The Christian Economist | Dave Arnott discusses Christian economics, conservative economics, and how they relate to current events.
Vote With Your Feet
Americans are moving from restrictive economies in California and New York to free economies in Texas and Florida, much like the Israelites escaped captivity in Egypt.
I had five grandkids in the van recently, and we were trying to decide which park to visit. One of the ten-year-olds suggested energetically, “Let’s vote!” Where did an American ten-year-old get the idea that she had the power to determine the market? Well, FROM the market. And, that’s what people moving from one state to another are proving, they have the power to vote about where they live. People are voting with their feet, as they move from one state to another, as explained in a recent WSJ article titled, “The Great Blue to Red State Migration Continues.”
I discussed some of this topic in podcast #131 titled Abraham and Wealth Migration. And, the great economist Arthur Laffer explains state differences in his book, The Wealth of States.
The WSJ explains in their article that in the category “Migration to other states,” the loss leader was California which lost the most residents to other states, about 340,000, and New York, about 220,000. Texas gained almost 475,000 and Florida gained just under 375,000.
Quoting the WSJ article now, “You don’t need artificial intelligence to spot what the losing states have in common: High taxes, burdensome business regulation, and inflated energy and housing prices. Those states also have higher than average unemployment as a result of businesses moving out of state.”
The WSJ article quotes a chapter from the Old Testament, “A big problem for Democratic-run states is that their affluent residents are leading the EXODUS, and they pay the majority of income tax that supports their expansive welfare programs. This is a major reason California’s tax revenue over the last five months has come in $24.5 billion below projections despite a rebounding stock market.” Hmmm, kind of reminds you of the scene from the old movie The Ten Commandments, where the Israelites are leaving Egyptian bondage. And, in an economic sense, the folks leaving those states were in economic bondage.
You may have heard that Benjamin Franklin’s choice for the great seal of the US was those same Israelites fleeing Egypt, just as Americans are now fleeing California and New York. It’s a little difficult to read the image, but it reads “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” The image shows the Israelites being pursued by Pharoh’s army.
People are moving to the Red States, and Moses parted the Red Sea… goodness, there are too many parallels that can’t be overlooked. In the Holy Land, I’ve heard the phrase “From the Med to the Red,” so we should expect a political cartoon soon, with Moses holding up his staff and parting “Red” and “Blue” seas, or the red and blue states.
In my classroom at Dallas Baptist University, I have often crossed my arms and stated, “The Intersection of Christianity & Economics is freedom.” It’s such an important concept, that it’s the first of the ten Biblical Commandments of Economics that I found with Sergiy Saydometov, while writing the book Biblical Economic Policy. Well, that’s what we’re witnessing in the migration between states.
You don’t have to survey the estimated eight million people who illegally crossed the Southern border of the US in the last three years. They are seeking freedom. Gee, I wonder how many have crossed the border the opposite way?
Quoting the WSJ article again,
#199 Hope for the New Year
There are Ten Reasons for Hope in the New Year
I often explain that as an economist, I’m a pessimist, but as a Christian, I have hope. Hope is endemic to the Christian spirit and idea. We believe God is at work, even when the US debt clock shows that each individual’s share of the $34 trillion in national debt has increased from $85,000 to $100,000 in just the last three years. Think about it: Each of your children and grandchildren owes $100,000 in national debt.
Still, there is hope. Here are some economic hopes we can have for 2024.
The Omniscient God
From seeing God as a small g to God with a big G
God IS sovereign, so He can do whatever He wants, without our help, but He chooses to allow us to join Him in his great work. I explained this concept in my last economics lesson of the semester at Dallas Baptist University because it helps us understand HOW MUCH humans should do. That’s the whole ballgame in macroeconomics: How active should monetary and fiscal policy be? For an atheist, it’s easy: Since they don’t believe there IS a God, humans have to do everything, but for Christians, or really, anyone who believes in a greater being, we have decisions to make about how active fiscal and monetary policy should be. It’s pretty easy to see that Christians should hope for less active fiscal and monetary policies in 2024.
When GK Chesterton was asked, “What’s wrong with the United Kingdom?” He answered, “Me.” Increasingly, people believe that there’s nothing wrong with individuals, and what’s wrong in society. That’s why liberal college professors train their students to be activists. Their objective is to change the regulatory systems of society. Well, THEY are wrong. What IS wrong is the fallen nature of individuals, not societal structure. If folks start to see that the problem is based on the fallen nature, 2024 would be a better year.
