Perspective: Justice and Charity
FEBRUARY 01, 1989 by JACOB G. HORNBERGER
What is justice? The first thing to remember is that justice is blind. We have been trying to tell people that for a great many centuries. There leaps to mind the famous statue of Justice with scales held high and sword in hand, and blindfold over the eyes. Justice does not discriminate. It does not see whether one is of high or low class, rich or poor, black or white, working or not working. It does not see one’s national origin. It does not detect one’s religion. It treats all men alike and all men equally. That is the essence of justice. The statue would also remind us by the sword that it is enforced by the coercive power of the state. The principal business of the state, of law and of government, is the enforcement of justice, the protecting of the rights of all people equally.
On the other hand, charity is not based on coercion, nor is it blind. Charity is discriminating and voluntary, if you remove the voluntary aspect of charity, it ceases to be charity. What would you think if, after Robin Hood had placed his sword at the throat of some rich man and deprived him of his purse and scattered his coins to the poor, that rich man told his friends how charitable he had been to the poor? There was no charity in what happened on the rich man’s part—not a penny’s worth! If you take away the voluntary aspect of charity, it becomes despoliation. It is legal plunder. It is robbery, not charity. Confusing justice and charity has produced something called “social justice,” the basis for the welfare state. Social justice is having a tremendous negative impact upon the economic well-being of this country.
You cannot have charity or justice when you forcibly take money from A and give it to B. You have not charity because it was not freely willed. You have not justice because you are not treating A and B alike but are taking from one and giving to the other. The rights of each have not been protected, but stripped.
—excerpted from “The Bible and Economics,”
a sermon by Dr. D. James Kennedy,
Coral Ridge Ministries
The Decline of Moral Consciousness
The great tragedy of the welfare state has been the decline of moral consciousness among the American people in the twentieth century. The use of the political process to provide special, privileged benefits to certain classes of people is now considered to be as American as apple pie. The common belief is that since the welfare system is now an ingrained part of American life, people should simply accept its legitimacy and direct their efforts to making the system function more efficiently.
This degeneration in moral consciousness can be found even in some of the most free-market oriented people in the country. I recently attended a conference whose purpose was to promote an improved understanding of the free enterprise system. One keynote speaker at the conference proudly attributed his business success to a Small Business Administration loan. Another keynote speaker called for a closer partnership in business development between businessmen and politicians.
Neither speaker even remotely suggested that the use of the political process to feather a person’s nest is morally wrong. Equally tragic, the talks appeared to be well-received by the audiences, almost as if the listeners were comforted by this “practical approach” to free enterprise.
We should never be ashamed or embarrassed to speak out against the immoral actions of our own government. How else can we hope to eradicate the evil which pervades the entire political system? To remain silent in the face of wrongdoing not only constitutes cowardice, it also is an implied acceptance of enshrined political immorality.
The only legitimate functions of law are the protection of life, liberty, and property and the preservation of peace. We have permitted the politicians to pervert law by using it to direct lives, limit liberty, and plunder property. The result is not peace but rather perpetual conflict over the distribution of the loot. It is time to eliminate, not reduce or make more efficient, government welfare, social security, food stamps, loan guaranties, subsidies, licenses, import restrictions, educational grants, and all other means by which some people use the political process to gain at the expense of others.
Only by standing firm against the immoral nature of the welfare state can we hope to raise the moral consciousness of our fellow citizens.
—Jacob G. Hornberger
The Insanity of Inflation
Sanity consists in limitation; the inordinate is always insane and always ends in destruction. Because inflation is indeed inordinate, it too has a certain insanity about it and naturally it tends to end in an explosion of destruction, a nihilist act with money. The insanity of inflation leaves a mark of insanity on society; it changes a good society into one which, so long as inflation lasts, is wholly and fraudulently unjust. All evil is a breach of order, but only some evil is a breach of order with unlimited effect; inflation is an unlimited monetary and economic evil.
William Rees-Mogg The Reigning Error
Reader’s Digest Reprints Free Trade Article
“The Political Economy of Protectionism,” by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, has been reprinted in the February 1989 Reader’s Digest. This article originally appeared in the July 1988 issue of The Freeman.
We have extra copies of the Digest version of Professor DiLorenzo’s article. Please write to FEE, stating the quantity you’d like.