Rick Warren and The Purpose-Driven Lie

Via David Atkins at Hullabaloo:

Yesterday famed “Christian” pastor Rick Warren, wealthy author and megachurch leader, tweeted the following:

HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero. So they’re happy for tax rates to be raised on the other half that DOES pay any taxes.

Stupid or evil? Both. That’s such an old lie, told so often by old liars and debunked so frequently that Warren can’t have believed it unless he had spent the previous three decades somewhere with no television, no radio, no newspapers and no Bibles.

After his original tweet created a firestorm, Warren deleted it and fired off a few attempts at conciliatory statements — things like, “Whenever I think I understand it all, I realize I haven’t been listening” or “You are 100% right! It did sound mean.”

These aren’t corrections — his lie hasn’t been retracted. Nor are they apologies. They are excuses and they are not believable.

The nasty lie he told was not a faux pas, or an innocent bit of misinformation.

First of all, he knew it was not true.

Rick Warren gets a paycheck and sees the payroll tax deducted from it. Rick Warren goes shopping and pays sales tax. Rick Warren fills his gas tank and pays gas tax. Maybe he’s forgotten that the laity — most of us aren’t clergy — also pay property taxes. (Yes, renters too — don’t you dare try to suggest that property owners don’t pass that cost along to their renters and try to pretend that landlords are somehow more put-upon than those lucky-duckies that rent from them.)

He was bearing false witness. He was bearing witness that he knew to be false.

But more importantly, it was malicious false witness. This was not a piece of data that he passed along mistakenly believing it to be true. This was a slander against poor people that no one would ever pass along unless they really didn’t like poor people. It sounded mean because it was mean.

It is the sort of lie that one rich man tells another rich man when there are no poor people within earshot. Neither of them believes it, but slurring the poor is, for them, a source of amusement. “The poor are freeloaders who have it so much easier than we do,” is a lie that rich people have been repeating to one another for thousands of years, and I don’t believe that Rick Warren is the first one actually dumb enough to really believe it.

This is a lie aimed at poor people like a weapon. This is a hurtful lie and a harmful lie. It’s the sort of lie that doesn’t just violate several of the Ten Commandments, but back in Bible days it would have earned you an unpleasant personal visit from Nathan or Elijah or Amos.

It’s a vicious lie, contemptuous of the weak, haughty and detestable, arrogant, overfed and unconcerned. This was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and the needy.

But at least Sodom didn’t actively turn her power against the poor and needy — bearing false witness against them with modern versions of ancient falsehoods. As I live, says the Lord God, your sister Sodom never did as you have done here, Rick Warren.

So the question for Rick Warren is not, “Why did you tweet a falsehood?” The question he needs to answer — on his knees first, then later in public — is “Why do you resent people who have far, far less than you have?”

That is, after all, what his retelling of this ancient lie expressed — his resentment of anyone not as wealthy or privileged as him.

Ponder that for a moment. See if you can understand it, because I just can’t. I have no idea why someone as wealthy and privileged as Rick Warren would resent those who are not at all wealthy or privileged, but it seems he does.

And that’s just weird.

Poor people pay taxes. They pay payroll taxes and sales taxes and gas taxes and property taxes. As a percentage of their income, they pay way more in taxes than Rick Warren does. (Way, way more, since he’s not just wealthy, he’s a wealthy clergyman with a tax-free housing subsidy.)

And Rick Warren knows this and — weirdly, bizarrely, perversely, abominably, sinfully — he resents them for it. He resents them.

That’s like the rich man resenting Lazarus.

Maybe Rick Warren should re-read that story.

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  • DenverGrl

    At first, I thought he was referring to the giant corporations that don’t pay taxes, but then I realized that those at the top of the giant corporations definitely don’t make up 50% of the population.  So, indeed, the was speaking of the poor.  Weren’t Jesus and his followers poor?  Didn’t they give up everything and live on the gifts of society to spread the “gospel”?  Jesus was a Jew.  Jews are commanded to give a percentage of our crops (now incomes) to the poor to make their lives better.  Ghandi’s comment is never to relevant as today – I like your Christ, but your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

  • Fred

    And in the book of Jeremiah we are told not to be evil surmising.  In my opinion, that means not to assume bad motives of others.  This ascerbic article totally overblows a poorly written and unkind sounding tweet.  That’s all, unless you can read Warren’s mind, know Warren’s heart and see fit to raise yourself to sit in judgement of him.

  • P J Evans

    Misreading the entire article: are you real or just another concern troll?

  • Donalbain

    OK.. if you want, I will think the best of Warren.

    He is too stupid to be allowed to operate electrical equipment without adult supervision. That is the kindest interpretation.

  • Anonymous

    You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m no Rick Warren fan (probably one of the few that REFUSED to read his books!) but, you’re comments are ignorant and just plain moronic – not to mention that they suffer from the type of prejudicial perspective that you accuse Warren of in reverse! Your comments suffer from a lack of awareness of economic realities that provide jobs in the first place created by the small businessman – or are they evil too? 

  • Anonymous

    You know, if even I can recognize a concern troll, the concern troll is doing a very poor job of concern trolling.

