Political Reform Closer to Home

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My standing joke is that we ought not to allow chaplains to pray in Congress, because the Bible says that we are not supposed to turn a den of thieves into a house of prayer. And make no mistake — Congress is a den of thieves.

Now Scripture gives the civil government the authority to tax, of course, but that authority is not unbounded. There is a point where legitimate taxation becomes legalized plunder, and we have long since passed that point. So why do we allow this to continue — since we outnumber them?

Well, the answer is that our elected representatives are not confiscating all this wealth for themselves personally — although they are doing quite well, thank you. They are more clever than that. They are taking this plunder, and distributing it to others in such a way as to create constituencies with a sense of entitlement. And if you create enough of these constituencies, and tangle them up enough, then this creates the need for pollsters, political consultants, and political experts, and the science of modern politics is born. The modern state is the broker at the great auction of stolen goods.

Now it is easy for us for blame the scoundrels and miscreants of Congress for being such scam artists. But the success of their scam depends entirely on millions of

Americans willing to be on the take. We are represented by these people for a reason. There are multiple examples of this, but the howls of outrage that resulted from Obamacare pilfering Medicare is a case in point. Subsidized prescriptions create a constituency, inflation creates a constituency, student loans guarantee a constituency, ad infinitum, and anybody who thinks that the distributors of all this largesse don’t know how to play one constituency off the others is way underestimating them.

Now I recognize that things are far enough gone that it is extraordinarily difficult even to perform ordinary functions without getting some benefit thrust at you, and I also recognize that there are differences between direct subsidies and other things like tax credits, and so on. The thing is complicated. But I have said for years, and continue to say, that we have to learn how to refuse the benefits first. Tax resistance will be vain if it comes from people who want their free chocolate milk from the government, but who cry tyranny if anybody asks them to pay for it. Refusing the benefits first is an important lesson for us all to learn, and I need to develop that further sometime soon. At this point, the main temptation to resist is the temptation to give way to constituent-think.

But what about the sense of helplessness that sets in around this point? Good news — there is something else we can do even before that, and it does not involve dealing with the government. This is reform that is antecedent to politics — although it has political consequences.

We have to stop thinking and living as those who presume on those who are close to us. When FDR announced, with monstrous sophistry, that “we owe it to ourselves!” he was appealing to a false sense of family, and he did it so that we could start treating this pseudo-family with the same moral carelessness that many had developed with regard to their real families. But this cavalier attitude toward the property of loved ones is deadly. Someone once defined home as the place where you go when you are tired of being nice — and if we are comfortable with that, then there is something deeply wrong. But “being nice” involves more than just a pleasant demeanor. The same principle extends to issues of property.

“Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer” (Prov. 28: 24).

So here is a very practical personal step that every Christian who is concerned about the future of our nation can take. This is something that is within reach. It does not depend upon some political upheaval across the continent, and so there is no need to feel helpless. And if you do not take this step, then you are a companion to the destroyers in Washington. They continue to represent you, and they are representing you well.

Inside your family, have you borrowed money and not returned it? Have you busted things and not made it good? If the thing you busted belonged to anybody outside the family, would you have felt the need to make it good? But not here? Have you frittered away what your mom gave you for other purposes, and consoled yourself with the fact that “it is no transgression”? Have you been sloppy with the property interests of anyone close to you, because they were close to you?

Turning the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the hearts of children back to their fathers (Mal. 4:6) is something which, of necessity, contains a significant financial component (Mk. 7:11). And of course, if this does not happen, God comes and strikes the land with a curse. And if you doubt whether that is happening, take a look around.


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