If the government’s only role is to define force and to stop it, then what about everything else the government does right now?
In this series I’m explaining my view of a just government.
To read from the beginning click here.
It would mean big changes.
Rightly, a government would not control (or fund) healthcare, business, education, food, housing, etc. It would only provide a legal system and the defense system.
How does this model compare with the current one? Here is what the government spends (combining all levels of government):
Health Care 22%
Other Spending 6%
General Government 2%
In the system I propose, more than half of this spending would be eliminated.
Right now government spending (at all levels) amounts to about 40% of the GDP. My changes would bring spending down to less than 20% of GDP. To the average household this would mean a 33% increase in disposable income. For the median American household that amounts to $25,000 of additional disposable income per year. Imagine what you could do with that money.
What do tax numbers and the GDP have to do with Christianity?
Are these even spiritual matters? I want to challenge the premise that a discussion of money and “things” is un-spiritual. Money represents man’s work, his time, his aspirations, and his life.
The advocates of “social justice” (socially-sanctioned redistribution of wealth) are right about one thing: a society’s organization should be based on moral and spiritual principles. Those who argue for a greater role of government in the lives of its citizens have no problem saying that their view is based on Scripture. I am merely doing the same for my view: I am arguing that in fact the Bible supports and requires economic liberty (a man’s right to his own property).
What does God’s goodness have to do with man’s property?
Much of the Bible is devoted to questions of how people should relate to each other and how a society should be rightly judged. If the Bible gives principles for society’s organization, these are spiritual principles.
Can it be spiritual to argue that we shouldn’t have to give away money to others? Is this even an important point to be arguing as a Christian? I believe it is, and here are four reasons why:
- God will be pleased.
It pleases God to follow his principles, including those pertaining to the ownership of property.
- We will prosper.
We prosper by observing man’s right to that which he produces. This is well-documented by economists. (See The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics.)
- It helps us spread the gospel.
By protecting the rights of the individual we preserve the conditions most helpful for the spread of the gospel. The gospel is not spread by state welfare programs but by Christians voluntarily helping others and telling them about Jesus. Historically, the economically freer nations have sent the most missionaries and have seen the most growth of Christianity.
- It supports the development of virtue.
Morality is about the pursuit of values. A society of rights is the best society for inculcating a value-orientation in our children. If our sons grow up believing that the hardest workers are penalized and the laziest are rewarded, they may lose heart. But if they believe their work will be preserved and they will have control over the rewards of their labor, they will be more motivated to become achievers and men of respect. Thus, the conditions needed for material prosperity are also the conditions most helpful for spiritual prosperity. I want my own son to know that his property is his. I want him to know he is not free to take from others (by personal theft or by the socially-sanctioned theft that is “social justice”).
Does “keeping my stuff” sound un-spiritual?
I’m not arguing only that “I should get to keep my property.” I’m also arguing that no one else should be able to take what you have produced, and that you should not be able to take that which someone else works for. This view is not un-spiritual, any more than it was un-spiritual for God to say “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet.”
This is a matter of biblical faithfulness. If our current set-up (with the entitlements and redistributions) is a distortion of God’s command, we need to know it.
In this series: