The Secret of
United States Economic Success
By Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1998
Let me say at the start that my main profession is that of a theologian and historian. I am not a professional economist who has credentials from the universities or from some of the government agencies. But I am one who has studied extensively the Holy Scriptures and the annals of world history. The Bible and those historical documents contain many references to things which we today call economics. These matters I have surveyed assiduously for the past forty years. What I want to do in this new Prophetic Report is to capitalize on the biblical and historical information that I have accumulated over the years that can help us comprehend the principles of everyday economics in a much better way.
What people will discover is that modern economists are very much like weather forecasters. Many think they can accurately predict what the economy (or, shall we say, the weather) might be like within the next three days, but they admit that it begins to get more difficult to evaluate what lies beyond that limited range. What we must understand is the fact that the lack of knowledge in what the future holds is the problem economists have in ascertaining the way society will develop in the next few years. This is where the study of the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, history and prophecy can aid the economist when he or she commences to foresee what economic conditions might be within five, ten or twenty years from now. This is where the economists can learn from biblical studies and historical evaluations. From analyzing these sources, there emerges a prime principle that leads the way in discovering what the economic conditions will be within the next twenty years. That motive is understanding that basic economics within our society is governed more by psychological peculiarities of humans than even upon the vagaries of natural occurrences that we find in the weather patterns and other earthly phenomena.
To recognize true economic developments that determine our well being and even survival involve an awareness and application of the psychological trends that motivate mankind. We need to analyze properly the psychological tendencies that mankind has espoused and believed in since the beginning of the world. I cannot emphasize too strongly the fact that it is the study and recognition of human psychology over the various periods of time (like we have in the records of the Bible and within the historical documents) that can help us appraise (in a correct manner) what the psychological motives of people will be when they are faced with similar situations in the immediate and remote future within our own modern period. Understanding human nature (and the ethnic and societal idiosyncrasies of various nationalities in the world) can determine what will happen in an economic sense in the years just ahead. Indeed, other than natural phenomena which no human can accurately predict such as earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, asteroids and comets, or even extended droughts or wet-spells (that is, events that are not under the control of humans), we find that almost every other economic principle can be predicted with a measure of success. In a word, those trends can be understood with a proper recognition of the human psychological motives that govern the daily affairs of any given people or society.
Look at the matter in a simple way. The matter really filters down to one prime concept. That is: A good economist must be a good psychologist. An economist who is worth his salt must be one who can best determine (or predict) what the psychological desires of any society will be in the immediate future. He or she must be able to determine what the psychological moods will be within the family, the city, a state, a whole country or even the entirety of the world. If you can accurately predict what at least 75% of the people in any given society will be thinking, you will have a great edge in understanding the economics that will govern those people. In other words, will the people be optimistic or pessimistic? Will they be entrepreneurial and willing to take calculated and educated risks, or will they be conservative and reluctant to change the status quo?
Let me give you an example from history. Just after World War One there were economic ups and downs of a minor nature until the Great Depression came along in 1929 that lasted to the start of World War Two. It can be shown, believe it or not, that the Great Depression was principally brought on because of the way that certain main groups of the society were thinking (that is, what was psychologically motivating them). I do not want to be accused of over-simplification, but it is a fact that the historian could easily see that there two primary groups of people in the world with very different attitudes on what pleased them in life. One was for modernization and the other was for a measure of conservatism to prevail (a love for the "good old days") that their fathers and grandfathers had known. For the first group (for both those in the United States and in the world), there was both optimism and entrepenurialism in most of the urbanized sections of the industrial societies. The other group was a strong conservative bent in some prime industries, especially in the agricultural sections of society throughout the world. Oh yes, many farmers were modernizing especially in the United States, but there was still a dependence on (and an economic focus on) the retention of antiquated ways among many of the rural populations. For example, many loved horses and they wanted to keep them plowing the land.
In 1915 there were some 21 million horses providing power for farm equipment. And while urbanized areas began to modernize quickly, many farming areas of the world were not (and this was the case in many sections of the United States). But putting money into antiquated agricultural methods while the rest of the country and the world were being extensively modernized, led to a two-tier economic system: one was modern and inventive and the other antiquated and satisfied with the status quo. This caused a disunity in the overall society within the world, and it happened also in the United States.
