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A piece I wrote for the Doctors for America blog (Progress Notes - add it to your reader!) on how we are failing our own proclaimed moral standards in so many ways...

One of the most vexing arguments made by conservatives in opposition to government intervention in increasing access to health care, or of providing social services in general, is that they view charity by individuals as the only legitimate vehicle for these services,  and they are not among the roles of government. It is unclear to me by whom this bright line was drawn between the role of individuals and government. It certainly wasn't by any traditional Christian or Jewish denominations, as nearly all have an explicit social justice mission that includes advocating for government help for the needy and the sick. And yet, Speaker John Boehner, when rolling out his party's budget, declared it a "moral document."

Poverty directly influences health, nutrition, education, health literacy, and outcomes of health care delivery. The CDC recently released a report on disparities in health care, and regarding socioeconomic status, they report that, "In the United States, as elsewhere, the risk for mortality, morbidity, unhealthy behaviors, reduced access to health care, and poor quality of care increases with decreasing socioeconomic circumstances."  We have covered that report extensively here in Progress Notes, so I won't repeat except to say that poverty has a huge impact on health. (I will parenthetically note that it also has major ramifications in education as well, since many have decided that teachers are to blame rather than conditions on the ground in poorly performing school districts.)

Tackling poverty as the underlying illness of our disparities in health and education comes as no surprise to physicians, teachers, nurses, or anyone working in the trenches of either of these fields. But developing the political courage to do so is another matter. I recently heard Newt Gingrich, on the stump for a possible Presidential bid, warning the crowd that we could become like one of those "failed social democracies of Europe." Apparently, he has the brass to make such a statement because he presumes nobody in his audience would ever think to question its veracity.

Those "failures" of nations actually keep track of data on many areas of interest, along with us, through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD). The "failures” uniformly have significantly lower rates of poverty and less income inequality than the US, and our poor are 20% poorer than their poor. As we have discussed ad nauseum in this and other forums, they also have better health outcomes than we do, mostlybetter social mobility, and some have higher per capita GDP, and better per capita wealth accumulation than we do! (And we are decidedly average on educational outcomes.)

It seems clear that many of our politicians need to rethink whether we are really doing better than either the imaginary pots or kettles, and muster up the courage to really change America for the better. I like to think we can end up with a country more like "Star Trek" than "Mad Max," but Max seems to be winning the day at the moment!

For those interested in the title of this post, keep reading, otherwise, you are excused!

The quote in the title is an interesting one, as it is found in two of the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark, but also in John, indicating its importance in the Canon. Jesus is being lavished with expensive oils, and a member of the group sanctimoniously points out that these oils could have been sold to the benefit of the poor. Jesus notes that we will always have the poor to take care of, long after he is gone. Jesus is actuallyreferencing the book of Deuteronomy, "There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land."

I think it is fair to say that neither Deuteronomy nor Jesus were using the obvious truth that there will always be poor people as a commandment to not try to reduce poverty! I have extreme difficulty accepting the conservative argument that fighting poverty, including improving access to health care, better education and so on, must only be done on an individual, charitable basis, especially in our largely Judeo-Christian ethical framework. This seems to be unique to some of American conservatism, and some parts of American Christian thinking. Certainly, the largest mainstream Christian and Jewish churches, all with significant deliberation, consideration of scripture, and time, have decided that advocating for social justice, and government intervention in particular, is appropriate. When will Congress?

Originally posted to cmhmd on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:02 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Community Spotlight, and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

    •  BTW (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vahana, The Nose

      Public Health is really what the CorpRight want to dismantle. This shows just how ignorant and selfish they are. Public Health, which includes programs for the young, old, and middle, protects all economic sectors, too. To do exactly what they want is suicidal, however, they are only thinking short term. Disease knows no economic position especially if the larger group falls ill.

      Thank you for your post.

  •  Modern US Conservatives Oppose Any Use of Gov't (18+ / 0-)

    to promote the general welfare, and they oppose government imposing on private power. Those who believe that such a thing as society even exists assert that it is immoral and illegal for government to concern itself with it.

    "There is no such thing as society." --Margaret Thatcher, 1987.

