Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Alright, I’m stepping smack dab into the hornet’s nest. Our brother JT has posted some thoughts by two political conservatives regarding issues surrounding the MN bridge collapse. John Podhoretz wrote:
The social compact here is simple: We give the money to government, and all we ask in return is that these publicly shared responsibilities and resources are properly maintained.
Maintenance is necessary but boring, and since government is made up of human beings who abhor boredom, few elected officials or high-level managers are all that interested in this mundane task. Instead, they want to do big, exciting, bold new things - things they can claim for their own.
And in the past half-century, American government has redefined its core responsibilities. No longer does government exist for the purposes of maintenance and upkeep. Instead, it is seen as a means - perhaps the only significant means - of healing social flaws and reweaving the social fabric.
According to Thomas Sowell: People who are putting their own money on the line are going to want to have their own experts taking a look under the bridges they finance, to see where there are rust, cracks, or crumbling supports.
Now hold on for a minute because before we touch gloves and go back to our respective corner’s and come out swinging in the age old conservative/liberal debate I’d like to ask some questions.
How important are one’s political views to one’s confession of Christ? I ask because having been among evangelicals for over 15 years I’ve noticed a strong tie between their faith in Christ and their conservative political convictions. Most evangelicals I know attend churches where the vast majority of the members are solidly conservative. It makes me wonder how many evangelical churches have a mixture of political conservatives and liberals? How many of us regularly fellowship and talk with those who have different political convictions? I realize that abortion is an important and even paramount issue, and I think I know why many believers have strong convictions on healthcare, gun ownership and the size of government. I’m simply wondering out loud why these are held so strongly? For instance I’ve been perusing Christian blogs for some time now. No, I don’t have the time or inclination to read all of them or every article they feature and for the most part I’ve only looked at Reformed blogs. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen an post that argued for public healthcare, a restriction on gun ownership or a larger role for government (except in the case of the military). Speaking of that I also don’t remember viewing an article that stood against prevailing conservative opinion in the Iraq war.
Another set of questions: Why do conservatives have such faith in the free market? Why is big government always viewed suspiciously, but big business seen as the good guys because they’ll always do what’s best for the customer? Thomas Sowell believes that people putting up their own money will be more concerned with safety issues than government employees. But is that so? For example in the mid 70’s the Firestone tire company made a defective tire found to be responsible for several deaths. The government imposed a half-million dollar fine on them and the company had to settle lawsuits that totaled millions of dollars. Despite that history Firestone ran into an almost identical problem in the late nineties. Once again they at first blamed the problem on consumers before recalling millions of tires.
Could we be absolutely positive that private companies would build and maintain bridges in a more efficient and safer way than the government? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps even more important though is could we have a genuine disagreement over the role of government, keep that separate from our convictions concerning Christ and still genuinely enjoy the fellowship of the saints?