I have been considering the implications of philosophy in the realm of monetary policy recently with emphasis on the difference between distribution and “making money”. I occurred to me the other day that the importance of changing concepts between these two has a broader implication in the culture.
Let’s start with the Biblical principle of work: let him that stole, steal no more, but rather let him labor working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs. (Eph 4:28) This second one alludes to the philosophy of wealth, that being something that is made by one’s labor. That is possible by the “working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have…” The two are tied together in the thought: working, that he may have. This is not wealth by trading or taking, but rather wealth by one’s efforts. Wealth comes by each individual and accordingly, the amount of wealth is relative to the type and amount of work the individual applies. Hence, there will always be disparity in wealth. No amount of politics will eliminate it. “For you have the poor always with you..” (Matt 26:11). We have transferred trillions of dollars from the workers to the “poor” and the numbers are still there.
When the stimulus was proposed, it was advertised that for each dollar of stimulus money given, there would be about a dollar sixty in economic activity. This hypothesis was under the theory that money exchanged is the basis of wealth. Associated with this idea is the one that there is a definite amount of money and those receiving it have to take it from others. For this concept I have one question – “If money is simply a matter of exchange, how then is there any economic growth?” The same amount of money would trade hands and if there were no mechanism to increase the wealth, the amount of money would stay the same. Running in this concept is the federal government. They propose projects that have nothing to do with their mandate from the Constitution and provide money taken at gun-point from we workers to provide to campaign contributors – see Salyndra. The philosophical operating mechanism is: money is a form of exchange and to get it, it must be removed from someone else. That concept brings us the corruption that is presently DC. Politicians are looking for campaign donations and corporations desiring a market break in their niche provide that donation in exchange for legislation affecting the rest of us: seat belts, air bags, gas formulation – ethanol, plus a plethora of others. Each grows as a symbiotic relationship between business and politics.

What struck my dendrites this past week was the difference in the culture from my parent’s day. It used to be a shame to have to accept welfare and in some cases, their parents would make the kids repay the welfare received. It was done so under the concept that 1.) wealth was created by the worker, and 2.) each person was to be responsible for themselves, and then provide the excess to the needy, 3.) nothing is free. On the last item, I have seen a bumper sticker stating, “just because you didn’t pay for it doesn’t make it free.” Someone paid for it. Someone spent time and effort to create whatever that item was. Someone utilized their resources to exchange for the materials required to produce that item. As I noted in a previous post, if they are doing that much effort to give something to you, what are they receiving in return?
Advertising has used the idea of “free” to get customers to a particular store with the hopes of making up that expense with the purchase of another item. The item was free to the recipient as long as they purchased no further merchandise. Or rather, the cost of the item was born of the retailer as long as the recipient bought nothing else. The idea that it was “free” was still presented and as such, I believe, people are conditioned to think whatever they don’t pay for is good. Whatever someone else pays for and gives to them is desirable. If wealth is created by exchange an not one’s efforts, this makes sense. Why work hard at a chosen occupation when income can be obtained from someone else’s efforts? When all work is of the same value, the results of one’s labors is diminished – the fruit of minimum wage. Why should someone be forced to pay a certain amount for labor that is less valuable than the commodity produced? There is a reason that low wage individuals lose their jobs every time the minimum wage is pushed higher – The value produced must cover that higher expense. The business owner must make their production costs lower than the sales income to stay in business. Government forcing redistribution of money from the business owner to the worker doesn’t magically make the numbers fit. The owner must still make their costs lower than the income and as such will remove cost in the form of a worker. That is the reason minimum wage increases always result in lost jobs. Forcing money exchange does not increase the economy.

This last election cycle highlighted violation of the 10th commandment in a fashion I had not considered possible. Envy was alive and well. Romney was considered the “rich guy” as I overheard from a family member of a patient. The presentation of “rich guy” was not something that was to be emulated, but rather to be maligned. No, “rich guy” was an epithet in the level of “how dare he”. Envy. It makes sense if wealth is something that is traded and only available to one if someone else doesn’t have it. I noted the agencies produced by Zerocare and one of the exchanges was made to evaluate other insurance companies and they themselves an insurance company – clear conflict of interest. It makes sense, however, for those who believe that money must be obtained by taking it from others. That was the idea I had starting this little essay and then realized the cultural implications derived from that concept. There is a little bit of chicken and egg looking the present regime behavior, but considering the wider cultural presentation, this is the result of retraining our citizens away from the Biblical concepts of work and responsibility and towards the concepts of taking from fellows and holding envy.