Freedom Vs. Responsibility

Taking a cue from Galatians 5:13, an economy requires “responsible freedom” on the part of its citizens to function well. Freedom left unchecked by internal moral restraint must be met by external social constraints. Such constraints are costly, both in terms of taxes and in the distorted behavior of all those who seek to avoid the constraints. By far, greater economic well-being results from internal moral restraint.

During the past ten years, the Reagan and Bush administrations have brought what voters felt to be a restored climate of freedom. The struggle over the past decade was to make this reclaimed freedom more responsible. In that debate, Republicans have called us to freedom, and Democrats to responsibility (in, admittedly, a gross generalization). Both are needed.

The budget battle, by my reading, produced greater responsibility without compromising freedom. The past decade has seen an increasingly undesirable distribution of income. Economic life has become more tenuous than ever for lower-income families. The budget resolution recognized this, particularly with an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit. Slightly higher taxes on higher-income citizens is a responsible trade-off.

Many needed changes remain in order to make our economy more just. Vitally needed is school reform that promises greater hope for ghetto residents. Eliminating agricultural price supports and import restrictions will save tax dollars and lower consumer prices.

By John Mason, professor of economics at Gordon College and secretary-treasurer of the Association of Christian Economists.

Win Some, Lose Some

At least two features of the budget agreement seem to be constructive. First, the budget sets Congress and the President ...

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