Friday, February 25, 2011

The Costly Free Gift

Most people are aware of the story of Joseph in the Bible.  Many are aware that Joseph is considered a "type" of Jesus.  In other words, Joseph was a living picture which teaches us things about Jesus. 

In the case of the Cupbearer and the Baker, for example, we see at least two parallels.

First we see the two thieves on the cross, one who was lost and one who was saved.  Next we see the bread and the wine, the two elements of communion at the Last Supper.

There are many more similar parallels or pictures of the life of Jesus in the story of Joseph.  However, the picture that follows in this essay is somewhat unique. I discovered this while studying Scripture, but have never seen it written anywhere else and have yet to meet anyone who had seen the same.  If you know where I may find this written in another place, please let me know.

This essay relates to Genesis 41-47.

The Bread of Life

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

In the book of John, Jesus declares that he is the bread of life.  In the story of Joseph, because there was a famine in the land and Joseph controlled all of the existing grain, it could be said that Joseph held in his hand "the bread of life".

The Free Gift

There are many more details to the story, but for the purpose of this essay we will only address the points that are pertinent.

When Joseph's brothers came to buy grain the first time, they were sent away with their grain and secretly their silver.  When they returned to buy grain a second time, they brought back double the silver in order to pay for the grain from the previous trip as well as the additional grain they were hoping to buy.  They brought back double the silver because they feared this Egyptian ruler would have them put to death for “stealing silver”, even though they did not put their silver in their bags. Joseph did.

Not only were they given additional grain and all of their silver, they were also told to go home, collect their family and bring nothing back on the trip.  Pharaoh communicated through Joseph. Pharaoh instructed Jacob to forget about all his goods and come to Egypt where the best of Egypt would be at his disposal.

Therefore, we see that for the Israelites, the bread of life held in the hand of Joseph was a free gift that they could not pay for even when they tried.

The Costly Gift

The Egyptians, on the other hand, had a different experience.  First they purchased grain with their silver.  When their silver ran out, Joseph sold them grain in exchange for all their livestock.  When their livestock was gone and they were facing death, they came to Joseph and said:

Genesis 47:18-19 When that year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, "We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent, and the cattle are my lord's. There is nothing left for my lord except our bodies and our lands. "Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh. So give us seed, that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate."

Therefore, we see that for the Egyptians, the bread of life held in the hand of Joseph was costly, even to the point of costing everything they had, including themselves.

The Paradox

Taken together we have the following illustration:

The bread of life, i.e. Salvation, is the free gift that costs you all you have.

Don't Just Cut the Budget; Cut the Propaganda

Tom Woods

Don't Just Cut the Budget; Cut the Propaganda

If a 6th grade understanding of government doesn't suit you anymore, watch this, then get a copy of Rollback by Tom Woods.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

American Steward - Thoughts Regarding A Nation In Crisis - 2007

This was originally written and posted September 13, 2007.  I have modified my views about our nation's founding to incorporate, for example, an understanding of the political means, land speculation and the merchant class. The view is less glowing, recognizing the fatal flaw in our Constitution and the motivations which drove decisions and actions of the founders. 

As a nation, we have a tremendous organizing document and a rich heritage, but we lack specific required knowledge.

September 13, 2007

It is no secret that the United States is a nation in crisis. We have been warned about the fruits of our choices as a nation in many ways, for many years. Anticipating the challenges that lay before us, Benjamin Franklin responded to an inquirer that the Constitutional Convention had produced “a republic if you can keep it.” 

We could be verbose, filling pages with anecdotes, cases and proofs, but we must not. The role of American Steward is to identify the goal, teach people how to see the goal and then to teach people how to keep their focus on the goal. To be clear, the only people who are less misguided are those who hold as a specific purpose the willingness to wisely decipher the information they consume. This deciphering is a required pursuit of thinking people who value freedom and this pursuit must be intentional.

Framing and communicating "the goal" will be left for another time.   This text serves a different purpose.

