Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 12:58 am

The Gospel According to Pierce; or, A Christmas Prayer, With Carrion

And Pierce wrote, saying:

But this is the argument in season over these holidays. That the poor must suffer in order to be redeemed. That hunger is a moral test to be endured. That only through pain can we hope. What doesn’t destroy you, etc. Santa Nietzsche is coming to town. The idea that we should — hell, that we must — act out of charity for each other through the institutions of self-government is lost in the din of a frontal system of moral thunderation aimed at everyone except the person who is out there thunderatin’ on behalf of personal-trainer Jesus, who wants us to work, work, work on that core. That was the way that government operated once before; the specific institutions that Scrooge mentions, and with which the Spirit eventually reproaches him in his own words – the prisons, the union workhouses, the treadmill, and the Poor Laws – were all government institutions based on the same basic philosophy that drives the debate over the food stamp program today.(We even seem to be going back to debtor’s prisons.) We have speeches on self-reliance given by government employees to people who increasingly have only themselves on whom to rely, day after grinding day. It is a way to keep the poor from having a voice in their own self-government. It is a way to keep the wrath of the boy at bay. There will be a reckoning, one way or another. But it can be staved off by platitudes, and by verses from Scripture wrenched from the obvious context of the Gospels. The sepulchers brighten whitely while the bones inside grow increasingly corrupt. This is what this Congress believes, as it goes home proud of itself and its members dress themselves to sing the midnight carols with no conscience sounding in counterpoint, and this is Christmas in America, and it is the year of our Lord, 2013.

Merry Christmas to all, and tonight, God bless us, every one. But forgive me, Lord, in advance, for hoping and praying that the year of our Lord 2014 brings plague and pestilence upon those who would force the suffering to suffer further, those who would insist upon morality tests for the poor that they themselves could not pass, those who would require that many of our fellow Americans be denied a voice with which to insist anything. Bring on the plagues for them, turn their fruit into locust husks, their wine and water into blood, and their foie gras to feces, and let their corrupt bones and those of their first born be cast out from the whitely brightened sepulchers to be feasted upon by jackals and vultures.

Except for those who repent and atone. Always except for those.

Amen. And Amen.


  1. My own Jeremiah. Preach on, Brother, preach on!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Comment by — Wednesday, December 25, 2013 8:11 am @ 8:11 am

  2. I just told one of the in-laws the story from Chris Hedges about how the prisons are now serving rotten food. Of course, everyone agreed they deserved it. I tried saying it was inhumane and that everyone deserved compassion. I got nowhere.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts, congrats on your graduation and Merry Christmas,

    Comment by Fec — Wednesday, December 25, 2013 12:07 pm @ 12:07 pm

  3. Which part of “Love thy neighbor as thyself” do these people not understand?

    Comment by Blair Pethel — Thursday, December 26, 2013 3:28 am @ 3:28 am

  4. ” These people ” ?

    1 Thessalonians 5:15

    ” See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, December 26, 2013 4:17 pm @ 4:17 pm

  5. “These people” tend — tend, mind you — to be from the “Christian”/political right, and to think of themselves as good Christians. Clearly, their actions –some of which are outlined above — demonstrate they have not the slightest understanding of what Christianity really is: Matthew 22:37-40 and, equally importantly Matthew 16:24.

    Comment by Blair Pethel — Friday, December 27, 2013 3:05 pm @ 3:05 pm

  6. Somebody’s head is seriously messed up. What a terrible thing to write, especially during this season. They need to go back and read the Bible again, to understand what Jesus teaches us about compassion and tolerance. Vengeance is God’s alone.

    Comment by Frede Gregory — Friday, December 27, 2013 8:43 pm @ 8:43 pm

  7. Of course it’s a terrible thing to say. I acknowledged that up front. That fact, however, does not contradict the fact that while vengeance is God’s, we are called to work for justice. And who better than a law enforcement officer to know that sometimes justice demands harsh treatment?

