The Biblical Roots of Capitalism

Aug. 25 2020

From both the left and the right, the American public conversation has seen growing criticism of capitalism, sometimes based on an appeal to religion. Most recently, anti-capitalists have contended that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the failures of the free market. Charles Mizrahi argues that such claims are rooted in a misreading of key biblical sources as well as the American political tradition:

Dating all the way back to Abraham, wealth and prosperity were signs of blessings from God. That theme continued throughout the Bible with Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon all achieving wealth that was considered a clear indicator of divine favor. As Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you the power to get wealth, in fulfillment of the covenant that He made on oath with your fathers, as is still the case.”

But that wealth was not meant to be hoarded or to be used only for self-gratification and advancement. There was an expectation from God concerning wealth and divinely ordained responsibility to be generous. According to the prophet Ezekiel, one of the grievances that God had against Sodom was that the people had wealth and abundance but did not share it with those in need.

Government welfare interferes with man’s responsibility to his God and his direct interaction with his community. . . . The founders of our country understood this. George Washington, on more than one occasion, quoted the prophet Micah when speaking of peace and prosperity. [Moreover], the responsibility of generosity was deeply interwoven into our Founding Fathers’ vision for this nation. And that thread has continued to this day, as America has held the mantle of the most generous and giving people in the world for the last decade.

Read more at RealClear Religion

More about: American founding, Capitalism, Deuteronomy, Hebrew Bible

Israeli Elections May Be on Their Way, but Not as Soon as One Might Think

Yesterday the Knesset, elected in April of this year, voted in favor of two separate bills calling for new elections in March. Underlying the vote is the rivalry between the present government’s two major figures: Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud and Benny Gantz of Blue and White. The current coalition agreement stipulates that Netanyahu will serve as prime minister until October 21, at which point Gantz will take the job, but Gantz expects—not without reason—that Netanyahu will find a way out of his side of the bargain. Haviv Rettig Gur explains what is likely to happen next:

The two successful bills [dissolving the Knesset] now go to the Knesset House Committee—where its chairman, Blue and White’s MK Eitan Ginsburg, can delay the legislation for weeks. That is, Gantz and his party voted Wednesday for legislation he can now freeze indefinitely. If Ginsburg lets the legislation out of committee, it returns to the plenum for a first reading, and must again win a majority of votes before heading to the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, where it will pass out of opposition control and into the hands of the Netanyahu-allied United Torah Judaism party, [which] can, like Ginsburg, delay it for additional weeks.

[To] put another way: Blue and White has made the decision this week to announce it is seeking an election. That’s it.

The opposition, and Gantz with it, wants an election as soon as possible, while Netanyahu is struggling in the polls from widespread dissatisfaction with his government’s handling of the pandemic. Netanyahu, meanwhile, wants to delay elections at least until the summer, by which time vaccines should become available to Israelis and he might reasonably expect many of his wayward supporters to return to his camp.

The fight isn’t over whether an election looms; all sides believe it is now inevitable. The fight is over the timing. . . . No matter that the Knesset on Wednesday voted to go back to the polls, it’s a long way yet until election day.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli politics, Knesset