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Popes Acknowledge Economic Fallibility & Independence of Economics

Posted by Tony Listi on November 1, 2012

The Catholic Church has always said that, though politics and economics should have moral goals, prudence is necessary to ensure those goals are actually met. The Church cannot infallibly demand certain economic-political policies be put in place.

The Church has always said there is a lawful diversity of opinion on economic-political matters:

“If I were to pronounce on any single matter of a prevailing economic problem, I should be interfering with the freedom of men to work out their own affairs. Certain cases must be solved in the domain of facts, case by case as they occur…. Men must realize in deeds those things, the principles of which have been placed beyond dispute….These things one must leave to the solution of time and experience.” -Pope Leo XIII

“It goes without saying that part of the responsibility of pastors is to give careful consideration to current events in order to discern the new requirements of evangelization. However, such an analysis is not meant to pass definitive judgments, since this does not fall per se within the Magisterium’s specific domain…. The Church has no models to present; models that are real and truly effective can only arise within the framework of different historical situations, through the efforts of all those who responsibly confront concrete problems in all their social, economic, political and cultural aspects, as these interact with one another. For such a task the Church offers her social teaching as an indispensable and ideal orientation….” -Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

“Indeed ‘the Church holds that it is unlawful for her to mix without cause in these temporal concerns;’ however, she can in no wise renounce the duty God entrusted to her to interpose her authority, not of course in matters of technique for which she is neither suitably equipped nor endowed by office….” -Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno

“[E]conomics and moral science employs each its own principles in its own sphere….” -Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno

Posted in Catholicism, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Religion and Theology, The Papacy, Welfare State, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Tragic Triumph of the Welfare State over the Church

Posted by Tony Listi on December 29, 2008

church1By Will Herberg

ALONG with this overwhelming impact of the technological spirit on our culture, and therefore on our religion, we must take account of the effects of the Welfare State, of our Welfare Society, on religious attitudes in this country. Through the past century, the welfare services that ordinarily support human life in society have more and more passed over to the modern State, operating as a huge, centralized, bureaucratic, omnicompetent welfare agency. This has come as the culmination of the relentless secularization of life in the past four hundred years. In earlier days, through antiquity and the middle ages, into the sixteenth century, most of the welfare services that sustain life—taking care of orphans, jobless, old people, sick and incapacitated —were regularly rendered by family and friends within the scope and function of the Church, which was thus bound to the people by a thou- sand threads of everyday welfare interest. For the Amish people, this is still a reality today. In April 1965, wind and flood did wide damage in the midwest and destroyed many an Amish community. Groups of Amish people from the outside came to help their brothers rebuild their communities and their lives. On a TV news broadcast, a commentator noted: These days, when people are in trouble, there is one direction in which they look—to the federal government in Washington. But the Amish people don’t look to the federal government in Washington for help. They look to each other in their church.

That’s how it still is with the Amish people, but that’s how it was once all over in Christendom. I bring this forward not to encourage us to try to restore conditions long gone—that is a human impossibility—but to illustrate the profound changes that have taken place in recent centuries in our relation to religion and the Church.

With the deep and thoroughgoing secularization of Western society, the hopes and expectations of the masses of people have steadily been turning from Church to State, from religion to politics. This is a fact that no one, whatever his opinion or ideology, can deny, or has, in fact, denied. Consider how far this has gone in our own mass society, and our American society is only beginning to take its first steps in the direction of the Welfare State ; if you want to see a Welfare State in its full development, look at Sweden. But already in our own society people have been so stripped of their human bonds in Church and community that they are driven to look to the State for the most ordinary human associations and services. The State has not only become Big Father and Big Brother. It is actually brought to the point of having to supply to the forlorn members of the “lonely crowd” a State-appointed Good Friend. For, what is the modern social worker but a State- appointed Good Friend to the friendless denizens of mass society?

