Free the market, free your mind
I was born Catholic but was later baptized Methodist in the Washington Square Methodist Church of New York, known as the Peace Church because of the many antiwar groups who used its facilities in the 1960s. The Reno First United Methodist Church on West First Street filled a similar role during the disastrous Iraq War. Recently 600 Methodist Congregations called for an end to the War on Drugs. When Christians unite for liberty, people listen.
A young Methodist woman in the 1960s, a Goldwater Girl named Hillary Rodham, was a student at Wesllesley College. She said she wanted to change the world. Now Hillary Rodham Clinton is America’s scold, lecturing us constantly on our untidy habits. She decries America’s under-performing schools, expensive health care, overpriced colleges, and low-paying jobs. These problems all have one thing in common: decades of government involvement, resulting in the very deficiencies she wants to prescribe more government to cure.
This crusade for “social justice” is a part of mainstream Christian teaching today. Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment is a recent example. Christianity has a powerful message of love for your neighbor, the poor, and even your enemy. But when it strays into promoting the social justice agenda, this message of love easily becomes one of envy.
When Jesus talked about how it would be easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than to enter his kingdom, it is important to realize his historical context. For someone to be rich in Judea, he was likely a Roman collaborator, so his earnings did not come from a free market, but from political connections.
We have the same problem today. Libertarians call it “crony capitalism.” Adam Smith called it “mercantilism.” The state creates a cartel through regulations that bestow special privileges. Since large corporations can better afford attorneys and lobbyists, massive regulations, and the costs of compliance help keep new competition from entering the market. Government often bails out its cronies from their poor decisions.
In a gaffe, Hillary Clinton said that corporations don’t create jobs. Her movement calls promoting free markets “trickle down” economics. She can’t be more wrong. Free markets explode upward. The entrepreneur cannot make a profit unless consumers like his product. He cannot produce the product unless he has good workers willing to produce for him. This completely voluntary exchange system will produce the best outcomes. But they will not be controlled outcomes. With freedom people get what they really want because it corresponds to what they will willingly pay for. Even if it is 100 different brands of deodorant!
It is government that exemplifies “trickle down” economics. Recently ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith suggested black people should vote Republican because the Democrats’ social justice programs benefit government workers and the upper middle class more than the blacks of the inner cities. It is the political class, not the productive rich, that is the real obstacle to the lower economic classes.
Republicans practice cronyism, of course, and are often the poster children for corporate welfare.
A “social justice” state will never result in justice, but will only slow down real economic progress.
In the last few years, major studies demonstrate there are better ways than government dictates to raise the standard of living for everyone. The best way is to dramatically reduce, not increase, state power. The average worker’s wage could increase not by 40 percent, but by 200 percent, if we unleash the power of the voluntary freed market. But what can a scold complain about if the house is clean?