The Independent Christian Film genre has grown exponentially over the past 8 years or so. The vast majority of these new independent films have been produced by young, homeschooled graduates (and their families). Creed of Gold is a fine example of the expanding nature of these films.
This is an action, adventure film that takes on a James Bond style storyline, while still pointing the viewer towards a Christian worldview. What I like about the film is its ambition in tackling a rather controversial topic (the Federal Reserve), its ability to keep the story moving and the well-executed humor that punctuates the action and drama. This film points the viewer back to the necessity for moral absolutes, and reveals the danger inherent in losing those fixed reference points.
With all independent films, you need to judge them within their genre, not up against epic movies with budgets in the 9 digits. In that respect, Creed of Gold is a quality film that exhibits some ground-breaking elements, pushing the limits of what is commonly attempted by most independent Christian filmmakers.
If there is a down-side to the film it would be the elaborate back-story. I’ve seen the film three times now, which is rare as I usually never watch a movie twice. This is a compliment in that the film is compressed enough that there is something new to be gained from additional viewings, but I still don’t understand the entire back-story. It is largely told (in conversations), not shown (a no-no in film-making), and it was too in-depth for me to catch it all. I think Creed of Gold needs to be released as a novel for those who really want to enjoy the intricate historical plot that underlies this story. So with that said, even if you couldn’t explain to someone about the back story, the movie really doesn’t hinge on it in many ways. You can fairly easily follow the modern-day plot and all you really need to know is that the modern-day bad guys are somehow inextricably linked to the bad-guys of yesteryear. Problem solved, now you just need to enjoy the film! Here is a description of the film from the producers (to help you with my dilemma!):
A secret group that financed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 did not break any laws but was what they did ethically right? The film follows three college students as they investigate this shadowy secret group of individuals who influence national economies for personal advantage. For centuries, this group has manipulated finances around the world and is now using the Federal Reserve to undermine the U.S. economic situation. Everything they do is essentially legal and undetectable.
When, unbeknownst to the others, one man gets greedy and creates a computer program in the Federal Reserve accounting program to siphon money into his own pocket, the race is on. Can our heroic band put together a compelling case strong enough and fast enough to reveal corruption at the Federal Reserve and ultimately the truth about the Bolshevik revolution before their trail of evidence is destroyed and they are eliminated?
As an immigrant from Russia, Adam relates the ideas that led to the Bolshevik revolution to modern America. Cody, as Adam’s brilliant but humorous side-kick, helps bring the message of the film home by sometimes just stating the obvious. And Kirsten allows us to empathize with the trio as we follow her personal journey from high-society to heartfelt faith.
Creed of Gold… Who Controls the Wealth of Nations?
Some young children may be disturbed by the mild violence in the film (different families have vastly different standards on these issues), but overall, this is a good, clean, fun film for the family that parents and older children (12 & up), will really enjoy. If you like independent Christian films, this is one you will want to add to your collection.
For more information on the film, visit: http://creedofgold.com
Israel Wayne (who wrote this review) is an Author and Conference Speaker who serves the Lord at Wisdom’s Gate Ministries.
Ayn Rand (1905-1982), Russian-born novelist and philosopher, is the poster lady for the modern-day Libertarian movement, and is admired by many freedom-loving conservatives and patriots. She was the founder of a philosophy called Objectivism and promoted Egoistic Hedonism (the belief that seeking your own selfish interests is a noble good and that greed is the foundation of all laissez faire Capitalism).
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for property rights, individual liberties, small government, free market and other ideas that Ayn Rand and her followers hold dear. However, as a Christian, our paths diverge at at least several crucial junctures:
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s most popular novel has recently been turned into a film (which I have not seen). Here are Chuck Colson’s perspectives on this film and the legacy of Ayn Rand:
For over eighteen teen years, I have worked as a marketing consultant teaching families and individuals the principles that apply to starting and managing a home-based business. There are many blessings and burdens that should be considered before you embark on such a journey.
First of all, starting a home-based business must be something that is Spirit directed and controlled or it will inevitably be a disaster. Being in charge of your own company is much more difficult than you may imagine. Let’s look at some common motivations for starting your own home-based business.
(In no particular order of importance.)
More Flexible Schedule
There is a common perception that if you run your own business you can make up whatever schedule you desire. This is a partial truth. I like what Bob Farewell often says, “Having your own home business is great! You have a very flexible schedule. You decide which twenty hours of the day you want to work!”
