Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Real Culture War is Over Economic Freedom

Arthur Brooks has a perceptive piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning that asserts that the big culture war of this time is not over the usual social issues but over economic freedom. And as much as I care about abortion, home-schooling and such, I think Brooks is right.

The anger we see manifested in tea parties is over economic freedom. And that anger will only grow as Obama’s agenda progresses. That anger also has more tangible consequences than anger over social issues. Most of those opposed to same-sex marriage won’t crash gay weddings. But those opposed to confiscatory taxation will change their economic behavior to avoid those taxes. Most of those changes are not good for the economy.

That’s not to mention that people don’t respond well to thieves. Try burglarizing a Texan to find out about that. Being ripped off evokes a more visceral response than someone’s moral choices in Californicate. For better or worse, that's human nature.

I am heartened to see Brooks note that taxation and other economic freedom issues are moral issues. I have felt that way since supporting Ronald Reagan in my Duke days. I do not claim to know just where to draw the line, but when government’s take approaches 50%, I am convinced at least two of the Ten Commandments are broken. I know many of my Christian brothers (especially in the UK) think government is virtually incapable of breaking “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet.” I beg to differ.

Unfortunately, through the years, I’ve seen very few assert that excessive taxation is theft. I’m heartened to see Mr. Brooks imply that it and other government enormities are so indeed.

He makes other interesting points I may visit at another time. For now, I commend his column to you.

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