    Comment by Lex — Friday, December 27, 2013 8:50 pm @ 8:50 pm

  8. In some cultures adulterers are stoned to death and thieves have hands chopped off, Justice ??

    Criminalizing political differences is , however, wrong and another matter , at least to rational, sentient beings..

    ” Bring on the plagues for them, turn their fruit into locust husks, their wine and water into blood, and their foie gras to feces, and let their corrupt bones and those of their first born be cast out from the whitely brightened sepulchers to be feasted upon by jackals and vultures ”

    Sounds like Martin Bashir and doesn;t fit the ” crime “

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, December 28, 2013 11:41 am @ 11:41 am

  9. It’s figurative, Fred. That fact aside, it sounds to me like you’re arguing for special treatment for people who not only have a great deal, but who have also rigged the system to provide themselves even more at the expense of those who have little. You’re entitled to that opinion, of course. But is that really what you want to argue for?

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, December 28, 2013 2:02 pm @ 2:02 pm

  10. I am arguing for econpmic freedom , without which there is no personal freedom..

    ” I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth. That is a program of sorts, is it not? It is certainly program enough to keep conservatives busy, and liberals at bay. And the nation free”

    Wm.F. Buckley Jr. 1969

    Whereas it is clear that you are advocating massive redistribution and confiscation of wealth, much like the guy you voted for… Do you yearn for the reincarnation of Jean-Paul Marat… figuratively ?

    Class Warfare: The Mortal Enemy Of Economic Growth And Jobs

    “Our economy is lousy, the labor force participation rate is the lowest in 31 years, we’ve had 43 consecutive months with unemployment over 8 percent, and a record 47 million people are on food stamps, so one might expect President Obama would welcome as much help as he could get. Surely he would want private sector job creators – investors and entrepreneurs – to have the strongest possible incentives for turning around this Obama “recovery” where household incomes are falling faster than they fell in the Bush recession.

    But Obama’s priority is class warfare. That’s why he relentlessly denounces job creators as “millionaires and billionaires.” That’s why he demands that they be punished with higher tax rates.

    Recently New York Senator Charles Schumer, one of Obama’s comrades, vowed that there would be no bipartisan budget deal without higher taxes on the rich.

    What is it that drives class warriors? “Fairness,” of course, is the familiar battle cry, but according to the IRS the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay about 36 percent of federal income taxes. Before the financial meltdown when the rich were richer, the top 1 percent paid over 40 percent. By any standard, that’s a lot – especially considering that as we have heard, 47 percent of taxpayers don’t pay any income tax.

    We need to understand that class warfare is a mortal enemy of economic growth and jobs. At the very least, class warfare means “progressive” taxation — higher tax rates on investors and entrepreneurs, eventually reaching confiscatory levels. In many places, class warfare has gone much farther with suffocating regulations, exchange controls, asset seizures, arbitrary imprisonment and other measures that suppress private property rights and throttle a market economy.

    Confiscatory tax rates cannot be justified as revenue-generators, because they don’t raise much money. They discourage work, they drive away investors and entrepreneurs to lower-tax jurisdictions, and there aren’t enough rich people to keep the government going very long, even if all their assets were expropriated. If assets were expropriated this year, that would be a one-time event, and next year government would have no choice but to plunder the middle class and the poor.”


    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, December 28, 2013 6:19 pm @ 6:19 pm

  11. So much horseshit, so little time. “Private sector job creators” currently are enjoying record stock prices, record profits, and record cash on hand. If they’re not creating jobs under those conditions, some other factor must be at play. And there is: lack of consumer demand, which is normally about 70% of GDP.

    And why is consumer demand down so? Because of high, long-term unemployment. When profitable companies with cash on hand aren’t creating jobs, the reason is almost always lack of demand, and so it is here. So if private “job creators” aren’t creating jobs, it’s up to government to put money into consumers’ hands to boost consumer demand. That, in turn, requires government effort but NOT, necessarily, higher taxes on corporations or wealthy individuals (although they would help in current circumstances). So, no, there’s no class warfare going on here at all … except for the efforts of Republicans and in-the-bag Democrats to prevent the government from putting more money in consumers’ hands by creating jobs directly.