The fallacy in this flexibility expectation is that most home-based businesses end up keeping the same hours of operation as any other business. When other people are going about their workday (8:00 am – 6:00 pm, M-F), they expect you to be available to conduct business as well. Obviously this may vary based on the type of business you engage in, but for the most part, you will likely find yourself locked into traditional work hours. However, when the lights go out and turn on the answering machine, many more hours of work may still await you.
As with homeschooling, if you need to take time off, you sometimes can, but those hours usually need to be made up by extra work in the evenings or weekends. You still have all of the same personal demands that you had before (a car to maintain, groceries to buy, grass to mow, etc.) and you may find that it is actually harder for you to accomplish those personal tasks once you are engaged in a full-time home business.
Unless you hire an extensive staff (not likely for the new business owner) you are responsible for all aspects of the maintenance of your new company. You are the salesperson, the production manager, the accountant, the customer service agent, the president and CEO, the marketing expert, the janitor, the graphic artist, the repairman and the strategist or creative mind behind the development of your products or services.
If you think this leaves you with lots of free time, think again. Many business owners find themselves working late into the night until they are cross-eyed, living on caffeine, overloaded with stress, dodging commitments at church or in their community and actually having much less personal time that they did before they began their business. Couple this with the uncomfortable misconception your friends may have of you (that you don’t have a real job), and you will find that you are constantly the one volunteered to help someone move, or to fill in last minute for any project that your friends couldn’t accomplish, because “they had to work,” and you may find yourself a bit disillusioned with your “flexible” schedule.
Of course, on the bright side, for those emergencies when you really need to take the afternoon off, you don’t have to get the boss’ permission because, well, you are the boss.
More Income Opportunity
Ha, ha, ho, he, he, haw, haw, hoo, hoo, ha! Sorry. I’m picking myself up off the floor. That was a good one! Ok, I’m trying to say this with a straight face. You thought you could make more money if you worked for yourself? Ha, ha, ho, he, he! Wow. That is too much. Ok, now that you’ve made my day. Let’s look at this prospect.
Most of the people I know who have started their own businesses make far less than they could working a white collar job for a major corporation. You may also find yourself paying your own self-employment taxes, business insurance, health insurance, possible rent for office or warehouse, payroll (if you hire employees) and much more that you didn’t have to think about when you worked for someone else.
Get Rich Quick!
You’ve probably seen the ads for multi-level, or network marketing companies, promising that you will make lots of money (thousands of dollars a week in some cases), doing little to no work, at home in your bathrobe! As the old adage states, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” The Bible teaches, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23 NASB) Of the dozens of individuals that I have known who are engaged in network or multi-level marketing businesses, I have only known of one situation where a representative made a decent full-time living with the same company for more than five years.
In reality, if you want to own your own company, you need to be content to make a living, not a fortune. Yes, you need to provide for your family’s needs, but the Lord has not promised to take care of all of your whims and wishes, just your necessities (and He defines those differently than most of us do. See 1 Tim. 6:8).
Independence (Be Your Own Boss)
The “Be your own boss” syndrome is a two-sided coin. On the one side you may have a noble aspiration to be free to serve the Lord, not being encumbered by servitude to an earthly “master.” Often, Christian men feel they are limited in working for the Lord because their “secular” employment (as they see it), keeps them tied to labor that doesn’t necessarily build the kingdom of God. They also grow weary from the heathen language, lifestyles and attitudes of their non-Christian bosses or co-workers. I think these are legitimate concerns. Before leaving your job, however, you need to really seek God to discern if God has placed you there to be salt and light in that environment.
God wants to have his people in many spheres of life. God wants Christians to work in hospitals, courtrooms, computer labs, factories, retail stores and many other spheres of life. That is part of our great commission to go into the entire world. In one sense, our employment is a means to disciple all nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about passing out tracks on company time. I’m talking about taking a Biblical worldview and a Christian work ethic into whatever sphere God has placed you.
It could be that your desire to quit your job is simply reflective of the fact that you are a selfish person who won’t be told what to do. In some cases, it is a rejection of legitimate authority that drives a man to start his own business. God will not bless that kind of in-turned and retreatist mentality.
It may also be that you are lazy and don’t like hard work. The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence. Being your own boss may look like a lot less work and headache. The problem is that unless you are self-disciplined and can drive yourself to work when you don’t feel like it, you won’t succeed as your own boss. Self-government is an essential quality for the business owner.
