It has been an interesting few weeks. We had some great guests stay with us the last few weekends, and then this most recent Friday had to retreat to our shelter as a tornado came within a half mile of our humble home. We were lucky, but one of our good friends had damage to her home and fence. Luckily, she and her family are safe, but it was one of those afternoons that will get your attention.
I have had an on-again, off-again conversation with some evangelical conservative friends of late. One of them works in a student ministry, and the other used to be a pastor--though that very fact both scares me and makes me very glad that he is no longer in that position.
Anyway, the conversation has been predictable in many ways. Both tend to recycle right wing talking points, and many times, I think, without even knowing. Both are convinced that government programs are inherently inefficient, and that a good many people who receive government assistance should not. Both of those viewpoints, I think, reflect this idea of "tribalism" where they see things purely through a lens of "with us" or "against us." Conservatives have been very effective at using that belief, I think, in convincing conservatives (and many liberals) that the media is biased against conservatives, or most recently, that any program that Obama supports is probably a bad idea. Fred Clark has written on this lately, and his last one suggests that this tribalism comes from a deep insecurity.
I am going to keep thinking about this idea.
But back to my conversation. Beyond the rather reflexive "government is bad" from both, I also see what I believe to be a false sense of what the unregulated market will produce. Both express a belief that people--as families, or as individuals, or as sexual beings--should act in a certain moral way. But at the same time, they suggest that an unregulated market is best. E.J. Dionne writes about this phenomenon, noting that most two-income couples are two-income by necessity. But those who want one parent at home with the kids seem to also want the market unregulated.
As I pointed out (we will see if they respond), the market doesn't care about morality. The market cares about profit, and if that profit comes by child labor, or selling crack or prostitution--that is fine. The market only cares if the worker dies if he or she can't be replaced. Same for the consumer.
And as I also pointed out to my friends, they tacitly accept this because they both want the government to ban certain things they don't like--drugs, abortion, and gay marriage. The free market, however, doesn't care about either of those.
Why the market is to be trusted in some areas, but not others puzzles me. But to be fair, so does the belief that somehow the market will magically address social or moral issues. Not sure why anyone would think it cares. Those things are only addressed when people make political and personal choices, and ask what are often hard questions.