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« Heroism & Evil | Main | Construction vs. Development (Share your dialogue with us!) »

September 11, 2008

Comments

Psalm 23 cautions about 'desiring the delicacies' of a deceitful ruler. In fact, put a "knife to your throat, if you are given to appetite." Perhaps stretching the context a bit, James 1:8 states that," A double minded man is unstable in (all his ways)."
Though these are speaking to individuals, they have a national application as well, Ezekiel 14-16.
I still maintain God is giving this nation a final chance. The world views couldn't be more clear or opposite.
This nation doesn't need any more political rhetorical bandaids, it needs a heart transplant. Palin's simple Christian faith shows what that heart transplant can do.
The sins of the fathers (nation) are paid for with the blood of their children.
We can elect those who will stay God's hand of judgement in what time we have left, or we can choose straws blown by every wind of doctrine.

Very true.

Even had he said “embryonic,” this is still incredibly weak (as mentioned). It’s the same brand of argument that says:

“You care about women? Why don’t you support their right to choose?”

Silly.

Biden's unqualified use of "the Republicans" makes them appear homogenously uninformed; Koukl's unqualified use of the same phrase makes them look homogenously reasonable. To Koukl's credit, he graciously errs on the side of charity. But let’s hope that Biden's portrayal isn’t, in its faulty way, closer to the truth.

Well, what are you gonna do, vote for McCain? He said in 2000 "If we repealed Roe v Wade tomorrow thousands of young American women would be performing illegal and dangerous operations." Not sure he understands the issues either.

McCain also supports embryonic stem cell research and abortion in the the case of rape/incest. It'd be nice to have some balanced critique on this blog of both candidates and their VP's. With great respect to STR, maybe a better approach, instead of pointing out the obvious holes in the liberal platform, would be to expound more on the concerns both candidates raise to followers of Jesus that way we can make a much more thoughtful and informed decision. Otherwise this blog is just turning into a Christian version of Fox News.

Jon and Reader --
I think STR does a reasonably good job of critiquing both sides when necessary. The liberal platform is much further away from a Christian worldview (at least on these matters), so they end up getting more attention.

Jon, what would be my other option, if I find the GOP ticket to be closer aligned to my views than the Dem ticket? Are you in the camp that suggests we should cast a protest vote for some third party? If so, do you agree with that third party on *every* issue? If not, how can you vote for them in good conscience?

Politics is about winning elections, and the only way to do that is to form coalitions with like-minded individuals with whom you share a majority of beliefs. The only way to have a candidate that agrees with you 100% is for you to run yourself.

Look, I don't like McCain's views on several things (e.g., campaign finance, global warming), but he's the only candidate with a chance of winning that aligns reasonably well with my views. Ironically, if McCain were as conservative as many (here and elsewhere) would like him to be (myself included), he wouldn't have a prayer of winning -- it's just not the right political climate in this country right now for that type of candidate.

Re: Biden, he uses the same sleight-of-hand as other smooth-talking politicians: "let's stop arguing and fix the problems we all agree on." This is disingenuous because it overlooks the fact that our fights are centered around *how* to solve those things we all agree are problems. Yes, we all want to cure horrible diseases, but do the ends always justify the means?

Reader:

But is McCain the one making this kind of statement?

McCain's upport of embryonic stem cell research is qualified, isn't it?

According to the Pew Forum:
>>McCain opposes embryonic stem cell research that uses cloned human embryos. In 2006 he supported a trio of U.S. Senate bills designed to increase federal funding for adult stem cell research, ban the creation of embryos for research and offer federal support for research using embryos slated for destruction by fertility clinics. In 2007, in what he described as "a very agonizing and tough decision," he voted to allow research using human embryos left over from fertility treatments.

Careful thinking isn't what gets you elected. Nobody would follow it anyway. What gets you elected is wit and charm.

Sam,

Shh! We're not supposed to say that.

However right you are, I think we'll start to see more specific policy positions emerge as we approach November. There will come a shift in focus from personality to policy. Right now it's mostly just posturing. In spite of the whole jabbering media spectacle, voters really do need assurance that their hero agrees with them and has good solutions - that they are qualified, competent, and dependable leaders.

Sam,

To clarify - you named the white elephant in the political room. While it has been true up till now in this election cycle that personal appeal rules the polls, the emphasis should shift onto candidate's proposals in the weeks ahead. This will not get rid of the elephant, but he'll at least have some competition.

