Dan Popp
Stand and deliver!
By Dan Popp
July 10, 2009

What the government gives it must first take away. — John Strider Coleman

The movie Stand and Deliver is about an inner-city math teacher who "dedicates his life to serving others." But the phrase, "Stand and deliver" goes back to the days of horse-drawn carriages and highwaymen. Much as we might expect a bad guy to shout, "Stick 'em up," these robbers demanded their victims to "Stand, and deliver!" Or, as we might put it, "Stop right there and fork over your valuables."

Our Commander-in-Thief has embraced both meanings of the phrase by making one of his rare TV appearances asking people to volunteer.

Now, what could be wrong with that? What kind of a Right-Wing Nut-Job could find fault with the President urging folks to do good?

Well, if we assume that Mr. Obama is talking to the people that listen to him, then the message could not be more relevant. Liberals, always wanting to force someone else to save humanity, usually don't dirty their hands with that kind of thing themselves. Arthur C. Brooks has set the record straight as to Who Really Cares. Those heartless Conservatives — at all income levels — actually give more money, and volunteer more time, than do Liberals. If Obama's unspoken intention is to get his Leftist disciples to finally put their time and money where their mouth is, I say, "Bravo, Mr. President. And good luck with that."

But, to answer your question, there are a couple of things wrong with Obama's call for "service." First, it's hypocritical.

  • Aren't the President's policies putting more people out of work — therefore creating more need for all kinds of social services? Why not tackle this problem at the "demand" side?

  • We know that charitable giving rises with income. But Obama bashes people with high incomes as if they had committed a crime he can't openly punish. He wants to tax them even more than they are taxed now.

  • The President and his party want to decrease the tax deduction for charitable contributions. What are all these new volunteers going to do with no resources for computers or phones or chairs?

  • Government programs drive out private charity. People are less motivated to help when they feel that the government is already helping.

  • And Obama's Jabba-the-Hutt government expands every day, robbing the private sector of more and more wealth. His public service programs will suck billions of dollars away from private charities.

He's doing what no highwayman would have the gall to do: lecturing you about being less self-centered while he's relieving you of your watch and wallet.

But the second problem with the President's entreaty is really the more important. My concern isn't with the message that "Giving is Good;" but it makes me uneasy when it's paired with his favorite sermon, "Profits are Evil."

If we stop to ask which yields the most benefit for mankind, charity or commerce, we'll realize that commerce wins, hands down. Innovation driven by the quest for profits has enriched Americans above any other people in the history of the world. And it's the poor that gain most from things like cheap food, cheap clothing and cheap transportation — all brought to you by capitalism.

This moral inferiority of working to "serving" is not the Christian view. For thousands of years believers have understood that work is something God-given, and therefore good. We were contributing to the well-being of ourselves, our families and our fellow man just by performing our daily tasks with diligence and a good attitude. Colossians 3:23,24 reads, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."

This doctrine sanctifies all honest work. No matter how lowly, a day's labor is an offering to God. There is nothing shameful about scrubbing toilets or flipping burgers.

"To work is to pray," the ancients said. I fear that today's churches have let this teaching languish, and we have fallen into the world's delusion that our jobs must be "dignified" and intellectually stimulating, while paying an arbitrary "living wage." Work, in the postmodern mind, certainly isn't something holy, like volunteerism.

The gospel according to Barack and Michelle, that providing value to your fellow man doesn't count if you are paid for it, is opposed to the real gospel, and to common sense.

Without profit, there is nothing to give.

Giving is good. Profiting is also good. Unless we get that straight — and soon — America will find itself at the end of a global soup line.

It will probably be closed for lack of funding.

Click here to discuss this article.

© Dan Popp


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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