From the archives: Rick Warren and The Purpose-Driven Lie

This video —

YouTube Preview Image

— makes this post from July of 2011 newly pertinent, so I’m re-posting it today.

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Via David Atkins at Hullabaloo:

[On July 25, 2011] 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These aren’t corrections — his lie hasn’t been retracted.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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  • JustoneK

    Dammit I would like recent history to not repeat itself so exactly.  Just for a while, a decade?

  • Victor

    (((So they’re happy for tax rates to be raised on the other half that DOES pay any taxes. Stupid or evil? Both. …)))

    For what “IT” is worth, I like to think that people are basically good and have a heart.

    The problem is that when politic gets involved, most of the people don’t really have much of a say!

    I hear ya! They do but then who really listens to them? :)

    Be careful of stones that ya throw!

    Learn and listen Victor :(


  • Baby_Raptor

    Calling out someone of power who is blatantly abusing said power to attack those without defense is not throwing stones, and you are a sick person for trying to defend him. 

  • Chris Doggett

    That video is not going to have much of an impact, I’m afraid. There’s absolutely nothing Mitt Romney says in that video that Rush or O’Reiley would object to. There is nothing in that video that would prevent a single “Fox News geezer” from voting for him. For some 27%+ of the electorate, this election is about “Anyone but Obama”. 

    To be fair, the same can be said of the other side. I am outraged at the drone strikes, infuriated at the treatment of whistleblowers, and contemptuous of the ongoing security-state, but I’m still going to pull the lever for the (D)’s. 

  • Chris Algoo

     I think it’ll have a heck of an impact on that undecided middle he’s trying to court. The Fox Geezers are going to vote the way Fox tells them to, no matter what.

  • Chris Doggett

    Pssst! There might not be all that many “independent voters” out there.

  • Chris Algoo

     Then it looks like Mitt and I are wrong :(

  • SisterCoyote

    I’m an independent – but as a general rule, that means more “Democrat except where the third-party candidates blow the Democratic candidate out of the water on policy/honesty” than “Sometimes Democrat, sometimes Republican.”

  • Goodrep

    Chris,  I must disagree.  You will find more geezers have read Obama’s books than liberals.  Why? They want to know how he really feels.  His words, not those of a pundit.  Listen to Fox, they don’t tell you how to vote…listen to both sides, don’t let anyone tell you how to vote.  Most of all, read what Obama says. 

  • Goodrep

     So no matter how many drone strikes are issued, how many more taxes are added,  no matter how many freedoms are taken away, including religious freedom, you are  pulling the lever for Obama.  You are a man of action.

  • Rider

    From outside the USA this whole thing looks very much like “pay no taxes” is another word for “welfare queens” which is another word for “black”.

    Warren doesn’t resent the poor, he resents the fact that black people are being helped by white taxes. Presumably instead of being slaves.

  • Carstonio

     It looks that way from inside the USA as well. Romney has been pushing a toxic blend of the Southern Strategy and the Just World Fallacy, but it sure didn’t originate with him, as Warren shows.

  • Lori

     It looks like that from inside the US too. Because that’s what it is.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    This graph; took about 5 seconds to find. We mere laborers would be happy to trade more taxes for just wages. I haven’t actually done the math, but I doubt my income taxes pay for my skiing on National Forest lands, I’d be happy to pay more, but I will not voluntarily contribute my pittance with freeloaders like Mitt out there.

  • Catherine

    From a non-USAian – what’s the difference between income tax and payroll tax?  Isn’t your pay your income?

  • B_bourdeau

     Yes,  but not all income is earned with a paycheck.  Payroll taxes are deducted from paychecks before you ever get them,  if you overpay that tax you file an income tax form and can get the amount you overpaid back.  Income tax is levied on income from things like profit and any other source where taxes are not automatically deducted,  but must be reported to the government by the payers,  like free-lance work or consulting fees,  what have you.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Payroll taxes are deducted from paychecks before you ever get them,  if
    you overpay that tax you file an income tax form and can get the amount
    you overpaid back.  Income tax is levied on income from things like
    profit and any other source where taxes are not automatically deducted, 
    but must be reported to the government by the payers,  like free-lance
    work or consulting fees,  what have you.

