God's Politics

God's Politics


Will Braun: The Corporate-Contemplative Clash

posted by gp_intern

Who doesn’t like a good underdog story? … David versus Goliath always makes good copy, especially when the adversaries are as polarized as the oft-demonized retail giant and a Jesuit priest. … But what happens when Goliath wins?”

So says Robert Rowen-Herzog in his article “When Goliath wins,” which appears in the upcoming issue of Geez magazine. The priest he is talking about is Father Jim Profit, and the bad rap retailer is Wal-Mart.

I first heard of Father Jim in 2004. I was in a state of distress at the time. Wal-Mart was laying asphalt on a patch of land where I had once picked strawberries. The big bad box retailer was coming to my hometown, and although the town is brimming with Mennonites renowned for fending off encroaching worldliness, I could hardly find a Christian who had a any qualms with the king of commercialization.

So I called Father Jim. For most of a decade he had been trying to stop Wal-Mart from setting up shop right beside the Jesuits’ retreat center and 600-acre sanctuary on the outskirts of Guelph, Ontario.

Father Jim spoke about the importance of sacredness and serenity in today’s world. “Mega shopping plazas,” he told me, “as monuments of consumerism, are the symbolic opposite of these spiritual values.” That’s why he had joined the fight against Wal-Mart. (See Wal-Mart comes to Manitoba’s Bible Belt.)

Now, three years later, a Wal-Mart sits right next to the Jesuit property.

But that’s not the end of the story. So we at Geez magazine asked Robert Rowen-Herzog to interview Father Jim about failure, new life, and what it is like living contemplatively beside a Wal-Mart.

We are a culture defined by development and consumerism, and mega-shopping plazas like Wal-Mart exist as a monument to these forces. Consumerism masks the need we all have to turn inward to encounter God immanent at our core.

Losing this fight with Wal-Mart … was a death. But in the death we have new opportunities for life.

See the full article: “When Goliath wins.”

Will Braun is editor of Geez magazine.



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kevin s.

posted March 27, 2007 at 8:13 pm


What if it had been a Target?



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Kenneth Burke

posted March 27, 2007 at 9:28 pm


I know you’re a Christian, but who are you a Christian against?



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Justintime

posted March 27, 2007 at 9:40 pm


Like many other large businesses and corporations, Target Corporation faces criticism; because of Target’s smaller size in comparison to Wal-Mart, Target often escapes such criticism. In addition, many people may overlook Target’s practices because of its successful marketing to differentiate itself as being more upscale than other discount retailers and because of its generosity in donating money. Practices that cause some concern include: lack of a living wage certification, lack of labor unions, and its contribution to urban sprawl. Liza Featherstone, contributing editor to the “The Nation” magazine and author of Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers’ Rights at Wal-Mart, stated the following in an inverview.”Aesthetically, we all like Target better, but their wages are in many places low or just as low, and they all represent the Wal-Martization of our economy, which is the exchange of low prices for poor work conditions.” WalMart is bottom line, miserly, strongarm, take no prisoners, scorched earth capitalism on steroids. Local Canadian activists forced WalMart to unionize one of their stores, whereupon WalMart closed it down. Perhaps Target would have been less boorish in their choice of sites than WalMart was in this case. .



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Will

posted March 27, 2007 at 9:46 pm


Have any of you guys seen I Heart Huckabees? The story in the movie reminds me of this and it is really funny. I like what the Father has to say about the strip malls. Europe’s relics of the past are beautiful Cathedrals that represent the Church’s greed, and indulgences. The United State’s legacy will be mega-shopping fiasco’s that represent our greed and materialism. Seems fitting to me.



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 27, 2007 at 9:52 pm


As you all may suspect, I love Wal-Mart. I can almost always get what I want, and nearly always at a lower price than I would have had to pay elsewhere. These lower prices make it possible for me to work less. I now have more time to spend with my family and (gasp) in reflection. I think I would be much worse off paying higher prices to firms run less efficiently and less able to satisfy their customers. Any time firms are shown favoritism by government I am opposed, but there is nothing wrong with good business. If you want to prevent a Wal-Mart from moving in next door there is a simple, legal, and fair way to do so: buy the land yourself and do what you want to with it. Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 27, 2007 at 10:12 pm


Jurisnaturalist — There’s a trade-off, however. You have to pay more in taxes to support Medicaid for Wal-Mart workers who don’t have sufficient health insurance. Your neighbors may work at places that compete with Wal-Mart, so they end up getting less (and that benefits you somehow). And some of that money they make by being more “efficient” goes out the window to fend off lawsuits. In addition, a few years back I was covering a story about a citizens group that was opposing a Wal-Mart being built in a particular suburb. It was just about to go in last fall and boosh! the hillside where it was to be built gave way, closing not only the closest road, a major thoroughfare, but also the railroad tracks next to it, causing train back-ups in the eastern half of the United States. Bottom line, I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart about two years ago.



