Mar 3, 2008

politics clarification

My last post may have had some of you thinking that I was a screaming Liberal, especially where I implied strong skepticism about "Conservatives" and their motives.

To clarify, especially for you American readers who are used to thinking of EVERYTHING in terms of Republican vs Democrat, I personally am morally 'conservative', but am extremely wary of the politics and economics of traditionally Right-wing parties. When the Conservatives get into government, it appears to me that the blind are denied health care, the lame are likewise, the poor are blamed for their situation and the widows and fatherless are laid-off without social security and lose their state-funded housing. Not what Christ would be happy with, methinks.

On the other hand, I am also deeply suspicious of the social engineering and '(im)morality' brainwashing of the Left. When they get into power, we end up with ridiculously bloated bureaucracies, Nanny-state thought police everywhere, and crazy experimental legislation where they try to legislate a new completely permissive morality, with little idea as to what the social impact is going to be. Not conducive to raising morally-upright children...

So there you have it. Economically I am a socialist - I think the State should care for the people who can't care for themselves (I am aware of the complications that arise from this like generational dependency etc, but still think this is preferable to the alternative) - and personally I am a moral conservative. With the caveat that the state can't legislate morality. (But it also has to to a point - otherwise pedophilia and murder could be merely construed as 'lifestyle choices').

It all comes from being able to see where everyone is coming from and what they're trying to achieve. Useful for mediation, but it does come across as being kinda wishy-washy...


EllaJac said...

Wow, how fascinating! I really enjoy 'getting into the minds' of others, especially about this stuff. I agree with you in part, but I diverge with you on what Christ would be happy with. I do NOT think it is the government's responsibility to caretake most people. Christ commanded the church to care for widows and orphans and such. Others are to be provided for by 'the men' in their families (Timothy somewhere?). I am intrigued by the combination of viewpoints you hold as well; If the state pays for things like healthcare, groceries, housing, and retirement (social security), do they not also gain the right of 'Nanny-state thought police'? To me, power comes with responsibility, and it seems unbalanced to have one without the other... What do you think?

home handymum said...

Interesting. We elect our government to act as caretakers for our community - to 'govern', if you will. This is a huge responsibility, but I don't think that having large responsibilities should entitle you to unlimited power, per se. Sure, they need enough power and authority to administer their responsibilities, like to gather tax and to arrest murderers. But I don't think they need to illegally wire-tap phones to do this job. :)

My grandmother raised 10 children as a widow in the days before the Domestic Purposes Benefit (i.e. no state help). Such grinding poverty should not be the norm. My Dad is the 2nd youngest of those kids, so doesn't remember much about it, but he does know that they were variously shipped off to different relatives for a while, but it was all pretty traumatic and he isn't sure really what went on in the early years (and is of the generation that doesn't talk about it anyway... he's 76).

For there to be some money available so that families can stay together and survive together, regardless of religious affiliation or the wealth of the local church, would seem to be a mark of a caring and sensible society. The only way to make this sort of aid universal is to have it centrally administered - by the national government (or State government I suppose - New Zealand only has 4 million people, so everything can be nationally administered).

But, when it comes to the government, I don't think it should be that 'he who pays the piper calls the tune'. I don't think that just because you receive a tax-paid benefit that the government should be able to 'make' you lose weight or 'eat healthy' or 'quit smoking' (some of the ideas floated around here recently).

One of my current concerns is that the government here has introduced '20 hours free' early childhood education. Right now, if you receive the DPB (a single parents' benefit that allows them to stay home with small children), you do not need to prove that you are looking for work if your children are young. My concern is that now that the govt provides 'free' childcare, that mothers of young kids will be required to work - regardless of the quality or suitability of that childcare. I am concerned that the Mum will be put in the position of choosing between eating and caring for her kids.

ok, this post is way long :)

EllaJac said...

I'm so fascinated by this! You use 'govern' and 'caretake' interchangeably, and to me those are vastly different words. To illustrate; I have an older friend (50s), a feminist liberal type, who is astonished that I am not like her. In her words, "I don't know how you could think gov't run by conservatives could do anything for you." I responded that THAT was exactly our difference. I don't think the government SHOULD do anything for me, outside of keeping my opportunities open. Keeping taxes down, businesses thriving and not bogged-down by red-tape... Basically, not handing me anything, but keeping the road-blocks away that would stop me from attaining on my own. To me, caretake and govern are similar differences.

I agree that it is best for families to stay together, and most churches I know of do not offer help with any conditions of church-affiliation or anything like. Requiring such would indeed disappoint the Lord, I think.

For myself, if I was paying someone's medical bills, I'd really want some say in how they care for themselves. In fact, as a taxpayer, I AM paying. I try to take good care of myself partly because I want to avoid high medical bills in my future. It irks me, I suppose, to be asked to pay those high medical bills for others who were more careless.

ALL that said, I understand we live in a fallen world where the church can't/won't always be able to meet needs, farmers don't leave the edges of their fields for gleaners, etc. I think basic needs should be met (which means, to me, if you are on food stamps or housing assistance or anything, then you better not be buying cigarettes, satellite tv, cell phones or the like...). Preferably by the extended family, secondly the church, and only LASTLY the gov't. Again, those establishments have been sorely weakened by those who want ultimate power (via gov't). And I won't even start about the 'free' early childhood education. It chills my soul, really. Look up the frankfurt school, the early stuff of Marxism/Feminism and a huge part of their goal is to remove children from their homes as early as possible. While ALL research shows better development/learning/health/stability/etc with longer contact with parents (even poorly educated or poor ones). Maybe I'll blog about it someday. :)

Thanks for letting me write a ton! I hope none of it sounds attacking or anything. I love such discourse, but I also understand not everyone enjoys it in the same way, so let me know if I'm being obnoxious!

home handymum said...

