Friday, August 10, 2007

Liberals and the Gift that Keeps Taking

While we're on the subject, yet another reason why I am not a leftist is that it is an ideology that undermines true brotherly love, which is to say, caritas. It is astonishing to me that the Democrats are able to fraudulently depict themselves as the "party of compassion," when their central program involves half the population voting to force the other half to give it stuff. You can be in favor of that, but just don't call it "charitable" or "compassionate." Call it what it is: a form of misguided self-interest.

It is misguided because, as Tom Nugent explains today on NRO -- repeat after me -- "tax revenues will fall -- not rise -- when an economy slowed by tax hikes produces lower tax revenues. In all of this, the little guy -- not the rich guy -- is the one who’s going to get hurt.... Windfall profits taxes, higher capital gains taxes, higher maximum personal-income-tax rates, a national sales tax -- each and every one of these tax increases will ultimately hurt the little guy whose lifestyle and livelihood are inextricably attached to the economy."

At the same time they strangle the economy with taxes and thereby hurt "the little guy," leftists treat the profit motive as if it were a morally dubious thing. But as Paul Driessen explains, companies profit because they provide "goods, services and technologies that society needs and values -- legally, ethically, and by offering superior quality, lower cost, greater reliability, outstanding customer care and other benefits, while protecting the environment. It thereby stays in business, earns profits, and rewards investors who made its innovations and products possible." He quotes Milton Friedman's adage that “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits,” and highlights the truism that profitability is "the most fundamental way a company is socially responsible -- to employees, customers, families and communities that have been improved by the company’s actions."

I realize that all of this is common sense unless you happen to be highly educated. In fact, a WSJ editorial this morning points out that high school seniors have more economic common sense than liberal politicians. Unlike other forms of illiteracy, economic illiteracy can be acquired, usually from a tenured carrier.

True charity can never be compulsory. Like any form of love, it must be freely given on pain of self-contradiction. Furthermore, it cannot be motivated merely by the feelings of the giver, but by the objective needs of the recipient, otherwise it becomes an exercise in self-congratulatory narcissism. And recognizing the objective needs of the recipient must take into account his total humanity -- including his spiritual essence -- not merely reduce him to his animal appetites. Otherwise, you can turn the recipient into a sort of half-human cripple.

While charity "consists in abolishing the egocentric distinction between 'me' and the 'other'" and "seeing the 'I' in the 'other' and the 'other' in the 'I'" (Schuon), different egos are at different levels of psychological development, so that to treat all people equally is to efface these important differences and to fail to recognize the humanity of the individual. In its wider context, charity does not only imply "beneficial action in relation to those who need it," but consideration of others’ feelings. Therefore, it is possible to be charitable in a very uncharitable manner.

The Golden Rule is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, not necessarily as they would have you do unto them. The "doing" must flow from a "knowing," or from consciousness, not merely from one's feelings. As Schuon explains, the corollary of the Golden Rule is that we are not obliged to give our neighbor "what, in our opinion, we would not deserve if we were in his place." In short, in order to recognize what you deserve, you must simultaneously recognize what you most probably deserve good and hard, right in the kisser.

The Raccoon rule is that charity begins by lifting the world one a-hole at a time, beginning with oneself. Or, in the words of Schuon, "The first act of charity is to rid the soul of illusions and passions and thus rid the world of a maleficent being; it is to make a void so that God may fill it and, by this fullness, give Himself."

In ether worlds, charity begins at OMMMMMMMM.

33 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

"True charity can never be compulsory....it cannot be motivated merely by the feelings of the giver, but by the objective needs of the recipient, otherwise it becomes an exercise in self-congratulatory narcissism."

So true!

"The first act of charity is to rid the soul of illusions and passions and thus rid the world of a maleficent being; it is to make a void so that God may fill it and, by this fullness, give Himself."

Charity begins at home!

8/10/2007 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Everything you have said here is so self-evident that I am amazed more people do not grasp it.

I thought this was a good insight:

"The Golden Rule is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, not necessarily as they would have you do unto them. The "doing" must flow from a "knowing," or from consciousness, not merely from one's feelings. As Schuon explains, the corollary of the Golden Rule is that we are not obliged to give our neighbor "what, in our opinion, we would not deserve if we were in his place." In short, in order to recognize what you deserve, you must simultaneously recognize what you most probably deserve good and hard, right in the kisser."

It reminds me of a certain biblical Proverb...

"Condemnation is ready for scoffers,
and beating for the backs of fools."

8/10/2007 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberal compassion is directly proportional to how much money they forced out of your wallet. And they don't even have the guts of a mugger to do it personally, they hide behind government.