  • Pbsjr9 aka anonymous

    If you are referring to my post, it only qualifies as a CT if you miss the whole point — -which I think that Fred Clarke does. It is a bandwagon rant. Concern for the poor and displaced is pre-eminent for Jesus followers – for sure – but, this was not the point of Warren’s statement. The blog and the sympathizers of the “cause” are simply way off base. See my post above again. I have a bleeding heart too. I really do! But, I also believe in economic realities that will bring economic justice to those who want to work but cannot because of oppressive systems. I would advocate that taxes (of most sorts) are just that – oppressive – and stifle the abilities of the small businessperson to create both product and work which will further a given communities resource base – and hence jobs! What don’t you get? I’m with you on the poor. Just disagree about how to go about it I guess. The Church has abdicated it’s responsibility in lieu of ‘governmental responsibility’. 

  • Anonymous

    Define ‘taxes of most sorts’. Also, explain how tax increases only on the wealthy and on megacorps will affect the small business owner (defined as ‘small profits’, not as ‘small number of owners’) and her ability to hire people. Also, explain how we’re to keep the friendless and familyless and non-churchgoing among the poor and elderly from fucking STARVING TO DEATH without ‘oppressive’ payroll taxes.

    Again I say: concern troll.

  • Pbsjr9 (anonymous)

    Ellie: First, I share your awareness of those struggling just to eat. I actually work with some on most days! What I mean by “taxes of most sorts” is that taxes that actually go to helping the poor (since the horse is out of the barn already by using the government to achieve this) I support. The taxes that merely go toward waste and abuse or, those which inhibit economic growth are inappropriate. I believe that the Church has abdicated her responsibility to those in need by the government creating an alternative. Like it or not, businesses limit themselves toward the end of growth if they cannot afford to pay their bills. Conversely, if they are freed from unnecessary burdens (most sorts of taxes) they will grow and create work for people as they do so. Finally, if Jesus followers are in fact living out both love for God and love for others, it won’t be an “us/them” mentality but an “us” mentality. The latter thereby includes what you describe as the “friendless and familyness and non-churchgoing among the poor and elderly”. In fact, I would argue that they would come first in God’s Kingdom. 

  • Anonymous

    Damn, I can’t check off the ‘waste, fraud, and abuse’ bingo square.

    Don’t use ‘God’s Kingdom’ arguments with me. I’m an atheist.

    Megacorps and wealthy citizens are drowning in money. Yet they’re not hiring people. The money isn’t even doing any good sitting in the bank, because the banks aren’t lending. I say take the money from them and give it to people who’ll spend it and businesses who’ll hire with it. There’s a word for that…what’s that word….starts with a T…

  • Pbsjr9 (anonymous)

    Ellie, for the sake of this discussion I could care less whether you are an atheist, mass murderer, Muslim or a right wing facist. It has nothing to do with what I have said. God’s Kingdom arguments can be said to have practical value for all – whether or not you agree with the source or description thereof. You are entitled to your views (obviously) regarding taking from the wealthy and giving to the poor. To the extent that they do abuse people in their policies and practices, I would agree. On the other hand we don’t live in a perfect world. So, the discussion is what is the best way to incentivize businesses to hire. Re the banks, you are so very correct! However, that is also due to uncertainty of governmental policy with respect to potential and probable taxation. Furthermore, the only reason they have the surplus now (which they “should” be lending) is due to a stupid governmental policy (the “bailouts”) which favored the huge corporations. The results of that (whether or not they are “paid back” are a delay in the rebooting necessary. 

    I’d also be curious to your response to this question: If an individual is wealthy and gives an enormous amount of money away to “good causes” (let’s assume for the sake of argument that we both agree what a “good cause” is), should they give ALL of their money away? It seems to be what you are suggesting (I may be wrong). If they do that they would only add to the problem by winding up in the same situation that those who don’t have any money are — and then would become dependent on others? Or, would you say that they could continue to sustain the source of their wealth (assuming the source is one which is moral) in order to continue giving generously?

  • Anonymous

    I’m with Lori: your formatting sucks. Disqus likes HTML; try that.

    God’s Kingdom arguments have no value for anyone who does not believe in God’s Kingdom.

    Warren Buffett is trying to give away his entire fortune. It’s not working. Not because he’s not generous. Because he has accumulated so much wealth that his fortune is self-sustaining.

    I’m not asking anyone to give away so much that they become one of the given-to, or indeed so much that they drop to the second decile. What I want is to have considerably less concentration of wealth.

  • P J Evans

    What I want is to have considerably less concentration of wealth.

    Most of the trolls talking about how put-upon the people with lots of money (and seven-figure incomes) are, seem to think also that the distribution of wealth in this country is far more even than it actually is. 20 percent of the population holds more than 80 percent of the wealth. (see http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html )

  • Lori

    Some people clearly don’t understand how unequal the wealth distribution in the US has become in recent decades. People’s assessment of their own class is notoriously bad. However, I think there’s another major issue. Many people have been trained to think that the current wealth distribution is just the way things are. Someone (Daughter I think) brought this up WRT the way be talk about “wealth redistribution”. The assumption is that current wealth distribution is the natural and inevitable result of free market forces and that therefore anything that changes it is some sort of commie plot. No part of that is true, but good luck getting people to understand that. 

  • P J Evans

    Well, they don’t understand tax brackets, which are not exactly rocket science and which they’ve been dealing with for years.
    I think education is perhaps too dumbed down, when people refuse to think twice about something when they’re being told it’s wrong. (Personal theory: it’s because they taught us to use our brains in the 60s (more or less, sort of, et cetera), and got hippies and street demonstrators, and it scared the establishment types so much they decided ignorance was easier to handle and reversed course.)

  • Lori

     Well, they don’t understand tax brackets, which are not exactly rocket science and which they’ve been dealing with for years.

     

    This would be funny if it wasn’t so painfully true. I’ve thought for a while that everyone should have to do their taxes one year doing all the separate calculations themselves instead of just reading off the tax tables, because you’re right that way too many people don’t understand brackets at all. That’s just sad, especially since we have at least a third fewer than we ought to, so it’s not as “complicated” as it should be.  

     
    I think education is perhaps too dumbed down, when people refuse to think twice about something when they’re being told it’s wrong. 

     

    If we ever knew how to teach critical thinking skills en masse we’ve totally lost the knack. One of the great ironies of my life is that I learned most of my basic critical thinking skills from my dad. Irony#1: he taught me the skills that lead me to walk away from virtually all of his most cherished beliefs. Irony#2: he’s such a Right Wing fundamentalist that he hasn’t applied those skills to any of his own believes in decades. 

  • Anonymous

    Strangely enough, my life has the same irony. Except it’s more my mom than my dad.

  • Lori

    My sympathies. IME living this particular irony really blows. 

  • chester

    lori and ellie – is this blog your substitute for therapy?

  • Lori

     If you are referring to my post, it only qualifies as a CT if you miss the whole point — -which I think that Fred Clarke does. It is a bandwagon rant. Concern for the poor and displaced is pre-eminent for Jesus followers – for sure – but, this was not the point of Warren’s statement. The blog and the sympathizers of the “cause” are simply way off base. See my post above again.  

    Oh, we read your post and we got your point. That’s exactly why Ellie said you were being a concern troll. Rick Warren is not the put upon victim here. Fred is not off base or picking on Warren and neither is anyone else. 

     I have a bleeding heart too. I really do! But, I also believe in economic realities that will bring economic justice to those who want to work but cannot because of oppressive systems. I would advocate that taxes (of most sorts) are just that – oppressive – and stifle the abilities of the small businessperson to create both product and work which will further a given communities resource base – and hence jobs! What don’t you get? 

    This part of your statement actually isn’t concern trolling, it’s just inaccurate. Our current tax rates are not oppressive. They’re the lowest they’ve been in this country in decades and they’re ridiculously low compared to most other advanced economies. Small businesses* are not being stifled by taxation. They’re being stifled by lack of demand, which is caused by high unemployment which is not and never will be alleviated by cutting taxes. Your conception of how how business growth relates to unemployment is backwards, or at least starting in the wrong place. 

    I’m with you on the poor. Just disagree about how to go about it I guess. The Church has abdicated it’s responsibility in lieu of ‘governmental responsibility’.  

    Fred has already written many times about the layers of responsibility involved in caring for the poor. It not and can not be the sole responsibility of the church. That has never worked. It never will work. It is intellectually dishonest to claim to care about the poor and then advocate for leaving their care to the churches. 

    *Please note: I used small business strictly for the sake of argument. I strongly object to the way the term “small business” is being used in the current economic debate because it’s essentially a false construct. In the 80s and 90s the Right used a mythical idea of small or family farms to manipulate the discourse. That stopped working so now we’re getting a mythical version of the small business that bears very little relationship to actual small business or the needs of the people who run them.

  • Pbsjr9 (anonymous)

     If you are referring to my post, it only qualifies as a CT if you miss the whole point — -which I think that Fred Clarke does. It is a bandwagon rant. Concern for the poor and displaced is pre-eminent for Jesus followers – for sure – but, this was not the point of Warren’s statement. The blog and the sympathizers of the “cause” are simply way off base. See my post above again.  “Oh, we read your post and we got your point. That’s exactly why Ellie said you were being a concern troll. Rick Warren is not the put upon victim here. Fred is not off base or picking on Warren and neither is anyone else.”I really don’t have any care or concern for Rick Warren on this. I dislike him for other reasons. I could care less if Rick was a victim. I’m speaking to the issues. Let’s stay to them. Concern Troll? You make me laugh. I see, you can talk all you want but I can’t? Privileged BS if you ask me.  I have a bleeding heart too. I really do! But, I also believe in economic realities that will bring economic justice to those who want to work but cannot because of oppressive systems. I would advocate that taxes (of most sorts) are just that – oppressive – and stifle the abilities of the small businessperson to create both product and work which will further a given communities resource base – and hence jobs! What don’t you get? This part of your statement actually isn’t concern trolling, it’s just inaccurate. Our current tax rates are not oppressive. They’re the lowest they’ve been in this country in decades and they’re ridiculously low compared to most other advanced economies. Small businesses* are not being stifled by taxation. They’re being stifled by lack of demand, which is caused by high unemployment which is not and never will be alleviated by cutting taxes. Your conception of how how business growth relates to unemployment is backwards, or at least starting in the wrong place. 

