#150 The Avatar Election
Political candidates present Avatars of themselves, hoping to get elected. Christian Economists seek reality, not fake people.
In the recent election, we were encouraged to vote for a representation of a representative, not for a real human. Many candidates avoided debate, stayed out of the public, and hoped their constituents would have a greater fear of the competition, than appreciation for the candidate. Many Avatars won.
What is an Avatar?
The first definition is from the Hindu belief system. An avatar is a manifestation of a deity. The second definition is the one we are most familiar with, “A figure representing a person.” An Avatar is a representation of a human. They are NOT human.
I took one of my granddaughters to see the movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. I have often said, “If you want to see divorce and bankruptcy, go talk to your neighbor. We pay $15 and invest over two hours of time to escape reality.” But the latest Wakanda movie is just too far for me. There is so much sci-fi content that I didn’t enjoy the movie. I really liked the first one, by the way. That’s because it developed the characters, and I gained an appreciation for them. But, undeveloped strivers who can’t make a decision bore me. I’m not even going to get into the Anti-Christian and anti-American themes in the movie. I’ll let you invest your own $15 and 160 minutes for that information. It’s just a bunch of fake good people, fighting fake bad people, and I didn’t much care about either of them.
Oh, there is an economics story in the movie. It’s fake also. They assume that Wakanda got rich by hoarding its supply of Vibranium in a closed economy. That’s never happened in the real world. Closed economies die, and open economies thrive.
The Basement Election
Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, campaigning mostly from his basement. Humans are pretty simple creatures in this regard: We observe what works, and do more of it. Students in my class at Dallas Baptist University have figured out that class attendance correlates with higher grades. National Football League teams have figured out that passing wins more games than running. My grandkids have figured out that I will buy them any flavor of Slurpee at 7-11. Candidates figured out that they can win an election by hiding in their basements. That’s dangerous.
It’s dangerous to vote for a candidate you don’t know. It’s dangerous to accept a religion you can’t explain. And, it’s dangerous to participate in an economy you don’t understand.
Feeling vs Thinking
So, if there was a lack of debates and public information, how do voters make their choices? Mostly from the impact of ads. Those ads are NOT about the candidate, they are about the avatar that the political campaign creates. I unpack feeling vs thinking in podcast #97. When voters can’t get factual information about the candidate, they vote based on feelings, not facts. And they are more motivated by fear.
Ginger reminds me that #88 Don’t Fear the Future is the most viewed of my podcasts. But people DO fear. They fear the future, they fear a lot of things. Fear is a good motivator, and it’s becoming the greatest motivator in elections. Think about it: Most of the campaigns smeared the opposition, they didn’t build up their own candidate.
Back to my previous discipline of management, it’s often said that there are two motivators: Carrots and sticks. You should use carrots as long as you can, then revert to sticks. Politics has moved almost totally to sticks. Most of the campaign ads are dark and foreboding, predicting a dire future if you vote for the other party. Fear is a strong motivator if you’re a non-believer. For believers, it doesn’t work, because we believe God is in charge. Romans 13: 1-2 reads, “There is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God.”
Jesus was logical, and he didn’t back away from a debate. Maybe once, when he was being questioned by Pilate he didn’t respond. That was to fulfill the prophecy in Isaiah 53:7: He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.
Other than that, Jesus loved a good debate. When he was 12, his parents left him in Jerusalem, then found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. In his recent book Logic and the Way of Jesus, my fellow professor at Dallas Baptist University, Travis Dickinson provides many examples and well-substantiated examples about Jesus engaging in the kind of logic that was common in first-century Roman culture.
Christianity is based in rational thought. Economics is also. That’s why Modern Monetary theory is so shocking to economists. I showed the US Debt Clock to my students at Dallas Baptist University recently and made this very easy prediction, “In a few years, we will look back at the six years between your freshman year in High School and sophomore year in college and wonder why we allowed the national debt to spiral from $20 trillion to $30 trillion.” That’s not reality. That was done by Avatars playing in virtual reality. And, four of those six years, were during one of the best economies in the history of mankind: The four years of the Trump administration when the economy was growing so fast that the poor were gaining ground, faster than the rich. Even during THOSE years, the federal government was taking in about $3 trillion a year and spending $4 trillion. For a group who likes to use the term “sustainable,” they don’t know much about economic sustainability.