Like that IRS return of Al Gore, something like a couple hundred dollars in charitable giving. And Clinton claiming his used underwear as charitable giving. Personally these people have no compassion. Like the Kennedy's, all for welfare programs, however you will not find any homeless being fed at the Kennedy compound, however you might find some poor waitress being raped.


Walt,

I tried to answer your question in Wednesday's Post.

8/10/2007 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous jehu said...

The preceding post was by me Jehu. Sheez!

8/10/2007 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

It would actually more charitable if Clinton would occasionally keep his underwear on.

8/10/2007 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Or burn his 'used' ones. Whew!

8/10/2007 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Or sold them as precious items & given the money to the poor.

Hey, wait a minute....where have we heard that before?

8/10/2007 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Jehu:

Thank you kindly for your reply. (If anyone else is interested, it's at the end of yesterday's comments, not Wednesday's.) Your intensity comes through in what you write, and I appreciate it.

8/10/2007 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous joseph said...

"tax revenues will fall -- not rise -- when an economy slowed by tax hikes produces lower tax revenues."

Though this is true, it puts me in mind of the assumption so many people operate on that the there should be economic equality, as though, A. The scriptures somewhere say so, or B. It is even useful. They conflate the moral teaching to care for the poor with everyone should have the same amount of greenbacks in their wallet (it's not a purse!). So, what I am getting at, slowly, is that I am not in favor of the government getting more tax revenue. Less. Less tax revenue. So I find the argument almost liberal. It's sort of like saying, you liberals will bet your liberal desire of MORE tax revenue if you just follow our economic plan. The chief liberal problem, the one that leads to endless mischief at home and abroad, the one that increases their power base, is the endless taxation. I recall reading that a group of early Americans once revolted over that, and these taxes were miniscule compared to ours.

8/10/2007 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous stevesh said...

Exegetical wisdom of the Very Reverend PJ O'Rourke:

The Bible might seem to be a strange place to be doing economic research, but I have been thinking, from a political economy point of view, about the Tenth Commandment. Now the first nine commandments concern theological principles--thou shall not steal and kill and so forth. Fair enough. Then there's the Tenth Commandment: "Thou shall not covet they neighbor's wife. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's house, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's." I mean, here are God's basic rules for how we should live, a very brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts, and right at the end of it is: "Don't envy your buddy his cow." What is that doing there? Why would God, with just 10 things to tell Moses, choose jealousy about the stuff the guy next door has? Well, think about how important to the well-being of a community that commandment actually is. What that commandment says is that if you want a donkey, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don't bitch about it, go get your own!

http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/cpr-19n4-5.html

BTW, re: yesterday's post on I'D-ing barbarians, Chesterton says child sacrifice is a pretty good marker. Hmmmm.

8/10/2007 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Well, the destructive effect of taxes is not an absolute law of nature. Here in Norway, taxes are noticeably higher than in the USA (although lower than in neighboring countries) and we are still quite productive, and enjoying a higher standard of living than our American friends. This, almost certainly, is because people here consider work an honor, and being a parasite is considered a great dishonor. But the rapidly increasing immigrant population is entirely alien to this concept. Money for nothing is their concept of paradise, more or less. So we have to gradually disassemble our welfare state and adopt a more American model. It is either that or stop immigration from primitive cultures, and we can't do that; that would be considered racism.

8/10/2007 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Yaacov Ben Moshe said...

I am very glad that I have (thanks to larwyn) just discovered your excellent blog. I am currently working on a post that will draw together some of my ideas with some of what I have found here.

Your very perceptive remarks about taxation and the comments here especially by Joseph and Magnus Itland dove tail nicely with a concept I have been trying to work out in my last two posts (they are part of an uncompleted 3 post series.)

My take on the short-sightedness of the left and their incessant error of commiting long-term cruelty in the name of short-term kindness is that they are so afraid of the future that they refuse to commit to it, that they, in fact, do everything in their power to make the future look exactly like the present. Since this is impossible, the only end up by aborting the future.

They will never see this because they are just as afraid of the past and thus can never learn from it. After all how many utterly failed and squalidly cruel ocialist/communist regiems must fail to convince them it is a bad idea?

Here is a snip from my latest:
"The left’s fear of the future results in paralysis. The logical extension of those creeping government controls is a soviet-like, centrally controlled economy, and history has shown that to be a failure. It was that very central management of the economy and the stagnation it created, not any internal political heresy or subversion, that caused the Soviet Union to fall apart. The leftists paralyze themselves politically with their cultural relativism and the illusion that they can create equality in an unequal world. They are unable to make value judgments on cultural cornerstones such as family, education, morality and ethics because they are mired in intellectualized, multicultural “non-judgementalism”. They have no way forward because they have prohibited themselves from favoring any one course over another- or even considering what the differences might be. Their ethos is one of an intellectually nomadic existence, wandering from one platitudinous, ineffectual idea to the next."