    This is Econ 101, and that Forbes is ignoring it is evidence of what a tool the once-independent publication has become.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, December 28, 2013 6:56 pm @ 6:56 pm

  12. Again when confronted with hard facts we are greeted with ad hoc mumbo jumbo .It’s W’s fauilt , right Lex. ? Dust off the guillotione. More cowbell. Sheesh !!

    I like piling on.

    Welfare Queen Probed, Krugman Hardest Hit

    Levin doesn’t vaporize Reagan’s story. He confirms Reagan’s story, as Powerline notes. Cadillac included. Here’s Levin:

    “Though Reagan was known to stretch the truth, he did not invent that woman in Chicago. Her name was Linda Taylor, and it was the Chicago Tribune, not the GOP politician, who dubbed her the “welfare queen.” It was the Tribune, too, that lavished attention on Taylor’s jewelry, furs, and Cadillac—all of which were real. . . As the Tribune and other outlets stayed on the story, those figures continued to rise. Reporters noted that Linda Taylor had used as many as 80 names, and that she’d received at least $150,000—in illicit welfare cash, the numbers that Ronald Reagan would cite on the campaign trail in 1976.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, December 28, 2013 8:17 pm @ 8:17 pm

  13. Yeah, Reagan was mostly right about one individual. The problem is that he used a single anecdote as the basis for a vicious public policy. That was the big picture then and it remains so today, as the original post points out.

    Comment by Lex — Sunday, December 29, 2013 1:41 pm @ 1:41 pm

  14. This guy’s hateful diatibe sounds familiar, Lex.

    Anti-GOP Professor Who Called Republicans ‘Old, Cheap and Racist’ in Michigan State Classroom Reinstated

    Michigan State University’s suspended ( with pay ) professor of creative writing William Penn in early Sept. for a classroom rant against the GOP, but it has been confirmed the teacher will be reinstated next semester.

    The 64-year-old professor will teach two classes next in the Spring 2014 semester, reported, which will begin Jan. 6. A teacher for 26 years, Penn was caught on camera calling Republicans “racists” who “raped the country” by a student in his class discretely filming.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Sunday, December 29, 2013 5:39 pm @ 5:39 pm

  15. Obviously, he shouldn’t be saying in class. (On his own time is another matter entirely.) One significant difference between Robertson’s comments and this guy’s is that the policies he criticizes have an actual body count, unlike homosexuality or race. And once again, what does this have to do with the original post?

    Comment by Lex — Sunday, December 29, 2013 6:57 pm @ 6:57 pm

  16. ” Body Count ” Hypebolic hogwash.. We are the most generous, private and public , nation state on the planet.

    Is this what your uptopian fantasy entails. ?

    I’ll repeat ” Confiscatory tax rates cannot be justified as revenue-generators, because they don’t raise much money. They discourage work, they drive away investors and entrepreneurs to lower-tax jurisdictions, and there aren’t enough rich people to keep the government going very long, even if all their assets were expropriated. If assets were expropriated this year, that would be a one-time event, and next year government would have no choice but to plunder the middle class and the poor.””

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Monday, December 30, 2013 3:05 pm @ 3:05 pm

  17. Not hyperbolic at all; medical researchers have documented that roughly 45,000 Americans die prematurely every year for lack of health insurance. In many if not most cases, those deaths happen because people either don’t know they have a potentially lethal condition (e.g., heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, etc.) or suspect something’s wrong but avoid seeking treatment until they can no longer tolerate the condition, by which time it’s too late to save them.

    Moreover, nice strawman and false choice on the tax issue. First, it’s a little ridiculous to talk about “confiscatory” tax rates when top marginal rates are at their lowest in almost 75 years. Actually, it’s more than a little ridiculous; it’s either bone-ignorant or lying. Second, in between leaving things as they are and “confiscatory” tax rates (which could still exempt, say, the first $10 million or so), there’s almost certainly a happy medium.

