TCS Daily


The Moses Complex

By Arnold Kling - February 28, 2006 12:00 AM

"For a worker to go home at the end of the day without a sufficient amount of money to live to the next day is, I think, a violation of Jewish law and government should be modeling that standard," [Rabbi Jack] Moline said in an interview last week, explaining why he backs the living wage campaign.
-- Washington Jewish Week, February 2, 2006

Apparently, I am not a good Jew. I take the libertarian position that when a worker and an employer come to terms on a wage, then there is no need for government to interfere.

Or perhaps I am an Orthodox Jew. The Jewish Week article quotes Orthodox Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld as saying that "Some might suggest that this type of proposal might hurt low-income workers." That would be my position, based on standard economic analysis, which predicts that putting a high floor under wages causes excess supply of labor -- in other words, unemployment. I would ask Rabbi Moline whether creating unemployment does not violate Jewish law.

Unfortunately, many more Jews side with Rabbi Moline than with Rabbi Herzfeld. In fact, so many of my friends are liberal Democrats that I was surprised to learn from an op-ed article on January 31st by David Boaz of the Cato Institute published in the Wall Street Journal that a Gallup poll found that support for libertarian beliefs is "strongest among well-educated voters."

Most of the well-educated people with whom I interact are not libertarians. Because many of them are Jews. This leads me to suspect that there is some major inconsistency between libertarianism and mainstream Jewish beliefs. I think that many Jews, as well as many non-Jews on the Left, suffer from what I call the Moses Complex.

The Exodus Narrative

One of the most basic narratives in Judaism is the Exodus, in which Moses leads the oppressed Hebrew slaves out of the land of Egypt. The Exodus is a movie that is constantly being remade, and not just by Cecil B. DeMille. It is the basis of Marxism and of what I call folk Marxism, both of which were embraced by many Jews.

Three Versions of the Exodus

The Original

Marxist

Folk Marxist

Pharaoh

Capitalist Class

Wal-Mart

Hebrews

Working Class

Other Stores

Moses

Karl Marx

Liberal Pundits

God

Communism

Government

Karl Marx's political economy was an oppressor/oppression story between capitalists and workers. Jews found that story particularly captivating. To this day, I believe that most Jews are "folk Marxists," who believe that the natural result of free markets is worker oppression, and that only heavy government intervention mitigates this outcome.

In fact, under free markets wealth is created and people of all classes benefit. Folk Marxists see Wal-Mart as exploiting low-skilled workers. But when you observe the long queues that form when Wal-Mart advertises for jobs, you realize that what low-skilled workers need is not government protection but more Wal-Marts.

Since the 1960's, folk Marxism has incorporated new groups into the oppressor/oppressed narrative. Whites are oppressors, and Blacks are oppressed. Men are oppressors, and women are oppressed. Israelis are oppressors, and Palestinians are oppressed.

The oppressor/oppressed narrative is not 100 percent wrong. But it is far from 100 percent right. There are times when the well-being of some people is higher than that of others, but it is not the case that the well-off are oppressors and the poorly-off are oppressed. It can also be true that the well-off are more skillful, more hard-working, more logical, more frugal, and/or more self-disciplined. Sometimes, it is less useful to describe people as oppressed than it is to tell them that their behavior needs to change if they want to be better off.

Putting too many people in the roles of oppressors and oppressed is one problem with the folk version of Exodus. Even more troubling is the way that Jews have re-cast the role of the Savior with the "mighty hand and outstretched arm." We have replaced the concept of an all-knowing, merciful God with a belief in an all-knowing, merciful government. This attribution of God-like qualities to government has little religious or intellectual justification.

Jews are aware that government is not perfect. However, we ascribe bad government to the accidental result of having the wrong leaders. Exodus describes a "cruel Pharaoh," rather than a Pharaoh operating without checks and balances or a Pharaoh with too much power. In a political version of what social psychologists call the Fundamental Attribution Error, Jews ascribe all of the evils of government to individual leaders rather than to the context in which leaders operate.

