Thursday, January 10, 2013

Uncompassionate Conservatism - Lord Alton hits out


The former Liberal Democrat MP and now crossbench peer Lord Alton has criticised his Roman Catholic co-religionist Iain Duncan Smith for targeting the most vulnerable in the Coalition's welfare reforms. This is an interesting liberal-conservative disparity in the political application of the theory of Catholic Social Teaching, and a debate to which the Church of England ought to contribute.

As much as His Grace admires and agrees with many of the reforms being made to the welfare and benefits system, on this matter he shares Lord Alton's profound disquiet, for time and again, throughout Old Testament and New, the Lord exhorts us to care for the poor, sick and infirm. It is a fundamental test of righteous government.

If the Conservatives were pursuing a truly compassionate agenda, it would be wholly in order for them to sustain the level of benefits paid to the weakest and most vulnerable in society. While few people have much sympathy for the sick-note-culture of the 'shirkers' and 'skivers', the decision to cut the financial support paid to people with genuine and chronic disabilities is, as Lord Alton says, 'wholly unacceptable' and 'a mockery of claims we're all in it together'.

By limiting the benefits paid to all working-age claimants to just 1 per cent per annum for the next three years (irrespective of the rate of inflation), the Government is effectively cutting the incomes of all (irrespective of the severity of the welfare need). Certainly, this may spur the work-shy to go out and get a job, but for those who cannot write, walk, or even breathe, it is 'neither fair nor just'.

In a 'call to action' Lord Alton wrote upon his blog:

"Sarah Tether will have made few friends among some of her former Government colleagues by voting against the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill – but she was courageous and right to do so. She was also right in saying that it is the politics of the playground to paint a picture of “scroungers versus strivers.”

"She will know that it makes a mockery of claims that “we’re all in this together” to enact provisions which will lead to a couple with two children, earning £26,000 a year, losing more than £12 a week while 8,000 millionaires receive a tax cut worth an average of over £2,000 per week.

"It’s neither fair nor just – nor equality of sacrifice - that, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, some 7 million working ­families will be an average of £165 a year poorer while another 2.5million, where no one is in work, will be £215 worse off. This is all happening when there have been escalating inflationary increases in food, travel, fuel and heating costs; and comes on the back of changes in housing benefit regulations, the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Local Government Finance Act 2012.

But it is the plight of disabled people which should be making us truly angry.

"Whist the exemption for Disability Living Allowance ( DLA ), Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance is welcome, it beggars belief that disabled people are not protected from the 1% uprating – directly affecting around 1 million disabled people. One third of disabled people are living in poverty in the UK and the Government’s Bill will simply add to their impoverishment.

“This systematic attack on disabled people is underlined by another tawdry measure which is rumbling its way through the system – and highlighted by a coalition of disabled people’s organisations - the 'Hardest Hit' coalition, and the Disability Benefits Consortium.

"They say that the Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by a far less accessible new benefit - Personal Independence Payment (PIP), especially as it relates to mobility issues. DLA was designed to help meet the additional costs of living associated with being disabled - for extra care and support and for mobility.

"The Government held two consultations on the qualifying criteria for PIP but as things stand Ministers might as well not have bothered. Far from improving the proposals they have actually made the situation worse.

"In January, the Government predicted that 27% fewer working age people would be eligible for the Motability scheme once PIP was fully rolled out. The new proposals mean that 42% fewer disabled people of working age will be eligible – an average of 200 people in every constituency.

"Fiona Bruce has highlighted two changes with devastating consequences for sick and disabled people – changes which have shocked disabled people’s charities and left chronically sick and disabled people frightened and apprehensive.

"First, the qualifying criteria for the 'enhanced mobility rate' has been changed from 50 metres to 20 metres. This is extremely restrictive with massive repercussions for the majority of disabled people, including "Motability" users. Some might be able to walk 20 metres but never-the-less have very significant difficulties in getting around.

So who exactly will be hit?

"Disabled people with serious musculo-skeletal conditions, heart conditions or respiratory difficulties, cerebral palsy, neurological conditions such as MS and ME and many, many others will lose a vital life-line. Cars will simply be taken away while those who are unable to drive, and use their mobility allowance for other means of transport, will be without the where-with-all to fund privately owned cars, or taxis.

"It’s sheer Janus-faced double-speak to tell disabled people to bring their gifts to society; to contribute by working, volunteering or being part of their community and then to take away their means of doing so.

And what will it all mean?

"It will mean that previously mobile people will become prisoners of their homes. It will mean that they will be unable to get to work; to get to medical appointments; to visit family or friends or to go shopping or to visit amenities. It will mean that they will experience a significant reduction in their quality of life.

"Put yourself in the place of someone who can walk 20 meters and will no longer qualify for Motability. How far will 20 meters get you, as you try to walk from the far end of a supermarket car park or to traverse the hospital or Council Offices car park to an entrance – or even walking from your car to your own front door? MPs should all be issued with a trundle wheel to see how far they would get with 20 meters of mobility.

"Just a few days ago I spoke at a coffee morning at my university in Liverpool . Some of the bright people who were there had come using Motability. In the future events like this would simply be beyond their reach.

"It is estimated that more than 100,000 people who were previously able to enjoy independent mobility and self-directed lives will end up staring at four walls – inevitably adding to loneliness and depression, the toxic condition of our age.

"Added to this there is a second change which will have an even more adverse effect. The Government ‘s new Regulations fail to include the existing qualifying phrase - "reliably, repeatedly, safely and in a timely manner" - the criteria used to decide whether a person can carry out essential activities, like walking, bathing, cooking, and dressing and which will determine eligibility for the "Enhanced Mobility Component" of PIP.

"The new formula downgrades the qualifying phrase to a reference in the guidelines to “reliability” alone and will no longer have the full force of law, spelt out in black and white. This will carry no weight at Appeals or Tribunals – rendering the reference in the Guidelines worthless.

"The inclusion or exclusion of four little words, ‘safely’, ‘timely’, ‘repeatedly’ and ‘reliably’ will make a huge difference to those with fluctuating conditions such as M.S., Parkinson's, M.E., Arthritis, Crohns Disease and Aids.

