Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist
I am convinced that when dealing with the simple but priceless commodities like kindness, justice, and righteousness, you should spend more than you earn.
In the structure of our present economy people and organizations are allowed to do things they could not otherwise do because of the employment of debt. In our culture many things are too expensive for people to buy out of the cash they have in hand. Debt enables people to make purchases they could not otherwise afford by allowing them to pay off items with small monthly payments that include the price of the item as well as interest.
Not only individuals, but companies can utilize debt to leverage the return on the equity of their assets. That portion of debt to equity is used to determine the riskiness of the investment, i.e. the more debt per equity the riskier the investment. That is where debt becomes dangerous to both individual and corporate borrowers. Although debt can appear helpful, it can also become a burden and a hazard to your personal well-being. Real trouble comes when the cost of servicing the debt grows beyond the ability to repay what is due. Usually, that inability happens because of insufficient income or poor management of resources, coupled with increased interest rates, late fees, and penalties.
Historically, excess in debt accumulation has been blamed for many woes of this world and the tragic breakup of many honorable relationships. I grew up following the Great Depression and the stress of World War II. The accepted advice of that era was, “Who goeth a borrowing, goeth a sorrowing,” or, as Ezra Pound would say, “Wars in old times were made to get slaves. The modern implement of imposing slavery is debt.”
Benjamin Franklin expressed his opinion of debt and advised, “Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.” “Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience; you will find it a calamity,” was the way Samuel Johnson expressed his concern of debt. During that period, most people even saved up enough money under the mattress to pay cash for their automobiles and other major purchases. They believed that home life would cease to be peaceful and beautiful once they needed to depend on borrowing and debt. As kids, we were instructed that we should run from debt as if it were the plague or an addiction. Today, we have grown quite accustomed to words like bankruptcy, foreclosure, short sale, bubble, meltdown, universal default, “too big to fail,” and spending more than you earn.
The above stated description seems to be the attitude and structure of our economy today. I have, however, discovered a wonderful alternative economy when it comes to earning and spending, and spending more than you earn. I have become convinced that when it comes to commodities such as kindness, justice, and righteousness you should spend exponentially more than you earn. With those commodities it should be the rule of thumb that lavish and exorbitant behavior is the investment rule of the day. You can throw all restraint overboard and be totally thriftless. You can never bankrupt your asset account of kindness, justice, and righteousness no matter how much you spend from the account.
Kindness: People universally long for kindness to be shown to them. In all the traveling I have done around the world, I have concluded that people will be exactly as happy and kind toward you as you are toward them. That was true in North Korea, Pakistan, Congo, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Showing benevolence, courtesy, tact, gentleness, patience, and unselfish consideration sends a signal of hospitality that pays great dividends.
Justice: Everybody carries around a psychological-spiritual scorecard. It is very high tech, and is placed somewhere up front, on the inside of one’s forehead. It has an emotionally activated, electric extension cord that runs down to the heart, and it concerns itself with issues of fairness, due process, equity, integrity, fair treatment, reasonableness, and reparation. You can never go wrong dispensing way more truth and justice than you ever dreamed possible. Spending more justice than you could ever earn will always prove to be a blue chip stock investment.
Righteousness: More than likely, your greatest fulfillment in living will be realized through your giving of goodness, virtue, fairness, respectability, honor, and dignity freely into the lives of others around you. Righteousness is a powerful phenomenon that keeps you alive in the hearts of others long after the action on the stage is over and the audience has gone home. That is because the source of righteousness is from a different economy.
In the structure of our present economy, people and organizations are allowed to do things they would not otherwise do because of such things as the use of debt . . . and there is usually a tragic downside. In this new economy people are allowed to do things they could not otherwise do because you were able to personally transfer into their lives such things as kindness, justice, and righteousness. In our culture we have to employ such things as debt because of the reality of limited resources. But there is no limit to the supply of kindness, justice, and righteousness, because they flow freely from God’s economy and you simply can’t out give God.
Here is the simple challenge: Try it. Freely spend into the lives of those around you the simple riches of kindness, justice, and righteousness. Spend out of your limitless supply. Plant the fertile seeds and watch the astounding harvest as the people around you are able to do things that otherwise they could not have done.
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.