As the threat to economic survival grows, do we dare ask the all-important question that would bring about the cure?
Look at your daily newspaper. Notice the space devoted to economic news. We're most concerned, it seems, about how to make our lives more comfortable. We're so concerned with our lifestyles that we somehow have forgotten we have contributed to the economic malady we call inflation. Does the following ancient experience sound like what you face? "Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes [inflation]." This apt description comes from a business source you wouldn't expect: the Bible. It is found in Haggai 1:6. Few realize that the world's best-seller — the Bible — is a book containing the most important business principles available to man. And one of the first things this book of business reveals is to look to the cause instead of fighting the effects.
A Problem That Touches Us All
You and I are well-acquainted with the ravages of inflation and its opposite, massive recession. As the hot wind of rising prices blows across the nations, every facet of our lives is affected. We can't buy all the things we want. We have a harder time making ends meet. Inflation must be cooled down. But how? Walk into a public library. Browse through the business and economic section. You'll find volume after thick volume promoting this theory and that theory to slow rising prices. Inflation is no new creation of modern times. We must realize that this malady is a problem thousands of years old. As long as the inflation rate is moderate — 2 to 3 to 5 percent — we resign ourselves to it and say, "That's not too bad." But, if suddenly inflation blasts through the roof, we start pointing fingers at others. "Somebody's got to do something!" And so we look to people with power — to isolate the source of inflation and stop it. What has happened in the Western world? People look to governments and political ideologies for solutions. "This policy will stop inflation," one says, while another says, "No, labor costs are the problem." As soon as we think we've got our problem pinpointed, another person says, "We've got problems with management."
It seems that dealing with our economic problems is similar to holding a soccer ball under water — as soon as you think you've got it under control, it pops up somewhere else. While management, labor costs, stagnation in capital investment and the like, and especially excessive money supply contribute to inflation, there is one added problem. We are the problem. We want our high-standard-of-living quarters — with electronic entertainment — but we don't want to work hard enough for it! This is the key element that few world leaders dare talk about publicly. Where are world leaders who dare ask: If we want to prevent the world's economy from slipping further — and stave off major economic disasters — are we willing to cut our standard of living and work harder? Employers must be willing to pay more for diligent, competent work and improved safety of workers. Employees must be on the job, producing, rather than striking, working longer — as in a war — because we are in a war with the cause of inflation, which is greed. Joint employee-employer effort and cooperative spirit to increase productivity and cut unit costs is the fastest and only way to destroy the enemy. Some individuals have already done this. They have been following the advice of The Plain Truth. And they are reaping the benefits. But the vast majority neglect this viable solution. Have you ever watched personal ratings in the popularity polls of an elected official cascade into an abyss when he or she starts talking about "tightening our belts"? Have you wondered why? Look what the Bible reveals! "The heart [basic human motivation] is deceitful above all things..." (Jeremiah 17:9). In this statement is all-important knowledge that precious few know! The Bible reveals man to be a selfish being. Our basic drive is toward ourselves — not for the well-being of others. Editor-in-chief Herbert W. Armstrong pointed up more than 45 years ago a principle that economic leaders ignore: "There is only one way that... money can be collected [in taxes] out of a larger sum than the present... billions of national income," he wrote, "and that is to INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY ACTUALLY EARNED AND PRODUCED. "This can be done in only two ways," he continued,
We want our high-standard-of-living quarters — with electronic entertainment — but we don't want to work hard enough for it!
"(a), inflation, and (b), by actually earning and producing more on the PRODUCING end, and not on the SPENDING end!" With a self-oriented nature, we humans want to "get" instead of "give." We contribute to the cause, not the solution. Instead of producing more, we use "plastic money" — the Omni-present credit card — to stretch our payments and seemingly bolster our standard of living. The proof of this comes in the form of falling productivity. In the most modern, affluent nation on the face of the earth, U.S. factories are falling behind smaller, sometimes ill-financed companies outside the United States. Why? Because Americans — whether professional or clerical, management or labor — are paying a terrible price for a shift in attitude. Through the media, we have "reeducated" ourselves. We have been told we "owe it to ourselves" to buy whatever we want, whenever we want and however we want. But we've lost sight of the basic principles that insure national success! And other Western nations are fast following in the United States' footsteps! It's time we wake up! Most don't realize that successful business principles are spiritual principles. The problems we face are spiritual in nature. But man pursues physical solutions to spiritual problems. Is it any wonder we find ourselves in such an economic mess?