Jews turn to government as an instrument to improve personal ethics. While we recognize and resist the attempts by social conservatives to try to use the instrument of government power to address perceived moral failings in the realm of sexual conduct, many Jews do not hesitate to view government as the instrument through which we must address perceived moral failings with respect to smoking, seatbelt safety, obesity, paper recycling, support for the arts, and so forth.

Historically, Jews have not tried to reduce the power of rulers. Instead, our approach has been to curry favor with them, interpreting their dreams (Joseph), providing wise counsel (Mordechai), and financing them (Rothschild).

If we cannot win the favor of the ruler, then the alternative is to flee. The Jews were delivered from Pharaoh. We did not overthrow Pharaoh. We did not force him to sign a Magna Carta. When we second-guess the behavior of European Jews during the Holocaust, we ask, "Why didn't they escape?" more often than we ask "Why didn't somebody walk into one of those open-air rallies and blow Hitler's brains out?"

In contrast with folk Judaism, traditional American folk beliefs favor individual rights and limited government. Americans do not think in terms of good kings with wise counselors or bad kings with evil counselors. Americans want no kings. Libertarians believe that these folk beliefs have intellectual merit. Centralized power is inevitably inept and corrupt. Checks and balances, protection of individual rights, and Constitutional limits on government all serve to promote a better society.

An Illustration: Health Care Policy

The Moses Complex can be seen in the Leftist view of health care policy. Many people on the Left have come to view health care in terms of a folk-Marxist narrative involving oppression. People who do not have health insurance and/or are not obtaining the right health care are the oppressed. The oppressors are the insurance industry or the pharmaceutical industry or greedy corporate employers stinting on health care coverage or even the entire American free-market system. In this way, health care becomes another re-enactment of the Exodus.

The reality is rather different. The reality is that Americans obtain enormous amounts of health care services. This is true for the rich, the poor, the insured, and the uninsured. The reality is that 85 percent of our health care expenses are paid for by third parties, either government or private insurance. Third-party payments insulate individuals from health care expenses, but the costs come back to bite us in the form of stagnant wages (because health insurance benefits eat up a rising share of worker compensation) and higher taxes.

The Left's narrative is that "the system" preys on people by denying them preventive care, because acute care is more profitable. As this New York Times story portrayed it, because our system will not provide foot care to people with diabetes, they have to undergo amputations.

The reality is rather different. For preventive health care, the doctrine of collective moral failure is less useful than a recognition of personal responsibility. When you see people who have failed to obtain preventive care, the chances are higher that this reflects lack of willpower and self-discipline than that it reflects lack of funds.

Jews, and others who promote government expansion, believe that a good leader would "fix" the health care system. The libertarian view would be that health care delivery can be improved with trial-and-error learning, which markets provide. As enterprises attempt innovations, the market will keep those that succeed and discard those that fail. Government control, by contrast, will turn health care into an arena where producers protect their profits by lobbying in Washington, without having to compete and innovate to serve consumers.

A good student of economics learns that moral consequences do not always match intentions. Relative to moral intentions, markets are biased upward and government is biased downward. That is, even though market participants may be motivated by self-interest, their actions, in the context of competition, enhance the well-being of many, particularly through innovation and technological progress. In contrast, government policies, even when motivated by moral conviction, often have unintended consequences that are harmful, such as the unemployment caused by labor market regulation.

With markets, there is a natural mechanism to correct errors. Firms that fail to serve customers go out of business. Consumers who are poorly served under the status quo represent profit opportunities to upstart entrepreneurs.

There is no natural mechanism to correct government failure. Any government policy, no matter how flawed, develops a constituency that will lobby for its perpetuation.

