The Journey series
This week’s Mustard Seed examines wealth. The last post of October explained ownership as the right to keep, use, or trade, the fruits of our efforts. Our wealth is a net tally of what we own.
We generate wealth by applying our efforts to change the location or the form of assets. To earn more wealth we can work more efficiently, more effectively, or just more. Wealth may be redistributed through trade but trade doesn’t create wealth.
Wealth diminishes by consumption. We must eat, clothe ourselves, and have shelter to exist. Beyond that we may choose to consume to facilitate production and distribution or for personal and social development, entertainment, or luxury. In our society, when considering wealth, we may think of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, or Richard Branson. In personal terms we think of our house, our bank account, and our investments. We tend to focus on individuals and economy. We can’t exist as individuals. We must live in families, communities, and an environment. Value isn’t to be measured only in dollars and cents. We mustn’t lose sight of the vast wealth in our faith, our families, our neighbours, our environment, our language, our arts, or our science.
Wealth generated by the community should first ensure all members of the community survive and then allow them to flourish. If production cannot meet the minimum needs of the community, expenditures to improve efficiency and effectiveness are necessary; after that, investments in the economy must be weighed against emotional, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits. It is prudent to maintain a reserve of wealth for contingencies, but wealth spent to increase wealth with no other goal does not serve anyone.
Conspicuous consumption in the face of poverty invites contempt and despair. A community where wealth is held in excess by few while others lack necessities is destined for strife.
Next week: More Wealth.
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Peter T Elliott