The Christian Vision of Government (VI)

The paternal state not only feeds its children, but nurtures, educates, comforts, and disciplines them, providing all they need for their security. This appears to be a mildly insulting way to treat adults, but it is really a great crime because it transforms the state from being a gift of God, given to protect us against violence, into an idol. . . . The paternalism of the state is that of the bad parent who wants his children dependent on him forever. That is an evil impulse. The good parent prepares his children for independence, trains them to make responsible decisions, knows that he harms them by not helping them to break loose. The paternal state thrives on dependency. When the dependents free themselves, it loses power. It is, therefore, parasitic on the very persons whom it turns into parasites.[1]

The scripture never gives government the right or responsibility to redistribute wealth by means of taxation. Government is obliged to protect all members of society from criminals, including the poor. Victims of crime are entitled to restitution from the perpetrators of the crimes, and the laws of restitution are clearly laid out in scripture. Exodus 20 gives us the Ten Commandments: a skeletal outline of God’s justice, while chapters 21-23 cover amongst other things, God’s laws of restitution. It was these laws that King David alluded to hundreds of years later (in II Sam.12:5-6), when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan for his adultery and murder.

The poor are never to be favoured against the rich, or the rich against the poor. Why? There are poor criminals and rich criminals. “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbour fairly” (Lev.19:15).

The Bible turns modern notions of social justice on their head. “Social justice” today means higher tax rates for those on higher incomes. But this notion merely translates to the modern politics of envy, and isn’t found in the Bible. Charging higher tax rates for people earning higher rates of pay, is a way of penalising people who work harder. This is unjust. Under a flat percentage rate tax system, those who earn more, DO pay more tax.

“Caring for the poor” by means of ensuring they have an automatic right to receive monies from the government via the tax system, is totally alien to scripture. According to the Bible, caring for the poor is a personal, family and church responsibility. The only government obligation towards the poor Biblically, is to ensure they receive just treatment like everyone else in the courts of law.

But there’s more. Payments for women to have babies are especially immoral. Why? The State usurps the role of the family, as though the State is the provider for each new couple. Furthermore, if girls and women are paid to have babies regardless of their marital state, we effectively subsidise immorality. We successfully produce a generation of bastards and wonder how it happened.

Do we change the anti-discrimination laws for this reason? No. We should get rid of the anti-discrimination laws, and stop paying girls and women to have babies.

Furthermore, minimum pay rates require that employers pay a certain rate to their employees. Let’s say that the legislated minimum rate for a coffee shop employee is $22/hour. But what if the employer determines that he cannot afford this rate, but can afford $20/hour? Minimum pay rates (which are supposed to protect low paid workers from exploitation) prevent individual bargaining, which is at the heart of a free society. The consequence is that the coffee shop employer won’t offer the employment. The employee might prefer $22/hour, but $20/hour sure beats starving.

Poor people need income through opportunities to work. Thus it is essential that good governments make it easier to employ people, by removing rigid and unnecessary constraints on employers that only discourage taking on more staff. This includes unfair dismissal laws and payroll tax.

The Australian system of conciliation and arbitration (which imposes needless constraints on employers and employees) needs to be thrown out, to make way for individual or collective bargaining in each workplace. The present system is centralised, expensive and utterly inflexible. And let’s face it: every workplace is different, and it is always far superior that employers and employees (who have the greatest interest in achieving a successful outcome) can make their own arrangements for pay and conditions, without some centralised, imposed system being laid on them from on high.

Does this mean that there won’t be oppression? Of course not. There are evil employers, and evil employees; I’ve seen both. But a contract gives employers and employees a document to protect themselves in a court of law.

Conclusion:

Davy Crockett was reputed to have said:

A government big enough to supply you with everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have…

The West’s present economic difficulties attest to the truth of Crockett’s statement. It is high time that Christians recognised the mess we have inherited as a legacy of anti-Christ, Messianic government, socialism, social welfare, and deficit spending. They are a poor substitute for a Biblical and thus a free society, where we have low tax rates, small government and freedom, along with lots of opportunities to work and invest.

But what do you want?


[1] Herbert Schlossberg, “Idols for Destruction,” 1983.