Monday, August 30, 2010

It's been awhile

I know it's been a long time since I've posted here. I could say that it's because I've been developing my magnum opus of blog posts, but that's hardly the case. I could also argue that nothing of note has happened in the world since my last post but this also not the case. In fact, a great amount has happened especially in the last few weeks. The reason I'm starting up again is that A) I'm going to have more time during the school year to read the news and reflect on it, and B) I have something to talk about that I feel is worth breaking my blog-silence.

I recently finished watching the movie Capitalism: A Love Story by Michael Moore. The movie looked at recent capitalism in this country, how it developed and how it's perpetuated in our country today. In the usual Moore fashion, there was a blatant honesty in the way the documentary was filmed, the people that were featured, and the facts that were presented. What struck me, however, was a few minutes in which Mr. Moore asked religious leaders what they thought of Capitalism. The recurring answer was that it was inherently evil and sinful.

This struck me most because we are constantly made aware of extremist religious leaders on the left and the right, perpetuating their views from the pulpit. I am reminded of stories of preachers telling their congregations how to vote (usually conservative to promote the right-to-life argument). It raises a question I've posed before, which is this: If a person considers themselves a Christian and to be following Christian teaching, how do they reconcile those beliefs with a strong belief in Capitalism?

In my opinion, we have even moved beyond Capitalism. Capitalism hinges on the competition of equal-sized and resourced companies, the trickle-down of resources to equalize all groups, and the competition in the market to drive down prices and raise quality of service. If this system were in place, I don't think there would be many people against it. The problem is that this system is highly susceptible to corruption and special-interests. I feel we have seen the rise of Neo-Capitalism, in which the top 1-5% of the population controls 90% of the wealth, while the top 5% of companies control 85% of the private sector. If we were working in a capitalist system, we would be seeing higher taxes on the upper class and a redistribution of wealth and resources to the lower-income and smaller business markets. Instead, we are seeing a further disparity between the upper and middle class. Taxes are used to fund programs for the lower class, while the upper class is being taxed at the lowest percentage in decades.

The fundamental ideologies of Neo-Capitalism as an economic system are inherently biased to the upper percentages of both the public and private sector. What we see are the stripping of regulations, the opening of options that only the largest companies can take advantage of. We are seeing actions that are directly destroying the lives of individuals, but are bringing in profits for companies.

In the matter of Christianity, we are taught that the poor are blessed while the rich are too be pitied. We are called to be servants to humanity in the Christian doctrine, to give all we have to others so that we may help them. Sounds like the redistribution of wealth, doesn't it? So, why is it that Christianity is often seen as being a fundamentally conservative view? If we are serious about following religious doctrine, the only logical choice is to be anti-capitalism, and especially anti-neo-capitalism. Instead, what has happened is that it seems as though religious leaders have confused social conservatism and ethical conservatism.

Most Christians are pro-life because they believe that life begins at conception and that all life is sacred. However, they seem to forget that believing one thing does not mean you have to believe another. I've noticed that the most conservative (AKA neo-cons) are also neo-capitalists. I believe that what these politicians have done is adopt an ethically conservative view in order to perpetuate a socially conservative point of view. This belief comes from the failure for Washington to ban abortions, despite a "majority" of congressmen who are pro-life (another post in itself). In this way, neo-cons and neo-caps have joined to bring their joint view for our country into fruition.

Here's a view of how it will look:
You are able to buy insurance anywhere you like, but it's all controlled by the same corporation, so it makes no difference. The cheapest insurance is all in the same area, so that everyone in country is getting their insurance from town X. That town is home to a satellite company of this major corporation, which has its HQ overseas so that they don't have to pay taxes on their profits. You work for a company which takes out a life insurance policy on you without your knowledge so that they earn hundreds of thousands of dollars when you die from the cancer you got from cleaning out toxic waste sites as part of your job. That life insurance policy doesn't benefit your family, of course.

This is just a snapshot. That life insurance thing is actually happening now (watch the Michael Moore film). What interests me is that this really isn't that far off. The only thing we're missing is the generalization to the entire population. The Tea Party movement is promoting this exact vision, whether they know it or not.

As Christians, we should be vehemently against neo-capitalism if for no reason than for its blatant disregard for human dignity. We can support liberal candidates who are just as pro-life as the conservative candidates. The life of the unborn should not supersede the rights of the born.