William Booth’s Match-girls

History offers us lessons about how we should handle wealth. The Biblical principles of capitalism led to the economic system which allowed a middle class to rise and society as a whole to advance and prosper. It was the gradual triumph of the Judeo-Christian principles that allowed Europe to rise out of the cruel and oppressive economic systems of the Greek and Roman empires.

Capitalism without restriction led to abuses, especially evident during the period of Western colonization and industrialization. Through out these periods it was Christian leaders who lead to the establishment of civil rights, including the protection of children, limitations on labor, and care for the elderly and infirm. We should be grateful for many of those steps that tempered capitalism. William Booth helping the match-girls was one of those Christian leaders. Here is his story:

The plight of Britain’s match-girls was first brought to the public’s attention in 1888. Following a widely publicized strike, General William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army, decided to carry out his own investigations into the British match industry. It was soon discovered that many match-girls suffering from the effects of severe pain in the jaw, which was a direct result of the use of yellow phosphorus in the manufacture of the match heads. So toxic were the fumes from this chemical that, unknown to the match-girls, the phosphorus was attacking their jaws. Soon the whole side of the face turned green, then black, discharging a foul pus. This painful disease – necrosis of the bone – became known as ‘phossy jaw’. Its only outcome was death.

The factory owners were fully aware of the dangers of using yellow phosphorus but most manufacturers took very little action to remedy complaints. This was due to a fear of a cut in profits and foreign competition. Match-girls were subjected to
very long hours of labor with little or no breaks. Not only did this cause the girls to be exhausted but also meant that they frequently ate while they were working and so the phosphorus spread from their hands to their teeth. As matchbox making required no previous training it figured at the bottom of the pay scale of the industry.

Booth decided to challenge the whole industry. In 1891, The Salvation Army opened a clean, airy, well-lit factory where harmless red phosphorus was used in the match-making process. Booth called the matches ‘Lights in Darkest England’. Tea making facilities were made available and the 100 workers received decent wages – more than one third above the rate in other factories. 
Ten years after the opening of his match factory, Booth closed it, having achieved his original purpose ‘to raise the wages of the matchbox makers, to fight against sweating, and to help the poor to help themselves by labor’.

 

Source

Compassionate Capitalism – A Judeo-Christian Valueby Harold Eberle, 2010, Worldcast Publishing. Pg. 131

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Billion People Lifted Out of Poverty

The New Testament affirms the fundamental principles of capitalism found in the Old Testament, but it also offers cautions concerning the zealous pursuit of wealth. Matt. 25:34-36 describes a coming judgment day when every person will give an account for what they have done; a central basis for that judgment will be how we cared for the poor, the stranger, the sick and the imprisoned. We should also note that Jesus warned of the deceitfulness of riches and the futility of hoarding great wealth.

Some have asked me if there is a balance between financial prosperity and poverty. This is an issue I have thought about at length, as the principle of divine balance is found through out the Bible. As I meditated on this question, the Lord showed me the balance to financial prosperity is giving…not poverty. Meaning as long as we give generously it will balance out the prosperity we see Biblically as the Lord’s will. To be specific…balance is not a little bit of prosperity and a little bit of poverty. No poverty is part of the curse and undesirable for all. That stated, capitalism is still God’s first plan to bring people out of poverty.

Consider the other option. Karl Marx regarded socialism as an economic necessity that would emerge out of the ashes of capitalism precisely because capitalism would fail to sustain wealth creation. Marx did not consider permanent economic growth in a capitalist system to be possible. He was wrong. He claimed the rich and powerful would never share power voluntarily with others, or create social safety nets. In fact the opposite has happened.

Not only has socialist theory been wrong about the economic and political fruits of capitalism, it failed to see the problems that arise in socialist governments. Socialism’s record has been pain, not gain, especially for the poor. Socialism produced mass starvation in eastern Europe and China, as it undermined the ability of farmers to grow and market their crops.

In most cases, socialism’s monopoly on economic control also let to corruption by government officials, as was especially apparent in Latin American and African socialist regimes. The adverse economic consequences of socialism led the Scandinavian countries to dial back their versions of socialism in the past decades.

Socialism has been abandoned in virtually the entire developing world. Countries today do not seek to emulate the disasters of North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela. Now developing countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, India, China, South Africa, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia are known as “emerging economies,” a description that recognizes their need to emerge from state control of their economies through privatization, free trade, and the creation of accessible private financial resources to promote growth and poverty alleviation. All around the developing world, socialism is understood as a false promise, a convenient theory that controlling elites use to retain and expand power.

Capitalism, in contrast, is seen as the force that has lifted over a billion people out of poverty worldwide since 1990.

