Once a year at least, I'm notorious --- among a small group of people --- for making a motion during the annual church business meeting that we liquidate our endowment and give the proceeds to the poor. Ho hum, there he goes again.
It's a serious motion, but seriousness from a safe place because (a) the motion will not be seconded; (b) if it were, it would not pass; and (c) if by some miracle it did, the diocese --- ultimate owner of all our small parish posesses under the canons of a hierarchial denomination --- would step in to save those crazy Charitonians from themselves.
But I've been thinking about the implications of just giving stuff away in light of Mitt Romney's apparent conclusion, widely discussed this week, that 47 percent of us are so reliant on government handouts we'd never consider voting for him.
I'm guessing the percentage reliant in some way on government handouts actually is closer to 99.9 percent, but lets say for the sake of argument that 53 percent of us really are willing and able to stand bravely on our own with no government aid whatsoever and --- since death by starvation or while writhing homeless in the street from the effects of untreated disease is such an unattractive thing to witness --- take care in a modest way of those who can't take care of themselves.
What if, for example, the millions poured by all camps into political campaigning were poured instead into food for the hungry, clothing for the naked and housing for those unable to afford it?
What if, all the money invested in church buildings and staff by dueling denominations were invested instead in broadly accessible health care and community kitchens?
What if, all those who enjoy making money and are good at it, or who have inherited large amounts of money and are good at holding onto it, invested everything not need for comfortable but modest lifestyles into building a sustainable economy, conserving the environment and shoring up "entitlement" programs until we're ready to answer that pesky "am I my brother's keeper" question asked by Cain in the affirmative?
The likelihood of any of this happening is about as likely as some January my congregation deciding to liquidate the endowment to benefit the poor.
Which of course is why we have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, universal tax-supported public education, Obamacare --- and all sorts of other stuff. As a (Medicare) card-carrying member of the 47 percent and lacking faith in the 53 percent, I'll stick with Democrats and "big" government, thank you very much.