SABBATH

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commentary: It's A Lying Game

It Seems an Acceptable Constant
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 05-Jan-13; Sermon #1137c; 13 minutes

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John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on a recent poll asking the respondents who they trusted the least, revealed that lawyers, used car salesmen, and politicians (who are largely lawyers) filled the top three spots. Truth telling is rare in those holding office today, as is seen in the behavior of the current President, who has not been forthcoming regarding his birth, his college records, or his mysterious handlers. His hypocritical claims that he wants to help the middle class by taxing the rich obscured the reality that he unleashed $620 billion in new taxes largely extracted from the middle class. .




The story is told of two men watching two other men (who were just out of earshot) arguing. The one man said to the other, "Just look at those two men and the lies they are telling to one another." Well, the other observer then asked, "How do you know they are lying?" The first man then replied, "Because they are both lawyers."

Virtually every year a poll is taken, asking Americans (as a group), "Who are the people you least trust to be telling the truth?" Almost invariably, the top three are: (1) lawyers; (2) used car salesmen; and (3) politicians. The last one named is interesting because most politicians are lawyers, and so lawyers are actually named on there twice.

When a person is sworn in before a judge and a jury to give testimony as a witness in a case, he is asked to pledge, affirm, or swear "to give the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God." Truth-telling, though, does not seem to apply the lawyers and politicians, and it seems as though every public statement is carefully shaved in order to hide something that might be revealing.

In Jeremiah 5, God commanded Jeremiah to go through the streets of Jerusalem to seek and see if he could find a man—one man!—who executes judgment and seeks the truth. And then He warned him, "You are going to have a hard time, Jeremiah." Jeremiah was unsuccessful with those he first asked. So he thought of a different strategy. Maybe if he sought out a person of judgment and truth among the leaders of the city, he would have a better chance of finding someone. But by the fifth verse, he found that these people were worse then the first group. The elite were not speaking or seeking truth, either.

In the book of Hosea, written about the same time as Isaiah but before Jeremiah, God accuses Israel,

Hosea 4:1-2 . . . There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed.

Lying seems to be a historically critical problem in Israel. It is much broader than this, deeper than this, though. Sin began with a deceptive half-truth. The truth is essential for people to live in trust with one another, and when that happens, peace flourishes within the land. But when trust is broken through saying or living lies, the incidence of divorce begins rising, family life breaks down, thievery, murder, unemployment, and bankruptcy increase, life becomes dangerously unsettling, and mental depression flourishes instead. It is especially important to the stability of a community that those in the community leadership positions are honest and trustworthy. Ezekiel 34—an entire chapter—is devoted to that aspect.

Our present president and his administration lie with impunity and without compunction. How can a man be trusted who cannot be open with even the simplest details of his birth, his ancestry, who paid for his higher education in prestigious university, what his grades were like, or the fact that he was raised in an upper middle-class circumstance and not in poverty, as he seems to claim? Strong measures have been taken to hide these things, and some things are purposely being hidden, but still he was re-elected by a pretty large margin. That seems to indicate to me something quite telling, and that is that the American public shares the same lack of honesty, and therefore the majority of the public is willing to accept the lying as long as they get what they want from him and his administration. This is no way to run a country.

Senator Dianne Feinstein has been in the news a great deal lately because she is chairperson of a Senate committee that covers such national issues as gun control. Well, she and her staff have assembled a very detailed listing of every aspect of gun control they want legislated. But there is a massive bit of hypocrisy they are not even attempting toe hide. She formerly had a concealed gun carrying permit, but dropped it when the hypocrisy was originally revealed. However, now she travels with a bodyguard—she replaced the gun with a bodyguard—and he carries the firearm to protect her should trouble arise.

This exposes the fact that covering every possible aspect of gun violence is impossible, and that values must be put on some people's lives as being more "worthy" to be protected than others. But history shows that equality cannot be legislated. It is impossible. The only gun control that works has to be in the heart.

Now, let's look at the recent fiscal cliff agreement for just a moment, because it tends to reveal how slickly these people are maneuvering things. The president has been trumpeting for months that he wants to tax the rich at a higher rate because he desires to relieve the burden on the middle class and the poor—to equalize; to level everything out.

Sounds good, doesn't it? That's not exactly what they did, though. What they did regarding the rich was so much window dressing. Now, they did raise their tax rate on their income of those whose household income exceeds $450,000 per household. The key word is there is "income." But they did not raise the taxes on these people's assets, and that is where the wealth of most of these people is parked by their accountants to protect the super rich from the much higher income taxes. This is true of people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Warren Buffett was actually brought into the conversation here because after even the latest tax arrangement, Warren Buffett's taxes will be higher, but still at a rate not much higher than his secretary's. The president and his staff are bragging that now everybody is going to be paying their fair share. Are they, though?

Now, let me ask a question of you. Where do you think that the great bulk of America's wealth is held? You might be surprised by this. It's in the middle class. It is held by you and me. Never has there been a nation in the history of the world where the wealth of a very prosperous nation has been so equally spread within the middle class. This new tax arrangement is going to produce $620 billion in new revenues, and the rich are only going to produce a tiny portion of that increased in taxes. The overwhelming bulk of that tax increase is coming out of your and my pocket because of the 2% rise in the payroll tax and a few other items as well.

And so households with $40-50,000 incomes we will pay $579 more in 2013. That will vary somewhat from house to house. The household of those with $50-75,000 incomes will pay about $822 more. And I think that those of us on the lower end of the income scale are going to feel this decry decrease in available funds more painfully.

So, the telling of this tax story needs to be examined very carefully. You will find all 500 pages of details interestingly deceptive, and an additional drain. The Obama care program has not even been added in yet. Something to remember. No nation in history can legislate one group into prosperity while legislating another group out of it.

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