Archive for October, 2008

God’s Economic System

I would not claim to wholly comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of various economic systems (though it would be interesting to evaluate which systems have had the most longevity and whether free-market capitalism [or whatever system it is we currently operate under–Keynesian inflationism, interventionism, corporatism as Ron Paul says] has had a long enough run to truly demonstrate it’s impact upon a world economy)…but on an intuitive level, I have a serious mistrust for anyone who says THEIR system is the best, which probably means more that they like the effect it has on THEM and reflects the way that they view what OTHERS should have to do as well, whether they like it or not.

It is because of our inherent selfishness that I think we need to see what scripture has to say from an objective standpoint (although, of course, one could argue about interpretive principles, isogesis, etc.).  Does scripture affirm the “conservative” economic philosophy?  If God were to give instructions on what an economy should look like, which system would HE choose?

I am actually proposing this as a question, not merely as a set-up to make my own point.  Are there books which work toward some sort of answer to this question?  I’d be willing to read something which took up this question, even though I am loathe to spend my time reading something practical and actual when I could spend my limited reading hours in something beautiful and fictional.

My own limited, unresearched and unreflected first thoughts on this question (is this not how blogs work?) go to Israel (“God created only one country in the history of the world: ancient Israel.  He did not create America.  The United States is not the new Israel.” –D. James Kennedy qtd. in Christianity Today, Nov. 2008).  What did the economic system that God outlined for Israel look like?

-Somewhere in the book of Leviticus we read about the Year of Jubilee…here’s one view on the economic implications of the Jubilee concept:  The Bible recognizes that inequalities will inevitably arise in “fallen” society—a realism it shares with the worldview of modern capitalism. Unlike the social Darwinism of the latter, however, the biblical vision refuses to stipulate that injustice is therefore a permanent condition. Instead, God’s people are instructed to dismantle, on a regular basis, the fundamental patterns and structures of stratified wealth and power, so that there is “enough for everyone.”

-Also in Leviticus, we see the commandment of mandatory charity:  “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19.9-10).

These are two examples that come to mind of God’s economic system.  However, I realize that these were part of a theocratic government…which we no longer have.  So what do I make of God setting up these practices for the nation where he ruled:

A.  It was only intended for that time and that people and has no relevance to today.

B.  There are principles of thoughful charity we may derive therein, but we should not try to model an economic system after this example.

C.  If possible, we should intend to emulate the principles of this example in whatever economic system we promote as Christians in the world.


MARK ADDS: I would just point out that economics is not a zero sum game where things need to be broken down so there is “enough for everyone.”  Wealth is created and grows so in a capitalist society everyone can benefit, and not necessarily at the expense of the wealthy.  And as far as charity goes, I would like to hear about the controlled economies that contain more charitable individuals then those in free economies.

GREG ADDS:  Do you know of a good book that builds some of these arguments from scripture?  That’s kind of what I was looking for.  Not so much pragmatic observations, but rather biblical interpretation (ergo, calling this “God’s Economic System”.

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Fox News reported that 100 demonstrators protested Wednesday in front of Fannie Mae headquarters… no problem with that, their crooks.  But their “demands” that their loans be restructured along the lines of a InddyMac Bank in Pasadena, which the FDIC restructured to 3% interest for five years, is a bit disturbing.  So is that fact that IndyMac borrowers got that deal too.

Who wouldn’t want a 3% loan right now?  My wife and I would be first in line.  What I don’t understand is the low interest rate.  The word was always that this problem was caused by arm loan interest rates resetting to current rates.  But when were loans ever at 3% interest?  Were they… I can only find it historically as low as 4% (but my research could suck)?  If a bailout is necessary as the gov’t says, that why not freeze loan rates for these people, not lower them!

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Republicans too!

Since I rail so much about how Democrats would like to increase government and taxes, I must also acknowledge our outgoing administration’s love of spending and increasing government too.  True conservatism is not what you think of when you think of President Bush.

Bush's healthcare

You must visit CoxandForkum.com if you like editorial cartoons.  They unfortunately stopped producing last year, but their huge archive is readily available to view.  Plus they are apparently now making their line of books available to read online for free!

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Powerline has a post on how the L.A. Times is witholding video it has of Barack Obama speaking at a farewell party for former PLO spokesman and terrorist supporter Rashid Khalidi.  Very interesting… and certainly something that would never happen for McCain, or any conservative for that matter.

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The Swinging Pendulum

Had dinner tonight with Greg – wonderful meal by the way Michelle – and we started talking briefly about politics and Greg’s feeling that it may be good (or likely) for a country to sway away from conservatism and into the liberalism of the democratic party to help create a balance of ideas and power.

Correct me if I’m wrong Greg.

Either way, it made me think of Christianity, and a church body.  There could be correct doctrine (morality, values, discipline) or wrong doctrine (unrepentant sin, validating homosexuality) that could potentially be the ruling viewpoint.  Now if a church started to take the correct doctrine and misapply it, and pervert it by becoming legalistic, unforgiving, and graceless then the response would not be to swing over to wrong doctrine to correct it, but to rather swing back to correct doctrine correctly applied.  In the context of poltics, people have issues with conservative principles such as free markets, liberty, low taxes when they are misused and flaws are found, and people take advantage of them.  But the response seems clearly to try and get closer to the original principles and not to swing away from them into big government controlled economies.

There are certainly flaws with a truly capitalist culture but they are reversed, or corrected, much better by maintaining a free capitalist economy then by switching to controlled socialism.  Milton Friedman (one of my idols) explains this in extremely clear and persuasive terms, which I won’t try and repeat in full here.  I will though leave you with a great quote from ex-communist Willi Schlamm:

“The trouble with socialism is socialism.  The trouble with capitalism is capitalists.”

We may have problems with the system, but it is far and away the best system there is.

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Much has been made lately of Barack Obama’s economic policy as it becomes apparent that he would like to “spread the wealth around”, as he said in his famous answer to “Joe the Plumber” before his last debate with Senator McCain.  And now more recently a radio interview from 2001 has surfaced where Obama stated that one of the trajedies of the Civil Rights Movement was that it failed to accomplish the “redistribution of wealth” that was within that movement’s grasp.

I continue to find it amazing how socialism rears its head in contemporary American politics despite the lengthy and disturbing list of evidence against that particular view.  The Acton Institute has a video short entitled “How Not to Help the Poor”, that quickly discusses redistribution.  Most enlightening is the testimony of Robert Woodson, the president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, as he discusses the results of Washington, D.C.’s hugely funded programs for health and education and where the children of that city currently rank in comparison to less funded places such as Haiti!

I encourage you to check it out… there will certainly be more discussion about this topic in future postings.

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Welcome to Criticism As Inspiration, a new weblog begun by Mark Stump, Elijah Wade Smith, Peter Deeble and the pseudonymously titled “Sgt. Grumbles.”  We thank you for coming and visiting, and we hope you return often.

Please feel free to visit our about sections to learn more about this blog and it’s authors… but to quickly sum up, we are a few guys who wanted to have an outlet to discuss ideas that we have, and/or share news and info we find useful.

Thanks again for coming.

-The Writers

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