Thou Shall Not Steal
By Jim O’Brien
“Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) It’s a simple statement, a clear command and a fundamental principle for any nation that ever hopes to be free.
This morning I went into the branch bank where I normally do business. The manager has become a friend; after all, she knows more about my financial condition than most of my friends. She is from Chile and speaks with a heavy accent. I had not seen her for the past two weeks so she happily filled me in on her trip to Europe with her sister.
The conversation led to international events. In almost secretive terms she told me about her close friend who lives in Venezuela, which is about to erupt in civil war. There was an assassination attempt against the president this week as he was delivering a campaign speech. He is a socialist. The government confiscated large multinational businesses and now there is poverty. Let’s be clear-the government stole the property of corporations and now is stealing from the citizens.
Maria talked about her wealthy friend in Venezuela who told her, “It’s not that I don’t have money to buy things, but there’s nothing to buy! People stand in long lines to buy one chicken. I had to fly to Belize to buy medicine for my mother.”
Maria’s friend owned two homes-one in the city and one on the beach. She had to put one of the homes in her brother’s name because the government would seize the second home and give it to someone else. “You can’t own two houses!” reported her friend.
Maria grew up in Chile as the Pinochet regime took control of the country. It was also socialist. Sometimes Maria’s conversation would drift from today in Venezuela to 1973 in Chili and it was difficult to delineate the difference because the circumstances were the same-just the date and people are different.
In Chile as a young girl Maria said you could not have two of anything. “The government would come into your house and if you had two tubes of toothpaste they would take one.”
The police would come into your house and turn everything upside down. They knew people would hide things so they looked everywhere. There was nothing you could do. Your house did not belong to you-it belonged to the government even if you paid for it.
“A friend of my parents was an outspoken lawyer,” said Maria. “One night the police came to their house and took him away. They never saw him again. I went to school with the children. They never saw their father after the government took him away.”
She was talking nonstop, “You go to the grocery and you could not buy two sticks of butter. So you stuff two sticks into one wrapper.” The black market was inevitable so people could feed their family.
The consequences of sin are disastrous-even when the government is the sinner; no, especially when the government sins. If the government steals from citizens the entire system breaks down.
But such governments exist because citizens are willing to break a second law. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:17)
Most of us recoil at the thought of taking a neighbor’s house-or anything that belongs to him. It’s theft! Does a government exist by a different set of laws?
One of the principles that led to establishing the United States of America was the right of individual citizens to own private property. It was the basis for the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Socialism, at its core is evil. It masquerades as benevolent to those who ignore the history of its destructive consequences. It is evil because it breaks at least two of the commandments of the Creator of the Universe as well as violating the principles for maintaining a free country.
When the citizens of any country are seduced by politicians to covet their neighbor’s property, those citizens will ultimately become the slaves of the politicians that seduced them.
Until next time,
(this article was originally published on August 10, 2018 on Jim’s Pastor’s page)