The modern State, in fact, becomes a divinized Welfare-Bringer. In the ancient world, the Hellenistic monarchs, and later the Roman emperors, prided themselves on being Welfare-Bringers (Euergetes, Benefactor), passing on the gifts of the gods to their subjects. They depicted themselves on their coins—the primary vehicle of State propaganda in those days which were without journalistic mass media, radio, or TV—as divinized figures holding a cornucopia, a horn of plenty, from which everything good is shown flowing to the grateful people. This is the modern Welfare State ; even some of the ancient symbols are being revived in cartoons and pictures. The omnicompetent Welfare State thus becomes the modern substitute for God and the Church, “from whom all blessings flow.”

Seen in this perspective, it is not difficult to understand why the Church as a religious institution has become more and more marginal in the everyday life of the people. The broad scope of its interests has become drastically narrowed by the galloping secularization of life. What does the Church do, what can it do, when the State takes over everything and comes to engage our deepest loyalties and emotions? Our religious feelings and religious interests have been more and more diverted from the attenuating Church to the expanding State. Is it any wonder that people are losing their interest in religion? They identify themselves religiously, belong to churches, and attend religious services, but for very different reasons (I have discussed this elsewhere) than once bound them to religion and the Church.

http://www.mmisi.org/ir/06_01_02/herberg.pdf

Posted in American Culture, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Government and Politics, Health Care, Intellectual History, Liberalism, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Poverty, Social Security, Socialism, Welfare State | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Left’s Flirtation with the Middle Class

Posted by Tony Listi on December 27, 2008

Historically, the political Left has hated and despised the middle class, the hated bourgeoisie of Marxist thought. Yet in our times, the Left has realized (or rather re-realized) the political suicide of openly denigrating the “mushy middle.”

The Left has always hated the middle class because it has always represented and been the chief obstacle to its utopia, its unconstrained vision, its establishment of heaven on earth. Going back to at least Aristotle, observant political scholars have recognized the stability that a middle class brings to society. But the Left is not interested in stability, far from it. The Left is interested in revolution, in transformation, in the creation of the New Man; in a word: Change, the very opposite of stability. Moreover, the middle class tends to be less vulnerable to demagogic appeals to irrational class envy or self-hatred. In general, the middle class has also been the guardian of traditional religion and morality from generation to generation.  From every angle, the Left has had every reason to attack the middle class.

However, it has been said that the first rule of politics in democratic or semi-democratic nations is to add and multiply, not subtract and divide. Of course, from a practical, electoral perspective, political leaders, if they are to stand for anything at all, can’t help but divide the public with their rhetoric and policy positions. No, it is not a question of whether a politician will divide the country but how and to what extent he will divide it.

And if the middle class (admittedly a nebulous term) represents a majority, if not a super-majority (as it almost always has in America), then any political movement cannot afford to alienate this class–if it cares anything for practical, electoral success, i.e. power.

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and the Democratic Party have (re-)learned this lesson well. They campaigned as champions of the middle class, with the unending mantra of promising tax breaks for the lower and middle classes rather than the wealthy (Tax breaks for those who pay relatively little to no taxes?). This stance may work well politically under the current unfavorable economic conditions, just as FDR was successful in pushing his socialist-fascist policy agenda during the Great Depression. But as a matter of economic policy, it is unsustainable and not in the public interest. Conservatives and Republicans must powerfully communicate and demonstrate this truth the the American people.

When the American middle class re-awakens to this harsh reality, it will turn on the leftists, just as it did on Jimmy Carter. After that, it will only be  a matter of time before the Left’s natural hatred of the middle class re-emerges. The Left’s only hope is to weaken, corrupt,  or destroy the middle class before it re-awakens, or to patiently wear it down over time and enjoy the fruits at a later time. We conservatives must work to win over the middle class (or more of it) again. We must illustrate the economic harm that the Left is inflicting upon everyone. We must be in the fight for the long haul as well.

