Thomas Malthus and the Dark Side of the American Dream

I’m now proofing Glenn Kaiser‘s new book Kissing the Sky and I just can’t help but post this excerpt:

When commerce is valued above compassion love is the victim and all of us lose no matter what we gain. I don’t believe compassionate Americans want to see things done this way, nor do Christians above all. So how do such skewed values become policy in our communities? Some Christians believe that a certain number of people are predestined to go to hell; if they’re forgotten by God, who can blame us for forgetting them? Is there such a thing as throw-away people? An accompanying Christian doctrine that some hold is a doctrine of providence that the “chosen” will prosper economically on this earth as a sign of their being singled out by God for heaven. Can this be why we ignore masses of people below our own economic status? These religious tenets, held with all seriousness by many of our forefathers, have been secularized into our own mistrust of the poor and homeless. A more secular explanation was provided in the late eighteenth century through the writings of Thomas Malthus. He suggested that the people in society who experience misery and vice are nature’s way of culling the population. If we interfere with nature using welfare programs, then at some point we will run out of resources such as food or energy. Malthus’ teachings have made thier way, along with predestination and providence, into our modern views of the “lower class” in society. Perhaps if we can understand the origins of our attitudes we can change them.

Wow! There’s a lot of truth there. I’m really loving this book. I know these ideas may win Glenn some enemies, but hey, what else is new? Check out the wiki entry on Malthus. Somethings going on when Critics come from six separate scientific fields! Its obvious that Malthus was horribly mistaken. What’s sad is that here in America we function as practical Malthusiasts, much like many “Christians” are practical agnostics.


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