Greg's Weekly Word: "economics"
Updated: Feb 2, 2021
I've picked up more of an interest in economics this week, mainly because of the news about GameStop stock, putting Reddit users at odds with Wall Street hedge funds. It is (at least, grossly oversimplified for people like me) a case of the effects of supply and demand on a product's value, which is what economics essentially boils down to.
Because economics is more than just supply and demand of goods and services. And it is certainly more than money and stock markets and GDP (i.e. gross domestic product).
[Side note: a friend of mine has the initials GDP, so his nickname used to be "The Gross Domestic"]
Economics literally means "the rules or management of the household." It's the way a household (that is, a family, or at least the people sharing a home) lives together.
What if we thought of our country and our communities as households, and each other as part of the same family? Instead of focusing only on statistics (which are boring and gross anyway), what if we saw things like unemployment numbers and per capita income and minimum wage amounts as indicators of the well-being of everyone in our household?
Instead of asking if the market is going up, we could ask whether or not those who are on the lowest rung of society's ladder have opportunities to climb. (And to go a step further [see what I did there?], why they are on the lowest rung to begin with, and why they haven't been able to climb up.)
Instead of asking how strong the economy is, we could ask how well those who are weak or in need are cared for. (And how we might care for them better.)
When Jesus spoke of the economics of God's kingdom (i.e. the community of God's family), he said things like,
From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded. (Luke 12:48)
And I think it was Gandhi who said,
The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.
Not how the Dow closed. Not how our 401k is doing. Not a particular number on a spreadsheet. How are the most vulnerable and oppressed people in our society - the least and the last when it comes to those statistics - how are they treated and cared for? How can we do better in our living together - as a church, as a community, as a country - to be sure all of God's children have a home, and food, and clothes, and health, and education, and equitable opportunities?
Because in the upside-down economy of God's kingdom, we are not only given an endless supply of mercy and justice and peace and grace and love, but - as followers of Jesus - it is demanded of us, too.
In other words, in the household of the family of God, we need a crowded table...