Posted in American Culture, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Culture War, Economics, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Politicians, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Gospel According to Marx

Posted by Tony Listi on August 13, 2008

In the beginning was the Government, and the Government was with God, and the Government was God. All things came to be through Government, and without Government nothing comes to be.

Now Mary was with child, though she was not married to Joseph. And it came to pass during the reign of Herod that Jesus Christ was born out of wedlock in a Bethlehem stable (for Planned Parenthood had not been established yet).  Poor Mary and Joseph had sought shelter in many places, but the greedy Jewish innkeepers would not let them in. Three travelers from afar, from the distant national capital of Rome, came bearing gifts of universal health care, housing, and education.  And so they prospered as Jesus grew in enlightenment and diversity sensitivity.

As Jesus grew into a man, he saw so much suffering and poverty among his fellow human beings. He decided to become a community activist, the only way he would ever make a difference. And so one day as he was walking beside the River Jordan, he happened upon some fishermen. He began to talk to them about their wages and stir in them a zeal for economic justice. “Fishermen of Judea unite!” cried Jesus.

He befriended tax collectors and Roman officials as well and made them his disciples, for they were doing God’s work in resisting the bourgeoisie. “Let the proletariat with no purse, sell his cloak and buy a sword,” Jesus said. His ministry grew far and wide as he and his naked disciples went door-to-door demanding money from the wealthiest of Jews. Those who refused were threatened by the swords of Rome and easily surrendered their ill-gotten gain. And thus Jesus went throughout the land performing all manner of miracles, redistributing wealth to the poorest of people. The multiplication of wealth continued until 12 baskets full of coins were left over.

Jesus gathered the people around him and began to preach: “Blessed are the poor, for they deserve to be the kings of the earth. Blessed are those who cry, for government will comfort them. Blessed are the meek, for no one should be stronger or better than anyone else. Blessed are the peacemakers, for war is evil and should be outlawed.” The peace of Christ reigned throughout the land.

He then told them a parable. “The master gave five talents to three servants – to each according to their need. When the master returned days later, he found inequality among his servants. One had made another five talents. One had managed to hold onto his five. One had squandered his five in dissolution. So the master took five from the servant with ten to give to the one who had none. For to everyone who has more, more will be taken away. To he who has little, he shall receive in abundance.”

Now the religious establishment in the region, the Pharisees, was not happy about the revolution Jesus had been leading. They were cold-hearted and increased their power and wealth through the lies they told to the poor about morality and an afterlife.  So this group of bigoted, reactionary, hypocritical religious fanatics plotted to destroy Jesus.

But Jesus was intelligent and sophisticated. A certain disciple of his, Nicodemus, had infiltrated the Pharisees and informed him of their treachery. And in the dark of night, the disciples of Jesus raided the homes of the Pharisees and dragged them and their families onto barges from which they were sent down river to re-education camps in the desert.

With the land cleansed of all iniquity, Jesus performed one last wondrous deed. He gave all his followers eternal life on this earth through the power of science.

And so Jesus was elected emperor of the world forever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Government and Politics, Just for Fun, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Poverty, Socialism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Stork Economics

Posted by Tony Listi on July 28, 2008

Liberals have a childish understanding of economics.

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=1078

By James Kerian

If you ask a child where babies come from, you can get a lot of interesting answers, but traditionally the most common answer is that they come by stork. Children tend to have a similar understanding of economics. If you ask them where their allowance comes from, the two most likely responses are “Daddy’s wallet” and “Mommy’s purse.” In both cases, nothing is created, just transferred. Babies are transferred by storks, and wealth is transferred by parents.

If a child is blessed with good parents, they will soon learn that God makes babies and gives them as gifts to their families. Likewise, “God has given riches and wealth . . . this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19). Most of us grow up to understand that God allows us to participate in the procreation of babies, but unfortunately very few ever realize that God allows us to participate in the procreation of wealth. Rather than procreation, most people assume what is commonly referred to as a zero-sum view of economics. In this view, wealth can neither be created nor destroyed but only transferred from one person to another. This, essentially, is stork economics.

