Saturday, December 4, 2010

getting the Right wrong, as usual

Now ask yourself, what does the Religious Right look like? Do they support a political vision that would expect the best of us, a vision that would inspire us to make economic sacrifices for the common good, for health care and the relief of poverty? Or do they support a political vision that underestimates the generosity of Americans and appeals to our greed by promising to reduce out taxes? Are they mad with their love of the poor and oppressed, or are they just plain mad because somebody is asking them to reach into their pockets?
John Caputo, What Would Jesus Deconstruct, p 96

These are, as you can imagine, loaded questions. Let me do a couple of things here. First, let me rephrase them so that they can be similarly applied to the Left, religious or otherwise.

Does the Left, religious or otherwise, have a political vision that would expect the best of us? A vision that would expect us to make the sacrifice of accepting responsibility for our own actions? Or do they underestimate the intelligence of Americans, and appeal to their greed in the form of government redistribution of wealth? Are they really mad with love for the poor and oppressed, or are they just plain mad because the American people, the Constitution, and the laws of the land are against their agenda?

Now, let me rephrase Caputo's questions, so that they more fairly relate to reality.

Do the Right, religious or otherwise, support a political vision that expects the best of us? I think that is a "yes", with of course reasonable reservations. Those reservations would be things like law enforcement, because they are needed. But, yes, the Right does expect people to act well--to obey the laws, the work so as to provide for themselves and their families and their own wants and needs and, if they choose, to give to those in need, through charities and otherwise, as they themselves deem fit.

Does the Right inspire us to economic sacrifices? Wow, that's a very loaded statement by Caputo. We would have to know what he means by 'economic sacrifices', and he tells us--high taxes. Amazing how generous people like Caputo are with other people's money.

Let me attempt a rephrasing here--does the Right inspire and expect us to help others? I think that is another "yes". But the difference is that the Right is quite willing to give a hand up, by that I mean help people get education and training, find work they can do, and help those who are for whatever reason unable to help themselves. We are somewhat less inclined to help those who while able-bodied demand that they be provided for without working for it, or those who continue in desolute lifestyles like drunkeness or drug addiction. For those who want out of those addiction, let all reasonable or even more-than-reasonable help be given, but not a cent to allow them to continue in it. If they insist on wasting their own lives, do not let them also waste the lives and substance of others.

Does the Right believe in the generosity of Americans? Time and again, we have seen that generosity, so how could we not? It is, rather, ones like Caputo who do not believe in it, but rather feel that they must force the American people to be generous by taking from them what they have earned through taxes, often even before they get their paychecks.

Does the Right appeal to greed by promising to lower taxes? Wow, let's see, "We promise to let you keep more of the money you worked for and earned." Yeah, that's an appeal to greed. Note the sarcasm.

I would say, rather, that the Left appeals to greed through their class warfare rhetoric. What is class warfare but the greed of those who have not for what those who have have? Greed is a common human vice, no doubt present among those on the Right, but no less so than among those on the Left. It is a human sin, not the sin of any particular economic system. No doubt there are greedy capitalists, but there are also greedy socialists and communists.

Is the Right mad with love for the poor and oppressed? Caputo wrote this a few years ago, he spends no small amount of the book attacking the Bush adminstation, but this could still be applicable today, in an economy that is simply bad (mostly Obama's fault, but I do remember that it started with Bush and the first stimulous or bailout or whatever it was called). Now, what I find important is that, contrary to what seems to be conventional wisdom (sadly, one time when conventional wisdom is far more conventional than wise), the Right is far more generous than the Left.

Does the Right want to help the poor? Yes. But not by making them dependent on a government dole, but rather by helping them get out of their poverty through education and work. We have seen how making them dependent on the government hurts the poor, not helps them. The government simply does charitable work very poorly, often causing more harm than good.

Perhaps a more pertinent way to phrase this question would be as such--Does the Right want to help the poor, or do they want to make the poor dependent? Does the Right believe tax cuts are good for many reasons, one being that they allow businesses to keep more of their profits and thus hire more people?

And so, Mr. Caputo, here is the birdict.


No comments: