For and Against:

  • For: Cultural conservativism that takes seriously the notion that sometimes change is not always best. 
  • Against: Cultural conservativism that unthinkingly thinks that all things were better "in the good old days" (as if they actually had existed).
  • For: Economic populism that realizes that corporations do not often pursue the best interest of the common good.
  • Against: Economic populism that believes that government will do any better.
  • Against: Rhetoric that demonizes the government, as if it is the greatest evil facing society.
  • Against: Rhetoric that demonizes business corporations, schools, trade associations, families, churches, or any other social structure needed for a healthy pluralistic society.
  • For: An economic system where people are free to pursue an abundant life, unencumbered by unjust laws and corporate greed.
  • For: An economic system where people share their resources for the common good, including a tax code that has those who have more pay more.
  • Against: An over-reaching government that extends too far into social spheres that are better handled by others (because the government does not have the expertise or locality to solve most of the problems that face us).
  • For: Universal flourishing of all, what the Bible calls Shalom.


Jack said...

"Against: Economic populism that believes that government will do any better."
This is generalization that is false by being too sweeping. Government can be inefficient and cold. But what gave us Social Security, Child Labor Laws, Workman’s Comp, Food and Drug Admin, Unemployment, GI Bill, and on and on. It wasn’t corporations or any other institution. True there have been bad things, but almost any mass good we can do will be through government. And a lot of what the government does badly is a function of bureaucracy – anything that big has problems. But anyone who has dealt with GM, Chrysler, and Ford will tell you about the problems of those bureaucracies. And unlike corporate CEO’s, we can vote them out. And even the Church. It was powerless in the Great Depression.

Bob Robinson said...

Jack, You say, "almost any mass good we can do will be through government."

I submit that this is "a generalization that is false by being too sweeping." This negates the great advances to civilization by every other societal institution besides the government, such as business enterprise which has brought about advances in the standard of living, the science sector which has brought technological innovation, medical advances by for-profit hospitals, labor unions which have brought about better work conditions, N.G.O.s (non-governmental organizations) that have dedicated money and expertise for social benefits, non-profit charities that have brought everything from urban renewal to feeding the hungry to housing the homeless to overcoming oppression. Certainly government is the only entity capable of doing huge programs to overcome injustices, but I submit that government would not be move to make such change without these other entities pushing it to do so.

And this is not simply an issue of "bureaucracy," it is an issue of who does what best. Certainly Ford and the Roman Catholic Church are as weighed down by bureaucracy as the federal government, but that's not the issue.

Ford innovates technologically as they make cars and they create jobs - from their own assembly lines all the way down the supply chain - and that benefits all who are involved.

The Catholic Church fights for human dignity in third world countries and feeds the hungry and houses the homeless. The federal government is not better at these things - Give me more Mother Teresas. The liberal, gay mayor of Portland is thankful to the evangelical church in his area, they are doing something about human sex trafficking and drug violence that his government is incapable of dealing with.

Jack said...

"Against: An over-reaching government that extends too far into social spheres that are better handled by others (because the government does not have the expertise or locality to solve most of the problems that face us)."

I agree, but this can be the cry of “states rights” and “local government” knowing enough not to need oversight in protecting the minorities and powerless from local tyrants and prejudices. This is a way of going against government laws and judicial judgments because “they don’t apply here.” It’s a fallacy sometimes that the government must be close to the people to be fair and know what’s needed. Sometimes the locals are evil or dumb...... see the 60’s or Health Care, or Medicare.

Bob Robinson said...

What I am talking about is not "State's RIghts" but about the reality that a federal government disconnected from local issues should not be our primary means for solving local issues. We must first place our trust in local institutions to solve our problems and not automatically go to the Federal Government (or, even, to State or local government).

Politics is not everything, or even the most important thing. We must use our imaginations again, advancing creative solutions and not make political solutions the center of life. There are other institutions that are more immediately connected to the reality on the street, and since they are more local, more in tune with these realities, they can provide more innovative solutions.

The government's role is to make sure that they are able to undertake their tasks. We should not want the state to take over a function of other institutions in society. We should want the state to actually help them fulfill their responsibilities.

The state should focus on what it alone can do (certainly there are huge programs that are best tackled by the federal government - and you've listed many of them, which I would add health care reform), but we must not pretend that the state is capable of doing it all.

A labor union, a family, a church, a university, a trade association, a local business, a grass-roots NGO, etc., have their own unique abilities to contribute to the common good, and we should not seek to have the state override their place in society and the contributions these institutions uniquely are capable to providing.