Part of an Argument with a Duped Welfare State Christian

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Image: someone, from something in Star Trek

Here is my characterization of just a little bit of a recurring argument (wait, recurring bad dream, no, argument, darn) that I’ve had with a fellow Christian, who enjoys tuning into MSNBC like one of the Borg hive stepping into his regeneration chamber.

XX: My politics are from the Bible. We’re supposed to take care of the poor.

AW: Care for the poor is one reason government is supposed to protect our freedom and avoid redistributive destruction of our wealth, so that poor people can pull out of poverty in a functional market economy and so the rest of us can “freely give” to those in need, instead of government extorting our property, preventing us from adequately doing so.

XX: You want to take from the poor and give to the rich.

AW: The Bible condemns excessive and extortive taxation, where certain elites intervene between God and the individual, rob people of their livelihoods and property, then redistribute it while taking a cut (Amos 2:6-8, Matthew 23:25) as Judas Iscariot did (John 12:1-7) though Jesus warned we would always have the poor (hence poverty can’t be prevented by government).

XX: You’re reading into the Bible.

AW: I’m telling you what it says! You say your political philosophy is from the Bible, show me where? Where does it say we’re supposed to escalate the tax rates of those with more than a little bit of property, to set up a bureaucracy, to redistribute enough to the poor to make them continually government dependent, while funneling the rest to members of the “public-private partnership” patronage system (which inevitably corrupts and controls people, as well as extorting them, which is what Jesus condemned in Matthew 23)?

XX: (Chosen distracting comment here, usually an attack.)

On and on… SMH.

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  1. Walfare state program won’t last that long since it will built up more deficit in government yearly expenditure

  2. Bit disappointing. It’s clear that whoever XX is, he or she really doesn’t have a very deep grasp of any of this stuff. I’m not sure what exactly it’s supposed to show that one can respond to an ignoramus. Why not talk to an expert on leftist Christian thought? Or at least read some of their work, if it’s difficult to track them down in person. That would undoubtedly be a lot more satisfying.

    • Arlen Williams says:

      Why consult someone who is wrong?

      • Well, I was under the impression that this exchange was being reported in order to demonstrate that your own understanding of Biblical texts was correct, and that leftist interpretations were incorrect. However, given that XX appears to be an ignoramus, this aim was not accomplished. Again, responding to an ignoramus doesn’t show that our views are reasonable or well supported. If it truly is your aim to demonstrate that your own Biblical understanding is better supported than a leftist understanding, the only worthwhile thing to do would be to consult an actual leftist expert on the Bible, whether in person or through familiarizing yourself with his or her claims and arguments. Likewise, if I claim to be a good boxer, I will not impress anyone by getting in the ring with a 90 pound man who has never trained in boxing. I would need to get in the ring with an opponent of formidable size and skill, and then demonstrate that I can handle him. Now, if this is *not* your goal, that is, if you had no intention of attempting to demonstrate that your views were better supported or more reasonable than a leftist interpretation, then I confess I’m a bit mystified as to the point of reporting the exchange.

        • Feel free to present what you may believe is a collectivist interpretation of the Bible that justifies anything in the Marxofascist spectrum, Mr. T. But please keep it to under 1,000 words, if it can be done at all to your satisfaction.

          • I have no such interpretation, given that I am not a biblical expert. Nor, I gather, are you, or apparently XX. But other people are. Perhaps we should look at what experts have to say on the subject, instead of reporting discussions with ignoramuses. Again, I really can’t see the point of doing that.

          • And just to be clear, whatever “Marxofascism” is supposed to be, I was not talking about people who had such an interpretation, nor, I strongly suspect, was XX. I was under the impression that he or she was defending a liberal/progressive interpretation, and I was definitely pointing to such interpretations.

          • Adolph Hitler — Progressive Pioneer

  3. All right, despite not being a Biblical expert, I’ll say a few things here. First off, as I’ve noted, XX appears not to be terribly well informed or thoughtful. Saying that one’s politics is “from the Bible” is terribly unwise, given that it’s not remotely clear the bewildering variety of ancient texts that comprise the Bible can give us a coherent political direction, aside from the most unhelpfully vague.

    Now, as for the point about care for the poor requiring us not to engage in any kind of redistributive social welfare programs, this of course depends entirely on the question of whether such programs in fact help the impoverished. It seems rather obvious to me, and a lot of economists, that they do. Certainly one shouldn’t simply assume that they don’t. As for a specific Biblical mandate, ancient Israel and Judah/Roman Judea clearly had poverty relief programs, and these are not condemned in any Biblical text. Isaiah and Jesus rail a great deal against the powerful forces of their day, but there is nary a hint of any objection to taxation for poverty relief. If they really had some libertarian agenda (of course a gross anachronism), surely they would have said something to this effect.
    Now, the Bible may indeed condemn excessive taxation, but of course our task as a society is to determine what *counts* as “excessive.” Certainly the passages from Amos,Matthew, and John do not establish that *any* form of taxation for the sake of funding welfare programs is excessive. Indeed, those passages do not mention taxation explicitly, so it’s not at all clear to me what was meant by pointing to them. The poor may indeed always be with us, but this does not demonstrate that government cannot work to alleviate their misery.

    True enough, we cannot point to Biblical passages enjoining escalating bureaucracy, making the poor dependent, and so forth, but nor can we point to any passages telling us that taxation for the purpose of social welfare programs is intolerable. Indeed, given the ever-present commandment to do good for the poor, one could quite easily argue that *if* government can relieve the suffering of the poor then we ought to do it. So, it comes down to an empirical question as to whether social welfare programs of the sort we now have are indeed effective, and it seems to many intelligent and thoughtful people that they do.

    (and here no doubt dear Arlen would insert some distracting comment, such as an attack– like calling me a collectivist or throwing out a random Hitler reference. However, Arlen has wisely decided he’s not man enough to deal with me.

  4. Not sure what the Hitler reference has to do with anything at issue here.

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