Progressive Revival

Progressive Revival


Michael Moore Asks the Question: What Would Jesus Do…About Capitalism?

posted by Paul Raushenbush

Roman Catholic Priests are the surprising voices of clarity and conviction in Michael Moore’s new film Capitalism: A Love Story.   The Priests in this documentary, one of whom married Mr. Moore and his wife, aren’t ambivalent – they characterize capitalism as evil.   This must be jarring for most moviegoers who have not had the pleasure of interacting with radical priests who, unfortunately, seem to be something of a dying breed these days.   Most of us are used to the recent steady stream of religious voices praising our free market system as part of God’s plan for prosperity.  In Moore’s opinion we have been hypnotized to believe that capitalism and Christianity must go hand in hand.

 

In one of the funnier segments of the film, Moore adapts one of the early Jesus movies by dubbing over foundational teachings of Jesus such as “You cannot worship God and wealth” (Luke 16:13); “Blessed are the poor and woe to the rich”(Luke 6); Let the oppressed go free (Luke 4), and changing them to pithy endorsements of such stock capitalist principles such as the profit motive.  One immediate classic is the scene of Jesus refusing to heal the sick man because of what this new improved capitalist Jesus describes as his “pre-existing condition.” 

 

While the views of the priests in this film may seem strange to some, Christians have been questioning Capitalism’s ethical compatibility with Jesus since the effects on the poor of capitalism and industrialization became tragically clear in the 1850′s.  Many of us who are above thirty-five will remember the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) movement among Evangelical churches in the 1980′s and 90′s.  Seen from the outside, WWJD seemed a laughable effort to improve individualistic Christian morality.  However the history of WWJD dates back a century before when Charles Sheldon wrote the Christian novel “In His Steps,” which asked the question What Would Jesus Do to an American society rife with social inequalities and ills  due in part to the rise of industrialization and the capitalist exploitation of the poor by the wealthy.  While the book has undeniably patronizing tones, it compellingly tells the story of a prosperous church whose members respond to the challenge of living their life by the question: What Would Jesus Do?  The characters in the book include a business man who decides to make his factory a cooperative, a tenement owner who repents of his policy of neglect towards his tenants, and a heiress who gives up her fortune to give housing and religious instruction to the poor women of the slums.

 

The priests in Michael Moore’s film are part of an even more radical tradition that includes Father Edward McGlynn from the 1890′s, as well as more recent Catholics such as Gustavo Gutierrez and others shaped by liberation theology and its socialist economic principles.  My great grandfather Walter Rauschenbusch, was a Baptist pastor who, while never a socialist, was sympathetic to the Christian Socialist tradition.  He wrote this remarkably piece in 1908 which seems as though it could be written today:

 

            In the same way we shall have to see through the fictions of capitalism.  We are assured that the poor are poor through their own fault; that rent and profits are the just dues of foresight and ability; that the immigrants are the cause of corruption in our daily politics; that we cannot compete with foreign countries unless our working class will descend to the wages abroad.  These are all very plausible assertions but they are lies dressed up in truth.  There is a great deal of conscious lying.  Industrialism as a whole sends out deceptive prospectuses just like the single corporations within it.  But in the main these misleading theories are the complacent self-deception of those who profit by present conditions and are loath to believe that their life is working harm. 

-          Christianity and the Social Crisis

 

Moore’s film isn’t clear what system he is suggesting to replace capitalism.  Instead of socialism he suggests democracy (a system of governance for which an editor from the Wall Street Journal has stated his distaste earlier in the film.)   But does democracy cover it?  Moore promotes small, self owned cooperative businesses, safeguarded by a supportive government that provides for the basic needs (rights) of the population.   But Mr. Moore’s answer to the problem of capitalism is never completely clear.   He seems happy with leaving it to the democratic process to come up with the solutions.

