Thursday, December 17, 2009

Liberalism and Agency

Of all the reasons given for why a person can't be a good Mormon and liberal, the one used most often is that liberalism takes away free agency. This is the one conservative Mormon activists tend to favor. I attempted to refute this argument in my post "Agency and Democracy," wherein I argued that as long as we live in a democracy where we are allowed to vote, we retain our agency. I also pointed out that conservatives have taken a lot of my money and used it for things with which I disagreed, such as torture, the Iraq War, illegal wiretaps, and tax cuts for the wealthy, thereby highlighting the hypocrisy of this accusation.

I continue to encounter the liberals-as-anti-agency accusation, though, and so have thought a little more about it and want to take a different angle. The conservative Mormon activist argument, by the way, is that liberals want to take away our agency by raising taxes to pay for government programs. The person, then, has less agency because she has less money in the bank.

This argument says way more about the conservatives that put it forward than the liberals they are accusing. What it says is that they only think of agency in economic terms, whereas the idea of agency in scriptures and religion is in entirely clothed moral terms. Our eternal progress is dependent on our using our agency to make good decisions morally, not good decisions with our temporal wealth. Do we treat our families well? Do we honor our covenants? Do we live Christ-like lives? The use of our agency in these important areas has nothing to do with taxes, government regulation, or any other temporal, man-made, economic consideration.

Under a system where capitalism is regulated in order to level the playing field just enough to get people out of poverty and have health security, we are still able to exercise our agency completely, fully, unfettered. We are still able to make those most important decisions that will enable us to receive the gift of eternal life.

To suggest that liberals deprive individuals of the full range of their free agency based purely on economic motives reveals, in my mind, a fundamental misunderstanding of the principle of agency and the very purpose of this life. It is time we (including myself, of course) spent less time worried about our money and temporal possessions and more time worried about living Christ-centered lives.

I have no problem with an argument about taxes, social programs, and government regulation in terms of public policy, there is legitimate room for debate there, but I cannot see merit in opposing liberal ideology in terms of deprivation of free agency.

35 comments:

Clark Goble said...

This seems wrong - at least in representing the conservative view. Isn't their view more that liberty as shown in agency involves only negative rights not positive rights. As such it maps onto a certain sort of Libertarian political view.

Now I'd first say conservatives tend to be arbitrary in how they apply this. (Utah isn't exactly a Libertarian stronghold in state practice, for instance) But whatever its faults in terms of exegesis it seems a coherent position.

So the idea is that conservatives would agree with liberals on many, if not most, values of "common goods." The difference would be whether this should be freely entered in by individuals on an individual basis. (Thus the appeal to democracy doesn't work)


Now my own problem is that agency just doesn't map onto Libertarianism that I can see. But the question of whether agency is a moral agency to do something seems orthagonal to the conservative liberal dispute.

Daniel H said...

Quite interesting that you point out the solely economic focus of this view - because the brother in my ward that makes such an anti-liberal stink every chance he gets is a day-trader who's quite well off. My in-laws aren't well off, per se, but they take the economic tack as well.

One wonders if that is more to do with the talking heads (He Who Must Not Be Named and his cronies from the Infotainment Network) than with their own thoughts?

Jacob S. said...

I think conservatives jettisoned the negative/positive rights distinction long ago, and liberals never cared much for it in the first place. So, you are right that it is more of a libertarian political view. And we're not talking about tea-partiers, but Ron Paul type libertarians, whose influence is still minimal.

And the point I was trying to make, which I think we agree on, is that the idea of moral agency, which I believe is the only type of agency really worth talking about as Mormons (as opposed to our political selves) is at odds with the conservative-liberal dispute. It shouldn't even enter into the dispute because the dispute is really about money.

No one is asking conservatives to physically care for the poor, or literally provide health care for all Americans, or to do any positive action. What they are being asked to do is give, say, one or two percent more of their income in order to stabilize the lower rungs of the socio-economic spectrum. So while there is, as I pointed out, a legitimate political stance to take (maybe couched in positive/negative rights terms), there is not an agency stance to take, which I think is a fair representation of what many Mormon conservatives believe. We are still free to use our time and talents to help or not help the poor, honor our covenants, and be Christlike, and nothing our democracy is likely to do will change that.