As a Christian and a political conservative, I support the GOP platform but find it hard to support many GOP candidates. To put it simply, most Republicans act as if they are not serious about supporting their own party's platform when it comes to basic issues such as protecting the unborn and alleviating the tax burden on average Americans.
Still, the Democratic Party makes no bones about being the Abortion Party. Sen. Barack Obama's personal views on abortion are actually to the left of Planned Parenthood and NARAL.
Given the choices we have, sometimes you have to vote for the person who most favors your moral position while realizing that no one is perfect.
I'm not fully satisfied with Sen. McCain. I like and respect the man -- but he has been a disappointment to conservatives. He would rather win favor from the liberal press than support the views of the conservatives who elected him. Still, his decision to put a pro-life, tax-cutting, Second Amendment-defending person on his ticket shows some good judgment. Maybe I didn't feel like I had a real choice on who to vote for until now. I feel much better now about the McCain-Palin ticket.
And every time Obama and Biden open their mouths, they help to cement my vote for the Arizona senator and Alaska governor.

Heath mentions "alleviating the tax burden on average Americans." Obama clearly beats McCain here. Here's a helpful graph:
http://snipurl.com/3pmae

God calls angry people fools. McCain is notoriously angry. Palin calls herself a Pit bull. I'm sure it is not a male pit bull she refers to but to a b**ch (female dog). This cinches it for me.

I will not vote for any pro abortion platform, but neither will I vote for this.

If I follow my CONSCIENCE I will either not vote at all or I will vote Republican until the presidential level and then vote for one of the independents.

Paul,
If you'd be so kind, would you reference a critique of McCain or the GOP platform specifically on this blog. I ran a search and couldn't find one. I will be very excited when I see a politics related post here that isn't another attempt at slamming the Dems and/or praising the GOP. I'm just asking for some balance on the topics and critiques. The sentiment here is Obama = Bad, McCain = Good (or less bad), ok we get it. STR has implicitly taken a political position to support a candidate. That's fine. But let's expand our range of topics to include some other concerns that the GOP/McCain raise. Just a suggestion from a fellow STR supporter.

Carmine,
Obama only "beats" McCain in the race to socialism. Why should I be impressed that Obama's strategy is to pummel the top few percent in order to buy votes from the bottom 60%? The bottom 50% only account for 3% of the tax burden, so why should they get cuts? If you are going to give tax breaks, you do that to those that are actually paying the taxes, like the top 1% that pay 40% of the taxes. http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/22652.html

"God calls angry people fools. McCain is notoriously angry."

Compared with all those happy liberals, eh? Don't you think this is a bit of an over-simplification (of both God's appraisal of anger and of McCain's temperment)? Aren't you angry about abortion? Does that make you a fool?

"Palin calls herself a Pit bull."

Are you referring to her "hockey mom" reference? Don't you think you're taking it a bit far here?

"This cinches it for me."

With all due respect, if that's all it takes to push you away from a nominee, you're not thinking very deeply on the matter.

"I will not vote for any pro abortion platform, but neither will I vote for this."

Fine. Throw out your vote, make some silly "statement" by voting for a third party, and in the meantime don't make a *difference*. Help put into office a man who wouldn't even vote to protect a baby born alive as a result of a botched abortion. More babies will die, but I guess you'll sleep better at night.

"If I follow my CONSCIENCE I will either not vote at all or I will vote Republican until the presidential level and then vote for one of the independents."

So if I vote in a way that will have the most impact for good that is possible, even though there are parts of the platform I dislike, I'm not voting conscientiously? Politics isn't about getting everything you want in a candidate, it's about winning elections so that your coalition (GOP, Dem) can advance the causes they collectively agree upon. To act otherwise is, frankly, childish, and ignores the reality of the situation.

Sorry if I'm coming across a bit harsh, but I'm growing weary of all the "conscience voter" talk.

Good points, Paul. Crying because you don't get everything exactly the way you want is supposed to be reserved for toddlers.

Hi Reader,

"Paul, If you'd be so kind, would you reference a critique of McCain or the GOP platform specifically on this blog."

Show me where McCain said anything approaching the stupidity of Biden, and you'll probably find a response. STR isn't a political blog, per se, so I don't expect them to dissect everything the man says, does, or votes for.

"I ran a search and couldn't find one."

Is there a particular topic that fits with STR's mission, on which they should have commented re: McCain?

"I will be very excited when I see a politics related post here that isn't another attempt at slamming the Dems and/or praising the GOP."

I'll be very excited when I see a Dem policy or view that doesn't run counter to my beliefs as a Christian. Objectively, the Dem platform runs counter to a Christian worldview much more than the GOP platform, Obama's and Biden's professions of faith notwithstanding. What would you expect to find on a Christian website?

