Study: Catholics more willing to share wealth

That appears to be the case in Europe, at least.  Details:

Catholics are more likely to support government intervention in the economy than Protestants and also have a stronger preference for sharing wealth equally, a European Central Bank study said.

The research paper also said Max Weber’s theories about the Protestant work ethic were supported by the results of the study and that they apply more widely than thought, including in the choice of political institutions and in explaining income inequality.

“We do find Protestant municipalities to exhibit clearly higher income inequality,” the study by Christoph Batzen and Frank Betz said.

“Relative to Roman Catholicism, Reformed Protestantism has curbed preferences for redistribution and for government intervention in the economy,” it said, and added the impact of religion on income was not as significant.

Moreover, the research paper found that Weber’s work better explains economic development than that of Karl Marx, the father of socialism, who saw culture reflecting the economic order, the research paper found.

“Religion is not just, as Karl Marx would have us believe, ‘People’s Opium’, but can, by its own force, significantly change people’s preferences, both self-regarding and social ones,” the ECB study said.

Read more.

Comments

  1. Someone alert George Weigel, so he can man the bastions.

  2. Don from NH says:

    I dont think we would see the same results here in the United States.

    When I was a kid the Catholic Church strongly supported social justice issues, it was a natural fit for most Catholics to be Democrats at the time. A lot of it was due because of station and the lack of respect and distrust by Protestants. I can remember most Protestants being Republican. The Protestants I remember in our neighborhood were not very friendly, stuffy shirts type. Probably because of how they looked down on us (The Catholics)

    Obviously history did not make much of an impression on us.

  3. As a European, this doesn’t surprise me. I’m not sure either that we’d see the same results in a similar study here in the US.

  4. Interesting. I was under the impression that the Protestant Scandanavian countries had the most government (socialist?) involvement in health care, education, and pensions. Perhaps someone could share some more information on this.

  5. This headline threw me off. It would be more accurate for Reuters to say Catholics are more willing to redistribute wealth. To me, “sharing” implies people personally being charitable towards others. I see “sharing wealth” and “redistributing wealth” as two very different things. Both are important discussions to have, but lately there seems to be a blurring of the two. My semantics issues aside, this is an interesting article

  6. So lets see, which European Catholic countries are there to look at to see if this European Central Bank study has any validity. You would think that those countries who are solidly under majority protestant or aethist type of control would not have wealth shared through massive socialist style programs like universal healthcare, massive pension plans or non productive work results.

    And I thought that we needed to change our programs in the USA to more closely match those in Europe with those socialist programs because their funds were more equally distributed? Isn’t this the mantra being pushed to try to justify socialist european style healthcare?

    Do we see in states with larger Catholic population that they have more distribution of wealth and better programs for the poor here in this country?

    Which story are we supposed to believe and which model do the socialist democrats want to follow?

  7. Deacon Mike says:

    I have a very difficult time understanding people who, when faced with discussion of government intervention to address poverty and all of its resulting evils, immediately begin talk about “redistribution of wealth” and “socialism”. These are not Catholic positions but rather buzz phrases for Republican/Conservative political posturing.

    I don’t know about “socialist European style healthcare”…all I know is I have relatives who have both lost their homes trying to pay for our wonderful healthcare system and others who cannot get insurance in our wonderful health care system and as a result are getting severly inadequate health care at the moment. I doubt Jesus is thrilled by this.

    There are huge problems that exist in this country. Problems that the nice little charity down the block cannot handle. Systemic problems that result in millions of children going to bed hungry every evening, millions of families living below the poverty level, millions of people unable to afford to go to the doctor. I’m not sure what the solution is. I’m just totally sick and tired of listening to people attacking with or retreating into tired and worn out catch phrases like “socialism” and “distribution of wealth” that plays to peoples fears, insecurities, selfishness and greed while millions of people suffer. I have a hard time seeing that as a very Christ like response.

    Catholics in this study see the government as a way of addressing these problems. I love that old bumper sticker that says we’ll know we’re finally on the right track when the government takes care of people and they have to hold a bake sale to pay for the latest bombers.

    I’m sure Greta will see me as some left wing liberal nut. I don’t care. I’m not saying Jesus was a socialist, a democrat, a republican. I AM saying that He must absolutely weep at watching a wealthy country like ours leave so many people behind and have so many people in pain. It’s a scandal. It’s time to get past catch phrases and do something about it, both privately and publicly.

  8. vox borealis says:

    @7 I doubt Jesus is thrilled by this.

    Deacon Mike,

    Of course he wouldn’t be thrilled. But then, we live in a fallen world, right? And no matter how many times I am told this, I just can’t seem to find the section in the Gospels where Jesus tells people that to help the poor they must redistribute other people’s wealth.

