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Beefs and Beliefs

Fair-minded Voters Say Mitt Romney's Wealth Doesn't Matter

Jealousy drives the passions of those few who envy the wealth of presidential candidate Romney.

A new Gallup organization poll this week says Mitt Romney's wealth is a negative for only one in five voters.

I say shame on that 20% for committing the sin of envy.

Incidentally, that ancient delineation of envy as sin was listed in the Ten Commandments as "coveting." It means you feel such jealousy over someone else's possessions that you want to take them from him or her.

I think the roots of this problem are indeed envy and jealousy but I also believe this goes back to a common misquotation from the Bible in which Jesus Christ said "love of money is the root of all evil." Instead, it's common for people to say, "money is the root of all evil." Wrong.

You may recall that Christ told the rich ruler he had to give up his wealth to truly find life and he told His disciples it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Then there was the story of the rich man who walked by poor Lazarus the sick beggar every day and did nothing to help him and when he died God told him he already had his reward in life and sent him to hell.

I believe it is stories such as these from our Christian roots, along with a poor understanding of these messages, which are behind these negative attitudes about wealth.

Ultimately, these teachings from Christ were about the worship of money over God. Yet many people see it as an admonition against wealth.

Instead, Christ taught that money is a powerful thing, perhaps the most powerful thing in this world. One must be cautious about falling into the vortex of power money creates and failing to keep one's life on track with God at the center. This was the true Biblical teaching.

Money itself is just money. It can do great good or great harm. That's up to the individual who wields it.

But that reminds me of one other issue I have against those who want to attack wealth and Romney for his level of wealth.

There is a mantra right now in the media and in the White House to increase taxation on the "rich" because they aren't paying "their fair share." The statistics from the Internal Revenue Service and other federal budgetary data show the wealthier members of society pay a dramatically disproportionate share while somewhere around half of people pay no taxes at all.

The latter is unfair in my mind. The further I go in life and thought and the more I ponder the state of this nation the more I believe we should discuss the idea that those who pay no taxes should have no vote. Either that or rescind taxation altogether (not likely).

When the national press corps was attacking Romney some time back for his wealth a close friend of mine was livid that Romney failed to stand up to them by defending how much he actually paid in taxes.

He looked up Romney's annual income and calculated his annual tax bill and then had this to say:

"Romney should have asked them, 'How much did you pay in taxes last year? I paid $3.25 million dollars. That's almost $9,000 per day. Isn't that paying my share? How does that compare to what any one of you paid? Or all of you in this room, for that matter?'"

I concur.

Further, if you want to see what the Romneys do with their money, an interesting article in Forbes details their millions in charitable giving.

I am also proud of my fellow Americans who understand wealth is not evil in itself. Perhaps the reasoning is, as the Gallup pollster suggested, because we hope we could someday have a little bit of that wealth.

But also, sadly, the poorest members of society were the most envious. Gallup said 28% of those with income under $24,000 were less likely to vote for Romney just because of his wealth.

These are the people we need to work hard to teach about wise spending, about saving and investing, and about planning for the future.

Instead, we keep them at home and pay them a starvation wage to incorporate bad behavior into their lives and to feel they have no worth because they aren't contributing to society.

This is the real shame of our "great society" and it's way overdue that we should begin a dialogue about how to change that.

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