This was one of the major factors that led to the Great Depression. The fact is, sound economic policy demands that all sectors of society must be UNITED in psychologically determining to modernize society as a unit. One section of society cannot be going in one direction and an equal part of the society going in another. There will be a collision sooner or later. And there was. The conservative sector of the economy went down with a resounding consequence for the whole society.
The American farmer has learned from what the Great Depression taught about the dangers of two-tier economic standards. Today the agricultural sectors of society are as united with their urbanized counterparts as the rest of society in having a reasonable common goal for economic equality. As a matter of fact, the horse population went from 21 million in 1915 to only 3 million horses in the United States by 1950, and none of those horses in the agricultural sector was then being used as mechanized power for farm machinery. By 1950, horses were then being used for races, riding sports, entertainment and let us not forget cowboy movies. The simple fact is, the American farmer underwent a transformation in attitude within a short twenty years.
Today, the agricultural sectors of our society have some of the most advanced scientific instruments (even using satellite technology) for farming. That section of society now equals or even slightly surpasses the urbanized sectors in prosperity. What happened was a complete change of attitude in the way people thought they could best earn a living. But it took the Great Depression and World War Two to convince major sections of the society to change their minds on what should be done to promote the welfare of the country in an economic sense. This gives us a prime principle for economic growth and prosperity. The whole society must be willing to change our attitudes and even societal beliefs as we forge ahead into new industrial domains. At the present we have a whole new medium of communication and conducting business and agricultural affairs. It is called the Internet.
We at A.S.K. were one of the first in biblical studies to establish a Web Page and using this new method of getting out the Gospel to the world. Thank God we have been leading the way. Indeed, all sectors of society must see the wisdom of changing our attitudes on how to do business and earn a living in this new and changing environment that modernization is forcing on us. Let's face it folks, it is time to give up your old Remington typewriter and get a computer with Internet facilities. If you do not (or if half of the society holds back and does not take advantage of this new and burgeoning industry), a two tier economic system will begin to develop that can bring on the potential of a new recession or even a depression if the economic differences become too great as they did in 1929. Frankly, I think that most of us have learned our lessons in this regard, and we will most likely not have to endure such setbacks in our economy. But what must be done for the good of the whole country and the world is the fact that we must all grow together and as ONE SOCIETY and be willing to change our ways (the Biblical word is "repent of our ways"), and not develop a two or three-tier society that many other countries still rely on.
Sound economics means that one section of society must equal other sections in matters of gaining prosperity. We have also been blessed with some of the best real estate that the world can provide. Our agricultural potentials and industrial enterprises are the envy of the world, and we have learned to use them in a better way than other countries of the world. Though the United States is certainly not perfect, we have for all practical purposes abandoned the two-tier or three-tier societies that are found in other countries. We have opted for a ONE SOCIETY that gives equal opportunities for all who will take advantage of them. And most citizens in their hearts actively promote this principle of ONE SOCIETY, with diversities that still protect and energize that ONE SOCIETY. This attitude promotes an optimistic or an entrepreneurial environment for Americans, and that psychology works for our good. When this type of UNITY and OPTIMISM prevails (and we presently have it in America in the main), hardly anything can stand in the way of our having prosperity.
The central "key" to understanding United States prosperity is the fact that we as a nation (at least 80% of us, no matter of what race or religious beliefs) are united in our desire to have ONE SOCIETY that allows and promotes an equal opportunity to each and every person who is a part of the American society. Call it old-fashion patriotism and "flag-waving" if you wish, but this is a trait that is indelibly entrenched in the American psyche. If it begins to falter (and it has on some occasions), all it takes is a reason for us to UNITE (such as happened in World War Two), and 80 to 90% of the American people will respond without flinching to defend and to promote the welfare of the country.
