Human Productivity: The Original Covenant With God

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Posted: Mar 01, 2018 9:51 AM
Human Productivity: The Original Covenant With God

In my previous article Here’s Why Private Property Is Sacred I stated that, “Productivity is the divine gift from God to man of man’s ability to be a creator in God’s image.”  Let’s explore that further in American terms.

One of the factors which made Ronald Reagan a revered president was his goal to emulate one of our former presidents.  This was Calvin Coolidge, Reagan’s favorite president.  One of President Reagan’s objectives was to imitate President Coolidge to the best of his ability, as Reagan greatly admired his belief in American liberty and significant economic success leading congress to significant tax and spending reductions.

In his biography, Coolidge wrote, “Our talents are given us in order that we may serve ourselves and our fellow men…One of the earliest mandates laid on the human race was to subdue the earth.[1]  That meant work.”[2]  Coolidge goes on to reference reverently one of his most admired professors, saying that Professor Charles Garman was “a man who walked with God,”[3] and that he “supported every position by facts and logic.  He believed in the Bible and constantly quoted it to illustrate his position.  He divested religion and science of any conflict with each other, and showed that each rested on the common basis of our ability to know the truth…He was a follower of the truth, a disciple of the Cross, who bore the infirmities of us all.”[4]  President Coolidge’s philosophies and principles were based squarely on the Lockean principles of “natural rights and equality”[5] enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. John Locke articulates this very decree from God saying:

"God, when he gave the world in common to all mankind, commanded man also to labour, and the penury of his condition required of him.  God and his reason commanded him to subdue the earth, i.e., improve it for the benefit of life, and therein lay out something upon it that was his own, his labour. He that in obedience to this commend of God, subdued, tilled, and sowed any part of it, thereby annexed to it something that was his property, which another had no title to, nor could without injury take from him."[6]

This is a very profound statement from Locke.  What Locke is stating here, “improve it for the benefit of life,” is directly translating God’s command for man “to subdue the earth” as productivity.  Locke also is clearly defining productivity as being obedient to the command of God to “subdued, tilled, and sowed any part of it.”And finally Locke is defining the existence of divine providence to property rights.  This would become the core essence of Thomas Jefferson’s establishment statement in the Declaration of Independence.  The pursuit of happiness is definitively from divine providence.  Locke continues explaining God’s desire for His children to be productive and to secure property rights from any other man or groups of men; i.e., government:

"God gave the world to men in common; but since he gave it them for their benefit and the greatest conveniences of life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common and uncultivated.  He gave it to the use of the industrious and rational (and labour was to be his title to it); not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious."[7]

David Ricardo recognized this as well, writing that, “whilst every man is free to employ his capital where he pleases, he will naturally seek for it that employment which is most advantageous; he will naturally be dissatisfied with a profit of 10 per cent, if by removing his capital he can obtain a profit of 15 per cent.”[8]  As economist Jerry Bowyer aptly states, “[Capital] will not stay where it isn’t welcome; it will flow gradually away from the places where it is treated poorly to the places where it is treated well.”[9]

This is why God wants us to build a stronger relationship with Him - so He can help us leverage these gifts through His resources to create more and better products and services to serve one another.  Being fruitful.  That is exactly what Jesus means in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”[10]  John Enright, a missionary and pastor who has spent nearly his entire life in Congo and Zambia, refers to this as abundance on earth and believes that this was Jesus’ message in John 10:10.  According to Pastor Enright, if we live according to the Principles of the Kingdom of God, as Jesus taught and articulated, we will have the abundance here on earth as Jesus told us we could and should achieve.  Productivity is the only means in which man creates wealth; the productivity of skills, knowledge and teaching.  In the words of one of the most prolific CEO’s in America, Art Byrne, who lead the most substantial transformations of a business, “Productivity equals wealth.”[11]  In fact, the productivity of one man can increase the earnings of another man even if the second man has no productivity improvement.  The reason being, as the renowned economist Ludwig von Mises explains, is that the earnings of the man who increases his productivity increases; therefore the earnings of the man with no productivity will eventually increase in order to incent him to remain at his current position. Otherwise, he will desire to depart and enter into employment of the higher earning position. As von Mises astutely points out by comparing a butler to a factory worker:

