SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS — a reblog

moneytreeWhen I wrote WORSHIP OF THE GOD OF STUFF — A reblog, I got an interesting comment that inspired this reblog. It reminded me that some smart people who really should know better cannot figure out the difference between the government dole and honest charity. So it is that generosity with “other people’s money” is destroying our country.

The government dole stems from covetousness, not charity. Covetousness violates the 10th commandment.

Exodus 20:17 New Revised Standard Version

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND GOVERNMENT — PART 2 represents my meager effort to explain the intersection of the 10th commandment and government. Keith DeHavelle, not a religious person, approaches the subject from a different direction. Nevertheless, it is well worth seeing where he ends up.

Greed

Some random thoughts on free enterprise, expanded from a comment to yesterday’s post.

Does free enterprise, usually called “capitalism” because of Karl Marx’s influence, depend upon greed? No, in fact. The expression “it depends heavily on greed” is counterfactual in my opinion.  Consider:

If I want to make money in the free market, I must serve my fellow humans in a manner they find valuable. I can natter on about how much I want all day, and it will avail me nothing.

Only if they value the good or service or labor, and feel that it benefits them, will they ignoretheir greed and help me reach my goals.

All transactions in the free market, from paying or working for a wage, to inventing and selling a product, to providing a service from home cleaning or health insurance, is a win-win as long as it is a voluntary transaction by both parties and uncorrupted by government coercion.

Knowledge

The result of these win-win transactions is added wealth, innovation, and most cruciallyknowledge — knowledge shared, either directly or because it is built-in to the product, service or labor we provide each other in opposition to any greed we might feel.

The difference between how we live now and a thousand years ago, or a hundred thousand years ago, is knowledge. We are physically and mentally essentially the same over those time spans, but free enterprise has brought us into a new world to the great benefit of society.

The growth of knowledge happened despite government domination for millennia, and made slow, incremental progress. In China, for example, it was a capital offense for hundreds of years to know how a water-clock worked. As each dynasty was replaced, the ministers who could build and maintain the clocks were often simply executed. And they started over.

Knowledge is not just power, it is wealth and well-being. And it has been been the reason that governments and would-be tyrants like Marx and his disciples worked to concentrate knowledge into the hands of a few “masterminds” at great cost to society. And the proponent of these systems often describe them as “altruistic.” (continued here)

36 thoughts on “SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS — a reblog

  1. Interesting! I like Keith DeHaville’s take on things. When my husband started roofing many years ago, we weren’t prepared for this strange idea that we were greedy capitalists. You have to work 15 hours a day often many of them unpaid, you have to be offering something of value to customers, it requires a great deal of sacrifice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Entrepreneurs make something like 80% on average of wage earners in the US. And this average of composed of a small percentage who make extraordinary successes, and a great crowd of those doing what you’re doing and what I did for so many years.

      So why do this? People are happy to the extent that they feel in control of their lives. When we work all those hours, it’s our decision, and we believe that we can make it work. This is completely unappreciated by most folks. The Lady Anne and I ultimately did achieve some things in our business, and her response to people remarking on this always made me smile: “It took us eighteen years to become an overnight success.”

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We the People can be awfully stupid. If we were more honest, I think most of us would admit we are just too frightened of starting a business to attempt it. Hence we are tempted to envy, and we make excuses to hate the people who succeed. What we should be doing instead is wondering what frightens us. The answer, I think, is that our parents were so stupid and lazy that they let politicians educate us in government-run schools. Hence, we are more comfortable were bureaucratic solutions than we are with small business. We want a Democratic Capitalist society, right? We want a society where we have the liberty to make our own choices, right? Then why do we educate our children in a government-run SOCIALIST education system? Rich people — the elites — don’t send their children to those schools.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Taking what was earned by one person and giving it to another person who did not earn it, is stealing.

    The government that takes the earnings of some of its citizens and gives those earnings to other citizens who did not earn them, is stealing.

    A government that steals from its citizens is committing oppression.

    These days, the Bible has been completely rejected as an authoritative source concerning moral and justice.