Before we go further, please understand that American Steward is wholly focused on profitable, labor oriented, productive, earn-our-own-way stewardship. We firmly believe that it is possible and indeed the actual fact of our early history that productive labor in a capitalist economy mixed with right teaching and training and defended by our particular constitutional form of government can produce and maintain a strong social fabric. Defining and communicating the how and why requires analysis that goes deeper than the applied training in order to provide a proper foundation for this training. Such an analysis follows now and leads to specific action.

The difficulties with a Republic are ever present. With the exception of the natural obstacles associated with our precise current condition as a Republic, our turn at the helm presents no other unique challenges because people are people.  People are subject to the same passions today as yesterday and tomorrow.

However, each turn at the helm has the following distinction.  Each generation will find that the captain’s station has been fitted with controls and gages that are different. Different how, you ask. It doesn’t matter. If we focus on how each panel differs from each other panel, we are not focused on the goal. The point of understanding how to fly a plane does not consist in knowing the differences between control panels in different planes, but rather in understanding how the one control panel you are using guides the plane you are flying right now in a world of fixed laws.

Fixed laws exist; both physical and spiritual. Human passions dictate responses based on training. Training occurs every day. Training tends in one of two directions. Training of one sort, when widely adopted, tends toward a world in which men are governed from without by force. Training of another sort, when widely adopted, tends toward a world in which men are governed from within by virtue.

It can be said that life consists of a series of choices, based on belief. Each day we rise and act. Our actions are based on our belief system; our worldview. In the life of a Christian, for example, faith is proven by action. Anyone can say they “believe” a thing, but it is quite another matter for a person to be asked to take an action on the basis of a lightly held “belief.”

How do people go about formulating beliefs? What drives belief? It is clear that some people have outwardly and clearly “destructive behaviors.” How do these beliefs, choices and destructive outcomes fit together? These questions must be left unanswered in this text, but these are critical questions which do indeed have answers.

In the Western, Post-Modern era, we have educated people to believe that Merit is non-existent. We have trained people to believe that everything is good or bad in the eyes of the individual, based on their belief and choice. This is moral relativism and is false. The mechanism was noted and the outcome was predicted by C.S. Lewis in his Abolition of Man essays. In our education systems and social consciousness, we have hidden the concepts of Merit and Transcendent Truth away in a dark cellar; with armed guards at the entrance.

Transcendent Truth and Merit were central to the ideas and drive that brought men out of the dark ages. 

In 1215 the Magna Carta recognized that both the Ruled and the Ruler were subject to the same Transcendent Truth. Therefore laws must not be arbitrary or show favoritism. 

In contrast, it is not possible for people to enjoy unity based on philosophy, because philosophy, by its very nature, originates from within the individual. Only by the common medium of revealed truth is there any hope of unity among men.

We have vanquished these ideas of Merit and Transcendent Truth in Western Civilization and our children are being rewarded by being carried steadily toward a new era of oppression.

The Bible is unique in its ability to stand under the scrutiny of our best honest academic minds and at the same time stand in the context of the life experience of millions of believers. The Bible, having diverse authors over hundreds of years, maintains a clear, single and uniform message throughout. With regard to truth, every writer in scripture writes what he received, not what heconceived

The debate over the role of the Bible, the Christian faith, the Ten Commandments, etc. has gone on from the birth of our nation. Thomas Paine is a famous antagonist in this regard. However, to suppose that dissenting voices would ever be completely absent is illogical. Likewise, to suppose that dissenting voices indicate that the decisions made were wrong is also illogical. To disagree with a contract that one signed in the past does not invalidate the contract.

With a proper understanding of authority, contracts and legal process we are able to see that this nation was clearly formed with a firm reliance on God by men who were committed Christian servants. 

Seldom is an individual one hundred percent committed to a given decision. We decide something firmly and commit our heart and our course of action, but we sometimes have lingering questions about the choice we made. So it is with our nation. The heart and course of our nation was committed with a firm reliance on the God of Christianity. This is easily and readily evident in our historical documents and our historical monuments.

