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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Patriotism???

The Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, said today that paying higher taxes would be patriotic for wealthier Americans.  He also said, "We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people."

Patriotism, according to Webster's dictionary, is "love of one's country; the passion  which aims to serve one's country, either in defending it from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions in vigor and purity."  Last I checked, the basic rights of Americans include things such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  A foundational right of Americans is equality for every person before the law.  How, then, can one justify taking from some that which is rightfully theirs?  Where is the equality before the law in that?  And now, men campaigning for the highest offices in our land are not only justifying it, but calling it patriotism.

This, my friends, is not patriotism; this is called socialism.

The dominant feature of capitalism is economic freedom.  It allows people to voluntarily decide what they want to buy, how much of it, what quality, etc.  It allows people to decide what they want to do with their own money.  In sharp contrast, socialism wants to do away with this basic individual freedom and replace it with an elite group (the government), who will then exercise increasing control over the market, attempting to equalize it as much as possible.

Why, though, is this so bad?  In short, because it doesn't work.  You see, people are basically selfish.  For many people, if they know they will end up with the same amount as their neighbor regardless of how hard they work, they simply will not work.  They have no incentive.

Author Robert Scheaffer says, "no intellectually honest person today can deny that the history of socialism is a sorry tale of economic failure and crimes against humanity...Socialism is simply 'envy' writ large, and elevated to a moral ideal.  It brands the most productive as criminals, and makes heroes of those who have difficulty achieving anything at all.  The full potential of the human race can never be liberated under such a warped ideal."

What this does not mean is that we should ignore the poor and leave them to suffer.  It just  means that socialism is not the best way to help anyone.  The goal should indeed be for everyone to prosper; the question is simply one of how best to achieve this.

In America we have adopted a welfare system, a method of redistribution of wealth, which is s tenet of socialism.  On the surface it sounds good.  Why would we oppose a system which helps those living in poverty?  For one, it is unjust--it makes people unequal before the law, taking from some to give to others.  But furthermore, it is a system that perpetuates poverty instead of remedying it.

We should indeed give generously to those in true need, those who are actually unable to work.  (And by "we" I mean individuals, churches, private organizations, etc.).  But it is in no way compassionate to remove all incentive for those who are capable of hard work.  Hard work, not a handout, is a lifeline for those living in poverty; it's an escape route to prosperity.

Wealth is not inherently evil.  Sometimes people become wealthy by oppression and exploitation, and that is evil.  But many people become wealthy by hard work, sacrifice, risk-taking, genius.  Most of the time, in this country, the wealthy inevitably prosper countless others by virtue of all the wealth they generate.  They create jobs and opportunities that would not otherwise exist.  They invest in other businesses, thereby generating even more wealth and economic growth.  But the government in effect removes from them this potential if they take from them this prosperity.  The government takes a few dollars and minimally provides for a family for a day, but if this money were left in the hands of those who were capable of creating it in the first place, it just may have created a job that would substantially provide for a family for a lifetime.

On the flip side, we can certainly not stand by and watch some prosper by corruption and exploitation.  Our system of government can only work for a moral people.  I recently heard a theologian say that capitalism is a stool with three necessary legs:  political freedom, economic freedom and moral restraint.  We are, to a large degree, losing the leg of moral restraint.  Consumers have lost restraint in their spending, and some banks and other large companies have lost restraint in their willingness to take advantage of those who don't know any better.  What do you think we can do about this?  While we must be vigilant about not seeing our political and economic freedom eroded by an increasingly gigantic government, we must also be vigilant to stand against economic immorality.


5 comments:

rossmiddleton said...

Yeah I too heard this quote last night. Amazing. I have two words for these guys. History book. When has this ever worked? Read a history book, communism does not work.

Dave Ramsey said something hilarious about this. He said, if these guys really have that much faith in the government than they are more than willing to pay more to the IRS. The IRS will take their money. If you really think that the government is that good a steward of your money and you would rather the government take care of the poor than a private organization or ministry, you can feel free to give it away to them.

These guys that are wanting to pull a Robin Hood need to wake up. Its unbelievable, take money from one group and give it to another. Its amazing that they can advertise socialism as a platform and people actually think its a good idea. How stupid is the American public?

portorikan said...

"Consumers have lost restraint in their spending, and some banks and other large companies have lost restraint in their willingness to take advantage of those who don't know any better. What do you think we can do about this? While we must be vigilant about not seeing our political and economic freedom eroded by an increasingly gigantic government, we must also be vigilant to stand against economic immorality."

Agreed. I think this goes back to what you said earlier regarding socialism, but still applies to capitalism as well: "You see, people are basically selfish."

There needs to be a some sort of control and balance to make sure that people aren't being discouraged from being innovative and working hard to produce income and wealth but also that those with the wealth do not take advantage of their employees or customers benefit themselves.

It's a nice thought to think that we, individuals, churches and private organizations would do something produce creative ways to benefit those less fortunate than us, but again, "You see, people are basically selfish."

Kacey said...

Portorikan,

In my opinion, there's not much government can effectively do to make people moral. It only works if people ARE moral--it can in no way produce morality. As John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."

That being the case, the church BETTER get it in gear...we don't have the option of being the people that are "basically selfish." True morality and unselfishness can only come from change on the inside of a person, and that is the realm of God and His church, not the government. It's not just a nice thought to think that we would benefit those less fortunate, it's our God-given responsibility.

portorikan said...

@Kacey - amen.

Mikhail Silverwood said...

I'm sorry, but I must disagree.

The very nature of capitalism drives people exploit people, to make as much money as possible.

I'm afraid capitalism doesn't work and never will.