A Christian Economy
Among those who prop up the PNoy administration are the very rich families. They put up tall buildings, big malls, and wide highways to show “development.” However, development should be measured by the food in the people’s stomach, clothes on their back, decent homes, jobs that sustain dignity, education based on the needs of the people not other countries, good health, support for the elderly, low criminality, disaster preparedness, and recreation in that strict order. The high GNP and GDP growth rates do not mean development because while the wealth of the top 50 richest Filipinos tripled from 2010 (http://www.financemanila.advfn.com/2010/07/forbes-40-richest-men-in-the-philippines-2010-list/) to 2014 (http://www.forbes.com/philippines-billionaires/list/#tab:overall ), the unemployment rate remained steady at 6 to 7% (http://econdb.pids.gov.ph/tablelists/table/627). Moreover, “the combined wealth of the richest 50 amounting to Php3.24 trillion is equivalent to a one year income of 26 million minimum wage earners” (https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/30/18760921.php). This means that the wealth created in the economy does not “trickle down” to the poor but is mostly retained by the very rich to bloat their treasure chests further. This is not a Christian economy. A Christian economy operates on the Biblical admonition that we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.
A Christian economy is not an invitation to laziness. It demands work from those who are able-bodied and looks after those who are not. The able-bodied who wants to eat but refuses to work is admonished and corrected through values formation.
A Christian economy does not blindly abide by capitalism’s “law of supply and demand.” This is what capitalists refer to when they utter, “The fundamentals are in place.” Viewed from the Christian vantage point, that law idolizes greed. It exhorts people to draw as much from others’ misery as their leverage allows. A Christian should not increase the price just because other people badly need a product and there is little left of it.
Capitalists say that failure to follow the law of supply and demand leads to inefficiency. No, a Christian seeks not efficiency first; he seeks effectiveness.
The Christian faith is an example where effectiveness is sought rather than efficiency: the parables of the lost sheep and coin. The lost sheep or coin must be found no matter the cost and Heaven will celebrate! In efficiency, it is preferred to let the sheep or coin be lost forever in order to minimize the expenditure of resources. Christ, however, teaches that the lost should be found. Indeed, He demonstrated this further by dying on the Cross. It would have been efficient for God to just say, “Okay, all the sins of mankind are forgiven.” He does forgive but He suffered first on the Cross. What greater price can be paid for our redemption than the Son of God?
The State is another example. Government is established by the people. It is not the primary goal of government to be efficient. The primary goal of government is to be effective specially in delivering to all its citizens basic services like water, electricity, health and social security. If it can be efficient in one way by stamping out corruption, then it is much better. Government cannot abandon its effectiveness for the benefit of private profit. Privatization of basic services is just a ruse of profiteers to secure for themselves a captive market while conniving instead of competing.
In our search for efficiency, we should never abandon effectiveness.