    That the little charity down the street can’t solve a given a problem is a sad testament to (a) the world’s fallen nature and (b) our failure as individuals to provide enough charity for our brothers in need. Neiterh can be fixed by a government program, and indeed seeking the solution via state compulsion strikes me as highly un-Catholic.

  9. Also, Jesus in the Gospels never talks about that little charity down the street. He does tell us “give them some bread yourselves.” I agree that too many Americans and people in general are not generous enough. I’m guilty of this myself. But I do not see how government programs cure anyone of greed.

    I am reminded today, All Saints Day, how many Saints and saints we have who were heroically generous to the poor, and who also founded charities which help the poor. Do we have Saints who engineered government programs to help the poor? This is a serious question.

  10. Henry Karlson says:

    vox borealis

    You ignore the vast, long tradition of the Catholic Church on the position of the state for the creation of a just society. This includes helping to eliminate systematic evils. It is very unCatholic to disregard the role of the state in helping to elevate people to a basic dignified position. Charity transcends justice and takes us further than the state, but that doesn’t mean the state should do nothing. It’s like saying the state shouldn’t stop abortion, but rather, we should all rely upon the charity of individuals to babies. See how silly that is?

  11. Henry Karlson says:

    hannajo

    Yes.

    Not only was it what St Anthony of Egypt told St Constantine to do as a Christian emperor, emperor-saints, following the dictates of justice, did indeed instill programs of justice to help overcome systematic evil. More importantly, we even have redistribution of wealth — remember Constantine and what he gave back to the Christians –that is a clear example of wealth redistribution, and you can be assured, the pagan elite hated it.

  12. Deacon Mike says:

    Thank you, Henry.
    Your reasoned argument was far better than my semi-rant.

    As far as the government…it acts in my name, for good and bad, when faced with huge issues of national consequence. When I read of the millions of people in this country who suffer for lack of basic necessities like food, healthcare, and adequate shelter, I want my government, with all its resources and all of its abiltiy to mobilize, to act. I don’t want Republicans and Democrats to take shots at each other and DO NOTHING.

    I’m surprised I haven’t heard anything regarding “class warfare” yet…the latest buzzword.

  13. vox borealis says:

    @ 10 Henry,

    Of course there is a long Catholic tradition that the state should further the common good, but the tough question is always how. Since the Church also emphasizes subsidiarity, I would contend that the solutions should be sought well near always at the local level, ideally through the little charity down the street.

    The comparison to stopping abortion is emotitive but obviously misleading. Scriptures do make it pretty clear that muder is wrong, so of course we would want the laws of the land (i.e. the State) to reflect that.

    But that is vastly different from saying the State should leverage its near infinite power to extract wealth from one group of people to give it to another. Likewise it is problematic to say that is in the tradition Catholic charity for me to vote to raise taxes on someone else.

    Lastly, I reject fundamentally your position that it is my duty to elevate someone to a dignified position. By our very creation as human beings in God’s image, we all possess a dignified position. To equate material wealth with dignitity is, in my view, unChristian at its core.

  14. vox borealis says:

    I would add that in fact want my government to do nothing, because unfortunately when it does act, especially these days, it does more harm than good. Put simply, I do not trust my government to solve problems in any morally acceptable fashion.

    I’ll take my chances with the little charity down the road.

  15. Henry Karlson says:

    vox borealis

    Scripture makes it clear that leaders (kings, for example) ignoring the poor is wrong — if you read the prophets, this is one of the common complaints and it is used as one of the reasons for God’s wrath. And the lack of social justice leads to all kinds of people dying who should not be dying. Again, if everything is left to “charity,” even stopping abortion is preventing the mother from being charitable to the child by not killing it. The fact that you say “but abortion is wrong” is exactly the point — the structures of sin are wrong and must be overcome by the state; the lack of justice is wrong and it is in the power of the state to work for justice. Yes, by making things more just, you will have less people suffering, so you won’t be able to show one kind of charity — but if you really showed charity, you would rather people helped than people just being used as tools to pretend charity. Charity is love — if you love people, you will want the most effective means of helping them be in a just position. And as St Anthony of Egypt pointed out, it is indeed in the position of the leader to help and aid the poor through the power of the state.

    Now you use subsidiarity as your claim; again as Pope Benedict has pointed out, subsidiarity alone is false, and must not be used to ignore the role of solidarity and justice. When it is systematic evil, which is of a social dimension, you need a higher authority. This is exactly why Pope Benedict talks about world authorities to deal with global problems.

