Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ECONOMICS OF THE INTERIOR Part 1 DOES GOD HAVE AN ECONOMY

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


In 1982, I ventured out in my economics book entitled What’cha Gonna Do with What’cha Got?, and asked the questions, is it possible that God has an economy? If He does, what would it look like? I wanted to stay away from my own platitudes and hyperbole, and I also desired to not engender any knee-jerk reactions on the part of my readers. I didn’t want the folks to race to judgment and say “see there, God is a Socialist, and believes what Karl Marx, Engles and even John Maynard Keynes were writing about.” I, likewise, didn’t want them to simply say “See there, God is a Capitalist, just like Adam Smith, Milton Freidman, and Michael Novak might have written about.”

So, I took the Holy Scriptures that I had available to me, and read all sixty-six books of the Bible (several books more than once). I tried reading them just with the mindset of an economist (whatever that means), attempting to discover if God had an economic system.

I hadn’t systematically read very far until I caught myself saying, “Oh, my goodness! This is a virtual economic text book . . . Just look at the Egyptian’s economic model of production, consumption and distribution and the Israeli’s division of labor model.” And by the time I got farther, into the Book of Proverbs, I was stunned at the 21st century wisdom of Solomon telling everyone how dangerous it was to even think about co-signing and guaranteeing a note for someone else. I didn’t know all that was in the Holy Scriptures! I was amazed.

Economists talk a lot about the differences between positive economics . . . the way things are, and normative economics . . . the way things ought to be. One of the first things I noticed in my reading was an interesting blend of positive and normative economics. Another thing I observed right away was that tribal and national politics kept getting the normative and the positive aspects of economics all jumbled up.

By the time I had finished my reading assignment, I had concluded that indeed God had an economy, and without doubt, He was the greatest economist imaginable. His economic principles were clear and consistent, and the principles fell more into the category of the normative economics. But the thing that continued to impress me was that even though the principles were couched in settings of society and cultures, yet they were particularly designed and aimed at the attitudes and behaviors of the singular individual.

The emphasis seemed to be on the interpretation and response of the individual within the society to a certain economic principle. Then would come the question, What’cha gonna do with what’cha got? The economic model was not one of politics or culture. It was more of a personal economic model that influenced and guided the individual. It was not an economic model of the outside, but rather an economic model that influenced the personal life of the individual. It was an economic system of the interior.

Once the economic system of the interior was embraced and implemented within the individual, then he or she could successfully impact the family. Eventually the family would influence and develop traditions. Then institutions would be established that were intended to carry on those accepted traditions into the future. The stories of Abraham and Joseph were great examples of the process.

As has been repeated here so often, where the components of traditions, institutions, families and the individuals intersect with the components of land, labor, capital, and the entrepreneur, global transformation takes place.

I began to perceive that the nucleus of God’s economy, regarding people and societies, starts with the economics of the interior in the hearts and minds of individual people and then spreads out to influence and affect societies and cultures. It also seemed to me while reading that those individuals who were grounded securely in their own economic systems of the interior had the ability to operate with ease and security when they were expected to function according to outside models and systems of politically controlled economies. Frequently, those outside economic systems were not even compatible with their own interior systems. They seemed to successfully survive, and many times they excelled in those foreign or imposed systems.

Throughout my investigation I found many examples, like Daniel, who for one reason or another, were forced to live under the expectations of a contrary economic model. But they successfully survived, none-the-less, and functioned by staying true to their own individual system of interior economics.

Next Week: Other characteristics of God’s economy 
 
© Dr. James W. Jackson   
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
  

Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ECONOMICS of the INTERIOR: Introduction

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


Since the summer of 2010, Winston Crown Publishing House has consistently posted my weekly articles on their site. I enjoy telling the riveting stories about Project C.U.R.E. and the unique and compassionate work being accomplished around the world. Those postings tally up to over 225 weekly articles.

I have also thoroughly enjoyed sharing articles about the economic systems and the different cultures I have personally experienced in the over 150 countries in which I have worked around the world. Those writings have eventually ended up in the gold medallion-winning books that Winston Crown Publishing House has produced and distributed.

