Socialism: A Principle-Based Critique

Conservatives speak out against socialism, and I am glad they do. Often, though, the critique is too much on the surface. I wish more conservatives would base their critique on solid Biblical principles.

While I agree that socialism simply is unworkable and has never shown any indication, in any nation, of being the engine that brings prosperity, my critique is more fundamental.

Defining socialism is important. The definition that I think is most appropriate is when the government controls all the means of production and distribution of goods. That can be by outright nationalization of all industries or by regulating them in such a manner that they, in practice, are no longer truly private—the ostensible owners can’t really make the decisions they wish because the government has intervened and interfered on every level.

Where does my critique begin? It starts with the belief that God has created each individual in His image, which includes the abilities to reason and to make decisions in life.

The second principle is that God seeks to lead us into maturity by teaching us how to govern our own lives—under His laws and guidance. He wants us to grow up and be able to know, without someone always standing over us, what those right decisions are.

Third, if that principle of self-government is correct, the natural extension is that we are to make our own economic decisions also. If government makes all those decisions for us, we never learn how to be accountable in that arena. We can never graduate from God’s School of Accountability if the government takes over our lives.

That’s why I believe that limited government and a free market are the ideals. That’s why I believe that capitalism is the source of genuine prosperity.

Can capitalism go wrong? Every human endeavor dependent on sinful men can go wrong. But it can go very right as well. Socialism, meanwhile, is inherently wrong because it violates all those principles I just described.

I said socialism hasn’t worked anywhere. I can give the former USSR and its satellite states as a prime example: 70-plus years of abject failure.

Nations like Sweden, which are often used as shining examples of socialism, have never outlawed private ownership of businesses; the government has simply tried to use the prosperity that stems from those businesses to finance a welfare state. if you haven’t noticed, there is now trouble in that nation trying to maintain its high level of social welfare. As Margaret Thatcher so famously stated (and I paraphrase)—socialism always runs out of other people’s money.

Venezuela is the latest tragic example, where people are searching garbage cans for food, and where hordes of its citizens are now voting with their feet, leaving their native land—a land that was once the richest in all of South America. The late Hugo Chavez, the dictator who began this disaster, was the instigator of this move away from reason, and let’s be honest: it was also a play for complete control over his people and maximum power for himself.

He didn’t live long enough to witness the full fruit of his warped ideology, but his people have lived with the consequences ever since.

Young Americans seem rather taken with socialism. I believe it’s because they don’t really have an understanding of it. They seem to think it’s some newfangled theory that no one has ever tried. Take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new darling of the socialist agenda in the Democrat party. She actually seems unaware of the many failures. She somehow thinks we can pay for everything she wants to make “free.” She is woefully educated.

Her rapt audience is a sad combination of the ideologically blind and the gullible, both of whom are devoid of solid principles:

Democrats are counting on those young voters in the upcoming midterm elections. For some reason, they seem to want to remake America in the image of Venezuela.

Maybe this is the argument they need to make to convince people to vote for the socialist agenda:

Meanwhile, we need to speak out on these principles: man is made in the image of God; God expects us to grow up and mature, making our decisions based on His truth; we are to learn accountability by making our own economic decisions.

And the system that these principles all lead to is capitalism.

May those principles be re-established.

Will We Learn From History?

As a historian, I have this faith that people might actually learn something from history. What a quaint notion.

The first requisite, of course, is that people know some history. Those kinds of people are becoming a rare commodity.

Please excuse the seeming air of resignation in this post. It’s just that some lessons from history are so easy to find that it boggles the mind that mankind continues to repeat all the old errors.

Take socialism/communism, for instance. It’s never worked anywhere, yet it continues to beguile and beckon with its siren song of equality, fairness, and brotherhood.

You know, like in the Soviet Union where, under Stalin, everyone was so friendly.

