Soaked in Socialism

One of the problems we have in debating economic systems (e.g. socialism v. capitalism) is not so much that we debate apples and oranges, but rather that we debate apples and non-existent apples. And if you will permit me to press the point, there isn’t that much of a difference between a non-existent apple and a non-existent orange. They both weigh about the same and, just to make things a little riper, grocery stores in Venezuela have tons of both.

Allow me illustrate what I mean, and then attempt to get myself out of the fix some might think it puts me in. These debates invariably pit the disaster that is the other guy’s actual system over against your own ideologically perfect version of your own system, the latter being what I referred to earlier as the non-existent apple. Thus, Venezuela—not so much a failed state as it is a dumpster fire state—is compared to this libertarian paradise right here in my head. Or, to flip it around, the fetid smells of cronyism wafting off Wall Street are compared to a glorious communitarian New Atlantis, also around here somewhere in somebody else’s head.

Thus socialism has never been “genuinely tried,” even though it has been tried. Repeatedly. And while there have been a few brief moments of capitalist glory, the businessmen involved in it invariably get together, as Adam Smith predicted they would, in order to conspire against the public weal. So, as history shows, capitalist ventures also have a tendency to go off the rails, resulting in crony capitalism—a phenomenon that I have previously honored with the name of crapitalism.

And so lefties point to the real crapitalist outrages and compare it to their imaginary happy place. And free market advocates will sometimes (unfortunately) do the same thing—point to the smoking crater that is attempted socialism and compare it unfavorably to VonMisesville, not yet populated with actual people.

Even though people on both sides do this, please allow me to explain why it is a far more significant blunder when the socialists do it.

Socialism, as described in the instruction manual, actually has been attempted numerous times. And starry-eyed liberals have frequently “seen the future,” and, for them at any rate, it always seems to be “working.” I am old enough to remember when all the progressives were praising Venezuela to the skies as being the real deal. Until one day, suddenly, it wasn’t.

But when it comes to capitalism, we have a most unfortunate confusion created by the nature of our language. We refer to socialism, the system, and socialists, the advocates of said system. Then we refer to capitalism, the system, and after that the capitalists . . . but these are not the advocates of the system at all. They are, rather, the ones with capital, the businessmen who believe it their responsibility to ransack the public while getting Congress to pass laws protecting them from any future competition, competition which they would consider impudent. What is called socialism is usually run by socialists, while what is called capitalism is usually run by mercantilists.

Capitalism, the system, is thus routinely called upon to defend the behavior of their representatives, when said representatives don’t know the first thing about the nature of free markets, and who would be against it if they did understand it.

It is as though we were to judge the performance of a communist state after we installed high-ranking members of the Moose Lodge to all their important economic posts. Though, come to think of it, under those conditions, communism might perform pretty well.

When someone defends the free market system, as I am currently doing, with all my strength, nobody calls him a capitalist. I am not a capitalist because I don’t have any capital to speak of. I do know and understand that economic coercion is a very great evil. What do you call that? I call it Christian. Thou shalt not steal, as the fellow off the mountain once said.

As P.J. O’Rourke put it, most aptly, “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”As P.J. O’Rourke put it, most aptly, “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”

Thus socialist economies are generally run by advocates of socialism, which means they give their ideology a fair shot. They really are true believers. We will do the magic thing, they promise breathlessly, and wealth and for all will rise from the ashes. Capitalist economies, on the other hand, are not run by advocates of free markets. They are run by businessmen, who know how to keep their eye on the main chance.

Remember, pro-markets and pro-business are not synonymous in meaning. The survival of free markets requires the non-survival of numerous businesses, regardless of how many times their executive team golfed with congressmen.

Second, even with all this said, if we insisted on comparing actual apples to actual oranges, this would mean either that we would have to compare a socialist utopia with a capitalist utopia, or we would have to compare an actual socialist failure to an actual capitalist failure. We would have to compare real time socialism to real time crapitalism. But any way you do it, socialism still loses badly.

In the battle of the utopias, on the one hand we have imaginary-cradle-to-grave care, which creeps me totally out, made tolerable only by all the free soma-supplements, and on the other hand we have a minuteman, holding his musket, scanning the horizon for approaching tyrants. The breezes of liberty ruffle his hair—in a manly way, not in that shampoo commercial kind of way. In short, my ideal biblical republic fashioned according to the tenets of theocratic libertarianism can handily beat out any ideal socialist land of lotus-eaters. I much prefer sturdy yeomen of the Shire to fornicating potheads.

And in the battle of the actual failures, if we compare Venezuela, home of no toilet paper, and America, home of three CostCo rows of it, the socialists still lose. So I despise crapitalism—I really do—but it is still way better than full-fledged socialism. (Of course, returning to our earlier point, it is way better in same way Stage I cancer is way better than Stage IV.) Detroit used to be a prosperous city, and I wouldn’t have minded living there before their lunacy laid them low.

So if I might, let me make this whole thing a whole lot simpler. Whether or not we want more or less government in our daily economic affairs is a pretty simple choice, limited to three logical options. We either want more, or we want less, or we want it to remain just the way it is.

Referring to our illustration at the top of this post, if water were government, we either want to leave the handle alone, turn it to the left, or turn it to the right. Let us, to keep the illustration simple and binary, eliminate that handful of people who want things to remain exactly the same. In every election, with every bill that passes and is signed into law, with every regulation handed down from the bureaus, or eliminated by the president, we are either turning the handle to the right or to the left. We are either trying to get less water or more of it.

Now I certainly know what I have wanted my entire adult life. “A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left” (Eccl. 10:2, ESV). Turn that baby off.

Progressive socialists, when confronted with all the problems associated with how soaked we all are, propose to address this by turning the handle all the way to the left. And I never, ever, want to go along. And it doesn’t much matter what the problem is—their solution is always to involve the government more. That means more funding is required, which means more taxes, which means more regulations and more inane laws, which means more accumulation of moronic policies for Congress to try to fix in their next wave of reforms.

We want to dry out, and therefore the solution is never “more water.”

We want to dry out, and so we are not impressed with those who argue for turning the spigot handle left, only this time we will do it with a different expression on our faces. Or we will do so with intentions that are significantly more pure. Or we will do because the crisis we face (climate change, all rise!) is totally unique in the history of the world. We know it is unique because it is a crisis we made up ourselves. Never in the history of the world was an imaginary crisis better suited to reinforce arguments for turning the spigot left.

So notice that I am arguing from where we actually are, and I am arguing for a particular direction. I do have an abstract system in my mind, and I could write a utopia if some publisher asked me to. But that is not what we are dealing with.

Water, if I may be so bold, is no good as a towel.

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Kilgore T. Durden
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Kilgore T. Durden
bethyada
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Thanks, excellent article

Kilgore T. Durden
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Kilgore T. Durden

I thought so, too.

Matt
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Matt

Scandinavia isn’t even socialist. Socialism is completely dead, despite what that great trendsetter Venezuela might think.

prayersofadoration
Member

It bears repeating but I doubt you meant to repeat PJ O’s quote twice. Good stuff!

Rob Steele
Member

Oops–never mind. I was looking at it in the iOS app. On the web page it’s a sidebar.

adad0
Member

Socialism is the sort of state who lives for others,
You can tell the others by their hunted expressions! ????

(Think Berlin Wall crossers!)

John F. Martin
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John F. Martin

Greetings! Repetition is an adult learning tool. I just read Ecclesiastes before church yesterday, and somehow that verse caught my eye. I even wondered if that’s where the right and left directions of politics came from. As for the difference between socialism and capitalism, I don’t have to look much farther than the two baseball leagues my boys participated in this summer. The first kept stats and standings, with playoffs and a champion named at the end of the season. The second kept no standings (though all the boys knew we had the most wins) and all participants in the… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

FYI, left/right references the French National Assembly. Supporters of the king (Ancien Regime) on the right, supporters of the revolution on the left.

