want to live a Christian life but find the burden of containing their sexual urges unbearable during their artificially protracted adolescence.”

What about teen pregnancy? Isn’t that supposed to be a bad thing? Frederica Mathewes-Green writes:

“By the age of 18, a young woman’s body is well prepared for childbearing. Young men are equally qualified to do their part. Both may have better success at the enterprise than they would in later years, as some health risks — Cesarean section and Down Syndrome, for example — increase with passing years. (The dangers we associate with teen pregnancy, on the other hand, are behavioral, not biological: drug use, STD’s, prior abortion, extreme youth, and lack of prenatal care.) A woman’s fertility has already begun to decline at 25 — one reason the population-control crowd promotes delayed childbearing. Early childbearing also rewards a woman’s health with added protection against breast cancer.

Younger moms and dads are likely be more nimble at child-rearing as well, less apt to be exhausted by toddlers’ perpetual motion, less creaky-in-the-joints when it’s time to swing from the monkey bars. I suspect that younger parents will also be more patient with boys-will-be-boys rambunction, and less likely than weary 40-somethings to beg pediatricians for drugs to control supposed pathology. Humans are designed to reproduce in their teens, and they’re potentially very good at it. That’s why they want to so much.

Teen pregnancy is not the problem. Unwed teen pregnancy is the problem. It’s childbearing outside marriage that causes all the trouble. Restore an environment that supports younger marriage, and you won’t have to fight biology for a decade or more.”

What is the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church concerning early marriage? It is well known that the Blessed Virgin Mary was likely 13 or 14 years old when pregnant with Our Lord, and her husband Joseph many years her senior, in some traditions a widower of advanced age. Contrary what many have been led to believe, the Church has always sanctioned early marriage. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

“The marriageable age is fourteen full years in males and twelve full years in females, under penalty of nullity (unless natural puberty supplies the want of years). Marriages void because of the absence of legal or natural puberty are held as sponsalia, inducing thereby impediment of “public decorum” (Cap. 14, tit. de despon. impub., X, 4, 2). Civil codes generally require a more advanced age than the canonical. Dispensations, however, as to the required ages are expressly granted by France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Romania, and Russia. The marriageable age in France, Italy, Belgium, and Roumania is eighteen for men, and fifteen for women. (France requires also, under penalty of nullity, the consent of parents); Holland, Switzerland, Russia (Caucasian Provinces excepted), fifteen and thirteen; and Hungary fixes the age at eighteen and sixteen; Austria, fourteen for both parties; Denmark, twenty and sixteen; Germany, twenty-one (minors set free by parents at eighteen) and sixteen years respectively. Marriages contracted in Germany below the ages aforesaid are valid but illicit. In India natives marry under canonical age. So also in China, where there is a further deviation from canonical age, owing to the Chinese method of reckoning age by lunar rather than solar years (thirteen lunar months make a solar year). The canonical age holds in England, Spain, Portugal, Greece (Ionian Isles excepted, where it is sixteen and fourteen), and as regards Catholics even in Austria. While in some parts of the United States the canonical marriage age of fourteen and twelve still prevails, in others it has been enlarged by statutes. Such statutes, however, as a rule, do not make void marriages contracted by a male and femals of fourteen and twelve years respectively, unless the statute expressly forbids them under penalty of nullity. The English Common Law age of fourteen in males and twelve in females prevails in all the Canadian provinces, with the exception of Ontario and Manitoba. Ontario requires fourteen years, and Manitoba sixteen years, in both parties. Marriages contracted at more youthful ages than these are not irreparably null and void. They can be, and are, ratified by continued cohabitation after the prescribed age.”

As further evidence, the royal marriages of England – blessed by the Catholic Church – are instructive:

“King Stephen’s wife, Matilda, was only 14 in 1119 when she married …

[King ] John’s choice of second wife was Isabella of Angoulême, who was only about 13 when she married him in 1200, and about twenty years her husband’s junior …

Isabella’s eldest son, Henry III, succeeded to the throne at the age of nine, but waited almost 20 years before marrying. His bride, Eleanor of Provence, was only 13, and had never met her 28-year old husband before the day of the wedding …

As part of the settlement of a dispute of the territory of Gascony, Henry III and Alfonso X of Castile arranged the marriage of Henry’s son, Edward, to Alfonso’s sister, Eleanor. The marriage took place in 1254, when he was 15 and she 13 …

Eleanor died in 1290, and three years later, Edward set his heart on the young Blanche of France, who was famed for her beauty. In order to win her, the king even agreed to surrender Gascony to France, only to discover later that he had been duped and she was already betrothed to a German truce. King Philippe IV of France offered the English king Blanche’s younger sister, Marguerite, instead, but a furious Edward entered upon a five-year war against the French. When peace was signed, marriage to Marguerite was part of the agreement. Edward I was 60, Marguerite was 17 when they married …