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Wolverine

posted March 27, 2007 at 10:24 pm


I’m not in love with Wal-Mart or the other big-box retailers, but shutting them down involves tradeoffs that Wal-Mart’s critics don’t talk about. No, they are not a model employer, but they do offer entry level work and without Wal-Mart there’s no guarantee that anyone else would offer the same number of jobs. A crappy job still means a paycheck and work experience that can be parlayed into something better. And the modest prices (nobody has ever questioned that their prices are low that I’ve heard — the complaint centers on how those prices are achieved) are a boon to families on fixed incomes. Get rid of Wal-Mart and a lot of poeple of modest means are liable to see their cost of living go up. Does that make Wal Mart the greatest achievement in American history? No. But Wal Mart is far from an unmitigated evil. Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted March 27, 2007 at 10:31 pm


Rick Nowlin wrote: Jurisnaturalist — There’s a trade-off, however. You have to pay more in taxes to support Medicaid for Wal-Mart workers who don’t have sufficient health insurance. Like I said, without Wal-Mart there’s no guarantee that anyone else would offer those jobs, in which case you’re still paying for not only medicaid but quite possibly welfare and/or food stamps too. Your neighbors may work at places that compete with Wal-Mart, so they end up getting less (and that benefits you somehow). But it’s more likely that they shop at Wal-Mart — or are you assuming that everyone works in retail? And some of that money they make by being more “efficient” goes out the window to fend off lawsuits. Wal-Mart isn’t the only company that has to fend off lawsuits. In addition, a few years back I was covering a story about a citizens group that was opposing a Wal-Mart being built in a particular suburb. It was just about to go in last fall and boosh! the hillside where it was to be built gave way, closing not only the closest road, a major thoroughfare, but also the railroad tracks next to it, causing train back-ups in the eastern half of the United States. And how exactly was this Wal-Mart’s fault? At the least, we need more details here. Bottom line, I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart about two years ago. Which is your right, of course. Wolverine



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justintime

posted March 27, 2007 at 10:37 pm


Getting rid of Walmart is not the goal, Wolvie. The goal is to regulate counterproductive trade policies, enforce existing laws designed to protect workers’ rights, eliminate government subsidy of worker exploitation and put all retailers on an even playing field. .



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Cads

posted March 27, 2007 at 11:15 pm


Without Walmart, my wife would be spending much more money elsewhere or be staying home more bothering me. I love Walmart!



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Payshun

posted March 28, 2007 at 12:10 am


I love my contmeplatives. p



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 12:11 am


And the modest prices (nobody has ever questioned that their prices are low that I’ve heard — the complaint centers on how those prices are achieved) are a boon to families on fixed incomes. Get rid of Wal-Mart and a lot of poeple of modest means are liable to see their cost of living go up. There are no Wal-Marts in “inner city” neighborhoods where I live — they’re all in ‘burbs. And how exactly was this Wal-Mart’s fault? At the least, we need more details here. The township that wanted to host it strong-armed a neighboring borough into taking its sewage, it somehow managed to get highway occupancy and environmental permits approved (possibly illegally) for the project and it overrode its own ordinances that would have normally kept it out.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 1:38 am


Wolverine — Forgot to tell you; you can google my name and Wal-Mart to read the stories I’ve written.



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Deno Reno

posted March 28, 2007 at 2:28 am


Ask a Wal=Mart stockholder and most will besmirk the Walton legacy the dividends are lousy and any profits left over from the Walton family in-laws and out-laws are plowed right back into new store development. Gone are the days of Sam & buying American! God bless him.



