I must be old, because I can remember a time when people had more value than any stack of money. When capitalism was merely a system of economics wherein people could own land and personal property and not an ideal and a religion, complete with living saints and prophets. When people were respected for their role in their communities and not considered leeches merely because they had the misfortune of losing their jobs or falling ill or getting too old or weak to work. When the value of life was in how time was spent, not in how much money changes hands in whichever direction. When charity and philanthropy were more important than profits. When how you treated the people in your care was more important than the bottom line. When, if you had more than enough, it was your duty to find people who needed your extra and hand it over, regardless of how you came by your surplus. When Ayn Rand’s Objectivism was an ideal of Anton LaVey’s Satanic Church rather than any Christian one.
The Cult of Mammon is not a new thing, and its ascendancy is not a new problem. But it has turned into the national religion.
Maybe if you’re younger than my 45 years, you won’t remember that foreclosing on a schoolhouse or a widow’s home used to be the epitome of evil — something a writer would make the villain in a book or movie do so everyone in the audience knew it would be okay for the hero to shoot him dead, or at least deliberately not rescue him from the cattle stampede. Now the motto of the state religion is, and I won’t ask you to pardon my language because I would love for you to know the depth of my feeling, “Fuck the Poor People”, or “Pedicabo Pauperibus” if you’d prefer it in Latin. “Irrumabo Pauperibus” if you’re a fan of Catullus. I’m surprised we don’t see it printed on our money.
Maybe next year. Maybe the year after.
We create value in people by investing time and resources in them — by, in the words of a lately unpopular radical of an early communist movement, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, inviting in strangers, giving clothes to the poor and naked, and visiting the sick and those in prison. This isn’t something that just Christians are supposed to do. This is the goal of any enlightened culture. But if you are a Christian, then this is one of the commandments from the mouth of Jesus Himself. You’d think that would count for something.
Anyone who thinks there’s any way to integrate Rand’s philosophy and the commands of Christ is so wrong as to be clearly deranged. They are diametrically opposed. All you have to do to know that for certain would be to actually read something from both sources.
If you see someone arguing to cut back on support for the poor — food and shelter and healthcare and the basic education it takes to get along in the modern world — then it’s obvious who they serve. And this is their prayer:
Our dollar, which art invested, hoarding be thy game. Thy greenbacks call my wallet home, on Earth as it is on Wall Street. Give us our daily dividends, and forgive us our debts as we put the screws to our debtors. Lead us not into inflation but deliver us from red ink. For mine is the cash flow and the credit and the moolah for lining my pockets. Amen.
Spread the word.
(Xposted for your convenience from SRF Heavy Industries.)