In an email conversation between a reader of this blog and myself, a discussion has emerged in which we initially traded reasons why I was so angry at things in general and eventually towards our opinions on what is going on socially and politically today.
In that conversation, I assumed that because of his cogent points, my “adversary” was a Christian (of the Jesus as Treehugger sect) or similar pacifist. Turns out, he’s not, but he’s an atheist and general socialist (not sure how to qualify that, maybe Democratic Progressive, but that seems a little heavy handed).
At any rate, I realized that our views are not necessarily exclusive, at least so far as the observations of the problems that need repair. Our divergence comes from our way of handling the perceived problems. He made the point that human greed and selfishness got us into our current mess (economic, environmental, and so forth).
That, in a nutshell, leads us to the following email. I sent this as a response to his earlier revelation that he is an atheist (or at least doesn’t believe in God) and some of his basically socialist answers to those problems. I felt the need to spell out my basic philosophy on things of this nature and explain why I had assumed (ASSofUandME) him to be a Christian.
Here is, from that email, my basic, boilerplate philosophy on life, politics, and religion:
I think that in some ways we’re very similar. I believe in God, but am not a Christian. I use Christianity because the dogma is what I know and it’s what most of those who “confront” me believe in and use as their basis.
I think we’re both in consensus on human selfishness. The difference between us is whether it should be controlled or harnessed. I personally believe in harnessing it. In a freely interactive society with a free and open market, each person acting in his/her self-interest is nearly always also working in the best interests of the collective.
The reason this is so is because of the way humans interact with one another. While business interests are usually talked about, traditionally, only in terms of dollars and cents, this leaves out the social activity that is also inherent in business. Business itself, when looked at this way, is merely a social interaction that involves goods and services in a barter (be it trade or money).
It’s only when governments begin to interfere in this and assert authority over it that the dynamic changes. Most of the atrocities we see around the world wherein a business interest is raping the area of resources are thanks to governments being involved. They facilitate the pillage.
Poor areas would not likely remain in poverty (measured in standards of living, not money, as many can live happily without ever seeing a dollar in some areas of the world) if their governments did not facilitate or cause that poverty. Big businesses usually league themselves with these governments and prolong the poverty for their own gain.
Quite often our own best intentions lead only to this same cycle. Most of the foreign aid we give goes to warlords, corrupt governments, and governments that actively promote acts of genocide and death. Yet we keep doing so. Fully 1/3 of our foreign aid budget goes directly to Israel, one of the richest countries in the world.
Then we see government get involved in other things that further destroy the social interaction that should be inherent in business. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment, federal requirements force small businesses to offer only the minimums rather than talk to and negotiate with employees, and taxation (Social Security) and other requirements make it more cost-effective for some businesses to hire illegal workers or pay cash for wages rather than deal with the expense and hassle.
Finally, we come your last point: “doing it for them.”
That is a common argument I have with Christians too. Somehow, the idea that government is more moral than the people who run it and interact with it facilitates the idea that the government can also legislate and enforce morality amongst the populace.
I would say that this is bunk. There will always be those who are not going to give anything to anyone. Before government-run welfare, when churches and private enterprise took care of most of our welfare needs, those people who weren’t willing to contribute were disliked by the community as a whole and suffered socially because of it. Now, the excuse that “my taxes pay for it,” is used even by those who would otherwise give. I run into this all the time when soliciting donations for our animal rescue.
If morality is required by law, it is still morality? If moral decisions are not made by free choice, but instead are made by force of law, is it still a moral decision? I would say it’s not.
Finally, what everyone who believes in either socialism or government-enforced morality fails to understand is the fundamental truth of what government really is.
Government, no matter the kind or type, always boils down to force. Government, quite literally, is a gun. It can be aimed at individuals, groups, or other governments. But it’s always a gun. So my litmus test for any law is this:
“Would I point a gun at someone’s head, say an 80 year old lady, and say YOU MUST DO THIS OR ELSE.”
If I’m not willing to do that, the law is invalid. Period.
Got comments? Email me, dammit!
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