Monday, November 17, 2008

The Root Cause? Excess!

So, the leaders of the world's 20 largest economies met in Washington D.C. over the weekend for a Global Economic Summit. They met to address the growing worldwide recession. On the menu for the State dinner: $300 bottles of wine! Now, I'm just a poor guy out in western New Mexico, but in these economically troubled times couldn't they have served 5 cent pitchers of Lipton Iced Tea, instead?

Guess who picked up the tab? Take a good look at your withholding on your next paycheck!

I'm a recovering preacher not an economist, but it seems like many of the recent financial problems besetting our country and world can be traced back to excess. Prospective home owners getting mortgages that were more than they could handle. Consumers maxing out a dozen credit cards. Union workers demanding and getting huge benefits packages that the companies had no hope of paying. CEO's and other executives seeking huge salaries and stock options. The Federal government spending and spending, promising and promising, without any hope of ever balancing the books . . . just quick to print an ever-increasing supply of cash.

Now, this recovering preacher is one of the guilty. I have never been disciplined with money and gotten into my share of debt (those student loans are pesky little things, aren't they?). It seems to be that excess and an acceptance of debt are part and parcel of our society . . . BUT, as Dave Ramsey is so keen to say, "The debtor is slave to the lender." Our way of living is unsustainable!

The words of the apostle Paul are instructive. Philippians 4.11-13: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed of hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (NIV). Notice, he doesn't say the secret of contentment is maxing out a Wal-Mart credit card or purchasing the latest Prius!