It would be very sad if someone reached adulthood still believing that babies are delivered by stork. (This is the consummate fear of the “comprehensive” sex-ed lobby.) It could make it very difficult to start a family, at least without kidnapping or adoption. In the same manner, those who still believe in stork economics often find it very difficult to acquire wealth, or at least to create it.

While the method for procreating babies is extremely popular, the methods for procreating wealth are, unfortunately, much less attractive. The first method, hard work, is particularly unappealing. The second, ingenuity (both in technological development and efficient procedures), has its appeal but is not something that people like to have expected of them. The third, risk (the investment of time and resources), has glamor but obviously often leads to great disappointment. Nevertheless, these are the three things that have raised the wealth of humanity to the present age from a time when nearly the entire population of the planet was preoccupied with daily sustenance.

Since these methods for procreating wealth are relatively unattractive, there has to be some motivation—an expectation of fair recompense—for wealth to be created. When policymakers subscribe to stork economics, they inevitably deal serious damage to their economy. In their efforts to “fairly” distribute wealth, they remove the incentives for hard work, ingenuity, and risk and thus undermine the creation of the wealth they are attempting to allocate. This has happened repeatedly in varying degrees virtually everywhere—from the Soviet Union to the American welfare state to modern-day North Korea—but it always leaves the advocates of stork economics confused about the sudden absence of wealth. As John Chancellor once said of the Soviet Union on the NBC Nightly News: “The problem isn’t communism . . . the problem is shortages.”

Wealth, like life, can also be destroyed. If hard work, ingenuity, and risk are capable of carrying mankind away from sustenance living, then sloth, ignorance, and recklessness are just as capable of taking him back to it. Wealth should not be the preeminent concern of the Christian, and it is certainly of less importance than the immortal souls of our children. But if you should chance upon someone preaching that the gospel of “social justice” demands “wealth equity,” please take him aside and gently explain. I assure you, he’s old enough.

James Kerian is a mechanical engineer and small-business owner in Grafton, North Dakota.

Posted in American Culture, Economics, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Obscene” Profits and Salaries

Posted by Tony Listi on June 14, 2008

Well, well, looks like liberals actually do believe in the existence of something called obscenity. No, it’s not pornography. It’s not government financial support for disgusting and sacrilegious art. It’s not any of the vulgarities that characterize modern culture.

Profits and salaries are obscene! Of course! Money is obscene! How could we conservatives be so blind? Sure, one can know obscenity when one sees it.

The fact of the matter is that it is not any of government’s business how much profit any business makes, regardless of size and productive capacity. If workers at a certain company feel that they are not compensated enough or that their superiors are excessively compensated at their expense, then they are free to quit and seek another job where their talents are more justly compensated.

You see, the market works. It rewards companies that allocate their profits where such funds are most needed and deserved. A company headed by a CEO who takes a larger salary than is necessary or just is only hurting himself and his company. He is taking away funds that could be reinvested in the company to increase future earnings and maintain a competitive advantage over other firms. He is also driving good and talented people, human capital, away to other companies who will more justly compensate such people. Or at the very least (or worst?), the CEO is creating justified bitterness and complaining among employees who feel they are not receiving their fair share. This corporate cultural disruption can only hinder productivity and competitiveness.

The capitalist system works. We don’t need government stepping in and creating unintended problems.

But what unintended problems?  asks the naive liberal and statolatrist.

Glad you asked. Wealth creation (before it can even be distributed) is really a product of reinvestment of profits. The most successful and wealthy corporations reinvest their profits in human, technological, and various other kinds of capital. Thus the corporation uses its money to make even more money for all its stakeholders! Wealth grows at a rapid rate with such freedom to make wise investment choices.

Now what do you think happens when the government comes along and confiscates “obscene” or “windfall” profits from corporations? It stifles this wealth-creating reinvestment! It puts these corporations at a competitive disadvantage nationally and globally. Ultimately, it hurts the working man who depends upon the success of his employers and their ability to reinvest in him and his productivity.