    The big funders of conservatism emphatically agree.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:14:14 PM PDT

  •  What I've heard right-wing Christians tell me (18+ / 0-)

    about their opposition to social weflare programs is that the "Lord helps those who help themselves". That's how they rationalize their being Christian with not supporting government efforts to help the less fortunate. The other point is that many people blame the poor for their condition. I often hear from others that "no one told that woman to have five kids when she couldn't support them" or that "I know people who refused jobs to stay on unemployment". Others say that "it's so easy to get disability". So that's the mentality you are up against.

    •  "The Lord helps those who help themseles" (21+ / 0-)

      appears nowhere in the Bible.  

      If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

      by marykk on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:00:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But I hear it all the time (4+ / 0-)

        That's their justification.

        •  I don't doubt that at all (11+ / 0-)

          but you might point that out to them.  Better yet,  just ask where that verse is from - which book, which chapter.  Should be fun to watch.

          If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

          by marykk on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:22:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Gospel (5+ / 0-)

            It's in the Gospel of Richard the Poor, of course. ;-)

              •  Rethugs Hate the Poor & Jesus Christ (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Hoghead99, tobendaro

                Right-wing Ku Klux Kristians love to cherrypick the Holy Bible and put Old Testament words in Jesus New Testament mouth because these assholes are intellectually dishonest.

                The ultraconservatives rewrote the Holy Bible because there was all that shit about Jesus preaching social and economic justice for the poor and disenfranchised -- they couldn't comply with the Word of GOD so they simply changed it so the NEW & IMPROVED Word of GOD conformed to their morally-bankrupt political ideology.

                Republican politics is total incompatible with  Christianity.
                (Jesus was a true socialist/communist and the 1st bleeding heart liberal.)

                That sanctimonious asshole from Texas named Joel Osteen invented a new kind of Ku Klux Kristianity to defend GREED & Selfishness called Prosperity Theology in which he delusionally claims that GOD wants everyone to be rich so he rewards his good servants with wealth and political power because they are good Christians and punishes sinners with poverty.

                •  bhl218: not the first, but definitely the most (2+ / 0-)

                  widely admired.

                  LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

                  by BlackSheep1 on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:51:19 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think you are wrong about Joel Osteen (0+ / 0-)

                    Do you have any instance where he blames the poor for their own troubles?  There is a difference between people who say God wants everyone to have a good life, and God punishing people with a bad one.

                    This is not to say that Protestants who blame the poor for their own troubles are not the wolves in sheep's clothing we were warned about.

                    Which side are you on?

                    by wiseacre on Fri May 06, 2011 at 09:44:44 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  They still wouldn't change their mind (7+ / 0-)

            Their position basically seems to be that most people who end up poor or needing help end up in that position because "they didn't prepare property and didn't plan for the future". The other line I often hear from them is something like "no one told them to have five kids". They think that those who end up on hard times are there because of their own "irresponsible habits".

            They don't seem to realize that there are people who suddenly lose their job, who get an illness that insurance won't cover, who become disabled, and so forth. They don't realize that life can be unfair to people. Or maybe they do, but they just don't feel like they have an obligation to them at all.

            The other point is that many of them also believe that "if you work hard, play by the rules, and pay your taxes, you will end up successful". They don't want to believe that you can do "all the right things" and still end up in a predicament. If they did it would shatter their belief system.

            •  No one told them to have five kids (9+ / 0-)

              but we don't want to fund family planning?  Ask them how they think they can have it both ways.  

              If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

              by marykk on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:58:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The do not realize because they are (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              marykk, Egalitare, JG in MD, Hiranyagarbha

              lacking in awareness, of themselves and of others.  They see without understanding.  They rely on superficial optics, without understanding that appearances are deceiving.
              Not having a sense of the self (in oneself or in others) is like not having a sense of time or place or direction -- senses which are actually not necessary to survival in a society full of people who do have them.  It only takes one person with a sense of time to keep dozens working together on task.  We recognize that there is such a thing as "time management."  What we miss is that not everyone has a sense of time, much as not everyone has a sense of rhythm.
              To make matters "worse," some people seem to lack a sense of sequence.  That is, they can't remember the order in which tasks are to be accomplished to attain a desired result.  
              It's sort of ironic that GWB, who was always on time for scheduled events, had really bad timing.  It suggests that his being "on time" was a function of having a staff which planned his day meticulously.  The staff, like a wrist watch with a buzzer, compensated for what GWB lacked.  So, we didn't notice.
              GWB stayed in that classroom on 9/11 because that was the schedule and nobody told him to move. What his staff learned that day was never to deliver important information in front of the cameras.

              http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

              by hannah on Fri May 06, 2011 at 03:08:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Book of Opinions Chapter 4 (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            figleef, marykk

            That is where it is found. Right?
            My problem with Conservative Christians is they read the Bible for what they think it says, not for what it actually says.