In an age of economic uncertainty and corporate downsizing, some feel that owning their own business gives them a more solid financial footing. While it is hard to run your own business in a down-turned economy, it may be safer than having all of your eggs in someone else’s basket! Many are the tale of men who have been sent job-hunting after many years of loyalty to the factory or office. Whether through intentional lack of reciprocal loyalty to the employee, or simply the results of going belly-up because of financial woes, many major corporations have let down their workers and left them searching classified ads for work.
There is a trouble I have observed under the sun. I have seen many wives who put pressure on their husbands to quit their jobs and come home. The goal is to have dad work out of the home and presumably to be available to help with the children and household tasks. I don’t know that there is anything inherently bad in this wish, but the results are often detrimental to the family.
In some cases, I believe the wife is simply discontent. It’s hard to know why, perhaps she doesn’t even know. She thinks that having her husband home more often will make her happy. In reality, however, that just doesn’t pan out. In fact, having hubby around all of the time can create a lot more stress. Suddenly there is another person fully engaged in all of the details and decisions of everyday life. If the wife is not content in life when her husband is away at work, she simply carries her discontentedness into her new situation.
She may not have given enough consideration to how the change in income may affect the family. It may be that she has simply been hyper-focused on getting her husband to help more around the house, and a home-business seemed like the ticket! Please remember ladies, the husband is not to be the help-meet. It is the other way around! Sure, hubby can and should help with household issues, but that is not his main calling in life.
As we have all heard, money issues are one of the main causes for strife and marital conflict. When hubby quits his job with a predictable paycheck and tries to live on the sporadic income that accompanies being self-employed, his wife often can’t handle the pressure. She wants safety and security. It is a woman’s intuition to provide a comfortable nest for her family. Having the financial apple cart upset sometimes turns the nagging from coming home to work, to the more pressing issue of, “How are we going to pay the bills and put food on the table?”
Men are naturally concerned about such issues (at least normal ones are), and having a “continuous dripping” from a nagging wife doesn’t bless hubby. Things can go from bad to worse if this family has not planned ahead, and doesn’t know what to expect. The key to this issue is being content and not having false expectations of the “good life.” The good life is being wherever God wants you to be, doing what God wants you to do.
Train Their Children (Pass On A Career)
This is perhaps one of the best reasons to start your own business. Allowing your children to work alongside of you gives you the chance to share much more than business skills. You can pass on your values, work ethic, morals, practical knowledge and love to your children by having them work in your business. I like what Denny Kenaston says, “I don’t use my children to grow my business. I use my business to grow my children!” The best approach is to start a business that will teach your children skills that they can use in the real world. They may not choose to continue with the same type of business you have started, but hopefully they have learned skills that they can apply to other endeavors. This approach of mentoring and apprenticing through work is in many ways a better preparation for an occupation than college could ever be.
When Should You Start Your Own Business?
1. It seems to me that the best time to start your own company is precisely when you don’t need the income. Most companies don’t make a profit for the first two or three years. It takes a while to build your business. Can you live for two or three years without an income? Most people can’t. That’s why I don’t generally advise people to just quit their job and go full time into a new endeavor. It helps to get your feet wet slowly, don’t just dive in.
2. If you are not a creative, self-starter personality, you probably shouldn’t consider owning your own company. You need to be innovative regarding your product line, or your approach to service. If you are naturally a follower and not a leader, you might be best working for someone else. If you have difficulty taking charge of a situation or making a decision, self-employment is probably not right for you.
3. The best kind of work to do is the work you like the best. If you love what you do and you feel that God is pleased with your involvement in a particular endeavor, you can be happy and fulfilled even if you don’t make a lot of money. I have met many business owners who say, “I used to make a lot more money, but I wouldn’t trade it for what I’m doing now!” There is a lot more to your life than making a living. Make a life, not a living.
4. You need to find work that allows you to balance all of life: Your relationship with God, your family, your friends, ministry, finances, long-term personal goals, parenting goals, and evangelistic and discipleship opportunities. Never let one of these factors control the others. They are all important. God wants your life to be integrated to maximize your effectiveness for His kingdom.
5. It seems that marketing is the Achilles heel of every business. Most business owners have a great product or service, but they really struggle with getting the word out to the people. In this area you need to read good books and seek out mentors. Marketing approaches change all the time, so the most important things it to learn the basics and then be willing to flex and change with the times. Pray and the seek the Lord and he will direct your steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Israel Wayne was home educated and currently serves as Marketing Director for Wisdom’s Gate, publishers of the national publication Home School Digest, where this article first appeared. Israel is the author of the book, Homeschooling From A Biblical Worldview, published by Wisdom’s Gate, and site editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net.
