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January 19, 2016

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The Capital Gains Tax, which is a tax on profits, actually penalizes a person for success the more profit you make the more you have to pay (i.e., the more profit a person makes the higher tax rate they pay on that profit/windfall from an investment). However, In the Bible, the more profit you make the more you are rewarded. Both the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and the parable of the minas (Luke 19:12-27) conflict with the notion of a tax on capital gains. “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” In other words, the Bible implies that those who do well (invest) with what they have will be given more.

*bites tongue*

Ligonier Ministries has produced a twelve-part video/lecture series called "Economics for Everybody," with R. C. Sproul Jr. as the instructor. I'm five lessons into the series; it's very well done.

The phrasing and choice of these questions strongly suggest an American conservative interpretation of scripture. Thank God the Bible is neither American, nor conservative. To take a crack at some responses:

The Imago Dei confers inherent value and worth on all human beings. We also have spiritual and mental capacities that distinguish us from animals and reflect our creative potential.

Any human endeavor will be rife with errors, corruption, problems and difficulties given our fallen nature. Any economic system has its benefits and drawbacks because we are ultimately dealing with scare resources, and fallen beings prone to what the Bible says is sin and corruption. Economic systems are typically designed with ideal conditions and practices in mind. Whether free-markets or communism or socialism or any mix, they generally assume rational actors operating more or less towards desirable individual and group ends. The question seems to hint that free-markets are the best to "hold human nature in check and create accountability". Free markets are always propped up by laws, regulations, etc... to prevent their chaotic collapse. Socialism arguably accounts for human nature and accountability by ensuring that access to basic necessities such as health care, education and legal rights are ensured. Free markets leave all the aforementioned up to you and your earning potential. If you are a poor kid, oh well you're screwed and the free market system is ok with that. Which one do you think is more biblical?

God is primarily responsible for taking care of us. Then we are to be responsible for taking care of ourselves and our families. When we fail at that, the Bible asks that we step in to help out the poor, the oppressed, visit the sick, take care of the prisoners and help people. Notice how in the New Testament church (Acts 4:34 or the whole chapter) how people were taken care of. Of course, the optimal goal is to help people in such a way that they no longer need the help. It seems we don't mind in this country bailing out the rich every 20 to 30 years when they crash the economy. Why not help the poor - like Jesus said we should?

If, and I could be wrong, the question is suggesting that social justice issues are somehow peripheral to the cross of Christ, I would strongly suggest reading what Jesus himself said. In Mark 12:29-31 Jesus said we should love God will all of our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus said when we mistreat the poor, imprisoned or sick we mistreat him and that the prostitutes and reviled go in before the outwardly pious. So, when someone is imprisoned for 20 years for a crime they did not commit, do we really think that has nothing to do with the cross of Christ. Jesus said that by our love they will know we are his disciples. Is it love to watch a police officer brutally kill someone and then lie about it. Is it love to watch a mother lose 4 of her children to gang violence and then just look down on her? Is it love to watch people raped in prison and powerless to stop it? Is that loving our neighbor as ourselves. To present "social justice issues or the cross of Christ" is a false dichotomy.

Read Rev. Dr. King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail. In it he identifies a church so hopelessly decoupled from reality that morphs into a useless social club while the world moves on. I think when the church (in America) becomes a handmaiden of American conservative ideology, it ironically accelerates its own irrelevance. Thank God the Bible represents what Jesus is about.

Finally, good questions and thanks for the opportunity to respond :-)

This is an institution, you know. It belongs to is in the State of California and is run by politics.

Thank God the Bible is neither American, nor conservative.

When you read something like this, always know there is a political ax to grind. You know it’s coming.

And here it is:

If you are a poor kid, oh well you're screwed and the free market system is ok with that

If, on the other hand, you think the Bible teaches socialism, like Martin, then lucky you. It means you care about poor people and you get to pat yourself on the back for being compassionate. It doesn't matter what you do personally. Sure, being compassionate personally is always good. It's just more important that you believe it and vote for politicians that believe it just as you do.