"I'm just asking for some balance on the topics and critiques."

Okay, name a topic where you think the GOP should be critiqued (and please take that as a genuine question -- I fully recognize there are parts of the McCain platform that aren't desireable). Again, keep in mind that this blog is not focused on politics, it usually only discusses them when they rub up against bio-ethics, theology, etc.

"The sentiment here is Obama = Bad, McCain = Good (or less bad), ok we get it."

No, I don't think you do. The posts I've read take a close look at what people said. Why is that not fair game?

"STR has implicitly taken a political position to support a candidate."

I think they have always supported certain causes, and thus will always support candidates that support those causes.

"But let's expand our range of topics to include some other concerns that the GOP/McCain raise."

Great! I'm all in favor. Name one. I'll start the list: get off the global warming bandwagon, drill in ANWR. Unfortunately, these aren't the kinds of issues that STR is usually focused on, so I'm not expecting many posts on it here.

Asking a Christian website to equally cover the candidates when the candidates don't equally support the Christian worldview is not a reasonable request.

And I'm sure that you have already written that letter to MSNBC for their unequal coverage of Palin as compared to Biden, right?

How did you put it?
Palin = Bad
Biden = Good

OK - we get it.

Response to Paul (12:51pm):

So may I take it that you agree with the entirety of what I posted - namely, that on the issue of "alleviating the tax burden on average Americans" Obama clearly beats McCain?

You write in a later post, "I'll be very excited when I see a Dem policy or view that doesn't run counter to my beliefs as a Christian." How then does doing more to alleviate the tax burden on average Americans run counter to your Christian beliefs? For that matter, how exactly does socialism, per se, run counter to your Christian beliefs? Would you say that redistributive taxation of any kind is contrary to the teachings of Christ? Tell us why. Since you seem so certain in your applications of religion to issues of distributive justice, please describe to us what Christ's tax plan would look like.

Curiously,
Carmine

>>how exactly does socialism, per se, run counter to your Christian beliefs? Would you say that redistributive taxation of any kind is contrary to the teachings of Christ?

Someone asked a similar question a couple weeks back. If you're interested, here was my response.

Also, I really think the stated role of government in the Bible is to maintain the rule of Law and ensure justice (in the original sense of the word). This creates a stable society where effort is rewarded and charity is carried out by individuals and their private institutions and where giving is voluntary and free, as it is in the New Testament. In the end, this creates a better, more generous society (where people take responsibility for others and their community) and prevents people from feeling as if they're entitled to have something someone else has, just because they have more.

Socialism, on the other hand encourages a sense of entitlement, plays on envy, takes from people what they've earned by force, causes people to be less personally generous (see the comment I linked to), and lowers the standard of living for everybody by depressing the creation of wealth through industry.

I would also refer you to the Acton Institute. They're a Christian economics think-tank. Check out what they have to say about all this when you have a chance.

Paul,

>There are a few examples of holy men exhibiting anger in reverence towards God. This is not McCain's type of anger. God calls this type of person a fool.

>>If God controls all things. Most anger is unknowingly directed towards him. I'm not angry about abortion. I am frightened by it, and depressed by it. Because I see God's judgment at work here. What if the wicked didn't abort themselves out of existence, would they ultimately swell the ranks of the wicked in the world?

Likewise, I see his judgment at work with the Neoconservatives, placing hooks in our jaws and dragging us headfirst into WWIII, over that apostate religious cult Israel.


It matters not if we vote or not. Voting does however reflect on our heart.

Da 4:17 ... to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men (guys like Bush??).

Amy,

Thanks for weighing in. After reading your linked post, I find that I can agree with you on what seems to be your principle concerns: (1) that no person or government should take from a person what is rightfully hers, (2) that an individual’s effort should be rewarded, and (3) that the basic institutions of a society should allow (and, if possible, to assist) the growth and exercise of lovingly generous attitudes among its citizens. These principles are beautiful. What I don’t understand is how any of them are incompatible with the Obama’s tax plan or more redistributive schemes.

In the linked post you write, “[A]s soon as the government gets into the business of mercy, they must take from some by force in order to give to others. This is not biblical.”

