Political PvP (Public versus Private): Trade, Value, and Theft


Samaritan's Purse - Helping In Jesus' Name

privateThis article continues a series on the conservative view comparing the private sector versus the public sector.

I’ve noticed that there is a notion out there held by some that a company or person who makes lots and lots of money doesn’t deserve it, owes it to people to pay more of a share of taxes, or should in some other way distribute the wealth gained to other people. This article takes a look at the conservative view of a trade transaction.

If I go to a ball game and get hungry and buy a hot dog, who gains value from that trade? If the ball park chooses to charge a ridiculously costly $10 for a hot dog, and I agree to it, have we not traded equally? From a conservative point of view, the answer is that both sides have traded something that we value less for something that we value more. There is not one gainer and one loser, we both gain. I can not eat money and be satisfied. They can not hold on to the hot dogs indefinitely or pay the electricity bills with them. So if I was so hungry or had enough money that I agreed to trade my $10 for their hot dog, it would say that the hot dog was worth that much to me at that moment. To them, they are agreeing that the $10 is worth more to them than holding on to the hot dog. The only people who can say whether or not the value gained was more than what was lost are the people making the trade. If the ball park came back later and claimed that I owed them another $5 because they sold out of the hot dogs way earlier than expected, that would be stealing – trying to take more value from me without giving anything more of value to me, and if I came back to them later and said that they really owed me $5 back because the price was too high… that would be stealing too. So, when we hear people say that the money that has been earned by Americans who have amassed some savings really is undeserved, and so they should pay a higher share of taxes, we call that stealing. It has nothing to do with whether or not they can afford it. We nationally can not afford to steal from our citizens. This was one of the list of grievances that our forefathers had against the King.

Thus, the 5th Amendment says in its last sentence: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”.

To put it succinctly, as I understand it, the conservative view of trade is that when buying something, at the very worst, nobody loses value, and in almost all cases all sides gain value. That is, until taxes get involved: a subject for another day. If a person or company continually makes a ‘trade’ where they lose value, it is either incompetence or intentional mismanagement. No person can expect to do this often and remain capable of feeding themselves and their family. Nor can any company do this and remain capable of paying their employees. To enable someone else to continue in the habit of poor stewardship like this is in itself poor stewardship. To nationally do do so is to drain the quality of life out of the country.

While most conservatives espouse Judeo-Christian beliefs, there are some who do not, yet who still hold very similar views on economic issues in particular. Properly representing others requires noting the difference. Both categories generally believe that most people who have gained a lot of wealth have done so through somebody’s hard work, and good opportunity. We see them as a source of inspiration, a testimony to the Land of Opportunity. We do not see them as having stolen from everyone else, nor of owing it to everyone else to shoulder a larger part of the financial burden: we see them as already shouldering a larger part of the financial burden by taking the risks associated with being employers, investors, and philanthropists. In regard to the few wealthy who have gained wealth by fraudulent activity: in this, I can’t speak for all conservatives. Those of us who hold Judeo-Christian beliefs choose to trust in God, that he will expose the truth, and oppose the wicked. And, we choose to trust that people, seeing a neighbor in need possibly as a victim of fraud, will do what we can to help out.

“Thou shalt not steal”

“Thou shalt not covet (want) thy neighbor’s … anything that is thy neighbor’s”

“(the wicked) has said in his heart: God has forgotten, he hides his face, he will never see it…But you have seen it, for you mark mischief and spite, to repay it by your hand.”

“Friend, I’ve done you no wrong, did you not agree to work for me for a penny? … Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with what is my own? Are you jealous or offended because I am generous?”

“Behold, I therefore have smitten my hand at your dishonest gain… Can you endure, or prevail by strength in the days that I shall deal with you? I the LORD have spoken it, and will do it.”