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Re: [LandCafe] Digest Number 1281

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  • Dave Wetzel
    But Christianity is largely responsible for many of the principles and institutions that even secular people cherish — chief among them equality and
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 31, 2008
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      "But Christianity is largely responsible for many of the principles
      and institutions that even secular people cherish — chief
      among them equality and liberty."
       
      If this is true how was it that the Pope opposed Henry George on land reform?
      How did Christians support slavery, fascism and apartheid?
       
      and why does the current Pope oppose gay rights?
       
      Happy New Year to ALL in the Land Cafe!!!

      2008/12/30 <LandCafe@yahoogroups.com>

      Messages In This Digest (2 Messages)

      Messages

      1a.

      Re: Income Tax

      Posted by: "Dan Sullivan" pimann@...   dansullivan0

      Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:50 am (PST)

      The US income tax was opposed by the early progressives and
      demanded by their contemporary socialists. Since the power elites
      were willing to accept an income tax in lieu of a land tax, and since
      the socialists were hot for income tax, the later progressives, including
      Henry George, jr., "compromised" and supported income tax.
      Everything Henry George said about the evils of income tax has
      proven to be true.

      -ds

      On 28 Dec 2008 at 21:00, Roy Langston wrote:

      > Ed Dodson wrote:
      >
      > >We face political obstacles to just taxation at least
      > >as entrenched as those faced by the first generation
      > >of activists who sought to gain adoption of a single
      > >tax on land values. Some of those early activists
      > >supported introduction of an income tax, largely on
      > >the logic that a tax on high marginal incomes was, de
      > >facto, a tax on rent-derived income flows.
      >
      > Those early activists who supported introduction of an
      > income tax were dead wrong; and as a result, the
      > movement to tax land rents was derailed, income tax
      > substituted for LVT, and we now have, de facto, a wage
      > tax.
      >
      > INCOME IS THE WRONG THING TO TAX.
      >
      > You will NEVER get closer to justice by helping the
      > servants of privilege pretend that income is a just,
      > efficient, or morally acceptable tax base, or by
      > helping them pretend that there is no moral difference
      > between income earned by a commensurate contribution to
      > production and income obtained by privilege, injustice,
      > corruption, theft or extortion.
      >
      > Never, never, never, never, never.
      >
      > As long as you advocate income tax in any form, you are
      > guaranteed to be in the wrong, and guaranteed to be
      > serving the purposes of the servants of privilege. It
      > is ALWAYS WRONG to advocate income taxation. ALWAYS.
      >
      > Learn it, or sleepwalk over the same cliff our forebears
      > in the Single Tax movement sleepwalked over.
      >
      > STOP advocating income tax in any form, _right_now_, and
      > NEVER advocate it ever again. ALWAYS identify the fact
      > income tax in any form is ALWAYS evil.
      >
      > >We still have the individual income tax, but with all
      > >of its exemptions and loopholes is ineffective at
      > >achieving the distributional effects of its original
      > >design.
      >
      > Wrong. It is achieving the exact distributional effects
      > its designers intended: preservation and exaggeration
      > of unjust privilege, gross inequality of opportunity as
      > well as result, and establishment of hereditary landed
      > aristocracy.
      >
      > >So, while we work to directly collect a larger and
      > >larger portion of the rent fund, I suggest that the
      > >scheme I propose is a sound and just step in the right
      > >direction.
      >
      > It is not sound. It is not just. And it is another
      > step in the _wrong_ direction. And by letting the
      > servants of privilege put the focus of attention on
      > income rather than privilege, it serves privilege.
      >
      > -- Roy Langston

      2a.

      Re: Dinesh D'Souza:  Created Equal: How Christianity Shaped The West

      Posted by: "Wyn Achenbaum" wyn@...   lvtfan

      Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:44 pm (PST)

      Mase,

      What troubles me most is his suggestion that without Christianity
      there is no basis for the idea that all of us are inherently
      equal.  I'd never thought of that as an inherently Christian,
      or Judeo-Christian concept!  

      And yes, they are all frightening.