 

The real value of the film Capitalism: A Love Story is that Mr. Moore turns the spotlight on places in America of suffering and degradation that we would rather ignore.  Some of the scenes of eviction are too painful to watch and your heart aches for the people in their struggles.  This is where the true Christian message finds its most potent voice as it is in those very struggles where we find Christ,  and it is in those places that Christians must serve. Jesus is not in the houses of the wealthy and the comfortable, he is in the suffering cries and crisis of the poor.   If the church should be anywhere, it is there proclaiming release to the captives and redemption of the oppressed.

 

In one of the most poignant moments of the film the Bishop of Chicago joins the workers who refuse to leave their factory until they are paid what they are due and treated with dignity.   As he serves them communion, the Bishop says to the gathered people – ‘we will not leave you, you are not alone.’ 

 

Just what Jesus would do.   



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Bonnie

posted October 5, 2009 at 7:16 am


The crisis is moral, and economic “systems” are no more moral than the people within them. People voting “democratically” may not necessarily vote morally, especially over time. Mike’s been talking about moving toward fictional movies and he should go for it.
The Bible’s rules presume people’s ownership of private property. In the Old Testament’s social and political order, the poor received an economic edge. Deuteronomy 15:1-11 explains how Israel is to show special concern for the poor by always being generous and by canceling their debts every seven years. People were commanded to lend to them freely, at no interest (Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Exodus 22:25). Wheat and grape harvests were to be left partly ungathered, the excess to be collected by the poor (Leviticus 19:9-10, 23:22). The tithe was designed in part for their relief (Deuteronomy 14:29, 26:12-13).
If the poor were receiving this consideration, capitalism would not be in question. However, socialism removes the free will and generally motivation, and in its very nature it is coercive.



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Erica

posted October 5, 2009 at 7:49 am


Micheal Moore has made all of his money off of capitalism, it is about working hard, having to struggle and overcome and making yourself a better person, perhaps, Moore should not be so critical of a system that has made him so wealthy. No system brings a classless system, there will always be those that have more than others, the key is to give generously of your means.



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Lauren

posted October 5, 2009 at 11:46 am


I think your article really addresses the fictive play and moral disengagement in which we are all embroiled in to keep capitalism going. This severe inequality of socioeconomic status ,which we all buy into and accept to maintain our lifestyles, will ultimately harm us all.



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Thom Hunter

posted October 5, 2009 at 4:07 pm


The question is not “What WOULD Jesus do?” but “What WILL Jesus do?” He’s still here, and if we were more aware of that fact, we’d quit asking the question in the past tense, as if we had to frame today’s values in light of yesterday’s Jesus-world. Jesus is here today; we just forget to live lives that reflect His presence. When we ask “What WILL Jesus do?” we answer it by doing it, rather than reflecting on it.
Thom Hunter
http://thom-signsofastruggle.blogspot.com/



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Charlie

posted October 5, 2009 at 5:37 pm


Erica,
Indeed Moore has made a nice sum, no doubt, through the capitalist endeavors of making a product (his films) and selling them (distribution, ticket sales, etc). This fact doesn’t actually make much of a dent in the clear and apparent immorality of capitalism as a system. The main tenants of the system are diametrically opposed to the way of Christ. Can a capitalist be generous? Yes. Does capitalism reward or encourage that sort of Christ inspired generosity? No. Clearly it doesn’t.



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Brian Griffith

posted October 5, 2009 at 5:42 pm


Glancing over the N.T. accounts I don’t see the phrase “greed is good,” or much basis for the gospel of wealth. Maybe Moore has a decent claim to being a more traditional sort of Christian.



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Your Name

posted October 5, 2009 at 7:30 pm


From the beginning of capitalism it has been recognized that it works with oversight. The danger is that the earning of money brings with it power to determine the political and social aggenda of a society. Since Jesus and the prophets spoke of God’s concern for the powerless and the poor being empowered and having enough food, shelter, clothing and medical care. The people of faith with money and power are called to share those with those who do not have enough so that all of God’s children have at least enough. What is enough? Enough is so being beyond survival and able to live the abundant life of faith and relationships because one does not have to worry about the next meal, where to sleep, warm clothes, or being taken care of medically. Are we as a nation ready to make that commitment? Are we as a people of faith ready to heed God’s call to such a way of life? The issue is not capitalism or socialism. The issue is faithfulness or not.