"Leonard Cheshire Disability say “We would have preferred the greater certainty offered by the inclusion of “reliably” in the regulations.” Action for ME says that “Without these terms the threshold for entitlement is moved to such a high level it alters the entire benefit, and far fewer people would qualify for it.” Parkinson's UK say “This is one of those areas where the language of the criteria is ambiguous. Reliably is said to mean “to a reasonable standard”. There is no definition of what this means leaving it open for individuals and decision makers to interpret matters very differently.” The MS Society say that retaining the existing criteria "would give claimants enforceable rights to ensure that these terms are considered. This is particularly important for complex cases involving people with fluctuating conditions like MS.”

"If these changes go ahead hundreds of thousands of disabled people, whose mobility is vital to their life and health, stand to lose virtually everything. Please write to the Prime Minister, to your MP or to a Peer asking that they think again – their details can be found at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/

79 Comments:

Blogger scottspeig said...

"the Lord exhorts us to care for the poor, sick and infirm."

"It is a fundamental test of righteous government"

I would have to disagree on the connection of these two statements Your Grace. While proper and right to care for the poor, sick and infirm, I do not share that this is the governments role to enforce.

We as individuals should care for these people, and I would like the government to encourage such behaviour, but I do not accept that the government ought to tax the people in order to do it on their behalf. If people do not care about these individuals, then that is their perogative and should be allowed to keep their earnings.

In the Old Testament, the tithings and giving of money was to the Temple (Synagogue) and it was from this money that the poor were helped etc. This was instead of a tax, and so was entirely voluntary rather than enforced.

Forced altruism is not true altruism, and worse, causes less altruism as it breeds resentment. The Lord requires a joyful giver.

10 January 2013 at 13:17  
Blogger Corrigan said...

The Lord has also given us signs which tell us if we are of the elect, scottspeig - you know, consumer durables, twice yearly holidays, stuff that makes us better than the skivers, right?

10 January 2013 at 14:03  
Blogger Mike Stallard said...

As I read the new testament, Jesus comes over as a really astute money manager. The unjust steward, for example, the widow's mite, for example, the woman with the lost coin, the overthrow of the money changers in the temple.
And he mixed with tax gatherers and Nicodemus.

So when we talk about reducing the deficit and the debt, oughtn't we also to obey the example of our Saviour?

Racking my brains, I cannot think of one example of someone who the Lord helped when they were just being lazy, half interested or just plain wicked. Can you?

10 January 2013 at 14:09  
Blogger Chris Rogers said...

Maybe we can question him in person given Lord Alton is the guest speaker at the event advertised in your preceding blogpost - it's a small world.

10 January 2013 at 14:34  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Whilst I agree that the State does have a responsibility to care for the chronically disabled – I disagree that it is a ‘fundamental test’ that either proves or disproves that a government is ‘righteous’.

Judaeo-Christians rightly believe that we have a duty to care for the sick, the old and the vulnerable – but we then palm off this responsibility to the State and it is at that point that we as a community not only become unrighteous but we make the State unrighteous too.

It is we ‘citizens’ that impel the State to become coercive, through the instrument of taxation; making everyone poorer – economically, socially, politically and spiritually.

We have forgotten that poverty is a symptom of a much deeper problem: the spiritual condition of the ‘English Working-Class’. The great revivals of the Wesley brothers, in the 19th century, were bitterly criticised by the communist historian E.P. Thompson in his work ‘The History of the Making of the English Working Class’ – because had the working-classes not been transformed by God – all the conditions for a revolution were there.

God worked on husbands and their families – giving them wisdom, strength and blessings to crucify destructive habits – replaced by prudence, faithfulness, discipline and care for neighbour.

The greatest cause of poverty in this country is the destruction of the family by the Welfare State from cradle to grave.

10 January 2013 at 14:38  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Why Mr Cranmer are you converting to Catholicism?

Scottsspeig said ...
"While proper and right to care for the poor, sick and infirm, I do not share that this is the governments role to enforce.

...I do not accept that the government ought to tax the people in order to do it on their behalf.

... The Lord requires a joyful giver."


Give your taxes joyfully then! The State acts on behalf of its citizens and gives collective expression to their wishes.

D Sing said ...
"We have forgotten that poverty is a symptom of a much deeper problem: the spiritual condition of the ‘English Working-Class’."

Go tell that to someone trapped at home living below the poverty line and unable to work.

The ethical system described in the Old Testament was not set aside but strengthened by Jesus Christ. And it does not reflect the ethic of exclusive individual responsibility so favoured by those of those of the protestant right.

Our welfare system needs reform. But this should not be based on begrudging and parsimonious support to those in real need.

10 January 2013 at 15:37  
Blogger D. Singh said...

'Go tell that to someone trapped at home living below the poverty line and unable to work.'

Unlike the socialists we must also make a distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor.

To fail to do so makes welfare an entitlement.

10 January 2013 at 15:46  
Blogger Pedant said...

Mike Stallard,
Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of the poor man who did not have financially remunerative employment and who was very pleased to accept the expensive splash made for him even though, and particularly because perhaps, it upset those among them who thought justice had to be earned….

What makes you think that the lesson associated with the old woman who, in giving her mite gave her all, is an example of financial prudence?

And who is this unjust steward? Surely you are not referring to the steward who operated among the unrighteous wheelers and dealers who were ill-morally prepared to accept knockdowns at the Master’s expense simply on the legalism that the steward authorized it?

Maybe you should stop reading the New Testament before you altogether sound like the unfortunate “Judeo-Christian” D. Singh, who flaunts an image of the mass-murdering bigot Cromwell. Evangelicals. I tell you.

10 January 2013 at 15:56  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

"Why Mr Cranmer are you converting to Catholicism? " You imply 'Roman', presumably as distinct from 'Anglican' Catholicism??

"And it does not reflect the ethic of exclusive individual responsibility so favoured by those of those of the protestant right. " and this from the richest religious organisation in history whose heart truly bleeds for the poor..'sell all things, take up your cross and follow me' or perhaps not just YET for Rome, hmmm??

Ernst 2 ps'

1. The greatest benefit system envied by the world is found HERE in an Anglican/protestant country and not in Italy, spain etc where Rome's influence is supreme.
2. The greatest benefactor and founder of the DLA was MRS T..a methodist..that must stick in the throat whereas an RC is doing his level best to make it ineffectual..whilst pretending his 'admiration' of Mrs T *Ironic sniggers*?!!!