What makes you think the government can more effectively reinvest the profits of companies within a particular industry or generally throughout the economy?!

You think that politician in D.C. knows anything about creating, marketing, and distributing a product or service? Hate to break it to you, but most of those politicians graduated from law school, not business school or the school of hard knocks. They are mostly lawyers who are talented in using the law to coerce others and steal the fruits of their labor. They are skilled in marketing of a certain kind (read: demagoguery), but they have no know-how in producing any great physical product. I’d like to see Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and other liberals get oil out of the ground, refine it, and then distribute it worldwide! Last time I checked, they weren’t petrochemical engineers of the caliber that Texas A&M produces.

Posted in Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Economics, Energy, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Politicians, Socialism, Texas A&M, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Democratic Party=Communist Party

Posted by Tony Listi on May 28, 2008

Sometimes Democrats actually say what they really would like to do in plain English:

Hmmm, socializing? Government taking over? Government running all our oil companies?

Yeah, we’ve seen this before: besides Chavez, it’s called Vladimir Putin! It’s called the Soviet Union! It’s called communism (and fascism for that matter)!

The Democrats restrict supply by preventing our oil companies from drilling. Economics 101: restricting supply has the effect of increasing prices (assuming demand stays the same or grows). And then the Democrats blame the oil companies for high gas prices which they themselves created! The nerve! They want to use the high gas prices that they caused as a justification for a government take over?! The government interferes with the market, causes a rise in prices, and then claims to be helping out the common man by taking over the industry. Then the industry falls apart, fosters corruption, requires higher taxes, and/or bankrupts the government. Don’t fall for the ruse.

Posted in Economics, Energy, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Politicians, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who is More Compassionate: Conservatives or Liberals?

Posted by Tony Listi on May 15, 2008

http://www.arthurbrooks.net/whoreallycares/excerpt.html

“The conventional wisdom runs like this: Liberals are charitable because they advocate government redistribution of money in the name of social justice; conservatives are uncharitable because they oppose these policies. But note the sleight of hand: Government spending, according to this logic, is a form of charity.

Let us be clear: Government spending is not charity. It is not a voluntary sacrifice by individuals. No matter how beneficial or humane it might be, no matter how necessary it is for providing public services, it is still the obligatory redistribution of tax revenues. Because government spending is not charity, sanctimonious yard signs do not prove that the bearers are charitable or that their opponents are selfish. (On the contrary, a public attack on the integrity of those who don’t share my beliefs might more legitimately constitute evidence that I am the uncharitable one.)

To evaluate accurately the charity difference between liberals and conservatives, we must consider private, voluntary charity. How do liberals and conservatives compare in their private giving and volunteering? Beyond strident slogans and sarcastic political caricatures, what, exactly, do the data tell us?

The data tell us that the conventional wisdom is dead wrong. In most ways, political conservatives are not personally less charitable than political liberals—they are more so.

First, we must define “liberals” and “conservatives.” Most surveys ask people not just about their political party affiliation but also about their ideology. In general, about 10 percent of the population classify themselves as “very conservative”; and another 10 percent call themselves “very liberal.” About 20 percent say they are simply “liberal,” and 30 percent or so say they are “conservative.” The remaining 30 percent call themselves “moderates” or “centrists.” In this discussion, by “liberals” I mean the approximately 30 percent in the two most liberal categories, and by conservatives I mean the 40 percent or so in the two most con­servative categories.

So how do liberals and conservatives compare in their charity? When it comes to giving or not giving, conservatives and liberals look a lot alike. Conservative people are a percentage point or two more likely to give money each year than liberal people, but a percentage point or so less likely to volunteer.

But this similarity fades away when we consider average dollar amounts donated. In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money to charity than households headed by a liberal ($1,600 to $1,227). This discrepancy is not simply an artifact of income differences; on the contrary, liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year than conservative families, and conservative families gave more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to middle class to rich.