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rpage

posted October 5, 2009 at 7:34 pm


The issue is not captialism or socialism. The issue according to Jesus and the prophets of Israel is faithfulness by the wealthy and powerful to take care of the poor and powerless so that they have enough to live beyond the worry of survival. As a nation and a people of faith are we ready to make such a commitment?



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Brian Griffith

posted October 5, 2009 at 8:34 pm


Here’s a line that might compliment what Moore has to say on our economic morality:
“In the past, orthodox religion generally stood for obedience to the powers that were. But the prevailing powers of the modern world were international corporations and their political clients. Where Christians tried to combine biblical morality with obedience to these authorities, the result was a new mixture of values. It was an attempt to combine corporate interests in economic de-regulation with Old Testament family law. It could then appear both Christian and patriotic to reduce regulation of global corporations, while advocating stronger controls and punishments for individual sinners.”
– from “Correcting Jesus”



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Alison

posted October 6, 2009 at 1:14 pm


@Your Name: precisely. I have struggled with captialism, the crass materialism that is its chief byproduct, and how to respond as a Christian in the face of it. You are very right (as I watch a hulking SUV loaded to the gills with stuff trundle past my window) that those who are more abundantly blessed are called to share with those who have less. I’m reminded (and you might appreciate this) of a sign I saw once: The gap between “more” and “enough” never closes. I have loong said that we as Christians in America need to develop a theology of “enough” that allows us to shake free of our crass materialism and stop bowing down to the altar of capitalism. I appreciate what you had to say. Grace and peace.



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DJ

posted October 6, 2009 at 7:20 pm


Because I am a Christian, I am a Capitalist. I prefer the expression Free Enterprise over Capitalism because I think it is a more accurate description of true Capitalism. It is the freedom to engage in economic activity without fear of reprisal or suppression of king, dictator, commissar, general or Congressman. And that activity may be building a car, inventing a new light bulb, painting and selling a portrait, authoring and selling a book on any topic. This fits so well with the freedom found in Christ. But, as the Bible says, we are free to do, but not everything is good for us. We, individually, must realize what is right for each of us, and not right for us, through our understanding of scripture.
Today, there are many who see this as selfishness. They no longer value freedom because it stands in the way of equality of result. They want to establish a new way that will take from those who have more and give it to those who have less. This is not Christian. Christ called on us to give of ourselves and our treasures willingly and lovingly. He does not say it must come through government edict.
If government takes from me to redistribute what I have earned to someone else, it deprives me of making the Christian choices I want to make for the use of my resources. In fact, the government may end up using my resources for un-Christian activity. This is becoming more common everyday.
I truly think our conflict today is between those who advocate freedom and those who advocate economic redistribution. A quick self test to determine which you are is to read through the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) starting with the 1st Amendment, and see how many amendments you agree with. Then again, if you are a re-distributionist, you probably just see the Constitution as an impediment, written by long dead, white, male former slave owners.



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Mark M.

posted October 7, 2009 at 5:04 am


Capitalism is by no means perfect but greed is present in any form of economic activity. We know what Jesus (and the rest of the Bible)said to individuals but Jesus studiously avoided taking on the government of the day….”My kingdom is not of this world else I would fight.” We can all speculate what he would have or should have said but we do not know. Governments and economic systems are not ever going to necessarily do God’s will. Is it moral to force people to be generous? Is it being generous at all if we take money from Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and give it to someone who is less well off?
Economies that have centralized planning have not done well in the area of religious freedom. Economies that have tremendously high tax rates are not generous when it comes to individual giving. America is the most generous nation in the world. When there is any disaster in the world the rest of the world, who takes every opportunity to drag us and our system through the mud, comes knocking on our door to ask us to help them out of the problem. I get weary of the carping. Human nature (read sin) is the problem and spiritual transformation through Jesus is the answer. Capitalism is not the core problem of humanity. Let’s get real here.



