Ultimate Economic Authority Is The State, The Individual, Or God?

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Posted: Apr 11, 2018 11:49 AM
Ultimate Economic Authority Is The State, The Individual, Or God?

The collectivists’ and statists’ objective is to remove religion from the citizenry in order to replace God with the State (even though they often deny it). They not only desire but usually indirectly demand that the State become the god of the people. Their tactic for achieving this is through a constant increase of the power of the State through all avenues, such as; finance, entitlement, regulations, faux civil rights, education, family courts, business, taxation, and nearly everything that touches our lives.

“Unsurprisingly then, as the government’s power grows in the areas reserved for citizen formation, it begins to supplant religion in that role. This diminished place for religion as a civic teacher leaves room only for religious believers that fit the state’s view of virtue, while rendering dissenters an annoyance to be placated at best, and a hostile force to be marginalized at worst.” [1]

This phenomenon has been unfolding in front of our very eyes for many decades, and continues to accelerate.

The cornerstone of liberty is property rights, and, as is affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, this right is bestowed upon us by God. As Austrian economist Gary North notes,

“Free trade is based on an assumption that an individual has the legal and moral authority to make an offer to somebody else to buy what he owns. It is the legal right to make a bid….[and] according to libertarian theory, is the moral and legal right possessed by an individual to own property, which implies the right of an individual to disown property. It is ownership and disownership that serve as the foundation of libertarian social theory, and also serves as the foundation of free-market economic theory.”[2]

North continues:

The collectivist begins with the concept of the state as the final authority. Libertarian theory begins with the concept of the individual as the final authority.

"In my view of economics, I begin with God as the final authority…the God of the Bible is overwhelmingly the defender of private property rights. This is encapsulated in the commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.” I keep contrasting this concept with the assertion of all modern welfare-state economists: “Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.”"[3]

The connection between morality and God, and the individual and the state, is essential to understanding property rights. Adam Smith warned in 1759 that the “important rules of morality are the commands and laws of the Deity, who will finally reward the obedient, and punish the transgressors of their duty.”[4] As is cited above, our Founding Fathers understood this as an imperative philosophy of America. It is imperative to the economic, political, and moral underpinning to achieve a prosperous and functional state. The Founding Fathers believed this notion was articulated, not exclusively, but most influentially by John Locke. Locke’s connection between God and property, that is the property of one’s body, mind and labor, cannot be dismissed because it would mean a dismissal of God Himself. This would break Natural Law, and since we are accountable to God, we are in no position or authority to take away or break that which He has set in His creation.[5]

Dr. Edward Feser writes,

“From the point of view of many Americans, Europeans are too willing to submit themselves to smothering state bureaucracies, caring less for freedom and responsibility than for the security the government claims to provide.”[6]

Dr. Feser is reiterating the very warning Benjamin Franklin famously wrote in 1755.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”[7]

This specific scenario is playing out before the world stage; European Union states are presently crashing economically from their decay from and lack of their Christian underpinning. Economics and politics cannot be separated from social and moral behavior, which under Lockean philosophy,[8] and by direct extension, American philosophy, ties both to God and God’s Law.

Of course the concept of the free market ties directly to Scripture and God’s Law, but the direct discussion of modern free-market economics was thoroughly detailed by the theologians of the University of Salamanca in the 16th and 17th centuries. These Spanish priests and thinkers devised from Scripture the ideas, behaviors, market mechanisms, and ethics which remain at the core of American economics and all sound economics of Western Civilization. Their discussions regarding price theory, value and price, and most characteristics of modern economic theory were founded directly from God’s Word and the market which surrounded them in Europe.[9]

According to economist John Taylor, “Economics and history tell us that changes in economic policy lead to changes in economic performance.” And with productivity being the source of all abundance, as was discussed in Human Productivity: The Original Covenant with God, Dr. Taylor supports this view by stating, “As a matter of arithmetic, the growth rate of the economy equals the growth of labor productivity plus the growth of employment or hours of work.” [10] This can be derived as both a Biblical and pragmatic notion.

In a 2015 Wall Street Journal article, journalist Daniel Henninger profoundly and accurately illustrates this point, writing that, “Institutions survive for many reasons, but one is that they operate inside a common moral order – a foundation built over a long period of time.”[11] Institutions can be organizations, as well as nations.  America was built upon Christian principles and values beginning with the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts and the 17th century Puritans. These foundations were set on American soil in 1620, and have been forged for nearly five hundred years. However, a common moral order can be diminished or destroyed over time, if it is not pinned to a true moral standard such as God’s Law. History has shown this time and time again for civilizations and we are currently witnessing the results of this manifestation today.

[1] William Haun, June 19, 2013, “Why Religious Liberty Became Controversial: The Left and Jean-Jacques Rousseau,” The Public Discourse, (Princeton, NJ: The Witherspoon Institute), [http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/06/10395/].

[2] Gary North, August 6, 2012, “The Statist Proposition of Protectionism,” Mises Daily, (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute), [http://mises.org/daily/6139/The-Statist-Propositions-of-Protectionism].

[3] Gary North, August 6, 2012, “The Statist Proposition of Protectionism,” Mises Daily, (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute), [http://mises.org/daily/6139/The-Statist-Propositions-of-Protectionism]. Dr. North touches on two key aspects of property rights. One is the unalienable right of our property as affirmed in the Declaration of independence. The second is the fallacy America is a democracy. This fallacy is discussed in more detail later in this text.

[4] Adam Smith, 2014 (originally published in 1759), The Theory of Moral Sentiments, (Lexington, KY: Economic Classics), p. 138.

[5] For an excellent discussion on this see Edward Feser, July/August 2006, “Godless Morality? Why Judeo-Christianity Is Necessary for Human Rights,” Crisis Magazine, (Washington, D.C.: Morley Publishing Group, Inc.), pp. 24-31, [http://www.crisismagazine.com/2010/godless-morality-why-judeo-christianity-is-necessary-for-human-rights].

[6] Edward Feser, July/August 2006, “Godless Morality? Why Judeo-Christianity Is Necessary for Human Rights,” Crisis Magazine, (Washington, D.C.: Morley Publishing Group, Inc.), pp. 24-31, [http://www.crisismagazine.com/2010/godless-morality-why-judeo-christianity-is-necessary-for-human-rights].

[7] Benjamin Franklin, November 11, 1755, Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives, 1755-1756, (1756), “Reply to the Governor,” (Philadelphia, PA: Pennsylvania Assembly), p. 19-21, The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 6, [http://franklinpapers.org/franklin/framedVolumes.jsp?vol=6&page=238a]. Also see [http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin].

[8] This also parallels with the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. See Thomas Aquinas, 2009 (Originally published in 1256-1272), Treatise on Law: The Complete Text (Summa Theologiae I-II, Questions 90-108), (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press).

[9] Alejandro A. Chafuen, 2003, Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Schlastics, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Book), pp. 82-84 and pp. 90-91.

[10] John B. Taylor, May 2016, “Can We Restart the Recovery All Over Again?” American Economimc Review, Vol. 106, No. 5, p. 48.

[11] Daniel Henninger, November 18, 2015, “From Missouri to Paris,” The Wall Street Journal.