An Economist’s Gospel of Free Grace
We were struck recently by the following statement which appeared in the NZ Herald. It was made by economists Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie.
The United Nations in 1948 last gave strong voice to the philosophical values of the classical economists cited above, when its Declaration of Human Rights (which we signed) stated: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and his family including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
This is an inalienable right, not one conditional upon meeting the work-ready tests or whatever the latest set of eligibility hurdles or inquisition practices the Welfare Working Group recommends. It is a human right. Being in or ready for paid work is not a prerequisite. This right extends to everyone, including the legions of people in our society who perform unpaid work, whether it’s care for children or the elderly, or voluntary work for their communities.
OK, so let’s parse this. In 1948, the UN made a Declaration. So what.
If the UN made a declaration that the moon was made of green cheese would we credulously genuflect as if it were the font of all wisdom and the source of truth? The UN is nothing more than a gaggle of nation-states, vying for control over other nation states, using the UN as leverage. It is a thoroughly compromised, venal tool of Realpolitik. The UN has also made asinine declarations about global warming–equally specious, equally pretentious. So what? This is the correct response. It is a disreputable, discredited, thoroughly compromised institution that bears no authority whatsoever.
Turning to the Declaration itself, what authoritative revelation or standard of absolute truth does it have recourse to in order to make the judgment that everyone has a right to a certain standard of living? Whose authority is being invoked. Is is Gaia? Is is Secular Humanism? Is it Marxism? Don’t make the pronouncement without citing the source, lest you are content with being dismissed as a naive utopian or a mere idle babbler.
Moreover, what is a human “right”. There are obviously many kind of rights. One arguably has a right to blow his nose and comb his hair, for example. Is this the same kind of right as the enjoyment of a basic security? Is voting in an election a human right? Is practising a perverse immorality a human right–say, for example theft or homosexuality or abortion?
Well, we get a pretty fair idea of what the authors mean by the term “human right”. It is apparently an unqualified, unconditional entitlement. It is inalienable. It cannot be lost. So, for sake of argument, imagine if one were to declare that effort, labour, work, industry, thrift, and prudence be damned. All the days of one’s life there was to be no work, no labour to put food on the table–by personal choice. Would the UN Declaration of human rights apply? Yes, say our authors. “It is a human right. Being in or ready for paid work is not a prerequisite. This right extends to everyone.” Others would have to provide for you (through the modern taxation system).
What lunacy is this? What moral turpitude is on display here?
Here is where all doctrines of (secular) human rights lead. They lead straight to unconditional entitlements, with the State as the mechanism and enforcement of provision, because there is no moral foundation to the rights in the first place. If work and labour is a moral duty; if providing for one’s own household is a mandatory responsibility, if a higher morality and code of ethics is seen to bind every human being, then rights language can be both constructive and helpful. Remove an absolute moral framework, universally binding upon all human beings, then responsibility and duty devolves merely to ensuring that everyone’s entitlements are delivered. And if you should so choose not to accept such a responsibility–no problem–your entitlements will be met regardless.
This is secular humanisms perversion of unconditional election and salvation by grace alone. It is the secular Gospel. It is a satanic perversion of grace. Universal, unconditional, free entitlements.
Humanistic secular salvation by grace alone. Isn’t the established religion of our day a wonderful thing to behold?