            "Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals." Mark Twain

            by southern and liberal on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:12:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  No, it's wishful thinking by people (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JG in MD, tobendaro

          who feel disconnected and perceive themselves as isolates.
          Why they feel disconnected is a puzzlement.  Perhaps it's the result of a perinatal experience, of the umbilical cord being cut too soon and restricting the blood flow to the brain to set up a cascade of dread that's never overcome.
          I used to think conservatives spread dread to intimidate.  But now it seems more likely that the fear is endemic.  It's what they actually feel.  Fear is their familiar. They can't leave home without it. And nothing, it seems, can remove it.

          FDR got that wrong, I think.  Fearing fear is useless and recognizing the fear does not remove it.  Nor, it seems, can it be overcome.  If the fear is baseless, albeit lodged in the basal ganglia, how is it to be exercised?

          Where the fearless go wrong is in crediting that there's a basis for the irrational.  Fear in a sharing and caring community serves no purpose.  It's just a useless distraction.  Giving it credit makes it worse.

          http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

          by hannah on Fri May 06, 2011 at 02:52:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Time, Rhythm, Fear (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hoghead99, tobendaro, hannah

            As you say, understanding the mind of a fearful person is almost impossible if you're fearless.

            The word fearless makes me laugh. I was born without a fear gene, I think. I just don't get scared. Later I think Boy, that was pretty scary. But fearless, no.

            I have time and rhythm senses, also a sense of humor. I wouldn't trade them for anything, even the sense of direction I lack. They've invented GPS but they'll never invent a humor app.

            Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

            by JG in MD on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:49:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  It's not a false statement; the key is to focus on (0+ / 0-)

          examples of those whose ability to help themselves is minimal and who have become poor as a result.  

          Those who don't understand they are using this maxim to justify non-charity--not just government charity, but private charity as well--will be forced to confront a lack of compassion for those most marginalized whom they'd probably prefer not to think about.

          •  All you have to say is "Love your neighbor" (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Nose, marykk, Leftcandid

            Jesus left two commandments.  Love God and your neighbor.  

            The neighbor in Luke is the Good Samaritan - different country, different religion, different ethnicity from the Jew who was beaten and left in the gutter, to be passed by by the priest and the devout Levite, and helped by the Samaritan.

            If you love Me you will feed My sheep.

            That which you do unto the least of these my children, this you do also to Me.

            If you would follow Me, sell all you have and give it to the poor.

            The NT could not be more clear about the poor.  

            Which side are you on?

            by wiseacre on Fri May 06, 2011 at 09:52:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  True, but people must be confronted with the reali (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              figleef

              ty that these ARE their neighbors, instead of those with similar incomes and similar culture and similar political views.

              I think that these days that such neighbor-ness is lost, shrouded by Reagan's Me First-ness.
               

      •  But it does say (7+ / 0-)

        Matthew 25:40-46

         40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

           41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

        42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

        43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

           44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

           45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

           46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

        We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

        by Mosquito Pilot on Fri May 06, 2011 at 04:28:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Its misogyny (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, aerie star, tobendaro

      Why are there no rebukes of men that got the woman pregnant, why are these MEN not supporting their children.  Why must I listen to viagra commercials day after day after day?    This crap sickens me.

      •  Catholic Church allows (0+ / 0-)

        viagra but not birth control.  There is no movement to urge men to support their children but the women are excoriated and punished.  Insurance pays for viagra and not birth control and abortion.  But I am sure there are tons of people that say society treats everyone equally and there is no misogyny.

        And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

        by tobendaro on Fri May 06, 2011 at 09:37:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No one told her to have all those kids... (0+ / 0-)

      I say "That's what abortion is for."  

      Of course, I usually prefer taunting these people than engaging, since they aren't going to just see the light.

  •  Most disappointing cop out that I have heard from (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    texasmom, MartyM, Leftcandid

    too many people.

    Wondering what a good bumpersticker or shirt rejoinder might say.

  •  Thank you for highlighting this issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp, tardis10

    Want to explore a moral dilemma?  Portland has created some new housing for the homeless.  Now, how to decide who gets a room. It's not pretty.  http://portlandtribune.com/...

