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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Morality of Class Warfare

The President of the United States and virtually the entire Democratic Party not only advocate class warfare, they proudly proclaim it from the housetops.  “The rich should pay more,” they say.  “The wealthy aren’t paying their fair share,” they proclaim.  They reject free markets, where one man freely exchanges his services with another man for his goods.  They can’t comprehend the idea that it is not a zero sum game and that both benefit from such a transaction.  They seek not equal opportunity, but equal economic outcomes.  They are OK with the fact that 47% of all Americans pay no federal income taxes.  They say that’s only right and fair, because the lottery of life has dealt some folks a worse hand than others and therefore those in power are entitled to transfer money from those that “have” to the “have nots.”  Let’s not sugarcoat it.  Transfer, of course, means forcefully taking money at the point of a gun from one person and giving it to another person.  That’s what government is—power—and if you don’t pay your taxes someone with a gun on his hip will ultimately come to your door and haul you off to prison.
But what about the morality of redistribution of income through the force and power of government, i.e. taxes?  Is the advocacy of conflict between rich and poor moral?  Or, for that matter, is the advocacy and encouragement of conflict between any two individuals moral and just?  That’s the house of cards the modern Democratic Party has built—constructing coalitions built upon envy, jealousy, and division.  They seek to divide people on the basis of age, wealth, sex, education, type of work, geographic location, and, of course, race.  It is a divide and conquer tactic.  They endeavor to cobble disparate groups together into a winning coalition that will allow them to not only govern, but also to steadily give themselves more and more power over the lives of American citizens.  But is such a strategy moral?
What do traditional moral codes have to say about being jealous, having envy, causing division, and about greed and that old word, covetousness?  The Bible, the book upon which the Founders relied for their moral direction, (nearly two-thirds of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had some formal training in the Bible) looks upon jealousy, envy and greed as evil.  For example, 1 Corinthians 3:3 says:  “When you are jealous and quarrel among yourselves, aren’t you influenced by your corrupt nature and living by human standards?”  Mark 7:22 labels “envy” as an “evil thought” and lumps it together with other things that God despises including “…stealing, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, cheating…” and other sins.  As far as encouraging divisions among people is concerned, Psalms 133:1 advises us that it is good “…when brothers and sisters live together in harmony.” What does it mean to covet something?  One of the definitions in myAmerican College Dictionarysaysto covet is  “…desiring the possessions of another.”  And God says simply, do not covet.  Or to actually quote from the Ten Commandments, “You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” That pretty well covers it.  Any philosophy, ideology, or strategy based on dividing people into groups and making them envious of each other or jealous of each other is a flawed, immoral plan of action. 
In fact, the Bible encourages us to celebrate the blessings that others receive from God.  Are they wealthy?  Celebrate God’s blessings.  Are they successful?  Be happy for them.  Are they prospering, celebrate with them.  That’s exactly what we will do if we follow Jesus’ admonition to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
But, what about the “immorality” of some people having more and others having less?  Isn’t that unjust and wrong?  First of all, people succeed and fail in a free market as they strive to produce goods and services that they hope others will be interested in having.  They succeed based on the basis of the hard work, drive, intelligence, and the wisdom with which God has blessed them.  If they acknowledge that reality they will then generously and freely share their abundance with others.  That is the history of America.  The citizens of the United States of America have been the most generous people on the face of the earth and in the history of the world.  This is a part of our Christian heritage bequeathed to us by our Founders.  This is a part of what some call the “goodness” of America.  Charity, of course, means love.  That’s the reason that when the church first created and implemented financial aid to the poor and needy it was appropriately called charity.  True compassion consists of individuals freely helping others in need.  Expressing verbal concern and then using the government to spend someone else’s money and give it to someone else is false compassion.In fact, it is worse than false compassion.  It takes love out of the equation.  It doesn’t uplift the giver or the receiver.  It discourages and demeans both.  By taking away the personal responsibility for sharing with others and replacing it with government, compassion vanishes.  Neither party is enriched spiritually and morally as they are in a situation where one party gives out of love and the other is blessed by that love and caring.  The truth is that true compassion consists of giving your own money cheerfully. 
There is yet another issue—fairness.  Just how fair is it that the rich do not pay more in taxes?  Well, first of all, the premise is false.  The most wealthy in our land—fewerthan 10%—pay more than everyone else combined and yet their benefits from being an American are, at best, only marginally better than those at the bottom rung of the economic scale.  What is fair?  Is it fair that 47% of all Americans pay no federal income taxes while enjoying the benefits of American citizenship?  What standard do we use for defining fair and just?  It if was up to our Founders they would turn to the Bible for guidance.  In Deuteronomy 14:22, we are told that God expects everyone to give one-tenth (10%) of everything they grow, harvest, or earn to Him.  Tellingly, there is no sliding scale.  The rich are not told to give more than 10% and the poor are not exempted from giving their 10%.  Of course, throughout the Bible, believers are encouraged to give generously and while 10% may be an expected amount, everyone is expected to give to the Lord as they are blessed, and many do give much, much more.  But the key word is “give,” not “compelled or forced.”  In fact, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “You shouldn’t be sorry that you gave or feel forced to give, since God loves a cheerful giver.”Real compassion is love based and can only come freely from someone who gives because they want to give.  Being forced to pay taxes to give to another is a deadly distortion of the idea of giving to the poor and others in need.  It corrupts something beautiful and turns it into something ugly.  It fractures the beautiful relationship between the cheerful giver and the grateful recipient.  Real compassion lifts up both parties, giving moral strength to both the giver and the receiver.
So what?  Conservatives and Republicans are no less sinners than Democrats and liberals.  As individuals, they both stand as deeply flawed individuals before God and his standards of perfection.  Yes, that is true, but there is something much more dangerous in play.  All men are jealous and envious and have all the other human defects, yet it is very important as to what we believe as individuals.  It is one thing as an individual to fail morally. It is entirely another thing to support and encourage others to act immorally.  It is similarly hazardous to endorse policies and programs that are in conflict with God’s eternal verities.  It is as wrong-headed to be consciously jealous or envious of others and encourage such jealously and envy, as it is to hate, murder or break any other of God’s Commandments.  That’s how serious God is about jealousy and envy.  
So what about the morality of class warfare as it is promoted by our President and by the vast majority of the Democratic Party?  You will have to make up your mind for yourself, but as for me, it seems pretty clear that such an ideology or strategy is clearly immoral and runs counter to the faith and perspective of the Founders.

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