The Obama Burger

I have been pretty quiet around here on anything Obama related, but I got a laugh out of this report from yesterday’s Tea Party in Greenville, South Carolina. Apparently, they were selling Obama Burgers — you pay for one and they cut it in half and give the rest to the guy behind you for free!!

HT: National Review

20 Comments

  1. John Ayan says:

    No wonder I’m losing weight! :o)

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Hmmm, John, is that a metaphor?

  3. Dana says:

    Ray, my kids can’t hear the word “metaphor” without quoting from the St. Patrick’s Day video you posted, “Oh Great Metaphor! You are Great and Powerful….”

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Old joke: What’s a metaphor? To keep the cows in.

    Dana, I’m glad your kids enjoyed the St. Patrick’s Day video. It is a classic. Here is the link if anyone wants to see what we’re talking about: Veggie Tales Saint Patrick’s Day

  5. Bethany says:

    Sounds very scriptural to me. 🙂 If a man needs your robe, give him your cloak too. Although I’m not convinced that was the intent of the joke…

  6. Laney says:

    (responding to Bethany) I think it’s only Scriptural if you have a choice and willingly give the robe, cloak, burger or bailout. I definitely feel less like a generous donor and more the victim of extortion.

  7. Bethany says:

    Hello again! With the full understanding that this original blog post was only a joke, I made my comment lightheartedly and with a smiley face. 🙂 However, I do think it points to a key difference between Christians who are politically liberal and Christians who are politically conservative.

    When it comes to important areas such as abortion and traditional marriage, it seems that political conservatives feel strongly that government should indeed be involved, and that these are not matters where people can say, “I want to decide for myself.” But when it comes to caring for the less fortunate, it seems that the politically conservative response is, “I don’t want the government to do this, I want to be able to do it myself.”

    As a politically liberal Christian (pro-life Democrat) I believe that only leaving charitable giving up to individuals does not serve a country well. Many Christians do indeed give charitably, as do many non-Christians. But when it comes to the vast amount of need, (e.g. Katrina comes to mind), thousands of people would suffer if the government did not help, but just left it up to the individual conscience. As we pro-lifers often say, a government should be judged on how it treats the most vulnerable in society, and thus I am quite happy to pay taxes in addition to personal charitable giving.

    I understand not all believers feel this way and am glad we live in a country where we are free to vote and express our beliefs despite disagreements.

  8. Ray Fowler says:

    Bethany – So what would the George Bush Burger look like? 🙂

  9. Bethany says:

    Sigh. I tried. I really did. But I guess it’s true that “Liberals don’t have a sense of humor.” I have no idea how to be funny without sounding mean-spirited. The Obama joke fit that qualification – I chuckled when I read it and wasn’t offended. I commented for fun as I suspect I am one of the few Obama supporters that read this blog. Perhaps a Bush fan out there could try.

  10. Ray Fowler says:

    Bethany – Good for you! If you can’t do it in fun without sounding mean-spirited, it isn’t worth it.

    I have been disappointed by a lot of the meanness on the right towards President Obama. I can understand the frustrations, because I am not happy with a lot of his decisions either, but there is no need to be mean-spirited or petty or to pick on every little detail along the way. Major on the majors, stick to the issues, and offer alternative solutions. Otherwise, it is not a productive conversation.

  11. One Breath says:

    Bethany, what does the Bible say about a man who does not provide for his own family? Or a man who chooses not to work? And what does Scripture say about robbing Peter to pay Paul? Is not theft theft, regardless of how it’s packaged? Is it ever okay to steal? If it is, then commandments are not absolute. Maybe it’s okay to break other commandments as well, as long as we decided it’s for the good of the majority.

    Do you see why absolutes are necessary? It’s not okay for Johnny not to work, yet receive the extorted fruit of another man’s labor. If you’re “quite happy” to pay for others, GREAT! We should all be giving — but with a willing heart, and where we choose. Not to struggle to provide for our own families while we watch those who choose not to put forth the effort live off our sweat. Christ never preached on compulsory “charity”. The terms are mutually exclusive.

  12. Bethany says:

    Excellent question. What DOES Scripture say about societal responsibility for the poor? I agree that there are verses about the importance of work. (2 Thess. 3:10). However many, many people can not work or would work if they could find a job, but can’t. Do we ignore their need as a society? Christians alone can not meet all these needs with individual giving. The verses I will focus on in this post are all from the OT, where God speaks to Israel as a nation, and addresses the responsibility of the nation to care for the poor. (Strangely, there is rarely a distinction made about the “deserving poor”. I think that is a man-made term, not God’s.) There are numerous NT verses that also address the importance of caring for the needy, but since some would say these speak only to the individual, I won’t include them here. As an anecdotal aside, I personally know good Christian (Republican!) families who have severely disabled children. All the charity of the church can not pay for the high cost of their care. Thankfully we have a government that recognizes the value of these precious lives and provides medical and social services with our tax dollars. How can we say to these families that we as a society owe them nothing? There will always be waste, abuse, and cheating, I know. I believe we can make laws to minimize those, but can not accept using those examples as an excuse to refuse to help where need is real. Some of God’s harshest judgments against Israel as a nation (not against individual Israelites) was its failure corporately to care for the poor and the alien/stranger. Again, I understand that political conservatives may disagree, but I do base my principles on Scripture, not on a vague feeling of “liberal guilt”. Since there probably isn’t room to list the Scriptures in this post, I will list them in the next. Thanks for the comment as it made me pore over Scripture this morning!

  13. Bethany says:

    Exodus 22: 21-27
    21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.
    22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.
    25 “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest. [e] 26 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, 27 because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
    Exodus 23:10,11
    10 “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
    Leviticus 19:9, 10
    9 ” ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.
    33 ” ‘When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
    Leviticus 23:22
    22 ” ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’ ”
    Leviticus 25:35-38
    35 ” ‘If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you. 36 Do not take interest of any kind [a] from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you. 37 You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit. 38 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
    Deuteronomy 10:17-19
    17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt
    Deut. 15: 7-11
    7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. 8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
    Psalm 82:3,4
    3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
    maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
    4 Rescue the weak and needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
    Isaiah 10:1,2
    1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
    to those who issue oppressive decrees,
    2 to deprive the poor of their rights
    and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
    making widows their prey
    and robbing the fatherless.
    Ezekiel 16:49
    49 ” ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
    Amos 5:11, 12
    11 You trample on the poor
    and force him to give you grain.
    Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
    you will not live in them;
    though you have planted lush vineyards,
    you will not drink their wine.
    12 For I know how many are your offenses
    and how great your sins.
    You oppress the righteous and take bribes
    and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
    Zech. 7:8-10
    8 And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’

  14. John W says:

    Wow. I just caught up on this and am sad to see the conversation stopped!

    Personally, I get torn between brands of Libertarianism and Socialism. On the former, I really don’t think it is the government’s place to tell us how we should lead our lives outside of basic enforcement of “my rights end where yours begin”. However, the extent to which Libertarianism trusts that the vast majority of people will exercise charitable behavior in the way of schooling, health, and other social ways may arguably exceed reason. Of course, that doesn’t even touch upon the more controversial topics that have been debated over for decades.

    On the latter, socialism essentially puts into law “love your neighbor as yourself”. However, the government has repeatedly proven its ineptitude at efficiently managing our tax money. I have a hard time rationalizing increased taxes when so much of that money disappears without any record. Another trouble I have there is that there end up being so many laws, rules and regulations that our freedom of choice in so many areas starts to disappear.

    Ultimately, they are ideals. Trying to figure out which ideal will work better when it can be assumed it will be working inefficiently gives me a lot of cause to stare at the wall in contemplation.

  15. Ray Fowler says:

    Bethany – Those are great verses on caring for the needy. Thank you for sharing them. God definitely told Israel to care for the needy among them, but these verses are directed more to the people of Israel rather than to the government. In the Bible we see people giving voluntary gifts to help the needy (e.g. alms for the poor), but we do not see the government using taxes to relieve the poor.

    On the contrary, in almost every example of taxation we see in the Bible, the taxes were used to enrich the king and to fund his building projects. Taxation was seen as a heavy burden on the people, including the poor. Now that’s not to say that the Bible approves of that type of taxation. Rather, the Bible condemns it as an exploitation of the poor (Ecclesiastes 5:8-9).

    So, yes we are commanded as a people to take care of the needy. I believe government is one legitimate way we can do that. But I also believe the government can do great harm when it enables people to become dependent.

    That’s what I like about the “gleaning” system in the Scriptures you listed above. You didn’t glean all the way to the edges of your field; you left some for the poor and needy. But the poor still had to work in order to benefit. They didn’t just sign up for the gleanings to be delivered to them. They went out and worked for the gleanings themselves. (See Ruth’s example in Ruth 2:2-3.)

    I think we need to look for similar ways to help the poor help themselves today — workfare rather than welfare, and not always government funded. There are times when any family or individual may need some temporary help or a handout. But when the government keeps giving away half the burger on a regular basis, that would seem to increase dependency rather than build productivity into society.

  16. Ray Fowler says:

    John W. – I like a lot of libertarian ideas, but I believe libertarianism is overly optimistic when it comes to human nature. Theologically, I would say it doesn’t take into account our sinful nature. Bottom line: we are just too selfish for outright libertarianism too work.

    As far as socialism, I believe it means well, but ultimately undercuts the economic growth it needs to sustain its programs.

    That is why I remain a compassionate conservative. I believe conservative policies in economics builds the wealth and the opportunities that can help the poor while still building society. I believe compassion will look for ways to help those who are truly in need.

    Unfortunately, sinful human nature works against compassionate conservatism, too, but I believe conservatism at least takes a more realistic view of human nature.

  17. Ray Fowler says:

    By the way, who would have thought we could have gotten all this great discussion out of the Obama Burger?

  18. Bethany says:

    I know this could go on forever, and we are not likely to resolve the different views, so I will at least note our areas of agreement! I agree that the dignity of work is key. Gleaning certainly encouraged the able poor to work for their basic needs. It could be considered a “make work” program, as the owners certainly didn’t need the poor to finish off their fields and groves. However, the work was valuable too. I think this is a good rule of thumb for aiding the needy. All in all, I believe Obama has made it clear that he believes in personal responsibility, and I don’t see him just handing out money to whoever wants it, although it’s hard to avoid the corruption. Both Hurricane Andrew & Hurricane Katrina occurred under Republican presidents, and there are many stories of corruption and greed whenever there is government assistance. I agree that sinful human nature will always cause trouble! Only time will tell if President Obama’s words about personal responsibility – for rich, poor AND middle class – are just words or if they will translate into action and policy. Thanks for a great opportunity to debate!

  19. Ray Fowler says:

    It has been a fun debate. Debating makes me hungry. Now where can I go get me an Obama Burger?

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