    Frankly, I blame everything on Nixon.

    by J Orygun on Thu May 05, 2011 at 07:56:44 PM PDT

    •  130? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tobendaro, wiseacre

      Thank you for that article, I'm on the other coast, and over here what news gets shared about the West coast tends to forget about Portland.  (So much so that when someone says "Portland" without elaboration, I assume they're talking about Maine).

      Clearly 130 was too small a number, are they building more?

      I shudder to think how much housing is required in NYC.  Even in the city where I live, Albany, NY (roughly one fifth the size of Portland, OR) 130 would be too small a number.

      $47 million, to build 130 apartments?  Even with LEED Certification, there has to be a more cost effective way of building acceptable housing for people who need it than spending over $350,000 per family, apparently per person in many of these cases (the article doesn't seem to mention homeless families)

      Here in Albany, there's a group that's buying abandoned buildings and converting them into SRO housing (like a studio apartment, but you share a bathroom with the other people on the floor) to give homes to the homeless.  No LEED Certification, and the accommodations are surely more spare, but it's a legal mailing address, a good door with a lock so residents can maintain personal property rights, heat, electricity, bed, kitchenette.  I think they spend less than $350,000 per building.

      •  Great point - the graft involved with bureaucracy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        figleef

        must be addressed by liberals.  Just because there's a government solution that is the fairest and most sensible does not mean it will be executed ethically and competently.  By not demanding good government with accountability and transparency we only give conservatives more ammunition against government and more opportunity to claim that government cannot work due to its nature.

        Which side are you on?

        by wiseacre on Fri May 06, 2011 at 10:01:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How about if we just eliminate god (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Recall

    from the equation? What if we just say the Bible is an ancient book useful for understanding our past but nothing more?

    Then we can observe that societies with a high degree of equity and distribution of wealth tend to prosper while societies with indifference to the poor and disadvantaged tend to decline then to decline.

    Then we would value a government that helped people in need.

    But with god in the equation we can judge the poor as moral failures and relinquish our obligation to assist the poor or to eradicate poverty.

    The poor are much better off in more secular states.

    God is the problem, not the solution.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Thu May 05, 2011 at 08:28:42 PM PDT

    •  That ain't God's doing. (6+ / 0-)

      If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

      by marykk on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:01:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  AMEN! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wiseacre, marykk

        Most of the church goers and others (especially politicians) who loudly proclaim that they are "Christians" are nothing of the sort.  They do not follow Christ's teachings and admonitions any more than my cat does.  They do not seems to see the relationship between Christ and Christian.

        Christian and Religious are two different things.  You can be very religious and not believe in Jesus Christ.  Thus, I believe that the founding fathers were religious in a variety of ways but not necessarily Christian.  They believed in a Creator or God-but not necessarily Jesus.  They certainly did not create a Christian nation-Jesus is not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.  GOD is mentioned-but that is a whole different ballgame. They gave us freedom of religion (or from religion).

        Republicans are hypocrits and idiots.  

        IF YOU LOVE ME, FEED MY SHEEP.-JESUS

    •  People are the problem; God is a misdiagnosis. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hoghead99, BlackSheep1, figleef

      First, it's not a fair or reasonable request.  

      What is reasonable is to challenge people who claim religious belief to live up to the portions they conveniently disregard.  If you are not religious yourself, this may not appeal to you, but those of us who are religious find it only natural, as the author of this diary shows.

      There's no inherent conflict with non-rightwing, non-fundamentalist religion and government.   The real problem is with conservatism, not with religion in general, & certainly not with the essentially good spiritual quest to discover God.

         

  •  Or (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    echo still

    "Government-funded social welfare programs depersonalize charity".

    They make it sound like the existence of a government-funded social safety net precludes any private charity, or crowds it out.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Thu May 05, 2011 at 09:27:09 PM PDT

    •  Ive heard many conservatives say that. Franklin (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, The Nose

      Graham just said that on "This Week" back on Easter Sunday.

      The idea that somehow a church or an individual is forced to stop giving becasue the government starts giving is really weird.  Is there a limit to total giving or something?  Do they see "ten percent" as a God given upper maximum or something?

      what about the poor woman that Jesus said gave more than all others?