Why Mr DODO, are you converting to Reformed christianity??

10 January 2013 at 16:18  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

So if future sickness benefits are to be judged on a mobility test, where do people with Schizophrenia stand. They generally live a reclusive life as it is difficult for them to mix with the mainstream. They also relapse from time to time as adherence to a medication regime isn't always followed for various reasons. Due to other factors with this condition it is not always possible for a sufferer to hold down a job and certainly not a meaningful one so I will ask again, what has mobility got to do with this.

10 January 2013 at 16:30  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Ernsty

Of course I'm not a reformed protestant; silly chap!

Some protestants, like Mr's T., cannot help but be influenced by the Bible in striving for social justice. Sadly, they do not take the full Catholic social teaching seriously enough.

10 January 2013 at 17:00  
Blogger IanCad said...

That we have a spending problem is a given. To solve it by cutting those who are the weakest is cowardly and immoral.
How many hundreds of quangos could stand a good shaving?
Better yet, how many should be abolished?
MP's could set the tone by reducing their salaries by, say, one third.

10 January 2013 at 17:03  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Test

10 January 2013 at 17:45  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Test

10 January 2013 at 17:46  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Testing times ... what?

10 January 2013 at 17:50  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
Conservativism with a social conscience is what is required. We cannot afford to pander to the mega rich.

10 January 2013 at 18:07  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I have enough people with disabilities on my social media to know that the Fit for Work thing is causing considerable stress and worry amongst the vulnerable. The philosophy sounds pretty reasonable, trying to see what people can do to help themselves, but the practice in general seems to be pretty dire.

10 January 2013 at 18:26  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Mr Integrity and DanJ0 - I echo both of you in your sentiments.

10 January 2013 at 18:28  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Forced altruism is not true altruism, and worse, causes less altruism as it breeds resentment. The Lord requires a joyful giver."

It's not altruism to provide social security for the vulnerable, it's a sensible way of constructing a society from behind a 'veil of ignorance'. Who knows whether we might require support ourselves at some point? Also, I don't want to be walking past people begging in the street to survive like one does in places like India. It demeans both them and me, and undermines the notion of dignity.

10 January 2013 at 18:41  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Lets hope the Sky Sports package doesn’t go up by more than 1% or they really will be stuffed.

The UK benefit system has made the English cleaner and Veg picker an endangered species. Think about it...

10 January 2013 at 19:05  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector, I quietly pushed a postal order through someone's door last week to cover their heating bill. They're disabled enough to qualify for some help but they live a pretty meagre life all in all. There's certainly no Sky TV and it got to the point of having no heating for most of the day just before Christmas. Furthermore, it's not going to get any better for her and she knows this because she asks what the point of living is now.

10 January 2013 at 19:19  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. There’s a local tramp round here. He wished me a good day a couple of years ago, so when I see him waiting near the night shelter and I’m on my way to the supermarket by foot, I bring him some beer back. Probably the highlight of his week.

Mr Singh made the distinction between the deserving and undeserving benefit recipient. It’s bloody bad luck they are grouped together...

10 January 2013 at 19:27  
Blogger John Magee said...

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10 January 2013 at 19:49  
Blogger John Magee said...

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10 January 2013 at 20:02  
Blogger John Magee said...

throughout Old Testament and New, the Lord exhorts us to care for the poor, sick and infirm. It is a fundamental test of righteous government."

I disagree. The test of a righeous government is giving it's people freedom. A free people, as individuals, who are a religious people and share collective humane and moral values with the rest of their society (including good people who do not believe in God) will voluntarily help the poor, the sick, and the infirm. Government welfare states, no matter how noble their intentions, sooner or later will become bloated, corrupt, and the system is abused. Funding eventually will overwhelm the government budget and unless severe cutbacks are made, which will cause civil unrest, the whole system including the government will collapse.

We are seeing this happen before our eyes in every Western society today. Greece and Spain being the extreme examples.

10 January 2013 at 20:08  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace, everything you say is true and makes sense, but 'c'est ne pas la guerre'.

The United Kingdom continues to increase its already massive indebtedness by £100 billion per annum. This would not be a problem if the tax base were growing as a result of economic expansion. Regrettably this is not the case. So at a macro-level, the government has no alternative but to continue looking for cost savings. A large number of social security programmes are simply unaffordable and should probably never have been introduced. The Blair/Brown government expanded the cost of social security and the extent of benefits by running a structural deficit in the UK budget of 3% a year. The UK economy has now contracted and that deficit is compounding dangerously at a much higher level.

We see the same thing in the United States. Obama has added $1.7 trillion to the national debt every year through failure to cut costs and the addition of unfunded programmes.

Whatever Dave may say, this communicant anticipates that the NHS will be massively restructured and reduced in scope if the Coalition stumbles across the line to a second term. In short, you ain't seen nothing yet.

The political class must explain to the electorate that social democracy as it has been practiced in the past decade is an unaffordable policy option. But then there is an election due in 2015, so may be not before that.

And so it goes on.

10 January 2013 at 20:14  
Blogger Chantry Priest said...

Mr D Singh
An excellent post, if I may say so.
May I also add my three penn'orth in that Christain Duty to the poor [whether spiritual, intellectual or material] is to raise them up [i.e. to an equality] so that they, in their turn can go and do likewise. Thus the Gospel is spread.
It is emphatically NOT to 'care' [feel sorry for them and feel good ourselves] whilst keeping them in their poverty as so many schemes seem to do in practice.

10 January 2013 at 20:57  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

The welfare state should be founded on the principle of a "gift relationship". This talk of "deserving" and "underserving" is based on Victorian, protestant ideas. Who knows whether someone "deserves" our help?

10 January 2013 at 21:21  
Blogger John Magee said...

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10 January 2013 at 21:22  
Blogger John Magee said...

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10 January 2013 at 21:31  
Blogger John Magee said...

@bluedog

"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime."

This sort of ancient wisdom is not something the supporters of welfare being a support system only for the old, the sick, the mentally ill, the disabled, and other helpless people as well as those temporarilty out of work state like to hear.