John F. Martin
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John F. Martin

Thanks for the reference! Now I want to know where right (opposite of left) and right (correct) came together. Or perhaps I should just start calling wrong, left? As a baseball player, I’ve often found myself standing out in left field – but only as a supporter of the pitcher, never the batter!

insanitybytes22
Member

“The breezes of liberty ruffle his hair—in a manly way, not in that shampoo commercial kind of way. ..” Hey! Thou shall not slander the shampoo commercials. Much simplified, capitalism is the ease and freedom I have to go run a lemonade stand and gain access to a suitable amount of bananas. Socialism removes that freedom and forces me to stand in line waiting to receive what THEY believe is going to be suitable amount of bananas. I assure you it NEVER will be a suitable amount of bananas, because they don’t even “like” the fools standing in line,let alone… Read more »

Eric Stampher
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Eric Stampher

“… socialist economies are generally run by advocates of socialism”? >> Seriously?
Advocates maybe, but not for themselves personally.

Krychek_2
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Krychek_2

I’m not a socialist, and I make that disclaimer because what I’m about to say is going to sound like I am. First, Venezuela is not a socialist state; it’s a kleptocracy. In Venezuela, the government, acting in the name of socialism, gave monopolies to government cronies, who took the profits for themselves and left the public with the resulting liabilities, with predictable results. That’s not socialism. That’s not even close. It has about as much to do with the tenets of socialism as priestly pedophilia does with the teachings of Jesus. Scandinavia and Japan are much closer models, and… Read more »

Eric Stampher
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Eric Stampher

1. All socialism = kleptocary, by definition. That Sweden ain’t as vicious and extensive with it is to her credit, for sure.

2. Those evangelicals you worry about may be railing about the kleptocracy, not the poor getting stuff.

3. OT prophets weren’t chastising the national or local Isreali government, were they?
The capitalists are the targets, not for extinction, but for improvement.

Krychek_2
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Krychek_2

1. Eric, if your argument is that taxation is theft, or that taxation for the specific purpose of helping the poor is theft, then we just disagree. You were helped getting to wherever in life you are, and asking you to pay some of it forward isn’t unreasonable. 2. Then why don’t I hear as much enthusiasm and vigor from them for helping the poor as I do for shutting down government assistance to the poor? 3. Yes, they were absolutely criticizing the government (not sure how much of a distinction between local and national there would have been). When… Read more »

Eric Stampher
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Eric Stampher

Krycheck_2 1. Taxation isn’t necessarily theft. May we stipulate, however, that taxation can be theft? Example: a guy with a gun is sent over by the govmn’t to take of some your stuff to reward a gal they employ to gas Jews or snuff babies, that might be correctly considered theft? 2. You don’t hear the enthusiasm because the folks you’re listening to are immature in the Lord, at best; craving self-serving crapitalists, at worst. 3. The “she” of Ezekiel does not equal government, but the community, including folks who have offices — but not those folks in particular, or… Read more »

Krychek_2
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Krychek_2

Taxation can be theft, but not on the examples you’ve given. The problem with gassing Jews or snuffing (already born) babies is with the policies themselves, so how they are funded is a side issue. And in general I don’t think it’s theft to take care of the poor either, although I suppose there could be situations in which it is. And taking care of the poor is not per se socialism anyway; it is possible to believe (as do I) that capitalism needs to be regulated but not overthrown, and that a safety net is not inconsistent with a… Read more »

Eric Stampher
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Eric Stampher

When Cain complained it wasn’t his job to look after his brother — was he waxing on about free market capitalism?

When Abraham dropped off the bucket of loot to Melchizedek, was he paying his tax to the Salemite Revenue Service?

Perhaps church & individuals could be identified as distinct from state institutions.
And an individual’s responsibility stood firm, regardless of how a state in constructed.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Eric, the fact that someone in the Bible acted in a certain way in a certain set of circumstances does not mean that everybody should act that way for all time, nor does it mean that alternative ways of acting are wrong. Would you have everyone carry a shovel so they can bury their own excrement, per Deuteronomy 23:13, or will you acknowledge that thanks to modern plumbing, that passage is today of little practical value? The bottom line is that the Bible commands society in general — not just individuals — to look after the poor. Your attempts to… Read more »

John F. Martin
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John F. Martin

Krycheck_2, I want to take issue with your bottom line; what the Bible commands society in general to do. “Repent and believe” are for everyone…love your God and your neighbor, don’t associate with the sexually immoral (within the church), and don’t take each other to the magistrate are commands for believers only. In many of the comments on the thread it seems our generation has had enough influence on the state to think it might do what the church wants it to. I don’t think that it every really has. I’d be happy as a pig in slop if the… Read more »

Krychek_2
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Krychek_2

John, I have enough free market instincts that I would be ecstatic if individuals, churches and private charities could take care of the poor without the need to involve the state. But I see no evidence that that’s the case. Before there was a government safety net, in an era far more Christian than this one, private efforts simply weren’t enough. The reason we have government social services is because of all the people whose needs weren’t being met. Elder poverty really is down significantly since social security. There really are fewer hungry children since AFDC. Nobody lives in tarpaper… Read more »

John F. Martin
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John F. Martin

I’m not going to refute your 2nd paragraph, if it’s true – that means something. My anecdotal evidence is that the government caring for the poor makes a comfortable poor, the church caring for the poor makes someone who will one day take care of the poor. Kind of the fish/teach to fish difference. As for your government social services question, I’d interpret Romans 13 in your favor – though democracy and Christian influence brings me often to the question about how best to influence the government if at all. I’m still trying to get my footing around the church’s… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

John, I think that any responsible person who both cares about the poor and believes there is a role for government can still be critical of programs that have demonstrably harmed a lot of people through creating welfare dependency. For able-bodied people there should be restrictions and expectations attached to receiving welfare.

John F. Martin
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John F. Martin

Hi Jill – what you say is true. However, your last sentence is part of the struggle in which I’ve found myself more than once. I have had friends in recovery (believers as well) ask me for money. Two that come to mind have said they would pay it back, so they have set the expectation. But to date they have been unable. Is my money charity or a program? Did I exercise grace or put them in my debt? For me, as resentment built – I had to intentionally (and verbally) forgive them of any debt. Now when the… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

John, I hear you! Every time I read Lewis’s words, I remind myself of the times I have been far more self-indulgent than charitable with my resources. Being burned by people to whom we lend money is a problem. Other than with a few friends and relations who are completely trustworthy, I try to follow my father’s advice: if you lend money, think of it as a gift because it is very likely you won’t see it again! So don’t lend more than you can afford, and don’t lend enough that you will resent the person who doesn’t pay you… Read more »

Kilgore T. Durden
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Kilgore T. Durden

The state and the church have different spheres, and looking after the poor is the job of the church, not the state. This strikes me as an evasion, a way to get around the text by shifting the responsibility to someone else. An evasion? How in the world do you get the idea that the church telling the government to stop taking our money so we can feed the poor to be an evasion? We are trying to wrestle this responsibility back from them, because they don’t care and we do. Evangelical Christians are the backbone of charity in this… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

I’m reminded that the actual definition of charity is love. It has very little to do with the modern definition of giving money. As Christians we are called to something higher and more involved than money, we are called to love, which requires an investment, relationship, and sacrifice. Government is a terrible vehicle for love. Sadly the church has often done a poor job, too, dropped the ball so to speak. “Evangelicals aren’t bashful in citing Sodom when they urge government to adopt an anti-gay policy, so why wouldn’t the same principle apply to helping the poor?” Krychek’s words maybe… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

MeMe, I agree that genuine love includes more than giving practical help when it is needed, but it doesn’t include less. And often people need money at a certain time more than they need anything else. Most of the churches I am familiar with are not in a position to take over the medical and housing costs of the elderly or chronically sick, even if they wanted to, and many families just can’t afford to take care of their own. If someone claims to “love” me and won’t lend me $15 for taxi fare in an emergency, I don’t think… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

But of course, Jilly. A far bigger problem however is how we take 15 dollars of someone else’s money, throw it at you resentfully, and try to call it “love.”

There is also the added issue of caring enough to ask how you came to be stranded in the middle of no where lacking cab fare, because the solution to what ails you is probably going to more involved than, just give her 15 bucks so she goes away quickly.

Jill Smith
Member

Hi MeMe, I was thinking of times I have needed cab fare urgently to get to the ER. And, of course, I have been able to pay it back. When you are a non-driver in Los Angeles, believe me, you sometimes need cab fare in an emergency! And, I used that example because it does not require any effort on the part of my friend except to lend me a little money, knowing from experience that she will be repaid. My friends (or any other people) can’t fix the situation which found me stranded without transportation sometimes before my daughter… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Kilgore, may I humbly remind you to include Catholics along with Evangelicals in service and generosity to the poor and sick? One-third of all hospitals in the US are run by Catholics organizations, and many parochial schools in the inner city offer free tuition to non-Catholic minority children.