A Free Economic System
From Karl Marx to Adam Smith
Adam Smith explained a free-market capitalist system, where both producers and consumers could benefit in the same exchange. Karl Marx countered it with a system that calls for the oppressed to rise up and throw off their oppressors. Guess what happens next? Another revolution, followed by guess what? Another revolution. Marxism is a system of continual battles because they can always find oppressed groups. It never ends in peace. I asked my students just last week, “Do they still make you read Animal Farm in high school?” Most heads nodded. There’s a lot of Marxist thinking in the world today: People who support Hamas against Israel have been duped into believing that the smaller, weaker group is always oppressed.
From socialism to free-market capitalism
A Christian Economist favors a middle position, typically somewhere near the free-market end of the spectrum, where there is enough freedom to exchange goods fairly, but where government has the role of maintaining competition, and preventing monopolies. Socialism always produces monopolies that serve the supplier at the expense of the demander. It’s not even a debatable subject.
From spending to saving
Brazil went through a period of sustained high inflation...
Christian Colleges Solve the Woke Problem
The market will take care of the woke problem in higher education, as consumers choose Christian colleges over corrupt state institutions.
John Ellis wrote a fire-breathing editorial in the Wall Street Journal titled Higher Ed Has Become a Threat to America. Subtitled Our corrupt, radical universities feed every scourge from censorship and crime to antisemitism. He’s mostly right. But his prescription is wrong. As with most problems in a free society, the market will take care of the problem.
The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
There is an alternative form of education that Mr. Ellis overlooks: Christian Higher Education. 150 members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities suffer from almost none of the maladies Mr. Ellis points out in his scathing article.
He writes, “Every one of these degradations can be traced wholly or in large part to a single source: the corruption of higher education by radical political activists.” Okay, let’s see. I have been on the faculty at Dallas Baptist University for thirty years, so I will speak for my university, and safely assume that applies to most of the other 150 CCCU members. There are no radical political activists on our campus. Never have been. Unless you count the very conservative Young Americans for Freedom, who recently hosted a speech by retired Lt. Colonel Allen West. There’s also the Pro-Life Patriots organization. On President’s Day, their Facebook page invited students to “Join us, this Presidents’ Day as we remember some of the most Pro-Life presidents in history!” The announcement was accompanied by photos of both Presidents Bush, President Reagan, and President Trump.
Ellis again, “Children’s test scores have plummeted because college education departments train teachers to prioritize “social justice” over education.” Nope, not at our university nor at just about any of the other CCCU members. We like to study “Biblical justice.” A phrase you might hear in a classroom is “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Mr. Ellis complains, “Censorship started with one-party campuses shutting down conservative voices.” That’s never happened at DBU. Recently, we have hosted former CIA and State Department head Mike Pompeo, former President George W. Bush, former Secretary of Defense General Jim Mattis, and Kristen and Keith Getty. That last couple writes and performs Christian praise songs. Recently we also hosted retired Army General David Petraeus. We’ve never had a protestor, and we don’t expect to have one this week. Our students think, and don’t allow their feelings to control their lives. I unpack more on that topic in podcast #97 titled Thinking vs Feeling. During speeches, our students show respect for competing ideas, they don’t shout them down, or demand the speaker be ushered off campus. They treat guest speakers as guests, as they do all campus visitors.
Be Fruitful and Multiply
Ellis again: “The drive to separate children from their parents begins in longstanding campus contempt for the suburban home and nuclear family.” It’s the total opposite at our university. a href="https://www.dbu.
#197 December is Christian Month
December is Christian Month. It starts with Thanksgiving and ends with Christmas: the most celebrated holiday event in human history.
December is Christian Month. It was not officially declared by any governmental entity. It doesn’t have to be. Just look around. It starts with Thanksgiving and ends with Christmas, the most celebrated holiday event in human history. Gift-giving, Christmas trees, lights, Santa Claus, office parties, and family gatherings are all part of Christian Month. Deloitte’s holiday retail sales analysis says consumers will spend $1,652 each on Christmas.
