Poverty and Wealth Are Moral Issues

Paul Krugman on Republican Hatred of the Poor

Paul Krugman on Republican Hatred of the Poor

I’m trying to cut down on my arguments with those on the right. Anyone who actually believes the GOP, Libertarians, or Tea Party (AKA regressives) are good people trying to do the right thing for our nation is unlikely to even hear any evidence to the contrary, much less take it to heart. Regressives are captive of a worldview so closed that it permits no empathy or reason to enter. This worldview simply filters out anything that threatens its integrity.

I did engage in a brief skirmish recently, mostly because the people I’ve engaged previously on this topic were unable to answer my critiques of their position on previous threads, so they went silent on those threads, only to pop up and say the same thing on new threads. This frustrates me and I decided to weigh in on this thread a bit with what I believe are central issues here. No one responded again, though I’m sure they were unconvinced. Here is the substance of my remarks.

Wealth and Poverty Are Moral Issues

Is it morally right to allow human beings to suffer from lack of shelter, quality food, education, and health care while some have more than enough? This is the fundamental moral question at the heart of this issue.

Civilization Means Caring for All

The idea of civilization contains the idea that all are cared for to some extent. Civilization is always based on a moral system, and every major ethical system requires that we take care of the poor, providing them with the essentials for a good life if we’re able. In most models, those who benefit the most from a civilization pay the most into it.

Most regressives claim that we’re a Christian nation and that they base their behavior on the Bible. Yet almost every aspect of their behavior contradicts the teachings of Jesus, who was very explicit in his instructions on caring for the poor and the sick, and on rendering to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar (the government). I’m not a Christian, but I fully support Jesus’ instructions on taking care of our fellow humans. 

If You Don’t Like It Here, Go Somewhere Else

Progressives tend to hold up the many prosperous socialist leaning nations as good examples, proof that it’s possible to live well in a nation that takes better care of its people than the US. Our ideological opponents in these debates often say that if these socialist nations are so good, we should move there, because that’s not America.

Progressives want everyone to have an equal chance at a good life. Like our nation’s founders, they look to other nations and their ideas as examples. Regressives want to take our nation in the other direction, destroying the parts of government that safeguard our environment, provide for the poor, and conduct research to advance science. There are nations where these agencies don’t exist, and people are free to do as they wish with the environment, child labor, education, et cetera … so it’s equally valid to say regressives can move to Somalia or another nation with “small government”.

The Poor as a Left Wing Voting Base

I find it interesting that regressives cite the homeless and unemployed as a left wing voting base. Mitt Romney’s 47% declaration made this claim infamous. Such a claim is more than a little absurd and reflects a very impoverished view of human nature.

The Left Wants to Use Other People’s Money

Regressives commonly claim that they contribute voluntarily to charity while progressives just want to use other people’s money. As far as contributing to charities, many progressives, including me, give quite a bit to humanitarian groups like Oxfam, Anera, MSF, … but I have a well paying job and can afford this. The claim that people who don’t contribute to charities are selfish or hypocritical just demonstrates an inability to see beyond the narrow regressive worldview. Progressives understand that supporting the government that makes our lives possible, partly through taxes, is better than just handing money to small charities. We believe in our government’s ability to do great things, based on history.

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