In 2013, I began focusing my attention on finishing a book on Cultural Economics. Economics and business matters have always intrigued me. We feel that even not-for-profit organizations of charity should be run with the same care and efficiency as any Fortune 500 company. That is why it pleases me so much when Forbes Magazine lists Project C.U.R.E. in the top twenty most efficiently run not-for-profit charities in America. That’s just good stewardship.

Many of my weekly articles over the past year have been full of observations and insights regarding the economic systems and cultures of which I am familiar. I hope to include those ideas in the up-coming book. I find pleasure in bouncing ideas off of my reading friends and receiving back from them their candid responses. That process always gives me a clearer idea of what should be included in the book and what should be left on the floor of the editing room.

 In the past articles we have used as an overall definition of the idea of economics as being; the discipline of study that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The root is from the ancient Greek word oikovouia, or the combination of oikos (the house) and nous (nomos, custom or rule), simply put, the rules of the house for good management.

In my studies over the years, I have pursued the subject of economics to a further interdisciplinary bias to express my interests and observations. Cultural Economics is a branch of economics that concerns itself with the relationship of culture to economic outcomes. It studies how various aspects of human cultures interact with economic events, behaviors, and conditions. A given culture will even influence the political system with its traditions, religious beliefs, the formation of institutions, and the value ascribed to individuals.

Cultural Economics certainly leans more toward the behavioral aspects of the study of economics rather than the pure analytical number crunching of the econometrics laboratory. It is aimed at how people affect economic systems and how cultures are affected by economic choices. In the study of Cultural Economics we have the thrill of taking some basic principles of economics and combining them with the unpredictable thoughts, choices, and actions of over seven billion people on earth today. That makes for an interesting adventure that can open our eyes to a better understanding of motives, methods, behaviors, successes, and failures regarding our world’s resources and human lifestyles.

The past fifty weekly articles have generously investigated the possibilities of Cultural Economics and the thesis that Global Transformation Takes Place at the Intersection of Culture and Economics. There is one more area of economics that I would like to pursue to finish out the Cultural Economics book. It deals specifically with the cultural component labeled Individual on the Cultural Economics matrix we have frequently shown in the articles.

We will call this division of economics the Economics of the Interior. What am I supposed to do with all the personal resources, liabilities, and opportunities inside my own individual and sovereign being (my own nation-state) in relationship to the arbitrary and compulsory expectations of the economic systems in which I find myself? We will investigate that subject beginning next week.

Next Week: Economics of the Interior, Part 1

(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

© Dr. James W. Jackson   
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
  
www.drjameswjackson.com     
Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES of 1776

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


It was an improbable experiment that took place in 1776 starting in Philadelphia with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Seldom, if ever, had there been a nation-building endeavor organized on such uncommon denominators. The steadfast incorporators had declared liberty, and were determined to experience the fullness of freedom. But in reality they could scarcely even comprehend the world-altering power they were holding in their hands.

They had dreamed that they would know enough freedom to be able to experience the new and enticing system of free enterprise. But they discovered that it was in the dedicated pursuit of free enterprise that they found the fullness of freedom. It was an unintended consequence to find that the most precious thing provided by a free enterprise economy was not just the abundance of material wealth, but freedom itself.

The incorporators were bent on preserving their newly acquired liberty, improving the well- being of the new nation, and guaranteeing the wise use of their resources. They knew that their only hope was through the understanding and preservation of not only their coveted culture, but also through their development of a stable economy.

The historical serendipity of the 1776 experiment was in the fact that not only was it the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, but 1776 was also the year of the publishing of the Scottish economist Adam Smith’s book An Inquiry Into The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. The book was a compilation of Adam Smith’s observations as he traveled and sought the answer to what causes one nation to be rich, and another nation to be poor.

Adam Smith equated wealth with income and the ability to generate income. His findings showed that a nation that can generate high levels of income is wealthy and one that is capable only of low levels of income is poor. What is it that allows a nation to create a high level of income? What is it that makes a nation wealthy? In his book he simply recorded his observations. He commented then on such unique observations as division of labor, specialization, incentives, levels of taxation, freedom of cultural and economic choice, and the opportunity to pursue the objectives and directions that are of most interest to each individual.

