Can We Just Talk? The Art of Respectful Dialogue in an Election Year

As Christians, we hold dual citizenship.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s election season in the U.S. Several billions of dollars are being spent to sell us on a candidate and a party. But on November 6, when all the TV ads have run, the infomercials have finished, and the pundits become silent, how well will we actually understand the candidates’ stances on issues? How well will we know their political records, personal integrity, and commitment to work toward a more God-pleasing world?

As Christians, we hold dual citizenship: we live in the kingdom of God and in a specific nation. This dual citizenship sets us apart. It also gives us a rock-solid base, a common ground from which to talk to each other about political issues—to learn from, to question, and to appreciate each other.

Increasingly, though, we mimic the political polarization around us, vehemently disagreeing about what is to be done, how it is to be done, and why.

What’s more, we seem to be losing the art of serious dialogue in the U.S. and Canada—and in the church. We just don’t know how to talk to one another when we disagree, so we don’t. And in that silence there’s so much at stake: the opportunity to learn something new or to see the situation more clearly—or even to risk changing our minds.

What if we did try to talk to each other? What if we addressed some of the different ways we view the role of government, the solutions to the problems facing us, and the call of God when we enter the voting booth? What if we were courageous enough, gracious enough, and respectful enough to listen to each other’s views—especially when we disagree—and hold them in tension with our own?

We’ve asked two members of our denomination with fundamentally different views to do just that this election season—to model a new kind of conversation about political issues that opens the door to a more thoughtful, respectful, bold, and faith-filled engagement with our democracy.

—Peter Vander Meulen

Edward Gabrielse: There is no more important task for our next president than the recovery of our economy. When I go to the polls in November, I’ll vote for the candidate who will best address our economic woes in three specific ways.

Jobs

First, the candidate will give incentives to those who create jobs. Meaningful employment is the realization of our living in the image of a creative and productive God. Jobs provide much more than simply the income on which individuals and families depend. Jobs also provide a deep sense of satisfaction with life and deepen our sense of self-worth. And because public sector jobs can only exist if private sector workers agree to pay for them, the primary focus of the next president must be the creation of private-sector jobs.

Capitalism

Second, the candidate must allow the system of capitalism to work. No economic system has come closer to providing the level of wealth and opportunity for more people than capitalism. It has enabled the U.S. to be the most generous country on earth, both corporately and individually, in giving accumulated wealth and other aid to those in need. Even some of the most notorious robber barons have lent their names to hospitals, libraries, and universities.

Those who find a way to accumulate wealth hire others to make the things they want. Eventually all money goes somewhere. It’s my view that individuals who have earned money should have the right to decide how to spend it as opposed to the government dictating who deserves those hard-earned dollars. Our next president must not short-circuit the process of capitalism through overregulation and increased social welfare programs.

Entitlement

Third, the candidate will address the glaring problems we face with our entitlement programs. Right now, nearly half of the population of this country depends on government for some or all of their income. That percentage is growing. There are simply no profit margins or productivity improvements large enough to support this number of nonproductive or marginally productive citizens. Not only is this dependency resulting in more and more unsustainable debt; it is eating at the core of what has made the U.S. a great country. Our next president must find ways to encourage individuals to achieve financial independence.

Kate Kooyman: Here’s a great place where we can agree—economic recovery must focus on job creation. I, too, believe that part of what it means to have been created in the image of God is that we were made to be creative—to work hard, make things, contribute our gifts, and live with dignity. Those who can work should work! If there were jobs available—and equal opportunity in filling them—we’d be well on our way to strengthening not just our economy but also our social fabric. I would, however, like to see a job creation plan that addresses some of the systemic reasons why people who are poor and vulnerable often find it difficult to find work, such as lack of education and access to affordable child care, a broken immigration system, jobs that pay less than a living wage, lack of access to public transportation, or barriers to employment for those with a criminal record.

I’m also concerned about unbridled capitalism. The recent collapse of the banking industry, for example, warns us of the dangers of an unregulated market. The “robber barons” you mention are also example of what happens when people wind up with wealth that far exceeds the norm—I’m pretty sure those who were “robbed” would have much preferred to keep a roof over their heads over a visit to the library.

