Jesus and the Apostles Tell Us to Work Hard, Save and Invest


After reading this piecein which the writer also cites Bill McKibben in a 2005 essay for Harper’s (The Christian Paradox: How A Faithful Nation Gets Jesus Wrong):

A rich man came to Jesus one day and asked what he should do to get into heaven. Jesus did not say he should invest, spend, and let the benefits trickle down; he said sell what you have, give the money to the poor, and follow me. Few plainer words have been spoken. And yet, for some reason, the Christian Coalition of America—founded in 1989 in order to “preserve, protect and defend the Judeo-Christian values that made this the greatest country in history”—proclaimed last year that its top legislative priority would be “making permanent President Bush’s 2001 federal tax cuts.”

I noted the following:

First, seemingly has no idea that many nominally self-identify as Christians but barely even know what being a Christian entails. Thought exercise: Hey, watch me drink bacon-flavored vodka like the real Muslim I am!

Second, usual incensed outrage that ppl who actually follow Biblical directives (i.e.what he calls Conservatives) DARE claim the term Christian for themselves at the exclusion of the cafeteria, church-on-Easter/Christmas/marriage/funeral-only variety.

Third, cites standard commie agitprop that Jesus commends coerced taxation and welfare redistribution – actual Christian giving is voluntary, and Jesus did commend shrewd investment many times (parable of tenants).

It really is almost a boiler plate liberal, big-welfare, socialist sermonette that the answer to What Would Jesus Do? = pay higher taxes. And exactly what version of the Bible has he been reading that does not have those well known parables Jesus taught about investing (see my citations below)?

So here’s a list of passages in the New Testament related to money and the earthly uses of it (disclaimer: I am not focusing on the heaven vs earthly treasures or God vs Mammon aspects here).

Take a look and tell me whether Jesus and the disciples sound more like Occupy or the Tea Party:

  • “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-26
  • For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? – Luke 16:1-14
  • All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. – Acts 4:32-36
  • Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2nd Corinthians 9:7
  • We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”2nd Thessalonians 3:7-10

———————————–

And on that note, Conservatives do adhere to the true spirit of Biblical voluntary giving. They give 30% more money despite earning less, and their charitable attitude extends to time and even lifeblood as well.

Add to all the above the many Old Testament passages admonishing idleness or laziness and praising hard work, and you should pretty much get the picture by now.

The sanctity of work is this: That God came to this world, and made furniture.


5 Responses to “Jesus and the Apostles Tell Us to Work Hard, Save and Invest”

  1. Ron Says:

    » “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. – Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-26

    What was the purpose of the parable? Was Jesus presenting a theological treatise or passing out financial advice?

    What Jesus said:

    “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” — Matthew 5:42 (NIV)

    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” — Matthew 6:19 (NIV)

    “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” — Mathew 13:22 (NIV)

    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” — Matthew 19:21-24 (NIV)

    “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. — Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

    “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” — Luke 6:30 (NIV)

    “And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. — Luke 6:34-36 (NIV)

    The Parable of the Rich Fool

    Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

    Then [Jesus] said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

    And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

    “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

    “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

    “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” — Luke 12:15-21 (NIV)

    The Rich Man and Lazarus

    “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

    “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

    “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” — Luke 16:19-25 (NIV)

    See also: Jesus was a Liberal

    What the apostles taught:

    “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” — Hebrews 13:5

    “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” — 1 Peter 4:9 (NIV)

    “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” — 1 John 2:15 (NIV)

    “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” — James 1:27 (NIV)

    “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? — James 2:15-16 (NASB)

    What Paul taught:

    “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”

    But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

    But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

    Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” — 1 Timothy 6:3-21 (NIV)

    What the Old Testament teaches:

    “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate. — Exodus 22:25-27 (ESV)

    “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. — Leviticus 25:35-37 (ESV)

    “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest.” — Deuteronomy 23:19 (ESV)

    » For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? – Luke 16:1-14

    Holy taking-things-out-of-context, Batman!!

    The entire parable deals with trust and dishonesty. The part you cut off ends as follows (including verse 15):

    13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

    14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.

    Please re-read 1 Timothy 6:3-21, paying extra-special attention to the very first paragraph.