The incorporators of the 1776 American experiment had been greatly influenced by the observations of Adam Smith. His insights fit snugly with their ideals of independence, self- reliance, and limited government that was responsible to the people rather than the people being enslaved by the government. But what neither Adam Smith nor the young American leaders comprehended was what would be the history-making results, when for the first time those ideals could be worked out in real life, in a situation where it was possible for free enterprise to not just be haltingly tolerated, but encouraged to flourish. Since a national economic system of free enterprise had never really been tried in such laissez-faire settings, no one could fully predict the potency of the economic outcome.

The leaders of the new nation had a deep respect for the rule of law, and realized the unique necessity for a limited government to fully enforce the powers of the law. One of the basic concepts of free enterprise is that the individual citizen has the right to hold and own private property. With that goes the right to exclusively make use of the property or to transfer it to another individual of choice. People are free to make voluntary agreements with each other regarding their private property or personal labor. Contracts, therefore, are vital to the enterprise system.

Contracts and agreements, however, are meaningless unless they are enforced. Free enterprise could not exist without a legal entity to hold contract makers to their agreements. So, without a viable government to enforce agreements there could be no contracts, and without contracts there could be no free enterprise.

In addition, property rights, including intellectual property through copyrights, patents, or trademarks, work to facilitate those transfers and exchanges within the system. Because of the long- term protection of the rights, people are encouraged to write more books and music. The title to a piece of farm equipment or an indentured deed to a plot of ground assures the buyer that the seller is the legitimate owner. The right of property owners to designate who will receive their property when they die helps sustain the confidence in those property rights. Those are all subtle benefits of the free enterprise system. Those benefits were not necessarily designed and plugged into the free enterprise system before it was formalized. Those benefits came as unintended consequences of the pursuit of freedom of choice.

On the consumer side of the equation, free enterprise ensures purchasers they can buy the goods and services that best satisfy their wants and agree with their budgets. And workers are free to try to enter any line of work for which they are qualified.

Adam Smith is a hero to me because I see him as the first cultural economist. He was the first to note the curious connection between private interests and cultural interests. Individuals and businesses seeking to advance their own self-interests and operating within the structure of a highly competitive market system would miraculously promote the cultural best interest as well as the economic best interest at the same time. It began to prove out that as the individuals and businesses were allowed the freedom to choose their own options as to what they felt would be best for them, lo and behold, all the people of the culture began ending up better off. That was definitely an unintended consequence, but a welcomed and marvelous happening.

Adam Smith explained this simultaneous phenomenon as being guided by an invisible hand. We even see it in action today as a business seeks to build a new and improved product to increase its profits. Those enhanced products like computer applications, smart phones, and industrial robots increase the culture’s well-being. Those businesses use the least costly combination of natural and human resources because in doing so it is in their own best interests. To do otherwise would put their business in jeopardy. But the company’s using scarce resources in the least costly way benefits the culture as a whole and frees up precious resources to produce something else that the culture wants.

Self- interest is different than greed. The freedom to pursue self- interest becomes the greatest method known to mankind to manage the billions and billions of individual small decisions of people seeking to better employ their resources and labor in ways other people find helpful. The socialist’s government model of centralized decision making could never come even close to determining the most correct and efficient answer to the billions of everyday decisions open to individuals and cultures. Adam Smith and the leaders of the fresh, new American experiment of 1776 seemed to get an intuitive glance into the possibilities of liberty and free enterprise. And a lot of the results were admittedly unintended and only realized as the experiment unfolded over time.

But over time their intuitions and dreams began to materialize. As they were free to pursue the free enterprise model, they began to experience true freedom for themselves:
  • Built- in Efficiency The new economic system encouraged the efficient use of resources and guided the new Americans into production of goods and services most wanted and needed by the citizens. They were encouraged to develop and adopt the most efficient techniques in utilizing their resources for production and consumption in the new country.
  • Built- in Incentives The free enterprise economic system promoted the acquisition of new skills and trades, gave people reason to work hard and be frugal in their lifestyles, and made it profitable for them to be innovative in solving their cultural and economic challenges. By assuming calculated risks and being innovative, they began to realize higher incomes and the creation of new opportunities of employment for fellow citizens. Many times the reward for those advances translated into higher standards of living.
  • Built- in Freedom The major reward for the pursuit of the free enterprise system flowing from the experiment of 1776 was the realization of personal freedom. The alternative economic systems of centralized government lacked in efficiency, incentives, and most of all freedom. The new system emboldened economic activity without coercion or undue interference, subject to the penalties and rewards built into the economic system itself.  
The unintended consequences set into motion as a result of the determined pursuit of freedom of economic and cultural choice were nothing less than astounding. Nothing else compares historically with the results of the America experiment of 1776. The system thrives on freedom and liberty. The multitudes of quiet and persistent cultural and economic entrepreneurs flowing out from that experiment have absolutely altered the history of this world.