Kilgore T. Durden
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Kilgore T. Durden

My intent was not to slight the Catholic contribution to charity. The attack to which I was responding was the idea that we are trying to evade our responsibility to the poor by pushing back against the government stepping into that role.

I happily grant the big role, motivated by trying to glorify the Lord, I add between gritted Protestant teeth, that Catholics have played.

I still despise Popery, though, and it pains me that I have to say anything nice about it! :)

Jill Smith
Member

Kilgore, I appreciate your effort, gritted teeth and all. You might like this Papist if you met me. At least, you might find me mildly amusing from time to time!

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

You are definitely my favorite idol worshiper!

I know I would like you, and enjoy your posts from afar. Perhaps I could learn some more about opera! Your Pope can go to Hell as far as I am concerned, but you are most certainly one of my favorite Papists.

Jill Smith
Member

I like you too, Kilgore! Does this pope in particular annoy you, or is it any pope? Or both?

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

There is nothing about him in particular that I don’t like any more than the rest. I liked Peter’s Papacy, and it went down hill from there.

In fact, I do kind of enjoy that he is reasserting his power to change doctrine by fiat. He is smart about it, but he is definitely changing things, and if Catholics take Papal authority seriously, they can’t say anything. He is the Vicar of Christ. If he wants to change things, then he can change things.

Jill Smith
Member

Hi Kilgore, I like Francis but he needs to learn not to talk off the cuff. A difficult doctrine can’t be explained in sound bites, and his positions are then misunderstood. But his power, while great, is not unlimited. He can change church discipline (for example, he could let priests marry and I wish he would), but he can’t change doctrine that is seen as part of divine law. He can’t change the rules on abortion or gay marriage, even if he wanted to. He can’t relax the rules on divorce. And, of course, his authority does not go beyond… Read more »

adad0
Member

‘Check, I think Sodom represented,

“Crapitalisim”

In more ways than one! ????

Dave
Guest
Dave

“This strikes me as an evasion, a way to get around the text by shifting the responsibility to someone else.” K2 K2, that is not an evasion or request for someone else to do the work, but instead keeping things in a God ordered manner. The church and Christians take care of the poor setting Christ on top. When the government takes care of the poor, the government is placed on top above Christ. Evasion is when you say that lawyers have ethics while Mueller and his associates in the special counsel office have huge conflicts of interest and while… Read more »

Krychek_2
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Krychek_2

Kilgore, and Dave, can either of you cite me to anything in Scripture that explicitly forbids the government to feed the poor?

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

While I am ideologically opposed to the government doing many things, if the government of this country were not hopelessly corrupt and greedy, and those who advocate for the government doing more were not driven by secular and leftist tendencies, I would be more amenable to the option. But as it speak, the only time Leftists want the bible to play a role in the ideas of governance is when it can be manipulated to support their already held position. You will pardon my cynicism, but it seems like leftists doing theology in order to feed the beast is, well,… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Kilgore, I don’t disagree with you that government programs are a mixed bad and have done some harm as well as some good, though I think they’ve done more good. But my question is: Can you cite me to anything in Scripture that explicitly forbids the government to feed the poor? Because if not, then there’s nothing Christian about opposing government welfare programs. You might still oppose them because you think they’re bad policy, but unless you have a Biblical prohibition, it’s not a theological issue.

bethyada
Member

There is nothing in Scripture about needle exchange programs but one can’t say this is a role for government.

Given how much the Bible talks about the poor and too whom, if the state were supposed to have a significant direct role then the Bible would discuss it.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Bethyada, given that an all knowing God would have known that the day would come when government social safety nets would be an issue for Christians, if the state weren’t supposed to have a significant role, you’d think the Bible would discuss that too. Your argument cuts both ways. And who says (and on what basis) that as a theological matter the government shouldn’t have a role in needle exchange programs? It may or may not be good policy, but that’s a separate issue.

bethyada
Member

So you want a Bible that lists all the negatives for every person, corporation, state. Atheists have no end of things that they think should be included in the Bible. Not certain the earth is quite big enough to contain such a Bible, and this without regard to the fact printing did not exist and it is already large.

My point was that your assumption that the Bible doesn’t need to include a positive command. It does have positive commands about the poor, lots and lots. All directed to individuals. Some things are reasonable to expect given what is addressed.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Bethyada, and my point is that it’s unreasonable to expect the Bible to be a comprehensive list of everything that is, or is not, permitted. It’s also unreasonable to expect that nothing has changed since the Bible was written. Maybe the commands to feed the poor are directed at individuals because a government social safety net simply wouldn’t have been on the radar. There’s nothing in the Bible about having three branches of government either, but I don’t think that tells us that three branches of government are, or are not, permitted. Suppose you tell you teenage son to wash… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Hi Bethyada, don’t needle exchange programs require government consent and government-appointed staff to avoid being illegal? If even a doctor here may not legally help a person inject heroin, a private charity certainly couldn’t. But I get your point.

What do you think of such programs? I know they are intended to reduce harm, and if the facility has Narcan on hand, it may save lives. But does it tend to dilute the government’s message that heroin is a drug to avoid?

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

I oppose the government helping the poor for three reasons. (1) They suck at it, and always will. Their motives for “helping” the poor are not genuine but political. Helping the poor requires interpersonal relationships, not institutional. It is that bureaucratic approach that prevents them from doing any good. (2) They have to steal money to do it. I know taxation is not theft, technically, but they have to raise taxes. Any system that feeds the poor without any sacrifice is destined to fail. There is no accountability, there is no incentive to reduce poverty, and there is no love… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Kilgore, to the extent that you are making policy arguments (i.e., they suck at it), I disagree with your policies, but can you acknowledge that that those are questions of policy and not theology? And to the extent that you are making theological arguments — the Bible doesn’t authorize government charity — I think that’s beside the point. The Bible doesn’t authorize democratic government or voting; do you vote? The Tabernacle didn’t have a roof; does your church have one? The Bible doesn’t authorize the government to keep birth and death records; should the county vital records department stop doing… Read more »

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

Kilgore, to the extent that you are making policy arguments (i.e., they suck at it), I disagree with your policies, but can you acknowledge that that those are questions of policy and not theology? More or less, yes, but in reality all things proceed from our understanding of the world, so even atheists roll out their sociology and political science from their view of theology. But without getting all philosophical, yes, that’s basically right. Respectfully, you have not thought this through. Not true. I deal with this in my role as elder quite regularly. You would be hard pressed to… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Kilgore, i didn’t say you were evading your duties. I said you were evading the plain meaning of the text. That’s different.

And just because the state offers a social safety net doesn’t mean the church can’t. No need for either to have a monopoly.

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

Kilgore, i didn’t say you were evading your duties. I said you were evading the plain meaning of the text. That’s different. I guess this is the closest to an apology I can expect to get, eh? You said we were trying to evade “by shifting the responsibility to someone else.” If the state would do it with a heart of love and genuine charity, which it can’t by definition, then we might consider it. Until then, let those of us with a proven track record keep our money. The state offering a social safety net does prevent us from… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Well, at least you got a back handed apology. K2 really squirms and your posts are on target.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Dave, if you derive pleasure from fantasizing that I’m squirming, knock yourself out.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Where in the Bible does it say that the government should take care of the poor?

No dreaming here K2. You keep changing your position and refusing to answer the tough questions posed to you. No you squirm, quibble (that’s a lie) and evade like a pro.

Jerrod
Guest
Jerrod

2 Thess. 3:10 “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” This is a command for the Church which by its very nature should be far more compassionate than any civil government. If this was followed by the feds it would eliminate a massive amount of “assistance”. So massive an amount I doubt what was left would constitute much of an issue for most people.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Jarrod, who would that plan limit assistance to outside of people like the widows, strangers, orphans, and poor which the early Church very clearly was supposed to support?

I’m guessing you have a distorted view both of where welfare actually goes as well as who the church was responsible to help.

Jerrod
Guest
Jerrod

Widows were not to be supported unless they were busying themselves with worthwhile endeavors. The strangers and poor in the theocracy of Israel were expected to go out and glean for themselves what was left behind, and I think that principle could easily be seen in the words of Paul in the quoted passage. That leaves the orphans, which certainly should be protected from predatory people to include businessmen, but nevertheless would be well loved if someone showed them how to not be idle. I think that covers your categories. I’m guessing you have a distorted view of what constitutes… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Strange, because from the tithe in Israel to the poor supported from the property sold in Acts to the poor supported by Paul’s collection all the way up to the poor supported by the Church as mentioned by Julian the Apostate in the 4th century, there seem to be a great amount of moneys supporting a great number of people.