  16. Henry Karlson says:

    Deacon Mike

    You are welcome. It’s amazing how quick people ignore Scripture and Catholic tradition and engage a political rhetoric which is actually anti-Catholic. All they have to do is read Pope Benedict’s encyclicals and this false notion of subsidiarity and charity would easily be abolished.

  17. #7 Deacon Mike “I have a very difficult time understanding people who, when faced with discussion of government intervention to address poverty and all of its resulting evils, immediately begin talk about “redistribution of wealth” and “socialism”. These are not Catholic positions but rather buzz phrases for Republican/Conservative political posturing.Deacon Mike”

    I agree with what you are saying.

  18. Deacon Mike and Henry Karlson
    Thank you for saying what needs to be said – I do get tired of hearing about subsidairty without solidarity; it becomes worrisome that instead of an explanation of Catholic Social Teaching I read the Fox News Report. I would like to respond to voxborealis #13 who says: “Lastly, I reject fundamentally your position that it is my duty to elevate someone to a dignified position. By our very creation as human beings in God’s image, we all possess a dignified position. To equate material wealth with dignitity is, in my view, unChristian at its core.” To ignore another person’s lack of the ability to make a living, to survive, to support his/her family flies in the face of everything Jesus taught – “when you do this for the least…”. Dignity is not driven by material wealth however, a the attitude of I am not responsible to help you find dignity removes from those people their humanity.

  19. naturgesetz says:

    vox borealis #13

    You write “The comparison to stopping abortion is emotitive but obviously misleading. Scriptures do make it pretty clear that muder is wrong, so of course we would want the laws of the land (i.e. the State) to reflect that.”

    Let’s think about that. We want the laws of the land to reflect right and wrong. So if Scripture makes it pretty clear that letting our neighbors languish in poverty is wrong, “of course we would want the laws of the land (i.e. the State) to reflect that.” So let’s review Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 25:31-46; Amos 2:6-8; 4:1-3; 5:11-12; 8:4-8; Micah 3:1-4; 6:6-8; Habakkuk 2:6-11; Zechariah 11:16-17;Malachi 3:5; Isaiah 1:17, 23; 3:14-15; 5:8-10; 11:3-4; 58:6-11; Deuteronomy 14:28-15:11; 16-11, 14; 24:10-22; 26:12-15. It’s “pretty clear” that it’s wrong to let people go hungry or poor, worse still to be party to keeping them down. The law of Israel commanded people to make provision for the poor.

    So how do we handle the obligation to relieve poverty? Do we make it a crime for rich people to neglect the poor, to hold on to their wealth while others are in need?

    We live in a vast society where the rich are not in daily contact with the poor, where many of the poor do not regularly encounter a rich person. So one-on-one charity, à la the rich man and Lazarus won’t work. Our system doesn’t allow the law to require charitable donations. So the only thing now available is to tax the people as much as is needed to provide for the needs of the poor.

    If someone’s belief in subsidiarity leads him to prefer “Romneycare” to “Obamacare,” no problem: vote for Romney. But it isn’t simply a matter of “extract[ing] wealth from one group of people to give it to another.” It’s a matter of taxing everybody who is subject to tax, according to law, to provide for needs which private charity has left unmet. This provision for unmet needs need not take the form of simply giving tax dollars to the poor (e.g., refundable tax credits) but can also include food programs, rent and mortgage subsidies, and so forth.

    But a society which tolerates homelessness and hunger is immoral. The immorality may not be as grave as tolerating abortion, but it is still immoral. And to try to shuffle it off on private charity when the simple fact of our experience is that private charity has not been able to handle the magnitude of the problem, is morally obtuse.

    It is true that the “War on Poverty” has also failed; but that is no excuse for giving up.

  20. That Max Weber theory has been proven to be wrong. What he was observing is that protestant countries for various reasons were wealthier. It was not a cause and effect, protestantism equals capitalism equals wealthier. People forget that high medieval Italy and through the Renaissance had a thriving middle class and was hardly redistributive in nature. Poor countries tend to redistribute to meet basic needs. But once those needs are met, then a more individual system flourishes. Protestant countries were more individual because they were wealthier. It’s a question of justice. When people are starving, justice is on the side of the poor. When a thriving middle class exists, then justice is on the side of the people who earn. It’s immoral to deny people what they earned just so others can have it. Once Catholic countries had a flourishing middle class, redistribution went out the window.

  21. naturgesetz #19;

    “But a society which tolerates homelessness and hunger is immoral.”

    For me that’s a pretty convincing argument and on the same page as Catholic social teaching on the common good. Thanks.

  22. naturgesetz says:

    Manny #20

    “Poor countries tend to redistribute to meet basic needs. But once those needs are met, then a more individual system flourishes. Protestant countries were more individual because they were wealthier.” — A previous comment raised the point of social programs in Protestant Scandinavia. Your response?