It was such a wonderful success that they continued to promote those Five-Year Plans for 70 years. Don’t ask if they ever worked. Well, you could ask all those nations that adopted socialist economies; I’m sure they have a story to tell. Come along with me to one such country.

Britain went all agog for socialism after WWII. Rationing continued for years after the war, ensuring “equality.” Here’s how Winston Churchill described what he witnessed:

Yet the current generation is being wooed once again by this false philosophy. Take Bernie Sanders and his minions, openly advocating the policy. In fact, most Democrats are on this bandwagon; they just are more discreet by not calling it what it is. They couch it in the language of “caring.” And voters lap it up because they are rather ignorant:

Someone needs to write this book:

But would anyone read it who actually needs to read it?

G. K. Chesterton nailed it:

Forgive my cynicism today. If not for my steadfast faith that this world ultimately is not my home, cynicism would prevail. However, I can see past the blindness; I know where Truth resides. I want to live in that Truth today and continue to do what God has called me to do. I will be faithful and leave results up to Him.

Our Predictable President

Everything I predicted yesterday about the State of the Union speech came to pass. It’s not that I’m some kind of great predictor; it’s that this president is so predictable.

The speech was mostly recycled from previous speeches. The tone was the same as previous speeches as well—supremely arrogant. It takes a lot of hubris to declare you’re going to veto a bunch of bills while simultaneously lecturing Congress on how to work with others.

It takes equal hubris to claim that Obamacare is actually lowering costs and that the slight uptick in the economy is due to your policies when all you have done is obstruct the economy. The workforce is at its lowest ebb since the days of Jimmy Carter. The falling gas prices stem from private industry, not the government’s policies.

And his claim to be the champion of the middle class could easily be made into a comedy routine. He wishes to be perceived as a kind of hero who is taking from the privileged (who got there by oppressing others):

Obama Hood

Meanwhile, back on earth, the reality is somewhat different:

Sending Help

He tries to portray those who have succeeded as the enemies of the people. This is a typical class warfare tactic, able to fool the simple-minded in a single bound. But when he places the rich in the crosshairs, he has a loose definition of “rich”:

American Sniper

Economics 101:

Sorry

Economics, though, is something of which President Obama is woefully ignorant—or willfully ignorant.

If you didn’t approve of his speech, he might have a remedy for that, in keeping with how he currently conducts business in the Oval Office:

Peachy

Republicans to the rescue? We’ll have to wait and see.

The Obama Economics Primer

Primers are useful. They lay out the basics. Every once in a while, it’s important to explain the fundamentals of the Obama economic vision for America. It’s not a unique vision; it’s been tried throughout history with identical results. First, the mechanics of the art of redistribution:

I See

This is a technique that has kept citizens fooled for centuries, but it’s only now coming to maturity in the United States. The end result is the ability to have another issue on which one can demagogue:

Income Inequality

Another aspect of the Obama Economics Primer is to be constantly active, making people believe something of substance is occurring:

Create Jobs

Eventually, enough voters may catch on to this Ponzi scheme.

May Need Them

Yes, hope remains.

Economic Freedom & the Culture of Work

Those of us at Southeastern University had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to hear from Mr. David Azerrad, Associate Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics, a research arm of Washington, D.C.’s Heritage Foundation, one of the key public policy think tanks in the nation. Mr. Azerrad spoke on the topic “Defending the Dream: Why Income Inequality Doesn’t Threaten Opportunity.”

It was an excellent presentation of the contrasting concepts of the American Dream as seen from both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum. Azerrad spoke eloquently on economic freedom and the culture of work that is a necessary complement to that freedom. He showed how the liberal worldview stresses statism and egalitarianism over liberty. He did so in a scholarly, civil manner that pointed out some of the foibles of the conservatives as well as the liberals. He particularly noted that conservatives sometimes promote business rather than economic freedom—the two are not necessarily identical. Capitalism, he said, is a word so loaded with misconceptions now that it is better to avoid the term and emphasize instead free enterprise. The reason capitalism has gotten a bad reputation is because big business has too often joined hands with statism to protect itself and stifle free enterprise. This is known as crony capitalism.