I’m not arguing for idleness. But I’m not quite clear what you’re arguing for. Care for those less able to engage in wage-work themselves has been a substantial financial expenditure from the beginning.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Kilgore, here are my exact words: “trying to evade the plain meaning of the text by shifting responsibility to someone else.” That someone else is the church, not the state; you interpreted what I wrote exactly opposite to what I actually said. I believe the government has a duty to look after the poor. I incidentally also believe that to be the teaching of the Bible, although since I’m not a Christian that’s a side point. And by evading what I see as the plain meaning of the text, you are trying to shift responsibility from the government to the… Read more »

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

If I misrepresented you, I do apologize. My goal on this board is not to troll or have fun arguing with people about side issues. Here is why I saw your post as an unjustified slander against evangelicals, claiming that our refusal to support government programs for the poor means that we don’t care about the poor, as opposed to caring about the poor but having a policy disagreement about the best way to do it. You start with this: Second, I don’t understand the hostility of some evangelicals to government programs for the poor. Now, at this point, it… Read more »

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

Please forgive the formatting mistakes.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Kilgore, I believe that many evangelicals care very much about the poor. I think many Christians engage in good works specifically because they are Christians and because they understand there to be a Biblical mandate to do so. Christians do all kinds of good works looking after the poor and needy. So it was never my intention to claim that Christians don’t care about the poor, and if I was unclear, I’ll try to write more clearly in the future. I see both church and state as having a role in taking care of the poor, and I don’t see… Read more »

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

Okay, this moves the conversation nicely. Thank you. Let me ask this, then: Can you understand how Christians, who you concede are very interested in helping the poor for Christian reasons, would resist the idea of giving the government billions of dollars that we could use but now won’t get to, when this government has (1) become overwhelmingly secular and in some cases outright hostile to Christians and Christian beliefs, (2) become very greedy and corrupt to an astonishing degree, and (3) have not moved the needle on the percentage of those in poverty even after dozens of programs and… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Kilgore, yes, I can understand why some Christians would think that. I think they are mistaken as to the facts, but I do understand where they are coming from.

And I have an interesting thought experiment to suggest based on that very theme, but since this thread seems to have run its course, I will save it for the next time.

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

Fantastic!

I look forward to it.

Jill Smith
Member

Kilgore, you make an excellent case. Of all the ways to help someone overcome the obstacles that keep him from self-sufficiency, a monthly check from a faceless bureaucracy is probably the most useless. But, until other options are in place and can be relied on, I would not want to cut off that check. Mental health services here can be provided by non-government groups using block grants from the County. Can helping poor people get job skills training and financial help tailored to their circumstances not be handled the same way? But not everyone here regards this the same way.… Read more »

Kilgore T. Durden
Guest
Kilgore T. Durden

I would be among those, but that is because I am convinced that bringing peace and plenty are impossible by the government. Resources are a tool. Like any other tool, used well it is greatly beneficial and makes life great. Used inappropriately, they do great damage. The sources and causes of poverty are plentiful and varied, but the cure for it is relatively simple, despite the assumptions, especially in the US. The major issue is financial mismanagement. There are very few barriers to physical necessities as long as one has some basic knowledge. My grandson who is 8 has plenty… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Krychek, the usual verses I have seen cited are the ones in St. Paul about the government wielding the sword and the church the purse, or something like that. Plus, the rules that people who don’t work may not eat, you’re responsible to support your own nuclear and extended family, and that the church has no obligation to support women like me because I was divorced and not widowed. Which makes me a little bit leery about my welfare under a system in which I had to turn to a church which may not help me according to St. Paul’s… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Jill, but if there is a Biblical mandate to care for the poor — and there is — then why wouldn’t sword-bearing include enforcing that mandate as well? If evangelicals are willing to use the civil magistrate to enforce other biblical law — and they are — then how is this one any different?

Jill Smith
Member

Krychek, I don’t know because my church doesn’t hold those beliefs. For the churches to provide all services to the poor, presumably every church member would have to tithe. My understanding is that failure to tithe results in church discipline, but would that be the case if tithes were the only way in which the church could help the poor? I know that from the time Poor Laws were enacted in Elizabethan England, failure to pay the poor rates required of property owners resulted in punishment by the state. I’m not sure that all evangelicals want a Biblical republic or… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

When Jesus fed the multitudes, he set the example for us to follow. Jesus didn’t send everyone home for dinner. He didn’t call up the local government to feed everyone. No, instead, Jesus had his disciples feed the poor. Matthew 14 Can you, K2, one who doesn’t believe in the true God, show where the Bible tells the government to take care of the poor? Your arguments are based on what you think is correct and you are incorrect instead. Just keep on evading K2. I am waiting for you to post a copy of your letter to the DOJ… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Dave, I’m not really sure what Mueller and the DOJ have to do with this conversation, but my question was whether you can find a Biblical prohibition on government social welfare programs. I’ll take your failure to do so as a no.

insanitybytes22
Member

I think we can find several prohibitions, “render under Caesar what is Casar’s” is another way of saying who’s your daddy? Who’s face is on the monitary system, who’s authority will you answer to? Whose morality will guide you? Than there is, “what you do for the least of these.” We know that gov charity not only creates more poor people,but it places an unjust burden on the working class. That is why the middle is dwindling in this country and the gap between the rich and poor is so huge. Than we have laws around usury, the federal reserve,the… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

MeMe, government charity does not create more poor people; the cold hard numbers show the opposite to be true. That aside, the fact that you have to strain to find prohibitions from texts that are mostly talking about other things tells me you can’t point to a clear, unambiguous, simple “thou shalt not”. If you can find a simple thou shalt not, let me know.

insanitybytes22
Member

“If you can find a simple thou shalt not, let me know.”

We aren’t told to “thou shall not,” we are told to love. I have no idea what bubble you are living in,but I assure you,the last decade has been absolutely horrendous for poor people. Somewhere between record breaking unemployment, all the foreclosures, the meth and heroin epidemic, you lost the whole argument.

Jill Smith
Member

How would ending government assistance help the poor people who have lost their jobs or been foreclosed on, let alone those who are currently incapacitated by drug addiction? Probably a lot of those unemployed people need help once their UI runs out. I believe most of them are eager to get back to work once jobs are available, so the danger of creating permanent dependency is lessened. I just don’t see how yanking help away from a struggling family in their time of need is “loving.” MeMe, do you think people bear some personal responsibility for getting hooked on heroin?

Jill Smith
Member

But isn’t our Lord pretty specific about how we show our love? Feeding the poor, tending the sick, and the other corporal acts of mercy seem pretty practical to me. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, I don’t think anyone gets a pass for having a loving disposition but doing nothing to relieve anyone’s distress. “I would have helped that poor person but I was afraid of making him dependent on charity, so I refused” isn’t going to cut it.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

MeMe, how exactly is a government safety net responsible for record breaking unemployment, foreclosures, meth and heroin?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Government charity does create more poor people by the very nature of its methods. The government steals from someone working hard and gives that cash to those who are not working at all or to agencies that are not qualified to receive them such as our great bank and auto manufacturing bailouts. This type of help pushes the lower middle class into the poor zone quickly and the middle class into the lower middle class. The stolen cash could have gone for many other uses which would have provided jobs and sustenance for those who aren’t working. “If you can… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Dave, the cold, hard statistics show that there are fewer people living in poverty because of a government safety net. Elder poverty is way down because of social security, and there are far fewer hungry children because of AFDC. And there is no regulative principle that says the government can’t act without a specific Biblical mandate. The shoe is on the other foot — it can act in the absence of a specific prohibition. And taxation is no more theft than incarceration for crime is kidnapping. Like it or not, the government gets to do things that you don’t.