In turn, I find your view-points interesting. Carry on commenting! You're as unlikely to change my mind as I am to change yours :) But that is because we are from very different cultures with different ideals, even though we are followers of Christ, we follow him in different cultural contexts and the church needs to come up with different approaches in different places.

Perhaps because of the size of the countries we live in - our whole country is very small and historically has been able to think of itself as a single community (although this is not the case anymore). We see the government as being the body that we delegate the 'caring for the community' to (and mostly in practice, the government redistributes the money to church agencies).

It seems the simplest way for the church to actually ensure that ALL the 'widows and orphans' are cared for - to have a nationally-available, universal health and welfare system. I don't think that the bible says that the state SHOULDN'T provide caring services - simply that the Roman Empire did not, and so the church filled a lack. When we have the opportunity to devise our own state system (i.e. a democracy), we have the opportunity to devise one that fulfills some of the functions that Christians are commanded to do.

I assume (and do correct me if I'm wrong) you applaud the use of the State in enforcing Christian private morality (in terms of homosexuality etc), but baulk at using the state to provide practical Christian help.

I guess I'm the opposite - I think that people's moral stance and behaviour should not be legislated. That a life in pursuit of righteousness can only come out of a love relationship with Christ, and a desiring to learn submission to His will. To legislate the same standards of behaviour for non-Christians seems futile and pointless. People living in 'darkness' will continue to do so, and turning them into 'criminals' does more harm than good.

On the other hand, in the sermon on the Mount (which i was reading about an hour ago), Christ said we were to give to anyone who asked from us, even to our own detriment.

I guess, going back to your first comment, you think I want a government to have lots of responsibility with curbed/limited power (which I do). Would it be fair to say that you allow your government to have whole pile of power and authority, while requiring little from them in the way of concrete responsibilities to its citizens?

EllaJac said...

Oh, I'm glad I don't offend you!

I think you could be right; the relative size of our nations may add to the different views we hold. Here, of course, some idiots think 'separation of Church and state' was in the Constitution (it isn't) and that it referenced the idea that the Church should hold no sway on the state (it doesn't). I think it's great that in NZ churches are at least a vehicle of support, even if it's at taxpayer expense. Here, that's done a bit, but the churches end up answering more to Mother Government than they do to Christ - can't hold a biblical view (or SAY it aloud) of certain things (homosexuality, e.g.). A food bank I've supported would not follow the governmental rules (only so much food, so often, etc), so was never financed through gov't.

Interesting, your point about the Bible not saying the state shouldn't provide... It DOES say things like, "if a man doesn't work, he should not eat" and to not participate in baby-making endeavors outside of marriage (which is a huge avenue of poverty) and things like that. The church, I think, should be able to help the (truly) needy, while also discipling them towards prosperity (in life, not just $$). The state has no reason to do this (welfare rolls become large voting blocks).

I will correct your assumption a bit: I DO balk at using the state; the bible clearly states "DO NOT STEAL," and yet that's exactly what the state does. Mind you, to build me a road, pay a fireman (even care for the truly disabled) is one thing; to raise and educate my neighbor's kids or medicate someone who abused themselves - those are different things altogether. However, I wouldn't say I want the state to "enforce Christian private morality." I don't care what someone wants to do behind their closed doors. But when their private actions become a public issue to be shoved in my face (and that of my family's), THEN I have problems. MY freedom to train up my children in the way they should go becomes infringed when the state says it's discrimination or harassment to classify homosexual practice as wrong... My freedom is infringed when my children are exposed to all sorts of deviant advertisement on a particular parade-float on Independence Day. Now, I realize I can't take this argument all the way... else pedophilia would be allowable. Without laws based on God (recognizing sanctity of humanity), we will go all kinds of terrible directions.

I'll have to think about how I exactly think the authority/responsibility balance should be. My initial response is that government's main job is (or should be, ideally) to stay as out of the way as is reasonably possible. Not to provide for me, but to facilitate opportunities for me to provide for myself. Not protect me, but allow me the freedom and ability to do that on my own. I guess I'd rather rise or fall based on my own efforts, rather than be 'kept down' (read: taxed to death), to support some shmuck being 'buoyed up.' So, while I don't think the citizens should owe the government their service, I don't think the government should wield too much in the power/authority realm either. Our lovely (albeit trampled) Constitution begins thus: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." So yeah, ESTABLISH justice, INSURE peace, PROVIDE defense, PROMOTE (not provide!) welfare, and secure the blessings which come from freedom... Ah, richness!

In short, I want the freedom to prosper or fail on my own terms. Just as I think it's wicked and destructive to hinder a man's success, so I think it does as much damage to keep him from his failures. Our Native American community is a perfect (and grievous) example of such.

Ok, your turn!

home handymum said...

I agree. The whole issue is deeply problematic. On the one hand, how to make sure no-one is ever forced into prostitution or slavery due to financial need (as happens as a matter of course in countries without state welfare), while on the other hand how to help people OFF welfare once they're not actually needing it any more - how to motivate them to get up in the morning and look for a job and provide for their families when at the moment they get a little money for doing nothing.