    Not actually so. Not in the US, anyway, I don’t know about other places. Payroll tax funds Medicare and Social Security, it’s the same percentage for everyone (up to a point; most people don’t make enough in a year to encounter that point, while a pro basketball player blows past that point sometime in the season’s first game), and once it’s out of your paycheck you can never see it again until you need to make use of Medicare or Social Security. Income tax funds most everything else the federal government wants to pay for, the effective tax rate varies by income and can be altered by taking advantage of this tax credit or that tax rebate, and someone who pays more by paycheck withholdings than they owe can get that refunded.

    And then there’s capital gains tax. Income taxes are on wages and salaries, which means one has to work in order to have to pay them. Capital gains taxes are on income from stocks and interest from savings accounts and what have you, which pretty much means one has to be rich in order to have to pay them. And capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than income…

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Canadian payroll taxes work similarly to Medicare and FICA in the USA.

    On my paychecks there’s a line item for CPP (Canada Pension Plan) and another one for EI (Employment Insurance). Both are dedicated funds operated on a similar basis to Medicare or SocSec except there’s no trust fund and no IOUs. They’re just run on a pay-in/pay-out basis.

  • VCarlson

    The difference between “Income Tax” and “Payroll Tax,” aka FICA, in the US is that income tax is what gets paid to the IRS to support the functions of government, while FICA is what an employee pays into the Social Security fund (matched by the employer, and yes, if you’re self-employed, you pay both parts) which is used to pay what was intended to be a supplemental retirement payment back when pensions were a thing in the world for anyone but the powerful.

  • Chris Doggett

    In the US, your income consists of:
    *wages you are paid by employers
    *gains on sales of items you own (certain types of gains are taxed differently)
    *money paid to you for services rendered under contract or agreement
    *interest, dividends, and other payments from certain types of investments
    *winnings from lottery or other forms of gambling
    *debts forgiven or paid by others on your behalf
    *net income from a business you have some ownership in

    All of these things and more get added up (with some subtractions along the way) to determine your net taxable income. So “income tax” is what you pay on, well, income. 

    To cut down on non-payment, US law requires that employers withhold some of an employee’s pay for income tax, based on the anticipated taxes. At the end of the year, the employee must file a tax return, showing their actual income tax. 

    Because income can include lots of things, it’s possible for too little tax to be withheld over the year, in which case the taxpayer must send in more money. Alternatively, because tax withholding is based on estimated taxes, it’s also possible that too much money was withheld, in which case the taxpayer will receive a tax refund when they file their taxes. 

    When we talk about not paying any (Federal) (Income) tax, we’re describing a situation where the taxable income is zero, usually because of a combination of tax-exempt income, (certain types of retirement funds, for example) tax deductions from income, (such as student loan interest, mortgage interest, health care costs, and so on) and tax credits (such as the Earned Income Credit for low-income caregivers of households)

    Payroll taxes, on the other hand, are taxes paid specifically on wages paid to you by an employer. Some payroll taxes are for things like Social Security and Medicaid. The money for Social Security comes from taxes exclusively on wages. There’s a bumper sticker joking about this that says “Who the hell is FICA and why does he get so much of my paycheck?” 

    If you earn wages from an employer, you pay payroll taxes. No “ifs, ands, or buts”. There is no way to not pay payroll taxes if you are employed by someone else. (If you are self-employed, there are equivalent self-employment taxes)  Unlike income tax, there is no way to eliminate your tax liability. Also unlike income tax, it is exceedingly rare to owe an additional payment to the government for payroll taxes. 

  • PJ Evans

    Unlike income tax, there is no way to eliminate your tax liability.

    That ’47 percent pay no taxes’ also tends to assume that people who are low income never pay any of those, which is not at all true – even if (as I did for a while) you’re working part-time and for minimum wage, you’re still getting withholding and FICA and Medicare and disability taken out. You can get withholding back, and maybe more if you qualify for EITC (Earned Income tax Credit), but you have to file that tax return. The government will have had use of that money since it was collected.

  • LoneWolf343

     I assume “payroll” is a catchall for other taxes that aren’t the main income tax, FICA, Social Security,  Medicare, etc.

  • LL

    Income tax goes into (if I am not mistaken) the “general fund” and pays for the military, various other programs, etc. Basically, everything that’s not Social Security and Medicare.

    Payroll taxes fund Social Security and Medicare. 