Beyond the Moses Complex

Not every misfortune that occurs in society is a replay of Pharaoh's enslavement of the Jews. The Exodus narrative can always be tried on, but it does not often fit properly. Usually, problems are more complex and systemic than a simple oppressor/oppressed narrative can describe. Sometimes, the best solution is to increase, rather than to diminish, personal responsibility. Often, government programs can exacerbate problems, with no built-in correction mechanism.

We can address collective failures without adding to the responsibilities and strengthening the power of government. Personal activity and voluntary associations can help to repair the world with less danger of fostering arrogance, corruption, and unintentional harm.

The key to good government is not finding a superior leader who will help government play God. Instead, we need to be realistic about the human imperfections that are bound to be present in politicians. We need to take into account the adverse incentives under which they operate. America's founders had the right idea when they focused on limiting and dividing the powers of government, rather than depending on the wisdom and benevolence of rulers.

Jews are welcome to believe that we have an ethical mission, but we must recognize that government is a flawed and dangerous institution. The Moses Complex is an unhealthy syndrome.

Arnold Kling is the author of a book on health care policy, Crisis of Abundance, forthcoming in April from the Cato Institute. He is a member of a Reconstructionist Jewish synagogue and teaches statistics and economics at an Orthodox Jewish high school, both in suburban Washington, DC. He is also author of Learning Economics.

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67 Comments

Sheep
The experience of the Israelites in the Old Testament can be extended to people today.
They were always dependent upon strong, hopefully good leaders. In the book of Judges, they demanded God send them a king inspite of the extra taxes. Why couldn't they lead themselves?
Indeed, why can't poeple today lead themselves? The Protestants have made some progress in this area by making a virtue of personal responsiblity, but the bottom line is people do not want to discipline themselves and want the good shepard state to take care of them.

The Moses complex
If you are going to talk about religion, you cannot take God off the way, as a matter of fact you cannot take God off the way on anything, period.
People do take care of themselves but not without the assistance of God, after all it is God who created all of us and at His own image hence giving us dignity and freedom. The freedom that precisely is being demanded people should assume on running their own lives. However, when God is removed from that running of your lives is when problems like the ones we are experiencing today come along, when false gods like Karl Marx come and destroy civilization by pretending that he can destroy history and truth and live on a sort of relative paradise where only the self matters.
Nothing describes better the truth about Israel having an special covenant with God than the fact that they had, even after 400 years of domination by the Egyptians, a united people and relied in God for finding their freedom, even if the people of Israel so many times betrayed that freedom and threw themselves after false idols and unjustified doubts.
This has the risk of becoming a very long discussion and the point is really that faith is our relationship with God as it is hope and love and to break them apart under the fallacious pretense that we along have the control of our lives is simply absurd. The XX century proved it and the XXI century is giving us so far a pretty reflective idea on the truth of this reality.

The libertarian ants
Go to the ant, 0 sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer, And gathers her provision in the harvest (Proverbs 6:6-8).

liberal bible
The prophets spend much of their time talking about social justice. And here's one: suppose I sell myself into slavery to support my family. Is this contract everlasting? Is it possible to make such a contract everlasting? An orthodox Jew presumably knows the answer. Another question: I work my b*tt off in the field all season, with no outside help. Am I entitled to all the fruit of my labor?

The truth is that the writings of the prophets support social justice bordering on socialism. Pat Robertson said US toleration of gays led G*d to bring on the 9/11 attacks. Isaiah would have been more upset with toleration of homelessness and lack of universal health care.

Key
I believe the key is man having a direct relation to God with no man made organizational structure in the way.
People seem to want to place organizations between themselves and God or replace God with an organization.
As God warned in Samuel, kings (or governments) are not needed when you have faith in God.

prophets of socialism
The prophets of socialism are wrong, no matter where they come from. The consequences of socialism are inhumane. That religion has killed more people and caused more misery than any other.

