Skip to comments.On Generosity and Justice
Posted on 09/25/2012 12:14:55 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
So what else is there to say about Mitt Romney's tax returns? I would suggest that we could learn at least two things from them. First, on a personal level, it seems that Mitt and Ann Romney are very generous people. They donated $4.02 million in charity in 2011 (out of $13.7 million of income) and $3 million in 2010 (out of $21.7 million in income). If these figures are accurate (and there is no reason to doubt them) the Romneys donated almost 30 percent of their 2011 income to charity, and 14 percent of their income in 2010. That is a sizeable chunk of their income donated to charity.
A large percentage of that money went to the Mormon church, which supports political activities that I think are appalling, however, giving that large a percentage of ones income to charities is still a laudable thing.
The second thing that we can learn is that this display of personal largesse and philanthropy reinforces the wisdom of the Rabbinic tradition which demands that poverty relief should be a function also of municipal institutions. Whereas Biblically mandated poverty relief is an individual affairyou give your charity to whichever poor person you desirethe Rabbis recognized that this was both inefficient and unfair. A poor person who lived in an agricultural area might find a very favorable ratio of poor people to assistance being distributed (tithes, gleanings, charity). However, if a poor person lived in an urban area they would probably find a less favorable ratio. If you are one of the thousands of poor people in an urban area attempting to scavenge gleanings at one of the few nearby farmsgood luck.
The Rabbis' solution was the establishment of a minimum amount of food and other resources that the city had to give to every poor person who passed through its precincts (Mishnah Peah 8:7). This also meant that the cities had to assess residents to contribute to the soup kitchen and the community chest to insure that enough resources were on hand to support the poor (Bavli Baba Bathra 8a-b). The Rabbis of Late Antiquity, therefore, constructed a system of taxes in order to be able to support the poor of their citiesor poor folks who happened to be travelling through their cities. This system was developed and refined over the years.
The personal philanthropy approach to poverty relief succeeds only in supporting poor people who happen to live next door to the Romneys (or the institutions that distribute their funds). By definition, the super-rich of the Romney variety, do not live next door to many of the people who need their largesse. In a recently published video recording of a speech he made at a fund raiser, Romney dismissed Americans who needed support from the government as those who believed they were victims and that the government has a responsibility to take care of them and that they believe that they are entitled to things like health care and food, etc. Finally, Romney said that these 47% of the American people will never learn to take responsibility for themselves.
The Rabbinic tradition teaches the exact opposite. The government does have an obligation to make sure people have enough food and clothing and health care and other basics. Romneys remarks point up the fact that the obligation of society to support those who work hard but cannot feed themselves or their families, or live in situations where they cannot work to support themselves, will never be fulfilled by relying only on the generosities of the mega-rich such as the Romneys. The reason is twofold. First is the I built it syndrome, or in the language of Torah (Deuteronomy 8): Take care lest you forget the LORD your God lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied , and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. Present wealth tends to obscure the memory of what it actually took to get there.
The second reason that we cannot rely on individual benefaction is that even with the most generous of benefactors large numbers of people will fall through the cracks by dint of geography or circumstance. The government has the reach and the bureaucracy (for good and ill) to distribute money to where it is needed. The redistribution of resources to create a more fair and just society is the raison detre of government.
And so we enter into this Yom Kippur, acknowledging that there are very wealthy people who are very generous. However, justice need not and cannot depend on generosity, the redistribution of resources by the government is the only guarantor of an economically just society.
I wish everybody a happy and sweet new year of peace and justice, and to those who are fasting an easy and meaningful fast.
When based upon a false premise, the entire argument falls flat on its face.
I would be interested in what political activities the Mormons support that are bad. The only thing I have ever heard about was the anti gay marriage amendment to the California constitution. I was all for what they and the Catholic churches were able to do. There were other churches that helped but the Mormons and Catholics were the main movers. I congratulate them in their efforts. It is sad the courts have taken it upon themselves to over rule the people.
Mormons don’t give to their next door neighbor, their donations are completely blind. It can only be legally tax deductable if it is blind. If you give money to someone it is a gift. If the church gives it it is charity. They have what they call a “fast system”. Yes they give 10% of before tax earnings to the church as tithes but this fast offering is only for the poor. Fast offerings do not support just Mormons. People are not required to be Mormon to get assistance from the Mormon church. If you are Mormon you are encouraged to attend church meetings but even that is not a requirement.
I would much rather give money to a church than to a government that will buy votes with it.
The Romneys are very good people, generous for sure, now if they could just get their political ideas in sync with the conservatives of this country all would be well.
I fear the Romneys are not as conservative by a long shot as me, but as far away from me as they are they are miles further from Obama. I will be voting Romney.
If everyone was as generous in their charitable giving as the Romneys there would be no need for government welfare because there would be no poor.
Say what you will about mormons not being Christian, but, they sure act Christian.
Individuals select and give based upon a charity's goals and operations. This, by virtue of the feedback principal, controls and corrects charity operations. In recent history, both the United Way and the American Red Cross suffered from corruption and mismanagement that caused their managements to change and correct.
Governments, in contrast, suffer from inertia, bureaucracy, cronyism and mission bloat regardless if the mission is charitable or governmental. It is an extraordinary bureaucrat that would exercise the same care in giving someone else's money (taxpayer's) to a charity that he has no care about. Add to this the very REAL NEED for good government to properly husband the taxpayer's money, just imagine the increase in regulation and paperwork required for the charities receiving government funds! What would happen to small local charities? What would happen to such great charities like Salvation Army which is staffed by CHRISTIANS?
No, Mr Cohen, your vision is my nightmare!
Romney never said this. I stopped reading when I got to this complete lie.
Romney never said this. I stopped reading when I got to this complete lie.
I’ll stick with scripture over man made rabbinic tradition. The precepts of God trump the commandments of men.
However, justice need not and cannot depend on generosity, the redistribution of resources by the government is the only guarantor of an economically just society.
The religious leaders in the time of Jesus was supposed to represent the state of Israel but any one can plainly see that they were his only real enemies.
Why? because he was preaching freedom, he said you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free, sure , free from sin but also free from religion, our government under these anti christs have become the biggest religious cult in the world.
The money the government gives in the name of helping people helps those who could help them selves in many cases.
But mainly it goes to help the people who are employed in government and to get more people on the government pay roll,
Because the people on the payroll will vote for the ones who are paying them, and they will also justify anything their bosses do.