Josh said...

Jake, I don't recall ever saying that liberalism is threatening my free agency because of higher taxes. Nor do I recall ever hearing any of my conservative associates say such an asinine thing. The government mandating more money from my wallet does not give me less free agency. However, the government mandating how, or where, I use my money is a horse of another color.

What the taxing of my wallet to feed someone else does is make me want to work less, to be taxed less. Taxing the rich to feed the poor does not work, can not work, will not work. How does taking money away from the people that are driving the economy, help the economy?

No one wants to pay more taxes, including you! You can give all of the rationalizations about helping the needy you want to. Look at the history of our government. Look at the short history of this administration. Our debt is astronomical. Where has it helped? When will it prove to have been worthwhile?

The social programs that are currently in place, and that are shortly to be put in place, are useless for the greater good. I guess I'll always be a "Negative Ned," but when will it be enough? When do we realize that we are cutting ourselves off at the knees to help the dregs of our society. Look at California, and the state of it's economy/society and tell me that it is worth it, that people aren't users and abusers. Tell me, after looking at that, that people, when given the opportunity, will not abuse the handouts and the help, will not become a burden to the rest.

Hank said...

It's a very bad idea to stop putting money into a program just because some will abuse it. That's like saying we shouldn't put money into education since some school districts will use that money to pay for the superintendent's nice car instead of school supplies. Money will go into the classrooms and the learning of children.

Josh said...

You're so right, Hank. California should keep dumping money into their welfare system. Oh, wait, they don't have any money left! The bad idea is to keep dumping money at social programs that do nothing for society, as a whole, but only for the bottom end of the economic society.

Kengo Biddles said...

Selfish, selfish, selfish. My money, my money, me, me, me. How many times have I heard every Republican I know complain about the government taking money for social programs, and yet they would never consider donating to a charity or the Church the same amount of money, if the government weren't taking it.

Is it any wonder the United Order was taken from us, with attitudes like "being taxed more makes me want to work less"?

I would love to be able to pay more tax, tithing and anything else that I know would help people who have been in situations I'm currently in. I would love to be able to take money and help people be industrious like the Church teaches, to work themselves out of poverty, but use my money to help them get on their feet.

There are those out there who work 40 hours a week and still can't make ends meet - and can't find better jobs to fill the budget gaps - and so programs like the welfare program are a life-saver. WIC has fed my children any number of times, and the Church has stepped in to feed me when my parents were starving college students and now as I'm the same.

Useless for the greater good? It's kept us from destitution - it's kept our families fed while we're doing everything we can to be able to provide for them. Useless? Not in the least.

Does this mean that there aren't those that abuse the system? No, of course not. Is the system imperfect? Absolutely. But thank God it's in place.

Yes, I'd prefer the government didn't have to handle it. Yes, I'd rather it be something grass-roots, closer to home, and even Church-run. But there's not anything wide enough based, and so many people out there just don't seem to be willing to do anything to create such entities. So I'm glad at least SOMEONE is concerned about the rest of humanity.

If you want the government out of these parts of our lives, make it so they're not needed.

Josh said...

Selfish? Yes, damnit! I work my butt off for that money, why would I give it freely to someone unwilling to do the same.

Also, you know absolutely nothing about me. How dare you insinuate that I don't donate, or that I'm charitable, in my way. I don't mind giving to the church. I don't mind helping people, personally. I HATE that the government, in all it's wisdom, is willing to forcefully take my money from me, to, theoretically, give it to those that don't have it. This is not the actions of the government of a true republic, nor that of a true democracy!

No, I am not selfish. I am practical. I am a realist. I have seen, and worked with the recipients of welfare, and I have seen how well they use the funds that the government takes from me.

Josh said...

Also, the system isn't keeping us from destitution. Look again at my example, the great state of California. The system is driving us to destitution. Get off your high horse. It is time to look out for ALL of us, not just those who allow their lives to exist in the gutters!

Hank said...

Josh, you would never turn down government money if you got hurt on the job. No, you do all you can do get a tax credit if it's possible. Stop crying!

Reed Winters said...

