Sonja wrote in her blog action day post that Americans spend $450 billion per year on Christmas. She wrote about changes and relief that could happen with even a small portion of that sum. I thought about what would happen if we diverted that $450 billion and wondered about the impact on the economy.
We are headed into what is bound to be a smaller Christmas for most American families. In many ways this is good. Most of us realize that the consumeristic nature of Christmas is out of hand and that simplifying would be good. However, because we have created a culture of spending, many businesses are dependent on the Christmas fix.
Production is good for the economy. In the 30’s, money spent on infrastructure helped boost the economy. In the 40’s, money spent in the post-war recovery boosted the economy.
Over the past decade, the American economy has been built on the backbone of the housing market. Production in this sector was driven by demand for bigger and better homes. In other words, everyone moved up. No longer trapped together in 1000 square foot ranch style homes, we now ramble around in McMansions. But this was good for the economy.
In the 80’s and 90’s, it has been every man for himself. Somewhere along the way a sense of entitlement crept in and the American Dream became the American Perversion. Not only did everyone want the newest, most, and best, gosh darn it, we deserve it.
Is it possible to have an economy where spending to help others is good for the economy, where the production of goods and services benefits many rather than a few?
I wonder about the CEO’s who didn’t flinch at taking multimillion dollar severance packages while their companies were going under, who made sure that they got their golden parachute at the expense of shareholders, employees, and taxpayers. Or even those CEO’s of companies that aren’t failing who apparently believe they are deserving of such abundance before the employees and stockholders are considered.
I wonder about the politicians who make decisions based on self-interest rather than doing what is right for their constituents and for the nation as a whole. I wonder about politicians whose loyalty is purchased by lobbyists, special-interests, and potential future alliances. At what point is it okay to sell out the best interest of the nation in order to ensure your own power and bottom-line.
It would appear that greed and self-interest have so corrupted our system that it isn’t possible for either the free market system to function properly or for those responsible for government regulation to be trusted.
So what about the church? Surely the church can be trusted to steward wealth. We could be trusted to provide for the needs of the poor in the earth rather than lining our own pockets first and indulging in self-interest and entitlement, right? If the church and ministries were entrusted with millions and billions, we would serve the poor, right?
Oh wait, we were entrusted with millions and billions. What have we done? It isn’t a matter of waiting for money to show up in the church. It was already there. It is and has been for decades. We spent it on ourselves and called it ministry.