Arguing with Christian Socialists

Now this may annoy the atheists that maybe check out the site, but hear everything out. If your goal is to “convert” a misguided statist who happens to be a Christian and an advocate for socialism, read on. I really do think that you can show them how they are wrong and that Christianity does have theology compatible with Anarchism and Capitalism. Feel free to join in the conversation with me here on the facebook thread this is all from here. (Apologies for some typos. I responded to much of this on my phone).

Christian Socialist 1: I don’t think Jesus was a socialist, but he sure wasn’t a venture capitalist or libertarian. One thing about socialism it’s been proven to work. Libertarianism is just a joke. The only people who can’t see what a joke it is are people who can’t see past their own noses.

The whole “socialism has been proven to work” bit made me laugh. That means Venezuela is doing really well right now right? Oh and the USSR still exists and never collapsed right?

Me (Jon Torres): Haha socialism works? F.A. Hayek once said “If socialist knew anything about economics, they wouldn’t be socialist.” In what ways is libertarianism a joke and not compatible with Jesus’s teachings? Libertarian philosophy is grounded in the non-aggression principle. It states that all forms of aggression except self defense are immoral (you know, love your neighbor as yourself”). This means the socialist taking the wealth of one person and giving to another is a form of aggression against another person and their property.

Jesus said to sell your possessions and give to the poor, not create a large central monopoly on force known as government and use that to steal from one person and give to another. You truly have a warped sense of economics, morality and what constitutes a “joke” if you think the libertarian philosophy, which is founded on personal freedom, responsibility, and choice is a joke. Take your central planning and shove it because there are those of us that would rather plan for ourselves.

We then have a long string of dodging arguments and the use of lame ad hominems for a while. We then come to this “Betrayal of Jesus” page that thinks they understand economics.

“Betrayal of Jesus” Page: Jon Torres —citing laissez-faire anti-government extremist F.A. Hayek, who looked for any reason ever to redistribute wealth from the workers who producer to the idle rich of the investor class, shows you to either be completely oblivious to Jesus’ teachings in relation to economics, or simply trying to hijack the thread.

The question here is not whether or not socialism works (like any economic system, it depends on the political management of it — it actually works quite well under democratic governments in Scandinavia and New Zealand).

The question is not about socialism per se, but whether or not Jesus promoted it. The Bible quotes in my previous comment prove that he did.

Me (Jon Torres): Jesus said to help the poor from your own wallet. Not to reach into the pocket of your neighbor, rob him, and then give to the poor (and lock him in a cage if he resists). That is exactly what socialism is. The fact that you believe that shows you don’t know Jesus. You sight Scandinavian countries for their welfare system but you seem to lack their economic situation and your ignorance shows. Those Scandinavian nations consistently rank highest in economic freedom and deregulated markets. You know, free markets, that word that makes you gnash your teeth. Those nations are successful because of their lax regulations and free markets, not because of socialism.

And have you ever read Hayek? I assume you’ve probably only read Marx. He was noble prize winner in economics for his work on understanding how central banking negatively screws up the market. So he was justified in his skepticism of government. Which brings me to my final point, whom do you serve? Jesus or Government? You can’t serve two masters friend.

A quick note about Scandinavian nations. Many of these nations never had a feudal system. They were smaller populations of land owning farmers and this fact helped to give them great capital when reaching the modern era. Not only that, but as I stated in my comment, these “socialist paradises” rank very high in economic freedom and have less regulations hampering their markets. This means they “thrive” (though most of these nations have had stagnate economies for decades with little growth) in spite of socialism not because of it.

“Betrayal of Jesus” Page: Actually I am very familiar with Hayek (yeah right), obviously more so than your complete misrepresentation of socialism (it is not government; you are confused about the difference between politics [government] and economics [how markets are managed, whether by kings, authoritarian dictators, religious theocracy or “we the people” coming together in secular democratic socialism], but this thread is not about economics per se and is not going to be hijacked off on that tangent.

Jesus said to help the poor. Period. He did not say, “from your own wallet” as you say he did. YOU JUST MADE THAT UP. Jesus did not say that. Jesus did not say that your public policy should not be consistent with personal virtue.

