#113 People Should Be Free

the christian economist dave arnott

#113 People Should be Free

God wants people to be as free as possible in their political and economic lives.  There are ten ways in which freedom is being constrained in our world today.


The Declaration of Independence calls them “Inalienable rights,” because it assumes they come from God, not from Government.  Here’s the philosophical background.  The free view aligns with the Protestant concept that the human being is a free moral agent whose moral function requires the exercise of free will. For the Christian, every person is tasked with making moral decisions as voluntary acts of their own free will. The non-Christian view has no use for moral agency based on free will because the materialistic morality of utilitarianism is based on simple conformity to a social consensus of best practices. Conceptually, there is no room for an individual’s moral choice. It is this conformist materialist philosophy that is the root cause of the “cancel culture” aspect of the non-free folks.  In the free view, it is the individual who chooses; under the non-free view, the individual is one who conforms.  I’ve used a simple diagram showing that in free-market capitalism, economic decisions are made by individual choice.  In socialism, decisions are made by group force. 

In Biblical Economic Policy, Sergiy Saydometov and I list ten Commandments of Economics.  The first one is, “People Should Be Free.”  Increasingly, people are becoming less free.  Here are ten ways.


1. Free Enterprise

The title kind of explains what Christian Economists favor, doesn’t it?  Do you want a free economy or a government-constrained economy?  I’ve explained in many other podcasts that it’s only in a free-market capitalist economy that an individual can exercise the command to give.  In a Socialist economy, where the mantra is “From each according to his ability, and to each according to his need,” people only get what they need.  What’s left-over to give?

2. Free trade

Free trade makes nations richer, constrained trade makes them poorer.  Constrained trade is one of the few choices on which President Trump and President Biden agree, and they are both wrong.  100% of economists agree with the statement, “Trade with China makes most Americans better off because, among other advantages, they can buy goods that are made or assembled more cheaply in China.”  Whenever you get 100% of economists agreeing, we should probably pay attention.  If we really did get richer by buying products and services from our own country, wouldn’t buying only at the state level make our state even richer?  What about buying only in our county? City?  Maybe we should buy only products made on our street?  At our home?  Gets kinda ridiculous after a while doesn’t it?  The same rules apply at the national and house level: Make what you do best and buy the rest.  It’s pretty simple economics, and it also happens to agree with our Christian worldview.  I can’t find a scripture that tells us to discriminate against Mexicans or the Chinese.

3. Freedom from Government 

In his book, Three Felonies a Day, Harvey Silverglate and Alan Dershowitz point out that we have so many confusing and contradictory laws, that bureaucrats make decisions for us.  Their point is that we are no longer guided by-laws made by our legislative bodies, that role has been turned over to entrenched bureaucrats whose job is supposed to be only the implementation of the laws. 

In The False Promise of Big Government, Patrick Garry writes, “Big government does not help the poor, the working class, and the middle class, even though those groups provide the justification for big government.  In fact, big government often hurts the supposed beneficiaries of government largesse.  Those who gain the most from big government are the elite and the powerful.”

Roger Scruton authored the book How to be a Conservative.  In one of his other writings, he makes the case for conservatism as the party of freedom. He writes: “Those tasks that only governments can perform—1. defense of the realm, 2. the maintenance of law and order, 3. the repair of infrastructure, and 4. the coordination of relief in emergencies.  According to Mr. Scruton, all other activities should be in the private realm of the economy. 

4. Freedom of opportunity 

That opportunity is usually expressed as equality, not equity.  My podcast #90 Equality or Equity explains that equality means equality of opportunity, while equity means equality of outcome.  In Discrimination and Disparities, Thomas Sowell points out that no society in history has ever had equal outcomes among various groups.  

When President Biden announced his vice-president would be a black woman, that opportunity was then denied to people in other groups.  When he announced his replacement for Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court would be a black woman, he denied that opportunity to people in other groups.  

In his famous, “I have a dream” speech, Martin Luther King Jr called for a country in which his children would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  Kamala Harris was judged by the color of her skin, and the next nominee to the Supreme Court will be judged in the same way.  That denies the freedom of opportunity to other people. 

