From the Conclusion of Gary North’s Christian Economics in One Lesson:
When Hazlitt sent his page proofs off to the printer, Leonard E. Read was ready to open the tiny, underfunded Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York. FEE would become the lone voice for Hazlitt’s brand of economics over the next two decades. FEE did not have a monthly magazine for another decade, when it began publishing The Freeman.
Ludwig von Mises had not yet written Human Action, which appeared in 1949. There were only a few newsletters in 1946 that promoted the free market, and their combined subscriber bases were in the low four-figures. The main one was Human Events, which did not focus on economics.
There were three tiny publishing houses: Regnery, Devin-Adair, and Caxton. They did not have mailing lists. They did not have access to bookstores. Their marketing was based on word of mouth.
What was to be done? Keep on writing for the handful of people who might read.
That was then. This is now.
It would be wise for all Christians to remember this. There comes a time for every New Order to receive that little push you always knew was coming for it. But, if you want your people to deliver that well-deserved shove into oblivion, you have to lay the foundations for it, even at a time when nobody seems to be listening.
To get to Canaan, you’re just going to have to fight your way through that 40 years of wilderness. There simply are no shortcuts.
What is to be done?
Keynesians are the ones with the blueprints. They are the ones who proclaim the efficacy of central planning through federal deficits and central bank inflation. They are the ones who exercise faith in grand designs.
Defenders of the free market do not offer blueprints that will get us from here to there. They do not trust in central planning. They have faith in the general blueprint: private ownership, monetary voluntarism, the abolition of central banking, low taxes, the abolition of government guarantees, free trade, freedom of entry into banking, and the reduction of the federal deficit to zero, as it was in 1836 for one magnificent fiscal year.
What is to be done? Bide our time. We do not need a grand plan to shrink the federal government. The Keynesians are laying the foundations for the Great Default — all over the world. It is their responsibility to tell us what is to be done. They control the educational institutions. They are in charge in the Congress. They sit at the controls of the Federal Reserve System. Power and responsibility cannot be separated.
Hazlitt offered no blueprint in 1946. I offer no blueprint today. I offer only a series of slogans, directed at Keynsians, who do not know what is to be done.
We told you so.
We told you why.
You hold the bag.
Christians who love and hew close to the Law of God – inscribed on their hearts – have all the blueprints they need, so far as the foundations of morality and justice are concerned. And a good society is grounded on the general principles outlined by Moses, as revised by Jesus Christ.
The Law-Word of God is “our detailed master plan, handed to us by a superhuman visionary.” Christians are to accept no substitutes by Establishment/Revolutionary types with delusions of competency – regardless of their uniforms, the degrees behind their names, the blather that issues from their lips, or the adulation of both mob & media.
The Politics of Plunder
“Thou shalt not steal.”
This is an ethical message. It does not require long chains of reasoning. It does not ask people to follow the money, either backwards or forwards. It just asks them to get their hands out of their neighbors’ wallets corporately, by means of state coercion, as well as individually.
There is an aspect of all this that Hazlitt chose to ignore: bad morals produce bad policies, which in turn produce bad results. The metaphor of the broken window is a great tool of analysis. But Hazlitt did not focus on this: the state has not adopted its policies of breaking windows because politicians read Keynes’s unreadable General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. The politicians have adopted what Bastiat called the politics of plunder.
The masses have demanded that the state use power to redistribute other people’s wealth. The masses have voted for politicians who vote for the politics of plunder. The masses have consented to being sheared by the state on this basis: “The rich will be sheared far worse.” But the rich hire lawyers and accountants. They avoid the worst of the shearing. They use the politics of plunder to feather their nests at the expense of the masses.
There is ethical cause and effect in life. Morally bad policies produce economically bad results. By placing this fact front and center, my book is different from Hazlitt’s. He focused on the broken window. I focus on why the state broke all those windows, and far more — the chapters that Hazlitt did not write, but could have.
The voters have become dependent on the politics of plunder, especially Social Security, which Hazlitt prudently ignored, and above all Medicare, which arrived in 1965. At some point, these welfare programs will bankrupt the federal government. At some point, Washington’s checks will stop coming. That will be the day of reckoning — the day of accounting. That will be the day when the politics of plunder will finally break the windows of those who have voted in terms of this principle: “Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.”
Hazlitt was a great thinker – a true friend of liberty, and a far more original, informed, and incisive writer than this blogger will ever be in this life. But, Hazlitt was crippled by the usual secular economist’s hunger to avoid the slightest taint of a Moral Order, in the blessed name of Objective, Morally Neutral Thought.
No Christian is to make the same mistake Hazlitt did: assume that there is no moral order to existence – including economics. It is only to be expected that the science oriented to money was the first to cut God out ‘in the name of neutrality’, and it’s about time that it’s pretensions to objectivity be revealed to be the sham it always was.
There is No Neutrality.
…and if you think there is, there are a host of Establishment Types who will joyfully teach you otherwise. Certain people are beloved by Our Leaders, and certain people are despised: and we all know who is who, now don’t we.
We do not need to provide a master plan for getting from the politics of plunder to the politics of property protection. The free market will make hash of all such master plans. When Washington’s checks stop coming, individuals will respond in terms of the available incentives. Our task is to persuade others not to adopt another round of the politics of plunder locally after the federal government has run out of sheep to shear, as well as funds to break more windows.
Meanwhile, we need to explain to people the implication of these four words: His. Yours. Mine. Don’t. People do this with their children, but they are severely tempted to forget this when they hear the siren song: “Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.”
The only Master Plan worth anything is God’s… and most of His Plan is unknowable to the mind of men.
All the other Master Plans are so much piles of mud and clay, built up only to be washed away.