I made this observation while attending the CEO Summit at Liberty University recently. Independent reporter Lara Logan was complaining that every other group had their month. There is gay pride month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Native American heritage month. She accusingly asked, “Why isn’t there a Christian month?” It was a formal presentation, so it was inappropriate for me to shout out, “December!” but December is quite obviously a Christian Month.
Black Friday got its name from the day when retailers went from red to black in profit terms. Without Christian Month, they wouldn’t make a profit. This year, shoppers spent $9.8 billion, an increase of 7.5% from last year. Cyber Monday was shaping up to be a giant Christmas gift to retailers; 63% of Americans shop online for Christmas gifts.
By the time Christmas arrives, each American will spend just north of $700 on gifts alone. We give gifts because the wise men brought gifts to celebrate God’s gift to mankind: Jesus, the God-man.
They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold because he was a King, Frankincense was used by the Jewish High Priest in the temple, and myrrh is an embalming spice, which foreshadows His death on a cross.
Some people complain that Christmas starts too early but Halloween is not too early for me to celebrate the birth of my savior. People complain that Christmas has become too commercial, but that’s only if you let it. Others will celebrate however they wish. For me and my family, the reason for the season is the birth of Jesus: It’s a Christian month.
If baby Jesus was laid in a manger during Christian month, it was probably made of stone. Wood was scarce in first-century Israel, so farmers would take a large stone, and carve it into a dish shape that would hold water for their cattle and sheep. Jesus was likely laid in a stone enclosure, but he didn’t stay there long. His father took him out and cared for him, and his mother nursed him.
Just under half of Americans start shopping for Christmas in October. That seems pretty early, but it helps spread out the shopping blitz as the holiday gets closer.
If the shepherds were out with their sheep when Jesus was born, it was probably September or October, when sheep were allowed to graze on a harvested field to eat the remaining straw and fertilize for the upcoming planting season. Christians moved the date to December 25 - Christian month - to put it exactly nine months after Easter, which was celebrated on March 25. That would mean Jesus was conceived and crucified on the same day of the month, the 25th.
Another reason for Christmas to be during the Christian month was to supplant the pagan festival of Saturnalia. Pope Julius made that change to coincide Christmas with the Roman celebration of the solstice on December 25 in the year 336. Pagans who lived in the northern hemisphere saw the sun slipping lower in the sky, and they believed they had to make a sacrifice to the gods,...
#196 The Economics of Imperfection
Economics in 2023: we should not expect perfection on this side of heaven.
Many people leave the church because they find that their fellow congregants are not perfect. We also hear complaints about the capitalist economy not perfectly serving everyone’s needs. The answer to both of these complaints is found at the root of the problem of all mankind: There is no perfection.
A friend in a Bible study recently mentioned that folks won’t attend church because, in the past, the church had harmed them in some way. About 150 years ago, my Southern Baptist predecessors claimed that the Bible endorsed slavery and used the scripture from Ephesians 6:5 stating, “Slaves obey your earthly masters.”
Avoiding the church because the fallen people there have made mistakes is a sophomoric excuse. Tell me, what organizational entity will NOT hurt you? The Federal government, state government, county, city? The Rotarians, the Lions, even the Optimists will hurt you. The Salvation Army will hurt you. I wrote a series of three podcasts recently about 1) how fiscal policy harms the poor 2) how green policies impoverish the poor and 3) tax policy and the poor. I have not heard about anyone leaving the United States because they were harmed by those policies.
People who leave the church because they were harmed have a very twisted understanding of the church and the gospel. There is no doctrine of perfection in the bible. As a matter of fact, the Christian doctrine is very clear about its imperfection. Romans 3:23 reads, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The church has been described more as a hospital for wounded folks, not a museum for perfect people.
I’m trying to imagine someone moving to the Dallas area and buying season tickets for the Cowboys. At halftime, we find him at the ticket counter demanding a refund. “The receiver dropped the ball. I didn’t pay to see mistakes!” What did you expect? In the same way, I’m astounded at people who are hurt by the church and exclaim, “They’re not perfect!” Where did this idea of perfection come from?
Seeing that we’re in the Christmas season, maybe we have an answer: we believe Jesus was perfect. As you and I travel through our lives, it’s kind of hard to understand, but that IS what we, as Christians believe. Jesus was perfect, but each of the other 117 billion people, before and since, are NOT perfect.