      Wyn

      Mason Gaffney wrote:
      Wyn,

                      Please tell us what about this
      you find "frightening".

                      Consider the source(s):
      D'Souza, Hillsdale College, Dartmouth, Reagan, Olin, AEI,
      Hoover … THEY all frighten me, to be sure, but I'm
      not sure what frightens you.  Please explain.

       

      Mase

       

      From: Wyn Achenbaum [mailto:wyn@...
      <mailto:wyn@...> ]
      Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 6:22 PM
      To: TaxShift@yahoogroups.com <mailto:TaxShift@yahoogroups.com> ;
      LandCafe Group; m.gaffney; Nic Tideman
      Subject: Dinesh D'Souza: Created Equal: How Christianity Shaped
      The West

       

      FYI -- I find this frightening -- and wonder what Georgist
      materials speak to other conceptions of the source of
      equality.    Relatedly, what do other religions say about
      equality?

      Nic's Peace, Justice, and Economic Reform
      <http://wealthandwant.com/docs/Tideman_PJER.html> comes to
      mind. 

      And I read it in juxtaposition with the article from the WaPo
      <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/14/\
      AR2008121401911.html
      > (and other places) that even dogs feel
      envy, or at least grasp inequity when it comes to treats.

      And then I think about Bush and Iraq ...

      http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=200\
      8&month=11

      <http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=20\
      08&month=11
      >

      The following is adapted from a speech delivered on September 16,
      2008, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in
      Colorado Springs.

      Created Equal: How Christianity Shaped The West

      Dinesh D'Souza | November 2008

      DINESH D'SOUZA is the author of several best selling
      books, including Illiberal Education, The End of Racism,
      What's So Great About America, and, most recently,
      What's So Great About Christianity. A graduate of
      Dartmouth College, he served previously as a policy analyst in
      the Reagan White House, John M. Olin Fellow at the American
      Enterprise Institute, and Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow at the
      Hoover Institution. His articles have appeared in several
      magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, the Wall
      Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, Vanity Fair, The New
      Republic, and National Review.


      IN RECENT YEARS there has arisen a new atheism that represents a
      direct attack on Western Christianity. Books such as Richard
      Dawkins' The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens'
      God Is Not Great, and Sam Harris' The End of Faith, all
      contend that Western society would be better off if we could
      eradicate from it the last vestiges of Christianity. But
      Christianity is largely responsible for many of the principles
      and institutions that even secular people cherish — chief
      among them equality and liberty.

      When Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence
      that "all men are created equal," he called the
      proposition "self-evident." But he did not mean
      that it is immediately evident. It requires a certain kind of
      learning. And indeed most cultures throughout history, and even
      today, reject the proposition. At first glance, there is
      admittedly something absurd about the claim of human equality,
      when all around us we see dramatic evidence of inequality. People
      are unequal in height, in weight, in strength, in stamina, in
      intelligence, in perseverance, in truthfulness, and in about
      every other quality. But of course Jefferson knew this. He was
      asserting human equality of a special kind. Human beings, he was
      saying, are moral equals, each of whom possesses certain equal
      rights. They differ in many respects, but each of their lives has
      a moral worth no greater and no less than that of any other.
      According to this doctrine, the rights of a Philadelphia street
      sweeper are the same as those of Jefferson himself.

      This idea of the preciousness and equal worth of every human
      being is largely rooted in Christianity. Christians believe that
      God places infinite value on every human life. Christian
      salvation does not attach itself to a person's family or
      tribe or city. It is an individual matter. And not only are
      Christians judged at the end of their lives as individuals, but
      throughout their lives they relate to God on that basis. This
      aspect of Christianity had momentous consequences.