Tsk tsk.

"Selfish? Yes, damnit! I work my butt off for that money, why would I give it freely to someone unwilling to do the same."

By saying this you clearly portray yourself as a man who thinks not with his heart, but with his wallet. I'm willing to bet Christ would never say such a thing.

The church advocates loving your brothers and sisters here on Earth no matter who they are, what the act like.

Church members should be willing to give their money to the poor, even if the poor are lazy and unwilling to work. I don't care if the recipients of my money are "unwilling to do the same" as you, who works your butt off. Because the fact is, I should be charitable to everyone. We're all God's children. Judgment is God's business -- we are just to give freely of ourselves, our money, and our time to help those less fortunate that us, no matter who they are or how they act.

"The bad idea is to keep dumping money at social programs that do nothing for society, as a whole, but only for the bottom end of the economic society."

The middle and upper ends of the "economic society" have what we need. You're right that they "do nothing" for the middle and upper class (aside maybe promoting brotherly love). The point is that we don't NEED anything done for us. We have far more than we need. Did Jesus surround himself with the luxuries material luxuries? There are people who have no food, no shelter, no clothing, no access to medical care. These people are missing things that they NEED. Until social programs rob upper and middle classes of their food, shelter, and the clothes off their backs, then we should continue to pour the money into programs who help those who are worse-off.

The best Mormon would sell his house, buy a very modest home, sell his extra cars, sell all of his excess material possessions, take all the money from his wallet, and give it to the social programs. Even if the social programs are government run. Government is the only body large and powerful enough to create nation-wide change. Personal donations and fast offerings don't do enough.


To End. . .

Doctrine and Covenants 82:

"17- And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have EQUAL CLAIMS ON THE PROPERTIES, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his WANTS AND NEEDS, inasmuch as his wants are just (food, shelter, clothing are wants I'd consider just)—
18- And all this for the BENEFIT OF THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—"


If you were an atheist I'd have to make another argument with you, but being a Christian, there is no argument to be made against this. Unless of course you have sold everything you have and given it to the poor PERSONALLY, without the help of the government. Then I couldn't really accuse you of anything, could I?

(I'm still waiting for He Who Must Not Be Named on the Fox News network to publicly donate his millions of dollars)

Josh said...

"Josh, you would never turn down government money if you got hurt on the job. No, you do all you can do get a tax credit if it's possible. Stop crying"

You mean the money that the government forces my employer to pay to support people who are injured on the job? Yes, I would accept that, if I needed it. I don't understand your point.

Reed, you portray yourself as a man who considers himself more righteous than anyone he's ever met. How dare you question me? You don't know a thing about me, personally, but you have no problem judging me. Yeah, you're right, I'm the bad person here.

What was the point of this post? I forget. Apparently it has changed to bash the dumb redneck again!

Reed Winters said...

No, that's not the case at all. I don't necessarily subscribe to the belief system that is Mormonism.

Luckily, I know a fair deal about it, and know that this audience is primarily LDS, and so I am able to use it as an argument.

LDS people have a reputation of being hypocritical. I'm well aware that you can't judge a church by it's people, and I don't. However, you're still a perfect example of hypocrisy.

You can't argue that Liberalism takes away your God-given free agency, and then turn around and try and justify not actually following the religion that teaches you that you have that God-give free agency.

If you believe in the LDS Church, and in their principle of free agency, then you had better also believe in treating all of mankind equally; you had better believe that you are to show the highest degree of love to everyone.

Don't worry about me judging you, because if the argument is still sound, then any social aspects between the two individuals are irrelevant.

You're right though, this isn't about bashing the redneck, which I promise I'm not accusing you of being. The real point of this post is to assure its readers that a liberal-minded belief system robs no man of his agency, unless you believe that your money is your agency (an absurd proposition). If anything, liberalism (politically, not economically) gives the citizens more agency; like, say, giving a homosexual couple the "free agency" to get married.

Hank said...

You don't understand that taking money from the government for your bad back is welfare?

Josh said...

Reed, I am pretty sure that I didn't accuse you of being a Mormon - of all the terrible accusations! I did, however, accuse you of being self righteous. I stopped at that point of my assessment of your personality, as far as I can assess it from the internet, and I won't go any deeper into it now, due to my respect for Jake!

