Economic Education Gap

As we enter the graduation season, full of hope and promise I find myself asking, why don’t we teach the most powerful engine of economic prosperity? Our children face a large economic education gap. Our school systems do not educate for entrepreneurial leadership any more.

God created us to steward the earth and its resources. He created us with the capacity to create, produce, cultivate and domesticate. He also works through us to bring about the knowledge of him around the world. God desires his “kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.” With all this in mind, prosperous societies are somewhat of a recent novelty. Not until around 1800 did individual prosperity emerge in a few countries in northwestern Europe. Even today, more than 2 billion people in the world live on less than $2.00 a day.

America has been a leading power in economic growth for nearly two hundred years. Even with a quarter of the population of China and India, the United States continues to have the largest economy in the world.

What Makes a Culture Prosperous?

Economic activity rests on the foundation of political, legal and cultural conditions within a society. The societies that are most economically free, prosper the most. Economic freedom can be measure using key cultural indicators like private property rights, just justice systems, public infrastructure, low corruption in government, low government red tape, strong family structures and future orientation toward time. America is now ranked seventeenth in the world in economic freedom with Hong Kong and Singapore vying for the top spots. (See http://www.heritage.org/index/)

The Most Powerful Engine of Economic Prosperity

There are different paths to personal prosperity but the most powerful engine of economic growth has always been entrepreneurial activity. We can define this as: Initiating economic activity through ingenuity, effort and risk, with the goal of achieving profit. If a nation wants to raise its standard of living, the best thing it can to is encourage entrepreneurship.

Knowing this, we should implement a scholastic initiative to educate our population on the rules, benefits and opportunities of entrepreneurial leadership. We should start teaching accounting principles and terms, legal structures and the basics of investment opportunities. This should be required learning. We teach students to find “x” in compulsory algebra, but they can’t fund an IRA or start their own business. If this is indeed the land of opportunity, we should equip our students how to take advantage of the opportunities.

Education Gap

Often when I’m in a store, I’ll ask an attendant where I go to buy stock. They look at me like I have three heads. I say, “Stock in your company, do I get it at the information desk?” Over 90% of people I talk to have no clue where to buy stock in their own company. They have never been taught how to play in that sandbox. Their ignorance imprisons them.

Lifeworks

Five years ago, we started a summer program for junior high students called Life-Works. https://www.facebook.com/lifeworksboys/ This program helps train students through eight-hour days, five days a week in the fine art of work and entrepreneurial enterprises. We take students from impoverished backgrounds and try to give them the tools to provide for their families and the vision God gives them.  One of the books we use is called The Accounting Game that uses the template of a lemonade stand to help learn the basics of bookkeeping. We also teach, the four levels of workers and how work is worship unto God.

They earn currency they can spent at auctions that we hold throughout the summer. They can invest their money instead of spending it to have more for the next auction teaching them delayed gratification. We have now watched as students have grown and entered the workforce in food service, the military and as carpenters. Some have even started their own business.

Take the time to invest in your knowledge and help the next generation know that they can participate in entrepreneurial activity in many ways. To help you learn, we have put together a fantastic resource called, The Christian’s Guide to Wealth Creation. You can learn more here: http://wealthcreation.careywaldie.com/

 

 

Playing the God “Equality” Card

Playing the God card.

All through the Scriptures, God places special value in helping the poor. Jesus came to preach good news to the poor. When we give to the poor we are “lending to the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:17) James decries those who have defrauded the workers by keeping back their wages. (James 5:4)

When discussing income inequality, people are fond of playing the God card. “God wants us all equal,” they would shout!  “God hates inequality.” the Reverend Jim Wallace proclaimed on the floor of the Senate after a minimum wage vote.

But does God hate inequality? Or are there other issues of greater importance? Often Christians will use Acts 4:32 to substantiate a belief in a command economy (socialist/communist).  Speaking of the early church It says, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” But does this verse really point to the church favoring communism? After all, they had all things in common.

They say never to read a single Bible verse but to always read the context. The next verses give us the rest of the story. “There were no needy ones among them, because those who owned lands or houses would sell their property, bring the proceeds from the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet for distribution to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:34-35)

These passages do not support a command economy. They point to a group of people living in relationship to one another under a shared vision. No government official took their property and redistributed it. The individuals owned property, the means of producing wealth, and they willingly shared it. What these passages really affirm is wealth creation, community, and generosity as a means for helping others.

Even the ten commandments affirm private property rights. “Do not steal” and “Do not covet,” both assume a right to private property, not property collectively owned by the state.

Other passages point to the fact that God really doesn’t demand economic equality but rather he rewards those who make the most of what they are given. He prizes uniqueness over sameness. The parable of the talents and the minas (Matthew 25, Luke 19) describe the master giving unequal resources and rewarding different levels of productivity.  When he disciplined the lazy workers, he took away their resources and gave it to the productive ones.

Matthew 20 describes the master recruiting different workers at different times of the day. Those who worked part of the day received the same as those who worked a full day. Naturally those who worked the full day spoke up about this “injustice.” The master called them on their envy and pointed out that he paid them what they had agreed to and he had a right to do with his money what he wanted.

While these parables aren’t necessarily trying to teach economics, we can, however, learn from secondary principles regarding our issue of income inequality. The master represents God, and God doesn’t seem too concerned about it.

Jay Richards, in his book, Money, Greed and God, writes, “Instead of being pleased for receiving what they were promised, the early risers envy the others for what they have received. We all tend to do that—to link inequality of outcome or opportunity with injustice. But they are not the same thing.”[1]

What can we take away from what the Scriptures say? First, the Bible doesn’t endorse socialistic, command economies. It endorses wealth creation, community, and generosity for helping others. Second, God grades on both a straight scale and a curve. In other words, we all share equal value and equal indebtedness to a holy, infinite God. Jesus came to establish our value and pay our debt of sin through his redemptive acts on the cross and the empty tomb. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.

But with regards to productivity, God didn’t give us equal talent or opportunity. He grades us on what we have and what we can do with it for his glory. To whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48) For God, it seems, inequality isn’t the problem, injustice, poor stewardship, and absolute poverty are. We should focus on those issues and not chase illusory goals of economic equality.

[1] Jay Richards, Money, Greed and God, 107

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