Azerrad is optimistic about America’s future because he still senses we have more of a culture of work than many other countries. We are not Greece or France. Individuals in America do not get nine weeks’ vacation in their entry-level jobs. So he sees hope. I “hope” he’s correct, but I admit to being more skeptical about it; the entitlement mentality, coupled with the destruction of the family, offers a bleaker picture to me. But I welcome his analysis. It was also good to spend more time talking with him at lunch and afterwards as we walked on campus.

I was especially pleased with the turnout for this event. The room was packed, and we had to find extra chairs to accommodate the overflow. Further, the audience was attentive and and seemed to appreciate his message and the manner in which he delivered it—just right for the type of audience he was addressing, relaxed and informal, yet direct and substantive.

We need more such days at SEU, where sharp public policy dialogue can be offered to the students.

Biblical Consistency & the Renewed Mind

Yesterday’s post singled out the most foundational problem in the church today—a weak/falsified salvation message. Today, I turn to the problem of the misapplication of the faith, either by lack of knowledge or the adoption of ideologies that contradict Biblical principles. I want to be clear that many of the people I am referring to today may actually be sincere Christians, but uninformed or led astray by ideas that sound good on the surface but are inconsistent with Biblical truth.

When we become Christians, we begin the process of getting our thoughts straightened out. That process doesn’t occur all at once. A key Scriptural passage with respect to this is found in Romans 12:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

This passage reminds us that we must continually present ourselves for God’s service; it’s not a one-time thing. It then goes on to tell us not to think the way the world does, but to have renewed minds—in other words, we may have to, in certain areas, start again from scratch in our thinking, and make sure it lines up with God’s truth. The word translated “transformed” is the same Greek word used when Jesus is on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the disciples see Him in all His glory for a few moments. That same kind of transformation must take place in our minds, and it’s only by way of this transformation that we’ll have any idea what God’s will may be. If we approach everything from our old way of thinking, we will miss God’s will and adopt practices contrary to what He wants.

Some of the most disturbing examples of this are found in the lives of those who claim the Christian faith yet are barely troubled by the moral trends in our society. For instance, how can a genuine Christian not stand firm against abortion? Yet there are voices in the church world who downplay the significance of this “legal” practice. It’s usually those same voices who see no problem with homosexuality and same-sex marriage. They have been swayed by the world’s logic in these areas; they accept the “discrimination” argument with respect to homosexuality, comparing it to discrimination based on race. They swallow the explanation that some people are just born that way, that God made them to be homosexual, so it cannot be a sin.

By taking these stances, one becomes allied with organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which are militantly anti-Christian. That, by itself, should give pause and lead to some rethinking.

When it comes to abortion, they may say they don’t like it, but that it’s not as important as helping the poor. Their gospel comes dangerously close to a purely social gospel that seeks to take care of material needs while relegating the salvation of the individual to a secondary status. If they have integrated a Marxist worldview into their theology, they see Jesus as more of a liberator in this life than the One who sets us free from our sins.

What I’ve discovered about those who hold to these views is their total lack of understanding of the Biblical principles of governance in civil society. They don’t grasp the importance of the rule of law, which puts everyone on the same plane before the law and guarantees the protection of God-given rights. To them, following documents such as the Constitution seems outmoded; guided more by their emotions than Biblical thinking, they just want the government to do whatever they deem necessary to take care of needs.

They also have little comprehension of the Biblical principles that undergird economics. Moved by emotion once again, they believe the government should just spend lavishly to meet every need and take whatever it needs from its citizens to accomplish the task. I’m not sure the national debt even enters their minds.

To top it off, they are unaware of the utter futility of all this government spending. Trillions upon trillions of dollars have never extinguished poverty; in fact, the only thing this spending orgy will ever achieve is the extension of poverty to millions more. Study after study has shown, over and over, that dependence on government largesse only worsens our problems, creating a culture of dependency and destroying initiative.