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2 escapes again with quick evasive maneuvers. Where in the Bible does it say that the government can act without specific prohibition? K2, if you look at stats, everything seems to be fine. If you remember that the formulas used to define US financial activity were changed during the Clinton administration and now use the old formulas, things aren’t so great. Instead inflation is high and poor folks are even poorer. Also, if you actually saw the old black neighborhoods in Chicago before the projects were built and compared them to the new projects built to satisfy the Great Society,… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Dave, your arguments that it doesn’t work are policy, not theology. And if we were in court, your questions would be objected to on relevance and materiality grounds, and the objections would be sustained. I guess the Bible says that government can act without specific prohibition the same place it says you can. Since there is nothing in the Bible about democracy, you need to immediately stop voting. Since indoor plumbing is disfavored (Deuteronomy 23:13) you need to immediately get rid of yours. Once you start down that path, you’re going to find there’s precious little the Bible explicitly authorizes.

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2, I took many of the same courses that you did but did not take the bar exam and instead entered military service. In court I would give rock bottom answers that would put you in the hallway. Again, bad legal argument by an attorney who evades. Better start dispensing chaff and flares K2. Actually, the Bible has much to say about government, yet you can’t find an answer to the questions that I and others asked of you. I don’t guess about the doctrines and commands in scripture, I know them. You only guess. So K2, guess again and… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Dave, oh good, then I don’t have to explain relevance and materiality, but perhaps you could explain why you keep ignoring them. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for you to cite me to something in Scripture that says the government can’t feed the poor. Though at this point, I’ll be happy if you can cite me to something in Scripture that says government can only do what Scripture expressly permits.

Katecho
Member

Krychek_2 wrote: Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for you to cite me to something in Scripture that says the government can’t feed the poor. It’s really rich when apostates come here and start insisting on Scriptural justifications from believers. Perhaps it serves the same need that the Pharisees had to try to set traps for Jesus. In any case, Krychek_2 is free to consult Malachi 3:10 describing God’s tithe (not the civic tax) going into the storehouse to provide for the needy. Krychek_2 is also free to read Romans 13 where it describes, in the most plain language, that the civic… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Katecho, at the time the Bible was written, there was no separation of church and state, they were largely the same, as anyone who gathered sticks on the Sabbath quickly found out. So it’s a meaningless distinction.

And I don’t have to share your paradigm to argue that it’s internally inconsistent, and inconsistent with the teachings of the book you claim to be authoritative.

Katecho
Member

Krychek_2 wrote: Katecho, at the time the Bible was written, there was no separation of church and state, they were largely the same, as anyone who gathered sticks on the Sabbath quickly found out. So it’s a meaningless distinction. I thought Krychek_2 used to be a Christian. I would’ve expected him to be more familiar with Scripture. Of course I also would have expected him not to put his foot in his mouth to reveal his Scriptural ignorance so publicly. If there was no principle of separation of spheres of authority, how does Krychek_2 explain that Scripture use distinct titles… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Katecho, I said separation of church and state, not separation of spheres of authority, but in any event, your titles argument is just silly. A law firm has distinct titles like partner, associate, paralegal, legal secretary, office manager and runner. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t working for the same institution, or that there isn’t occasional overlap in their duties. While it is true that a king and a priest is not the same thing, it is also true that for all practical purposes Israel was supposed to be a theocratic state, and if someone defied the priests the king… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2, where in scripture does it say that government can take care of the poor? You keep avoiding the question. You keep pushing against those who point out scripture indicating poor are a church responsibility, but refuse to answer any questions put to you. Chaff and flares now to continue evading those hard hitting questions that defeat your claims. By the way, the court would laugh you out of the room. You opened the door and now don’t like the responses and questions. You can holler terms all you want and object all you want, but I have seen this… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Dave, you understand just enough legal jargon to have convinced yourself that you know what you’re talking about.

Jill Smith
Member

MeMe, the burden of excessive taxation isn’t really borne by the working class, if by that you mean working but lower-income households. The average federal tax paid by people earning less than $50,000 per year was 4.3% in 2014. And many working families earning less than $20,000 a year are getting benefits from the federal or state government for which they have not been taxed–Medicaid and food stamps. I think it is the middle class that is bearing the burden. Even so, a Pew Research poll in the fall of 2015 showed that 54% of Americans who were polled feel… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Jill, if we didn’t have to pay SS or other payroll taxes that are supposed to be for our benefit, think of the savings we could have in our own accounts. Social Security was only for the very poor and those who paid for that program increased to include the military and all working slobs when LBJ needed more money for the Great Society. As you can see that hasn’t worked out too well. I don’t want to pay for programs that are supposed to help others because most of the money doesn’t help anyone except those passing out the… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Dave, social security wasn’t intended for everyone at its inception? Not growing up here, I had no idea.

If you had your way, how would you transition from what we have to what you think is right?

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

No, Jill, Dave is mistaken, social security was intended for everyone at its inception. It was intended to be a supplement to people’s savings rather than their entire source of retirement income, but it was intended for everyone. Dave seems to have fallen into the trap of thinking that what he supposes to be true must in fact be true.

Dave
Guest
Dave

K2 please stop spreading disinformation. Those individuals with pension plans were not included in Social Security until the Great Society needed money. Military reservists and national guardsmen were authorized to make voluntary payments into Social Security IF THEY WANTED TO for the periods they were on military service. Active duty military were not charged Social Security until the Great Society needed money. Stop spreading disinformation.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Turn off the handouts to illegal aliens. Revoke the anchor baby rules Turn off the handouts to those able to work, including those with doctor’s slips that were paid for instead of being actual conditions Send every illegal alien and family members to their own countries and tell them to get in line and immigrate legally if they really want to come to America That is a start. Would there be immediate discomfort in the States. Yes. Would it clear up relatively quickly. Yes. Jill, approximately 60% of those able to work in the working ages are sitting around drawing… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

“We send huge amounts of foreign aid money to countries all around the world and yet most of the money is taken right off the top and put in private bank accounts.” Where do you get such weird ideas? I’d love to see your breakdown of exactly what huge % of the federal budget goes as aid to which countries, then see in what form it’s going and exactly how” most of it” goes into private accounts off the top. There are very big problems in our very small foreign aid budget, but they bear little resemblance to the picture… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

A million a month in profits for a ten-unit building? I’d need more information before accepting that claim with any sort of seriousness.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Sorry that you don’t think that Jesus’ disciples feeding the 5,000 isn’t showing us how to take care of business. That is in the Bible that you don’t believe. You say infer that living in a tar paper shack was worse than living in ghettos and government projects where crime is rife and life is unbelievable. When I was growing up, lots of poor lived in shacks and still had productive lives rather than today’s on the farm slaves to welfare. Read Walter Williams Up From The Projects to give a better perspective on this disparity that you think is… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

Well said, Dave. There is something to be said for spiritual poverty too, the well being of our souls. Most of the homeless in this country aren’t there because they lack homes, they are there because their spirits are in poverty. Much of the poverty in the US is of a spiritual nature. That can’t be healed just by throwing money at it.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Dave, the government can do whatever it isn’t forbidden to do. I don’t need to show a text that says it can feed the poor; you need to show one that it can’t.

And just because on one single occasion something was done in a certain way doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do things. You’re grasping.

Katecho
Member

Krychek_2 wrote:

You’re grasping.

Krychek_2 is trolling the Christians.

Jill Smith
Member

Krychek, off topic but what do you think about Google’s firing the man who wrote the manifesto about women in IT? While recognizing that any company I ever worked for would have fired me if I had ever distributed, at work, a statement criticizing corporate policy and seemingly insulting some of my co-workers, I wonder if firing this guy was the right thing to do.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Jill, there’s a great line in a movie. A company wants to fire a bad employee, but because he’s gay, they don’t because they are afraid he will sue for discrimination. He has a conversation with a former employee of the company who, despite being a good employee, was fired from the same company 30 years earlier for being gay. And he says, “Interesting that the same thing that cost me my job 30 years ago is now saving yours.” In general, I don’t believe in firing people because of their religious and political views, if for no other reason… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Krychek, I think we don’t have all the facts here. I was feeling quite sorry for this guy, especially as his photograph makes him look like a smart but nerdy 19-year-old, because I don’t think he said in the manifesto was all that reprehensible. The new memo from Google’s CEO was very unclear to me. It seemed to suggest that if Damore had made the same points without using gender stereotypes, he would have been okay. Which doesn’t made sense because his whole argument is based on gender stereotypes: that women are less driven, less competitive, more interested in people… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

I dont much care about this particular guy, other than finding it very distasteful when people are fired for violating relatively ambiguous norms. However, the questions his memo were probing at are enormously important and are subject to vast amounts of confusion.