When Sergiy Saydometov and I wrote Biblical Economic Policy, one of our ten commandments of Biblical Economics was Use Honest Measures. Going into debt by 25% or $1 trillion a year is not sustainable. Increasing the debt from $20 to $30 trillion in six years is stealing. It’s my generation stealing from the next generation. I’ve told my sophomores at DBU, “I’m not going to pay the interest on this $20 trillion in additional debt, YOU ARE!” Think about it: In about twenty years, I will be near the end of my life. They will be in the most productive earning years of their lives, but they will be hamstrung by the additional $10 trillion that was added to the debt, most of it, before they could vote. The $30 trillion in debt was piled up by voters, and will mostly be paid for by people who were too young to vote. That’s taxation without representation, by the way. We fought a war over that 250 years ago.
Christians accept reality
911 is remembered for brave firefighters who rushed up the stairs of the Twin Towers, as people were running down to escape. Running TOWARD trouble is what Christians have done through the ages. In his wonderful book Martin Luther, Eric Metaxes explains how Christians stayed with suffering people through plagues. They didn’t escape. They looked reality straight in the eye and dealt with it. Throughout the ages, it has been Christians who rushed into the fire, they did not run away from it.
The next time your church is considering a new pastor, see if the candidate takes the Avatar approach. When asked to visit with the search committee, does the candidate demur? Does she say, “Just look at my resume,” or “My sermons are on youtube.”
My students have explained to me how people go online and spend real money on virtual things: Property, etc. I’m sorry, that’s just so stupid, I’m not even going to waste my time researching it. Here’s some good advice: Exchange your money for things that are real, not virtual.
I was discouraged about a year ago when one of my fellow professors explained her view of the future. That our professor avatars would go into a virtual classroom and give virtual lectures to virtual students. Would the students earn virtual grades, then get a virtual job that would pay them virtual money, to buy virtual goods? Maybe I’m just an old guy, but I prefer to spend my time in the real world. Time is an economic good. Any time you spend in the virtual world is time lost in the real world. And that’s where many candidates spent their time in recent political campaigns.
Colson Center President John Stonestreet recently asked, “Whatever happened to relativism, where you could believe anything you want?” Now, if you believe something different, you are shouted down and not allowed to speak. I’ve said for years that relativism is an advantage for the Christian belief system. When we have an equal voice in the debate, we win. But there has to BE a debate.
I will close with my favorite Christmas wish.
A man was in a hole and couldn’t get out.
A Hindu Swami came by and said, “If you do enough good, you will get out in the next life.”
A Buddhist bhikkhu came by and said, “You will get out if you follow the Noble 8-fold path”
A Muslim Imam came by and said, “You will get out when Allah wills it.”
A Jewish rabbi came by and said, “You will get out if you follow the law.
Jesus came by and got in the hole with us. Emmanuel. God with us. The real god, not an avatar.
TELL THE TRUTH,
EARN A PROFIT.
Read along with #TheChristianEconomist:
- Biblical Economic Policy | https://amzn.to/3nn8inO
- Economics and the Christian Worldview | https://amzn.to/3tIsYYM
- #97 Feeling vs. Thinking | https://bit.ly/3Hdt6Is
- #88 Don’t Fear the Future | https://bit.ly/3RDAqP6
- Romans 13: 1-2 | https://bit.ly/3FvbYfX
- Isaiah 53: 7 | https://bit.ly/3iG08qD
- US Debt Clock | https://bit.ly/3Y5BcZU
- US Debt Over the Last 100 Years | https://bit.ly/3iwKSMq
- Logic & the Way of Jesus | https://bit.ly/3iwEHrI
- Martin Luther | https://bit.ly/3BBYqx9