Particularly in a system that excludes so many because of discrimination or lack of access to education, the notion that wealth will trickle down, or that everyone has an opportunity to create wealth, or that capitalism makes the U.S. the “land of opportunity” for all people is simply not tenable. There are a few for whom pure, unregulated capitalism works well. But the playing field is not level. My hope is that our political system will guard against the injustices that arise from that set-up.

We also can agree that entitlements are not a long-term solution for those who live in poverty. It is much better to invest in programs that help lift people out of poverty. That’s why I was happy to see our current administration’s shift in foreign policy focus away from handouts toward developing sustainable communities through education and economic empowerment. Perhaps a similar shift here in the U.S. would be another place we could agree.

Rather than continuing to put money into our endangered entitlement programs, for example, let’s come up with a plan for robust investment in our public schools. Simply cutting people off of public benefits (as many have suggested in the name of balancing budgets) would be unjust. If we could create a society that empowers all citizens to support themselves and gives everyone access to economic opportunities, we wouldn’t need entitlements at all.

Ed Gabrielse: Christians of all political persuasions share a passion for helping those in need. To doubt the motives of Christians who see things differently is wrong. Across the political spectrum there are differences in the way we define relief, rehabilitation and development, and the expectations of individual initiative. And when these differences become institutionalized in programs and projects, they become very difficult to discuss rationally. When objective outcomes become confused with good intentions, feelings get hurt and communication within the body of Christ becomes nearly impossible.

Perhaps the only way to encourage respectful dialogue is to have the freedom within our fellowship to ask, “How does that program, tax, regulation, or vote demonstrate our love for our neighbor?” That is a standard to which we all must answer. It is the standard by which our Father will ultimately judge our efforts.

Kate Kooyman: I’m concerned about our economy. I’d like to see fewer people unemployed, better stock market gains, more lending and business growth, job creation, and prosperity.

Protecting the Vulnerable

I am equally concerned, though, that we not continue to scapegoat the most vulnerable in our attempts to recover. The 2013 budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (the Ryan budget) is no friend to those in need. It slashes funding for the food stamp program and cuts health insurance programs for low-income Americans, just when millions more need them. And it does this while extending substantial tax breaks to the wealthy.

I hope to vote for a candidate who understands that we cannot stand on the backs of the poor in our efforts to regain economic prosperity. More than other countries, the U.S. has extreme inequality in income distribution—most of the money made goes to those at the top of the economic ladder. Winner takes all. In our weakened economy, it’s the poor who suffer the most. More and more families live below the poverty line, suffer from hunger, and are desperate for help.

The Role of Government

While I love Christian giving programs such as food pantries, I’m unsatisfied with the position that it is the solely the role of the church, not government, to address poverty. Charity alone was never God’s design. The economy God outlined for the people of Israel in the book of Leviticus included protections to ensure that a gap like ours between the super-rich and the desperately poor would never occur.

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, once noted that a 6 percent cut in federally-funded nutrition programs might get buried somewhere on the sixth page of the newspaper—not especially noteworthy—but a cut that size would be like eliminating every church food pantry in our country. The size of Christian generosity to the poor would have to explode if we were to meet the real needs currently met by government assistance programs. I’m not sure my church is ready for that kind of challenge.

I hope to vote for a candidate who is willing to address this widening gap, who has an economic recovery plan that doesn’t gouge the social welfare programs our nation’s vulnerable need to survive. Instead, I hope that budget-balancing will focus on things like cuts to our incredibly overfunded defense budget and just taxation of both the rich and the poor.

Edward Gabrielse: Banks collapsed because government required them to make loans to those without the means to pay them back, on properties that no reasonable lender would otherwise consider. The “community reinvestment act” bears a big share of the responsibility for this.

I do not know of any conservative politician who would “scapegoat the most vulnerable.” Everyone I have met in political circles is passionate about helping the most vulnerable. But it is important that our policies do not enable people; instead, we must empower them. People who are most vulnerable certainly need relief, but when the government continues to provide assistance over the long term, I believe it stands in the way of their ability to stand on their own two feet. Instead of helping, this perpetuates vulnerability.

I believe that the Ryan budget is the only hope of saving Medicare and Social Security. (Is it more compassionate to save these programs or to run them empty?) This budget tackles the size of government through both attrition—not filling jobs when people retire—and limiting the growth of entitlements by extending the criteria for qualification some ten years or more in the future. This budget attempts to address the long-term problems of our entitlement programs, so perhaps it is a “friend to those in need” after all.

