Monday, March 10, 2008

The Free Rider Problem (4) - The Voluntary Way

If a group of people come together and put purchase a fire fighting service to protect their properties, they should ask for voluntary contributions from those who will benefit. Most people support the initiative and choose to make a contribution. Christians should lead the way in paying for every service from which they gain a benefit.

Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe a contribution, pay a contribution; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another (Rom 13:7-8).
Paying what we owe for services received is bound up with Jesus commandment to we love one another. Paying for free riders is a good way to love those who do not love us.

If some people in a town or street decide to hire security guards to protect their town or street from crime or attack, contributions to the cost should be voluntary. Good people will willingly contribute to the cost, but some may not be able to afford it. Others who can afford it will deliberately decide to free ride. This is not a serious problem. It provides an opportunity for Christians to demonstrate practical love and generosity. Some Christians will contribute extra to cover those who cannot afford to pay. Others will pay extra to make up for the free riders. Compulsory taxation will be unnecessary.

Politicians love the free loader problem because it provides justification for political power. They argue that compulsory taxation is needed to pay for public goods and eliminate the free riders. Their argument makes sense to the people of the world, because they hate being ripped off. It does not wash with Christians because they know that being ripped off is normal for those who free ride on Jesus.
Bless those who free ride on you, as you have been blessed by free riding on Jesus.
For politicians, the end always justifies the means. Coercion is justified, if free riders can be forced to pay. Christians function in a different paradigm.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21).
We understand that using the wrong means to achieve a good end will eventually fail. The only way to overcome evil is by doing good. Compulsory riding is not the solution to free riding.

The full series is here.

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