A Lesson in Economics

Everyone said that this year’s presidential election was all about economics, but at the end of the day, how many Americans can even articulate an economic theory that guides their voting?

Maybe 2016 will be different. Kanon is teaching Civics to high school seniors this year. This means spending several weeks studying economics with the future of America. Her task is to present economic theory in a way that help students understand how to spend and how to vote. Hopefully that means that around 80 students will have an economic theory that informs their vote.

But how exactly can you help American teenagers understand economics? Let’s be honest, not many high schoolers are chomping at the bit to learn about markets. Perhaps Kanon should don a fake mustache and take up hip-hop. It was the strategy of these two videos and I thought it worked rather well.

The second video speaks more specifically to the last 4 years of economic policy in America.

So what do you think? Is America following Keynes or Hayek? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

The Bible and Wealth
The Bible is not an economics book. It is not written to convince us to follow Keynes’ or Hayek’s economic vision.  But that doesn’t mean that the Bible doesn’t talk about money. In fact, money is a rather common topic in Scripture. Allow me to share just one passage and two implications.

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 10:14–20).

We Are Only Stewards
Everything in the earth, all of its wealth, belongs to God. The Christian can never say, like a little five year old, “that’s mine.” We know that everything in the earth belongs to God. We only act as stewards of His possessions.

Acting as a steward is a big responsibility. Jesus uses a parable to explain our responsibility in Matthew 25:14-30. He compares God to a master who leaves his money with several servants while he is away on a trip. Some of the servants steward the money well, bringing a return on the master’s investment. Another servant simply hides the money away, failing to use the money with wisdom. When the master returns he scolds the servant saying: ‘You wicked and slothful servant!… you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.

Certainly, Jesus was speaking of more than money in this parable, but not less. The whole world belongs to God, and everything in it. We are simply His stewards. It is our responsiblity to fear Him and to steward His resources wisely.

God Invests in People
God owns everything, but He especially loves people. Though everything in heaven and Earth belong to God, He “set His heart in love on our fathers.” As stewards, this is vitally important information. If we want to invest our money well, we must look for rewards that God values.

This seems to be the counsel of 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

God gives us riches, but we aren’t to set our hopes in them. Instead, we share them, seeking to bless those around us. It is by loving the people that God loves that we store up for ourselves a treasure for an eternal future with God.

Though the Bible doesn’t argue for Keynesian or Hayekian economics, it does give us principles that guide our thinking. Christians can reasonably support either theory, however we must always seek to wisely and faithfully steward God’s good gifts and to use those gifts to bestow blessings on others. While our short and long term strategies may differ, we should find unity in our overall financial worldview.


The Prejudice of Abortion

Racism is a sin. I believe that with all my heart. In my mind, the classic children’s song still holds true:

Jesus loves the little children,
all the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
they are precious in His sight.

I am convinced that Jesus loves people of all colors, all nationalities, and both genders. That is why I was so surprised to hear two times this week that white evangelicals’ disdain for abortion may flow from a heart of racism.

Two Charges of Racism
The first charge was from a friend who criticized Al Mohler’s (the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) remark that this election was a “disaster for evangelicals.” In an interview with NPR, Mohler explained that the last election was a loss for those who held his view concerning the importance of life and marriage issues. My friend responded that not all evangelicals shared Mohler’s view and suggested that Mohler’s comments reflect a degree of racism that shapes white evangelical thinking.

The second charge was made on a much bigger stage. An MSNBC television journalist, Nancy Giles, suggested that white people wanted to eliminate abortion in order to “build up their race.” You can watch her deliver the charge below:

The Blaze covered this story and reported that Giles is claiming that she was only joking. However, as the Blaze article points out, the host of the show responded with “There’s always eugenics associated with these questions.” And Giles could be heard saying,”How creepy, right?”
A Response
My first response is to think, this is ridiculous. I want to see an end to all abortion. I want to us to strive to save the lives of white babies, black babies, Chinese babies… all babies. For this reason, I have typically seen racism and abortion as two separate issues. But as I read a little further, I have realized that there may be a link between abortion and racism – and that link may surprise you.
Consider the following video by “The Radiance Foundation.
The numbers show that black babies are killed by abortion at a rate far higher than any other race in America. The Radiance Foundation reports that 38.5% of abortions are performed on black babies, while only 13% of the American population is black. Perhaps even more shocking is that 94% of abortion clinics are found in urban areas. Those statistics, to many, suggest that companies like Planned Parenthood are targeting poor minority groups. To many, this suggests that there may be a link between racism and abortion.
A Fair Picture
In all honesty, I don’t believe that the majority of abortion providers, or abortion participants, are consciously racist. I cannot say the same for the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, who had clear ties to the KKK and is repeatedly quoted as suggesting that abortion is the greatest eugenic tool for eliminating the genetically and racially inferior. But many who continue to support Planned Parenthood are either ignorant of its historical origins or believe that it has advanced beyond its racist beginnings.
However, I do believe that anyone who claims to care about racial equality should be shocked by the abortion statistics. Abortion is a civil rights issue on two fronts. The weakest segment of our population, the unborn, is being routinely targeted and murdered (over 55 million have been killed in the USA since Roe v. Wade). And, the poorest segment of our population, ethnic minorities, are being targeted and killed at a rate nearly 3x’s higher than the majority.
On further investigation, there appears to be a stronger link between abortion and racism than we might have expected. I pray that our love for “the least of these” will continue to push all Christians to love, protect, and care for the unborn and for ethnic minorities.
On a final note, if you have seven minutes to spare, please take the time to listen to John Piper’s address on this topic.