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.