Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Free-Market, Hard-Money, Libertarian Christmas!

and don't trust the government.

There are lessons to be learned from Christmas some two thousand-plus years ago, according to a merry (and heart-warming) piece written by Lew Rockwell eight years ago.

The Economic Lessons of Bethlehem (or Who Was the Inn Keeper?)
(Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 12/22/01 [emphasis is mine]

There's no room at the inn so they had to stay in a stable. (Cruel inn keeper!)

Far from being cruel, the inn keeper offered what he could to satisfy a customer. As a money-making private businessman, he would have no reason to turn away "this man of royal lineage and his beautiful, expecting bride."

"In any case, the second chapter of St. Luke doesn’t say that they were continually rejected at place after place. It tells of the charity of a single inn owner, perhaps the first person they encountered, who, after all, was a businessman. His inn was full, but he offered them what he had: the stable. There is no mention that the innkeeper charged the couple even one copper coin, though given his rights as a property owner, he certainly could have.

"It’s remarkable, then, to think that when the Word was made flesh with the birth of Jesus, it was through the intercessory work of a private businessman. Without his assistance, the story would have been very different indeed. People complain about the "commercialization" of Christmas, but clearly commerce was there from the beginning, playing an essential and laudable role."

Why were they in Bethlehem to begin with?

Because of the Roman emperor's decree that everyone be counted and taxed.

"It was because of a government decree that Mary and Joseph, and so many others like them, were traveling in the first place. They had to be uprooted for fear of the emperor’s census workers and tax collectors. And consider the costs of slogging all the way "from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David," not to speak of the opportunity costs Joseph endured having to leave his own business. Thus we have another lesson: government’s use of coercive dictates distort the market."

What did Three Kings (or Three Wise Men, and Lew points out they are usually mutually exclusive) give?

Did they give the new parents some debased Roman coins? No. They gave them frankincense, gold, and myrrh. They give them hard assets of high value.

"These were the most rare items obtainable in that world in those times, and they must have commanded a very high market price.

"Far from rejecting them as extravagant, the Holy Family accepted them as gifts worthy of the Divine Messiah. Neither is there a record that suggests that the Holy Family paid any capital gains tax on them, though such gifts vastly increased their net wealth. Hence, another lesson: there is nothing immoral about wealth; wealth is something to be valued, owned privately, given and exchanged."

Herod wanted to know where Jesus was so that he could come and adore him.

Was that true? Not really. He wanted to kill him.

"...Roman Emperor's local enforcer, Herod. Not only did he order people to leave their homes and foot the bill for travel so that they could be taxed. Herod was also a liar: he told the Wise Men that he wanted to find Jesus so that he could "come and adore Him." In fact, Herod wanted to kill Him. Hence, another lesson: you can’t trust a political hack to tell the truth."

When they learned of Herod's plan to kill the newborn, what did Wise Men and the Holy Family do?

Were they resigned to the reality that the government did whatever it wanted anyway and there was no point in resisting? Hell no. Three Wise Men went home without telling Herod, and the Family fled.

"The Wise Men, being wise, snubbed Herod and "went back another way" – taking their lives in their hands (Herod conducted a furious search for them later). As for Mary and Joseph, an angel advised Joseph to "take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt." In short, they resisted. Lesson number four: the angels are on the side of those who resist government."

"In the Gospel narratives, the role of private enterprise, and the evil of government power, only begin there. Jesus used commercial examples in his parables (e.g., laborers in the vineyard, the parable of the talents) and made it clear that he had come to save even such reviled sinners as tax collectors.

"And just as His birth was facilitated by the owner of an "inn," the same Greek word "kataluma" is employed to describe the location of the Last Supper before Jesus was crucified by the government. Thus, private enterprise was there from birth, through life, and to death, providing a refuge of safety and productivity, just as it has in ours."



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