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question for those on the right(56 posts)

question for those on the rightrufus
Jan 21, 2004 4:10 PM
we all know how much you resent your tax dollars being redistributed by the government by such means as welfare, funding for the arts, pbs, soup kitchens, charities and other non-profits that help people, etc.

so, what's your opinion on bush wanting to make it legally possible for the government to give your tax dollars to churches and other religiously oriented groups? if you're in favor of it, explain why this is different and a good thing.
Don't like it all....oldbutslow
Jan 21, 2004 7:07 PM
Sets a bad precedent. The only positive I can think of is the very low overhead of the local church (but they could probably learn to cheat like everybody else, eh?)

BTW, whether or not welfare did anybody any good, at least in the long run, is debateable....
wow - that sounds like someting Jesus would have saidMJ
Jan 22, 2004 6:07 AM
"whether or not welfare did anybody any good, at least in the long run, is debateable"
Yeah but in the world of a first century Jew...Dwayne Barry
Jan 22, 2004 6:30 AM
there was almost no such thing as social or economic mobility. If you were poor you were probably born poor, which is probably still true in modern America, except now you can do something about it if you so choose. Not to mention medical or environment factors could leave you in abject poverty in the ancient world. When people talk about doing away with "welfare" today I don't think they mean removing the safety net from unavoidable or short-term situations.
my bible didn't have any footnotesMJ
Jan 22, 2004 6:55 AM
that allowed christians to justify helping some folks but not others depending on their circumstances - is that the American Dream exception footnote? - I was always more of King James verison myself

to not acknowledge that the vast majority of people in the world remain as vulnerable to unforeseen circumstances as in times gone past seems a bit funny
no one is prevented from helping one another...ClydeTri
Jan 22, 2004 6:58 AM
You can help all you want, write a check to whomever you wish, however, when the government forcibly takes it from you , that is not compassion, compassion is when you choose to give. There is a big difference.
thatMJ
Jan 22, 2004 7:01 AM
is an entirely different argument

what I take exception with is a "christian" who justifies ignoring social problems with biblical references
What "christian"Dwayne Barry
Jan 22, 2004 7:15 AM
justified ignoring social problems with biblical references?

I don't know if you are referring to me or not (I'm decidely not a Christian), I was just merely pointing out that taking the sayings or teachings of Jesus as reported in the gospels out of the social context in which they were said is undoubtably distorting their meaning. I was merely pointing out that in the ancient world "the poor" who were deserving of Christian charity (i.e. fellow Jews in the early years and then fellow Christians later, certainly not everybody, i.e. pagans deserved charity) are not "poor" as a result of the same factors as "the poor" in modern America, and as such I don't know if I would argue that it is unChristian to be anti-welfare, per se.
a christianMJ
Jan 22, 2004 7:27 AM
should never determine that some ppor are deserving while other poor are not deserving - that's like arguing that only people that get injured or sick in ways which are deemed worthy are entitled to see a doctor - it is incredibly unChristian to be anti-welfare - look at anything Jesus said and it's self-evident - the only way you can distort the meaning is to ever reach the conclusion that some poor are deserving of welfare while others got what they deserved...

if you wanna have the social context discussion then we should also review the wider context of poverty to determine objectively in the grand scheme of things all the circumstances of the people who you deem undeserving of welfare - this needs to be weighed against personal prejudices which may be attirbutable to a compfortable middle class background with plenty of opportunities or exceptional drive

because as much as you wanna believe it the American Dream isn't a dream for most - penalising those who aren't able to rise above the cesspools of their circumnstances is very mean spirited indeed
a christianTJeanloz
Jan 22, 2004 7:45 AM
"it is incredibly unChristian to be anti-welfare"

I don't know that I agree. It is unChristian only if you believe that welfare is an adequate solution. If you believe that welfare is perpetuating poverty and is not the right means to deliver benefits to the poor, I don't think it's unChristian to be anti-welfare.

