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You Can't Buy Your Way to Social Justice

You Can't Buy Your Way to Social Justice

Why the activism of some fellow Americans scares me.

I'm afraid of some American Christians.

I am an American, but I haven't lived in the United States in a while. I live in Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa, and when you pick me up at the Minneapolis airport, I might invite you to ...

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Displaying 26–30 of 94 comments.

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Paul Schryba

May 21, 2013  7:16pm

I believe that what I said was perfectly clear, in attributing the idolatry not to economics, but to placing maximizing material gain as the primary goal of human economic activity."The purpose of work is for love and service, to share our gifts and talents. To reduce human work to the primary purpose of maximizing material gain, is idolatrous. ("You cannot serve God and money.") A method of distributing goods and services are needed; 'economics' in that sense in not evil, but necessary." God wills us to love; we are new creations in Christ, and the decisions we make are to be guided by love, not 'maximizing material gain'- profit. The owners of the shop in Bangladesh that collapsed placed material gain- higher cost for a safe building would have reduced profits- first. Those conditions are widespread in Bangladesh, which you imply we must support because they provide 'jobs'.

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Roger McKinney

May 21, 2013  2:29pm

Biblical writers did not know about the possibility of lifting people out of poverty by increasing per capita income any more than they knew about modern medicine or physics. I suspect that the freedom and respect for property that God built into the original Israeli government were intended to produce such a result. And it might have had Israel remained loyal to God. Ignoring modern economic science is no more absurd than ignoring modern medicine. Both are gifts from the same loving God. So if someone wants to help the poor, they need to do so with knowledge, not just zeal. They need to take into account modern economic knowledge as well as the Bible. After all, no one would send a doctor to Bangladesh with instruction to limit his medical care to nothing more than prayer and anointing with oil or pouring wine on wounds. So why ignore 300 years of God-given advances in economics?

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Roger McKinney

May 21, 2013  2:23pm

Until the birth of capitalism, the world knew of only one way to help the poor and that was through charity. No one held modern ideas of progress. As Solomon wrote, there was nothing new under the sun. People living in 1600 had the same standard of living as people living 10,000 BC. Then in 1600 something dramatic happened. Suddenly per capita income took off sharply. Economic historians call it the hockey stick because of the shape of a graph of per capita income. People had little understanding of what was happening, but they like it and wanted more of it. So the best minds set to work trying to discover how this amazing reduction I poverty happened. Adam Smith was one of the first to really grasp what had happened and he described it in his book “Wealth of Nations.” He got some things wrong, but it was a very good start. Since then, Western society has understood that growing per capita income lifts more people out of poverty than any amount of charity, forced or otherwise.

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Roger McKinney

May 21, 2013  2:23pm

In context, I don’t see how to take what you wrote differently. If you didn’t mean that, then why didn’t you tell me what you actually meant in your last post? The verse in Matthew has little to do with economics. It’s about worry and trusting God to provide your needs. At the same time, no one would assume Jesus meant for his followers to quit working because the Paul makes it clear that God’s primary method of providing for our needs is through our work. Economics is about how to organize society in such a way that the workers can perform that God given assignment as well as possible. History and the science of economics have proven that free markets and private property excel at freeing people to be Godly and perform their God-given duties.

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Paul Schryba

May 21, 2013  12:19pm

Roger: Please read what I wrote again. I never meant or implied that "ECONOMICS...“reduce[s] human work to the primary purpose of maximizing material gain.”" What does Matthew 6, 25-34 mean to you with respect to our economic choices?

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