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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Praying for the economy


A few of the blogs (Justin Taylor, Matt Hosier) I read have linked to this post by Matt Perman at Desiring God blog on why he prays for the economy, in it he also links to Wayne Grudem's book on business that I reviewed here. I think I have a few questions about Matt's post.

So Matt says, "There are few things that have more impact on the welfare of large groups of people, in the physical sense, than the state of the economy. Therefore, I believe that the command to “love your neighbor” implies that we desire, seek, and pray for the welfare of the economy."

I agree. But in a globalized world where economies are both link and compete, as one comment at Justin's blog asked, 'whose economy should we pray for?' Matt talks about healthy economies. They do create jobs, jobs give dignity and the ability to provide for families, jobs can lift people and keep people out of poverty. Assuming of course that you have a healthy economy. A healthy economy would ensure that every job provides enough so that no one works and lives in poverty. A friend of mine contemplated returning to work only to discover that with child care costs she would be worse off by working. That's not a healthy economy. It's not a healthy economy in America were millions work but can't pay the rent or afford healthcare in the nation with the greatest gap between rich and poor.

A healthy economy isn't one that needs ever increasing amounts of personal and national debt to survive, or for people to continually buy what they don't need in order for the economy to grow.

A healthy economy wouldn't have some people making millions betting on the failure of companies and the loss of jobs. Which is what happened with Lehman Bank and HBOS. Although I don't have much sympathy for banks, as I'm not entirely sure of the ethics of their more complicated products. Indeed as one economist said, "it is important for banks not to make assets so complicated that neither they nor anybody else understands them."

And of course a healthy economy is one that doesn't unfairly advantage themselves over others, which is what ours and Europe's and America's does at the WTO or at the World Bank and the IMF. A healthy economy doesn't encourage the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer, at least not by the standards of Amos.

So, I hope that, out of this crisis a healthy economy does emerge, I do pray for that. But a healthy economy based on justice not on greed.

Do read Jeremy's post Capitalism is in crisis

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