(Part 2) The Moral Case for Separating State and The Economy – What’s That About?

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February 3, 2015 by Anders Ingemarson

In our last post, we pointed out the similarities between a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire market for religious ideas and a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire market for products and services. We showed how both respect our individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We observed that the vast majority of Americans support such a state of affairs when it comes to our faith—i.e. total separation of state and church—but not when it comes to our economic life—i.e. total separation of state and economy.

And we lamented that when it comes to our economic lives, we have permitted government to tax, regulate, fine, coerce and threaten us to such an extent that if it had happened in the market place for religious ideas it would be considered fundamentalism of the kind that is only practiced in Islamic countries.

What explains the contradictory views on religious freedom and economic freedom? Why do most of us consider it immoral for the government to meddle in issues related to our faith, but moral when the government meddles in just about every aspect of our economic life—healthcare, education, agriculture and food, telecommunications, banking, finance, retirement, and so on?

Paradoxically, in most cases the answer is: faith. Almost without exception, Americans of faith exercise their selfishly guarded religious freedom to practice a faith that teaches sacrifice and selflessness as the moral ideal. For example, most Christians consider Jesus Christ sacrificing his life for our sins so that we may be forgiven the symbol of moral perfection. And most other major faiths consider selflessness in one form or another a moral virtue.

Morality has great power over us and for good reasons. Morality is necessary for humans to flourish. Most of us have a desire to be good by some moral standard. We go through life with a certain level of moral ambition, if you like. We look for moral principles to live by, and we try to act according to those principles. As life draws to an end, we want to be able to look back and conclude that we lived a good life, which for most of us implies that we lived a moral life.

If the faith we subscribe to teaches us that selflessness and sacrifice are moral ideals, then that is what we will try to practice. The problem is that practicing a morality of selflessness and sacrifice disarms us against those who want to use government force to institutionalize such practices throughout society. After all, they say, if we subscribe to a morality of selflessness and sacrifice, what better way than for the government to help us fulfill our moral ambitions? A vote for universal healthcare, for food stamps, for social security, for government education, is a vote to help us live up to our moral ideals. A tax here, a regulation there, in the name of helping the needy, the less fortunate, the elderly, our children. Why shouldn’t we be willing to sacrifice some of our individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? It may hurt our pocket book, it may prevent us from fulfilling our own, selfish ambitions, we may experience a moment of reluctance, but who can object if selflessness is the moral standard?

At SEPARATE! we consider this a sad state of affairs. We subscribe to a different code of morality, a morality of rational self-interest. We think you are as right to selfishly guard your economic freedom as you are to selfishly guard your religious freedom.

Only when you’re able to proclaim with moral certainty that the fruits of your labors are yours to keep and dispose of will you be able to defend your individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as it pertains to your economy. Only when you become as rightfully self-interested in championing your economic freedom as you are in championing your religious freedom will you be able to effectively oppose the immoral intrusion of government force into every aspect of your economic life.

Hence our mission to champion the moral case for separating state and the economy. We’re preaching the gospel to those who walk in economic moral darkness with the hope that they will see a great light.

If you care to join the cause, check out the different areas of our site: Why Separate?, Separate What?, Separate Not!, and past blog posts. Subscribe, like and share our articles on Facebook, and tweet them to your heart’s desire. Discuss us in the classroom, at work, at the family dinner table, and at church. All publicity is good publicity and brings us closer to full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism with total separation of state and the economy.

Mission impossible? On the contrary. We’re convinced that deliverance from the evils of government intrusion in our economic lives is closer than most of us think. But it will require serious re-thinking of some of our most deeply held beliefs. The Americans people have been up to the task in the past. We think they are again. Tune in to our next episode…

Fire away!

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