Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Church and State

Andrew Sullivan complains that Jesus was most certainly not a socialist:
I'm struck by how many readers seem to believe that the Gospels mandate an expansive welfare state. I can't see it myself. Jesus was admant [sic] about eschewing politics; and his injunction to help the poor was not an injunction to get taxed in order that others may help the poor (or more generally with government attempts to reduce poverty, to keep them poor). And, of course, in socialist countries, the government both takes more of your money and tells you that the needs of others are the state's business, not yours. No big surprise, then, that no other country gives even half as much in charity as Americans. A free society, low taxes and limited government actually leaves people with the means to do good. The French give one twelfth of what Americans give. Britain is the second most generous country, and, despite Tony Blair's best efforts, still the least socialist of the European powers.
It's all about attitude vs. approach. His natural bias is toward the Church rather than the State, and toward "charity" rather than "taxes", but it's just rhetoric. It's all the same when someone's shaking that collection basket in your face on a Sunday morning. I think the point he's missing is that countries without social supports NEED to be more generous because there is nothing else.

The difference is that in a socialist country this generosity is built into the national infrastructure. In a charity-based society, it's left to one's leisure time and Sunday observances.