Saturday, February 27, 2010

The religious right and the small government don't come together

I come to the US at the age of 27 and have worked and lived here for 15 years. I still found the US a country hard to understand. The conservatives want three things: small government, strong defense, and Christian value. But I consider these goals are mutually exclusive of each other. A small government and strong defense mean very little social support. Health Care debate in America is the best example for little social support. The bottom 15% of the US citizen don't have health insurance. This is the highest in all of the OECD countries. These same people also have a 31% unemployment, compare with a 3% unemployment for people on the top 10% of income scale over the years. The US has the highest infant mortality rate among OECD countries. At a rate of 0.006 it is double that rate of Italy at 0.003. But if you look at GDP per capita alone, US is 50% higher than Italy, at more than $46,000 versus Italy's about $30,000. All these economic indicators point to a policy of social Darwinism, in the sense that freedom is valued above equality, and under free competition the weak and the poor is often on their own, struggling to survive. This is understandable to me since America is proud of its capitalist traditions. What is hard to understand for me is that this same group of people who advocate small government and personal liberty and free market capitalism also call themselves Christian and hold religion dear to their heart. A good example is when Sarah Palin hailed her supporters for holding on to their gun and religion, and the crowd cheered. To me this is puzzling - is Christianity somehow consistent with Darwinism? What is the content of this religious right? A moral value that believe in free competition and winner take all? To me edging out the poor and the weak has nothing to do with Christianity, which it is about compassion and love. So why would these people call themselves religious? And religious on what kind of faith? A mysterious, interventionist God? A God that punishes the evil and has no compassion toward the weak and poor? A religion that serves the ideological ground to use gun to fend off anything they don't like? It puzzles me.

I am still seeking to understand, but I wonder if I ever will.