My Brother's Keeper?

My Brother's Keeper?

Rich BrattenI read an interesting article in Forbes today, What's Missing From the Budget Debate.This article is spot on.

Many people, especially Christians, read an article like this and become conflicted between their desire to be moral in their behavior toward their fellow man in a manner consistent with the New Testament, and their desire to lay claim to their unalienable rights, which the Declaration of Independence describes as being endowed by their Creator.

The hang-up often appears to be conjured up by the phrase my brother's keeper, a phrase that comes from the account of Cain and Abel in the book of Genesis. The reality is that one of the primary authors of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, writes in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 that, The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. In Ephesians 4:28, Paul writes that Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. In other words, Paul writes that people should work and be productive SO THAT they will be able to give to others OUT OF THEIR ABUNDANCE.

Note that Paul does NOT suggest that the church or the government TAKE from anyone the product of their work in order to GIVE it to others. The New Testament Bible instructs, in several places, that people are to give as they see fit, on their decision, not out of compulsion, but out of their own free will in a desire to use the opportunity of giving as one of many different ways to imitate the love of Christ for other people.

One of the insidious problems that we face today is that the Left has hijacked the government as its mechanism for redistribution and called it philanthropy. The poster child for this is our current Vice-President Joe Biden. Over the period of a decade leading up to the 2008 election, as reported by USA Today, his personal charitable giving averaged $369. His income during that decade ranged from $210,797 to $320,000. His charitable giving during that decade leading up to the 2008 campaign ranged from 0.1% to 0.3% of his income. That's not 1-3%. That's one tenth of one percent to three tenths of one percent.

But Joe Biden will gladly TAKE our tax dollars and use our money to travel all over the country to tell OTHERS that they must give their fair share in taxes. Never mind that paying taxes is NOT GIVING it is compulsory and enforced by the government under the threat of force and incarceration. Never mind that the role of the federal government is not philanthropy, but is to protect the individual liberty of its citizens and that its powers are to be few and enumerated. Of course Biden, as a career politician subsisting on our taxes, has made a nice living and created for himself a stunning level of wealth in income, power, favors, health care and pension, by crafting government policies that TAKE from citizen producers in order to REDISTRIBUTE to those in need, of course as defined by Joe and his government groupies.

Another problem is that many of us, as citizens, have abdicated the decision regarding any philanthropic role that we may have chosen to fulfill, to the government. As a Christian myself, I believe that many in the Christian church are included in this. People have fallen prey to the lie that the government is the proper mechanism for helping others. As a result, some people pay their taxes and expect that the government should use some of that money to help others, erasing the requirement of any other effort on the part of the individual.

These two problems 1) the usurpation of the role of philanthropy by government and 2) the abdication of any decision to engage in philanthropy by the individual (by themselves and even by others in some sort of bizarre manifestation of righteous guilt) have created the perfect environment for our current entitlement state. The very nature of this genesis of our entitlement state creates a natural predilection for an ever-growing expropriation of property and production until it must eventually break down under its own weight.

The moral failure clearly rests on both sides of this entitlement state. On the one side, moral failure lies with those who abdicate whatever individual choice that they may have made regarding philanthropy (whether to give anything at all, or if so, how much, of their time, talent or treasure) to the command and control decisions of government. On the other hand, moral failure also lies with those who would use the power given to them by a) those who relegate their philanthropic decisions to the government, b) those who gladly sell their freedom for a government handout, and c) those who would help empower each other in a statist regime, in order to exploit the producers of the country who mistakenly believe that they are morally powerless to resist the demand for "morality" by others, and who are called selfish, hateful, capitalists when they do.

These very producers, who raise everyone's standard of living with their own production and are extorted by government to provide for others, were identified by Yale professor William Graham Sumner in 1884 as the Forgotten Man. As a perfect example of how the Left manages the language of the debate with the help of its control over the media, the very phrase the Forgotten Man was stolen by FDR and held out to represent the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The original Forgotten Man was the producer who gets plundered by government in order to provide for the perceived needs of others, as defined by government statists.

Government is not our brother's keeper. The ironic thing is that the Leftists have so little faith in themselves and their fellow man that they believe that without the power of government to coerce charity, people would be left dying in the streets. When the light of truth and reason shines on their motive and their methods, it becomes painfully obvious that the true immorality lies in the Left's use of government to execute their cynical plan of extortion over their fellow man to benefit themselves, all in the name of benefiting others.