Sunday, January 13, 2013

Accumulate, Preserve, or Create

Most of us know little about economics. We don’t usually teach it in schools. I had some econ in my undergrad (before transferring to BibleCollege), as well as in grad school to earn my MBA… but even that was mostly about supply and demand curves (mostly demand curves). The focus was almost exclusively on consumer behavior, only a small part of the field of economics.

It seems that most people learned what they know about economics from playing Monopoly. We can learn some good lessons by playing Monopoly, but there’s certainly more to capitalism and economics.
For example, we can consider this simple question: Where does wealth come from?

The Monopoly answer is 
  1. The game allots us money, and then 
  2. To win you have to accumulate the wealth by taking it from everyone else. In Monopoly, there is a fixed amount of wealth and the only way for there to be a winner is for everyone else to be a loser.
We know that the Monopoly answer isn’t reality, mostly because we know that there is no allotment that leads to wealth; there is no “Go.” There is no corner on the board that, when we pass, refills our empty wallets.

But that may not be our most significant misconception, since #2 isn’t true either. Wealth is never realized primarily because it is accumulated or preserved; wealth is created. Sure, there are always a few wealthy winners who made it by making others losers. But most wealth is created.
So, where does most wealth come from? In one sense it comes from nowhere. At least it doesn’t come from some finite box of cash like it does in Monopoly. It comes from ingenuity, and risk taking, and effort, and creativity. It isn’t exactly creatio ex nihilo, but there is a part of wealth, a significant part of wealth, that is that portion that is more than the sum of the parts.

We create wealth. Our work builds economies, societies, and cultures.
This is one of the most significant distinctions of God’s most prized creation. This distinguishes us creatures that were created in the image of God. This is a key to understanding how our work, human work, is special… work that is like God’s work in creation. Our work is not merely creative; our work creates.

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