To clarify, my translation of the Bible states "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule:"Anyone who is unwilling to work shall not eat."" 2Thess 3:10 (emphasis mine)

This is subtly, but importantly, different from "Anyone who does not work shall not eat." During times of recession and widespread poverty and unemployment, you can hunt and hunt for a job and still be unable to feed your family. I do think that being WILLING to work is the key. However, how can the system hope to not miss out anyone who is willing (but unable) to work, while not also assisting people who will game the system at every opportunity? Very tricky.

As a side note, while googling different translations of the scripture to make sure mine was not an exception to the rule - which it isn't - I found this link
which says that "he who does not work, neither shall he eat", is the first principle of Socialism, as espoused by Vladimir Lenin. It is in fact classical Socialism that denies State Aid to 'unproductive' members of society.

In the 1936 Soviet Constitution article 12 states:
"In the U.S.S.R. work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: "He who does not work, neither shall he eat.""

Perhaps the humanist, socialist education agenda has been more pervasive than we realise!

In contrast, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ says that we are to be like our Father in Heaven, "Who causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous", (Matt 5:45) and to "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matt 5:42)

Even the passage in 2 Thessalonians is about the heart attitudes of the people who will not work, rather than the actual working or not working (I think). Paul states that "We had the right not to work, but we wanted to set an example for you...we did not want to be a burden to you".

Fusing these two messages together, I personally come up with the idea that we are to give freely to all those who ask or have need, without prejudice, to let God determine their heart attitudes and motivations. While at the same time, being vigilant ourselves about what is the right thing for US to do (i.e. work hard and be good stewards of God's blessings), and to act as an example of the right thing to do - also to make no bones about teaching our children (and others, with grace) about the rights and wrongs.

In practice I guess this is an example of how it might look. At a bulletin board I frequented some years ago, an older lady recounted how as a child she had gone to stay with her grandparents and how they used to (i don't know how often) provide food for the rail hobos, by cooking up a big meal and taking it down to a clearing where the train paused. The kids were involved in the meal preparation and clean-up, but were kept well away from the men, as a safety precaution. The food was given freely, to men that society may have thought didn't deserve it, and the grandchildren were taught the lesson of "we give to people who need it", but also the lessons of what happens when you drink too much and can't hold down a steady job. None of the kids grew up thinking how cool it would be to be a hobo, but some of those hobos were touched by the grace of God.

your turn :)

home handymum said...

That link about the socialist constitution didn't paste properly, here's that link as embedded text

EllaJac said...

Yikes, Lenin's constitution! I stand corrected; unwilling to work, it is. :) I read a comment by a young woman that grew up under soviet communism and she's intrigued how we modern american women (feminists) think of kids in daycare and jobs for wages is freedom. They called that oppression. :) I knew a gal who was (barely) disabled, but spent her time volunteering for a crisis pregnancy center, counseling young women and stuff. That works for me.

I like your example of the grandparents feeding the hobos... To me THAT is Christian charity; from one person's heart to another's soul. Not the state forcibly taking from those who work to provide for the others. I need to personally do more face-to-face stuff like that, but when I do, it does far more for me, spiritually, than payroll deductions. I think it does more for the recipient as well...

We 'lose an hour' tonight, as they're instituting Daylight Savings Time early this year, so I need to get myself to bed! I'll think more on this (when my brain is fresh!) tomorrow...

home handymum said...

I, too, need to get to bed - I'm look after my friend's little boy again tomorrow and have a splitting headache just now :) (so I should probably not be on the internet...)

It occurs to me that I'm probably not very Socialist afterall. I should be more careful about using terms that I don't have a full understanding of the meaning of.

At the Political Studies department of the University here, when I was a student (about 10 years ago), most of the lecturers had grown up in the West and, being intimately acquainted with the faults and failings of Democratic Capitalism were various shades of Socialist/Communist in their own political leanings. The one lecturer who had grown up in an Eastern Bloc country was a rabid Capitalist - being equally acquainted with the failings of Communism.

Without God, the system can only do its best - and without God, its best is not very good.

EllaJac said...

Was thinking, too, that prostitution doesn't always spring up out of desperation... I hope that MOSTLY it does, but there are legal places where there are other decent jobs to be had, but some *choose* the indecent ones...

I don't think I'm staunchly capitalist, either. While most environmentalists go WAAAAYYY overboard, both with regulation and pseudo-science (sometimes), I completely think caring for God's creation is absolutely the right thing to do. I grew up where an entire industry was hamstringed (putting LOTS of families into very hard times) by environmental concern over a particular bird; one that could "only live" in certain forests/trees. Oh, and the neon sign on the outside of a department store! Gee, guess the bird can adapt after all. Sorry to have put you all in the poor house!

You probably know, but here, EVERY major college (and 99.9% of minor ones) are VERY liberal. With my tin-foil hat on, I say it's part of a great plan (marxists, etc) to take over the world, ultimately. Replace Christianity with a religion of the masses... get women out of their powerful role as mother/homemaker (and into the workforce), remove children from the home as early as possible (free preschool?) and into the indoctrination tank (state-run education), gain control of universities so you control the teachers of the next generation.... All of this requires state oversight, state funding, and getting people to depend on the state. Ok, I'll take my tin-foil hat off now. :)

Yes, without God, nothing is perfect. But I don't advocate a theocracy, either. Perhaps that's why I want as much freedom as is reasonable, so I can make a difference where I do have authority.

home handymum said...

Regarding prostitution, I think you're both right and wrong :) In the West there are certainly people who go into it with their eyes wide open, and choose to be a 'sex-worker' despite having other job opportunities. There are usually complicating factors like childhood sexual abuse, drug addictions etc, but there are also plenty of victims of abuse and drug addicts who are not prostitutes. And you do see the occasional tabloid story of a prostitute who likes the lifestyle and does it for 'fun'.

In the Third World, however, Sex Workers are generally regarded by Aid Agencies and Mission Organisations and NGOs as modern day slaves. For the most part, they did not choose to be there, they are not paid for what they do (or if they are 'paid', they end up 'giving' all of it to the Pimp or Madam for 'lodgings' and 'food'), and they have no hope of escape. Even if they do physically escape, they have no hope of marriage and no employable skills, so they starve to death, or make money the only way they know how. For some, their fathers sold them to pay off family debt, so they can't go home, for others they were snatched as children/young women and have no idea where they actually live and no way to get there (and no guarantee of a friendly welcome). Third World prostitution (esp. child prostitution) is one of those things that really burns at my heart. For more info try some of the links in my first slavery post.

As for conspiracy... well, I'm about to admit to something that is going to have my non-christian friends thinking I'm a complete crack-pot. In a way I do agree - from one perspective there does seem to be a coordination of events and ideas. I don't think this is a human conspiracy. I think it highly unlikely that any small group of secretly devil-worshipping masons in charge of multi-national corporations is deliberately organising the world for the coming of the antichrist. I think it is all being driven by people doing what they honestly believe to be the enlightened best for people, with the consequences being largely unintentional spin-offs...on the part of the people involved. And here's where I reveal myself to be a 'fool for Christ' :) Personally I think there is a conspiracy. But one which originates in the 'satanic realm', by a being that is the ultimate deceiver.

But I don't think that the state feeding the poor is necessarily part of the deception. Perhaps it could be used as such. But I think it just as likely that the Conservative Church is being deceived into the sins of pride and covetousness; "This is MY money, who does the State think they are?!", "How dare the State give MY money to THEM?!" "I work hard for my money, what do they do?!" As opposed to "Giving to Caesar what is Caesar's", and acknowledging that all the money is God's and that God has put our governments in place over us.

I was thinking about the directives given to the Israelites in God's Theocracy, in Leviticus. There were universal ('State') laws that landowners were not allowed to glean twice from the field (which you have already referred to). Some of these landowners I'm sure griped and grumbled about not being allowed to glean twice from their own fields. "Hey!" I imagine them saying, "we can glean that ourselves and give it to the poor without the State telling us we have to!". "I want to make sure that any poor person gleaning from my field is a decent, upright citizen!". "No unwed mothers gleaning in my fields!".

For some reason, God did not leave it up to individual landowners to decide on their level of charity, or how it would be administered. He instituted a nationwide direct taxation system. If people wanted to give more, then there is always ample opportunity to do so, but He made sure that every landowner was 'taxed' a specified amount and that the poor had direct access to that food (regardless of whether the 'upright' citizens thought they 'should' have it or not).

Lately I've been reading the Sermon on the Mount (as I think I've said already) and I've been grappling with what Jesus meant when he said we need to be MORE upright than the pharisees. I'm coming to think that we need to strive for that personal discipline and attention to their own morality that they had. These guys yearned for God, and were strict with their own righteousness. But we need to find a way to discard the judgmentalism and closed-mindedness of the pharisees. We need to see a way through the 'rules' for an 'upright life' to find the heart of God, and seek after that. It requires huge huge doses of humility - because without humility we will never hear the whole voice of God. Our pride will prevent us from hearing things we don't think He 'should' be saying. That has really been the whole thrust of the Sermon on the Mount, in my latest reading - HUMILITY has poured from the pages - the direction to turn the other cheek, to give all we have and more, that the meek will inherit the earth, to love your enemies as you love your friends, to not swear oaths, but let your yes be yes and your no, no (like a servant to their master), to pray in quiet, to give in secret, to fast with no-one knowing.

All this, in tension with the striving for higher 'motivation' standards than the law demands - despising someone is the same as murder, lust is the same as adultery, Christ coming to fulfil the law - not abolish it.

Sigh. Having said all this, I naturally fall woefully short of these standards myself. But it has got me thinking! Thanks heaps for this discussion! (and to continue it if you're not running out of steam!) It really is good to get the thoughts out of my head and down in some sort of hopefully logical order. Perhaps my thoughts on the Sermon on the Mount can be my blog post for today :-)

EllaJac said...

Ok, I SWEAR I had a grand ol' response typed out here last night... Did I mess it up, or has it just not come thru moderation yet (I hope I didn't say something obnoxious or offensive... I didn't mean to if I did!)...?

home handymum said...

No, nothing has come through moderation at all - I don't moderate comments. The computer goblins must have eaten it!

EllaJac said...

ARGH! and it was SO great, too.. This won't be nearly so wise, but to summarize; It was a bunch of blah blah I agree blah blah.. THEN I found something to argue :)...

