The Bible Assumes Private Property and Business Ownership

(Originally posted February 2011)

Here is a great quote from Dr. Grudem:

A. PRIVATE PROPERTY

According to the teachings of the Bible, government should both document and protect the ownership of private property in a nation.

The Bible regularly assumes and reinforces a system in which property belongs to individuals, not to the government or to society as a whole.

We see this implied in the Ten Commandments, for example, because the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal” (Exod. 20:15), assumes that human beings will own property that belongs to them individually and not to other people. I should not steal my neighbor’s ox or donkey because it belongs to my neighbor, not to me and not to anyone else.

The tenth commandment makes this more explicit when it prohibits not just stealing but also desiring to steal what belongs to my neighbor:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exod. 20:17).

The reason I should not “covet” my neighbor’s house or anything else is that these things belong to my neighbor, not to me and not to the community or the nation.

This assumption of private ownership of property, found in this fundamental moral code of the Bible, puts the Bible in direct opposition to the communist system advocated by Karl Marx. Marx said:

The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.

One reason why communism is so incredibly dehumanizing is that when private property is abolished, government controls all economic activity. And when government controls all economic activity, it controls what you can buy, where you will live, and what job you will have (and therefore what job you are allowed to train for, and where you go to school), and how much you will earn. It essentially controls all of life, and human liberty is destroyed. Communism enslaves people and destroys human freedom of choice. The entire nation becomes one huge prison. For this reason, it seems to me that communism is the most dehumanizing economic system ever invented by man.

Other passages of Scripture also support the idea that property should belong to individuals, not to “society” or to the government (except for certain property required for proper government purposes, such as government offices, military bases, and streets and highways). The Bible contains many laws concerning punishments for stealing and appropriate restitution for damage of another person’s farm animals or agricultural fields (for example, see Exod. 21:28-36; 22:1-15; Deut. 22:1-4; 23:24-25). Another commandment guaranteed that property boundaries would be protected: “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess” (Deut. 19:14). To move the landmark was to move the boundaries of the land and thus to steal land that belonged to one’s neighbor (compare Prov. 22:28; 23:10).

Another guarantee of the ownership of private property was the fact that, even if property was sold to someone else, in the Year of Jubilee it had to return to the family that originally owned it:

It shall be a Jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan (Lev. 25:10).

This is why the land could not be sold forever: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev. 25:23).

This last verse emphasizes the fact that private property is never viewed in the Bible as an absolute right, because all that people have is ultimately given to them by God, and people are viewed as God’s “stewards” to manage what he has entrusted to their care.

The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein (Ps. 24:1; compare Ps. 50:10-12; Hag. 2:8).

Yet the fact remains that, under the overall sovereign lordship of God himself, property is regularly said to belong to individuals, not to the government and not to “society” or the nation as a whole.

When Samuel warned the people about the evils that would be imposed upon them by a king, he emphasized the fact that the monarch, with so much government power, would “take” and “take” and “take” from the people and confiscate things for his own use:

So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day” (1 Sam. 8:10-18).

This prediction was tragically fulfilled in the story of the theft of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite by Ahab the wicked king and Jezebel, his even more wicked queen (see 1 Kings 21:1-29). The regular tendency of human governments is to seek to take control of more and more of the property of a nation that God intends to be owned and controlled by private individuals.

SOCIALISM likewise is the taking over of private property, industry, and the capital of a man’s labor. Here is a good working definition of socialism followed by Professor Richards describing it as well:

In order to have a “favorable” view of socialism one must have either forgotten what the entire world learned about socialism from the late nineteenth century on, or have never learned anything about it in the first place. The latter is obviously true of much of the younger generation.

Socialism started out being defined as “government ownership of the means of production,” which is why the government of the Soviet Union confiscated all businesses, factories, and farms, murdering millions of dissenters and resisters in the process. It is also why socialist political parties in Europe, once in power, nationalized as many of the major industries (steel, automobiles, coal mines, electricity, telephone ser­vices) as they could. The Labour Party in post-World War II Great Britain would be an example of this. All of this was done, ostensibly, in the name of pursuing material “equality.”

In the foreword to the 1976 edition of his famous book, The Road to Serfdom, Nobel laureate economist Friedrich Hayek wrote that the definition of “socialism” evolved in the twentieth century to mean income redis­tribution in pursuit of “equality,” not through govern­ment ownership of the means of production but through the institutions of the welfare state and the “progres­sive” income tax. The means may have changed, but the ostensible end—equality—remained the same.

