web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



The Origins Of Discontent


Front-Page-111111

Share Button

Notwithstanding that those sentiments (and undoubtedly other reasons as well) led to Cleveland’s defeat in 1888 – he was re-elected four years later – those lessons of the dangers of “paternalism” need to be re-learned and re-internalized. Part of America’s greatness in the 20th century was built on the labor of millions of immigrants – including more than two million Jews – who arrived on these shores and looked not to government for a handout but to their relatives, neighbors, and co-religionists for temporary assistance until they could support themselves by the sweat of their brow.

Hard work, self-sacrifice, material deprivation and personal responsibility were the norms of life. It was expected that people would succeed or fail on their own, and therefore everyone had an interest in succeeding. There was no governmental safety net, and the safety net that did exist for the elderly and infirm was usually provided by family and religious institutions.

The Constitution does not allow government to confiscate money from the productive and distribute it to the unproductive or the clueless – whether the clueless are reckless individuals or reckless corporations. But today, that is the primaryfunction of government, and so 49 percent of Americans receive some form of government assistance and wayward, mismanaged corporations are bailed out to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

* * *

Blame Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, and then almost every president since then, who have all realized that there are electoral victories to be obtained by handing out money to as many groups and individuals as is feasible. And, frankly, blame the citizenry as well, people who are being weaned on getting something for nothing, and letting others work and prosper and then thinking it is fair and just that their work product be redistributed to them. It was Thomas Jefferson who wrote that democracy fails the moment the majority realizes it can vote itself money out of the treasury. We have arrived at that moment, and the national character, accustomed to handouts and bailouts, has been concomitantly weakened to its current flaccid state of disgruntlement and self-pity.

The two visions of America – the free enterprise state that allows the individual free choice in pursuit of his happiness vs. the nanny state that is paternalistic, intrusive and demanding – can easily be discerned by the one defining difference: the former sees each person as an individual (created in the divine image) and the latter sees man as simply part of a collective whose rights are drawn from the fact that he is part of a group but do not inhere in him.

America and the free world used to celebrate the role of the individual – encouraging it, fostering it – because no individual prospers without also benefiting others.

No individual can become wealthy unless he makes a product or provides a service that others want at a price they can afford. So everyone benefits. Now, it is one size fits all – like the housing in socialist societies that all looks the same, and like the clothing in old Communist China where everyone dressed the same. No individuality is tolerated. Rights are awarded to some individuals, and denied to others, because they belong to a particular group – the very premise of affirmative action, for example.

Similarly, these attitudes engender the populist complaints about income inequality – the rich are too rich, and the poor are too poor. Why does the income gap, which so exercises the Occupy World Street crowd and other anarchists, bother anyone? If everyone has – or can have – then why be troubled by the success of some?

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and the author most recently of “Judges for Our Time: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Shoftim” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2009). His writings and lectures can be found at www.Rabbipruzansky.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

One Response to “The Origins Of Discontent”

  1. Jonathan Gold says:

    Rabbi Pruzansky never disappoints. Great article on wealth from a torah perspective.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukraine, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.
‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
A modern-day Jewish warrior in the tradition of Abraham, Moses, Joshua and David.

One can’t only take; one must give as well. Giving – not taking – is the essence of the righteous person.

Rabbi Samson Rephael Hirsch

Much of what we know about 19th century Orthodoxy is false, including the provenance of the term Orthodox.

A president who today used the language of FDR or JFK would be derided. If he were a candidate, the media elites would bury his chances of winning the election. He would be a laughing stock to the aimless young people whose uninformed opinions on public affairs seem to matter more than they should.

With the constant drumbeat of articles about “Orthodox” female rabbis appearing in the media almost weekly – essentially the same articles making the same points to the same eager audience, all to make the phenomenon of such “rabbis” seem commonplace – it is important to take a step back and examine how we arrived at this destination.

The Wall Street Journal last month featured a front-page article titled “After These Jewish Prayer Services, Things Come ‘To Life’ at Open Bar,” with the sub-heading, “To Woo Worshippers, Synagogues Compete with Food and Booze.”

In the wake of the presidential election, American Jews must once again ask a fundamental question that seems to defy both societal trends and a clear resolution: why do Jews overwhelmingly support the Democratic candidate, year after year, election after election?

The notion of the “Reagan Democrat” is one cliché that should be permanently retired.

The forthcoming debate over an updated Tal Law – the parameters for service by haredim in the Israel Defense Forces – is liable to become heated and nasty. Mutual accusations will be hurled, with one group asserting that mandatory military service is part of an ill-disguised war against Torah and the other side seeking an equal sharing of the defense burdens that fall on most other Israelis.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-origins-of-discontent/2011/11/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: