Once again, politicians are bemoaning our system of capitalism, claiming that the solution to economic woes is further expansion of a government-driven social welfare system.
“Our collective strength is exercised through government. It is, in effect, our immune system,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his remarks at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. “Government matters, and leadership matters. It determines whether we thrive and grow or whether we live or die.”
History has yet to record a successful instance of government programs and bailouts creating wealth for its citizens or bringing people more freedom. The proponents of this approach have identified the right problem – people desperately need help right now – but they’re selling the wrong solution.
And speaking of history, while prominent voices in many of America’s faith communities are eschewing capitalism and claiming that God-fearing people should embrace the tenets of socialism, they have failed to understand that capitalism, as practiced in America, is based on Judeo-Christian values.
Dating all the way back to Abraham, wealth and prosperity were signs of blessings from God. That theme continued throughout the Bible with Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon all achieving wealth that was considered a clear indicator of divine favor. As Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember that it is the LORD your God who gives you the power to get wealth, in fulfillment of the covenant that He made on oath with your fathers, as is still the case.”
But that wealth was not meant to be hoarded or to be used only for self-gratification and advancement. There was an expectation from God concerning wealth and divinely ordained responsibility to be generous. According to the prophet Ezekiel, one of the grievances that God had against Sodom was that the people had wealth and abundance but did not share it with those in need.
God instructed the Israelites in Deuteronomy 15:11, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded towards your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.”
God intended wealth, prosperity, and the ensuing generosity to be a social safety net providing for those in need. So much so that he laid out very specific guidance for the Israelites, instructing them to create an agricultural system for the poor and treat them with favor during festivals.
This idea was a reflection of God Himself. In passages throughout the Bible, you see God described as generous and giving, not just to those whom He blesses, but for those who couldn’t help themselves: the resident alien, the widow, the orphan.
God is generous and He expects – even commands – man to be generous with the understanding that prosperity, and in turn generosity, creates a just and ethical society. Any attempt to offload the generosity and responsibility of an individual before God to care for those less fortunate, and to instead put that responsibility with a faceless government, is a subversion of God’s original purpose.
Government welfare interferes with man’s responsibility to his God and his direct interaction with his community. Is it any wonder that the atheistic leaders that dominated the communist and socialist worldviews were always quick to establish government as the source of benevolence and charity?
The founders of our country understood this. George Washington, on more than one occasion, quoted the prophet Micah when speaking of peace and prosperity.
He, along with the other Founding Fathers, grasped the weight of what God was communicating in the holy scriptures. Their desire for a free and prosperous people wasn’t sought merely for personal gain. It was an acknowledgement that prosperous individuals created communities that prospered and thrived.
Indeed, the responsibility of generosity was deeply interwoven into our Founding Fathers’ vision for this nation. And that thread has continued to this day, as America has held the mantle of the most generous and giving people in the world for the last decade.
And it is that heritage of generosity that has seen the people from the most capitalistic society in the world use their wealth and abundance to lift people out of poverty, build hospitals, and bring clean water to people across the globe.
In this time of economic uncertainty around the world, we should not look for a global reset, attempt to undo the tenets of capitalism, or wait to see what the next round of government bailouts gives us.
We should instead be taking hold of the opportunities that American capitalism, based on thousands of years of Judeo-Christian principles, provides to each and every one of us: to work hard, invest, and thrive – and follow God’s commands to help our neighbors prosper.
Charles Mizrahi is a nearly 40-year veteran of Wall Street and founder of Alpha Investor.