Prophetic Economics 01

9 Apr

The Social Sciences are the study of human nature. It includes things like history, archeology, geography, sociology, government and political theory, psychology and so forth. But they are based on Western assumptions, so it all rests on the pretense of reasoned analysis and objectivity. While these sciences recognize that human nature is flawed, they assume it could be better and the whole point is to study how to make it better.

In particular, economics pretends to objectivity even as it manifests wildly conflicting forecasts based on the competing theories. People who study economics take their science too seriously, pretending that if they could just fix some basic theoretical disputes and come up with a unified model of human economic behavior, they could solve humanity’s problems.

Obviously I disagree, but it comes after having studied economics for a long time. You see, I studied it from the cynical point of view that comes from rejecting Western assumptions in the first place. My rejection wasn’t wholly conscious at first, but I was far down that road before I took those college courses. I understood what the professors and books were trying to get across and made some of the highest grades in each class, but I didn’t swallow most of it.

So I neither recommend such education, nor will I attempt to summarize it for you. Rather, I’ll give you a contextual digest of what I believe matters most right now. Those who have studied economics will recognize some of this.

You can grow an economy without credit, but it takes longer. Without debt, wealth grows much more slowly and requires far more work. Biblical Law says you should avoid greed in the first place and realize the shepherd’s call in trying to benefit everyone, because that is your own best interest long term. To put it bluntly: If you can’t embrace that moral necessity, then you’ll always be tormented on some level in this life, and you’ll likely end up in Hell after you die. What you do in this world must serve genuine human need, and Biblical Law sums up that need in the term “moral social stability” — a manifestation of shalom. So the goal is not some imaginary economic efficiency, as if the economy was just a machine. The economy is a living thing that must be nurtured according to its needs, or it will not help you make the most of this life. So don’t juice it up with large doses of credit steroids or it will sicken and die before its time. Treat it with respect.

Economies all die sooner or later, but it can be done gracefully and cooperatively (and they usually give birth to new economies). If you don’t place the image in your mind of an economy as a living being with sentience and its own will, you will never understand it. They belong to the civilization in which they stand, and they are only so healthy as the moral climate of the civilization itself.

Ours is hollow and nearly dead. It’s a science fiction horror monster. Still subject to the moral fabric of the universe as expressed in Biblical Law, even as our global economy dies, we can still harvest what little good is available.

So the starting point for you individually is to remind your flesh that it will not get everything that it wants. It’s not supposed to. You have to understand that there is a permanent disconnect between your instinctive wishes and what God says is in your best interest. No matter how much we grant to the flesh, it cannot be satisfied. Annoyances are the norm; navigate your best path between them. Find a peaceful place so you can learn to live with them and be grateful. The power of joy is inside of you, not in the things you have.

You won’t get that from the academic study of economics. What it will tell you is that the debt system is what is most at risk of collapse. There is a tremendous mass of notional debt with nothing of value behind it. At some point, the sheer volume of debt will drag big finance to a halt as the debt servicing falls too far behind. What keeps the system alive is the perception that the debts are being paid back at some profitable level. Perception at the upper levels does lag reality; most of the big money pushers don’t know when to back off because it appears too profitable. Even the factor of inflation that lowers the value of a particular debt doesn’t change the very real loss of the consumers’ power to repay. Their income doesn’t keep pace with the inflation because of a systemic cultural bias among financiers that pressures employers to hold wages down. Having an MBA degree means you see things only from the financiers point of view.

As previously noted, this is a bad time to be in debt. Resolve those obligations as best you can, because each one represents a dependency and vulnerability to the ravages of plutocrats scrambling to save their vulnerable wealth when this system breaks. Do what you can to shield your assets and resources from repossession, because that’s coming. However, always bear in mind that the one thing no one can take from you is what’s inside of you. Things may get so ugly as to result in a literal form of slavery; the laws can change without notice because the plutocrats are the government. On top of that, most laws have loopholes that allow all kinds of new tricks not yet declared illegal. Prepare your mind for the worst in those terms. Nobody can predict how debt obligations will be shifted to new owners and how financiers will attempt to squeeze the last bit of value from them. It will likely be chaotic.

Beyond that remains the exchange of things that don’t require debt. I find it improbable that our economy will be reduced to barter. There are simply too many options that even local governments can take to keep things moving. This lower economy will take on a life of its own. Individual actors will have a stronger influence at this smaller scale. This is where you and I can exploit the power of Biblical Law, using its power to harvest something better than mere survival. By preparing beforehand to operate without the cushion of borrowing, your instincts take a different path entirely. The whole system of running a household or business means the terminology takes on a wholly different definition.

You are likely to perceive two ways in which a Biblical Law approach will benefit you. First, this is how God operates, so He’s going to steer reality in your favor. All of those things nobody can possibly understand and control will fall your way. Of course, God also retains His inscrutable purpose and your individual hassles will reflect His plan for you, but you can’t do better than doing this God’s way. Second, your attitude will influence others. So if your landlord sees your determination not to push the burden off unfairly onto him, perhaps he will seek ways to keep your rent within your budget. When the ultimate ownership on paper starts jumping around, the managers on the ground will often have a freer hand to deal. But you’ll notice that both of these two ways of benefit are linked, because staying in God’s favor means He moves in the hearts of others to favor you, as well.

That’s it for now. Ask questions if you have any.

3 thoughts on “Prophetic Economics 01

  1. Pingback: Kiln blog: Prophetic Economics 01 | Do What's Right

  2. “the laws can change without notice because the plutocrats are the government.”

    For all the bluster of formulating an objective set of rules for a nation, law still comes down to people’s decisions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *