“I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good” – Adam Smith
I ran across an article over at Forbes that touched on our theme of Christianity and Capitalism from yesterday. The article, by Bill Flax, is titled “Was Jesus a Socialist, Capitalist, or Something Else?” and is worth a read.
In the article, Mr. Flax notes that both capitalists and socialists like to quote Matthew 25 in espousing their beliefs – shoehorning Jesus into one political system or another. In Matthew 25, Jesus discusses the final judgment and acts of benevolence and charity toward the poor and needy. We’ve discussed the passage on multiple occasions, noting that both sides of the political spectrum tend to miss the point just a bit.
The left views it as an endorsement of social programs, failing to realize that the argument of “Lord, I voted for policies that took money from the rich and gave to the ‘least of these'” is unlikely to garner a positive response. The right tends to view it with the opposite failing – that the prevalence of involuntary government programs abrogates their responsibility to the poor. It doesn’t.
Speaking of, Mitt Romney made some politically stupid headlines just yesterday with the following quote:
I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich — they’re doing just fine.
Now I’m no Romney fan, so I’m hard pressed to feel too bad for him. I’ll simply note that (i) this is a politically stupid thing to say – soundbites have legs – and (ii) it plays into the common misconception of “the government helps so I don’t have to,” which doesn’t have good long-term implications.