Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Bible and Capitalism

I came across this article today and thought it was quite good.  It reminded me of a blog I made some time ago when everyone seemed to be trying to portray Jesus as a Socialist.


The main difference is the author of this article actually has skills at writing.  I have linked the article below and copied the substance for your reading pleasure.  It is a pretty decent read, at least in my opinion.


What the Bible Teaches About Capitalism 

As the Ten Commandments instruct, envy is corrosive to the individual
and to those societies that embrace it..

Who would have expected that in a Republican primary campaign the single
biggest complaint among candidates would be that the front-runner has
taken capitalism too far? As if his success and achievement were
evidence of something unethical and immoral? President Obama and other
redistributionists must be rejoicing that their assumptions about rugged
capitalism and the 1% have been given such legitimacy.

More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad
themes of morality rooted in a specific religious perspective. We call
this the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing
endorsement of capitalism as a moral endeavor. 

Regarding mankind, no theme is more salient in the Bible than the
morality of personal responsibility, for it is through this that man
cultivates the inner development leading to his own growth, good
citizenship and happiness. The entitlement/welfare state is a paradigm
that undermines that noble goal. 

The Bible's proclamation that "Six days shall ye work" is its
recognition that on a day-to-day basis work is the engine that brings
about man's inner state of personal responsibility. Work develops the
qualities of accountability and urgency, including the need for comity
with others as a means for the accomplishment of tasks. With work, he
becomes imbued with the knowledge that he is to be productive and that
his well-being is not an entitlement. And work keeps him away from the
idleness that Proverbs warns leads inevitably to actions and attitudes
injurious to himself and those around him. 

Yet capitalism is not content with people only being laborers and
holders of jobs, indistinguishable members of the masses punching in and
out of mammoth factories or functioning as service employees in
government agencies. Nor is the Bible. Unlike socialism, mired as it is
in the static reproduction of things already invented, capitalism is
dynamic and energetic. It cheerfully fosters and encourages creativity,
unspoken possibilities, and dreams of the individual. Because the Hebrew
Bible sees us not simply as "workers" and members of the masses but,
rather, as individuals, it heralds that characteristic which endows us
with individuality: our creativity.

At the opening bell, Genesis announces: "Man is created in the image of
God"-in other words, like Him, with individuality and creative
intelligence. Unlike animals, the human being is not only a hunter and
gatherer but a creative dreamer with the potential of unlocking all the
hidden treasures implanted by God in our universe. The mechanism of
capitalism, as manifest through investment and reasoned speculation,
helps facilitate our partnership with God by bringing to the surface
that which the Almighty embedded in nature for our eventual extraction
and activation. 

Capitalism makes possible entrepreneurship, which is the realization of
an idea birthed in human creativity. Whereas statism demands that
citizens think small and bow to a top-down conformity, capitalism, as
has been practiced in the U.S., maximizes human potential. It provides a
home for aspiration, referred to in the Bible as "the spirit of life."

The Bible speaks positively of payment and profit: "For why else should
a man so labor but to receive reward?" Thus do laborers get paid wages
for their hours of work and investors receive profit for their
investment and risk. 

The Bible is not a business-school manual. While it is comfortable with
wealth creation and the need for speculation in economic markets, it has
nothing to say about financial instruments and models such as private
equity, hedge funds or other forms of monetary capitalization. What it
does demand is honesty, fair weights and measures, respect for a
borrower's collateral, timely payments of wages, resisting usury, and
empathy for those injured by life's misfortunes and charity.

It also demands transparency and honesty regarding one's intentions. The
command, "Thou shalt not place a stumbling block in front of the blind
man" also means that you should not act deceitfully or obscure the truth
from those whose choice depends upon the information you give them.
There's nothing to indicate that Mitt Romney breached this biblical code
of ethics, and his wealth and success should not be seen as automatic
causes for suspicion.

No country has achieved such broad-based prosperity as has America, or
invented as many useful things, or seen as many people achieve personal
promise. This is not an accident. It is the direct result of centuries
lived by the free-market ethos embodied in the Judeo-Christian outlook.

Furthermore, only a prosperous nation can protect itself from outside
threats, for without prosperity the funds to support a robust military
are unavailable. Having radically enlarged the welfare state and hoping
to further expand it, President Obama is attempting to justify his cuts
to our military by asserting that defense needs must give way to
domestic programs. 

Both history and the Bible show the way that leads. Countries that were
once economic powerhouses atrophied and declined, like England after
World War II, once they began adopting socialism. Even King Solomon's
thriving kingdom crashed once his son decided to impose onerous taxes. 

At the end of Genesis, we hear how after years of famine the people in
Egypt gave all their property to the government in return for the
promise of food. The architect of this plan was Joseph, son of Jacob,
who had risen to become the pharaoh's top official, thus: "Joseph
exchanged all the land of Egypt for pharaoh and the land became
pharaoh's." The result was that Egyptians became indentured to the ruler
and state, and Joseph's descendants ended up enslaved to the state. 

Many on the religious left criticize capitalism because all do not end
up monetarily equal-or, as Churchill quipped, "all equally miserable."
But the Bible's prescription of equality means equality under the law,
as in Deuteronomy's saying that "Judges and officers . . . shall judge
the people with a just judgment: Do not . . . favor one over the other."
Nowhere does the Bible refer to a utopian equality that is contrary to
human nature and has never been achieved. 

The motive of capitalism's detractors is a quest for their own power and
an envy of those who have more money. But envy is a cardinal sin and
something that ought not to be. 

God begins the Ten Commandments with "I am the Lord your God" and
concludes with "Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor
his house, nor for any of his holdings." Envy is corrosive to the
individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw
over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.

Rabbi Spero has led congregations in Ohio and New York and is president
of Caucus for America.

1 comment:

  1. It is true that many of us Liberals are overjoyed at the Republican choice of a "Front Runner" representing the best offering of contemporary Capitalism in America. We are overjoyed because America sees the "Morality" inherent in private enterprises such as Bain. The Republicans have worked very hard this year to insure a Democrat victory in 2012 and we do owe them a debt of gratitude for that much anyway.