Working class Jesus

Now, I am not religious.  I do not believe in a god at all.  Most people believe in the existence in a supreme being and most of their respective faiths advocate against the accumulation of wealth.  I admit, this may appear to be a lazy post (The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible assisted me greatly in The New Testament quotes), but it took a fair amount of research.

  • Christians seem to have a lot of mention in the New Testament that to be rich and lead an opulent lifestyle while others suffer and struggle does not earn you brownie points in the afterlife

Luke

16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.


Matthew
19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
19:24 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.
19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

or (about the same gist)

Mark
10:23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
10:24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
10:25 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.


Luke
6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
James
5:1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
5:2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
5:3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
5:4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

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Islam doesn’t seem to specifically forbid the accumulation of wealth, but uses the language ‘woe unto him that doesn’t pay the zakaah’ (summary).

“And those who hoard up gold and silver (Al‑Kanz: the money, the Zakaah of which has not been paid) and spend them not in the way of Allaah, announce unto them a painful torment”

[al-Tawbah 9:34]

Zakaah is one of those words that would take a 2 page explanation to properly translate (especially since it is one of the 5 pillars of Islam), but I can loosely define it as a combination of a poor tax, voluntary charity, emergency relief, and support for new converts.  This is NOT a literal translation.  Zakaah literally means purity.  It is said that if you have an annual income of $15 or more, that you are obligated to give 2.5% of your income to purify your possessions and purify your heart of greed.  The 2.5% is the bare minimum and can also apply to cattle and land.  It’s a form of insuring the welfare of the poor and to allow the poor to suffer is not acceptable in the Muslim belief.  One more quote:

2:177 It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah.fearing.

-Ch. 2:177

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Judaism seems to put an emphasis on Charity, but does not seem to give specific punishment for riches.  Then again, I’ve been reading for about an hour and a half at this point and my attention span is waning.

Proverbs 19:17 He that is gracious unto the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and his good deed will He repay unto him.

The Torah mentions using fair business practices.  One could argue that this is intended for fairness in trade only, not in the employment of others.

Leviticus 19:35: Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah[19.7 litres] and an honest hin [3.7 litres].

It is said that love of money brings unhappiness, but having great wealth is inherited from your family.  Poverty is not seen as a virtuous thing in the Jewish faith, but an unnecessary form of suffering to be avoided.  Poverty is seen as a strain on the rest of society and rather than to receive welfare, all should seek to work and earn money. Now, in the Talmud (Sota 14a):

“Ye shall walk after the Lord your God” [Deuteronomy 13.4]. But how can a man walk after God who is a devouring fire? [Deuteronomy 4.24]. It means, walk after His attributes: clothe the naked, visit the sick, comfort the mourner, bury the dead.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11:  7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

The Torah itself seems to give very little info on charity, but the Talmud provides much more information.  The levels of Tzedakah, from least to greatest are as follows:

  1. Giving begrudgingly
  2. Giving less that you should, but giving it cheerfully.
  3. Giving after being asked
  4. Giving before being asked
  5. Giving when you do not know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient knows your identity
  6. Giving when you know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient doesn’t know your identity
  7. Giving when neither party knows the other’s identity
  8. Enabling the recipient to become self-reliant

Bottom line:  Even as someone who does not believe in god, there are wonderful concepts laid out here and I hope that as a society we can continue to strive to help our neighbors and thrive as a people.  We are all human beings and no one should suffer while so many prosper.

P.S. My apologies for only going into Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.  There are also many examples in other religions, but I’ve been working on this project on and off for about 3 and a half hours and I’m exhausted.  If you have anything to add, please feel free to comment.  Thank you!

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You make $36,000 per year? You must be rich!

I’m checking the State of Oregon Department of Human Services for a 4 member family that makes $36,000 a year (more than a first year Portland Public Schools teacher).  After taxes, medical & dental insurance, Social Security, and paying into the company retirement program, that $3,000/month goes to a mere $2,200/month.  Gas & car insurance run $200/month because there are no jobs nearby, so you have to travel.  Water & Sewer are running about $80/month and electric is about $120/month.  You need to have DSL for the job so they have a bundle pack of DSL, home phone service, and 1 cell phone to share in case of emergencies $100.  Luckily this is a single income family and the other parent stays home with the kids.  Total expenses: $1,400.  This family has $800 left per month for food, copays, car repairs, student loan repayments, hospital visits, therapy, clothes, entertainment, etc.  This family in the example is lucky becuase they don’t have any loan repayments to worry about, they’re young and healthy, and their children don’t have any health problems or impairments.  They also don’t qualify for food stamps.