There are people who pervert facts and collaborate with likeminded “historians” to provide circular references to validate their positions. However, even these people could, if they were honest, see that our nation began and operated for 150 years as a nation having a firm reliance on God. Maybe our founders were deluded and mistaken to have taken this tack. That, after all, is the central argument of many of the contrarians to our view. However, notwithstanding our national sins and mistakes, our overall success as a nation in these first 150 years is undeniable. This success cannot be separated from the decision by those in authority to commit our nation to a firm reliance on the God of Christianity.

If we believe that revealed truth is our only hope for a civil government comprised of a self-restrained citizenry and if we recognize that our nation began and operated with a reliance on Christianity... Could we then be well advised to end our historical analysis right there? Is it possible that we should take note of our beginnings, use our best interpretation of transcendent truth as our guide and think about how we, you and I, want to “keep our Republic?” What future do we see for our nation and our people? After developing an understanding of the foundation, does the endless debate about what people thought or meant really serve our best interest today?

We have before us two choices. We may choose philosophy or revealed truth as our foundation and guide. Philosophy is fatally flawed because it originates from within and is therefore subject to continual evolution and reinterpretation, as well as being subject to the individual passions of the philosopher. Or we may choose revealed truth which has served us well as a nation and which is unchanging.

If we use revealed truth as our foundation and guide, we will interpret the Constitution in the same way our founders did. Just as two Christians have the potential for unity today based on a shared reverence for revealed truth, that same shared reverence will align our thinking with the thinking of the founders from over two hundred years ago. It is not the text of the Constitution that secures our freedoms; rather it is the degree to which the Constitution is congruent with, and reflective of,revealed truth that has the potential to secure our freedoms. That potential security is only accessible if we rightly interpret the Constitution in the context of revealed (or transcendent) truth.

Too many of our judges and leaders have chosen the platform of philosophy to satisfy their intellectual arrogance and rebellious hearts. As children these people were failed by their teachers. They were not trained in the disciplines of truth.  Today they are our judges and leaders.

We have an inherently unstable republic which is at the mercy of the passions of each new generation.  These passions can only be restrained by the functional quality of revealed truth. This truth is useless unless understood and applied. In order for truth to be applied there must be a cycle of training which leads to understanding and application.

American Steward is dedicated to answering the question “So what actions should be taken by leadership oriented citizens?”

We believe that teaching and training must be developed that will enable us to model successful market based strategies that take into account the need to address the tasks of teaching and leadership in the workplace. If we do not maintain a principled, well educated citizenry, we will have no future as a nation of free people.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Peach Pundit: Defending Theft, Displaying Ignorance

My response to: Let’s Just Get This Out of the Way on Peach Pundit
Fractional money creates no wealth, but it does decrease the purchasing power of the money already in existence, which producers have previously earned by labor and production. This is a form of theft. To support fractional money is to support theft.

People depend on production. Fractional money produces nothing. No new resources exist because a quantity of fractional money is created. People don’t eat, wear or find shelter in paper money.
Some argue there is not enough commodity “money” to support our economy. This is a false claim and suitable for those who accept propaganda and useful to those who understand how to use the paper money system to claim the labor and production of other people.
Keynes is the chief advocate or poster boy for this paper money system we have. He explained its purpose in 1919 in his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace:
“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some… Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”
Another old banker once rightly said:
“The few who understand the system, will either be so interested in its profits, or so dependent on its favors that there will be no opposition from that class. The great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantages will bear its burden without complaint.”
Fractional money is simply a sophisticated form of plunder. If fractional money is good for the country on its own merits, stop wasting bits and bytes with ad hominem blather. Make the case.
Begin by proving that fractional money does not systematically cause theft, benefiting the few at the expense of the many, or by presenting your case for supporting theft.
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816

Friday, February 18, 2011

Moral Law, Moral Decay and Marijuana

We live in a country with over 300 million people having a variety of different worldviews.  There are various issues that divide public opinion.  For example, some people think that it should be legal to grow, sell and use marijuana.  Others are completely opposed to marijuana and believe that it should be illegal.  I am not writing this article to support or oppose either view.  Instead, I want to consider who has the right to make the decision about marijuana.