 

Source

Compassionate Capitalism – A Judeo-Christian Valueby Harold Eberle, 2010, Worldcast Publishing. Pg. 131

Capitalism: Still Working – Karl Marx’s economic forecasts were even worse than Paul Krugman’s. By James Freeman. Nov. 15, 2018. Wall Street Journal

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Shoe that Grows

A self professed, longhaired pastor from Idaho, Kenton Lee recently launched a groundbreaking, for-profit company to support his life changing non-profit ministry. Ten years ago while serving at an orphanage in Kenya, he had the idea for an adjustable shoe after seeing kids that were outgrowing their shoes and had no access to more. Some kids actually had to cut open the front of their shoes so that their toes could stick out.

Lee’s heart broke when he saw so many orphans struggling to cram their feet in to shoes that didn’t fit. So after returning to the US, he enlisted the help of a friend and after six long years they eventually created The Shoe That Grows.These special sandals grow three sizes and can be worn for years. A non-profit called Because International was created to distribute this revolutionary footwear to needy children around the world.  Many thousands of people began to donate to Because International. To date 175,000 pairs of The Shoe That Grows have been distributed to children in more than 100 countries.

Then something big happened. People supporting the ministry began to ask if they could buy The Shoe That Grows for their children. Lee explains, “Though it was never our intention…we started to see the value of our shoes for every family and how a commercial version could actually help us achieve our mission even more. They launched GrowFive, a for-profit business to finance their ongoing ministry efforts.

The company has gotten off to an amazing start with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign for Expandels,the commercial version of The Shoe That Grows. “Shoes that can grow and last are better for families. It does more with less, lasts longer and is better for our planet. Each purchase gets more shoes to kids in poverty,”  says Lee who is a graduate of Regent University with a Masters in Organizational Leaderships.

Once again the entrepreneurial principles of Biblical capitalism build sustainable models to change the world.

Source: IMPACT…a publication of Regent University Fall 2018.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Generation Z Not Endorsing Socialism

We understand that from a Biblical perspective capitalism is part of the Judeo-Christian ethic. What God developed with the Hebrew people also required them to make provision for the needy; widows, orphans, poor, aliens and others that are needy. Caring for one’s family, especially parents, was also a strong part of this culture. The government did not enforce these values, but the Hebrews had a corporate mentality that encouraged them to keep each other accountable in these areas.

Socialism teaches us the opposite; that government control is better than personal responsibility and decision-making…and the more the better. The reality is that few things in life are harsher than living in a socialist economy. What about places like Cuba? After socialist principles were applied to agriculture there in the early 1960s, production of eggs declined 40%, beef production fell by 45% and the potato crop was cut in half. Pork production plunged by more than 80%. A once thriving economy, driven by a tourist industry was shortly in shambles. To go there today you still see the only decent cars are models from the late 60’s when the government stopped allowing them to be imported.

When we look past millennials to generation Z we see that capitalism is more popular than socialism among American college students, but not by much.  Neither one command a high majority support and the kids seem disturbingly open to government central planning of the economy. That’s according to a new survey of American undergraduates. When asked for their opinions of capitalism, 45% said they have a favorable view, 31% expressed an unfavorable view and the rest had no opinion, were unsure, or didn’t answer. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the property rights that have made the United States the most prosperous nation in history, pulled billions of people out of poverty around the world and enabled, among other things, the funding of great universities, charities, NGOs and non-profits.

This is why this I am spending so much time talking about the principles of capitalism as the Biblical antidote for socialism and the doorway to prosperity. The next generation needs a Biblical view of economics because they are not getting it in schools and universities. Some will think I am being political in my writing but that is not my intention. So hang in there if you are tired of me talking about economics because I intend to explore some new Biblical, financial themes in the New Year.

Meanwhile ask the Lord to show you the practical change today that will cause you to prosper in the long run. Get the principles of capitalism working for you.

 

Sources:

College Kids Not Endorsing Socialism, But They’re Open to It. A new survey asks Gen Z about capitalism and its flaws.Wall Street Journal by James Freeman Oct. 29, 2018

Compassionate Capitalism – A Judeo-Christian Valueby Harold Eberle, 2010, Worldcast Publishing. Pg. 131

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Whatever Happened to the Virtue of Work?

Is work really a necessary evil as some would say? Is it something to be endured until the weekend arrives? Many think so…where did this thinking come from?

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Britain, there was a great exodus of people from rural areas to cities seeking work in the factories and metal works created by the capitalism of the Industrial Revolution. British towns grew too fast and infrastructure and services lagged behind with poor sanitation, filthy streets and over-crowded housing. Horror stories of the workhouses and industrial workplaces were well documented through the tales of writers like Charles Dickens.

