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Monday 3 October 2022

Restrain The Baals

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I think it's funny for Christians to believe in God and then also assert that the free market can solve our issues. There really is no such thing as a free market. Never has been. There are only people, and people are a combination of good and bad, and some are evil, corrupt and powerful, and will throw that power around. The "free market" is people making decisions, and most people are selfish, and will make decisions which enrichen them, and enslave or impoverish others. At times this tends more freely, at others it tends to monopoly. 

What we call "free markets" work for a time, then get overcome by monopolies, and then those monopolies dominate people, and the key way they dominate people is through buying political influence and power, so they can corner the market. 

A lot of what people call "government interference" is business leaders aka "capitalists" directing politicians by donations and offers of jobs after they leave politics, to enact policies that help their part of the market flourish. In other words, in a "free market" system government becomes a primary place for the wealthy to invest (donate), because they can use their capital to direct the people who can give them an advantage. 

So thinking in terms of government vs private enterprise is not correct. Because both those aspects of society congregate power, they will both be influencing each other, seeking to dominate each other, and at times controlling each other, because they know in utilising each other, they can best benefit themselves. So what you really want is business to be strong enough to oppose big government, and government big enough to regulate business so it doesn't just become government (like in company towns). 

All this to say, a relatively free market can serve people in certain contexts. But it's not an ultimate good, it is prone to corruption, as is any other human endeavour, and the conservative's faith in it is misplaced. Anything that involves people, but does not regulate their behaviour, will be corrupted by those people and turned into a means of enslaving (endebting) or controlling others. Because most people are slaves to sin. If your theology knows Luther or Calvin, you know how depraved the human heart is. 

So, it's thoroughly unChristian, anti-history, and against reason to say that sinners just given licence will solve all our economic issues. Which is what you are saying when you say the free market will solve it. Sometimes it will. Sometimes it will create worse problems. Because humans abuse freedom as much as they cherish it. 

So much Christian politicial and economic thought is unbiblical in many ways. God's ideal economy set limits on how wealthy people could get, whose property they could buy, and what could be done with it, and allowed people freedom within those boundaries. He also mandated resetting the economy once every generation so that wealth never became entrenched with the few. 

Our system does the opposite, it sets no limits on wealth, no limits on who can buy what (unless your country is being sanctioned), some limits on what can be done with property, rejects the idea of resetting in a biblical way, and therefore guarantees that wealth will become entrenched with the few. 

Trusting in free-market is akin to trusting in Baal. It's a system that goes against God's principles. It can create prosperity in certain conditions, but it will ultimately tend to oligarchy and monopolism, and that is where our free market system has gotten to, because it could never have gotten anywhere else. People are not equal, some are richer, smarter and more capable, and therefore they will dominate. 

A system with boundaries, periodical jubilees, and an acknowledgement that all humans are corrupt, and most are not wise and abuse freedom often, will allow people to flourish better. Because if the Bible teaches us anything, it teaches us humans need wise boundaries to flourish, too little boundaries and we'll corrupt everything. 

We should not reject our system completely, but renew it by applying wisdom from God's word, that teaches us to restrain the Baals, which, if you recall, Baal was the god of success and prosperity. Think about that. 

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