On the False Dichotomy of Right Wing Pandemic Economic Arguments

On the False Dichotomy of Right Wing Pandemic Economic Arguments April 20, 2020

MAGA Back to Work Zealot in Right Wing Media:

“You politically correct liberals claim to care about the lives of people threatened by COVID, but you refuse to face the fact that the economic impact is, as our great President says, a cure that is worse than the disease. We have to get people back to work or they will run out of money! This isn’t about Mammon worship! Our president is far more concerned with the Little Guy than you limousine liberals! It’s because I’m prolife that I want people to go back to work. Your problem is that you fear death more than God. If you really loved God, you’d care that they are running out of money.  Sure, some may die.  But that’s just the price we pay. It’s either maintain the lockdown or save the economy.  That the only choice.”

Right. Sure. Definitely a believable argument. And it goes without saying that my true motivation is that I am a coward who fears death more than God. We phony Social Justice Warriors always think only of ourselves, never God or the least of these. We are just brimming with bad faith, cowardice, and insincerity. So different from Real Christians like Trump. You are right to call us out for our transparent sanctimony, lest the unwary be deceived. Trumpian conservatism is all about real concern for the poor and is definitely not self-serving.

And since you don’t care about Mammon and you are so terribly concerned about the economic sufferings of the poor you are demanding expose themselves to COVID, you will be delighted to hear that, fake Catholic though I am, I too think they require the economic security you are clamoring for. In fact, they require it so badly that I don’t think they should have to work for two weeks or a month before they see a paycheck. And if they get sick, they should not have to live in fear of immense medical costs if they have to go to hospital and need a respirator and round the clock care.

So, if you will permit a complete phony “Catholic” like me to speak for just a moment, here’s what I think should happen: Instead of forcing the poor into harm’s way unnecessarily. the $500 billion dollars Trump and the GOP just gave the 1% should be taken back and distributed to all American citizens, with disproportionately large sums given to those in the lowest income brackets. Why it’s even biblical!

“I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.” (2 Co 8:13–15).

It’s also patristic: “The rich exist for the sake of the poor. The poor exist for the salvation of the rich.” –  St. John Chrysostom

Why it’s even contemporary conservative Christian. It was, after all, Abp. Chaput who said, “If you neglect the poor, you will go to hell.”

I know. I know: “Mark, you socialist simpleton who know nothing of actual Church teaching: Charity must be from the heart, not forced by the state.”

Correct. So it’s a good thing we’re not talking about charity. As the rich man who neglected Lazarus discovered the hard way, when you have something in excess that your neighbor needs and you do not give it him, it is you who are the thief.

No. Really. It’s in the Catechism and everything:

“CCC 2446 St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” “The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity”:

When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.”

So it turns out theft is a matter of justice, not charity. That’s why you call a cop (that is, the state) not a priest when somebody robs you.

The reason you call the state is because justice is precisely what the state exists to maintain. So it is the job and duty of the state to take from the corporate thieves the $500 billion they do not need and restore it to the countless Lazaruses out there who–as you yourself were so passionately saying a moment ago–desperately need it.

This is why, in addition to taking back $500 billion from corporate thieves, those who have managed to make, say, $24 billion in windfalls from the pandemic (like Jeff Bezos) should have that taken in taxes too.  (Don’t worry, he won’t even miss it given the $143 billion he still has.) This will also help provide economic security for those whom you are so very concerned about that you are willing to risk their lives for it. And, of course, Medicare for All should also be provided so that the people whose economic security you are (suddenly!) so worried about have that security.

Surely, you will be thrilled by that, right? Best of both worlds, right? People saved from having to face sickness and death and able to face the future with economic and health security, right?

Because it’s not all about mammon for you.


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