Adrian Rogers on Free Lunches

There aren’t any.  The late Adrian Rogers is one of several iconic former pastors of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis (Full disclosure: my wife and I are members).  He had a wonderful ability to state complex principles in clear, concise, vivid language.  I got this quote via email earlier today; it’s a pretty clear statement of the principle that there is no free lunch (HT: Adrienne Brumley).

You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom.  What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.  The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.  When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

I assume this came from one of his radio messages.  Here’s a different (but very similar) quote from one of his books:

Let me say a word here that may sound political.  I hope not, because I believe it’s moral and biblical.  You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the industrious out of it.  You don’t multiply wealth by dividing it.  Government cannot give anything to anybody that it doesn’t first take from somebody else.

Whenever somebody receives something without working for it, somebody else has to work for it without receiving.  The worst thing that can happen to a nation is for half of the people to get the idea they don’t have to work because somebody else will work for them, and the other half to get the idea that it does no good to work because they don’t get to enjoy the fruit of their labor. (Adrian Rogers, Ten Secrets for a Successful Family: A Perfect 10 for Homes that Win.  Crossway Books, 1998, p. 138).

Both passages could be taken out of Frederic Bastiat’s The Law (PDF here, audiobook here, courtesy of the Mises Institute).

Art Carden is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California, Associate Professor of Economics and Business at Rhodes College.
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