7th Commandment
The prophets ENCOURAGE us to aid the poor.
Jesus sent his disciples out to preach with no money depending entirely upon the good will of the people.
Government takes the fruit of our labor and may or may not aid the poor.
The Bible in no way justifies anyone to take. It only encourages us to give.
It is up to God to decide if I have given enough, not my neighbor.

Realistic Expectation of Government Role
“People seem to want to place organizations between themselves and God or replace God with an organization.”

Yes, people have and will continue to make the fundamental error of expecting too much from Government. But the truth is that properly constructed Government, such as that specified in the US Constitution, is necessary for prosperity. The progress of commerce, technology and civilization are founded on order and security. However, unnecessary problems begin to develop when the role of government is expanded beyond its competence. If Government can provide order and security, why not retirement, health care, job security and vacation homes on flood plains? People easily forget or ignore the fundamental truths of human existence…scarcity and risk. Scarcity and risk cannot be legislated away. Law and Order assists a civilization in better dealing with scarcity and risk, but does not change the laws of physics.

The US Constitution codifies the natural condition of human kind…the Opportunity for life and liberty. It does not, however, guarantee Results. This is as it should be. Prosperity must be earned.

If Americans persist in asking Government to “part the Red Sea”, we may all end up drowning.

Advice from the Talmud...
The Talmud (Ethics of the Fathers 2:3) provides perhaps the best summary of the proper attitude towards government assistance. (Translation taken from http://www.chabad.org/library/article.asp?AID=2011.)

"Be careful with the government, for they befriend a person only for their own needs. They appear to be friends when it is beneficial to them, but they do not stand by a person at the time of _his_ distress."

Libertarian???
I mean, completely regimented, giving up even personal right to reproduction, female dominated society with a few token males, all society members expect to do anything at any time for the colony, nothing ever for themselves. Plus a rigidly defined caste system of soldiers and workers. Maybe this is libertarian in your book but...

As Always - An Insightful Essay
Thanks Arnold for a most interesting view of this phenomenon.

socialist prophets?
Believing that Judeo/Christian prophets are calling for a Socialist state is not unique to the Jewish faith.

It's VERY common to hear Christians declare their socialist leanings... because wouldn't Jesus want clean-running cars, anti-poverty programs and universal health care?

I have to differ with that viewpoint. I believe the prophets, and Christ, are addressing INDIVIDUAL attitudes and behavior, not advocating social programs. The historical scholars can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the trend toward cradle-to-grave government welfare is a very recent trend. People in Old and New Testament times were expected to take care of their own as individuals, as families, as congregations... NOT in the context of "the state."

In fact, I might suggest that the trend toward socialism goes AGAINST what the prophets have tried to teach us. After all... if the government takes care of every person's every need, then doesn't that absolve us as individuals from having any responsibility for personal charity? "Sorry - I can't help you. I gave at the office."

Reread your liberal Bible
If you examine all of the Bible's provisions regarding the poor, you'll find that the Bible never awarded the poor the legal right to the property of some other person. This is very important, for liberals/socialists believe that the poor have an absolute legal right to the property of others, with the state acting as the executor of that right. But the Bible's response to this theory is:

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17

You see, one who reads the Bible sans the pinko-colored glasses must admit that it's author is very sceptical of government. But don't take my word for it. Turn in your Bible to 1 Samuel 8:6-18; and next, to Matthew 4:8-10.

In truth, the Bible's loaded with anti-government stuff like this. But the best stuff of all is in Romans 9, where Paul describes why Israel stumbled: They rejected faith for the law, but could not bear up under its burden, when all the while faith would have given them the power to bear the law. The law is the stumbling stone God laid in Zion (Romans 9:30-33), and by analogy, government - the maker and executor of law - has always been man's stumbling stone.

Yet you propose that the Bible advises men to saddle themselves with more government? Maybe you'll allow a Founder (Patrick Henry) to free you from this folly:

"We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

You see, God's greatest gift to man is freedom from the law because faith in God provides the faithful the power to bear the law effortlessly. This faith in turn renders the law redundant, which in its turn enables political freedom.

