Quote of the Day – P.J. O’Rourke Edition

Kathy Jackson of the Cornered Cat blog pointed me to this one on Facebook.  It ties into something I’ve been working on the last few weeks, but I thought I’d post it here as QotD:

Now the Bible might seem to be a strange place to do economic research—particularly for a person who is not very religious and here in a country that is not predominately Jewish or Christian.

However, I have been thinking—from a political economy point of view—about the Tenth Commandment.

The first nine commandments concern theological principles and social law: thou shalt not commit adultery, steal, kill, etc. All religions contain such rules. But then there’s the tenth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covert thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.”

Here are God’s basic rules about how the Tribes of Israel should live, a very brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts, and right at the end of it is, “Don’t envy your friend’s cow.”

What is that doing in there? Why would God, with just ten things to tell Moses, choose, as one of them, jealousy about the things the man next door has? And yet think about how important to the well-being of a community this commandment is. If you want a donkey, if you want a meal, if you want an employee, don’t complain about what other people have, go get your own. The tenth commandment sends a message to collectivists, to people who believe wealth is best obtained by redistribution. And the message is clear and concise: Go to hell.

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