The first thing I want to do is to introduce a new term to go alongside of legal and illegal.  The new term is silent.  For an example of the concept of silent in law, we will look at the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances."

The phrase "Congress shall make no law" is a way of saying that the government shall be silent on the issue.  So the question is not simply should marijuana, for example, be legal or illegal, but we must also ask if it is something that the government should be silent about.  Our Constitution already requires the government to be silent on religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press and all aspects of the citizen's method, approach and right to petition the government with regard to grievances.  There is a very glaring and obvious question that we must ask at this point.  If government law makes society better and government acts in our best interest, then why would we prevent government from making laws about these most important and precious rights?

Let us ask that question again.  If we call on government to address moral issues and to uphold a high moral standard and bind people to good behavior for their own best interest and in the best interest of society as a whole, then why would we not ask government to pass good laws about religion, speech, the press, free association and the methods whereby we speak to government when we think the government may (Imagine that…) have made an error?

Obviously, we do not trust government to do the right thing with regard to these exceptionally important issues.  Why would we trust government with anything else of value?

At this point I want to make a distinction between government and The State.  Because the following two issues are related, let’s also consider the distinction between the Institutional church and the Biblical church.  The way I would identify an Institutional church is by determining if the attributes and properties that most clearly define the church in question are its institutional attributes.

So here is our comparison:

The Institutional church is to the Biblical church what The State is to government.

In the Institutional church, the people serve the leaders and the leaders have power due to centralization.  In the Biblical church, the leaders serve the people and the leaders have limited influence due to decentralization. 

The State is characterized by at least the following properties.  It is always a monopoly of force organized for legal plunder and serves the purpose of enriching the few at the expense of the many.  Government, on the other hand, administers just law, based on natural law, and defends the life, liberty and property of the individual.

According to the Christian worldview there is no place for a theocracy today.

John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."

It should be obvious at this point that we are currently ruled by The State, not by lawful government.  So now we have two questions.  First, there is the question of whether The State has the moral authority to pass moral law.  Second, there is the question of whether government that defends life, liberty and property would pass moral law.

Let’s deal with the second question first.  Let’s consider something that no one would think to outlaw, like spinach. 

Do I have the right to eat spinach?  I think we would all say yes.

Do I have the right to steal from you in order to buy spinach?  Do I have a right to steal your spinach?  Do I have a right to make you grow spinach for me?  Do I have a right to make you eat spinach?  Do I have a right to tell you what to do with your spinach? 


Do I have the right to eat spinach, even if I am violently allergic to spinach?


We can see from considering spinach that the real issue is not the spinach.  The issue is your rights and my rights.  Lawful government would defend our right to choose what to do with our property, beginning with our own body, provided we did not infringe on the rights of others.

So if lawful government should and would be silent on religion, speech, the press, voluntary association, the redress of grievances, and would defend our private property rights in all cases except when we infringe on someone else's property rights, then how could The Unlawful State have any basis for passing law that infringes on any of these rights?

Consider a brief history of The State since the US Constitution was ratified.

The State sanctioned cruel slavery, robbed the farmers, merchants and blacksmiths that supported the Revolutionary war, went to war against its own people, is responsible for the Trail of Tears, led in eugenics research, sterilized Americans who were considered to be unfit, was cited by Hitler as an example in handling "undesirable people" because of the way we handled the Indians, robbed the American people by debasing the currency, created the unlawful Federal Reserve System, passed the unlawful income tax, instituted conscription in the form of the draft, stole land, broke treaties, still slaughters babies around the globe through abortion, drove production off of our soil with GATT and NAFTA, has destroyed the family farm through market manipulation, subsidy, income tax, regulation, and inheritance tax, is destroying our right to grow our own food through Senate Bill 510, has destroyed the health care market through regulation, with the latest destructive blow being Obamacare.

