Monday, June 16, 2008

More on Makers and Takers

More on Pete Schweizer's Makers and Takers that explodes the myths of liberalism as the path to enlightened compassion.
Kengor: I suppose that of all the charges against liberals in the subtitle, the one that liberals will probably protest most vehemently is the point on materialism. And in their defense, Peter, I must say that I’ve seen some pretty darned materialistic conservatives.

Schweizer: Well remember, in all of this we are talking about tendencies. Not all conservatives are one way and not all liberals are the other. That said, the research really does indicate that liberals value money more than conservatives. After health, they are more likely to consider it the most important thing in their life. And they are more likely to say that there is no wrong way to make money. I think this actually makes sense when you look at modern liberalism. After all, what do liberals use as their measure of justice and equality? Income, or money! This is the reason I believe that modern liberals are also much more likely to be envious of other peoples’ success. They are constantly looking at the money yardstick.

This strikes me as consistent with my own experience. In seminary, we would do all of these consciousness exercises that were meant to exorcise our consciences of racism. It always focused on outcomes, with little attention being given to the complex of behaviors that served to synergize the admittedly bad hand given to many people. And it always seemed to come down to a "that's not fair" trump...as if equality of possessions were a Biblical value.

As a side note, while the libs were talking about racial justice, they never seemed to hang out with the black folks on campus. Sure...go to a rally,sign a petition, start an initiative, have a discussion, etc...but invite them over for dinner? My wife and I made it a point of our ministry to try to cook once for everyone who moved onto campus (and for many who never did). So many of the black single mothers were shocked that we would invite them to our homes - not only because my reputation preceded me, but also because no one had done this for them. They would tell me about how lonely they felt on campus because everyone seemed to be cheering them on from the bleachers, but no one got down to run beside them. A food pantry would be opened, monies would be set aside, but to actually sit down with them and eat - or listen to their struggles just seemed too much.

It is a shame that this should happen in any church setting - liberal or conservative. We've erected a barrier of professionalism that keeps us from getting our hands dirty. Then we abandon others through rhetoric of the self-determination and autonomy and anti-colonial / patronization need to leave them in squalor until some government comes along to give folks help they need. But I'll note this as well - at the more conservative (and thus, presumably, racist, bigoted, exclusionary, etc.) seminary across the street there was always a healthy interaction between racial ethnic groups. People sat together in the cafeteria with their Bibles open or played frisbee on the lawn. There were more per capita, as well. Funny how that "unity in Christ" thing trumps the pathetic results of group politics.

Kengor: How does the giving of Barack Obama measure up to, say, George W. Bush, or the nefarious Dick Cheney?

Schweizer: Obama, like John Kerry or Al Gore, has traditionally given a very small portion of his income to charity, approximately 1 percent. Bush gives 10 percent or more on a regular basis. In 2005, Dick Cheney gave 77 percent of his income to charity—and got criticized for it! I also went back and looked at the numbers for Ronald Reagan and FDR. Reagan gave nearly twice as much as FDR did during the height of the Great Depression.

Kengor: But doesn’t Obama care more than Dick Cheney?

Schweizer: Supposedly. At least that is what he tells us. And liberals tell us that in surveys, too. They are much more likely to say that they “feel close” to the poor. The problem is it kind of ends at the feeling part.

Again, backed up in my own experience - but I'm glad (if that's even the right word) to see that it generalizes to the larger population. I think James had something to say about this, as well... It looks like activism / advocacy without works (personal integration of this ideal) is also dead.

Read the whole interview here.

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