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Christmas Would Not Be Possible Without Capitalism

Christmas Would Not Be Possible Without Capitalism

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From a TV show host named Craig Ferguson comes this remark: “I think commercialism helps Christmas and I think that the more capitalism we can inject into the Christmas holiday the more spiritual I feel about it.” 

Before you dismiss what Ferguson said as incompatible with the Christmas message, consider the following.

  • Capitalism is the greatest poverty cure to ever bless the world. It’s what happens when peaceful people are left alone to freely invent, innovate, create, employ, invest, and trade. Its opposite, socialism, is a compulsory contrivance both anti-social and destructive of wealth creation.
  • You can’t give a gift if you haven’t first produced it or traded for it. Socialism offers no coherent theory of wealth creation, only envy-based schemes to seize and redistribute it. Socialists tend to be angry, unhappy people who waste considerable time searching for victims and oppressors instead of engaging in productive activities that produce genuine self-fulfillment and a flourishing society.

With another Christmas only days away, let’s think about helping the poor. It was, after all, a very important part of the message of the man for whom the holiday is named. Here’s my take:

Christians are commanded in Scripture to love, to pray, to be kind, to serve, to forgive, to be truthful, to worship the one God, to learn and grow in both spirit and character. All of those things are to be very personal. They must come from the heart. They require no politicians, police, bureaucrats, or political parties and programs. In fact, some of the best ways to help the poor involve getting government off their backs, out of the pockets and out of their way.

“The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want,” says Jesus in Matthew 26:11 and Mark 14:7. The key words there are you can help and want to help. He didn’t say, “We’re going to make you help whether you like it or not.”

Christianity is not about passing the buck to government when it comes to relieving the plight of the poor. Caring for them—which means helping them overcome it, not paying them to stay poor or making them dependent upon the state—has been an essential fact in the life of a true Christian for 2,000 years.

But don’t take my word for it. Consider what the apostle Paul says in II Corinthians 9:7: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Throughout his extensive journeys, Paul practiced what he preached, pitching in to assist the deserving needy. He never endorsed compulsory redistribution as a legitimate means to that end. He drew a contrast between those who personally help and those who give charity mere lip service or try to impose it on others.

It’s worth noting that the most philanthropic nations in the world are also the economically freest, the most capitalist. For producing goods and services, no other “system” comes remotely close to freedom and free markets.

So if you really want to help the poor, you should support freedom and free markets. If you say you want to help the poor and that you favor the poverty-producing failure called socialism, then you’re like the guy who claims to favor medicine but patronizes witch doctors.

Jesus clearly held that compassion is a wholesome value to possess, but I know of no passage anywhere in the New Testament that suggests it’s a value he would impose by force or gunpoint (in other words, by politics). If you think he was sympathetic to socialism in any way, you desperately need to read this book.

Some of what is labeled “compassionate” these days is genuinely personal and heartfelt, and it does a world of good; but a whole lot of what is labeled “compassionate” is nothing of the sort, and it does much harm because it imposes involuntary burdens and minimizes accountability. That’s why private charity gets the job done better and in a more lasting way than handouts from some government check-printing office.

True compassion is people helping people out of a genuine sense of caring and brotherhood. It is not asking your legislator or congressman to do it for you. And a person’s willingness to spend other people’s money is not evidence that the person is himself compassionate; usually it’s just the opposite.

If you want to determine how compassionate an individual is, you are wasting your time if you ask for whom he plans to vote; instead, you should ask what charitable contributions he has made and whether he has done any volunteer work lately.

What made the famous Good Samaritan good was that he personally helped. If he had simply advised the helpless chap to hang on until a check from the government arrived, no one to this day would have the gall to call him anything but a Good-for-Nothing Samaritan.

The late US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia opined, “The transformation of charity into legal entitlement has produced donors without love and recipients without gratitude.” Amen. He was precisely right, which is a sad commentary on our times and attitudes.

So as the Christmas holiday approaches, I salute the many people and organizations who put their own time and money where their mouths are instead of somebody else’s. For the very same reasons, I also salute the wealth creators of the world (not the wealth takers), without whom those Christmas gifts we give would never appear.

Lawrence writes a weekly op-ed for El American. He is President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in Atlanta, Georgia; and is the author of “Real heroes: inspiring true stories of courage, character, and conviction“ and the best-seller “Was Jesus a Socialist?“ //
Lawrence escribe un artículo de opinión semanal para El American. Es presidente emérito de la Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) en Atlanta, Georgia; y es el autor de “Héroes reales: inspirando historias reales de coraje, carácter y convicción” y el best-seller “¿Fue Jesús un socialista?”

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