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God’s Welfare System

Posted by Chance on June 4, 2006

I found an interesting article at holisticpolitics.org called God’s Welfare System. I am not necessarily endorsing the views in this article, and I am not necessarily opposing everything said, it is just interesting enough to roll around in my head for a few days.

The article takes the Mosaic Law and examines how it handled the welfare system. Milsted, the author, points out that this form of government actually seemed the opposite of what libertarians and many conservatives desire. On page one, he mentions that there was no formal military or police, yet God called for a few welfare measures for the needy.

I will not quote much from the article to keep it short, but there are three primary ways the author sees applying the welfare system of the Mosaic law to the society of today. The author addresses three pillars of capitalism; Land, of which there is a fixed amount, Income, and Capital
1. The Year of Jubilee, asserted that the land belonged to God. Land was divided evenly among the tribes and passed to descendants. Land could be leased, but at the Year of Jubilee, it had to be returned to the original heirs (anyone correct me if I am getting it wrong). In the author’s view, The Year of Jubilee also asserted that everyone had a right to an equal share of natural resources, in this case, land. Now, Milsted realizes that today this is impossible and undesirable for many reasons, and that unequal ownership of resources should be allowed. To apply the principles of Jubilee, however, he states that

Therefore, unequal division of natural resource ownership should be allowed, but those who own more than the per capital value of all such resources should pay rent in the form of taxes to those who own less.
The actual implementation would be a flat rate tax on the inherent value of land and other natural resources (before human improvement), and a per person rebate of the tax on the average share. That is, those who own less than the average would get back more than they pay – a citizen’s dividend.

. In other words, the more land a person owns above the national or state average, the more they would pay. Those owning less would get money back.
2. The Israelites loaned to each other at zero interest. Milsted sees equivalent applications in the forms of different bankruptcy laws, which allow lower interest loans in return for mordifficultyly in declaring bankruptcy. For those who are less fortunate, who are also less likely to own much land, and therefore, get money back, could require an advance on that “dividend” in order to help in going to school or opening a business. In biblical times, those who could not pay back their loans were indentured servants. The author does not recommend going back to such a system, but sees the GI bill as the closest example. What he does recommend, for those who cannot pay their loans, is not so clear.
3. The Israelites were told not to harvest every edge of their field, but leave some for the poor. Milsted sees modern applications in people donating their used goods to the Salvation Army instead of making money through a garage sale, or through people donating their bottle deposit money to charity. Where the government gets involved in this specific areas is unclear in this article. Update: Upon further reading of his article, it appears that Milsted suggests paying the underpriviledged to pick up trash, as an alternative to the bottle deposits. I simply was trying to read a lot of stuff and summarize it in a short amount of time. He does mention government getting involved, however, when it comes to encouraging more primitive ways of life, through hunting laws for example. Go to the article to read more about it.

Milsted mentions several advantages of these measures compared to a modern welfare system. He addresses method 1 the most clearly and vigorously. He argues that property taxes are much easier to implement that an income tax. He also asserts from a philosophical standpoint, that all land was conquered at some point, weakening an absolute right to property. He also argues that this sort of dividend system would not cause disincentives to work. Concerning 2), he implies that someone is less likely to frivolously use their loan money, which I imply he is comparing to a simple government handout.

I will address some of his points in my next post.

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3 Responses to “God’s Welfare System”

  1. Carl said

    For more regarding the Capital pillar of capitalism, see “The Balance of Wealth” at http://www.holisticpolitics.org. Currently the government subsidizes money lenders in many (semi-hidden) ways.

  2. Chance said

    Holy Crap!!! How’d you do that? Oh, nevermind, I’m ignorant about so many web things. I’m lucky enough to put links on my sidebar.

  3. The Prophet said

    Chance,

    Lol… Not to worry young Padouin(?).

    This article does bring up some very interesting points.

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