    » All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. – Acts 4:32-36

    Yes, and how many “Tea Party” Christians have done that lately? Or expressed a desire to do so in the immediate future (i.e., long before they’ve shuffled off this mortal coil)? Bachmann? Beck? Cain? Palin? Perry? Santorum? You? Anyone?

    ———————————–

    And on that note, Conservatives do adhere to the true spirit of Biblical voluntary giving. They give 30% more money despite earning less, and their charitable attitude extends to time and even lifeblood as well.

    Citation needed.

    Add to all the above the many Old Testament passages admonishing idleness or laziness and praising hard work, and you should pretty much get the picture by now.

    Yes, and those are nuanced by an equal number of passages advocating debt forgivenss, kindness, and hospitality towards outsiders.

  2. Scott Thong Says:

    Yes, and how many “Tea Party” Christians have done that lately? Or expressed a desire to do so in the immediate future (i.e., long before they’ve shuffled off this mortal coil)? Bachmann? Beck? Cain? Palin? Perry? Santorum? You? Anyone?

    I dare say, certainly more than atheists and liberals. Or did you miss the link I appended in the post?

    Citation needed.

    Oh, you did miss that link.

    Here:

    Sixteen months ago, Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, published “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism.” The surprise is that liberals are markedly less charitable than conservatives.

    If many conservatives are liberals who have been mugged by reality, Brooks, a registered independent, is, as a reviewer of his book said, a social scientist who has been mugged by data. They include these findings:

    — Although liberal families’ incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).

    — Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.

    — Residents of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004 gave smaller percentages of their incomes to charity than did residents of states that voted for George Bush.

    — Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.

    — In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.

    — People who reject the idea that “government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality” give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.

    Yes, and those are nuanced by an equal number of passages advocating debt forgivenss, kindness, and hospitality towards outsiders.

    Great! Now find me the ones encouraging mooching, slacking, public disorder, vandalism, using legal avenues to force others to pay your bills, getting oneself into deep debt and refusing to repay it (vs paying off the dues in prison), and being an Occupier in general.

  3. Ron Says:

    I dare say, certainly more than atheists and liberals. Or did you miss the link I appended in the post?

    I was referring to Acts 4:32-36 where: “all the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had…. that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

    Oh wait, that was just believers helping fellow believers — not the community at large. And Acts 5 goes on to describe what happened to Ananias and Sapphira when they kept back a portion of the proceeds from their land sale. Sounds downright Marxist to me. In fact, one can almost hear the apostles shout of “Down with the bourgeoisie!!” ringing out from the pages.

    But that was then. What about now? Are modern believers following in the footsteps of their socialist predecessors? Well kind of: they’re busy building multi-million-dollar worship palaces equipped with: audio-video technology that rivals a Hollywood studio, fitness centres, daycare facilities, bookstores, cafés, and other boutiques selling Christian swag. In other words, a large portion of the donations collected end up paying for in-house expenses and building expansions.

    Nor are the donations to these organizations strictly voluntary — a neighbor across the lane who belongs to one of these “prosperity churches” (and frequently invites me to attend) once confided that members must submit copies of their tax returns to verify that their contributions constitute at least 10% of their gross income. He also indicated that church members were “strongly encouraged” to take out loans and/or adjust their discretionary spending in order to meet the required minimum. That’s not exactly what you’d consider “giving from the heart” now, is it?

    Oh, you did miss that link.

    I didn’t miss it, but I was hoping for something a little less biased than a link to a conservative blog citing a book published by the president of a conservative think thank. How much credibility would you assign to the various studies that dismissed the health risks of smoking which were published by the (now defunct) Tobacco Institute?

    However, I did note one interesting “Quick Stat” on Arthur Brooks’ website:

    American households contribute more than $1,000 to charity annually, and the working poor give a higher percentage of their income than the wealthy.

    Great! Now find me the ones encouraging mooching, slacking, public disorder, vandalism, using legal avenues to force others to pay your bills, getting oneself into deep debt and refusing to repay it (vs paying off the dues in prison), and being an Occupier in general.

    Seriously? The entire OT is replete with stories about conquering foreign villages, razing them to the ground, putting every man, woman and child to the sword (except for the virgins, of course), and looting what’s left. Do you really want me to quote entire books, chapter and verse? I guess if you really want me to, but it would have to be from the King James version because the other English translations are all copyrighted and I wouldn’t want to get you put on a DMCA take-down notice.