I’ll grant you the assumption that the government should stay out of the business of mercy and stick to justice. But surely it’s neither unbiblical nor unjust for a government to take from some in order to give to others. If Billy is holding what belongs to Suzy, just rules may require Billy to give it back—even if we have to take it from Billy. We may need such rules to ensure that Suzy’s diligence (instead of Billy’s bullying) is rewarded. And, if love is ever to obtain between the two, it probably won’t be helped by letting injustice prevail. On a bigger scale, the situation seems to be largely the same. Just rules sometimes require taking from some to give to others. That is, justice may require redistribution if the present distribution is unjust. And since, as you say, the Bible makes it the job of government to ensure justice, redistributive taxation may be a biblical mandate. Thus, the crucial question is whether or not the present distribution of wealth is just.

The answer to this question might seem simple: “the wealth that is rightfully yours is simply that which you have earned.” This is of course true, but we’ve merely shifted the question to: “what portion of what you possess have you _earned_?” Some might think that this question also has a simple answer: “you have earned whatever you bring home in your paycheck, minus taxes for your share of the public services and plus any other taxes that the government is giving to someone else.” But why should we think this? I believe there are good reasons for thinking that the answer is not so simple. I am, nonetheless, curious about why you suppose that it is (if I interpret you rightly).

Again, thank you for your reply. I love your thoughtful posts.

Carmine

Thanks, Carmine!

>>That is, justice may require redistribution if the present distribution is unjust.

I think the problem is that we're using different definitions of justice. Equality and justice are very different concepts…at least they were before people started using the phrase "social justice" and confusing the two. When the government starts determining who has too much money and to whom that money should be given, that's when totalitarianism begins to creep in.

>>Just rules sometimes require taking from some to give to others.

If you're talking about taking money from rich people simply because they're rich, then please understand that this is not justice. Justice is not equality. This is an idea that came from Marx, not from the Bible. (I don't use the name Marx to poison the well, it's just the case that this is where these ideas come from.)

>>If Billy is holding what belongs to Suzy, just rules may require Billy to give it back—even if we have to take it from Billy.

I would agree that if Billy previously took what belongs to Suzy, the government should take it back from him. That's justice. However, I suspect what you're referring to is the government determining what Suzy should have from Billy just because he has more--as if Suzy has a right to what Billy has simply because she has less than he does. This goes back to Marx again and is in no way biblical. I don't buy the notion that every person who has money has taken it from someone else. People who produce aren't taking from others, they're creating wealth and jobs. In other words, it's not like there's one pie and if someone gets more, then necessarily someone else gets less. (And therefore, just because Billy has more, that doesn't mean he's taken something from Suzy; he doesn't owe her anything.) Rather, people are making new pies all the time so that everyone can have more who works for it. (Alan linked to a talk by Jay Richards here that discusses this.)

>>That is, justice may require redistribution if the present distribution is unjust.

Again, I maintain that this is not justice. Justice is letting people have what they earned, regardless of how much. Justice is making sure the same laws apply to everybody and people are punished equally when they break those laws. Justice is protecting the property people own from others who would take it for themselves out of envy rather than working to earn those things themselves. Mercy is giving to others what they haven't earned, and this must be free and not coerced.

>>what portion of what you possess have you _earned_?

I don't think that matters. You own everything you possess, and you ought to have a right to do with it what you will. (Of course, individuals ought to be generous, but that is a different matter.) Again, you'd need to move toward a totalitarian government to try to make decisions about what people deserve and how much of their own money they should keep. That's neither desirable nor biblical.

Obviously, we need to pay taxes, but those taxes ought to go to public works that everyone shares in, like firemen, policemen, etc.

Lumbergh,

Abortion topic aside. How does the candidate that you support better line up with the Christian worldview?

..." apostate religious cult Israel." Temper, temper there P.L.
By the way, does that mean that Jesus is an apostate cult Israelite Messiah?
You still haven't answered my question of a few days ago. Just what do you believe and why do you believe it?
I do agree about abortion and God's hand of judgement. Child sacrifice seems to be the line when crossed, that marks when a nation has gone to far.
As for Ike and the other ' natural disasters ', while it's iffy to call them God's judgement, they certainly show that we're not in as much control as we think. The train wreck North of L.A. shows that we can't rely on the 'experts' or technology either.
P.L., can you please give us a plain statement of faith regarding your beliefs?

>..." apostate religious cult Israel." Temper, temper there P.L.
By the way, does that mean that Jesus is an apostate cult Israelite Messiah?

>>They were confirmed in their state of apostasy when they rejected Christ. No temper involved here.

>>>can you please give us a plain statement of faith regarding your beliefs?

>>>>Traditional Calvinism after many years of living behind the Arminian Curtain. Some modifications on Church & State, Baptism, Civil Magistrate, Divorce & Remarriage, Eschatology.

