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How to Think About Gifts, Talents and Welfare

Central to my economic philosophy is the idea that markets should be largely free of government interference; that the government’s foremost role in the economy should be to allow individuals to work hard and use their gifts, and that redistribution of wealth, in both the long- and short-term, is categorically harmful to the market and to the individual. But that philosophy is not without caveats. Gifts We should all use our gifts for the betterment of God’s kingdom and for the betterment of ourselves and for our families. The hard truth that is hard for our modern culture to articulate is that we are all gifted differently—and some are not gifted as much as others. Some people simply don’t have enough capital—whether financial, intellectual or infrastructural—to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. Some people don’t have access to a proper education, others have disabilities that prevent them from advancing, and some simply fall victim to vocationally catastrophic circumstances outside of their control. Ideally, the burden to help those who can’t help themselves should rest with individuals able to lend a hand, but the need is far greater than that reality. So, the government has an obligation to step in—an obligation I believe it is right to fulfill. At my economically conservative core, I believe that. I don’t believe, however, in the enabling of those who can use their gifts and choose not to. I don’t believe in an entitlement system structured such that God-gifted Americans are actually incentivized to not work; to not use the gifts with which they were graciously endowed. And I don’t believe in taking advantage of such a system by wasting one’s gifts. It’s an abuse of our freedoms and, at its worst, an affront to our Creator. The Master gave his three servants five talents, two talents and one talent, each according to his ability. And to the two who came forward saying, “here Master, I have made more,” the Master said “well done, my good and faithful servant.” But to the third servant, who hid his talent in the ground, the Master cast him out. He did not approve him for welfare. We honor God by properly, responsibly and fruitfully investing our gifts. There is an inherent fairness about doing good work with what we’re given—and no progressive reform can ever touch. And though there will always exist the danger of gravitating too far to either end of that spectrum, doing our best and gratefully using gifts we never deserved in the first place isn’t just economically beneficial to all; it’s scriptural.