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 28, 2007 at 2:37 am


Wolverine, you’ve taken the words right out of my mouth… thank you. justintime… “Regulate counterproductive trade policies, blah, blah…” Ummm.. all trade regulations are counterproductive. I’m working on a seminar which will expose Christians to basic economic theory and common law principles. We obviously need it.



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kevin s.

posted March 28, 2007 at 3:24 am


“Perhaps Target would have been less boorish in their choice of sites than WalMart was in this case.” Target is just as boorish as Walmart. In MN, they consistently evoked eminent domain to get houses and businesses bulldozed (until Republican legislators forbid eminent domain for such a purpose). They are more popular because they have better marketing. They have done a great job of deflecting the criticisms that Walmart has earned. If the Walmart hating types turned their ire toward Target, they would lose what little credibility they have with the American populace.



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 28, 2007 at 3:32 am


Now, when businesses invoke eminent domain, etc. they are appealing to the state to use its force on their behalf. This is theft. Which is why I argue consistently against the state. Only among individuals where property rights are respected can growth and development occur. Most antitrust laws favor one firm over another, or limit entry into industries where the government has chosen a favorite. The key is to limit or remove the ability of the state to chose favorites, in any circumstance. Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 4:22 am


I’m working on a seminar which will expose Christians to basic economic theory and common law principles. We obviously need it. Like a hole in the head. When power/authority are in the hands of the state, at least in theory it answers to the people. But when it’s in private hands, those “hands” answer to no one else. Libertarians don’t get that ultimately they will have to be accountable to someone. Not just themselves.



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WalMart hater

posted March 28, 2007 at 4:22 am


Kevin: ‘If the Walmart hating types turned their ire toward Target, they would lose what little credibility they have with the American populace.’ Why? .



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Payshun

posted March 28, 2007 at 4:39 am


We are not talking about Target right now. We are talking about Walmart. Let’s keep talking about Walmart. p



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kevin s.

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:26 am


“Like a hole in the head. When power/authority are in the hands of the state, at least in theory it answers to the people. But when it’s in private hands, those “hands” answer to no one else.” But if the state answers to the very people who answer to no one, of what virtue is a state that answers to the people? This point makes no sense. “Kevin: ‘If the Walmart hating types turned their ire toward Target, they would lose what little credibility they have with the American populace.’ Why?” For those who are middle and upper class, Walmart has a negative connotation. It is a place where the plebs buy diapers by the gross. Target, however, has a more affluent consumer base. They have a stronger downtown presence, and slick advertising. “We are not talking about Target right now. We are talking about Walmart. Let’s keep talking about Walmart.” No.



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 28, 2007 at 12:50 pm


Rick, “When power/authority are in the hands of the state, at least in theory it answers to the people.” This Hobbesian worldview (Leviathan) is interesting. “Libertarians don’t get that ultimately they will have to be accountable to someone. Not just themselves.” But we are accountable ultimately to ourselves, not to the state. We are accountable to the church and to our Lord. If I make myself accountable to a false god instead of the one true God who convicts my soul am I not worshiping idols? I don’t believe the Libertarians have a sound ethical basis for their philosophy if they do not find it in Christ. But, if we begin with Christ, the Libertarian philosophy in many respects does result. Classical Liberalism, the mother of Libertarianism, came closest to mixing the right formula. I’m trying to pick up where they left off. Nathanael Snow



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Donny

posted March 28, 2007 at 1:14 pm


Kenneth Burke says:”I know you’re a Christian, but who are you a Christian against?” Paul and the writers of the New Testament answered that. It is a main theme throughout the New Testament. Cheistians stand against many things once they become Christians. In looking at the Old Testament story of Goliath, it is clear that Liberals and Progressives are on the Philistines side of things against an opponent, “the Christians,” that they also see as puny and weak. Christians are up against a force of opposition that demands they surrender and accept only the Liberal-Progressive rule over them in the Western and Latin American world, or be killed or absorbed outright in the Muslim world. With so many joined in force against the Christians, it is easy to see why the story of David and Goliath is an important one for the people of God. Easy to see why the Savior is hailed as the Son of David.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 2:16 pm


