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Greedy Innkeeper or Generous Capitalist?

Posted on Dec. 22, 11 | 12:39 PM by David Keating | Topic: General Economics
Link to Article: http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/?postID=15688

Brian Wesbury and Robert Stein review accommodations in Bethlehem when Jesus was born:

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. We have heard this narrative of the Christmas story repeated many times in plays, skits and sermons.
 
This narrative persists even though the Bible records no complaints at the time and there was apparently no charge for the use of the stable. 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. But this source of the problem has been ignored in favor of a more palatable complaint, that capitalism and capitalists are greedy, uncaring, and maybe even evil.
 
But a different narrative makes even more sense. 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.

Read the rest of their excellent analysis here.
Permalink: http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/?postID=15688
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