I'd like to make a few comments. First, I called myself a redneck, because, well, I am. I am a bible toting, gun owning, animal killing, oilfield working redneck. I am proud of my ability to put the city life of my youth behind me, and to live a life that makes me feel free!

Next, this quote: "LDS people have a reputation of being hypocritical. I'm well aware that you can't judge a church by it's people, and I don't. However, you're still a perfect example of hypocrisy." This is one of the most asinine things I've ever heard. Every religion is full of hypocrites! Again, you know nothing about me, so how can you call me a hypocrite? Because I don't support governmental control of my charitable contributions? You know what, you are an ignorant individual, and I feel sorry for you.

Jake, I respect you, and I have a lot of fun "discussing" issues here. However, not long ago, I made a post that was erased, or, at least, it disappeared. I don't think I've ever made a post as degrading, or insulting, as Reed has. If that is going to be tolerated, then, I guess you've finally gotten rid of me.

Reed Winters said...

Don't leave on my account Josh. I'm really not attempting to hurt anyone's personal feelings. Honestly, I meant you no harm; I just felt like I had some reasonable points to bring up. I apologize for offending you; it's Christmas time after all!

I wasn't saying you were "accusing" me of being Mormon, and I'm also willing to admit that I am pretty self-righteous from time to time. Maybe even most of the time. I don't know, I should probably work on that. But in any case, it doesn't affect the argument I presented. The mouth that says the words doesn't actually have any sort of affect on what the words are. I hope that makes sense.

All I meant to say is that to be Christlike one would necessarily have to be willing to help, share, give money to, and love the poor, no matter what kind of people they were.

That's all. Is that fair of me to suggest? If you feel I'm being unfair, please let me know. (I feel here that my attempts to be humble will be taken as tounge-in-cheek sarcasm. Please don't take them that way. I'm being sincere.)

Also, I am fully aware that every church is full of hypocritical people. I was not judging the LDS church, I was just explaining that I felt you were displaying that hypocrisy that many find the church (and every religion) to be famous for.

The term redneck is derogatory, in ym opinion, so I'm not going to call you that. If you want to call yourself that, that's fine. I don't think you're a bad person because you hunt and live in the country or anything. I feel wrong about killing animals myself, but I'm not going to judge your entire character based on it.

Like I said in the beginning, please don't leave on my account. This blog has its say and its say is fairly Liberal. I think it's good to have a conservative sharing his opinions as well. Bias is bad news from either side of the political spectrum. If the administrator feels I am being "asinine," "degrading," or "insulting" then I will freely leave the discussion. They don't need another Liberal anyway, I'm sure they can handle that on their own.

Admin, please let me know how you feel about my comments. I'll leave if you'd like.

Cheers ^-^

Jacob S. said...

Josh, I've never deleted one of your posts, nor has anyone else on this site. I've only ever deleted one comment that was out-and-out gross and offensive. Not one of yours, though.

sdub said...

while i have never commented before, and find that it is not the friendliest or most comfy environment in which to put my thoughts out there, i just thought i'd say that the conservative's problem with liberal thought and governing in terms of its encroachment on personal agency extends far beyond anything monetary. yes, high taxes are an issue, partly because of financial reasons and partly out of principle, but there are so many more areas where personal agency becomes threatened, diminished, etc. And, as others have mentioned, California does serve as a prime example unfortunately, as it is my home state and I'll always love it in spite of its politics....but anyway, all the legislation people are trying to pass, or are passing, in terms of global warming is an example outside of finances---my family members in CA prohibited from purchasing a generator for emergency preparedness, for example. Or education---family members who were going to be prohibited from home-schooling their children because the government said so (fortunately didn't pass). Gun laws---how often does the liberal left want to pass gun laws encroaching on law-abiding citizen's rights to bear arms? The list goes on and on. What I've come to understand about the ongoing debate btwn liberals/conservatives, is that we ultimately have the same, or similar core values and concerns (minus global warming :) ), and visions for society, just different approaches in how to go about it and get there. I don't know. Rambling now. But anyway, I just felt inclined to comment as I have never heard the conservative's problems being simplified so much as to say it's all about money, and I just don't see that as being true in the slightest (but I guess we do have different circles of conservative associates, so maybe the ones you're around only complain about taxes). Alright, I'll brace myself for anyone who's chomping at the bit to break every word I've said down to rip it to shreds.

