Basic economics is nearly a lost skill in our current culture. But basic economics is at the heart of many policy positions.
There are many reasons to reject slavery as both unbiblical and inhuman. We could cite the creation of every person in God’s image (Gen. 1:27; James 3:9) and that slavery mars the image of God in our fellow man as just one reason. We could review history and note that Israel’s enemies often carried them into slavery after Israel lost in battle and note that God wanted Israel to be “set apart” from its enemies. And we can certainly agree on the fact that America’s desire for every person to have the freedom to chase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” precludes slavery.
Slavery also holds a common element with socialism, communism, tyranny, and many other oppressive forms of government seeking an audience in the world today: they all make slaves of producers.
Repeat after me: “You are not entitled to the labor or product of any other person.”
An absolutely fundamental aspect to a free society is that every person is entitled to and has sole rightful ownership over their labor and production. Without this critical understanding of labor and economics, it is just a matter of time before tyranny and oppression (often masked as socialism and communism) overtakes the system.
Someone might reply that an employer has the right to the labor of the employee, but that is not the case. If I work for ABC Company, it is at-will. This means that at any time the employer or the employee can terminate the employment contract. This maintains the freedom of the employee to work where he wants and to change jobs when he so desires. The employer has no right to demand an employee remain an employee (that would be slavery).
But, and this is important, this universal truth concerning labor and production, also means that the consumer is never entitled to the labor or production of any other person. For example, if Bill creates a vaccine to eradicate cancer permanently, he is not obligated to share it with humanity. We could argue that he is being selfish. We could present moral arguments compelling Bill to share his breakthrough. In the end, however, no one is entitled to Bill’s labor or production. And, though we might vehemently disagree, if Bill chose to sell his medical miracle to the highest bidder (maybe a pharmaceutical company), who then decided to keep it locked away from the public, both Bill and the purchaser would have that right.
This same principle applies to social media platforms, utilities, commodities, smart phones, automobiles, and houses. Remember, the American creed is that we are all entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Nowhere in Scripture or in the Founding Documents do we see any evidence that any person is entitled to anything specific.
The minute that we argue that anyone is entitled to the labor or production of any other person, we are arguing for both slavery and political tyranny (oppression).
Consider: You believe it is wrong for the owner of a company to have a $1 million per year income. You argue that many in the world are starving and living in poverty and even here in the U.S. many families do not have basic necessities, therefore, it is wrong for a single person to have such an extravagant income. You argue that no one needs or should earn more than $500,000 per year.
You have just determined, quite subjectively, what that person’s labor and production is worth. You have created a slave.
Look at the issue from another perspective. If your boss came to you and said your income could never go beyond X, how would you feel? You would feel trapped, as if you had a barrier stopping you from achieving your dream. Just because your dream and your employers dream are different doesn’t make one wrong and one right. Just because you have a (subjective) idea of how much a person should or should not earn, doesn’t make your idea right.
Any argument that seeks to determine conclusively how much a person can earn or own, is not only subjective and faulty from the outset, but it necessarily leads to both slavery and political oppression (Eph. 4:28). It especially leads to political oppression when we demand the government get involved and pass laws limiting freedoms.
The essence of socialism and many oppressive forms of government is both greed and envy. We angrily declare that another person should not have X or Y while ignoring that we (Americans) have far more than most people in the world. Yet we refuse to reduce our lifestyle while simultaneously demanding that those with more than we have reduce their lifestyle. It is hypocritical.
Governments do this by enacting oppressive policies that, fundamentally, enslave people and demand their labor and production. But as Christians, we must continue to reject slavery in all its forms.
Nathan Cherry is a financial advisor specializing in personal financial management and debt reduction. After more than a decade in church ministry, Nathan found a place for his talents in money management in the financial services industry working for a respected financial planning firm. Nathan also writes on social and moral issues at www.nathancherry.com.