The socialists want the welfare state to be a way of life and an "entitlement".

During his almost four years in office Obama spent more than all the USA Presidents combined since George Washington was sworn in as President in 1789.

We have a catastrophic national debt, unemployment above 8% (for 7 of the 8 Bush the younger years we had unemploment below 5.5%), and his picks for head of the CIA and Defense Secretary are people who openly have sympathy with Islam.

All this staggers the immigination.

Have we fallen down the rabbit hole with Alice?

@ Dodo

I know who DOESN'T "deserve" government tax payer financed benefits. All able bodied people who do everything they can, including getting doctors to lie for them, so they can collect government benefits.

Three cheers for the Protestant work ethic!!!

To hell with those atheist losers who never worked a day in their miserbale and lazy lives: Karl Marx, Friederich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin

10 January 2013 at 21:34  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

What a great opportunity (soon to be) missed for people to get their dignity back.

Chronically ill?

Yes you need support. But how should this be delivered?

Always the Government? Always the NHS?

But what about these which are the Government’s job.

Work doesn't pay? So make it worthwhile.

And much more of a problem

Marriage doesn't pay? So make it pay.

Going on from our last thread but has releavance here.

Children are too expensive? Do something that make it easier.

However, expensive Day Orphanages are not the answer.

Nor are 8am to 6pm schools.

Simple….?

Phil




10 January 2013 at 21:49  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Yeas ago I visited a factory in Llanwyrtd Wells that employed mostly disabled people ran by the Brtish Legion.

The factory I assume ran at a loss.

However, more than 100% of current benefits? I doubt it

Also what price human dignity?

Phil

10 January 2013 at 21:53  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

John Magee

The 'protestant work ethic' rests on the notion that hard work, frugality and prosperity are an indication a person's salvation.
Work is a duty and the Catholic idea of good works to assist the poor became corrupted into an obligation to work diligently as a sign of grace.

Catholicism teaches that good works are a duty; protestants see good works as a consequence of an already-received salvation.

Calvinist's believe it might be possible to discern that a person was predestined to be saved by observing their way of life. Hard work and frugality are important consequences of being one of the elect.

Catholic social teaching starts from a different theological place and is neither capitalist nor socialist.

It rests on elements of Jewish law and the prophetic books of the Old Testament, and the teachings of Jesus Christ - "whatever you have done for one of these least brothers of Mine, you have done for Me."

You have crudely misrepresented two key principles.

Solidarity - as opposed to individualism - is a determination to commit oneself to the common good. Not merely vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others. Each person is connected to and dependent on all humanity, collectively and individually, so their is a duty to work for the common good and to promote social justice.
[edit] Charity

Subsidiarity holds that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise or industry.

So Catholic social teaching rests on a very different theological basis to the protestant ethic you have applaude3d. It holds that very person has a fundamental right to life and to the necessities of life. In addition, every human has the right to what is required to live a full and decent life, things such as employment, health care, education - and, where necessary, welfare support.

10 January 2013 at 22:00  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Dodo @ 22.00 says, 'It holds that very person has a fundamental right to life and to the necessities of life.'

Will the Lord provide?

Or does the Lord help those who help themselves?

It took this communicant a very long time to understand the endlessly repeated and sombre advice of his earthly father, 'The world does not owe you a living'.

With the benefit of hindsight he was fortunate to receive and understand that advice and even more fortunate in being able to do something about it.

One could go further and say that your comment summarises the difference between the underlying philosophy of the UK and that of so much of the EU. Your comment is undoubtedly ideologically and religious impeccable and a guaranteed vote winner to boot. Very European, very EU.

The truth, however, is empirically different as the British know.

Good luck!

10 January 2013 at 23:30  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Yes Bluedog, the Lord will provides - with the assistance of His people.

There are some people who require the assistance of others and God's message is that we should be His instruments in providing this help.

I think my point summaries the differences between the individualistic, protestant viewpoint and the more community focused catholic ethic.

Let them eat bread, eh? If they're poor, jobless, homeless, sick, then it's their own 'fault' and they will learn through suffering? How very noble.

10 January 2013 at 23:56  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Yeah and now the scrounging greedy mps have the audacity to demand a 32% pay-rise yet they deprive the disabled and vulnerable people an inflation linked rise of their only means of support.
Very few of them actually deserve a pay increase and certainly not when we are in this age of austerity. I can't believe their cheek.

11 January 2013 at 00:54  
Blogger John Magee said...

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11 January 2013 at 01:02  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

The 'protestant work ethic' rests on the notion that hard work, frugality and prosperity are an indication a person's salvation.(The protestant/non RC application is based on the model St Paul left us in his epistles about how he viewed himself and his relationship to brethren and the world at large..if he could it, HE WOULD)
Work is a duty and the Catholic idea of good works to assist the poor became corrupted into an obligation to work diligently as a sign of grace.(Rubbish. The good works which the righteous perform in Matthew 25 you quote are NOT the root but the fruit of the grace and NOT a duty, for it is not the basis or ground of salvation but the evidence of it..)

Catholicism teaches that good works are a duty; protestants see good works as a (EVIDENCE!!) consequence of an already-received salvation.(Which is why we are correct)

The Lord's parables have often been mis-interpreted in the past because people do not look at the context as you have not, my silly bird!. "whatever you have done for one of these least brothers of Mine, you have done for Me." The context is the tribulation and the second coming of Christ but don't let that stop you applying it willy-silly!.The parable of the sheep and the goats shows that one’s treatment of God’s people in the tribulation will be a demonstration of one’s faith in God which is the key to entrance into the kingdom.

"I think my point summaries the differences between the individualistic, protestant viewpoint and the more community focused catholic ethic." As per, you just muddy the waters with Tiberian Catholic nonsense...lets see it sell all its riches and give it to the poor... TO SHOW THIS 'CATHOLIC' ETHIC?? actions not words, as the protestants have done here, in this country!

Blowers
ps

'Catholic' Spain will need a hand out shortly, could Benny show this social teaching towards the 'least of his brethren' or must we proddies assist, to ease our guilty conscience rather than talk wordily about 'duty'.

11 January 2013 at 01:39  
Blogger John Magee said...

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11 January 2013 at 01:53  
Blogger John Magee said...

