There are Ten Reasons for Hope in the New Year
I often explain that as an economist, I’m a pessimist, but as a Christian, I have hope. Hope is endemic to the Christian spirit and idea. We believe God is at work, even when the US debt clock shows that each individual’s share of the $34 trillion in national debt has increased from $85,000 to $100,000 in just the last three years. Think about it: Each of your children and grandchildren owes $100,000 in national debt.
Still, there is hope. Here are some economic hopes we can have for 2024.
The Omniscient God
From seeing God as a small g to God with a big G
God IS sovereign, so He can do whatever He wants, without our help, but He chooses to allow us to join Him in his great work. I explained this concept in my last economics lesson of the semester at Dallas Baptist University because it helps us understand HOW MUCH humans should do. That’s the whole ballgame in macroeconomics: How active should monetary and fiscal policy be? For an atheist, it’s easy: Since they don’t believe there IS a God, humans have to do everything, but for Christians, or really, anyone who believes in a greater being, we have decisions to make about how active fiscal and monetary policy should be. It’s pretty easy to see that Christians should hope for less active fiscal and monetary policies in 2024.
When GK Chesterton was asked, “What’s wrong with the United Kingdom?” He answered, “Me.” Increasingly, people believe that there’s nothing wrong with individuals, and what’s wrong in society. That’s why liberal college professors train their students to be activists. Their objective is to change the regulatory systems of society. Well, THEY are wrong. What IS wrong is the fallen nature of individuals, not societal structure. If folks start to see that the problem is based on the fallen nature, 2024 would be a better year.
A Free Economic System
From Karl Marx to Adam Smith
Adam Smith explained a free-market capitalist system, where both producers and consumers could benefit in the same exchange. Karl Marx countered it with a system that calls for the oppressed to rise up and throw off their oppressors. Guess what happens next? Another revolution, followed by guess what? Another revolution. Marxism is a system of continual battles because they can always find oppressed groups. It never ends in peace. I asked my students just last week, “Do they still make you read Animal Farm in high school?” Most heads nodded. There’s a lot of Marxist thinking in the world today: People who support Hamas against Israel have been duped into believing that the smaller, weaker group is always oppressed.
From socialism to free-market capitalism
A Christian Economist favors a middle position, typically somewhere near the free-market end of the spectrum, where there is enough freedom to exchange goods fairly, but where government has the role of maintaining competition, and preventing monopolies. Socialism always produces monopolies that serve the supplier at the expense of the demander. It’s not even a debatable subject.
From spending to saving
Brazil went through a period of sustained high inflation between about 1980 and the year 2000. During high inflationary cycles, it’s not wise to save, because your money becomes worth less, the longer you hold it. This period created a culture of spending and not saving, which is still obvious in Brazil today. The US is moving that way. Before the covid pandemic, in 2019, the US saving rate was about 7%. It’s now half that, about 3.5% and total consumer credit card debt crossed the $1 trillion threshold last month. I don’t have time to unpack all the various reasons for this, but one of them is inflation, and the other is a moral hazard. The government bailed out many folks during the pandemic, and now people assume the government will take care of them. So, why save? In an active government environment, it’s not reasonable to save money that the government threatens to take away and give to slackers who didn’t save.
Acceptance of the Fallen Nature
From a one-party state to the checks-and-balances system that the American founders intended
David Horowitz, in his book Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America, explained how the founding fathers believed in the fallen nature, so they set up a three-part governmental system of checks and balances. The Democrat party is exercising executive controls that the founders never intended. We are seeing the movement toward an administrative state that denies the fallen nature.
From liberal to conservative
Alex Haley, the author of Roots, said “We should find the good and praise it.” Conservatives do that because they believe there were some Godly-inspired ideas that formed our current culture. Liberals want to trash the entire system, good and bad, and start all over. Guess what happens next? I just explained it in the section on Marxism: There are continual uprisings, and there’s never peace, because in a relativist philosophy, nothing is objectively good, so there are continual disagreements about what is right.
The Value of a Christian Culture
From church as an advisor to church as a healer
The church has been sidelined in current American society. When LBJ pushed through the Johnson Amendment in 1954, it muted the church on political issues and sidelined them. So, there’s no wonder the church is not listened to anymore. That’s because the church is not speaking about important issues. As Eric Metaxas points out in his latest book Letter to the American Church– It’s obvious why the clergy are not listened to by society. It’s because they chose to stop commenting on the most important topics in culture. Why SHOULD they be listened to? Why would you listen to a wimp, who cowls in the face of government control, and won’t speak to the political events of the day? Especially when it includes abortion, which has killed one-third of the US black population.
A Happy New Year
From unhappy liberals to happy conservatives
I authored an article in American Greatness a few weeks ago, questioning whether firms would use Artificial Intelligence to hire more conservatives. That’s because AI has been pretty accurate at differentiating conservatives from liberals because conservatives smile more than liberals. It just makes sense. Conservatives are generally happy because they want to conserve what they have. Liberals are unhappy with their lives. And, when they get their way, and increase the power of the government, they make themselves even less happy.
From government healthcare to Christian healthcare
The largest expenditure in the federal government is healthcare. At $1.5 trillion, it is slightly higher than social security, and about double what’s spent on defense. In his book Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker says, “We no longer need a father in the sky.” Harvard University, where he teaches, would not exist without that father in the sky. Christianity has produced universities, hospitals, and the list goes on and on. The two largest healthcare systems in Dallas-Ft. Worth are Baylor, which is Baptist, and Methodist, which is Methodist. In just a few short years, we have moved from healthcare being provided by the church, to it now being provided largely by the government.
Those are just ten hopes. Yes, there are more but here’s the important economic point: We’ve always had economic problems. Some of today’s seem greater than those of yesteryear, but we believe in a God who solves problems, large and small.
As the Christian Economist, I’m looking back and claiming the first sentence of the book by Angus Deaton titled The Great Escape. He writes, “Life is better now than anytime in history.” He’s absolutely right. And the Christian Economist extension is, “It’s going to get even better.”
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