    Inaccurate? You obviously don’t currently or possibly have you ever run a business. Other “advanced economies”? Right. It’s approaches like your Robin Hood ideas that have caused many of the current economic issues — that, and the greed from the wealthy. You assume that all companies are greedy. I don’t think so. But maybe that’s where we differ…..that and on what is oppressive and not. In one sense – a relative one – you are correct. We have a relatively low tax rate now. However, it is the threat of Robin Hood coming that is one (not the only one) of the ingredients which stifle companies growing. Regarding lack of demand: Yes, it is lack of demand. Lack of demand is from a lack of jobs (high unemployment as you correctly point out). Lack of jobs is from businesses who are afraid to invest. There has been a rebooting of the economy from people strung out on credit. Rebuilding is risky. Why risk if one fears their legs will be cut off by higher taxes? 

    “Fred has already written many times about the layers of responsibility involved in caring for the poor. It is not and can not be the sole responsibility of the church. That has never worked. It never will work. It is intellectually dishonest to claim to care about the poor and then advocate for leaving their care to the churches. “”*Please note: I used small business strictly for the sake of argument. I strongly object to the way the term “small business” is being used in the current economic debate because it’s essentially a false construct. In the 80s and 90s the Right used a mythical idea of small or family farms to manipulate the discourse. That stopped working so now we’re getting a mythical version of the small business that bears very little relationship to actual small business or the needs of the people who run them.”

    I must confess I haven’t read Fred’s other writings that you refer to. If you read my posts, I agree that we need to maintain what we have (and clean it up from fraud and waste). Just because something hasn’t worked in the past doesn’t mean that it can’t in the future. Clean water in Africa was only a dream for years. Micro loans which incentivize locally owned economic endeavors were non-existent. The involvement of the US/Bono/World Vision et al has made huge headway here. Yes, there is still a long way to go but it is significant progress. Same with AIDS….. Much of this has come from non-profit involvement without taxation. It can work. However, in the meantime as I have noted, we cannot abandon the poor.

    Re “small businesses” and the way the term is abused in the current debate, I think there is some validity to that. However, that notwithstanding, small businesses make up the majority of this economy and they are not hiring – not only due to lack of demand but also due to fear of the unknown with respect to governmental policy which treats them like they are doing something wrong for their industriousness.

  • http://thefifthpage.blogspot.com/ Darrow

    When I read or hear comments such as the one Rick Warren tweeted, I usually assume they refer to the very wealthy, who control most of the money, and who pay, in proportion to their income, the lowest amount in taxes. It is enlightening to be reminded that in the context of this current debate, the same kind of comments are actually a slam on the poorest people.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yesterday, I happened upon someone who was very outraged over the fact that “The top 10% of earners pay 70% of the taxes and 50% pay NO taxes! How is that fair???”

    I, of course, agreed whole-heartedly with him. How could it be fair that the people who have 90% of the money only pay 70% of the taxes? Surely they should be paying 90% of them.

  • Anonymous

    I am sure the Pastor was referring to federal and state  income tax. Have not read any “nitpic
    king” about the tax statement, that has been well known all over the network.
    Ease up Mr. Clark

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Ever noticed how when someone says “I care about the plight of the poor and underprivilged,” the next thing they say is almost always “But here is why I’m going to actively oppose anything that could possibly help them.”?

    There’s this weird idea that the church has abdicated its responsibility to the poor, because of the government, and the solution is “If we get the government out of it, the church will have NO CHOICE but to step up” ignoring the fact that we’ve got ample historical proof that they do indeed have a choice: they can just *not* step up. And the poor will die. And no one gets hurt but the poor.

  • Tonio

    Ever noticed how when someone says “I care about the plight of
    the poor and underprivilged,” the next thing they say is almost always
    “But here is why I’m going to actively oppose anything that could
    possibly help them.”?

    Why does that remind me of Palin and Bachmann describing themselves as feminists? At first glance, they seem to think of themselves as feminists simply
    because they’re active in a field (politics) that was a boys’ club for
    many years. Sometimes they talk as if they believe that all women should be mothers regardless of what they do outside the home.

  • P J Evans

    And I see a magazine cover like the one on the most recent issue of Time, where they make it sound like men and women spend equal amounts of time on housework, and the implication that it’s equality for realz. Which has been shown in repeated studies (including, I believe, the one they’re writing about) to be wrong.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Ever noticed how when someone says “I care about the plight of the poor and underprivilged,” the next thing they say is almost always “But here is why I’m going to actively oppose anything that could possibly help them.”?

    There’s this weird idea that the church has abdicated its responsibility to the poor, because of the government, and the solution is “If we get the government out of it, the church will have NO CHOICE but to step up” ignoring the fact that we’ve got ample historical proof that they do indeed have a choice: they can just *not* step up. And the poor will die. And no one gets hurt but the poor.

  • Lori

    Oh look, another concern troll. 

    Because we didn’t already discuss the issue of what Warren really meant. Fred was not nitpicking. Warren’s fans can whine for him all they want, but that still won’t make Fred’s observations wrong. 

  • Hisman

    Many of you have hastily judged (or probably pre-judged) a man who: donates all of his publishing royayties to charity; reverse tithes (gives 90% of his income); paid back all the salary his church ever paid him; and ahs launced successful local and international efforts to address  poverty, disease, lack of education, etc.

    Pastor Rick may have mispoken; you have misjudged.  I’d rather be guilty of the former. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Pastor Rick may have mispoken; you have misjudged.  I’d rather be guilty of the former.

    I’d rather be guilty of the thing that doesn’t involve siding with the strong against the weak. 

    I’d rather be guilty of the thing that doesn’t involve sticking the screws to those who are already screwed.