Again we worship at the altar of capitalism and sing its praises without carefully thinking through the details that are historically grounded in the ancient Christian church. Is capitalism what really brought about the good that we can point to in the western civilization or is it something much more fundamental that happens to have been incorporated into the system of cleptocracy? In modern capitalism we see an element of charitocracy that was infused into their socioeconomic system, the remnants of which we see even today as the church has retained a small portion of that charitocratic system and continues in charitable work around the world. There is not a single Christian that will not have an impulse to get involved in charitable work of one form of another…be it an outreach to the lost or to the hungry and the needy. It is embodied in the system in which that which one owns is shared and considered as property that all have in common, but unlike the communist socioeconomic model, it does not do away with private ownership. Yes, I know that one can argue that this system was not proscribed, but only described as one that the early church adopted for a time. It could be argued that charitocracy was not proscribed, because it is such an obvious part of the Christian experience that only someone severely impaired would miss the fact that this is the best socioeconomic system and would produce the very best results for the people on this blue globe we call earth, it was that obvious even to the ancient people. It is also that obvious to today’s people and the fact that Christians everywhere engage in charitable work. That they do, speaks to the truth of my assertion. Every single good that is described by the OP here, can be traced to the fact that the threads of charitocracy run through the fabric of the modern day capitalism. Pull those threads out of the modern notion of capitalism and what you have left is a single thread type in the fabric and that is….cleptocracy. It is only the infusion of charitocracy that the first century church practiced that breeds the success that modern version of capitalism has attained. Take away every trace of charitocracy and you will have nothing behind but moral and economic ruin. There has been a segment of society that has in fact been ripping away those threads of charitocracy and we know them as liberals and our objections will never gain any traction against their views without having a clear understanding of just where the socioeconomic model that those closest to our savior Jesus when he walked the earth understood was the very best and we as Christians on a certain level also understand to be the best. Without the element of charitocracy in our socioeconomic system, God would, by his nature of goodness, have to turn his face away from and thus not offer the “blessings of liberty” that he has bestowed upon this nation. It is not because of capitalism, which when stripped of its cloak of charitocracy is exposed in its nakedness as nothing more than cleptocracy, but because we have retained the foundation of charitocracy within our socioeconomic model. It is those who seek to do the good of God’s will with their worldly goods that God rewards and that is not something that pure capitalism will produce, but charitocracy that flows from our gratitude for what God did for us on the cross. To give credit to the capitalism for the success of capitalism and its contribution of the world is to miss the point of what is really responsible for its success and contribution to the world. It is only because it has been infused with the poison of charitocracy that has paralyzed the true cleptocratic nature of capitalism that made it possible for some aspects of capitalism to be put to use for the promotion of the good and the spread of the gospel in the world. It is only because capitalism is not always in the driver seat of the socioeconomic model that much good has been accomplished…but don’t be fooled…it is not capitalism that has accomplished it for without charitocracy…capitalism would be the vilest and most evil socioeconomic system that this world has ever seen and God’s purpose would be thwarted. It is like divorce that God allowed…it is not the best for mankind, but capitalism has been allowed because of our sin and he has used its evils and has, fortunately for us, hijacked it to accomplish the good. But never be fooled. Capitalism is not God’s best for us…it is just something that he allows for a time and that time will come to an end, if not before, when we leave this life and join our savior and shed the evils of this world…among them CAPITALISM.
I know that this topic is not a central to Christianity and it should not be, but I was not the one that brought up the socioeconomic topic here and thought that the record should be set straight for those of you who continue in the illusion that it is capitalism as a socioeconomic system that is responsible for the good that the world is enjoying today. May it never be so, for it is the Grace of God and only that, that can be credited for the good we see being accomplished around us…and that in spite of capitalism, not because of it.