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Al Landry

posted October 7, 2009 at 6:32 am


Moore forgot to add also what Jesus said. He who does not work will not eat, in a paraphrase.
Moore also forgets to realize the issue of abortion. If he is a Christian he is disinformed. One of the philosphies of the democratic party is pro-abortion. He who supports abortion in any way cannot be a Christian because it supports the murdering of the innocent.
Even if a democrat himself is against abortion, being with that party alone means that he supports this killing, therefore he cannot be a
Christian.
Jesus tells us not to walk on the fence. You have to go one or the other. Moreover, anyone who supports obama cannot be a Christian because of obama’s proposals of abortion. All who support obama for that issue alone will have the same fate as obama and that is going to hell.
Jesus is coming soon so those of you who supports this murderer better wake up because you will be facing God and you don’t want to hear him say something like, “get away from me for I never knew you”.



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connieb

posted October 7, 2009 at 7:54 am


It is the christian people, NOT the government who should be helping the poor. It is the PEOPLE and the church who should be showing them how to survive, and teaching them the skills, and providing for them in the interim. We must work together and not allow the govt. to control us and our money. Capitalism DOES work, provided the PEOPLE don’t lose sight of their duty to others. Socialism will only bleed us all dry and take away our initiative and desire to accomplish. When we rely on govt., only govt. prospers.



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cinsere

posted October 7, 2009 at 9:59 am


I think a lot of people miss the point. It is the loop holes in the law and the special interests and lobbyists who are messing up the way things should be with a free enterprise for all people not just the select few. We make everything easier on the big businesses and the little businessman is left to really struggle to make it. The theory was that taking care of business and then business would take care of people. Well, I think we know how well that’s been working don’t we? Greed is a problem when you have representatives who go to Washington with better ideals and then they find out you have to go along to get along and get re-elected. It should be criminal to let a business get away with taking people’s money and losing it all, money they worked all their lives to save and then then they get the bailout and the regular folks go without proper health insurance and jobs and lose their homes. How can anyone not see the injustice of all this? How can you call yourselves Christians?



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Paul Coles

posted October 7, 2009 at 10:24 am


Al Laundry says:”Even if a democrat himself is against abortion, being with that party alone means that he supports this killing, therefore he cannot be a
Christian.”
So I guess you can’t be a Republican and be a Christian because of all the innocent children and civilians that Bush had killed in Iraq.



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C.LoGiudice

posted October 7, 2009 at 10:29 am


FREEDOM OF CHOICE IS A GOD GIVEN RIGHT, HOW CAN JESUS BE AGAINST A RIGHT HE MANDATED FOR HIS CREATION “MAN”. ANTI-CAPITALISM IS ANTI-FREEDOM WHICH IN MY HUMBLE OPPINION TRANSLATES TO COMMUNISM.



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Cinsere

posted October 7, 2009 at 12:09 pm


All life is valuable we all have to come to believe this and mean it.
When you keep supporting people over one issue which everyone knows
they will never do anything about they just use the abortion issue
to win votes as nothing else is ever required but lip service. They
ignore the important issues where lives are being lost like war
and lack of good health care coverage. Look at their actions stop
just accepting blank words with nothing behind them. What have their
policies really done for people ALL people not just a select few?
Expect more from your representatives stop just settling for lip
service with nothing to back it up.



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Monk21

posted October 7, 2009 at 6:36 pm


cinsere;
Well said



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SuzanneWA

posted October 7, 2009 at 8:37 pm


“Capitalism” is what made this country GREAT. When “Industrialism” was rampant in the early days of the last century, even Sinclair Lewis recognized the injustice and illegality of the system as practiced back then. Most modern companies have “cleaned up their act” and promote workers’ welfare. As I see it, communism IS the opposite force to capitalism. There is no middle ground. Free markets are what’s important here; the ability to improve on outmoded products and ways of doing business WILL get us out of this recession. I realize people are REALLY hurting – me included. But I don’t want to see our great country go down the path of socialism…don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.



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Your Name

posted October 8, 2009 at 8:58 am


I have studied business. Pure capitialism is not about people, it is about profit-please look it up. Reading the previous comments, where abortion was mentioned (why?), how “capitalism made this country GREAT”. I remembered what I know about what Jesus taught. It comes to this- Jesus taught mercy, responsibility, caring, grace and forgiveness. He specifically stated that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter heaven. Our country has a rich history that is peppered with political rhetoric. Remember there was a time that citizens of this great country fought and died to keep slaves believing that having slaves was the ONLY way to stay competitive. There was also a time, when a womans vote or voice did not count. These are the types of things we are against now, BECAUSE we challenged these schools of thought. I think our capitalistic society meshed with materialism has caused this mess we are in and it is about time someone challenged it. Get rid of the cold war communistic rhetoric, that is so 1955 and we know life was not “perfect” then either. What makes our country GREAT, is its people-our spirit, the fact that we can have beliefs freely. There is something, SOMEONE, telling us that capitalism is NOT the best way-I believe our troubled times is a signal-who do you believe? Wall Street or Jesus?



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Mere_Christian

posted October 8, 2009 at 9:58 am


Christian Marxism isn’t JUST an oxymoron, it is heresy. Evil without doubt. And 21st century socialists are died in the wool Marxists.
Capitalism is freedom. And Jesus was all about individual behavior.
The Left will NEVER win kidnapping Jesus for their social goals.
What does darkness have to do with light?



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Your Name

posted October 8, 2009 at 10:34 am


Mr Moore doesn’t seem to mind capitalism when it benefits Mr.Moore.
His net worth is in the multi-millions. All made in a capitalist system.
He is an antagonist, that is part of the problem not the solution.
Someone can not work for peace unless they themselves are at peace.
I don’t wish for him any ill will, I just don’t have time for his one sided rhetoric.



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Nick C.

posted October 8, 2009 at 11:04 am


DJ, you are spot on with your post above. It is a relief see that other citizens have not lost sight of what it means to be an American, and a Christian. Thanks for the message!



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DJ

posted October 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm


Paul Coles said:
“So I guess you can’t be a Republican and be a Christian because of all the innocent children and civilians that Bush had killed in Iraq.”
Let’s see; Bush “had” children and civilians killed in Iraq? Like Bush or not, is this true? Did he give the military the names and addresses of those he wanted to kill, or just the GPS locations? OR are you just using extremist rhetoric to indicate innocent victims of war? If that is true, then our present president, Obama, has “had” children and civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by keeping the military actions continuing in those countries. You cannot have it one way. You must have it both ways or none.
And all we hear about are right wing extremists. What about left wing extremists?
Also, thanks Nick C. We America-loving Christians need to speak out.



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kenny beal

posted October 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm


Jesus would act according to how his actions would show love of mankind. What I do for me, and how my actions show love for mankind are one in the same and can not be separated if my actions are to be considered right. As we evolve, right action will become primary, and discussions of Captialism, Socialism, and other paradigms will become archaic. I choose Jesus’s way.
Generally, Capitalism has taught the individual to cons the masses. Socialism has taught the masses to con the individual. Neither are sustainble.



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Brian Griffith

posted October 8, 2009 at 6:29 pm


I believe Moore’s movie is about how international corporations have used their financial influence to gain public subsidies, evade taxation, and move jobs overseas. Isn’t the question how to deal with this in a way that holds better mutual accountability?



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Michael

posted October 9, 2009 at 8:13 am


First, I don’t think Jesus would use Mr. Moore as his apostle .Mr. Moore has in the past attested to socialism and yes ,communism,both of which theorectically would probably be good. That is ,if people like Mr. Moore were not around. Mr . Moore,George Sorris, and the legion of rich who think they are shepherds of us dumb,hard working people need to look at their own salvation.
If Mother Theresa had said this,I might listen.
Mr. Moore,you really need to thin out before you help the hungry!



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Monk21

posted October 9, 2009 at 8:52 am


DJ;
It makes a difference if a war is a just war or a war of stupidity. All of the lives lost when Iraq did not attack the USA or have any W of MD.
Both US troops and innocent civilians were wasted because of this unjust war. Afganistan invited the Nato in to get rid of the Taliban.



