Thursday, October 20, 2011

In the Interest of Brevity

Earlier this week I wrote about Ezra Taft Benson’s piece “The Case for the Free Market” from 1977. My son Economic Sphere came to me chuckling after reading it. Well written, he said, but after already reading a couple of pages he gets to the phrase, “In the interest of brevity….” He often tells me my posts are too long. He’s probably right. 

In my defense, the piece I was summarizing was 5500 words (13 pages), and I was just picking out a few things. All I had done up to that point was to introduce the piece and quote an illustrative story. And then I was going to simply include two lists: the elements of the free-market system, and the principles for success in the American free-market. I didn’t include his many pages of explanation (all worth reading).  

So, anyway, I’ll be brief today, just including a few additional quotes from that piece. Persuading you to read the whole is my intention.

The ethic of today seems calculated to indoctrinate our citizenry toward a dependency on the state. Our Founding Fathers recognized that certain rights were inalienable, that is, God-given; today, the state is being looked to as the guarantor of human rights—life, liberty, and property.

Many view the idea of the free-enterprise or free-market system as only an alternative economic system to other systems. This is a serious oversight and causes many to miss the most crucial elements in the free-market system.

No people can maintain freedom unless their political institutions are founded on faith in God and belief in the existence of moral law.


Once a person awakens to the truth of his divine identity, he demands his rights: the right to property, the right to make his own decisions, the right to plan his own welfare, and the right to improve himself materially, intellectually, and spiritually.


Utopian and communitarian schemes that eliminate property rights are not only unworkable, they also deny to man his inherent desire to improve his station. They are therefore contrary to the pursuit of happiness.


Charity, that greatest of godly virtues, would never be possible without property rights, for one cannot give what one does not own.

No liberty is possible unless a man is protected in his title to his legal holdings and property and can be indemnified, by the law, for its loss or destruction. Remove this right and man is reduced to serfdom.

When government presumes to demand more and more of the fruits of man’s labors through taxation, and reduces more and more his actual income by printing money and furthering debt, the wage earner is left with less and less with which to buy food and to provide housing, medical care, education, and private welfare. Individuals are then left without a choice and must look to the state as the benevolent supporter of these services. When that happens, liberty is gone.

How do our cities and towns each day obtain the quantity of food products they demand? Of all agencies engaged in supplying cities with food, almost none knows how much the city consumes or how much is being produced. Despite this ignorance, the cities receive about the right amount of food needed without great surplus or shortage. How is this accomplished without a central directing body telling each producer what it should produce? The answer, of course, is the operation of the free market—free enterprise in action.

Economic literacy among our people has not been one of the bright spots in our 200-year-old history. Yet it is apparent that when ignorance prevails, the people eventually suffer.

When will we resolve as Americans that a dollar cannot make the trip to Washington, D.C., and back without a bureaucratic bite being taken out of it?

Freedom is an eternal principle. Heaven disapproves of force, coercion, and intimidation. Only a free people can be truly a happy people. Of all sad things in the world, the saddest is to see a people who have once known liberty and freedom and then lost it.

Some words never grow old—maybe because truth continues to be true.

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