    “Once Catholic countries had a flourishing middle class, redistribution went out the window.” — That’s irrelevant unless you can prove that Catholics never act immorally.

    “It’s immoral to deny people what they earned just so others can have it.” — This is extremely broadly stated. The discussion isn’t about the universe of “others” of any condition, but of the poor. So, can you prove, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church — or from any other authoritative source that a Catholic should accept — that it is immoral to deny people, by taxation, some portion of what they have earned, in order to provide for the needs of the poor?

  23. Richard Johnson says:

    “And no matter how many times I am told this, I just can’t seem to find the section in the Gospels where Jesus tells people that to help the poor they must redistribute other people’s wealth.”

    Well, you might want to start with Matthew 24:14-30. Certainly there is a theme in that parable that those who do not take the Master’s wealth and make something of it will have it taken and given to others.

    And since that wealth that we “earn” truly belongs to God, who is to say that he is not using government to provide for the poor when voluntary charity does not happen.

    BTW…does the Church even preach the tithe any more?

  24. Richard, where in Mat 24:14-30 does it even imply redistribution? I just went there and see no such thing. Explain?

  25. Richard Johnson says:

    My apologies. It is the following chapter, Matthew 25, which alludes to a redistribution of wealth given to those who do not do the Master’s will.

    vv. 28-30 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

  26. Are you kidding me Richard? The parable of the talents is your example of redistribution? Why don’t you post the entire parable instead of cherry pick a line out of context.

    14c “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey* called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15To one he gave five talents;* to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. 17Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 18* But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. 20The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five.* He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ 21d His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 22[Then] the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 24Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!* So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 28Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 29* e For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30* And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’

    The servants who are praised are the ones who went out and worked while the person who is chastised is the lazy one. And on top of that, the talent is taken away from the lazy servant and not given to the poor but to the servant with the most money, the one who was given five and made another five with it. Notice, the lazy one is “wicked” while “he will grow rich” are the people who worked. Seems to me that the justice is in line with those who earned money.

  27. @naturgesetz in #22
    I didn’t see your comment addressing me earlier. So here’s my response.

    “A previous comment raised the point of social programs in Protestant Scandinavia. Your response?”

    Pulease. Scandinavian countries have been essentially atheists for almost a hundred years now. They are definitely not a 20th century example of strong protestantism.

    “That’s irrelevant unless you can prove that Catholics never act immorally.”

    I have no idea what you are referrring to. Redistribution (the taking of someone’s hard earned labor) is immoral.

    “This is extremely broadly stated. The discussion isn’t about the universe of “others” of any condition, but of the poor. ”

    Yes it is about the poor. The poor need to be fed, clothed, given shelter, and medical care. I acknowledge that. Redistribution is a totally different thing. As far as I can tell, the poor in this country have food stamps, are clothed and sheltered, and have medicaid. Taking from one group to give to another beyond that is immoral.

  28. @naturgesetz in #22, continued.

    “So, can you prove, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church — or from any other authoritative source that a Catholic should accept — that it is immoral to deny people, by taxation, some portion of what they have earned, in order to provide for the needs of the poor?”

    First of all, you are putting words in my mouth. No one is being denied the basics of life. The poor in the western world are rich compared to people in the third world. Second, I’m not sure there is anything directly addressing taxation except that Matthew the tax collector had to repent and change his occupation. And here’s why. Jesus speaks of compassion. It is compassionate to give to the poor. Giving to the poor is charity, caritas, or giving from the heart or through the act of love, and such love generates further love. Taxation is just the opposite of caritas. Taxation requires the forced taking of money from one who has earned it and given to someone else. There is no act of charity in taxation. It does not generate love. Quite the opposite. Taxation requires coercion, the forced taking, forced because if you do not agree they come to you at the point of a gun to put you in jail, and then they confiscate what you owe. That does not generate love. That generates hate. And that’s why the tax collectors in the New Testament are so hated. That is why Matthew had to repent.

    Let me add something else. I will put to you that the roots of redistribution beyond giving the poor basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education) stem from envy and greed. I’m not going to judge your heart but your words shout that you are envious of the rich and greedy for their money. Taking from one simply to give to another who is not in need is immoral every which way you look at it.
    Jesus speaks of personal charity, never state coercion.

  29. Not a single person arguing for government action to take wealth from one person by the use of the power/force of government to give to another through massive government agencies can show anything in scripture to support this or in Catholic teaching.

    All the quotes I have seen talk about what the “person” should do for the poor. Also, show me anywhere Catholic magesterial teaching says that we should vote to support massive government agencies funded by the taking from one person to give to another.