Dear Amy

Judging from your reply (8:12pm), it seems that you read what you expected me to say, rather than what I wrote. Notice:

(1) I am never, even remotely, equating justice and equality.
(2) I am never advocating “taking money from rich people simply because they're rich”
(3) I am not an advocate of “the government determining what Suzy should have from Billy just because he has more”
(4) I do not assume “that every person who has money has taken it from someone else.”

Please assume that I am familiar with all these errors (I am). And, unless you can actually show that my response relies on one of them, please resist ascribing them to me.

Now for a point of real disagreement: you claim, “You own everything you possess, and you ought to have a right to do with it what you will.” The first part of this claim is obviously false, unless you are defining “possess” in an unusual way. Ordinarily, though, one may be said to possess things which one does not own.

Respectfully,
Carmine

Carmine,
When I have more taxes to pay, I have far less personal income with which to give to charities. Plus, my own family is put in a bind. My wife is a stay at home mom because we feel it is better for our daughter to be with her mom rather than in daycare. We find ourselves sacrificing more and more financially so that our daughter can have the very best.
You know, God only asks for a tithe of our first 10 percent. That's voluntary.
The government's grab of 25 percent of my paycheck isn't voluntary. It is to pay for a host of failed socialist programs like the type that your Sen. Obama supports.
I trust God with my family.
I don't trust politicians as far as I can figuratively throw them.

Heath,

Unless your family income is over $111,645, you’re likely to pay less taxes under Obama’s tax plan, as compared to McCain’s. This is why, when it comes to "alleviating the tax burden on average Americans,” Obama beats McCain. The income of 60% of Americans families is under $111,645. Again, the comparison is graphically represented here: http://snipurl.com/3pmae

Even if your income is over $111,645, the difference between the two respective tax plans isn’t all that much until you're bringing in $227,000 or more. I suppose this could still “put your family in a bind,” and it probably isn’t enough to always ensure that your daughter has “the very best.” Still, many parents have managed to do just fine by their children with far less. (In some ways having less income may work to your child’s benefit. This year’s “very best” university, according the U.S. News and World Report, is Harvard. Now, if your family income were $60,000 or less, Harvard would cover cost of your daughter's education there. http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2007/12.13/99-finaid.html)

Carmine

Hi Carmine,

You wrote: "So may I take it that you agree with the entirety of what I posted - namely, that on the issue of 'alleviating the tax burden on average Americans' Obama clearly beats McCain?"

Apparently, I didn't explain my point well enough. The top 10% of earners pay the lion's share of the tax burden, so any cut in taxes should benefit them the most -- they're the ones paying! The bottom 50% pay something like 4% of the taxes, so how can they get much of a tax break, should the government give them money instead of taxing them? In short, the "average American" to whom Obama is pandering DOESN'T PAY TAXES -- they are net tax receivers. Obama "clearly" wants to take more money from those that earn it and redistribute it to those that don't. Terrible government.

"How then does doing more to alleviate the tax burden on average Americans run counter to your Christian beliefs?"

How does stealing from the most productive members of society and buying votes from the laziest agree with your Christian beliefs?

"For that matter, how exactly does socialism, per se, run counter to your Christian beliefs?"

Amy already answered this better than I could.

"Would you say that redistributive taxation of any kind is contrary to the teachings of Christ?"

Yes. It's not the role of government. See Amy's post.

"Tell us why. Since you seem so certain in your applications of religion to issues of distributive justice, please describe to us what Christ's tax plan would look like."

You seem rather confident that Christ would endorse socialism or communism. Perhaps you could enlighten us as to why.

ProLife:
"I'm not angry about abortion."

You should be.

"Likewise, I see his judgment at work with the Neoconservatives, placing hooks in our jaws and dragging us headfirst into WWIII, over that apostate religious cult Israel."

Yeah, it's really a shame that we try to help protect a state of decent people trying to survive terrorist attacks. We should just sit at home and let people be slaughtered -- I'm sure that's what God wants.

"It matters not if we vote or not."

How do you come to that conclusion? Are you saying Christians shouldn't be involved in the political process? Instead, we should just leave it to everyone else to devise the laws that run the society. What do you think would be the state of our country if we did that?

"Da 4:17 ... (guys like Bush??)."

Sorry, I'm not getting your point, but then I'm not afflicted with "Bush derangement syndrome" (to coin Prager).

Hi Carmine,

You wrote: "That is, justice may require redistribution if the present distribution is unjust."