Those are just for instance…

So even if it were the role of government to pass a law about spinach or marijuana, and it is not, The State is absolutely and totally devoid of the moral authority required to decide what moral law should be passed or to enforce that law.  The State is the most violent and egregious offender of natural law on the continent.

But The State does make law about these moral issues.  What is the result? 

Some say that moral law restrains immoral behavior.  Some say that as the laws have relaxed the problems in society have gotten worse.  However, I believe that we have our cause and effect mixed up.  In fact, it is the intervention of government in society through education and media which has degraded our culture, degraded the character of our people and degraded our morals.  The State gains its power by making the people dependent, simple-minded and docile.  The laws that we permit our rulers to make do not cause our morals to degrade.  Government intervention in education and the media, government propaganda, subsidizing bad behavior, and penalizing production all combine to degrade our morals.  It is our degraded morals that allow them to make perverse and destructive laws, which at the same time control the minutest detail of our behavior, while making perverse and destructive behaviors lawful.

In other words, a moral society would never permit The State to get away with trampling their rights, interfering with their production and stealing their property, all while at the same time making perverse behavior lawful.  Only after morals have been undermined will increasingly perverse and destructive laws be incrementally accepted.

In the end, what we have are laws that control producers and protect non-producers in their destructive and perverse behaviors.  If government were silent about behaviors and protected private property rights, then producers would be free to help who they wanted to help and those who engaged in destructive and perverse behavior would have to stand on their own two feet.  If the moralist is truly correct about what is good and what is bad, those who engage in unfruitful behavior will go down the path of the prodigal son.

When The State begins making moral law, the end result is subsidy of bad behavior and penalties on production, which leads to violence and ultimately the collapse of the society.

If marijuana and spinach were treated the same, then the profit motive would be the same for both.  There would be the same number of people slaughtered in gang warfare over marijuana as there are today over spinach.  If you want a simple proof, look at the passage of the 18th and 21st amendment and the history of violence between the dates of their passage.

If a person were to steal to support their marijuana consumption, they would have to steal less if the price for marijuana was simply the cost of production plus whatever profit the market would bear.  That means there will be less crime as a result of marijuana consumption.  Not to mention the fact that a person could freely grow their own spinach and marijuana.


So here is what we have discovered. 

Lawful government would defend our life, liberty and property. 

The State is a monopoly of force designed to control people and steal our property and production through the guise of legal plunder.

The corruption of our character and morals as a society is the result of government intervention, not the result of bad law.  Destructive and perverse law that controls the producer and forces him to subsidize bad behavior is only permitted in a society that is sufficiently corrupt to tolerate the next incrementally bad law.

When The State has the gall to pass moral law, the result is violence, death, chaos, moral decay and destruction of property.

We can easily see why this would be the outcome if we understand the moral depravity and evil nature of The State, whose power comes from force, coercion and theft.  There is no way an immoral overlord would have any reason, authority or moral foundation to pass moral laws that are genuinely good for the society.  The State always and only does those things which will increase its power and reward its minions.

If we truly want a moral society we must defend private property rights and punish stealing even when The State is the thief.  We must permit producers to keep their own production, thereby rewarding production, investment and efficiency.  Production leads to abundance which leads to prosperity.  Those who are engaged in behaviors that are unfruitful and destructive will no longer be rewarded with the fruits stolen from the producers.

The State is unfit to write or enforce moral law because it owes its entire existence to violations of natural law and all of its power comes from a mixture of force, deception, theft and propaganda.  When we understand the nature of The State we no longer have to wonder why moral law harms more people and destroys more property than the behavior that is being outlawed ever could.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Production and The Prodigal Son

I recently taught a series of Sunday school lessons on the parable of the Prodigal Son, which is found in Luke chapter 15. The Sunday school material I used began by observing how deeply ingrained the parable of the Prodigal Son is in our Spiritual and literary traditions. It was noted that Shakespeare used plot points from the parable of the Prodigal Son in the Merchant of Venice and in Henry IV. Country music singer Hank Williams recorded a song called the Prodigal Son comparing the Prodigal's homecoming to the joys of heaven. The world's great Art museums contain many works featuring scenes from the Prodigal Son's experience. Of course we recognize terms like a wayward child being referred to as a prodigal son or daughter and we hear people talk about killing the fattened calf or riotous living. So the stories and the ideas of the prodigal son are very familiar in our traditions, culture and language.