As for the gap between the rich and the poor in this country, which exists in many other countries as well, I would argue that during the past three years, the net worth of Americans has been reduced by 40 percent. If there is growing inequality, it is being achieved by reducing the wealth of the middle class rather than by increasing the wealth accumulation of the more affluent. The dreams of parents for their children are being eroded by the continual depreciation of those who are financially successful.

Kate Kooyman: I'm pleased (and a little surprised!) to see the many places where Ed and I agree—even if we stand firmly apart on the political spectrum. Although I’m sure that neither Ed nor I will be changing parties anytime soon, I'm convinced that this kind of dialogue is part of our call to unity in the church.

This kind of robust dialogue, in which we are invited to thoughtfully present our opinion, question its strengths, and humbly challenge an opposing view, reminds me that we don’t have to persuade one another in order to respect one another. And I believe it makes all participants better in the end.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Describe a conversation you’ve had with a person who does not share your political point of view. How successful were you at listening and holding their convictions in tension with your own?
  2. What thought or memory encourages you to participate in this kind of dialogue?
  3. Why should Christians bother to discuss difficult issues with those who hold different viewpoints? What good does it do?
  4. What possible effect could Christian dialogue have on our churches, countries, and politics? What effect would it have on your spirit?
  5. How well did Kate and Edward do in their political conversation? What in the article struck you as particularly helpful or insightful?
  6. As people who hold dual citizenship, what can we always agree on?

About the Authors

Peter Vander Meulen is the director of the CRC’s Office of Social Justice.

Kate Kooyman worships at Grace CRC in Grand Rapids. She works in campus ministries at Hope College.

Edward Gabrielse is a long-time member of Wheaton (Ill.) CRC. He has taught and worked in marketing and communications until his recent retirement.

See comments (28)

Comments

In my opinion Ed is simply very misinformed about the root causes of the financial meltdown that caused the Great Recession.  
Even the somewhat business-friendly British magazine, The Economist, would disagree.  It is my experience that there have been a great many of what I would term "false prophets" making faulty analyses for political gain on this issue.

While I have disagreed with Ms Kooyman on other issues (such as illegal immigration reform) on this one she is far closer to the truth.

What is the role of government?

The US Constitution lists the roles of the Federal government.  In the preamble it states: "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Then the Articles and the subsequent Amendments specify it further:

1) Defense, war prosecution, peace, foreign relations, foreign commerce, and interstate commerce;

2) The protection of citizens’ constitutional rights (e.g the right to vote) and ensuring that slavery remains illegal;

3) Establishing federal courts inferior to the SCOTUS;

4) Copyright protection;

5) Coining money;

6) Establishing post offices and post roads;

7) Establishing a national set of universal weights and measures;

8) Taxation needed to raise revenue to perform these essential functions.

That is the constitutional limitation of the Federal government. 

We all make choices where we live.  I was born in The Netherlands, a country where the national government used to do much more for its citizens than here.  National health insurance, guaranteed incomes even if we did not work, etc.  The people there discovered that it was not possible to do all that we could think of for its citizens.  For many of us, especially the young, in the 1960's, we saw little future there and we left.  I came to the US, my brother and sister went to Australia.  In both of these places we were able to work and succeed or fail, depending on our own efforts.  Honestly, I like this much better.

 

The title of this article gives an indication of the problem. Talk is easy, communication is not so easy! Peter, I suggest that we all go back to our early life. I know a little of yours and much about mine. By some standards, we had little but it was expected and we were encouraged to do the best that we could with the opportunities that we had. I have lived in many different environments and cultures and find that where people do not look to others, including government, for their welfare progress is made. We in the United States have been particularly blessed and should show great feeling and generosity for others, but too often a handout is not the way up! If this discussion is to be productive, let us not use all of the political "talking points" of the day!

I think we should have dialogue, but this issue of politics runs much deeper for this church then appears. You see, our denomination has already picked which political side and persuasion they are supporting when synod endorsed and began implementing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals through the Office of Social Justice. These 8 political goals are already reshaping the doctrine of our denomination.

For another example of respectful political dialog, see http://www.respectfulconversation.net/.

