“1For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around…
…9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
You might be curious why an avowed atheist is opening a blog post with a passage from the Bible. Well, first off, I figure if there are any Christians in the audience, they probably haven’t read it. But the main reason is because I find a lot of good, wise teaching on equitable and charitable living in Jesus’ words, and I’m dismayed that so few people (especially those who claim to follow him) live by any of it.
The Protestant Work Ethic used to mean you did your work without complaint and you felt guilty if you didn’t put in your fair share. Now it seems to mean you’ll only work as long as no one taxes you higher than you want and you’ll throw a fit if somebody else doesn’t put in their fair share (based on an economic calculation of your own creation).
When the economy is struggling, it’s understandable that people become concerned about how much of the money they’ve earned is being taken in taxes and where that money is getting spent. Every penny counts, after all. But as a society have we really become so selfish that we have to pinch pennies from the poor, all the while ignoring the billions squandered by bankers and “job creators” (because taxes and rules and regulations stifle growth)?
This seems to be the heart of fiscal conservatism this day: Helping the poor will only lead to them abusing the welfare, but the rich never, ever take unfair advantages from tax breaks and abuse the system. Because the rich are good and the poor are bad. That’s why the rich are rich and the poor are poor, duh.
And here’s the gauntlet being thrown down: A Fiscal Conservative is not a Christian. Now, I define Christian by that archaic definition, being Christ-like. I realize that’s not the modern definition of Christian, which is “I’m an Ahmurican, aren’t I?”
I’ve always said I understand Fiscal Conservatives, I just don’t agree with them. Because a fiscal conservative is pretty much a selfish child who sees someone else playing with their ball, gets mad, yanks it away and runs off to hide in the corner of the playground.
Obviously I’m going to ruffle some feathers with my explosive rhetoric, and for a reason. There was a time as an atheist when I thought the best thing we could do in this world was get rid of religion. Imagine it. It’s easy if you try.
But now I’m thinking I’d rather just focus on forcing Christians to consolidate their faith with their actual beliefs. Because one is a button they wear on their lapel and one actually guides their actions, and the two are rarely compatible.
If you take the above parable on its own, you could twist it around to argue that your fiscal conservatism is just you demanding what is fairly yours (ironically missing the whole point), but when you combine that story with Jesus’ other teachings on taking care of those in need, the rich and even taxes, it becomes pretty clear that the God you believe in cares very little whether or not you keep “your” money.
If you’re not a Christian, then all I can say to you is stop being a selfish asshole. Pennies of your tax dollar goes to welfare while hundreds of billions are spent on the military every year. If you think cutting the safety net for those in need is going to save you thousands of dollars each year, remember that Air Drones cost a lot of money to develop.
But if you are a Christian, well… Consider the lilies.