In addition one can argue that this parable is the most richly detailed and personal of all the parables of Jesus. It is safe to say that everyone can relate to at least one of the three characters in the parable at sometime in their life.

Because of the details in this parable, many people seek complex symbolism, layers of meaning or hidden lessons which bend the rules of interpretation. We want to be very careful to focus on the plain meaning of Scripture and not invent our own meaning for the parable.

Our goal then, is to read the parable and observe the details that provide the framework for the story, so that we can understand the plain meaning of the passage. As I began to prepare my Sunday school lesson, a new facet of the details of the story came into my view. I noticed that there were many terms which were directly related to production. So class began with the study of how production fits into the parable. Our first task was to agree on a definition of production.

Production: Labor and resources combined to provide for needs and wants.

It was easy for us to recognize and agree that production is some form of gain or increase. Next we went through a series of questions to see if production was reasonable to consider in studying our Bible lesson. First we asked "Since people eat food and use things, do people depend on production?" The answer is obviously yes. Next we asked "Does our dependence on production influence our decisions?" Again the obvious answer is yes, with a good example being that we often go to work because we want to have food, clothing and shelter. Next we asked "Does our dependence on production challenge our morals?" Again the obvious answer was yes. Then we asked "As Christians, does our dependence on production challenge our obedience?" Again the clear answer was yes. Finally we asked "Who made us dependent on production?" As Christians we believe that God is our Creator, which means that God made us dependent on production.

So let's think about what we just observed. People eat food and use things which means that people depend on production. Our dependence on production influences our decisions, challenges our morals, challenges our obedience - all because God made things that way. (For those who do not believe that there is a creator, please explain how nothing and no one produced everything. I enjoy that debate.) There is no question that thinking about production while studying Scripture is a good idea.

There are more than 50 terms in the parable of the prodigal son which are related to production. In the passage which is pasted below you will see various terms in bold. These are terms related to production. For example the term give is meaningless unless there is something to give. The term share is meaningless unless there is something to divide. The term estate obviously refers to the property of the father. The term everything refers to all of the property belonging to the son. Journey is a term indirectly related to production because in order to take a journey one must have the resources to do so. Think of your vacation. Loose living is a term related to production, as we see in the parable when his resources are gone. Then we have the term enough bread. Bread is clearly related to production and enough communicates a quantity of production. Further down we see the terms music and dancing. Music flows from an instrument which would've been produced from profits which belonged to a producer. He was willing to use these profits to create a musical instrument because his more immediate needs of food shelter and clothing had been met. And of course dancing is something that typically involves music and is something that occurs among people who are in good spirits with full stomachs. We could go on and on looking at the terms, but we have sufficiently illustrated the reason that various terms are considered to be related to production.

Luke 15:11-32 And He said, “A man had two sons. “The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. “And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. “And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” ’ “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. “And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’ ” NASB95

As written above, I noticed that there were several terms related to production in the story of the prodigal son. After I went through the passage marking the terms that were related to production, it became clear that if these terms were removed there would be no story. So now we have this richly detailed parable which influences our traditions and culture and art, and which is meaningful to nearly every person in some way at some point in their life, and we find that if we remove terms related to production the story falls apart. To be very clear, I'm not saying that the truth of the story is lost, because truth exists apart from the story and apart from the framework used to tell the story. However, this parable relies heavily on the concepts of production to convey certain truth.