      Though the American founders were inspired by the examples of
      Greece and Rome, they also saw limitations in those examples.
      Alexander Hamilton wrote that it would be "as ridiculous
      to seek for [political] models in the simple ages of Greece and
      Rome as it would be to go in quest of them among the Hottentots
      and Laplanders." In The Federalist Papers, we read at one
      point that the classical idea of liberty decreed "to the
      same citizens the hemlock on one day and statues on the
      next…." And elsewhere: "Had every Athenian
      citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have
      been a mob." While the ancients had direct democracy that
      was susceptible to the unjust passions of the mob and supported
      by large-scale slavery, we today have representative democracy,
      with full citizenship and the franchise extended in principle to
      all. Let us try to understand how this great change came about.

      A New Morality

      In ancient Greece and Rome, individual human life had no
      particular value in and of itself. The Spartans left weak
      children to die on the hillside. Infanticide was common, as it is
      common even today in many parts of the world. Fathers who wanted
      sons had few qualms about drowning their newborn daughters. Human
      beings were routinely bludgeoned to death or mauled by wild
      animals in the Roman gladiatorial arena. Many of the great
      classical thinkers saw nothing wrong with these practices.
      Christianity, on the other hand, contributed to their demise by
      fostering moral outrage at the mistreatment of innocent human
      life.

      Likewise, women had a very low status in ancient Greece and Rome,
      as they do today in many cultures, notably in the Muslim world.
      Such views are common in patriarchal cultures. And they were
      prevalent as well in the Jewish society in which Jesus lived. But
      Jesus broke the traditional taboos of his time when he
      scandalously permitted women of low social status to travel with
      him and be part of his circle of friends and confidantes.

      Christianity did not immediately and directly contest patriarchy,
      but it helped to elevate the status of women in society. The
      Christian prohibition of adultery, a sin it viewed as equally
      serious for men and women, and rules concerning divorce that
      (unlike in Judaism and Islam) treated men and women equally,
      helped to improve the social status of women. Indeed so dignified
      was the position of the woman in Christian marriage that women
      predominated in the early Christian church, and the pagan Romans
      scorned Christianity as a religion for women.

      Then there is slavery, a favorite topic for the new atheist
      writers. "Consult the Bible," Sam Harris writes in
      Letter to a Christian Nation, "and you will discover that
      the creator of the universe clearly expects us to keep
      slaves." Steven Weinberg notes that
      "Christianity…lived comfortably with slavery for
      many centuries." Nor are they the first to fault
      Christianity for its alleged approval of slavery. But we must
      remember that slavery pre-dated Christianity by centuries and
      even millennia. It was widely practiced in the ancient world,
      from China and India to Greece and Rome. Most cultures regarded
      it as an indispensable institution, like the family. Sociologist
      Orlando Patterson has noted that for centuries, slavery needed no
      defenders because it had no critics.

      But Christianity, from its very beginning, discouraged the
      enslavement of fellow Christians. We read in one of Paul's
      letters that Paul himself interceded with a master named Philemon
      on behalf of his runaway slave, and encouraged Philemon to think
      of his slave as a brother instead. Confronted with the question
      of how a slave can also be a brother, Christians began to regard
      slavery as indefensible. As a result, slavery withered throughout
      medieval Christendom and was eventually replaced by serfdom.
      While slaves were "human tools," serfs had rights
      of marriage, contract, and property ownership that were legally
      enforceable. And of course serfdom itself would eventually
      collapse under the weight of the argument for human dignity.

      Moreover, politically active Christians were at the forefront of
      the modern anti-slavery movement. In England, William Wilberforce
      spearheaded a campaign that began with almost no support and was
      driven entirely by his Christian convictions—a story
      powerfully told in the recent film Amazing Grace. Eventually
      Wilberforce triumphed, and in 1833 slavery was outlawed in
      Britain. Pressed by religious groups at home, England then took
      the lead in repressing the slave trade abroad.

      The debate over slavery in America, too, had a distinctively
      religious flavor. Free blacks who agitated for emancipation
      invoked the narrative of liberation in the Book of Exodus:
      "Go down Moses, way down to Egypt land and tell old
      Pharoah, let my people go." But of course throughout
      history people have opposed slavery for themselves while being
      happy to enslave others. Indeed there were many black slave
      owners in the American South. What is remarkable in this
      historical period in the Western world is the rise of opposition
      to slavery in principle. Among the first to embrace abolitionism
      were the Quakers, and other Christians soon followed in applying
      politically the biblical notion that human beings are equal in
      the eyes of God. Understanding equality in this ingrained way,
      they adopted the view that no man has the right to rule another
      man without his consent. This latter idea (contained most
      famously in the Declaration of Independence) is the moral root
      both of abolitionism and of democracy.