My parents were always proud of the fact that my brother and I both volunteered to serve in the Armed Services (he during the Second World War and I in the Korean War), and I would do so again if called upon for what I consider to be noble causes (even at 66 years of age). I am not alone. Most of the people I know would do the same thing, so there is nothing special for me to want to promote the welfare of the United States.
A true and qualified economist is one who can understand the psychology governing the people at any given time, or how the people will react to future events. It simply means that the proper evaluation of present and future economics depends upon recognizing the psychological whims as well as the deep-seated psychological beliefs of human beings in our own societies as well as those in the world. This particularly is the case in regard in evaluating individuals who have many of the financial purse strings in their hands. But many times it is not the big tycoons or the business giants of industry who pull the strings to manipulate the economy. There is a group of people who are much stronger. That powerful group is known as the "general public." The American people as a whole have more financial power in controlling the economy (if they remain UNITED in their goals) than even the big financial boys who conspire (or endeavor to conspire) to control the American and world economic scenes. Believe me, there is more authority in the American public and their psychological motivations, than even with the influence the government or big business institutions have (if the general public will only realize it and exercise their power). Give the American people the facts (I mean the real facts of anything), and they will respond in a manner that will maintain our American system of government bequeathed to us by our founding fathers and grandparents. It is to one's peril to consider the American people economic dunces.
This belief is not a Pollyanna approach that does not reflect real life. True, people must be educated and vigilant to curtail the trends that are with us to change our system of government in a violent way. If there are things in the economy or government that people do not like, then we have in the Constitution and the legislative processes established by our founding fathers the necessary tools to change things (but these changes must always come about through legal channels that recognize the equality of all our citizens to freely express their views no matter what race, religion or political party they belong to).
It should be realized that the understanding of future economic conditions involves the proper realization of the psychology that prevails (and that will continue to prevail or perhaps to change) among those of the general public in any society that one wishes to study. The subject of economics is rather easy to fathom (in a basic sense) if one can reduce its overall principles to some common sense examples that people are aware of and they have experienced in their daily lives. Let me begin by stating a fact that everyone receiving a primary education in economics should know. It is this. Every working person reading this report (no matter where he or she lives in the world) is actually a bone fide economist in the basic sense of the word. This is because the word itself derives from a Greek term (used many times in the New Testament) that means "house" or "household." It relates in a personal way with a person who establishes and properly supervises a household for his or her family. It involves the full administration of all household affairs. Within the framework of the meaning of the word "economist," how to manage and efficiently run that household in every factor of its employment (including the use of money in maintaining a secure existence) is considered to be the work of such an "economist."
Even today, that definition of an economist as being a "householder" who is responsible for feeding, clothing, sheltering and entertaining the members of one's household is a proper and simple meaning of the word "economist." We can find an example of this in the Bible. The apostle Paul said that anyone who failed to look after and to provide for his household was worse than a heathen (I Timothy 5:8). Paul was really stating that any Christian who is not a proper economist in regard to looking after the welfare of his own family (or, household) is not a responsible person and should change his or her ways. This means, from a biblical point of view, that we all need to be economists who can feel proud that we are taking care of our family responsibilities in all factors of life.
The matter gets more technical and complicated when one begins to survey the national economies of powerful nations with the same principles of application that God uses in or around an intimate sense. These outward provisional duties also apply to the United States (which we all realize is a large and powerful political state). Those same economic principles that apply in running a simple household (like the household that each of us is responsible for maintaining) are exactly the same even in this larger application. The United States is really "one big household." Or, if one wishes to include all the human family in the analogy, the human race that occupies all space on this earth is simply "a bigger household" that also needs to be managed.
In these things, the modern world has an advantage. We have invented mechanical and technological equipment that the ancients did not have, and this allows us to produce from the earth far more goods, foodstuffs, services, etc. In effect, we of modern times have it better off than those in the past because of our ability to produce wealth (a manipulated and augmented "fixed income"). Our "fixed income" is much higher than those who lived in the past because it is aided by technology and machines that allow us to have more leisure and still have a high standard of living from what the earth produces. In a word, we have learned to use the resources that this earth provides to great advantage for our own comfort and prosperity. God expected mankind to do this very thing, and God even commanded man to "subdue" the earth (Genesis 1:28). We were put here on earth to "control" the earth. We are NOT here to let the earth "control" us. This is our God-given right and responsibility, and mankind is doing the job that God intended. But to do it properly, we must use wisdom. We must know how to economize and to use our "fixed income" provided by the earth each year that makes all of us to have the ability to live in security and in reasonable comfort.
