Farm Subsidiarity and Obama

The wizards of smart in the Obama administration never cease to amaze.  By now all thinking Catholics should realize that this administration is anything but friendly to the Church or her doctrines.  Yet some still support the President claiming that his initiatives are consonant with Catholic Social Doctrine.  Now comes the latest assault on common sense from the administration: the Department of Labor–an agency of the Executive Branch–considering whether to ban farm chores for children of farmers.

I have chosen “assault on common sense” purposefully because it encompasses three areas under attack by this administration and which should cause not only Catholics but all people of good will to raise their pitchforks.  Firstly, this proposed rule is an attack on the Principle of Subsidiarity.  Pope Pius XI best articulated this principle in his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo anno.  Suffice it to say, the principle runs thus: “the principle by which those in authority recognize the rights of the members in a society; and those in higher authority recognize the rights of those in lower authority.”  I find it hard to believe that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis knows better than the farmer what chores need to be done and by whom.  Likewise, it should cause concern that a centralized state with the power to enforce compliance has reached so far into areas of life so removed and so specialized that its officials–likely with no experience of the areas in which they are meddling–presume to enact uniform standards for all. 

Secondly, this proposed rule is an attack on the family.  Indeed a hallmark of human civilization has been the family business and the family farm.  Fathers and mothers teaching their sons and daughters the family trade and passing down a patrimony and tradition is something that is the preserve of that most ancient of institutions.  How can the federal government presume to meddle in the affairs of the family?  Shall mothers and fathers look to the government to decide whether or not to have their children clear the table, wash the dishes or pick up their clothes?  Is mowing the lawn considered child labor and therefore to be condemned?  Aside from the absurdity of the whole scenario, how does one teach the young to be responsible citizens?  How do parents instill a solid work ethic if not by training their children when they are young?  It should be clear to anyone that the ruling class that holds the levers of power have no regard for the family (or the family business) but sees itself as enlightened and benevolent parents to the unwashed and manure-smelling masses.  Moms and dads are subtlely being instructed to tell their children, “Call me not Father (or Mother), for you have only one Father…and he is in Washington, D.C.”

Finally, the proposal is yet another nail in the coffin–by a secular and technological assault–of any sort of traditional agrarian life.  Precious few family farms remain in a nation that was largely founded by farmers.  Being “green” is one of the fads of the day, except when being green means actually living off the land.  It is curious that the non-commonsensical environmental movement is generally run by people in urban centers with iPads and smartphones.  Indeed a man with a Ford F-150 and dirt under his fingernails from a day of planting and feeding livestock is one who is at best a necessary evil.  An unsavory sort, members of officialdom must meddle in the way he does things so that they are done in a “more humane way.”  Being more “humane,” of course, does not mean more human; nor does it mean more green…unless by “green” is meant “green with envy.”  For that is what this is: envy by those in power that they have not control or a say in every aspect of every human life.   


This article, Farm Subsidiarity and Obama is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

John M. DeJak

John M. DeJak is an attorney and Latin teacher and works in academic administration. He writes from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Miklos Molnar says:

    “For that is what this is: envy by those in power that they have not control or a say in every aspect of every human life.”

    Excellent insight, John. It may be a subtle distinction; but, I wonder if the driving force comes more from a sense of “equity” than “envy.” Example:

    We should ALL be under a heavy dose of taxes and policies engineered by a centralized service-providing government because any other model that allows for freedom would not be fair. Example: I feel guilty for keeping my money rather than helping the poor with their healthcare. If I feel compelled to relieve this guilt by giving money, then EVERYONE should have to do the same… because acting as an individual is not equitable/fair.

    This doesn’t seem to be a problem isolated to the ideological “left.” Those on the “right” can also have a warped sense of entitlement to authority… a power that would seduce them to also curbing freedom to achieve their particular sense of homogeneity.

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