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The Progress of Greed

Capitalism has an ironic side effect after generations of progress: we forget about the minutia of production and the importance of capital risk and investment. If you are a software developer or website designer, you can appreciate the time and energy involved in a really awesome piece of software. If you are an engineer, you can appreciate the beauty and simplicity of Apple products. Many of us create things, whether big or small, and so we do have the potential to see all around us the wonders of the capitalist structure of production. Even if we don’t understand it all, we can deeply appreciate it.

One area I don’t fully understand is the medical-industrial complex. I don’t get to visit hospitals very often, but when I do, I get the same sense of awe and wonder and I just can’t help but marvel at the wonders of the marketplace. Yes, I realize that the medical industry isn’t exactly as “free market” as, say, the technology industry. But that doesn’t preclude a strong market component in the production of devices and substances in the industry. Somebody long before our visit to the hospital saw a problem that needed to be solved. They took huge risks of capital in order to help save lives or to make our lives generally less problematic.

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The Christian’s Political Objective

This essay concludes the Christian Theology and Public Policy Course by John Cobin, author of the books Bible and Government and Christian Theology of Public Policy. Congratulations if you have finished reading the entire series! This column is the second segment of a two-part series dealing with Christian civic duty.

Active Christians need an objective in carrying out their civic duty. In America, Christians need to have a vision of what an ideal republic would look like, along with some specific objectives of social transformation in order to achieve that republic. A fallen world can be improved by a Christian’s efforts, but his efforts need to be focused.

In terms of political activism, a useful starting point for thinking about ideals is facilitated by considering society without any political structure, as well as considering the actions of fallen men in establishing it. The natural state of society is anarchy —not in the sense of untrammeled chaos but in the sense of having no established civil authority. Yet the sinful tendencies of men have led them to create states— parasitic power structures that devour social order and bring chaotic social conditions. As bad as society under anarchy may be it is always preferable to life under a state.

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