With this in mind, reread your liberal Bible.

point taken
Point taken (Pete?)-

The Proverb emphasizes the individuals voluntarily participating via division of labor in a vibrant market economy.

How should their tradtions affect our decisions? -)

An interesting observation
Arnold, and if you are defining socialism as a religion, I agree with you. Belief in the irrational has often led to tragic consequences irrespective of whether it called itself socialism, christianity, islam, hinduism or environmentalism. What they all have in common is a desire to force conformity upon those around them, an orthodoxy based on a priori logic.

About your main thesis of the Jew as currier of favor with the monarch, is it reasonable to suppose that that may be in part why Israel is perceived in such polarized terms? Because it contradicts the established stereotypes that others have of Jews and that Jews have of themselves?

Violation of IRS code
Any church that teaches that in the USA would violate the IRS code.
Better to find a church that doesn't submit to state control.
Any out there?

liberal answer
I'm with Arnold in thinking that the Bible might not be the best source for modern tax and social welfare policy. But the original post was looking to the Bible as a source for conservative policy, which I think is misleading, as I said.

I'm with Joanie in not liking Pat Robertson. Her post is a reminder to me: stick to the topic at hand (Moses complex) and leave out marginal irrelevent beefs.

I disagree with robertbennett: "If you examine all of the Bible's provisions regarding the poor, you'll find that the Bible never awarded the poor the legal right to the property of some other person." Isaiah believes G*d destroyed the kingdom of Judah in part because their strong enforcement of property rights was harmful to the poor. This might not be a law in the legal sense, but to quote Bob Dylan: "G*d said: 'You can do what you want, but next time you see me commin' man, you better run.' "

Clearly there is a balance between pure socialism (0% property rights) and pure libertarian capitalism (100% property rights). The prophets of old rejected both, and so should we.

Old Testiment Health Care
"Isaiah would have been more upset with toleration of homelessness and lack of universal health care."

I must have missed that verse. Can you provide a reference to support that idea?

Maybe my memory is failing, but main source of health care I remember seeing in the Old Testiment was provided by the prophets praying.

If we make our Government our god, then we deserve what we get.

Miriam Complex
Liberals may want a leader like Moses, but when they get one, they tend to act more like Miriam (Moses' sister).
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=4&chapter=12&version=31

Democrats believe some wealthy people will not give what they consider a fair share
Many liberals seem to want to take my money to give to the poor and very conserned that if the poor are left to charity some wealthy people will not give what they consider a fair share.

The following is very well said:
'In fact, under free markets wealth is created and people of all classes benefit. Folk Marxists see Wal-Mart as exploiting low-skilled workers. But when you observe the long queues that form when Wal-Mart advertises for jobs, you realize that what low-skilled workers need is not government protection but more Wal-Marts.
People should consider it. '

Also

The Anabaptists (Mennonites, Quakers etc.) version of folk communism is 100% compatible with capitalism. Also communism with communes and all are compatible with capitalism. So capitalism is about a restraint to using violence or the state to gain.


Libertarians weather you be in the bible or not you gotta love this passage:

1 Samuel 8: 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.
19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.
22 And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

Just so you know
Just so you know the quakers in Pennsylvania lived un-governed for quite a while. I am not an advocate on having no government but it has worked in places for periods of time. In my opinion we need far less government than most believe.



liberal lies about the Bible
The Bible is quite clear that all calls to help the poor are personal calls.

I can't find anything in the Bible telling us to tax other people in order to help the poor.

Liberals like to feel good on the cheap. Instead of spending their own money, the steal someone else's, and spend the rest of the day telling each other how righteous they are.

Go and Sell that thou hast
Using the Bible to formulate governmental policy is a corruption of the Constitution and a poisoning of our peaceful plurality. Besides, true Christians do not believe in the accumulation of wealth -- and what could be more antithetical to American values?

