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Bluegrass Beacon: Was Jesus a ‘Super Socialist’?

“Jesus Christ, Super Socialist” is Ivonne Rovira’s recent missive on Forward Kentucky in which she equates socialism with true Christianity.

“It’s time to re-claim the connection between loving our neighbor and how we treat the poor, the powerless, and the earth itself,” Rovira moralizes. “So the next time someone accuses you of being a socialist because you believe these things, just smile and say ‘Just trying to be a Jesus-follower, man.”

Sounds righteous, doesn’t it? Yet I’m having trouble reconciling how Rovira, a former newspaper reporter, can now work for Save Our Schools Kentucky, a group started for the unrighteous purpose of opposing giving parents without means – the very poor she claims are at the center of her religion – the opportunity to choose a charter or private school for their children.

What’s more empowering for the poor than opening the door of a private school and giving them the same access to a stellar education already enjoyed by their wealthier peers?

Who’s more “powerless” than a single mother in Louisville’s West End working two or three minimum-wage jobs just to keep the lights on and food on the table while knowing her child is trapped in a failing school and will probably never see – much less receive – a high-school diploma?

What would Jesus do? Would he favor a destructive ideology over poor children’s opportunity to get a great education and perhaps break generations-long cycles of poverty in family lineages?

The problem with socialists – whether the issue is educational choice or income inequality – is that they think in terms of policy being a zero-sum game: more educational choice means harming public schools and the fact that some have more money means others cannot rise.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky explains in his timely new book “The Case Against Socialism” how socialists think in terms of shrinking the pie rather than the free-market approach of growing it to increase opportunity.

“The purveyors of the dwindling pie zero-sum world inspire the worst in us,” Paul writes. “If winning in the marketplace requires that someone must suffer a corresponding loss, then the unhealthy tendencies of envy are stirred.”

What did Jesus say? In Mark 7, Jesus called “envy” one of those “evil things” which includes “murder” and “adultery.”

Would he endorse policies that create envy rather than opportunity and prosperity?

Leftists who claim the mantle of socialism desperately want to weaponize the fact that we’re all at different income levels with the goal of creating class warfare. But Paul employs several sources to argue that income inequality has nothing to do with economic well-being. He quotes writer and Harvard University professor Steven Pinker, who notes that wealth since the Industrial Revolution has “expounded exponentially,” meaning “the rich get richer, and the poor can get richer, too.”

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his ilk like to argue that socialism is required because the poor hold no more of the total wealth than they did a century ago.

Paul answers such incomplete and misleading statements by including Pinker’s conclusion that “total wealth today is vastly greater than it was in 1910, so if the poorer half own the same proportion, they are far richer, not ‘as poor.’”

As Paul shows throughout his anthology, socialism fails in every society where it’s attempted.

Its shrinking-pie philosophy has destroyed peoples’ incentive to produce and ultimately requires the use of devastating force to attempt the eradication of income inequality. Which all sounds opposite of Jesus’ mission, which he described in John 10 as being “to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Under which approach – Sanders’ socialism or Paul’s free-market capitalism – is “a rich and satisfying life” most likely to occur?

Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at and @bipps on Twitter.

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