Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Pope is right and Limbaugh is not happy about it.

In his most recent tirade, Rush Limbaugh has violated one of the most basic tenets of debate. To be specific, he has committed the fallacy of affirming the consequent. Rush is a protestant and many (most, in fact) protestants are very dishonest about their own true motivations.

Affirming the consequent is the fallacious practice of asserting that, because someone rejects one extreme position, they- consequently- support the opposite extreme. For example, fanatics on the right (like this one) assert that anyone who doesn't support the ghoulish devils at the NRA must (as a consequence) be in favor of martial law and confiscation of all weapons. Despite the screeds from the goons on both the right and left, the overwhelming majority of Americans (probably north of 80%)  are in the sensible center with me on this issue.

The same is true of economics. While we loathe the economic policies of Obama and the left and fully admit that they are absolutely Marxist, we understand that blanket and unbridled greed are not at all in keeping with Christianity.

The Bible is was quite clear on God's view of filthy rich people....

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Matthew 19:24
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Rush Limbaugh's estimated net worth is about $370 million and he has been married 4 times. He is greedy and self-centered, arrogant and shows little care for those less fortunate than himself.  He is hardly a model for Christians and Christians really need to stop listening to this bloviating bladder of hot air. Look who else the GOPers and their Evangelical wing put up as their spokespeople- Mitt Romney, Joel Osteen, Donald Trump. All of these people are living monuments to the insatiable idolatry of money.

When you hear Christians cheer the virtues of unbridled capitalism, they often start with a particular success story of Mr X. who worked, day and night, a hundred hours a week sacrificing for his family's dreams. No, Mr. X sacrificed his family for HIS dreams. I know. I was a personal witness to this. A man I knew bought his son a brand new Mustang 5-0 for his 16th birthday to make up for the fact that he was never there. In September of 2000, that boy died in that car, at the age of 18. All that money couldn't buy another second.

If there is a reason why the radical policies of the leftwing have gained any traction at all, that blame must be placed squarely at the feet of the Republicans who have abandoned any pretense of care and compassion in their platform and replaced it with a platform of dog eat dog, heartless greed that leaves those less fortunate hungry and the rest of us cold and disgusted. Pope Francis is right. It is naive to the point of silly to think that a President Trump would be any less the cold, heartless bastard that businessman Trump is. Jesus cared for the poor, we should do nothing less.

As for the notion that Mitt Romney and Trump succeeded by the sweat of their brows, let me just say that that notion closely approximates what the bull leaves in the field as he walks on. They were born into privilege and have operated the levers of government and the legal system to their own advantage. There is a reason the accusation that Romney pays lower taxes than his secretary got so much traction. The reason is because it is true and it is unfair.

In fact, there are all kinds of quirks in the tax law that tilt the playing field in favor of the super rich at the expense of the poor. Oppressing the poor is one of the sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance. I will give just one example. Mitt is a greedy multi-millionaire, son of privilege. He got his start in life by getting a $1 million gift from his politician father on his 16th birthday. He took that $1 million dollars and grew it into an investment empire where he makes tens of millions by buying and bankrupting companies and then selling them. Another person (We'll call him Joe) has started a small chimney cleaning service to supplement the meager salary he gets as a janitor. Joe is single with no children and does not make enough money to buy a house, so he rents.

If Joe makes $25,000 as a janitor, he is doing well. Let's say he makes another $15,000 from his chimney cleaning business. As a sole proprietor, Joe will pay about 40% in Federal taxes on the profits of his business, so that is $6,000. He will also pay about 10% on his income from his job, or $2,500. All told, from his $40,000 in income, Joe will pay $8,500 (more than 21%) of his income in federal taxes alone.

Mitt, on the other hand, will not make $40,000 this year, he will make $400,000, all from investment income. After his deductions for his lavish houses and large family and other corporate write offs, Mitt will pay an effective tax rate of 14%. That's right, Mitt will earn about 10 times what Joe earns in salary but will only pay about 6.6 times as much tax. Those on the far right, like Rush Limbaugh, want to pretend that this isn't happening. They shriek about the high marginal rates and pretend that the rich are paying more than their fair share. The facts prove otherwise. Although most of the scenario I gave you is fictitious for the purpose of illustration, one thing is not- A sole proprietorship, small business does, in fact, pay almost 3x the tax, dollar for dollar as a rich man like Mitt Romney or Donald Trump and that should offend anyone's sense of fairness.

The Pope, by the way, has been very forceful in his condemnation of Marxism and Socialism, and rightly so. However, to pretend that the sins of the greedy hypocrites on the other side are not also egregious is quite simply to deny Jesus Christ Himself.

Matthew 25

41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink.
43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.
44 Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?
45 Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.
46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

This is why most of these hypocrites (like this one) want to believe in the Satan-inspired doctrines of "faith alone" and "Once saved, always saved". They don't want to believe they will be punished for their hate, greed and heartlessness.

The Bible, clearly, says otherwise. A tip of the hat to Papa Francis for pointing this out.

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