Thoughts and observations on Green Arrow, classical liberalism, freedom, comic books and matters of social justice.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

American or Christian first?


There are no easy answers. Nothing in this world is simple. In election years such as this I find myself listening to the rhetoric of candidates and it elicits thoughts of where I stand. Do I believe what these hopeful, and sometimes pessimistic, wannabe leaders espouse?

One of the more difficult mental exercises I have engaged in lately was to alter my thinking from an “America” first perspective to “Christian” first. This is really how we as Christians are called to view the world. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s. We belong to God and it is to Him we owe ourselves.

So in what way do you apply this to the issues we face now? I believe those on the left want to help the poor in this country. As Christians we are forever obligated by our call of faith to befriend the poor and to have them constantly around us to offer solace and care. But the question is; how?

In the Acts of the Apostles the Christian community sold all their possessions and contributed fully to their brothers and sisters. However, this was a small, cohesive group of believers and not a nation of individuals. It does stand as a stark example of caring for those less fortunate. Democrats want to follow this example closely. They believe in the ability of a centralized government and wish to collect and redistribute the fruits of America’s labor in a more equitable manner.

The problem is socialism doesn’t work. As noted by the Acton Institute, "after a thirty year governmental 'War on Poverty' failed to reduce poverty in America, a consensus developed that the centralized entitlement approach of the federal government created more problems than it solved." A powerful federal government running the work of a nation will dependably misuse its influence. What runs smoothly that is run by the government? In my dealings with government operation, both from inside and out, I have seen laziness, waste and abuse. An important question to ask is under whose definition of “equitable” do we abide by? Again, we are a nation of individuals bound together by common values and the rule of law. Socialism is held together by the grip of the ruling government.

Throwing money is rarely a solution to a problem. People have to be able to work, earn a livable wage, and not be dependent on the government for hand outs and entitlements; only in this scenario is an American truly free. This is the hallmark of the Free Market; people will cooperate in an atmosphere of self survival. As noted by Voltaire in his letters concerning the state of England, peoples of varying faiths and creeds worked together in a spirit of goodwill as they sought their own fortunes. Adam Smith referred to this as the work of the “invisible hands” of a free market.

But not everyone has the education or training to get a good job, and some skills and knowledge are deemed more beneficial than others. Does this mean we tax more to bring everyone to equal footing? Not in our American model for it is such government that is anathema to our Founding Father’s vision.

I don’t have the answer here but at least democrats are articulating the problem, republicans refer to this conversation as “class warfare;” sometimes they are correct. When democrats talk about a tax cut for the rich you must understand it is the “rich” who pay around 75% of tax revenue in this country. To say they don’t deserve a tax break is to suggest government spending should not be reduced, wasteful government programs should not be cut, and successful programs should not be streamlined in order to function as well but with less cost to the people. Cutting taxes means you must cut spending and democrats can never support reducing the very entity they believe will save us all.

Education seems crucial, but again, who pays for it and who is to say those less fortunate will even utilize it as a resource? As an American I realize you can’t save everyone but as a Christian I know the poor are my responsibility, it is to them Christ came to proclaim the Kingdom of God and he did so as one of them.

Another major point of contention is the war. As I’ve stated previously to think the radical Islamic fascists will leave us alone if we leave the region is dangerous and naive. They want to kill us because of who we are and not what we do. There is no compromise, there is no agreement, and they want no peace. Perhaps if change and leadership occurred within the Muslim community, but nothing we can do will alter their fanatic crusade. And for those who believe this to be true, what message does that send to the world? Would we not be telling the world we lack the resolve to defend ourselves?

This is a new kind of war fought not against another nation but against an ideology. While there are common denominators to the terrorists the reality is they can be anywhere and lack any clearly identifiable base of operations. I don’t know what will happen once we do leave; I’m actually afraid what will happen. If these madmen were allowed to regroup we may face an attack greater than September the 11th, and believe me they will ensure it is more disastrous.

Is this war about oil? That does play a part, yes; and so what? Oil is the lifeblood of the planet. As my wife has said, before you rage against the wind over a war for oil, ask yourself how many cars are in your garage? Oil is power, power over other countries and their people. Oil is leverage, leverage to advance dangerous agendas that suppress individual freedom and the rights of women and children.

As a Catholic I am called to support peace. Both John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict have spoken against this war. I must see this through my faith’s eyes and their leadership. So I pray for an end to this war and I question its execution. Mistakes have been made but this is a new kind of war and I don’t believe either Gore or Kerry would have had the stomach to execute. I also know we haven’t been attacked here since thanks to the sacrifice of our armed forces.

When these candidates speak ask constantly; how? They want health care for everyone, how? Canada’s health care system is in ruin with 6-8 month waits for badly managed government run care, is that what you want here? They want to end the war in Iraq, how? We will pay for terrorism with some form of capital, either in blood or dollars. Right now we’re paying with both, but the purpose of our military is to ensure it isn’t in the blood of our citizens. To abate might mean we transfer the blood cost back to our homeland.

They want to build “ladders out of poverty,” how? Doesn’t heavy taxation (any taxation according to James Madison) result in a subjugated populace?

No one person will be the light of this country’s future, no matter what their signs read. That person is Christ only and through Him may we bind our policy to His will.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post George!

    I would go a step further. When the government places this heavy taxation upon us it makes it more difficult to offer the charitable assistance and service to the poor that we are inclined and required by our faith to offer.

    It is the fundamental mistrust of the government to care for it's own poor that is at the root of this problem.

    Who are the poor in this country? Largely they represent, women and children.

    One hundred years ago who cared for the elderly? Family. Family meant that you were obligated. If a woman had no children the responsibility for her care went to her brothers, sisters, or their children. Not simply in her final days but all her life! She would be not treated as a burden but as family. She would spend her time in the bosom of those who loved her, and they would return the love and care they had been offered in their lifetime to her.

    Children, and society as a whole benefited from this model and the influence of a multi-generational home. This is only a thing of the past now. Sure you still see it, but now those who do what is really just the right thing, are hailed as modern day saints.

    Men abandon their children. If a man were to do this 100 yrs ago they would find no respect from society. We don't see that, we may look at them sideways and think a little less of them, but you don't see them shamed as they should be.

    Women who have children out of wedlock would be supported by a family though her family would be ashamed of her. This is so pervasive no one even raises an eyebrow now. Women seemingly give no thought at all to who will provide for her children when she is in a sexual relationship. If a man need not marry her to sleep with her, she has very low standards and expectations. She should not be surprised that such a man wouldn't hang around to care for his child.

    You are correct we are called by Christ to care for the poor. But President Roosevelt set us on a path to shift responsibility for the care of "least of us" from their family, good Christians, and neighbors to the government. Now they don't trust we could or would do the job, and so they force our hand through taxation and provide programs that only perpetuate and support the conditions that cause people to be needy in the first place.

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