    I’d rather be guilty of the thing that doesn’t imply that it’s the rich who have it hard and the poor who are the lucky duckies.

    But that’s just me.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Pastor Rick may have mispoken; you have misjudged.  I’d rather be guilty of the former.

    I’d rather be guilty of the thing that doesn’t involve siding with the strong against the weak. 

    I’d rather be guilty of the thing that doesn’t involve sticking the screws to those who are already screwed.

    I’d rather be guilty of the thing that doesn’t imply that it’s the rich who have it hard and the poor who are the lucky duckies.

    But that’s just me.

  • Lori

    Many of you have hastily judged (or probably pre-judged) a man who: donates all of his publishing royayties to charity; reverse tithes (gives 90% of his income); paid back all the salary his church ever paid him; and ahs launced successful local and international efforts to address  poverty, disease, lack of education, etc. 

    I said this before, but you’ve obviously not read the thread so I’ll say it again. Warren gives away a great deal of money, but there is no amount of charity that buys anyone, especially a very rich man like Warren, the right to talk smack about the poor. Especially not a very rich man who claims to follow the teachers in of Christ. 

     Pastor Rick may have mispoken; you have misjudged.  I’d rather be guilty of the former.  

    Rick Warren did not misspeak. His non-apology apology makes that perfectly clear. 

    We haven’t misjudged (see above).

    You presumably haven’t misspoken, and it may not be totally accurate to say that you’ve misjudged. What you have done is take the said of the powerful against the weak. If you think that speaks well of you, you should reconsider. 

  • Lori

    Many of you have hastily judged (or probably pre-judged) a man who: donates all of his publishing royayties to charity; reverse tithes (gives 90% of his income); paid back all the salary his church ever paid him; and ahs launced successful local and international efforts to address  poverty, disease, lack of education, etc. 

    I said this before, but you’ve obviously not read the thread so I’ll say it again. Warren gives away a great deal of money, but there is no amount of charity that buys anyone, especially a very rich man like Warren, the right to talk smack about the poor. Especially not a very rich man who claims to follow the teachers in of Christ. 

     Pastor Rick may have mispoken; you have misjudged.  I’d rather be guilty of the former.  

    Rick Warren did not misspeak. His non-apology apology makes that perfectly clear. 

    We haven’t misjudged (see above).

    You presumably haven’t misspoken, and it may not be totally accurate to say that you’ve misjudged. What you have done is take the said of the powerful against the weak. If you think that speaks well of you, you should reconsider. 

  • Hisman

    Many of you have hastily judged (or probably pre-judged) a man who: donates all of his publishing royayties to charity; reverse tithes (gives 90% of his income); paid back all the salary his church ever paid him; and ahs launced successful local and international efforts to address  poverty, disease, lack of education, etc.

    Pastor Rick may have mispoken; you have misjudged.  I’d rather be guilty of the former. 

  • Lori

    Did someone unleash Warren’s flying monkeys? It seems really odd that we’ve gotten this sudden influx of drive-by concern trolls. 

  • Anonymous

    Be fair. At least one of them isn’t a drive-by.

  • Lori

     Be fair. At least one of them isn’t a drive-by.  

    True. Let me rephrase: Did someone unleash Warren’s flying monkeys? It seems really odd that we’ve gotten this sudden influx of drive-by concern trolls to join that one who isn’t a drive-by.

  • Lori

    I’m going to be honest Anonymous, I’m not going to read your post in response to mine. The formatting issues are making it really difficult and past performance leads me to believe that the pay off won’t be enough to warrant the effort.

  • Lori

     I’m not asking anyone to give away so much that they become one of the given-to, or indeed so much that they drop to the second decile. What I want is to have considerably less concentration of wealth. 

     

    I would also like for rich people to be a lot less nasty and evil about the poor. Of course as Fred’s most recent post clearly shows, that’s not gonna happen. In the face of persistent asshatery on the part of the haves I really don’t see any way other than government programs paid for by taxation to care for the have nots in even a marginally acceptable fashion. 

  • Working mother and wife

    Taxes should be raised.  On EVERYONE. 

    E-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y should pay, even if it’s just a little. 

    Enough demagoguery: not all poor are the proverbial “deserving” poor.

    Evidently, the blogger does not know any “poor” people, or he would not extend a blanket to cover all low income people as deserving a handout. 

    Yes, the rich should pay more, but the “poor” should pay something.  It is a matter of fairness.  I studied and work, work, work.  Others did drugs, dropped out, went to jail.  Why should I be forced to support their lifestyle?

  • Anonymous

    I earn about thirteen hundred dollars a month after taxes. I do not earn enough to live anywhere but my parents’ home. Where, pray tell, am I to find the money to pay any more in taxes?

    Meanwhile there are corporations handing out many millions to their CEOs and billions to their shareholders–Apple has more money than the US government at the moment–and there are millionaires and billionaires who are sitting on the money they could be using to hire many many people, or that banks could be but aren’t loaning to businesses that would then hire many many people. They can pay a great deal more in taxes without breaking a sweat.

  • Anonymous

    Taxes should be raised.  On EVERYONE. 

    I am a university graduate who has been looking for a job, without success, for two years. How exactly do you envision my paying taxes in the name of “fairness?”  (I might also point out that I, like the rest of America’s poor, do pay sales tax when I scrape enough together to buy something I need.)