    For centuries, the Catholic teaching supported establishing schools, hospitals, orphanages, and support programs for the poor through donations by calling for us to follow scripture and the teaching of Christ. To me, it is the high point of Catholic teaching and what the entire issue around subsidiarity was all about getting things taken care of at the local level closest to the need.

    Suddenly, there came a concept of those who wanted to use Catholic teaching to grow a political party philiosphy of socialist understanding of taking from one person determine by the state to give to another person also determined by the state of being worthy of that support. There is nothing in scripture to support this nor in Catholic teaching until a more resent time frame when socialist ideas and concepts were being accepted by the left within the Church. I challenge anyone to show where Jesus said Roman government agencies were the best way to end poverty in the world and they should be funded by taxes on the wealthy.

    Do not try to confuse the issue, but go right to that scripture passage for big government solutions rather than a call for us to give as individuals. When you get government to do the dirty work of stealing, you create a government founded on the evil of stealing which last time I looked was against one of the ten comandments. I would be more impressed to see the government identify those charities which are most successful in dealing with the issues and to promote them not with tax dollars, but simply to point out their effectiveness.

    And for the millionth time, look at when big government go involved through taxation and large government agencies in anything from healthcare to education to ending poverty and you will see the costs go up in that industry and the results get worse. Name a government agency or program that works effectively without massive waste, ever increasing need for more funding, and cost effective results. This entire concept started under FDR and I do not see anything out of the next 70-80 years that meet the criteria. How much wealth has been thrown at the war on poverty and how are we doing in poverty today? Cost of healthcare soared with the massive infusion of cash with medicare. When folks get sick, they are better off in America than anywhere else in the world. If we want to eliminate the high tech and high quality care of disease and focus on the bottom rung prevention as in other countries, we can make that choice but it should be sold on being willing to have massive waits for tests if done at all and to have to travel very far for something like an MRI or CT. Ever care to look at the difference of those in the USA who get knee or hip replacements on the government dime who would not get them in the socialist healthare states. All of this cost a ton of money and someone has to pay the bill. It is 1/6th of the total economy of the USA and any impact on it will come with pain on someone’s part. I really get sick of those totally ignorant of the industry commenting on the cost and solutions having spent the better part of my life in and around this industry, it is not going to be easy to change the mess created long ago with government intrusion. More government is certainly not the answer.

    Waiting to see those scripture posts on jesus and the large roman government agencies or on Church teaching on big government socialist solutions being part of Catholic magesterial teaching. They will never happen of course because they are not there. What part of give of your own wealth to the poor, not big government liberal socialist solution are many here not able to understand?

  30. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Greta…

    There’s an abundance of rich and challenging reading that outlines the Catholic teaching on social justice at this link. Of particular note is this passage, which discusses the responsibility of the state for the common good. Emphasis is my own:

    168. The responsibility for attaining the common good, besides falling to individual persons, belongs also to the State, since the common good is the reason that the political authority exists[355]. The State, in fact, must guarantee the coherency, unity and organization of the civil society of which it is an expression[356], in order that the common good may be attained with the contribution of every citizen. The individual person, the family or intermediate groups are not able to achieve their full development by themselves for living a truly human life. Hence the necessity of political institutions, the purpose of which is to make available to persons the necessary material, cultural, moral and spiritual goods. The goal of life in society is in fact the historically attainable common good[357].

    169. To ensure the common good, the government of each country has the specific duty to harmonize the different sectoral interests with the requirements of justice[358]. The proper reconciling of the particular goods of groups and those of individuals is, in fact, one of the most delicate tasks of public authority. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that in the democratic State, where decisions are usually made by the majority of representatives elected by the people, those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.

    Dcn. G.

  31. Where is the proof that government programs cause inflation in health care? By what definition are any programs in this country “socialism”?

  32. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    One more brief thought, from John XXIII and his encyclical Pacem en Terris:

    53. Men, both as individuals and as intermediate groups, are required to make their own specific contributions to the general welfare. The main consequence of this is that they must harmonize their own interests with the needs of others, and offer their goods and services as their rulers shall direct—assuming, of course, that justice is maintained and the authorities are acting within the limits of their competence. Those who have authority in the State must exercise that authority in a way which is not only morally irreproachable, but also best calculated to ensure or promote the State’s welfare.

    54. The attainment of the common good is the sole reason for the existence of civil authorities. In working for the common good, therefore, the authorities must obviously respect its nature, and at the same time adjust their legislation to meet the requirements of the given situation.

    Dcn. G.

  33. naturgesetz says:

    Manny #27-28

    You cite no authority in support of your personal opinion that, “Taking from one group to give to another beyond that is immoral.”