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11 January 2013 at 03:10  
Blogger John Magee said...

Dodo

I always appreciate your interesting theological explanations for simple things. Especially the definition of the work ethic above.

It's my view the so called "Protestant work ethic" mentioned in the above posts existed in the countries which became Protestant in Northern Europe long before the Reformation so it could also correctly be the called a Northwestern European work ethic and it was and is a good thing. This work ethic is loathed by the multi-culturalist's today because it is white, European, and Christian.

The Hansa League is an example of capitalism and hard work respected long before the Reformation in Northern Europe. The Hansa League was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe. It's wealth created beautiful cities like Ghent, Lubeck, Danzig (Gdansk), Riga, and Visby on the Island of Gotland off the cooast of Sweden. Also the city of Bergen in Norway. The Hansa League cities were fuill of beautiful public buildings, churches, and cathedrals. Artists and sculptors from all over Europe especially Italy were welcome in these cities as well. Looking up these cities on your search under "photos" is well worth the effort. They are still beautiful even though a few like Lubeck and Danzig (Gdansk now in Poland) were destroyed during WW II bombings they have been beautifully rebuilt and the churches restored.

There is a long list of other cultures throughout history from all over the globe which had and still have this same work ethic which is a universal concept for all humans that any labor, no matter how small or great, is worth doing to perfection because of the inate goodness of work. Labor, or work, gives us meaning and fulfillment in our lives as God intended when he gave each of us a "gift" or skill when we are born. This is the universal work ethic.

Who can disagree with this idea? Marxists will even though they supposedly are for the worker and the "glory of labor".

11 January 2013 at 08:50  
Blogger bluedog said...

Dodo @ 23.56 says, 'There are some people who require the assistance of others and God's message is that we should be His instruments in providing this help.'

Can't disagree with that. But equally there is no shame in providing for oneself if able to do so and thus not being a burden on the state or charity. Invitably those who are able to provide for themselves are likely to enjoy a better standard of living and greater freedom of choice than those dependent on the public purse for one reason or another. No state provided entitlement is likely to close the gap. Neither is it sinful not to be dependent on the state anymore than those who are dependent on the state are sinful or at fault for being unable to self-support.

Where is the suggestion to the contrary?

What possessed you to indulge yourself in the spiteful, 'Let them eat bread, eh? If they're poor, jobless, homeless, sick, then it's their own 'fault' and they will learn through suffering?'

And again, the sneering, 'How very noble.'?

Partner trouble?

Don't bother to answer.

11 January 2013 at 09:40  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

I have been the subject of your vicious bite and sneering - poisonous dog. Stop being such a heartless hypocrite...stirring the pot.

Naturally you are partner trouble free eh. Hard to argue with a blow up doll!

11 January 2013 at 10:25  
Blogger bluedog said...

Well, Cressida @ 10.25, the flightless bird even got the quote wrong.

Was it not Her Most Christian Majesty, the late Queen Marie Antoinette who quite reasonably suggested, 'Let them eat cake', on learning that sans culottes were short of bread?

Please re-read my comment at 09.40 in the context of my earlier remarks at 20.14.

You may then care to withdraw and apologise for your little bromide @ 10.25

11 January 2013 at 11:42  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Bluedod

You are quite correct for chastising me for sneering. Thank you.

However, as illustrated by Ernsty above, there is a theological gap between protestants and Catholics on the interpretation of Scripture regarding our collective responsibilities to our community.

It seems to me some have ditched the social ethic proclaimed in the Old Testament by the law of Moses and the Prophets and by Jesus Christ, in favour of a very narrow interpretation of St. Paul. And, as demonstrated by him too, a misunderstanding of our duties to others in respect of good works. (Only application during the 'tribulation' towards other Christians, indeed!)

The 'devil is in the detail' as they say. How can a State construct a system that offers health and social care, welfare assistance, education, housing support etc. and avoid the pitfalls of creating a sub-class dependent on welfare?

(Is it really true your partner is a blow-up doll?)

John Magee

I think we are talking at cross purposes. Have a read on the Catholic theory which values work as inherently necessary. In particular have a read about 'Distributism' which is neither socialist nor capitalist. Both of these systems cannot help but fail.

11 January 2013 at 14:13  
Blogger John Magee said...

Dodo

We aren't always on the same wave length. I'm FM and you are AM on the radio.

You are a Biblical and Church legalist while I care about history as well as people and the things they create. Under the right circumstances we can compliment each other.

I admire your tenacity, knowledge, and love of the Church. I love the Church too but I am, by nature, suspicious of all religious and political organizations.

Human beings have one combined human right as far as I am concerned. The "right" to be treated with respect and caring as children of God and live in freedom. If we act this way and live the Gospels the world will move in the right direction to solve the problems the Church calls "social issues" today.

Individual freedom is the key.

Social issues end when any church, synagogue, mosque, temple, etc supports the government reaching into my back pocket and trys to steal my wallet to sooth their consciences by doing "good works" using public money.

Here is something which has been asked so many times in the past but it needs to be repeated, not by someone who hates the Church, but loves it. As far as Catholic Church social issues are concerned I wish the Church would be a wonderful example to the world (and this applies to the Protestant churches as well) and unload their accumulated wealth and redistribute their enormous investments, which rake in billions every year, before they lecture the rest of us about economic issues, capitalism, and support politicians who want to redistribute our hard earned savings and property. This does not include art and architectural treasures which belong to all of us.

To be fair the Catholic Church has always been a bold critic of, and has even condemned Marxist materialism, as few other churches (the Eastern Orthodox Churches have also been bold because they've suffered enormous persecution from atheistic Communism) have had the courage to do. Some liberal Protestant Churches today are atcually allies of Marxist philosophy which shows you how low they have fallen when they openly sympathize with a system that denies the existence of God.

The Vatican banking scandals in recent times are a disgrace to our Church and the billions our Church managed to find to pay off law suits made by real or phony priest abuse cases was stunning and makes one wonder what their investments must be if they can get their hands in this kind of money to settle law suits. That's just the tip of the iceberg. How can a religion that represents a man who lived his life in poverty accumulate this kind of wealth and then have the pope talk about economics and social justice?

