Our Civic System

My graduate and post-graduate studies have focused on organizational systems. How can organizations function efficiently and effectively? This would include a positive outcome for all stakeholders. In the civic realm, I am convinced that we have a moral obligation to do the best we can, but assist those who are disadvantaged in the realms of procedural and distributive justice.

I am a free market person who believes in the principles of Capitalism. I believe in the right to own property. I believe in the right of entrepreneurs to receive rewards for taking risks. I believe in profit. However, I also believe in human responsibility. I have finished several books, and therefore have renewed my focus on Stassen’s “A Thicker Jesus.” I have also purchased “The Broken Covenant,” by Robert Bellah, and I am reading “Ethics In Context.” Over the Christmas holidays, I will be focusing on the responsibility side of the commerce equation.

Bellah was the first to get me thinking this morning. “The story of America is a somber one, filled with great achievements and great crimes. Ours is a society that has amassed more wealth and power than any other in history.” Bellah then concludes the section I read this morning with a comment warning about the inability of humanity to gain this power without incurring some level of self-destruction. Bellah initially wrote this book in 1975, and his words are just as true today as it was then.

Uncle Ben told Peter Parker “with great power comes great responsibility,” while Jesus tells us “to whom much is given much is required,” both pushing the point that we need to rethink how we title success. Buffet, Gates, and the others in the Billionaire Club are giving away billions of dollars to help people, but they only represent 210 people of the worlds wealthiest, what about the others?

Sometimes I think our concepts of humanity become too polarized. We either take the Panglossian path of rose-colored glasses, or the darker path of depravity. We view humanity as either good or fallen, when the fact is we are a fallen race, Adam fell and this reality is passed on to all of humanity, but God has provide a path of redemption, where we can move closer to original intent. I am a believer in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the path God has provided for us. But I also believe that humanity does still reflect the common good of God’s original plan. If humanity were not capable of displaying the good the God had originally intended, then there would be no love, no care, no giving, etc. Ultimately, there is a tension that we navigate in society between the good and bad within us all.

The reality of this is seen in the dominant metaphor of this age with which we “understand social and political interaction.” Everything that occurs in our modern society is framed within an economic understanding. Stassen, after making this argument states, “How we interpret the economy has hugely influenced how we interpret the rest of life.” I believe that Stassen is correct in this assessment.

Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and President Obama have presided over a time of deregulation and tax reductions. As I write this I am reaffirming that I think that deregulation is good for commerce, but I am conflicted over the tax situation. I do agree with Stassen when he states that the SEC, in its kindler and gentler expressions, allowed Bernie Madoff to get away with his crimes too long, so I do believe in what Dr. Suess called a Bee Watcher.

I also agree with Stassen when he argues that the lack of oversight of our mortgage industry led to abuses resulting from greed. “Agents benefiting from huge incentives on each loan arranged regardless of how irresponsible the loan was.”

However, I do not agree with Stassen’s comments about the reduction of taxes leading too greater levels of debt; $1 Trillion during Reagan’s Presidency” to our current situation of $17 Trillion.” The problem is not just the reduced tax rate it is the waste related to government spending. There was not an equal reduction in spending related to the revenue reduction due to lower taxes.

Stassen concludes his comments, “The naïve belief in the invisible hand working via laissez-faire ideology without checks and balances came crashing down in the Great-Recession – the largest crash since the Great Depression – in the last year of the George W. Bush administration. How could policy makers be so naïve about sin, about the needs for checks and balances.”  Stassen’s book was published in 2012, so he was writing during Obama’s administration, so the lack.  of comments about Obama’s role in the accumulation of debt is telling. QE’s 1-3 had a huge impact on our debt level.

All of us are looking at our civic situation from our worldviews. The fact is that the Deistic, liberal church, view of the goodness of humanity does not work, and focusing on the fact that humanity is fallen is not enough. There is a middle road, common ground, where we need to find dialogue and solutions. I still believe this is possible, but is it probable? Who knows, but we will see.

And that is my thought for the day!


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