    But even granting that it is —

    — “As far as I can tell, the poor in this country have food stamps, are clothed and sheltered, and have medicaid.”
    But there is still poverty; there is still homelessness; and there are people who have no medical insurance.

    — “Taxation requires the forced taking of money from one who has earned it and given to someone else.”
    Stuff and nonsense. Taxation is the taxing of money from one who has it, who may or may not have earned it (may have gotten it by fraud, extortion, speculation, excessive compensation, or some other unjust means, or by inheritance or some other legitimate means other than earning), for the common good, the needs of the society as a whole, as determined by the legislator.

    You speak at a couple of points about “redistribution,” and honestly, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Give me some examples of what is going on, or proposed, that amounts to more than relieving poverty.

    You speak of taxation as coercion. Well, duh. All exercise of government power is implicitly coercive, and anybody who is not an anarchist should be cool with that. Our Constitution grants the federal government the right to tax, and State governments grant the power the state and local governments. We the people have decided long ago that taxation is okay and wrote it into our constitutions. “America: love it or leave it,” as they used to say during the Viet Nam war.

  34. naturgesetz says:

    Manny — cont’d.

    If “[my] words shout that you are envious of the rich and greedy for their money,” which I don’t think I am, then your words shout that you are a grasping, greedy, rich man who wants to hold on to his excess profits and excess compensation at all cost, no matter the plight of others — which hadn’t occurred to me until you put your dismissive spin on what I have written. Seriously, I think it is as unjustified for you to read what you did into my words as it would be for me to read what I suggested into yours. But, again seriously, I fear that you are perilously close to putting the love of money (even if it is in the hands of people much richer than you) ahead of genuine concern for others. Ask yourself: if it were Jesus on food stamps and still needing to eat at soup kitchens, unable to afford the rent to provide a home for the children among his relatives, and medically uninsured, what would you think of additional assistance? Would you be totally cool with his remaining in poverty, even if it weren’t his wish? They’re all Jesus for a Christian. And I may well not be doing all I should for them.

    It is certainly true that private charity is our primary obligation in relieving poverty. It is also true that there is no obligation for the governments to attempt to create an actual equality of wealth — indeed, I think it would be a mistake to even attempt it. But so far as I know, nobody is seriously proposing anything of the sort.

    It is also true that most of our poor are better off than the poor of various “third world” countries. But to some extent poverty is relative. True love for our neighbors whom we see in our own country, where our first responsibility lies, would make it intolerable for us to know that they are living under conditions which we would be unwilling to share. I enjoy my restaurant meals, my yacht club membership, my symphony concerts, my comfortable private home with the furniture that belonged to my parents and grandparents. But if I could only afford a small apartment, with none of the things I mentioned, I think I could be content. Some might say I am morally obligated to give up everything I could do without. I don’t agree. But my point is that when people don’t even have the minimum I would be content with, I think there is justification for government programs to alleviate their poverty (funded by taxation of the citizens according to their ability to pay) as well as an obligation for people to exercise charity in proportion to their means.

  35. @naturgesetz

    I was going to rebut, but I’m not even going to bother. It’s just going around in circles. I stand by my arguments. The poor have more than the minimum. Providing more is to focus on money and not well being.

    The bottom line is the answer to this question:
    Why does Matthew the tax collector have to repent? For what?

    BECAUSE HE IS COLLECTING TAXES. I’ll say it again, the act of collecting taxes generates hate not love. If you love to pay your taxes, pay extra. You are free to do it.

  36. Henry Karlson says:

    Manny

    The Church has never objected to taxes, and you ignore clear teaching of the Church about the common good and the universal distribution of goods. You say “Why does a tax collector have to repent” thinking it is because all collecting of taxes is in error. But that is not true. It’s like pointing to a prostitute and asking “Why does someone having sex have to repent” thus going beyond the particular and suggesting it is merely having sex which requires the penance (thus, leading to the conclusion that sex in marriage requires penance). This is an invalid question because you ignore the particular situation and make it as if tax collecting is the sin. Tax collecting is not the sin, just as sex by itself is not a sinful category. Both can be abused to the level of sin.

  37. No that is flawed logic. You got it wrong. A prostitute is immorqal not for just having sex, but for prostituting herself. A tax collector in the New Testament is immoral for collecting taxes. If you disagree, then scour the NT and tell me what exactly Matthew the tax collector or any other tax collector are required to repent from. That’s a challenge.

    I’m no expert on Church teaching. We are morally required to take care of the destitute. As far as I can tell (and see my comments throughout) we do that to a very good level if I may add. The poor are taken care of. Beyond that redistribution, the taking of someone’s hard earned money to give it to someone else is immoral, in my humble opinion. It generates hate. How would you feel if by some legal decree I came to your home and took your television set right out of your living room and gave it to your neighbor? I don’t think you would be too pleased.

