One of the bigger questions meandering around my odd little head is that of Christian governance and what such a system would look like in practice.
We all recognize (I hope) that it is good to give to the poor. Distributists would suggest that this doesn't just make moral sense but makes good economic and social sense as well. Though I'm thoroughly sceptical as to the veracity of the last point, I'll let it stand for now in hopes that it'll make more sense later ('cause I really want it to be correct).
By creating a governmental system where the social good of giving to the poor is reaped without the moral choice thereof, we find social alienation once again, only this time it is a moral alienation. We don't know who we're giving to, why we're giving, or how we're giving. This can lead nowhere but straight down the gullet of apathy. This just further divorces our lives from the true reality, true relationships, and true justice that we are called to (and yearn for so deeply) in the name of Jesus Christ.
This acts to break bonds of community while trying (and little more than trying) to create a new sense of relationship with the government. This leads us to the situation we have today, where very well-meaning and moral people hope to enact social change through the government because they have faith in other well-meaning and moral people out there just like them. How else are we supposed to change the world but through our ballot boxes (and blogs, if you can afford the time)? In other words, today's government is yesterday's religion.
In the end, just to try it in perspective.
It's good to help the poor (in many ways).
The rich have the money to help the poor.
In order to aim for the good, we should take from the rich and give to the poor.
The rich would not give if asked to.
The involuntary redistribution of wealth has no other detrimental effects.
We're back to a rather complex psychosocial question...but that's what we've got.
What are the effects of involuntary redistribution of wealth on
1. the giver
2. the givee
3. society as a whole
How do those effects differ from a voluntary redistribution of wealth? Why does it make a difference?
Here's my suggested answer
Inovoluntary redistribution leads to
1. disconnected apathy for giver
2. temporary relief from givee (note that without the relationship the possibility of 'welfare-state' type expectations are more likely)
3. further deadening of local communities and strengthening of a perceived national identity as trumping all else (eg we often feel more comfortable donating money to a group that are far away in some distant land known only to us from a flier or campaign card or dramatic photograph than to our local needy...also the very fact that money tends to be the basis of our support instead of time, sweat, and family says something as well).
However, the question is if this trumps the needs that could go unmet if the 'rich' decide not to give. Somewhere between those two poles lies the area for a morally balanced discussion of economics (and a Christian discussion too, I think).