Category Archives: Economics

Letter to College Student Enamored by Socialism

Dear college student,

There was another point I wanted to address. It seems you are also enamored with some form of socialism. You think the free market favors the rich and that rich people are destroying America. You even jokingly said you were planning to vote for Bernie Sanders. I know you are just trying to get a reaction. But don’t forget that I grew up with the fruits of socialism. Give me a call and I can share a few of my observations.

You seem to demur any concept of private property and you argue for strong government ownership of all sorts of things. But I know you have a good heart. I want to applaud your desires, but I also want to encourage you to not be easily moved towards an ideal without cautiously seeking wisdom from those around you.

Don’t forget the sacrifices your parents made to get you to college and how hard your dad worked just so you could go to that vacation you still talk about to this day. That’s called hard work. The Bible praises strong, responsible males who cherish work and who do not seek shortcuts. Be like that.

If you are eager to see what socialism looks like, let me encourage you to pick a socialist country of choice. Don’t go to Venezuela, I beg you. They are too far gone. A few decades ago they were a shining light of prosperity, but since socialism has taken over…well, let’s just say dumpster diving has an entirely new meaning over there. Be careful what you wish for.

My final warning is to say that economic models are never separated from morality. When you subscribe to a system, almost always you begin to slowly, but surely succumb or at least become comfortable with models of morality that are closely associated with advocates of that system.

I understand you are exploring and learning. But be aware that ideas have consequences and consequences come from ideas whether good or ill.

Pastor Brito

Jim Carrey, Venezuela, and the Myth of Nordic Socialism

While Jim Carrey (net worth $150 million) proudly proclaims the virtues of socialism, I am reminded that only a few years ago Sean Penn, Michael Moore, and Bernie Sanders were proclaiming the virtues of Venezuela and her deceased leader, Hugo Chavez. Now, everyone–including Carrey–wants to distance themselves from Venezuela. The very policies praised and adored by Hollywood Chavistas are now decried as not a legitimate example of true socialism. “We will now praise the socialism of Nordic countries,” they say. But as it has been proven elsewhere the so-called Nordic socialism is a myth.

But the countries where socialism has been tried and tested and experimented with whether Argentina or Portugal, Ecuador or Bolivia (Evo Morales), Brazil or China the results are undeniable: the people continue to suffer and embolden the same tyrants who enrich themselves and fool the populace under the banner of “fairness,” “equality,” “distributionism” and the “common good.” Socialism as a system is a defeatist ideology. It ravishes populations and takes away their moral dignity.

What is Holy Saturday?

The Passion Week provides diverse theological emotions for the people of God. Palm Sunday commences with the entrance of a divine King riding on a donkey. He comes in ancient royal transportation. The royal procession illicit shouts of benediction, but concludes only a few days later with shouts of crucifixion as the king is hung on a tree.

The Church also celebrates Maundy Thursday as our Messiah provides a new commandment to love one another just as He loved us. The newness of the commandments is not an indication that love was not revealed prior (Lev. 19), but that love is now incarnate in the person of love, Jesus Christ. We then proceed to sing of the anguish of that Good Friday as our blessed Lord is humiliated by soldiers and scolded by the offensive words of the religious leaders of the day. As he walks to the Mount, his pain testifies to Paul’s words that he suffered even to the point of death (Phil. 2)But hidden in this glaringly distasteful mixture of blood, vinegar, and bruised flesh is the calmness of the day after our Lord’s crucifixion.

After fulfilling the great Davidic promise in Psalm 22, our Lord rests from his labors in the tomb. Whatever may have happened in those days before his resurrection, we know that Christ’s work as the unblemished offering of love was finished.

The Church calls this day Blessed Sabbath or more commonly, Holy Saturday. On this day, our Lord reposed (rested) from his accomplishments. Many throughout history also believe that Holy Saturday is a fulfillment of Moses’ words:

God blessed the seventh day. This is the blessed Sabbath. This is the day of rest, on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works . . .(Gen. 2:2)

The Church links this day with the creation account. On day seven Yahweh rested and enjoyed the fruit of his creation. Jesus Christ also rested in the rest given to him by the Father and enjoyed the fruits of the New Creation he began to establish and would be brought to light on the next day.

