B. Protections government should provide

A nation that is continually increasing its production of goods and services must recognize that there will always be evil people who will attempt to break the law and take advantage of others. There will also be natural disasters that can cause economic damage. Therefore, a good government must provide protections for its citizens against various kinds of harm in order to foster economic growth.

Protection against crime

When there is a notorious high-crime district in any city in the world, very few legitimate businesses locate there, and it is almost impossible to persuade new retail stores or new factories to locate there. It is just too expensive for a business to locate in a high-crime area. Business owners do not want to run the risk of losing their investment because of vandalism, theft, or assaults against their employees.

What is true about cities is also true about nations. When a nation has a high rate of criminal activity, because it is not stopped and punished by the government, no foreign business wants to invest in that country. Neither are the nation’s citizens willing to start new factories and open new shops, because they have a legitimate fear that their earnings will simply be lost to criminal activity (or to attempts to protect themselves from it). To take an extreme example today, who would want to invest in any business in Somalia, with its persistent anarchy and the presence of well-armed pirate bands that continually attack ships passing through its coastal waters?

By contrast, one of the factors contributing to the amazing economic growth of the Scandinavian countries throughout the nineteenth century was the atmosphere of “public order” and the perception that the Scandinavian people were among “the most peaceable” in Europe.[1]

Landes says that an ideally productive economy will secure the rights of personal liberty against the abuse of both “tyranny and private disorder (crime and corruption).”[2]

The Bible teaches that prevention of crime is a primary responsibility of civil governments. The civil authorities are sent “to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2:14). When a government official punishes crime, he is acting as “God’s servant” and as “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4).

Therefore, the Old Testament affirms in several places that rulers are to enforce justice against wrongdoers and protect those who are too weak to protect themselves from crime:

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;

maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Rescue the weak and the needy;

deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Ps. 82:3-4)

But if much of the crime in a nation goes unpunished, evil will simply increase and there will be more and more crime in that nation, creating an environment that is ever more hostile to economic growth:

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. (Eccl. 8:11)

This is why it is important in every nation that the guilty be punished and that the innocent go free. God is watching the affairs of every nation, and his anger is aroused when the innocent are punished or the guilty are released:

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord. (Prov. 17:15)

In a similar way, Isaiah speaks about evil trends within a nation: “Woe to those . . . who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!” (Isa. 5:22-23).

  • [1] Landes, Wealth and Poverty, 248.
  • [2] Ibid., 218.
 
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