September 20; Capitalism and The Pursuit of Happiness
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Nine: Finance; September 20

You shall not steal.

Exodus 20:15

Capitalism and The Pursuit of Happiness

Ownership

The story is told of President Reagan. He was looking out the window of Air Force One. He was staring, thinking.

Peggy Noonan, his speech writer, asks the President what he is looking at and what he is thinking. She has his confidence.

“Looking at the houses,” Reagan says.

“Houses…?” Noonan asks.

“Yes—all those houses—homes–all those people owned those houses.”

***

Our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, says that people have the God given right to pursue happiness. This pursuit can be seen in the right to private property.

Is it possible that ownership, Western Civilization and Christianity are linked? One of the Ten Commandments listed in Exodus in the Old Testament commands us not to steal. Implied in the “not stealing” is capitalism.

A thief can only steal from another if another person owns the purloined item. If there is no ownership there can be no theft.

And so we are directed to not take what belongs to another.

***

Western Civilization is the financial world leader because our laws enforce thou shall not steal. And the East seems to now understand this from the West. David Aikman, Ph.D., former journalist for Time Magazine, writes about his experience in China,

Many Chinese wondered: is capitalism just a way of doing business, or did it come with concrete ethical and philosophical foundations?

Many Chinese sociologists note that, in the coastal city of Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai, Christianity in the 1980’s seemed to surge proportionately to the success of Wenzhou retailers in making money.

In fact…some Chinese, thinking about capitalism, Christianity, and Wenzhou, were making the intellectual connection between religion and the rise of capitalism, the central thesis of R. H. Tawney in his influential book with the same names, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. (Aikman 2003)

As compared to the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Arthur C. Brooks, Ph.D., President of the American Enterprise Institute, asks us to,

Consider the Reagan revolution of the 1980’s. Ronald Reagan came into office with a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980, after Carter’s deeply unpopular handling of virtually all areas of policy, from economics to national defense.

Central to Reagan’s victory was his celebration of free enterprise as a moral system—not simply a financial one. In his words, “The responsibility of freedom presses us towards higher knowledge and, I believe, moral and spiritual greatness. Through lower taxes and smaller government, government has its ways of freeing people’s spirits. But only we, each of us, can let the spirit soar against our own individual standards. Excellence is what makes freedom ring.”

It is a cliché that no one washes a rented car. Few care for property as well as they would care for their own. Private ownership drives our economy. And our businesses.

Employees will drive an initiative when they own it.

You shall not steal. Exodus 20:15

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