It's unChristian to not want to help, it is not unChristian to believe that the current system of "help" may not be adequate or appropriate.
a christianMJ
Jan 22, 2004 8:10 AM
for some reason I don't think that an inadequate or inappropriate provision of welfare is motivating most christians to do anything more than jutify not giving or actively supporting welfare

I don't recall Jesus saying anything about helping the poor being linked with perpetuating poverty - that is a distinctly modern US neo-con approach to justifying the gutting of welfare - it's based upon perspectives formed in good white suburban schools and churches where people that espouse such beliefs come from - not exactly places known for reforming welfare or extolling the need to help the poor

it is instead a convenient confusion of the political and relgious viewpoints of the right that results in the scapegoating of the poor as victims of their own decisions and the unfounded belief that anybody can make it if they just try hard enough - try telling that to an African or South American farmer or any of the other more obvious domestic candidates

this viewpoint which holds the poor get what they deserve simultaneously ignores the government subsidies and welfare to a number of US industries
modern?ClydeTri
Jan 22, 2004 8:16 AM
I thought the parable about bringing a man a fish he eats for a day, but if you teach him how to fish and quit bringing him a fish, he will provide for himself was quite old.
and...ClydeTri
Jan 22, 2004 8:17 AM
and the adage, you help those who help theirselves is hardly modern...
no what's modernMJ
Jan 22, 2004 8:26 AM
is ignoring the welfare of those who aren't able to meet your personal, subjective expectations re helping themselves
that's trueMJ
Jan 22, 2004 8:24 AM
but that doesn't mean if he refuses to fish, is unable to fish or can't manage to land a fish that he should be ignored cause he knows how to fish

helping people help themselves should be the first goal of welfare - however it does not negate any further obligations - from a social, moral or religious perspective
a christianTJeanloz
Jan 22, 2004 8:29 AM
That presupposes that welfare "helps" the poor. And I can see the argument (not that I agree with it), that welfare doesn't "help" the poor, particularly in the long run.

I can think that giving money to the poor is a good thing, and still not support a government program that does so. Welfare doesn't inherently answer the question.

It's like concluding that because somebody supports universal healthcare, they would support expansion of medicare to achieve that end. You might support healthcare, but not the current government program that embodies it.
you can argueMJ
Jan 22, 2004 8:40 AM
about what may be the best method of distributing welfare all you want - however the argument appears to be a way of avoiding any responsibility to address welfare issues or funding related programmes

and the default provision of welfare, until someone comes along with a better suggestion, remains with the systems currently in place - it's all we have to answer the question

to argue that there are deserving and undeserving poor is crazy
I agreeTJeanloz
Jan 22, 2004 8:47 AM
I agree that to argue that there are "deserving" and "undeserving" poor is ridiculous.

But discussing how best to serve that constituency is not.

However, welfare systems inherently make one group "deserving" and others "undeserving" - my opinion is that it should be a triage system, with those in the most dire straits (Africa, South America) helped first. But, apparently, Europeans and Americans "deserve" it more.
both can be addressed simultaneouslyMJ
Jan 22, 2004 9:00 AM
it's in everyone's interest to have adequate welfare provision and coming to the best model is crucial

I do understand the help your own first sentiments - but being poor today in the US often means not having air conditioning, a DVD or a car rather than no clean drinking water and little adequate food and shelter - the goal posts have moved

most of the 3rd world welfare issues could be addressed via a reduction in western argicultural (and other) subsidies and an increase in trade restrictions for those same 3rd world countries - we've got to end the belief that 3rd world economies (without govt subsidies) are capable of competing on equal footing with western companies and individuals
Disagree..........Len J
Jan 22, 2004 9:55 AM
"most of the 3rd world welfare issues could be addressed via a reduction in western argicultural (and other) subsidies and an increase in trade restrictions for those same 3rd world countries - we've got to end the belief that 3rd world economies (without govt subsidies) are capable of competing on equal footing with western companies and individuals"

I don't believe that. An elimination of wetern agricultural (Ans other) subsidies would not allow 3rd world farms (Ans businesses) to compete on the world market due to infrastructure, knowledge and basic human services issues. What appears to have the largest, long term, positive effect on local 3rd world economies is improvements in health care, quality of water supply and minimum nutrition maintenance. I read a study in the last 2 years (I wish I could find it now) that indicated that when these three "basic human needs" were met, there was an exponential increase in the labor available to persue economic gain, and hence exponential increases in the strength of the local economies. (Its almost a Maslow's heirarchy of needs issue). People in third world countries spend so much time and energy persuing the basics, there is less time spent on other things. If you read any of the published material from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this is the thrust of all of their grant work.....Basic sustainable infrastructure improvement geared at the things I mentionded. They have also begun to collect data around how this works and how successful it really is.

To think that subsidies are the magic bullet (or the magic thing holding back a 3rd world economy)to convert a third world economy to a "gang of Seven" economy is naive at best.