The C of E and the Protestants aren't off the hook on this one either. I rather imagine the Church of England has enough wealth in land, stocks, buildings, etc which, if sold, could feed the 3rd world for a month or two. Then the present and future Archbishop's of Canterbury might become credible and even relevent in society which is what they desperately want.

When the churches collectively volunteer to unload their wealth, instead of debating female bishopettes and other nonsense, maybe they can regain respectability from the people, be reborn, and start all over again and save Western Civilization today as the early Catholic Church did during the so called "Dark Ages".

Sean Mag Aoidha

DOMINUS VOBISCUM!

11 January 2013 at 16:03  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr scottspieg, your fundamentally libertarian position has certain merit, especially in view of the way taxation is enforced and wasted on the bottomless appetites of the ballooning public service class. However, expecting people to provide regular, consistent and sufficient aid to the most unfortunate is not viable in this secular day and age.

You mention that the institution of tithing in the Torah was a voluntary one. Well, yes and no. Voluntary only in the sense that there appears to have been no temporal enforcement mechanisms with audits and instituted secular penalties, but tithing, "first fruits," i.e., the maaser rishon was applied to all produce of the fields and orchards and was paid by the food producers. "You shall surely tithe all the produce of your seed which your field puts forth every year," as Devarim (Deuteronomy)would have it. The "shall" and "surely" leave no wiggle room or loopholes for clever barristers and we can be fairly certain that since it was a direct commandment from G-d, which in a religious age meant quite a bit of course, compliance levels were probably in the high nineties. Not that people were naturally kinder and more honest than we are now, but the personal desire to observe the Torah teachings, a fear of divine retribution and probably considerable neighbourly nosiness and social pressure would have done a better job than any tax collector today. The power of this positive commandment can be observed in our Orthodox communities today, where earners "religiously" set aside a tenth of their gross income for what we call "charity" in English, but which in Hebrew means "justice"...mitzvah.

I agree with you that it would be far better to provide help out of a genuine kindness, a feeling of social obligation and a sense of justice, but seriously, can we expect the secular world, such as it is, to abide to such? Such is the paradox of secularism; in striving for liberties, it requires expensive and strict compulsory requirements, poerful justice systems and and meaningful penalties.

11 January 2013 at 16:20  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

John Magee said ...
"You are a Biblical and Church legalist ..."

Am I? I think not, merely an orthodox Roman Catholic with traditionalist leanings. I just find casual statements on our faith, especially those made my ill-informed Catholics, unacceptable.

"I am, by nature, suspicious of all religious and political organizations."

Well, so am I!

"Social issues end when any church, synagogue, mosque, temple, etc supports the government reaching into my back pocket and trys to steal my wallet to sooth their consciences by doing "good works" using public money."

I'm addressing Catholic social teaching which is based on Scripture - Old and New Testaments. Before instinctively reacting against this, as a Catholic, I think we all have a duty to try and comprehend it.

"As far as Catholic Church social issues are concerned I wish the Church would ... unload their accumulated wealth and redistribute their enormous investments ... before they ... support politicians who want to redistribute our hard earned savings and property."

Ah, the myth of Vatican wealth.
Most of what she collects she gives to the poor being the largest provider of social services in the world.

Henry VIII and Elizabeth had the same idea, so they closed down all the monasteries and seized their treasures. As a result, the entire social welfare and hospital system of England was shut down. The monasteries were the entire social welfare and hospital system of England. The result was a misery which lasted through to the time of Dickens who wrote about the mean-spirited non-Christian attitudes of the protestant society that was excessively individualistic.

In addition, the treasures stolen from the Church were handed out to cronies and became the basis for an unjust class system. Usually when people say they want to despoil the Church to help the poor they really just want to despoil the Church.

In reality, the Vatican's annual operating budget is about $260 million. Contrast that to Harvard University, which has an annual operating budget of $1.3 billion.
If we equate all the assets the Vatican could sell, $770million, to that of a medium-sized Catholic university, the University of Notre Dame;s endowment is four and a half times greater. As you rightly say, the Vatican holds its art work for mankind and it is not for sale.

There are 1.125 billion members of the Church worldwide.

Some people think of Vatican City, like a wealthy kingdom, complete with palatial living accommodations for the Pope and chests of gold tucked away in every corner, not to mention the fabulous collection of priceless art and artefacts and become indignant at what they think is an ostentatious and wasteful show of wealth.

The truth is something quite different. While the main buildings are called the “Vatican Palace,” it wasn’t built to be the lavish living quarters of the Pope. In fact, the residential part of the Vatican is relatively small. The greater portion of the Vatican is given over to purposes of art and science and administration of the Church’s official business. A number of Church and administrative officials live in the Vatican with the Pope, making it more like the Church’s main headquarters.

The Pope doesn’t "own" works of art and couldn’t sell them if he wanted to; they’re in the care of the Holy See. The art doesn’t even provide the Church with wealth; actually, it’s just the opposite. The Holy See invests quite a bit of its resources into the upkeep of the collection.

11 January 2013 at 16:48  
Blogger John Magee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 January 2013 at 16:52  
Blogger John Magee said...

Tithing is not a news flash to Christians today. It's been part of the Church since Pentecost.

Few churches ask their members to formally tithe today but the Mormons atcually DO tithe 10% or more of their incomes and their contributions to charities and record helping the poor is enormous.

Many Baptists and Mennonites also tithe and their fine record helping those in need is on the record too. Their trucks and food kitchens are often at disaster sites before the Red Cross.

The Amish atcually give of their time to help people rebuild their homes after a disaster and ask no compenasation for their work or the materials uses.

Catholic religious orders and lay people do their share helping the poor too.

11 January 2013 at 16:54  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

The Inspector, "There’s a local tramp round here. He wished me a good day a couple of years ago, so when I see him waiting near the night shelter and I’m on my way to the supermarket by foot, I bring him some beer back. Probably the highlight of his week."

I am touched. Seriously. I do a similar thing with 20s packs of smokes and the suprise, the growing smile and the laughter and genuine gratitude are a reward to the soul.

