Posts tagged " morality "

Am I doing wrong by taking government money?

November 20th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

Is it wrong to receive EBT and cash aid? Am I being selfish by not working?

I’ve considered your topics on serving others and receiving money for it, would this be making money without serving others?

I would appreciate your general thoughts on this subject, but I want to describe what my personal situation is like currently.  Maybe you can address both?

For my personal situation… I am 20 years old.  I am single with no children or dependents.   I am not in any way disabled or unable to work.  I am working to get financial licenses and become self-employed (100% commission or even become business owner/broker in the future.  In the meantime, I have accepted EBT and Cash Aid in order to pay bills if I fall short on my income goals rather than (in my eyes) restrict my time to hourly paid position, leaving me less time to pursue something I feel I am more qualified for and can do-  I also have accepted EBT and Cash Aid because I felt an hourly job would/could my distract my mental focus or take energy away from the project I really want to pursue.

I really appreciate any thoughts you can share even if it simply points me in the right direction!

Thank you, (Rabbi) Daniel, Susan, and team!

Stephanie

Dear Stephanie,

The fact that you are asking these questions tells us that you want to live a life of principle and morality, for which we salute you. We would like to answer on two levels, one of objective morality, but also that of your own personal good.

On one hand, you are not lying to the government in order to get these benefits. In fact, the government tells you that you are entitled to them. Nonetheless, as a moral person, we think that in your head and heart you feel uncomfortable. In this case, your feelings are correct. The fact that the government allows or even encourages something makes it neither moral nor prudent.

We would suggest that you randomly pick a name out of the phone book and say out loud to that fellow citizen, “Gretchen Johnson, I thank you for paying high taxes to support me, and I appreciate your putting off getting your daughter a winter coat so that I can have some of your money without having to work.” “Mr. Henderson, please thank your wife for understanding that you couldn’t celebrate your anniversary with dinner out, because your taxes were raised to allow me not to work.”  We think that because of the person you are, saying those words out loud will make you feel uncomfortable.

You see, Stephanie, the government has no money of its own. It can only take it from some citizens and give it to others. The only other option it has is to print more money, which makes whatever money people do earn worth less than it was worth previously. So, by availing yourself of these programs you are choosing to live off the sweat of other people’s brows.

A useful way of judging the morality of any specific action is to ask yourself how would things work out if everyone did it.  By this measure, for instance, we can know that dropping your candy wrapper on the sidewalk or in the park is an immoral action.  It’s easy to see that if everyone starting living on government handouts, the system would quickly collapse.  (This is, of course quite different from someone who lives on welfare during a crisis for just a short time. ) You are asking because you’re a bit uneasy at having essentially made it your lifestyle, not because of a crisis, but because it seems to advance your goals.

Obviously, as one individual, your share in this is minute. What originally was intended to be a way of helping those who are desperately in need has turned into an immoral scheme. The fact is that with so many others around you taking advantage of these options, you might even think of yourself as a patsy for not participating in the plunder. In fact, the system, including many of the plans that help with college tuition, are set up to benefit some to the detriment of others. Nonetheless, even if it is common, honorable people should feel uncomfortable at taking money from other people’s pockets, not because they are at the end of their rope, but so they can have an easier life.

This brings us to the destructive effect that taking this money has on your personality. To be sure, working at a job would theoretically leave you less time to pursue your goals. We think, however, that seeing others not as those whom you take advantage of, but rather those with whom you can have a mutually beneficial relationship will increase your earning potential.  For most people to be successful in business, they need to feel good about what they do. Suspecting deep down in your heart that you might be a selfish and greedy individual is like being constantly sabotaged by invisible enemies undermining all your efforts.

Because you asked us this question, we think that you are a good person, just one whose country has ill-served you by placing other people’s money so easily in your reach and encouraging you to take it. But mindset begets action which in turn, begets mindset and we think that taking this money diminishes you as a person. In the long run getting your credentials or skills more slowly while proudly being able to look at yourself in the mirror, will end up making you financially more productive.

We’d like to share this a wonderful poem with you that is posted in Susan’s Practical Parenting column. You can read it here: https://rabbidaniellapin.com/the-man-in-the-glass/

With confidence in your future,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Is the world one of shortage where we must each scramble to get what we can? 
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How Much Is Too Much?

July 25th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 24 comments

Policies that contradict timeless truths expressed in the Bible simply don’t work.  Confiscatory rates of taxation and punitive inheritance taxes fly in the face of wisdom contained in ancient texts revered by tens of millions of Jews and Christians.

