“I would love to read your thoughts on the following concept,” said the message on Facebook. It continued:
“Many politicians in many ways use religion. Our PM uses it to falsely justify his actions that are morally corrupt.
Walking through a street of homeless people while pushing through the phase three tax change, would create guilt in the heart of most of us.
But the Bible justifies the abundance of poverty and the money shower the government pushes from the poor onto the rich is immoral.”
I get many such messages in the course of a week or so and the subject of this one was not unusual.
The only difference seems to be the inclusion of religion.
There are many questions that arise from these words. The first being where does one start. Perhaps the best way might be to simplify the question. Let’s base it on thus:
“It seems to me that since coming to power, increasingly the Prime Minister is, more and more, gradually incorporating his religion into his governance but at the same time it is the rich who seem to be getting the largest slice of the pie.”
So let’s begin by saying that a conservative government won the election, not a liberal one.
Conservative philosophy or ideology believes in the individual’s rights to pursue life and its rewards with a minimum of government interference while at the same time being responsible for his or her own decisions.
The problem with that is that we are not all born equals. We live in a failed system. Capitalism, the conservative measure of all individual success, does not allow for an equitable flow of economic resources.
With this system a small privileged cohort become rich beyond conscience and almost all the others are doomed to be poor at some level.
Never in the history of this nation have the rich and the privileged been so openly brazen.
The ‘know your place’ saying is firmly embedded in the consciousness of all conservatives and was poignantly demonstrated last week.
The born-to-rule cliché about the Liberal Party has been firmly embedded in their psyche for as long as I can remember.
Know your place means to accept your position within society and not seek to improve it. To look upon your superiors with admiration. You will hear the phrase used by older members of the Coalition infrequently but the sentiment still remains.
The first instance of its meaning was when the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, an Aboriginal himself, announced at the National Press Club that a referendum to include a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice to parliament would be presented in this term of office.
Within 48 hours no less the Prime Minister put Wyatt in his place. Other Ministers followed suit and by the weekend I concluded that it wouldn’t get up.
For me this was just another unedifying example of the same sort of wrecking by the conservatives far right wing of the Coalition has been inflicting on the nation for the past six years. There is no doubt the far right is now very ably led by the Prime Minister, vigorously so, and with the addition of his religious beliefs.
Meritocracy is a term used to imply that those at the top of the social scale have merit and a slur against those at the bottom.
How they expect Indigenous Australians to suffer two rejections of the Uluru Statement and then face, with good will, participation with a good heart for yet another alternative is so beyond me that the words ‘know your place; we were born to rule’ take on sinister implications of racism and return to haunt me and test my thinking.
Aboriginal people were here long before white people. Now, outlandish as it is, they need to ask our permission to be mentioned in their own country’s constitution.
It was only at the beginning of last week that Scott Morrison in front of 21,000 people closed a Hillsong meeting promising a referendum on Indigenous recognition.
The second and equally immoral ‘know your place; we were born to rule’ incident was with the out-and-out unqualified junior minister Luke Howarth telling the homeless to look on the bright side.
In his usual maladroit style Howarth was giving notice of a typically conservative harsh austerity toward anyone doing it tough.
99.5% is the proportion of Australians who are “homed”, according to the new federal homelessness minister, who hopes to “put a positive spin” on the issue.
A half of 1% of the population are homeless.
“Know your place; we were born to rule.”
But don’t miss the point here. If you are on the other side of the coin and you work hard and aspire to move upwards your efforts will be rewarded collectively with $158 million in tax cuts and various other tax lurks and subsidies guaranteed to reinforce our shift to an even more unequal and friendless society.
The biggest gift to the rich and privileged in Australian economic history.
This of course was the desire of the former treasurer Joe Hockey when he produced his never to be forgotten horror budget of 2014. In its support he said:
“Governments have never been able to achieve equality of outcomes … It is not the role of government to use the taxation and welfare system as a tool to ‘level the playing field”.
Josh Freydenberg in yet another example of Know your place; we were born to rule mentality isn’t allowing anything to get in the way of a surplus. Not even the economic good of the country. It’s not even negotiable.
“Whilst walking through a street of homeless people, pushing through the phase three-tax change, might create guilt in the heart of most of us,” conservatives would think nothing of it.
“Know your place; we were born to rule.”
The less well-off, because they will spend it, have been promised $1080 and are rushing the tax office to get it.
Education and Health are usually the first victims of their austerity. The first victims of equality opportunity.
But the Bible justifies the abundance of poverty and the “money shower” the government pushes from the poor onto the rich is immoral.
Those on the right to excuse any real effort against poverty often quote; “The poor will always be with us”. They are mistaken because Jesus was actually quoting another well-known Biblical phrase—from a well-known passage of the Jewish Torah.
Everyone hearing him back then would have caught his drift.
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be … For the poor you will always have with you in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:7-11)”
So often the pastors of Pentecostal churches and others of their ilk cherry pick scripture and give it a conversion to mean something else.
When I read the sayings of Jesus Christ I can but conclude that he was the world’s first socialist.
Those conversant with scripture will know that he spoke much about the obligations of the rich to feed and cloth the poor and the dangers of wealth. The origin of the prosperity movement lay squarely with the Pentecostal churches and can be dated back to 1800s.
When Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19), the term ‘lay up’ did not simply speak of having possessions, but of your possessions having you. Lay up could be better translated ‘hoard’ or ‘stockpile.’
The Pentecostal churches took up the ‘greed is good’ standard and when Ronald Reagan invited them into the political fold, greed is good, like rust, permeated all sections of American society.
The Facebook reader in the final part of his question posed the following point:
“But the Bible justifies the abundance of poverty and the “money shower” the government pushes from the poor onto the rich is immoral.”
However, I cannot in good faith give a reasonable answer. That requires some length so I will follow it up in my next post on Saturday 20 July.
My thought for the day
Invariably when I read about how successful people are, the measure is always the value of their assets. Why is this so?
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