In his book, Revolution, which focuses on the life of the American church, researcher and cultural analyst George Barna uses the term “mini-movements” to describe a number of forces that are shaping the landscape of modern Christendom. According to Barna, research is showing that the most dramatic life-changing catalysts at work among believers today are mini-movements that are not connected with any particular national denomination or specific local church effort.
What are some of these movements that are challenging people to become more serious in their faith and to embrace a comprehensive lifestyle of following Jesus in every area of their lives? The following are some of the movements that I think are the most significant in our day and age. They are not given in any particular order of chronology nor importance. They each have their place and are likely indispensable in the overall big-picture of God’s plan for our day and age.
I have to start with this one because it is the one to which I’m most intimately connected. The modern Christian homeschooling movement has been nothing short of a move of God on our land. It reflects the heart of Malachi 4:6, where God promises to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and children to their fathers. Christian parents must take responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of their own children if they want to see Christianity survive the forces of postmodernism and Islamo-fascism rampant in our world today.
Beginning in the 1960s with John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, the return to a Biblical view of origins and the emergence of a new breed of Bible-believing scientists, has revolutionized the Christian world. I believe that the Creationist movement in many ways helped to inspire a new interest in Christian education, encouraging the expansion of Christian schools and later homeschooling in America. This was in many ways a movement of reformation, calling Christians back to believing in the inspiration and authority of the holy Scriptures.
Christian Financial Management
When the late Larry Burkett first emerged on the scene in the late 1970s, talking about financial stewardship, he stuck out like a sore thumb. Today, there are hundreds of Christian financial coaches, and a number of national ministries dedicated to helping believers to become good stewards and managers of God’s resources. There is much work yet ahead, but the groundwork has been amply laid for this important movement to stir hundreds of thousands of Christians to channel their resources in Kingdom activities, rather than worldly pursuits and pleasures.
While all outreaches to the family are important, none is more vital than ministries that reach out to men and encourage them to take spiritual leadership of their homes. Most Christian men have not had the right kind of role models, and therefore feel inadequate to lead their wives and children according to the Scriptures. Groups like Promise Keepers broke ground in this effort of challenging men, and hundreds of ministries (some of them much more effective) have continued this endeavor.
Family-Integrated Church / House Church
In a world where the family is too often split apart by secular forces, many parents have been concerned that the common church practice of age-segregated learning/worship is further exacerbating the problem of disunity in the home. Tens of thousands of families have opted for a method of corporate teaching and worship that are not traditional, but are more Biblical in practice than the typical local church. Absent are “junior church,” age-segregated Sunday school classes, VBS and youth group activities. These family-integrated fellowships usually encourage fathers to lead family worship at home, and the church leaders often strive to avoid going around parents to teach their children.
The Worship Revolution
Among young people in America (and around the world), there is a renewed desire for authentic worship. All over the country there are massive gatherings of people who have come to cry out to God to move in our day. Sometimes these events are reminiscent of revivals of days gone by, and other times they are little more than Christian rock concerts, but increasingly there are select leaders within this movement who are promoting a God-centered (rather than man-centered, self-therapeutic) approach to worship. This movement began mainly in the UK and has found its way to American shores. There is also a renewed emphasis on songs that are theologically sound and vertically oriented (focusing on God, His work and His attributes), rather than a rehash of endless “God is my girlfriend” type songs that are presented as “worship.”
This may seem like an odd thing to include in the list, but we live in a visual culture, and no force has shaped modern American society more than television and the movies. Because of the blatantly objectionable content of films from the beginning of the “Silver Screen,” Christians abandoned film-making as an evil endeavor and left it to the dominance of unGodly people. As a result, billions of people receive their worldview through a media channel that is corrupt in it’s content and methods. That is changing as solid Christian believers are creating excellent films to the glory of God. All of the Arts need to be reformed, not just film, but this is perhaps the most unexpected and encouraging development I’ve seen in the past decade.
When I was a child, Christian worldview training and the teaching of apologetics were largely related to seminarians. Today there are numerous websites, including my own www.ChristianWorldview.net site, conferences, online courses, books, videos and many other resources for learning to understand and defend the Christian faith as it relates to all areas of life. This is one of the most important movements of our day.