    Finally, just as you don’t care for public money going to charity, I don’t care for it going to corporate subsidies, a ridiculously oversized military, a national-surveillance infrastructure that is making mincemeat of the Fourth Amendment, and a lot of other things. Your preferences are entitled to no more respect than mine, which is to say that neither matters. What matters is the budget our elected officials create, and budgets are not just government documents, they also are moral documents, which is to say that the priorities reflected in them reflect moral as well as practical choices. When some of those (im-)moral choices are held up to the light and justly criticized, conservatives whine.

    Comment by Lex — Tuesday, December 31, 2013 10:34 am @ 10:34 am

  18. Never said i objected to the government safety net monies , But there must be limits . God knows there is enough of it going to the truly needy and also those that are perpetual moochers content to live off of the labor of others .

    The 2013Index of Dependance on Government

    I suppose, some, of our differeces may spelled out here

    The Immorality of the welfare state

    TO MANY PERSONS ( liberals ), the welfare state has become a symbol of morality and righteousness. This makes those who favor the welfare state appear to be the true architects of a better world; those who oppose it, immoral rascals who might be expected to rob banks, or to do most anything in defiance of ethical conduct. But is this so? Is the banner of morality, when applied to the concept of the welfare state, one that is true or false?

    Now what is the test of morality or immorality to be applied to the welfare state idea? I should like to pose five fundamental ethical concepts, as postulates, by which to test it. They are the ethical precepts found in the true Christian religion — true to its original foundations; and they are likewise found in other religious faiths, wherever and under whatever name these other religious concepts assist persons to perceive and practice the moral truths of human conduct.


    I said earlier we were a generous country. Here are a few facts

    (A). Individual and Family Philanthropy

    88% of households give to charity.

    The average annual household contribution is $2,213 while the median is $870.

    Americans gave $298.3 billion in 2011. This reflects a 3.9% increase from 2010.

    Corporate giving held steady in 2011 at $14.55 billion.

    Foundation giving increased in 2011 to $41.67 billion–a 1.8% increase from 2010.

    In 2011, the largest source of charitable giving came from individuals at $217.79 billion, or 73% of total giving; followed by foundations ($41.67 billion/14%), bequests ($24.41 billion/8%), and corporations ($14.55 billion/5%).

    In 2011, the majority of charitable dollars went to religion (32%), education (13%), human services (12%), and grantmaking foundations (9%).2
    International Affairs organizations experienced the largest giving increase in 2011, receiving 7.6% more than the previous year, making the two-year increase more than 15%.

    Charitable giving accounted for 2% of gross domestic product in 2010

    Historically, charitable giving rises about one-third as fast as the stock market

    It is estimated that between $6.6 trillion and $27.4 trillion in charitable bequests will be made between 1998-2052.

    It is estimated total charitable contributions will total between $21.2 to $55.4 trillion in between 1998-2052.

    By the year 2055, some $41 trillion will change hands as Americans pass on their accumulated assets to the next generation.

    95% of high net worth households give to charity.

    62% of high net worth donors cite “giving back to the community” as a chief motivation for giving.

    Last year, the greatest percentage of high net worth households gave to educational (80 percent) and basic needs (79 percent) organizations, followed by 69% to the arts, 65% to health related organizations, and 65% to religious organizations.6

    In 2010, 140 of the largest charities reported receiving $1.2 billion in online donations, compared to the $887 million received in 2009.

    (B) Charitable Organizations: the tax-exempt sector

    In 2011, there were approximately 1,080,130 charitable organizations in the United States, a 15.6% decrease from 2010.

    There are an estimated 322,485 congregations in the United States in June 2013.

    In 2010, public charities reported over $1.51 trillion in total revenues and $2.71 trillion in total assets.1

    62% of tax-exempt organizations that filed a tax return in 2009 had assets under $100,000 with cumulative revenue of $32.3 billion. 1

    Tax-exempt organizations with assets over $100 million make up 0.4% of the sector and reported revenue of $1.1 trillion in 2009.

