Thursday, November 30, 2006

Three wonderful books

Apart from the Bible, I'd tend to recommend three books for people to read to better understand Biblical economics and politics.

The first is Marvin Olasky's "The Tragedy of American Compassion," which demonstrates clearly that a permanent underclass did not occur until government started providing welfare assistance without a moral component. It should be required reading for all who want to get into politics, especially those who take Ron Sider, Jim Wallis, and "Sojourners" seriously. (for the uninitiated, these are the primary Christian advocates of more government involvement in charity)

The second is "The Millionaire Next Door," by Stanley and Danko. Those who believe that wealth is a result of "winning life's lottery" and advocate its confiscation via income or estate taxes desperately need to read this. Contrary to popular opinion, millionaires generally won't be found driving BMWs, sitting in a corner office, eating caviar or drinking $100 per bottle wine. Rather, you saw them in an older F150 on their way to fix someone's plumbing or electrical issues.

The third, and newest, is Arthur Brooks' "Who Really Cares; the Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism." Although it's (IMO) slightly misnamed--it's really about private, not public, initiative--it's valuable in that it makes the point that the religious, conservatives, and family men are the most likely to contribute to all kinds of charities. They are more likely to give time, money, blood, United Way and other contributions by statistically significant margins despite earning less money than their theologically, culturally, and politically liberal peers.

In other words, the old joke is true; a liberal is one who is generous with someone else's money.

10 comments:

Mercy Now said...

I heard bout the Mill Next Door. One of our company's client is just that but when I met him, I thought he looked like a bum on the street. Hair not kept and old torn up jeans (not the $200 brand name torn ones). He actually owns several companies.

Yes, libs are generous w/ other people's money which is why they LOVE BIG GOVT!

Skeeter said...

Please expand on what you mean by, "Biblical politics." I don't want to jump to conclusions but that phrase really scares me.

David McCrory said...

Bert,

I haven't read any of those books, but as you can imagine, I have read Gary North, Rushdoony, etc. Would you say your books promote a thoroughly biblical approach to economics, or would they be more in line with the general conservative economic/ political line?

Not speaking for Bubba, I'd say he means by "biblical politics" to derive a basis of law and gov't on Scriptural rather than pragmatic or "natural" grounds.

Bike Bubba said...

Joe, what I'd mean by Biblical government isn't stoning adulterers, but rather simply applying the principles of Genesis 9, Romans 13, and such to limit the government to the purpose of commending the just and punishing the wicked.

Per David's question, I don't go along with the full theonomist worldview given by North and Rushdoony, though I've been reading North's columns on www.lewrockwell.com for five years now. The reason is simple; as much insight as the Torah gives, New Testament ethics differ somewhat. Given the choice, I must go with the epistles rather than the Torah.

Bike Bubba said...

One other thought; the books I cite do not systematically promote a thoroughly Biblical approach to economics in the way that Rushdoony and North (to their credit) attempt. Rather, they present the results obtained when portions of Biblical economics (charity, saving, thrift, etc..) are rightly or wrongly applied.

Joe said...

Does this mean, Bert, that you'd place Biblical government in the libertarian part of the American politcal spectrum?

Bike Bubba said...

Depends on what you mean by "libertarian", really. Legalize dope & hookers? Nope. Reduce the alphabet soup of federal agencies to a relatively boring salad? You bet.

Joe said...

I'll gladly grant that Scripture teaches the principle of good stewardship, but I think you're being sloppy if you say that the particular solution of small government is "Biblical." If you are going to bestow that label on particular political positions, then you are going to have a hard time explaining the co-existence of citizenlink.org and sojo.net. You'll find plenty of Biblical principles to guide Christians active in politics, but good luck finding anything advocating a particular form of government or policy. Indeed a survey of the amount of coverage various topics receive in Scripture leads to the conclusion that God just doesn't care that much about politics.

Bike Bubba said...

Joe, agreed that all sorts of groups claim Scripture to back them up. The fact remains, however, that the Bible does not allocate the role of charity to government, but rather to the family and the church. To use government for charity is akin to a carpenter using his Sawzall to pound in nails--it's just not the right tool for the job, and Olasky's book demonstrates what a disaster it's been.

Given that most government spending today is for one "charitable" scheme or another, I would argue that a Biblical understanding of roles would tend to greatly reduce government.

Joe said...

I agree with you. I'm glad that you are limiting Scripure's authority in politics to the establishment of principles (in this case, charity is the responsibility of church and family) and are resisting the temptation to say that your particular method of putting those principles into action is the "Biblical" one. The reason I asked for clarification on your phrase in the first place is that too many people succumb to this temptation, particularly during the latest iteration of GOP primacy in this country.