This articles bemoans that "Increasingly, ... we mimic the political polarization around us, vehemently disagreeing about what is to be done, how it is to be done, and why."

True enough I suppose. But as truthmatters alludes to, a great deal of the problem is the denomination itself, which has decided it is will allow the CRCNA to be used as a megaphone for the particular political perspectives of just some of the denominational members, essentially telling others that their political perspectives are wrong and shouldn't be voiced as the adopted/proclaimed CRCNA positions.

So step one for having a less polarized discussion about politics is the denomination (OSJ but more than that) getting out of the business of choosing political perspective winners and losers among denominational members.  My local CRC church doesn't do that, nor does my classis.  Why should it be done at the denominational level?

Church Order Article 28 requires the denomination to take up "ecclesiastical matters" only.  The wisdom of that rule is fairly self-evident.  Yet, we persist in disregarding it.  Overture #3 to 2012 Synod asked that we carefully examine what the CRCNA, as church institution, is doing politically versus what is should be doing (and not doing).  Synod responded to that overture by directing the Executive Director to write a letter to the denomination telling it, among other things, to think about the issued raised by Overture 3.  The ED wrote the letter but the letter, fairly read, didn't tell the denomination to think about these issues.  Instead, the ED's letter recast the issue (not raised by Overture #3) as merely the temperature of the arguments being had.

The problem is not the tone or temperature of the argument, but rather that the denomination is becoming political, in part because of decisions made by Synod that should not have been made (CO Article 28) and in part because denominational agencies and persons in them have decided to use the weight and resources of the denomination to push their own political perspectives.

Doug Vande Griend

I don't think CRC people are particularly unable to have respectful discussions about political matters.  To the contrary, I think CRC people are among the most capable of having respectful dicsussion about political matters.

What I think is threatening that ability is our denomination's recent proclivity to take "official stances" concerning political issues, whether via OSJ or otherwise, thereby declaring which political answers are correct and which ones aren't (or, at least, which ones merit the endorsement of the denomination and which ones don't).

Doug Vande Griend

It is surprising and disappointing that the commentators have forgotten Chronicles 7 : 14. If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land. In all the discussions I read nothing about the sin of abortion. Hopefully we will hear more about this in the future.

"A majority voting for a welfare program supported by tax money is inconsistent with Christian behavior, for it abolishes the act of choice (free will) of all those who voted against the program. (Such matters should never be brought to a vote for no man has the right to force others to support a welfare project.) True charity, without choice, is an impossibility, and when attempted, negates the concept of Christian love." (This may well apply to the Synod's method of deliberation in issues outside the ecumenical.) But I sense the editors of this mag lean towards govt. welfare; perhaps "they feel a strong sense of guilt if they do not do so, and fear that if they oppose government welfare they will be considered as unchristian." For those who are unsure about this, I ask you to read the article linked here. http://www.fff.org/freedom/1294e.asp

They also endor

The Reformed Church is a MEMBER OF THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES and the CRC is fast on the way..When WCC gets ALL the religions into ONE..(and it wont be Christian) then we wont have to worry about all this discussion..WCC is the "brain child" of the ILLUMINTI...look that one up on You Tube..Masonic lodge and all!! You know we have to have UNITY..social justice and Peace..which what is not the true Peace....dont you dare say that the Trinity is true..not all folks believe that..UNITY you know...and JESUS CHRIST the ONLY way to God..NO NO NO..God forgives humanity you know..forget about that Jesus..he was just a great guy..THAT IS THE WCC!!

 

The financial sector is one of the most heavily regulated sectors of our economy.  To consider it anywhere close to a free market is laughable.  And, by extension, to claim Ms. Kooyman is far closer to the truth that "unbridled capitalism" (what's so wrong with that) caused the finanical meltdown is equally so.  Wtih so much government regulation and intervention in the banking industry, I have a difficult time understanding how anyone could seriously make such accusations. 

I would recommend Mr. Gabrielse read Michael Lewis' The Big Short.  He couldn't be more wrong as to the cause of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.  Banks needed no incentives from the government to give loans to people who couldn't afford them.  If the government played a role in the debacle, it was their lack of regulation and oversight.  Simply the fact that it was a global crisis demonstrates that it couldn't simply be a matter of a particular policy. 

