What’s the Problem?
America’s increasing movement toward a full-blown welfare state, with its acceleration deeper into socialism,1 should raise grave concerns. The U.S. is not a total socialistic country yet, but we could be there in the near future if this accelerated movement is not slowed and reversed quickly. Our nation’s stampede to socialism is not limited to the economic or political realms. Neither is it limited to the legal realm where changes have been taking place both in the way our Constitution is being interpreted and how it is applied by our courts. It is fundamentally based on a change in the core foundational values of our society, of our culture. For an illustration, read our paper, “A Biblical Case Against Socialized Medicine” at www.childandfamilyprotection.org.
The protection of the superstructure of our nation (e.g., our local, state and federal laws and regulations; our economy and businesses; our educational and social institutions; etc.) rests upon our nation’s legal foundation, which is our national Constitution. Furthermore, our Constitution itself is constructed, so to speak, on the soil of our society’s commonly-held values.
When America was established and our Constitution was written and ratified, the soil on which it was constructed was a commonly accepted and Biblically-based Christian value system. At that time, we were basically a homogeneous society in that even with all of the variety of beliefs and behaviors that existed at the time, we all shared a common set of core values. These values were basically consistent with an historic Christian understanding of the Bible and what the Bible teaches about what is right and what is wrong. This does not mean that everybody behaved consistently with these values, but everybody understood them to be the norm. Even when someone chose to rebel against this norm (steal, for instance), they understood that they had made that choice and that what they had chosen to do was in opposition to the norm.
Socialism, in principle and at its root, is antithetical to historic Biblical values. Socialism is diametrically opposed to God’s principles of stewardship, personal responsibility, self-governance, and full and sole reliance on Him as the Sovereign creator, savior, protector, and provider, among other things. Socialism replaces God with the state (government at all levels). Socialism steals, or at best diminishes the glory that is God’s alone because it causes the individual to look to the state for being their provider instead of God through His ordained means. When people as a nation abandon faith in and obedience to the Creator of the Universe, they must turn somewhere else for security and stability. Generally, that ends up being some form of human government, some political-economic system that promises to meet their perceived needs.
For example, Paul admonished the church at Ephesus with the two-part instruction, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with the one who has a need.” 2 The first point of this admonition is a prohibition: Do not take, use, or rely on that which is not legitimately yours. To do so is theft. The Eighth Commandment states, “You shall not steal.” The second part of this admonition is that it is the responsibility of each individual to determine how to respond freely and without coercion3 to the needs of others out of his own resources for which he has worked or legally inherited.
However, under socialism, the Legislature ignores this previously commonly accepted value that says it is wrong to steal, and makes it legal for the government to steal. Then the Legislature assumes for the government what is the responsibility of individuals, and establishes a multitude of programs for meeting people’s “needs”. In other words, the government authorizes itself to steal and then to determine who gets the bounty, how much each gets, and what they can do with it. This is the socialistic system of taxes, fees, and subsidies that goes beyond God’s design for government.4 The energy that drives people to socialism is derived from greed, envy, and discontent. This leads to class warfare and an evil desire to coercively take and redistribute personal and private property equally to everyone.
What is troubling is that an escalating number of people in America are willing to go along with this. Many people have been led to believe that it is easier to let the government somehow take care of us than it is to be responsible for ourselves – to work hard with our own hands to provide for our needs and the needs of our families.
This kind of irresponsible human behavior causes government assistance programs to accelerate out of control, speeding toward an inevitable crash when the limit of the nation’s financial resources is finally reached.
In the U.S. and in Europe, trillion dollar debts have been placed on the backs of our children and grandchildren. As Gene Koprowski points out in his article that compares the U.S. with Greece, “We [the U.S.] have the debt of the federal government. Many state and local governments are bankrupt. There are unfunded liabilities for social security. There are unfunded liabilities for state pensions.”5Many in America saw the picture of Madeline, a little girl from Maryland who was photographed, with a sign that read, “I’m already $38,000 in debt and I only own a dollhouse.” 6
Along with, and a part of this increase in public debt is the phenomenal growth in the federal bureaucracy (to say nothing of the growth in state and local government bureaucracies). Both public indebtedness and increasing bureaucracy with its attendant increase in regulations is also theft. They both take huge amounts of time and money from individuals, businesses and organizations.
