Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

The problem with financial success

“Having money is more fun than not having any!” Seems logical, but is it always true? Does having more money always bring joy and life fulfilment?

A documentary on Dutch TV described the rise to fame of a Dutch artist Folkert de Jong, one of the most successful contemporary artists in Holland. His expressive sculptures and installations are very popular and ‘are selling like hot cakes.’ Rich collectors, like Charles Saatchi, Damien First and Tracey Emin fought each other for his work.

Folkert de Jong told of his journey. “One minute you are making something in your atelier  in old Amsterdam and the next it’s worth € 40.000 or even a hundred thousand. The ever increasing bank balance sent him crazy, he tells. ” All of a sudden there were secretaries, and assistants, it became much more commercial. I held lots of exhibitions and had to produce more and more. It was like becoming another person, driven by money and power.”  Eventually stress tore him apart, constantly arguing with his business friends, who ‘turned out not to be friends at all.”
This all led to bankruptcy, and left him with a debt of over half a million euros.

“I knew I had to get back to basics, back to myself … I made by best work when I had no prospects at all!”

This mirrors the experience of probably the richest man who ever lived, Kong Solomon. He said, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12)

New capitalism!

Churchill said, “”Capitalism is the worst economic system, except for all the others.” “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
Although the Bible dopes not explicitly promote or defend the capitalist system, it is the best we have …  but it needs to be strongly influenced by Gods economy.

Last week, I was privileged to be with Bruno Roche, Chief Economist at Mars Inc. at a meeting of the European Economic Summit, rochewho proposed an economics of mutuality. This is based on the value of the individual.
Starting with the value of the individual, the first task is to develop and invest in Human Capital. Then in the way each individual relates to and interacts with others – developing Social Capital with shared identity and values.. And then this should be developed within the framework of our Natural Capital, investing in environmental capital. Lastly, this all leads to developing financial capital.

Bruno Roche stated that if we start with developing Financial Capital as the primary goal, then this will always transpire to the cost of human capital, social capital and environmental capital. Financial Capital is the fruit of investing in human, social and natural capital and is needed for liquidity in the system.

Roche, “Marxism only wanted to pay the people at the expense of the others; Greens only want to pay the land at the expense of the others: and Modern capitalism only wants to pay the capital at the expense of the others!”
This is merely a re-iteration of the creation order! Firstly, God created the earth and gave it to man to provide and enjoy! That is natural, environmental capital. Then, God created man to enjoy the creation and develop this natural capital. He wanted people to grow and develop their gifs and talents. Human Capital. Then God observed that it was ‘not good that man should be alone,’ and created woman. Social Capital was born! Financial Capital only came as a means of facilitating the exchange of goods and services allowing people to interact, share and grow their economy. The purpose of money is not to accumulate but to facilitate!
Focus on developing human, social and natural capital and the shared financial capital will follow.
Don’t follow money, money will follow you. Continue reading ‘New capitalism!’

Help … the invisible hand has disappeared!

Where is this supposed invisible hand gone? Did it ever exist?

 

The invisible hand is a term coined by economist Adam Smith in his 1776 book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”. In his book he states:

“Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it … He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for society that it was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.”

Supposedly, this invisible hand will miraculously turn business which is based on self-interest into some public good.  What has happened to our free market system in which this hand seems to have diasppeared?  What happened to the economists and politicians in Greece some years ago when cooking the books in order to get into the eurozone?  What happened to our bankers who used our money to speculate using systems they didn’t understand and lose noinvisible-handt only our money but our trust? What happened to our major corporations who use people in order to improve share prices?

Where has it gone? I believe that this is Gods Spirit. We are all made in th image of God and it is only the presence of the Spirit of God on this earth which prevent us all from descending into complete disaster. God never has to punish us. He only has to leave us alone and we can do that job quite nicely.   We need to rediscover the role of Gods Spirit in turning self-interest into public good.  Only God can do that …! Continue reading ‘Help … the invisible hand has disappeared!’

Nationalism < > patriotism

Last month, I participated in the “State of Europe Forum”  in Athens, organised by the Schuman Centre, and the European Christian Political Movement.

One of the fabulous quotes was from a Polish priest Father Piotr who said, ‘Nationalism is a pathological overemphasis on the nation, and patriotism correctly understood is the antithesis of nationalism. Characteristic of nationalism is the fact that it recognizes only the good of its own people and seeks only its own fulfilment, neglecting the rights of others. Patriotism, however, as love of one’s own country, recognises the same rights of every nation, and is therefore a good tool to set social love in order. It seems that the difference between patriotism and nationalism can be clarified by recalling the difference between self-love and selfishness.’

This reflects Jesus’ words to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’.

Continue reading ‘Nationalism <> patriotism’

Teaching finances – a great tool for you …

Compass- finances God’s way

Check out the 64 Compass animations, categorized by topic. Use for your church, presentations, etc. A great tool! http://ow.ly/t2fQM

A $200 thousand donation as a shoeshiner?

Albert Lexie, A shoeshiner at a Childrens hospital in Pittsburgh has given over $200.000 over a 30 year period to the Childrens hospital from his earnings and tips. What a wonderful exemple of generosity! A spokesman from the hospital said, “I think he just likes the kids!” He also has a big heart and is a good exAmple of someone who is financially free!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/21/albert-lexie-donates-tips_n_2732159.html

Hot Dog economics

While in the US, I was astounded that hot dogs come in packs of 10 and buns in packs of 8. I am also baffled at more things in the US, like why they put a general in charge of the post office and a secretary in charge of defence … and why they drive on the parkway and park on the driveway … I could go on …

This is a very funny attempt at solving the problem of supply and demand … from Victor Claar … watch this!

Supply and Demand

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  This is a quote by no-one less than Albert Einstein.

Even so, we are still attempting to solve today’s economic problems with the same thinking we had before the crisis. Not just the same thinking, it seems, but also the same people!  Many people credit the wild behaviour of the merchant bank Goldman Sachs with the cause of the credit crisis. Chairman Lloyd Blankfein maintained in November 2009 that Goldman Sachs was not at fault for the crisis, although the bank led the way with idiotic large bonuses for risky behaviour. It also speculated shamelessly with financial products which even they did not understand; and which they had sold to their clients, business which many commentators gave the label ‘fraude.‘ The Times quoted him as saying, “I am not guilty. I am just doing God’s work.”(…)  Maybe an instrument of judgement, then!

So what is happening now in Europe in nations which need to get their economy back on track and healthy again?

  • Lucas Papademos is the new prime minister of Greece. He worked closely with Goldmann Sachs when taking Greece into the euro zone. For this purpose, it has been shown that the governmental finances were falsified.
  • Mario Monti was hailed as a saviour in Ital;y. The new Prime Minister was until very recently, advisor of Goldmann Sachs on European government policy.
  • Mario Draghi has just been appointed chairman of the European Central Bank and was from 2002-2005 vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International, responsible for  large concerns and sovereign states. The French paper “Le Monde’; accused him of ‘helping Greece to falsify its report on its national debt.
The Italian paper ‘Il Giornale’ said that it is like asking arsonists to put out their own fire!’
We need to do what the apostle Paul admonished  many years ago, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.”   God’s economy is very different from man’s economy and needs a new way of thinking!
We not only need to renew our thinking, but many of our leaders also!