The King James Bible
Matthew 19

21. Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

23. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

25. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

26. But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

market economy?
Not to belabor the point, but "voluntarily" also seems a funny word to use to describe ant behavior.I mean, what choice do they have? I think even for the proverbist ant genetics are a more important factor than a market economy, vibrant or otherwise. :)

metaphor blind?
You seem to miss the narrow metaphor and continually attempt to widen the other writer's point.

Monestaries
Monestaries across the USA are essentially self sufficient communes making a wide variety of products.

Throw away that Constitution
The Bible was one of many documents used as the basis of the Constitution.
Puritans of New England, staunch capitalists, and devout Christians were not opposed to accumulating wealth as long as the excess was used for productive means and not personal excess.
So who has helped more people in the world, Bill Gates or Mother Teresa?

1 Samuel 8:4-22
Don't here this O.T. lesson very often in church.

faith vs force
"What they all have in common is a desire to force conformity upon those around them, an orthodoxy based on a priori logic."
The critical question, however, is whether or not any of the groups you mentioned have the means to force anything upon anyone else. The state holds the monoploly on force, coercion, aggression and violence; only those who grasp control over this dreadful beast have the means to force others into changing their actions.
So as far as I am concerned any group wanting to control me or change my actions must use their powers of persuasion and I am free to reject them in full or part. What is troubling, no frightening, is the tendency of socialists of left and right to use the beast to force the rest of us into their mold. As Kling pointed out the state and what its power does to individuals is the problem---in other words changing the reigns is akin to changing the emperor's clothes.

An idea as fictional as the story it uses a example
Governments are there to set rules and enforce them. A living wage ie a fair days pay for a fair days work is as basic an idea as rules about private ownership.
The idea that there should not some basic standards only comes from people who believe they will never need them.

Ant and grasshopper
Don't think the authors of the Book of Proverbs know much about ant genetics or social structure.
Only that they worked like crazy, together, storing food and buiding their homes as compared to the grasshopper about which another alegory is written:

http://anonymouslefty.blogspot.com/2006/02/grasshopper.html

Half right
"Governments are there to set rules and enforce them."

The government's job is to enforce rules, but, when those rules violate the rights of others, it violates the first obligation of government is to protect individual liberty.
If you want to start a business, what business is it of the government what you should pay your help?
Or who you should or should not work for?

Faith Forced
Overzealous leaders of many religions have attempted to use force to impose their faith upon others. Most have colluded with the power of the state to acheive their ends.
That doesn't make the religion bad, only those of true faith who allowed(s) it to occur.

The Constitution is Law
Our PLURALIST nation was conceived by the Founding Fathers to be inclusive of Atheists, Monotheists and Polytheists. The Bible, Christianity, and Religion in general are thus strictly personal matters regulated by the individual, not the state. Therefore it's not about Bill Gates or Mother Teresa, but a secular, constitutional republic.

Thomas Jefferson
Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782. ME 2:221

...our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. THE RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE WE NEVER SUBMITTED, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff1500.htm

re-read the post
Re-read what I said. You should find that I did not condemn any religion...only the state and the willingness of those controlling it to use force, coercion, aggression and violence in seeking to implement their agendas--no matter what they are, religious or otherwise.

Iceland
Iceland was essentially anarchistic for most of the middle ages.

basic ideas
Heck, as long as we are going to push fantasies, why don't require companies to pay everyone $100/hr, then we can all be rich.

Minimum wage jobs do one thing, and one thing only.
They put poor people out of work.
And you claim to want to help the poor.

the problem of reading only part of the Bible
Jesus was a master of tailoring his message to his audience.

He told this man he had to sell everything he had, because the man was too tied to his earthly posessions, as is obvious by the man's response to Jesus's advice.

Other places in the Bible Jesus makes it clear that wealth is not directly an impediment to holiness.

BTW, the eye of the needle was a small gate beside the main gate in the city of Jeruselam. A camel could pass through this gate, but only if was unburdened first.