    All income (up to something like $100,000 annually) is subject to the payroll tax (it’s called FICA here – Federal Insurance Contributions Act). 

    People who make under a certain amount of money (not sure what that limit is, I think it’s something like $25K a year for a family of 4) are not subject to income tax, but they are subject to the payroll tax. 

    Both are usually automatically deducted from your paycheck by your employer every pay period. 

  • Invisible Neutrino

    It would be any kind of government-mandated social payments tax, in Europe.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It would be any kind of government-mandated social payments tax, in Europe.

    Not in Europe, but we don’t separate tax for social security payments from other tax. It just comes from general revenue.

  • Redwood Rhiadra

     In addition to what Bordeaux said, payroll taxes are contributions to specific programs (primarily Medicare and Social Security). They are also highly regressive – a flat rate on wages up to a particular amount, and nothing on wages over that (and nothing on non-wage income).

    Income taxes are the primary tax that pays for general spending – the military, government salaries, etc. (At the Federal level, that is. State tax structures vary a great deal).

  • Kesh Meshi

    The federal income tax goes into the federal government’s general fund.  It’s also a progressive, marginal tax that increases as the taxpayer’s income increases (theoretically, although deductions and tax loopholes undercut that quite a bit).  The payroll tax is a flat tax up to a certain amount of income that’s paid by the employee and employer.  Once an individual’s income exceeds a certain amount (over $106,000, if I remember correctly), the individual pays a set amount, making the tax regressive for high earners.  Payroll taxes are supposed to fund Social Security, although the federal government has been using it as a slush fund for quite some time.

    While poor Americans rely on Social Security for basic survival in old age, poor Americans are more likely to die at a young age, meaning that many pay into the system all their lives and don’t get Social Security benefits in return.

  • LouisDoench

    In a just world this would be his “A Face in the Crowd” moment. But the fact of the matter is that our mushy centrist, both-sides-are-just-as-bad media will never use it that way.

  • Worthless Beast

    My parents bought me a copy of Purpose Driven Life during a time when I was desperate for a way out of my depression (before I got helped by people who could actually help me).  I think I read one or two pages of it before tossing it in my closet because of the whole “Your life sucks because you aren’t praying hard enough / it has nothing to do with your poverty or other uncontrollable life-circumstances” thing.  I don’t know about other people with my issues, but I don’t like being victim-blamed.
    I think the “grass is greener on the other side” is a common human condition.  Even if you can *see* your verdant lawn blooming with carefully planted rows of flowers and the little birdies come to sing to you every day in it, it is the human condition to look at the neighbor’s radiation-contaminated dirt-lot and whine that they have it “so much easier” because they don’t have to stand with a hose and water like you do. Or something. It’s like people are afraid that acknowledging their privilage or even being thankful for it means that those who have less are going to take a little of it away from them.  “Did one of my grass seedlings just blow into your dirt-lot?!!”  

    It’s like my early adult life with my older siblings.  We’ve all needed a little financial help from my parents every now and again when they could afford to help us out. I think most adult children do need a little help from able and willing family these days.  You wouldn’t believe the flipping out my sister and my brother did whenever the folks helped me out with anything.  Inter-family war.  My brother was worse – probably because he and I are alike in many ways and have both needed the most help. He would get ticked if my parents gave a loan to my sister, too…  Even after being reminded by my parents that they’d received loads of help, my siblings’ attention was on the fact that someone else was getting attention at the time, even if they were actually doing okay for the time being.
    I don’t know if there is a sociological or psychiatric term for the phenomenon of “I’m doing great but hell if anyone but me deserves anything!,”  but if not, there should be.  Narcissism, is it?   

  • The_L1985

     Egocentrism.  It’s normal in small children, but a huge problem if it persists to adulthood.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t know if there is a sociological or psychiatric term for the phenomenon of “I’m doing great but hell if anyone but me deserves anything!,” but if not, there should be. Narcissism, is it?

    I heard someone tell a story today that I can’t cope with.

    This woman (early 50’s upper middle class double income family) was explaining how her oldest daughter (early 20s) announced the other day that she’d realised that since her younger sisters both needed braces growing up and she didn’t, that her parents had spent $8,000 on each sister that they didn’t spend on her, so she reasoned that they owed her $8,000. The woman was annoyed because she and her husband bought the daughter a house–paid the deposit and were making the mortgage repayments–and the daughter didn’t factor this in.