Our country today is sometimes called a welfare state, which means that there is a significant portion of our population that depends on welfare for food shelter and clothing. If the story of the prodigal son were told today in our country, it would go a little bit differently. After the younger son had squandered his wealth on loose living, he would've gone to the welfare office and signed up for his welfare check and food stamps. This would have kept him from "coming to his senses", thinking about the condition of the hired help on his father's estate, recognizing the error of his ways, repenting of his bad choices and bad attitude, confessing these to his father and ultimately being received back into the family.

The parable of the prodigal son tells us things about God the Father, about Jesus as Savior, about Christians as prodigal sons and daughters and about the religious people like the scribes and the Pharisees who approach God based on their works and confidence in themselves. This parable also tells us something about how God's natural order and natural law is used to draw people to truth.

A Christian is supposed to be led by the Spirit, not by the flesh. According to the Christian worldview, an unsaved person is led by the flesh rather than by the spirit.

A person who understands spiritual truth will filter the desires of his flesh through spiritual understanding. If a person who is led by the flesh is going to learn spiritual truth, his flesh sometimes has a role in leading him there. The parable of the prodigal son is an excellent example of how a hungry belly will bring a person to his senses. Therefore whether the flesh leads the spirit or the spirit leads the flesh, it is important that the flesh and the spirit move in the same direction and work together. With that thought in mind let's consider what happens if the flesh and the spirit go in different directions.

Based on my Christian worldview I believe that the God of the Bible is the creator of the universe and everything in it. I also believe that God is the ultimate producer, even going beyond production to the act of creation. I also believe that man is created in the image of God and, because God is a producer by nature, we also are producers by nature. However not everyone produces. So the question is, if people are by nature producers but are not always productive, how does a person feel when they are not productive? I agree that there are many people who are lazy and unproductive and have no desire to change, but what is going on inside? Consider the drug addict who is destroying his body. He is choosing temporary pleasure over the immediate and long-term health of his body. Likewise, people will choose to be lazy and unproductive even at the expense of the immediate and long-term effect on their spirit or the inner man.

When a person lives in such a way that he squanders the property that he has and does not work to replace it, he faces poverty and hunger. Poverty and hunger led the prodigal son back to his senses. If the prodigal son had been given just a little food and clothing and enough shelter to survive, chances are he would not have come to his senses, repented, confessed and been reconciled to his family. His inner man would've become corrupt and undergone decay, rather than healing.

Therefore if a Christian really loves other people he will never do anything to support the physical man in a way that will ultimately harm the spiritual man. Let's consider the passages from Scripture that will guide us in best serving the physical and the spiritual man.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.

Proverbs 16:25-26 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. 26 The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.

I want to consider one other point the parable. When the young son returned, his father hugged him around the neck and commanded his servants to bring a robe, a ring, and sandals for his young son. Each of these gifts has a significant meaning, but we are going to focus on the ring right now. In those days, that ring would have been a signet ring which gave the possessor a right called usufruct. Usufruct is a Latin term that literally means "use of the fruits" and it describes the legal right to use someone else's property at no cost, while reaping the fruits as though the property were your own. We can see that the young son lost his right to any further inheritance, but while his father was alive he was able to use a portion of his father's property in order to produce and begin building sufficient wealth to take care of his own future family. Scripture records that God told the children of Israel that the land was His and they were tenants. With a little thought we can see the similarity between the Garden of Eden as the father's estate and Adam and Eve being evicted, but given the right to use God's property to satisfy their needs and some of their wants.

In summary, we find that the parable of the prodigal son is heavily dependent on terms related to production. We observed that our decisions are influenced by our dependence on production and that our morals and obedience are challenged by our dependence on production. We also see the God made us dependent on production and that God's natural order will cause a hungry man to lead his inner man toward right-thinking, restoration and productive life. An empty belly can get the attention of a stubborn will when no amount of persuasion will work. This means that if we support a hungry man who is unwilling to work, we have set in motion an internal decay that cannot be halted or reversed, except if we get out of the way and let the physical man once again be subject to the natural order and his dependence on production.