I realize that the article simply wanted to allow Mr. Gabrielse to express his views and engage in some give-and-take, but a claim so egregiously false should not have been published without some sort of clarification or qualification.  Misinformation does nothing to help further dialogue.

I suspect that you have a difficult time understanding such an accusation because, like many people, you don't understand what happened with the sub-prime mortgage crisis.  The problem was that so few people really understood what was going on.  There were no regulations that applied.  The accrediting agencies didn't know how to evaluate it.  Everybody just trusted that the big banks knew what they were doing.  It turns out they didn't.  But that's what happens when you have "unbridled capitalism."

@bertvanden You're suggesting that, had the commentators taken the Chronicles passage seriously they would have necessarily talked about abortion?  I've always found it odd how people assume that the way to take that text seriously is to apply it to the United States-- as though that's the New Testament equivalent to Isreal. But you go a step further and say not only is it about the US but it's about a particular point of US social policy and suggest that, if we cleared that up, God would heal our land.  Quite honestly, I'm not sure that the desperate women who make the choice to terminate a pregnancy are all that stand between us and a healed nation. 

@Gordon Kamps "If this discussion is to be productive, let us not use all of the political "talking points" of the day!" Yes, when the talking points of yesteryear are so much more insightful.  Do you really think that you've brought some clarity to this issue with your comment.  Yes, generosity!  No handouts!  That there is the rub.  But when push comes to shove it's pretty clear where you stand-- "Do not look to others."  This strikes me as terribly naive.  We all need help.  No one gets where they are on their own.  The question is not whether we all need help, the question is what actually constitutes help.  And the fact is that this a very complicated and complex issue, but comments like yours which presume to have it all figured out simply reinforce the problems.

@Mark; Community Reinvestment Act, Mark to Market accounting regulations, federal pressure to offer loans to low income, tax credits, fannie may and freddie mac (GSE's), and the BIG ONE...wait for it...The Fed's monetary policy holding interest rates for banks at such low levels that it was basically free.  No risk loaning money to people who can't pay it all back when the money you are loaning was given to you for free...  That kind of intervention distorts the free market.  Doesn't sound like unbridled capitalism to me.  What is unbridled capitalism anyway?  Ms. Kooyman chose not to define it (I suspect it's because she doesn't understand what free market capitalism is...nor you).

ALL this talk...if you REALLY knew who ran our country you would be on your knees and praying instead of talking..OPEN your eyes and ears and hearts..Know what is really going on in our country...LOOK UP   Illumunati... find out what they stand for and who they run..go to the video clips on You Tube.. .ASK FATHER God what is TRUTH..ask God to show you what is REALLY going on..  HOW THE WCC   World Council of Churches is all a part of this..  how the Masonic Lodge fits into all this..

You may think that women dont know what she is talking about..OK prove me wrong..but READ and PRAY for wisdom and discernment!   Thankyou for listening to me..

 

This is a well done explaining the housing crisis and the Community Reinvestment Act. 

http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/7-7-09-housing-crisis-report.pdf

I need to hit the preview button before I post :)

 

To Sher1X and Madness I would advise that there have been a lot of "false prophets" out there and many believe their half-truths.  I have discussed this at length with family and friends and after considering their point(s) of view and reading and listening these are my conclusions:

1. Almost everyone for decades in our society believed that increasing homeownership increased stakeholders in democracy and that home ownership percentages were a measure of our democracy's health and should be encouraged. Homeowners tend not to burn down their neighborhood (something I have lived through and pray never again).

2. Low interest rates were a function of Alan Greenspan's monetary policy.  Greenspan was a guru of the Federal Reserve and a darling of pro-growth.

3. The low interest rates pushed by Greenspan as pro-growth, caused the flood of investment dollars to look elsewhere to gain better rates--voila, mortgage-lending.

4. The investment and commercial banking regulations that prevented them from mixing were eliminated by Republican Senator Phil Gramm from Texas in a last-minute multi-page addition to a 5,000page Omnibus budget bill thrust upon President Clinton to sign (I was not a fan of either official) at the eleventh hour in December, 1999.  It is my understanding that Canada never made the same mistake and more tightly regulated their banks and as a result did not suffer the same subprime meltdown. (Canadians correct me if I am wrong)

5. Absent government regulation, the actual loaners (think Silverleaf Mortgage, Las Vegas Nevada) never kept the loan on the books and therefore passed the liability onto large investment banking firms such as Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch etc.   When one does so, one no longer cares to the same degree whether the loan ever gets repaid.  Thus the advent of "no-doc" loans.

