My prior column explained how Forbes' publisher, Rich Karlgaard, turned an attempted defense of Apple's suppliers' driving employees to suicide through brutal, fraudulent, and illegal abuses of the employees into a screed attacking President Obama. Why does Karlgaard hate Obama? Consider the charge he made against Obama in his March 30, 2009 column entitled "Washington-Texas Boom." He explained how he had watched his friends' "apprehension turn into cold loathing toward this Administration."
People at my church know that Obama's budget is more than a war on the investor class. It is a war on the church. When taxes go up and charitable deductions go down, church budgets shrivel.
During the last 60 days my church has laid off 15% of its staff. *** Some of [my church's charitable work] will go away if Obama's tax plan, with its knife to charitable deductions, becomes law. And far away, children will die.
Higher marginal income tax rates for the wealthy reduce their net cost when they make a charitable contribution, so Obama's support for returning the marginal income tax rate back to Reagan-era levels is more likely to increase charitable contributions if it becomes law. Under Karlgaard's logic, "far away, more children will live." U.S. governments also save children's lives when they spend. Does anyone believe that Karlgaard would have charged President Reagan with murdering children based on Reagan's support of a particular marginal income tax rate? Would Karlgaard and his fellow parishioners have called Reagan's marginal income tax rate "a war on the church" and turned a "cold loathing" toward Reagan?
I do not know what church Karlgaard attends. He is wealthy, and lives in Northern California in or near Silicon Valley. Obama did not cause the Great Recession and the enormous loss of stock market values. That was Bush's disaster. The resultant stock market losses reduced the wealth of Karlgaard's fellow parishioners (reducing their contributions) and the value of his church's investments. That is why his church has laid off staff. It has nothing to do with Obama or changes in charitable deductions. The stock market has had an enormous bull run under Obama's fictional "war on the investor class," so if Karlgaard wants to attribute blame and praise to Bush and Obama with regard to the level of his fellow parishioners' charitable contributions, he has gotten it wrong again.
I missed the Sunday school lessons that taught that "cold loathing" was a Christian virtue and that the rich should hold the fate of poor children hostage to their marginal income tax rate. Karlgaard claims that his fellow parishioners responded to the proposal that they be taxed at the Reagan rate by cutting charitable contributions even though they knew doing so meant that "children will die." The Northern California communities near Silicon Valley have extremely high incomes and the growth of their incomes over the last 15 years has been exceptional. Their marginal tax rate has gone down to levels well below those that Reagan used, so the growth of their wealth is off the charts. They can afford to tithe without strain. What a slogan for Karlgaard's Christian evangelist movement of the wealthy -- propose to raise our taxes and "children will die" because we will refuse to tithe. Cold loathing leads inexorably to cold indifference. Karlgaard's moral blindness leads him unaware of his and his friends' descent into moral depravity. To be an evangelical is to spread the "good news" of the gospel, the antithesis of "cold loathing" and letting children die because you would prefer a lower marginal tax rate.
I hereby nominate Karlgaard and "cold loathing" friends as the charter members of Christians Against Morality, Equity, Liberty, and Same-sex marriage (CAMELS). All meetings will be held at "Eye of the Needle" bar, however, so entry is likely to prove impossible for the charter members.
Karlgaard should be read as an antidote to the Charles Murray's new book. Murray claims that the problem of the poor is that they are degenerate. He bemoans the failure of the rich to berate the poor for their sinful nature. Murray urges the wealthy, whom Murray assumes to be virtuous, to preach to the poor their need to end their sinful nature, go to church, and emulate the superior virtues of the wealthy. I urge the poor to start as Karlgaard's church, which according to Karlgaard's accounts is chock full of parishioners suffused with "cold loathing" and willing to let children die to make clear how much they loath Obama, taxes, the vices of the poor, and government programs for the poor. They sound like the perfect recruits for Murray's movement to pummel the poor.
I'm a bit confused, however, about the moral basis for Murray's proposal. Does he urge us to denounce the poor as improvident sinners in accordance with the "love the sinner" or "judge not, lest ye be judged" commands of scripture?
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