Monday, June 15, 2009

Road to Serfdom

Like many people, my political views have changed over the years. I was raised by Reagan Democrats, parents who had always been Democrats, had voted for Carter, and then voted for Reagan in 1980. They became Republicans after that, part of that group of Christians who converted to Republicanism as a result of the "culture wars." I was therefore raised in a very conservative environment that equated being Christian with voting Republican. I bought it hook, line and sinker. In my mid 20s though I began to change and by the 90s I called myself a liberal. Mainly, this had to do with my reading of the Bible, and the way in which I interpreted Jesus' way of relating to people. Once again, however, I am rethinking things a bit. I have pulled out some of my old economics books dealing with things like supply-side economics and the redistribution of wealth. This is all in the news today with President Obama's economic policies. In fact I am rereading Frederick Hayek's classic The Road to Serfdom.

So, what does this mean from a faith perspective? I am not sure. I am constantly struggling with how we can relate the Bible to our contemporary situation. On one hand I believe that the church should take care of people who can't take care of themself. And yet, I also believe that in America, where freedom is important, we should not forcibly take from people who are successful and give to people who won't work. Arthur Laffer, one of the formulators of supply-side economics has recently written a new book about how raising taxes too high lowers govt. revenue (this is the main premise of supply side economics) and the inecentive that people have to work and be innovative. He makes great sense. If people have no incentive to work and make money, they are not going to work. And so once again, I find myself rethinking where I am on the spectrum.

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