There never seems to be a shortage in calls for government intervention in the economy to help alleviate poverty. Increasingly, such proposals are being floated by the Christian Left who identify people facing undesirable circumstances and then claim that Christian ethics demand statist economic policy as a solution.
An example of such thinking is the warning from Jim Wallis that we dare not solve our government’s fiscal disaster by balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. To do so would be to lack a true Christmas spirit.
Does caring for the poor demand a welfare state? Is income redistribution to the poor something that should be embraced as a good economic policy?
In evaluating any economic policy, we would do well to remember Murray Rothbard’s insight that all economic policy has an ethical component. Once we move beyond examining the purely economic consequences of the minimum wage, for example, and then advocate raising, lowering, or abolishing it, we must incorporate some ethical standard, because we are now entering the dimension of the should or should not. [Read more...]