Best,
YBM

8/10/2007 08:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

"The Raccoon rule is that charity begins by lifting the world one a-hole at a time, beginning with oneself."

ISS!

ahh my... I"d extend the crack about Clintons underwear, butt... ugh... can't doo it....

8/10/2007 08:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

Whether or not Taxation hurts the economy or not, is just a visible sign of bad things happening.
The real problem is more along the "do not covet..." lines.
If it's not yours, if you didn't earn it, you don't deserve it. Seeking what you have no right to, is an attempt to fake reality, to pretend to have and be what you are not, to have effects without causes, to appear to be what you are not, to be unprincipled and not pay for it... do I need to say anymore to define leftism?

8/10/2007 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Yes. The "do not covet" is the essential here, for sure. This is not a purely spiritual matter. A person's character is bent by covetousness, so they start thinking that they are entitled. And once that starts, the "prisoner's dilemma" breaks down, for there can be no trust in the covetous.

It is one thing to lean on the benevolence of strangers when you have no other choice. It is another to do so when you don't need to. But all these pale in comparison to those who, devoid of gratitude, stop asking and start demanding "their share". This is a poison that lays waste.

8/10/2007 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Magnus:

No offense, but Norway owes no small part of her economic health to oil. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but huge oil reserves combined with a small population does not make for a particular model when assessing the effects of taxes. Massive unearned wealth of any type causes distortion.

That said, I have no doubt that your people are traditionally hard and productive workers. I also am not at all surprised to hear that massive immigration from backward cultures will cost you those ancient and noble qualities.

8/10/2007 10:29:00 PM  
Anonymous classic oyster said...

Message to Dupree: if you don't have anything offensive to say, then don't say anything.

8/10/2007 10:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Classic Oyster:
How 'bout: Clam Up!

8/10/2007 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Smoov-
I concur.
Sans oil, Norway would have many more problems.

Magnus-
Ideally, with a small population of noble, charitable people, which Norway does have, then there are relatively few problems, compared to say, France, or other EU countries using a semi-socialist template.

Countries that become more socialist also tend to downsize ther military.
Again, not much of a problem, if the US military handles most of the worlds problems, but there is a "tipping point", and if terrorism, China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, etc., become more of a threat, then the US will need much more help.
Actually, we need more help now regarding terrorism.
The sad thing is, that the West, if we all made a concerted effort, could neutralize the terrorist, Iranian, etc., threat much more quickly and save perhaps millions of lives.

That's not to say Norway doesn't have an excellent military, because you do.
But all free countries are going to have to step up far more than they are, the US included, to prevent a very long, drawn out war, and future attacks.

High taxes, and socialism depend on your citizens remaining noble, and of course, you have already mentioned the immigration problem you have.

We are all at a crossroads right now, and have been.
Will we pass the problem on to our children? Or grandchildren?
Or will we make the sacrifices we need to make now?

And lest we forget, China is expanding it's military (and has been) faster than any other country.
There must be reasons for that, other than defense, that is.

8/10/2007 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Welcome aboard, Yaacov Ben Moshe!
:^)

8/10/2007 11:48:00 PM  
Blogger Yaacov Ben Moshe said...

Thanks! I'm be adding a link to your site on Breath of the Beast..

8/11/2007 03:34:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I don't subscribe to the "Guns, Germs and Steel" theory that the wealth of nations come from their climate or natural resources. Even Jared Diamond has distanced himself from that later. The wealth of nations is their people, and ours is better educated and more productive than almost everywhere else.

We are also arguably the most Americanized country on mainland Europe, even though our taxes are still higher than in the States. (Mostly the sales tax, actually. Property taxes are symbolic and income tax moderate. I paid a little less than 16% income tax last year, hardly enough to rise up and overthrow the government.)

8/11/2007 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Magnus:

I put no stock in Diamond either, however I don't believe it is true that natural resources count for little. Oil has made a huge difference in the Canadian economy, for example. Saudi Arabia without oil reserves would be Afghanistan -- their standard of living would be 1/12th of what it is today.

None of this was intended to cast aspersions on Norway! Norway is blessed with oil wealth, and of all the countries that are I am most happy that it is Norway and not another hell-hole that has this oil. My point was simply that in order to clearly assess the real impact of relatively high taxes it would be better to choose countries which have fewer distorting factors--say Austria and Ireland.