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Monk21

posted October 9, 2009 at 10:18 am


Capitalism is a great system for the rich…..end of story.
Socialism is not communism.
You have Socialism in your Post Office, Police, Library, Fire Dept. and your schools.
Communism in theory could work…if you keep the dictators out.



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Victor Gibbon

posted October 9, 2009 at 11:53 am


Jesus would denounce America for its addiction to capitalism.



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John-Otto Liljenstolpe

posted October 9, 2009 at 6:32 pm


Michael Moore is to be thanked for clearly proclaiming the long established but now-a-days often ignored Roman Catholic critique of laize-faire capitalism. Evangelical Protestantism with its individualistic, escapist notion of salvation has left far too many of us Americans defenseless against the ravages of the plutocrats that have been ruling the United States since the 80ies.



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DJ

posted October 10, 2009 at 12:07 am


To Monk21
In the end, socialism can only be enforced at the end of a gun. Otherwise we would be free to go ahead and set up businesses, our own health care organizations etc. under a socialist system. But that is not so. Just read the language in the proposed health plan. If you don’t get insurance you pay a $5,000 fine. And if you don’t pay it or join the government health care plan …. men with guns will visit you.
Socialism is for the powerful and power hungry who know what is best for everyone else … and will force it on them.
Free enterprise is for everyone. To quote Pres. John F. Kennedy “A rising tide raises all ships.”
And yes, Capitalism does result in rich people. It also results in upper middle income, middle income etc. In fact today, only a fraction of the tax payers, the top quarter, pay a majority of all the taxes. Great idea. Let’s go with socialism and make everyone pay an equal amount of taxes. After all, equal resources will mean equal tax payments.



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Brian Griffith

posted October 10, 2009 at 9:33 am


Instead of thinking it was Christian for people to take care of each other, the gospel of wealth upheld the maximization of personal benefit. “Compassionate conservatism” came to mean an agenda to cut public programs for helping people, and making charity a strictly a private matter. For decades a “moral majority” of “values voters” supported “the common wisdom embraced by all serious economists”, such as John Williamson or Milton Friedman. In general, these experts proposed,
1. Removing government restrictions on business profit making such as minimum wage requirements, price controls, trade barriers, or environmental safeguards.
2. Slashing spending on social and community welfare.
3. Privatizing public services including water, transport, health, education, or prisons, and running these programs for private profit. As economic advisor Grover Norquist put it, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
4. Equalizing the tax rate for rich and poor. As Clyde Wilcox and Carin Larson reported, “One activist in Virginia told us in no uncertain terms that a flat tax was biblical policy, and therefore there was no room for discussion.”
5. Spending more public money on security forces, which actually meant record deficit spending on military contractors.
Eventually, the pursuit of such values contributed to the U.S. “bankster” economic meltdown of 2008. But not before it spelled similar trouble with oligarchy corruption in other largely Christian nations like Chile, Argentina, Russia, or South Africa.



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Monk21

posted October 10, 2009 at 11:51 am


DJ;
Kennedy was right, as long as you could afford a ship your OK.
The scary thing is that you Americans are afraid of the word socialism when it refers to just one aspect of your life. Your fire dept, police, libraries, schools and post office are allowed,but you shrink away from one of the most important, that being health care.
Are you not concerned that 45,000 of your fellow citizens die every year because they can’t afford health insurance?
Are you not concerned that those who go bankrupt, do so because of health cost at a rate of over 50% of all bankruptcies.
As a Canadian I can only shake my head and say what the hell is wrong with Americans.
I was an admirer of Kennedy, I was a good friend to one of his aids who, when he started writing books and he moved here to Canada. But take a look at what D. Eisenhower said abt the dangers of capitalism and big business and see how that is so true in your country.
We have a great health care system. It is not perfect, but it is good.



