Saturday, May 23, 2015

If Samuel Were Alive Today

By Jason Peirce

As the coverage of the 2016 Presidential campaign continues to heat-up, I’m reminded of the libertarian-minded lesson on political authority from Samuel in the Bible. The elders of Israel went to Samuel to beg him for a king:
“… Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways. Now make us a king to judge us, like all the nations.”
Samuel, possessing common sense, was displeased with the request. So he consulted God for direction. God was displeased as well, but instructed Samuel to give the people what they asked for. He also instructed Samuel to tell the people what to expect from their king:
“Now therefore hearken unto their voice. However, yet protest solemnly unto them and show them the ways of the king that shall reign over them.”  
Here are the “ways of the king” God told Samuel to warn the people about:
“This will be the manner of the king who shall reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for himself, for his chariots and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands and captains over fifties, and will set them to till his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectioners and to be cooks and to be bakers. And he will take your fields and your vineyards and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards, and give to his officers and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep; and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out on that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.” [1 Samuel 8: 11-18]
Indeed, Samuel exhibited a sound perspective on political economy. And note that Samuel does not identify a specific king. It is implied that the corrupt, tyrannical “ways of the king” are characteristic of all kings, and as it relates to today, all presidents. One could make the case that the corruption and tyrannies of American presidents are far more destructive of liberty, peace, and prosperity than “the ways of the king” Samuel warned of so long ago. As Lord Acton said: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
The greater point is that Americans can expect more corruption and tyranny from their next President, seeing that there is no true champion of liberty running for the office. The question is why so many Americans don’t understand this. Looking at the field, it doesn’t matter who the Democrats or Republicans decide to run. The effects on your liberty – and hence your peace and prosperity -- will be the same. It doesn’t matter what the candidates say. Obama’s utterances of “Hope and Change” were as ridiculous as Bush’s Bushisms, such as “Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me... You can't get fooled again!”
If Samuel were alive today, he might imagine the perfect campaign slogan: “It’s the liberty, stupid!” The hard part would be finding enough Americans to understand and demand the slogan’s promise.

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