“When power/authority are in the hands of the state, at least in theory it answers to the people.” This Hobbesian worldview (Leviathan) is interesting. By that I mean, in a democracy, if the government screws up we have the right and responsibility to change the government (or the people who run it). That’s even in the Declaration of Independence! But if, say, big business becomes evil in itself there isn’t much people can do save stop buying its products (which isn’t always possible). I don’t believe the Libertarians have a sound ethical basis for their philosophy if they do not find it in Christ. But, if we begin with Christ, the Libertarian philosophy in many respects does result. I disagree. That’s the same formula that dominionists and the “Religious Right” have always used but only for the “will to power.” Christians should work for the good of all regardless of how it’s done, whether it’s changing laws (such as in Isaiah) or doing the diaconal thing.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 2:18 pm


In looking at the Old Testament story of Goliath, it is clear that Liberals and Progressives are on the Philistines side of things against an opponent, “the Christians,” that they also see as puny and weak. No, Donny. What they hate is people like you who come across as arrogant, all-knowing and power-hungry.



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John

posted March 28, 2007 at 2:55 pm


My goodness! All this venom, all because of a retail store? Isn’t it all about balance? Ask hard questions, be fair in your response, and perhaps a little humble. Maybe that would get toward a place where all sides begin to understand the nugget of truth in each arguement. Might take the sport out of it though I guess. Just one question I have. How many of you actually own, or have owened, a retail store, work or have worked in a retail store?



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Wolverine

posted March 28, 2007 at 3:36 pm


Rick Nowlin wrote: When power/authority are in the hands of the state, at least in theory it answers to the people. But when it’s in private hands, those “hands” answer to no one else. Libertarians don’t get that ultimately they will have to be accountable to someone. Not just themselves. Depends on the theory. In practice the people who run our government are not necessarily any more ethical than the folks who work in for-profit businesses, and there are ways of dodging responsibility in a government bureaucracy or even in an election. It’s also a mistake to argue that businesses are not accountable to the general public. They are accountable in the sense that they must provide valuable goods and services at reasonable prices, or their customers will take their business elsewhere. Granted, it’s an imperfect system, but it does introduce some level of accountability. And I think we’d all have to agree that the accountability mechanisms in government aren’t exactly flawless. (Otherwise, how would a Republican ever get elected?) There is a tendency on the left to romanticize government, to believe that the vices so often encountered in the market are purged by the process of elections. But in the real world self-centered louts win elections too. Greed is not exclusively found in the market: in government ambition sometimes curdles into power-hunger. But at bottom it’s the same thing, and there’s no easy way to escape it. Wolverine



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 28, 2007 at 4:16 pm


Rick, When is it not possible to stop buying the products of a given business? Only in a case where that business is protected in its monopoly status by the government. Which is another situation I have come out against. Otherwise, the market does correct itself. Rather, free choosing individuals are best equipped to make choices for themselves. To say otherwise is patronizing and demeaning. “Christians should work for the good of all regardless of how it’s done, whether it’s changing laws (such as in Isaiah) or doing the diaconal thing.” Had to look up diaconal. You mean the deaconly thing to do, right? If so, good word. Your argument says that the ends justify the means. That’s scary to me. Utilitarianism has no ethical foundation. I believe both the ends and the means must be justified, because God is sovreign. Now, Christians should work for the good of all, and HOW CAN THAT BE DONE BEST? I maintain that channeling our efforts through the state is inefficient and strips our work of its virtue by forcing others to behave according to what must be admitted is a peculiar definition of virtue. Nathanael Snow



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 28, 2007 at 4:26 pm


Wolverine, Good words. Do you have a homepage? To amplify on what you have said: The romantic vision espoused by statists imagines that the mantle of power bequeathed by the state will make the bearer of that mantle magically moral. This wishful thinking is pagan. There is only one way in which human nature may be altered and that is through the redeeming blood of Christ. Even then our works must be directed by the Holy Spirit for them to be virtuous. Belief in the freedom of markets accepts man as he is and does not attempt to alter his self-interested nature. I do not expect unbelievers to give to the poor, though they often do. Their motives cannot be wholly virtuous unless they were directed by the Holy Spirit. I believe this often happens under common grace. Specific grace, which pertains only to Christians, is, as Bonhoeffer says, costly, and requires a response. We give of ourselves out of recognition that we have been given much through God’s providence. Thus, it is the sole and exclusive responsibility of the church to care for the least of these to the exclusion of everyone else. Nathanael Snow



