O Earthly Lord, vouchsafe to us high speed Internet.

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 25, 2014

Ah, the glories of calling for government expenditures! It seems two USCCB committee chairmen have endorsed a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission for the United States to spend $1.5 billion more per year to ensure that all schools have high speed Internet access.

Of course, high speed internet is an infrastructure issue nowadays, so it is not completely absurd to consider that government should play a role. Still, “not completely absurd” is hardly the same as “wise”. One ought to ask, first, whether this is a high priority for the use of tax dollars in a period of constant budget overruns and debt; and, second, whether high speed Internet connectivity is likely to make a significant difference in how well students can be educated.

Since the answers are almost certainly “no” and “no”, one marvels that some bishops are yet again encouraging expanded government activity—and therefore expanded government control—as a means of Enhancing Life As We Know It. After all, the default Catholic position ought to be to reduce government involvement in the social order whenever possible without unleashing grave evil.

Even apart from cost, this reduction is to be preferred for two reasons. The universal reason is that subsidiarity is a vital moral principle typically neglected by the State. A strong and healthy society is one in which everything is done at the lowest possible level. The particular reason is that modern Western states are militantly secular and inimical to Christianity. The Church should be strongly committed to reducing the scope and funding of such governments.

So, is high speed Internet for schools a high priority? Is it likely to make a major educational difference? Is it infeasible without government? Should citizens be forced to pay taxes to support it? Will it strengthen our social fabric? Will it reduce the corrosive power of the State? Will it foster virtue? Will it lead people to God?

I readily admit this is not a huge issue as issues go. It is only the answers that make it newsworthy.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Jeff Mirus - Feb. 04, 2017 5:35 PM ET USA

    jgiordano999999: You are absolutely correct that the translation is modern and even colloquial. The edition I was given is the 2003 Modern Library paperback. The translation and introduction are by Gregory Hays, an associate professor of classics at the University of Virginia.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Feb. 04, 2017 10:55 AM ET USA

    I'm fond of good old kick-you-in-the-pants Marcus Aurelius. He reminds me of a pagan version of St. Josemaria Escriva.

  • Posted by: jgiordano999999 - Feb. 04, 2017 6:19 AM ET USA

    The translation sounds very modern, with phrases that could not be from the 2nd century AD. Who's translation are you using?

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Feb. 04, 2017 6:01 AM ET USA

    Speaking of synchronicity, my wife discovered recently that she is descended from Marcus Aurelius, so she gave all our grandchildren a copy of the Meditations for Christmas.

  • Posted by: the.dymeks9646 - Nov. 26, 2014 7:47 PM ET USA

    Jeff, maybe we should thank the USCCB for providing some comic relief during these trying times. Who would have thought that shepherding is about such things.