The Magistrate Should Encourage Virtue
(I’ll preface this post by saying that my knowledge of political science is meager. I also must admit complete ignorance about the economic workings of the stock market. Just thinking about it intimidates me and reduces my being to the level of a primate – much like those in 2001: A Space Odyssey who when faced with the obelisk could do nothing more than screech and bang the ground with clubs.)
I agree with Ron Paul, who was interviewed by Neil Cavuto this past Thursday, that our society does not need the government to act and act now to correct the perilous economic situation that is upon us. Paul said we must change our philosophy of government in toto. I agree in at least one respect: the philosophy of government that says the citizen must ultimately depend on Washington for the worth of his hard earned money is the same philosophy that leads Washington to encourage the vice of frivolity among businessmen, congressional leaders, and the citizens themselves. I received an economic stimulus check back in May (I think that’s when it was). I was very tempted to spend the money in a different country just to prove the contradiction in the philosophy that on one hand says “the government must regulate the economy (by handing out cash)” and on the other hand says “the citizens must regulate the economy (by spending money).” What the government really wants is a virtuous citizen who will invest in the businesses of his country out of a genuine love for that country. This is why Peter Martyr considered ethics to be more primary than economics and politics. He says:
Among these moral subjects, the first place is surely held by ethics, then economics, and finally politics. I see this order as circular. Through ethics, those who are its students will, one by one, become good men. If they prove upright, they will raise good families; if the families are properly established, they will in turn create good republics. And in good republics, both law and administration will aim at nothing less than each man becoming a good citizen, for they have eyes not only for the body but also for the spirit, and they will take care that citizens live according to virtue. (Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, p. 12)
But, our government does not want virtuous citizens. They say “here’s a check for $600! Now, don’t spend it in Mexico or by paying off your credit card because that will not help your country.” I think it is great that they do not want me spending my stimulus check in a different country, but why shouldn’t I use it to pay off debt? Well, because if everybody used their stimulus check to pay their credit card debt or student loans then there’d be no new money pumped into the economy and businesses would be forced to close their doors and men and women would lose their jobs and then nobody would be happy. They’ve made the vice of frugal spending a virtue and wedded this vice to the virtue of patriotism! Anyone who knows anything about ethics knows that virtuous living is the essence of freedom. So, can we really say that our government leaders promote the freedom of their fellow citizens whom they’ve sworn to protect when they not only sit passively by while we all become slaves to debt but join in the fight, taking the side of the banks and credit card companies – even becoming their spokesmen by encouraging people to spend money that is not theirs instead of being wise by saving for the future?
They show no regard for the future and no common sense when they preach that deficit spending is the only option to get our nation out of financial trouble! That’s like saying “I should take out a $200 loan because I can’t afford groceries,” but instead of buying the essentials I go lay the whole thing down on a craps game. Where have all the wise men gone? I don’t know much about politics, but I do know that when leaders decide to redefine virtue they stand on a precarious ledge. They are in danger of destroying the very thing they’ve sworn to protect.