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Thou Shall Not Covet

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife, not “anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Not anything.

If talk of Biblical Commandments makes you feel uncomfortable, then let’s call them “Ten Helpful Guidelines.”

On purely secular and practical grounds, is it better or worse for a society to follow the “Helpful Guideline” to not covet?

Imagine you are in a dark alley and you are approached by a gang. Would you feel better or worse if you knew that gang followed the Helpful Guideline to not covet your wallet?

What if it’s an “Occupy Wall Street” gang? Coveting is the foundation of their movement. A movement that – in a short few months of public coveting – has already racked up multiple counts of assault, rape, murder – and stealing wallets.

Which alley would you rather be in? Which society would you rather be in?

In November, when a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters shouted at President Obama, the President took their side and shouted back: “You’re the reason I ran for office.”

Taking the President at his word, is there any evidence – in his words, deeds or policies – of coveting?

“At a certain point you’ve made enough money.” Says who? The President of the United States. He also said, “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” In a CBS News story entitled “Obama Versus the ‘Fat Cats,’” President Obama “ratcheted up his rhetoric against Wall Street” calling them “fat cat[s]” and scolding them for not showing “‘a lot of shame’ about their behavior and outsized compensation.” And Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign is built almost entirely on coveting – the promise to reach into the wallets of rich “Fat Cats” and take their money away.

I interviewed Economics Professor Walter E. Williams, a regular guest host on the Rush Limbaugh Show, and asked him what he thought about government playing the “Covet Card” to demonize so-called rich “Fat Cats.” He said: “Politicians use so much demagoguery along these lines. I’ve said to people: Bill Gates is the richest man in the world. What can Bill Gates make me do? Can he force me to send my kids to a school that I don’t want to send them to? Can he force me to use 1.8 gallons to flush my toilet…what can he do? But, by contrast [the] government…can make my life miserable. So, when people talk about the power of the rich, and government has to protect us against the rich, that’s BS.”

When you and I covet, it’s a sin. When government covets, it’s policy.

Government has the power to turn its covetous policies into coercive action.

Like the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform’ Act (which empowers the government to literally “occupy” Wall Street). Its co-author Barney Frank revealed the true covetous nature of the Bill to NPR: “When it comes to Wall Street’s bottom line, yes; if we do not see some reduction in profits at some of the largest financial institutions as a result of this Bill, I’ve wasted a year.”

The central theme of President Obama’s re-election campaign is coveting. His word for it is “fairness.” What’s “fairness?” According to the Ten Helpful Guidelines: it’s none of your business. Nor is it the business of the President.

If we minded our own business, and followed the Helpful Guideline to not covet, it would not matter to us if our neighbors had more. There would be no class warfare. We would never descend into the covetous madness of declaring what’s “fair” between what our neighbors have and what we don’t have. Following this one Guideline alone would end the most corrosive debate of our time: the covetous urge to take away from the “haves” and give to the “have-nots” in pursuit of some mythical fantasy of fairness in a world that has never been fair – not once, not for a second – since our Ten Helpful Guidelines were first etched into stone.

President Obama is not a stupid man. Therefore he knows that his covet-based promise of “fairness” is an empty promise. A manipulative ruse. A lie.

There’s a Helpful Guideline against that, too.

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