If Billy stole money from Suzy, the government should see that she gets it back (which it currently does). Why do you assume that those that have more money acquired it by immoral means? Do we really want the government to decide who "deserves" what? On what criteria would that be based? Who would decide?

The Bible speaks about workers earning their wages -- when the state steps in to decide who has *really* earned their wages, outright taking money from some and giving it to others, they first run counter to this principle, and they always make a mess of things.

Carmine -- Please ignore my posts... Amy does a far better job than I could, and she's probably more genial in her approach. :)

Kudos, Amy.

"Unless your family income is over $111,645, you’re likely to pay less taxes under Obama’s tax plan."

... and for those who dare to make more than $111K (you dirty rats), he's going to kill that goose laying the golden eggs.

Also, this is simply not true. I know he talks a good game, and this comes from the typical liberal talking points, but income taxes are only part of Obama's "grab and spend" policies. There's no free lunch, and if he wants to enact even half of the populist, "the government will take care of you from cradle to grave" policies he mentioned in his acceptance speech, you can count on paying for them.

As a simple example, this wonderful "windfall profit tax" idea will end up costing *us* more money. A company must recover its expenses, which is increased taxes are. To recover them, the company must pay less to shareholders (anyone with a 401K or stocks), increase its prices on its products (gas), or go out of business (also affecting your 401K). Obama is either not a very good economist or just thinks he can fool enough people into thinking he can tax the country rich.

Also, please do take more time reading Amy's post -- all of the things you say you're not advocating, you *are* advocating indirectly, or at least you favor the ideas. If not, please explain your position, because she seemed to be right on all points.

Sorry for the multiple-posts... :(

Paul and Amy,

The issue I am raising can be expressed in a simple parable. Suppose the three of us—Paul, Amy and Carmine—decide to form a small society, because, through cooperation, we can each live better. Since I am skilled at planting, Paul is skilled at irrigating, and Amy is skilled at harvesting, by applying our respective skills we collectively produce a bountiful crop—far more than thrice what any one of us could produce alone. However, because Amy has done the harvesting, she alone possesses the entire crop, and Paul and I are left with none. This distribution is obviously unfair. Justice, we can say, requires a re-distribution of some sort (though justice doesn’t necessarily require us to divide the crop into thirds—and in more complex arrangements any simplistic division of the pie into equal slices is usually absurd). In other words, Amy should get heavily taxed.

The point is simply that what a person is entitled to is determined by more than simply how much that person brings home from work. Before assuming that a person’s paycheck accurately reflects what would falls to him under just rules of distribution, we should have some way of thinking about what makes for a just distribution. Surely, we will want the distribution to be sensitive to, among other things, effort and individual contribution to public goods. But how accurately are these factors represented in the relative size of one’s paycheck? The question of what makes for a just distribution of goods in our society such as ours is a really complex question. So, if from the Bible we only know that a tax plan should be _just_, we’ll obviously need to think harder before concluding that we should reject a plan that does more to alleviate the tax burden of average Americans.

P.S. to Paul:
You’re sweet in bidding me to ignore your posts, but I really do appreciate your honest expressions of sentiments that seem to be widely shared in conservative circles. To be totally clear on just a few points: I am not at all confident that Christ would endorse socialism or communism (socialism is too inefficient, and communism is unrealistic). Secondly, I do not assume that those that have more money acquired it by immoral means. Thirdly, I do not “really want the government to decide who ‘deserves’ what.” I do not want anyone to simply “decide” what another deserves, as if this were simply an arbitrary choice that needed to be made. In the simplified case of the parable, there seem to be legitimate ways for thinking about what justice requires. It is these legitimate ways of thinking about justice that we need to discover. Fourthly, I don’t think just rules of distribution would require us to “kill the goose laying the golden eggs.” Just rules of distribution must be sensitive to the economic impact of their implementation. Thus, justice probably wouldn’t require us to increase taxes on the rich if this will worsen the prospects of the least advantaged of our society. (Though it’s far from clear that Obama’s tax plan would have this ill effect.) Fifthly, the grounds justifying the claim that Obama’s tax plan does more to alleviate the tax burden on average Americans come from the Tax Policy Center (I’m not getting this claim from Obama).

Paul,

>Yeah, it's really a shame that we try to help protect a state of decent people trying to survive terrorist attacks. We should just sit at home and let people be slaughtered -- I'm sure that's what God wants.

>>OK, lets say a bunch of Mexicans flood into Texas and instead of integrating, learning the language, becoming citizens, they displace the landowners. They start buying up land and property, develop their own government etc. And a great big bully nation gives them full support while they do this. Backing them with weapons, money and other forms of support. The Texans begin starving and losing all control of their land.