If we look at party affiliation instead of ideology, the story remains largely the same. For example, registered Republicans were seven points more likely to give at least once in 2002 than registered Democrats (90 to 83 percent).

The differences go beyond money and time. Take blood donations, for example. In 2002, conservative Americans were more likely to donate blood each year, and did so more often, than liberals. If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply in the United States would jump by about 45 percent.

The political stereotypes break down even further when we consider age: “Anyone who is not a socialist before age thirty has no heart, but anyone who is still a socialist after thirty has no head,” goes the old saying. And so we imagine crusty right-wing grandfathers socking their money away in trust funds while their liberal grandchildren work in soup kitchens and save the whales. But young liberals—perhaps the most vocally dissatisfied political constituency in America today—are one of the least generous demographic groups out there. In 2004, self-described liberals younger than thirty belonged to one-third fewer organizations in their communities than young conservatives. In 2002, they were 12 percent less likely to give money to charities, and one-third less likely to give blood. Liberal young Americans in 2004 were also significantly less likely than the young conservatives to express a willingness to sacrifice for their loved ones: A lower percentage said they would prefer to suffer than let a loved one suffer, that they are not happy unless the loved one is happy, or that they would sacrifice their own wishes for those they love.

The compassion of American conservatives becomes even clearer when we compare the results from the 2004 U.S. presidential election to data on how states address charity. Using Internal Revenue Service data on the percentage of household income given away in each state, we can see that the red states are more charitable than the blue states. For instance, of the twenty-five states that donated a portion of household income above the national average, twenty-four gave a majority of their popular votes to George W. Bush for president; only one gave the election to John F. Kerry. Of the twenty-five states below the national giving average, seventeen went for Kerry, but just seven for Bush. In other words, the electoral map and the charity map are remarkably similar.

These results are not an artifact of close elections in key states. The average percentage of household income donated to charity in each state tracked closely with the percentage of the popular vote it gave to Mr. Bush. Among the states in which 60 percent or more voted for Bush, the average portion of income donated to charity was 3.5 percent. For states giving Mr. Bush less than 40 percent of the vote, the average was 1.9 percent. The average amount given per household from the five states combined that gave Mr. Bush the highest vote percentages in 2003 was 25 percent more than that donated by the average household in the five northeastern states that gave Bush his lowest vote percentages; and the households in these liberal-leaning states earned, on average, 38 percent more than those in the five conservative states.

People living in conservative states volunteer more than people in liberal states. In 2003, the residents of the top five “Bush states” were 51 percent more likely to volunteer than those of the bottom five, and they volunteered an average of 12 percent more total hours each year. Residents of these Republican-leaning states volunteered more than twice as much for religious organizations, but also far more for secular causes. For example, they were more than twice as likely to volunteer to help the poor.

Surely Jimmy Carter would have been surprised to learn that the selfish Americans he criticized so vociferously were most likely the very people who elected him president.

© Basic Books – 2007″

The Statistics

http://www.arthurbrooks.net/whoreallycares/statistics.html

People who are religious give more across the board to all causes than their non-religious counterparts

There is a huge “charity gap” that follows religion: On average, religious people are far more generous than secularists with their time and money. This is not just because of giving to churches—religious people are more generous than secularists towards explicitly non-religious charities as well. They are also more generous in informal ways, such as giving money to family members, and behaving honestly.


Giving supports economic growth and actually creates prosperity

Many studies show that giving and volunteering improve physical health and happiness, and lead to better citizenship. In other words, we need to give for our own good. Cultural and political influences—and the many government policies—that discourage private charitable behavior have negative effects that are far more widespread than people usually realize.


The working poor in America give more to charity than the middle class

The American working poor are, relative to their income, some of the most generous people in America today. The nonworking poor, however—those on public assistance instead of earning low wages—give at lower levels than any other group. In other words, poverty does not discourage charity in America, but welfare does.