The United States has been blessed with a large amount of real estate on this earth with the best agricultural land and with abundant natural resources. We are the envy of the world because of these things. We also have a large population that is basically (at the present) united in its main goals and aspirations. We are also a people who love the freedom of the individual to express his or her own mind on all matters and we thrive on entrepreneurial creativity in the business fields that enliven and perpetuates a type of fairness and co-operativeness for all people in our midst.
Other peoples in the world are normally envious of these traits of character and national pride that the majority of Americans posses (no matter of what race, creed or religious belief we might be). Few countries on earth (certainly those near the size of the United States) can approach the unitedness of our society. How did we get that way? The principal vehicle that has allowed this to happen is our belief in the Holy Scriptures. Ninety per cent of homes in America have the Bible somewhere in them. It may not be read as some would like, but it is there as a basic back up to the beliefs that govern our character.
As for us who are Christians, we have a command from God to obey the powers of our government. The apostle Paul was clear on this even though Nero was then emperor of Rome. Note the Concordant Version translation. (We should be familiar with several translations because each translator approaches translating differently.) I have included brackets to make the meaning clearer to modern English readers.
"Let every soul be subject to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except under God. Now those which are [in authority], are set under God, so that he who is resisting an authority has withstood God's mandate. Now those who have withstood will be getting judgment for themselves, for magistrates are not a fear to the good act, but to the evil. Now you do not want to be fearing the authority [because you do evil]. Be doing good, and you will be having applause from it. For it is God's servant for your good. Now if you should be doing evil, fear, for it [the authority] is not wearing the sword futilely. For it is God's servant, and avenger for indignation to him committing evil. Wherefore it is a necessity to be subject not only because of [suppressing one's] indignation, but because of [your] conscience also. For because of this you are settling [your] taxes also, for they are God's ministers, perpetuated [in office] for this very thing. Be rendering to all [such ministers] their dues, to whom tax, [you pay] tax, to whom tribute, [you pay] tribute, to whom fear, [you should] fear, to whom honor, [you should] honor."
No further commentary is necessary by me on this clear teaching of the apostle Paul (who is rendering the precise commands of God Almighty on this subject of obeying the government). Some may feel that this is true under ordinary circumstances, but what about our founding fathers when they stood up in rebellion to the government of Great Britain and went to war for their independence? Yes they did, and I would have joined them (as my ancestors did). But they resorted to such extreme measures because a full 75% of the populace in the colonies at the time were in agreement that taxation without representation was wrong and the great majority of the people went to war to defend this fundamental principle of democracy that was being denied them. We have a great deal of protection from such a thing happening to us today. Let me tell you a fact. If 75% of the people of the United States believe in any change in the way we are governed, I know for a fact that any President, Legislature (state or national) and the Supreme Court will do everything in their power to see that those 75% get their way. And indeed, 75% of the states in the United States can change our Constitution if that amount will agree to it. Of course, if only 5 or 10 % of the people want a law changed, then they have to use the due process of the law to do so. But they also have the right to express their views and use our legislative processes to which we have all agreed in order to legally have any law changed. This is real democracy in action, and we should all defend it and promote it with vigor. We should all be UNITED in this, and the vast majority of the population of the United States is in full agreement with this principle.
There is also another factor that has helped us in bring in a type of unitedness. That is television. Some of us may not like much of what television has bequeathed to us in a moral and social sense, but it has done a marvelous job of uniting us as a society like no other medium has done. All over America we generally speak the same language with the same principles of life governing our behavior. I have had the privilege of travelling all over these United States (and much of the world), and I am amazed myself at the unanimity of societal beliefs that our large country possesses. And this has been for the good.
