So what do you all think about the accumulation of wealth? Hugh Nibley and C.S. Lewis have much to say on the topic that is very thought-provoking. However, neither of these men were actually leaders in any organized church, just very deep thinkers.
Obviously my thoughts are coming from the recent release of Mr. Romney's tax statements, and the ironic reaction to it from within the Republican Party establishment. It seems that Gingrich won in South Carolina on the strength of arguments that Mitt Romney must, by virtue of his vast wealth and low tax rate, be out of touch with regular folks. So out of touch, in fact, that there is really no way for him to ever be in touch. That by using the system to become a 1%er he is somehow unfit to lead the ninety and nine. The irony in all of this is that Mr. Romney is the embodiment of every policy the Republicans have spent the last 30 years pushing with increasing success. He is a practicing Christian who gives generously to his church (reinforcing the belief that the government shouldn't do what charities should); his income is primarily invested so that is taxes are low and his money is used ostensibly to create jobs; he started his own company; he was the beneficiary of inherited money; he is well-educated . . . . the list goes on and on. In fact, if the Republicans could, in a secret lab somewhere, create the perfect example of what-conservative-policies-can-do-for-a-person, Mittens Romney would come out on the other side. (A recent poll says that 2% of Americans think his name is actually Mittens, though Mitt is actually his complete middle name.)
And yet, his own party is attacking him as being too wealthy. As a non-Republican, I find this all very hard to understand. If the purpose of conservative policy is to create an America that creates men like Mr. Romney, then what is the problem?
At the end of the day, are we, with our upstart American attitudes, still basically distrusting of those who have a lot of this world's goods? Even if we laughed at and scorned the Occupiers and their 99% mantra, do we really believe that the 1% has way too much power, influence, opportunity, leisure, and, quite frankly, stuff.
I'm not sure how I feel. I don't begrudge anybody the opportunity to work hard and make something of themselves. In fact, the main reason I align my thinking more closely with the Democratic party is that I believe its basic platform is an attempt to correct the imbalances of birth through programs that create opportunity. (And yes, I fully acknowledge that this approach also carries its own set of un-intended consequences, it just sits easier on my conscience than a fend-for-yourself approach.) I guess I just don't see, to use a current and famous example, how someone like Mr. Romney who has basically coasted on his investments the last several years and exorbitant speaking fees, can really be considered as more worthwhile in our society than an awesome English teacher who runs a painting business on the side just to feed his kids. Or a woman of color who works shift work at two 30 hour a week jobs only to be denied insurance by each because she only works "part-time." Or a pipe fitter who works in the sweat and mud every day not knowing if there will be more work next month. Or a wife and mom who spends years working and sacrificing for her kids and never sees a paycheck. Or a Hispanic laborer living on a shoestring in order to send money to his aging mother in Mexico, all the time knowing he might be stopped at a moment's notice to prove his right to be in this land of opportunity.
At what point does wealth become so extreme that the notion of "earning it" is preposterous? At what point do we view the things we have accumulated and accept that it is just too much? If we believe the Creator endowed men to be equal, then what exactly does that mean when the circumstances of birth are so clearly unequal? What role do we play in helping to equalize people? Do we play any role at all?
What are your thoughts on the Christian's accumulation of wealth?
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