Sunday, March 3, 2024

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葡萄樹傳媒

豐饒與稀缺

By Jim Mathis

有兩種方式看待經濟與生活,包括職場:所謂的豐饒理論與稀缺理論。

豐饒理論說是資源、創意和財富無限的。我們做愈多的事去產生財富,就有愈多財富。例如,若一個人建造一棟房屋,這房屋的價值比使用的原物料還高。這土地因為有一棟房屋蓋在上面,就比光禿的土地更有價值。此外,建築工人、水管工、電工都在建造這房屋的過程中賺到錢。而最後,政府還可以從中收到稅金,就能增加警察、消防員及公務人員的工作。更多稅金意味著我們可以建造更好的學校,因此我們的孩子能受到更好的教育--我們也能負擔得起好的房屋。

然而,稀缺理論認定資源是有限且有窮盡的。若有一個人得到一份工作,另一個人就會失去工作。

若某個人薪資太低,就是因為有人的薪資太高。稀缺理論認為:「我擁有我的,你沒有,真是太糟了。」相信這種理論的人認為只有這麼多工作,另一個國家的某個人可能會搶走這工作。

(我了解在許多企業中,10,000個人每小時賺10元美金,而有人卻每小時賺美金$10,000。這不是稀缺相對於豐饒的議題,而是一個倫理道德議題。那是我們要在另闢時間討論的主題。)

回到豐饒與稀缺的相對觀點,不論我們相信哪一種理論,我們都是對的。這就類似於「不論我們認為我們有能力或沒有能力,我們都是對的。」若有足夠的人相信稀缺理論,經濟就會向下沉淪。若有足夠的人相信豐饒理論,經濟就會起飛,國家就會繁榮。

在歷史過程中,有的時期是豐饒理論昌盛,有時則是稀缺理論興隆,而因此社會也都經歷蕭條和饑荒時期,以及成長和繁榮時期。

這讓我們看到一個重要的聖經原則。聖經說慷慨施予一定會走向繁榮興旺,然而聚斂通常會導致經濟衰退。以下是箴言中一些證實此事實的經文:

「有施散的,卻更增添;有吝惜過度的,反致窮乏。好施捨的,必得豐裕;滋潤人的,必得滋潤」(箴言11章24-25節)。

「藐視鄰舍的,這人有罪;憐憫貧窮的,這人有福」(箴言14章21節)。

「憐憫貧窮的,就是借給耶和華…耶和華必償還」(箴言19章17節)。

在我定期擔任稅務專業人時,我可以在第一線看到經濟景氣。例如,我觀察到幾乎每個人在2013年都賺得比2012年多。我很少看到失業聲明。經濟正在向上攀升,雖然政客與媒體都在提暢稀缺理論,但豐饒理論仍在運作。我們可以選擇認為自己是別人的受害者,或者我們可以決定努力使我們的生活更好。哪一種是更好的選擇呢?

吉姆.馬提斯在堪薩斯州陸路公園市經營一家照相館。他的專長是商業和影劇界人像。他也經營一所攝影學校。他曾是CBMC在堪薩斯州堪薩斯市和密蘇里州堪薩斯市的執行主任。

省思/討論題目
你是否熟悉豐饒理論與稀缺理論這兩種經濟學理論?你相信這兩種理論都是正確的嗎?或者你比較同意哪一種理論? 為何我們看待經濟的方式--豐饒或稀缺理論--會影響我們在個人、專業和社會上去面對生命? 本文說,慷慨施予會走向繁榮興旺,然而聚斂通常會導致經濟衰退。你是否同意?為什麼? 若你或你的公司真的相信豐饒理論,這會如何改變你作原料和財務的決定?或者你會如何看待你的財物?註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:箴言11章26節,14章31節,18章23節,21章13節,22章9、16節,24章11-12節,28章22、27節


ABUNDANCE – AND SCARCITY
By Jim Mathis

There are two general ways to look at economics and life, including the workplace: The so-called Theory of Abundance and Theory of Scarcity.

Abundance says there are an infinite amount of resources, creativity, and wealth. The more we do to generate wealth, the more wealth there is. For example, if a person builds a house, the house is worth more than the raw materials involved. The land is now more valuable with a house on it than it was as bare land. Additionally, construction workers, plumbers and electricians all earned money in the process of building the house. And finally, the government can collect more taxes from it, increasing work for police, firefighters, and public works personnel. More taxes mean we can build better schools, so our children can become better educated – so we can afford to build nice houses.

Scarcity, however, presumes resources are limited and finite. If one person gets a job, someone else loses his or hers. If someone is underpaid it is because someone else is overpaid. Scarcity theory leads to greed. "I have mine; too bad for you." People who believe this theory believe there is only so much work to go around or that someone from another country can take their job.

(I realize there are many corporations where 10,000 people make $10 an hour and one person makes $10,000 an hour. This is not a scarcity vs. abundance issue, but rather an ethics issue. That is a topic for another time.)

Getting back to the abundance vs. scarcity perspectives, it turns out whichever theory we believe, we are right. It is similar to the idea that "whether we think we can or think we cannot, we are right." If enough people believe in scarcity, the economy spirals downward. If enough people believe the theory of abundance, the economy soars and the country prospers.

Throughout history there have been periods when one or the other theories flourished, and societies have experienced periods of depression and famine and periods of growth and prosperity as a result.

This leads us to an important biblical principle. The Bible says generosity is one sure path to prosperity, while hoarding often results in economic failure. Here is just a sampling of passages from the book of Proverbs that affirm this reality:

“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:24-25).

“He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy” (Proverbs 14:21).

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord…he will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:27)

In my seasonal role as a tax professional, I have a front row seat to the economy. I observed, for example, just about everyone made more in 2013 than they did in 2012. I saw very few unemployment statements. The economy was on the upswing and the theory of abundance is at work, despite politicians and the media pushing the scarcity theory. We can choose to think we are victims of other people, or we can determine to get busy and make our lives better. Which is the better choice?

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. He formerly was executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Are you familiar with these two economic theories, the Theory of Abundance and the Theory of Scarcity? Do you believe they both are valid? Which, if either, do you align with most? Why does the way we view the economy – in terms of abundance or scarcity – influence how we approach life personally, professionally, and as a society? The statement is made that generosity is a path toward prosperity, while greed or hoarding is a path toward financial failure? Do you agree? Why or why not? If you – or your company – truly bought into the Theory of Abundance, how might that change the material and financial decisions you make, or how you regard your possessions?NOTE: If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages: Proverbs 11:26, 14:31, 18:23, 21:13, 22:9,16, 24:11-12, 28:22,27

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