I don't think God's commands in the OT were equivalent to a "nationwide direct taxation system." He didn't put an Overseer in place, who would be responsible for handing out gleaning-tickets, nor taking census of landowners, nor counting all grain produced, nor determining the percent that must remain in the fields, nor 'qualifying' gleaners -- all while taking a considerable cut for himself. No, gleaners didn't have it harvested, dried, winnowed, separated and delivered on their doorstep each morning either. They didn't produce it, perhaps, but they worked to obtain it. I find the OT system to be nearly polar opposite modern taxation/redistribution. Indeed, God didn't command anything be taken; He commanded His people to give.

While my first attempt was wordier, that was the gist of it. What you say?

home handymum said...

Well, that's all very true :) In fact the Jews of Jesus' time had exactly those problems with the Roman taxations. And NONE of those taxes were doing anything good for their own people - they were being taxed to fund their own suppression. "We shouldn't have to do this," they undoubtedly protested (quietly), "This is not scriptural, Godly or in any way required by our faith."

This is the background to the questions that Pharisees asked Jesus in Matthew 22:15-22.

15Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

18But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, 20and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"

21"Caesar's," they replied.
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

22When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

The reason they asked this question to 'trap him in his words' was that the vast majority of Jews were ardent patriots, deeply opposed to Roman rule and deeply resentful of paying these taxes. If Jesus said "Yes, I believe in the taxation", the Pharisees would use this to turn the public against him. The reason they brought the Herodians in (v15) was that if Jesus said "No, I don't", then the Herodians could turn him in for treason.

Instead, Jesus pointed out that the Romans supplied the money, and could take it away again whenever they wished. He avoided answering whether it was 'right' of them to do so - merely that there are obligations to the State that do not conflict with our obligations to God.

So, (annoyingly for us in this conversation), Jesus didn't really give an opinion on the actual actions taken by the State. What he did, to my mind, was tell us to get over it and carry on with life.

So really there are kinda two issues here;
1. What should our heart attitudes as individuals be, given the political situation of the moment?
2. What should we be voting for; what State set-up most closely reflects the mind of Christ? (given that we both live in democracies)

For the first point (our heart attitudes) I believe we should aim to hold lightly to the things of this world, to be cheerful givers, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer etc etc. And this is not so much because of the rightness or wrongness of taxation - it is because begrudging someone something (even when they take something they have no right to, Matt 5:38-42) and harbouring resentment towards them is bad for us. This unforgiveness will spill into other areas of our lives, poisoning our attitudes and relationships and taking away our love, joy, peace etc

The second point is different. But the Bible has a whole lot to say about rich people not sharing their wealth with the poor, and none of it is good. Now, if we can step outside of our own situations for a second and try and think up a system that provides for the needy (not just saying "I wish you warmth and well fed", but actually providing for their physical needs), that ensures that the sick are visited, the naked are clothed, the hungry and thirsty are fed, the imprisoned are not forgotten, but treated as human beings, that everyone can get medical care, and at the same time, dissuade the rich from "storing up their wealth in the last days" (James 5:3). And, well, I guess this is where our true differences lie :) As I heard someone from the ACT party (who are libertarians) say on the radio the other day "We all (political parties in NZ) have very similar visions for the future - where we differ is what steps we need to take to get there".

And very probably, if I was born in your shoes I would think as you do :) However, I was born into a Trade Union household with a Dad whose knee-jerk response to the Right-wing is to snort and mutter imprecations about rich employers only wanting to cheat you out of every dollar they can. To my mind, freeing up the companies and businesses can only spell even more appalling work conditions for employees and more pollution of the environment - because businesses and corporations only make decisions based on the short term monetary return to their share-holders. So perhaps this is at the heart of my Leftiness. The most vocal of the Right-wing seem to be 'evil corporates' who just want the government to leave them alone to pillage the earth and wring the blood from their employees (those exact same people that many see as being the evil instigators of the institutional schooling system!).

God is always on the side of the poor and the oppressed. I don't know of many poor and oppressed Oil Tycoons and Corporate CEOs :)

EllaJac said...

I've been wanting to write back again for days, and just haven't had two brain cells to rub together...

I'm not sure I follow your point entirely about the Roman tax system (could be that brain cell issue though :))... That is, I don't see that part of scripture saying that what the Romans were doing was in any way good, or right, or even reasonable. You yourself state that their taxes were probably not benefiting them in the least, so I guess I'm not sure how this passage could be used to defend socialism, scripturally. In fact, the only -ism that could be defended would be true communism; that is, people coming together by mutual agreement and pooling ALL resources and sharing them, regardless of effort or contribution. Political communism usually results in that Overseer problem and everyone else starving.

I agree that we mostly have the same vision for the future. In fact, I have an old-school feminist friend who supports abortion - somehow because she "wants all children to be wanted." Uh, yeah, me too, but I also want all people to have enough to eat; I don't advocate exterminating hungry people though. (i'm not pro-abortion, in case you weren't sure. :))

Regarding which 'state set-up' most closely reflects the mind of Christ; do you recall the parable of the talents? A master gave DIFFERENT amounts of $$ to three servants, and those who took risk and profited were rewarded, while he who only maintained it was rebuked. Called wicked and slothful, in fact. And then had to give it to the guy with more $$. If THIS also be the mind of Christ, then I say limited government oversight and intervention results in greater opportunity for me to please my Master.