Upper level income people often give less than the working poor

Among Americans with above-average incomes who do not give charitably, a majority say that they ‘don’t have enough money.’ Meanwhile, the working poor in America give a larger percentage of their incomes to charity than any other income group, including the middle class and rich.


Plus
:

People who give money charitably are 43 percent more likely to say they are “very happy” than nongivers and 25 percent more likely than nongivers to say their health is excellent or very good.
A religious person is 57% more likely than a secularist to help a homeless person.
Conservative households in America donate 30% more money to charity each year than liberal households.
If liberals gave blood like conservatives do, the blood supply in the U.S. would jump by about 45%.

Posted in American Culture, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Poverty, Socialism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Which is More Materialistic: Capitalism or its Alternatives?

Posted by Tony Listi on May 15, 2008

Marxism is specifically atheistic. By denying the supernatural, transcendent, and spiritual aspects of reality, it is inherently materialistic and deterministic. The world is atoms, their random motions, and absolutely nothing else. Marxism seeks to satisfy material needs and desires regardless of the moral consequences (because morality, a transcendent thing, doesn’t exist). Communism, socialism, and welfare statism are merely derivatives of this Marxist theory.

Capitalism inherently believes that all human beings have free will and should be free to exercise that freedom without coercion from others in economic matters. Now the very idea of free will and freedom presupposes the divine, the supernatural. Freedom presupposes something more than a mere mass of atoms and random chance. It presupposes something more than the material world. It presupposes something (or someone) that can actually choose, i.e. the soul, and thus presupposes a Soul-Maker too. Thus capitalism presupposes the transcendent and spiritual and thus is less materialistic than any of its alternatives.

There is a distinction between materialism and productive use of the Creation. But of course, if you are an atheist, this distinction necessarily has no meaning for you.

Posted in American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Socialism, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Individual Freedom: A Tenet of Christian Prudence

Posted by Tony Listi on April 21, 2008

Within limits, human beings should respect the individual freedom other human beings because this freedom, our free will, is a gift of God. I believe our freedom is also a reflection of the freedom of God, a reflection of his image and likeness perhaps.

However, we live in a fallen world such that people do not always use this gift responsibly. Human beings must endeavor to order themselves correctly as best they can, though knowing all the while that everyone, even our leaders, are fallen and prone to the disorder of sin. So for the sake of ordered society, we cannot tolerate the abuse of that freedom in certain circumstances, especially when they cause harm to others. And because human beings are dependent on each other for learning and practicing good order, widespread abuse of freedom could ultimately destroy a community or a nation. In such cases, power and coercion (i.e. government) must be brought to bear to curb individual freedom.

Therefore, the social and political life of human beings is characterized by the tension between order and liberty (which is a key insight of conservatism). Theoretically, if the state could in fact order human beings’ lives and society well (totalitarianism), would Christians have any reason not to support state intervention into all aspects of their lives? Yes, because such a fact would deny the value of human freedom. There would be no value in a hypothetically all-benevolent state controlling each and every citizen like a remote controlled robot. Individual freedom does have value in and of itself.

Also, for all the imperfections of the human soul and the free market, more often than not, government intervention in the market and the lives of individuals does more harm than good. The concentration of power necessary for a supposedly benevolent government to totally order society, that concentration of power is itself corrupting and thus a cause of disorder.

Therefore, individual freedom, for the Christian and conservative, is not a matter of absolute principle but rather one of prudence (as is requiring obedience to human authorities). And thus the exercise of reason is required too. Harm to others must be weighed against individual freedom.

Thus the conservative certainly believes that prudence dictates much more economic freedom than we have currently in the US. The conservative, though, may struggle on a variety of issues relating to personal freedom (gay marriage, prostitution, drugs, etc.). The struggle arises because the harm to others may be less apparent or immediate and little to no coercion is involved.

Posted in Christianity and Politics, Economics, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »