FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – The 2012 Presidential election will be the most important election in nearly 150 years, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said during a lecture series on the theology of work and economics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Sept. 5.
“We are at a decision point,” Land said. “After most elections, we have the privilege of correcting our mistakes at the next election. Sometimes we don’t.”
This election, Land said, is the last chance to stop ObamaCare, the socialized healthcare reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.
“I can say without fear of contradiction that 99 out of 100 of you, if ObamaCare goes into effect, will live a shorter life than you would otherwise, and you will experience more pain and suffering before you die,” Land said. “No country that has ever brought in socialized medicine has ever been able to get rid of it, no matter how unpopular it is. If it goes into effect in January 2014, we’ll never get rid of it. And the last chance to stop it is this election.”
But at stake in this election is something even more fundamental. This election will determine whether voters want to “remake America,” as President Obama suggested during his first campaign, or “restore it.” It involves the battle between “two competing philosophies of government and the role that government should play in the lives of the people. It is collectivism versus individualism,” Land said.
Socialism does not work, Land said, because it does not take into account the biblical view of human nature. Socialism is, therefore, not realistic. According to Scripture, humans are sinful and selfish. They will not, in most cases, “work according to their ability and receive according to their need.”
“The reality is that, unless people get to keep a significant portion of their labor, they are not going to work as hard as they would otherwise,” Land said. “They are not going to risk as they would otherwise. They’re not going to extend themselves as they would otherwise.
“Socialism will not work. It doesn’t produce wealth. It becomes fixated on how to ever more accurately divide a never-growing pie. And, as Mrs. Thatcher so succinctly put it, the problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money. Capitalism works best at producing wealth because it is in most accord with the biblical truth about man’s nature.”
Of course, Land admitted, capitalists are sinners too, a fact displayed by the Robber Barons of the late 19th century. For this reason, a system of checks and balances, comparable to the three branches of American government, should exist between management, labor, and the government.
“I don’t want to say that the government can’t be of help,” Land said, pointing to examples to show how government has impacted the economy positively. For instance, he described the World War II G.I. Bill. According to this G.I. Bill, the government would, among other things, pay for books and tuition at any university where veterans were qualified to enroll.
“So young men who had served their country and risked their lives for their country had an opportunity to be the first persons in their family to go to college,” Land said. “And that investment in human capital transformed and was the economic engine that drove the incredible prosperity of the United States in the last half of the 20th century—an enormous investment in human potential. But it wasn’t a gift. They earned it. … The government can help people. But the government can’t do for people, and the government must not take away individual initiative.”
But unwise government spending, Land added, has led to a $6 trillion surge of national debt in less than four years.
“It took from George Washington through George Bush to get a $10 trillion debt,” Land said. “And in three years and eight months, Mr. Obama has increased the debt by $6 trillion. How? It is really quite simple. Once again, it is a question of arithmetic.”
From 1945 to 2008, the national government used 20.6 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Under President Obama, the government has spent 25.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.
“That 5.6 percent addition in federal spending, all of which is borrowed, means that we are now borrowing 41 cents of every dollar we spend,” Land said. “That is generational theft. We are stealing our children and our grandchildren’s future. We are in the process of foreclosing their future. Unless this is reversed and reversed quickly, … we will be the first generation of American history to pass on to our children a significantly lower standard of living than the standard of living that we have enjoyed.”
Land ended his lecture by encouraging students and faculty members to show up at the polls in November.
“We’re deciding in this election what kind of country we’re going to be,” Land said. “And I’ll say to you what I say all the time: Be registered to vote. Be an informed voter. And vote your values, your beliefs and your convictions. I am going to vote mine.”
To listen to Land’s lecture from this series on the theology of work and economics, visit