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DJ

posted October 11, 2009 at 12:22 am


Since when do we have to buy into one side’s definition of health care reform or we are against people suffering and dying. I have supported previous reform efforts that I thought would be good but died because they were demonized by the opposition. Regarding the Kennedy quote, you missed it. JFK said the rising tide raises ALL ships. That includes dingys. As for the Canadian Health Care system. I have seen it and I don’t like it. I have a friend with a young son who lives in Toronto. She has told me horror stories about trying to get basic care for her son. I also lived in Russia shortly after the Socialist/Communists lost power and after what I saw, and heard from the people, there is no way I want any of it here in the US. Words have meanings. The Left realizes this and tries to redefine the words that hurt their cause. Socialism is one of those words.



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Monk21

posted October 11, 2009 at 12:01 pm


DJ;
You heard of one story. I heard of 45,000. I see a nation of people suffering and you say you are not interested in a cure.
Canada is a nation of “we” America is a nation or “me”.
Sad. You see only in black and white and miss the beauty of many colours
of what is possible.
Canadian love our health system, we understand that somethings fall through the cracks, but you guys have a Grand Canyon full of sick people.



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Brian Griffith

posted October 11, 2009 at 2:21 pm


I don’t like to hear Canadians and Americans arguing over who is better. Of course Canadians are horrified by stories of Americans losing their life savings to medical bills. But we’re basically all in the same boat, struggling with corporate corruption and big health care challenges. Hopefully, most people see these issues as practical problems to be solved by smarter solutions. And the people who actually help improve things will be those who get beyond simplistic ideological arguments from the 19th century. It’s not just a matter of either running everything for private profit, or else having government take it over.



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Monk21

posted October 11, 2009 at 4:05 pm


Brian;
Good Post



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TB

posted October 11, 2009 at 7:27 pm


Monk:
I agree with you. One or two stories doesn’t mean it happens everytime. We could say the same about health insurance companies denying care because of pre-existing conditions. As Christians we are called to help the “least of our brothers” always. And our country was founded on Christian principles. And, Brian, you are right: its not one or the other with healthcare. Why can’t people see that? WWJD!!



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Keith

posted October 13, 2009 at 11:29 am


I believe that the economic systems described in the Bible is capitalism. In Phillippians, the Word says that a man must work if he wants to eat. That is capitalism. Of course, we who have extra money or goods should help the poor. That is being Christlike, and isn’t an endorsement of socialism over capitalism.
Sure, evil and greedy people use capitalism for their own greed. That also happened in socialistic societies, such as the former USSR. The evil depicted by Michael Moore is only some illustrations of the bad ways in which the economic system called capitalism has been used.
For years, the USSR, which called itself a workers’ paradise, had to import grain from the USA because it’s collective farms couldn’t feed the country. Quality meat was rare, unless you were a member of the Communist Party. The rest of the people had to stand in long lines to get what little was available. Except for members of the Communist Party, the society was underfed. Almost half of the food produced in that country came from little plots of land that the government allowed people to use to grow food and sell it. That little bit of capitalism probably kept the country from starvation.
When the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, they tried a collective economic system. They almost starved because they were unable to feed themselves. They then gave everyone plots of land and told them that if they wanted to eat, they had to work. They worked and had a food surplus.
Michael Moore may not like capitalism, but he, the son of an auto worker, used it to make millions. What’s wrong with preserving that opportunity for the rest of us?



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Thomas

posted October 16, 2009 at 4:19 am


Great post Keith, freedom to work as hard as you want for just rewards is the driving force that made this nation the greatest place on the planet ever



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Sarenth

posted October 16, 2009 at 12:44 pm


One of the things that capitalism does not address well whatsoever is people who start off with ‘less’, whether that is institutionalized racism, poor schooling, unsafe neighborhoods, etc. This is because ultimately capitalism is not concerned with any of these things so long as the bottom line is taken care of: your shareholders’ and your own economic profit.
The systems that capitalism and capitalists’ forerunners and current champions have set up do not care if you or your family members get sick, if you need a vacation from back-breaking or mind-numbing work, if you are so stressed you give yourself a heart attack, or if your family is suffering due to your absence. The only reason we have those concessions from industry is because people demonstrated for these rights with radical demonstrations and protests like the sit-ins of Flint, and the Union and Workers Movements. The only reason any of us, but especially women or children have safe working condition is because of these selfsame movements; OSHA would not have been if not for these. Capitalism by itself is a self-perpetuating machine that seeks profit gains where available at the lowest cost for wages and materials, even it means costing peoples’ lives or livelihood, the environment, the economies of countries, etc. If that means taking advantage of low-income people from say, China, or Indonesia, or illegal aliens from the Garment District of New York, companies will do it because the bottom line can expand exponentially by how many of these kinds of cost-cutting tactics they choose to employ.