Having said that, I now apologize for circumventing your security systems as it was the only way to post my message as I have been banned for my socioeconomic views by an organization that claims to be dedicated to a reasonable conversation about issues that matter most and one that claims not to embrace the novel, but sticks to the traditions of the church fathers…but it seems to me that embracing cleptocracy, which is what capitalism fundamentally is and it is contrary to that charitocracy (it is true charity that rallies people to engage in industry to better their lot) that seeks to expand opportunities and provide new technology that is turned into industry and thus improve the lot of the people of all stripe, is not something that was the tradition of the church fathers. God forbid that we should ascribe cleptocracy as the ideal that the early church fathers embraced as their socioecomonic model and the fact that they distanced themselves from this by adopting the idea that when it comes to private property they chose to have all things in common they demonstrated a clear understanding of the fact that they did not wish to be associated with the evil corruption that is capitalism. I think that the mistake that is being made is the fact that there are two things we talk about when we speak of modern notion of capitalism…we are not talking about pure unadulterated capitslism, but a marriage of capitalism and charitocracy and the charitocracy is its better half. When we make decision on where to practice our charity, we should be reminded that charity begins at home and that is counter to today’s capitalistic ideal of getting the most bang for your buck and thus go abroad where it costs less to reach more people. We should be more interested in the quality of our charitable work, not the quantity. There is a reason why we should not focus on the numbers…for it is God that gives the increase…does he not? Should we not leave the numbers to God and concern ourselves with the quality instead? Has not the quality issue been settled in the instance of the contribution of him who has little vs. the contribution of one who has much in the bible already? The quality is not determined by the numbers, but the attitude of the heart, and it is the quality that god uses to increase the numbers, not quantity. This has been shown over and over again…for it is the prayers of a righteous man(quality) that availeth much. My prayer for you this year is that the scales be removed from your eyes and that you may see the true role of charitocracy in the Cambrian explosion of the first century church. God gave great increase because the right model was being used and the wrong model is producing for us the kinds of problems we see today. Compare the ancient and the modern and see which of the two work better.


It saddens me to have to point out these things to an organization that has arguably done much good for the cause of Christ. I prayerfully hope that you will consider some of the things that I have said here and see that not all that glitters is gold. Or as my father who was a political prisoner in former Jugoslavia explained his reason for imprisonment…I was sanctioned for calling bagels…bread(as near as I can translate it). When it comes to STR organization, I seem to be following in my father’s footsteps and STR is following in the footsteps of the Socialist Republic of Jugoslavia in its treatment of my views. Is that what you seek to become? Not according to your words, but is it the case according to your behavior that can speak louder than words? You will have to make a decision on that as an organization…or you can ignore the issue. I shall leave it in the hands of God. In this matter as in all others, may his will be accomplished.

@KWM thanks for your comments. I did not say, nor do I believe, that the Bible teaches socialism. My point is that to suggest that the free market system is somehow more closely aligned with what the Bible teaches is just plain American conservative philosophy and is not grounded in any significant way with what the Bible teaches. The Bible is also certainly not liberal. God does have expectations for our personal behavior, personal righteous living and moral standards for us to live by. God is holy and wants us to be holy as well. So, what you do personally does matter since that is a reflection of who you truly are, and thus indicative of your characters. Given the immense importance personal action, we are to turn our hearts over to a loving God and seek to do his will.

It’s most certainly not about patting one’s self on the back. It’s about doing for other out of the love that Christ asked us to show each other. We are to love each other as Christ loved us. This is how the Bible says we are to treat each other.

I like your idea about who to vote for. Quite honestly, I can’t say for sure who God would have us vote for. The best I can do is read all of the scripture, look at the person of Jesus Christ, and vote for the individual that I believe is most aligned with my values as a Christian, based on the Bible. As a Bible-believing, generally conservative Christian, I rarely and almost never support American conservative candidates due to the policies they often advocate – low taxes on the rich, favors to big business, disregard for the downtrodden, frequent disrespectful and antagonizing speech, subtle appeals to all types of “isms”, and moral intransigence.

I have seen American conservatives who are honest, fair, deep thinkers with great ideas. Though I still disagree with such, I would still respect them and even vote for them on rare occasions. American liberal candidates worry me as well. I believe society needs moral stability founded on what the scriptures teach. I find American liberal candidates to subscribe to what I often find to be hedonistic values and untenable financial solutions. I admire their care and concern for the poor, but moral and structural standards must remain. Truthfully, I am weary of both conservative and liberal parties.
Now, I pray, and consider each candidate carefully, then make a decision based on issues that I think are critical – education, health care, defending the poor and unborn, civility, police brutality, fairness, benefiting from science, and willingness to work with people who disagree with you.

