By Franklin Sanders
What is this American mania for making rules? Face it: America has shifted from a character-based society to a rule-based society. Formerly people’s character restrained them, now we must have rules.
Immediately after the war Robert E. Lee was chosen to become president of Washington College in Lexington. When someone asked him what sort of rules he would set up to control young men hardened by four years of cruel war, he replied, “I have but one rule, and that is to make no unnecessary rules.”
Lee presupposed that a gentleman, a person with character, needs no rules. He needs no rule against stealing, because he does not steal. But with people of no character, you must post watchmen and police and rules everywhere. “Don’t steal the silverware! Don’t steal the towels! Don’t steal the furniture!”
Because they cannot rule themselves, Americans want — demand — rules for everything, and literally cannot behave without them. Without character or integrity, they are inwardly lawless. Because they cannot restrain themselves, they must be outwardly restrained.
But more rules won’t cure lawlessness. The rule of law must be grounded inwardly. Only a change of heart can sustain inward integrity.
“The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient.” 1 Timothy 1:9
We have a promise. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” (Hebrews 10:16, quoting Jeremiah 31:33) So St. Paul can write, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” That love of God written on our hearts that makes us love our neighbor, and opens our eyes to the image of God in him that we must respect.
That is the goal of the law, and endless lists of rules can never confer that integrity.
Regulation’s reign of terror
Today, America is choking on government rules and regulations, yet everyone clamors for them. Why? To keep out the competition. Together with the banking & monetary system, regulations constitute the greatest obstacle to prosperity.
A number of years ago in Chattanooga I was standing on the balcony of my motel, overlooking the back entrance to a restaurant. While I was watching a Hispanic woman pulled up, parked, and opened her trunk. A couple of Hispanic men came out of the kitchen, and while I was watching, she fixed them a snack out of the back of the trunk, and they paid her.
It was enough to send the FDA, USDA, City of Chattanooga licensing department, and Tennessee department of restaurant cleanliness into apoplexy followed by coma.
But none of the victims complained, because, well, they weren’t victims. They were simply doing what free people do for themselves, buying and selling and taking care of each other’s needs. That Latina understood better than most Americans that the state’s laws cannot supersede the law of life. Survival comes before submission. To provide for your family is more important than observing wicked regulations designed only to block competition.
Used by permission. Subscribe to the Moneychanger’s daily commentary by dropping your email address at Franklin’s website, the-moneychanger.com. Franklin Sanders is publisher of The Moneychanger, a privately circulated monthly newsletter that focuses on gold and silver and the application of Christianity to economics, culture and family life. We have subscribed to this newsletter for more than 20 years, and consider it a must read. F$99 a year. Franklin is an active trader in gold and silver (he’ll swap your green Federal Reserve rectangles and give you real money in return). He trades with savers and investors outside Tennessee. F. Sanders, The Moneychanger, P.O. Box 178, Westpoint, Tenn. 38486 Tel. 888-218-9226.