By David Tulis
It has been brought to your attention in the past day or two that some people will not inherit the kingdom of God. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,” declares Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (at 6:9)
A Christian man, praying for a son before he goes to bed, begs God to save the boy. The child is tugging a blanket under his armpits and ready to do a bit of private reading before shutting out the light. “Oh, God,” Dad intones, “thank you for this good boy you have given to me. Please by your grace make him a faithful Christian, a gentleman, a fighter for the Truth and for your Kingdom; and now give him a good night’s sleep. And make him a true Southerner, in Christ’s name I pray — amen.”
Such a prayer, if it is part of a routine, helps build a boy’s estate. My estate, like yours, includes not just lands, houses, cars and a credit union account. It includes a heritage of faith and practice. Faith in God is the highest part of an estate, superior to bags of silver or a ream of stock certificates.
My youngest son has a birthday today. I believe in not withholding his estate until my and my wife, Jeannette’s, deaths. We dole it out piecemeal. The boy gets part of his inheritance today, a share in the world of books and ideas. I believe in stocking for each son a “man’s library,” adding four or five worthy books for birthday and Christmas. When my sons leave home I want them to have capital — means of answering questions about theology, law, history and culture. A boy needs to leave ready to lead private worship in the home with wife and children, and to be studious about all that concerns the truth. He must grow into an independent thinker who trusts God’s narrative but is an agnostic about men’s.
Wrapped in the comics
Wrapped in the funnies from the newspaper, I include for his 11th birthday two books by Gary North, including one about the concept of liberation; a Robert Thoburn book on education; Marvin Olasky’s history, The Tragedy of American Compassion, about welfare; and finally the book I’d like to tell you about.
Private Means, Public Ends: Voluntarism vs. Coercion collects essays from The Freeman, a monthly from Foundation for Economic Education, a libertarian think tank. Here is the main idea behind the 150-page volume. The great concept of local economy — bringing production, capital, profit back to one’s self and one’s hometown — is parsed in terms of voluntary action vs. “organized” action. The latter is in the purview of civil authority, part of what Bastiat called that “great fiction in which everybody tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”
“Planning always involves compulsion,” Henry Hazlitt says. “This maybe disguised in various ways. The government Planners will *** try to persuade people that the Master Plan has been drawn up for their own good, and the the only persons who are going to be coerced are those whose plans are ‘not in the public interest.’” Planners talk about “goals” and “targets,” insisting their goals are not imperative, merely “indicative.”
Statist economist John Kenneth Galbraith resorts to what Hazlitt calls a “neat semantic trick. He makes a distinction between public and private.” The word private “carries an aura of the selfish and exclusive, the inward-looking, whereas the adjective ‘public’ carries an aura of the democratic, the shared, the generous, the patriotic, the outward looking — in brief, the public spirited.” More apt usages among lovers of local economy are the voluntary sector vs. the coercive sector. Or free market vs. government.
“The voluntary sector is made up of the goods and services for which people voluntarily spend the money they have earned. The coercive sector is made up of the goods and services that are provided, regardless of the wishes of the individual, out of the taxes that are seized from him.”
Why I love clutter along highway
My son will be able to understand why I like billboards, even weather-beaten or partly broken ones, if he reads into his birthday volume, edited by J. Wilson Mixom Jr., an economics professor. It contains a defense of billboards, eye-catching placards protected by the right to property and giving tips to travelers about the cost of a taco dinner or the tab for a hotel bed. “While driving in Tennessee,” writes Lawrence Person, “I saw a billboard for one particular establishment proudly proclaim: FOOD * GAS * ELVIS COLLECTIBLES. No there’s one thing no government sign is ever going to tell me!”
Other chapters will tell my boy about private banks, charity in the land of individualism, friendly societies (voluntary social security in the 1800s), privatized policing, homeschooling and private highways.
This volume in a “man library” ducks theology. But I leave theology, the highest of all sciences, to the other authors in my gift selection. The ideas of liberty are a part of Christianity. God, not revolution, liberated Israel. God’s law, not revolution, brings prosperity that the Marxists and statists claim they want to be shared by all commoners. The unrepentant homosexual will not inherit the kingdom of God. Neither the swindler, covetous man or violator of the marriage covenant.
I pray my son, waiting patiently for me to do my dad prayer, becomes none of these. I want him to be sorry for his sins, to work out his salvation with fear and trembling, and claim the ideas of the free market as an essential in his inheritance.