Martin,

Thank you for your response. You wrote:

As a Bible-believing, generally conservative Christian, I rarely and almost never support American conservative candidates due to the policies they often advocate - …..disregard for the downtrodden….

Your response reinforces the reasons for my first comment. You, and many others, have this notion that American liberals (your term), by default, care more about the poor. You even go so far as to say others actually disregard them. You wrote:

I admire their care and concern for the poor

Why do you think American liberals, by definition, care more about the poor? You provide no real reasons or evidence of why, you just assert that it’s so. That was my point about, “just believing”.

Compare charitable giving between Mitt Romney and Joe Biden for example. Mitt Romney gave 30%, Joe Biden gave 1.5%. I bet you think Mitt Romney couldn’t care less for the poor ("disregard") and that Joe Biden cares a ton. Many thought and think so.

I’ll be the first to say that questioning another’s person’s charity is pretty unseemly, but that’s exactly what you’re doing based on one’s political beliefs. You seem to draw one’s care and concern for the poor based on one’s view of how much the government ought to take from citizens in taxes and distribute to others.

This is just wrong-headed.

P.S. Arthur Brooks' Who Really Cares would be a good book to disabuse you of these beliefs.

@ KWM thanks for your response. I am enjoying our dialogue.

Indeed you are right to ask for evidence and reasons by which I conclude that liberals care more for the poor, and that conservatives disregard the poor. I will offer these in detail over the coming days. Since I am at work now it will take me a few days. Nonetheless, daily we are provided with examples that suggest the conclusion, and that is ultimately backed up by the pieces of legislation that individuals and groups support, and by the causes they support.

I find it reasonable that I can infer an individual’s or group’s dispositions and ideologies by the legislation and causes they support. So, for example, one can reasonably infer that the Democratic party supports abortion legality given the bills the put forth. One can reasonably infer that Republicans and conservatives are generally – though not exclusively – opposed to abortion given the bills and causes they support. Notice that I am purposely excluding statements and rhetoric since I tend to believe actions say much more than verbal proclamations. Indeed, the parable Jesus gave about the 2 sons – one who said he would but did not, and the one who said he wouldn’t but did – seem to suggest that actions speak volumes more than mere proclamations.

As a primer, lets simply take the following recent examples.
Flint Water Crisis: Much of the outcry has been led by liberals (http://news.yahoo.com/faint-gop-interest-in-flints-pain-is-a-mistake-031425271.html?nf=1) with conservatives only beginning to take note. If you can show me how conservatives have been merely just as vocal in their care and concern for the citizens as liberals have been, then please show me.

Police Brutality: Conservatives – with the notable exceptions of Rand Paul and Russell Moore – have been virtually unanimous in their thundering silence on the issue; even when cases of police brutality are crystal clear such as in Cincinnati and the rapist police officer in Oklahoma that was just sentenced to over 200 years. Of course the violence between citizens must also be addressed. Yet, I don’t see significant or substantial bills or policies to specifically address these matters being offered or discussed extensively by conservatives. There are exceptions such as Newt Gingrich and for a fleeting moment in time speaker Paul Ryan had some ideas. However, quite regularly President Obama and liberals at least verbally address the issue. This is not to say that liberal solutions (or verbal commitments) are ideal. The home must be fixed, the family must be restored, and personal responsibility must be an essential part of any solution. However, as an individual that has witnessed discriminatory police action, these other issues must also be addressed.

Criminal Justice: Regularly now the Innocence Project and other similar groups are helping to exonerate the wrongly convicted. Given that Jesus and scripture incessantly talk about injustice, one would think that conservatives would be leading the charge to expand such work. Imagine God’s anger at people languishing for crimes they did not commit due to lies, injustice and their own poverty. As someone said, if you are rich and guilty, you can be better off than someone who is poor and innocent. Imagine if the church was leading the way on such efforts to exonerate people. Democrats and liberals push the issue of prison reform regularly and have been doing it for decades. Conservatives have recently started to adopt the mantle of criminal justice reform driven by budgetary costs and, finally, morality.