Our pastor actually admitted from the pulpit, “Come join our church. We will hurt you.”
Here’s what Christians should be good at: Forgiveness. We believe in it. My consulting partner and I were asked to lead a “kumbaya” session of sorts with our local city council members and school board members. They are the two most powerful bodies in our community, and the mayor thought it would be a good idea, to get them all in the same room, and say good things about one another and it went well. When we asked for closing statements from the Mayor and the School Superintendent, the Super said succinctly, “We need to learn how to forgive.” That came out of nowhere. What did she mean? Where did she get that? Well, thinking about it later, it occurred to me that our community was still suffering some lingering racial strife from the George Floyd killing. That’s what she meant, and she was right.
Where does this model of forgiveness come from? Well, Jesus died for your sins, because there is no free lunch, someone had to pay. Jesus paid for you and me, so we have been forgiven. That’s why when the question was asked in Matthew 18:22 “How many times should I forgive?
#195 From God to Government
Adam and Eve ate the apple because they wanted to be God. That desire has not gone away, and recently, we are seeing even more evidence of it.
Our society is moving from “God to Government” and the implications don’t look great.
Christian Worldview to secular worldview
The Christian Worldview says God created a perfect world, fallen humans have messed it up, and we find redemption through Jesus Christ. Support for abortion provides ample evidence that many people don’t believe humans are created by God; I will cite many examples of the denial of the fallen nature in the next few statements. If we’re not fallen, who needs a savior for redemption?
Fallen to not fallen
The defund the police movement was based in the assumption that humans are not fallen. If you just leave them alone, peace will break out. This is not a theoretical belief system. It’s been proven over and over again, that if you reduce punishments, crime increases, as it is in America today.
From serving God to being “god”
In the book The Rise & Triumph of the Modern Self Carl Trueman explains why people believe they are “A woman trapped in a man’s body,” or the opposite. The supposition is objectively false, but the concept of expressive individualism has led folks to believe they can do it. Maybe it’s the best evidence for the departure from the Christian Worldview, because people don’t believe they were created by God, so they can create themselves. Frightening.
Supply side to demand side
Keynesians believe that during an economic downturn, the economy should be stimulated by shifting the demand curve out. The measure of that effort is called the Philips curve, and it has been shown to work in the short run, but not in the long run. In the long run, you end up with employment returning to its natural rate, but with the added debt that was accumulated to shift the demand curve. When shown this, John Maynard Keynes agreed, and responded, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” What a selfish thing to say. In about twenty years, I might be dead, but my Dallas Baptist University sophomores will be in the middle of their careers, struggling to pay off the debt our country has accumulated. I’ve told them many times, that they will look back on the years from 2019-2023 and ask why the national debt moved from $20 to $30 trillion in just four years.
Free market capitalism to socialism
This is the most dangerous movement in economics. The title “Free Market Capitalism” reveals its intent in the title, because it calls for free exchange of goods and services. Socialism is based in power, where producers and consumers are coerced to exchange goods in a way the government wants them to.
From private investment to government crowding out
To help my sophomores at Dallas Baptist University do well on their weekly quiz, I ask if we should smoke cigarettes. The obvious answer is “no.” “So we should nix cigs!” is exclaim, which helps them remember the equation for Gross Domestic Product: Y = C + I + G + NX. In the last quarterly GDP report, Consumption and Government Spending were up. Investment was down. That means we have a good short-term economy, but a bad long-term economy, because there is not enough investment being made.
You make way too much sense
A long time ago I majored in journalism and minored in economics. It would have been the other way around had I had you as a professor. I added an MBA and reported for the money section at USA Today, covering corporate leadership . I was proud working for a national paper that prided itself for balance. Even the editorials always included a counterpoint. Sorry to say my profession and former paper has become an embarrassment, as, unfortunately, parts of yours. Keep up the good work. Though shalt not covet has reared it’s ugly head in Israel. Maybe you can take that on as an Econ topic. God bless.
The Christian Economist
Thank you for speaking the truth in love through your podcast. Everyone around the world needs to listen to your podcast. You are awesome!!!
Wise insights into scripture
Application of biblical principles into the economic world support the need for more people in the world and increases human capital which helps everyone.