Natural Laws of Human Relations

Mr. Bateman is a Vice-president and Director 05 Anderson, Utayton & uom2aany.

Human relations, like science, are bound by certain inexorable laws which men violate at their own risk.

Even demagogues and dictators respect the natural laws of science. Yet all of us to some degree fail to have equal respect for the natural laws of human relations and of economics. We seem constantly under illusion that we can violate these laws for our own self-benefit and somehow escape the consequences or even better still require someone else to pay for the consequences of our violations.

Our Chambers of Commerce, our labor unions, our trade associations, our farm organizations, and we citizens individually, never urge Congress to repeal the law of gravity, nor to pass laws which contravene the law of conservation of energy. Yet our same organizations, we same citizens, somehow do not hesitate to urge Congress to pass laws intended to set aside or nullify the law of supply and demand or intended to imply that one can get something for nothing.

Our economy is so finely integrated and its parts so interdependent that the effects of any violation of social laws are often thinly diffused over the whole. Injuries from single actions are little felt, and so we repeat and enlarge the injurious action; and only in time are the consequences felt—as in taking dope or piling straws on a camel’s back. But invariably the natural laws of economics assert themselves, and however long postponed, eventually the “crows come home to roost.” Can there be a more striking example than the price depressing farm surpluses which now overhang the market as the result of the perpetuation of an unsound law passed to benefit the very group which now is being injured by its ultimate though long delayed consequences?

Let’s take another case—the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act, which Congress passed in 1930 with the positive intention, I am sure, of benefiting certain groups within our country and with the less positive but no doubt hopeful intention that it would benefit all groups in our nation. How all groups could be benefited by a measure intended to raise prices and therefore the cost of living was apparently not reasoned through.

How many lessons have we learned from our past mistakes? We still see nations which will support only governments committed to the erroneous principle that inflationary fiscal policies will bring a higher standard of living to its citizens. We see our own country committed to a policy of “controlled” inflation. Frankly, I am not too sure what “controlled” inflation means and whether inflation can be controlled once it gains sufficient momentum. We see nations demanding that government take over ever-increasing segments of businesses and services, presumably on the theory that government ownership provides more incentive, greater ingenuity, and a higher standard of living for its citizens than ownership by individuals or groups of individuals can provide. There are strong forces here which with some success constantly urge the same course for us. It is my belief that inflationary fiscal policies and government ownership of production violate fundamental laws of economics and human relations and that the bad seeds of such violations will eventually reap a harvest of bitter fruit.

If we demand as a condition to election that our congressmen and senators constantly violate these natural laws, then we deserve the sort of government that we get and the consequences of such government. Whatever personal association I have had with congressmen and senators leads me to believe that they are far more capable than their constituents ever give them credit for being and that they would prefer to give us better government if we weren’t constantly pressuring for bad government. In the final analysis, bad government is not much more or less than taking away from one group to give to another group, or taking away from other nations for supposed benefits to certain groups within our nation.

Our real hope for good government, for economic well-being, for peace, and for preservation from annihilation by destructive war lies solely in developing greater respect for and more thorough observance of God’s laws—which include the natural laws of science, economics, and human relations.

Although it is more difficult to bring people to the widespread belief that the natural laws of human relations and of economics are just as eternal and inexorable as the natural laws of science, and that the consequences of violation in the long run are just as disastrous, I am hopeful that scientists can lead the way to better understanding of these fundamental values. Scientists have shown great capacity for educating themselves and practically everybody else in the futility of trying to nullify, set aside, or change the natural laws of science. We businessmen and those who make politics their profession seem not only to have failed to convince people generally that our natural laws of economics and of human relations cannot be violated without disastrous consequences but we often delude ourselves into believing the specious arguments which we make for special interests in the name of the general welfare. We need better understanding among ourselves.

Let each of us begin, individually. []

From an address, American Oil Chemists Society, Houston, Texas, April 23, 1956.

Good Samaritan Economics

From the standpoint of economics and individuality, certain aspects of the story of “The Good Samaritan” merit further attention. It is to be noted that the Samaritan’s sense of duty toward his fellow man had not been dulled by a government bureau; his individual love for humanity remained sharp. Nor do we find him relegating the victim to some humanitarian cause. No, we find this Samaritan assuming the responsibility as his own privilege, and moreover, paying in advance for the man’s immediate needs. Apparently, the Samaritan had not been milked dry by taxes for the care of the unfortunate, so that the joy of voluntary service remained in his possession.

We do not find the Samaritan scheming to establish a government bureau to take care of such cases. Nor did the Samaritan rob the man of his native ability to carry on for himself upon recovery. No attempt is made by the Samaritan to send the man to an organization of some kind for rehabilitation. He seems to know that, with a minimum of help toward recovery, the man will be able to assert his individual resourcefulness even though he had been stripped and robbed of all that he possessed. Thus the man’s ability is not stultified. He is free to make his own way. He is not softened nor is his determination siphoned away by parasitical ideas.

This is true economy—the economy of independence—commended, we are told, by the founder of Christianity.

Constance F. Burnham,
Santa Barbara, California