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Will the Free Marketeers Step Up?



June 28, 2010 – Comments (17)

Thank you. 

All due respect to Pastor Moore, for considering.

From his blog:

Ecological Catastrophe and the Uneasy Evangelical Conscience— Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 —

I’ve left my hometown lots of times. But never like this.

Sure, I’ve teared up as I’ve left family and friends for a while, knowing I’d see them again the next time around. And, yes, I cried every day for almost a year in the aftermath of a hurricane that almost wiped my hometown off the map. But I’ve never left like this, wondering if I’ll ever see it again, if my children’s children will ever know what Biloxi was.

As I pass that sign on Highway 90 telling me I’m leaving Biloxi, I can look out behind the water’s horizon and know there’s a Pale Horse there. A massive rupture in the ocean’s floor is gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with plumes of petroleum great enough to threaten to destroy the sea-life there for my lifetime, if not forever. Everything is endangered, from the seafood and tourism industries to the crabs and seagulls on the beach to the churches where I first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is more than a threat to my hometown, and to our neighboring communities. It is a threat to national security greater than most Americans can even contemplate, because so few of them know how dependent they are on the eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico. This is, as one magazine put it recently, Katrina meets Chernobyl.

I am leaving this morning, but I am leaving changed.

Someone once described Roe vs. Wade as the “Pearl Harbor” of the evangelical pro-life conscience. Pearl Harbor is an apt metaphor. Before that date of infamy, foreign policy isolationism seemed to be a legitimate American option. The “America First” committees and some of the most influential figures in the United States Congress argued that Hitler’s war was none of our concern. We should tend to ourselves, and we could deal with whomever won in Europe and the Pacific when all the dust had settled.

After Pearl Harbor, the shortsightedness, and indeed utopianism, of isolationism was seen for what it was. After Roe, what seemed to be a “Catholic issue” now pierced through the consciences of evangelical Protestants who realized they’d not only been naive; they’d also missed a key aspect of Christian thought and mission.

For too long, we evangelical Christians have maintained an uneasy ecological conscience. I include myself in this indictment.

We’ve had an inadequate view of human sin.

Because we believe in free markets, we’ve acted as though this means we should trust corporations to protect the natural resources and habitats. But a laissez-faire view of government regulation of corporations is akin to the youth minister who lets the teenage girl and boy sleep in the same sleeping bag at church camp because he “believes in young people.”

The Scripture gives us a vision of human sin that means there ought to be limits to every claim to sovereignty, whether from church, state, business or labor. A commitment to the free market doesn’t mean unfettered license any more than a commitment to free speech means hardcore pornography ought to be broadcast in prime-time by your local network television affiliate.

Caesar’s sword is there, by God’s authority, to restrain those who would harm others (Rom. 13). When government fails or refuses to protect its own people, whether from nuclear attack or from toxic waste spewing into our life-giving waters, the government has failed.

We’ve seen the issue of so-called “environmental protection” as someone else’s issue.

In our era, the abortion issue is the transcendent moral issue of the day (as segregation was in the last generation, and lynching and slavery before that). Too often, however, we’ve been willing not simply to vote for candidates who will protect unborn human life (as we ought to), but to also in the process adopt their worldviews on every other issue.

Moreover, we’ve seen some of the theological and ideological fringes in the environmentalist movement, fringes that enabled us to see them as not “with us,” and, frankly, to enable us to make fun of the entire question as a silly enterprise. But perhaps the void is being filled by leftists and liberals and wannabe liberal evangelicals simply because those who ought to know better are off doing something else. Working with our secular progressive neighbors on, for instance, saving the Gulf no more compromises the evangelical witness than our working with feminists to combat pornography or with Latter-day Saints to protect marriage.

We’ve had an inadequate view of human life and culture.

What is being threatened in the Gulf states isn’t just seafood or tourism or beach views. What’s being threatened is a culture. As social conservatives, we understand…or we ought to understand…that human communities are formed by traditions and by mores, by the bond between the generations. Culture is, as Russell Kirk said, a compact reaching back to the dead and forward to the unborn. Liberalism wants to dissolve those traditions, and make every generation create itself anew; not conservatism.

Every human culture is formed in a tie with the natural environment. In my hometown, that’s the father passing down his shrimping boat to his son or the community gathering for the Blessing of the Fleet at the harbor every year. In a Midwestern town, it might be the apple festival. In a New England town, it might be the traditions of whalers or oystermen. The West is defined by the frontier and the mountains. And so on.

When the natural environment is used up, unsustainable for future generations, cultures die. When Gulfs are dead, when mountaintops are removed, when forests are razed with nothing left in their place, when deer populations disappear, cultures die too.

