TW Viewpoint | How to Fix the Economy

July 26, 2017 | Michael Heykoop

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How would you fix the economy? Libraries could be filled with the written works of those trying to solve this problem. Could we fix the economy with just four simple words?

Four words to fix the economy. "Get Rid of Taxes," "Government Assistance for Everyone," "Just Give It Time"?

I'm sure we could come up with a four word slogan to promote just about any so-called fix for today's economic problems. However, none of the slogans I've just mentioned, and none of the policies being pushed by politicians around the globe address the root cause of every economic crisis.

In 17th century Holland we find the first modern example of an economic bubble. It occurred when tulip bulbs began trading as stock market item, creating a craze leading to excessively inflated prices which could not be sustained. Once confidence in tulip bulbs as an investment item collapsed, the market collapsed, destroying personal fortunes and severely damaging the Dutch economy. More recent crises include Black Tuesday and the Great Depression, the dotCom bubble of the 1990s and the recent housing and sovereign debt crises. All could have been avoided with a simple four word fix: "Don't lend to Greeks?" That's not it either. Not even close.

Let's just take the recent housing crises of 2008, often referred to as the "Subprime mortgage crisis." What went wrong? With low interest rates, and cheap credit readily available, many people bought homes that were simply more expensive than they could afford. Banks encouraged this, as even if the homeowner would never be able to pay off the loan, the bank would offload it to another entity before that could become an issue. And the government enabled it all because it resulted in happy voters and a buzzing economy...until, it didn't.

Why do people buy houses they cannot afford? Why do banks lend money to people they know won't be able to pay it back? Why do people gamble their money on get rich quick schemes or invest in markets they don't understand? It all boils down to greed. Personal greed, corporate greed, societal greed. The economy has never reached an efficient, self-sustaining balance point because collectively and individually, more often than not, we want more.

You could describe a permanent economic fix in four words: "Collectively, Individually, overcome greed" or simplified as "Get rid of GREED." Now we're on to something.

Some claim that removing greed from society would extinguish entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and work ethic. This is false. We must not confuse the desires of true success and productivity with the pitfalls of greed.

There is nothing wrong with hard work. Greed is what causes one to attempt to seize wealth, power, fame, position or possessions without putting in the proper work.

Purchasing more house than one can afford, taking advantage of the elderly with a Ponzi scheme, bending the rules to get what you want or neglecting your family, either by wasting the money that was meant to provide for them or by robbing them of your time in the pursuit of a more luxurious lifestyle. All have the same root and all have detrimental effects that go well beyond our economy.

Fortunately, they all have the same solution as well. This solution is not new. It has been around for thousands of years. However, few have had the humility, and the perseverance to live the solution.

This solution to "get rid of greed" was worded a little differently when first put forward. Still four simple words: "You Shall Not Covet."

For Tomorrow's World Viewpoint, I'm Michael Heykoop.

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