Friday, October 31, 2008

Guest Blogger: Tyson Schroder

Tyson is a friend of mine and a graduate student at the University of Florida. He sent me this paragraph yesterday on Facebook and it is too good to keep to myself. Enjoy! ET <><

The inherent vice of capitalism is the uneven division of blessings, while the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal division of misery.
- Sir Winston Churchill

The root of "uneven division of blessings" is not the vice of capitalism, but the outworkings of human nature as clearly revealed in a free market environment. Some would suggest that opportunity is unequally distributed in America. If that is to be said of our citizens, how do we reconcile the fact that every day, people cross our borders with the clothes on their backs and the pennies in their pockets, only to rise as perpetual testaments to the American dream. To be honest, I have a hard time believing that there is true poverty in America when a vast majority of our lowest income bracket carries cell phones and drives their own cars. Could it be not so much a lack of opportunity as it is a paralyzing sense of entitlement, or sheer laziness, or a harmful misappropriation of priorities, if not all of the above? I hope that I don't sound cold hearted. I do bear compassion towards the socially unfortunate, but most of my compassion is not towards their financial situation. It's towards their inability to stand freely on their own two feet. Government granting more "opportunity" won't make the difference, and likewise, neither has money the capacity to heal judgments, cultivate discipline, or realign priority. The answer is not a change in government or in market structure. The answer is an empowered church who is healing and restoring minds and hearts that can stand on their own two feet again, if not for the first time ever. Minds and hearts that are free to grab onto and hold onto the opportunities that have stood before them all along.


John Orzechowski said...

I have the utmost respect for Tyson, but I think that this offers a caricature, at best, of the difficult issues of poverty, race, and opportunity in America. For instance, about 7% of families with at least one working member live below the poverty line. They are working (read: not lazy) but unable to make ends meet. The poverty line is set at about $21,000 for a family of four, so I'd venture to say that the number who actually struggle to keep food on the table is much higher than that. Even living simply, it is difficult to feed four mouths and pay rent on $21,000.

I agree that laziness and spending above one's means are qualities of some poor people--just as those qualities are found in the middle and upper classes. Just because middle class people can get away with it doesn't mean that they have inherently more worth as human beings. And is driving a car really a senseless luxury that the poor do not deserve? How else to get to work, take kids to school?

We (White males) can't sit here with our college degrees patting ourselves on the back for our achievements. Thank God for the opportunity. And thank God for those people who do overcome the extreme difficulties of their situations--underfunded schools, unequal opportunities at work--and become "perpetual testaments to the American dream." But that doesn't make the realities of inequality any less real.

Jesus himself spent three years as an itinerant preacher, living off the incomes of others. How's that for capitalism?

Eddie Taylor said...

Thanks for your feedback. You make some good points. I enjoy the varied perspectives.
ET <><

Erica said...

I think Tyson's intentions here are good, but I also disagree with his opinions about opportunities in America. It is simply not true that everyone has the same opportunities. It is not appropriate for someone from a privileged class to judge someone from a non-privileged class. There are so many issues that must be considered here. For one thing, people who grow up in poor, uneducated families are highly likely to become poor, uneducated adults. They don't have parents to encourage them to go to college and then to pay for it. I, for instance, am extremely blessed to have a college education. I come from a single-parent family; neither of my parents have a college degree. Only one of my four siblings graduated from high school. Is this because I am less lazy? A better person? No. It's because somehow, by God's grace, I was introduced to the Christian faith, which put me into a whole new societal sphere.

I'm sorry, but the civil rights movement wasn't all that long ago. The results of racism and class prejudice are not as short-lived as we might like to think. It takes a long, long time for society to dig itself out of a hole as big as some of the ones that the dominant culture (upper class white males to be exact) has caused.

This posting seems a lot more like American philosophy than Christian philosophy. I really don't think that this is the attitude that Christ would take towards the poor. I agree that there need to be programs to help people get education and training, to get work and keep jobs, to "stand on their own two feet," rather than just shelling out welfare checks. But I think the attitude towards the poor should be one of mercy and humility, not judgment. You could have been the one born to a family with a drug-addict mother and an absentee dad. What kind of opportunity is that?

Tyson Schroder said...

John and Erica, you're taking somewhat of a stance of disagreement yet I am yet to see where we disagree! You talk about being born into adverse situations as setting you up with less opportunity than the one who is born into a 'successful,' white, upper-middle class family. I AGREE! But that lesser, or lack of opportunity has nothing to do with governmental policy or market structure. It has everything to do with a broken soul, captive of the unfortunate environment it inherited. The government, capitalistic or socialistic, is incapable of mending that brokenness.

You can "spread the wealth," but a spirit of poverty responds the same to $5 as it does to $500. You can 'create' more opportunity, but a broken soul is bound to the adversity it inherited unless the Church becomes the hands that mend it.

I agree that our attitude towards the poor should be one of mercy and not judgment, and I hope that you haven't found my words judgmental. I have not lived a life disconnected from the lower class. It is only the last few years that my family has been graced with finances we've never even approached before.

All I am suggesting is that the root of this apparent division of opportunities is the outworkings of a broken soul. To suppose it is a result of the market requiring a governmental response is ignorant and merciless towards those who need far more.

Tyson Schroder said...

To be fair, this is a conversation deserving of more face to face, uninhibited discussion. Several points here and there don't do justice to accurately communicating each others messages. Thanks for taking the time to respond to the blog, it was good hearing from you guys.

Eddie Taylor said...

Thanks for the debate...I'm going to start re-posting all you fine SE grads...I get more traffic :). I'm glad we live in a country where we can openly debate issues without fear of the secret police.