      •  That's ridiculous. The best charity is anonymous. (0+ / 0-)

        And you're supposed to pray in secret in your closet, not in a football stadium surrounded by thousands of paying adulating admirers.

        Franklin Graham - what is his salary?  How much does he tithe personally?  I would like to know.  

        Maybe he lives modestly, forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical.  Also he and he father snubbed Obama, which I find puzzling at best.

        Which side are you on?

        by wiseacre on Fri May 06, 2011 at 10:16:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  About half a million now. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          figleef

          He was taking two salaries and and earning a million a year until just recently. Now he no longer takes a  salary from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association so his half million a year comes from Samaritan's Purse.

    •  Yeah, it's as if the poor exist... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RockyMtnLib

      so that they have someone to donate to so they can feel good about themselves.  The idea of helping them on a systemic level is abhorrent because then the "good" people won't get the credit, heck they might not even be needed.  That's my theory, anyway.

  •  I'm not going to read the whole (13+ / 0-)

    post because I'm sure I'll agree with all of it. However, I do want to note that Jesus was speaking in the context of time, his time on earth, ending while humanity would go on and love (charity) for the poor would always be needed.
    Conservatives interpret his statement as a prediction of an inevitable social status because that's their preference.  Conservatives need someone to look down on and feel superior to.  Mainly, they need to see inferiors to compensate for their own feelings of isolation and inferiority -- feelings whose source is difficult to pinpoint. Also, looking down on someone and perhaps dropping a crumb from their own bounteous table relieves them from confronting social obligations they seem endemically incapable of meeting. (I think it's because their reliance on appearances misleads them and they simply have no idea what other people might need or want).
    Perhaps conservatives misinterpret what Jesus meant because they themselves have no sense of time as a linear entity (beginnings, middles, ends).  Conservatives seem to live in an ineffable now of which they are the center -- i.e. they are self-centered.  If they don't serve their own interests well, it's likely that, just as they are unaware of other people's interests, they don't know where their own interests lie (which would explain Trump's four bankruptcies).
    People don't like doing what they can't do.  So, if they can't help others, because they don't know what they need or want, they'd just as soon not try.  
    The excuse that the poor are poor because they want to be poor is handy. And, there is a modicum of truth in it.  Poverty, as a choice not to put much emphasis on acquiring material things, used to be considered a virtue.  Still is.  Where conservatives go wrong is in persuading themselves that in visiting deprivation on others they are helping them be virtuous. An imposed condition is not a virtue and an imposition is not a voluntary sacrifice.  Which is why "stop loss" turned military service into "involuntary servitude."  The argument that the troops consented initially does not hold water.  Might as well argue that because Isaac had consented to ascend the mountain with Abraham, he'd agreed to be the sacrifice Abraham had intended, had his hand not been stayed.  God is not pleased when humans sacrifice each other.  It's not why He made them.

    http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

    by hannah on Fri May 06, 2011 at 02:41:51 AM PDT

  •  Illegimate reason not to help (6+ / 0-)

    I have went to many conservative churches.  I personally feel they are one of the Churches that will be disgraced as described in the book of Revelation.  

    However, you and the commentors are right about the "poor will always be with you" excuse.  It is like most things about conservatives, it fits what they want even though it is taken out of context.

    The entire context of which the "Jesus quote" came was when Judas complained to Jesus about Mary anointing him prior to his death.  Judas, who was stealing from Jesus and the other Apostles as he was their "treasurer", saw a lost opportunity to get some more cash from their supporters.

    Judas reprimanded Mary for her act towards Jesus.  Jesus response was--"You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me". Mark 14:7

    Conservatives typically leave off the last half of the quote and don't know any of the history of the quote.  They use it because they are either misguided or evil SOB's who don't want to help anybody but themselves.

    It is these self aggrandizing, selfish, self-righteous and "overly Christian" people who, in my opinion, will be burning in hell for eternity.  And it is hard for me to take solace in that because they are making people live in hell every day while here on earth.

  •  Jesus is often misquoted. (4+ / 0-)

    When Jesus said "The poor will always be with you", he was speaking only to the people who were actually in the room at the time. He wasn't talking to you nor I.

    We know this because in the same sentence He says, "You will not always have Me with you". And every Christian knows that today, Jesus is always with us. He is immortal and omnipresent, and hears our prayers.

    But for humans alive around 30 A.D. there would come a three-day period during which Christ would not be with them. Only that generation would experience a time, however short, without Jesus.

