Let My People Go — And Give Them Some of Your Wealth As They Go

Let My People Go — And Give Them Some of Your Wealth As They Go April 15, 2011

Many Christians have been led to believe that wealth redistribution is necessarily an evil thing, something which comes out of socialism, and so must be confronted and denied whenever we see it suggested. Obviously, they have ignored the Bible they claim to follow. One of the most famous stories in it involves such redistribution of wealth:

The LORD said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence; when he lets you go, he will drive you away completely.  Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, jewelry of silver and of gold.” (Exodus 11:1-2)

The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked of the Egyptians jewelry of silver and of gold, and clothing;  and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they despoiled the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:35-36).

The Egyptians had enslaved the people of Israel, and forced them to work. They could say, of course, that they gave the Israelites food to live on, clothing to wear, and a place to live. There is more to life than mere food, shelter and clothing. “It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone’” (Luke 4:4). The people of Israel knew they needed a day of rest on which they can worship the Lord their God. They asked for it, they pleaded for it, and, until Egypt was forced to relent, they were denied this basic human dignity, being told they were worthless and lazy. The people of Egypt had let them in, and this was the thanks they gave to their benefactors?

The people of Israel worked hard. They labored hard, without respect, without being given a fair share of the fruit of their labor. They were told, of course, the resources, the capital was not theirs, so they held no claim upon the people of Egypt.

God, of course, rejected this line of thinking.

The people of Israel had been mistreated. They had not been given their fair share of the wealth. When they left Egypt, they were told to demand, from Egypt, that wealth which they had been denied. Even though God knew that some of it would be used for evil (such as the making of idols), God had the people of Israel receive what they deserved for their labor, and redistributed the wealth of Egypt, giving it to poor Israel.

Justice cannot be denied. Just because the Egyptians thought they owned the wealth does not mean it is theirs to possess. God has shown who is in charge, who really controls the wealth. It is his.

Today, it is not Pharaoh who uses the backs of the workers for his pleasure – it is corporate heads who are finding more and more ways to cut back the money and benefits they give to their laborers all the while they continue to make greater and greater profit for themselves. Once again, you have people who control the resources, using that control to force people to undignified labor without any respect to their person. What is being demanded of them is often as impossible as it is to make bricks without straw, and they are being sacked and thrown about because they do not meet such demands. We are being told regulations, protections which help these laborers, are unjust because they eat away at profits – the profits of those who do none of the labor themselves, who just earn a profit because they control resources people need. We are told regulations which seek to protect the worker are unjust, because they help make the worker lazy and worthless.

Money is more important than people?

This can only go on for so long.

The cries of the people will not go unanswered.

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  • brettsalkeld

    “In a world torn apart, she [the Church] is to be a sign and means of unity; she is to bridge nations, races, and classes and unite them. How often she has failed in this, we know: even in antiquity it was infinitely difficult for her to be simultaneously the Church of the barbarians and that of the Romans; in modern times she was unable to prevent strife between the Christian nations; and today she is still not succeeding in so uniting rich and poor that the excess of the former becomes the satisfaction of the latter – the ideal of sitting at a common table remains largely unfulfilled.” (emphasis added)
    Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity, 346-347.

  • The need to RE-distribute wealth is always only second best and the sign of a flaw in the original system of distribution in the first place. Social Credit is needed.

    • Obviously something is wrong in the system: sin, and the structures of sin. They ultimately create the situation in which redistribution will be necessary — again and again.

      • Not if money is distributed in the first place, yearly, as an equal dividend to all people. You’re adhering to a Leftist ideology (understandably, against an inhuman Right). Rather than actually thinking about solutions here, you’re insisting problems exist which don’t.

        Distribution is the problem. That doesn’t mean RE-distribution is the solution.

        • A Sinner

          Even Belloc pointed out the fragile nature of the redistribution of wealth. The “if it is distributed yearly, in equal dividend” would require a central authority and government to do that. I’m no leftist; I’m a Tsarist.

      • The money supply is going to increase somehow unless there is massive deflation. It can either increase through biased private credit, or through public credit.

  • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

    Redistribution is enjoined in the Catechism as a consequence of the universal destination of goods:

    2405 Goods of production – material or immaterial – such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.

    • The truth is, mankind as a whole ALREADY collectively owns the most important goods of production, which cannot be claimed by any one: time, sunlight, rain, and the collective development of technology and social networks since the beginning of history.

      The only question is how the money representing this collective capital is created and distributed. Private credit (usury) doesn’t work. Social credit would.

  • HK writes, “We are told regulations which seek to protect the worker are unjust, because they help make the worker lazy and worthless.”

    Who tells us this? I’ve never heard it before.

    I’ve heard it said that you are better served to present the best arguments of your opponents, and to present them in the best possible light. That way, when you refute them they are really refuted. Whereas when you present them in the worst possible light people suspect that you are really only refuting a straw man.

    • Kurt

      A fair point Agellius. Can you tell us what are the legitimate conservative arguements against regulations that seek to protect workers?

      • I’m not aware of any conservative arguments against regulations that seek to protect workers.

        Of course, your phrasing is ambiguous. “Regulations that seek to protect workers” may be interpreted in various ways. Therefore I am taking it purely at face value, meaning, I’m not aware of a general conservative opposition to “regulations that seek to protect workers” per se.

        If you have a particular regulation in mind, which you believe seeks to protect workers, and which conservatives oppose, we can discuss it; nevertheless opposition to a particular regulation does not translate to opposition to regulations in general.