John McCain is under attack from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a rare moment of Democratic unity.
In an economic speech on Tuesday, McCain (Ariz.) said he supports government assistance for Americans facing home foreclosure because of the turmoil in financial markets. But he declined to embrace the kind of government intervention for individuals and institutions favored by Clinton and Obama, arguing that “it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.”
Is McCain really wrong?
I don’t know.
Certainly if his attitude was that the government had no real responsibility to the economy or to suffering people he was wrong. But I don’t think that was his point. I think his point had to do with responsibility as well.
One of the vital lessons of life is that actions have consequences. It is not hard-hearted to say that. We teach it to our kids. We’ve all learned it ourselves. If I eat too much – as I have been doing – I will gain weight. If I gain weight there are potential health consequences. If I develop heart problems because of my diet, well bad on me. I would hope that doctors still treat me. I would hope that my family would help me. But at the end of the day I would have to face the fact that I brought it on myself.
Similarly, if I go credit card crazy buying a bass boat and an HDTV and a vacation to Guam, and don’t have the money to pay my bills, that would be an exercise in irresponsibility and the blame would be squarely on my shoulders.
If that happens, is it really the government’s responsibility to take care of me?
If I buy a house that is way beyond my ability to pay for it and suddenly I can’t afford to make payments anymore isn’t that my fault? Sure, people may have enticed me into buying the house but then again drug pushers would also like to get me to try crack.
Is it the government’s job to bail me out?
I don’t think so.
The more that government behaves like it is the answer – bailing out corporations or individuals who have behaved irresponsibly – the more it sends precisely the wrong messages to people… the message that actions do not have consequences.
The more that message is sent the less incentive there is for people to behave, to live, responsibly… AND, more importantly, the less incentive there is for people to actively engage in each others lives. Why should they? The government will do it.
We are addicted to government. We are in danger of believing that government really is the answer to most questions. It isn’t. Increasingly we bow before a Messiah Government that will save us from all of our problems. In so doing we miss the true power of the true God.
Churches should be at the forefront of caring for people who are struggling. People of faith should be there helping to pick up the pieces of broken lives.
There is SO much wealth in this country. There is SO much wealth in our churches – one local church recently spent more than $100 million on its new compound. $100 million. It didn’t really have too much of a problem raising that kind of money. How much more could it, should it, raise to help people pay their mortgages? To help people reorder their broken lives?
Compassion literally means to “suffer with.” I think we need a bit more compassion and a bit less of Messiah Government.