Look also at what airplanes have done to "unite" America. Our country is so large that we have several climate and geographical zones, but from the northeastern corner of the State of Maine, to the southwestern corner of the State of California, to the southeastern corner of the State of Florida to the northwestern corner of the State of Washington (and also throwing in Alaska and Hawaii and other possessions), the United States IS ONE COUNTRY that even at the present is INDIVISIBLE in its overall concepts and principles of belief. I have lived fourteen years in the United Kingdom (which I consider my second country) and I have lived over a year of my life in Israel. In that period I have talked to people from the areas of Europe and the Middle East who are simply amazed and outright envious of the United States that one can get on an airplane in New York and fly to Los Angeles and for five solid hours the country below is ONE country (not several countries that most Europeans and the Middle Eastern world experience). And indeed, that airplane could land anywhere within the area and the people who got off the plane would be startled at the homogeneity of the society they would encounter.
Some of you who watch the news daily and see the violence displayed in various areas may question my sanity when I say that the United States is one of the finest examples of ONENESS that you can witness in the world. But this is the case. Though we are one of the most diverse societies on earth in racial and religious beliefs (a definite pluralistic environment), we are still one of the most homogenous democratic societies on earth today. This homogeneity comes through having one language and our united recognition (and acceptance) of what constitutes a proper democratic society of people.
And what is the key to our success? It comes down to a major concept. All of us who are Americans have been willing to adopt the Anglo-Saxon governmental system of fair play and obedience to laws inherited from our forefathers which all of us recognize to be right and proper. All Americans (no matter from what area of the earth their ancestors came) basically hold this belief in the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon principles of government. Indeed, all our citizens exercise it in the courts or in the legislatures of the land to maintain its legal perpetuation. Even people who want their own ways to prevail (which may not be in the general agreement of the majority of the citizens) still exercise the use of the Constitution and the legislative laws made by our governing bodies to support the principle of fairness and fealty to law. (I, of course, am only talking about the generality of people or all races and religions that make up our citizenry, and NOT the criminal element that unfortunately exists among us as well as in all other societies). The fact is, all Americans of every racial and religious background will take advantage of the legislative processes that we have established in order to make laws that are fair and honest for the governing of the whole population, and that includes all those who make up our pluralistic society. The truth is, until the Kingdom of God is established on earth, there is no better type of government than the democratic system, of which the American people (of all races and religions) have felt is the best to govern them.
What has been the outcome of our experience in trying to establish democratic institutions as the means to govern society? We have in most circumstances succeeded. True, we have a long way still to go in order that all citizens can experience the real freedoms that the ideal democratic system that came from our founding fathers. But we are making strides on almost all fronts to create our society to be even better and in accord with our Constitution, which is within the boundaries of fair play and the perpetuation of the rule of law for the benefit of all our citizens.
Yes, we are not perfect. We have had riots in the past (racial and social, even a civil war), but our people have emerged in modern times as the ones who have succeeded in bringing a pluralistic society into a type of homogenous state that we call the United States of America. We will no doubt have race and social disturbances in the next twenty years in certain areas, but I have not the slightest hesitation in stating that the people of the United States will come through triumphantly as some of the best examples to follow for all peoples in the world.
Much of these principles of belief come from the innate experience that all of us have had with the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. The Bible in no uncertain terms tells us to be FAIR and HONEST in our dealings with others in our society or those in the rest of the world. True, none of us can gloat that we have been perfect in perpetuating and promoting these principles, but it is in the heart of most of the people I know in the United States to agree that the Bible has some of the best teachings on moral, ethical and societal principles for us to follow.
Most Americans also believe that those teachings of the Scriptures should be generally promulgated and exercised by those of us who make up the citizenry of the United States. I am not saying that all or that even most of Americans are "Christians," but I am saying that there is a Bible to be found in 90% of American homes (and though it may be gathering dust, it still has an innate influence on the basic beliefs of most Americans). It is really the simple principle of FAIR PLAY that dominates the psychological make-up of the generality of our population.