Ah, if you were born into my shoes you would probably think the same way? You might be surprised to know that my dad was ALSO a Union guy my entire childhood. And at least for his experience, the "union goons" who would quickly shut-up any dissenting voices were more dangerous than the free-market employers were. Now, I do think unions had their place and role, and I have some deep concerns about huge global corporations, but I also know that there are businessmen who are eager to do right by their employees, who take pride in knowing that their business acumen results in food and housing for many families. When those businessmen have a larger tax-burden, (or union regs) they are less able to prosper; can pay fewer employees, etc. And while the union thugs will make sure your choices are quite limited, you can quit a job and start your own business (in the same field) if you don't like what your (non-union) employer is doing.

I guess my view of Leftist policies is similar to your view of Right-wing stuff; I see socialism and unions and all such things as a form of oppression. Keep me dependent and just-satisfied so I can buoy up your power structure. Don't let me know that I DO have it in me to accomplish, or overcome, because then you (socialism) are shown as weak. The state can be my pseudo-God so I don't ever really have to dig deep and see where God has put my provision within me. I won't need faith. I don't need to trust God, because Hillary will take care...

Last thought; America's founding documents and other writings done by the founders, are steeped in the faith that God did indeed grant us all certain rights, that He did make us equal. Ben Franklin wrote that we should not make (the poor) "easy in their poverty." Not because he hated poor people, but because he truly believed that God put it in each individual (He gave each servant some talents) to increase and be rewarded.

home handymum said...

Glad you're back! I was hoping nothing bad had happened in your world!

You know? As we are having this conversation, I am examining what I really do think a lot more closely. And it seems that although my default position is still a socialist one, I accept a lot of your arguments.

Now, I didn't get much sleep last night (teething bubba), so hopefully I'm making coherent sense...

As I think I said, right back in the original post, I do disagree with the Nanny State stuff that is going on in the Left. Our politicians at the moment are planning to screen all 3 year olds for 'anti-social behaviours', to then involve 'agencies' in their 'care and protection'. If I had a child with a behavioural difficulty I would be living in fear right now. To me this has crossed the line from caring concern to busybody behaviour on the part of the govt.

I am sorry if I offended at all by my 'if I were in your shoes' statement - I wasn't thinking about my paragraphing and wasn't meaning to guess about your own family upbringing, just meaning that I personally tend to be a bit of a chameleon with my ideas - (a failing that I am currently working on!). My knee-jerk leftiness is largely due to my Dad, but also to my friends while I was a uni student. Since marrying my hubby I've drifted more to the centre (or at least, what is centre in this country).

Regarding the Roman Taxation system. I was conceding your point about overseers and middle-men :) It is right to have these concerns - the Jews of Jesus' day had these same concerns about the Roman system. The ancient Leviticus type system though would still have been monitored, because there were penalties for not complying, and punishment would have been handled by someone.

But, I was attempting to say, that even though the Roman system fell far short of what God devised in Leviticus, and in fact was far worse than our own systems, Scripture tells us two things
1. Jesus' advice was to 'give to Caesar what is Caesars',
2. We are called to forgive people who steal from us (arguably the State).

Trade Unions. Some good some Bad. I don't think any group of people should have the power to hold the whole country to ransom (as happened here during the dock worker's strikes in the 60s). Not Unions, Not pharmaceutical companies... On the other hand, if your employer messes you over, it is very handy to have a union representative to go get some advice and help from.

I'm finding this difficult. I think I still come back to close to my original stance though. I want there to be a safety net for those at the bottom of the heap - for handicapped people to be provided for, for people who are poor but ill to receive medical care, for there to be checks in place so that a coal mining company can't make a whole species of bird extinct. When a friend of mine threw her adulterous and abusive husband out she was grateful for the Domestic Purposes Benefit so she could take the time to pick up the pieces of her life, care for her little boy, and pay the rent, without immediately needing to look for work. And I don't think it unscriptural for the State to provide this care.

On the other hand, I have a friend who spent some time on the unemployment benefit who says it was soul-destroying and demeaning, and he nearly killed himself because there was just no reason to get up each day (before he met Jesus). I think there should be some sort of meaningful feed-back to parents who neglect their children and spend all their money on alcohol and cigarettes, and concede that monetary feedback is perhaps the only one that will work (although perhaps a voucher system would work too - although the Left calls that 'demeaning').

In addition, I am pro-life, anti-handgun (huntin' shootin' fine), pro religious freedom, anti anti-smacking (we just outlawed smacking here - and while I see what they were trying to do, they went too far with what they actually did).

I really don't think there is a political party that accurately reflects my concerns. And in this country there are currently 6 parties in parliament. The 2 main parties, Labour and National, and 4 minor/supporting parties; the Greens (Left of Labour), United Future and New Zealand First (kinda centre right, kinda more right than National) and ACT (very Right)

We have elections this year (our govt has a 3 year term), and I am not sure who to vote for. Normally this would be easy for me - Labour or the Greens - for most of my youth the National Party (Centre Right) were in power, and by the time they were voted out the poor of this country had a lot to be worried about - State housing was almost nonexistent, Sickness and Invalid beneficiaries were having their benefits stopped before they were really able to work, Education and Health outcomes for our poor kids were terrible etc etc. Now the Labour Party has been in for 3 terms (9 years), and while they did a bunch of great stuff at the start (the looking after the poor stuff), now they have run out of 'good stuff' to do. So (because govts have to keep coming up with 'new initiatives'), they've turned to social engineering stuff - like legalising prostitution, making it so that if people have been living together for more than 2 years they automatically are considered to be in a relationship equivalent to marriage (so when they split up their assets by law have to be split 50/50, criminalising smacking, this new one about screening 3 year olds for anti-social behaviour, the list just goes on.

