McCain on being “rich”

From last night’s Saddleback forum:

““Some of the richest people I’ve ever known in my life are the most unhappy. I think that rich is — should be defined by a home, a good job and education and the ability to hand to our children a more prosperous and safer world than the one that we inherited. I don’t want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich.”

McCain preaches a little moral lesson about how money can’t buy happiness, but then says that he wants everyone to be rich, just like he is. It’s interesting that such a confused string of sentences garnered such a loud applause from room full of evangelicals.

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14 thoughts on “McCain on being “rich”

  1. It really is amazing to take a step back and see how the “American Church” has become corrupted by it’s lust for power. It is literally becoming the antithesis of the life and lessons of Christ.

  2. Zach… long time listener, first time caller (g).

    If I followed this right, the question was asked because it’s suggested the ‘rich’ should pay more taxes. And more taxes are needed because the government needs to provide more / better services for people in need.

    So, Obama’s answer (250K) and McCain’s answer (5M) were a definition of ‘rich’ tied to their idea of the level of income at which people should be expected to pay a higher level of tax simply because they ‘can.’

    Otherwise brilliant people could argue endlessly about what constitutes wealth. What I don’t get is why the assumption is that government is the best conduit for channeling resources to help people in need.

    If the majority of American’s have concluded that as a nation we can not (and should not) legislate morality, why are we trying to do it here, by making the ‘rich’ pay up… to fund the good deeds and compassion that might better be left to non-profit groups or direct compassion exercised in the context of community.

    Maybe what America needs is less socialism and more genuine charity. But since we don’t trust the ‘rich’ to give on their own, we feel we have no better option than to tax the hell out of them.

  3. DJ,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you threw your hat in the ring.

    I understand your point. We shouldn’t legislate morality by forcing “rich” americans to pay more in taxes to benefit those who find themselves on the bottom of our economic ladder.

    But the problem with your argument is the fact that we, as a nation, find ourselves in debt to the tune of over 9 trillion dollars. Pick your expense, be it food stamps, scholarships, universal health care, R and D for alternative energy sources, the war in Iraq, McCain’s commitment to “more wars” and 100 year occupations of foreign nations……the bottom line is that they all cost money. The war in Iraq alone is now almost $600 billion.

    We face all these very critical issues, yet we don’t have the sense as a nation that all these challenges will require sacrifice. We’re told we should just continue to go shopping and we’re reassured by conservatives that they are gonna fight the good fight to keep our taxes lower than the dems will. Meanwhile, we are passing on the problem to future generations, and it seems that Obama is the only candidate to really be connected to that danger. McCain approach by way of his economic policy to keep the Bush tax cuts permanent doesn’t seem to add up in my view. If we are in such a massive national debt, as a nation, we need to pony up and get us in a responsible financial situation.

    McCain himself used to understand this concept when he opposed Bush’s tax cuts. Our nation used to understand this concept during WWI and WWII when civilians were willing to pitch in to ease the overall burden of costly military and foreign policy efforts.

    I would also like to know, if we are such a generous nation then why do we have so many without health insurance? Why do we have so many who go to bed homeless and hungry? Instead, we are find ourselves in massive debt both nationally and individually. We simply can’t afford to be generous because we have no bid contracts to award and a staggering debt to China we have looming over our heads.

    And please, spare me the “socialism” tag (spending under our current republican administration has been astronomical). Conservatives are so quick to throw out the word “socialism” but it’s not about that. This is a debate about priorities. What is really important to us? Waging preemptive war, feeding the hungry, making sure kids have opportunities to learn, better public transportation, subsidizing oil companies?

    What kills me is that Obama talks about providing health care to all americans and he’s ridiculed, yet McCain calls for Georgia to be included in NATO, which would throw us in the midst of a military conflict with Russia and regardless of the cost of that undertaking, most conservatives seem to be licking their chops. So much evil to eliminate, so little time right?