The Christian Left, as it is called in the media, is, in the name of Christ, transforming genuine Christianity into a statist ideal that ultimately undermines the very faith they say they believe. Government replaces God and becomes a new idol, to the extent that many of them are not even bothered by the trampling of religious liberty currently underway through Obamacare.

I began this post by asserting that many of the people I’m talking about are sincere Christians who are merely uninformed or misled. However, there is a segment that either have abandoned, or are on the verge of abandoning, the faith altogether. I’m glad God is the final judge of their salvation. Yet I, and all Christians, do have a responsibility to examine the fruit of the lives of those who claim they are Christians; we can make tentative judgments. That is what I have done today.

What do I hope to gain by sharing my concerns? First, I want to embolden those who are undergoing the renewal of the mind. Don’t shrink back. Stand for the truth as God opens it to you. Second, I hope to awaken some who currently consider themselves part of the so-called Christian Left. Please rethink your views. You are leading others into serious error. Don’t be molded by the world’s standards and the guidance it offers. It is deception. And please heed Jesus’ warning:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

 

Legislating Morality Cannot Be Avoided

One of the arguments against Santorum is that he’s talking too much about social issues, and that’s going to spell doom for Republicans because they need to concentrate on the economy. We need to get something straight here: when people divide issues between “social” and “economic,” they are creating an artificial separation. As Santorum clearly explains, both in his book and his public appearances, the social traumas we face—family breakdown, abortion, a pleasure-for-me-first mentality—are at the root of our economic woes.

All the relevant statistics show that poverty abounds in single-parent homes, while the poverty rate in two-parent homes is something like 6%. Children growing up in broken homes are far more likely to end up on public assistance, either via welfare or the prison system, the latter being at taxpayer expense also. Government policies that serve to discourage marriage and penalize through taxation those who are responsibly raising children should be a primary concern for politicians.

Freedom of religion was important enough to the Founders to have it mentioned first in a list of freedoms in the Bill of Rights. Churches have always been exempted from taxation because they promote a public good. Now the Obama administration wants to throttle freedom of religion in the guise of providing healthcare. It’s not hyperbole to insist that the current occupant of the White House harbors a certain animosity toward those who hold to conservative/orthodox Christian views.

The old bugaboo that critics of social conservatives continue to repeat is the canard that “You can’t legislate morality.” They emit dire warnings about the “theocrats” who want to invade your bedroom and force an outdated morality on the nation. This criticism is essentially dishonest on all points.

The idea that you can’t legislate morality begs for a definition. What is morality? Well, it deals with the distinction between right and wrong. What are laws? They are statements of what is right and what is wrong. Murder, for instance, is against the law because it wrongly takes the life of the innocent. I would argue that abortion fits into that category as well. Theft is wrong because the thief purloins property that belongs to someone else. Fraud is wrong because it is deception and lying. Murder, theft, fraud. Does anyone really want us to stop enacting and enforcing such laws simply because they have a religious basis? After all, the Bible speaks out against all of these. So when we pass laws to punish those who do such things, are we stepping into an area where government is not supposed to enter? It would be completely foolish to believe so.

Bottom line: all laws are statements of morality. It’s not that we cannot legislate morality; it’s that we cannot avoid legislating morality. The only real question here is whose morality are we going to legislate?

When President Obama imposes mandates on religious organizations that run counter to their deeply held beliefs, isn’t he legislating morality? He’s saying, in effect, that withholding contraception is “wrong.” Soon, he will demand abortion services be provided as well because he believes it is “wrong” not to do so.

So let’s do away with the dishonesty. Morality is the basis for all laws. So-called social issues are at the heart of the spiritual, emotional, and mental health of a nation—and yes, of the economic health as well. The two should never be separated. Rick Santorum is correct to make the linkage.