The contrast with the marriage of the next king, Edward II, couldn’t have been greater. He, too, married a young French princess, Isabella, who was 12 at the time of their marriage …

Edward III also married a young bride, Philippa of Hainault, but, at 15, he was close to her age. Their marriage was a successful one, lasting over 40 years (until her death in 1369) and producing 14 children, the first (Edward the Black Prince) born when she was about 16 …

The Black Prince predeceased his father and on Edward’s death the throne passed to his grandson, Richard II. Richard was only 15 when he married his first wife, Anne of Bohemia, who was a few months older than him …

Margaret of Anjou was 16 when she married Henry VI who was about six years her senior …

Catherine Howard’s age when she married Henry VIII in 1540 is uncertain, but she is believed to have been between 15 and 20, while Henry was 50 …

The final two teenagers to marry English kings were Henrietta Maria of France, who married Charles I in 1625 at the age of 16, and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who married George III in 1761 when she was 17. Both marriages were loving ones …”

Wanted: Good neighbors!

This beautiful property (note: the map on this website is incorrect) in the Orland area has come up for sale. Two homes – count ’em, two! – on fourteen irrigated acres. Located on a quiet country road with minimal traffic. Just 5 minutes outside the city of Orland and its grocery, hardware, and feed stores. Just 25 minutes to Chico, the University, and the Latin Mass on Sundays. Traditional Catholic homeschooling family right next door. Lots of room for kids to romp outdoors. Milk your own cows or goats, raise your own meat, and grow your own fruits and vegetables. Enjoy California weather in a midwestern-like rural setting. Put down roots in an old-fashioned, settled community that remains one of California’s best-kept secrets!

Saturday morning

A talented freelance photographer at Chico’s Farmer’s Market took a few photos of The Country Road Fiddlers on Thursday night. Here’s Christopher sawing up Drowsy Maggie:


I received an e-mail from someone at the Center for Economic and Social Justice in response to the Binary Economics post. The CESJ’s website is superb and well worth a look. Their language seems to appeal to Catholic sensibilities a little more, no doubt the result of Catholics involved with the movement. According to my correspondent the CESJ applies the principles of binary economics somewhat differently:

“We restrict the use of the central bank to providing new money and credit exclusively to the private sector to finance the acquisition and formation of income-generating assets, with a preferential option for those who currently own little or nothing that has the capacity to supplement the usual wage income (where a wage-system job exists, anyway).

Rodney [Shakespeare] would allow the central bank to provide money and credit for government-owned infrastructure, student loans, and so on. We believe it’s much better to have ordinary people owning the infrastructure whenever possible, and not extend credit for anything that does not generate cash income for the owner.

In the case of student loans, for example (education does not usually generate a cash income; most of us pay, rather than are paid to go to school), we think it’s preferable to increase the personal tax exemption and eliminate most of the complicated personal deductions except for education and health insurance, plus a tax deferral on income used to acquire income-generating assets — a “Capital Homestead.” This shifts the power from the State that can control things by deciding who can have a student loan, to the individual, who will presumably be treated equally with everyone else in having a tax deduction for education expenses, supplemented with a voucher when individual income proves inadequate to finance education.

To provide a social safety net, we advocate a version of Milton Friedman’s ‘negative income tax’ for anyone falling below the estimated $10,000 personal exemption for non-dependent taxpayers, $5,000 personal exemption per dependent, with vouchers for education and health insurance, and the levy of a single tax rate over the aggregate amount of exemptions, deductions, and deferrals for a family (merging the regressive Social Security and Medicare tax rates into the general tax rate). The result would be that a typical family of four would pay no taxes until aggregate family income exceeded an estimated $110,000.”


California cities are climbing aboard a movement to display “In God We Trust” on their municipal buildings. So far, twenty-seven cities are members of “In God We Trust – America”, a group launched in conservative Bakersfield. Huntington Beach is the latest California city to join the cause. This is an encouraging movement and I wish them every success.


In other California news, Governor Schwarzenegger has promised to oppose an upcoming ballot initiative that would amend the constitution and strengthen the state’s ban on homosexual marriage. It was refreshing to have the Governor on our side in the homeschooling controversy, but the opinions of this shallow yet bombastic governor are worth about what we pay for them.


Mr. Jim Curley (and Stephen Hand) have some insights on “the way back”. They’re on the right track, I think. One family at a time.


Excuse me while I go read this article before heading out to the orchard.

Checking in

I apologize for my absence of late. Aside from making mischief on other blogs, it’s Spring, and I’ve been pretty busy here at St. Isidore Ranch.

Late last month our only remaining Dexter cow, Camelia, gave birth to a bull-calf. He seems healthy and happy. We’ll have to emasculate him in several weeks. That’s another 300 lbs of beef for the freezer in 18-24 months.

In the past several weeks I’ve had to devote quite a lot of time to the orchard. I applied the Spring dosage of ammonium sulfate for nitrogen; painted the trunks with white latex paint to prevent sunburn and boer worm infestation; imported about three yards of composted soil to build mounds around the bases of the trees; performed maintenance on the irrigation system (cleaned the filter, replaced clogged emitters, did several test runs, etc.) before irrigating; clipped all twigs with leaves showing signs of peach leaf curl; and mowed. My two boys were a big help in getting all of this done. We seem to have an abundant crop of peaches and nectarines this year. The next few days will be spent thinning the crop by hand.

We just finished planting the garden in two fields. In preparation, we spread chicken and goat manure from last year’s compost pile; imported three yards of mulch; tilled and cross-tilled using the tractor and disc; and installed a drip irrigation system in the field south of the house (pressure was too low for overhead sprinkler watering). We planted cateloupe, watermelon, Crenshaw melon, Honeydew melon, zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant, peas, string beans, brussel sprouts, okra, tomatoes, and carrots.

On Monday I picked up our five goats in the foothills, all of whom have been visiting their favorite Boer buck. They are all pregnant and due in a couple of weeks. In preparation we spent several hours moving the electric netting out of the weeds (when the weeds get too tall they short-circuit the fence) and re-charging the solar energizer battery. Four of the five goats and will be milked this year, and the fifth is a meat goat. Angel, our Great Pyrenee, has been lonely and is glad to have her herd back.

The kids played their fiddles and keyboard at the Chico Farmers’ Market this evening, after listening to a Baroque organ performance at the university. It is such a blessing to have music in their lives.

Until next time …

Binary economics: the solution to the global financial crisis?

Because I have a degree in economics I have learned to distrust the entire field of economics, and to treat new economic theories with extreme caution. However, what these people call “binary economics” sounds remarkably similar to Catholic distributism, or at least tends in that direction:

“In its economics aspect, binary economics is a market economics whose markets work for everybody. Furthermore, it upholds private property but private property (and the associated income) for everybody. A summary might be – a justice which creates efficiency and an efficiency which creates justice. An alternative summary is – the use of central bank-issued interest-free loans, administered by the banking system, for the development and spreading of various forms of productive (and the associated consuming) capacity thereby creating a balance of supply and demand (as required by Say’s Theorem) and forwarding social and economic justice.”

“Binary economics is fundamentally different from all forms of conventional economics (be they expressions of right-wing, centrist or left-wing theory). Thus, unlike most mainstream economics, binary economics accommodates belief in God, unicity and ethics. It directly addresses the main environmental issues; does not assume that humans only follow their own immediate short term self interest; ends economic colonialism; appeals to people of faith and of good faith; and does not assume that humans (as distinguished from capital instruments) do all, or nearly all, of the physical creation of wealth.”

Interesting. Here’s what they propose as a solution to the global financial crisis (do read the entire article for context):

“The solution can be summarised as the issue of national bank-issued interest-free loans (administered by the banking system) for the development and spreading of productive (and the associated purchasing) capacity to all individuals in the population. All environmental capital projects, all governmental capital projects, micro-credit, small business, student loans and the private sector if wide ownership is involved are covered by the solution.

At the same time as the national bank loans are issued, the banking system must be curtailed in its present ability to create money out of nothing and lend it for any purpose except the development and spreading of productive capacity. The curtailment can be done by a rise to 100% banking reserves.

At the core of the solution is the use of interest-free loans issued by the central bank for the purpose of productive capacity. Such loans cannot be inflationary, indeed, they are counter-inflationary ─ when the loans are repaid, they are cancelled leaving behind in the economy productive, income-generating capital assets. Thus productive assets always back the currency.

Crucially, the loans originate with the central bank. By originating the money with the central bank (rather than the banking system) society’s ownership of the money supply is established and so the money can be interest-free and focused on the purposes of productive capacity and the real economy so as to achieve a Say’s Theorem balance of supply and demand while, at the same time, forwarding social and economic justice.

Thus it is proposed that a country’s central bank should create interest-free loans. On repayment, the loans (like the principal of normal bank loans) are cancelled leaving the capital projects in existence. The money for repayment of loans is collected and repaid as it is at present except that the capital projects would cost, roughly, half, even a quarter or less of what they cost today.”