February 28, 2012

Here Is An Academic But Important Question…

Have you heard of any of these men and their land mark writings which expose their economic theories? Adam Smith, “the Theory of Moral Sentiments”and “Wealth of Nations”; Karl Marx, “The Communist Manifesto”; John Maynard Keynes, “The Economic Consequences of Peace”; Milton Friedman; “Capitalism and Freedom”? How about these men, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin, Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Barak Obama; whose economic policies are marked by which theoretical view they’ve implemented during their administration? How’d it turn out?

Authoritative leadership makes a huge difference in the lives of its dependents, when economic choices are made. That is both true of governments as well as fathers and husband, not to mention business owners.

The echo of those notable economists, reverberate on the airwaves and in the lives of Americans today. In fact you do not have to listen hard to hear their names now as we struggle with a creeping GNP, rising inflation race, lowering US Dollar, surging oil prices, tight credit and swooning housing market. In fact, the media talking heads, Wall Street brokers, Charlotte bankers and our Presidential contestants debate their relative value as a means to resuscitate our ailing economy.

This debate matters to me and it should to you – not just the political one, but more to my concern, the personal one. How is your family or business economy doing?

Last week the Master’s Men addressed the subject of personal economics in our FOCUS study, which you can view or download from our website. Our latest series has been the topic; “Great Challenges”. Specifically, we have chosen to look at the life of Nehemiah for a biblical perspective on surmounting major life challenges.

In chapter 5 of the book, that bears his name, we see Nehemiah confront an economic maelstrom in the nation of Israel which is trying to rebuild its country after the decimation of foreign invaders and its exile to Babylon. In the midst of his effort to rebuild the city he discovers that government leadership had been loaning the citizenry money at exorbitant interest, then foreclosing and confiscating property for repayment, when payment was late. Exacerbating the cash flow problem was a taxation system that enriched the leaders and further indentured the distressed citizens who had to mortgage property to pay taxes.

Nehemiah was angry – Oppressive taxes/usury was illegal, (Mosaic law) and counterproductive to national interest.

His fix was to confront the offenders, return confiscated property, remove usurious interest, eliminate the governor’s tax, utilize private equity investment and employ the efforts of paid government workers to help complete the infrastructure project; which served the necessary interests of the producer class; private enterprise.

Here is the important question to me – what about you? I am not interested in how this biblical economic perspective informs your political/economic viewpoint. I am concerned about how you, as the authority figure in your family or business is applying this time tested solution for overcoming your own economic maelstrom!

Here are some applications to consider. Debt kills family GDP – get rid of it, negotiate out of it if you can. Interest for purchases is a consumption penalty. Spending less, so we can save more, us to buy without borrowing which helps us increase our family’s wealth. And that is exactly what God wants his people to do (DT 28:11, 12). Secondly, taxes lower your accumulated wealth. You can retain more of your money by lowering your taxes – and the simplest way to do that without waiting for government to fix the tax code is to spend less. Just think of the sales tax you pay every time you buy something you don’t need at all, or could hold on to for a while longer – like your car; etc.

Finally, though, there is much more from this passage to inform our economic resurgence, Nehemiah lived by principle; that is he purposely sought to please God in his financial management and to be personally involved in helping his community by providing both labor and finances.

I think Nehemiah-nomics may be the best treatise for economic health I’ve ever read. Now it’s up to me. Will I apply these principles so I can receive the benefits of doing business, government and money; God’s way? How about you?

– Article contributed by Jim Coté, President of the Master’s Men minsitry.