Politics and the Church – Extrication from the Shoal Waters [Part 32]

Business regulations serve as a government tax on consumers.  Consumers do not recognize how much less their goods and services would cost if employers were not forced to comply with so many onerous regulations.  For all practical purposes, businesses and corporations do not pay taxes; only consumers do, for all business costs, including the costs of business taxes and regulations, are passed to the customer by means of higher prices for goods.  The amount of this tax on consumers was nearly twice as large as the amount collected in 2010 through visible  income taxes [James Gattuso, Diane Katz, and Stephen Keen, “Red Tape Rising: Obama’s Torrent of New Regulation”, The Heritage Foundation, October 26, 2010].

All modern societies have come to agree that we need some government regulations to prevent fraud and injustice in business transactions.  For similar reasons, most people in modern societies would also agree that it works well for government to provide certain other goods that nearly everyone uses, such as roads, traffic regulation, supporting a military and police force, supporting a fire department, and perhaps a postal service.  Beyond that point there is a large difference of opinion.  Some people favor a “free market” approach to the rest of the economy, while others think a “socialist” system is best…government owns and controls most of the businesses and factories, known primarily as “means of production”.  Still others believe that a “communist” system is even better…government owns and controls not only the means of production but also all property, so there is no private ownership.  In 2009 this question came up in many areas: Should the federal government own the US banking system?  Should the federal government run the nation’s entire health care system?  Should it run auto makers General Motors and Chrysler?  Should it set wage levels for everyone in the banking and financial services industries? [“U.S. Eyes Bank Pay Overhaul”, Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2009, pg 81].

Several factors support the idea that the free market is almost always a better way of solving an economic problem than government ownership or control.  The Bible’s teaching on the role of government gives support to the idea of a free market rather than socialism or communism.  This is because nothing in the Bible’s teachings on the role of government would give the government warrant to take over ownership or control of private businesses, which would have included farms and small shops in the ancient world.  The government is to punish evil and reward those who do good and enforce order in society.  It is not to own property or businesses of a nation.  The Bible gives repeated warnings against a ruler who would use his power to “take” what rightfully belongs to the people, including their fields and vineyards, for example. The Bible’s teaching about private property indicates that property rightfully belongs to individual people, not to the government…businesses being one form of property.  Further the Bible’s emphasis on the value of human liberty also argues for a free market system rather than socialist or communist.  A free market allows individuals to choose where they work, what they buy, how they run a business, and how they spend their money,  In a government-controlled economy, the government makes these decisions for people…light bulbs for example…rather than allowing people freedom to make them for themselves.  History demonstrates time and again that the free market brings better results than a government-controlled economy or government control of any section of the economy.

How are the benefits of a free market seen in several ways?:

  •    The economic “goods” that the free market produces are of better quality, at lower prices, and are goods that people actually want rather than the goods that some government agency tells them they should want.  Go back a few years and just contrast the difference between West Berlin and East Berlin.
  •    A free market allows people freedom to work at the jobs they choose rather than being assigned to a job by the government.  It encourages industrious people to get better training for jobs they seek and to perform better when they know they will be rewarded for better quality work.  Bottom line…better job satisfaction.
  •    A free market gives an employer the benefit of being free to hire the employees that he or she thinks are best suited for the job.  This process improves the economic productivity of individual businesses and the nation as a whole.
  •    A free market offers the great benefit of consumer satisfaction by producing the goods and services that people actually want.
  •    A free market…unlike any government agency…is able to have enough information to predict accurately the economic wants of millions of people and then plan to effectively meet those wants.

As previously addressed, several principles of the Bible as well as the superior results indicate that a free market is a much better solution than government control for many controversial areas of policy today.  A government-controlled automobile industry would produce more and more cars that few people want to buy or could even afford to buy…electric cars for example.  This becomes very obvious when the government has to add large cash ‘rebates’ or tax benefits to people who buy government-mandated small, high-mileage cars or poorly made cars.  Essentially the government is paying people to buy cars that they would not otherwise buy.  Failure to be sensitive to buyer demands will turn many to the overseas markets…ever see that happen?  A government-controlled health care system would fail to provide enough services that people want, leading to a rationing of health care requiring government agents to determine which kinds of patients are eligible to receive various kinds of care, and leading to long waits for certain services,..Canada or England for example.  Costs to tax payers will escalate along with deductibles to individuals.  There is no such ‘thing’ as free government health care.

Yes, this subject is primarily political in nature, but how many congregation members are struggling with financial problems due to government business regulations?  How many church members would like to be more active in the church but can’t because of financial pressures?  Shouldn’t the church be at least monitoring these regulations for anti-Biblical applications or government involvement where our Constitution restricts such involvement.  Yes, all Christians are ‘citizens of Heaven’, but we are also ‘citizens of earth’ and have duties owed to both.  When our inactivity in politics relegates people to poverty are we really serving God’s intention for us?  Love goes beyond just ‘charity’.

Next week we are going to take a bit of a detour.  We are going to follow the ‘ship of state’ up an estuary…into a mud flats you might say…to see how a misguided ‘crew’…one without ‘back bone’… has gotten us into these ‘shoal waters’ in spite of the sage advice of those familiar with these treacherous undertakings.  It will be a ‘meaty’ few weeks before we get back to “Extrication From the Shoal Waters”.  I learned much while researching it.

– Bob Munsey

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