Labor and Politics and God

Work is good, so share the fruit of your labor.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God. – Lev. 19:9-10

Notice that God commands that they are not to consume all of the fruits of their labors for themselves. Sow to the edges of your field and tend all of your vines. But when you reap, you intentionally leave some for the poor.

Also notice that God does not command them to harvest the rest and deliver it to the poor.

Work is good and so is sharing the fruit of your labor. At the same time, work is good for the poor. Keep this in mind when you hear the politicians debating about income inequality. The fault is probably not solely located on one side or the other.

God continues in Leviticus and says:

You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. – Lev. 19:15

Too often only one side or the other is cited as the problem. The progressives blame only the rich and the conservatives blame only the welfare state. If we’re to do no injustice either for the poor or the great, we have to understand that many do indeed reap to the edges of their fields. They consume all that they make only for themselves by taking the highest possible wage they can. At the same time, others refuse to rise and go glean from the edges of the fields. It seems below their dignity to work for minimum wage or minimum wage can’t compete with the government benefits they receive. Or they are not allowed into the field at all.

It is injustice against the rich to just assume that we’re not taxing them enough and it is injustice against the poor to trap them on welfare. We need to weigh these issues with impartiality. That just doesn’t happen in a political campaign when people are trying to appeal to their base by speaking to their prejudices in order to secure their votes.

We can surely do better than this for the great and the poor alike.

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