The chances of the experiment ever happening again are very slim, indeed. It will never happen again the same way, for certain. But even were the restart button ever to be pushed again in the future, there is verifiable evidence recorded in history that once upon a time there lived upon the face of the planet earth a people whose hearts burned within them to experience a cultural and economic phenomenon where the people were willing to pay the price of personal responsibility to cultivate with kindness, justice, and righteousness an economic and cultural system that honored liberty and freedom and personal integrity.

In the meantime, I choose to pledge my allegiance to the grand and glorious experiment of 1776, and to honor those who stood for what they believed and lived to experience the extravagant results and even the goodness of the unintended consequences. 

Research ideas from Dr. Jackson's new writing project on Cultural Economics)
  
© Dr. James W. Jackson   
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
  
www.drjameswjackson.com
 
Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UNCOMMON DENOMINATORS of 1776

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


In all probability, had you just finished conquering your revolutionary foe, you would have hastened to set up a stabilizing organization of governance. For the sake of convenience and familiarity, that government would have looked a lot like the one with which you had been so familiar before all the revolutionary ruckus had begun. You, no doubt, would have lined up several essential common denominators in a row and filled the familiar governmental slots of polity and policy with trustworthy men of the revolution. As soon as the smoke and dust of the final battles had settled, everyone could have taken a deep breath and enjoyed the fresh fruits of the long rebellious conquest. You could then have comfortably taken on the activities of your new nation and set about on a serious development plan for the future.

Had that been the scenario of the rag-tag militia men of the American colonies, a stalwart fellow by the name of Washington would have been crowned as King George. Noble names would have been pinned on the faithful military men, and the valuable property would have been whittled up into pieces of dignified dirt and royal real estate.

All the players of the 1776 victory were former inhabitants of either the isle of England or someplace in Europe. Just why wouldn't they simply rely on the traditions, institutions, and government models of their parents and homelands? Wasn’t this whole idea of colonies, after all, a business model of new trade routes, new markets, new products, and additional revenues? Why wouldn’t the motivation simply be to establish domestic security as quickly as possible and get on with the activities of building the new business model in that part of the world?

The reason for those uncommon denominators was because the revolutionary war had not been fought over stealing away a business model and securing the opportunities to procure new revenues. The revolutionary war had been a slug fest over economic and philosophical ideals. Some of those ideals had been brewing in the hearts and minds of the revolutionary dreamers for a long time. Some of those ideals included vociferous beliefs in property rights, personal liberty, and representative government.

The majority of the victors had earlier exposure to the underpinnings of the English Common Law. That was not necessarily a common denominator across Europe. But the revolutionaries were determined to stake their lives in order to see that the rule of law would not be based on some willy-nilly government- of- the- day getting to set the rules. Their respect for the law was center stage and designed for perpetuity. The concept of the rule of law was based on a higher plane with a constitution determined by a body of independent magistrates and a stalwart balance of governing power. The law was not an instrument of state control or manipulation, but a mechanism open to any individual seeking redress. That was a new and uncommon denominator for that part of the world.

I have come to the conclusion that the successful likelihood of the 1776 experiment would have been very slim to none at any other time or in any other venue of the contemporary world. Colonialism did not prove to be successful because it was a business model not open to the equal participation of all the residents.

In 336 B.C., twenty-one- year- old Alexander of Macedonia, who had been trained at the feet of Aristotle, had been placed on the Greek throne. With cunning intuition he conquered the known world by the time he was thirty-three years old. He had brought to the world security, protection, fairness, a common currency, low taxes, and unlimited opportunities of international trade. But Alexander the Great’s brilliant experiment only lasted until his early death at age thirty-three.

