All Commentary
Monday, November 1, 1965

Legalized Coveting

Dr. Kershner is President of the Christian Freedom Foundation. This article is from his weekly column, “It’s Up to You,” June 28, 1965.

A Minister said to me recently that many of his parishioners could not afford to buy their monthly railroad tickets to go to their jobs in New York and that the government should subsidize the railroads. I said that would mean seizing some of the wealth of many who are forced to live in the noisy, crowded, dirty cities because they cannot afford to go to the country, and giving some of it to his parishioners who wanted to live in the more desirable suburbs.

I said, “If you wish to be honest about the matter, advise your parishioners to explain to their friends that they need help to buy their railroad tickets and ask each one to subcribe 50¢ or $1 a month for that purpose.” The minister replied, “But no one would do that.” “Of course not,” I replied, “but you are proposing to put your hand into the pockets of these peo­ple and take the money from them by the coercive power of govern­ment. That is both coveting and stealing.”

These people would hardly have returned to their homes after their unsuccessful effort to get their neighbors to subsidize them until a group of farmers would knock on the door and say, “We cannot afford to sell our produce at the market price. Will you contribute 50¢ a month so we can have more than the market affords?” You reply, “I would like to help you but I have difficulty paying my own grocery bill and I am sorry I cannot do anything for you.” But you do. The farmers organize a pressure group, go into politics, and take from the public $6 to $8 billion a year to subsidize farming.

After the farmers were gone, another group would knock on your door and explain that they want to build houses for them­selves but need some help. You would tell them you are having some difficulty meeting payments on your own house and you can­not help. But you do, for the coer­cive power of government seizes some of the wealth of us all in order to subsidize construction of new homes. In one way or another most of the homes being built to­day are subsidized by government.

Another group would call upon you and want help with their rent,  but you tell them your own hous­ing problem is quite enough. But through the power of government they compel you to subsidize them. So, a very large part of our rental housing property is subsidized by government.

We have formed an almost in­numerable number of pressure groups, each using political power to see how much of the wealth of others it can get for its members. When government forgets its re­sponsibility and begins to seize the wealth of some of its citizens for distribution to others, this process will go on until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare. We shall destroy ourselves and decline if we cannot recover from the temptation to covet and steal from one another. To be sure, it is done legally, but this does not alter the essential nature of the act. Three men can gang up politically and legally seize the wealth of a fourth, but it is covet­ing and stealing, nevertheless. Those who practice it are violating the Commandments of God and in so doing they will destroy themselves and their society.