And what’s left in the place of these cultures and traditions is an individualism that is defined simply by the appetites for sex, violence, and piling up stuff. That’s not conservative, and it certainly isn’t Christian.

Finally, we’ve compromised our love.

A previous generation of evangelicals had to ask the question, “Is the fetus my neighbor?”

As I’ve seen the people I love, who led me to Christ, literally heaving in tears, I’ve wondered how many other communities have faced death like this, while I ignored even the chance to pray. The protection of the creation isn’t just about seagulls and turtles and dolphins. That would be enough to prompt us to action, since God’s glory is in seagulls and turtles and dolphins (Gen. 6-9; Isa. 65).

Pollution kills people. Pollution dislocates families. Pollution defiles the icon of God’s Trinitarian joy, the creation of his theater (Ps. 19; Rom. 1).

Will people believe us when we speak about the One who brings life and that abundantly, when they see that we don’t care about that which kills and destroys? Will they hear us when we quote John 3:16 to them when, in the face of the loss of their lives, we shrug our shoulders and say, “Who is my neighbor?”

I’m leaving Biloxi today, with tears in my eyes. But I’ll be back. I’ll be back whether the next time I see this place it’s a thriving seacoast community again or whether it’s an oil-drenched crime scene. But I pray I’ll never be the same. - Pastor Russell Moore

17 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 29, 2010 at 12:05 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:

Government mandated oil cartel = laissez faire capitalism
Government incentives for risky deepwater drilling = laissez faire capitalism
Thousands of pages of government regulations at the Deparment of Energy = laissez faire capitalism
Faulty government models for oil spill disasters issued to deepwater drillers = laissez faire capitalism
FEMA = laissez faire capitalism

What's next?  Communists revolutionized the personal computer industry? is a shining example of socialism?  "I, Pencil" was written by the Progressive Leonard Read?  Von Mises was a scientific socialist?

You can't cure stupid.

David in Qatar

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#2) On June 29, 2010 at 12:45 AM, FleaBagger (27.46) wrote:

As Russell Moore said, the government has failed - not an unfettered free market. As a social conservative, he doesn't spend much time contemplating economics, and gives no indication of ever having heard of Austrian economics, von Mises, or even the difference between laissez-faire economics and mercantilism(!) - once considered the two alternatives, and now considered the same thing.

As David has pointed out, you attribute obvious horrors to the free market, and then simply ignore evidence that the government had a hand in causing the disaster. When government pays companies tax credits to drill in extra deep, extra dangerous waters, and caps the legal liability for the damage that they risk doing, you call that "free market." I call it big government. I call it democracy. I call it the price that progressives (i.e. Bill Clinton) were willing to pay to advance their agenda, just as massive entitlement spending programs are a price conservatives (i.e. George W. Bush) are willing to pay to advance their agenda.

Quoting a social conservative with no economic background to get a definition of laissez-faire is like quoting Timothy Geithner on how progressives plan to help the little guy: it may seem like a good idea, but it would probably be better to let everyone and everything speak for itself.

One last thing: we, the chaperones of our government, let government and big business sleep in the same sleeping bag. 

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#3) On June 29, 2010 at 1:09 AM, guiron (39.99) wrote:

When government pays companies tax credits to drill in extra deep, extra dangerous waters, and caps the legal liability for the damage that they risk doing, you call that "free market." I call it big government

So, even though it was not the government that caused the spill, and regulations were rolled back, you fail to see the party responsible. It's like when Ollie screws up and complains to Stan, "Now look at what you made me do!"

Come on. Are you incapable of determining the responsible party? People who are living in areas affected by such disasters have to act collectively in order to be effective, and the way we do that in the US is through government. In fact, that's how it's always been since our inception, more or less. Government in itself is no more evil than any other human endeavor - the maliciousness depends on free will. You've turned your political ideology into a religion. You can't see what's right in front of your face.

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#4) On June 29, 2010 at 1:13 AM, guiron (39.99) wrote:

One last thing: we, the chaperones of our government, let government and big business sleep in the same sleeping bag.

How's that working out for you?

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#5) On June 29, 2010 at 1:28 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


Feel free to try to dispute anything I listed in Comment #1, as well as the following fallacies I will point out from your comments:

1. BP is not a free market entity.  It is part of a government cartel.
2. There is no such thing as collective action.  Only individuals can act.
3. Free market supporters do not want government and big business in the same sleeping bag.  Progressives, on the other hand, fully support it. Progressive hero FDR reorganized the oil industy into its current cartel in the USA.

I am guessing that you will avoid addressing any of these, just as devoish does.

David in Qatar

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#6) On June 29, 2010 at 7:32 AM, devoish (70.13) wrote:


Politely, again.