    I couldn’t get past that they’d bought the daughter a house. Not chipped in $20,000 on the deposit, which is amazing enough but common among my middle class friends, but bought the entire damn thing. A fucking house, and she wants to know where her braces money is.

    I really can’t cope with that story.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Re: Braces money story

    …. entitlement?

    It’s astonishing how out of touch some people can be with their own material benefits.

  • Random Lurker

    More concerning then the old tax lie -old politics tropes never die- is that Rmoney seems to have given himself permission to give the finger to 47% of his potential constituents.

    This man does not deserve to be president.  Or hold public office of any kind for that matter.

  • FearlessSon

    I was reading a testimonial making the rounds of progressive websites the other week done by a person who was raised in a secular Republican community who slowly changed his outlook.  I think Fred linked to it at some point.  If nothing else, it gave me a little food for thought that I did not have when Fred first posted this.  

    In particular, I am not sure if “resentment” is the best word to use.  I am sure that there is some of it in there, but I think that it is more of a melange of feelings that blend together.  In the kind of environment in which he was raised, everyone was prosperous. People worked, tried to put in their fair share of effort, but fair share of effort was enough to guarantee prosperity and stability.  They knew no one else who struggled just to make ends meet, and lacking experience of that, they found themselves unable to sympathize with those who did.  

    To them, anyone who found themselves dependent on outside assistance seemed like that person was just not really trying.  In the mental framework they had, the only conclusion that they could come to is that the less fortunate must simply be lazy, and just not want to work.  And if they keep asking for government assistance, assistance paid out of the tax money of those who are prosperous, it is easy to see that as people just wanting to ride others coattails at those others expense.  And yeah, “resentment” gets born that way.  That is how hatred of the poor gets generated.  

    The guy in the article said that at the time, he could not understand why liberals always seemed to get so upset when his compatriots proposed cutting financial assistance for the impoverished or cutting government income.  

  • Stone_Monkey

    I don’t know about you USians, but the Romney/Ryan ticket is really starting to worry this British observer now. I’m not talking about the politics of it or the economics of it or even the social justice aspect of it, those worries were there due to them simply being Republicans. I’m actually worried on an existential level about the prospect of them gaining power in the US – even Sarah Palin didn’t worry me like those two do.

    I mean, look at these men. They seem so flawed on such a deep and personal level that it’s amazing to me how they manage to function in society.

    You have Romney, who seems unable to deal with even the concept of people outside his social stratum having anything like a meaningful life. And who appears so desperate to win this election that he is willing to say absolutely anything and take absolutely any position, no matter how abhorrent or pandering may be or how contradictory it may be to those he’s had in the past, in order to look like someone that a majority of US voters will vote for.

    And then there’s Ryan, whose main personality trait appears to be that he will lie about anything, however trivial, in order to appear to be some sort of paragon of muscular Christian masculinity.

    If I were feeling uncharitable, I would say that the pair of them appear to be some sort of vast and terrible Situationist joke that’s being played on the US public. How can these people be the best that conservative America has to offer to its people? And what does that say about the world if this is indeed the case?

    Every day there are more reports of them, coming to us here across the Atlantic, that simply leave me flabbergasted. What on earth is going on in your country?

  • Fusina

     Hell if I know. And I have parents and siblings who are going to be voting for this person. Yeah, I have tried, but they do not want to hear it. My brother basically told me that I was going to hell because I am not a good Christian–and that  I should not argue with the family about politics, that if they wanted to bring up conservative shit I should just suck it up and not say anything.

    I haven’t seen or talked to my brother in two years now.

  • LL

    At the city, county and state level, voter turnout is quite low (typically less than 20% of registered voters, in many local elections, it is much less than 20%). It allows people who are really quite “partisan” (ie, an asshole like Akin) to achieve public office because a very small number of people will decide that election. Politicians usually start small, like a city council or some other minor county office. Then, a lot of them can coast on name recognition, working their way up to Representative or Senator. And from there, maybe president.

    In the presidential election, in almost every state, the candidate who gets the majority (a simple majority, ie, at least 50%) of the popular vote gets ALL that state’s electoral votes. So in Texas, I expect Romney will get at least 50% of the popular vote in November (I believe Bush got 60% in 2004), which will give him all of Texas’ 34 electoral votes. And so on through every state.