Finally, I remember in Georgia when a group of high school kids in the southern part of the state sought the (conservative, good Christian) governor's support for an integrated prom. Governor Nathan Deal, and much of the conservative legislature, offered nothing but carefully crafted statements designed not to offend anyone but hoped that they find a long term solution. What an astounding lack of moral leadership, a failure of Christian duty and a disregard for the Biblical concept that we are all children of God. The segregated prom is a holdover from the high days of Jim Crow. The conservative legislature and the governor stood in silence.

These are but a few examples. As I have said, I am not liberal, in fact my beliefs on issues such as human sexuality and abortion mirror conservative values. I attend church regularly. However, the facts are what they are when it comes to policies and advocacy. If there is evidence to the contrary for what I state, please share it. I look forward to learning.

As I said, I will find detailed information on legislative actions, policies and causes. I look forward to your response.

@KWM, I also forgot to address one point you made.

You stated:

"You seem to draw one’s care and concern for the poor based on one’s view of how much the government ought to take from citizens in taxes and distribute to others."

Tax policy is one way in which the government and legislatures express their priorities. What I find amazing is that the same big banks and financial institutions that ferociously resist regulations, crash the economy, wipe out the people's savings, then come back to us the people and demand that we bail them out. This is wrong. If you want the people to bail you out, then the people should have a say via regulations in how you conduct business in a way that reduces the risk to the economy. What's wrong with that?

Are taxes the sole solution? No. No way. We can't tax our way back to where we need to be as a country. However, the tax rates on the wealthy should not be plummeting while the tax rate of the average person stays the same. I think everyone should enjoy the reduction in tax rates. George Bushes tax cuts strongly favored the wealthy. Why not do across the board tax cuts instead of creating tax cuts on activities that largely the rich engage in. Wouldn't it be more fair to cut taxes equally for everyone?

Finally, note that the issues I mentioned in my earlier posts have little to do with taxes or money being redirected as the main or only solution. Money alone cannot restore families, bring fathers home or build morally healthy communities. The government cannot come in and turn off the video games, feed the child, and help the child study. Personal and family values have a strong part to play.

I think it's good that many conservatives donate to charity in large amounts.

Matt Latimer, conservative, on the Flint Issue: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/opinion/republicans-ignore-a-poisoned-city.html?partner=IFTTT&_r=2

Martin,

Let’s stick to the OP and economics if you're good with it.

I asked for evidence and reasons for your slander of conservatives and admiration of liberals as it related to caring for the poor. You wrote:

daily we are provided with examples that suggest the conclusion, and that is ultimately backed up by the pieces of legislation

But this is not evidence. We have three comments in a row from you now that totally reinforce my point. That it's all about beliefs. Legislation is basically just holding and putting forth a view (and voting). In fact, I could’ve written the same thing, because, in fact, I believe that conservative economic principals and legislation are better for the poor. You're just offering up circular reasoning:

Liberal: Liberals care more about the poor! Conservatives don’t even care!

Conservative: Why do you say that?

Liberal: Because look at the legislation liberals put forward. It’s obvious!

Conservative: How do you know that particular legislation is good for the poor? Do you have evidence?

Liberal: Of course it’s good for the poor! They’re liberal policies!

An additional point:

Almost always, when two people (especially Christians) are arguing about politics, it comes down to the rights of the unborn. It’s almost always the sticking point. The elephant in the room. The wedge. The decider. Etc.

If there is agreement on abortion, it always comes down to this:

One person will say that our culture of death is unacceptable. Over one million abortions per year. That we must do everything to curtail and stop this violence.

The other person will say, “Yeah, I believe all that – BUT…police brutality, Wall Street, the environment, … I can stomach all the blood, suction curettage, dismemberment, and my pro-abortion politicians if they clean up the water, Wall Street and increase the minimum wage.”

It almost always comes down to this. Almost always.

"It almost always comes down to this. Almost always."
And quite telling how this falls out.

Capitalism in the American experiment was never meant to be without moral reins tightly fastened. What we moderns know of Capitalism as most often experienced is unrestrained immoral capitalism. The version we experience has long ago been unleashed by the progressive/liberal political element...those who supposedly care more. This corporate mindset that runs the world economic system is a product of liberals/progressives, not conservative/constitutionalists.

Economic policy for a hundred years has been in the hands of liberals/progressives...no matter who is majority in House/Senate or who sits in the Oval office. In this present economic "money as debt" system, where the sovereign nature of the people, enumerated by the US Constitution has been stripped away, the people are chattel property to the corporation called the USA.

I have a question for the liberals among us, Christian or not. How can I or anyone, truly be charitable when in truth, I dont truly own anything to give?

We play make believe in someone else's back yard that we are at home and free...only as long as they allow it...hardly anyone knows that this is true.

@KWM

Thanks again for your insights.


I have several thoughts.


I will agree to stick to the OP, and economics. I do think the other issues are important, but for the purpose of this discussion I will constrain myself to such.


Legislation is vastly more than “holding and putting forth a view (and voting)”. Legislation refers to the actual laws that are passed. These laws are powerful in that they direct or constrain government activity, and establish the framework for society to function. (Of course from an ontological perspective they are a shared abstraction that we all subscribe to and generally agree to live by.) So, for example, the government is not permitted to set prices for products, put caps on income, or dictate what type of business (e.g. computer, trucking, etc…) I can start. Legislation also outlines our rights, responsibilities and limitations. As such, legislation has a powerful impact on our lives. We are not banned from having churches, starting a video game company, or even having this discussion being critical of the government. Consider, for example, the impact of legislation such as Title 9 on women’s collegiate and professional sports, federal financial aid, and even the GI Bill. The GI Bill had a major, positive impact on the country. So, given the fact that legislation has a powerful impact on the country, is by definition alone not merely “holding and putting forth a view (and voting)”, and affects all of our lives, I maintain that it is a good indicator of where people stand. I can’t say that I am pro life, but then turn around and fund Planned Parenthood through legislation and, if questioned, retort that “well the only thing I did was ‘hold and put forth a view and voted’, that legislation doesn’t say anything about what I really believe or do.” So, I maintain that I am right to look at legislation as a key indicator of one’s care for the poor.


Another point to consider is that the standard I use to determine when determining whether legislation is helping the poor economically. I used the Bible. Texts like the following inform my thinking: Isaiah 58: 6 -12 (help those in distress), Habakkuk 1:2-4 (favoritism and inequality), Proverbs 24:30-34 (people should not be lazy), Matthew 25:31 – 46 (what we do to the dregs of society – the compassion and care, we are doing unto Christ), Luke 10:25 – 37 (the all too familiar thing of doing nothing to help people), Acts 4:32 – 37 (one form of love in action). So, from those, and other texts, I gather that we are to help people reach independence. This does not mean we just throw money at the problem or that the solution is all that expensive. However the Bible does provide us with numerous examples of how to help people. I once heard Newt Gingrich talk about creating opportunities for children in poor neighborhoods to work some jobs at their schools and eventually grow to own companies. He also stated that they often have no model of what it means to work and be productive. I thought that was a good idea. It doesn’t matter that it is conservative. It is consistent with what the Bible teaches about the importance of hard work, plus it reflects one for of love and helping people – especially the children – in distress.


I also do agree that some conservative principles and legislation are better for the poor. The conservative idea of self-reliance and personal responsibility is awesome because, I think, if someone learns how to be productive for themselves and their community; they don’t need help and the entire society benefits. We cannot simply continue to coddle people and make them more dependent on government largess. This dependency is, as former president George W. Bush said, really the “soft bigotry of low expectations”.


Please give me an example of conservative legislations or economic principles that are better for the poor. Do you think that the Bible is good guide to how we can approach caring for the poor either through the church or via legislation? Why?


