As a Christian, I am concerned for the poor, and that’s another reason I am voting for Mitt Romney.

As a Christian, heck, just as a human, I don’t enjoy seeing people living in poverty and I would prefer that that would not be the case. I realize that what we call poverty in the United States would not be considered poverty in most parts of the world, even though we do have cases of extreme poverty even here. But that aside, the question is what is the best approach to this issue.

I have good friends who have a strong, vibrant Christian faith and who are fervently on the other side of the political spectrum from me. I have even read Facebook posts, comments, news articles and books that question how anyone could be a Republican, conservative or (gasp!) a Tea Party supporter, and truly be a Christian. Those of us on the political right have been accused of being uncaring, unloving, cold-hearted, and certainly unchristian. We have been told that we want to leave others “out on their own” when we need to be “in this together.”

I would like to briefly discuss my perspective on this issue and why, even though I think we both are concerned for the poor (even though some of my friends on the left would assert that they are much more concerned), that I am compelled to vote for Mitt Romney, because I think his policies will help the poor much more than the policies of Barack Obama.

This is going to be a very brief overview. My plan is to come back to this topic on the blog and go over each point in detail at a later date. However, with the election being tomorrow, I felt a sense of urgency to get this posted.

1. If you want to help people, then keep it relational. Establish relationships between the givers and the receivers. This is why the church and communities were the ways things got done in the past. The givers had a vested interest in helping other people and seeing that these people got going in their lives. The receivers had a vested interest in turning their lives around and acting responsibly (that is not asserting that their need was a result of their own irresponsibility). If you help someone, and they continually act irresponsibly, then at some point, you stop helping because your help is no longer help, it is poison.

Unfortunately, when the government becomes the vehicle to distribute the help that it has taken from the helpers, then there is no relationship. And without relationship and an incentive to take responsibility for one’s life, then what is cultivated is dependency. It is clear that the government’s “war on poverty” of the last fifty years has done exactly that. It has created an underclass in the United States from which it is very difficult to escape. Two generations now raised in that mindset have become accustomed to a lifestyle which is imprisoning them, not liberating them. I do think we need a new time of Jubilee in which we can actually educate, train, and empower people to get out from under the shackles of government subsistence living. And it won’t come from more government handouts. We are in desperate need of a new perspective.

I think it is enlightening to realize that Mitt Romney has donated approximately 30% of his income to charity. Heartless? I don’t think so. “But he gave it to the Mormon Church.” Well I give most of mine to my church, so that they can minister to others too. And by the way… the Mormon church does a great job taking care of their own needy. I think most evangelical churches could take some pointers there.

2. Socialism never has worked and never will. Human nature being what it is, there needs to be a connection between effort and reward/results. It doesn’t matter what you deem the necessary reward, since it doesn’t have to be monetary, but if you disconnect a person’s effort from the rewards/results that come from the effort, then that effort will diminish. That disconnect is exactly what happens in socialism.  That is human nature. We may want to deny it. We may long for the day when it is finally transformed completely, but it is who we are…. (And I think it is creational, not just a post-fall aspect for you theologians out there.)

I have done the experiment in my classes and even my students, who overwhelmingly would self-identify as democrats, rebel at the idea of sharing their points and grades. The achievers want the grades they have earned and almost all of the students recognize that everyone’s efforts would eventually disappear if that individual motivation wasn’t there. Now, you can call it what you will, but when you implement the economic policies that Barack Obama has advocated in which the state takes over more and more of the economy,  it is socialism.

3. The year of Jubilee in the Old Testament was not a forerunner of socialism; it was a forerunner of equal opportunity. In the year of Jubilee, one of the things that was supposed to happen was that the land was to be returned to the original owners. Recognize that this was an agrarian society. Without land at this time, then there was no way to freely survive and accumulate wealth. So returning the land to the original owners meant that, every fifty years, families who had lost their property, for whatever reasons, were able to get a fresh start at economic prosperity. But also recognize that the wealth that someone had accumulated on that property was not forfeited. You returned the land, debts were cancelled, but you didn’t redistribute the wealth. People were to receive a fresh opportunity, not someone else’s wealth. Interesting that this was to happen every fifty years. Apparently it was to be expected that people would always fall into poverty throughout time.