Yet despite these problems, people still flocked from areas of rural poverty to new, industrial workplaces for their survival, and because they aspired to obtain better lives. And human life did improve. Death rates dropped, life expectancy rose, wages rose over time, and food supplies and diets improved. Famine and plague came to an end. Average working hours shrunk and the cost of goods substantially decreased. Technological leaps since the early 1700s delivered extraordinary gains in human prosperity and quality of life.

With such success where did the devaluing of work come from? Somewhere along the way during this amazing transformation, many of the educated classes stopped believing in work as essential to survival, beneficial, a source of pride, a virtue. They’ve come to characterize work as a negative.

Perhaps the origins of this mindset are linked to nineteenth-century political philosopher Karl Marx, who saw a working class exploited by business owners. To Marx, the source of exploitation wasn’t so much the conditions of nineteenth-century factories but the act of a business owner making a profit. Marx saw a world of finite resources which business owners and workers would increasingly battle over until the system eventually collapsed in on itself, leading to communist utopia. As history shows it did not.

Technology increased resources, reduced need and made people better off. Actually, it was those states founded on Marxist ideology that experienced economic collapse. But, even as Marxist economies came and went, the idea of work as a form of exploitation has stuck and taken on a life of its own. The Apostle Paul writing from Corinth to the believers at Thessalonica couldn’t disagree more.

Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 The Message

For the Christian today God’s desire is for you to work and enjoy the fruit of your labor. Learn and get better at your task and you will get a better reward…you will enjoy greater prosperity. According to Paul this is pleasing to both God and man.

Source: Nyunggai Warren Mundine in Quillette,

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Be Happy When Others Prosper

One of the strongholds of the spirit of poverty I found in my own life was this feeling of sadness when I saw other people making progress financially. As a Christian I knew I should be happy for them, but in my heart I had a feeling there are limited resources in the world and if someone else prospers it would mean less of chance for me to prosper. Call it jealousy or envy…I knew it was wrong.

What I came to understand is that when we have a mindset of lack or scarcity, we believe that everything is limited.This leads to comparison and envy. With an abundance mindset, we believe there’s plenty for everyone. All can be blessed. Consider what God says…

 Proverbs 8:17-21 (KJV)

“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.”  

God says: “…that I may cause those who love me to inherit substance…” Substance is resources; not for the sake of selfish gain and pride but to redirect and help those less fortunate than us. On the whole, people should rejoice in the success of others, as signs of the coming prosperity of their village, city, and nation. For example, across America today, in public schools and colleges and universities, one still sees many portraits of public benefactors who were successful in commerce and industry. Economic freedom is needed to create an upward tide—for social mobility, opportunity, and the pursuit of personal accomplishment.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Christianity vs. Communism in China

China is currently in conflict between Christianity and Communism.

Christianity was there first. It entered China as early as the seventh century, though it wouldn’t be firmly rooted until after the arrival of the Jesuits in the 16th century. The Jesuit Matteo Ricci sought to express Christian truth in a way compatible with Chinese culture, mastering the language, adopting the Chinese style of dress, and striving to show respect for Chinese thought and classics.

The communist government sent the Western missionaries, Protestant as well as Catholic, packing in the mid-1950s; hoping that would be the end of it. Instead, Christianity grew and became thoroughly Chinese. Now many Missions organizations estimate there are over 200 million Christians in China.

Communism was a European creation, the brainchild of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Its first big export was eastward to Russia, with Lenin arriving in 1917 by sealed railway car to a St. Petersburg. Mao Zedong would soon import the same to China.

As you have heard me state in these blogs, Marxism and Communism are blatantly anti-God, anti-Christian and anti-freedom. China’s president, Xi Jinping, recently had the Chinese constitution changed to cancel term limits, essentially making himself the president for life, if he so desires. Mr. Xi’s authority rests on one thing: the communism instituted by Mao.

Mr. Xi, who leads China by virtue of imported Marxist ideology, is pursuing a purification campaign based on rooting out other ideas…most notably Christianity. All Chinese citizens are to instill in themselves “Chinese characteristics,” the most critical being loyalty to the atheist Communist Party. Atheism is central to Marxism and Communism because it makes it easier to control people and treat them as wards of the state when they don’t believe they are created in the image of God with gifts and talents.

What hope does the Christian church have in this conflict? The same hope that freedom has over control. The same hope that good has over evil. The same hope that Truth has over deception. Time will tell, but my money is on and my prayers are for, the Christians to prevail over time.

 

Source: China’s Worst Western Import by William McGurn – Wall Street Journal -Appeared in the September 25, 2018, print edition.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment