Saturday, February 7, 2015

You Shall Not Steal (Exodus 20:15)

For Christians, the moral law provides us with a stable standard of justice. The eighth commandment is very clear that private property has biblical warrant and stealing both in its ancient and modern forms is a violation of this law. 

In Exodus 22:1-15, we see an exposition of the eighth commandment, the law on private property (Exodus 20:15). This exposition has specific regulations that touch cases of stolen animals (verses 1 to 4), restitution (verses 5 to 6), safekeeping (verses 7 to 13), and borrowing and hiring of animals (verses 14 to 15). 

The Old Testemant economy is described as pastoral. In that type of economic system, the role of animals, particularly domestic ones is very important. Like today, animals serve as source for food production such as milk and meat. Other uses of animals include as raw materials for garments and as means of transportation. It is no wonder therefore that wealth in the Old Testament is measured in terms of huge quantity of livestock. 

Today, few examples of measuring someone's wealth include the size of your bankbook, the number of your paper assets, and total amount of your equities. Perhaps, people think that these types of wealth are secured from the hands of thieves. How about if stealing is institutionalized and acquired a legal status? How would you protect your property from such system?

With the widespread influence of various forms of socialism (interventionism, welfarism, central planning, progressive taxation, Statism, corporatism, and crony capitalism), the economy of theft, it is vital to understand the meaning of the eighth commandment and its application into the 21st century. This is because all these types of socialism are hostile to private property, and one way or another, direct or indirect, are used to steal other person's property. The most subtle form of stealing is by means of legislation, which the classical liberal, Frederic Bastiat, appropriately exposed in his book, The Law, as legal plunder. 

Unknown to many, legal plunder is widespread. The reason why most people cannot see it is due to statist indoctrination done through mainstream educational system. Both politicians and the people are concerned only with visible and short-term effects of economic policies. As a result, they fail to see the "unseen," the indirect and long-term consequences of laws made for the sake of the poor. Most people today, intellectuals included, are economically misinformed. No wonder, they embraced wholeheartedly the stimulus programs coming from central banks (of course, with the approval of governments), as solution to our economic ills. In reality, these are subtle ways to steal the property of others, in the name of redistributing wealth under the banner of "justice." 

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