    If you don’t think the poor are taken care of in this country, then a little more or a little less is within the realm of debate. We debate that with every legislature and sanctioned through an election process. But redistribution should not be in the realm of discussion. It’s immoral. Period.

  38. Henry Karlson says:

    Manny

    Once again, it does not say “collecting taxes is a sin.” The Church has said quite the contrary for all its existence. It is not collecting taxes which is the sin; however, tax collectors in the ancient world often extorted and took beyond the requirement, keeping the rest to themselves. That is the sin.

  39. naturgesetz says:

    Manny #35

    The situation of Matthew is so different from that of current day taxation that it is unjustified to leap from his repentance to a suggestion that all taxation is immoral. Matthew was collecting taxes for an occupying power, not one established by the people. But what was really wrong was that, as scripture scholars point out, tax collectors then coerced people into paying more than what the Romans required and pocketed the excess. What they had to repent of was taking more than was due.

    For a good citizen of a constitutional democracy, paying taxes does not generate hate, any more than stopping at a red light does.

  40. Nowhere in the NT does it say anything about Matthew’s activities, except that he is a tax collector. Nowhere in the NT is an example of a good tax collector.

    naturgesetz, why don’t you take a poll and see what the distribution of people happy to pay taxes are? I bert it’s not very high. Tax collecting by its nature generates hate.

    Taxes in the modern world is equivalent to extortion. What do you consider fair? When you include, federal, state, local, real estate, sales, vice taxes they run someone 40-50% of their income. I can see 25% as fair. Above that it’s no longer an obligation, it’s extortion.

    Even the mafia has better rates than 50%. And that’s a fact.

    Bottom line is this. If I don’t want to pay half of my income in taxes, I go to jail. That’s generating hate.

  41. Henry Karlson says:

    1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

    5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

    7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

    8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

    9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

  42. Henry Karlson:

    The perfect passage to make your point.

    I have always thought that story is an example of Jesus’ sense of humor. Imagine, here is a man hiding in a tree, who doesn’t want to call attention to himself, and and Jesus says to him: “Come down and … I’m coming to your house for dinner.”

  43. naturgesetz says:

    Manny #40

    I’m not “happy” every time I have to stop at a red light. That doesn’t mean hatred is being generated in me.

    I think you’re just playing with words and spouting nonsense when you say “tax collecting by its nature generates hate. ” And just continuing to repeat it doesn’t make it any more persuasive than the first time you said it. I simply say I think you’re wrong.

    Similarly, calling modern taxation equivalent to extortion is , IMO a misuse of language. Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were extortioners, as scripture scholars know, but now they only collect what the law prescribes.

    You are entitled to have your personal feelings about how much you’d be happy to pay in taxes. But in a constitutional democracy, the decision is up to the legislature, and the fact that you personally don’t like it does not entitle you to mislabel it as extortion.

    If lawful taxes provoke hate in you, you really have an emotional problem. As a Catholic (I assume you are) citizen of this country, you should not be having this reaction.

  44. No I’m not spouting nonsnse. It’s an act of force to take my earnings from me when I don’t want to give it. That red light has nothing to do with my labor. There was slavery in this country once. If I’m required to pay half my money through an act of force, then I’m half free. Like I said, 25% of my earnings seems like a fair amount to support society. 50% is mafia type of immorality and God knows what you socialists want to raise it to. Scandinavian countries pay around 80%. That was your exampole. You’re worse than the mafia.

    And I don’t see how that passage from Luke makes your point. “He has gone to the house of a sinner.” He is a sinner for being a tax collector. Zacchaeus has to repent for who he is.

  45. Like I said, go and take a poll and see how many people pay their taxes with chairty in their hearts.

  46. Henry Karlson says:

    Manny

    That was the response of others, not Jesus. Figure it out.

  47. naturgesetz says:

    Collecting taxes from you is only an act of force if you become a lawbreaker and the government has to enforce collection. And even then it’s not physical force unless you physically resist the lawful acts of your legitimate government. Calling it force when you comply out of obedience to the law is misusing words.

  48. naturgesetz says:

    To regard every act of government as a n act of force is de facto anarchism, which is contrary to Catholic teaching, which regards government as legitimate in principle.

  49. @Henry
    “That was the response of others, not Jesus. Figure it out.”

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t have time for games. Zacchaeus says this:
    “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

    Notice he says “if” I have cheated, a conditional statement which means that his sin is beyond just cheating. His sin and subsequent repentence is irregards to whether he cheated anyone. His sin is the very nature of his identity: tax collecting.

