Monday, November 27, 2006

The basic goodness of people

One thing I have heard many times in politics (from Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives) is that conservatives believe that people are inherently good and can make the right decisions for themselves, while Leftists believe that people are inherently bad and need government to make decisions for them.

I am a conservative, but I hold a different view. I believe, based on Scripture, that people are inherently bad. Left to their own devices, people will make a selfish choice to benefit themselves and no one else. (See Romans 3:10-12 and Romans 3:23.) We are hopelessly lost and cannot be justified before God based on our own works. (See Ephesians 2:8-9)

It is for that reason that Communism cannot work, while capitalism creates wealth, jobs and economic growth. Communism denies the basic nature of human beings. If there is no profit in working, people will not work unless forced to do so. At its core, Communism is a humanist philosophy, one that worships human beings or humanity as a while and that, people will work without the benefit of a profit. (Note that theoretical Communism is very different from Soviet-style Communism, which was a ruse for brutal, genocidal tyrants to gain power for themselves.)

My view that people are inherently bad, however, is why I distrust the government and believe government power must be strictly limited. After all, government is made up of people who are sinners by nature and by choice. Even King David, a man after God's own heart, had an affair with Bathsheba, the wife of David's friend Uriah. David then used his power as king of Israel to have Uriah murdered to cover up the affair.

Government must exist to provide for basic services and to provide order to a society. These basic services include a military to defend our country from outside aggression, infrastructure such as roads and highways, a civil and criminal court system, and police and fire protection. But the more power government has, the more potential exists for corrupt men to abuse that power for their own personal gain or to violate the rights of the citizens.

The key is striking the right balance between order and individual liberty. The United States, for a long time, had that balanced but has shifted more toward government power over individual liberty. That needs to change.