4. There is human dignity in work. People enjoy the significance of achievement. Yes, there something special about gifts and grace, especially the amazing grace of salvation, however, when it comes to our life on this planet, if nothing we do makes any difference, then where is our worth? (Yes, we have intrinsic value but that is not the point here.) Even kids, when everyone gets a ribbon begin to realize that the ribbon is meaningless. If we really want to help people, especially poor people, then let’s help them find meaningful, and gainful employment. This is where I strongly believe that Mitt Romney’s experience and platform will be much better than Barack Obama’s. We cannot continue with an economy in which, when we include those who have just given up looking for work, over 14% of the population is unemployed.

5. The government is the least efficient way to get most anything done. Give me an example of government doing something efficiently. (That doesn’t mean that government doesn’t do some things well, and isn’t necessary to carry out some tasks like national defense, however, even there it is apparent that wasteful spending is the normal operating mode.) What we have in government programs is endless bureaucracies and jobs that aren’t necessary for the tasks at hand and wasteful spending because there is no incentive to be frugal. This point should be self-evident.

6. In Medieval Europe, the government and the economic system was merged into something called feudalism. The government (royalty) controlled everything and owned everything. There was no political freedom for those outside the ruling elite, and there was no economic freedom either. If we continue down the road we are presently on, that is where we regress to. When economic and financial institutions and mechanisms are tied into the government, then the powers that be have total control over the lives of the citizenry. If you are going to be free politically, you must be free economically. (And this includes crony capitalism from either side of the aisle. You can’t have businesses and politicians lining each other’s pockets.) The more dependent people are on the government, the more power over their lives they have relinquished to the government. The more power government has, the less freedom the people have. If we truly care about people, and want to give them every chance to improve their lives economically, then we must choose to give them freedom from an economic system dominated by governmental controls. If we want to help people out of poverty, then a free and fair market system is the best way to go. History has shown this to be the case. [i]

7. As a Christian, I am commanded to love others… to give cheerfully… to help my neighbor. And you know what, I want to do all that… and do, even in my own failing ways. But where in scripture does it say that the government’s job is to do that? Even in the Old Testament it doesn’t say that the government was to forcefully collect tithes and offerings. The people were supposed to donate that money as recognition that all things were a gift of God and to help those who were disenfranchised. I think we still need to do all of that. However, I see a real difference between the government forcefully taking away money through taxation and then doing a mediocre job (at best) of helping people, and people voluntarily giving of their worldly goods to help their neighbors. [ii]

8. Wealth itself is not condemned in Scripture, but the love of it. Abraham was rich. Jacob was rich. Joseph was rich. David, Solomon… and on and on.  The goal of Scriptural teaching is not to take away all differences in possessions or wealth. In fact, when Jacob’s father-in-law tried to cheat him out of the wealth generated by his work, God blessed Jacob with even more! The point is what you do with it… and how you got it. God is concerned that we love justice (including how we got our possessions), show mercy (help the disadvantaged and disenfranchised) and walk humbly with our God (including knowing that all we are and have belong to Him and come from Him.) Micah 6:8

As I said at the top, this was going to be a quick, abbreviated overview of some economic perspectives that I believe are crucial in this election. I am convinced that Mitt Romney will lead us in the direction that is more Biblically sound economically and that is another reason I am voting for him. I want fewer poor people. I believe Mitt Romney does too.

If nothing else, I hope this has given you something to chew on.

Thanks…. Remember regardless of what happens on November 6, 2012, God is still on the throne!  Our goal is His will to be done on earth

[i] But isn’t capitalism dangerous? Yes, like any system it can be abused, and that is why you need a limited government to protect our God given rights. Some regulations are necessary. No one that I know of supports the absence of regulations. But that is not the point of this post. When you compare the options, there is more possibility of abuse in a socialistic state, or a state run economy than in a free market economy. When government officials are also in control of the economy, in essence having absolute power, the potential for abuse, as history has shown, is mind boggling.

[ii] I also find it extremely interesting that it is usually those on the left that are so adamant about government programs for the poor, but it is those on the right who overwhelmingly give more to charities.  (