Hank said...

Also in line with money is how consevatives try to make into law morality. They don't want gays to marry, and they want gay private sex to be illegal. Who wants to be in a private bedroom waiting for the act of gay sex?

Keep in mind some of our conservative politicians have a mistress or two. It's do as I say, not follow my example.

Reed Winters said...
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Reed Winters said...

"I have never commented before, and find that it is not the friendliest or most comfy environment in which to put my thoughts out there"

Hear hear. I'll do my best to be friendly.

"...the conservative's problem with liberal thought and governing in terms of its encroachment on personal agency extends far beyond anything monetary."

Good point. I'm been arguing economic systems a lot lately, and got caught up in that aspect. Allow me to address other areas of concern.

"...global warming is an example outside of finances..."

Unfortunately, this issue is near impossible to deal with, because climate change is practically factual, yet many are unwilling to believe it. The vast majority of scientists claim climate change is real and that it is a threat. The only real reason climate change is still a debatable topic is because a select few are making a biiiig hooplah out of it. Why? Because the measures it requires to slow climate change are, frankly, bad for their wallets. It's inconvenient. So they pay for studies and pay "experts" to try and negate climate change. Or they have techies hack climate scientists emails, and pull out bad sounding sentences (for more information on that whole scandal, read here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18238-why-theres-no-sign-of-a-climate-conspiracy-in-hacked-emails.html)

When obstacles arise on corporations' agendas, you can bet they'll do whatever possible to negate them.

Does making it illegal to kill people takes away from your "personal agency?"
No, because it protects you, and it protects humanity.

Making environmental laws to slow, stop, or reverse climate change is also for your own protection, and the protection of the future. If that's taking away your personal agency, then you should understand that it's worth it.

But like I said, this topic is ridiculously hard to discuss. Do some serious research on Climate Change, and be logical. Stop listening to Left or Right Wing bias, and do your best to find the real information.

"Gun laws---how often does the liberal left want to pass gun laws encroaching on law-abiding citizen's rights to bear arms?"

Also for your own protection. The fact is, the less guns are out there, the safer we are. And, yes, I know hardcore criminals will get weapons no matter what. It's more about the one guy with a bit of a temper problem who isn't going to hunt down a gun on the black market, but will buy one if he can. It's that guy, who gets in a fight with a gentleman over a little car accident, and pulls his gun and shoots it without thinking over the consequences. And please don't try and argue that guns are good because we can use them to protect people. Please.

I'm not exactly sure what Hank is trying to say about gays and gay marriage,but just because we're on the topic, I have a question for the conservative minded:

You want less government here, less government there, because of "its encroachment on personal agency." The government shouldn't meddle with our lives so much. And yet, when it comes to sexual orientation issues, they want the government to get completely involved, and ban all gay marriage. Isn't that
encroachment on personal agency?

sdub said...

