Property and Society - EC357

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Property and Society
Course: Course - Easy Chair Series
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 55
Length: 0:58:20
TapeCode: ec357
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Easy Chair Series.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 357, March 6, 1996.

This evening Douglas Murray, Andrew Sandlin and Mark Rushdoony and I will begin by discussing the subject of property and society.

Some years ago when I was a student—this would be in the 1930s—I twice heard sociologist lecture to different groups. One was a student group and I have forgotten the nature of the other. He had done a very extensive bit of research on the difference between company towns and towns where people were on their own working for themselves either as small businessmen or farmers. And he said that the difference between the two cultures was dramatic. In the company town very often the company was very generous, very thoughtful, did everything to provide the proper conditions, both housing, often better than people on their own had, recreation, health care and so on. But in the company town church going was low, very much lower than in the town of people who had their own homes or farms where private property prevailed.

And so this sociologist’s conclusion was we had better look to private property, the independence and the freedom of the small owners of businesses and farms or we were going to be in trouble as a country, that everything indicated that the stability of society was far greater and more likely to be found in the freeholder.

Now at that time his message was not too popular because the trend under the New Deal and Roosevelt was running in the opposite direction in favor of Statism of federal controls and federal benefits. And it has continued that way. [00:03:11]

I don’t know what ever became of his work...[edit]

I don’t know what ever became of his work. I believe it was published in some learned journal. I believe someone showed me a copy of it once. But what he had called attention to was nothing new. An example of the same kind of thing was the Plymouth Colony in Boston and New England as against Jamestown in Virginia.

Carl Bridenbaugh did write a book on Jamestown—1544-1699 which was published by the Oxford University Press in 1980. And in the course of his book he makes this statement.

“In writing to Sir Edwin Sandies in 1620 John Rolfe (and I believe Rolfe was the husband of Pocahontas) was more candid and specific in his remarks about the low caliber of the early Jamestonians. I speak on my own experience of these 11 years. I never amongst so few have seen so many false hearted, envious and malicious people, yea, among some who march in the better rank.

“Alderman Johnson stated that of the thousand colonists sent out in the first 12 years, those who succumbed, four out of five, were people for the most part of the meanest rank. At times, as governor Dale conceded in 1611, every man almost laments himself of being here and murmurs at his present state, though happily he would not be better in England.”

Well, as Bridenbaugh points out, the population of Jamestown was predominantly male. They were not there as families. They were there to get rich quick and to go back to England and lord it over others. They were improvident. They were contemptuous of the property rights of others. It was nothing unusual for a man who had only a few yards to go to be in the woods and pick up all kinds of dead branches to go instead to the neighboring house if it were vacant waiting for somebody else to come to Jamestown and inhabit it and to tear it apart and to use it for firewood. That was the kind of contempt that existed. [00:06:16]

So it was a failure...[edit]

So it was a failure. People died more readily there than elsewhere. You remember in Plymouth colony when the governors in London at first wanted them to have a kind of socialistic society with no ownership by persons and working of the company, they died. They didn’t survive. And against any instructions they went ahead and gave to everyone some private property.

Another problem at Jamestown was that they were mostly males. There was almost no family life. They were all living to return to England rich. But they didn’t want to work. They wanted indentured servants or slaves to work for them.

As a result, it was a failure. The death rate was high. And everyone was interested in show.

Another scholar has written on the Jamestown colony that the people there were more interested in becoming gentlemen.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] ... than in being workers.

Now there were many, many people that were in Plymouth and in Boston who were middle class, who had no background in farming. They were town folk. And yet the minute they had land that was their own, they quickly learned how to work it and to make a profit. So there was a dramatic difference between the Virginia Jamestown colony and the New England colonies.

Not until the Scotch Irish came to Virginia, shortly before the war of Independence, did the character of things change dramatically. One of the sad facts about southern history in this country is that it has not been properly written. It has been written as though the South was an area of aristocrats. Well, that is not true. That does an injustice to a large number of people. [00:09:08]

North Carolina, for example, had quite a number of...[edit]

North Carolina, for example, had quite a number of Scottish settlers, rugged, independent people. They hated slavery, most of them. They wanted no part of it. But too little is written about that element in the South. And you would think that all were plantation owners and aristocrats, but the majority were sturdy, hard working people. Their history in the making of the South needs to be written. And the South needs to go back and reassess its past and prize that which should be prized.

Well, at any rate, we have a problem today in that everything is being done to destroy the meaning of private ownership. If you start a business or start a farm you are in very deep trouble.

Now below us, we are up in the hill and mountain country, is the great San Joaquin Valley, one of the two richest areas in the world, an area inhabited by a variety of peoples of different backgrounds, oriental and European, north and south Europe and elsewhere. It is the riches farming area in the world. They are hardworking. They are successful. And yet today they face a problem which you may have noticed this week in the Stockton Register. Grape vines are among the most common forms of agricultural product. And yet they are not allowed now to go out and drill a little hole six feet down to break up the soil and then to pot the little piece of a branch to start a new plant there. And a man is currently facing court because he environmental groups in Washington are determined that such things cannot be done.

Now this is absurd. They have no evidence that this is bad for the ground. They know that this has been done and is necessary for viniculture. And yet they are moving against it, just as they moved against one oriental farmer because of a course of discing field he supposedly killed a kangaroo rat and that is supposed to be an endangered species. [00:12:30]

Well, I wish all rats were endangered species...[edit]

Well, I wish all rats were endangered species. At any rate, he was taken to jail and he is facing a very, very prohibitive and long battle to keep from losing everything he has and he may wind up losing it because of the cost of the battle.

This is the kind of thing that today is destroying property. And it is destroying, therefore, freedom and the character of the family.

Well, with that introduction, Douglas, you are very well versed in this area. Why don’t you ...

[Murray] Well, what you are describing is a new form of slavery unique to the United States. Property, in effect, has already been confiscated 100 percent though taxation...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Murray] ...plus the fact that you cannot pass it on inter generationally. So you have situation where after a generation or two of development or two of a winery or a farming operation, if they are successful they are punished by not being able to pass it on to the heirs who are the only ones who are, perhaps, uniquely qualified to operate that farming operation because of their experience with it and the... the information that has been handed down to them by their parents and grandparents and the government destroys that productivity by interrupting the chain of title through the estate tax. And in the vast majority of cases the ... the sons and daughters, the offspring of these two or three generation farm families are forced to sell it in order to get enough cash to pay the estate taxes.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Murray] And that destroys the working capital for the ... for the farming operation. The farming operation generally passes to either a developer who destroys the agricultural use of the land and builds houses on it and the government likes that because they don’t really care where the taxes come from. They get this big front end pay off from the estate tax and then they get the continuing taxes from the property taxes for the homes that are built on the property. [00:15:16]

So the government has no interest either short term...[edit]

So the government has no interest either short term or long term in seeing that these farming operations continue except as a practical matter since a lot of the fruit and vegetables now are being imported into the United States from other countries, they don’t have to worry about keeping their own bellies full any longer. So the farmers can’t use that as a... as a defense with the politicians. The politicians are only looking for tax income so that they can distribute to the constituency that keeps them in power. And so the long term interests of the country through this confiscation of properly are diminished, continually being diminished generation by generation. You are seeing in the San Joaquin Valley, thousands of acres of ... of rich farmland that is irreplaceable. I mean, you just don’t go just anywhere and find farm land that you can grow stuff on close enough to water, sources of water that is eco... commercially viable.

But the government doesn't seem to care. They would sooner ship this productivity to other countries, such as Chile, South America which is where most of our fruit comes from now particularly here in winter time.

So you... you have got an internationalization going on and these farm jobs, once they are lost, they are lost forever. Once they build houses on that farm land, it is ... it is over with. The... the family farm has become an anachronism. It no longer exists. Any family that does have a farming operation is incorporated. They have generally set up trusts if they are large enough and have enough financial wherewithal. They have set up trusts to pass the farm on to the ... to the offspring, assuming they can get them educated properly to be able to keep it commercially viable, because now it is very high tech. And they have... they have become commodity brokers more than they have become farmers. Most successful farming operations now keep very, very close tabs on the commodity markets, because this determines totally what they are going to plant, how much they are going to plant and they are very, very market oriented. [00:18:08]

The ... the politicians really have no interest in private property any longer. It is simply booty to be seized. And the laws now, as you mentioned earlier, are being carefully, slowly and carefully crafted to make it total slavery. Slaves don’t own property. Slaves work on other people’s property. And the other people is now the government and we are thee slaves. And anybody who thinks that their money is theirs, the money that they earn is theirs or that their property is theirs, is living in a fantasy world, because it no longer exists in the United States. The... we are... we are fed the illusion and unfortunately most of the country is not awakened to that fact. We ... we have an illusory constitution that no longer exists. We have the illusion of private property and we have the illusion of freedom. And people just haven’t awakened from the dream.

[Voice] Well, you were talking about inheritance taxes, Douglas, and I was thinking of the Scriptures and of Naboth and of his absolute refusal to sell his vineyard that was handed down from generation to generation in the family, as property should be. And, of course, he was killed for his fidelity to his faith and to his fathers. That is just one example in the Word of God of the state’s desire to seize property. And, of course, today we have ... well, {?} have had for many centuries the problem of eminent domain. Rush was mentioning before the taping I think just a couple of days before the state Supreme Court arrived at a decision that the state may seize particular property used in the commission of a crime, whether that property is owned by an individual who committed the crime or not. And, of course, I remember several years ago in Ohio there was seizure law regarding automobiles. And...

[Murray] Any... any excuse will do.

[Voice] Any excuse will do. That is precisely correct. And a state that does that... well, property is a religious phenomenon. The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” So any entity that attempts to seize property summarily in that way is really claiming to be God walking the earth. And that is what we have today, the modern state. There is much more we can say, but I will let it go there. [00:21:02]

[Voice] Well, the ...[edit]

[Voice] Well, the ... the custodianship is not with the individual property isn’t going to be used for the right purpose and we talked about Jamestown. The colonies that were planned from... from Europe were notoriously poorly managed. There wasn’t only the time line, but they tried to impose a system that sounded good to the planners that, in reality, didn’t work out. And when the men weren’t free to pursue their own interests and their own well being and to develop property on their own, the colonies didn’t thrive.

The Carolinas, I believe, were set up on a grand feudal system that never worked. The ... the attempt to instill a feudal type system in the New York, in France was basically all the land was owned by the government. There was on incentive to go to France. You would be a company employee and you gained no permanent interest in the colony. You didn’t... couldn’t own private property because the government of France didn’t want to give up any...

[Voice] Yeah.

[Voice] ... of the entire half of the continent to individuals, lest individuals might benefit.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Voice] I think we have come kind of full circle to that attitude that they don’t want to allow any freedom. They don’t care if it is more productive that people are allowed to use their own land. They don't care if it is going to produce more tax revenue. It is a whole concept of control, just like where we were 15 years ago with the whole concept of ... of Christian schools and the trials. The concept was control. Who was in charge? Who controls the schools? It had nothing to do with which schools produced the best results. It was the issue of control.

[Murray] Well, we control nothing.

[Voice] Exactly.

[Murray] ...anymore. We don’t control our children. We don’t control our property. We don’t control our own lives. We are totally controlled. We are enslaved by a government which is practicing organized crime on a grand scale never before seen on the face of this earth.

[Voice] Well, we have bought into a socialistic idea of communal property which is why there is so much state land. What percentage of California is owned by the federal government? It is... it is...

[Rushdoony] Over 40 percent.

[Voice] Really? Yeah, almost half. Or...

[Rushdoony] It is over 90 in Nevada.

[Voice] Exactly.

[Voice] Virtually all the Sierra Nevadas, for instance, are owned by the national government.

[Voice] Yes, that is right.

[Voice] And yet when you hear about the environmentalists talk they have to protect the few privately held forest preserves...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] ... from those who would destroy them and abuse them.

It reminds me. I was on a missionary trip to Alaska several years ago. There were some Indians there and, Rush, of course, you worked with the Indians. Maybe you can add tot his also. But those who lived outside Anchorage in some of the main areas essentially live communally and if they wanted something they would just go in somebody else’s house and take it and then when they moved into Anchorage or Kenai or elsewhere and they did it, of course, they were grabbed up and thrown in jail. But that whole concept is ... is unfortunately the idea, at least, is really seeping into our culture that the state owns this and private property is really, really under assault. And it is a religious tactic by people who are at war with God.

[Murray] Well, the environmentalists really have become shock troops. They are sort of the Marines of the ... the world’s socialist movement. Anybody who thinks that they care a whit about the spotted owl or any salamander or bug is deluding themselves. [00:24:47]

[Voice] Yeah, it is a rouse...[edit]

[Voice] Yeah, it is a rouse. That is right.

[Murray] The bottom... the... and the end game is control over all resources. When you control all resources, you, in effect, have invoked total slavery.

[Voice] That is right. Well, I just read recently again The Communist Manifesto and, of course, Marx and Engels put it out so plainly. They said, “We disdain to hide our purposes,” and yet what is so strange is ... is the United States claims to be anti Marxist and Communist and Communist is the boogie man and yet to a large extent, it was frightening to read again what they said, because we have implemented much of their pattern here in the US.

[Voice] Although we have taken the Fascist model of allowing private ownership, yet no private control.

[Murray] Really, yeah.

[Voice] You can own the property, but we will tell you what to do with it.

[Murray] In name only, yeah. You pay for the privilege of calling it yours.

[Voice] There are some lights on the horizon, though, as we speak. Patrick Buchanan is... and we are not endorsing any particular candidate, but it is good to see that in his particular candidacy that people are wanting to take back property and that sort of thing. And I think there is a... there is a reaction against this darkness that we are talking about. Although we have certainly got a long way to go.

[Voice] And I think, though, there is a built in limitation of even though technically we can’t control our property, the... the powers that be are limited by their ability to implement their own controls and they are sporadic.

[Murray] Politics... yeah, politicians can’t tell you what is good for you. People have to understand what is good for themselves. If they don’t understand what God’s plan is for people all of the pronouncements by politicians in the world aren’t going to amount to a hill of beans. There is no man on a white horse that is going to ride in to save us, not a mortal man, anyway.

[Voice] Well, that is why Socialism doesn’t work, because you... you can’t predict the market. You can’t predict individual decisions. It always fails. It must always fail, because a top down system in the economy just doesn’t work. You can’t take into account individual decisions in the market.

[Murray] This... this country as... as far as looking at the body politic, is probably one of the most ignorant, economically ignorant people on the face of this earth. They don’t understand how the free market system works. They don’t understand free market enterprise.

[Voice] That is right.

[Murray] They don’t understand proprietorship and now they don’t even understand ownership. [00:27:16]

[Voice] Yeah. And that can be seen in... There is a problem and constantly the answer is: Well, what can the state do? It is never: What can individual private citizens do?

[Murray] Yeah.

[Voice] It is obvious there is ... there is a problem so, well, obviously the state has to take care of it. They can’t... they can’t even...

[multiple voices]

[Murray] Well, people have been brainwashed to the extent that they can’t think any other way.

[Voice] That’s... that’s the problem. They have been conditioned to think that way.

[Murray] They have been conditioned from preschool, before even kindergarten, you know.

[Voice] That is right.

[Murray] They are ... they are propagandized from the age of about three years old. So they don’t know anything else.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] Well, one of the things I have tried to stress year in and year out to groups as well as to reporters is that we at Chalcedon do not believe in the state or the Church or a select group of men who are running the world or the country. That for us the basic government is self government.

[Voice] Yes, amen.

[Rushdoony] And that bewilders them. Well, how will you keep things falling... from falling apart if the state is not running things? They are so used to thinking in terms of Statism that it baffles them...

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] ...that anyone can conceive of a social order in which the state is a minor factor and they sometimes are ready to think I am an anarchist.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Rushdoony] But limitations on the state are really inconceivable to them, because the state has replaced God in their thinking.

[Murray] Their opposition to your point of view only shows how far the mindset has gone in the... in the mind of the people. They can’t even... they can’t even conceive of an alternative to Statism.

[Rushdoony] I would like to bring up another aspect of this problem. Earlier I did stress the importance of property and the whole fabric of a responsible society. But I would like to go back behind that. It was John Locke who with his treatises on civil government brought about the priority of property in a social order. In part he reflected his Puritan family background, but in part he reflected the Enlightenment, because what he did was to take away priority from God and place it on the human scene in the form of property. [00:30:21]

And the culmination of that development regarding property...[edit]

And the culmination of that development regarding property, purely humanistically was Karl Marx, because with Karl Marx, the maximum utility of property came about with its socialization.

So if you separate property from God and his law and thou shalt not steal and stewardship, you have destroyed, ultimately the basis of property because if you begin with property it is easy for men to come along and say, “You have created a monster society with all the emphasis on land and things and money. So what good is your society? It is dehumanizing?” And this was the argument of the Socialists against the Lockians.

[Murray] I remember there was a big dose of that in the universities in the 1950s. They had the anti materialism movement came just prior to the anti establishment movement in the 1960s.

[Voice] We have to understand. Right wing Enlightenment is no better than the left wing Enlightenment. And, Rush, you were talking about Locke and, of course, his idea which eventually became the secular social contract which then paved the way for just what you were talking about, Socialism. There has to be a biblical idea, the biblical idea of the property as stewardship.

[Rushdoony] yes.

[Voice] I mean, we don’t actually speak of private property, of course, in the human sphere and it is right to do so. But property belongs to God and he has given it to individuals to steward for him. So it is precisely correct.

[Murray] Isn’t it interesting that that is how the federal government sees their role over public lands?

[Voice] Absolutely.

[Rushdoony] Well, what happened was that with Locke the puritan and biblical idea of the covenant between God and man...

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Were replaced by the social contract.

[Voice] Absolutely.

[Rushdoony] ...between man and man.

[Voice] Absolutely.

[Rushdoony] So a good doctrine was taken and falsified.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And it is no wonder that in time the people who despised everything Locke stood for were able to utilize the foundations he laid for a humanistic, Socialist society.

[Voice] And Statists are anti covenantal to the core. And that is what you were talking about earlier, Douglas, with the inheritance taxes. They hate the idea that property can be transferred from generation to generation. For them the earth belongs to the living, as Jefferson said. Boy, that point was well made in a book... And I just can’t remember the title. Origins of American Radicalism. I think Princeton published it and I can’t remember the author. But he pointed out that very thing, Rush, that the progression. But they are anti covenantalists. They believe you have to be reinventing ownership of property every generation. And that is why they have the inheritance taxes. They hate the covenant. They hate the idea that godly people would hand out property and other things from generation to generation and exercise dominion. That is what they despise. [00:33:46]

[Murray] Well, the government has got to get their...[edit]

[Murray] Well, the government has got to get their cut, you know, they... they always step in for the broker fee.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Murray] They have to... they... and... and each generation... between each generation they have to reestablish their primacy by taking a cut of the... of the proceeds.

[Voice] Well, they... they in their heart are anti dominion and so they want to take their own dominion. That is why they have to assault property, because God has given the promises in Deuteronomy and elsewhere that his people, if they are obedient, will exercise extensive dominion including dominion over property and you will steward it well and operate with it wisely. Well, they have to tax the property so that doesn't happen. But ultimately the war against property is the war against God, because God is the owner of all property.

[Murray] Well, nowadays small business people are confronted with federal income tax, state income tax. They pay a tax on a license simply for the privilege of ... of operating a business.

[Voice] What percentage of the income ... is it nearly 50 now that is... if you count up all of the taxes it is nearly...

[Murray] Forty eight and a half by last count and rising.

[Voice] That is just unconscionable.

[Murray] You have got... you have to pay a tax in the form of a business license tax. Then you are taxed on the tools of production, hand tools, equipment and so forth.

[Voice] Absolutely. Plus they hidden taxes.

[Murray] You are an unpaid tax collector.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Murray] And therefore taxed further. You are taxed by virtue of inflation. Anything that you acquire evaporates before you get a chance to spend it.

[Voice] That is right.

[Murray] And the... the... nowadays, the definition of being successful in business is that you retain just enough money to keep from starving to death.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Murray] But you never make enough to be prosperous.

[Voice] There is no capitalization. That is right. And if you are self employed, I think, Douglas, isn’t it even worse because you have to—particularly in the case of the social security—aren’t you sort of doubly penalized? You have to keep out both... both portions, the... what the... what the employer would pay?

[Murray] Well, certainly.

[Voice] {?} Yeah. Which really is a drag on entrepreneurs {?} self employed.

[Murray] Well, it... it... it soaks of the working capital at such a rate that it is extremely difficult to grow a business.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Murray] And I suspect that this may be in... in... done hand in hand because the banks, you know, love to loan money to businesses. The small business administration loves to loan money to businesses and they ... they don’t care if they fail, because they know there will be a fresh... another fresh crop that they can own... loan money to. And they create slavery. [00:36:28]

[Voice] It is another point I was thinking of, Rush...[edit]

[Voice] It is another point I was thinking of, Rush, you know Richard Weaver’s book Ideas have Consequences. I haven’t read it for several years, but he has a chapter in there on property and he laments the idea of property getting away from a tangential hard... idea of hard property, tangible property and it was a fascinating point. I can’t remember the whole argument, but he was talking about stocks and shares and speculative property and that sort of thing. I think that is another... when people talk today about making money it is ... it is often times in the stock market, bonds and away from tangible property. I thought that was a fascinating point.

[Rushdoony] We have a problem where property is concerned today in that too many Christians in radical contradiction to the Bible and to God’s law downgrade property as though things material were to be despised.

[Voice] Neo Platonic, yes.

[Rushdoony] That is an ascetic view that is out of place in the Church.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And because of this, there is no interest in becoming property. There is no preaching on what God has to say about stewardship and ownership.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] There is no teaching of children...

[Voice] Yes. That is right.

[Rushdoony] On.... of God and property.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] It used to be we were told when I was very young about the relationship between our faith and commandments such as thou shalt not steal, proper respect for what was somebody else’s. It was all regarded as religiously and morally important. No more.

[Voice] No provident or long term thinking. I was just talking to someone recently. I was talking about a relative and I said, “Well, doesn’t this person think about when his or her money is going to run out in five years?”

Oh, no, oh, no. That is... there is just not that way of thinking among too many Christians today. It is all, of course, the problem is defective eschatology in many instances.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] They think the rapture will come soon. But this downgrading of property is ... is really a pagan, an old, ancient... well, ancient Greek idea. And it is a shame that Christians, so many Christians hold to it. It is a denial of the authority of God in all spheres of life, including the material.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Murray] Well, they are gamblers.

[Voice] That is right. Yeah, that is a good way to put it. [00:39:00]

[Murray] Sure. They are gambling on the outcome.

[Voice] That is right. I have actually heard some of them say, “Run up your credit card debt. Run up your debt, because the antichrist is going to get the bills anyway. So just run up your... you don’t have to spend wisely and...” That is actually frowned upon by many churches. If I were to go into some of those churches and preach a sermon on the problem of debt or provident use of property they would say, “Well, that is not spiritual. That is not inspiration.” And I would point out. That is true. And I have pointed out from the Word of God that this is what the Word of God says. Well, it... no, we want to read John 3:16 or Acts chapter two or something.

I said, “Well, this is just as much a Word of God as... the Word of God as those are.”

[Murray] They don’t want any bad news.

[Voice] Yeah, that is exactly right.

[Murray] Nor do they want to face their, perhaps, own shortcomings.

[Voice] And that is one reason the Church is so impotent today. The Church is so retreatist, because the wicked are Dominionists today. They eventually will not be successful, but they are. God has permitted them to be successful, because in this time discourages church because she has been so unfaithful.

[Voice] And, too, death has also created an attitude in people’s mind that they... they realize that they really don't own the property anyway, that they are only really... it is really only an investment to them. And they think of property as equity.

[Voice] Good point.

[Voice] And equity is something I will always can pull out at a later time and maneuver it here and maneuver it there...

[Voice] That is right.

[Voice] ... so I can build more equity. And they think of property as equity and something to be exploited.

[Rushdoony] Right now the value of property has been dropping. And yet realtors find that owners who need to sell are unwilling to be realistic because to them they are always supposed to come out ahead, that inflation should increase the value on paper of their property so that they are perpetually on the up and up going into higher ground, as it were.

[Murray] Well, they are... they are playing with dynamite. I mean, leverage is... is abounding and it can blow up in your face. Lot’s of people have destroyed whatever they had by getting over leveraged. But yet they believe that is the way to be all the time. They... they think that makes them vulnerable, them invulnerable. In fact, a lot of companies during the 1980s leveraged themselves to the hilt and got so far in debt so that they couldn’t be taken over in the... the... the leveraged buy out and merger mania of the 1980s. So debt became the vogue thing in business.

[Voice] Yeah. God will not be mocked, though. The debt culture is a slave culture and especially when Christians do that.

Well, just read in Deuteronomy chapter 28.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] What God says is so... plainly if you are obedient you will be a creditor and not a debtor and vice versa, of course, if you are disobedient. And that is a sad commentary on the modern church. This is something that has got to be preached. [00:42:12]

This is why many Christian organizations like ours...[edit]

This is why many Christian organizations like ours who could be doing better financially and we need it, many Christians are so far in debt and slaves to debt they can’t support things that they should be supporting that mortgage their future.

[Voice] When property is not seen as an area of dominion and it is seen as just equity, too, it spills over into the ... the business aspect. Corporations are owned by people who have stock or wiling to get in and it is a transient ownership.

[Voice] That is right.

[Voice] The management is also transient and the management gets outrageous sums of money in the hopes that they can work their, you know, Harvard Business School, you know, magic.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Voice] And make a profit and they are gone in a few years with a huge retirement package and one day the employees wake up and say, “You have been sold. We are shutting this factory down.”

[Voice] That is right.

[Voice] You are out of a job. And they wonder what happened, because nobody thinks of a company anymore...

[Voice] That is right.

[Voice] ...a kind of a responsibility to the employees, something to be proud of, the ownership of a company. It is... it means nothing.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] One of the things that I have seen in my 80 years is change in perspective with regard to property and the care thereof, to put it in general terms. In the 20s and 30s people were very careful not to trash up their place. Those were years when people lived as compare today poorly. But I think there would have been quite a hue and cry in any neighborhood I lived in that time if any one of us children dropped a candy wrapper or a piece of scratch paper on the sidewalk or the street. It wasn’t tolerated. It was regarded, really, as a sin.

[Murray] Well, Europeans have always considered Americans trashy. They come over here and they see trash along the side of the highway. You know, what little traveling I did in Europe in 1950s and this is, you know, right after the war when things... people were still kind of reeling and trying to get back on their feet. You didn’t find a scrap of paper anywhere. I traveled to Italy and Austria and France and Germany. You didn’t see a ... a cigarette butt, nothing alongside the... in a railway station or in the ... alongside the road. You never saw a scrap of paper blowing in the wind. I mean, it was almost eerie. It is like the ... the, you know, the illusion that they try to create at Disneyland, you know, they have this army of gnomes that go out in the middle of the night and clean this ... clean up the garbage that people drop during the day. [00:45:22]

You mentioned earlier, Rush, about the improvidence...[edit]

You mentioned earlier, Rush, about the improvidence of the men in Jamestown who would go next door. And I was thinking about the parallel of the public housing.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Murray] ...in this country. You know...

[Voice] Yes.

[Murray] When people have no ownership of something they don't take care of it.

[Voice] That is right.

[Murray] If you want a classic example, you just take a look at any public housing project anywhere in this country.

[Voice] Absolutely.

[Murray] And it... the... the...it is a... the stark contrast is unavoidable.

[Voice] That is right.

[Voice] The only ones that have ever been a success are the ones that they turn over to the owners and say, “It is yours now. Do something with it.”

[Voice] That is right.

[multiple voices]

[Voice] Then they run out the trash. Then they run out the people who... who... who destroy it.

[Voice] That is right. That is right.

[Rushdoony] Well...

[Murray] Maybe government should give up more often.

[Voice] Absolutely.

[Rushdoony] What I have found in my own experience and studies is that one of the worst things that can happen to a people is war. Now, granted, there are times, not many, but there are times when men have to go to war. But what happens when you got to war? Well, I saw it with World War II. In effect, we were throwing away tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of young lives.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] And we created a throw away culture. I recall after we went to war seeing with a shock how much paper trash there would be on the streets and roadsides. It was suddenly a different mentality. It was as though let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. So what is some trash on the sidewalk or on a country road?

And at least the environmental movement has in part led to the clean up of that kind of trash. But I don’t think it is properly motivated.

[Voice] No.

[Rushdoony] We have to get back to a religious respect for the earth. And I find it particularly noteworthy that Geneva and Switzerland, because of the influence of Calvin, stand out because of the emphasis on cleanliness, on avoiding trashing up anything that so marks the people there. [00:48:07]

And in Germany we forget the Black Forest is a creation...[edit]

And in Germany we forget the Black Forest is a creation Lutheranism. The Black Forest has in different times in history when they have had extreme cold, virtually disappeared and has been replanted. And Lutheranism, in particular, stressed the reforestation of various areas of Germany with dramatic results. And that is an aspect of our Christian heritage we do need to recognize and stress. In this country the problem is that too much of it, this kind of emphasis has come from the left.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And not from Christians. And they are too prone to exaggerate. You can go back to 1860 and 70 and you find people saying that in another 10 or 20 years the forests of America are all going to disappear.

Well, we have more woodland now than we did then and more now than we did in 1920 and more now than we had in 1950 because trees are a renewable resource.

[Murray] Well, they assume that nobody looks out the window when they fly in an airplane. You go anywhere in this country and you will fall asleep looking at trees. The problem is any direction you go.

[Rushdoony] Except in the Plains states and the Plains states were stripped of trees by the buffalo. The buffalo would come down from Canada in huge herds of 100,000, each herd, six to eight or more herds. Nothing would live when they go through. Not a tree would be left standing.

[Murray] Well, look at what the elephants do to the forests in Africa.

[Rushdoony] Yes, they are destroying portions of Africa because we have talked to so long about how the elephant has to be saved and now they are in great numbers. They still claim that they are disappearing, but they are destroying the forests.

[Murray] Well, they have... the... the elephants are dying for lack of food.

[Rushdoony] But in this country we have not been as responsible, even though right now we are a more Christian country than any in Europe. But they have had a long tradition of Lutheranism and Calvinism insisting on the proper care of God’s creation.

[Voice] Well, we have a throw away culture today. One reason for that is because products tend to be made a lot more cheaply, as you well know...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] ...and, Rush, as you know. Both {?}. And they were a number of years ago. Things are made more disposable things are made. And therefore people tend not to take care of those things. That is also a short term indication of short term thinking rather than long term thinking. [00:51:23]

[Murray] Human beings...[edit]

[Murray] Human beings... children have become disposable.

[Voice] Absolutely.

[Rushdoony] I know it hurt me when I first realized that when Chalcedon’s adding machine needed replacing or needed repairs that it was cheaper to replace it. They no longer repaired adding machines. I don’t know that they even use adding machines much now with the computers and all.

[Murray] Let me tell you something else that I am associated with in the electronics industry. When I first started out 45 years ago in electronics, the national manufacturers association in electronics mandated that in order to be a member in good standing you had to provide parts, replacement parts for all... any product that you put on the market for a minimum of seven years. Today you don’t find that.

[Voice] That would be laughable today. It doesn’t happen.

[Murray] You... you can’t even find the company, much less the...

[Voice] That is right.

[Murray] ... the parts. You know, they go... they will give you an 800 number and you call up the 800 number that is on the warranty card and it has been disconnected and there is no, you know, there is no forwarding number.

So it is totally disposable. There is no... they... they do the very minimum to create the illusion that there is a warranty in the product. But when it comes down to getting something fixed, ha, ha, the joke is on you.

[Voice] Even the so called classification durable goods I say where are they?

[Murray] Yeah, right.

[Voice] Durable goods.

[multiple voices]

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] Yes. When my brother reached junior high age he began to sell magazines. In those days the Saturday Evening Post was sold ...

[Murray] I did that. Yeah.

[Rushdoony] ... on street corners by newsboys. And he saved up to buy my mother a good refrigerator which lasted her virtually her lifetime. And now that is almost unheard of. It was a heavy thing. Now they are much lighter weight.

[Murray] Well, they ... they discovered engineered obsolescence or designed obsolescence as the being the key to consumerism.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Murray] That the… you know, the famous story in industry about the Hoover vacuum cleaner that was built so well that it put the company out of business. And that was a lesson that was not lost on a lot of manufacturing firms in this country.

[Voice] Yes. [00:54:02]

[Murray] So they began to teach in the universities...[edit]

[Murray] So they began to teach in the universities engineering students who to scientifically design products where everything would break at the same time.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Murray] They do life tests on every component in automobiles, et cetera. And they can tell you practically to the hour when a generator or a starter or something else is going to fail in an automobile. They know exactly what their replacement parts profits are going to be. If a... if a car even lasts that long, to the point where anybody wants to... to fix it. Because not... not very many people take care of it on up hill anymore. They don’t intend to keep it any longer than about three years. That is about the point where you get between 70 and 100,000 miles on it. And it means a major engine overhaul. So they get rid of it. And the manufacturers know that.

[Voice] You know, another factor I should mention quickly is inflation is a disincentive to be provident.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] Why put money in the bank when it is good... currency will be inflated and it is not going to be worthy anything.

[Rushdoony] yes.

[Voice] Inflation is stealing and it is, of course, that is another assault on property in the long term.

[Murray] Only the government benefits from inflation.

[Voice] That is right.

[Murray] Unfairly they are the ones that have the primary incentive. It is logical to assume that they are the ones who create it.

[Voice] That is right and they are thieves.

[Rushdoony] Yes, I can remember when I was given a present which in its day was better than half a month’s salary for the best paid California school teachers. I was given a war bond as a present. And I suddenly realized a little after the war that it wasn’t even a fifth or a sixth of a month’s salary. So I cashed it in. I had grown up with gold and silver and now suddenly you had money that was great at depreciating.

Well, does anybody have a last comment or two to make before we conclude our session?

[Murray] My comment was... is that people had better learn what property really is, God’s definition of what property really is and they had better learn that paper money is worthless and there is a big awakening, I think, right around the corner. The news is saying that people are plunging paper dollars into the stock market at an unprecedented rate. They are setting new records every week and that historically has been the tell tale sign of a big blow up.

[Voice] Yeah.

[Murray] And people are going to lose their shirt. [00:57:01]

[Rushdoony] I shall never forget...[edit]

[Rushdoony] I shall never forget—and I will close with this—this missionary in China when the old Clementine collapsed describing a scene in downtown Shanghai as rich Chinese went from place to place with baskets full of their wealth, paper money, and it was now worthless. And he described this one very wealthy man sitting on the curb in front of the bank crying as he looked at the basketful of paper money and he said at that time with an American silver dollar you could buy a great deal.

Well, our time is up. Thank you all for listening and God bless you.