    Politicians don’t have to give a shit what the likely voters of the “opposing” party think of them, only what the likely voters of their party think, plus enough “independent” voters to swing the election their way. 

    Romney has run a terrible campaign, strategy-wise, though. I don’t think another Republican candidate (except maybe Huntsman) would have done better. I certainly can’t imagine Bachmann or Pawlenty being less embarrassing. The Republican candidate is handicapped by the batshit crazy element of the Republican Party that is running that show now, thanks to Karl Rove and Lee Atwater and a few other terrible people. Karl Rove’s been working on this since the mid-’70s, at least. It goes back that far. It’s not a recent thing, it’s just taken this long for it to become obvious to the rest of the world. Those of us who live in states dominated by the batshit crazy people (like Texas) have known this for a long time. 

    Romney’s mistake is that he’s saying out loud what all the other Republicans believe (seriously, they believe this crazy shit, or claim to) but usually just say amongst themselves. It’s turning off the “independent” voters who hate government (or again, claim to) but aren’t quite as batshit crazy as the “Tea Party.”

  • AnonymousSam

    There’s a reason the phrase “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan” is an anagram of “My Ultimate Ayn Rand Porn”. Too bad it seems less like a joke and more like symbolism we should take as a religious sign of the endtimes.

  • guest

    I’m an American who’s been living in the UK for nearly a decade, and I can’t make head or tail of it either.

  • FearlessSon

    But really, what on earth is going on in your country? How did you get to a position where people like this are deemed to be fit, by a significant number of people, to lead the country and perhaps the world into the future?

    Unfortunately, it has to do with a gradual eroding of certain regulation on speech, media, and company size/influence, done gradually over the last three decades, coupled with cynical exploitation by politicians selling snake oil appeals to emotion.  It was a slippery slope, with each little thing seeming reasonable in itself, but having consequences when taken in aggregate.  Those who lobbied for such changes have found that they make further changes easier the more they do them.  

  • VCarlson

    I think part of it is the difference between the Republican Party and Republicans (and the Democratic Party and Democrats). That is, between the power elite in the party and the people who identify as members of the party, mainly because they or their family have for decades. The Republican Party, thanks in large part to Karl Rove and his ilk (who, IMHO, wasn’t smarter than everyone else, but was just quicker to go dirty and into previously forbidden forms of dirty politics), has been drifting farther and farther into right-wing loony-land. The sane and/or principled ones have been leaving (undortunately for the Democratic Party), leaving a smaller and more extreme pot of potential candidates. So you get RMoney/RAyn as a presidential ticket. Most Republicans, I’m guessing (hoping!), aren’t really paying attention to what these guys are actually proposing. There are some who are wholly behind them, and they’re the ones you see because they are so noticeable in their hatred.

  • VCarlson

    Continuing because Disqus:

    The Democratic Party, which should be acting as a reality check on the Republican Party, is, instead, acting as a pawl to their ratchet (imagery stolen from another commenter on another blog because it’s so good), preventing any shift back “leftward.”

    It’s terrifying to this USian, because hese are the people with real power.

  • Isabel C.

    I keep seeing numbers debates over this, and some of them are valid, but what I keep returning to, what I can’t get past, is this:

    “…[they] believe they’re entitled to food…”

    Like it’s a subjective and somewhat controversial thing. Like saying “Hey, I *don’t* think I should starve in the street,” is the equivalent of demanding a big-screen TV or a trip to Vegas.

    At which point my brain breaks down, not just as someone who follows politics, but also as a writer and a gamer, because: holy shit. Holy *shit*. Who *thinks* that way? And how the hell does anyone justify following him? 

  • Chris Doggett

    Part of what you’re seeing (“[they] believe they’re entitled to food…”) is American mythology at work. 

    The myth of the Jamestown colony, and the ‘starving time’ is where I’d lay the blame. The myth was that the colonists in Virginia were lazy, and didn’t work hard enough to prepare for the winter, and nearly all starved to death but were saved by the tough, bold leadership of John Smith, who (according to myth) proclaimed “He that shall not worke shall not eate!”

    There’s also a biblical echo here (“if any would not work, neither should he eat.”) 

    Mix in one part of “the land of opportunity” and a dash of “the land of plenty”, and “people think they’re entitled to food!” 