    That generation was also stuck with 1st-Century technology, poor medicine, and (worst of all) cruel leaders who did not care for helping others. The poor would always be with them.

    Our generation has the knowledge and technology to defeat poverty. We also have the mandate of God's Message that we should try. Lastly, Jesus is always with us.

    We just need to do something about these leaders who don't care for others. Somehow, they managed to stick around.

    •  Amen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, wiseacre

      This was very well said.

      "Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals." Mark Twain

      by southern and liberal on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:26:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How about a real truth squad like political ones? (0+ / 0-)

        Meaning Scriptural truth.  We hear the NT misquoted and taken out of context all the time in the media.  There needs to be a righteous team of folks who know their Bibles well enough to counter these people and educate their followers by correcting these misstatements as soon as possible.

        For some believers it will matter that the Bible is being misused.  There is a comment above that proves it.

        Which side are you on?

        by wiseacre on Fri May 06, 2011 at 10:26:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  We can't defeat poverty (0+ / 0-)

      What does that even mean?  Unless we implement perfect socialism, there will always be a bottom 10 or 15%.  But we can certainly ensure that everyone has access to education, health care, and decent food.  

    •  Norman Borlaug and dwarf wheat (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan
      Our generation has the knowledge and technology to defeat poverty.

      And hunger also, if we want to. There was an episode of The West Wing (Season 2: "In This White House") in which Bartlett talks about dwarf wheat. Experts in the 1960's had predicted that India's food production would never catch up with its population and that tens of millions would starve.  But in 1965 Norman Borlaug shipped India dwarf wheat seeds that he had developed on an earlier project in Mexico. In five years, the Indian wheat harvest increased from a total of 12 million tons to 20 million tons. By 1974 India was growing enough for their population and they have been ever since.

      Norman Borlaug won the Nobel peace prize in 1970. He died in 2009 at age 95.

  •  If private charity could be effective (4+ / 0-)

    we wouldn't have a poverty problem anymore.  Do republicans want to stick with another failed pillar of their dogma?

    You can put this one right next to "tax cuts create jobs" as a failed article of political faith.

    These are the responses we should use anytime they trot out their dogma--"It has been tried, it does not work.  Are you insane enough to keep trying things that don't work and expect different outcomes?"

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Fri May 06, 2011 at 04:15:57 AM PDT

    •  If charity worked, billionaires wouldn't exist. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      southern and liberal, wiseacre

      No one could retain so much wealth if they were giving enough of it away to make a difference.  If only.  IMO, being a billionaire is a kind of sin unto itself.

      The really insidious aspect of the push to eliminate communal support via government in favor of private charity is that the handful of people who hold the concentrated wealth will get to make decisions for millions based on their own set of priorities.  Thus entire need sectors could be virtually ignored.  The entirety of the nation should be prioritizing and allocating resources.

      •  thats why government aid is important. Its open (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1, The Nose, Leftcandid

        to all equally.  There is a central location that is open to all.

        You dont have to belong to a certain church to even be aware of 'help'.

        There are far too many people (usually elderly single people living in rural areas) who slip through the cracks.

        Actually I guess it doesnt have to be rural.  In Texas, the government aid is well hidden to most people.

  •  the more you give (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hoghead99

    the more will come back to you.

     not here, and not now, maybe. but ultimately.

  •  I need to get my beauty sleep (0+ / 0-)

    I am too tired to read the diary, but I sure do remember a diary with this same title published quite a while back. Will read later after Breakfast/Sleep to be sure....(the search did not find it)

  •  I was unfamilar with that one (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leftcandid, figleef

    I was unfamiliar with the Deuteronomy passage Jesus was referencing.  Thank you.  It does put his remark in a totally different light.

    Very often I've come across the attitude of "Oh yes, charity to the poor is God-pleasing, but forced charity is just plain wrong!!"

    I have a rant on that topic slowly building up in me and I'll probably write a diary on it one of these days.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:26:05 AM PDT

  •  Once in a Millenia Holy Man (3+ / 0-)

    IS to be treated special... but we also must take care of the helpless and poor.

    seems like a no brainer... except when one is terminally greedy, and OK with five percent of the people controlling ninety-five percent of the wealth.