Few things bring up a homicidal urge in me that watching some self-righteous downtown yuppie urbanite with his wife or girlfriend run into a fast food restaurant and bring out a pizza slice or a sandwich for a beggar. I once saw a homeless man take such a "generous" gift and fling it to the ground. I applauded and gave the man my a tenner for making my day. Payment for services rendered. The poor are poor, period. They are not children, wards or pets. Those who are concerned about how the poor will spend the pittance dropped in their hats would do better to simply walk by instead of treating them to a painful slice or sandwich of humiliation.

11 January 2013 at 17:02  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Bluedog

I wouldn't bother with the nonsense the bird is squawking at the moment, he appears to be suffering from acute Renfield's sydrome and regurgitation. Tragic!

"However, as illustrated by Ernsty above, there is a theological gap between protestants and Catholics on the interpretation of Scripture regarding our collective responsibilities to our community.(Indeed, take a gander at the RC countries and our blessed isles and spot the difference! Have DLA in Italy, Spain etc, do they??)

It seems to me some have ditched the social ethic proclaimed in the Old Testament by the law of Moses and the Prophets and by Jesus Christ, in favour of a very narrow interpretation of St. Paul.(Out Of CONTEXT !!!. Paul showed us how to live as individuals NOT how we should treat others..or have you not read ACTS and his continual striving for the poor with his contingent across asia minor..You talk twaddle as soon as you try to justify RC Double Speak) And, as demonstrated by him too, a misunderstanding of our duties to others in respect of good works. (Dear bird, Ernst needs to take no lessons from RC theology and encyclicals that have made Rome the richest organisation on the planet, whilst plundering the poor of their pittances to get along the purgatory trail with no guarantees of the length of travel) (Only application during the 'tribulation' towards other Christians, indeed! (Ernst is a stickler for detail, which is crucial when justifying anything..You appear to be like one of those 'out of contexter' shyster proddies you keep protesting about?))"

Ernst

Waiting for you to name a roman catholic led country that has put RC social teaching into practice?? Only country that helps the poor and vulnerable is us (CofE led) and we ain't RC. *Squeak*!

11 January 2013 at 17:11  
Blogger Dave said...

Hate to bust into the theology, but...

My partner recently lost the mobility element of her benefits. I hesitate to use the word benefits — it always seems to be associated with being 'on benefits' and so meaning being out of work and probably work shy. My partner is certainly not work shy — it takes a certain amount of encouragement to get her to admit that she's ill when her knee has swollen up to the size of a small melon. She has had rheumatoid arthritis since she was three, involving extensive treatment with drugs and surgery, all far beyond the means of her parents at the time and our means at this time. Her benefits have allowed to to be educated to a degree level from one of the country's top universities, continue her professional education and work her way up a competitive career by helping her to stay well enough to do so.

She can walk a good 500 metres on a good day. On a bad day she can hobble 50. On an awful day she can't go out of the house or get dressed without help. But she won't let up for one minute, and won't let people see her being weak. She'll use a crutch, even though advised not to by the physiotherapist, in order to make sure she can still get around (people ask if it was a skiing accident; she never gets a seat on the tube). But not because she's proud, or because she just wants to be like everyone else.

It's because she's afraid of being judged by more able bodied people. She hates parking in disabled parking bays. She once told me the hardest thing she ever had to do was to walk away from a disabled parking space, feeling like everyone is watching her for some sign of her disability - why isn't she limping? Or in a chair? She's obviously a cheat, a fraud, a scrounger...

She was reassessed by choice, not required to do so by the DWP, as she never wants to feel like she's receiving something that she wasn't entitled to. Even though when she originally received her assessment she was told that she would be allowed to keep these benefits for life as her condition could only deteriorate.

All the way through filling in the assessment form I had to keep reminding her of her disability (and I got an earful for doing so). She'd remember the good days when she felt like could do anything; I'd have to remind her of when I was carrying her out of the shower, catching her when she tripped, cooking because she couldn't lift the pan. But she always downplayed it.

Always, as I say, because of a fear of being judged a scrounger, a fraud, a cheat. I think there's a histrionic language of blame and judgement, sometimes which I read on the comments here, that feeds her fear - a baying mob wanting to lynch the scrounger - rather than a conversation about how to help restore the dignity of work to the unemployed and underemployed, and dignity to work itself, which I had hoped IDS was doing with Frank Field, both men I respect sincerely.

But reading of the removal of the words ‘safely’, ‘timely’, ‘repeatedly’ and ‘reliably’ has sickened me. I do hope wise heads get to reflect on what the omission of these words would do, not just to the ability of people to get benefit, but also to people who worry whether they are deserving of any benefit. When they can get up the stairs safely, but only some of the time, and not repeatedly or in a timely fashion.

I think that too much of our conversation comes from a polarizing language of judgement that has no place when talking about those in our society who are, by definition, the weakest and the poorest.

"Judge not, that ye be not judged" might be a better place for all of us to start, and find more caritas, agape, love when looking at our collective problems and failings, rather than, however well intentioned, helping to victimise those most in need. "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?"

But I'm probably quoting all of that out of context.

pax vobiscum.

11 January 2013 at 17:26  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Ernsty

I shall ignore that rather silly, demented reference to vampirism. It reflects a state of degeneracy.

So you now support the theology of social justice and preferential treatment for the poor, do you? Agree that it is one's Christian duty to care for those less able than oneself? That's its not just a post-tribulation (ahem) demand? Do you also accept the Old Testament's social and communal ethical system - as Jesus did when he told the parable of the Good Samaritan when asked who is our neighbour?

And, for the record, and as posted above, the Vatican spends less per annum than Harvard University and is not at liberty to sell its art work.

I agree our welfare state is superior to many Catholic countries. That's why it should be protected and not undermined. The benefits system is in sore need of reform to ensure its benefits are directed at those in need and not based on universal entitlements or creating over dependence. Trust you agree.

11 January 2013 at 17:55  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Thank you, Dave.

11 January 2013 at 18:14  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Dodo @ 14.13, thank you for your retraction, much appreciated.

M/s Cressida @ 10.25, your position has been fatally undermined.

Would you care to reconsider your options?

11 January 2013 at 21:38  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

bluedog
I was being ironic.

I found your earlier comment unacceptable and a gross misrepresentation of what I was saying.