Everyone here should go over to Slate Star Codex and read the post “Contra Grant on Exaggerated Differences.”

Jill Smith
Member

Hi Demo, I just read it. The part about gender-equal societies producing more women who avoid STEM careers was interesting. I suppose it explains all the female Indian anesthesiologists, math professors, and engineers. I think Damore wasn’t careful to make necessary distinctions. It is unarguable that most intelligent girls choose something other than tech careers. If Damore had simply said this–we will never have true gender balance at Google until more women actually want to become engineers–that should have been okay. But, even if we grant that every gender stereotype he presented is generally true, he can’t make the case… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

Jilly, I just read the Google memo and I was astonished by how good it was. I would make a few adjustments, but I can give a hearty amen to the whole thing. He was responding to diversity initiatives intentionally trying to raise the number of women at Google and in leadership at Google. His basic argument was that, due to biological differences a level playing field will produce far more men in coding positions and in leadership positions. Google is ideologically opposed to this outcome so they rig th system to get more women in these positions (many of… Read more »

Katecho
Member

For some reason, some commentators on NPR mistakenly think that Damore was trying to play a conservative victim card. They completely misunderstood that Damore was entirely in favor of affirmative action to promote more women and minorities in tech, but that he felt liberals were in an echo chamber and in denial of basic differences between the sexes. He was simply proposing that affirmative action methods could be much more effective if they acknowledged those differences and worked to accommodate some of them. Damore’s sin was to blaspheme against the doctrine that men and women are interchangeable cogs. He committed… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

Conor Friesendorf over at the Atlantic wrote a helpful article about the media coverage of the memo. He makes a good point that that the memo could have used an editor with more emotional intelligence. Damore was perfectly correct, in psychological terms, that women display much higher levels of “neuroticism” and situational anxiety. However, those terms carry very perjoritive connotations, and writing persuasively to an uninformed audience they should be explained, or replaced.

Jill Smith
Member

D emo, a very good article. If Damore has any articulate female friends who have experience with persuasive writing, he would have been well advised to have one of them go over it before he hit Send. Calling his female colleagues prone to neuroticism is way too close to saying that they are useless when hormones strike them once a month. It’s also too vague for the reader to have any idea what exactly he means. I confess to a healthy whack of neuroticism but I also deny that anyone would have detected this in the workplace where I was… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I’ve known Conor for 15 years, and he keeps getting better. We align way more with each other now than we used to.

demosthenes1d
Member

I enjoy his level headed approach to sensitive issues. I disagree with him on “civil liberties” but he seems to always be fair to other views. Plus he quotes Scott Alexander, Alan Jacobs, and Jonathan Haidt. All three need much higher profiles.

He isn’t near the stylist of many Atlantic writers, so I’m pleased that they keep him on.

Katecho
Member

I’ve only known of him for 2 minutes, but I’ve already learned that his name is actually Conor Friedersdorf.

It’s hilarious that Google (following wikipedia?) wants to put up a picture of Rush Limbaugh where Conor’s likeness should be. I wonder if Conor knows that the internet has punked him?

Steve H
Guest
Steve H

There is no blatant prohibition on ants preaching the gospel. However Jesus commands Christians to proclaim the gospel, as they are the intended vehicle for preaching. Jesus comands the church to take care of the poor as the church’s will do a greater and more comprehensive job. Paying for TV dinners, MTV and cages hardly addresses real poverty. This said the church needs to get more active in this area and individual Christians need to start living their neighbors more.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Ants lack the capacity to preach the gospel, but if you can find one that can, what would be the basis for a claim that they aren’t allowed to?

Jane
Member

And government lacks the capacity to effectively care for the poor. If you could find one that can, I suppose it might be worth making the argument that they’re allowed to.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Jane hits a home run out of the park!

Atheists and those who hate God by worshiping false gods such as the state have no idea how to properly run anything let alone America.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Jane, there is much to criticize in government welfare programs but the question is not whether they are perfect. The question is whether they leave us better off than we were before. Most of the time, the answer is yes.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Just to feed into your discussion, here’s my answer. The New Testament is not written explicitly to government, because there was no democratic government at the time and those who had actual power over government policy were obviously not listening. There are zero instructions to government about what government should or shouldn’t do, so it’s a moot question. The only time that government duties are even mentioned, in Romans 13, it is explicitly in the context of how WE should position ourselves in respect to government, not how government should act in respect to us. Some of the responses here,… Read more »

Milwaukee Matt
Guest

Curious how Doug feels about Alaska, public wealth and “practical incremental communism” that young people suggest is just a moderate, more efficient cash based step than current poverty reduction bureaucracy: http://www.demos.org/blog/1/5/14/spectre-haunting-alaska%E2%80%94-spectre-communism

demosthenes1d
Member

Doug, Nomenclature is important here. Without getting into the weeds it should be acknowledged that capitalism does not = free market. There are many markets that are relatively free of government involvement that nevertheless don’t have the institutions and instruments necessary for capital formation, security, and rational deployment. Free markets themselves do not seem to lead to the massive economic growth that characterized America from the late 19th through the late 20th century and that characterizes a slew of Asiatic and oceanic nations today. Many of the features of our system, that most people would associate strongly with capitalism, should… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Demo, I think it should also be noted that capitalism does not automatically guarantee no improper government intrusion into people’s private lives and civil liberties.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Oh, you don’t even need to go that far. A lot of the even more basic precepts, like trying to build up as much capital property as possible or making a living off of interest on debt, are specifically curtailed in the Law and railed against by the Prophets. After the Israelites failed to practice the Jubilee and individual landowners built up more and more property holdings at the loss of others, Isaiah condemned them (as did Micah): “Ah, you who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is room for no one but you, and… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

p.s. – the Hannon article you posted is really good. Over the last year I’d already moved a good bit of the way to where he is at but that pushed me even further. Not commenting on it directly because I don’t want to taint how certain others might read it.. ;)

demosthenes1d
Member

I’m glad you enjoyed it. Our obsession with orientation essentialism (in Hannon’s provided nomenclature) has been a hobby horse of mine for a long time. Hannon provided a lot of useful insight into the history and future of the view.

David Douglas
Guest
David Douglas

As a controls engineer, if the control response to an error is such as to make the error bigger, you have “positive feedback”. It’s just plain “feedback” when a microphone screeches. Negative feedback is what you are looking for. Bertie Wooster would call it “the real tabasco”. It, negative feedback, by the way, is the North Star of all our daily activities. It’s what keeps you walking in a straight-line, unless you *want* to turn from it, and then it’s what keeps you walking, running, driving, and everything else that requires a guided response. In otherwords it’s the way God… Read more »

nae313
Guest
nae313

I guess my issue is that many policy proposals get labeled by political conservatives as capital “S” Socialism despite the fact that many of the most successful capitalist nations employ them. For instance, many European nations have more government regulation of X or Y in industry Z yet haven’t collapsed into the sea yet. To use a real world example, it’s a little ridiculous to call Obamacare “Socialism”, when A. it gives massive pro-business crony carve outs, and B. the European healthcare system isn’t even fully socialist and is meters to the left of the ACA. There seems to be… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

NAE, I agree with you. It is disingenuous to claim that life in western European social democracies resembles life under Stalin, or that government programs to help people will inevitably end in Marxist repression. Genuine socialism requires a planned economy and, usually, state ownership of the means of production. Calling everyone who supports any government programs for education or public health a socialist is no different from calling every Republican politician a heartless capitalist who wants to take us back to the days of robber barons, child labor, and starving oldsters selling matches on street corners. People on both sides… Read more »