      For those who think of American history only or mostly in secular
      terms, it may come as news that some of its greatest events were
      preceded by massive Christian revivals. What historians call the
      First Great Awakening swept the country in the mid-eighteenth
      century, and helped lay the moral foundation of the American
      Revolution. Historian Paul Johnson describes the War for
      Independence as "inconceivable…without this
      religious background." By this he means that the revival
      provided essential support for the ideas that fueled the
      Revolution. Jefferson, let us recall, proclaimed that human
      equality is a gift from God: we are endowed by our Creator with
      inalienable rights. Indeed there is no other possible source for
      them. And Jefferson later wrote that he was not expressing new
      ideas or principles when he wrote the Declaration, but was rather
      giving expression to something that had become settled in the
      American mind.

      Likewise John Adams wrote: "What do we mean by the
      American Revolution? The war? That was no part of the Revolution;
      it was only an effect and consequence of it. The Revolution was
      in the minds of the people…a change in their religious
      sentiments." Those religious sentiments were forged in the
      fiery sermons of the First Great Awakening.

      The Second Great Awakening, which began in the early nineteenth
      century, left in its wake the temperance movement, the movement
      for women's suffrage, and most importantly the
      abolitionist movement. It was the religious fervor of men like
      Charles Finney, the Presbyterian lawyer who became president of
      Oberlin College, that animated the abolitionist cause and
      contributed so much to the chain of events that brought about
      America's "new birth of freedom."

      And finally, fast forwarding to the twentieth century, the
      Reverend Martin Luther King's "I Have a
      Dream" speech referred famously to a promissory note and
      demanded that it be cashed. This was an appeal to the idea of
      equality in the Declaration of 1776. Remarkably, King was resting
      his case on a proclamation issued 200 years earlier by a Southern
      slave owner. Yet in doing so, he was appealing to a principle
      that he and Jefferson shared. Both men, the twentieth-century
      pastor and the eighteenth-century planter, reflected the
      influence of Christianity in American politics.

      Freedom Redefined

      Christianity has also lent force to the modern concept of
      individual freedom. There are hints of this concept both in the
      classical world and in the world of the ancient Hebrews. One
      finds, in such figures as Socrates and the Hebrew prophets,
      notable individuals who have the courage to stand up and question
      even the highest expressions of power. But while these cultures
      produced great individuals, as other cultures often do today,
      none of them cultivated an appreciation for individuality. And it
      is significant that Socrates and the Hebrew prophets came to bad
      ends. They were anomalies in their societies, and those
      societies—lacking respect for individual
      freedom—got rid of them.

      As Benjamin Constant pointed out, freedom in the ancient world
      was the right to participate in the making of laws. Greek
      democracy was direct democracy in which every citizen could show
      up in the agora, debate issues of taxes and war, and vote on what
      action the polis should take. The Greeks exercised their freedom
      solely through active involvement in the political life of the
      city. There was no other kind of freedom and certainly no freedom
      of thought or of religion of the kind that we hold dear. The
      modern idea of freedom, by contrast, is rooted in a respect for
      the individual. It means the right to express our opinion, the
      right to choose a career, the right to buy and sell property, the
      right to travel where we want, the right to our own personal
      space, and the right to live our own life. In return, we are
      responsible only to respect the rights of others. This is the
      freedom we are ready to fight for, and we become indignant when
      it is challenged or taken away.

      Christianity has played a vital role in the development of this
      new concept of freedom through its doctrine that all human beings
      are moral agents, created in God's image, with the ability
      to be the architects of their own lives. The Enlightenment
      certainly contributed to this understanding of human freedom,
      though it drew from ideas about the worth of the individual that
      had been promulgated above all by the teachings of Christianity.

