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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Lessons from our Jewish friends

  • Multiple times President Obama has declared the United States is not a Christian nation.

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  • Multiple times President Obama has declared the United States is not a Christian nation.  That statement resonates badly with the majority of Americans.  Our leaders from the earliest days and most of the followers have been and continue to be Christians.
    So what to make of this remark that rankles most of us.  Let’s be charitable and assume our president meant to say the United States is not a theocracy and our Christian leaders are not the ones who run this country politically.
    With this background it is amazing to me that two great writers in the last week or so have explained so effectively how this country works.  First we have Paul Greenberg from the Arkansas Dem-Gaz and then a brilliant summarization from Rabbi Spero.  Both of these columnists are of the Jewish faith.
    Mr. Greenberg refers to his column as Econ 101.  It is a shame our political candidates, especially those running for president, are not exposed to such basic material.
    He relates that Andrew Jackson was the first president to declare war on banks and financial institutions.  In so doing he brought down investors, speculators and along with it the rest of the economy.
    Moving now to identify today’s villains the media, liberals and economic illiterate have found a new target.  The present day bad guy comes from private equity and is a capitalist such as Mitt Romney.  These private equity firms like Bain Capital hone in on troubled companies or where capital is underemployed.  For these ventures the risk is great and the profit can be large.
    So what is so evil about such an approach to investing capital?  The progressives bemoan the break in income tax rates.  Presently these gains are taxed at capital gains rates.  The rates are lower for good reason.  This gives investors an incentive to put their money at risk to save and create more jobs.  The business itself is a crap shoot.  Jobs may be lost, jobs created, just as fortunes may be made or lost.
    If a private equity firm reorganizes and refinances a firm that is a loser and soon to go belly up, naturally jobs will be lost, others reassigned and if the business turns around (that would mean profit), many more jobs will be created.  If nothing was done for this company that was just spinning its wheels, it is more than probable that all workers in this company would lose their jobs.  Folks, things change. Companies spring up with new products and services and other companies such as Kodak that can’t adapt go kaput. This is a very important part of capitalism.  There are two entities that continually fight change and make it difficult for capital to be successfully applied.  Those entities are unions and government.  A third group of recent vintage could be wild-eyed environmentalists.  
    Page 2 of 2 - So what do we need today?  We need a business and social climate that will allow the development of such companies as Wal-Mart, J.B. Hunt and Tyson.  With today’s government intervention and fight for “social justice”, it is doubtful such companies could develop now.
    The late Steve Jobs is a perfect example.  When Apple was struggling in 1997 they brought in the controversial Mr. Jobs and one of his first moves was to fire more than 3,000 people so the company could change and grow.
    Rabbi Spero gives us some information on what the Bible teaches us about capitalism.  Naturally he concentrates on the Old Testament but Jesus himself relates a famous parable where man (or woman) is expected to invest and produce financial interest when he has been given that responsibility.
    As explained by Rabbi Spero capitalism is not content with people being laborers and holders of jobs, indistinguishable members of masses punching in and out of factories or functioning as service employees in government agencies.  It cheerfully fosters and encourages creativity unspoken possibilities and dreams for changes for man and the universe.  In the beginning Genesis announces man is created in the image of God with individuality and creative intelligence.  Man is to be dominant and a caretaker over the animal kingdom.  If you listen to PETA and similar groups, animals are on equal status of man and similar in intelligence.  For those believers this question should be asked - where are the hospitals, the cities and the railroads and dams that the elephants, the dolphins and the cheetahs have created?
    Many on the religious left criticize capitalism because all do not end up monetarily equal.  No where does the Bible refer to a utopian equality.  That is contrary to human nature and has never been achieved.  So many times, as pointed out by the Rabbi, the complaints and arguments against capitalism are only thinly veiled as envy and covetous which is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it.
    Are too many of us Christians so blind and so wrapped up in social justice that it takes our Jewish friends to instruct us what the Bible says and doesn’t say?  Perhaps so.
    (Jerry Jackson of Heber Springs writes his “conservative viewpoint” column each Wednesday)

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