Memo to Conservatives: Quit Apologizing for Capitalism

December 13, 2010

Everywhere we turn these days, it seems, leftists are undermining and attacking capitalism on moral grounds. Their criticisms are directed not at merely certain corrupt corporations or individuals who abuse the system, but at the system itself.

Sadly, few conservatives, even conservative Christians, are willing or prepared to defend capitalism’s virtues. Rather than tout it in terms of liberty, they sheepishly apologize for its allegedly inherent greed.

It’s a testament to the power of propaganda and the appeal of emotion over reason that a system that has produced the greatest prosperity in world history is castigated on moral grounds, while those systems that have proliferated abject misery, poverty, tyranny and subjugation are hailed as morally superior.

Granted, most leftists don’t openly confess their hostility to capitalism, but they come close, especially in their endless waging of class warfare.

Surely you’ve heard Obama say, preposterously, “A free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it.” No one actually supports this straw man argument. American capitalism has always been subject to the rule of law. Even the fiercest free market proponents don’t defend the license to steal or economic anarchy.

Hidden in Obama’s statement (and more apparent in some of his other statements) are unmistakable implications that those who thrive in our system are immoral and don’t deserve it and that the less successful have been cheated out of their just desserts. This doubtlessly proceeds from his leftist view of the relationship between government and the people.

The left doesn’t seem to comprehend the indispensability of private property to liberty or the necessity of liberty to achieve prosperity. To them, it is not individuals operating in a climate of liberty who produce prosperity. Government produces (or magnanimously permits) the creation of wealth and is the most appropriate vehicle for distributing that wealth and delivering the greatest good to the greatest number of people.

America’s gross national product first belongs to the government, and only that portion the government allows you, in its beneficence, to keep after taxes is your money. But even then, it is not wholly your money, for you are not free to transfer it by gift (lifetime or death) to whomever you’d like without penalty. And interest you earn on it will also be taxed.

Leftists pay lip service to America’s founding ideal of equality of opportunity but honor instead the un-American idea of equality of outcomes. They fully intend to use the power of government to rectify America’s inequitable distribution of resources. Don’t forget that at one time, at the hands of the left, the top income tax rate was higher than 90 percent or that it was 70 percent before the Reagan cuts.

Indeed, it’s ironic that leftists depict conservatives as hyperbolic and extreme for sometimes using the terms “socialist” and “Marxist” to describe Obama. They don’t offer a substantive defense against the claim, but use the same argument they offer against all charges about Obama’s radical behavior, namely that an elected American president couldn’t possibly be a radical or a socialist and certainly couldn’t be a Marxist. That’s the stuff of spy novels.

Never mind Obama’s actual background, his associations, his statements, his radical appointments and his unprecedented policies. Those who describe him in terms that accurately capture his extremism and divisiveness are the ones written off as extremists or divisive.

This irony is compounded by the fact that it is leftists who are guilty of hyperbole — even paranoia — in their attack on conservatives, their patriotism and their free market advocacy. Consider the bizarre rant of Obama’s spiritual adviser, Jim Wallis, in trashing America’s “conservative media” to a group of Britons.

Wallis said: “We now are controlled by the right-wing media, Fox News and all the rest, and this is the media that has an ideological point of view that America is best and the rest of you don’t even count, that the rich are our salvation. … When I say the 1 percent of the country has more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, they say that’s a good thing. … You just keep feeding the rich and the poor with their little tin cups hoping the rich are good tippers; that’s a good thing for the economy.”

Talk about the stuff of fiction. Conservatives don’t believe foreign countries “don’t count.” Nor do they believe that the rich are anyone’s salvation or that they are glorified benefactors of the economically less fortunate.

It is yet another irony that liberals accuse Christian conservatives of subordinating their theology to their politics, when it is their “social justice” brethren who are guiltier of conflating their politics with their ideology, idolizing redistributionism and, in my humble opinion, distorting the Gospel to conform to their political predispositions.