The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Sunday, December 09, 2007

Steyn on Free Markets and Religion

Mark Steyn's column this Sunday is yet another excellent argument for allowing free markets to operate unhindered--especially when it comes to ill-conceived bailouts of people who signed ARMs they had no business getting into in the first place.

When I lost my job after the Clinton recession, and as a result lost my dream home, no one was there to bail us out; and frankly, it would not have been right had there been. I made a mistake. I had to pay for that mistake. And so I feel like I have pretty good standing to say that I do not think that legislating the public away from taking personal responsibility for their lives is a morally responsible stance. It certainly is not something that leads to more people taking personal responsibility for their lives (of course this is the whole point from the Leftist "Nanny State" perspective). But ideology aside, how could it possibly be argued that this is good for the whole that people can be more irresponsible without consequences?

Last week when Mitt Romney stated that there could be no religion without freedom and vice versa, it caused a bit of a stir, because the media talking heads twisted out of all proportion what Romney was really trying to get across. Fortunately we have men like Steyn to add a bit more depth to the discussion:
[...] One shouldn’t overstate the Administration’s actions: in Zimbabwe, the government seizes your property; in the United States, the government seizes your property contract and then hands it back to you all fluffy and painless. But still it’s a very curious move.

Yet out on the campaign trail no candidate seems very bothered by it. Musing on various nannyish being mooted by candidates of both parties, Fred Thompson said the other day, “I don’t think that it’s the primary responsibility of the federal government to tell you what to eat.” It’s apparently not the primary responsibility of the government to tell you to suck it up (which is what Michelle Malkin proposed as an alternative outreach plan to troubled mortgage holders). “The fact of the matter is we got an awful lot of knowledge,” Senator Thompson continued. “Sometimes we don’t have a whole lot of will power, and I don’t know of any government program that's going to instill that.”

There don’t seem to be a lot of takers for small government out on the hustings this season. We were told by plenty of experts that this would be the year in which the Christian right would be rendered politically irrelevant: Nominating Rudy Giuliani (a pro-life candidate positively Chiracesque in his sexual habits and the taxpayer funding thereof) would leave the religious right out on the fringe. Instead, the evangelicals found a candidate, destabilized the race, and we’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking about nothing but religion. Mike Huckabee’s declaration in his Iowa advertising that he is a “Christian leader” seems a barely coded dig at Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, and Mitt’s big speech on Thursday was his own attempt to put the Mormon question to bed.

As far as Christian conservatives are concerned, Governor Huckabee is obviously a sincere Christian. But he doesn’t seem to be any kind of a conservative — not if you look at his record on domestic policy. As for Governor Romney, one of the most interesting passages of his speech was his contrast of America’s faith with Europe’s: “I’m not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty,” he said. “I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired ... so grand ... so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too ‘enlightened’ to venture inside and kneel in prayer. The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe’s churches.”

That’s very true. As America demonstrates, faith thrives in a free market. In Europe, the established church, whether formal (the Church of England) or informal (as in Catholic Italy and Spain), killed religion as surely as state ownership killed the British car industry. When the Episcopal Church degenerates into wimpsville relativist milquetoast mush, Americans go elsewhere. When the Church of England undergoes similar institutional decline, Britons give up on religion entirely.

Instead of a state church, Europe believes in the state as church — the all-powerful beneficent provider of cradle-to-grave welfare. “Freedom requires religion,” said Mitt Romney, and, whether or not one agrees, in Europe big government has led naturally to small religion — a point Governor Huckabee might want to ponder. I would rather we talked less about religion in America (which can take care of itself) and more about government, which seems to be trending in an alarmingly European direction, Democrats and Republicans disagreeing merely on the speed at which we’ll get there. Yet the two are explicitly connected. Europe’s religious decline derives in part from the state’s usurpation and annexation of so many of the other supporting structures of society, including the church. I am in favor of a free market in religion and a free market in housing, but right now I’d like a conservative candidate with a clear-headed commitment to both.
You can say that again. Read the whole column here.
DiscerningTexan, 12/09/2007 12:56:00 PM |