So, Labour needs to GO (even just for a term) because it has started to become a power-hungry control freak. And the Greens were the origin of many of the social engineering bills. On the other hand, I am afraid of what National will do, because usually they lobby on tax-cuts. And that means spending cuts. And that usually means a huge restructuring of the health system (we have universal health care) to make it more 'stream-lined' - but what really happens is that waiting lists get longer, Drs and Nurses work longer and longer hours, and managers get richer. It also usually means that 'extras' in the education system get quietly dropped - like special needs teachers, teacher aides, speech language therapists, behavioural management people etc. They also start selling off state assets - because they are idealogically opposed to the state owning stuff, not because they are making a loss. On the contrary, some of the assets they have sold I believe were relatively profitable - so selling them actually increased the tax burden.

On the other hand (how many hands am I up to now? Four? Six? LOL) the Greens have some really good environmental policies.

Sorry, this has turned into me musing on my voting dilemma!! For the first time in my life I may have to vote for the Right, and it is not a comfortable place for me to be :) This will require much prayer!

EllaJac said...

No, nothing bad happening hereabouts. Well, other than the usual, I guess. :) If this post doesn't get lost to blog-black-holes, it'll be a new timely-response record! :)

First off, PLEASE don't worry about offending me; I wasn't at all. I think I must seem unusual to you; having had the growing-up experiences of a Union dad (just wait till you hear about my mom) yet holding the opinions I do.

Keeping score here is about as hard as running a government (so I won't try), but I'm glad I'm challenging your mind-sets a bit. :)

I'm with you on the 3-year-old screening issue! Yikes! Seriously, how many 3-year-olds have legitimate mental problems that would require medication or intervention? I'm no expert, but I'm guessing most anti-social toddlers have their parents to thank. Maybe we should screen parents (ok, TOTALLY kidding there! Just, if I was God, there would be a lot less fertile people around).

I also think that the true 'bottom of the heap' people should not be left to die of starvation and exposure. Truly handicapped people should be fed and housed (though I still think the state is an inefficient means of it). However, I know people that have epilepsy (to the tune of very rare seizures - they're allowed to drive) and they sued for disability benefits. Sure, maybe they shouldn't operate heavy machinery, but they're not handicapped. And when 'benefits' pay enough for cable tv and cell phones, I bristle a bit. Seems to me that those luxuries should be foregone before you are "needy". In case I do sound hard-hearted, I grew up with a handicapped mother. My mom was diagnosed with MS when I was 2, and she shortly thereafter divorced my dad. Hers was the "chronic progressive" type, which was a slow downhill trend. Incidentally, I believe she was denied disability benefits, but got the typical 'welfare, social security, aid-for-dependent-children' payments, yaddah yaddah. That said, she never was much on ambition or commitment, and even without her illness might've been addicted to the daily soap operas. What is demeaning? Taking a handout? If you truly cannot provide for yourself or your own, TRUE need will 'swallow the pride' and be demeaned. I wonder how many people would "need" as much if instead of filling out some paperwork and waiting at the mailbox for the money, they had to literally ask others for it. Knock on doors... Would that be demeaning? I guess, but I bet there would be far fewer "needy" people. A friend of mine is currently in Uganda, and she is seeing needy. They're not watching tv all day either.

I must say, two things make me laugh: The law making 2-year-shackups legally married (sorry, I'm lovin' it. They'll sign for their car loan or their mortgage, but can't 'risk' signing for a relationship? C'mon... Serves 'em right). And the whole 'smacking' thing. After some laughter and much thought, I'm thinking this is our equivalent of 'spanking'? That is, applying the "board of education to the seat of understanding", usually on your kid? I certainly don't advocate abuse, but I think God put a soft backside on us for more than just sitting. My litany of positions would be pro-gun, including handguns. In fact, I think we should all carry them, all the time. Well, non-felons should, I guess. We tend to have crazies show up and shoot people in public places for no good reasons, and the few times there was an armed onlooker (off-duty police, etc), casualties were arguably far less than they would have been otherwise. No, I don't carry one, and I feel some guilt about that. However, I would need training before feeling comfortable with doing so.

I know I haven't addressed all issues here, but I must wrap it up with one more thing. The Greens (ours, anyway) are crazy, in my mind. They love the animals and think humans are a parasite of the earth. They lobby to keep ANWR (arctic national wildlife refuge) from being oil-drilled, when there is good reason to believe it wouldn't be a problem. Caribou migrations messed up by the pipeline? Yeah, because they get to the pipeline and find a nice place to have their babies in the shade and don't have to go another 100 miles. It's not about caribou; it's about control and their belief that man = evil and nature = godliness, not realizing that without man's management of nature (imagine a biodynamic farm), it goes awry all by itself. Ok, g'nite!

home handymum said...

Yeah, 'smacking' is 'spanking'. The situation here used to be that you were allowed to use 'reasonable force' to discipline your kids. i.e. spank them. That bit has now been removed from the law - so we are no longer allowed to use 'reasonable force'.