6. I have read enough to conclude that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were very late to this game that originated in the private banking world.  Also, that per a study by a professor at University of North Carolina (and others) that community service mortgage loans were actually repaid at a far higher rate than the purely private sector loans. 

7. One must remember that it was Hank Paulsen, avid follower of "free markets" under Republican President Bush who advocated the TARP bailout when gazing over the global financial cliff that his own philosophy had likely caused.  A Hank Paulsen would never have gone the TARP route totally against his own life-long "religion" had not the consequences he foresaw been so dire.  In my opinion we have him and Bush to thank for at least avoiding holding to a doctrinaire position for the sake of reality.

Much more could be said and cited, unfortunately time, space and my own memory (though that can be easily jogged)prevent it.

@Preacherkid: hardly a rebuttal arguing the government did not play a major role and it was all the free market's fault.  The banking industry has not been a free market for over 150 years.  The regulations that have been repealed or added within the last decade pale in comparison to the thousands that still exist.  And just because someone claims to be a free market economicsts, does not mean they are.  Actions speak louder than words; and the fed's policies and very existence scream, "this was not caused by the free market."  The existence of businessmen who will do what they can to earn a buck is not an indictment of the free market, it is an indictment of human nature.

@Sher1x.  Keep in mind the major point here.  The claim made in the article was that the sub-prime mortgage crisis was the result of the fact that banks were forced by the gov't to make loans to people who could not pay them back.  Feel free to quibble over how free our markets are and the role of the fed.  But the fact is that the claim in the article is indefensible. 

@Sher1x: Here's a paragraph from a lengthy article by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells: "Was government policy entirely innocent? No, but its sins were more of omission than commission. Fannie and Freddie shouldn’t have been allowed to go chasing profits in the late stages of the housing bubble; and regulators failed to use the authority they had to stop excessive risk-taking. But as much as conservatives would like to put soft-hearted politicians at the center of this story, they don’t belong there. And [Economist Raghuram G.] Rajan’s endorsement of the conservative story line, without even an acknowledgment of the problems of that line, comes across as slippery and evasive."  The same problem is evident in the report put together by Darrell Issa.

@Mark; "feel free to quibble over how free our markets are, but..."  Isnt' that the crux of the issue?  Aren't you and Ms. Kooyman claiming the free market (which i assume is what she meant by capitalism, but i could be wrong) is to blame?  Thus, it is important to understand that the U.S. does not exactly have a free market and that the crisis was not caused by free market capitalism.  It was the policies based on Keynesian economics that caused the economic crisis, and it is Keynesian economics that Paul Krugman has totally embraced.  Any of his conclusions, therefore, are based on faulty economic assumptions.

@Sher1x: it is my understanding that nowhere on earth does there exist a "free market."  (perhaps the closest was/is Somalia where there has been no government of which to speak)  During the 19th century most would argue that there were "freer markets" than there are today but was it Teddy Roosevelt who said "big business requires big government?"

I sometimes think that those who argue for "free markets" that do not exist except in the utopia of someone's mind are as niave about the human condition as Karl Marx except with an answer at the other extreme.  Personally I subscribe to highly regulated capitalism though regulation has its pitfalls just as much as lack of regulation as human depravity is ubiquitous in both the private and public sectors.

@Preacherkid;  A pure free market is not defined by the absent of laws.  A free market cannot exist without a government that enforces a legal system that protects privately owned property, enforces contracts, and settles disputes fairly.  The free market is a system that exists when government rules justly.  TR was wrong.  Big business does not need big government.  Big business needs the same thing as small businesses as well as individuals for that matter.  Freedom, which happens when our rights are protected and the law is not used to violate those rights.  Economically speaking, going back to the limited government of the late 1700s and early 1800s would be an incredible improvement.  We would have much more prosperity and much less poverty. 

@Sher1x No, it's not "the crux of the issue."  We are trying to counter the claim made in the article-- the idea that the subprime mortgage crisis was caused by the gov't forcing banks to make risky loans.  I don't know why saying this to you again will make any difference.

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