    It is a matter of fairness.  I studied and work, work, work.  Others did drugs, dropped out, went to jail.  Why should I be forced to support their lifestyle?

    What would you suggest that would be “fair?”  Would starving to death be an appropriate payment?  Would living on the streets be a good form of restitution?  Should the poor or addicted go without healthcare or drug treatment programs? 

    How about those who deal with poverty and mental illness?  The ones who need expensive medications but are unable to hold down a job due to their illness, or those who need medication to acquire and hold down a job but cannot get that medication until they have a job that pays health insurance?  What would you do for them? 

    What about people who work minimum wage jobs, sometimes multiple jobs, but still can’t afford to care for themselves or their families because minimum wage is less than a living wage?

    Try compassion instead of resentment.  Be glad that you have the money to pay taxes.  I wish I did.

  • Tonio

    Where do I begin…

    First, the lawbreaking you describe knows no income bracket.

    Second, and this is the whole point of Fred’s column, the poor do pay taxes even in cases when they don’t pay income taxes. No one is claiming that poor people should be exempt from paying anything. The issue here is that the people at the bottom and in the middle are already paying too much relative to their incomes, and the people at the top are paying far too little relative to theirs.

    Third, no one is arguing for poor people to receive a “handout,” and it’s offensive to describe tax cuts for the poor that way, unless you also describe the tax breaks for corporations the same way. In this context, using terms like “work, work, work” and “handout” sound too much like dog whistles.

  • P J Evans

     I have to assume you’re talking about income taxes, since ‘the poor’ pay sales taxes and gas taxes and property taxes (even if it’s indirectly). They pay income taxes too, through withholding, even if they get all the money back later. (It’s money they don’t have for that year, too.) Unemployment compensation is also taxable, and so is Social Security income over a certain amount.

    Exxon and GE paid no taxes on their US revenue for last year. They can afford to pay a lot more.

  • Lori

     Exxon and GE paid no taxes on their US revenue for last year. They can afford to pay a lot more.  

    Goldman Sachs & AIG both played a huge part in nearly tanking the global economy and pushing us into the worst recession in decades. A recession that has widened income inequality, destroyed the futures of untold numbers of people and shows no sign of ending any time soon. The only reason either company still exists is that they received enormous welfare payments. Much of that welfare money was given as bonuses to the very people whose fraud nearly broke us. 

    Funny how Working mother and wife doesn’t seem bothered by that either. It’s so much easy to kick the weak than it is to stand up to the powerful. 

  • P J Evans

     Well, Goldman Sachs used their money to buy the Treasury Department. They probably think it was a good deal. For them.

    The crap going on in Congress makes me hope that the guy with the scythe doesn’t waste too much time coming for us. Those idjits are buying into the ‘supercommittee with special powers’ idea like they’re all expecting to be on it. (Six members, 3 Ds and 3 Rs, from each house. They get to decide what gets cut and by how much, and there will be NO amendments or changes to the bills they write, and only limited ‘debate’. I’ve been calling it the ‘State Central Committee’, or sometimes the ‘Politburo’.)

  • Lori

     Well, Goldman Sachs used their money to buy the Treasury Department. They probably think it was a good deal. For them.

     

    To be fair, GS didn’t use bail out money to buy Treasury. That sale went through long ago. The bail out of GS, but especially of AIG (a huge chunk of AIG’s bail out money was used to pay GS) was the pay off on that investment. 

     
    The crap going on in Congress makes me hope that the guy with the scythe doesn’t waste too much time coming for us. Those idjits are buying into the ‘supercommittee with special powers’ idea like they’re all expecting to be on it. (Six members, 3 Ds and 3 Rs, from each house. They get to decide what gets cut and by how much, and there will be NO amendments or changes to the bills they write, and only limited ‘debate’. I’ve been calling it the ‘State Central Committee’, or sometimes the ‘Politburo’.)  

    This whole supercommittee thing is just infuriating on so many levels. The one that’s really dancing on my last good nerve is that it’s being pushed by the same people who scream “unconstitutional” about ever damn thing they don’t like. Show me something, anything in the Constitution that says that the US can be run by some cross-Congress “supercommittee”. WTF?

  • P J Evans

    You got that right. I’ve been using ‘unconstitutional’, too.
    Unfortunately, it looks to be what we’re going to be stuck with. This is one of those times when I fell like ignoring the government and pretending none of what they’ve done this year has happened.

  • Lori

    There are some days when I feel like I’m being unfair to those on the Right. I wonder if I’ve allowed hardship and struggle to make me so bitter that I can no longer see the good in people who vote differently than I do. I worry that I’m failing as a human being because I can’t give the benefit of the doubt more freely. 

    And then Fred writes a post about having compassion for the poor and we’re visited by a parade of selfish, resentful, mean-spirited, small-hearted, judgmental, fact-challenged asshats and I realize that all things considered it’s a wonder I’m not angrier.  

  • Abdul Jah

    You can give the benefit of the doubt without just accepting whatever they say. It’s one thing to demonize someone without even listening to what they have to say, but you didn’t do that here. You read their comments and reached a conclusion based on what they say. There’s nothing even slightly shameful or inhuman about that; if we can’t judge people on what they say and what they do, then we can’t make decisions at all.