  4. Scott Thong Says:

    I was referring to Acts 4:32-36 where: “all the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had…. that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

    The key points being:

    1) They actually owned property like some sort of bourgeois landlords;
    2) Their giving was voluntary;
    3) They were united rather than divisive

    None of which really fit well in recent Obama ‘not my fault’ speeches.

    And Acts 5 goes on to describe what happened to Ananias and Sapphira when they kept back a portion of the proceeds from their land sale. Sounds downright Marxist to me. In fact, one can almost hear the apostles shout of “Down with the bourgeoisie!!” ringing out from the pages.

    Knowing you over the years here, I suspect once again that you really do know better than that – but are intentionally playing dumb or coming from only a certain narrow angle to try and score a point.

    For instance, in the above case, I get the niggling feeling that you know that the actual sin here was lying to God.

    Tell me if I’m wrong.

    But that was then. What about now? Are modern believers following in the footsteps of their socialist predecessors? Well kind of: they’re busy building multi-million-dollar worship palaces equipped with: audio-video technology that rivals a Hollywood studio, fitness centres, daycare facilities, bookstores, cafés, and other boutiques selling Christian swag. In other words, a large portion of the donations collected end up paying for in-house expenses and building expansions.

    You’ll find plenty of agreement with your critique from among the anti-megachurch congregation.

    Nor are the donations to these organizations strictly voluntary — a neighbor across the lane who belongs to one of these “prosperity churches” (and frequently invites me to attend) once confided that members must submit copies of their tax returns to verify that their contributions constitute at least 10% of their gross income. He also indicated that church members were “strongly encouraged” to take out loans and/or adjust their discretionary spending in order to meet the required minimum. That’s not exactly what you’d consider “giving from the heart” now, is it?

    That is perfectly acceptable… For Muslims paying their compulsory zakat taxes. For the church you mention, what is anybody doing still attending it?

    I didn’t miss it, but I was hoping for something a little less biased than a link to a conservative blog citing a book published by the president of a conservative think thank. How much credibility would you assign to the various studies that dismissed the health risks of smoking which were published by the (now defunct) Tobacco Institute?

    Hmm… I’d probably give it as much credibility as I do to studies on global warming released by climatologists relying on grant money to study global warming, or studies on the benignness/benefits of homesexual partnerings/parenting released by pro-homosexual groups/persons, or the latest hysterical warnings about CFCs/BPA/fats/thirdhand smoke/oil/etc by the lobbies vehemently opposed to them…

    Wait, isn’t the above what we currently base a large portion of laws on?!!

    American households contribute more than $1,000 to charity annually, and the working poor give a higher percentage of their income than the wealthy.

    Well maybe if they didn’t pay 71% of all federal taxes on an involuntary basis, they might have more to give on voluntary basis.

    And note the key point, working poor (not welfare leech).

    Again, knowing you as far as I do, I think you are as much against layabout parasitism as I am. If so, what is your preferred solution to the problem? IMHO, the solution is not to encourage it with subsidies (in the form of very poorly regulated food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc).

    Seriously? The entire OT is replete with stories about conquering foreign villages, razing them to the ground, putting every man, woman and child to the sword (except for the virgins, of course), and looting what’s left. Do you really want me to quote entire books, chapter and verse? I guess if you really want me to, but it would have to be from the King James version because the other English translations are all copyrighted and I wouldn’t want to get you put on a DMCA take-down notice.

    It’s not like you haven’t been doing this already. So, status quo, business as usual, troll in there baby.

  5. Ron Says:

    The key points being:

    1) They actually owned property like some sort of bourgeois landlords;
    2) Their giving was voluntary;
    3) They were united rather than divisive

    None of which really fit well in recent Obama ‘not my fault’ speeches.

    That’s nice, but you originally listed the verses from Acts 4 under the heading: “Take a look and tell me whether Jesus and the disciples sound more like Occupy or the Tea Party differences between OWS and Tea Party.”

    For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that I agree 100% with everything you’ve said about Obama and OWS protesters. Now explain to me which Tea Party members are living in precise accordance with the sharing spirit of the apostles as described in Acts 4.

