12 Aug THE ECONOMY
(FINANCE, DEBT & INTEREST, THE RELATIONAL COMPANY)
One cannot address economics without addressing capitalism. The world we are in is connected for all the wrong reasons and one of the reasons is greed. And the greed is fueled by the prevailing capitalism and its leading proponents, the rich. As Christians, when we have our theology of work and money, why is the same not reflected in our day to day life? Is the system is at complete flaw without redemption? If the approach to this system should be Biblical then can it be relational?
To start with, the module in Economics lit the light in me to see the economic evils in the society. The Protestant ethics and the spirit of capitalism if written now, could be titled as “Protestant Negligence and the Evil of Capitalism”. We see a startling phenomenon in which profit and loss drives the basic relational structure in the society, the family. I see people getting married purely because it increases their economic status. Since when has money become our choice-maker and we became its listeners? Though I have all these ideal cries within me I understand two things clearly,
We are in a fallen world.
We are redeemed by the blood of Christ.
So the oneness is on us who are redeemed to be salt and light in this world. The first step of being salt and light for the economic system is to understand the system based on the truth that is revealed to us through the Scriptures. When there is a system that encourages absolute property rights, reduction of the natural world to natural resources, then I shouldn’t be just passing along with the system; rather I should stop and think.
As I work in the bank and as I engage with the data on lending, I see a pattern with large industries getting the bulk share. And I also see a recent surge in retail lending like home loans, vehicle loans etc. The very treatment of customers from both the segments are very different with respect to the way the loan is recovered. Eg. The individual in the retail segment will be threatened to pay his dues or to face the suit while the large companies getting their loan restructured. All this happens in the name of profit and business. I see no relations between people (borrower and lender) except for financial, no necessary understanding of the situation of the borrower etc. There is nothing relational about lending and borrowing in the capitalistic world.
The warning from one of the articles that I read “Stability of Global economy cannot be taken for granted” is the reality. If the market crashes somewhere, then it has ripple effects on the other nations as well. Least developed being the worst hit. So when each stakeholder acts in their own selfish interests, there is this insecurity of collapse. So to see the interest of the other stakeholders or larger public is one of the things that is missing in the capitalist economy. Chronic capitalism is where people take the ownership of their profit and the growth rather giving the due honor for the one who really deserves the glory and honor.
Personal change is the key for conceptual or ideological change and then the conceptual or ideological change is essential for the structural change. But as it was put in the article the concept change comes first, then personal change and then structural change. The fact is, by bringing conceptual change to economics (in terms of relations) is like being a light for the economic world.
Local taxation than central taxation is one of the discussions in one of the articles. Now as our country has reeled into GST which is predominately a Central tax, we lose the sense of community and ownership for the local produces. If you say there is Banaras silk and that gives the identity of the town or people then the locals must have the say over their produce. It could backfire at the way of high price for others who is outside the community and this is where state can plunge in and carefully tax them without isolating them from the product and their identity. So the state has to think of filling the coffers of the communities than filling its own. At the least the priority shift in the revenue generation by the state could improve the sense of relations between the people. Tax burden must be distributed in equity and not equally.
Our economy whether mixed or market tends to provide ownership without responsibility. As a county we need to work on a lot of things, starting from unorganized sector where the pay differentials are high. We are in a country where the social responsibility of the corporate bodies were lightened up only after passing the amendment in the Companies law. So the responsibility should go hand in hand with ownership. So as Christians, saved by grace, we need to be gracious to the unorganized service that we receive in the form of House Maids, Cooks etc. We need to be graciously engaging them with our coffers as well, however small or big, we should be gracious. It’s not about money; it’s all about mending what was lost, relationship.
Money can also be used to serve relationships. Spend money to develop friendships. Direct your money to achieve social results.
Debt and interest is practically unavoidable in this current scenario. All over the world this is the case. But the debt and interest should be carefully studied so we will know the end use of our money that goes as debt or as interest.
We are evidently seeing how the market thinking has already encroached into our families, schools, communities and churches. And the worst is that these are the places or sources of cultural and moral brain shapers.
Capitalism flourished under protestant ethics. But the evil came along side in the form of slave-trade: more money more profit. Detoxifying Capitalism of its greed is the one thing that we can be hopeful about. The Creator of the heaven and earth deserves all honor and glory and praise for all that we do with his creation here. So we need to consciously remind ourselves that we belong to Him so also the things that we hold on to.
Let us all work towards detoxification by being salt and light not only in work place but also in our very engagement with this society. Money and work are all about stewardship. The love of money is the root of all evil.
Gift Rojan, Works in New Delhi as a Banker, email@example.com