Hayek’s mentor, fellow Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, explained in his classic treatise Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, that the wel­fare state, the “progressive” income tax, and especially pervasive government regulation of business were all tools of “destructionism” in the eyes of the socialists of his day. That is, he observed that the proponents of socialism always employed a two-pronged approach: (1) the government takeover of as many industries and as much land as possible, and (2) attempts to destroy existing capitalist societies with onerous taxes, regula­tions, the welfare state, inflation, or whatever they thought could get the job done.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Problem with Socialism (New Jersey, NJ: Regnery, 2016), 4-5.

Democrats Favor Socialism Over Capitalism… Sorta

Here Dennis Prager discusses a recent poll showing that Democrat are in LOVE with socialism. USA TODAY notes the following about the poll:

According to a Gallup poll published Monday, a majority of Democrats no longer hold a positive view of capitalism, while nearly 60 percent of them feel good about socialism. More than 70 percent of Republicans, on the other hand, see capitalism positively, while only 16 percent of them have a positive view of socialism.

The positive view of socialism among Democrats, and those who lean Democrat, actually dropped a point from 58 percent in 2016. But in those same two years, positive feelings about capitalism plummetted from 56 to 47 percent

At one point Prager notes that socialism hasn’t made one dime in money… which made me think of this quote from an excellent book:

  • A 2009 study by the Swedish Economic Association discovered that the Swedish economy had failed to create any new jobs on net from 1950 to 2005. Thanks to conservative reforms, however, progress was finally being made, and Sweden’s national debt went from 80 percent of GDP in 1992 to 40 percent by 2008.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Problem with Socialism (New Jersey, NJ: Regnery, 2016), 79.

Yaron Brook Responds To Socialist Arguments One-By-One

I will first post this popular question during the Q&A of the below linked lecture. (Just a note, while I am not on board for a fully idealized “Ayn Rand Objectivism,” but many aspects are just true.) Very important:

(FULL VERSION of Dr. Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute arguing that “Equal is Unfair – The Inequality Advantage” at The University of Exeter.) The following is more of Dr. Brook’s responses during Q&A:

Socialism Is For Suckers

Since socialists are unwilling or unable to look at what their philosophy does to people, Firewall host Bill Whittle shows us what it is doing to the animals, and asks how the richest person in Venezuela just happens to be the daughter of the socialist former President of that starving country.

Why YOU Love Capitalism

Do you use an iPhone? Watch Netflix? Listen to Spotify? Then you love capitalism and can’t stand big government. How do we know? Jared Meyer of the Foundation for Government Accountability explains.

The New Trail of Tears

American Indians are the poorest of all of America’s ethnic groups. Why? After all, the government has granted them massive reservations and created entire agencies to look after them. Well, maybe that’s why. Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of “THE NEW TRAIL OF TEARS,” explains.

John Stossel interviews some American and Canadian Indians regarding how the Federal Government hampers the entrepreneurial spirit in the Native populations and how capitalism [free-markets] — and NOT social programs and handouts — make Indians rich and self-sufficient.


Federal Hand-Outs

vs.

Entrepreneurship


(Above video description) Imagine if the government were responsible for looking after your best interests. All of your assets must be managed by bureaucrats on your behalf. A special bureau is even set up to oversee your affairs. Every important decision you make requires approval, and every approval comes with a mountain of regulations.

How well would this work? Just ask Native Americans.

The federal government is responsible for managing Indian affairs for the benefit of all Indians. But by all accounts the government has failed to live up to this responsibility. As a result, Native American reservations are among the poorest communities in the United States. Here’s how the government keeps Native Americans in poverty.

Indian lands are owned and managed by the federal government.

Chief Justice John Marshall set Native Americans on the path to poverty in 1831 when he characterized the relationship between Indians and the government as “resembling that of a ward to his guardian.” With these words, Marshall established the federal trust doctrine, which assigns the government as the trustee of Indian affairs. That trusteeship continues today, but it has not served Indians well.

Underlying this doctrine is the notion that tribes are not capable of owning or managing their lands. The government is the legal owner of all land and assets in Indian Country and is required to manage them for the benefit of Indians.