Len
agreeMJ
Jan 23, 2004 6:47 AM
the basics come first - but then real self-sufficiency comes through economic independence

without the basics - water, health, food there can be no viable economy

at the same time if the basics are acheived the current global "free trade" market is set up to shaft the 3rd world
Isn't the cycle.......Len J
Jan 23, 2004 7:10 AM
Take care of Basics,
free energy to persue wealth,
Higher wealth encourages consumption,
Higher consumption creates stronger economy,
which creates more wealth,
etc,
etc.

Worrying about the current free trade market shafting the third world at this poin in their economic development, is like giving a beggar a wonderful watch he can't sell or trade, when he hasn't eaten in a week.

I agree that current trade barriers are set up to protect the have's, no different than all throughout history, I just believe that investing political capital in these issues is premature and dilutes energy and resources that could be used to do real good NOW.

No disagreement on need, just timing.

Len
dunnoMJ
Jan 23, 2004 8:47 AM
I don't believe that everyone in the 3rd world is w/o the basics - but I know they can't compete economically
you can argueDuane Gran
Jan 22, 2004 10:38 AM
to argue that there are deserving and undeserving poor is crazy

Call me crazy, but I think a poor person with a job or seeking a job deserves help, but a poor person strung out on drugs or who beats their children doesn't deserve help. This isn't to say that there are only two types of poor people, but we live in a world of finite resources. I would rather help those who won't squander it. I'm reminded of a parable about not casting pearls to swine.
I'm with you...Dwayne Barry
Jan 22, 2004 10:43 AM
I don't understand how anyone can argue there aren't undeserving and deserving poor. To say that the only criteria for getting help from the government or charity from your fellow citizens is a lack of money is to remove all aspects of personal responsibility from the equation.
I agree. (nm)Jon Billheimer
Jan 22, 2004 11:49 AM
The Devils in the Details.Len J
Jan 22, 2004 11:59 AM
It is one thing to agree with a comment like that on a conceptual level, it is another one entirely to actually execute it. Who decides? How do you decide? Is the Drug addict that wants help deserving or not? Is the drug addict who wants help for the 6th time deserving or not? What is the level of help? When does help become a crutch? Is it different for each person?

How do you decide when to intervene or not? Welfare is a great example of a program that probably started with a fairly defendible concept that got polluted by special interests, a focus on the abuses and not the wins, an attempt to apply it on a "peanut butter" approach (Spread it evenly across everyone) in spite of the fact that we all know everyone's situitation is different (again, how do you manage this kind of complexity) and finally, a presumption that the system will be abused, so the administration becomes more expensive than the abuse it's trying to prevent.

Any social program, applied on a large scale, can by its very nature be attacked by pointing out the people on the edges, the round peg in the square hole, that either aren't covered and should be or are covered and someone believes they shouldn't be.

I wish it was as simple as the concepts.

Len
The Devils in the Details.Duane Gran
Jan 23, 2004 5:59 AM
The solution is to leave the decision to the discretion of the giver. It would be an utter failure to devise an algorithm to determine who is worthy of finite charitable funds, but most people have this "gut feeling" that works pretty well. Money in the hands of the giver, rather than a surrogate beaurocrat, is the best way to assure that the most deserving are helped.
What do you do when.........Len J
Jan 23, 2004 6:07 AM
the "giver" is the Government?

Len
What do you do when.........Duane Gran
Jan 23, 2004 9:12 AM
My implicit argument is that the giver shouldn't be the government, but I won't get my way anytime soon. ;) I suppose in the real world where we live there are no simple solutions.
who should it be then? - nmMJ
Jan 23, 2004 9:41 AM
I think we need moreMJ
Jan 23, 2004 6:53 AM
than someone just trusting their instinct

my experience as a social worker leads me to believe that welfare should be distributed by the government on a set criteria that is transparent for all to see and evaluate - it also leads me to believe that if left to the "gut instinct" alot of mistakes would be made and those in need would go without

again it is not possible to classify deserving and undeserving poor people - they're either in need or they're not - what they did or did not do to make them needy is irrelevant unless you enjoy the punishment angle
I think we need moreDuane Gran
Jan 23, 2004 9:14 AM
again it is not possible to classify deserving and undeserving poor people - they're either in need or they're not - what they did or did not do to make them needy is irrelevant unless you enjoy the punishment angle

I'm not into punishment, I'm into results. If the only criteria for giving is need, then the job is never done. Need always fills the capacity the give, therefore giving should be done with a sense of economy. I think this is the most compassionate use of resources.
agreedMJ
Jan 23, 2004 9:40 AM
the job of giving to those in need is never done

if people are in need you can't economise on helping - they either need help or they don't - if by economising you classify people into the deserving and undeserving well that's not really meeting the need that's punishing anyone who falls short of your expectation and rewarding those who meet your expectation - neither of which actually have any bearing on whether someone has adequate food, shelter, work or medical attention

can someone be intentionally homeless? yes - but that person is still homeless
a christianDuane Gran
Jan 22, 2004 10:35 AM
it is incredibly unChristian to be anti-welfare

That is a pretty hefty statement to make. What if a Christian deems that government sponsored welfare is ineffective? Suppose I give a dollar to the government and the poor person sees 20 cents of it. Would it be unChristian to prefer direct giving over the government program?