"Yet the wage rates earned by all such workers are today much higher than they were in the past.  They are higher because they are determined by the marginal productivity of labor.  The employer of a butler withholds this man from employment in a factory and must therefore pay the equivalent of the increase in output which the additional employment of one man in a factory would bring about.  It is not any merit on the part of the butler that increases this rise in is wages, but the fact that the increase in capital invested surpasses the increase in the number of hands…there is only one means to raise wage rates permanently and for the benefit of all those eager to earn wages – namely, to accelerate the increase in capital available as against population.Of this be “unjust,” then the blame rests with nature and not with man."[12]

In reference to the book of Genesis we see that even “though these biblical texts are not drawn from an economic textbook, they cast light on the most important truth of economics. With our hands and our minds, we can create wealth, and in the right circumstances, that human-generated wealth becomes the basis of more wealth.  We are made in the image of the Creator God, so we should expect this of ourselves.”[13]  As the Declaration of Independence, our founding document, directly states, we are endowed by our Creator.  God spoke and created the universe.  He spoke and created Earth and all its resources.  He spoke and created man.  He spoke and gave man dominion over this tiny part of His creation.  But He remains King, but did grant, by His will, us to have dominion of His earthly resources.[14]  “We are responsible for how we treat the earth.  Dominion doesn’t mean destruction.  Since all the earth is God’s creation, it has value on its own, apart from what we do with it.”[15]  So, therefore, we must work and maintain a strong relationship with Him to understand our role, as deemed by Him, over our tiny part of His creation.  We are stewards of part of His creation.  In 1891 Pope Leo XIII affirmed Genesis 1:26-31 by writing, “For, every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own.  This is one of the chief points of distinction between man and the animal creation… For man… being master of his own acts, guides his ways under eternal law and the power of God, whose providence governs all things. ”Pope Leo goes on to state that “private ownership is in accordance with the law of nature.” [16]

Presidents Coolidge and Reagan were very successful American executives, and there was a reason for this. They intimately understood that there was a divine pattern to follow.

[1] Coolidge is referencing Genesis 1:28.

[2] Calvin Coolidge, 2004 (originally published in 1929), The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge,” (Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific), p. 68.

[3] Calvin Coolidge, 2004 (originally published in 1929), The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge,” (Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific), p. 65.

[4] Calvin Coolidge, 2004 (originally published in 1929), The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge,” (Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific), pp. 68-69.

[5] Conn Carroll, February 17, 2014, “The Greatest Conservative President in American History,” Townhall.com, [http://townhall.com/tipsheet/conncarroll/2014/02/17/the-greatest-conservative-president-in-american-history-n1787876].

[6] John Locke, 1982, ed. Richard Cox (originally published in 1690), Second Treatise of Government, “Book V:  Of Property, Sec. 32,” (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, Inc.), p. 21.

[7] John Locke, 1982, ed. Richard Cox (originally published in 1690), Second Treatise of Government, “Book V:  Of Property, Sec. 34,” (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, Inc.), p. 21.

[8] David Ricardo, 2012 (originally published in 1817), Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, (Lexington, KY: Maestro Reprints), p. 34.

[9] Jerry Bowyer, January 2013, “How to be an Affluent Investor in the Age of Obama & Ineffectual Republican Opposition,” A Special Report, Affluentinvestor.com, p. 8, [http://affluentinvestor.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Affluent-Investor-Special-Report.pdf].

[10] Guideposts, The Guideposts Parallel Bible (Carmel, NY: Guideposts), Revised Standard, John 10:10, p. 2723.

[11] Art Byrne, 2013, The Lean Turnaround: How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company, (New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.), p. 11.  Also see pages 73 and 155.

[12] Ludwig von Mises, 2008 (originally published originally in 1956), The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute), pp. 88-89.

[13] James Robison and Jay W. Richards, 2012, Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s too Late, (New York, NY: Faith Words, Hachette Book Group), pp. 264-265.

[14] See Guideposts, The Guideposts Parallel Bible (Carmel, NY: Guideposts), New International, Genesis 1:26-31, p. 4, and Brian Tierney, 2001 (originally published in 1997), The Idea of Natural Rights:Studies in Law and Religion, Natural Law, and Church Law, 1150 – 1625, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.), p. 154-156.

[15] James Robison and Jay W. Richards, 2012, Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s too Late, (New York, NY: Faith Words, Hachette Book Group), p. 281.

[16] Pope Leo XIII, 1891, Rerum Novarum, (The Vatican), [http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum.html].