A false dichotomy that often presents itself in politics is the idea that higher tax rates and a larger, more expansive government welfare apparatus is the "compassionate" side of the economic conversation, while lower taxes and a more robust business sector represents the "less compassionate" or "greedy" alternative.
A blowout jobs report was released today, and it got me thinking about how untrue this dichotomy is, and how much more we ought to highlight the widespread quality-of-life improvements ushered in by a booming economy.
All these new jobs, all this wage growth, and all this unemployment are not just numbers on paper or conservative talking points! These statistics represent people like you and me securing new jobs or getting paid more for staying in the same job. These are our family, friends, and fellow Americans experiencing new stability and fresh options in life.
As Christians we are commanded to love our neighbor. We're called to do what we can to reduce the suffering of our fellow humans and seek their betterment. Right?
How many people represented by these jobs numbers are -- right now -- pulling their families out of poverty? How many are stable or upwardly mobile for the first time ever? Of the (lessening) number of people who are down-and-out, how many are being blessed by financial gifts from others who now have extra to give? How many churches' missions budgets and benevolent funds are now bursting at the seams, changing people's lives and eternities?
I live in Metro Detroit -- Motor City. The Great Recession crushed us here. Entire cities changed as masses of people lost their jobs, businesses closed all over the place, and our neighborhoods filled with devastated families' foreclosed homes. The economic roller coaster our country has seen in the past decade was magnified where I live. No one can tell us anything about the difference between living on welfare and benefiting from a surging economy. We've been through it all.
It's said frequently that tax cuts and pro-business policies "only benefit the rich." This is hogwash -- just a talking point employed by those who are trying to degrade their political enemies. Look around. People suffer less and prosper more when they're afforded a stable job and are allowed to keep more of the fruits of their labor.
As we strive to obey the Great Commandment of Jesus to "love our neighbor as ourselves" (Matthew 22:39), let's not forget just how significantly our neighbors are being blessed by an economic environment that results in jobs reports like the one we saw today.