  • Lori


    The myth of the Jamestown colony, and the ‘starving time’ is where I’d
    lay the blame. The myth was that the colonists in Virginia were lazy,
    and didn’t work hard enough to prepare for the winter, and nearly all
    starved to death but were saved by the tough, bold leadership of John
    Smith, who (according to myth) proclaimed “He that shall not worke shall
    not eate!”  

    Did you see the news a couple months back that they’re pretty sure they’ve figured out where the Jamestown colonists went?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I didn’t. Where’d the Jamestown folks go?

  • Lori

    I am so sorry. I had a major brain fade (it’s getting past my bedtime). The article that I was thinking about wasn’t about the Jamestown colony, it was about Roanoke. For reasons I won’t bore you with those things are tied together a bit too tightly in my head.

    (For those who didn’t see it—-the gist of the find was that the Roanoke Colony wasn’t’ “lost” at all, it just moved upriver to be better location. It was the map to the new place that got “lost”.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh. Okay. Kind of screws with the “Croatoan” episode of Supernatural and the subsequent episodes depending on “Croatoan” plot points, but okay. *goes to find article*

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    God, national mythologies. Imagine if the Dutch made the Hunger Winter* all about how Audrey Hepburn got her petite figure.

    *in which thousands starved to death under a blockage by the friggin Nazis

  • christopher_young

    “He that shall not worke shall not eate!”

    Funny, I associate that slogan with Lenin.

  • The_L1985

     The truth was, they weren’t lazy so much as they were planting the wrong thing.

    See, corn is super-simple.  Bury it in the ground and forget it.  Three months later, FOOD!

    Tobacco, on the other hand, is extremely labor-intensive and produces an inedible crop.

    Guess which crop the colonists planted in “every spare space?”  If you said the first one, you’re not cynical enough.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I am now facepalming repeatedly. You can’t even EAT tobacco!

  • The_L1985

     No, but in those days you could get filthy rich off of it.

    That’s right, they let their greed for sovereigns and doubloons get ahead of their need to eat.  People were eating housepets and rats (sometimes even each other!) but somehow it didn’t occur to them, “hey, maybe I should have at least set aside a few square yards of my Hueg Tobacco Field Of Awesome for some damn food crops.”

  • Susan Paxton

    I thought I read somewhere that they were all running around looking for Treafure, as they fpelled it then, inftead of planting ye foode. (I’m now laughing hysterically because that sounds like an H.P. Lovecraft character)

  • Ross Thompson

    Yeah, I read that and thought “damn straight everyone’s entitled to food.”

    What kind of person doesn’t think that?

  • LL

    Eh, I was gonna write something lengthy about this, then realized these people aren’t worth the effort. They’re just assholes. I don’t even care why they’re assholes. 

  • Isabel C.

    @ChrisDoggett:disqus : Oh,  Lord, I know. Ants and grasshoppers, and a past where you–in theory–could cultivate your own food and/or build your own house, and ridiculous mythology results. So much hate.

    Hate everything, off to watch My Little Pony.

  • Jules

    My disappointment in Rick Warren began when during the presidential debates between Obama and McCain, Warren “accidentally,” probably on purpose, allowed McCain to hear all the questions McCain was going to be asked. McCain was suppose to be in a soundproof booth while Obama answered the questions. Now his tweet is a further disappointment. WWJD.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I have always thought it rather … I’m not sure of the word, but consider that animals other than humans don’t have to pay for food. And plants. They grow in the ground and get free food and energy too.

    The sheer ridiculousness of assigning chits of paper value to necessary sustenance, such that there are people who are then committing a crime by eating

    And then to have people like Mitt Romney come along and basically put the boot in along with a hefty heel grind.


  • Hilary

    “You broke the law!”
    “I stole a loaf of bread!”
    “You broke a window pane!”
    “My sister’s child was close to death, and we were starved . . .”
    “You will starve again, unless you learn the meaning of the law.”
    “I know the meaning of those 19 years, a slave of the law.”
    “Five years for what you did, the rest because you tried to run, yes 24601.”
    “My name is Jean Valjean!”
    “And I am Javert.  Do not forget my name.  Do not forget me, 24601.”

    Like I.N. said, commiting a crime just by eating . . . .