    "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

    by Superpole on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:26:12 AM PDT

  •  The Wartocracy Is Not Failing By Producing More of (0+ / 0-)

    what we call poverty even as it produces more of what we call wealth. That is the nature of the wartocracy we call our democratic government.

  •  Jesus did not advocate expanding poverty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    and the income disparity that preceeds it.  Jesus' message was for humanity to do all in its power to redress poverty.  Having the poor among us does not mean that poverty can not be mitigated.  People might be handicapped in any of a variety of ways that prevents the accumulation of wealth, but people can redress the effects of poverty on the poor.

  •  Talking effectively to religious conservatives (6+ / 0-)

    It's tough to get through to religious conservatives.  First off, their morality is built on hierarchy and exclusion, so if you're not one of them, you're barely worth talking to (in their eyes).  Talking about the Bible won't help; they'll rationalize you out as a devil trying to trick them.  

    If they deign to talk with you, and you actually hope to change them, you have to employ shame.  This they understand.  The point is turn their constant feelings of shame and anger towards their moral compass (hierarchy and exclusion), and steer them towards more liberal morals (like equality).

    This requires being judgmental.  Don't say you're never judgmental if you're commenting on this post, because that's what you're doing.  But it's not a bad thing--- in our eyes, they are immoral.  So act like it.  

    Ask them questions like "What's wrong with you?".  When they tell you're judgmental, say stuff like "Darn right I am! You have no morals, of course I'm judging you. Abandoning the least among us is wrong, and making excuses about it is worse."  

    They won't have an epiphany--- these people are very thick-headed--- but it changes the debate from "them" being bad to "us" (from the 'Christian's' perspective).  They won't like you for it, but they already didn't like you to begin with.  In terms of the debate, though, you'll have destroyed the foundation of their talking points, so don't be surprised if they look disoriented.

    The point is, you wanna pull the smug rug of moral rectitude out from under them, and throw them off-balance.  You'll briefly orient their constant feelings of shame and anger somewhere useful:  towards their Christianity and Christian community.  If you're really good, you'll know of an alternative community ready to welcome them.

    •  Asking about chapter and verse that contradicts (0+ / 0-)

      them, and trying to get them to justify their beliefs with Scripture can work, too, but it's hard to do.  It takes going through whole chapters and analyzing them in context.  Many don't have the time patience or willingness, while our own anger and repugnance are also barriers to communication.

      I ask them what they're afraid of, because a lot of this hatred and Manicheanism is fear-based.  That means they actually have little faith, I think.  Their rigidity could reflect an internal dilemma or doubts.  

      Which side are you on?

      by wiseacre on Fri May 06, 2011 at 10:39:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They often just filter out contradictions, though (0+ / 0-)

        ...or more likely, have already learned pre-packaged counters to them.  So if you go that route, be prepared for those as well.  Also, you have to have somewhere to lead them.  You can't just show them the light and let them wander.  

        I grew up Catholic in a highly Evangelical area, so I had to learn to out-Bible people just to get by without all the pestering.  Most of us, though, don't see religion as a major part of our lives, so our Bible literacy is low.  Sometimes as low as Evangelicals' Bible literacy.  

        Another problem with out-Bibling them is that it doesn't undermine their fundamental blockage--- the prevalence of conservative morality inside them.  Cherry-picked sound bites from an incoherent ancient anthology is not the basis of morality, but it can be used to rationalize just about anything, even backwards moralities based on hierarchy, inclusion, and self-centered greed.  That is ultimately what you want to attack and destroy, whether they stay Christian or not.  

  •  an argument I encountered from a preacher (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aerie star

    ( from a guy who claimed to be a  preacher and was obviously a conservative.  He was posting at the Nation when I encountered him).

    His argument was (my perception):
    Government should not exist becasue God is supposed to be the One Provider and a government is a false god.
    Government stands as a substitute for God and therefore is wrong.  We are supposed to be totally and completely reliant on God and ONLY God.

    You'd have to talk to him directly to find out exacly what his thoughts are but i think thats basically it.
    You can see where it would logically extend that any government aid was 'un Godly'.

    Several people made good points against him.

    I just kept wondering why we would be told to submit to the authorities if 'authorities' were un Godly?