Another four member family.  Both adults work full time at $8.40/hour.  Their total gross income is $2,822.40.  After taxes, this is about $2,100.  They have an apartment in the same complex as adult A’s mother’s apartment @ $885/month for a 3 bedroom (the kids are opposite gender so need their own rooms).  Adult A’s mother helps with watching the kids sometimes since both of them work at a fast food chain and don’t have a set schedule.  She’s on section 8, but has no other income so charges $200/month (much better than $3 per child per hour).  They don’t have internet or anything fancy, but they do have a prepaid cell phone since their credit is crap ($55/month for Cricket).  Electric is only about $65/month since it’s only a 950 sq. ft. apartment.  It’s $88/month apiece for a Trimet All Zone bus pass, so that totals to $176/month.  The children were both abused at a young age, so the copays for therapy once a week are $25 per child ($50 total) and one of the children have really bad asthma & allergies, so $15 for incidental inhaler & $25 for the steroid inhaler ($40 total).  Total expenses are $1471. This leaves $629 left over for everything else needed.  Luckily, they qualify for $196/month in food benefits.  Hope they don’t have any unforeseen emergencies.

A woman addicted to amphetamines lives with her parents and has a child.  She does not work and is absent much of the time.  She receives $200 a month in child support.  She gets $350/month for her child and her in food benefits, but trades them for 50 cents on the dollar for cash.  She does not pay rent or contribute food to the house.

How many of you have seen someone sell food stamps for cash?  How many of you have been approached by someone offering to buy your food in exchange for cash?  Unfortunately, aside from reporting instances in which you see someone abusing the system, I don’t know how to fix this.  Do you?  Please comment.

EDIT—Let me make it clear, that I am not opposed to giving people food stamps.  I AM against the fact that our system is so broken that people can’t make enough money to buy food for their families.  You can talk about how people don’t live within their means until you’re blue in the face, but the fact is that someone who makes $80,000 a year can live much more comfortably than someone who makes $30,000 a year (even though both are labeled middle class).  Food stamps and WIC are like putting a band-aid over an arterial wound.  Nine bucks an hour sure and hell won’t have you eating much better than ramen noodles & PB&J sandwiches (My luxury meal used to be mixing mac n cheese & spaghetti rings.  Poor man’s casserole for under a buck!).—

P.S.  I don’t believe that drug tests are the answer because things like meth, crack, and heroin only stay in the system for 48 or less hours.  Plus, drug tests run anywhere from $20 to $80 per test and you’re wasting a lot of money testing people that don’t use drugs.

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Don’t leave me….come back!

Dear American Jobs,

Please come back.  We miss you.

With love,

America.

Okay, we need to stop rewarding companies that move jobs out of the US and create an IMPORT tax.  Screw all this “Tax WalMart, they deserve it!” and “The middle class needs to give their fair share”. Tell Nike that every pair of shoes that comes into the United States from a foreign country will be taxed 50% of the MSRP. For one thing, every pair of shoes we buy from China is supporting slave labor.  Also, you wanna talk about “think green” and “save the planet”?  Stop sending shit 5,000 miles when you can just as easily build 10 factories in the US no more than 700 miles apart.  You want a factory in China to sell shoes to the Chinese?  Awesome!!!  More power to you.  Factories in Bangladesh to make Hawaiian shirts for Floridian Retirees?  That’s just stupid.  Back on the subject of an import tariff: Specialty import food items and cultural specialties should be exempt (i.e. Egyptian cotton bedsheets could not be made from American cotton, bananas & coffee don’t thrive in the US, etc.).  I don’t believe in closing the borders entirely or stifling our economy, but if something can be made IN this country, FOR the people of this country, and reduce joblessness in America, then lets go for that option please.

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Enemies of the State

Both the democrats and republicans have lost my confidence and from this point forward I consider them to be enemies to the state.

I’m tired of this whole liberal v. conservative battle. I’m so disgusted by republicans and democrats alike. I would like to see the GOP replaced by extreme Libertarians, Anarchists, & Communists (Plus those that would overlap on a Venn Diagram) and replace the Democrats with the Socialists. That would be much more interesting than our current political parties trying to get in bed with one another and find common ground.

I agree with the conservatives that there is too much government spending.  Unfortunately, they seem to cut much needed social programs and redirect the savings into the pockets of the people who need it the least.  I’m sick of the promises of “Well, if companies are taxed too much they can’t create jobs”.  The wealthiest of companies are just sending jobs to China & India anyway, so how does that create jobs or help our economy??

Then we’ve got the spineless, compromising, always willing to roll over Democrats promising the world in new programs, go way over budget and borrow billions of dollars from China.

Another thing: Keep your views on abortion, gay marriage, and god to yourselves.  You use it as a political device and it’s not fair!  Your personal views on these subjects do not determine how good of a politician you will make.  We should all have the freedom to marry or stay single, the freedom and means to have children or remain childless, and the freedom to worship & believe whatever we wish or to be a godless heathen (like me!).

This is not a game people, it’s our country.  So, my personal message to you is that I will NEVER vote for the lesser of two evils again as long as I live.  If I don’t agree with your politics, I will either write in the name of someone I think could do a better job or not vote.  Voting for the lesser of two a**holes is a poor practice and I will no longer contribute to your political dick measuring contests.  Help America or piss off!

Yours Truly,

Chris

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