If we subsidize bad behavior, we will get more of it. If we penalize production, we will get less of it. Bad behavior is destructive and unfruitful. People depend on production. Following is a chart that I've shared in other places which compares and contrasts the biblical social model and the social model we use today in our country. Compare the chart to what we have discovered about the prodigal son.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Truth About Property Tax

This is a message I sent out while a candidate for state senate in Georgia. I oppose all wealth redistribution and unlawful government. This short article is designed to move our thinking in the direction of limited, lawful government. I see a few edits I could make, but I want to send the text exactly as written when I was a candidate for office.

The Truth About Property Tax

Before we begin, let me be perfectly clear that I will work hard to see that our counties, cities and schools are properly funded. However, it is my belief that we can fund government without violating the rights of our citizens.

Property Tax

Property tax makes us Renters, not Owners.

What we call property tax, the Communist Manifesto calls rent. The first plank of the Communist Manifesto says there shall be: "Abolition of property in land and the application of all rents of land to public purposes."

If we study closely we find that property tax is really an indirect consumption tax.

Let's think about how this works.

What is the reason that government relies so heavily on property tax?

It is because they can tag the tax bill to the property. If you don't pay, you lose your property.

That reminds me of one of my favorite George Washington quotes. "Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, government is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."


Consider an elderly lady who is living on a fixed income with declining purchasing power. Each year the choice between food, energy (for heating and cooling), medication and property tax become more challenging.

There comes a time when she cannot afford everything and property tax is the first thing to go.

Our government, which is charged with defending the Life, Liberty and Property of Georgians, will take her property.

She will be moved to an assisted living home that she cannot afford, which means the taxpayers will pay the difference. The bill to taxpayers will be more each year than if we simply paid her property tax and let her keep her home.

What will happen to the property?

The government will sell the property on the courthouse steps. Someone who has the cash to purchase the land and pay the government rent, in the form of property tax, will now own the land.

Where does the cash come from?

The cash for property tax will come from people who are active in the marketplace, especially in the centers of business like the larger cities.

So what have we really done?

1. We steal the home of an elderly lady or at least force her to sell her home against her will.

2. We spend more on professional services for her in an assisted living home each year than the tax bill.

3. The property is sold to an active business person at a discount. Instant profit.

4. The business person's cash comes from business conducted in the larger cities where the consumption tax should be collected.

5. We have indirectly collected a consumption tax from that business person by selling the land at a discount to someone who can afford to pay the government rent in the form of property tax.

Why not simply collect a consumption tax to begin with and let the people keep their property?

To our shame, if there is anything government is good at, it would have to be wealth redistribution.

We can use a consumption tax to fund our local governments without violating the rights of our citizens.

Tax Equity

Some will complain that sending Gwinnett County or Clarke County or Cobb County taxes to rural counties is unfair.

I do enjoy that conversation. If we are going to talk tax equity, can we discuss restoring the family homes and family farms that have been taken away and broken up by declining real prices for agricultural products, rising property tax burdens and the destructive death tax?

That tends to end the conversation about tax equity.

Simple First Step Solution

Our property tax bill is set by millage multiplied by the assessed value of the property. We need to add one more element.

We need to set a cap on the property tax remitted by declaring that no person's property tax remittance can exceed 2% of their after tax income.

Of course the government officials will say that will deprive them of tax revenue. But think about what that means.

The argument becomes, if grandma can't pay because she doesn't have enough cash, that is her problem, not the government's problem. Cough up the cash or give up the property. It doesn't matter that you and your family worked for a lifetime to pay for it.

The government gets their money and then she goes into a retirement home that costs the taxpayers more than if we simply found another way to cover her property tax.

We could simply raise the revenue through a consumption tax or cut government spending.

I like the second option best.

Much More Could Be Said

There are many more details we could cover on this subject, but this outline is only intended to set the stage for a wise battle against the abuses of property taxes and death taxes.

Shane Coley

Please vote Coley for Liberty August 10th.