And again here is what the Bible does say about how his earliest (pre-Paul) followers interpreted what he did say:
“All that believed were together, and HAD ALL THINGS IN COMMON; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS.”
(Acts 2:44-45; emphasis added; this was ENFORCED BY THREAT OF DEATH in a more detailed description in Acts 4:32-37 and Acts 5:1-11).
Shades of Karl Marx! If someone were to suggest such a practice today, those who claim to be Jesus’ followers today would call him a Communist. Would they call Jesus a Communist?

So if Jesus is such an outspoken liberal, why do those who claim to be his followers stake out a conservative position so opposite of what he taught?

It all goes back to that fundamental conflict that has been repeatedly cited — the contradictions between Jesus (supported by his brother James) and the renegade “apostle” Paul.

Again, this thread is not to debate the relative merits of socialism, capitalism or laissez-faire deregulation (which are all very different — if you actually read all five volumes and 750 pages of Adam Smith he repudiates the concept of laissez faire, coined by a French legislator 40 years before he published “Wealth of Nations.” Smith teaches the operation of the “invisible hand” that balances the interplay of market forces of supply and demand but fully understands that they need the regulatory boundaries of public policy oversight to function properly.

Regulation does not stifle free choice, it makes it possible. Rules of the road don’t prevent you from getting in your car and driving anywhere you want to go; they make it possible. Rules of sports don’t stifle strategizing, they make it possible.

But in any case, this is not to debate the merits of socialism or capitalism. It is to point out that Jesus preached a model closer to socialism than the market god of Mammon, and THAT IS HOW HIS EARLIEST FOLLOWERS UNDERSTOOD IT.

Jesus drove the money changers from the Temple.
Today’s conservatives ARE the money changers.
So much is wrong with this theology and understanding of logic and economics it’s pretty funny. They then posted this image:

And by the way, I do not support communism, I do not support socialism, I do not support a straight capitalism of Adam Smith or laissez faire of French legislator René de Voyer, Marquis d’Argenson.

I believe there are features of socialism, capitalism and pragmatism that can be balanced and integrated in a moderate manner.

But again, this is not about which system is best. That is the subject of another thread.

It is about what Jesus taught, and Jesus’ earliest followers — the ones that had actually heard him in life — clearly understood it to mean a communal socialism with “all things in common” enforced by threat of death (references in the previous post)
To which I respond with the following:

Me (Jon Torres): No I really don’t think you understand Hayek. You clearly have your favorite economists and I have mine. I could sight Menger, Mises, Rothbard, Bastiat, Hayek and others and you can just call them a “Capitalist” like its a dirty word and pretend that that is a satisfactory refutation. Where as I can actually pick your economic philosophy apart without strawmen and other such ineffectual “arguments”. Socialism is the public ownership of the means of production and it always leads to dictatorship and oppression of minorities even when it is under “social democracies” and that is what you cannot or will not understand. Why? Because even under a democracy, which is simply a euphemism for mob rule, it only takes 51% to take away the property and rights of the other 49%. 51 percent want higher taxes, too bad to the other 49%, they have to comply or have their property or even lives taken away by the majority. So civil.
You say that I made up the idea of Jesus commanding us to help out of our own pockets? What Bible are you reading? The Gospel of Lenin? Read Matthew 19:21 where it says:

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Notice it doesn’t say “Create a bloated bureaucratic system of instituted plunder so that you can reach into the pockets of others and give to the poor thereby making yourself feel like you care”. It says sell YOUR OWN possessions and give it to the poor. GIVE TO THE POOR OUT OF YOUR OWN WALLET.

You also sight how the disciples shared things in rather socialist manner. I’m fine with that because they did so willingly. You can’t sight that verse in favor of a coercive welfare system. It isn’t the same thing.