Question:

Should the Mexicans have integrated becoming citizens, abiding by the laws of the Texans?

Should the big bully nation expect not to be attacked by the frustrated Texans?

Is the big bully nation helping to steal the land away from the Texans?

Is this morally acceptable in the sight of God? Who should we blame when the Texans attack the big bully nation?

Hi Carmine,

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I'm going to respond a bit out-of-order.

Re: Obama's tax plan, even if I accepted that it would give more money to "the average American", that doesn't make it necessarily moral and just, which is my main complaint.

Re: killing the goose, it won't be done intentionally, it will be done by raising the tax rates on the most productive citizens (those that create jobs, usually) to the point that they don't have incentive to excel, or hire more people, etc. It's the concept of the "Laffer curve" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve)

Before I address your parable, I'd like to say that I think there are a lot of people in the U.S. that work twice as hard as I do for half the pay. I sit in a comfortable office all day with not-terribly-demanding tasks, and get a comfortable salary. Compare that with people that pick fruit in the hot sun and work overtime, and don't make much. How can this be fair? The answer is that the fair market decides what each worker is worth, and it's the only moral system.

A person may find it odious that a football player gets paid millions while teachers get paid $30-40k. They overlook the facts that 1) many, many more people can be teachers than pro football players, 2) enough people are willing to pay enough money for the entertainment football brings, to justify the salaries, 3) the working conditions are actually quite worse for a football player, among other things.

"Injustices" will certainly still exist, but the solution is not a tax system that takes money from people making over a certain dollar-figure and gives it to others. I contend more injustices would be (and are) committed in that system than would be cured.

Finally, regarding your parable, I have a couple comments:

1) Socialism and communism *can* actually work, in very small societies. If the three of us were the sum total of the society, we probably wouldn't bicker about who got to keep the most grain. Beyond some point (some have used the figure of 100 people), the interpersonal accountability and relationship becomes too weak, and people begin to focus more on their own benefit, over the benefit of the society.

2) What you have described isn't our current system (and maybe you weren't intending it to, but I don't know how it's a useful parable otherwise). I don't go to work at my office for free, and then wait for the company to bring in profits and hope I get a "just reward" for my labor. I negotiate in advance (with my employer) what he will pay me, and I then have no say in what he does with the profits. If I feel as though I didn't get enough of the profits, I can re-negotiate, or attempt to sell my services to a competitor at a higher rate. If my employer pays everyone too little, all the employees will leave and he won't make any more profits. The market finds the correct value for all products and services, and nobody is cheated. You and I would negotiate (in advance of the planting and irrigating work we were to do) our wages, which we would either collect in advance or have some means of enforcing the contract at harvest-time.

Thanks for sticking with the super-long post. Amy is still better in her posts, but I hope there's something useful here. :)

Hi ProLife,

You wrote: ">>OK, lets say a bunch of Mexicans flood into Texas and instead of integrating, learning the language, becoming citizens, they displace the landowners. They start buying up land and property, develop their own government etc. And a great big bully nation gives them full support while they do this. Backing them with weapons, money and other forms of support. The Texans begin starving and losing all control of their land."

You left off "and murdering people by the hundreds." That might be relevant. Compare the treatment of Muslims living in Israel to Jews living in Palestine.

"Question: Should the Mexicans have integrated becoming citizens, abiding by the laws of the Texans?"

You mean: should the Texans be allowed to murder the Mexicans and force them to abandon their religious practices when they won't conform to that of the Texans?

"Should the big bully nation expect not to be attacked by the frustrated Texans?"

In your world, if people don't get everything they want, they have the right to launch attacks killing dozens, hundreds, or thousands.

"Is the big bully nation helping to steal the land away from the Texans?"

"Steal"?! In your first paragraph, you said they bought it. Which is it?

"Is this morally acceptable in the sight of God?"

Absolutely. Israelites are fighting for their lives and the Palestinians are trying to push them into the ocean.

"Who should we blame when the Texans attack the big bully nation?"

The Texans. They *are* the ones doing the murdering, right?

I'm no expert on the Middle East, but I think you're shading the truth a bit to make your argument seem more plausible.

Please answer this: If the Palestinians went to the Israelites and said "we'll stop all aggression" (and there was some way this could be ensured), when would the fighting end? Now reverse the question and answer it again.
(Hint: the answers are "immediately" and "never", respectively)

P.S. I think it's funny that the comments related to the original post of ESCR comments made by a V.P. candidate, branched to include not only socialism/free-market but also the Middle East crisis.

