Connecting the Dots: Are capitalism and Christianity harming us?

  • John Bos FILE PHOTO

Published: 9/30/2022 5:12:24 PM
Modified: 9/30/2022 5:08:08 PM

There’s been a lot of criticism in the Recorder recently about Christian and capitalist systems. I want to express a different perspective. It ain’t these systems that are doing harm. I concur with author Michael Gerber who nails it: “Systems run the business and people run the systems.”

Think about it. There are so many systems that influence and command how we live on a daily basis. Which transportation system might you choose to go to San Francisco or London? The U.S. highway, railway or airline systems? Each of these systems has people-imposed regulations. Speed limits, seat belts, TSA security line, no smoking, limits to overhead baggage, etc. Without regulations these people-run systems could become dangerous to the well-being of the traveler’s and other people.

How about our postal system, which since 1775 “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds?” When Louis DeJoy, appointed by Trump to head the service, began to address this system’s long-needed restructuring he also profited personally as succinctly described by David Ball in his Sept. 28 letter to the editor.

With respect to our justice system, Alan Dershowitz — noted American lawyer known for his work in U.S. constitutional law and American criminal law — said “Judges are the weakest link in our system of justice, and they are also the most protected.” People vs. system.

I don’t have room to delve into the criticism of religious systems because I want to write about unregulated capitalism. The Apostle Paul warned Christians about craving for money by saying: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” I would simply add what Marcus J. Borg wrote in his book “The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith.” “Jesus,” Borg said, “was not talking about how to be good and how to behave within the framework of a domination system. He was a critic of the domination system itself.” I urge readers to read Dan Brown’s chilling column “There’s nothing Christian about ‘Christian nationalism’” in the Sept. 27 Recorder for more about this rising domination system … run by people.

So now we come to the capitalism. It’s taking lots of shots these days as the cause of fiscal inequality, corporate greed and our climate crisis. Henry Ford, no stranger to the capitalist system, once said “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” What did he know that we don’t know?

Economic growth is the primary characteristic of capitalist economies throughout the world. Capitalist systems, with varying degrees of direct government intervention, have become prevalent in the Western world … although the rise of far-right nationalism is beginning to replace some of them. Think Italy and Sweden. That said, it is direct government “intervention” in the American capitalist system (including taxation and corporate subsidies) that has changed enormously from 1944 when the highest marginal tax rate for individuals was 91% and when the economy was supporting a growing middle class. This tax rate increased to 92% for 1952 and 1953 and then reverted to 91% in 1954 through 1963. The highest marginal tax rate today is 37%. And the middle class is shrinking.

President Biden is working to overturn 40 years of “supply side” system economics ushered in by President Reagan. That system was designed to free up capital at the top of the economy through tax cuts and deregulation in the belief that putting capital in the hands of the wealthy would lead them to invest more in the economy making it grow more quickly and providing more jobs. What it also did was to relentlessly morph into the “trickle up” economic system. It made the measure of the economy the health of Wall Street instead of Main Street.

Today the concept of “sustainable capitalism” is beginning to surface in academia, think tanks and the news media. Business as usual (run by people) is a major cause of our climate crisis. Sustainable capitalism calls for the reintegration of ecological (as well as economic) goals into the system.

Controversy, of course, surrounds the concept as it requires an increase in sustainable practices and a marked decrease in current consumptive behaviors. And that’s bad for business (people).

Connecting the Dots appears every other Saturday in the Recorder. John Bos is also a contributing writer for Green Energy Times. He recently produced a book of 50 poems and images called “Words to Live By” with three other cancer survivors to provide support for anyone diagnosed with cancer. The book is available through the Cancer Connection. Questions and comments are invited at


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