    We are in such a state of social collapse that even appealing to basic common sense, as I have done, is almost useless.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It depends on how it is taken. The Apostles in Acts were a sort of government that took the contributions of the rich and redistributed them to the poor. Of course, this was a voluntary system based on the involuntary system of the Jews at the time.

      I agree. If the Bible was really followed, Christians would unilaterally giving the entirety of their excess wealth to the poor as their forebears did in the book of Acts.

      What I would propose is a law that requires every taxpayer to give 10% of the income before taxes to a charity that actively supports the poor; no giving to some foundation run by DC elites-you know who I am talking about–that claim to “advocate” for people. I am talking real, honest to goodness charity like Habitat for Humanity or the Little Sisters of the Poor. At the same time, cut taxes. Giving to charity is something everyone should do. It would be a better law than mandating everyone have access to birth control.

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      1. What I would propose is a law that requires every taxpayer to give 10% of the income before taxes to a charity that actively supports the poor. . .

        You are joking, correct? People ought to freely give from their hearts, as it occurs now and is working well, not from coercion of law. The early church as described in Acts 2 and 4 was done by charitable hearts, not coercion, and those who did not give were never scorned, but encouraged. If you can freely give, then do so, if not, then that is fine also.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You would rely on the charity of a people that Alexis De Tocqueville described as practicing “self interest rightly understood?” It is an inescapable aspect of human nature, popularized by Peter Singer’s thought experiment, that a given person will prefer not to help people in need unless the need is immediate, dire, and right in their face. As my old humanities professor would say, “man is ambitious, rapacious, and vindictive.”

          You can only get the Early Church if you had the society set up like the Early Church.

          Like

        2. Good grief! There are so many great comments.

          @mastersamwise

          If you have read Alexis De Tocqueville, then you know he described the slow, creeping growth of tyranny that we now see on the brink of full fruition.

          Please check out my latest post.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. It appears that you share the same cynical and pessimistic view of Mr. Singer and humanities professor regarding your fellow man, yes? It is a well-known fact that Christians donate more money, goods, and food, and volunteer more time to community and social causes than non-Christians. Why do Christians do this? Is it commanded by God? Not really. Christians do it because of a circumcised heart (Col. 2:9-15). God regenerates a man’s heart and puts in a new spirit in him — He removes the heart of stone from his flesh and gives him a heart of flesh (Ezk. 11:19, 36:26). This is purely by the works of God and not of man (John 3:1-21). The early church, as described in Acts 2 and 4, exemplified this regeneration or rebirth, and still going on to this day. We do good works from faith, not the opposite. It seems to me that you want a works righteousness system, akin to the Mosaic Covenant, through coercion of law as proposed above. Read The New Heart by Charles Spurgeon — it will be insightful.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

        The Apostles in Acts were a sort of government

        It is interesting to me that you steadfastly refused to discuss the nature of government until we had resolved to your satisfaction the nature of Man. And yet, here you are … casting this group as “a sort of government.” Apparently you got it sorted out.

        While government may be many things, and there is more than one way to consider its “nature,” it is certainly force. Else it is merely a bunch of advisors. And force eliminates the concept of charity … which is what you seem to be aiming to accomplish.

        Nevertheless, I would completely agree that many foundations “run by DC [and other] elites” are not what we previously considered to be appropriate charities. And I am all for moving the burden (and power and control that was the motivation for adopting it) from government — from “forced giving” or theft, back to charities as it had been for so long.

        I would also favor a graduated scale of charity-giving tax credit, from 1.0 (or even higher) for a high-rated charity that truly helps the poor to some fractional value for “public welfare” charities and educational institutions to a smaller amount down to 0.0 for charities that are purely political or advocational in nature. This would be phased in over a few years, and the governance committee would be external and as mechanical as possible to reduce temptation for gaming the system.

        To be fair, studies have shown that tax deductions are not a very large factor in giving decisions. Which brings me to this:

        Better yet, scrapping the current tax system in favor of the FairTax would make the whole process work much better. No tax deductions, but more pocket money (and more prosperity all around) for such donations. As well as jobs and stored cash brought back to the US, as the fairest place in the world again to do business.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Even a deviant government or tyranny is a sort of government. But whether it is government qua government is another matter rooted in the definition of man. Aquinas defined man as a political–that is social–rational animal created by God. Locke defines man as an individual with the totality of moral maxims inherent in himself such that he is always moral when he is by himself–see State of Nature. Which is true?

