Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Capitalist Heresies

If you follow the news, you likely know that the stock market is soaring and the housing market seems to be rebounding. But you probably also know some less encouraging bits. In recent days I've seen articles on how our Great Recession has and is hurting young people disproportionately and how the earnings gap between regular workers and top tier folks such as CEOs continues to grow at a tremendous pace. And just this morning, I read how unemployment has reached a record 12% in the Eurozone.

I'm no economist, and I have no idea whether the economic future for young people, regular wage earners, or the Eurozone unemployed will improve or continue to follow current trends. That said, it certainly seems that our economic system is working much more successfully for folks at the top than it is for folks at the bottom. That leads to the question of what to do about this situation.

Obviously there are wildly divergent ideas and suggestions. One thing is clear to me, however. Any real challenge to basic free market or capitalist principles will get you labeled a wild-eyed, lunatic revolutionary with no legitimate place in the discussion. 

Actually, lunatic and revolutionary might not be the best terms. Heretic might be more appropriate.

On this point, I'm reminded of the attacks that some folks fling at Barack Obama. With no thoughts as to how fringe or mainstream they are or to who believes them, it strikes me that the label of "socialist" is far more damning than the label "Muslim," even with the terrorist ties some folks read into the latter.

I raise the term "socialist" both because it is often hurled at the president and also because it seems to be featured in today's reading from Acts. "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need." That sounds quite socialist. And if you're thinking I might suggest this as a current day model and already raising the objection that this behavior is restricted to "believers," well that would still include a majority of Americans, at least according to what they tell pollsters. And for those intent on this being a "Christian nation," then presumably the pattern in Acts might well become a model for everyone.

Prior to the Cold War, it was not all that uncommon for Christian thinkers to discuss "socialism" as having merits to consider. But no more. That is capitalist heresy. Which says something about what our true religion is in America.

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