Just because a Christian is critical of welfare doesn't mean the person wants people to starve on the streets. There are better alternatives to the near-zero accountability of the welfare state.
and BTW it's "cheque" not "check" - nmMJ
Jan 22, 2004 7:04 AM
...what colour would you like your cheques, Grey? :-) nmSpunout
Jan 22, 2004 8:32 AM
HEHEHEHE nmMJ
Jan 22, 2004 9:02 AM
we'll also throw in a free rubber and a pot plant (nm)ColnagoFE
Jan 22, 2004 9:52 AM
King James version? That was totally editedColnagoFE
Jan 22, 2004 7:54 AM
Unless you can read the original Aramaic version you probably can't say you read The Bible--just someone's interpretation of the Bible.
agreed - but it didn't have any don't have to help the poor footnotes - nmMJ
Jan 22, 2004 8:11 AM
I don't think there was ever an Aramaic version of...Dwayne Barry
Jan 22, 2004 8:55 AM
any of the books of the Bible, pretty much all of the works of the Bible were probably originally written in Greek by Jewish Christians (hell almost half of the NT works were written by Paul). I believe there is some suggestion that "Q" existed in Aramaic. Can't remember his name but some early second century churchmen wrote of Matthew that he took the sayings of Jesus (i.e. "Q") and translated them into Greek. He then took them and basically worked them into the Gospel of Mark (along with adding a birth narrative and resurrection material and probably some oral tradition, and his own slant on things) wrote the Gospel of Matthew.

Mark, the earliest gospel and template for both Luke and Matthew, preserves around 8 Aramaic words (more than Matthew and Luke) for his Greek speaking audience.
you're probably correct but not the pointColnagoFE
Jan 22, 2004 9:57 AM
I was saying that the King James is a highly edited version of the "original" if there ever was an actual original. Taking a basic translation class lets you see how difficuly it is to translate even modern languages into another--let alone ancient dielects into modern words while maintaining the exact meaning and intentions of the author.
Understood...Dwayne Barry
Jan 22, 2004 10:37 AM
you also must remember that the gospels are gospels ("good news") preaching the message of Jesus Christ not historical accounts and that they were written by persons who had never seen or heard Jesus (although there is some suggestion that at least "Mark" was relying on an eyewitness account via Simon Peter for his gospel).

Yes, there has been editing. For instance, the earliest existing manuscripts of Mark end with the women finding the tomb empty, only latter did copyists add the end as we now know it (i.e. sightings of the risen Jesus).

You also can't not consider the interpretation that the individual Gospel writers brought to their work. In the case of John, so strong, that it is largely left unconsidered when speaking of the historical Jesus. You can clearly see where Matthew and Luke "edit" their Mark material to paint a more "Godly" picture of Jesus and a more friendly (actually less hostile) picture of Jesus' attitude toward Gentiles.
John is an oddball Gospel, reeking of gnosticism. nmOldEdScott
Jan 22, 2004 1:53 PM
Aramaic Gospels (to clarify)...Dwayne Barry
Jan 22, 2004 4:36 PM
there appears to have been an early "Gospel of the Hebrews" (that is now lost) in Aramiac/Hebrew that is referred to and quoted by some of the early church fathers that based on what has come down to us was independent to the 3 synoptics Gospels. There is no indication that any of the 3 canonical synoptic authors used it in their works. Also the Greek of Matthew was apparently tranlated into Aramaic (and expanded upon) to become the "Gospel of the Nazareans" which was in use amongst Jewish Christians in Palestine early on. It is also unknown to us except through quotes from some of the early church fathers.

So most of the translation probably occured in the 30-40 years between the death of Jesus and the writing of the gospels when Jesus info was just an oral tradition with the likes of Paul spreading the message to the Jews of the diaspora and the Gentiles. It's possible that the Gospel of Mark was even translated as it was being written down if you believe the tradition that Mark's Greek gospel directly records the translation of Peter's Aramaic first-hand account. A belief that is not without its difficulties.
It's wrong because it violates...Dwayne Barry
Jan 22, 2004 5:39 AM
one of the very good, basic principles of this country, the separation of church and state.

