Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Libertarian Hymn

I'm probably going to do nothing but Thanksgiving and gratitude posts for the rest of this week. 
Despite Obama, despite John Boehner, despite the rise of the warrior cops, despite the next Texas goobernatorial (sic) race being about abortion and nothing else, I've got it pretty good.

Some of my well-being is because of family, some is luck, and some is because the founders of my country wanted the citizenry to be left the hell alone.  Most of us have no idea how lucky we are, and some of our neighbors are clueless enough to want to unravel the protections that have made our prosperity possible.  Go figure. 

With the exception of some Christmases and Easters, I haven't made church in several years.  Here's something I wrote about Thanksgiving waaaaaay back in 2009, when the gods and I were on better terms. 

Enjoy.  Be thankful that people aren't trying to help you.


I made it to Broadway Baptist Church for their pre-Thanksgiving dinner last Sunday night. I've been taking an extended leave of absence from BBC for about 6 months now, but when I do stick my nose back in the door, there's usually something to surprise or inspire me.
My friend Dr. Ralph, agent provocateur of this site, was also there. Go here for The Doctor's Thanksgiving post. We tried to sit and eat together, but higher authorities intervened.

This is the hymn that the music ministry folks chose to end the service. As soon as I read the words, I stuck the text into my pocket....please pay particular attention to the second verse:

Praise God for the harvest of orchard and field,
praise God for the people who gather their yield,
the long hours of labour, the skills of a team,
patience of science, the power of machine.

Praise God for the harvest that comes from afar,
from market and harbour, the sea and the shore:
foods packed and transported, and gathered and grown
by God-given neighbours, unseen and unknown.

Praise God for
the harvest that's quarried and mined,
then sifted, and smelted, or shaped and refined:
for oil and for iron, for copper and coal,

praise God, who in love has provided them all.

Praise God for
the harvest of science and skill,
the urge to discover, create and fulfil:
for dreams and inventions that promise to gain
a future more hopeful, a world more humane

Praise God for the harvest of mercy and love
from leaders and peoples who struggle and serve
for patience and kindness, that all may be led
freedom and justice, and all may be fed.

That's the version found at hymnsUK.com , anyway. My instinct lately has been to trust the British versions of everything.
Dr. Ralph found me as we were leaving. "That was quite a libertarian hymn," he said, and I wholeheartedly agreed.
If you don't understand the point I'm trying to make, hit some of the links. I can't believe someone actually wrote a hymn that 's good enough to cause Dr Ralph to stop twirling his villain moustache and take notice.
Verse two stands alone nicely, no links required. A song in praise of Supply Chain Management.

....foods packed and transported, and gathered and grown
by God-given neighbours, unseen and unknown.

If you're still unclear on the concept, here's The Boston Globe's token libertarian, Jeff Jacoby, explaining why we should be grateful for a certain economic principle which, if you live in the U.S., allowed you to eat some turkey sometime this week:

The activities of countless people over the course of many months had to be intricately choreographed and precisely timed, so that when you showed up to buy a fresh Thanksgiving turkey, there would be one -- or more likely, a few dozen -- waiting. The level of coordination that was required to pull it off is mind-boggling. But what is even more mind-boggling is this: No one coordinated it.

No turkey czar sat in a command post somewhere, consulting a master plan and issuing orders. No one forced people to cooperate for your benefit. And yet they did cooperate. When you arrived at the supermarket, your turkey was there. You didn't have to do anything but show up to buy it. If that isn't a miracle, what should we call it?

Adam Smith called it "the invisible hand" -- the mysterious power that leads innumerable people, each working for his own gain, to promote ends that benefit many.

Out of the seeming chaos of millions of uncoordinated private transactions emerges the spontaneous order of the market. Free human beings freely interact, and the result is an array of goods and services more immense than the human mind can comprehend. No dictator, no bureaucracy, no supercomputer plans it in advance. Indeed, the more an economy is planned, the more it is plagued by shortages, dislocation, and failure.

It is commonplace to speak of seeing God's signature in the intricacy of a spider's web or the animation of a beehive. But they pale in comparison to the kaleidoscopic energy and productivity of the free market. If it is a blessing from Heaven when seeds are transformed into grain, how much more of a blessing is it when our private, voluntary exchanges are transformed - without our ever intending it - into prosperity, innovation, and growth?

Well said, Mr. Jacoby. Here's one last verse for that hymn; this one composed by Yours Truly. I don't think it's going to appear in a hymnal any time soon....

Praise God for our system of sweet Liberty,
The framework of freedom which feeds you and me.
Praise God for the scholars and writers who've shown
More people can prosper if just left alone.


Have a good Thanksgiving, folks. 


DavidLJ said...

Nice to see you posting from Adam Smith. I have the Libertarian Press of Indianapolis reprint version of the original, and I reread it for inspiration every eight or ten years.

Still I am always careful to remember that Smith was a moral philosopher, and a Whig, not an Anarchist.


DavidLJ said...

...and I strongly admire your crooked white line photo-logo. Well done, art department!



The Whited Sepulchre said...

According to TWS mythology, that pic is from an actual road someplace in north Louisiana. It first appeared in the "Not My Job" contest.