    Not to mention the fact that government is little more than common rules for a common people (society).  Most churches have their own governments.  If they didnt, they would be chaotic.

    as to the title: "the Poor you will always have with you"
    Has it ever occurred to anyone that this is a prediction and not actually a good thing?  The antiChrist will make life miserable for many people.  is this a good thing?
    many will be fooled and will follow the antiChrist.  Is that a good thing?  we have been given choice and we should think and choose and repent (turn).  Just becasue the Bible predicts something, doesnt mean we should try to make it happen.  I think God wants people who think for themselves and then choose good behaviours -- not becasue they are told to by God but becasu ethey see the value and choose to do things that are right and good.  (like attempting to be honest -- or attempting to not covet -- attempting to not be overly into ANYTHING.)
    Direction, Discipline
    Everything is lawful but not everything is wise.

  •  I had a conversation with a religious conservative (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    echo still, BlackSheep1, figleef, The Nose

    a few days ago. The Ryan Republican budget called for a $1 trillion cut in Medicaid. I asked if they were ok with letting the poor die from lack of medical care. They got flustered and defensive. I politely pointed out that is was fascinating how strong their convictions are about abortion and yet how weak their concerns are about letting the poor suffer and die because they are denied medical care.

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:37:31 AM PDT

  •  The controversy is who are"fellow Israelites" . (0+ / 0-)

    Many Christians, Jews, Catholics, and Muslims ardently oppose taxes becasue it draws their funds away from their commitments to their "fellow Israelites" and spends it instead on corruption, war, materialistic waste, fraud and abuse. Further, public assistance enables and cultivates lost souls to look away from the church for help.

    I think you're on to something very fundamental to the problem of poverty when it comes to religion and public service. I suggest you develop it further though.

    What is Israel in the Bible? In the OT vs. the NT? Is it a place or a mind set? Is Israel a set of tribes or a set of beliefs?  What is Israel today?

    Also, what's the role of corruption? The churches, like the unions, have evolved and so have the relationship between them and the public believer.

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Fri May 06, 2011 at 09:17:40 AM PDT

  •  You may find this old diary of mine (0+ / 0-)

    Unplug the Koch machine! It's swallowing people's money!

    by Seneca Doane on Fri May 06, 2011 at 12:21:43 PM PDT

  •  why government charity is bad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, Leftcandid

    No, I don't really think it's bad, but if you are going to seriously engage in a sincere political debate with the opposition, you need to be able to take their position seriously.

    There is a very strong emphasis in Protestant theology on this idea: the 'powers and pricipalities' serve Satan, not God. In the times of Jesus and the first Christians, nothing could have been more obvious: they were under the sway of the Roman Empire. During the birth of Protestantism, brutal repression by the governments of the European states, which all had Catholocism as their official state religion, reinforced this idea for the Protestants. Even today some Protestant churches teach their members to refuse participation in the state as far as possible, for instance refusing military service or elective office.

    Based on this idea, they believe that charity carried out by the government inevitably becomes corrupt and evil, serving to harm its recipients rather than help them.

    And in fact, anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of the welfare bureaucracy can see how they have a point there. Because the programs are controlled by people so far removed from the recipients, the recipients are dehumanized and instrumentalized; there is no human connection, no caritas.

    The progressive idea that can meet this conservative Protestant idea halfway, is the idea that programs like Medicare and Social Security need to be not means-tested charities, but cooperative efforts to ensure the common welfare, that everyone contributes to and everyone benefits from.

    Perhaps we need to make a radical change in the way we approach some other 'government charity' programs. For instance, can we stop thinking about 'welfare for welfare moms' and start thinking about supporting children and good parenting as the Europeans do, with state subsidies for every child, generous parenting leave from work, etc. That way it's a benefit for all, not just 'govenment largesse for lazy welfare moms, paid for by the tax dollars stolen from us hard-working normal folks.'

    Similarly, we could address unemployment and low wages by subsidizing the wages of every entry-level job, with the idea that young people starting out will improve their value as workers and earn higher wages as they accumulate work experience, but at first we need to subsidize the cost of employing them so that employers will be willing to hire them and give them a chance. Everyone would draw from the system during their first few years of employment and pay back into it during the rest of their working life.

    What we need to push is exactly the idea that "the Lord helps those who help themselves," not as selfish, asocial individuals, but as a cooperating society of people who love each other and care for each other, prudently arranging in advance to deal with predictable but random hardships like severe illness, disablitity, loss of employment, birth of a special needs child, etc.

  •  Found Diary with Identical Title (0+ / 0-)

    Saved in my browser, wow!

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

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