    For every person cross the pond, the pacific, up north or down south of us, I don’t know what to say.  I can’t beleive how @##$^&%#@! this is getting.  I don’t know what happened either that our conservative side got this way.  I just  . . . don’t know.  All I know is that I hate being hungry so I donate to the foodshelf regularly.  Yom Kippur is coming up next week and my temple always raises about ~6,000 pounds of food for a local foodshelf. I’ve already got ~30 pounds of rice, beans, cans, laundry soap, and dish soap saved up for YK fast appeal, and I intend to hit up the farmers market for potatoes, onions and winter squash this weekend since they will store at room temp for over a week.   

    There is a Jewish belief that the first question G-d askes you after you die is “Where you honest in your business?”  This comes before asking what you believed and how much you studied the bible.  I don’t know where I’m going with this other then I hope it’s true. 

    Cross your fingers and wish us luck. 


  • guest

    Thanks for writing that, Hilary–and yeah, good luck.

    Potatoes and onions may last a lot longer than that–I harvested mine last month and they’re still on towels upstairs drying; I’ve been periodically culling/cooking the ones that have gone bad/are starting to go bad.  (I guess though that you still need to have the space to keep them dark and dry.)   Last year I had a squash on my kitchen counter for weeks before eating it and it was fine.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    There is a Jewish belief that the first question G-d askes you after you die is “Where you honest in your business?” This comes before asking what you believed and how much you studied the bible. I don’t know where I’m going with this other then I hope it’s true.

    Given the one story recorded as being told by Jesus about judgement after death, I can safely say that this belief is not alone in Judaism; and I also hope it’s true.

  • Matt McIrvin

    Concerning FICA (that is, the payroll tax that pays into Social Security and Medicare) vs. income tax, one thing to understand is that income tax is (mostly) progressive, whereas FICA is actually regressive.

    FICA is essentially a flat tax, partly paid by employers and partly by employees, and the portion of income that’s taxed for it currently gets capped at $110,100.  So if your wages are above that point, your effective FICA tax rate actually goes down. (And if your income isn’t from wages, you don’t pay it at all.)

    The cap is for household income. I have personally actually gotten fat checks back from the government because my wife’s and my combined household income turned out to be over the FICA cap at tax-filing time.

    Now income tax, on the other hand, actually has brackets that increase the effective rate for income over some threshold, though they don’t go up nearly as far as they probably should, and capital gains are taxed at a lower rate, etc., etc. But on the whole it’s actually somewhat progressive. It’s also the thing you spend most of your time dealing with at tax-filing time.

    So this makes it possible to play a sort of rhetorical shell game. Most people would probably count FICA as a significant part of the federal tax they have to pay. But for the rich people in the Republican base, such as Romney’s audience in Boca Raton, income tax is probably far, far more significant, and somebody who pays no income tax probably sounds like they’re getting away with something.

    Furthermore, if you leave out FICA when counting lucky duckies, you can say “47%” (really it’s 46%) “of Americans pay no income tax”, and what even lower-income people will *hear* is some version of the Rick Warren lie reprinted above: “47% of people other than me pay no tax at all”.

    You may even be able to make some of the very people who pay no income tax outraged that somebody is getting away with paying no income tax!

  • Matt McIrvin

    …Another thing: It’s very likely that many people who pay no federal income tax aren’t even aware of this. That’s because they may well be in a situation where they get income tax withheld from their paychecks, then get it all refunded only when they file their tax return with the computation that they actually owe nothing. Until they file, they don’t really know.

    And they may not even know it then, if they use a tax preparer or tax software (some versions of which are free for low-income taxpayers). What they’ll mostly pay attention to is the size of the refund, not the amount of tax they’re paying.

    It’s possible to successfully file one’s taxes without understanding much about taxes. For instance, many, many Americans believe that ascending into a higher tax bracket will reduce your take-home pay by increasing the rate on which all your income is taxed, and get very angry about this fact, even though examination of a 1040 form will reveal that it isn’t true: only income above the threshold is taxed at the higher rate. Joe Biden actually has made a speech where he explains this in simple words, because not even members of Congress get it.

  • Charity Brighton

     A lot of people work really hard not to understand this concept. It’s a little complicated, but it’s not that overwhelming to follow. But I bet you that Biden could teach an entire semester course of that to Congress and half of them would still have the vague notion that increasing the highest marginal tax rate by X amount means that everyone’s income will be taxed by that amount.