Regulation does stifle free choice. The more a government plans the harder it is for the individual to plan. Governments regulate by limiting who can produce, sell and even buy. This by definition limits choice. Not only that, but under socialism, price calculations are impossible. You need market prices in order properly understand risk and production needs. When everything is free or subsidized, you distort these market prices and it leads to shortages. Just look a Venezuela, you can’t even get toilet paper or milk in their stores due to production shortages. Check out this quote from Mises:

“The government believes that the price of a definite commodity, e.g., milk, is too high. It wants to make it possible for the poor to give their children more milk. Thus it resorts to a price ceiling and fixes the price of milk at a lower rate than that prevailing on the free market. The result is that the marginal producers of milk, those producing at the highest cost, now incur losses. As no individual farmer or businessman can go on producing at a loss, these marginal producers stop producing and selling milk on the market. They will use their cows and their skill for other more profitable purposes. They will, for example, produce butter, cheese or meat. There will be less milk available for the consumers, not more. This, or course, is contrary to the intentions of the government. It wanted to make it easier for some people to buy more milk. But, as an outcome of its interference, the supply available drops. The measure proves abortive from the very point of view of the government and the groups it was eager to favor. It brings about a state of affairs, which, again from the point of view of the government,is even less desirable than the previous state of affairs which it was designed to improve.” This is from his book “Middle of the Road Policy Leads to Socialism”. Not only that but socialism does not factor in Human Action which is the basis for all economic activity.

Lastly, your image of Jesus attacking the money changers is laughable. The money changers had a monopoly on the only type of money the temple accepted. Because of this they abused the exchange rate in their favor. Because of this abuse, Jesus called them “thieves”. Guess what institution does something similar to this? The Federal Reserve. It has a monopoly on the creation of money and used the government and violence to keep it’s monopoly and keep people on their devalued currency.

I know you care about the poor. I do to. Shoot, I’m one of those poor people. But the answer is not socialism or anything that negates private property and voluntary exchange.

I have yet to see a response back from them but I will update the article if they do. Socialists come from a wide spectrum of beliefs (just like Anarchists) so it’s important to defend capitalism, free markets and voluntary action from all would be attackers.

Update: 10/9/15
I wanted to update this article and point out that they banned me from the page and deleted all of my comments refuting what they said. The original thread is here:

https://www.facebook.com/…/a.598817606815…/599597143404669/…

I’m glad I made a post out of my responses so that they would not be lost forever! It’s funny how statists show their true colors. They were not interested in a conversation about the subject. They can’t stand to have their childish arguments soundly refuted.


The Republican Debate: A Menagerie of Morons

Note: Sorry, I know. We’ve been gone for a while. I (Jon) have had some projects I’ve been working on and Joe is a dad now. It’s tough. We advocate for liberty in our spare time. It’s a labor of love really. So bear with us as we navigate life!

Alright. So earlier this week we had the second Republican “debate” (I use that term lightly) and it didn’t disappoint. The statist rhetoric was out in full force and, if anything, it has me really excited to watch the stupidity of the Democratic debates as well. I know some liberty minded folk can’t stand watching the debates. I hear you. They are awful to listen to, cringe worthy really. As an anarchist myself I don’t see the point in mob rule elections. I don’t think one can vote their way to freedom. But I watch these debates because it offers a great insight into the warped mindset of a statist. What’s important to them? What are their “core” issues? What “arguments” do they use and what do they believe? These are all critical things to know when you interact with the statists you may run into. To refute an opposing view point, you must first know what it’s all about. With that, lets discuss some of the terrible ideas thrown around at the debates.

Immigration:
Trump was terrible as usual. I know some morons find his straight to the point nature appealing compared to the pandering fools he shared the stage with. That doesn’t make him a great guy or knowledgeable about any of the issues. Immigration was brought up again and we again hear about the mass deportation of a people group and the building of a wall. I would just like to point out that Hitler tried to remove a particular people group he found undesirable and Stalin built a wall. The point I’m making is that Trump is a socialist and fascist and if anything, the support he has received from “conservatives” proves they are socialists and fascists too. It proves a point I long have said, that neo-conservatives are socialists and jacobins and not “conservative” at all. These sorts of government actions require a lot of resources and money. The burden of these policies, mass deportation and building projects, will ultimately burden the tax payer. Again this shows how eclectic and nonsensical conservatives are. They complain about “high taxes” but have no problem advocating for policies that will inevitably be paid for out of their pockets.