  50. @naturgesetz
    “Collecting taxes from you is only an act of force if you become a lawbreaker and the government has to enforce collection.”

    I have no say in it. There is no possibility of dissent. It still generates hatred and resentment across society.

    So let me take a different tact. That 40-50% of my earnings the government takes, only a small portion actually goes to the poor. What if we increased the amount to the poor (which I’m willing to do if your claims are true) then let’s cut all other middle class subsidies the government provides. I bet we can reduce the tax burden to that 25% while still increasing the money toward the poor. I’m for that. Let’s privatize social security, privatize education (and provide school vouchers for poor people), go to medical accounts where people put money into them, and means test all benefits people get, including health insurance.

    Deal or are you really socialists?

  51. Manny #49:

    You may want to look at the footnote to the story of Zacchaeus at the USCCB Bible website:

    The story of the tax collector Zacchaeus is unique to this gospel. While a rich man (Lk 19:2), Zacchaeus provides a contrast to the rich man of Lk 18:18–23 who cannot detach himself from his material possessions to become a follower of Jesus. Zacchaeus, according to Luke, exemplifies the proper attitude toward wealth: he promises to give half of his possessions to the poor (Lk 19:8) and consequently is the recipient of salvation (Lk 19:9–10).

  52. “The story of the tax collector Zacchaeus is unique to this gospel. While a rich man (Lk 19:2), Zacchaeus provides a contrast to the rich man of Lk 18:18–23 who cannot detach himself from his material possessions to become a follower of Jesus. Zacchaeus, according to Luke, exemplifies the proper attitude toward wealth: he promises to give half of his possessions to the poor (Lk 19:8) and consequently is the recipient of salvation (Lk 19:9–10).”

    Yeah, and what does that have to do with tax collector as sinner. Zacchaeus repents – “detaches himself from his material possessions”. My point that tax collectoring is a sin holds. Where is that point undermined. It seems to me to be substantiated. And notice, he gives up his money out of chairty, free will, not forced taxation!!!

  53. Henry Karlson says:

    Manny

    Here, I will make it simple. When the “crowd” speaks, Scripture is often making a point that what they say is in error. And here, you have what is clearly criticism of Jesus — with the text showing how wrong the crowd is, because this is a person who desires to do what is right. And nowhere in his own words does he say “I sin because I am a tax collector.” You have added that, making a total misrepresentation of the text itself. You follow the critics of Jesus, which is exactly what the text wants you to see is wrong.

  54. Henry, I don’t think you’re reading it correctly. Look carefully:

    7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

    8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

    What the crowd incorrectly implies is that Zacchaeus is beyond redemption. That’s where they stand in opposition with Jesus. No one to Jesus is beyond redemption, even a sinner like a tax collector. But it is quite clear that Zacchaeus has to repent, that he is a sinner – he has to change – otherwise what has he changed from? He says, “here I am NOW…” (My emphasis on the word “now.”) Now he is a redeemed man, redeemed from being a tax collector.

  55. Manny:
    You are certainly entitled to you own personal take on the story of Zacchaeus.

    Perhaps I should have put the footnote in quotes. Those words are not MY personal opinion (although I agree with it) but that of Scripture scholars who have studied the Gospels and in particular the focus of the Gospel of Luke, who happens to be the only Gospel writer who narrates the story.

  56. Henry Karlson says:

    Manny

    You are reading the crowd’s response as legitimate. That is always a problem when reading Scripture. And, as is clear with Church teaching, tax collecting is not a sin. What you are doing is eisigesis, and it is bad eisigesis at that. Your claim would contradict the text itself.

  57. naturgesetz says:

    Manny

    The word “now,” which you choose to emphasize, is actually not nthe original Greek text. There is just a Greek verb didomi, which is first person singular present tense of the word meaning “give.” So literally it just means “I give.” Luke Timothy Johnson, in his commentary on Luke in the Sacra Pagina series, translates it as “I am giving” and comments, “In both sentences, Zacchæus uses the present tense, which is here translated as present progressive in order to indicate that he describes repeated, customary practice, rather than a single spontaneous act of generosity.”

    Maybe Johnson is right, maybe the translators who add the word “now” are right; but the passage doesn’t necessarily indicate an instant repentance and conversion. It could be that he is explaining that the crowd is wrong, and he’s not a sinner, but an almsgiver. And again if this is repentance, the sin is excessive collection, not being a tax collector in itself.

  58. Sarah Gorczynski says:

    Me and Milo have the same birthday. Virgo’s are good hearted people, Your son will bring you the most joy in your life, CONGRADS. BTW I love TOUCH. Stay sweet, beautiful and have more babys…

Leave a Comment


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X