Religious groups can already get money from the government for charitable work. But they have to agree to follow the government laws (i.e. civil rights). What Bush is proposing would allow them to discriminate both in their hiring practices (eg. a Roman Catholic charity could only hire Roman Catholics, or even only members of a certain church etc.) and their charitable actions (eg. A Jewish group could only distribute the money to fellow Jews and that would be O.K.).

Basically all this is doing is giving the charities the oppurtunity to Bigots if they so chose, and still get federal money.
re: question for those on the rightDuane Gran
Jan 22, 2004 10:28 AM
Let me turn the question around (I promise I'll get around to answering yours)...

We all know how much liberals resent business owners investing money into their businesses, creating jobs and in general helping the economy. They would rather distribute it through the government.

So, what the opinion from liberals on Bush wanting to make it legally possible for the government to give your tax dollars to churches and other religiously oriented groups? Isn't this just another form of distribution?


Okay, all sarcasm aside. I do resent my tax dollars being distributed around because if it wasn't done I could put the money to better charitable use (and I would). I can't remember the numbers, but when you count how much money is earmarked for the poor and downtrodden and then look at how much money actually reaches them, it is staggering how much is eaten in administrative costs. Compare this with most faith-based charities and you see a lean and focused operation.

If we must have wealth distribution, then it might as well be distributed to groups that demonstrate the best track record for low administrative costs.
Good...Dwayne Barry
Jan 22, 2004 10:55 AM
"If we must have wealth distribution, then it might as well be distributed to groups that demonstrate the best track record for low administrative costs."

Assuming this is often faith-based groups, is it really that big of deal for religious people not to be bigots? As I said above, all Bush is proposing is that faith-based groups be free to discriminate on who they hire and to who they give the government's money.

It would be like giving government money to religious based schools that say to work or attend here you must be a Baptist (please tell me this isn't already happening?)
Good...Duane Gran
Jan 23, 2004 6:08 AM
You bring up a good point, and I confess I don't have a clean answer for it. At best I can say that there are thousands of professions and job choices in this world and we all accept that some aren't right. As a male I realize that there are many jobs where I'm not welcome, and I accept that and move on. As a Christian I don't expect to be hired to work for an atheist, muslim or [substitute other religion] organization. I'm okay with this because it is a big world and I think there is enough opportunity for everyone who looks for it. I'm not sure if I'm naive or optimistic. ;)
And that is perfectly fine...Dwayne Barry
Jan 23, 2004 6:30 AM
unless you're using the government's (i.e. everyone's) money. I agree in a free society discrimination should be allowed in certain contexts but if you're going to use the citizenry's money you shouldn't be allowed to discriminate.
It's easy to be "lean an focused" when you can cherry-pick. . .czardonic
Jan 22, 2004 11:02 AM
. . .the people you help.

But wherever you draw the line in deciding who is adequately pious, deserving of aid or cost-effective to provide for, the people don't meet these standards aren't simply going to lay down and die. Who will help them?
It's easy to be "lean an focused" when you can cherry-pick. . .Duane Gran
Jan 23, 2004 6:04 AM
The hole in your argument is that you assume that faith based groups will uniformly ignore some segment of the populace.

You call it cherry picking, while I call it making the best use of finite resources. There are two reasons, I believe, that there isn't enough money for the destitute through social programs:

1) Social programs blow the money on administrative costs
2) They give money indiscriminately (as someone said, spread like peanut butter) rather than in a cost-benefit analysis.
If social programs are "indiscriminate". . .czardonic
Jan 23, 2004 9:51 AM
. . .and that is a flaw that faith base charities transcend, does it not follow that these charities discriminate?

Call it "making the best use of finite resources" if you like. But euphemisms don't address my core point, which is that people who are not deemed a wise use of resources (however and by whomever that determination is made) are not going to lay down and die.

Moreover, your assumption that there is not enough money to help all of the destitute is simply false. There is more than enough to raise every American above the level of destitution.
It's easy to be "lean an focused" when you can cherry-pick. . .MJ
Jan 23, 2004 10:45 AM
the hole in your argument is that you assume that they won't blow the (same or more) money on admin. costs and that they will have some acceptable criteria for the adequate distribution of welfare

there's no cost benefit analysis when someone is in need

agree with czar - there's plenty of money about - there is however no will to deploy it to those in need
i see steam and no sprint were too busy todayrufus
Jan 22, 2004 2:59 PM
to offer us their wisdom.