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 28, 2007 at 4:35 pm


Rick, In response to the accusation of dominionism: I have read some Rushdoony and Gary North, Gary DeMar, etc. I find their position distasteful. I don’t believe Christians should act to take dominion of the world through political means, as they and the Religious Right do. I believe we should work to take dominion and proper stewardship over the earth’s resources (not its people) through hard work and creative ingenuity. In this manner we can care for even more of the least of these. God wants us to be blessed so we can be a blessing to others. A blessing horded becomes a curse. The dominionists also have an unhealthy authoritarian concept of the family which often demeans women. It builds upon Godly sanctioning of marriage and family, glorifying the husband, and attempts to prove that God also instituted government, which He did not. He instituted law and judges but not arbitrary rule by kings which was pagan and only begrudgingly allowed. There are some things which North and Rushdoony get right, and you may detect vestiges of their work in the things that I say. You are right to be wary of them, however, and I write this to acknowledge your concern and to clarify. Thank you, Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 5:39 pm


Just one question I have. How many of you actually own, or have owned, a retail store, work or have worked in a retail store? I worked in two different grocery stores, for a total of over nine years. One put the other out of business by strong-arming major wage and benefit concessions from its workers — and later put the savings into a drugstore chain that later went belly-up. Rather, free choosing individuals are best equipped to make choices for themselves. To say otherwise is patronizing and demeaning. Except that total freedom is an illusion — you are limited by such things as your environment, neighborhood etc. You cannot, for example, generally buy something that you don’t know exists. Your argument says that the ends justify the means. I didn’t say that, only that different means may be used to the same end. But the means must themselves be subject to Scripture. A blessing hoarded becomes a curse. I couldn’t have said it better myself.



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kevin s.

posted March 28, 2007 at 6:31 pm


“But if, say, big business becomes evil in itself there isn’t much people can do save stop buying its products (which isn’t always possible).” to the extent that it isn’t possible to stop buying a product, that product (e.g. auto insurance) becomes rather heavily regulated. It is certainly possible in the case of Walmart, as virtually all of their products are sold elsewhere. Further, there are some political figures who are accountable to no one by virtue of their electability. I shudder to think what Ted Kennedy would have to do to be removed from office (the guy can’t even manage to drink himself to death). “Just one question I have. How many of you actually own, or have owened, a retail store, work or have worked in a retail store?” My father owned a book store in Kalamazoo. A B. Dalton’s (now a wholly owned subsidiary of Wal-books, aka Barnes & Noble) moved in and put it out of business. That is fine, they had a better store, and my father had no empirical right to be in business if he could not remain profitable.Of course, liberals like them some Barnes & Noble, even though they brutally underpay their employees and use vicious strongarm tactics that would put Walmart to shame. What’s the saying? Democrats like to read books they can’t afford to buy. Republicans buy books they don’t have time to read… I think I made that up.



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butch

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:02 pm


the complaint centers on how those prices are achieved) are a boon to families on fixed incomes Wolv Not if they spend (consume) more than they need. Shopping less in big boxes leads to less yard sales to get rid of the crap you didn’t need. I would rather pay more for products with greater value. A man paid by Wal-Mart to study the value of Wal-Mart talked about buying a tee shirt for 3.00 instead of 4.50. This means you can buy 3 tee shirts instead of 2. You can go to any Goodwill store and fine all the discarded clothes you want that are perfectly serviceable. Do we need to buy more Chinese products, not that I am against trade? I am against waste! Take away the credit cards that are bankrupting the country driving our sick consumerism and Wal-Mart will be out of business before the weekend.



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butch

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:16 pm


They are more popular because they have better marketing. Kevin I’m saying nothing about Wal-Mart in this. Wal-Mart developed a better distribution system than any other retailer, which is the edge that made them what they are. I did a lot of business with K-Mart and later Wal-Mart, K-Mart forced suppliers to use inefficient distribution methods and Wal-Mart forced suppliers to use efficient distribution methods. K-Mart is gone and Wal-Mart is everywhere. If competitors would study Wal-Marts distribution system and do it better, Wal-Mart would disappear over night. Now Wal-Mart is smart and would probably react but people are ready to leave in droves if anyone offers a better way or an equal way especially if the stores had American made products. If you see anyone doing this, sell Wal-Mart short.



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butch

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:19 pm


(until Republican legislators forbid eminent domain for such a purpose). Kevin S. His normal work is to make excuses for the bad things Republicans do, nice to see something they did right.