I am not going to wait for solutions to come from a free market that has never existed in the history of mankind. It just does not seem smart to me, and sounds more like "government as excuses" the way you describe it.

Individuals can act collectively. Paper or plastic? Reusable bags!

3) We know you do not want those kids in the same bag. Progressive hero FDR reorganised the oil industry in the USA - if you say so - and delivered 40 years of American success until responsibility for Government's action was abandoned by Conservatives in favor of a "small Government" "market driven" ideology ( I did not say "free markets" to avoid your trigger). It has not worked out well and such policys have led to the capture of the regulatory agencys of the US Government in favor of reckless business practices. There is no doubt that telling you Government not to regulate industry, as "small government" ideologues have done, has caused Government agencys to abandon enforcement and allowed industry to write its own regulations. 

Bad idea.

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#7) On June 29, 2010 at 7:52 AM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

Still waiting for that bill # devoish.....

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#8) On June 29, 2010 at 8:53 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


"Individuals can act collectively."

No, individuals can only act individually. There is no such thing as collective action.  When the govenrment "acts", for example, it is merely a way of saying that individuals within the govenrment acted in a manner recognized as govenmental. The government can not act.  Only individuals in the organization can act. Likewise, BP cannot act.  The cleanup of the oil spill is not a collective action.  It is individuals acting. Same with consumers, who cannot act as a collective, only as individuals.  Individuals chose paper or plastic, not collectives. 

No matter how you slice it, an individual must perform the action.  A collective never acts.  That is nonsensical and can always be reduced to the individuals performing unique actions.

David in Qatar  

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#9) On June 29, 2010 at 11:58 AM, Gemini846 (34.45) wrote:

I believe in the ability for markets to self regulate, but environmental issues aren't market issues.

Developers in Florida have been as good/bad to the state as the oil companies to the other gulf states. I've disliked the population boom in Florida for the last 10 years. I dislike how people from northern states want to come here and enjoy low taxes and then complain about missing the government inspired comforts of northern states.

You can't get both, so government leaders come up with bogus things like rail trains between Orlando and Tampa that nobody wants to pay for and then they get in bed with Obama and his fake jobs bill to get Federal money and then borrow the rest. (How's that working for California?)

I believe in markets and property rights, but eventually someone has to look at all these developers and wonder "can our roads, schools, water supply et et support all these new mcMansions?" and when the answer is "no" stop issuing permits.

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#10) On June 29, 2010 at 1:46 PM, FleaBagger (27.46) wrote:

Gemini - that's an interesting point, and I hope you'll revisit this page for my response, since I know it won't do anyone else here any good. What do "roads, schools, water supply" have in common? Let's think of things you did not mention as being unable to handle the strain of population growth, as a way of contrast: grocery stock, internet coverage for mobile devices, clothing. How does the latter list differ from the former?

Is it because of magic that food is so abundant and an act of God that communities face water shortages? Is Verizon's 3G coverage something that they were able to generate for free, because it goes through the air, and airspace is so big? No! Everything that is tightly controlled by government, particularly through direct government "ownership" (e.g. the roads) or through price caps (e.g. water), is something that we face shortages of, feel dissatisfied when we use, and is generally a miserable failure. Everything that is provided by the marketplace of freely acting growers, manufacturers and sellers, is something that is almost always abundant, lower in price than it was the previous year, and is of higher quality over time.

Yes, the government is involved in the provision of food, as devoish, I'm sure, will be quick to point out. But apart from subsidies that make food more abundant than it needs to be, make us fat, and, along with "foreign aid" put Third World countries' farms out of business, there is no government action taken to cap the price of food (as with water), limit the profits of those who provide it (as with water), and competition is not strictly prohibited (as with water). 

So if government were as absent from the provision of water and roads as it is from the provision of clothing, or, more to the point, the lumber and steel and copper and labor that went into building those houses on those government roads and the consumption-subsidized water grid, would there be any strain at all? If so, how can we know?

Here's to trying it without government roads, without government water, and without government schools! 

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#11) On June 29, 2010 at 2:24 PM, creek138 (28.53) wrote:

Away with this! Who are you guys, both sides, trying to convince? You're all so dug into your beliefs that neither side is going to budge!

David/Flea/Chris are not going to change their views and are always going to blame big government for the ills of the world until their is no government left to blame.

Devo, I think your time and talents could be better utilized elsewhere, like in the government you so believe in.

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#12) On June 29, 2010 at 7:50 PM, devoish (70.13) wrote:


Pastor Moore is reconsidering the efforts of small government supporters based upon observable results.

I do not work for any Government. Currently I am farming. I have just gotten tired of the relentless campaign of Government bashing on this website. I can turn it off, ignore it or reply. Because of the harm done to all of us by the knee jerk reaction to anything Government I am choosing to reply.