I have seen a renewed emphasis on “deeper life” teachings in recent years, and a renewed desire to know Christ more. Thousands of people are reading books and articles on the revivals of days past, and desiring to see holiness restored to the Church. I have been able to participate in several conferences with a focus on repentance, forgiveness, forsaking sin and surrender to the Spirit of God. The old thing is the new thing. What a joy to see the “old” message returning in a new and fresh way. Our magazine, Brush Arbor Quarterly, reflects this emphasis.
Get on the Move
People who believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the totality of human existence, tend to be involved in many, if not all, of these movements. If you are unfamiliar with any of these movements, I would encourage you to check them out, and see if the Lord would have you join Him in what He is doing.
By way of introduction, I just want to say that I think Mr. Lawrence Reed is one of America’s hidden treasures. He is well-known within his field of economics and conservative political thought, but in the mainstream world, he is largely unknown. It is a tragedy that Americans know about Justin Bieber, Brittany Spears and Miley Cyrus, and yet they do not know this man. I hope that you will take some time to familiarize yourself with this man who has been a voice of clarity and reason for over 20 years.
I read his articles when I was a teenager (I was homeschooled, what can I say?) and I am honored to introduce his work to you. I hope you learn a lot! — Israel Wayne
Lawrence Reed: In economics, many schools of thought compete with each other on such issues as methodology (the premises we start from and the tools we use to build on them and study the economy), public policy implications and recommendations, the role of history or mathematics within economics, etc., etc. That’s not to say there isn’t significant agreement across the vast majority of those in the profession. Almost every economist accepts these core concepts wholly or largely: Savings, capital formation and investment are critical to productivity. Trade is a good thing, every bit as productive as production itself. Prices send important signals to both producers and consumers, resulting in rational allocation of scarce goods and services. Most economists also embrace the time-tested truism that government central planning of an economy is fraught with flaws and presumption, making it decisively unworkable if not irrational. The more economics you understand and the more removed you are from politics, the more you naturally appreciate the wondrous, unplanned, self-regulating spontaneity and efficiency of free people and free markets.
But economics is not a “hard” science like physics. Economists, like everyone else, are buffeted by circumstances, ideology, political influence and even character imperfections that may corrupt their thinking. Some think of the short-run and a few people, others are more thorough in their analysis and think of the long-run and all people, for example. There’s no room for disagreement about what gravity does when you drop an apple. Economists argue all the time, however, because we’re dealing fundamentally with a world where the future is full of uncertainties and every one of the planet’s six billion unique individuals have imperfect knowledge.
The most influential of the major schools of thought that emerged in the last century was the Keynesian school (named for British economist John Maynard Keynes, who saw the economy as composed of a handful of “aggregates” and government as a stimulator of demand through its spending). Its disciples perhaps stretched its doctrines further than Keynes himself might have prescribed. It became a significant intellectual justification for the growth of government, deficit spending and economic intervention. By the 1970s, it was rather thoroughly discredited when both price inflation and unemployment rose and confidence in government planning ebbed in the face of its evident failures. But Keynesian economics is undergoing at least a policy revival in our present day, as politicians justify massive increases in spending and deficits as necessary to recover from recession. Politicians tend to like Keynesian analysis because it essentially empowers them at the expense of everybody else, but many of us view the Keynesian model as irredeemably defective.
Another prominent school of thought is the Chicago school, with the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman as its best-known advocate. The Chicago school has made many positive contributions to economics and its devotees are often devastatingly critical of government intervention. They come up short though, in my view, in a number of important areas, most notably in the area of money and who (or what) should be in charge of it.
I’m an advocate of what is known as the Austrian school. Its most notable scholars were Ludwig von Mises and Nobel Laureate F. A. Hayek, who were born in Austria. Austrian economists (most of whom have never been to Austria, by the way; it’s just the name for a school of thought) start from the premise that “the economy” cannot be best studied as lumps of lifeless stuff you can express with equations. It is composed of living, breathing, decision-making entities called individuals. All economic phenomena can and should be traced back to how individuals perceive, think, act and interact. Austrians see competition and the entrepreneur as critical factors in economic growth. We appreciate the role of incentives and of free prices as natural market-clearing mechanisms. We suffer from no “pretense of knowledge” that would suggest any group of people with power could rationally plan an economy from the top down. We are rigorous in our analysis of money as an invention of the market and are constantly warning that when government takes charge of it, the door is wide open to business cycles and currency debasement. We also tend to be among the strongest defenders of private property; ultimately, everything has an owner and it’s only a question of whether the person to whom it really belongs owns it, or somebody else with a gun owns it. No school has all the answers, but I think it is ever more apparent with time that the Austrian school starts from the right premises, analyzes the economy with the proper tools and humility, and yields the most fruitful insights of any school of thought.
