Ceteris paribus or post hoc ergo propter hoc are really haunting terms for anyone starting out with Economics but for me I found this subject fascinating as it relates directly to the reason why man toil all days of his life on earth. This is a subject built on the premise of “scarcity”, that everything is not enough to allow every one of us to have all we want. One time I was pondering how my love for Economics can have a link with my faith in Christ Jesus. The two seem to be on opposite ends of in terms of proposition & might seem to never reconcile. As I peered into it, I decided Economics as we know it, has flaws that need addressing. A new economic theory perhaps that matches what the basis of our faith is. Most belief systems agree that the Supreme Being is capable of meeting anything that we as mortals desire, Animists for example believe ancestors can provide e.g. in Shona culture there is a belief that ancestors could provide food for a person in need and in the wilderness. Legend says one would go to a Hissing Tree (Muchakata) and clap in acknowledgement and right before them food will appear, same with Islam Allah is the provider. I am sure the other religions it is the same scenario. So here is my Christian perspective regarding Economics.
Scarcity vs Genesis 1:28
The principle of scarcity says there is a limited amount of resources to satisfy unlimited needs and wants, Genesis 1:28 says, “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then add Philippians 4:19 which say, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Look back at Jesus feeding the 5,000 men from five loaves and two fish (Mathew 14:17-18). It is clear that Economics and Christianity have no correlation; they are actually in conflict with one another. So the big question is, can an Economist be a Christian or can a Christian be an Economist? It is very possible but one would have to adopt 2 mindsets, one for profession and another for belief system. This however can lead to the conclusion that one will be a hypocrite in one or both areas calling on the Christian to lie about scarcity while their convictions speak another way. Economics needs another theory that speaks the truth in relation to the word of God.
From Scarcity to Plenty
It is a fact that the earth is of a limited size but according to Genesis we are yet to fill it up and subdue it, one might say there is not enough of everything from arable land, clean drinking water or food. But this is just how our minds are wired to look at the world, Jesus proved it was possible to feed many with little; his mind-set was that of seeing plenty from little. It is true that we see limited resources but how much can be made out of these limited resources? Is it possible to power a car for 100 kilometres using 500 millilitres of fuel or 200 millilitres? How about making a super car that drives only using wind energy perhaps taking in carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen? How about a solar powered plane that can fly around the world powered by the sun 100%? What if we can come up with a transformer that can light up a whole city using only an hour’s supply of solar energy?
From the above it looks like an impossible feat, remember we said we are operating from a dimension of plenty not scarcity! Revelation 21:21 says, “….And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” Now if God exists and we are his most prized possession, the express image of Himself, would He have streets of gold in his dwelling place while we struggle to find an ounce of the same? It wouldn’t sound like God! So is there a possibility that we are walking on gold which we see not or are yet to discover? That is very possible.
The above may sound like an outlandish imagination of me, an overthinking mind building castles in the air, but the question is how did Jesus do it with 5 loaves and 2 fish? A naysayer would say I don’t believe the bible it’s just a tool to enslave the mind. Fair enough, let’s move from fantasy to reality. The first computer was as big as a whole room, yes it was that big. How much resource (metal, plastic, rubber etc) did it require to function? It would probably be the same amount that can be used to make 10 computers in modern day technology. From the seemingly “scarce” resources more can always be made. We can also analyse the advent of mobile phones, prior there was no such thing. To establish a conversation there had to be poles with copper wires to transmit signals, how much resources were needed to ensure a national landline phone infrastructure? Cell phones use less metal, plastic and space compared to landline infrastructure. When cell phones started they were also big taking up more resources and costing more. Think of the pricey Nokia 5110 which was a status symbol back in the day, today it is dwarfed by the line of phones that cost less to manufacture using fewer resources. How about the television sets, they used to be big boxes using much of everything and heavy to carry around, today they are thinner using less of everything but producing sharper and rich pictures. Is it possible to have a television set that is as thin as a sheet of paper? To a probing & discerning mind, this is not an impossible feat.
Conclusion: The Possibilities in this World are Limitless
While Economists preach scarcity of resources, my thesis is there is no limit to what we can make of seemingly limited resources as Jesus proved. Of the outcomes we can bring out of resources at our disposal there is no limit. The only scarce commodity is wisdom on how to bring efficiency in the much there is. What if kids were raised to think that there is no limit to what can come out of this world; would they not grow up thinking of how to pursue that limitless possibility? Today we are worried about rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, what if we could harvest it and make energy out of it? What if the next aircraft could be powered by anti-gravity, using the earth’s magnetic field to propel it through the atmosphere and the same goes for cars which can float a distance above the ground following a defined track with precision to avoid collision and going off course. All the scare mongering about resources running out some day is fed on the premise of scarcity which inhibits the human’s outlook on life and discovery.
The principle of scarcity is just a tool which is used to keep the human mind in check, preventing it from exploring endless possibility of inventions and ideas. The inventors of this world are those people who deliberately chose to ignore the set laws of constraint around us. When Steve Jobs departed the earth, he was a wealthy man and that wealth did not come from robbing someone else, it actually came from empowering many, he gave much and received a lot in return (Luke 6:38). All he did was to explore and use the creative power of his mind. Him becoming a billionaire did not diminish Mark Zuckerberg’s chance to be a billionaire. There are many resources to create a lot and advance this world many steps ahead. What is required is for us to think outside the imaginary box created to enslave our spirit, mind and body. Only then will we see that the resources we fight for thinking they are scarce are actually more than enough for everyone who will ever be born into this world. Our minds need to be reprogrammed in the right direction undoing a lot of limitations planted through schooling systems. Education in itself is not bad, seeing it as an end is the tragedy of humanity. Let’s empty our minds of the limitations and unleash the creative reservoirs and make life exciting and enjoyable for all that inhabit this earth because the possibilities are unlimited.