I have been disturbed of date as my fellow Christian's fight back against any attention given to addressing the growing wealth gap in America, with accusations of a movement toward socialism. Go figure!
Many of them white, evangelical, middle class like myself. Frankly, as a 72 year old on Social Security, I guess to a degree I believe in socialism (little "s"). Of course, I could rightfully take the position that I have worked hard all my life, and now should be able to enjoy the carrot of retirement! By the way, as told to me by a current congressperson, that carrot was shrewdly designed in 1935, to create a cash flow for the Fed's. At that time, the life expectancy of most workers was 62! I guess I surprised them!
Don't take me as anti-social security, nor pro-socialism, something my right of center friends have been taught to banter with, when centrists try to make a point.
As the title should imply, I strongly believe in capitalism, Christ-centric capitalism. That is, a system that rewards effort and creates means for myself and my fellow man. However, as my 95 year-old-dad, himself raised on a large farm once shared: certain vegetables, if mustard greens qualify as vegetables, must be constantly guarded lest they go to seed! I watched many a time in the garden as he pinched out tall shoots, bent on forming mustard seed, otherwise the plant would cease putting on these new and edible, tasteful leaves.
By way of caveat, I am from the South; we even eat weeds, like Dandelion greens, with Fat-back!
Back to the subject at hand, capitalism in America seems to have now gone to seed! As a culture, we seem more about wealth acquisition, than the free practice of one's talent's and callings as stewarded gifts from the Almighty, our rewards appropriately shared with mankind.
The concept of servant leadership, once so in vogue, and just as it began to bear its natural fruit, seems to have fallen victim to materialism with annual salaries of CEO's now far above any justifiable income, given that the salaries of the working men and women that create those revenues are barely livable.
Yes but, don't those fine men and women contribute abundantly by way of taxes and philanthropy? Many certainly do. As well, the IRS was set up to assure that 501c(3)'s (non-profits, even churches benefit) have access to tax dollars; encouraging local foundations to support necessary social programs; with revenues at the state and local level available such that municipalities could thrive and economies blossom per the American Dream! And, to assure law and order!
So Bost, what's your point?
That may be the rub, given that over time we have married the two, that is taxes and philanthropy. The latter, now more a tax code than a core value! The more I give, the less I pay in taxes. Oh, but that has it limits! Yes, though stretched over a five year window.
As well, when you throw in politicians, the impact of their donor base and a few lobbyists, absent of term limits, eventually the 10% control the resources and those least cared for, are cared for less.
Philanthropy takes its definition from root words that imply "a love for life"! What better purpose statement for Christ-followers than, "that you (and others) might have life and have it more abundantly."
When all the above is cloaked in a veil of nationalism the waters get a little more murky, and people are more easily manipulated. That in fact may be where we are today. America is an amazing place to live, but less and less for those who have fallen through the cracks of the emerging digital age, with public schools underfunded, college degrees more expensive and yes, less meaningful! Not to speak of neighborhoods segregated from any possibility of quality life by way of zoning, often more designed for the have's than the have-nots.
Philanthropy that is dependent upon tax law and corporate benefit, is not only inadequate, but unlikely to actually fit the definition of "love for life." A call to reconsider our "love for life" neither requires that we discard capitalism for some other failed economic system, nor screams socialism. Nor should any citizen's desire for a shared quality of life, given our soaring economy, be cause for our most devoted patriots, those hard working folk who fully believe in the American dream, to be confused by the dog-whistling of those occupying our highest offices. No way should anyone feel the need to storm our Capitol or pose concerns for a pending Inauguration.
If such is the case, the 1% and those they incite, actually rule the land! That's fascism, capitalism "gone to seed"! Certainly not deserving of the Christian flag!