Kevin Brendler
Guest
Kevin Brendler

” … crapitalism.” Is this simply the best we can hope for in a fallen world? Will there not always be significant numbers of scoundrels who game the system and exploit it to their own self-interested ends? Has there EVER been a time in America when this was not the case? ” … biblical republic ….” How do you conceive that we ever get there? One cannot separate his hopes for Revival from the repentance that is necessarily associated it. If the sovereign God, who foreordains whatsoever comes to pass, has handed America over to “crapitalism” and stage IV social… Read more »

bethyada
Member

While I generally agree with your conclusions here Doug, there is a problem in that most systems are a mixture. You have tried to address this but people advocating for either system will always see failures (or lack or utopia) as a problem with the mixture but blame different adulterants. The capitalist will blame the socialism tainting, and the socialist will claim there is too much capitalism. So the socialist will always be arguing for more socialism. And complain it has not been tried long enough. He will blame short term negatives of a capitalist reform on capitalism, but long… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Bethyada, I think, also, that the pattern of welfare use in other western social democracies is not always the same as that found in the U.S. In Canada, other than with some aboriginal groups with other massive social and health problems, welfare does not tend to be generational. It is reasonably generous and largely shorter-term other than with the elderly or chronically ill or disabled poor. I read an article in the BBC this week on the Canadian education system. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40708421. The part that most caught my attention was the small achievement gap between children of the economically disadvantaged and… Read more »

lndighost
Member

bethyada re your thoughts on the housing situation, I think we should encourage a culture of smaller and better designed houses, and that the role of local council needs to be reevaluated. Holding compulsory inspections for a fee but having absolutely no liability in the event of building failure is tax in a bad disguise. A culture where renting for life is more usual might also be helpful in creating stability and a higher standard of rental properties, as well as calming the housing market. The government requiring rental properties to be at a certain standard, for example that all… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Indighost, I am going to do the unthinkable and argue from the capitalist, anti-government regulation point of view (which is unnatural for me). I despise slumlords, as does every person with a shred of decency. But is there an unintended consequence in that, if I am compelled to spend more money than I want to in building rental properties, I may simply decide not to build them and decide to build casinos instead? That was the unintended consequence of rent control here.

lndighost
Member

Jill Smith, I hardly recognised you in your capitalist gear! Usually developers here build to sell rather than to rent out. All new dwellings have to be built with insulation, whether they going to be rentals or not. So the problem we have is not so much with new builds but with chilly 100-year-old houses filled with damp and mould. There is high demand for housing in many parts of the country, which means it has been an attractive market for investors. This has pushed property prices up, especially at the lower end of the market, making it difficult for… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Indighost, thanks for explaining. Did all those old buildings also have to get retrofitted for earthquake safety? That’s the downside of beautiful brick; it’s not good getting bopped on the head with it.

lndighost
Member

Most of the really old houses (in the North Island anyway) are weatherboard on timber piles, so they just swayed nicely and stayed up. It was the old brick buildings in the city centre, and the fancy new concrete structures that suffered the most. I used to live in Christchurch in a 1920s weatherboard house that was slowly rotting to pieces. It was also right by the beach, build on sand just like the foolish man’s house. When the big earthquakes struck (after I’d left the city), the house was right on the edge of the Red Zone (in which… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

I’m glad you weren’t there at the time. Why quakes take down a row of houses and leave one standing is very weird to me. In the quake I experienced in 1994, it was three-story unretrofitted buildings that did very badly. But so did brand new concrete high rises. My distance from the epicenter was six miles, but it seemed a lot closer at the time! My building stayed up, thank heaven.

bethyada
Member

lndighost My comment about the houses was to illustrate the issue. What people wish to do now in Auckland misses that this was predicted over 20 years ago. And the last people I wish to listen to about the solution are the people who promoted the problem. So I have my ideas, but I am far more concerned about rolling back laws that contributed to the problem than ad hoc laws to solve this current issue. But as you asked… I don’t mind limiting land ownership to NZ citizens. I don’t actually have philosophical problems with capital gains tax, but… Read more »

lndighost
Member

bethyada I hear you about the capital gains tax, and about rates. Property values in my area went up on average 25% over the last three years, and rates likewise. It’s the same house. The council is providing the same services. That’s just greedy.

I am not so keen on coal powered electricity plants though. I like wind turbines, and although I haven’t done the numbers I’d prefer to spend more and be greener.

Jill Smith
Member

Bird blenders!

bethyada
Member

For those appealing to the Bible it must be said that the Bible is concerned for the poor. But there are several things to say about the poor. Firstly they were oppressed. Secondly they were dirt poor such that they may have no clothes, or one set of deteriorating clothes, and no food such that they were emaciated and starving: Elijah’s widow was on her way to cook a final meal before her and her son starved to death. Thirdly, they were often widows and fatherless or orphans; they has not one to earn money for them or protect them.… Read more »

Barnie
Guest
Barnie
bethyada
Member

…rising expectations fuel resentment.

I’d like to read more on this idea. It is extremely common. I find it in colleagues. I find it in my children. I suspect it is partly a problem of lack of gratitude.

And it likely drives the push toward socialism.

bethyada
Member

“Two issues mark decadent societies according to Paul: an unwillingness to acknowledge (or honor) the Creator, and a resistance to gratitude.”
― Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What

Jill Smith
Member

I am happy to hear that this unlikeable trait is to be found in children who were better brought up than mine!

bethyada
Member

better brought up than mine

Don’t confuse theory with practice. :)

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

bethyada, I’d do more research on the cause of the Detroit riots before taking the review Barnabas posted seriously. That particular writer has spent more than 20 years trying to prove that Black people are naturally inferior to White people. “Lack of gratitude” couldn’t even begin to describe what happened in 1960s Detroit. If you read the Kerner Commission’s actual report on the cause of the riots, you see a very different story. President Johnson’s commission (a bipartisan group composed of 12 prominent national politicians and businessmen, 10 of whom were White) found that 93% of the officers in Detroit’s… Read more »

bethyada
Member

jonathan

I know nothing of the riots. My comment was about the phrase I highlighted. I think it represents a truth that I wish to consider further.

John F. Martin
Guest
John F. Martin

Greeting bethyada! In recovery we often say the expectations are resentments under construction. Apparently Anne Lamott is credited, but I don’t know her or her writings. I think the closest biblical term might be bitterness…like Hebrews 12:14-15. Actually you can’t go wrong from the beginning of that chapter! But practically, I think the vast majority of our expectations are met – the sun rises, my car starts, I get lunch around noon….but as soon as that expectation is of another person and they don’t meet it…BLAMMO…a resentment is growing. If organizations are like people – then my expectation of the… Read more »

Barnie
Guest
Barnie

Detroit racists got what was coming to em. So many other cities and towns out there that need to be punished for their racism.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I’m only partly disturbed by the fact that you post an anti-Black movie review by an alt-right internet blogger who has spent half his life trying to prove the inferiority of Black people. More disturbing is the glee you seem to find in your long quest to try to argue for some sort of White supremacy. Of course, your link ignores the findings of the President’s own Kerner Commission investigation into the cause of the riots. This bipartisan, 90% White commission of prominent national politicians and businessmen found that White racism was a major factor in the riots, with extreme… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

I looked up Steve Sailer and was amazed to discover that he lives not that far from me, but in wildly differing neighborhoods. Studio City is expensive enough that most of the Hispanics he encounters would be maids and gardeners, but I wonder how he tolerates all those affluent Jews as his neighbors. You know. People he might be expected to have to be polite to.

demosthenes1d
Member

I’ve never been much of a Sailer fan and havent read him extensively, but he doesn’t strike me as at all White Supremacist. He is a Murrayist, and I’m sure he would consider himself a “race realist” which is so hubristic a term it is hard to type.

He frequently and respecfully interacts in the comments of noted secular Jew Scott Alexander at SSC. And he, I believe, agrees with Murray that jews and asians are on average smarter than white folks.

Welcome our new Asian overlords.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Did you catch his response to Katrina? It’s not just that he said it, which is bad enough in isolation. It’s that at that time and place, in that situation, he felt that THAT of all things was the appropriate thing to proclaim. Not to mention in the course of blaming Black people for Katrina and saying that society needed to guard over them because of their poor native judgment, he also upbraided them for playing identity politics…even while he was urging Republicans to actively pursue identity politics among working-class White voters. The same goes for his involvement in the… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Undoubtedly, he enjoys his status as one of David Duke’s favorite pundits. It must be fun, in a twisted kind of way, to play on people’s biases while holding himself aloof from the intellectual and moral deficiency of those who express their dislike in less polished words.

demosthenes1d
Member

I havent read any of the referenced material. I have mostly run across sailer in forums and he is generally thoughtful and courteous, and often has interesting takes on topics with nothing to do with race. He usually espouses a Murray like view which is very paternal but is not vicious and he seems amenable to new information. In short I think he is a valuable voice in the discussions I have seen.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

(I should be clear though, I wasn’t referring to Sailer as the White Supremacist. I simply said that he’s spent half his life trying to prove in inferiority of Black people. The WS label was for someone else.)