    And speaking of Jesus (whose role was reduced to small cameos in Acts 1 and 9)…

    Wasn’t it Jesus who:

    1) ran around with a whip busting up tables in the temple area?
    2) lent tacit approval to drown someone’s herd of swine?
    3) cursed a fig tree for failing to bear fruit out of season?
    4) rebuked the Pharisees?
    5) petitioned his followers to denounce the world?

    Jesus seems to have been a real hooligan back in his day, and that “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” stuff we keep hearing about now is the modern Christian apologist’s valiant attempt to tone down Jesus’ anarchist rhetoric.

    Knowing you over the years here, I suspect once again that you really do know better than that – but are intentionally playing dumb or coming from only a certain narrow angle to try and score a point.

    For instance, in the above case, I get the niggling feeling that you know that the actual sin here was lying to God.

    Tell me if I’m wrong

    Well, lying to imaginary beings isn’t really a viable option for non-believers, so we’re left with only two possibilities:

    1) The story was fabricated (either in whole or in part) to scare stingy followers into being more generous; or

    2) the story is factually true and the couple was killed at the hands of the apostles for withholding money from the community.

    If you were me which option would you pick?

    You’ll find plenty of agreement with your critique from among the anti-megachurch congregation.

    Perhaps, but such agreement is dwindling because mainline denominations are in decline.

    For the church you mention, what is anybody doing still attending it?

    They probably continue to attend for the same reason you still attend yours — psychological comfort. Since that conversation a few years ago church membership and landholdings have grown by leaps and bounds. They even had to install their own set of traffic lights in the church parking lot (I kid you not). Meanwhile, their financial statements reveal that funding for outside missions has dropped down to slightly under 10%.

    Less than a year ago a fifth mega-church (5,500 square metres) opened its doors to over 3,300 people in a bedroom community of 13,500 people, and they make no bones about the fact that they intend to serve their membership first.

    Wait, isn’t the above what we currently base a large portion of laws on?!!

    I like how you attempt to sidestep the tough questions by introducing unrelated topics. Your continued reticence to confront the issues head on is duly noted. Nonetheless, I will attempt to answer your questions anyways.

    Climate change discussions bore me to tears. Srsly!

    LGBT rights issues are human rights issues, and I support human rights issues. Do you?

    Environmental issues affect everyone, so strict regulations that prevent people from polluting the water we all drink, the air that we all breathe, and the food that we all eat is to everyone’s benefit. Or don’t you care about these things?

    Finally, religious people probably do give larger monetary donations; but that’s because religious people are regularly goaded into tithing. However, the important issue here isn’t how much money gets collected, but how that money eventually gets disbursed.

    Well maybe if they didn’t pay 71% of all federal taxes on an involuntary basis, they might have more to give on voluntary basis.

    And note the key point, working poor (not welfare leech).

    The top marginal tax rate currently stands at 35% and hasn’t been anywhere close to 70% since 1971.

    But you’re partially right about one thing though: the middle class pays the most as a percentage of income because the poor don’t earn enough to attract taxes, and the rich hire lobbyists to push for legislation that creates new tax shelters. That’s why multi-millionaires like Romney end up paying only 15% while ordinary wage earners must pay double.

    Again, knowing you as far as I do, I think you are as much against layabout parasitism as I am. If so, what is your preferred solution to the problem? IMHO, the solution is not to encourage it with subsidies (in the form of very poorly regulated food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc).

    First off, I think that the use of buzz-phrases like “layabout parasitism” is toxic to the political discourse, because it attempts to smuggle in hidden assumptions about the moral character of those who are less fortunate than others. Please note, I’m not denying the existance of lazy people who milk the system for every penny they can get — I’m simply arguing that this does not accurately reflect the motivations of every single person who’s receiving aid; and perhaps more importantly, that posing the question in such a manner shifts the focus away from issues of greater relevance.

    Second, let’s disabuse ourselves of the notion that unemployment benefits are public handouts. In most countries that have them, unemployment insurance programs are administered by the state but funded entirely by employers and/or their employees. These programs and others (like social security, old age pensions, etc) would be entirely self-sustaining if the money collected were actually vested against future claims instead of being funnelled into “general revenues” to hide budget deficits created by tax cuts and spending increases. The solution here is not to dismantle those programs, but to draft legislation that specifically prohibits appropriating those funds for other purposes.

    I have more to say on this, but it’s getting late so I’ll pick it up at a later date.

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