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OWS – Right Diagnosis, Wrong Prescription7 min read

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I’m a political and religious conservative, but I like to be in conversation with the evangelical left, since they keep us on the right from drifting into fanatical, judgmental, or extreme positions. Not that I believe in the logical fallacy of the argument to moderation, but I do like to keep my mind open even when I have drawn conclusions.

But today I got a money raising email from the Evangelical left publication Sojourners, which displayed to me the assumptions and logical mistakes of leftist logic regarding our economic woes and solutions for it. I have to discuss!

Here’s an excerpt of what they sent me:

The Occupy movement has given voice and space to the unspoken feelings of countless others that something has gone terribly wrong in our society.

We couldn’t agree more. Our economy is unfair, unsustainable, and unstable.

That’s why we’ve been hard at work this year, standing up to Congress and the President about the immorality of federal budget cuts to the most vulnerable.

1. Something has gone wrong in our society

Before going to their evaluation of what’s wrong, how do we know something is wrong?  Unemployment? Violence? Disrespect for law? Lack of justice? The murder of the unborn? Human trafficking? Nation building and foreign wars? I mean, what are the OWS folks really about?

2. It’s the unfair, unsustainable, and unstable economy?

Unfair – I think I can figure out what they mean here.

First, cronyism is rampant in our government, and legislators are making and breaking rules for the rich and powerful. I probably agree with that, though it is happening on both sides of the aisle. Of course, I don’t suspect that they are against this when it works towards their own political ends, like when it supports the power hungry and corrupt labor unions, but let’s stay on track here.

The second inference here is that, by ‘unfair,’ they mean that the rich aren’t paying their ‘fair’ share the tax burden, needed to pay for their unsustainable social welfare system. Granted, the rich are getting richer, as evidenced by the disparity between CEO salaries and those of the commoner.

But what exactly is the problem with being rich? Is it unfair that they have maneuvered themselves into the position of being rich (through hard work, or lying cheating and stealing), or is it unfair because they’ve broken civil laws, or ethical principles, or is it unfair because we need more money for social programs?

a. It is not unfair that the rich are rich

Someone once said that if we take all the money and distribute it evenly, in a year, the rich will be rich again, and the poor will be poor. Why? Well, because some people are smarter, stronger, and more able to handle money. Is that unfair? Not really. I mean, if they use their strength to steal and bully, yes.  But the point is, people who are wise (‘a fool and his money are soon parted’) get rich even when they do not lie, cheat, or steal, generally speaking.

Should we penalize people who through hard work and intelligence legally make money?  No.

b. What if they’ve broken laws?

Well, of course, if they’ve lied, cheated, stolen, gamed the system, they should be prosecuted.

 c. What if they’e broken ethical norms but not civil laws?

I think an outcry is still apt, although we may not agree on what the ethical norms are. In that case, we may call for an ethics investigation, but if we think that the incumbents are unethical, we just need to oust them in the elections instead of call for anarchy.

d. We need their money for social programs

This is my real beef with the social program whiners.  We fundamentally disagree on how to deal with a social safety net. While smart thinkers like Newt Gingrich introduced Welfare to Work, which essentially meant a hand UP, not a hand OUT, today’s liberals want an every increasing Byzantine social welfare program that sucks money like a Dyson.

You see, they see it as the DUTY of the rich to pay for these programs, and the DUTY of the government to take that money and waste redistribute it. While it may be their ethical duty, I don’t think the government is here to enforce every ethical duty.

In fact, I think liberals are making a classic mistake in thinking that all ethical norms must be enforced by government.  The problem with this thinking is, they’ve basically usurped the responsibility of the other social systems that have their own spheres of authority. For example, paying people undending unemployment with no strings attached, and without training them is just wasteful, if not idiotic.

Unsustainable – wait, are these the same people who want to INCREASE spending on social programs? See their next paragraph…

That’s why we’ve been hard at work this year, standing up to Congress and the President about the immorality of federal budget cuts to the most vulnerable.

And there’s the rub. They assume that the best, biblical model for helping the poor is through the government – forced compassion, as it were. And conservatives do not.

Unstable – Hmm, no mention of why we are unstable. Sure, greed is involved, but the point they miss is this – our outlandish national debt is the source of ongoing instability – not foreign wars, not low taxes, not the greedy rich, even if the latter played their part in the original crash.

3. Jesus loves the poor, and socialism too

Only time will tell which direction the Occupy movement will take, but we do know this: When they stand with the poor, they stand with Jesus. When they are peaceful, nonviolent, and love their neighbors, they are walking with Jesus.

Well, if the OWS doesn’t change direction, they sure won’t be peaceful, nonviolent, or loving. More like angry, inconsiderate, violent and dirty.

The real problem with this sentence is that they confuse ends with means. Sure, we all want to help the poor, but the ends of the social welfare Christians are misguided because (a) the bible does not teach such, but arguably teaches AGAINST government compassion v. individual responsibility and private charity, and (b) social welfare programs bankrupt the society by encouraging laziness and dependence.