#182 Your Economic Reputation

"The Christian Economist" with logo and a closeup of a dollar bill in the background

During his testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee, John Durham had a powerful response to the attack on his reputation: “My concern about my reputation is with the people who I respect and my family and my Lord.” Are we as a nation comfortable with our economic reputation under the current “Bidenomics”?

During a recent Congressional testimony, John Durham was accused of having a sullied reputation because of his association with President Trump.  His full response is the closing statement of today’s podcast.  For now, I will summarize the part that gives its name to today’s podcast, “I’m perfectly comfortable with my reputation.”

Are you comfortable with your economic reputation?  How are you using your freedom to produce and distribute goods and services to your neighbors to show you love them?  As I wrote in my little book Economics and the Christian Worldview, “If you love your neighbor, you will supply her with products and services she demands.  If you love yourself, you will make a profit while doing so.”

Trying to make everyone happy is a fool’s errand.  We all must make decisions in life that determine our economic contribution to those around us.


Lies, Damned Lies, and Bidenomics

Economist Ronald Coase said, “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.”  Advisors to President Biden actually wrote a speech about how GOOD Bidenomics is.  A reader of the Wall Street Journal wrote in the comments section: “Let’s go Brandenomics”

Thomas Carlyle called Economics the Dismal Science, probably in response to Robert Malthus writing in 1798, that we would run out of food and starve.  He was wrong, and every Malthusian since him has been wrong, which has led to my favorite question to ask of groups: Complete the sentence, “Life was better on earth before we ran out of:” There is no answer.  We’ve never run out of anything, but that does not stop current day Malthusians from trying to convince us we’re going to.

But economics is not dismal.  It is powerful.  It is a set of rules – I would argue – that are handed down from God.  He gave us the freedom to use our mental acuity to do math and read two-dimensional graphs, so we can have the social science we call Economics.  But, as I’ve often said, “There’s nothing created good by God, that some human has not used for his own cause.  Freedom can be mis-used.  Such is today’s Bidenomics.

One of my favorite economics writers is Greg Ip at the WSJ.  He wrote recently, about President Biden, “In a memo released this week, his political strategists Anita Dunn and Mike Donilon write that Biden “faced an immediate economic crisis when he took office” in January 2021.  Actually, he didn’t.” End of quote from Greg Ip.


Absolute Economic Truth

“All truth is relative” is an absolute statement.  So there has to be some truth out there, let’s go find some.  In the post enlightenment era, relativism has taken over.  They are trying to define freedom as doing whatever you want.  A person is supposedly free to say, “I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body.”  And we’re supposed to not only accept it, but praise it.  Carl Trueman tracks the history of that foolish claim, back to Rousseau in his very good book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.  I published a podcast, summarizing that idea, titled Expressive Individualism, it’s podcast #151.  The simple point is this: We can’t all have our own truth, nor our own economics.  There HAVE TO BE objective measures.

During a rally with union members in Philadelphia recently, President Biden said it was “time to end the trickle-down economics theory.”  Yes, I suppose it is, because according to Thomas Sowell it does not exist.  He offered a reward to anyone who could cite the author of the theory.  He got no takers.  It doesn’t exist.  It’s simply a straw-man created by opponents of economic growth.

During the pandemic, I built a golf course in the pasture behind our house.  It’s not very sophisticated.  And the rules vary from day to day, depending on who is playing.  I guess you could call it a “relativism set of rules.”  When a grandson is having a bad day, I even let him pick up his ball and throw it.  We don’t even keep score.  But, it’s our own golf course in our own pasture.  We would never try to compare our score to another course.  But that’s what Bidenomics is doing.  They are using their freedom to make up their own rules and report scores that have no relevance in the real world of economics.

Just the phrase, “I created jobs,” from a President, is a misnomer.  Presidents don’t create jobs, the market does.  The government has no money.  It only takes money from productive sectors of the economy and redistributes it to non-productive sectors.  Think about it: If the sector WAS productive, it would attract its own investment and would not need the help of the government.

Quoting Greg Ip from the Wall Street Journal again, “President Biden’s American Rescue Plan pumped $1.9 trillion of demand into a supply-constrained economy. The result was the tightest job market in memory and a surge in inflation that still hangs over Biden’s approval ratings and his prospects for re-election.”


Chinese Wisdom

In Biblical Economic Policy, which I co-authored with Sergiy Saydometov, I explained an experience I had in China, while attending a seminar on Chinese Wisdom.  The presenter showed us the eight-fold path of Buddhism on a ppt: Right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.  Standing in front of the ppt, he explained, “There is no right in China.”  Huh?  There are eight of them on the ppt slide!  But that’s what life is like in a relativist society.  They claim there are those eight “right ways,” but in reality, the government does whatever it wants.  Which led me to write in a previous podcast, “There are no RIGHTS in China, because there is no RIGHT in China.”  David Marcus expressed it this way on Fox News recently, “When there are two sets of laws in a society, there is no law at all, there is only power.”

That ideology is coming to a theatre near you in the form of Bidenomics, and it’s not a movie you will enjoy.  They are saying they are building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out.  They have not explained what that means.  In the meantime, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that real average hourly earnings have fallen 3.16% during the Biden presidency.  The working class is falling further behind.


Serving Two Masters

Matthew 6:24 reads, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”  The Federal Reserve bank was established in 1913 with ONE mandate, sound money.  In 1977 the Federal Reserve Reform Act gave the fed its second mandate, to maintain employment.  Thus, the Fed is trying to serve two masters.  And, the two mandates are what’s got us into the inflationary mess we’re experiencing today.  Inflation was TOO LOW during the Trump administration, and the Fed was struggling to increase it.


You Can’t Please Everyone

When I used to teach a seminar on writing a business plan, I would force the author to state “Who is NOT my customer.”  Because if you try to please everyone, you will please no one.

Sun Tzu wrote it this way in The Art of War, “If a general sends his troops everywhere, he will be weak everywhere.”  I summarize that in my Dallas Baptist University classes by stating, “The general who thinks he has an army everywhere, has an army nowhere.  Stop trying to please everyone.  DBU athletes enter the Burg Gymnasium under a sign that reads, “An Audience of One.”  It’s a chapter title in the book by Oz Guinness titled The Call, where he explains that as Christians we have two calls: First to BE a Christian, and second to DO something to build God’s kingdom.  Don’t miss the point: Being comes before doing.

I end each of my podcasts with the phrase, “Fear God, Tell the Truth, Earn a Profit.”  If you fear God, you will fear no man.  That means, you don’t have to please them.  If you’re pleasing God with your economic achievements, you won’t feel the need to find your value in pleasing man.

And now, the long-promised full quote where John Durham was defending his reputation.  He said, “My concern about my reputation is with the people who I respect and my family and my Lord. And I’m perfectly comfortable with my reputation with them.”  Are you?

Fear God
Tell the Truth
Earn a Profit