Coveting and Capitalism
Have you ever sat in church wondering about the 10th Commandment? Why shalt thou not covet? What’s wrong with simply admiring and wanting something? After all, admiring and wanting something for your own is at the heart of all human ambition, whether in the market, or in the realm of love. So let’s use a different word for the quality of admiring and call it, “The Doctrine of Envy.” The Doctrine of Envy is one of striving and attaining a good thing like unto something already owned by another.
Let’s call the evil twin of envy “The Doctrine of Coveting.” The Doctrine of Coveting is one of scheming and contempt and of the theft of something desirable for which the thief has not worked.
If, for example, you see a beautiful, expensive car you might say to yourself, “That car is gorgeous. I want one just like it. What will it take for me to get a car just like that one? How must I strive to achieve that dream?” But if you covet you might say, “That is an amazing car. I want it for my own. How can I take it from its owner an put it in my garage?”
A woman may look at an attractive man and think, “He is a terrific catch. I would love to have a man like him in my life. How can I improve myself in ways that will attract a man like him?” But if she covets she might think, “There is an attractive man. I want him for my own. How can I scheme and insinuate myself into his world, cut the ties to the woman to whom he belongs and who has a legal and moral claim upon him, and take him for my own?”
This is evil stuff. That is why to covet is condemned. Envy is admiration and striving. Covetousness is a contempt for excellence combined with a plan of destruction. The 10th Commandment makes sense when you realize that The Doctrine of Coveting is the philosophical foundation for every form of government that has ever used oppression and force to meet its ends of “fairness and equality of outcomes.”
The smallest of children are taught in our public schools to hate excellence, and at the same time covet the things produced by excellent people. Let me share a little story with you:
Once there was a beautiful little rainbow fish who lived in a coral reef with many other fishes. The beautiful fish was covered with iridescent scales, and would cruise through the reef and past the other fish proudly, his shiny scales glittering in the sunlight. The other little fish scolded the rainbow fish for being selfish and proud.
One plain little fish hounded the rainbow fish saying, “You must share your scales with the other fish. It’s wrong for you to be so selfish. You can never be happy until you give your fancy scales to the other fish who are not so lucky as you.” Feeling the condemnation of all the fishes on the reef, the young rainbow fish began to comply. He plucked out his scales, one by one, and gave them to the other fish, saying to himself all the time, “This must be what it means to be truly happy.”
In this story the rainbow fish is convinced by those covetous of his superior beauty that his only worth is in what he can give away, that his life is of no value to himself, and that he has no right to his unique attributes. He is rebuked and made ashamed, not proud, of his excellent qualities.
In the fictional end of this book, the fish is happy. In the true story, you have only a skinned and dead fish, and a reef full of killers.
The book “The Rainbow Fish” is an obscenity that comes out of a covetous culture seeking to make slaves of us and our children by catechizing that our only worth is in that which we give to others. American children are being indoctrinated to believe that they were put on earth to serve the needs of the community or of a certain cause; that the government decides their worth, and how much they must give back to society.
Their identities as individual humans with incomparable worth are being stripped away, leaving them vulnerable to any leader or cause that convinces them that it is wrong to be proud, that their lives are not worth fighting for, and that to be moral they must cede all they have to the scavengers on the reef.
Capitalism rejects covetousness but encourages healthy envy and striving. Capitalism is a system of exchange which arises from the philosophy that the most important human right is the right to own and enjoy one’s property. The life of a man is his property, as the scales of a fish are its property. That which a person produces with his mind, hands, muscle, and investment of risk, is property. People’s dogmas; the right to believe in one theology over another, or to live one lifestyle or another, are also a form of property.
Capitalism is both a system and a philosophy, but it is not an invention of man. It is the natural expression of trust between humans who trade value for value. It is a form of justice that exists already in the human spirit, and is unleashed only where there is sufficient freedom and incentive for people to seek after their own self-interests.
The principle of just exchange, value for value, can and should be applied in every imaginable human interaction. Social disorientation and the dissolution of human relationships often result from the idea that one must sacrifice his value for something of a lesser value, or of no value at all. Human interchanges, whether in the market, in the schools, or at the altar, have been poisoned by the destructive notion that happiness can come only from the sacrifice of our best values to an outcast, or a parasite who offers no value in return.
Capitalism is where people with diverse attributes, varying levels of creativity and skill, physical strength, and personal passions can each find prosperity by simply exchanging value for value the dreams encapsulated in their hearts.
Capitalism is the reality that judges the fitness of an individual to be an owner of wealth only by the intensity of his striving. Every form and level of striving has a value if it is traded justly, from the tech guru to the babysitter, from the builder of sky scrapers to the ranch hand.
The Founding Documents give us a moral law which regards the rights of every American with an equal and dispassionate eye. It is exactly because we are not equal that we must have an impartial law to protect our basic human freedoms. With equal rights but unequal attributes Capitalism arises. The economy of a nation cannot be healthy if all its participants are at the top tier of industry and invention. There must be people of differing abilities who are able to produce those inventions, market and sell them, manage the workplace needs of the people who make them, and provide a quick lunch or a car wash for the industrialist himself.
Natural law, the reality of man’s existence, is the strength and beauty of Capitalism because humans respond positively when value is returned for value. The incentive, both physical and spiritual, to progress, invent, explore, and seek a life of enjoyment , always occurs in a reciprocal process of exchange of value for value. Only individuals can determine what value is of a worth equivalent to the treasures of thought, industry, and love they have to offer.
Our public education system is being suffocated by the idea that the only thing of value is compliance, and that achievement and pride in one’s self and in one’s country have no value. The fatally distended government is fed by the lie that there is no value in the individual life or the long term health of the civil society, but that the only value is the corrosive balm of tax-payer funded subsidies to people and companies who are incapable of producing anything of value.
These influences kill the one quality to which all people may strive equally; that is moral excellence. Only the Capitalistic free market models of relationships, education, and economic trade, where people as a matter of survival must behave virtuously and improve themselves in a process of healthy competition and striving, will provide the conditions where happiness and prosperity are attainable.
God Bless America and God Bless Capitalism!