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Nov 12, 2012


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I am not convinced that "solidarity" relates to government action at all. That is, I see it as more an injunction to those Christians with the ability to help others to do so, as individuals. That is different from those with power using coercion to take from one person and give to another. Private charity is discouraged when government displaces it. Private charity is far more efficient, and can far more easily distinguish between those who should receive help and those who would be helped more by a kick in the pants. I know of no example in Scripture where government is seen as having charity or wealth redistribution as a proper function.

I think the "poles" are subsidiarity on one side, and a need for uniformity and coherence as described in the example in your related post. Commercial law, for example, is better done at a national level because commerce itself is national, so a single standard facilitates commerce. The opposite pole to solidarity is selfishness.

One last comment. "Capitalism" is the opposite of selfishness. Instead, a free (and non-fraudulent)bargain is, by nature a win-win because neither party would enter into the bargain unless it was thought to be beneficial to that party. It is only crony-capitalism (where the government interferes unduly) or in cases of fraud or breach of contract that this is not true.

Michael W. Kruse

Whit, I think one of the challenges is translating practices from the advanced agrarian societies of the Bible into a modern post-industrial context.

Neither government nor business were seen as discrete social institutions the way we see them today. Rates of productivity were seen as unalterable, resulting in a zero-sum game perspective on economic growth, meaning poverty relief was addressed primarily through alms. The Old Testament had mandatory storehouse tithing upwards of 25% of production that was given to the Levites for distribution to the poor but the New Testament seems to simply encourage generosity, sometimes giving money to the church to help others. I find it hard to identify a direct moral prescriptions from the biblical world to address our own world.

I'm not persuaded that solidarity and subsidiarity are a polarity either. I'll have to give more thought to how you've framed it. Thanks


I think the Left still thinks in terms of a zero-sum game in economics. That's why they think in terms of redistribution rather than growing the pie. It results in resentment of the rich rather than in care for the poor. Why should I care that somebody has several billion dollars of fairly gotten gain if in the getting that person also benefitted all of society? They should be supported not vilified and punished.

And perhaps you cannot translate OT economics to this society (though Roman Imperial society is much closer to our own), but neither can you use anything in the OT as authority for government mandated redistribution.

I don't have time in this short space, but I think Jesus' parables, and Scripture generally, are much more consistent with free-market principles than with socialism.

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