I would love to visit Norway some day!

8/11/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger juliec said...

(For those Raccoons playing along at home, this week's "Call & Response" is up here.)

8/11/2007 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Smoov,
I may get carried away a bit because even most of my countrymen think the oil wealth is an important part of our economy. As an economist, I have grown more and more convinced that the opposite may now be true. We have advanced past the stage where raw materials ought to have much impact on our economy. By thinking "oil" instead of "education", we are doomed to make the wrong decisions about our economic future. I honestly wish someone would just invent safe and cheap fusion, the sooner the better. It would be a great boon for my country, as we could finally move on.

8/11/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Speaking of liberals...

NoMo here, reporting from the depths of the forest outside Bellingham, WA. I saw my first Obama '08 bumpersticker today, so I know I've arrived in la-la land. A family friend is getting married - or whatever the minions of the far left coast call it. I'm just praying that God will actually make an appearance in the proceedings.

Don't forget, "THE WAR IS A LIE, IMPEACH BUSH" - hey, it's on a number of large signs around town. There's even a guy who has a banner in front of his house that makes sure everyone is up on how many lives have been lost. I understand that after numerous vandalisms (there might be hope), "people" are leaving him donations to keep up the good work (OK, there is no hope).

All that aside, this is one gorgeous place. My glass is half full.

Later.


word verif says: wvpurvc (I couldn't have said it better)

8/11/2007 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Fmg said...

I always smile when the same people who understand why I store or flea-market seller lowers their prices to increase sales do NOT understand why raising taxes leads to less economic development. My game is to lead them to that understanding through questions... until their last step is one into the abyss. Ahh, such fun :-)

Can anyone prove the following wrong?

Quinn's First Law: Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of its stated intent.

8/11/2007 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

Of course not, since as we Raccoons are all too aware intentions are often the shortcut to doom. For example, the brilliant idea some people had a few years back to help build reefs by tossing old bundles of tires into the sea actually backfired, heinously, when the tires broke apart and actually did far more damage to existing reefs than was previously occurring.

People with nice intentions often don't consider the long-term consequences of their actions. They're more concerned with whatever feels good at the moment.

8/11/2007 10:30:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

In line with Juliec and misguided moralism, somewhere Dr. Sanity has a piece or two on the two kinds of narcissists -- the ones (that would be moi on a bad day) tending exploitative and selfish; and the idealistic narcissist (thick as roadside kudzu among liberals) carving a horrific wake in the name of caritas.

That distinction helps clear the vision regarding attempts to extort credit for good intentions via a covert under-the-radar effort to obscure the spiritual and psychological truth that zeal or a superficial set of assumptions, worn like a merit badge, is a maleficient illusion or passion, as well. Humility at its baseline requires stepping back from dictatorial "positive" intoxications, too.

Here is a discussion of "media liberals" by an ex-BBC writer. Encouraging in his clarity of vision, and disheartening insofar as he traces the hermetic shuttered mindset that is unlikely to wake up, as he did.

8/12/2007 02:11:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

Not to mention, flashing one's soft-hearted showy-benevolence affiliations as sexual signalling, especially by women and the feminized.

Any rational woman who has been on the wrong side of that social transaction knows the researcher is not just whistling Kum Ba Yah.

8/12/2007 03:11:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Well, that would be one reason right there to not have people play fanfares when you're giving money... it would be kinda like indecent exposure, I guess. "Indecent exposure of generosity." One of the many overlooked gems by Jesus.

8/12/2007 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Van said...

FMG said "Can anyone prove the following wrong? Quinn's First Law: Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of its stated intent."

Again, as JulieC noted, not likely anyone here would try, having already discovered its truth. The reason why it is true, is that no matter their stated intent, their actual method is always an attempt to short circuit reality, to force a result without the necessary causes, and the result is always disorder, disruption and some degree of chaos.

"My game is to lead them to that understanding through questions... until their last step is one into the abyss. Ahh, such fun :-)"

Yep, relying on reality is always a good strategy, and its always so much fun when someone who is trying to fake it is brought face to face with it.

8/12/2007 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger geoffb said...

The purpose of raising taxes for the left is to gain more control over people and the economy not more revenue for the government, that is only an excuse for raising the rates.

The left wants power first, last and always. Everything they do is designed to gain more power for the government and for them to control it.

The craziness seen in recent times by the left is because the "devil" (conservatives) took over their "heaven" (government) in '94 and they want their "heaven" back. In 2006 the managed to gain a major foothold back and now can smell the victory right around the corner. If it doesn't happen expect the craziness to get worse.

8/13/2007 05:52:00 AM  

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