Jill Smith
Member

I have no idea what constitutes the difference between “race realism” and white supremacy. I find it proponents of the former to be pretty disingenuous. What Archie Bunker said about “the coloreds” has been dressed up in dubious science and a very superficially academic rhetoric.

demosthenes1d
Member

Race realism is primarily a response to the notion that noticing any difference between people of different genotypes is hateful racism. There is always plenty superficially academic rhetoric surrounding contentious issues; however, the basic science that there are measureable difference between groups on a whole host od variables is a straight forward fact. No one thinks you are a racist if you more that Dutch people are taller than italians. But if you say that Chinese people have a higher IQ than Congolese people you are a racist… it’s a little absurd.

Jill Smith
Member

Very often the people who make great play of these differences are not content merely to notice them. They use them to support morally dubious policy changes.

Jill Smith
Member

Demo, I do try not to bandy about suggestions of someone’s being unhealthily preoccupied with Jewish success without some evidence, so this is why I said it. Sailer is affable with virtually everyone; that is how he maintains a little more respectability than some of the other writers at VDare. He says, but apparently isn’t sure, that he could be half-Jewish himself. If he is, that makes his preoccupations less explicable but no less troubling. And his affability provides a deceptive patina for his remarks. “There are several ways for American Jews to respond to this trend emerging out of… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Jilly, the baseball reference was distorted. Sailer wasn’t arguing that the deaths of Jews would be unimportant, he was arguing that Iran is no real threat and they don’t intend to be a threat. The tone of the article was not that he doesn’t care if Iran bombs Israel, but that he doesn’t have even the slightest expectation that Iran would actually want to bomb Israel. As far as your other Jewish quotes, I can see how they can be interpreted a certain way, but most of them are just kinda borderline. I think his statements about Black people, explicitly… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

In isolation I don’t have a problem with any of those direct quotes. They strike me as true. I have read handwringing from the Jewish community as the ascendant minority communities see them as either privledged whites, or super privledged whites. This is an uncomfortable place for the Jewish community, they may no longer be benefactors in identity politics. I think you badly misunderstand the IQ difference research if you think the Jewish advantage is “tiny.” Most research indicates the Ashkenazi Jews mean IQ is about 1 standard deviation above average (which is about the average American white person). For… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

I will look for it. My understanding was that the average Ashkenazi IQ is around 113, which is close enough to one standard deviation. But 113 is still a pretty low IQ with which to try to take over the world, and most Ashkenazi IQs will be clustered around that, right? Anyone with an IQ in the 140s is not going to look at those 13 added points as a huge advantage. What am I not understanding here? I don’t know if the extreme prevalence of intermarriage is likely to reduce the gap. It is a comparative rarity for a… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

Jilly, You are correct. The typical numbers are about 113 for IQ and around 126 for verbal intelligence. I think what you are missing is a working knowledge of the statistics involved and the this is the center of the distribution (not trying to be a jerk, this isn’t intuitive). I think you also overestimate the frequency of very high IQ people and underestimate the difference 15 points of IQ makes in all sorts of outcomes. The distribution question is the most important one. Just looking at overall IQ, and not the much not biased verbal IQ. There is a… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Okay, that makes more sense to me. I think I was remembering widely cited IQ requirements for things like finishing college or passing the bar exam, and noting that an IQ of 113 would not qualify. Apart from the fact that having a child with a tested IQ of 113 would be regarded by most Jews I know as a personal tragedy. But such a child would have been regarded the same way in my own relentlessly Anglo family.

demosthenes1d
Member

Jilly,

I’m not sure where you are getting your data from, but 113 IQ would be roughly median for college professors, lawyers, and engineers in America. It is about the 25 percentile for MDs. (Henmon-Nelson IQs SD=15). 113 is a pretty good score.

Jill Smith
Member

I have always heard 120. Which will not always get a child into a gifted class here. And I find it hard to understand how an IQ of 113 would get a student into a selective college here. My daughter with her 4.5 GPA (thanks to sloughs of college courses taken in high school) and her SATs in the 700s was not accepted by the Ivies. Even despite her being half-Jewish, which some people think is all it takes. They don’t look at IQ tests, although they are supposed to relate pretty closely to SAT scores. My only statistics course… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

Kids with IQs of 113 won’t likely make ivies (unless they are from a disadvantaged group), however, they can be doctors and lawyers and such and go to good state schools. You are right about the distributions. The way IQ tests are calibrated ensures that they follow a normal distribution (except on the extreme tails) 68% of people fall within 1Sd (85-115) 95% within 2Sd (70-130) and 99.7% within 3Sd (55-145). Given how rare 3Sd plus values are you can see what a huge advantage it is to have a mean a whole Sd higher. A perfectly average Jewish kid… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Demo, I still find that weird. I have the slightly odd hobby of taking practice LSATs for fun, and they are not easy. They require an abstract reasoning ability that I would not to expect to find below 120 or so. But it is probably true that my perceptions are shaped by having spent my life around academic people, Jewish and gentile. I remember once reading a clemency petition on behalf of a man on death row whose IQ was hovering slightly above his state’s legal definition of mental disability. And, as I read, my jaw dropped. How come this… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

It is important to remember, when we are brainstorming about how society should function, that those involved in the conversation are almost all outliers on the high end of the scale. For every person with an IQ of 130 thinking hard about efficiently organizing labor there is a guy with an IQ of 70 who has a lot of trouble keeping up with the cognitive demands of a fast food job. The modern economy is really hard on people who once would have made fine laborers. And the modern moral economy is even harder on them – the successful deligitimize… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Demo, that is very true. Many academically promising children in my youth were streamed and fast-tracked so relentlessly that they had little contact with children who were not. My group of 20 children was kept together for several years with almost no interaction with non-members. This isolation became essential because, once we started skipping grades together, we no longer fit in with our age mates and we certainly didn’t fit in with older kids. This policy, which I think has been abandoned, was not good for the children it was intended to benefit. There are few 15 or 16 year… Read more »

Katecho
Member

demosthenes1d wrote:

If you look at verbal IQ, which is more important for modern achievement, …

Trump and Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. would beg to differ.

Barnie
Guest
Barnie
Kira
Guest
Kira

I prefer America to Venezuela, but I prefer Canada to America (as a Canadian! :D)

Jill Smith
Member

Where do you live, Kira? I grew up in Vancouver and have never encountered a fellow British Columbian on this site!

Kira
Guest
Kira

Alberta – sorry, not BC!

Gabriel N
Guest
Gabriel N

Squid ink and balloon juice. Socialism is as dead as disco so it’s quite safe to inveigh against it.

Let’s see a thesis or two on husbandly authority.

ashv
Guest
ashv

I think I agree with Kevin Michael Grace: “I’d rather live in a socialist country than a multicultural country.”

Jill Smith
Member

Ashv, your beloved Serbs have let you down. What would Milosevic have said about the lesbian prime minister?

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Not surprising., but a bit surprising that you admit it.

Matt
Guest
Matt

“Referring to our illustration at the top of this post, if water were government, we either want to leave the handle alone, turn it to the left, or turn it to the right.” If “we” is supposed to refer to people in general, then this is entirely wrong. You are treating this as though everyone is an ideologue like yourself and has a strict position on some variable called “size of government”. But normal people care about things like “can I get a job”, “can I afford a house”, and “can I get married and start a family”. If socialism… Read more »

LittleRedMachine
Guest
LittleRedMachine

It seems the issue is even more fundamental than this. It is primarily about consolidated, centralized power than it is taxes, public service, wealth redistribution, etc. Justice demands that the state NOT be an all-powerful entity, playing God on earth because to have such great power in the hands of sinners is idolatry (as well as dumb). An all-powerful state ends up being a tempting entity for tyrants. Promises of cradle-to-grave care help keep mischief makers in power whether democratically elected or as an installed dictator. The problem is always centralized power. And, there is plenty of straight-forward teaching from… Read more »

Matt Pennock
Member

I’m dirt poor. No money, no land, no car, no steady income…God provides me just enough to eat, literally. I have partaken however in the Great Capitalist games in long, arduous attempts to start a business, procure real estate, raise investors, etc. I managed to raise half a million in investment for a venture, but the venture failed on account of the real estate competition and tyrannical egotistic greedy rich people. It was maddening. It took all my last pennies. I could feel disheveled about capitalism but the experience has actually done the opposite. The fact that I was able… Read more »