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butch

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:23 pm


“Which is why I argue consistently against the state.” Juris We agree but I’m concerned about the things states like Germany, Russia, Peru, etc do with power. Or, the powers states take away like freedoms. I know you see your positions related to freedoms also.



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butch

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:25 pm


We are not talking about Target right now. We are talking about Walmart. Let’s keep talking about Walmart. p PayshunRemember if the subject is a problem for big Republican contributors the subject must be changed.



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butch

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:36 pm


“Only among individuals where property rights are respected can growth and development occur.” juris I agree with almost everything you say save one problem. The private business or corporation only answers to the bottom line and legislation is required to keep them from abusing everyone else.To its logical conclusion a corporation will dominate and monopolize the business it is in. Then comes legislation to level the playing field. I’m not against corporations but they must be regulated and not allowed to influence government excessively. There is a difference between lobbying for you position and buying legislators.



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Carl Copas

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:47 pm


How does one check irresponsible corporate power? The individual can’t do it alone. Somehow, government has to be part of the picture. Obviously, granting government the power to check corporate power runs the risk of creating a Leviathan. Ironically, corporate power/big business can sometimes turn that power to its own advantage (see the work of Kolko, Weinstein, on the Progressive era). James Madison argued, i think in Federalist Paper #10, that in the long run “factions” (i.e. interest groups) would compete with each other so much to capture government that no one faction. He never foresaw, I would argue, the emergence of factions in the form of giant business enterprise that have been a feature of capitalism since the mid-19th century. The best we can do, I think, is manage these kinds of problems, never resolve them permanently.As jurisnaturalist suggests, “There is only one way in which human nature may be altered and that is through the redeeming blood of Christ. Even then our works must be directed by the Holy Spirit for them to be virtuous.” In the long run, that’s the only truly effective and lasting solution.



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Kannbrown65

posted March 28, 2007 at 9:47 pm


Madison may not. But Lincoln, ironically, did. “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” — U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 (letter to Col. William F. Elkins)



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 28, 2007 at 11:22 pm


Rick, You can t buy something that you don t know exists. And how, exactly do new things come to exist? Through creative action unhindered by static thought.Total freedom is an illusion. Though we each have different raw materials which we start out with, I refuse to stop believing in freedom. To the ambitious obstacles are temporary. butch, The Antitrust problem is greatly overstated. No monopoly exists which extorts its customers except it is protected by government. The only way in which a firm can make money is by satisfying its customers. The customer pays and says thank you. The clerk hands over the goods and says thank you. There is a gain from trade. If either one had reason not to say thank you the transaction simply would not take place. Carl, The best we can do is shut off the favors tap to firms from government. Kann, Judging by Lincoln s strongly protectionist leanings, it is indeed ironic that he should write thus to Col. Elkins. But Lincoln was a master politician, leaning with the wind. Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 11:50 pm


Though we each have different raw materials which we start out with, I refuse to stop believing in freedom. To the ambitious obstacles are temporary. You missed the point. As a Christian, you should understand that even creation is not totally free — it answers to a sovereign God Who is beyond space and time.



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 29, 2007 at 12:26 am


Rick, So as a staunch Calvinist you reject free will imposing a deterministic worldview under which those who are “in the know” i.e. the enlightened, the priests, the beaurocrats, whatever… ought to impose their wisdom on everyone else? I don’t think that’s what you meant, but what did you mean?



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Wolverine

posted March 29, 2007 at 5:05 am


jurisnaturalist, Glad you appreciate my posts. I don’t have a blog. I’ve tried to start one but don’t have the right mindset for it — I have a hard time thinking of topics on my own and so I do a lot better commenting on other people’s posts. I’d probably do well on a group blog. Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 29, 2007 at 7:12 am


So as a staunch Calvinist you reject free will imposing a deterministic worldview under which those who are “in the know” i.e. the enlightened, the priests, the beaurocrats, whatever… ought to impose their wisdom on everyone else? You quite rightly identified me as a Calvinist, and on that basis I reject libertarianism. I do not say that any “system” is or can be specifically identified with God; however, He has sent prophets, almost by definition independent operators, from time to time to deliver his message to a generally unwilling audience. In my experience, one of the weakness of Reformed theology is its general disdain for the prophetic because it tends way too much to “systemize” God. And as for “free will” — I stand by my statements that freedom is and must be limited. Martin Luther King Jr. said that you do not have the freedom to go north to, I think, Miami, and without those limits in a moral sense freedom becomes license.