But because Indians do not generally own their land or homes on reservations, they cannot mortgage their assets for loans like other Americans. This makes it incredibly difficult to start a business in Indian Country. Even tribes with valuable natural resources remain locked in poverty. Their resources amount to “dead capital”—unable to generate growth for tribal communities.

The Free Market Works

Did you know that since 1970, the percentage of humanity living in extreme poverty has fallen 80 percent? How did that happen? Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, explains.

This post is connected with another that is similar in it’s point.

Here, Thomas Sowell writes about the pernicious lie that comes from the Left by speaking about a great book by Arthur C. Brooks from AEI. What prompted me to post this is the indoctrination of our youth in this Facebook post that is horribly wrong in many respects:

“But seriously, to claim that we live in a post racial era is the epitome of absurdity. Although i’m all about forging unity we can’t do so while ignoring the reality of racial injustice, white supremacy, and national oppression in this country. Malcolm X perhaps said it best when he said you can’t have capitalism without racism. The capitalist system thrives off of racism and the division it creates amongst the masses of people. To fight tooth and nail against this order exploitation requires a relentless struggle against racism,white privilege, and all forms of bigotry.”

BONO on the free markets:

Here is Thomas Sowell’s review of Arthur Brooks book… there is the pencil example by Nobel winning economist Milton Freidman as well as an Artur C. Brooks presentation at the end. Econ class 150 is in session:

More frightening than any particular beliefs or policies is an utter lack of any sense of a need to test those beliefs and policies against hard evidence. Mistakes can be corrected by those who pay attention to facts but dogmatism will not be corrected by those who are wedded to a vision.

One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring.

[….]

A new book, titled Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks examines the actual behavior of liberals and conservatives when it comes to donating their own time, money, or blood for the benefit of others. It is remarkable that beliefs on this subject should have become conventional, if not set in concrete, for decades before anyone bothered to check these beliefs against facts.

What are those facts?

People who identify themselves as conservatives donate money to charity more often than people who identify themselves as liberals. They donate more money and a higher percentage of their incomes.

It is not that conservatives have more money. Liberal families average 6 percent higher incomes than conservative families.

You may recall a flap during the 2000 election campaign when the fact came out that Al Gore donated a smaller percentage of his income to charity than the national average. That was perfectly consistent with his liberalism.

So is the fact that most of the states that voted for John Kerry during the 2004 election donated a lower percentage of their incomes to charity than the states that voted for George W. Bush.

Conservatives not only donate more money to charity than liberals do, conservatives volunteer more time as well. More conservatives than liberals also donate blood.

According to Professor Brooks: “If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply of the United States would jump about 45 percent.”

Professor Brooks admits that the facts he uncovered were the opposite of what he expected to find — so much so that he went back and checked these facts again, to make sure there was no mistake.

What is the reason why some people are liberals and others are conservatives, if it is not that liberals are more compassionate?

Fundamental differences in ideology go back to fundamental assumptions about human nature. Based on one set of assumptions, it makes perfect sense to be a liberal. Based on a different set of assumptions, it makes perfect sense to be a conservative.

The two visions are not completely symmetrical, however. For at least two centuries, the vision of the left has included a belief that those with that vision are morally superior, more caring and more compassionate.

[….]

The two visions are different in another way. The vision of the left exalts the young especially as idealists while the more conservative vision warns against the narrowness and shallowness of the inexperienced. This study found young liberals to make the least charitable contributions of all, whether in money, time or blood. Idealism in words is not idealism in deeds.

Here is Brooks short presentation


Some Later Additions:


More Black Lives Matter Racism and Violent Threats

A female Black Lives Matter activist (reportedly a public school teacher) rants,

  • “give your fucking money, your fucking house, your fucking property, we need it fucking all. Fuck white supremacy, fuck the U.S. empire, Kill the white house, fuck the white house, fuck your imperialist ass lives. That shit gotta go.”

Conservatism Doesn’t Need a Qualifier Like, “Compassionate”

Dennis Prager asks Arthur Brooks a question regarding “‘Compassionate’ Conservatism.” Arthur Brooks responds that we do not need a qualifier to explain something so obvious.

Dennis talks Arthur Brooks, professor of public administration at Syracuse University, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism. (Originally broadcast December 28, 2006) One should see my main page for economic issues for more on these matters: