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Affluent Christian Investor | September 21, 2023

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Pies For Everyone And The Divine Light It Brings

“Pies for everyone” is derived from a free-market and from liberty. In the United States the two pillars – the free-market and a compactual-republic, or liberty – equate to citizens having prosperity and freedom. In his Essay in Interpretation of the Industrial Revolution, economist Robert Higgs marvelously articulates the integration of freedom and prosperity embedded in our system:

Throughout the post-Civil War era in America free individuals acting within markets made most of these choices.  No one planned or directed the organization of economic life in any formal, overall way.  Individuals themselves decided what, how much, where, when, and how to produce.  Yet even though each person pursued his own designs, the overall result was not chaotic; instead, it was orderly and in many ways predictable.

Private property rights are the foundation of the market system of resource allocation.  These rights permit an individual to exclude others from the use of his property and to transfer this exclusive ability to others on terms that are mutually agreeable.   In a market economy, people often exchange only the rights over the use of the property, not the property itself.   Secure and well-defined private property rights permit individuals to transact exchanges with the expectation that agreements reached by mutual consent of the contracting parties will be binding.  Without this security a market economy cannot function.  Within a system of private property rights, individuals who own the means of production may sell them or use them as they see fit; similarly, people are free to dispose of their incomes as they please.  Fortunately, in such a system it will usually be in the interest of individuals to act in a way that is also socially desirable, because if many people want more of a particular good, their additional expenditures for it will make its production more remunerative, enticing self-interested producers to provide more of it. [1]

This is at the epicenter of rediscovering and reestablishing the brilliance of America as the Shining City. Ronald Reagan expounded this message during his Farewell Speech:

I’ve thought a bit of the shining city upon a hill.  The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined.  What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man.  He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.  I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it.  But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity.  And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.  That’s how I saw it, and see it still.[2]

Ronald Reagan referenced the Shining City earlier in his Presidency when he said, “The fire that remains a beacon to all the oppressed of the world shining forth from this kindly, pleasant, greening land, we call America.”[3] He also quoted John Winthrop and the City Upon a Hill a number of times prior to his presidency.

In 1974 on January 25, Reagan turned to Winthrop and his 1630 layman’s sermon on the Arbella. He ended his speech by stating, “We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.”[4]  On March 1, 1975, Reagan invoked John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon by declaring “[America] did not seek world leadership; it was thrust upon us.  It has been our destiny almost from the first moments this land was settled.  If we fail to keep our rendezvous with destiny or, as John Winthrop said in 1630, ‘Deal falsely with our God,’ we shall be made ‘A story and byword throughout the world.’”[5] Nearly two years later Reagan would return to the City Upon the Hill reference when on February 6, 1977 he would end a speech with “Then with God’s help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all the people upon us.”[6]

Ever the optimist about America in 1978, he delivered another speech. This one was about America’s Purpose in the World, and this time his reference to the City upon the Hill seemingly invoked God’s presence by adding the adjective “shining” as if the Light emanating from America, the City Upon the Hill. He indicated our country was a reflection of God and His blueprint for a society as He had instructed the ancient Hebrews in the Sinai Desert (See How the American Republic Was Based on the Ancient Hebrew Republic). “We must be willing to carry out our responsibility as the custodian of individual freedom,” Reagan would pronounce, “Then we will achieve our destiny to be as a shining city on a hill for all mankind to see.”[7] Ronald Reagan saw clearly this Divine Light emanating from America.

But President Reagan was not the first to appeal to Heaven in this regard. John Winthrop did the same on the Arbella in 1630; President Kennedy followed suit 1961, and so did the charismatic and influential Puritan Pastor of the First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards. Reverend Edwards, in the context of the church being a successor to Israel, declared that “the light will rise in the west, till it shines through the world like the sun in its meridian brightness.”[8]

[1] Robert Higgs, 2011 (originally published in 1971), The Transformation of the American Economy 1865 – 1914: An Essay in Interpretation, (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute), p. 8 (emphasis added).

[2] Ronald Reagan, January 11, 1989, “Farewell Speech to the Nation.”

[3] Ronald Reagan, 1982, “Big Government and Personal Freedom speech,” [].

[4] Ronald Reagan, James C. Roberts, ed., 1989, A City Upon a Hill:  Speeches by Ronald Regan Before the Conservative Political Action Conference, (Washington, D.C.: The American Studies Center), “We Will Be as a City Upon a Hill…,” (January 25, 1974), p. 10 and p. 12.

[5] Ronald Reagan, James C. Roberts, ed., 1989, A City Upon a Hill:  Speeches by Ronald Regan Before the Conservative Political Action Conference, (Washington, D.C.: The American Studies Center), “Let Them Go Their Way,” (March 1, 1975), p. 20.

[6] Ronald Reagan, James C. Roberts, ed., 1989, A City Upon a Hill:  Speeches by Ronald Regan Before the Conservative Political Action Conference, (Washington, D.C.: The American Studies Center), “The New Republican Party: “I Have Seen the Conservative Future And It Works!’,” (February 6, 1977), p. 37.

[7] Ronald Reagan, James C. Roberts, ed., 1989, A City Upon a Hill:  Speeches by Ronald Regan Before the Conservative Political Action Conference, (Washington, D.C.: The American Studies Center), “The New Republican Party: “America’s Purpose in the World,” (March 17, 1978), p. 50.

[8] Jonathan Edwards, 1740, “The Latter-Day Glory Is Probably to Begin in America,” 1856, The Works of President Edwards, Vol. IV, (New York, NY: Leavitt & Allen), p. 123.   Also referenced in Conrad Cherry, 1998 (originally published in 1971), God’s New Israel:  Religious Interpretations of American Destiny, (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press), p.57.  Referenced in John Eidsmoe, 1987, Christianity and the Constitution:  The Faith of Our Founding Fathers, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House), p. 31.



Originally published on Townhall Finance.


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