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Comment of the Day: Poverty is a Sin


This comment was posted in response to a Paul Krugman piece that claims the Republicans are in a hurry to pass their tax cut bill because they know they will be trounced in November 2018:

Ron Cohen

is a trusted commenter Waltham, MA 1 day ago

The rich are tearing our society apart. We surely must ask ourselves, why do they care so much? After all the tax cuts are modest relative to their immense wealth. Is it really about the money? Or is it something deeper and more visceral, a need to dominate and impoverish everyone else?

The great English historian, R.H. Tawney, in his magisterial work, “Religion and the Rise of Capitalism” (1926), tells us that by the mid 1600’s, most English Puritans saw in poverty “not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion … but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will.”

This ideal of individual morality, derived from Calvin, has been with us ever since. But it has surfaced with renewed zeal in the 21st Century, with men like the Koch bothers, Robert Mercer, Art Pope, Sheldon Adelson and others determined to spend whatever it takes to replace democracy as we know it—a leveling force—with a fascistic, plutocratic model of government.

For these billionaires, however, religion plays no role. Rather, it’s how they see themselves, their self image, that motivates their lust for power, their need to dominate. They are the “makers,” deserving as such, while the rest of us are undeserving “takers,” living off their efforts. Identity politics isn’t just for Democrats anymore.

For a penetrating interpretation, see George Monbiot’s short but defining piece in The Guardian:

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