This was because parents who were actually abusing their kids were successfully using the 'reasonable force' thing as a legal defense.

So instead of just clarifying what 'reasonable force' meant. Like, for instance, not using a riding crop for a prolonged beating (one of the cases that got off), they essentially outlawed spanking. Since the law change I've heard of half a dozen parents around the country who are facing charges for assaulting their kids (who wouldn't have been charged before the law change). The police are obliged to investigate every phone call from disgruntled neighbours, every ex-spouse's accusation blah blah blah. And even if the LAW can't hurt those families, CYFS gets involved and that can be just ALL bad. You don't have to be guilty of a crime to lose custody of your kids.

So. Although we don't personally spank (which is why I didn't describe myself as 'pro-smacking'), I'm against this law-change - hence anti-anti-smacking. :)

The shacking-up bill... Well, it would be funny if there was more publicity about it. It was primarily passed so that the homosexual partners of deceased persons would be able to inherit their joint property without a will. But as a side-effect a whole bunch of 20-somethings are now 'in a relationship akin to marriage' without actually having thought about it very much. Which, as you say, has a plus side, if it encourages them to think a bit more. But I doubt that it will.

You feel guilty for not carrying a hand-gun?! Oh wow, yes we do come from very different cultures! If everyone carried a handgun, when someone has an anger-management issue (and lets face it, there are always those people around), what are they going to reach for?? They aren't going to content themselves with a little tantrum and smashing a few windows - heck no, they have a gun in their pocket! Getting into the arms race with criminals just means the criminals reach for higher and higher fire-power. Right here in NZ we don't arm our police as a routine thing (they have access to firearms if they need them - but they aren't on a holster on their body), and MOST violent crime here is knives and machetes and sawn-off shotguns. So fewer people die at each 'incident'. OK, sure, the few mass shootings there have been might have ended sooner if more people carried weapons on them - but my belief is that there would have been a heck of a lot more incidents.

On the other hand, guns for hunting and recreational shooting I have no problem with. Even hand-guns at a shooting range I'm okay with I think. But having them in easy reach 24/7? There are just too many incompetent people in the world, and I don't trust them with guns :)

On the whole Left Right thing, I feel like we're heading back to the start, and am not sure how fruitful that will be :-)

With the Green thing, I think we have a responsibility as stewards of the earth to live lightly. I don't see the benefit of mining Alaska so people can keep driving big cars and powering the air-con in their 10 room mansions. To my mind, we have lost sight that the earth is the Lord's - not ours - and His Creation is His - and although we were given Stewardship over it, this does not entitle us to just pillage things to feather our nests.

Additionally, I have a big problem with the West living such utterly indolent luxurious lifestyles, while the third world sees us squandering our riches and then moving in on theirs. This is not good, and will come back to bite us hard. I'd highly recommend reading Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, not necessarily because I want you to believe it, but because it informed my view point on this, and you may find it interesting.

Anyhoo, should probably potter over and try and write an interesting post for today :)

home handymum said...

A short and fair summary of "Rich Christians" can be found here

EllaJac said...

Was stopping by this morning to clarify my gun-paragraph. 11pm makes me write things with less... decorum? I don't just think "everyone" should carry firearms all the time, but I do think competent and trained citizens should be free to do so. I'm no criminal, but there is evidence that points to criminals being less-inclined to [assault, break-in, rob, etc] if they think there's a good chance that their intended victim is armed. Most house-thieves prefer an unoccupied home - why? They're guaranteed there is no armed homeowner waiting for them! And I'm not sure that the average criminal will be in an arms race - yeah, druglords and such, but in my mind it's like child-predators... I have an idea that they're more prevalent now because of the internet and the ease with which they can access material that reinforces their problems. Before, when they had to order catalogs or be seen in trashy places, it took some effort and embarrassment.. Now it's all anonymous. I think the regular thug won't be looking for shoulder-mounted grenade launchers to rob a house (if the homeowner was armed) - he'd likely look for an easier target..

Ok, phone's ringing, gotta run. :)

home handymum said...

Yeah, I can kinda see where you're coming from. But most robberies here are unarmed. Most violent crime n this country is gang related, and so the arms race thing does come into it.

Fully understand about the whole 11pm thing!

EllaJac said...

I checked the link to the Rich Christians summary; sounds interesting. Good to see he doesn't advocate the whole government-administered thing. A couple years ago they released a study here in the US... they compared charitable giving by self-proclaimed liberals/leftists and those who call themselves conservative. The university researcher's expectation was that the liberals would have much higher giving rates.. And he was very surprised to find exactly the opposite. I'll try to find the info, but in general, the ones most often decrying the plight of some were the most often NOT doing anything about it... Obviously this isn't true for every single person (I know 2 libs who do a LOT for their fellow man), but it was interesting.

EllaJac said...

Ok, I don't know if this is written by the original researcher himself, but I think it's the info I was referring to.

home handymum said...

Yeah, no I'm not surprised by the findings. I know a few Lefties who give their ALL to their particular cause, but I also know those who are what I would call "Champagne Hippies". They wear long hair, don't shower often, vote for the left and do sweet F A else. And money? Nah man, what's money got to do with it??

EllaJac said...

Ok, talk about getting off the main subject here, but... This YouTube is wild... I suppose it could give another aspect to the whole oil-drilling thing... maybe. Certainly fascinating.

Newer Post Older Post Home