          Like

      3. Master,

        I stated the simple, easy to understand definition of stealing.

        Just because you think stealing is okay when you and your buddies think it’s okay doesn’t mean stealing isn’t stealing.

        Like

      1. It wouldn’t be stealing if we signed up for it. However, we did not. The expansion of “promote the general welfare” into wealth transfer payments is a new thing and not within the Constitution. That’s the problem, and was not part of the federal government’s activities for more than a century after it was founded. Nor does the 16th amendment (income tax) say anything about such wealth transfer.

        Our visitor mastersamwise uses a quote by de Tocqueville to suggest that America is really not the most generous nation on the planet, with a well-earned reputation for both external and internal charity. This remains true despite the fact that these areas have been usurped by the federal government and thus discouraged. De Tocqueville’s comment is to America’s attitude that created a massive engine of free enterprise … which itself generates the wealth that we so generously share with others.

        The progressive mindset is to force humans into a “utopia,” to have a set of progressive masterminds dictate what behaviors will be for the Greater Good regardless of the actual cost to real people. It seems that mastersamwise, has fully subscribed to this; he asserts that he must force people to be virtuous. That way lies poverty, misery, and hundreds of millions of deaths … just like last century when it was tried.

        The lessons of history are clear. Failing to learn from them is criminal, considering the human cost of that failure. Perhaps the word “pregressive” is more appropriate for such a short-sighted worldview.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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        1. @silenceofmind, who wrote:

          If you sign up to be murdered, it’s still murder. Likewise, signing up for theft is still theft.

          I don’t think I can agree with this.

          We regularly “sign up” to have money taken from us under agreed-upon conditions and times. This can be anything from credit card payments to Patreon subscriptions supporting a cause we like. There is no element of theft in these transactions if they proceed according to agreement.

          Taking away someone’s life unjustifiably violates the moral codes of most societies, Judeo-Christian commandments, and all the way back to Thomist, Aristotelian, and Platonic ideas of reasoned virtue. (To be fair, societies do differ, a lot, on what is considered “unjustifiably” in these cases. Shariah law is a horrific example of the problem.)

          But there is no analog here with agreeing to pay money. In fact, making such an agreement, then refusing to pay money when due, is a breach of contract or promise. There we have a moral problem, it seems to me.

          At the same time, the states ratifying the Constitution (and the subsequent 16th amendment), did not agree to have money taken from them to support individuals that the government happened to find favor with. This is outside the Constitution. There are areas of government activity that I would readily characterize as criminal, including fraud, but this particular situation sounds more in “breach of contract” to me.

          Grover Cleveland fought valiantly against this, but the purchase of re-election with other peoples’ money was too tempting. And we have allowed this. That, I think, needs to be fixed.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Like

        2. Keith,

          If all it takes is personal choice make a capital crime not a capital crime, then justice cannot exist because morality does not exist.

          If you choose murder and I don’t, why is your choice superior to mine?

          Like

        3. You keep referring to murder, but the issue here is an agreement to pay money for specific delineated purposes, versus changing those purposes unilaterally. You seemed to have asserted that all taxation is theft, because one cannot agree to a “capital crime,” but (1) I don’t see the logic, and (2) it suggests that no government can ever exist as it cannot be legally supported even by agreement. The latter, especially, seems counterproductive to an argument for limited, Constitutionally constrained government. Why bother if it cannot exist?

          Prior to income tax, the US government survived on tariffs, often on the sale of alcohol. (The timing of the implementation of income tax and the onset of Prohibition was no accident.) But tariffs are themselves a form of taxation, so we’re back in what seems to me a non-productive spot.

          What do you suggest as an alternative that works within your definition? Charity only? Politicians make relatively uninspiring poster children, as a general thing.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Like

        4. The problem here is that as a society we tends to ignore the morality of taxation. Hence I believe you two are talking around the central point. When is taxation moral? That’s a subject too many of our politicians would much rather we not think about.