Maybe we've strayed too far from the OP.

>You mean: should the Texans be allowed to murder the Mexicans and force them to abandon their religious practices when they won't conform to that of the Texans?

>>Should the Mexicans learn to speak English? Or should the Texans learn to speak Spanish?

Is this their religion you refer to?

Jew: God told me that your land belongs to me.

Palestinian: That's funny, I didn't hear him say so.

Jew: trust me and hand it over.

The answer is that the fair market decides what each worker is worth, and it's the only moral system.

Nice way of trying to sneak in morality. :) The free market economy, based on competition, self-interest, and the mutual consent between buyers and sellers, has NOTHING to do with morality. Just because it's profitable to sell water at $100 a bottle to hurricane victims and there's a market for it, does not mean that it is moral. I'm not against free market economy, but to say that no other considerations should weigh in when we're deciding on the matters of justice is simply wrong.

Biden has come off sounding like a fool at times, and it seems he doesn't know when to close his mouth. I was watching Jay Leno about a week ago, and Jay showed a clip of an interview with Obama and Biden in which Biden kept on talking and wouldn't quiet down; Obama looked like he wanted Biden to be quiet.

On abortion, I find it intersting how a person who claims to be an informed Catholic can be pro-choice and simply say that he doesn't want to impose his beliefs on others. Isn't it preety well known that natural law is used as a means of arguing for life by many Roman Catholics? How is natural law exclusively tied to being used by a particular tradition? Even if we where to argue from the Bible, I think it would still be effective.

I laugh as I think of Hugh Hewitt saying on the radio, please let it be Biden, please let it be Biden.

Pro Life:

"Jew: God told me that your land belongs to me.

Palestinian: That's funny, I didn't hear him say so.

Jew: trust me and hand it over."

I dont know if your unfimiliar with how Israel was reformed, but it had nothing to do with what your scenario implies. With all due respect, some of the things you are saying are borderline Anti-Semetic and misinformed

You should do some reading, (the subject is a bit exhaustive), but as breifly a possible, the UN Voted to partition land to Israel upon Brittish withdrawal from the area. When this took place, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, all attacked israel (1948 Arab-Israeli War), but were subsequently defeated. And if i recall correctly, Palestine lost a considerable ammount of land because of the War that they infact started.

This by no means an in-depth explination of the subject

Pro Life:

"Jew: God told me that your land belongs to me.

Palestinian: That's funny, I didn't hear him say so.

Jew: trust me and hand it over."

>>This is the common Pre Trib view in a nut shell, so I used it only to make a point.

"Abortion topic aside. How does the candidate that you support better line up with the Christian worldview?"

Why would we want to set the topic of abortion aside? That's like saying aside from the fact that Hitler's opponent is against genocide, how does he better line up with the Christian worldview? Well, that's not really a valid comparision is it? Hitler only killed 6 million Jews and abortion has killed over 50 million Americans.

At least on the Christian view, one might think that abortion inestimably benefits the aborted fetus--which probably isn't the case for the victims of Hitler.

Hi elwira,

You wrote: "Nice way of trying to sneak in morality. :)"

I don't think I tried to "sneak" it in -- I'm upfront in my declaration that economic systems have a component of morality (and so do you, else you wouldn't find it morally offensive for someone to sell a bottle of water for $100). My point is that socialism and communism are immoral economic systems, because they reward people for not working, and punish those that succeed.

"The free market economy, based on competition, self-interest, and the mutual consent between buyers and sellers, has NOTHING to do with morality."

So would it be "moral" for a government to tax "rich" people 100% of their income, to give to "poor" people? To me, it's clear that is theft, whether lawful or not, and is thus immoral.

($100/bottle water example)
I think you're confusing the morality of the *actors* and the morality of the *system*. Some actors (in a free-market system) will take advantage of buyers, but they buyers are still acting of their free will and not being robbed by the government (told what they will do with their money). What if the guy selling the water had to buy it from a distributor for $90/bottle? What if the distributor incurred $60/bottle in expenses transporting the water and it cost him $20/bottle because the resource was scarce? The numbers are (of course) ridiculous, because your initial example was ridiculous, but it still illustrates the point. If $100/bottle is too high, someone else will come in and sell water for $80/bottle, and competition will drive prices to the fair place.

"I'm not against free market economy, but to say that no other considerations should weigh in when we're deciding on the matters of justice is simply wrong."

I don't think I said that no other considerations should be taken, but can you give an example of a system that is more moral?

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