It is not permissible to add to one’s possessions if these things can only be done at the cost of other men. Such development has only one true name, and that is exploitation.Cry, the Beloved Country p. 178
The cost he speaks of is not the cost of willfully agreed upon labor. It is the cost of freedom, honor, worth, family, and place. It is the cost that says I will prosper knowing that I am causing hardship to another, that I am demanding life.
The danger here, though, is to say that adding to one’s possessions necessarily can only be done at the cost of other men. But this is not the case. We do not live in a closed system (mercantilism). But greed certainly makes it feel this way. Lack of contentment leads me to take advantage of others for my comfort or power—for my pride. But an owner can manage his resources and labor offered in such a way that all can benefit. It is not capitalism that is evil; it is greed and a lack of concern for our neighbor. Government cannot solve this issue either in regulations or placing itself in the position of owner. Why not?
1) Government is made up of men and women whose hearts are no better suited to shunning greed than anyone else.
2) Government always needs more money, resources, and labor to meet the demands placed upon it by its citizens (which are motivated by selfishness as well).
3) With the size of government, it cannot regulate productivity or ethics without appointing administrators. These administrators are subject to the same greed and power temptations as individual owners.
It is a change of heart—a firm foundation for love of neighbor based on the truth of God’s character as found in Scripture—that allows both worker and owner to flourish.