      * * *

      Let me conclude with a warning first issued by one of Western
      civilization's greatest atheists, the German philosopher
      Friedrich Nietzsche. The ideas that define Western civilization,
      Nietzsche said, are based on Christianity. Because some of these
      ideas seem to have taken on a life of their own, we might have
      the illusion that we can abandon Christianity while retaining
      them. This illusion, Nietzsche warns us, is just that. Remove
      Christianity and the ideas fall too.

      Consider the example of Europe, where secularization has been
      occurring for well over a century. For a while it seemed that
      secularization would have no effect on European morality or
      social institutions. Yet increasingly today there is evidence of
      the decline of the nuclear family. Overall birthrates have
      plummeted, while rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births are
      up.

      Nietzsche also warned that, with the decline of Christianity, new
      and opposing ideas would arise. We see these today in demands for
      the radical redefinition of the family, the revival of eugenic
      theories, and even arguments for infanticide.

      In sum, the eradication of Christianity — and of organized
      religion in general — would also mean the gradual
      extinction of the principles of human dignity. Consider human
      equality. Why do we hold to it? The Christian idea of equality in
      God's eyes is undeniably largely responsible. The attempt
      to ground respect for equality on a purely secular basis ignores
      the vital contribution by Christianity to its spread. It is folly
      to believe that it could survive without the continuing aid of
      religious belief.

      If we cherish what is distinctive about Western civilization,
      then — whatever our religious convictions — we
      should respect rather than denigrate its Christian roots.

      Copyright © 2008 Hillsdale College. The opinions expressed in
      Imprimis are not necessarily the views of Hillsdale College.
      Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted,
      provided the following credit line is used: "Reprinted by
      permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale
      College."


      -- Wyn Achenbaum blogging at http://lvtfan.typepad.com/
      <http://lvtfan.typepad.com/> website:
      http://www.wealthandwant.com/ <http://www.wealthandwant.com/>
      -- Wyn Achenbaum blogging at http://lvtfan.typepad.com/
      <http://lvtfan.typepad.com/> website:
      http://www.wealthandwant.com/ <http://www.wealthandwant.com/>
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      -- Wyn Achenbaum blogging at http://lvtfan.typepad.com/
      <http://lvtfan.typepad.com/> website:
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        Dave

        Dave Wetzel – Consultant
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      • Dan Sullivan
        ... It is important to distinguish spirituality from dogma, and to distinguish the teachings of Jesus (or any other spiritual icon) from the edicts of
        Message 2 of 2 , Dec 31, 2008
        • 0 Attachment
          On 1 Jan 2009 at 1:11, Dave Wetzel wrote:

          > > "But Christianity is largely responsible for many of the
          > > principles and institutions that even secular people cherish
          > > — chief among them equality and liberty."
          >
          > If this is true how was it that the Pope opposed Henry George
          > on land reform?

          > How did Christians support slavery, fascism and apartheid?
          >
          > and why does the current Pope oppose gay rights?

          It is important to distinguish spirituality from dogma, and to
          distinguish the teachings of Jesus (or any other spiritual icon) from the
          edicts of ecclesiastical bureaucrats. This became all the more crucial
          with regard to Christianity after Constantine turned Christianity into
          an instrument of the Roman state.

          An interesting question Henry George raised in the premier issue of
          the Standard went something like this: If Father McGlynn was to be
          defrocked because he advocated something that was vaguely and
          erroneously believed to be socialistic, how is it that Sir Thomas
          Moore, whose Utopia was was unabashedly communistic, was, at that
          very moment, being considered for canonization (sainthood)?

          An unrelated article in the same issue, on the deaths of two American
          statesman, makes a point that applies to this issue as well. It noted that
          the late President Arthur and the late Congressman Logan were being
          eulogized after their deaths by the same people who vilified them
          during their lives. The Catholic Church did not vilify More (at least to
          my knowledge), but it did leave him "twisting in the wind" when he
          was being condemned by English authorities.

          -ds
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