14 days to go

Ah.. 2 weeks to get everyting done. Lol. Things left to do: Apply for student visa, get medical checkup and buy lots of T-shirts.

Anyways, I know I did say a post a day. Now I think about it, it’s kind of impossible to do so. So maybe I should rescale to 2 moderately sized posts a week, or small posts every 2 days, bite sized news everyday and 1 big one a week.

Now that looks more realistic heading into term time.

Am I excited about heading to Cambridge? Haha. Let’s just say I expect it to be quite the experience.

So I finished reading one of the books today, “The Worldly Philosophers” by Robert Heilbroner. I would think a must-read by anyone interested in the slightest in economics. It is a narrative description of the evolution of economics as a discipline from its founding father Adam Smith, to the world today. Surprisingly, it’s not a dry text. Although Heilbroner has an annoying tendency to laden his text with big words, I guess to make it sound more intellectual, or perhaps it is the most accurate word available and in hindsight I think my vocabulary just expanded by another 200 words or so, it is quite fascinating and interesting to note that as suggested in the title of the book, he looks at the philosophers, not the mathematicians.

Thus, the book presents the grand scale of things, describing the oddities of the protagonists of the book and the environment(which he substitutes with the word milieu) in which they grew up in and how this influences their thinking.

And so as I was reading this book, it ended with the issue of the future of capitalism, the economic system of markets as we know today. For through the centuries since Adam Smith, many had theorised as to the direction of this economic system. And one comment caught my attention in particular – one of the philosophers, Joseph Schumpeter – states that capitalism may be an economic success, but not a sociological success.

Now I did not quite agree with the reasoning that followed that comment, but in my own way, I interpreted that quite differently.

It is without a doubt that we are at a point in time where the world is increasingly becoming more prosperous. Despite the fluctuations of the economy, the periods of recession and growth, there exists an upward trend of growth nevertheless. Yet prosperity does not equate with being better off.

I remember reading a John Piper sermon once that said, in my own paraphrased terms: Satan either attacks you through prosperity or pain, prosperity so that you will forget the need to depend on God, and pain so that you will doubt the existence of a good and loving God. This pattern is observed in the Bible with the Israelites who grew prosperous and forgot about what God had done to get them where the were, and with Job where in his pain he started to doubt that God was for Him in all things.

And in this age, the attack is in prosperity. For when God becomes superfluous, the devil wins. And with the economic success of capitalism, are we at all surprised that we are seeing a growing lukewarmness in the church, or that matters of spiritualism, of the purpose of life, are no longer important in the pursuit of wealth, or the pursuit of happyness, which was a good movie in one way and had a horrible value in another way.

Now, the disclaimer first: I think that without a doubt, this increased prosperity has been beneficial in the sociological sense that we are seeing more help going to the needy, also aided by the increased globalisation of this world. But then to look at the magnitude of everything, with the population of the earth at 6.7 billion, are the needy actually relatively getting more help, or losing out in the rat race?

I don’t know and I can’t back my hunches up statistically, but I certainly know that we are not doing as much as we can. Capitalism as a money making machine is incredibly efficient, but I believe that we are compelled, specifically as Christians, to channel that sort of wealth and time to help the needy. Don’t just leave philanthropy to the rich, everyone can do their part.

Where does the future of capitalism lie? Like everything else, in the long run everything is meaningless. The future of capitalism lies with us today. Our decision to use this God given system to love the world is what matters. As half of the people reading this won’t be working just yet, I suppose this post serves as a reminder to me and them in the future that we work for the accumulation of treasures in heaven and not on earth. Neither should we get so caught up in the money making machine that we lose our first love in the hustle and bustle.

I think this will be the first of 2 posts this week.

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