Torch, Spring/Summer 2009

Spring–Summer 2009 | TORCH 11 I t’s an old cliché — a sixth-century B.C. Chinese proverb, in fact — and you’ve probably heard it many times before: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Nevertheless, to have such longevity, those words must have something truthful in them. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the number of hungry people in the world had risen to 963 million by December 2008. Unfortunately, as America’s economy continues to struggle, it is having an impact on countries around the world. The implication? The number of hungry people will continue to rise as long as the global economy is in a recession. In God’s original design, we had all we needed. The Garden of Eden was resplendent with plenty of good things to eat. Then sin entered the picture, and we’ve been fighting for our survival ever since. When we chose to follow our own desires rather than God’s, we suffered a separation from His direct provision of our material needs. Over the span of history, we failed to learn how to use the time, talent, and resources God has given us to consistently reduce hunger. Regrettably, one steady response to the scarcity imposed by the Fall has been to scrape and claw out a meager subsistence that has barely sustained our survival. The study and practice of economics is one way we can learn to decrease the material effects of humanity’s disobedience. It is only within the past several hundred years that we have discovered — through free-market economic organization — how to partially break the cycle of poverty. A free-market economy provides a system whereby we can continually create new goods and services, going beyond what we need for mere survival. Global capitalism organizes our resources and marshals our efforts, minimizing part of the material constraints of the Fall. The Domino Effect Whether we like it or not, we live in a global economy. Technological progress has enhanced our ability to learn about and communicate with cultures around the world. With that has come the opportunity to connect with new groups of people economically as well. While this integration into one global market can be risky, it offers much good toward decreasing global poverty. On the downside, the global nature of the economy has never been more apparent than during the current recession. The entire world seems mired in the present economic slide. Take, for instance, a February 18 article in The Wall Street Journal , which states, “Japan is facing its worst recession since the 1970s. GDP fell 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter, the third straight quarter of decline. On an annualized basis, that’s a 12.7 percent contraction — in an economy that is already struggling with deflationary pressures and rising TORIAN DIXON / ISTOCKPHOTO