Redistributing Income For “Social Justice”, but Claiming to be Against “Legislating Morality”?

Seizing  Money  from  Criminals

If someone has income, we must initially assume that it was earned legally.  If proven otherwise, then there are a multitude of laws which can be applied and a sentence imposed which may include the confiscation of part of his wealth.

Taking  Money  from  Non-Criminals

If no crime has been committed, but those in power still wish to take away part of the person’s earnings, then it’s done in the interest of “fairness” or to support “social justice” programs.  These actions arise from a sense of “morality.”Those in favor of this say that, while the wealth was obtained legitimately, in their opinion the individual needs to share more with others than what he has already donated to good causes.

Thus, legal ways of taking some of this person’s income are created.  This is usually done in the form of “taxes.” Sometimes the money is used for very good causes which go beyond the routine funding of the government’s operation and for infrastructure projects.  These funds are collected and sent to agencies which redistribute the money to designated recipients.  These agencies may or may not be strictly governmental in origin.

Prudential  Issues

Redistributing income to others deemed to be in need is “morality in action.”2  It must be noted that these programs are “prudential” issues – or as Wikipedia describes, they are “often associated with wisdom, insight and knowledge. In this case, the virtue is the ability to judge between virtuous and vicious actions, not only in a general sense, but with regard to appropriate actions at a given time and place.”  The words “at a given time and place” are critical because this means that these tax laws are not inherently “virtuous” or “vicious.”  There are degrees of goodness and badness.

Non-Prudential  (Intrinsically  Evil  or  Good)  Issues

On the other hand, there are other moral issues which are not prudential because they are intrinsically evil or good.  These are the “black and white” (no racial connotation) issues which require the enactment of complete legal abolishment or protection.

Intrinsically evils include murder, slavery and abortion.  There can be no degree of murder, slavery or abortion which is acceptable in a just society.

Intrinsically good actions include the protection of voting rights for all persons of legal age, freedom of speech and religion, etc.  Any amount of infringement must not be tolerated in a just society.

A stumbling block for many is the religious institution of marriage between one man and one woman.  It is essential for a civilized society and; therefore, it is also a non-prudential issue.  No earthly entity (religious or secular) has the authority to change its definition for any reason.

In a civilized society, morality influences laws/rules.  The intrinsically good or evil issues must be “set in stone.”  They are the foundational basics which separate human societies from merely becoming a group of intelligent animals.

Proponents  of  “Morality  in  Action”  Sometimes  Contradict  Themselves

Income redistribution is a prudential issue because it is not inherently good or evil.  A society can function well with it in varying degrees or without it altogether.  Its proponents tend to be found among the “progressives”, and most reside in the Democratic Party.  They are driven by a sense of what they believe is fair or just; thus, they use a moral basis for discussion and implementation.

However, they somehow have difficulty with the foundational aspects of society (the non-prudential) which are really the easiest to recognize and to put into law.  These are the issues which a civilized society cannot compromise and still survive.  When it is suggested to protect the unborn or to respect the timeless institution of marriage, they are quick to recoil and say, “You can’t legislate morality! — even though that is where they get the inspiration for their social projects.  Yes, contradiction in action.

1 – “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior, the degree to which something is right and good, from www.merriam-webster.com
2 — “Morality in action” does not mean legislating church practices into public law.  Recognizing that morality impacts decisions on legislation does not mean that specific church practices are being enacted.

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4 thoughts on “Redistributing Income For “Social Justice”, but Claiming to be Against “Legislating Morality”?

  1. Any of our political leaders who do not have or neglect their “Moral Compass” are most likely going to slip in to and flounder in the world of moral decay and not own up to Christ’s teachings and values. Prudential? hah! we need honesty, morality, and many other adjectives prior to that one being invoked.

    • Yes, our decrease in respect for basic morality has led us into this mess! Many think that if we make enough laws, life will return to goodness. Laws can only put Band-Aids on a problem which needs moral surgery.

      • Many fail to realize that the founding fathers, several who served as our first presidents, were not only Christian, but some were pastors, holding weekly services in the capital. Were they violating this so called “Separation of Church and State” perverseness. As Ron Paul said so perfectly, “Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government.” If you wonder why the country is being divided in two parts you should read this article. (http://www.lewrockwell.com/2003/12/ron-paul/the-war-on-religion/)

      • Regarding Ron Paul, his comment is validated by the fact that humans had Natural Law governing their actions to some extent before Moses came with the tablets. After the Ten Commandments were “official”, we’ve had even less excuse to misbehave.
        And, yes, the “separation of church and state” only means that the government would neither establish a national religion nor favor one or more over others. Our current distorted interpretation seems to have started with a 1947 Court decision which sent us down this absurd path… thus proving, once again, that the Supreme Court is fallible.

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