The Literal Bible
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

True Christians
So you think that Judeo-Christian religious philosophy had NO input into formulating the Constitution?

I would suggest reading about the founding of New England in the 1600s. They thought they were true Christians and they believed in hard work and using the rewards of their labors for the benefit of others.
Who are you to judge who is or is not a true Christian?

Detangle
The post you replied to lumped religions into governmental systems and you did not detangle religion from government.
I don't comdenm religion, only those who attempt to use force to apply it.

Hope
"With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. "

Romans 3:

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Ants and libertarians
Ants, who live in communistic colonies sharing everything and giving up all individual activity, are still funny metaphors for libertarianism, then or now.

Need Imagination
Can't help there.

Non-political message
"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Matthew 22:21

Why should a church allow its tax-status to influence its approach to teaching the Gospel? Should the church allow the state through its power to tax and destroy determine Biblical truth? If the church follows Jesus' command above, then it won't, for it's true and best message is anti-political.

Try reading the Bible, LiberalGoodman
Isaiah 1:15-17

15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood;

16 wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds
out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong,

17 learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.

Had you read just seventeen verses into Isaiah, LiberalGoodman, you would have discovered that according to Isaiah, one of Israel's primary sins was not fulfilling its obligations to its weakest members. Morever, having studied the entire Old Testament regarding this issue, I can assure you that no Prophet cited the "strong enforcement of property rights" in their indictments of Israel.

Indeed, your claim implies that God punished Israel for obeying Him. This shows you speak from ignorance and perhaps even indifference to knowledge. Consult Proverbs 21:24-25 and Psalm 53:1 for a Biblical commentary on your approach to Biblical issues.

Further, you misconstrued my point, which is typical of the left's advocates. The Bible does not award the poor a property right in the property of the rich because such a right requires legal enforcement. This leads to ever-expanding government as well as the undermining of civil society.

Still not convinced? Then perhaps intellectual honesty will compel you to read the Book of Ruth. As you do (if you do), you'll discover that the backstory describes exactly how Israel's obligation to the needy was to be carried out under Mosaic Law.

God bless you, marjon & MarkTheGreat
Perfect responses to Rhapton! The Bible is very susceptible to being misconstrued by those who wish to contort it to their own purposes:

Romans 16:17-18

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

Matthew 6:13

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Power to Tax is power to control
"it's true and best message is anti-political."

Anti-political to a polictical body has political consequences. That's why He was crucified.

Imagine a pastor preaching the lesson in Samuel describing what government will do to us.
If the First Amendment were turly followed, there must be not repercussions, however, since the state has granted tax benefits to churches, they have a stick to control them.
The IRS just reported that several chrurches have violated tax exempt status.
Need to find a church that refuses tax exemptions and remains independent of government control.
If the chuch does not have a political message, why did the Soviets destroy the church?
Can pro-abortion politicians be rebuked at the pulpit and not violate campaign finance laws?

Observe and codify
'Governments are there to set rules and enforce them. '

Governments should observe and codify the existsing rules of society. Not to make 'to set rules'.



moses complex
Thankyou, I'm a Jew, who's parents survived the Nazi camps (if you can call it that),left Austria 1957. What hasn't been said, that after years of persecution, we Jews for survival, created a hidden agenda, Show Christain,Catholic front,(because Christ was and still is a Jew),and yet privately practice their own form of Judiasm. The founding Fathers, Masonic, Washington, Franklin and Adams, also left Europe, persecuted by Catholic Popes, therefore a hidden agenda, Freemasons secret club and yet the Bill of rights, The American Constitution written and signed by the Freemason, George Washington, 34th degree Mason. Even Mexico's founder Benito Juarez also 34 degree Mason. The Masonic relationship with King Solomon, gave birth to Jewish -Masons, and through hidden agenda, we felt a common destiny. More Masonic than Marxist, thankyou sholom.

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