As Alexander Schmemann observed:

Now Christ, the Son of God through whom all things were created, has come to restore man to communion with God. He thereby completes creation. All things are again as they should be. His mission is consummated. On the Blessed Sabbath He rests from all His works.

Holy Saturday is a day of rest for God’s people; a foretaste of the true Rest that comes in the Risen Christ. The calmness of Holy Saturday makes room for the explosion of Easter Sunday. On this day, we remember that the darkness of the grave and the resting of the Son were only temporary for when a New Creation bursts into the scene the risen Lord of glory cannot contain his joy, and so he gives it to us.

Expertise is Overvalued

That’s what Vikram Mansharamani says in the Harvard Business Review. The article argues that generalists are better at navigating uncertainty. In other words, those who know a little about a lot of things fare better in today’s uncertain times. The author concludes:

The time has come to acknowledge expertise as overvalued. There is no question that expertise and hedgehog logic are appropriate in certain domains (i.e. hard sciences), but they certainly appear less fitting for domains plagued with uncertainty, ambiguity, and poorly-defined dynamics (i.e. social sciences, business, etc.). The time has come for leaders to embrace the power of foxy thinking.

Capitalism and Stewardship

Ian Hodge, author of Baptized Inflation: A Critique of “Christian” Keynesianism, argues that the capitalism that is based on the profit motive is not biblical capitalism. Biblical capitalism, argues Hodge, is the “opportunity for people to develop their God-given gifts and abilities.” Capitalism should not be primarily associated with wealth and money. Hodge observes:

Contemporary capitalism is flawed with its emphasis on “me” and what I can get out of my employees, rather than “what can I do to help my employees fulfill their godly calling?”

Capitalism, then, biblically considered, is the environment produced by which Christians fulfill their calling by using their gifts. Therefore, capitalism is the required milieu to exercise good stewardship.

The Tea-Kettle Movement

Thomas Friedman’s critique of the Tea Party Movement is quite valid. The Tea Party offers nothing but slogans. Crying “Capitalism”is not the same as offering a valid program for implementing capitalistic principles. According to Friedman:

The Tea Kettle movement can’t have a positive impact on the country because it has both misdiagnosed America’s main problem and hasn’t even offered a credible solution for the problem it has identified. How can you take a movement seriously that says it wants to cut government spending by billions of dollars but won’t identify the specific defense programs, Social Security, Medicare or other services it’s ready to cut — let alone explain how this will make us more competitive and grow the economy?

Obviously, he has not read the Austrian economists…and neither have the Tea Partiers.

End the Fed!

The Bernanke Conundrum by Paul Krugman

Commentary: Paul Krugman wants Bernanke to have a second term. He admits that Krugma has become complacent, looking at this financial crisis through the eyes of the bankers, but yet, should Bernanke not be re-appointed, “replacing him with someone less established, with less ability to sway the internal discussion, could end up strengthening the hands of the inflation hawks and doing even more damage to job creation.”

Krugman is the Fed’s greatest apologist. He believes the Fed simply has not done enough. He wants immediate recovery and printing more money, lots and lots of it is the solution. What Krugman will perhaps never understand is that after an earthquake, we re-think how to better re-build. My suggestion: End the Fed! Let’s start over!


Washington has suddenly noticed public rage over economic policies that bailed out big banks but failed to create jobs. And Mr. Bernanke has become a symbol of those policies.

In the end, I favor his reappointment, but only because rejecting him could make the Fed’s policies worse, not better.

It’s harsh but true to say that he’s acting as if it’s Mission Accomplished now that the big banks have been rescued.