We are aware that the Stock Market in the United States plummeted in value in October, 1987. This was a temporary downturn (and inevitable) caused by an end of an era (the "arms race" came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the personal computer emerged triumphant in business). The American economy not only rebounded, it took on inexplicable heights, and it is still going strong. It will continue to do so (with some corrections) for the next fifteen to twenty years IF Americans can continue in their basic optimistic attitudes. And what is the principal attitude that the people of America have at the present that keeps our economy high? It is something that some have not thought about, but they should from now on and begin to capitalize on it and to perpetuate it. It is American resilience.
In order to understand what the next five, ten, fifteen and twenty years hold for the American (and world) economy, let me give you a brief history to show why Americans have the optimistic attitudes they have today that keep our economy riding at a high level. Let me start by giving you the exact date when the Cold War came to a screeching halt and in just over three years from that time there was no longer any Soviet Union to menace the world, nor was there a Berlin Wall to separate the Germanys, nor was there any longer two major world powers struggling for the mastery over the other. That time was at 2 A.M. in the morning of April 26th, 1986.
That exact moment is when the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl in the Ukraine exploded. That explosion sent nuclear radiation to several areas of Europe at a high level of toxicity. More than that, it effectively destroyed a 20 miles radius of productive farmland and emptied (because of forced evacuation) several towns and cities in the area. For the next few months, the people of the Soviet Union were afraid to eat even the food that came from areas not touched by the explosion for fear that it was contaminated. In effect, the government of the Soviet Union lost all credibility in the eyes of the Soviet people, and with them and the armed forces in such a demoralized shape, it led to the dismemberment of the Soviet Union in a short three years. The result? The only world power left was the United States.
In the history of the twentieth century, that explosion at Chernobyl will go down as the catalyst around which the whole of the Soviet system was demoralized and finally destroyed. It had the same effect on the Soviet people as the Atomic bombs had on the Japanese that caused them to surrender for peace in 1945. It was like the Soviet government when it was in going to run a hundred meters race at the Olympics taking a gun and shooting off its right leg. The Soviet people finally saw their country for what it really was. Economically it was "a third world power" with a massive army. The Soviet people lost confidence in their government and they "threw in the towel." The Soviet Union ceased to exist. As a result, the United States became top in the world in a political and economic sense. The American people are aware of this. And this has brought a resilience of positive attitude in most sectors of society.
There is little on the horizon that will change this political scenario for the next five, ten or even fifteen years (and that includes the Millennium bug called Y2k that the whole world will have to fix at the year 2000). The American people will be as resilient in fixing that "bug" as they have in the past at other national emergencies. As a historian, I can equate the present generation of Americans as being similar to the American generation just after the Second World War when the United States was then the only power that had mastery in the world. Believe it or not, our present population called the "Baby Boomers" are talking about and planning for their own Social Security (and ways to fix the matter so that they also will enjoy a good retirement). The people are basically optimistic, and they should be.
When the generality of the American people start thinking in positive directions, they also begin to think in a UNITED way. There is at the present such a UNITED way of thinking that even our President is riding high in the popularity polls though there have been moral problems associated with him that are being broadcast on the national airwaves on a daily basis. The fact is, people are basically pleased with the economy and they are sympathetic to the President because of it. And, IF any major problem arises (including the Millennium bug) that would curtail the prosperity of the United States, I believe the American people would UNITEDLY step in to solve the problem in a matter of weeks or months.
But what is the main reason for this prosperity? It is not simply to make people have a comfortable lifestyle. God is giving it to us in order that we can have the means to get out the Gospel to the world. The prophecies make this abundantly clear. God is going to allow His Gospel to go to all corners of the world. We at A.S.K. are at the forefront in teaching this truth. So, toss out the "naysayers" and begin to thank God for the prosperity that we have. It will continue for the next five, ten and even twenty years IF we will keep that optimistic attitude and grow even more UNIFIED. If we make a real effort to live peacefully within our own borders (and we can), the United States will continue to show the prosperity and the leadership that this world needs so that the Gospel of Christ Jesus can get out to all the world before the happy and joyful Kingdom of God arrives at the Second Advent of our Lord.
Ernest L. Martin
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