So the conversation you modeled should actually be like this:


Me: It seems to me that liberals care more for the poor, and conservatives do not care. (Notice the absence of an exclamation point. ;-) Also, I am not liberal so I just used “Me.”)


Conservative: Why do you say that?


Me: Because look at the legislation that both liberals and conservatives put forth. Compare the two and it seems obvious.


Conservatives: How do you know that particular legislation is good for the poor? Do you have evidence?


Me: I look at the components of the legislation and, thus, what the policies or resource allocations will actually do. Then I compare that to what we generally know about what’s good for the poor, and Biblical principles about caring for the poor and helping people become self-sufficient.


You have an awesome point on the dilemma of supporting pro-abortion politicians. I don’t have a full answer for that. However, some initial thoughts are that all life is sacred according to God. So sacred, that Christ died for all of us, while we were yet sinners. God did this because he loves us. All humans have inherent value to God. The loss of human life at any stage due to injustice, poverty, violence, abortion, war, etc… is an affront to God. So important, that Jesus said our treatment of others is really how we treat him and, if not according to God’s standard, can put the prostitutes ahead of us in the kingdom. I can stomach neither the horrors of abortion, nor the horrors of poverty. I grew up poor, eventually attained a PhD. Being poor is, as one writer describes it, “a chill that never leaves the bones”. Violence, poor health access, dilapidated schools, destroyed families, etc… are not at all a good place to be. When you personally see lives crushed by corruption, poverty and violence, it gives you an appreciation for the depths of human suffering. I don’t pretend to know an answer about who to support. I am pro-life from conception to natural death. All Lives Matter.


One argues, rightfully for the life of the unborn, yet is generally silent to issues of poverty (unless you can show me otherwise). The other advocates that women choose to kill babies, while they are in word and deed deeply concerned about humans who have been already born. I must confess that I often don’t know what to do.


Who do you think we, as Christians, should support and why?

@Brad B I will address your comments later this evening. Thanks for the thoughts.

Martin, did you know that raising the minimum wage hurts the poor and disadvantaged? It shuts out lower-skilled people from jobs (in fact, it was created by progressives long ago to accomplish exactly this, and it still accomplishes this), it causes people to lose jobs, and it puts businesses out of business. (Here's just one video that explains more, and see what's happening in Seattle. See more articles on this here.) This is one example of how liberal policies hurt the poor—how their intention to help actually hurts, and there are many others, as well.

The worldview of the left is based on a false view of human nature—that is, that we are endlessly malleable and we can create whatever kind of society we can conceive. At root, it's a materialist view of the human person. As a result, there is a lot of control and social engineering that goes on, with an accompanying loss of liberty and harming of basic, pre-political institutions like the family (which contributes greatly to poverty). There's also a utopian belief that we can perfect things through legislation—which means the unintended bad consequences of the legislation are not considered (for example, in the case of minimum wage).

The conservative view of the government helping the poor consists in strengthening the family and mediating institutions (that serve people individually and locally), protecting property rights and negative, natural rights, shrinking government so that people are free to create thriving businesses, etc. etc. A smaller government is less subject to the control of powerful people and/or businesses. Why? Because if the government isn't punishing and rewarding business through heavy legislation, one business can't lobby the government to punish its competitors. Crony capitalism is only possible as the size of the government increases. (See Bastiat's The Law.)

The larger and more intrusive the government is, the more opportunities it has to abuse its citizens. The greatest atrocities of the last century were all committed by big governments.

If you care about making people self-sufficient, the government is not the best way to do this. Think about it: If a party gains strength, power, government jobs, etc. by creating programs for people to depend on, it will never be in that party's interests to get people off of those programs to be self-sufficient. Power like that does not want to give up its power. It's in its interest to get more and more people dependent on them, voting for them, etc.

Prosperity and the shrinking of poverty is directly related the the freedom of the market—that is, the freedom of people to make win-win transactions with each other without being forced to enter into transactions they don't want to enter into.

