THE IRON PEN by Daniel Hite

May 24, 2010

Capitalism vs. Socialism: Ten Cannots

Filed under: Liberty,politics — danielhite @ 11:44 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Reverend William J.H. Boetcker was a turn-of-the-century minister born just 18 years after the assassination of President Lincoln.  Lincoln has been attributed comments that were actually published by this Presbyterian minister just before America’s entry into World War I.  The “Ten Cannots” are a series of maxims that are bedrock to America’s economic system–capitalism–and another reminder that socialism in any form does not work and is certainly the antithesis of Biblical thought.  These principles, though not referenced with chapter and verse in the Bible, can easily be retrofitted into a Scripture-based message on stewardship, responsibility, and the Biblical foundations for our economic system.  Capitalism is not perfect because men are not perfect.  Here are Boetcker’s Ten Cannots (sometimes attributed to Lincoln):

  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  2. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
  3. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  5. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
  6. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
  7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  8. You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
  9. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
  10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

President Reagan used some of these statements in one of his addresses regarding our nation’s slide toward socialistic policy. How do these statements stack up to government policy being enacted and executed today? America must wake up.



  1. We did just fine during the 90s before all the deregulation. Free market capitalism destroys the small business in favor of large corporations and eliminates opportunities to work hard and get ahead. It destroys the American dream.

    Comment by Ben Hoffman — May 24, 2010 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

    • So, do you think socialism is better? We do not have a pure form of capitalism, but a modified one, and for good reason. The system is not really the problem, it is man’s greedy, unchecked heart. I am not advocating no regulation, but I am advocating no government ownership and control. Consumers (I hate that word) and small businessmen need to be in the know–caveat emptor–and there is a way for big business to get the message! (The real issue at the root of all of this is private property. How private is it? That is what ultimately determines the type of economic system we have.)

      Comment by danielhite — May 24, 2010 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

      • We have a hybrid capitalistic/socialistic system. Capitalism works only when it’s well regulated. It fails when it becomes a free market economy. Socialism works when it involves the commons. You don’t want government making your computer or your car and you don’t want private companies owning the highways.

        Comment by Ben Hoffman — May 24, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

  2. Friday, May 28, 2010

    Dear Mr. Hite:

    Thank you, once more, for timely insight(s).

    Just supplementing what you have written about the classic, “Ten Cannots”:

    1. God is Truth.
    2. God is Love.
    3. God lovingly reveals Himself, the Truth, to man.
    4. Thus, man, apart from God and by himself, can never find, nor can he define, the Truth.
    5. God gives man the civil realm in order for government to (a) declare the Truth and (b) defend the Truth.
    6. For an example, the civil government declares,
    “Thou shall not kill” and then defends it.
    7. But, again, God is the One Who has defined “Thou shall not kill” as the Truth … not man.

    Reiterating, man can only DECLARE and DEFEND what God has already DEFINED (“revealed”). This can be applied to all aspects of life — economics, education, government, science …

    Keep penning!


    Charles Williams and Family

    Comment by the Williams Family — May 28, 2010 @ 8:58 am | Reply

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