But — and here comes my defense of a Bernanke reappointment — any good alternative for the position would face a bruising fight in the Senate. And choosing a bad alternative would have truly dire consequences for the economy.

And it’s the Fed’s responsibility to do all it can to end that blight.

Review of “Biblical Economics: A Common Sense Guide to Our Daily Bread”

8219auwnBiblical Economics is a must read for any Christian. In this book, Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. has declared that the Bible is emphatic about a particular view of economics. The author argues that Biblical economics is beneficial to all of society. Its primary intention is not to bury the poor in a sea of debt, but to give the poor an opportunity to reap the benefits of mass production. R.C. does not treat the Bible as a textbook for every single economic decision we will make, but he does see it as useful for understanding economic issues. Christians are called to build a “social order that reflects the glory of God.” This is only possible in a society where citizens are both productive and aware of God’s law-word.

The book avoids radical approaches to economics; for instance,  radical materialism and radical spiritualism. In avoiding the isms, exploring the Biblical view of economics can turn into a God-honoring exercise. Filled with an optimism of God’s work of redeeming this world, R.C. writes that: “Redemption, in the full biblical sense of the word, is both physical and spiritual.” This Kuyperian dynamic is found throughout the book. The world according to God is  created as “very good.” The fall cannot hold back what God has intended to accomplish through Christ, and that is the restoration of civilization under King Jesus.

But what does a society look like under biblical economics?

Nations prosper because profit leads to surplus capital and that leads to tools and that leads to production. When this pattern is seen “the common man is allowed to have luxuries once owned only by nobles.” Beyond that, the “poor reaps the benefits of mass production.”  The Puritan work ethic is at the center of this biblical understanding of economics. It is this reviewer’s opinion that America still reaps the benefits of our forefather’s commitment to working ethically as Christian citizens in the land.

Modern Christians are afraid of the idea of profit. They believe that it does harm to the little guy, but in reality profit gives the possibility for the little guy to build wealth. Government’s role in welfarism has only led to catastrophic decline. The government seeks to regulate what the Bible gives no authority to regulate. Wealth and welfare are responsibilities of the family and the church. When the bureaucratic agencies interfere in businesses it only hinders progress.

Sproul spends much time articulating on the real culprit of inflation: The government through the fiat printing of money. This book, written over a decade ago, is even more pertinent today in light of the gangster-type mentality of the present Federal Reserve banking system. The more the Federal Reserve goes on denying the real source of this economic recession, the longer it will take to recover.

The final chapters of the book focus on a biblical definition of poverty. All Christians speak of poverty, but rarely do they define it. Poverty is not an absolute term; there are different kinds of poverty. In this section, Sproul responds to   those on the Christian left and their absolutizing of poverty.

What is the role of government in our economy? What does the Bible say about equity, debt, capitalism and socialism? Though the Bible does not speak in particular about every detail, its principles are clearly laid out throughout redemptive history. R.C. Sproul make understanding this difficult topic a possible quest for the layman and scholar alike.

Possible Objections

Some may immediately criticize R.C. for treating the Bible as a textbook. My answer is that if a textbook means offering principles for living in such a time as this, then that is a fair criticism. I am well aware that Israel lived in an agrarian system and most of us do not in this day and age. However, it is within that agrarian system that God offered principles and wisdom to be applied in all of life and in every society.

Some may react by saying that capitalism is greedy and full of faults. To that I respond, what system honors labor more than capitalism? What system honors the family more than capitalism? What system allows the passing of wealth to future generations than capitalism? What system allows the gospel to prosper to the nations of the earth more than capitalism? What system made America the most prosperous nation on earth? What system has most been associated with Christianity throughout history than capitalism? As Luther has said: “The abuse of something is not an argument against its proper use.”

Some may object that the Bible is only a spiritual book and not meant to address fleshly concerns. The only answer I can give is to take the critic to the heart of redemptive history. Our history is God’s history, which He created as very good.

Personal Note

My interview with Dr. R.C. Sproul on his book can be found HERE.