When I was a junior in high school I took a missions trip to Belarus, which was a part of the former Soviet Union. I was impacted greatly by the differences between a socialist/communist world and a capitalist world. For the first time in my young life, I understood the rewards of living in a capitalist society where people are driven to be better, competition pushes individuals to strive for greatness, and those who work hard are compensated for their labor.
As an adult, I have continued to appreciate the approach of the United States to be a capitalist country, but I have also become aware of the negative underbelly of capitalism that suppresses people, keeps people from rising above their circumstances, and make the American dream a mirage rather than an opportunity.
The United States has long used the historical march of the Israelites as a template as well as an identity in matters of covenant and establishment (Horsley, 2009). However, our beloved country has failed to adopt its economic approaches. In the Israelite community, the Law did not allow individuals to charge interest on loans, debts were wiped away during the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25), and they understood what they had was not their own but it belonged to Yahweh (Horsley, 2009). The focus on the Israelite community was about provision for the people within the community, not getting ahead at the expense of others.
Unfortunately, the United States has not chosen to adopt such practices but has unfortunately allowed the approach to capitalism to allow CEOs to enjoy exorbitant salaries at the expense of employees, the environment, and society citing their responsibility is only to their investors. This is not an approach concerned about the community, but concerned about self.
Can this ship be turned around?
Horsley, R. A. (2009). Covenant economics: a biblical vision of justice for all (1st ed). Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.