  • P J Evans

    You missed a lot that was going on before that.
    These are people who showed up out of the blue, made comments insulting Fred, our host, or his writing, made it very clear they weren’t interested in anything we have to say, and some of them flounced out the door. No actual interest in what’s being said, no engagement of any kind with the community, and a very clear expectation that we should agree with them ‘because they said so’.
    It’s a lot more complicated than that, in our world, and ‘because I said so’ is not an argument to be used on anyone over the age of consent.

  • Abdul Jah

    I did read all that, and I wasn’t talking about the way they were behaving. I was trying to make the point that the commenter Lori — or anyone else here, actually — doesn’t have to feel bad for even a second for not liking Rick Warren’s comments or the people who dropped in to spew the same weak talking points in support of him. There’s nothing wrong with disliking or criticizing someone who isn’t interested in the discussion, who isn’t interested in engaging, or who relies on the “because I said so” argument. Again, if you can’t judge people like that (Rick Warren or his followers) by what they say (here or anywhere else) or what they do, you can’t judge them at all.

  • P J Evans

    That wasn’t what you said.
    You swooped in, made derogatory comments about one of the regulars here, and you’re unhappy when you get called on bad behavior?

  • Lori

     That wasn’t what you said.
    You swooped in, made derogatory comments about one of the regulars here, and you’re unhappy when you get called on bad behavior?  

     

    I didn’t take Abdul Jah’s post as a criticism of me. I understood and appreciated what he was trying to say. I’m still frustrated that all this crap makes it so difficult for me to think well of others, but as he said the only thing we have to go on is what people say and do. And what a lot of people are saying and doing so really nasty crap. 

  • cyllan


    I didn’t take Abdul Jah’s post as a criticism of me.

    Agreed. I also didn’t read it that way. 

    You really got all that out of his tweet?
    “HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero. So they’re happy for tax rates to be raised on the other half that DOES pay any taxes.”

    I must be missing something.
    I’m not defending his statement, nor condemning.

    The statement that half of America pays no taxes is typically used as a prelude to statements along the lines of “So of course they’re fine with increasing the taxes on the top tax rate.  They’re not the ones who are going to be suffering for that sort of increase.” This statement completely ignores the fact that people who pay no taxes are paying no taxes because they are ALREADY SUFFERING FINANCIAL HARDSHIP. It also implies precisely what Tonio said: “The poor are freeloading on your back; don’t you just hate the fact that your taxes are going to have to go up to take care of Those People.”

    The 140 characters of the tweet-verse don’t allow for nuance in specific, so many people use a sort of Darkmok and Jalad at Tanagra short-hand. By referencing statements made in the past, Warren is either buying into the class of statement and all that goes with it, or he doesn’t actually realize what he’s saying.

    If the latter is true, this his apology should have been a lot more sincere and apologetic. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Matheson/100000365555746 Mike Matheson

    Double-Standard-
    Funny how Fred Clark the author of the piece can spend so much space directly accusing Rick Warren of being a deliberate liar (numerous times) and going so far as naming his piece a defamatory “Purpose Driven LIE”. Very creative piece to get a lot of people to bring out the pitchforks and torches.

    So when Fred Clark makes an error and stupidly says it, then apologizes, would he agree we should jump on him like a pack of wild dogs and rip him to shreds inviting the others for a taste of blood?

    When apologies and conciliatory remarks are offered by another human being should they be accepted or declined based on what ones personal political, religious views are?  Or shouldn’t we in the spirit of humanness and peace accept the apology and move on?
    Which one would go more for peace?

    I found the article to be childish, self-serving and inciteful, but if Fred Clark were to come and say “Wow, I think I went a little overboard here and I’m sorry.” 
    I’d like to think I would forgive him.

    To Fred Clark- Have you ever said or done anything stupid to offend your wife or partner?
    Would you rather they accept your conciliatory remarks and apologies or rip you to shreds?

    To the ones who jumped on Fred’s bandwagon- Maybe you checked your facts and maybe you didn’t (I didn’t). But how many of you jumped on without checking when you smelled the blood in the water?

    How does anyone know either one purposely lied or not? Even if the facts are wrong.

    Aunursa said very well  “But he wasn’t lying.  He expressed himself poorly.  

    No reasonable person can believe that Obama claimed to have visited 57 states.  It’s obvious from the context that he meant 47 states.  “

  • Tonio

    Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether Warren meant all taxes or just income taxes. His message is the same either way – he’s claiming that the poor are living off everyone else and that we should hate and resent them for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Matheson/100000365555746 Mike Matheson

    You really got all that out of his tweet?
    “HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero. So they’re happy for tax rates to be raised on the other half that DOES pay any taxes.”

    I must be missing something.
    I’m not defending his statement, nor condemning. 

  • Tonio

    You don’t see the demagoguery of his tweet? There are a hell of a lot of people who would read that and think, “They don’t pay anything and they want to raise MY taxes? Those freeloading bastards!”

  • Tonio

    You don’t see the demagoguery of his tweet? There are a hell of a lot of people who would read that and think, “They don’t pay anything and they want to raise MY taxes? Those freeloading bastards!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Matheson/100000365555746 Mike Matheson

    “There are a hell of a lot of people who would read that and think, “They don’t pay anything and they want to raise MY taxes? Those freeloading bastards!””

    Who are those whole lot of people besides the ones that want to USE it to spin their own particular agenda?