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Sam Sam He's Our man

posted March 29, 2007 at 8:18 am


Don’t you love a global gang bang. The Big Buck stores are leading the way, selling her cheap. Evrybodys pumpin their tanks full and comin down for more. Itzokay, when this planet is stained and smeared and dying and poisoned, Jesus gunna give us a new one, cuz we love him sooooo much.



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 29, 2007 at 12:54 pm


Rick, The irony I see is that it was Calvin who opened up commerce as a legitimate way of life. His emphasis on personal responsibility and his followers interest in liberty, though that had many flavors, helped to prepare for the industrial revolution. I suppose liberty is a better word than freedom, and semantics aside, I prefer a world where individuals can own their own labor and the fruits thereof. I agree there is a danger of treating a liberty as a license. I believe the Golden Rule is a good protection against this danger. Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 29, 2007 at 4:24 pm


I suppose liberty is a better word than freedom, and semantics aside, I prefer a world where individuals can own their own labor and the fruits thereof. I don’t have a problem with that, per se; it’s just that wealthy and powerful people have a tendency to abuse that for the sake of maintaining it. That’s what the Prophets wrote about from time to time. Besides, as you said earlier, God blesses us to that we can be a blessing, but libertarians tend to forget that.



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 29, 2007 at 7:15 pm


Rick, Right. What Libertarians do recognize, which most others do not, is the gains from trade aspect, which Adam Smith wrote about. My wife is in insurance. Sometimes she feels guilty about selling people insurance. I tell her, babe, only sell them the insurance they can really use, and there will be no problem. When she sells them a policy they are better off. She has been a blessing to them. If she sells a policy they don’t need, they will cancel it eventually, which is bad for her in the long run. Good businesses focus on satisfying their customers better than their competitors, and as a result consumers get progressively better goods and services. One of the easiest ways to be a blessing to others is to excel in your work. Be as productive as possible, be as competitive as possible. This way everyone will be forced into doing whatever they do best and resources will be allocated most efficiently. The role of the church in this is to encourage hard work, and to look after those who can’t do for themselves. Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 29, 2007 at 7:35 pm


What Libertarians do recognize, which most others do not, is the gains from trade aspect, which Adam Smith wrote about. Oh, I do — I just don’t worship “the market.” In my two occupations, journalism and music, quality has often taken a back seat to financial concerns, which is a problem because quality may not be what people want (or think they want). I can write an article or play my instruments well but if no one’s buying (or they prefer junk) I’m up the creek, as both fields these days often cater to the LCD.



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jsens

posted March 30, 2007 at 3:23 pm


Of all the chains, Wal*Mart provides the poor with a place to buy lots of things they need. What is wrong with that? Target provides low to middle income shoppers a place to buy things they need at reasonable prices. What is wrong with that? Both of these stores, led by giant Walgreens, brought down the price of many prescription drugs compared to those old mom and pop drugstores that used to rape communities with outrageous prices. Giant Sears with its catalog gave relief to shoppers all over America from the gross overpricing in the old general stores. Giant A&P, Safeway, Kroger, and other big chains bring huge supplies of fairly priced food to us every day. If you don’t believe this, try shopping at some little downtown mom and pop and see how you get ripped off. All this is done by skilful purchasing, marketing, and management. Many whine and moan about one perceived abuse or another. Supposedly is it so bad to work at Wal*Mart yet when a new store opens there are always hundreds more people lining up for jobs than there are openings. I know personally two older retired former Wal*Mart employees who worked their way up the ladder and did very well financially. They have nothing but good things to say about their experience. Finally, if you don’t like consumerism I don’t know what you are going to do. Everywhere in the world I go everybody is either trying to sell me something or just wants me to give them money without giving me anything in return but a verbal pat on the back.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 4:19 pm


jsens — Simple: It’s called “economic exploitation.” The mom-and-pop stores were never outrageously expensive, but Wal-Mart buys wholesale goods in bulk so that it pays less and pass the savings onto customers — and of course smaller stores cannot afford to do that. Not only that, but much of that money fills the wallet of someone down in Arkansas, so Wal-Mart actually drains money from the local economy.



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