This may seem like a deviation from the general theme of my other posts. Most of my posts are tied to the thoughts that are running through my head at the time, and those are typically driven from the books that I am reading. Currently, I am reading the Story of Christian Theology as well as Bill Clinton’s, Giving.
The major theme in the Story of Christian Theology is the variations of Christianity that evolved from the one true life and history of Jesus and his disciples. One of the points of contention is synergism. In short, this is the concept of salvation through both God’s grace as well as your own evident transformation which manifests itself in your works. If I were a Christian, I would definitely believe that a transformation, as in a change in priorities, does occur. Works are not what puts you on the road to salvation, but they are a result of being on that road. I do believe that without works, it is visibly obvious that someone is not on the path to God, despite the “only God can read a person’s heart” theorists. I’m sure I’ll discuss this further in a later post.
Clinton’s book is clearly about giving which some might translate to works. The problem with the way most people give is that they feel they first must have in order to give. In his book, Clinton mentions a quote by Bill Gates during the 2007 Harvard Commencement Speech:
“If you believe that every life has equal value, it’s revolting to learn that some lives are seen as woth saving and others are not.” – Bill Gates
Some would say the problem is capitalism.
Capitalism – an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, esp. as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.
The system encourages and induces one group to take advantage of another. Capitalism existed long before the term was invented. Having been in economic existence over thousands of years, the conditions we see today are the result.
Socialism – the opposite of the above.
This system was formed in direct opposition of the capitalistic nature of economic tendencies. Most philosophers were socialists because their focus in all their philosophical journeys was to reach an ideal in which the chaos of modern human nature was turned to order.
Government, of course, attempts to provide the balance between the two. The real question when debating between capitalism and socialism is “What is the purpose of government, to protect the individual or promote society?” Of course the answer is that it is a blend, and so most capitalistic governments have a hint of socialism and socialists governments are introducing capitalism in order to keep pace with the rest of the world.
In fact Bill Gates, in his speech, continues to propose the real problem attributed to capitalism:
“How could the world let these children die? The answer is simple, and harsh. The market did not reward saving the lives of these children, and governments did not subsidize it.” – Bill Gates
A look at the genesis of each economic approach might lead us to a compromise which makes sense for both. I tend to view capitalism as evolution, survival of the fittest, a result,not the cause. The theory of evolution is that all beings have a natural tendency to promote ourself and our progeny beyond our peers. How does this apply to world economies? Simple. Most people who amass wealth, do so to give advantage to their children. We act exactly as evolution predicted.
I always find it amusing when people (typically good, Church-going Christians) try to instill selflessness in others with the saying “you can’t take it with you when you die”. However, in our current system, this is a completely false statement. We do take “it” with us the evolutionary way by leaving it for our children. The advantage we have gained over our lifetime is hoarded within our genepool just like any genetic trait.
After all this, here is my suggestion. Restrict inheritance. Upon death, all of an individual’s wealth goes back to the state. Based on the value left behind, the state will distribute it among the individual’s offspring in order to bring each to equal standing on par with the average of society. The remainder goes back to the state.
Why do I feel this will work? First and foremost, wealth can not be amassed over generations, and at some point, all wealth returns back to the state. This would not allow any single “family” from outpacing the rest. The existing model of the “rich get richer” would be moderated. Secondly, wealth accumulated in our lives would be used to promote our children into more contributing members of society. Education would be stressed above all else because that is the only safe way of preparing for the struggle of capitalism.
In a nutshell, this is my theory for solving the poverty and social class problems of today. In short, we will be capitalist in life, but socialist death.
Of course, there is no way this system would possibly be accepted by any form of government, be it democracy, plutocracy, aristocracy, or monarchy. As humans, we will never choose this model because of one simple truth about our nature. Evolution.