What should the position of the church be in matters of “politics”?
Capitalism has long been portrayed as greedy: Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Bedloe in Petticoat Junction are iconic characters that might come to mind when “corporate greed” is mentioned. The 1980s, a decade of economic recovery and booming enterprise, are also known as the decade of greed. Big businesses are automatically considered to be voracious monsters bent on exploiting the public. This bourgeoisie institution should be taxed, leftist howler monkeys conclude. Christians are occasionally apt to dismiss the entirety of the free market system as merely a necessary evil; or even worse, as an unnecessary evil that should be eradicated.
Freedom’s only alternative, of course, is excessive government: interventionist or socialist, it makes little difference. (As Ludwig von Mises noted, middle-of-the-road viewpoints lead to socialism.) Although other followers of Christ or adherents to the church are opinionated that social welfare programs are a moral must, it is still socialism behind a mask of Bible-based euphemisms. Christians that consider utilizing the government as means for fulfilling their religion or deem the free market as greedy are in dangerous theological ground, and are inherently incorrect in these assumptions.
First and foremost, the alleged greed of capitalism is disproved when the very nature of free trade is shown: mutual benefit, since providers want money more than a product and you want a product more than money. Government is by its very nature coercive and exploitative. Its uninterpretable whim is your command, whereas the free market can only do its best to make you want to buy its product or sign on the dotted line.
Governments have the power of signing your name on the dotted line for you, whether that means military service, death, immense legal costs, jail-time, a failing business, or loss of property. Although the free market can seem cheesy, obnoxious, or a bit like the Wild West, imagine the seriousness and morbid mandates of Soviet Russia. Big government advocates can’t beat the power of individual choice (which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with the abortion debate). Every human holds a deep incentive to act in his own self-interest, whether this human works in government or in the private sector. The difference is in how he can fulfill his self-interests: by the sword or by the advertisement?
Greed is much less intimidating when it is not in a centralized executive position or in bureaucracy backed up by the nation’s military and law enforcement officers. Whom do you fear, Wal-Mart or the Internal Revenue Service? Perhaps too easy a question. Wal-Mart’s policy is likely not Bible-based, but at least you can choose whether or not you shop there; the IRS will, first of all, have no sympathy, and second, will not share your beliefs as it enforces its illogical, money-sucking mandates.
Secondly, social welfare advocates have long tugged at the most instinctive heartstrings of the American people. Generosity is a piece of cake, so long as the other fellow’s money is at your disposal. By the Bible, which makes a strong argument for property rights, this would be known as thievery.
It may be true that it is not just for children to go hungry, or for homeless people to freeze in the streets. Christians know this as an important function of the church, and other religions or social causes also adopt this cause as their own. The elderly have long been disputed as needy, young adults have seemingly forever been described as requiring assistance for their growing families or college funds.
However, caught up in the business of handing money to the elderly, minorities, growing families, the homeless, college students, preschoolers, small business owners (ahem), disaster-stricken areas, single mothers, disabled folks, and unemployed workers, governments have entirely forgotten about the taxpayer.
Awarding disadvantaged — which, by the way, truly is a relative term — parties with the public purse can only lead to a national death cycle by election for the democracy, and a constant devaluation of currency and certain death by debt for the dictatorship. The taxpayer, meanwhile, always suffers: eventually money is needed to bail out the taxpayer, who is in turn taxed to pay for his own bailout. Then government takes a chunk out of his paycheck simply to return some of the paycheck. This is basically the essence of socialism. (Although a discussion about property rights is in turn, it will not be delved into at the moment.) The idea that compassion is giving 90% of a stolen dollar designated for social welfare to bureaucrats and a measly 3-10% to the needy is a misinformed revision of generosity.
Additionally, the Christian faith stands for a core set of values incompatible with big government. Big government (interventionist or socialist) is, by its nature, a power that considers itself higher than God. Ronald Reagan’s simple truth — that if America is no longer one nation under God, it will be one nation gone under — says more than an entire book on the subject might cover.
Socialism is a governmental economic system that denies God; without God, there is no justice and no moral code whatsoever. Thus, socialism assumes that government is the world’s supreme power. The idea that government is “it” implies a dark, dark reality in Communist countries: there are no rights except what the state allows. In this world, justice is not absolute, it is what the Communist state says right and wrong is. It surely seems that the socialist state is a faraway occurrence; yet socialism is a creeping vine that quickly overtakes even a healthy republic. It is true that Jesus ordered believers to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but He likewise ordered believers to worship Him and Him alone. When government considers itself God, continuing to support that government may be tantamount to worshipping at another altar.
The principles of the blasphemous governing power of socialism are poorly disguised in the modern Democrat Party; in fact, the press releases of the Communist Party and the Democrat Party are difficult to differentiate. Government without God is closer than previously realized. It is offered by the same down-home political party that offers social welfare programs, aid to the poor, and a crackdown on those greedy capitalists – all of which at first glance seem like Christian goals.
The next time that you mutter under your breath that prices are too high and people are poor thanks to those selfish souls like Bedloe and Potter, perhaps you should remind yourself that the only alternative is more of the same thing that is driving prices up already: interventionist government. Bedloe may be a tree-worshipping cult member and Potter may be an atheist; but never fear, the the free market is here. (In a way.) Just don’t shop from them. You should, however, be concerned when these greedy, miserly villains become the brainpower behind your government.