Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Boom and bust: the false economy

Special guest blog with Tim Childs

One of the things that has been brought to the fore in the last few years is the economy that booms for a time and then goes bust.

The boom and bust economy serves the get-rich-quick mentality. The worst aspect is that it creates super-rich people and corporations who don’t even pay token amounts of tax, while at the bottom it creates low-wage, dead-end jobs; so it only serves to increase the already large divides between rich and poor. 

But I’m not just blaming the rich; I think we all need to rein in our finances. We can all cut down and live within our means. In this age of easy credit, many people are living on money that they don’t have, buying things they don’t really need and then finding themselves in debt. That includes individuals, corporations and entire nations. 

It’s easy to get our hands on money and worry about repaying it later; and we have paid the price for this. It is my belief that no one should live on credit, and that we should all live within our means. I understand necessities are a different matter; but do we need that plasma TV? Do we need a second holiday? Do we need to redecorate the house at great expense? 

The financial hub in London was living beyond its means, and when things went bust – and boy did they go spectacularly bust – everything went with it, and we are all paying the price for it now (except perhaps the bankers who are still on huge bonuses). 

In the end, most societies’ economies are only really about the wealthy and powerful staying wealthy and powerful, and if some crumbs fall off the table for the rest of us, so much the better. 

But the reality isn’t really one of a nation benefitting, that ‘we’re all in this together’. It’s about a precious few making tons of money while the rest of us look on with no real chance of doing the same.

Shouldn't churches and responsible people be talking about this? Shouldn’t governments and parties of every political hue be trying to stop the worst aspects of boom and bust? 

Whatever happens and whatever is said, it’s obvious that until we start to look at this and the moral and even spiritual bankruptcy behind it, nothing is going to stop the boom and bust of wealthy economies. I hate to say it, but as long as rich people make money, nothing else seems to matter. 

The answer is for all of us to stop being greedy, quite frankly.  How many millions of pounds do you need to be happy? How many houses can you live in? How many cars can you drive at one time? 

There is a moral and a spiritual dimension to all of this. It may be legal and above board to make money while the sun shines and to hell with everyone and everything else, but there will be a price to pay.

However rich or poor you may be and wherever you find yourself in the social system, such behaviour is contrary to God’s laws.

So how does a person prosper and live as a Christian at the same time? By putting God first! I think we put God first by acknowledging that there is a spiritual and moral dimension to life, and by regarding other people as being as precious as ourselves, our own families and friends. 

Finally, is it good for people to expect so many years of the high life and then somehow always be waiting for the ‘pay-off’? I believe this creates instability simply because so many of us are expecting it to happen. The rich get richer, even the poor live well for a while, and then the proverbial hits the fan… and most of us suffer the consequences. 

This particular credit crunch might be slightly different in origin, and I’m no economist so I can’t fully understand or explain it, but the effects are basically the same; we’re all in it together through the bad times, but when the good times roll around again it’s every man for himself.

This is the bankrupt morality at the heart of so many wealthy nations and until we challenge it, beginning with our own greed and selfishness, we can expect the same thing to happen over and over again. 

Click here to read more from Tim Childs. 

You can read more on finance and other life issues in the next issue of Sorted magazine, which is hot off the press.

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