Most Americans believe that the US is in a depression and that the economy is tanking. The recent bank bailouts and mortgage financing companies are truly disturbing. I sort of wish I wasn’t eye-deep in researching the NCFCA team-debate topic for release of our bestselling Blue Book for homeschool debaters. I’d be writing a lot about the economy, a topic I find intriguing. There is a lot of fear mongering going on, and though I don’t like $4/gal. at the pump anymore than anyone else, I am hesitant to agree with the alarmists out there. Follow me here…
I believe we’re going to be just fine.
I know, I know. The headlines on every news channel and every website is posting doom for America. I, too, see our political horizon as a bit scary. Congress, instead of drilling offshore and in ANWR, is debating bringing back the 55mph speed limit. Obama, who could be our next president, claims that because drilling won’t reduce gas prices for at least six years, we shouldn’t drill. Note: in 2002, President Bush was defeated by Congress to advance drilling in ANWR…yes, six years ago. John McCain at least promotes offshore drilling, something that Congress is digging its heals in about. Also note: John McCain led the charge of moderate Republicans to kill the ANWR bill. I’m not too hopeful that our politicians will come up with helpful solutions.
We can learn several lessons from India. Homeschoolers participating in the NCFCA will be debating changes to the US’s policy toward India, the league’s debate resolution. In my research of the topic, I am learning tons about the recent history of this remarkable nation. After India attained its independence from Britain in 1950, she struggled through 40 years of socialist economics. Though India has a rich history of some of the smartest scientists and businessmen in the world, she was known in the 20th century as one of the poorest nations on earth. It wasn’t until 1990 that India started reforming its License Raj, a series of beaurocratic red tape that made it virtually impossible to innovate and do business in the largest democracy in the world. The lifting of its restrictions have been a boon to India’s economy. Now India is in negotiations with the US to open up its nuclear power development to meet the energy demands of its growing middle class. World economists have predicted that India is on course to surpass China and America’s economies by 2045. No kidding.
It’s difficult to make sense of the bank and mortgage crisis, but what’s going on now is simply responsible taxpayers paying for irresponsible loans. India recognizes that the only way to solve its poverty problem is to devert its policies from socialist safety nets to solving its economic infrastructure. President Bush has lifted the executive moratorium on offshore drilling, and now Congress needs to do the same. It is basic supply-and-demand economics that needs to be addressed: if we Americans demand more oil, and we have it, let’s get it and ease the demand (and our dependence on foreign oil while we’re at it). If government wants to be proactive in energy alternatives, pour money into nuclear development rather than bailing out mortgages. Again, India is onto this, and America should be, too.
We may see our government making foolish fiscal choices, but families should find themselves doing just fine through this shaky economy. Seriously, I am not getting too nervous, and I’m the guy with a 14 mouths to feed! Times will be tight for the next few years, sure, but that shouldn’t depress you. I’m hearing a lot of our friends complain of their scaling back and having to make frugal choices, but I know better. They’re simply starting to live life like the Jeubs, and frugal living has never robbed our family of joy and growth.
If I weren’t so busy with Blue Book I’d write a bestseller and make a million: “Frugal and Fruitful.” Much of our Cheaper by the Baker’s Dozen CD has rich ideas to live frugally, but the main point is this: don’t let anyone rob you of the life God has in store for you. In fact, the coming hardships should return Americans back to what matters most: faith, family, love. The second home or the SUV ain’t it.
I have a lot of respect for Mahatma Gandhi, the spiritual revolutionary who took on the British Empire through peaceful means. He had some daring ideas on economics, too. Though his lineage became socialist powers of the new India, I do not believe Gandhi was a socialist. He had a profound understanding of the economic challenges of India as well as discerning views of the West’s problems. An article I discovered in my research paraphrases a recent discovery of one of Gandhi’s audios, recorded weeks before his assassination in 1948:
Gandhi’s self-denial and tour of rural poverty was rooted in political philosophy. The central reason people turn to violence, Gandhi believed, was that they were afraid: of others, the unknown, of loving one’s possessions and fortunes, of death. Fear was the root cause of corruption and greed. The way to destroy fear, Gandhi argued, was to give up the things that people held precious in the first place. When you have no possessions, you fear no theives.
Wendy and I want so much to get this point across to young couples, which is why we wrote Love in the House. A life centered on building wealth is a life centered on fear, and we believe God wants us free from fear. Now, I’m all for working hard to make a good living, and I’m caught many times wishing I had more than I do now. But in my heart of hearts, I know that desire alone is worth nothing. My heart wants to walk with God and raise a family to do the same.
Okay, one last thing and then I have to get back to writing Blue Book. Wendy received an incredible email from a young lady about a week ago after our “Kids by the Dozen” episode was shown on The Learning Channel. Her story speaks volumes. What a testimony:
I’m writing to tell you what an inspiration your family has been to me. My husband and I have been married for 6 years and have three children (6, 5, 2) but decided after our third that [my husband] should get a vasectomy. I was a lost Christian and he was an atheist and we were consumed with worldly goods and keeping up with our friends–more children would be an inconvenience.
Since then, Jesus has grabbed ahold of our lives–we have a great encouraging church and [my husband] became a Christian one year ago. We could not imagine the changes that the Lord had in store for our hearts and our family. My husband came to me about 2 weeks ago and told me that he had really been struggling with our past sins and our vasectomy and really felt the Lord calling him to have a reversal and let go of worldly things and focus on what really matters. I was, to say the least, reluctant. We have a nice life now, three beautiful children, nice clothes, house and things. We do not make a lot of money and I didn’t want to stretch things too much. I am a stay at home mom and always assumed that 3 children is just right–any more and I might lose it. I didn’t feel it was in the interests of the other children, but I told him I would think about it–but really just wanted to put the idea out of my mind.
Well, God had other plans. I have struggled inwardly for the past two weeks about having more children and have prayed that God would show me what He wanted for our family and not what I want. That God would take away my sinful desire for things of this world and instead allow me to focus only on the eternal. Then, just last night, while washing dishes I heard a quiet voice–we were meant to have more children. I still tried to push that thought away, put the kids to bed and get ready for bed myself.
That is when I started flipping through the channels and saw “Kids by the Dozen.” I was in tears by the time my husband got home from work at 10:30. You come across as so genuine. I love your budgeting techniques, and the way you love and care for your children is evident, as is your love for the Lord. I am not an overly emotional person, so my husband knew something was up [when he saw me crying]. He watched the rest of the show with me and was in tears as well. We knew our calling was to continue to parent. We stayed up most the night talking and this morning we called to make our first appointment on the way to a vasectomy reversal.
I cannot wait to hold baby number 4 in my arms and watch my husband do what he does best–be a dad. God is a loving God, a worker of miracles. In just a short two weeks he has allowed me a glimpse of eternity through the eyes of my children and our children to come. Thank you for telling your story and being an inspiration to those like me.
God will bless his people when his people open their hearts to him. What a testimony from this young couple, how God moved them to follow his lead, to follow the love written on their hearts. Wendy and I are humbled that our meek lives helped encourage them. This family is stepping out in faith, fearlessness and, most importantly, a love for God’s will in their life that surpasses all understanding. A lagging economy won’t hold this family down. They will overcome any obstacle that tries to get in their way. May God bless them abundantly!