"Will the Lord provide?
Or does the Lord help those who help themselves? ...
'The world does not owe you a living'."


Good luck!

11 January 2013 at 22:39  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Ps
Both you and Ernsty lowered the tone of the discussion. He can be forgiven as he is very old and the putative 'granddad' of the blog. He is set in his ways and has been raised to be deeply suspicious of Catholics. I assume you are younger and therefore should be more open minded.

Oh, and you didn't answer my question about the blow-up doll.

11 January 2013 at 23:05  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Dodo @ 22.39 said, 'I was being ironic.'

So why bear false witness?

Mr Dodo @ 23.05 said, 'Both you and Ernsty lowered the tone of the discussion.'

and

'...you didn't answer my question about the blow-up doll.'

Thank you for your presumption that this communicant may be open-minded.

You will doubtless understand that your remarks above define the limits.

11 January 2013 at 23:37  
Blogger John Magee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12 January 2013 at 00:00  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

bluedog

Irony is now forbidden by the law of God?!

Thank you but I'll await a teaching from Rome on this before accepting it.

12 January 2013 at 00:42  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Ps
I also said, given your age, (this was the presumption) you should be open minded (not this).

12 January 2013 at 00:47  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Oh, and you're really an Alsatian dog and I'm a Dodo!

Honest ....

12 January 2013 at 00:50  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

21:38

NEIN - Cerberus!

12 January 2013 at 01:42  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

It's like Alice In Wonderland again.

12 January 2013 at 08:08  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Thank you Cressie.

You'll have noted the absence of carnality in the picture, or under garments. And some claim love doesn't exist! Did you like the picture of Dodo Jnr., a fine young dude.

12 January 2013 at 16:28  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Pedant

You described my Lord Cromwell as a 'mass murderer'.

My recall of 17th century military law is a little hazy.

In future, support your bald assertions with evidential support or desist the temptations of your ignorant pride.

Do I make myself clear boy?

12 January 2013 at 18:40  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

D. Sing

Assertion?!

You do know about the massacre in Drogheda which included those who had surrendered and those sheltering in a church? A horror still remembered in Ireland across denomination divides. Then there's the atrocity at Wexford.

The man was an unstable, religious maniac!

A 1638 letter survives from Cromwell to his cousin and illustrates his spiritual state. The letter outlines how, having been "the chief of sinners", Cromwell had been called to be among "the congregation of the firstborn". He had a "mission".

He states the Reformation had not gone far enough, that much of England was living in sin, and that Catholic beliefs and practices needed to be fully removed from the church. Then he picked up the sword and swung it against the nation having first committed regicide.

My guess? Today he would be diagnosed as suffering from mania and possibly a bi-polar disorder, given his earlier depressions.

12 January 2013 at 19:56  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo, please, no pleading for understanding of Cromwell’s ‘delusions’. You insult the thousands of the dead Irishmen, Irish women, and Irish children by doing that. He was a sane cold blooded murderer. And what’s more, his religious zeal is nothing unusual – it lives on in Len...

12 January 2013 at 21:10  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

True, Inspector.

But did I plead for understanding? Being manic does not rule out personal culpability. And you have to admit the man "was not quite right in the head", as my dear mother often said of him.

Trust you understand I am not necessarily a supporter of modern psychiatric labels. However, his religious zeal, as you call it, was rather extraordinary.

12 January 2013 at 21:26  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo, one of the most accomplished of understandings of the past, which the Inspector believes he has mastered, though he says it himself, is the ability to accredit a historical individual not by todays values but by how things were then. Cromwell then ? Nah, nothing out of the ordinary. Just an extreme protestant. And we’ve seen enough of them on this site to validate the findings.


12 January 2013 at 22:03  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Inspector

In my understanding, God permits men of great evil to arise within every age - as well as men of great goodness.

No one can question that Cromwell was an extra ordinary man - as was Hitler.

12 January 2013 at 23:11  
Blogger len said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

13 January 2013 at 12:29  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Len how despicable of you, to play off Hitler like that. You must be so proud of yourself...


13 January 2013 at 12:49  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

len

Historically inaccurate, old son. Do some proper research.

13 January 2013 at 13:19  
Blogger Tony B said...

Dave

Similar situation here. My wife has a similar condition, and have three kiddies who have inherited it. Also got a redundancy letter just before Christmas..so expect to be very much at the sharp end of benefit cuts fairly soon, having worked non-stop for 27 years. Soon I'll be a scrounger and able to speak about these issues with the benefit of experience that I assume these armchair Daily Mail readers have never had.

15 January 2013 at 09:20  
Blogger Tony B said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15 January 2013 at 09:21  
Blogger Jon said...

There's a clear tendency amongst some who are to the right of the centre (His Grace being an honourable exception as per this post) to regard those who take benefits as universally feckless. This tendency is sadly out in force in the comments.

I think that a lot of people appreciate that they may need the state to help on occasion - as such it's not silly to regard our welfare system as a sensible collective form of insurance against the worst hands that life could deal us - particularly if you consider how you would design a system if you were as yet unborn and didn't know how your life would unfold (the veil of ignorance as DanJ0 referenced).

Attempts to weed the feckless out from the "deserving" before have proven expensive - the cost- benefit analysis I remember from my Uni days suggested that they hardly ever paid their way.

This leads me to the conclusion, and I think I've said something to the effect before, that the problem with Conservative reforms in this area isn't their economically questionable attempts to deprive the feckless of their undeserved largesse, it is the spirit with which changes are made. Punishing the poor, the destitute, and those to whom life has been cruel, just to make your party's right wing feel better about itself seems to me to sit very ill at ease with the Jesus who urged us to care for the poor, and protect the weak. Where is the Holy Spirit in his followers here? Perhaps replaced by Mammon and a love of their own wallets?

One of His Grace's older and much commented upon posts said that the Church had become obsessed with sexuality. Its voice on other issues is lost because it has wasted its air time on interference in the private lives of non- adherents. However, if there is a value to an established Church, it's surely to act as the conscience of the political class in their treatment of those who are otherwise voiceless in the corridors of power. The Church does much practical good in this area, and the Salvation Army are brilliant, it's just a shame the tales of their good work is so often drowned out by their obsession with sex.

16 January 2013 at 15:36  

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