well, far friendlier response than anticipated, thank you reed. really, it is appreciated. i can't say i agree with all you've said, but that's okay. i understand your points of view (i used to consider myself left of center in many ways and have since become a lot more conservative, but can still understand why people believe or hold to certain things on the left....so no hard feelings). anyway, i understand your point about certain topics that are just hard to debate. i see several things this way and it's often because when people have very fundamentally different points of view on certain issues, there's almost no point in debate because you're not debating the same thing really. don't know if that makes sense. an example i can think of is abortion---maybe this is too simplistic, but it's something i've found in my discussions w/ people over the years---if two people do not agree on what point a human life begins, there's really no point in debating---you don't have the same foundation of understanding to get anywhere. don't know if that makes sense. anyway, not trying to change the topic to abortion, just an example. this is my poor segue into gay marriage. i do understand what you are saying in your last paragraph/question on gay rights/marriage. in fact, i talked to my husband about this a while back (he's very much a conservative...very much)and i had to point out to him the sort-of double standard conservatives have in this area (even though he and i share the same points of view). here's the only way i can explain it for me---not for all conservatives, but for me, and i really hope none of this will come across in any offensive manner (i have gay family members and grew up w/ lots, and i mean LOTS of interaction/associations/friendships w/ this population, so not even the slightest offense is intended). anyway, for me, it all depends on people's perspective on the institution of marriage. i had a friend once explain to me his problem with the whole idea of marriage because it is a man-made institution. well, if you believe that, then sure, create your own definitions, let the definitions change, evolve over time, whatever....because it is an institution of man and is therefore subject to interpretation and change. i believe that marriage is ordained by God and an "institution" ordained by God. therefore, God's definition stands. marriage is between a man and a woman. period, end of story. God's law, not man's. And God's laws should be protected. Maybe it's too simplistic. I guess I see how the opposing view can use my same argument against me---we have God-given agency---which should be protected. But anyway, that's all it boils down to for me. And it's not an anti-gay thing, it's a pro-God's definition of marriage thing. Maybe some would see those as being synonymous. And maybe you'll have arguments to catch me somewhere in my thinking/logic. But there you have it, as honestly as I can put my thoughts in writing at the moment. (and sorry for my inconsistencies in capitalization and whatnot....don't feel like going back to make it all congruent).

Momma J said...
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Reed Winters said...

Sdub, we appear to be wandering from the topic at hand. But that's alright I suppose.

I won't get into abortion. Mainly just because I can totally see both sides of the issue, and it makes me a bit of a fence sitter on the subject.

Do you have any other examples where Liberalism hurts our free agency? I've addressed the economic parts. I've addressed gun control, and your climate change example. Any others?

Let me address the gay marriage issue a bit further.

"...i believe that marriage is ordained by God and an "institution" ordained by God."

What you mean to say is that you believe TEMPLE marriage is ordained by God. Unless of course you were saying that any marriage outside of the temple is not really marriage.

No one is asking to let gays get married in the temple. I mean, God, according to the LDS religion, does not even recognize civil marriages. So why can't we let homosexuals have civil marriages? God doesn't recognize them anyway, so who cares?

We let other sinners get married. Even if you believe homosexuality is a serious sin, it shouldn't allow us to take away their free agency.

If you want to keep them out of your temples, that's completely fair. If you want to keep them from participating in a basic civil marriage that everyone else gets, then it's you who is taking away other's free agency.

Make sense?


P.S. Great comment Jacy.

sdub said...

Just to clear something up:

"What you mean to say is that you believe TEMPLE marriage is ordained by God. Unless of course you were saying that any marriage outside of the temple is not really marriage.

No one is asking to let gays get married in the temple. I mean, God, according to the LDS religion, does not even recognize civil marriages. So why can't we let homosexuals have civil marriages? God doesn't recognize them anyway, so who cares?"

That's actually not at all what I meant to say, or I would have said it. And it's also not true. At all. Don't know if you're a member or not, but you ought to check out a statement like that before saying it. While an LDS Temple marriage is the only one we know lasts thru the eternities, marriage, Temple or civil, is still ordained by God, smiled upon by God, recognized by God, and one man is to cleave unto one woman, whether in or out of the temple. Marriages inside the temple are even performed for time only, depending on circumstances, and bishops, with Priesthood authority, perform marriages outside of the temple as well, because it is ordained of God. Marriage is a law of God, recognized by God, encouraged by God, in or out of the Temple. The end.

Anyway, futile debate, I'll agree to disagree. Plenty of comments for Jacy as well, but I'll save it for another time perhaps. Just wanted to clear up that mis-statement right away as it's not true.

Reed Winters said...

Really? Hm. I was not aware of that. Well thanks for explaining that. I was completely under the impression that civil marriages were not recognized by God.

And I am a member. Grew up one. I probably should have known that eh? Hahaha.

Shrug. Merry Christmas Sdub.

Joseph said...