In the best conditions all of us, including Government officials and private business owners make mistakes. We are all corruptible, including me. That is why we have three branches of Government. That is why we have seperation of Church and State, and why we need seperation of Corporation and State just as badly. It is why we have Federal and State Government and local Government. It is why we have elections regularly.

In the near future the Federal government is going to choose whether or not it will guarantee loans to the nuclear industry.

I do not want that to happen. I do not want a nuclear power plant built anywhere and I would like older ones decommissioned. A comedy of errors in an oil well with a 21 inch diameter pipe has cost us a large portion of the Gulf of Mexico. What comedy of errors in a nuclear power plant will cost us a State? If there was no wind, solar. geothermal, tidal, wave, or other choices I might be persuaded to support nuclear. But solar alone can supply enough energy for the United States in far less surface area than BP has just oiled up.

And the technology and capability is here today. If a solar panel breaks, it damages a very small area, likewise a windmill, or an ocean buoy.

Oil and nuclear have proven otherwise.

I have one hundred percent support for the Government stepping in and supporting a shift to renewable energy. Including throwing money away on some that will not work. I am against further Government support of the oil and nuclear industrys.

At some point in the past Government support of oil was a good idea, but it no longer is. At the present time support for a switch to renewables is th right thing to do.


The form of that support is less simple. Cap and Trade is not a good solution.

Banning the consumption of oil is better.

An carbon tax and refund is better still.

And yes Chris, it is a redistribution of wealth and it is the right thing to do.

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#13) On June 29, 2010 at 9:03 PM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

Wrong guy devo, I don't have a huge problem with a redistribution of wealth if it's done efficiently. 

This isn't a redistribution of wealth though. It is market manipulation, and although I disagree, I don't have as big of a problem with it as I do with cap and trade.

Instead of this, why don't we try a simpler solution...

Let's offer $10 million dollars to the first person that can produce electricity in a Carbon free way at a price cheaper than than burning coal produces it. I'd actually be willing to make it $100 million dollars. It would be far cheaper to the economy than cap and trade or ban and pretend.

Funny but true story Steven, I'm actually trying my hand at farming too. Probably not at the same scale as you, but this year I'm growing a lot more than it takes to feed my family. I'm doing it because I have little faith in our government, but I have a lot of faith that food will sell even in the worst economy. I'm trying to farm organically as well, but my strawberries are under attack from what I think are Japanese beetles and I think I'm losing the war.

At no point in the past was government support of oil a good thing. It's not a good thing now either. Subsidies don't work, and tariffs don't work. In most cases government regulation doesn't work. Government employees at a supervisory level are some of the most lazy unproductive people that I've ever met. I'm pretty sure that there are plenty of exceptions, but when you pay someone a lot more than he's worth in the private market because he's a relative or someone you owe a favor to, and you put him in a job that is hard to fire him from, your gonna run into a lazy, overpaid, leach that contributes to the problem you were trying to fight.

To creek138 and any others that think that there is a huge difference between devoish and myself, there really isn't.

I simply want to control my life and devoish wants to control my life too. You can't get much closer than that can you?

BTW Steven, I'll sign your petition if you can give me the HR # so I can read the bill. 

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#14) On June 30, 2010 at 1:32 AM, FleaBagger (27.46) wrote:

Let's offer $10 million dollars to the first person that can produce electricity in a Carbon free way at a price cheaper than than burning coal produces it. I'd actually be willing to make it $100 million dollars. It would be far cheaper to the economy than cap and trade or ban and pretend.

The funny thing is, the free part of the market has already made that offer, ipso facto.

Another funny thing: I plan, God willing, to be working on a communal farm a week from now.

One last thing, Chris: make like the deity of the Progressive faith and intern those Japanese beetles! 

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#15) On June 30, 2010 at 5:03 AM, devoish (70.13) wrote:


Japanese beetles are not a common pest of strawberries. 

Your state cooperative extension probably has useful info for your strawberry issues. In NY it is Cornell. The gardening board on the motley fool is also a good source for help.

Let's offer $10 million dollars to the first person that can produce electricity in a Carbon free way at a price cheaper than than burning coal produces it.

As a consumer I have learned that cheaper does not equal better. Cheaper is just cheaper and often turns out much more expensive in the long run.



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#16) On June 30, 2010 at 8:09 AM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

As a consumer I have learned that cheaper does not equal better. Cheaper is just cheaper and often turns out much more expensive in the long run.

It will always be cheaper than government supported forever though.

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#17) On July 01, 2010 at 6:18 AM, devoish (70.13) wrote:

It will always be cheaper than government supported forever though.

Once again - "cheaper does not equal better".

Aside from the fact that your "always be cheaper" statement has no basis in reality.



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