Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Moderate Response to Mitt Romney (and me)

In response to my hyperventilation about Governor Romney being taped discussing the 47%, Anonymous/D provides the following:

Well, keep your head about you.  It is just politics after all.  The thing is, I hate to make anybody, in Isaiah’s terminology, an "offender for a word" - even Romney in his 47% comment. I think I know what he meant when he said it. I hate to hold it against him, or make myself feel better about voting for Obama.  It’s just not intellectually honest although you can score easy political points with something like that.  Maybe there are people out there who will change their vote because of it.  It wouldn’t change my mind were I on the fence.  He’s probably right, there are a group of people out there who will never change their minds.  It’s the thing I hate about politics, this constant point-scoring, the intellectual dishonesty of campaigning.   It’s all a show.

I worry about Romney in office not because of the dumb things he occasionally says, but because I think he believes some rather disastrous things about economics, at least for those who are in my social class.  I’ve gotten too old ever to believe that I’m going to join the 1% someday.  Not only is it not in the economic cards. I’m not willing to do the things that it would take to get there.  I don’t intend to sell my soul for a few dollars.  And as much as I dislike my job at times, I still think I’m doing something worthwhile and something very few people do.  I’m not, like some I know, taking a good chunk of someone else's money after I tell them, probably wrongly at least before 2008, how to invest it. Besides, riches are the one thing that can ruin the whole gospel structure and one of the few things we are actually told not to seek for, actually the first thing we are told not to look for…you can’t have both riches and wisdom, or serve God and Mammon.  Now there is a sermon  you will never hear in Sacrament Meeting; I don’t believe I would give that one either. I can’t imagine a job where you thought about money all day long, it just seems mind-numbing to me.

Besides, who wants to join them. A 2010 study in Psychological Science found some not so surprising things:
higher-status people tend to do more doodling and fidgeting and also to use fewer “engagement cues”—looking at the other person, laughing, and nodding their heads. A 2010 paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that “lower-class individuals” [economically] turned out to be better performers on measures of such “prosocial” virtues as generosity, charity, and helpfulness. A third study found that those of higher status were noticeably worse at assessing the emotions of others or figuring out what facial expressions meant.

After I pointed out an article by TNC, Anonymous/D responded with this:

That’s an interesting perspective.  The problem, as I’m sure you are aware, is that what Mitt says is true about a few people, not 47%. I wouldn’t even guess at a figure. Some people just take what they can get - if they can get a freebee they will. My experience is that rich people are more likely to get something for nothing than the poor, especially from government. You think of all the ways in which the infrastructure of the United States benefits the rich, let’s not even talk about tax rates: Tax investment in roads and bridges help them move their products from place to place; Police and Public Safety investigate those trying to rip them off - oftentimes protecting them from other rich people; and Communications infrastructure keeps the internet sites buzzing, remembering that the internet was invented, not by Al Gore (and there is considerable debate about this especially recently in the Wall St. Journal) - sorry to all of my conservative friends, but the internet was developed in large part by Government - or people with large grants from the Government.  So yes, if you are using the internet you didn’t build that, government did. It would be useless if it weren’t for the huge investment in infrastructure, land lines, telephone networks. This brings huge profits to the wealthy and little to the poor.

You throw in tax benefits, sweet government contracts, the ability to spend huge amounts of money to change laws in your favor, buying off your favorite politician, perhaps getting them to simply not inspect your business dealings, or your oil rig or your mine, or help bust unions - it goes on and on.  All the while they use rhetorical tricks to pull it off. You become Giddianhi the robber- only we called them that - to them it was a secret society that was good, only trying to right wrongs, remember.

So back to the original idea.  If there really is a certain portion of the people rich and poor who are more than willing to take a hand-out and get someone else to the labor for them, what do you do about it?  How do you stop it?  We seem to only have ideas for stopping the poor from ripping you off. The wealthy go about their business literally, and when they’ve ripped the nation off to the point that they threaten the whole d--- thing they ask the rest for a bailout. That’s the way it goes. Nobody asks them for austerity, or to not take that million dollar bonus check; a contract after all is sacred. When they’ve systematically looted their corporations no nice man from Human Resources comes to visit them to tell them that they’ve been downsized or someone in India can do the job for less.

Then it’s time for the greatest rhetorical trick of all, you point the finger in the other direction and loudly proclaim that the rich had nothing to do with it.  Indeed they are the victims in the whole charade.  Perhaps if we only loved them more, cut their taxes more, praised them more, recognize that they are indeed Atlas holding the weight of the world, perhaps they would love us back?  Not likely. 

And more from Anonymous/D:

There really isn’t in the American system of Government, a political party in which a Mormon can and should feel 100% comfortable. There are things that go with proclaiming yourself a Democrat, weather you ascribe to them or not, with which you must disagree. That is as it should be, since we are committed to establishing Zion and bringing about the Kingdom of God. My problem isn’t that by declaring my liberalism that I think I have to take the whole of liberal philosophy, it’s that my conservative Mormon friends believe that Mormonism and Conservative political thought are 100% compatible.

I’m grateful that Jesus is more merciful to us than we are to each other. I simply can’t believe the hardness of the hearts of the Latter-Day Saints, well many of them. I can’t believe the way we despise the poor - we’ve been warned.

“But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also." 2 Nephi 9:30.
At the same time we are warned against our sexual, I hate to call them “moral” transgressions, in the same harsh language.

In the end I’m for Zion, that’s what I hope to achieve, a society in which there are no rich nor poor, in which there are no classes. Not because we abolish the poor but because all share equally. A society in which all share in virtue alike, all having a full measure of virtue through the long process of repentance and the grace of Jesus Christ.

… the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it. Isaiah 14:32

Well I feel a lot calmer. . . sorta. 


  1. Anonymous/D-

    Thank you for expressing my reasons to NOT join ANY political party, even though my economic policies are liberal. ;-)

  2. Yes, Anonymous/D captures one of the main reasons why I am a Democrat. I'll try to develop this idea more fully in a subsequent post. It's not that I agree with everything, it's that I know I don't agree that Conservatism or the Republican Party is a good match for all gospel principles. (some, sure - like the First Presidency said about "various political parties.") And I am somewhat of a rebel against the expectations of a crowd. One of the the crowds I'm in seems to have an expectation that everyone is supposed to be a Republican.

    I mean, and here comes my heresy if you are so inclined to judge it that way, but when I was bishop, I was asked on a couple of occasions why I was a Democrat. My response, "Because I can be."


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