The Lost Generation
An unfortunate case in point is the remnant of the late sixties' and early seventies' "counter-culture." Remember the old slogan, "Tune In — Drop Out"? Instead of "hitting the books," thousands of Americans used college campuses as a place of foment and political rhetoric. With the Vietnam War as a backdrop, thousands and thousands of young minds closed themselves to preparation and advancement. Instead, they rejected elements of society and set out in a very loose and destructive fashion to "save the world." What most didn't realize at the time was the terrible economic consequences that both the nation and the young people would soon face! Eschewing academic preparation, young people instead directed their precious time and energy towards experimenting with sex, hallucinogenic drugs and false philosophies to a greater or lesser degree. Within three years, many of these people suddenly woke up to find themselves out of the picture. Untrained, with no skills or experience, these young people had condemned themselves to unskilled, menial labor for the most part, or jobs that led nowhere. There's no market for street-corner political philosophies, they found. And even more tragic is that nations that allowed this phenomenon face today the loss of brilliant, trained, experienced minds to run their governments, businesses and industries. This points up a basic problem in the crisis of leadership! Ask any management consultant about one of the basic causes of falling industrial productivity and he'll point to ineffective, poor management. And poor management leads to falling productivity, a primary root of inflation! What if the lost generation had followed this precept: "In all labor there is profit: but the [time-wasting] talk of the lips tendeth only to penury [poverty]" (Proverbs 14:23)? Where would they be today? Again, when people talk about the economy, they are really talking about you and me. The basic problem with our economy is selfishness. Labor unions fear concessions to employers. It's no secret that rich bosses used human toil as fodder for corporate income in the late 1800s and early 1900s. But today, management fears bad economic consequences from the organized strike. What is required is a basic change in our attitudes.
Working Toward a Solution
The root cause of human economic problems, remember, is spiritual in nature. So let's look to the source of spiritual solutions for our answers: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Yes, God commands zeal — a willingness to put forth extra effort — without being asked. We would immediately see the positive benefits if this divine principle of success were applied. From the management point of view, you would see people pulling together to get a job done, working in harmony. If you were part of labor, you would see your boss working to make your job easier. But what do we have today? In factories, haven't you seen your fellow workers break equipment to get out of work? And haven't you seen management point the finger at others to escape blame for errors? It's time to get away from this self-centered way of life. Instead, we need to develop concern for each other regardless of our position! God expects you to practice this element of success: "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others [have out-going concern for others' needs]" (Philippians 2:4). Ever read or heard Acts 20:35: "It is more blessed to give than to receive"? This is no sentimental, maudlin statement! This is a living law that millions break every day — and suffer the unfortunate consequences! God is not some harsh monster that wants you to give up enjoyment and life. God wants you to prosper (III John 2) and He promises an abundant life (John 10:10) in return for obedience to these living laws of success. Notice what happens to those, whether labor or management, who practice the "GIVE" way: "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth [who practices the "give" way] shall be watered..." (Proverbs 11:25). Further, "One gives away, and still he grows the richer: another keeps what he should give, and is the poorer" (Proverbs 11:24, Moffat translation). Find out for yourself that these laws work! "Prove me now herewith" (Malachi 3:10), says your God. If you're interested in learning more about the proven way to success, which will provide the ultimate solution to inflation, we have available a free booklet titled The Seven Laws Of Success. We believe in the "give" way. By simply writing to the nearest address inside the front cover, we'll send you this booklet without charge or follow-up. Remember, the "give" way is the only way that really works in the here and now. It is the way of thoughtfulness, of concern for our neighbor. It is the way that makes our neighbor, in turn, want to be more thoughtful of others and their special needs. It's up to you. The way to real happiness and prosperity — will you take it?