Your Good Intentions Do Not Make You Any Less Stupid

How much ignorance should you be willing to tolerate from someone who has generally good intentions? I can’t tell you for sure, but I know I’ve reached my limit with this post at Think Christian: “Why Christians must not forget the Occupy movement.”

Let’s leave aside for a minute the question as to whether the thugspunkslosers, and sex offenders who make up the Occupy movement are the kind of people with whom Christians should be making common cause. For now, let’s just examine the premise of the argument below:

One Christian lady has put a bumper sticker on her car, yet another volley in the bumper-sticker battle between political left and right. Her sticker says this: “Don’t spread my wealth. Spread my work ethic.” She is not wealthy, however. She is part of the famously shrinking middle class. What’s more, she will likely never be wealthy. Sociologist Judy Root Aulette writes that many scholars have observed how the wealthy have a preoccupation with maintaining the boundaries between themselves and others. They are not just going to open the doors and give her access to the great vaults, no matter how hard she knocks. 

With her bumper sticker, however, this woman is making it clear where she stands regarding the Occupy movement. She is taking the side of the wealthy. She has her reasons and she can tell you what they are: she does not want the government to have the power to redistribute wealth, an infringement on her rights; she wants what small wealth she does have to stay where it is. 

In the years leading up to the Civil War, the issue of slavery did not just split our nation, it split the church as well. Before the war, every major denomination fractured over the issue of slavery – a fracture that cracked along the same crooked geographical path that the war’s battle lines would take: North against South. 

Not many southerners actually owned slaves – a few very wealthy plantation owners did – yet they supported the institution in hopes that someday they might be in a position to buy a slave, to start amassing real wealth. For most, the financial realities made their chances of pulling it off so unlikely as to be impossible. 

Many southerners who supported the institution did not say it was slavery they favored, but state’s rights, the right of every state to self-government without intrusion from Washington. 

You might say the long-past issue of slavery has no similarities to the present trouble. I say yes it does, particularly for Christians.

Ok, so we’re just saying straight out that free market capitalism = slavery. Before I address this, give me a minute to slam my head in the door over and over again.

Alrighty, I’m back. I don’t want to be mean, but this claptrap is so egregiously awful that I can’t give the author any credit for good intentions. This is the point where your pious moralizing makes you a tool of evil.

For starters, he says that the woman with the bumper sticker that raised his hackles is not wealthy, not considering that, if she owns a car to put a bumper sticker on, she’s wealthier than about 90% of the population of the earth. Quite a lot of Americans own their own cars, by the way, even poor ones, somehow overcoming the brutal oppression of the capitalist system.

He then goes on (after restating the dubious old chestnut about a shrinking middle class) to snottily, condescendingly declare that this woman will never be wealthy. He knows this because some sociologist somewhere said rich people were mean and not interested in giving their money away to her. Because as we all know, that’s the only way you get rich in America: you walk up to a rich person’s vault and knock on it until they give you some of their money. Bill Gates, Sam Walton, that guy who’s always screaming at the refs at Dallas Mavericks games… all just really persistent knockers, and then BOOM, they were rich.

This is the mindset of the Occupy Wall Street types–work ethic means nothing, providing value means nothing. The only way people can acquire wealth is if it’s taken from people who already have it and redistributed. This makes an insidious mockery of the system we are blessed to live under–a system that has brought more prosperity to more people than any other mankind has ever devised. And then we go and equate support of that system with support of slavery.

No, here’s what slavery is: it’s when you labor, but you aren’t allowed to benefit from the fruits of your labor. When the wealth you create is instead redistributed–at the direction of your masters–to people who made no contribution to your efforts.

I’m willing to concede that the author of this Think Christian post isn’t hoping to enslave humanity (it’s a stretch, but I’m trying to be generous). But that’s where his argument leads. When you say the freedom is slavery and slavery is freedom, you are at best a useful idiot for slave masters.