Israel Wayne: Name the authors / economists who have influenced you the most.
Lawrence Reed: Dr. Hans Sennholz, who was chairman of the department of economics at my undergraduate alma mater, Grove City College; Henry Hazlitt, author of the classic, “Economics in One Lesson”; Ludwig von Mises, the greatest economist of the 20th century; Murray Rothbard, author of “Man, Economy and State”; Nobel laureates Milton Friedman, F. A. Hayek and James Buchanan; and Frederic Bastiat, a French statesman, economist and author of “The Law.”
Israel Wayne: What is the primary mission of the Foundation for Economic Education?
Lawrence Reed: FEE’s mission is to provide the best-available instruction in the principles of a free society to individuals of all ages whose minds are opening to freedom’s exciting challenge. Our organization seeks to be known as the guiding beacon of a vibrant, growing, international movement to educate for liberty.
Our vision is that people flourish in a free society where the individual’s creative, productive energies are unleashed; private property and the sanctity of contract are upheld; the use of force is confined to protecting the peace; competitive markets allocate scarce resources; and honesty is universally regarded as the best policy in both public and private affairs.
FEE believes a free society is not only possible, it is imperative because there is no acceptable alternative for a civilized people. Our vision for the future is that through education, men and women will understand the moral, philosophic and economic principles that undergird a free society. They will appreciate the direct connection between those principles and their material and spiritual welfare. They will strive to pass those principles on from one generation to the next.
The future FEE envisions is one in which individual expression gives rise to great, even presently-unimaginable achievements in culture, medicine, science, and education. Men and women will engage each other peacefully and voluntarily because they will respect each other’s uniqueness, rights, property and aspirations. No one will be so lacking in humility and introspection as to fancy himself better equipped to plan the lives of others than they, individually, are able to plan for themselves, their families and their businesses.
We carry out this important work through our magazine, “The Freeman,” our many seminars in the summer for high school and college students, a very vibrant Web site (www.fee.org), and appearances throughout the country before audiences, in the media and in front of high school debater groups. We are the oldest free enterprise think tank in the country and are very proud of the fact that our principles are utterly the same today as they were at our founding 63 years ago.
Israel Wayne: What do you believe are some important changes that need to take place for the American economy to recovery from this recession?
Lawrence Reed: We may get a short-term lift from all the incredible money and credit expansion the Federal Reserve has engineered in the past 15 months but that will come at a horrendous cost of future price inflation and an even deeper, corrective recession or depression. To recover in a way that doesn’t cause future problems, we have to be willing to endure the pain of years of very bad policy and allow the economy to slough off all the bad, misdirected investments that Federal Reserve and other government policies have fostered. A solid, healthy and sustained recovery requires measures that hardly anyone in Washington possesses the courage and wisdom to implement, namely, drastic reductions in government spending, a balanced budget, abolition of the Federal Reserve, and sound money.
Recessions and depressions are the awful price paid for previous bad policies, primarily inflation of money and credit. If you see a drunk lying in the gutter, you wouldn’t hand him another bottle of booze to help him out. You would chastise him for the sin of his excessive drinking the night before. You would tell him to stop doing that, no matter how good it might feel when he drinks. You would insist that he “dry out” as a precondition for restoring a healthy condition. As it applies to the economy, the federal government boozed up the economy with its “easy money” and jawboning banks to issue bad mortgages. Its response to the “hangover” that it produced is precisely the wrong one. It is preventing the necessary adjustments from cleansing the economy and is putting us on a reckless path to inflation, debt and national bankruptcy.
Israel Wayne: Does your personal religious faith in any way shape your view of macro-economics? Please explain.
Lawrence Reed: First of all, I don’t much care for the adjective “religious.” To me, “religion” is man’s attempt to gain God’s approbation through works. Christianity, by contrast, is a personal relationship with Christ that starts with God’s grace and one’s acceptance of Christ as his (or her) personal savior.