  4. -What kills me is that Obama talks about providing health care to all americans and he’s ridiculed, yet McCain calls for Georgia to be included in NATO, which would throw us in the midst of a military conflict with Russia and regardless of the cost of that undertaking, most conservatives seem to be licking their chops. So much evil to eliminate, so little time right?-

    Just as it’s easier to tear something down than it is to build it up, I think that it’s easier to inspire people to *want* to tear something down than to build something up. Even so, for all the talk about how your country’s standard of living is not to be changed, it is fairly clear that *something* must give. What gives, and how quickly, will be what decides both how bad the almost inevitable recession will be and how long it lasts.

  5. Zach,

    so refreshing to hear a viewpoint that falls outside of the categories of dialogue and dualities that have been imposed on us. Maybe I´ve been so far detached from any church for so long that I´ve forgotten there are multiple perspectives within the Christian community. Part of the reason I left the community was because of the totalizing political discourse I felt there and really appreciate your more nuanced perspective.

    I guess I don´t know who we expect to look after the poor or provide people with basic necessitites to live and prosper if it isn´t the government. The Church(es)??? Charities? What about those that are detached from church and charity? I don´t understand how within a democracy (i.e. government=representatives of people) there can be so much fear of government being in charge of social welfare and providing BASIC needs that any first world country should provide for their citizens. The healthcare situation in the U.S. is shameful and sad.

    I agree with you it is absolutely about priorities.

    Glad to have discovered your blog.

  6. Truth be told, I’m more of a libertarian than a conservative. But I get that the ‘socialism tag’ can seem like a red herring… especially on a first post.

    Your argument is for priorities. Mine is for responsibilities. The assumption is that if something is not being done… a need is going unmet, that it is necessarily the government’s role to intervene. I can’t say I agree with that. I believe the role of government should be rather limited, providing a framework for a nation to exist… security, law, infrastructure.

    In the end, we probably agree about the needs that must be met (health care, energy, insert headline) but agree much less about ‘how’ and by ‘who.’

    In any case… appreciate the blog and your passion for the issues at hand.

  7. DJ,

    I’m all for being responsible and I think we’d both agree that being in debt 9 trillion dollars is incredibly irresponsible. Like I said, regardless of what our needs are be it law enforcement, security and infrastructure…..it all costs money, right? So let’s be responsible as a nation and work towards paying our debt. And that’s gonna require we (gasp) raise taxes if we are truly serious about reducing the debt.

    As far as what our government’s role is in meeting needs, I agree with you. Government can’t be the only solution to our problems, but with massive debt, that point sort of rings hallow when discussing whether or not we should raise taxes. It’s beside the point, really.

  8. why should citizens take care of the debt the gov’t got us into?

    i like dj’s responses. he says the things i want to say and much better and clearer.

  9. *jason*, I’m afraid that *Zach* is right on the money. The purpose of government in a democratic society is to represent the people, which means making decisions on their behalf. Elections are not just how you choose your representatives, they are also how you express pleasure or displeasure regarding their choices and/or stances. Your country voted him in, possibly twice, which means that (like it or not) you’re stuck with the fallout.

  10. I feel that, regardless of how you feel about Obama or McCain, or how you feel about the Bush tax cuts, everyone basically agrees that the government’s spending is out of control. Bush was as fiscally conservative as Michael Jackson. But he’s not the only problem. I’ve never liked the argument to get out of Iraq so we could spend that money here at home on education/healthcare, because it’s still money we don’t have. And honestly, I haven’t seen anything concrete from either presidential candidate to prove that they’ll ACTUALLY cut spending significantly. McCain will stay in Iraq, and Obama seems to just want to spend that money elsewhere. If I was super rich, I really wouldn’t mind giving more taxes IF I knew it was actually helping a problem (i.e. pay the debt). I’d be pissed if they were just, well, pissing it away. I’d rather donate that money locally and see a difference be made, and not just give congress a pay raise. I think we all know that it most likely won’t pay off the debt. This is probably the biggest reason I’m not thrilled about either candidate, honestly.

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