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Terri

posted October 18, 2009 at 9:43 am


Thank you for adding brightness to some grey days in our Country today



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AF

posted October 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm


Awesome counter perspective Sarenth….real eye opener to the disadvantages of capitalism!



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Brian Griffith

posted October 23, 2009 at 7:54 am


Whatever we think of Moore’s ideological statements, his film investigates real issues that have to be deal with. Like for-profit prison systems which result in record-high incarceration rates for troubled young people. Or corporations buying life insurance policies on their employees, and naming the corporation as beneficiary in case of death. Or the bailout. I mean, there has to be a better solution to such robbery of the public than to just argue that greed is good.



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Sarenth

posted October 24, 2009 at 7:26 am


Just as an addition to what I said earlier, given this is a Christian thread, I thought Jesus told His followers to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”, so if we desire clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and clean, wholesome food to eat, why is it so many of our corporations and companies take action that gains results exact opposite to these simple goals of life?
From dumping paper-milling chemicals into our rivers, to crippling other countries’ economies by making an artificial glut in the market. The food market bubbles we’ve been encountering, although acted in part via the oil and economic crisis, are made worse by intentionally making items such as milk, rice, and corn overproduced here so that countries whose economic export staples are made of these have their markets ruined. For instance, of late Mexico buys corn from the U.S., and China buys rice from the U.S. because they are cheaper to import and distribute into their markets than taking in their own farmers’ goods. Corporations and companies in the flow of capitalism make victims of anyone who isn’t on their side when and how they can; look no further than Monsanto, or perhaps Merck.
The way things are run, to me, would seem to be morally and spiritually backward. Only by reigning in these horrific practices can we hope to give others the chance many U.S. citizens are given just by being American. By reigning in these practices and policies, we can brighten the collective future of humanity by knowing that, though we may not have two and three houses, we have allowed people have healthy food in their bellies, housing that allows a family to live, health care that improves and strengthens their lives, and opportunities in life that they would not have otherwise had.
The big opposition is relatively the same in both substance and mindset that Helder Camara decried in his famous quote, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.” Replace Communist with Socialist and it is an accurate parallel.



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Brian Griffith

posted October 25, 2009 at 1:01 pm


Further to Saranth’s comments, the reason North American farm products can undercut the price of locally grown products in Africa, Latin America, or Asia, is because the agro-corporation lobby has secured massive subsidies of our taxpayer money, which allow the corporations to sell their products below cost. The Africans cannot afford that. And our tax dollars are going to undercut them. The local farmers lose, and the North American taxpayer loses.
This is not a matter of capitalism vs socialism. It is a matter of corruption, where corporations and governments get together to destroy competition from local people.



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Matt

posted October 29, 2009 at 1:26 pm


Since when did human beings stop creating new forms of governments?
When did Capitalism become labeled “the perfect system.”
Faulty American thinking is to stop trying to reach higher and to assume old ways are the best.
How about a hybrid capitalist/socialist government?
Why can’t we take aspects of other ways of thinking and combine them with our own. We should never grow complacent or self righteous.
Too much national pride is never a good thing. AKA Germany 1950s.



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Linda

posted December 31, 2009 at 10:24 pm


Thought provoking in the extreme. Righteously challenging our previously held beliefs. Thx very much. The scene of Jesus refusing to heal the man carried up on the stretcher was priceless. Hands down it was my favorite scene.



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Difficult to find Chinese goods?

posted August 18, 2010 at 9:50 pm


You to find many Chinese goods trouble? Zonyle Trading provide you with a detailed directory of Chinese products, hot commodity



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