This experiment began several years ago when I received a brochure in the mail advertising silver bullion coins as an investment vehicle. The “hook” was, “We will sell you two silver eagles for the price of one, if you agree to read our special report on silver.” When I saw this, I thought, “I could give one of these coins to a friend who was having money problems as a touch point for her prayers.” I sent her a coin and a notebook with instructions. Every day we prayed that the Lord would grant her wisdom in the area of finance. Every day she made an entry in her notebook.
The initial experiment was extremely successful. At the end of six months, her attitude towards money was radically different. She began to systematically eliminate her consumer debt. She changed some behaviors that were sabotaging her financial situation. Then towards the end of the six month experiment, she was able to move into her own home for the first time in her life.
Finally, when the participants are ready, they will give their coin with a blank notebook to a friend or a family member who is ready to change their relationship with money. In this way, friendship and blessings will keep flowing forward forever, even into eternity.
That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
George Mason—Virginia Declaration of Rights
In the United States we enjoy a significant degree of economic freedom, as well as a tradition that places a higher value on individual liberty than on equality of outcome. You can’t have it both ways. Freedom guarantees inequality. Kobe Bryant exercised his freedom to fully develop his physical abilities. He is currently the highest paid basketball player in the world. He earns approximately $30.5 Million a year.
Professional sports are just about as close to a pure meritocracy as exists in this unhappy world. No one is exploited. If you want to spend your time and money watching a game it is your business. No one is holding a gun to your head. These players earn their salaries. If they do not perform their ultimately function, generating ticket sales and television revenue for the team owners, they will not continue to draw those salaries for very long. Remember, when the salaries of the hockey players union exceeded the revenues generated by the league, the owners shut down operations until everyone agreed to a new contract. Companies are not in business to loose money.
There are forces other than freedom that distort outcome. In many parts of the world, really throughout most of human history, the freedom to enjoy the fruits of our labor have been constrained by coercion (force or threat of force) or distortion (inequality in the rule of law as the result of the influence of power or outright corruption). In my country, political influence recently resulted in the massive taxpayer funded bailouts of the major money center banks, insurance companies, and two of the three major American automotive companies. Our problems with skimmers and scammers are not limited to Fortune 500 companies. It is estimated that at least 15% of disability claims are fraudulent. I find this particularly despicable. That money is a critical, though inadequate, security net for the deserving. If there were fewer cheats, maybe we could increase payments to those who are truly suffering as a result of forces beyond their control.
We are all guilty to some degree. I haven’t heard many homeowners calling for the repeal of the mortgage interest deduction, the single biggest tax loophole. I want my Social Security. I was told that wasn’t a tax. Since I couldn’t be trusted to save for my own retirement, the Government in its infinite wisdom would put aside my money for my retirement. It would be returned to me with interest when I turned 65, no--whoops, let’s make that 66. The AMA is the most successful politically powerful union in the country. Medical doctors use their political and monetary power to limit the supply of medical care in this country. We all know about the law of supply and demand.
From time to time a homespun anarchist or an extreme Libertarian who made the mistake of drinking the Kool-Aid, learns that their interpretation of the Constitution won’t stop the IRS from using armed force to seize their property and their person. As the apostle Paul observed, the state does not bear the sword in vain. Unfortunately, in too many countries abuse of power is not an exception but the norm.
With the major exception of slavery and a bloody Civil War, overall we Americans have done a pretty job of protecting individual rights and liberty, including property rights which are a fundamental component of enjoying the legitimate fruit of our labor. Our labor is, after all, a large part of our life. Use the freedom that you possess to be a blessing to yourself, your family, and your community. Given realistic limitations (I am never going to play basketball in the NBA) as an American you can choose your own path in life where to live, where to work, and even how to worship your Creator (try that in Saudi Arabia).
I don’t know about you, but I am proud to be an American.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.