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Biblical Perspective to Wealth and Poverty: Part 1 - Industry

Thu, Nov. 28, 2013 Posted: 09:55 PM


The concept of harvest in the Kingdom refers to salvation of souls but there is an underlying principle. God demands that labour and industry be exerted to precede increase … even though another principle establishes that it is God who gives the increase and increase may not necessarily be a derivative of labour. Still the ethic of work and diligent effort is always exalted in Christian traditions …John Wesley called it a toiling, a hard peculiar work (planting and watering) not always pleasing to the flesh.

Mat 9: 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

In the parable of the talents, Christ further helps us understand who will receive His well done…. Mat 25:20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  Here we see the diligent is given more – enriched with more talent and wealth even as the idle is disgraced. Diligent industry seems to be the hallmark of the one God sends to the field …

Pro 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.  The mean man is the poor man … the epitome of a sulking excuse giver.

Many are concerned about what is observed to be a new entitlement ethic replacing the traditional Christian work ethic…i.e. that life owes me for just occupying space on earth even if I contribute nothing and add no value. Everything, it seems is being optimized to reduce effort, rigour, industry and quantum of work required even as fun, free time and vacations are rapidly on the increase … making entertainment and pleasure provision a high growth sector …especially in the poorer unemployed younger segments that can least afford it.

Sowing in tears appears less required as life offers short-cuts and avenues to accelerate the gain of pleasure especially while evading arduous work. Populist governments will increasingly reward idleness through social welfarist schemes while the unemployed continues to be sedated with more and more idle drunkenness … often sponsored by hard-working tax payers. A recent publication in British media highlights an “unemployed” large family living like royalty in a 6-bedroom mansion on government welfare even as neighbours gaped at an indulgent style.. Sympathy for the idle and slothful may win votes but it is not at all Biblical.

Also, there is a global race for labour and Industry which mirrors the spiritual ethic of diligence…

President Obama recently tweeted " In a global race for jobs and industries, the thing we do better than anybody else is creativity…Today, our businesses sell more goods and services to the rest of the world than ever before …."

... but how do rich developed economies like the US, Germany, Japan and other Asian nations build their wealth given that they are, in many instances, less endowed in raw wealth? They do this by their productivity.

Raw materials are explored and produced and sold but the sales margins for these basic products are easier to regulate and much less. These materials can then be converted through a complex and creative industrial machinery resulting in machines, vehicles, chemicals, clothing, fuel etc.and many financial, consulting, marketing and other services which have added value to the crude materials resulting in a far higher margin and wealth in economies where the value is added. The countries that export crude products and are unable to produce value-added products will have to pay significantly more to consume what it actually needs …since crude products which are cheaper (earning them less) cannot be consumed … poverty is exacerbated by advertising and an aggressive consumerism which fuels borrowing, Crude products also tend to have more unstable pricing and demand can be precariously unpredictable … making worse the lot of a nation dependent primarily on these basic/crude materials. Even nations with no raw materials (like Japan) but who have mastered how to add value, will find themselves enriched - by efficiently creating the value required to serve global demand.

So what stops poorer countries from processing crude products where they have been blessed by them or procuring materials to be processed when they do not have them? The answer seems to be a lack of commitment to value creation and industry and an apparent institutional disinterest in labor - i.e. manufacturing, chemical processing and related services requiring commitments to provision of major industrial infrastructure (such as deep ports, etc), capability and capacity building and absence of a more robust entrepreneurial culture boosted with adequate low interest capital that rewards genuine value addition.

Obama is saying in his tweet that there is a global race for jobs and industries … those who are slow and behind in this race, have fewer gainfully employed and paucity of industry, though they may still be able to purchase (though unsustainable access to wealth) the latest exotic car models produced in Japan …and thus over time, get only poorer.

What wealthy nations do not often boast about is that creating jobs and industry is difficult and requires significant long term dedication and planning and investments in infrastructure provision, research, creativity, more courage, industrial experimentation and risk and less short-term gratification.

What the poorer nations, especially those rapidly depleting and selling off their crude resources, will soon discover is that without employment in processing to finished products …it is only going to be a matter of time before realising they cannot afford to keep importing what they do not produce …

President Obama also recently added "Six years ago, only 5% of the world’s smartphones ran on American operating systems. Today, more than 80% do."

An illustration of the erosion of the work ethic can be observed in the poorer and developing nations. For these nations to transition from widespread poverty to wealth requires that they begin to participate and plan to win medals in the more important Olympics for Jobs and Industries … to seek for gold by exploiting their competitive advantage … or in simple Biblical terms finding the talents God has given and training hard till they excel in efficiency, creativity and output in their given endowments ...discovering and leveraging what they have more or can do better than everyone else.

Even entertainment and sports have been extensively industrialized into an elaborate and complex economic machinery of sorts … the winners are not the countries who applaud or win the sports medals, or those who buy DVDs and listen and enjoy the new trendy games/mobile leisure offerings but the producer nations behind mega sports and entertainment corporations, efficient and organized promoters and the net receivers of the billions of dollars spent by all that crave more and more entertainment.

Pro_18:9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

Another way of spotting an underlying slothfulness is the accompanying colossal wastage of resources that is always closely linked either in bloated government institutions addicted to frills it cannot afford, inefficient and wasteful consumption of resources (where available) and peoples incurably given to expenditures on silly luxuries.

(To be continued)

olabode ososami