  • Tonio

    Who are those whole lot of people besides the ones that want to USE it to spin their own particular agenda?

    I know about a dozen of them. They aren’t politicians or commentators, but they deeply resent poor people and non-whites.

    Perhaps we all need to ask ourselves why, if he resents the poor, are we not in that light checking  our own attitudes  towards the poor and the rich? Should we despise the rich?

    One doesn’t have to advocate despising anyone to see that the equivalence you offer is a false one. Rich and powerful people probably don’t care if others despise them, because it doesn’t affect how much money or power they have. But despising the poor is what directly leads to policies that hurt the poor and create more poor people. It’s related to the principle that satire aimed at the powerless is cruel. Despising the poor is almost like despising people with catastrophic illnesses.

  • Lori

    Oh look, yet another concern troll.Warren flying monkey, swooping in to make points that we’ve already discussed in order to protect the honor of a rich, powerful man who can take care of himself. One of these days I have got to get myself some of these minions. They seem like they could come in handy. 

  • Dfry45

    Excellent analysis. Thank you for standing up for the poor. I am just starting to follow Dr. Lamb and, so far, I am very impressed.

    Pastor David M. Fryson, Esq.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    I was watching the local ABC affiliate (WFAA) here in Dallas and they had two people arguing about the slashing of entitlement programs. The conservative Christian (that’s how they described him) argued that the government has no business in helping the poor and that it should be left up to the churches because they do a better job of it. When he got to the part where he said that the Preamble of the Constitution, where it says for “the general welfare,” doesn’t mean a welfare-state…I had to leave the room. My grandmother was watching it and she doesn’t like it when I get angry and start dropping the f-word. I’m guessing the guy was only against welfare for the poor and not for corporations since he never mentioned ending entitlements to them.

    Some days (the way things are going it’s becoming every day) I feel like I’ve been sucked into Bizarro World. I seriously want to grab these people by the ears, shake them, while yelling “What the fuck is wrong with you?!”  

  • P J Evans

    Oh, yeah.
    They seem to be able to believe two contradictory things at the same time, without ‘splody heads. That they have zero evidence that their political theories work doesn’t bother them either. (In fact, I’d say all the evidence points the other directions: help the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and make sure the disabled can be part of society, and you won’t have so many people who think that overthrowing the government might be a good idea.)

  • andreas

    Fred, What your article forgets to state is the actual number of how many people don’t pay taxes in the US (yes, we all pay sales and property tax – but i think it’s clear he means income tax).

    I do hear, and intuitively believe that the 50% is not true… but if we want to fight a lie, we best do that with the truth, not with an ad hominem attack on the one saying and/or believing that lie.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    yes, we all pay sales and property tax – but i think it’s clear he means income tax

    It isn’t clear. In fact, it’s part of the lie. Because the key point of the lie *is* the part where it tries to trick the audience into forgetting that sales tax and payroll tax exist, trick them into forgetting that social security contributions exist. Make them think of tax only in terms of the income tax, and therefore make them think that the true thing — a large percentage of people are so poor that their income tax liability is zero — implies an untrue thing — that those lucky poor people are unfairly weaseling out of the tax obligations so unfairly foist on the audience. The like *is* the part where they make you think that people who have no income tax liability don’t pay tax.

  • Xxanmorph

    I apologize if what I’m about to say has already been covered, I did some skimming so I may have missed it.

    Anyone who says that giving money to business will get them to hire has no idea how a business is run. Businesses hire and expand when there is enough demand to require additional employees. If you run a shoe store and your employees spend most of their time sitting on their butts it doesn’t matter if the government gives you a million dollars, you will not hire. On the other hand if the government gave those million dollars to a few thousand people then you may indeed have to hire someone new because suddenly you’re selling more.

    Give money to the poor, the businesses get it in the end but at least the poor will have shoes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Matheson/100000365555746 Mike Matheson

    Fred’s question to Rick Warren “Why do you resent people who have far, far less than you have?”
    Exactly which part of the tweet and or retraction says that he resents the poor?

    HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero. So they’re happy for tax rates to be raised on the other half that DOES pay any taxes.

    It seems a whole lot of words are being seen inside of those twenty-five words.
    Is that because he’s wealthy? and resented.
    Is that because he’s famous? and resented.
    Is that because he’s done many things that others say should be done but don’t actually do it?
    So they turn and bite him to cover their own lack of…… (A very human trait)
    Is it the swine turning and trampling the one who casts the pearls?

    Perhaps we all need to ask ourselves why, if he resents the poor, are we not in that light checking  our own attitudes  towards the poor and the rich? Should we despise the rich?
    Let our stands be known, fantastic, let our voices be heard. 
    Let a rallying cry for the poor be louder than the condemning of the one who condemns?

    Tearing apart the ones who don’t measure up to our own standard of opinion politically or socially may not help the problem.

  • Anonymous

    Well, that Jesus fellow was known to have strong opinions on the subject.

  • http://dailydumpbydave.blogspot.com/ liberaldemdave

    “It’s a vicious lie, contemptuous of the weak, haughty and detestable, arrogant, overfed and unconcerned. This was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and the needy. ”

    HOW REFRESHING!!! to see the sodom story used CORRECTLY!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know what just amazes me about taxes? That people don’t know the top rate is 33% now and was 91% in the fifties.

    Amazingly, the US economy did not collapse under all that onerous taxation.


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