My friend Mike Todd argues (mostly in the comments) that the capitalist economic system must be replaced. Says Mike,
Can the current system be redeemed, or does it need to be replaced? My bias is towards replacement. First, I think the primary characteristics of the system (profit motive + greed = trouble) render it ‘unredeemable’, if that’s a word. Second, as a follower of Jesus I believe that the world to come (which we as the Body of Christ have a critical role to play in bringing it into being) is wholly other-wise. It’s not a tweaking of any current system, but an imaginative alternative. I won’t be satisfied with anything less…
Ignoring what I think is a wrongful understanding of “profit motive,” and given that capitalism isn’t so much a “system” as it is a measurement of the freedoms of interacting human beings, let’s assume capitalism (as we know it) needs to be replaced. I agree with Mike that “the world to come” will indeed be a wholly other type of “economy,” if it can be called that (I believe it can, since an economy is shorthand for the exchanges among human beings).
Mike and I disagree on what word to call it, and while my attempt is to redeem (“buy back”) the word capitalism from what we experience as consumerism today, we do agree that the Kingdom of God that brings about the World to Come is definitely “not of this world,” though it is of course for this world. (We both affirm the salvation Jesus offered was not just about individuals, and the Kingdom he announced was for here and now, not just the future.)
Mike is aware that “Christianity” has a bad reputation and bad name, and rightfully so. But that doesn’t mean “Christianity” unredeemable, it means it must be re-found. Brian McLaren explores this in his new book. I’m encouraging the same type of quest for an economic system. “Capitalism” isn’t a dirty word, and it must be redeemed!
Without writing a treatise (I’ll do that someday, I hope), here’s a set of actions we can do to replace today’s capitalism with:
- Abolish the Federal Reserve System (or any other central bank out there); if “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” how much more evil is the control of money in society?
- Return to sound money; at first this means allowing competing currencies (rather than the government having a monopoly), but eventually that means precious metals will evolve as money.
- Abolish government subsidies of all industries: agriculture, energy, and transportation, to name a few; nobody gets special favors at the expense of society.
- While if #1 was accomplished, this one would be a natural outcome: withdraw all non-combatant troops from the 150+ nations the United States operates a military; also withdraw from any wars the U.S. has started (I think that’s all of them).
- Abolish drug laws. All of them.
- Make it very easy to cross borders. Just as easy as I can move from Pennsylvania to Virginia without much effort.
- Abolish so-called “intellectual property.” If it isn’t a scarce resource you cannot “own” it. IP laws are unjust and benefit large corporations at the expense of innovators. It also is a waste of billions of dollars a year.
In reality I believe Kingdom people ought to work to make the state irrelevant and thus inoperative. But if we’re “designing a system” (as Mike seems to want to do), let’s start with the above action items.