Not only that, but restricting immigration is not going to help the U.S. economic position. In order for individuals to fully thrive, they need to have the ability to move freely. This includes the ability to move between different states. Think about it this way:

What if every state in the United States decided that they wanted to restrict immigration between each other. It is now much harder to go from California to Nevada. Let’s say you live in New York but just received a job in Jersey. Now you have to go through a very difficult legal process because of your career shift, it might not be worth it to move and take the job. Not only that, but as an employer, your prospects of employees greatly dwindle. Trade between states now becomes a problem as well. You can imagine how this sort of xenophobia can cause economic failure and problems. Now all one simply has to do is amplify this situation between the United States and any other nation. Trade and free exchange is much harder. It’s harder to find the employees you need. Generally, economic activity and voluntary exchange (the essence of capitalism, the economic system conservatives apparently love) becomes almost impossible across borders. Not only that, but as I stated above, closed borders are a socialist necessity. When you have a planned economy, you cannot have a constant influx of individuals coming in and burdening the system. If you have a free society with voluntary exchange that is devoid of a welfare system supported through socialist tax policies, you have no problem in supporting immigration. In fact, it only helps your local economy grow.

Judge Napolitano raised another interesting point about immigration. He argues that every person here illegally is entitled to a hearing and an appeal. That means that tax payers would foot the bill for 11 to 13 million hearings and appeals. Not only that, but the most the US has ever held is 250,000 in a year. As you can see, the math just doesn’t add up. It would take generations upon generations in order to sort out each case (all the while more immigrants enter the country) and it would cost the tax payer and unforeseeable amount of money.

War:
Foreign policy is probably the biggest problem I have with the current Republican party. Essentially they are a bunch of war mongering fools. Every single person behind a podium during the debates said the same thing. “America is the best and I have no problem meddling in the affairs of other nations because of it.” America has a messiah complex and it has had it for years. It seems to plague the Republican party the most as well. Their juvenile logic is that America is the best so America should have the last say on everything. Unfortunately, none of that is true.

Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee and every other candidate behind a podium said that they would not decrease military spending. In fact, to much applause, many said they would increase it. The first question that entered my mind was “how is that going to be paid for?”

I did, however, already know the answer. Taxation (instituted thievery) and quantitative easing through the federal reserve (creating money from nothing). Rand Paul made a good point that every where we topple a dictator, we create a power vacuum causing a rise in the radicalism of Islam (Scott walker attributed the rise of terrorism to a lack of intervention, despite all evidence to the contrary), but he (Rand Paul) also said he has no problem performing air strikes and giving weapons and training to our “allies” overseas (because that worked out so well in Syria). Paul’s plan is just as idiotic as the others. As an example, the US spent $500 million training 4 or 5 fighters to fight ISIS. Let that sink in. The US military “invested” $500 million in taxpayer money for their “defense” and “freedom” only to produce a handful of fighters. Not only that, but they are asking for more money. Foreign intervention of any sort is a waste of valuable resources and examples like this should make it abundantly clear that the Republican candidates on that stage have no clue what they are talking about. Essentially, the Republicans want you, the American people, to subsidize their ambitions of empire building and if “Conservatives” really considered themselves “fiscally conservative” and “against socialism” they would be against one of the most expensive socialist policies around. War.

Conclusion:
These were the two biggest things that annoyed me about the debates. Really, they were some of the only things with meat during the entire three hours. Most of the time seemed to be spent on petty ad hominems and questions of no substance (Who would you put on the ten dollar bill?). As I watched this debate unfold, I was hopeful. I feel that this election will be the biggest and most obvious example of how much a joke voting and presidential elections are. A menagerie of morons I’d like to say. That hope was quickly dashed as I hopped on social media after the debates and saw everyone’s interpretations of the it. I had many “conservative” friends praise people like Carson and Paul. I was left scratching my head but then I realized something. The reason these candidates relate so well to the American citizen is because the average American is a moron as well. Trump barely speaks above a third grade level and it connects with people because they have no idea what their government is or what it does. The American people don’t really understand politics or economics. They are nothing short of troglodytes and idiots.

Thankfully, as I have shown above, the third grade rhetoric vomited from the fetid mouths of these morons is easily refuted and torn down. I’m still hopeful that truth will shine through because even idiots and troglodytes can learn.