    Sources of revenue for tax-exempt organizations in 2008 were: Program Services and Contracts (69.26%); Contributions, Gifts, & Grants (22.75%); Dues, Net Sales, & Other Income (5%); Investment Income (2.71%); Net Special Events Income (0.28%)

    The number of foundations has increased 242% since 1980; 33.6% since 2000; and 6% since 2005.

    In 2010, nonprofits accounted for 9.2% of all wages and salaries paid in the United States.

    (C) Volunteering (Individuals)

    64.3 million adults volunteered 15.2 billion hours of service, worth an estimated value of $296.2 billion.
    The estimated dollar value of volunteer time is $19.54 per hour for 2011.

    The top four national volunteer activities are fundraising or selling items to raise money (26.2%), food collection or distribution (23.6%), general labor or transportation (20.3%), and tutoring or teaching (18.2%).

    The top four volunteer areas are for religious (34.4%), educational (26.6%), social service (14.2%), and health (8.2%) organizations.

    (D) Donor-Advised Funds

    There were 177,357 donor-advised fund accounts in 2011.

    Donor-advised funds held $37.43 billion in assets in 2011.

    Annual contributions into donor-advised funds were $9.64 billion in 2011.

    Donors recommended grants from donor-advised funds totaling $7.7 billion to charities in 2011.

    Average donor-advised fund account size was $211,067 in 2011.

    (E) Supporting Organizations

    There are more than 57,000 Supporting Organizations operating in the United States.

    Supporting organizations have combined total assets of $76-billion.

    (F) Other Charitable Giving Vehicles

    There were 93,828 Charitable Remainder Unitrusts with total assets of $86.90 billion in 2011.

    There were 15,862 Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts with total assets of $7.14 billion in 2011.

    There were 6,617 Charitable Lead Trusts with total assets of $20.95 billion in 2011.

    There were 1,402 Pooled Income Funds with total assets of $1.31 billion in 2011.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, December 31, 2013 3:06 pm @ 3:06 pm

    • Having covered philanthropy, I’m well-versed in those numbers. Hidden within them, though, is a dirty little secret: A huge proportion of that charitable giving goes to institutions that already have plenty. Hell, Davidson, which certainly isn’t hurting for money, just got a $50 million gift. That same amount would run Greensboro College for two years with 100% of demonstrated financial need met for every student and sizable raises for faculty and staff, which saw their pay cut 10% in 2008 and have gotten no raises since. If you chose to use it for something other than operations, you could spend about $20 million to address current maintenance/renovation backlog, put $20 million in the endowment to generate reliable income for maintenance and repairs, and use the rest to generate income for financial aid.

      Note, also that corporate giving “held steady” despite record profits and record cash on hand, even as need grew.

      It’s not a black and white picture; there are many shades of gray, and some of them are pretty damn disturbing.



      Comment by Lex — Tuesday, December 31, 2013 5:37 pm @ 5:37 pm

  19. The way you ignore facts and insert strawmen into the discussion is breathtaking ( ” In 2011, the largest source of charitable giving came from individuals at $217.79 billion, or 73% of total giving ” )

    But since you won’t yield to the obvious and stubornly cling to your moral rightousness here is something else you wkill find disturbing Z( but shouldn’t )

    If I wanted to keep poor people poor

    ” If I wanted to keep poor people poor, there are several government policies I would favor.

    For starters, I would advocate for a robust and ever-expanding welfare state. Programs like Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc.? Perfect poverty traps.

    I would recognize that a perfect recipe for keeping poor people poor is to create incentives that push them into decisions that prevent them from climbing out of poverty.

    Case in point: This year the Fiscal Research Division of the General Assembly analyzed the decisions confronting individuals and families enrolled in various government welfare programs. A single mother with two children ages 1 and 4 earning $15,000 a year through work would be eligible for government benefits (such as Medicaid, housing vouchers and subsidized day care) equivalent to roughly an additional $35,000.