I honestly can't even scratch the surface of all the reasons why a limited government that respects natural rights is far, far better at bringing people out of poverty and creating a healthy society. Economics is one of my most favorite topics because it's all about human nature and human decisions. Done right, it upholds human dignity. Done wrong, it tears apart society and leads to tyranny. (By the way, if you want to see what leftist ideas lead to, look at what's happening in universities today. Universities are dominated by leftist thought, and they've become places that shun the liberty of their students, force compliance, trample on natural institutions, and shut out all dissent. I hear a new story about this nearly every day. It's not a pretty sight.)

What conservative policies help the poor? Take a look at this post: How to Alleviate Poverty, which includes (along with a summary) a lecture that wouldn't take you too long to listen to. I wish I had more time to track down good articles that argue more evidence, but I'm out of time!

If you want to hear more about how conservative policies are better for the poor, I highly recommend you start by reading Money, Greed, and God (linked in the post above). You might also try Wayne Grudem's Politics According to the Bible. Check out Acton and Poverty Cure. Brett has supplied a list of many more resources, as well.

@Amy,

Thanks for your comments. I will review the links and materials and respond after doing so.

Martin,

Legislation is vastly more than “holding and putting forth a view (and voting)”. Legislation refers to the actual laws that are passed. These laws are powerful in that they direct or constrain government activity, and establish the framework for society to function.

Legislation also outlines our rights, responsibilities and limitations. As such, legislation has a powerful impact on our lives.

You misunderstand me. I didn’t say legislation isn’t important. I just said that it doesn’t tell us as much about the politicians as you think it does because it says absolutely nothing about how one behaves personally.

Let me give you an example. Senator Smith can vote on legislation that he disagrees with because it’s politically expedient just as Senator Smith can vote on legislation that he believes in. Another example is that a Senator Biden can vote to distribute other people’s money in large amounts, while keeping a tight grip on his own wallet when it comes to charitable giving.

Senator Smith and Senator Biden are politicians, of course.

Why do I bring this up? Because you’re assigning motives and beliefs to others (on both sides) with your assessment of legislation. This is much more common on the left. It goes like this:

"Increasing the minimum wage is good for poor people, so if you’re against increasing the minimum wage, then it’s obvious you have “disregard” for the poor." To say nothing of the ramifications of such laws or increases, it says nothing about how one behaves personally. But there you have it – the assigning of bad motives.

That brings me full circle back around to this:

If you are a poor kid, oh well you're screwed and the free market system is ok with that

Economic structures cannot exhibit human emotion. People exhibit human emotion. So who are you referring to that doesn’t care about poor kids? I’m 100% for the free market system. Are you referring to people like me?

Please give me an example of conservative legislations or economic principles that are better for the poor.
.

Right to work laws.

Martin,

Who do you think we, as Christians, should support and why?

While I’m a conservative (classically liberal), and believe the totality of conservative views, principles, and legislation are vastly superior to “liberal” or “progressive” ones (for all people) – when it comes to the rights of the unborn, there should be no room for debate among Christians. They must stand up for life like they stood up against slavery.

A wise man said, “Every person has but one tank of indignation. How do you spend yours?”

One argues, rightfully for the life of the unborn, yet is generally silent to issues of poverty (unless you can show me otherwise).
I don’t mean to offend you, but this is crazy. Do you understand what the Christian community has done for the poor over the last, say, 43 years? (Roe v. Wade 1973). The Christian community has been front and center fighting for the rights of the unborn and helping the poor. Silent on poverty?!

The reason why you even think such a thing is because of everything that I’ve addressed up to now. You just can’t seem to understand that not being in favor of liberal legislation doesn’t mean you don’t care for the poor. It does not compute for you. You and many more unfortunately. It's wrong.

You need to unlearn this.

Good points all. I will be responding this evening or tomorrow. The conservative deep down inside me realizes that I if I don't work, I won't eat. LOL!

Martin,

After rereading some parts of my comments, they come across as snarky. I apologize and appreciate the back and forth.

Thanks

Greetings. Work kept me busy. I hope we can continue this discussion. Let me know.

Also, KWM I understand. I have no problem. I too appreciate the discussion since it has helped me to confront some of my unfounded assumptions, explore my own ideas, and see additional concepts that I like.

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