When Alexander was no longer there to be the entrepreneur and protector, his generals greedily torpedoed the good work and sent the experiment to the bottom until Julius Caesar resurrected the concept two hundred seventy-one years later. Caesar’s Pax Romana, with the mild taxation and alluring opportunities for commerce, was dependent on a model of military boots on the ground Occupationism. But occupying conquered lands, whether by the British, the Romans, or the Israelis only lasts until it becomes more bother than it’s worth.

But the 1776 economic and cultural experiment seemed to find a perfect niche in history even though the denominators were mostly uncommon. Let’s look at some of those denominators:
  • No entrenched economic or cultural system had to be kicked out or purged from the country. When the British were defeated they simply went home
  • New citizens were open to system change
  • Many residents had already been reading and studying writings of freedom thinkers like John Locke, and economic thinkers like Adam Smith
  • Agreed that new government should answer to the people and not the people to the established government
  • Geographically private; no aggressive neighboring countries ready to attack and steal choice land parcels or ports
  • No state church to fight or demand tax payments
  • Positive inheritance and experience with Runny Meade and King John’s Magna Carta as model for a new Bill of Rights
  • Background and understanding of British Common Law
  • Agreement on idea of elected term leaders and civil transfer of power
  • No monarchical, social caste system of inherited titles and properties
  •  Healthy work ethic in order to exist on shores of north Atlantic
  • Existing citizens already possessed qualities of morality, honesty, industriousness, and God- fearing religious faith
  • Unity of language
  • Plenty of space for growth and new immigrants
  • Rough land; tough people
  • Huge blue water buffer between England and America
  • Citizens were forced to become independent from the outside, but dependent on those inside the experiment
  • Citizens never entertained demand for equality of outcomes . . . just equality of opportunity and dignity
The common denominators one might have anticipated seeing implemented in the new nation of 1776 could have been strong personalities grabbing positions of power and leadership and injecting rules that would have been massaged and twisted for their own and their personal family’s favor and advantage in the future. That is generally the rule of the day I observe in the developing countries where I have traveled and worked.

Military power, hereditary status, and the systematic looting of natural and human resources by the newly installed ruling caste are the characteristics and denominators that I see as the universal norms even today.

The dreams and ideals of the 1776 incorporators were like a breath of fresh air into the world of political and cultural governance. How refreshing to think that the executive would be controlled by a board of legislators and the lawmakers would be directly accountable through the ballot box. Taxes should neither be levied nor laws passed without the consent of the populace. Issues that required decisions should be taken as closely as possible to those people that were most directly affected. The individual citizen should be free from knee-jerk and capricious punishment and protected from having his goods and property confiscated on a whim. Power should be spread out, and no one including the leader or his family would be considered above the rule of law. Property rights should be absolutely secure, and disagreements should be heard and arbitrated by ad hoc magistrates. There would be freedom of assembly as well as freedom of speech and freedom of religion guaranteed by the very governance.

The more I research and study the improbable experiment of 1776, and the uncommon denominators upon which the experiment was established, the more I marvel that the incorporators were able to even articulate the ideals, to say nothing about getting the experiment off the ground and into the air to fly. And fly it did. And it has achieved the most singularly significant political and cultural environment for enabling human achievement, creativity, and productivity that the world has yet to provide.

The question was asked in a prior article, “but is this what we have in America today?” The simple and unflinching answer to that question is “no.” There has never been a time in the history of the United States when there has not somewhere been a pocket of problem-makers who were determined to dash the experiment and reassemble the American value system into a model of European Leftism where the created welfare state is the alternative.

But in spite of all the intrusions and modifications of the original thrust of the 1776 experiment, I choose to throw my lot with President Abraham Lincoln, who declared in his message to Congress in 1862 that America is “the best last hope of earth.” I am so terribly grateful that even though the dreamer’s experiment proved improbable based on all the uncommon denominators upon which it was built, yet it still stands today as the best last hope of earth.

Next Week: Unintended Consequences of 1776

            (Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

© Dr. James W. Jackson   
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
  

Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com