Father Biden on Patriotism

During his convention speech, Barack Obama enunciated his theory of government: it exists to ensure that "we are all our brothers’ (and sisters’) keepers". Curiously, the main stream media pretty much ignored the candidate’s stated intention to impose this religious dogma through governmental fiat.

But comes now his running mate, Joe Biden, defending the duo’s economic plan as follows:

"Catholic social doctrine as I was taught it is, you take care of people who need the help the most."

STOP THE PRESSES!! Where are Americans United for the Separation of Church and State?!? Where are People for the American Way? Where is the ACLU? Where is The New York Times editorial page intoning pompously about the necessity to keep faith and government entirely separate?

Why is it, pray tell (or, I suppose, under the circumstances, don’t pray, just tell), that the only time the Left waxes indignant about someone imposing Catholic doctrine is when it involves abortion or homosexuality? Interesting, isn’t it, that Senator Biden paid such close attention to his Church’s view on economic policy, and, apparently, entertains not the slightest compunction about imposing those views upon a reluctant public, but paid no attention whatsoever to the Church’s abortion teaching. Or, at least, believes that the people possess a right to dissent on abortion but not on redistribution.

Biden also noted that he feels that it’s "patriotic" for rich folk to pay higher taxes. Sounds like an old Donald Duck cartoon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfwZNomxsNg. (That message did not resound even then, during a world war). One could understand such a statement, if the good Senator’s statement were to this effect:

"We’re at war and, in extreme times, the country requires the resources to provide our soldiers with the best equipment possible. We’ve proposed to cut spending to the bone, to eliminate earmarks and other frivolities, and to foreswear expensive new social programs, but we still need money for aircraft, tanks, and ammunition. Every patriot needs to sacrifice in times of war and, when this war is won, we will repeal these additional taxes. Indeed, we’re including a sunset provision to ensure that each and every subsequent Congress must vote to reimpose them."

Heck, even I would support such a policy, were the military need great.

But, instead, his statement is to this effect:

"We think it’s unfair that some people make a lot of money while their neighbors make less. So, we’re going to impose a massive tax increase on people who work hard and succeed (as well as upon the families of people unfortunate enough to die) to fund massive giveaways to folks we think deserve it more. We know this will hurt the economy; Obama himself said so. But that’s a price we’re willing to make you pay. It’s patriotic to pay these taxes to provide goodies to your neighbors, who haven’t earned them. Yes indeed, socialism is patriotic."

I attended Catholic schools for a number of years, and spent a many hours in CCD class. I also perused the Gospels at length (during otherwise boring homilies). Apparently, I missed the section in which Jesus – or the Church – taught that charity should be governmentally compelled.

Now, admittedly, the Church’s economic doctrine often reads as you’d expect of a treatise written by folks who took vows of poverty; if actually followed, we’d all be living in monasteries. But if taken as admonitions to the faithful about how they should act, as opposed to governmentally enforced demands, they make considerable sense. Catholic doctrine teaches that, to be a good Catholic, one must be one’s brothers’ keeper. The Church also teaches that good Catholics must sacrifice for the benefit of the poor. But, so far as I know, the Church nowhere establishes taxation rates on its congregants, understanding that the quantum of charity is the province of the donor. Catholic Church doctrine asks its members to dig deep, but passes a basket, not a tax bill. It appeals to conscience; in a word, it asks, it does not demand.

More tellingly, given Biden’s pathetic record of charitable contributions, it’s clear that he personally rejects his obligations, as defined by the Church’s teachings. Why should anyone accept his devotion to Catholic doctrine as public policy when he manifestly fails to abide by those teachings himself? Apparently, he feels that when he presents before the Pearly Gates, and confronts Saint Peter’s question – "what did you do to improve the lot of your fellow man?" – his response – "I paid my taxes" – will suffice. Good luck with that.

As I recollect, the very last commandment reads, in effect, "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods". Is not the entire Democratic Party economic philosophy based upon a bald-faced violation of that commandment? Obama/Biden promises "the middle class" – narrowly defined – a "tax cut" – really welfare, in the sense the folks who don’t pay taxes will receive a check nevertheless – at the expense of their more prosperous neighbors. This, Biden tells us, is both "Catholic" and "patriotic".

Nonsense. It’s a base appeal to envy. It represents an attempt to purchase votes with other people’s money. It’s neither "Catholic" nor "patriotic", and it violates fundamental American – read "patriotic" – notions that people should be free to earn what they can and keep that which they earn. Yes, government may legitimately compel us to sacrifice for the common defense, even demanding that we put our lives on the line. But stealing from one segment of society to reward another is beyond the legitimate scope of governmental authority.

Given all the media hoopla about Governor Palin’s religiosity (her views on Intelligent design merit lengthy discussion), one would think that Biden’s express desire to impose his quirky view of Catholic doctrine through governmental command might merit a mention. Alas, no. There are no enemies on the (religious) left.

Father Biden on Patriotism