I'd say my agency IS being infringed upon when the consequence of not participating in the governments tax plan will result in me going to jail and being financially ruined by armed IRS thugs. Would it be OK if the church made you pay tithing at gunpoint, like the IRS makes you pay taxes? Is that free agency? I am poor, but I am charitable. I am not selfish because I want to have control over where my personal income and resources go. I also don't believe anyone should have the right to throw my neighbor in jail simply because he does not want to share his resources with others. To many "liberals" don't trust the individual to be charitable on their own, so demand government intervention, just like Satan claimed God's children would not CTR in their mortal existence and therefore would force his intervention on us, in order to save us. Do you REALLY trust your corrupt government to take care of everyone, relieving you of any personal responsibility to help your fellow man beyond sending a check in the mail.

The government tax system is not about charity, it is about control over the public. That is why gov' regulation and laws have made it increasingly difficult for smaller local private charities to exist in the first place. Not to mention a recent wave of laws that deter an individuals ability to be self sufficient.

@KENGO - "I would love to be able to pay more tax, tithing and anything else that I know would help people who have been in situations I'm currently in."

Good for you Kengo. So are you waiting for the government or your church to force you to have more charity? What's stopping you from doing so now? Your statement seems to imply that you don't have the power to give more charity by your own choosing.

Momma J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Joseph,

I'd be willing to bet that if you didn't have to pay 10% of your income to tithes in order to hold a current temple recommend or make it to the Celestial Kingdom, you'd probably have a really hard time being that charitable on your own. So, no- I don't have enough trust and faith in my fellow neighbor to be charitable enough to help the millions of Americans who genuinely need some assistance.

I don't see how a slight raise in taxes, that will aid my fellow brothers and sisters in their time of need, is comparable to Satan's plan.

Joseph said...

Well Anonymous, since you don't know me, you shouldn't place bets on how charitable you think I am. I appreciate your desire to help others, but its sad that you think its appropriate to use the government as a tool to force people to live how you think they should. Its even sadder if you don't see the parallel between forcing someone else to act according to your "better" judgment and Satan's plan. I think we both agree that the world has people in need, and its our responsibility as decent individuals to have charity for others when we can, but do you really think if someone disagrees with us, and doesn't feel the need to be charitable, we should have our government throw them in jail?

Anonymous said...

Joseph,

In all serious here (and I'm not being sarcastic), you are right. I shouldn't have assumed anything about because I don't know you. I was just trying to make the point that if tithing wasn't such a BIG part of our religion, I, myself, think that it would be hard to want to be that charitable. Know what I mean?

I don't think it's sad that as a citizen of this nation, I'm required to pay a small tax that helps those that need it. I just don't.

It's clear we won't agree on this. I just have a hard time when people bring "Satan's plan" into the mix when talking about taxation. I suppose one could say that Satan's plan is also to be greedy and selfish and unkind to thy neighbor by not wanting to pay a tax that aides people in time of need. It all depends on how you look at it I guess.

As for the jail term, you can look at it this way too-
do you really think that if someone disagrees with us on gay marriage, and doesn't feel the desire to be with the opposite sex, that the government has the right to decline them of basic civil rights or an opportunity to marry?

Jacob S. said...

Joseph, what in our history makes you think that we can trust the general population to solve society's problems without any prodding? If humanity was so magnanimous there would never be a need for any government at all. We would all recognize a problem and freely give of our resources to fix it. When cars were first built we would have all gone out after work to help build roads because it would have been better for society. We would have all freely donated our money to create police forces and fire departments because those needs arose in the normal course of living.

Unfortunately, we are all a little greedy and put emphasis on solving our own problems at the expense of the greater good. It is just human nature. And we recognize that so we created "government", and in America's case "democracy", to help us focus on society in general, as opposed to our own wants.

So when it became apparent that individuals were not so charitable as to help every old person live a comfortable retired life, the government created Social Security. When it became apparent that individuals were not so charitable to help the working poor, we created the minimum wage. Now that it is apparent that individuals are not so charitable enough to make sure every person has adequate health care, we want to create a system to help them.

Now, lots of individuals are plenty charitable and I still believe in the basic goodness of humanity, but that simply isn't enough to solve all of our problems. We live in a complex world with complex problems and we need big ideas to solve them, and whether or not you or I are particularly charitable is only a drop in the bucket.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I wanted to say Jacob- you're just much better at it!

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