reposted here in case my comment gets deleted.
Come now, you who are rich, weep, howling at the miseries coming upon you; your riches are corrupted and moths have consumed your clothes; your gold and silver have corroded, and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in the Last Days! See, the wages you have given so late to the laborers who have harvested your fields cry aloud, and the cries of those who have harvested your fields have entered the ear of the Lord Sabaoth. You have lived in luxury, and lived upon the earth in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned—have murdered—the upright; he did not stand against you. (James 5:1–6)
You pay a meager lip service to a social safety net, but let's get real: the majority of extremist free market types view all taxation as theft. As free market zealots have come to dominate mainstream economic thought, the social safety net has always come first when it comes to you talk of keeping power as "decentralized as possible" but curiously this move towards decentralization always seems to move against the trade unions, aid to the poor, and so on. It is the clothing of class warfare against the poor in the most noble rhetoric of our day.
I'm all in favor of a free market. In the apocryphal words of an imaginary Gandhi, "I think it would be a good idea." The problem is that a truly free market has never existed, and given the constraints upon us as humans, it seems hardly possible in our present situation. Not only is a free market constrained by negative externalities, but it doesn't factor into the equation the real human psychology we live with, where a perfectly understandable desire to support one's family and provide a better life for your children can be utterly transformed into avarice.
"Illiberal Christians resent the dynamism, unpredictability, and spontaneity of an economy driven by the free choices of billions of people, without the guidance of wiser souls with advanced humanities or theology degrees. "
What a straw man. The problem isn't the the lack of advanced humanity degrees, the problem is the ever-present temptation for self-glorification that the world incessantly provides us with. You imagine that this argument comes from envy (a bad faith argument if ever there was one) when really it comes from sympathy. I know that I am a sinner, a dreadfully avaricious, greedy, gluttonous and prideful, and that it takes a tremendous effort to be true to the ethical principles I hold dear. I trust in the wisdom of others, but that trust does not go so far as to imagine that all of my fellow human beings have completely purged themselves of greed and the fear of want and the love of status that fuel it. In the words of Adam Smith, "People of the same trade seldom meet together even for merriment and diversion but the conversation ends at a conspiracy against the public."
Let's stop imagining that when people talk about socialism today they're talking structurally about the communism of tomorrow. When people talk about socialism today, they're not imagining a mass wave of nationalized industry, but rather envision a return to a civilization where the rich pay into the commonwealth their fair share, and that wealth is used to enrich the lives of all, through infrastructure, education, and health.
"Indeed, the extraordinary and Christ-like work of Christian doctors and nurses, teachers and abolitionists, are all devoted to alleviating suffering." My goodness, what a perverse act of rhetoric this is, using the good works of others to shield legitimate criticisms of our wealth-obsessed culture. Yes, this is all true, and none of this is what Hart is getting at. What classic misdirection, holding out in one hand a gathering of social workers who live outside of desperate poverty while at the same time, in the other hand, hiding behind your back the plutocrats that are the engine of so many demented and irrational public policies.
"In past decades, it was perhaps plausible to blame the market economy for failing to serve the interests of the global poor. Cold hard statistics now show that in the past 20 years, economic globalization has lifted more than a billion human beings from the grinding misery of absolute poverty." I'll grant that, in terms of pure numbers, the very, very poorest are better off than they were previously. And I'll grant that this has much to do with freer trade. But what this point misses is the missed opportunities of our current economic thought. How much better off would those in the third world be if corporations which founded factories in their societies were willing to accept a slightly smaller profit to pay those who they employ a slightly larger wage than the bare minimum they need to attract workers? And how much better off would those in the third world be if those in charge of corporations listened to their conscience and refused to work with petty and corrupt warlords who viciously drain the blood and treasure of their citizens? But no, legally CEOs are required to maximize profits for shareholders regardless of the effect on human lives, so they'll happily work with any tin-pot tyrant who helps them further that end.
This reading of Christian tradition and scripture doesn't pass my own sniff test. It smells of brimstone. It smells of asking us to quietly accept injustice and inequality because to demand that those in the highest echelons honor their part of the social contract would be to tear all of liberty and freedom to tatters. So long passenger pigeon. We did not dare ask that people restrain themselves from slaughtering you en masse, so we sacrifice you to the alter of our mere whim. So long employee unions, we sacrifice you to the alter of shareholders profits. So long, living wage, we sacrifice you to the alter of efficiency and automation. So long, social mobility, we sacrifice you to the alter of government austerity. These are all sacrifices made to the alter of a single individual, and this alter smells of brimstone.