These texts are relevant today because ideologies which the Bible frowns upon inevitably turn out to be poor public policy.  For example, when the Good Book labels promiscuity as a sin, believers understand that God is not only indicating His displeasure at this behavior, He is assuring us that no societal good will come of it.  The Bible offers insights into destructive taxation policies that prove equally true.

The first Biblical mention of taxation comes in Genesis 41.  Bewildered by disturbing dreams, Pharaoh unsuccessfully seeks explanations from his courtiers.  Finally his butler, newly released from jail, remembers his cell-mate, the Hebrew  lad, Joseph.  Joseph interprets the king’s dreams to be God’s forewarning of seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine.  In verse 34, Joseph recommends applying a tax upon the Egyptian economy.

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Understanding Moral Hierarchy

May 12th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

“I’m listening to your radio podcast from the Blaze Radio and find such clarity in your positions. You were discussing moral hierarchy and giving examples in relationship to immigrants and I had come to the same conclusion but had no idea of the rationale to back up what I thought.

Can you share some resources which would be helpful in understanding this basic principal which is completely missing from our culture today.”

Thank you,

∼ Kathy B.

Answer:

Dear Kathy, (more…)

Music, Morality and Mayhem

November 2nd, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

During 1969 many young people gathered at rock music festivals at Woodstock in upstate New York and at Altamont in Northern California.  Both events were as much about sex and violence as about music and despite the veneer of innocuous love, both had a dark undercurrent.  Rapes, brutal beatings, numerous injuries and countless concussions were reported at the time.  Several people died at each event.  At Altamont, the Rolling Stones were singing their hit Sympathy for the Devil while eighteen year-old Meredith Hunter was being stabbed to death directly in front of the stage on which Mick Jagger was gyrating.

But this connection between revolutionary music and rejection of conventional Judeo-Christian sexual mores was not invented in 1969.  A hundred and twenty years earlier, Richard Wagner, famously known as Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer, was doing the same thing.  His music contemptuously called for the murder of morality. Though not intended, Wagner’s music opened the doors to terrifying barbarism.

Wagner, a socialist, lived a dissolute existence constantly betraying his wife Minna, often with the wives of men who befriended and supported him.  His music, which I find brilliant though evil, celebrates sexual immorality and violence.

We might wish that renouncing rules of sexual morality would lead to lives filled with love, but instead it usually leads to disappointment and distress. The Bible gives us a glimpse into another physical appetite whose abuse we might not instinctively recognize as similarly dangerous.

Our two most powerful bodily appetites are the craving for carnality and the frenzy for food. Failure to treat these areas in a sacred manner nearly always results in decreased ability to succeed along with eventual physical damage.

Look how differently Moses reacts to various sins of the Israelites.

After the people sinned idolatrously in making the Golden Calf, Moses prayed asking God to forgive them:

On the next day, Moses said to the people,‘You have committed a great sin and now I shall ascend to God, perhaps I will win atonement for your sin.’
(Exodus 32:30)

Amazingly, Moses makes no effort to seek forgiveness for Israel when they sinned with food and sexual depravity. 

The rabble among them cultivated a craving and the children of Israel
also wept again and said, ‘Who will feed us meat?’
(Numbers 11:4)

In verse 6 they continue to ungratefully complain—

But now….there is nothing, we have nothing to anticipate but manna.

Yet a few verses later, the verse doesn’t seem to have anything to do with food.

Moses heard the nation weeping about its families, each one at the entrance to his tent, and God became very angry and it was evil in the eyes of Moses.
(Numbers 11:10)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains the mysterious phrase ‘weeping about its families.’  They were really weeping about the recently received Bible’s rules defining sex within marriage as the essential key to family life.  The nation resented God requiring confining of bodily appetites.

Whether in politics or in business, anyone whose appetites are out of control is heading toward destruction. That is why I emphasize that one of the great gifts of Bible culture is the set of religious rules restraining sexuality that Judaism and Christianity strive to keep alive. Similarly, a healthy attitude towards food uplifts and ennobles.

Modern music is usually composed of two parts, the lyrics and the music itself. Each of these can inspire or deprave.  Destructive music cannot be casually dismissed. It is often an early symptom of impending problems for those you love or must work with.
 

 What we allow our ears to absorb and what we permit our mouths to say, whether they are our own words or those of musical artists, affects our ability to prosper both socially and financially. In one of my audio CDs I provide practical tips and techniques for getting the most from your mouth. This period as we head towards gatherings with our families and friends, is a wonderful time to become more aware of the astonishing power of the spoken – or sung – word.  

 

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