Sunday, February 7, 2010

Beg, Borrow Or Steal

Despite the palpable erosion of moral values and personal pride in America, it is still true that a vast majority of the people, no matter their economic condition, have boundaries they will not cross. Borrowing has lost all of the stigma formerly attached to it, but people recoil at the notion of begging and - thankfully - persist in the realization that stealing is taboo. And while for some, when desperation allows for brief moments of unthinkable thoughts, they are still able to push them aside and not act on them to better their own circumstances.

How odd it is, then, that these same people feel no compulsion whatsoever to refuse the bounties bestowed on them by the government despite the fact that what they receive has been stolen from another. Worse yet is that the recipients actually encourage such behavior in the form of "taxing the rich".

One of my favorite stories of how to deal with the unscrupulous is the story of King Solomon, who was faced with a dilemma. Two women came to Solomon both claiming to be the mother of a baby, and asked the king to decide who should have the child. King Solomon summoned a soldier and ordered him to cut the baby in half so that each woman could have her share. The first woman agreed while the second, in horror, begged the king to give the child to the other woman in order to spare its life.

In his wisdom, Solomon knew instantly who the real mother was and declared that the second, merciful woman would have the child. Today I came across another story of a king whose wisdom and judgement is unassailable, and his lesson pertinent.

It was written in 1962 by a Fort Worth, Texas businessman named Lewis Love, and I found it on, presented here in its entirety:

There once lived a king in a distant land—a just and wise old king, for he had observed and learned much about his people and about himself and his power. His people were free to go their way, and were fearful of the king and his soldiers, for his rule granted no privilege to one that was not a privilege to all equally. And they were free to petition their king and seek his wisdom in their affairs.

Thus there came one day to the royal court an artisan, a mason, and a beggar who was lame.

"O great and wise king," they cried, "we are sorely troubled with our plight." "I," said the artisan, "make many useful goods. I use great skill and labor long, and yet when I am finished, the people will not pay my price."

"And I," said the mason, "am a layer of stone for houses and fine walls, yet I am idle, for no one gives me work."

"I am a poor lame beggar," said the third man, "who seeks alms from those who pass, as they find it in their hearts to do so, but alms are so few as to be of great concern lest I perish."

"I can see that your trouble is great," consoled the king, "and what would you ask of me?"

Then, they spoke as a group, the artisan, the mason, and the beg-gar who was lame: "Your power is very great, our king, and you can make the people see the folly of their ways and aid us in our troubles."

"Perhaps," said the king, "perhaps my power is great, but I must use it wisely or it shall be lost." And he called to the captain of his guard.

"Bring forth three swords," he commanded, "one for each of these men, and instruct them in their use. These three shall go forth in the land and compel those who will not voluntarily deal with them to obey their command."

"No! no!" the three men called out, "this we did not ask. We are men of honor and could not set upon our fellow man to compel him to our will. This we cannot do. It is you, 0 king, who must use the power."

"You ask me to do that which you would not do because of honor?" questioned the king. "Is honor one thing to a beggar and another to a king? I, too, am an honorable man, and that which is dishonorable for you will never be less dishonorable for your king."
So it is, perhaps, that if those who cry most shrilly of the injustice of the wealthy were brought to the gates of the mansion and told to go up, knock on the door and demand cash, or go home without any further assistance from a third party, it would cause a bit more self reliance and less envy.

Just a thought...

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Edisto Joe said...

How true, how true. I have always found it amazing, especially with Democrats, taxing the wealthy is their first option on paying for anything. Reagan preached self reliance, less government and less tax...I wonder if he was related to that King?

Anonymous said...

There's a disturbing question over at The Terrorist's Advocate.

Think carefully before answering. It's not meant as a tasteless joke.

Edisto Joe said...

Haven't heard from you lately...hope everything is alright.

Woody said...

Hey Joe,
I appreciate the concern. Yeah, I have been off the radar (and my feet) for most of this week. I had a nasty bout of high blood pressure, and an even nastier sneak-attack by the flu.

Now that I have the right meds, all I need is for my appetite to return and I will finally start to feel normal again.


Robert said...

As Edisto Joe said, to the democrats taxing the rich has always been the option, even though they *the rich* already pay the lion's share of taxes, but I fear that will never change.

Great post here.