          When we tax each other to redistribute the wealth, that is stealing. When we tax each other to protect each others rights, rights we will not have otherwise, that is easily justified as the lesser of evils. We simply don’t have any other alternative.

          Our problem is that once we establish a government factions develop with the goal of using the power of government to gain advantages at the expense of others. James Madison wrote about this as a practical problem.
          https://citizentom.com/2008/04/22/the-advantage-of-a-republic-over-a-democracy/

          I am no James Madison, but I think the issue also needs to be addressed as a moral problem.
          https://citizentom.com/2008/11/22/the-difference-between-taxation-and-robbery/
          https://citizentom.com/2011/05/09/when-does-taxation-become-stealing/

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  3. Unless I am mistaken, I don’t think I mentioned the government dole. There must have been other comments that I couldn’t see. If I recall correctly, I concurred with the post, citing that my own spiritual leader said something similar but drew ire.

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    1. The minute we get into the mode of forcing people to be charitable, what we are talking about is no longer charity. By definition, charity must be voluntary.

      Like

  4. During this Master’s class I’m taking this summer, My Hamiltonian capitalism was challenged by a progressive in which he said, “Conservatism doesn’t hold water, because conservative writers argue that economic success is not the proper framework for the good life, but at the same time they consider economic success a proof of virtue.” My reply was that ultimately he was making an argument by assertion rather than proof. The argument of virtue was for a system that produces mobility and the protects property. rights is

    Liked by 1 person

    1. **The argument of virtue was for a system that produces mobility and the protects property rights is the proponent of virtue. ** Sorry I type in a word format and paste, left out the end.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I concur. One can talk about “the good life” in the abstract, but until free enterprise lifts a people out of abject poverty and unceasing misery, they don’t have much time for abstract considerations.

      Once a basic level of prosperity is earned and achieved by a people, they can then consider virtue, meaning, spirituality, and living their lives in a fulfilling and satisfying way. Until then, they are merely surviving. For many in such conditions, faith gives them a bit of mental respite from the grinding poverty, but this is not the same as actually having enough to eat and time to think about what to do if you had choices. For under free enterprise, people have choices, and many live good lives and do good works as a result.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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  5. Keith’s post, in my opinion is very informative in listing the main ingredients of free enterprise. However, he is missing the vital word necessary that is required to lead to the pinnacle use of each title word in his post.

    That word is wisdom. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. Only a nation of God fearing leaders will ever achieve the wisdom required to jell all the knowledge, power, altruism, etc. what is now lacking in the USA, in my humble opinion.

    Regards and goodwill blogging

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I like the sentiment of what you said. But in practice, one wonderful thing about the free market is that it possesses “wisdom” in the whole that is not the wisdom or lack thereof of people making daily transactions. One doesn’t have to be particularly wise to pick up a loaf of bread at the store and not pay ten times too much for it, unless you really need it. Nor does it matter how wise the persons were who acquired the flour and other ingredients, worked the bakery, made the deliveries, or ran the store. Nor does it matter what race or nationality or religion or gender (57 varieties now, apparently) all these people are.

      Nor do these folks need to be coordinated by some sort of governing masterminds, as if there were people who could guess at what to do. We’ve seen it tried; the results are uniformly, inevitably bad, and demonstrate the foolishness of such pretenses to wisdom.

      But the unguided free market, in a meta-behavior that rises from billions of daily transactions, manages to wisely work out the proper values of goods and labor. It’s a beautiful thing, and the effect is what Adam Smith called “the invisible hand.” I would contrast this with government, the all-too-visible sharp elbow that knocks everything off kilter.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It could work so much better in my personal opinion. Too many Americans are on the public dole because of terrible foolish decisions being made by inept politicians.

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        Like

        1. I agree. And too much of the free market is corrupted into cronyism by those same foolish and inept (and in some cases genuinely evil) politicians.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Like

    1. Good grief! The are so many great comments.

      @mastersamwise

      If you have read Alexis De Tocqueville, then you know he described the slow, creeping growth of tyranny that we now see on the brink of full fruition.

      Please check out my latest post.

      Like

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