Bernie’s appeal to greed

In a recent political ad, Bernie Sanders proclaims, “Is the economy rigged?  Well, the fifteen richest Americans acquired more wealth in two years than the bottom one hundred million people combined.”  The Sanders campaign promises to “make Wall Street banks and the ultra-rich pay[.]”  Pay for what, you ask? Among other things, Bernie wants to use this money to give away free college tuition and free Medicare coverage to every person.

Bernie is shrewd.  He knows how to appeal to mankind’s base instincts: jealousy, avarice, and covetousness.  Jealousy says, “How dare those ultra-rich people presume to hoard their dollars, when we poor folks must struggle to make ends meet?”  Greed whispers, “We can make our lives easier by taking from those few who own so much.”  Covetousness argues, “We should have what they have; it’s only fair to use our elected officials to get it for us.”

Never mind that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).  Pay no attention to that silly commandment in Exodus 20 about not coveting your neighbor’s goods.

No need to feel guilty! We can justify ourselves (in our minds) by telling ourselves and everyone else that we’re doing this for the good of our poor, unfortunate fellow residents (citizens and non-citizens alike).  And when we receive our “fair share” of the appropriated wealth, this will be our just reward for the good work we have done on behalf of our brethren...a “finder’s fee,” if you will.  We worked hard to get an asset-equalizing socialist into office; we deserve plenty!

Socialism’s asset reapportionment purports to “level the playing field” in the name of “fairness” by taking from the rich and giving to the poor.  It appropriates funds from some and promises to distribute those funds among others, even though the others provided no tangible goods or services to earn the extra funds.  This causes the people to become ever more greedy and expectant of increasingly large handouts.  The more they get, the more they want.  Incentive to work is destroyed.  Productivity plummets.  Socialism is a dead-end road!  As Pope Paul VI once said, “all life demands struggle.  Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life.”

Socialism is the modern-day version of the Robin Hood syndrome.  It takes from the ostensibly evil, rich goats and distributes much (though not all!) to the presumably righteous, poor sheep.  But whereas Robin Hood was an outlaw, today’s huddled American masses of sheep have caught onto a perfectly legal way to feed their greed: taxation!

How can we best combat the galloping advance of avarice?  One could highlight examples of failed socialist nations (Venezuela and Greece spring to mind) to demonstrate the potentially disastrous results of socialism.  One could point out that the wealthy have labored long and hard for their success and that they deserve to keep the fruits of their labors just as much as the average Joe does.  One can also catalog the extensive philanthropic efforts of such “top-ten” wealthy individuals as Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and Mark Zuckerberg; wealth does not necessarily equate with evil.

But lessons in economics or hard reality are unlikely to make a dent in the base desires of those who strive to adopt the Robin Hood methodology in our formerly capitalist nation.  Greed is much too powerful a motivator to succumb to reason.  A hard heart produces a hard head.

Thus, the solution lies in changed hearts. The only way to combat socialism with true and lasting effect is to combat the evil within.  People must be brought to realize that the greed, jealousy, and covetousness inherent in socialism are wrong.  Those traits violate the moral absolutes of a just society.  Worse still, they violate the laws of a just God.

Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does not covet.  Love does not take.  Forcing money from others to enrich oneself is self-love, not neighborly love.

When greedy, selfish people turn to the path of righteousness and embrace the love of Christ in their hearts, this nation will genuinely change for the better.

Socialism’s asset reapportionment is wrong.  Mind you, it has just enough veneer of self-righteousness and attractive appearance to deceive wicked, greedy souls.  But it is the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” which, when incorporated into our way of life, will rapidly devour both goats and sheep.

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