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Bethlehem inn-keeper — Generous or greedy to lend stable to Mary and Joseph?

First, I would like to wish readers a Merry Christmas.

Thanks to David Keating at the Club for Growth for first mentioning this recent economic newsletter from First Trust Portfolios, based in Wheaton, IL.

The Bible story of the virgin birth is at the center of much of the holiday cheer at this time of the year. The book of Luke tells us Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus decreed a census should be taken. Mary gave birth after arriving in Bethlehem and placed baby Jesus in a manger because there was “no room for them in the inn.”

Over the centuries, people have come to believe that because Jesus was born in a stable, and not in a hotel room, Mary and Joseph must have been mistreated by a greedy innkeeper. This innkeeper only cared about profits and decided the young couple was not “worth”
his best accommodations…

It may be that the stable was the only place available. Bethlehem, like other small towns, was overflowing with people who were forced to return to their ancestral homes for the census – ordered by the Romans for the purpose of levying a tax.

If there was a problem, it was caused by the unintended consequences of this government policy…

The innkeeper was generous to a fault – a hero even.  He was over-booked, but he charitably offered his stable, a facility he built with unknowing foresight. A facility he was able to offer, while the government officials who ordered the census slept in their own beds with little care for the well-being of those who had to travel regardless of their difficult life circumstances…

And this is why it’s important to favor economic and political systems that limit the use and abuse of power over others. In the story of baby Jesus, a law that requires innkeepers to always have extra rooms, or to take in anyone who asks, would “fix” the problem. But this new law would also have unintended consequences. It would create fewer hotel rooms because the costs of building would rise. A hotel big enough to handle the rare census, would be way too big in normal times.

And who would open a bed and breakfast, if the law could crack down at any time the
house became full? With fewer hotel rooms, prices would rise, and innkeepers would once again be called greedy. Government would then try to regulate prices.

Read the whole article here.

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Connect with Benjamin Hodge at FacebookTwitterLinkedInThe Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas.  He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011.  His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters,the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRAKansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

 


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