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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stand and Deliver

How do you explain why God sometimes delivers you out of hardships, but at other times he allows you to go through them? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1527).

Sometimes God expects us first to get our act together–in other words, peace and tranquility are partly our responsibility, a responsibility requiring work...not the least of which is work that engages thought and imagination.

It is in this spirit I address the impasse that currently afflicts American politics.  It is an impasse that begs for an alternative to the present options given of a welfare state vs private capitalism.  Both of these directions, while in part born of good intentions, have brought us to this tortuous pass.  We must not expect God to zap us with new ideas, but he has given us the opportunity to work together and to envision something better.

At the outset it must be recognized that the playing field today is international and that current governmental regulatory structures do no adequately reflect that. Nevertheless we must ask, what can nation states do to resolve social and political conflict?

A central matter to be addressed is the impact of capitalism on public life.  Capitalism posits a fictional distribution of private property and tends to ignore community-wide public contributions and costs in the creation of wealth.  Nevertheless, capitalism beyond argument is an essential parent of creativity.  But we must recognize that creativity has benefits and costs that far outstrip current allocations of wealth.  Its costs are far greater than any private Research and Development budget and its benefits far surpass private profit margins.  We must merely reflect on computer automation to recognize this.  That the benefits we all enjoy cannot be neatly contained is obvious.  Likewise the cost of creativity includes severe contortions to any given status quo.  There are numerous distortions and displacements whose cost is best met by being spread over many industries (as indeed are the benefits).  Let us take for example the “buggy whip” industry that met the creative efforts of Henry Ford and his workers that introduced revolutionary innovations into economic life.  Certainly we would not expect only the Ford motor company to help retrain and relocate buggy whip workers. Such specificity would discourage creativity and unfairly allocate cost without regard for the huge social benefit of automobiles.

Therefore we see that neatly and assiduously allocating costs and benefits is impossible and fictional.  Of necessity we need broader and more realistic visions of the nature of creativity, cost accounting, and governmental taxing and funding.  It is our place to meet this reality responsibly while bravely transcending prejudices that hamstring and balkanize us.  Then, we must prayerfully turn to God to bless our best efforts.

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