We the People … Musings on the Body Politic

In the 1700’s, Adam Smith, noted social philosopher and economist, claimed “that if everyone is left to their own economic devices instead of being controlled by the state, then the result would be a harmonious and more equal society of ever-increasing prosperity.” Often considered the father of modern economics and capitalism, his thoughts recorded in The Wealth of Nations are still referenced today. So what is capitalism? Capitalism is “a social system based on the principle of individual rights. Politically, it is the system of laissez-faire (freedom). Legally it is a system of objective laws (rule of law as opposed to rule of man). Economically, when such freedom is applied to the sphere of production its’ result is the free-market.” It is based on private ownership of industry and manufacturing and the creation of goods or services for profit. Essential to a successful capitalist society are the ideas of competitive free markets,wage labor and, yes, capital accumulation. So where are we?

In a true capitalist society, does the government “bailout” banks and automotive manufacturers? Or, should the success of the private sector be an absolute function of the free market? Students and peers of Scott, our Founding Fathers sought to create a loose confederation of United States, where in the bulk of the burden would in fact be born by the individual and the local, or state, government. As a large group of independent states, our federal government would be able to “provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare”, not provide for the common defense and provide general welfare. It is a fine distinction, but not one I feel lost on the founding fathers. There is a fundamental difference between providing something, and promoting something.

I couldn’t vote before 1988. More-so than any national election since then, this one has caused me to look at so much more than just the candidates and their platforms or records. Our current economic and political situation is one-hundred years or more in the making. In the end, regardless of our circumstances or financial condition, who is responsible for us as individuals? We are. We are not promised a “level playing field”, not in the constitution, and not in the Bible. It is both a blessing and a curse to live within a system that provides us freedom to the extent that we can freely abdicate our individual choices and God given responsibilities.

I am under age 54. I worked in corporate America for eleven years before deciding to stay home and raise our family; and to be sure, I am not making anywhere near $1M a year. Whether they know it or not, my parents taught me the value of every soul and the value of personal hard work. It is my earnest hope that, despite the numerous factors working against us, my husband and I will teach our children the inherent nature of their individual rights and responsibilities, both their responsibilities to themselves and to others.

I have never been a government employee, or served in the military. Consequently, I am not sure that the federal government “owes” me anything. To be honest, I have never given serious consideration to my “government sponsored” retirement package. Maybe it is naive of me, but I have always assumed that I would be responsible for myself and my own retirement; and that if my husband and I are really blessed, we will be able to split our time between our four children.

I don’t know that any of the world’s problems have been solved here today, but I hope that you have been encouraged to think outside the box, to read the Constitution of the United States (and the Bill of Rights), to consider your place in this world and to contemplate God’s design for you.