     Not because the concept is impossible to understand, but because it’s a neat rhetorical trick that makes it easier to get lower-income people to think that it somehow hurts them if the top rate is moved up, even though their income doesn’t get anywhere near the level where it would be touched by that.

  • Isabel C.

    Yep.  I’m not sure how much tax I actually pay. I get a refund, generally, but I don’t think that’s all the tax that’s come out of my paycheck over the years, because…it comes out of my paycheck, and I use EasyTax or something similar.

  • mud man

    Personally, I don’t understand why having money withheld from your paycheck against your income tax obligation doesn’t count as paying income tax. Nobody thinks that when you get a check back, that means your tax rate was negative; we call that a refund.

    Learn to grow vegetables, my advice. But right, the whole problem is that nobody is listening anyway. 

  • Shay Guy

    Some good news — Intrade’s reporting the most favorable odds of an Obama victory I’ve seen yet, 68.3% versus a 31.3% chance of Romney winning. No, I don’t know where the other 0.4% goes. Ask “the market.”

  • Geds

    I actually had to break one of my long-held rules this morning and start shit on Facebook.  One of my oldest friends popped up on Facebook for the first time in, like, six months or a year and posted this:

    am so glad that only 47% of American’s get free stuff. To live in a
    world where more than 47% of American’s get free stuff would be
    ridiculous. This country was founded on hard work, not food stamps;
    therefore, a president should be voted on based on his hard work, not
    his ability to hand out food stamps. Why can’t we come together as a
    county to create jobs, make taxes easier to understand, end welfare, and
    enjoy the life that God gave us to live?

    He’s been drifting deeper and deeper into conservative Christian land over the last few years, which worries me, but there’s not much I can do about it.  I didn’t realize that he’d gone over to the point of being suckered by asshole talking points.

    Anyway, I replied thusly:

    47% of the population is made up of students, retired people, and the
    working poor, which is generally people making less than $15,000/year.
    They aren’t exactly leading a life of hedonism. Those people still pay
    Medicare and Social Security taxes, any state income tax they might have
    to deal with, and local sales and property taxes. They aren’t getting
    anything for free.More specific to that final point, you really ought to read this:, since Jesus had a whole hell of a lot more to say about helping the poor than heaping burning coals atop their heads.


  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Looks like they get free apostrophes too, eh? ;)

  • Geds

    Looks like they get free apostrophes too, eh? ;)

    Apostrophe redistribution is the only acceptable form of redistribution in America!

  • Lunch Meat

    To live in a world where more than 47% of American’s get free stuff would be ridiculous.

    So when you drive on roads, you always make sure to send a check to your state department of transportation? If a police officer gives you directions or takes a burglary report, do you slip him some cash? Because if that doesn’t count as free stuff, neither does the social security check received by a retired person who paid into that account all her life.Also, when you were a baby, did you work in return for your parents providing you food and changing your diaper? That’s free stuff too, but if students shouldn’t get government grants or should have to pay income tax (on their $6/hour, 15 hr/wk job), then no one should get a hand-up when they’re starting out in life. Bootstraps! I say babies should get their own milk!

  • Geds

     So when you drive on roads, you always make sure to send a check to your
    state department of transportation? If a police officer gives you
    directions or takes a burglary report, do you slip him some cash?
    Because if that doesn’t count as free stuff, neither does the social
    security check received by a retired person who paid into that account
    all her life.

    Unfortunately for that argument, I’m pretty sure that it’s either too cerebral/removed to have an impact.  Of course, the flip side is that it’s entirely possible that people who do make the connection will then follow it with, “Hey, wait, now those freeloaders are driving on my roads?”

  • FearlessSon

    He’s been drifting deeper and deeper into conservative Christian land over the last few years, which worries me, but there’s not much I can do about it.  I didn’t realize that he’d gone over to the point of being suckered by asshole talking points.

    Unfortunately, that seems to be a common thing among a lot of Republicans.  As the party shifts rightward, they are left with two choices: either let go of the party, or get dragged rightward along with it, even past the point of reason. 

    Sadly, a lot of them find the later path the easier one to take.

  • Russell Geisthardt

    Thou shalt not bear false tweets against thy neighbor.