The number of people who are tasked at the federal level with governing every aspect of our lives (including such mundane things as the size of holes in Swiss cheese and the color of surgical stitches)7 has grown by a whopping 470% over the past 50 years, more than 9 times as much as the population. In 1960, all federal regulatory agencies combined had approximately 50,000 employees (not including consultants and contractors). That was one federal regulatory employee for every 4,000 people in the U.S. in 1960, or .025% of the population at that time.8 By 2010, the number of federal employees needed to keep up with an increasing number of regulations has climbed to some 285,000. Given today’s population, that is something around one federal regulatory employee for every 1,000 people in the U.S.9
This growth in regulatory agency staffing is also reflected in the costs of regulation to the U.S. economy. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), the current national costs for our government to regulate our personal and business lives is over $1 trillion each year. That amounts to some 8.3% of the U.S. economy, and equals 63% of all corporate pre-tax profits. This cost of regulation is far greater than even the revenues received from corporate income taxes.10
According to economist John Lott, “Our [US] government spends 276 percent more than is spent by the average government of any other country around the world; that comes out to about $17,000 per person living in the United States.” According to Mr. Lott, the famous socialist welfare state of Sweden spends only 8.6 percent more per person than the U.S. Mr. Lott goes on to state, “The federal government has control over more resources per capita than virtually any other country in the world. The government decides from whom the money is taken, who gets it, and how that money can be spent. Of course, the money also pays for enforcement of all the regulations and laws that tell us what to do. That’s a huge control over people’s lives.” 11
Sooner or later, socialism will bankrupt a nation. The Wall Street Journal reported, “This year, the U.S. public debt is projected to reach 62 percent of the economy… nearly double the historical average….” 12 Socialism inherently sees no end to providing support to the population by redistributing the resources of the people. Socialism does not know how to say “no”. It knows no limit, and is a monster with a voracious appetite. This creates an increasing, unsustainable and unrealistic demand on the government to try to distribute resources beyond what any government is able to do. As former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher predicted concerning governments that turn to socialism: “Sooner or later, they run out of other people’s money.” 13
Europe is beginning to wake up to the fact that socialism, over the long haul, is a dead-end street. It is a dangerous experiment in cultural suicide from which European leaders are realizing that they must try to rescue their nations before it is too late. According to The New York Times, “Europeans have boasted about their social model …[with] its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits….” But, after years of failed socialism that has created huge deficits compounded by falling tax revenues, they realize that they must move quickly to save themselves. Swedish foreign minister and former prime minister Carl Bildt was quoted as saying “We’re now in rescue mode…. But we need to transition to the reform mode very soon.” 14
Unfortunately, the public schools throughout America continue to subtly and regularly “teach” the next generation quite the opposite. Most young people in America are overtly being taught to believe that they are entitled to get by without having to apply themselves – that somebody (i.e., ultimately the government) will take care of them and make sure that things go OK for them. The very existence of the institution of public schools lays the foundation for youth to subtly accept the lie that it is the government’s responsibility to provide for them. This fundamental example actually encourages people to accept and then demand government entitlements in other areas of life. Rabbi Nachum Shifren stated in his article, March to Socialism Bothering You? Ask Any Teacher, “…if you’re scratching your head about the hell-bent march toward Marxism that this country is on, look no further than our schools and the pathetic excuse for what passes for ‘education.’” 15
Rabbi Shifren points out in his article that “…our youth will grow to accept that they can do nothing without the help of government.” And, this approach to education will “…cut entrepreneurship and individual performance off at the knees, supplanting it with socialism.”
At this point, we as Christians should remind ourselves of a couple of important facts. First, we must remember that we do live in a God-Centered world (regardless of whether anybody else acknowledges this or not) and that we are to glorify God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Second, we should remember the primary reason our forefathers left Europe to come to this land in the first place. Some 400 years ago, our forefathers began to build this country on a foundation of freedom that was centered on the free worship of and obedience to the Creator of the Universe. According to Governor William Bradford in the 1600’s, “… they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least making some ways toward it, for the propagation and advance of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ … even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.” 16
This necessarily included the freedom to exercise our God-given personal responsibility to work to provide for one’s self and one’s family – and, when appropriate, to voluntarily use some of the fruit of our labor to help others to meet needs that they, for a time, were unable to meet. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, we are to work diligently with our own hands so that we would be able to give to those who have a need (Ephesians 4:28).
Ultimately, freedom, personal self-governance, the right and ability to make life decisions for one’s self and our own families, the right to benefit from and decide how to manage the fruit of our own labor, are all taken away by socialism. And government assumes all of these responsibilities and the authority to control all aspects of our lives. The wise counsel of Proverb 21:31 reminds us, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to God.” In other words, in our present context: Pray, Accept your responsibilities, Vote, and Trust in God!
1 Definition of SOCIALISM:
Socialism generally refers to a political and economic system in which the government claims ownership and control of all property, goods, and means of production. It is a coerced collectivism. While most definitions emphasize control over material property and goods, a governmental system of socialism also seeks to extend some measure of control over all areas of life.
Its underlying premise is that it is preferable to have the government in control of its citizens so that among other things, it owns and redistributes all things of value so that everyone has a more equal share of material goods regardless of how responsible each citizen is.
Socialism prefers using the law to enforce material equality regardless of prior ownership or behavior versus the concept of everyone having equal opportunity before the law to apply themselves to earn private property and do with it as they see best.
2 Ephesians 4:28
5 US is facing the same Danger as Greece; Koprowski, Gene; Moneynews; 5/14/2010; www.moneynews.com.
“Now the United States and Europe have socialized the debt. Trillion dollar deficits are not sustainable, however.”
“’What has happened in Greece could happen in the U.S. We could have serious problems,’ says Roubini, the former Clinton White House economist, and professor at New York University.”
“We have the debt of the federal government. Many state and local governments are bankrupt. Thee are unfunded liabilities for social security. There are unfunded liabilities for state pensions.”
6 Tom Coburn’s Favorite Deficit Prop: “Who Will Protect The Madelines Of the World?”; Huffington Post; 9/22/2010; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/23/tom-coburns-favorite-defi_n_622883.html.
7 Federalism Works; Bishop, Representative Rob; Human Events; 5/6/2010; www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=36862.
8 Historic US Population Statistics at www.npg.org/facts/us_historical_pops.htm.
9 Dudley, Susan E. & Warren, Melinda; Regulators’ Budget Rising; The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center; 9/18/2010; page 3, Figure 2; www.RegulatoryStudies.gwu.edu.
10 National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA); Daily Policy Digest; Regulatory Issues; 7/29/2010; www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_Category=38.
11 Our Bloated Government Is Already Much Bigger Than You Think; Lott, John; FoxNews.com; 4/8/2010; www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/04/08/john-lott-federal-government-socialism-size-capita-spending-sweden-france-qatar.
12 U.S. Debt Load Among World’s Worst; Moore, Nicola; The Wall Street Journal; 8/6/2010.
13 Why We Need To Let States Go Broke; Morris, Dick & McGann, Eileen; New York Post; 8/10/2010.
14 Europe in retreat on social model; Erlanger, Steve; New York Times; 5/23/2010.
15 March to Socialism Bothering You? Ask Any Teacher; Shifren, Rabbi Nachum; NewsWithViews.com; 3/24/2010; www.newswithviews.com.
16 Bradford, William; Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement; Mantle Ministries Classics; 1998; page 21.