5. Free to Serve the Poor 

Every economic policy can be categorized as either growing the pie or dividing the pie.  It really is that simple.  I’m continually amazed by seemingly bright people who don’t understand this.  I’ve said many times, Socialists are good at demand, but terrible at supply.  Alexandria Ocasio Cortez said in an interview, “We have more supply than demand of products.”  Hold it.  WHO has more supply than demand?  Not in Cuba.  Not in Venezuela.  Not in North Korea.  She’s right, WE have more supply than demand in America.  Where did that supply come from?  It came from the free market capitalist system that she denounces.  She’s a self-avowed Socialist.  There is no record in history, where Socialism produced more supply than demand.  Matter of fact, it’s rather impossible by definition.  If Socialism follows the idea “From each according to his ability, and to each according to his need,” where would the excess supply come from?  Socialism is committed to fulfilling needs, not wants.  I unpack more of this idea in podcast #105 The Free Market Feeds the Poor

6. Freedom to be Vaccine Free

One of my best students is deciding whether to take the forced Covid vaccine and stay in the ROTC program or be forced out.  He’s had Covid twice, so he has natural immunities.  And, his reasoning, I think is exactly correct.  It’s not so much about taking a jab, because he’s had several vaccinations for other diseases.  He is deciding whether he wants to spend his career working in an organization that makes such decisions that are not based on fact.  He continues to explain that he’s a very healthy 20-year-old, who is at very little risk of Covid death.  In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand mentions that eventually, the good people will stop working, leaving organizations populated only by those who don’t have the ability to leave.  One of the Army’s best just shrugged.  This is true of all organizations: Constraints push the good people out, and you’re left only with those who can’t leave.  To some extent, the vaccine mandate will do that to the US military. 

7. Freedom from Crime

The Christian Worldview contains only three elements: Creation, fall, redemption.  Economics started with scarcity, after the fall.  If you deny the fall, bad policies result.  And the current result is a higher crime rate.  Defunding the police denies the fallen nature of humans.  Humans ARE fallen, there is so much ample evidence that I won’t waste my time on the subject.   


8. Energy Independence

Germany lost their freedom when it approved the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that was supported by President Biden.  They are unable to stand up against Russia’s forthcoming invasion of Ukraine because they are reliant on Russia for energy.  There’s more to be said about this, but in brief: Germany almost bankrupted the country building solar and wind farms.  Their citizens pay 42 cents for the same kilowatt that I pay ten cents for in Texas.  Who is more free: My fellow Texans at 10 cents, or the Germans, and the French also, by the way, when they pay 42 cents?  In the meantime, Russia is building a gas pipeline to China, to reduce its reliance on revenue from gas sales to Europe.  Get it?  Europe is becoming more reliant on the Russian supply, but Russia is less reliant on European revenue.

9. Freedom from Discrimination

Jordan Peterson resigned from his tenured position as a full professor at the University of Toronto because the students he produced would be discriminated against in the hyper-partisan academic environment.  I will refer again to the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  She says that, at some point, the productive people “shrug” and stop providing for people who are not working.  Jordan Peterson just shrugged.  

  1. Freedom of life  

That means, for the unborn:  If we care about those among us who have the least power, we should care about babies in the womb.  Since they don’t vote, they don’t have a voice of their own, so someone has to speak for them.  One-third of the US black population has been eliminated by the Democratic party policy of abortion.  That sentence is a fact, not an opinion.  Here’s the simple math There have been about 63 million abortions since Roe vs Wade in 1973.  Let’s round that down to 60 million to make the math easy.  Blacks make up 13% of the US population but have 36% of abortions.  Let’s round that down to 33% to make the math easy.  33% of 60 million is 20 million.  That’s a reduction of the black population by 20 million.  There are 42 million blacks alive in the US.  Let’s round that to 40 million.  Without abortion, there would be 60 million blacks in the US.  Because of it, there are 40 million, making the following statement a true fact: The US black population has been reduced by one-third by the Democratic party policy of abortion.  Why that’s not a headline in the news every day, continues to astound me.  

Libre: Liberal Arts of the FREE man

When the Romans wanted to create a society where the common man could vote, they created Liberal Arts education.  “Liberal” comes from the Latin term “libre” meaning free.  So a liberal arts education is not free from tuition, as my Dallas Baptist University students want it to be, it is the education that is necessary for a free society.  To make intelligent decisions about voting in a free society, individuals must have a basic understanding of politics, economics, social behavior, and leadership.  They have to understand the fallen nature of humans that I spoke about earlier.  A liberal arts education is well-rounded, preparing people to function in society as a whole person. 

I would like to speak about freedom of thought, freedom of religion, school choice, freedom from excessive taxes, and others, but I will have to save those for another podcast.  I hope you’re getting the point.  By this single concept: Freedom, we can separate just about every religious, political, and economic concept. 


Read along with #TheChristianEconomist

  • Biblical Economic Policy https://amzn.to/3nn8inO
  • Three Felonies a Day https://amzn.to/3JLKjqH
  • The False Promise of Big Government: https://amzn.to/3lu1McC
  • How to be a Conservative https://amzn.to/3GVLFx0
  • Discrimination and Disparities https://amzn.to/3zWvMmH
  • Atlas Shrugged https://amzn.to/3AF0ZfP
  • https://davearnott.com/105-the-free-market-feeds-the-poor/
  • https://davearnott.com/90-equality-or-equity/

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