Secondly, I wouldn’t say my faith shapes my view of the economy any more than it shapes my understanding of the weather or how a car runs or a plane flies. Objective, observable facts, evidence and natural laws are the keys in such things, though I fully appreciate that the only reason we can even have such scientific tools is that we live in an ordered universe, itself a divine creation and gift.
Where my faith does play a part in economics is in the area of what’s right and what’s wrong. My understanding of Christian principles about human nature and proper behavior leads me to appreciate the uniqueness and preciousness of each individual. It leads me to oppose excessive concentrations of earthly power in any mortal hands. Christian principles call for honesty, humility, patience, respect for life and property, self-discipline and voluntary interaction over brute force. They argue definitively against cheating people through currency debasement, redistributing their wealth through taxation, or pretending that a handful of “experts” with power can or should plan the lives of everybody else. My Christian principles tell me that reforming the world begins and ends with individual self-reform and cannot be achieved by “enlightened” planners pushing the rest of us around.
The Eighth and Tenth Commandments against coveting and stealing by themselves should invalidate most of what the federal government does these days. “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is followed by a period, not a qualifier. It does not say, “Thou Shalt Not Steal except under the following conditions: the other guy has more than you do, you really want it, you’re absolutely sure you can spend it better than the guy who earned it, or if a politician is available to steal it on your behalf.”
Israel Wayne: Are there any government run institutions that you would like to see privatized?
Lawrence Reed: Government’s core responsibility is the protection of our rights to life, property and contract. That implies national defense, a court system, police (at the local level) and maybe a few other things. Everything else, privatize, which is to say it’s your responsibility and mine. That includes education. I don’t want government teaching our kids any more than I want it growing our food or writing our books. I have no faith that the bureaucrats or politicians can manage my health care or retirement. Sadly, most Americans refuse to grow up and assume the full responsibilities of living in freedom. They want things at other people’s expense and often don’t care who pays for it or whose dreams and aspirations have to be crushed so the politicians can extract the taxes to pay for it all. By treating our fellow citizens as milk cows, we are really behaving like children, not adults. I wrote an essay on this that I would recommend to your readers, entitled “The Love of Power vs the Power of Love”.
Israel Wayne: Do you have any global or national economic predictions you would like to make regarding the next five years?
Lawrence Reed: The future is tougher to predict than most predictors ever acknowledge but I will say this much: I think the next five years will present huge challenges economically. Government and its unconscionable debt are spiraling out of control. This must stop or financial disaster looms. I also worry a great deal about a general collapse of character that is behind all this fiscal lunacy.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: Erosion of character and culture. Self-reliance, hard work, and personal independence giving way to dependence upon the state. Soaring fiscal burdens of out-of-control entitlement programs, and politicians, oblivious to the costs, promising still more. Monumental sums for bailouts. Staggering increases in public debt. Concentration of power in the central government. A mad scramble by interest groups with endless claims on the treasury. Demagogic class warfare appeals. Ever higher taxes on the productive.
I could be describing ancient Rome, or recent America, where companies that lose billions are being bailed out by a government that loses trillions. Some say those companies are “too big to fail.” So we’re turning them and our economy over to an outfit that is too big to succeed. While most people would say it’s wrong to take a dollar from the responsible and give it to the irresponsible, our politicians tell us that if we do that a trillion times, it’ll be to our advantage. But if two wrongs don’t make a right, how can a trillion wrongs make anything right? It may be good politics for the moment, but it’s also madness and immorality writ large.
Once upon a time in America, most citizens expected government to keep the peace and otherwise leave them alone. We built a vibrant, self-reliant, entrepreneurial culture with strong families and solid values. We respected property. We understood that government didn’t have anything to give anybody except what it first took from somebody, and that a government big enough to give us everything we want would be big enough to take away everything we’ve got. We practiced fiscal discipline in our personal lives and we expected nothing less from the people in the government we elected, or we threw them out.
Somewhere along the way, we lost our moral compass. And just like the Roman Republic that rose on integrity and collapsed in turpitude, we thought the “bread and circuses” the government could provide us would buy us comfort and security.
As a people, we have to come to our moral senses and embrace the immutable laws of economics or we will suffer the same consequences as the decadent civilizations of the past. We have a lot of work to do.
Among the many Web sites I strongly endorse:
Foundation for Economic Education (www.fee.org)
Cato Institute (www.cato.org)
The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org)
National Center for Policy Analysis (www.ncpa.org)
The Freeman (www.thefreemanonline.org)