Regardless of your acceptance or rejection of Christianity, it is rather traditional to assume that greed and a desire to get as much money as possible by tossing the poor out of their homes and into the street is something that is not “Christian”.
I would take that thought a bit further.
I would argue that such a stance is not exclusive to any belief. The actual driving force is simple – basic human empathy coupled with active compassion is all that you need – no belief needed.
Christianity is vast. The reality is that there exists a considerable diversity of thinking and practice under the term “Christian”. Beyond the inspirational, there are also variations that are not just surprising, but deeply shocking.
What perhaps never ceases to amaze me is that when Republican Right-wing Evangelicals are faced with what appear to be rather easy and quite basic moral questions, they astonish by managing to fail in a very spectacular manner almost every time
We have a recent jaw-dropping example.
Evangelical financial “guru” Dave Ramsey faced a question
David Lawrence Ramsey III is both a radio show host, author, business owner, and also a personal finance “expert”.
On his regular weekly show, he receives questions. A couple of weeks ago one came from a listener who is also a landlord. The listener says that he has overhead costs and so does need to raise rents. However, he also recognizes that people have made his properties their home, and as a Christian, he feels guilty putting them under financial stress. The essence of it all is this extract …
“I did not get into real estate to subsidize people’s living expenses, but I also didn’t get into real estate to displace families either.”
He then asks Dave Ramsey for guidance on how to balance this equation.
Here is how that played out …(at the 32:52 mark) …
Dave starts with … “Treat other people in the same way you would like to be treated”.
OK, that’s a good start.
Dave then explains that he leases an office. When that lease is up, if the guy who owns that lease raises the rent to the market rate, why does that make him a “Bad Christian” … “that was a passive-aggressive question, the answer is that it doesn’t“, he advises.
He then lays out his position as follows …
… I own rental property — single-family homes — among many other properties that we own, and if I raise my rent to be market rate, that does not make me a bad Christian.
I did not displace the person out of that house if they can no longer afford it. The marketplace did. The economy did. The ratio of the income that they earned to their housing expense displaced them. I didn’t cause any of that.
And so you are not displacing them. You’re taking too much credit for what’s going on. If they need to move to a cheaper house, because they can’t afford it, they’re gonna move to a lesser house, because if they move, they’re gonna pay market rent.
He goes on to explain that he would not evict somebody who can’t pay because they are seriously ill and have Cancer, but he then circles back around to his key stance. If they simply can’t afford Dave’s rent increase because the rent went up more than their wage did, then bad luck, that’s not his problem.
“This idea that you have to equate Christian and Kindness with not having good marketplace experience is not true”
The context right now is that we are in the middle of a pandemic. Many simply can’t make the rent.
As far as Dave appears to be concerned, his response is basically “Fuck them”, because it is not his fault, he did not cause the pandemic.
Scrooge was an excellent businessman, he would have fitted right in with Ramsey’s variation of Christianity.
As individuals we have choices. There are consequences that result from those decisions. If the goal is to make as much money as possible, then displacing a family and rendering them homeless so that they can be replaced by others who can pay top dollar will be a consequence of that.
If you then feel guilty about this, what you really do not get to do is to soothe your conscience by claiming that you did not make the decision to do that, it was the marketplace that did it.
You really should not be surprised
Check out Dave’s Wikipedia page and what you discover is that he has nurtured a reputation as an obnoxious arsehole. For example, via that page, we learn …
- When it was discovered that one of his employees was gay, they were fired, because this was against company policy
- When an employee became pregnant and was not married she was fired for violating Ramsey Solutions’ employee conduct policies
- Caterers hired for the Ramsey Solutions Christmas party at its company headquarters were instructed not to wear masks or gloves while serving
- Ramsey has railed against face coverings and other COVID-19 precautions, calling them “a sign of fear”
- Ramsey has gone as far as firing an employee for just taking precautions against COVID-19. The lawsuit that resulted from that said Ramsey ran a “cult like” environment where employees who worried about the pandemic were accused of “weakness of spirit” and told to pray if they wanted to ward off the virus
A great deal of modern Right-Wing Christianity is not about being a better more moral person. Instead, it is simply a means to justify bigotry, intolerance, and greed. Mr. Ramsey appears to be a prime example.
Jesus put it rather famously like this
I was a stranger and you told me the market displaced me. I needed clothes and you told me the market made clothes costly.
Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help you? Because that was the invisible hand of the market, not us.The Gospel According to Evangelical Dave Ramsey
Clearly, empathy, compassion, and basic human decency are all sins within his variation of Christianity.
One Last Thought
Just before commenters jump in with, “But why should he operate at a loss?”, I should perhaps point out that this is not what is going on here.
Mr. Ramsey’s stance was, “if others raise their rents, then I should do so also, and if that displaces people out of their homes, then that’s their problem”.
What exactly was wrong with the previous rent that people did agree to pay and sign up for, and were paying?
Mr. Ramsey’s costs have not gone up, he can simply squeeze more profit and so suggests going for it. A market rent increase is almost never directly proportional to an increase in expenses for an owner. Mr. Ramsey’s backflips to insist that hiking up the rent to the max is what Jesus would have done is quite frankly ridiculous.
The choice to have a few extra bits of silver at the cost of the well-being of another human says ever so much about him.