Edging Away from Egypt (IV)

Can and do people actually believe in slavery as salvation? Clearly, the answer is, yes, in most of history, men have clung to slavery, but it must be realized that they have rarely been honest enough to call their choice slavery.[1]

In case we ever become somewhat tolerant of the concept of slavery, we ought to remember that slavery and murder have commonly been linked in history. Pharoah was both a slave driver and a murderer. The Communist nations of the twentieth century, especially the Soviet Union, murdered and enslaved people by the millions. It was State policy for seventy years.

This is why it is essential to find lasting Biblical solutions to social and political problems, such as poverty. Socialism purports to care for the poor, but its means are to forcibly take vast amounts of money from productive people in the community through taxation, handing it over to unproductive people. But that’s not caring for the poor- that’s legalized theft, from which politicians, bureaucrats, and some “poor” people benefit.

So, how should we care for poor people? In reference to rulers and the poor, the Bible says this: ‘If a king judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever” (Prov.29:14).

Political make-work schemes are a farce. The thing that poor people need most of all, is work, generated by the free-market. This means that Christians ought to work for the elimination of award rates in employment, along with minimum wage rates and penalty rates.

Why? These compel employers to pay a specific rate of pay, whether the employer can afford that rate, or not. They reduce opportunities for poor people to get work, for economic facts teach us, that the rising price of a commodity means that less will be demanded.

This shows the stupidity of interfering with the free-market. The result is generally the opposite of what the foolish legislators intended: the poor suffer. And this itself is consistent, because as the Bible says, “…even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Prov.12:10).

Let’s use an example. Cafes and Coffee-Shops are substantial employers in the Australian community, employing many thousands of people, nation-wide. When people go out, they want to be able to stop somewhere, for a meal or coffee, or both.

If Fred the Coffee Shop employer, is compelled by law to pay his casual staff $25/hour, along with Penalty Rates (such as time and a half, or double time on Sundays) he may say to himself, “I can’t employ many staff at that rate. In fact, I can’t afford to open on Sundays. I’ll close the shop,” everyone loses: his customers, himself, and his staff. But if he can work out a sustainable labor price with his employees, he will be able to provide them with the maximum employment. Any employee will agree that a lower rate of pay, is better than no work with no pay.

What is required is the freeing up of the labour market, so that employers and employees can negotiate their arrangements, without interference from a Third Party. In the long-term, this is the surest way of providing jobs for the poor.

Work is what Boaz provided Ruth. She had the opportunity to engage in “gleaning:” going into his fields after the barley and wheat harvest had been completed, to pick up what had been left behind for the poor (see Ruth 2). Boaz recognized her diligence and willingness to work, and showed favor to her. Later, he married her.

At the same time, the Bible says a lot about other ways of caring for the poor. This can be in the form of money, or goods. Having access to free money is very popular, but it is also frequently abused. People like handouts without strings attached, but this will quickly bleed any charitable institution dry. This is why historically, poor people have tended to be divided into “deserving” and undeserving.” Sloths have been with us since Genesis.

Some poverty is brought about by people’s folly, and it should not be subsidized. Other poverty is unrelated to people’s poor choices. Christian people have to be able to draw lines in the sand, regarding who should be supported.

What poor people also need, is food. Having these resources available can be a terrific help to poor people, in need. The church can have a supply role in this vital field, with this encouragement to people: “Submit to God, get a job, and work hard.

Conclusion:                                                                                                                               

Finding solutions for people’s poverty is an important aspect of the gospel. It involves money and goods, but it must be seen in a broader context, than merely providing commodities for people.

The poor person most of all needs work, and removing the social hindrances to work (including negative attitudes) makes employment, and the ability to get out of poverty, possible.

Award rates, minimum rates and penalty rates are hindrances to work, making it more difficult to employ people. They reduce opportunities for employment, and should be done away with. The free market is what gives the poor the greatest opportunities.

Jesus sent John’s disciples back to him, saying,

Go and report to John what you see and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them (Mat.11:4-5).

And this is what we are commanded to do, too.

[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Salvation and Godly Rule,” 1983, p.149.