Wealth Redistribution and the Principles of Christianity
That is not meant to be an affront to you or to any other Americans on list.
After all, my own ideas on this are themselves grounded in my own New
Zealand culture which is derived from that of Great Britain, but I would
contend that my country's way of dealing with issues of poverty and the like
is a much better outworking of Christianity than the American way. In other
words Christian principles are more deeply embedded in New Zealand's social
and political structures than they are in the US.
This country, and many Commonwealth countries, is orientated towards the
common weal. We see the duty of Government as primarily that of managing
the country for the common good of the entire populace. In order to achieve
this common weal we cheerfully hand over our taxes. And while there is
nothing to prevent a man becoming immensely rich there is, thank God, a
government policy which protects a man from becoming obscenely poor.
But this is *not* the view of American government, at least among those who
hold to the original founding of the US. Your Declaration of Independence
specifically states, "...Governments are instituted among men to preserve
these rights..." In other words, you did *not* see government as managing
the country or imposing a blue print; you saw it as the means to guarantee
people liberty. It is a very different concept.
Neither concept of government is in and of itself Christian, but I would
argue that government established for the common weal is more Christian than
government focused on personal liberty.
Now the NZ (and Commonwealth) approach is all based on a legacy of English
church/state established relationships with a dollop of 19th century Methodist
good works thrown in and this has spread out to the Commonwealth so I can
see how the American culture of separation of Church and State with the pot
of wholesome libertarianism thrown in (I always find your libertarian take on things
intriguing, and sometimes frightening - but always fascinating to read!) can
be horrified by the thought of actively engaging in ‘wealth redistribution.”
But for us social security provision ("wealth redistribution") as a safety net
to help the most needy, and a free health care system for all is a Christian
response and a Christian use of our taxes.
Now as Church and State drift further apart it remains to be seen if that
partnership will continue but I still argue that we in New Zealand (and
perhaps slightly less now in the UK) enjoy a culture where people have
invested into the state the outworking of its Christian principles(getting
more and more diluted of course but still there) as the basis of its law and
care for its citizens.
In my experience, the people who extol the dignity and sense of self-worth
to be found in grinding labour for miserable pay, no health care
and no future have themselves experienced none of those things.
Do the principles and values advocated by the Neo-classical Capitalists (self-reliance,
entrepreneurship, success as the achievement of wealth, etc.) mesh with what
we read in Scripture, the Fathers of the Church and the Saints? Or do they
contradict the sources of our faith?
Can one be a true Christian and a social Darwinist?