Monday, November 23, 2009

Moses' Solution to the Current Financial Crisis

Many are thinking the current financial crisis is a tragedy which indicates that ours must be the last generation before Christ returns.

But I think the current financial crisis has the potential to bring-about some advantageous adjustments in our economic system, if we respond to it properly.

And I'm not talking about moving away from Capitalism/profit-making towards some sort of socialistic redistribution of wealth. Of course not! Many have argued that it was a socialistic redistributionist mentality that contributed to this economic crisis in the first place! Private property and profit-making (Capitalism) were entirely part of the economic system which God gave to Israel through Moses.

But there were a number of major differences between Moses' system and ours - and this is where we may be able to make some helpful adjustments.

For example, Moses allowed no interest to be charged within the economy, except to non-citizens.

If we started following that today, the boom-bust/inflation-recession economic cycle would become a thing of the past. The current economic crisis wouldn't be repeated.

Eliminating interest wouldn't stop financiers from supplying capital to entrepreneurs. Rather, it would encourage financiers to supply capital through partnerships rather than through lending. The shared risk/profit involved in partnership would motivate enhanced economic performance and growth.

In an economy without interest, some of our current wealth-creation strategies would change too.

For example, investing in real estate are requires instability in the economy (inflation) to force the 'value' of properties up so the property can then be sold at a profit. But in an economy with no interest, prices wouldn't rise, therefore a different value system would be required in order to see real estate as a profitable investment.

The economic stability created through eliminating interest would eliminate inflation - therefore house-prices wouldn't rise. The only way the value of a house would rise is if we actually did something to improve its physical value - such as by making it bigger, or improving its fixtures. In that case, when we later sold the house, it would be legitimate to make a profit by charging a higher price than what we paid for it, in consideration of all the improvements and labour we did.

Currently, many real-estate investors do nothing to physically improve the value of their properties, and yet they sell them at a higher price. In other words, the buyer is getting less house for his money than what the original owner got when he bought the same house. Instead of being a win-win situation with equal profiting, one person seeks to make a profit through the other person being less advantaged.

Many today are involved in wealth-creation strategies which hope for and depend upon that type of instability in their own economy. That's not the picture Moses was aiming for in his blueprint for society!

If we eliminated interest, there'd be no price rises, so the only way we could make money out of real estate would be by physically improving the property. This would stimulate economic activity.

The other way we could increase our wealth through real estate would be not to sell the properties, but to keep them and continue physically improving their value, and then pass them down the family-line.

Imagine if houses were built to last for generations. Imagine if each generation that inherited the family houses continued to physically improve their value before passing them onto the next generation. Each generation would make the houses bigger, better, they might add gold pathways, sapphire floor-tiles, silk curtains, gates of pearl, foundations of precious stones, etc. The extended family would continuously be increasing their wealth without selling, without profiting through someone else's comparative disadvantage, without contributing to inflation in the economy.

That's real, physical prosperity. Whereas when an economy is based on profit-making through selling assets whose physical value hasn't been improved, it's a phantom prosperity. It has to unravel eventually.

God planted a garden in Eden and there He put the man whom He had formed. And God put gold and silver in the ground in the garden. I believe, given time, that Adam might have turned Eden into a replica of Paradise in heaven, with streets of gold and gates of pearl. Not so he could sell it - but so he could keep it, and keep improving it, and so manking could keep enjoying it perpetually.

That's another value-sytem with regard to wealth, even though it's entirely Scriptural and legitimate to seek profit through selling. When we profit through selling, we ought to want it to be done in a way that neither contributes to nor depends upon instability in the economy caused through price-rises which were caused by interest.

Moses did allow interest to be charged to non-citizens or to other nations. If we did that, our nation would have a continuous surplus of money flowing into the country rather than out of the country. That has obvious economic and military advantages.

So in conclusion, does Jesus have to come back in our generation, due to the current economic crisis? He could come back in our generation, but He doesn't have to just because of the current crisis. Rather, we can learn from it and make adjustments which may create greater wealth and safeguard us from being affected by future crises, should the Lord tarry.

But in any case, come Lord Jesus!

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