Friday, September 25, 2009

Michael Moore and Capitalism

The Question that Michael Moore brings up is "What would Jesus Do?"  Let me remind you that Jesus did not live in our day and age so any answer to that is Hypothetical.  You have to look at scripture and say: Is there a Biblical principal that applies?

The American way as we know it now is when you go in business, you form a corporation and raise a ton of money. You hire hundreds of people and start producing.  You form a corporation because of the tax and liability laws.  You could be starting small and just create a board of directors for your corporation and file for a corporation.  Build your business.  As you start to be successful and you need funding for more projects, you sell a part of your business to either a large investor or take it to wall street and sell stock to raise the money.  There are bonds that can be sold as well as bank loans to take on to raise funds for the growth of your company.

What is the biblical way?  You can't look at Jesus.  He had nothing to say.  Moses had plenty to say and Jesus said he came to fulfill the law.  So what does Moses have to say?  First there is no corporations.  All businesses are sole proprietorships.  Under today's laws we could go with an S corporation.   I am not sure that we are to create a business so large that we need to hire hundreds of employees.  The early American model has a sole proprietor taking on an apprentice and then teaching him the trade.  The biblical model goes on to limit the amount of money that can be borrowed by forgiving all debts on the year of jubilee.  

If you look at the year of Jubilee it is a wonderful thing.  If you really want to know what Jesus would do you have to look at this.  The year of jubilee, all the debts are forgiven, the slaves are released, and everyone who had to sell his land, gets it back.  This puts everyone back to a level playing field every 50 years.   I mentioned that our founders intended to do this when the country was founded.  The Verse for Leviticus 25 is found on the liberty bell.  It cracked exactly 50 years after the country was founded.  The year that should have been a Jubilee but wasn't.

So what is Michael Moore trying to do by attacking capitalism.  I know he is trying to get us to rethink our stand on the issue.  Is greed good?  Michael Douglas tried to convince us of this in his movie "Wall Street" back in the 80's.  If you saw that movie you know in the end he fell on his own greed.  Of course the ten commandments specifically mentions coveting as a sin.

What Michael Moore doesn't want to admit is that the Bible never gives the means of production or the responsibility for caring for everyone's every need to the Government.  By giving it to the government, you create a super corporation that will oppress the people more.  The warning came up when the people in I Samuel asked for a king.  He said he would take all your money and all your children for his service.  The idea of having a president instead of a king is that the people looking to God is the sovereign.  God ask for your complete allegiance.   When you have a powerful government, they expect your total loyalty.  That is why Nero persecuted Christians. God's plan is for the government to be small and the people to look to God for guidance.

So to go back to what would Jesus do?  He owned his own carpentry business.  Then he became a freelance preacher.  He surrounded himself with people who were capable of raising money. Fishermen, tax collectors, etc.   He never worked for anyone as an indentured servant.  He never became an employee.  He never borrowed money.  I don't even see him taking a collection in scripture.  I know he he did watch the giving practices in the temple and synagogues.  When he needed to pay a tax, he found the money.  When he needed to have a service done he was able to find someone to donate the service.  We know Judas was the group treasurer and they had some money.  He taught.  He preached. He healed the sick, lamb and blind.

When it came to businesses relating to religion, he overthrew the money changers at the temple.   To understand the story.   The moneychangers were there selling animals and changing money so that it would be acceptable to the priest.  The priest would reject whatever a person brought and just like buying ski pants at the slopes, the animals sold in the court of the gentiles was five to ten times more expensive then buying it back in your hometown.    Jesus greatly disliked the practice.

I say that Jesus would advocate that every man owned there own business, planted his own field, and sold his own products in the marketplace.   He would advocate that every man use certified scales so that no man is cheated in his sale.  That loans would not have a high usury.  That a man did not own hundreds of servants but would hire seasonally when he needed a harvest done.  That every year when your harvest, or ship came in that you gave your ten percent to the priest in the temple.  That the offering would be acceptable within reason.  That you  leave a portion of your field so that the poor could go through it and pick their own food. This practice of not allowing people to pillage through Land Fills is not good.

What Jesus is looking for is not a system that makes you buy Gold and Silver from the world.  What he wants is that you buy Gold and Silver from God,  tried in the fire.  Revelation 3:18.  So as you go to watch Michael Moore's new film or listen to him on the talk show circuit,  read Leviticus first.   Learn what God really expects from a business man.  Read the history of business and discover what the founders expected from us as we started building large businesses with Wall Street.  Michael Moore has a point, but his conclusion is wrong.

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