Two days ago, the eleven year old made herself a pot of soup. While she set it on the table to go get a drink, the five year old slunk up and helped himself to a spoonful. She was incensed. And I don't blame her. So the five year old and I sat in the Situation Room and chatted about personal property.
"You cannot--can.not--take your sister's soup without permission. She made it. It's hers. If you would like some, you may ask, but she just might say no. And that will have to be okay with you."
Personal property. The American public had better get a clue. And every American household had better start having conversations just like this.
A few of my kids have worked in grocery stores during their high school and college years. The number of people on food stamps who come through their lines is astounding. And my kids are offended. You know why? Because these women are carrying Coach bags and paying for groceries with my children's money. (If you want your kids to learn about socialism, just explain their pay stub to them.) One of my sons, who no longer works there, said, "Yeah, a Coach bag is the new hashtag for welfare." Nice. What kind of upside-down world do we live in when a woman thinks nothing of dropping $400 on a purse but steals from her neighbor to feed her family???
My daughter worked for her soup. She thought of the idea (intellectual capital); she did the work (physical capital); she expected to reap the rewards of her investment. Then my five year old came in, without so much as a by-your-leave, and claimed it for himself.
Nuh-uh. Not in my house, you don't.
My husband and I have just finished watching the Atlas Shrugged trilogy. Author Ayn Rand does a good job at addressing part of the problem. (Granted, hers in an atheist world, devoid of God and covenants. She doesn't even acknowledge the realms of family- and church-governments.) But she does have some wonderfully logical things to say about self- and civil governments. It's not so much that she's brilliant as much as she's one of the few who taken the time to think statism and socialism through to its logical end. It reminds me of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson--which should be required reading for anyone who ever hopes to hold public office.
And what is that lesson?
Before a government passes any economic legislation, that government must consider how it will affect ALL groups, not just the special group it's trying to 'help.'
Why is that so hard to understand?
Atlas Shrugged has become the rallying cry of libertarians everywhere. And I can see why. Gifted people pour themselves into a business or a venture or an invention. They expect their intellectual, financial, or sweat equity to be a reward for themselves and their families. Then they are excoriated by the public for not sharing. Then the thugs in Washington help themselves to the profits. Do that enough times and the intellectual, financial, and physical capital will quit.
Not, as so many silly, stupid progressives claim, because they are heartless.
But because they are hopeless.
Who is John Galt? You might want to take some time and find out.
The fact is: our civil government has overstepped its jurisdiction. On that point, Rand got it right.
No government should compel charity.
The fact that there are poor citizens does not in any way, not in any way, mean that it falls to the civil government's jurisdiction to feed, clothe, or educate them. Not.at.all.
No government should steal.
The fact that some are successful and some are not is not in any way the concern of the civil government. If the government would like to see more private success, then it needs to get out of the regulation business and let people experiment, create, and invest.
Free-market capitalism is not about compassion; it is about compensation.
Back to Rand. I think she offers part of the answer. When we talk about individuals in terms of civil government, unless he is hurting another citizen, the individual should be left alone. But there is more to the equation than just individuals and civil government.
I admit that I wanted to like Atlas Shrugged Part III more than I actually did,
Because a world without God and without covenants leaves me cold.
And here's where I want to distance myself from the libertarian label.
Libertarians, as a group, tend toward anarchy. For many libertarians, the only legitimate form of government is self-government.
But government was God's idea. It does do some good. It does have a job. Romans 13 tells us that the job of government is to bear the sword against evil-doers. So the government's job is to protect citizens from each other (enemies within) and our borders from enemy nations (enemies without).
Unlike most libertarians, I am not an anarchist. But I am a minarchist. I am for limited civil government...
...which brings me to classical liberalism.
Our Founding Fathers were classically liberal. They architected, debated, and passed a Constitution with the understanding that "a combination of political decentralization, economic liberty, free trade, and self-government creates, day by day, the most prosperous, diverse, peaceful, and just society the world has ever known." (Lew Rockwell, An American Classical Liberal) They didn't believe in the absence of civil government. But they did believe in the limiting of its power.
Apparently, I think, so did the Apostle Paul.
Classical liberalism in not anarchist. But it does leave the individual alone.
Listen to me. Do you know what that means?
It means that a legitimate government protects life, liberty, and property.
It means that civil government is not an arm of church government.
It does not come into your bedroom. Fail there at your own peril.
It does not come into your garden. Plant, eat, drink, smoke, chew, and sniff at your own peril.
It does not tell you how you can barter--or what with.
It does not tell you how to raise your children.
It does not tell you where you cannot have your bank account.
It does not tell you where or how you may travel.
It does not tell you what you may do on your personal property.
It does not spy on you in the name of 'national security.'
It does not build a wall to keep people out...because the same wall keeps people in.
You sow; you reap.
At your own peril.
And the civil government washes its hand of your failures and your successes.
It does not give special privileges to the disabled, the veteran, the poor, the unemployed, the disenfranchised...whatever that means.
"In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term liberalism generally meant a philosophy of public life that affirmed the following principle: societies and their component parts need no central management and control because societies generally manage themselves through the voluntary action of its members to their mutual benefit. Today we cannot call this philosophy liberalism because the term has been appropriated by the democratic totalitarians. In an attempt to recover this philosophy for our own time, we give it a new name, classical liberalism." (Rockwell)
I submit to you that America's two main parties have lost their way. Democrats? Well, obviously. But Republicans, too. Because Republicans don't trust the Individual any more than the Democrats do.
You do know that the Defense of Marriage Act is not going to save marriage, right? You do know that to save marriage, we need to stay married. We need to have a biblical view of marriage. We need to be complementarian. We need God to be the third strand.
You do know that, right?
You do know that the civil government has no business even discussing covenantal relationships, right?
You do know that banning marijuana will not keep people off of marijuana, right? But it will give the government a 'right' to come onto your personal property and inspect your house, your garden, your pantry, your car.
You do know that, right?
You do know that writing new laws, even in an attempt to overcome old ones, merely expands the domain of the federal government, right? that the fact that Dems blocked the passage of over three hundred Republican laws simply points to the fact that the Republicans are as eager to expand the civil government as the Dems are?
You do know that, right?
I wash my hands of both parties.
But if you know a true Classical Liberal who is running for office,
you'll let me know, right?