    Such a scenario puts this woman in a bind. If she finds a better job paying more, she risks losing substantial amounts of benefits. She would make her family worse off even though her paycheck would be bigger. Just to come out even, once taxes are factored in, she would need to find work paying about $55,000 a year. Not many low-skilled workers can make such a leap.

    This scenario is commonly referred to as the welfare cliff. Fear of falling off that cliff is perfectly rational, but it also serves as a highly effective tool to trap people in a life of poverty.

    If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I also would finance the welfare state poverty trap through punitive taxes on the job and wealth creators of society. The key ingredient to economic growth, and thus a higher standard of living for society’s poor, is through productivity gains made possible by capital investment. High marginal taxes on profitable companies and small businesses alike discourage capital investment. As businesses decide to either not expand or take their businesses to friendlier areas, job opportunities dry up.

    If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would advocate for higher minimum wages. The law of supply and demand tells us that the higher the price of a good or service, the less of it will be demanded. The demand for low-skilled labor is no exception. Higher minimum wages will price more and more low-skilled people out of the labor market. Such laws are an effective tool to cut off the bottom rung of the career ladder for those most in need of establishing work experience.

    If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would support government “green energy” initiatives that make energy more expensive. State and federal initiatives that mandate more expensive “renewable” energy mean that – in the words of President Obama – utility bills “necessarily skyrocket.” Poor people trying to scrape by just to stay even can scarcely afford higher electricity bills.

    If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would see to it that government imposes many costly regulations on businesses. Such tight restrictions discourage businesses from starting or expanding, meaning fewer job openings for those most in need of opportunity. And mountains of red tape force business to expend scarce resources on compliance costs rather than investing in their businesses and creating jobs.

    If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would support “quantitative easing” policies. Under such programs, the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air. The inflated money supply then erodes the value of the dollars sitting in your wallet or bank account. The poor are hit hardest by this inflation because their limited skill set makes it far more difficult for their incomes to keep up with the rising cost of living.

    In short, if I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would fully support the liberal “progressive” agenda that has been carried out for decades, and indeed ramped up during the last five years.”

    Comment by Fred GHregory — Wednesday, January 1, 2014 1:06 pm @ 1:06 pm

  20. Fred, all these talking points are crap, and crap I’ve addressed before. Transfer payments cut the poverty rate in half between 1965 and the mid-1970s before Vietnam War spending and political backlash interrupted the trend. A boatload of studies show that under current conditions, increasing the minimum wage has no effect on unemployment. Yes, the welfare cliff exists, but in part because wages have been kept artificially low because of decisions by Congress. The Bureau of Labor Statistics requires companies to report on their reasons for layoffs, and next to lack of customer demand, “regulation” is barely on the radar. (And do you really believe LESS regulation would have prevented the housing bubble and subsequent crash?) Green energy can and should be subsidized by taxpayers for now to smooth the INEVITABLE transition out of a world in which we have a steady supply of $3.25/gallon gasoline from non-hostile nations. (The U.S. military gets that and is working on biofuels for jets; why is it so hard for you to get?) Yes, QE is bad, but because banks are gambling with the money instead of lending it to small businesses; it has had no effect on inflation, as stats from both Commerce and Treasury demonstrate. and if you honestly think a liberal progressive agenda has been ramped up over the past five years, you spent this morning in Colorado. After the 2009 stimulus, which was only 40% the size it needed to be and was not heavily weighted enough toward direct spending over tax credits, we’ve gone all austerian, with the result that consumer demand and thus job creation have been severely hampered.

    You quoting some wingnut does not strengthen your argument. You repeating the same canards you’ve repeated before does not strengthen your argument. Everyone one of these points is demonstrably wrong, and I’m tired of giving you links to shit you won’t read. Don’t waste my time like this again.

    Comment by Lex — Wednesday, January 1, 2014 4:48 pm @ 4:48 pm

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