Saturday, March 24, 2007

13 Key Principles of Prosperity

There are many theories out there in regard to all manner of human thoughts: philosophy, religion, science, economics, politics, law, arts, craftsmanship, etc. Some ideas are qualified enough to be known as LAWS – the Law of Gravity. Others may have the appearance of decided fact, but are fervently held, yet tenuous theories, such as Darwin’s Theory of Organic Evolution (the macro version – amoebas > fish > dinosaurs > apes > man).

There are myriads of religious beliefs, all competing with each other, some claiming exclusive truth or dominance. Others are philosophies and socio-economic & political models, many born out of a desire to control, to replace religion, or even to be unique in the quest of a doctoral dissertation. Frequently, established theories are proven wrong as new scientific understanding rests its case. Newton’s Laws of Motion were replaced by Einstein’s Theories of Relativity, and now even one of those has been outmoded as new theories of gravity gain acceptance.

Each time there has been fierce resistance to change by the existing scientific / academic communities. Likewise, when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact fell in 1989-1992, communism was held to be a failure, and socialists around the world howled in anger and disbelief. For the vast extent of human history, money and wealth was held to be something that only the rulers had much of it. If it ever traded hands to any great extent, it was through conquest, bribes, taxation, favors, etc.

The common people were not much better than serfs, if not slaves. Some things improved slightly with the rise of guilds in the late-middle ages, and through the skills and talents of European Jews who had to turn to banking, as they were forbidden to own land. America changed history. 1776 brought not only a new dawn for political and religious freedom, but also a new world of economic freedom and prosperity.

This country grew and prospered not only due to the political and religious culture, but also in large measure to the idea that a man could make something of himself, and keep the profits for his own use, and for his children. The last 100 plus years have seen the shift away from this formula, and towards socialism. The United States Patent Office said in the 1880's “everything that can be invented has already been invented", to which economist John Maynard Keynes in the 1940’s added in essence "let’s take all the profits and excess monies that would have been invested or held privately and give them to government for the common good.”

Funny, how many things can YOU think of that have been invented since World War Two? Airplanes, spaceships, refrigerators, computers, the Internet -- to name a few. Today, we are in a world where the prevailing trend is towards socialism on a massive scale (socialism being the government controlling your property & income in some way, telling what you can and cannot do with it), and victim-hood which is on a steep upswing. Both major political parties play this game, as does the United Nations.

The 2002 Durban, South Africa UN conference on sustainability demanded that the rich nations – i.e., America – need to give a high percentage of it’s wealth to poor nations; the 1994 Kyoto environmental accord would also require that the rich nations either sharply reduce using energy and resources, or pay massive amounts to offset pollution. Both would have resulted in a sharp decrease in the standard of living for Americans -- i.e., sharply higher taxes, restrictions on production, product availability and affordability, etc.

Many believe with ample justification, that this indeed is precisely the goal – to knock America off its high place, and replace it with the United Nations or a New World Order – a One World Government controlled by European Socialists.In the last two decades, some scholars have analyzed the writings of America’s Founding Fathers and the sources of their beliefs. They have discovered a set of key principles that have been handed down through the ages and millennia that if followed will bring prosperity to both individuals and nations. It happened here before. It can happen here again. It can happen worldwide.

Here they are:

1. God is the Author of Prosperity: If you don’t want to call it GOD, then use “Natural Law” or “Higher Principles”. Natural Law is often associated with Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence: “all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…we appeal to the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. Nearly all religions have concepts or scriptures, which contain rules or commandments to follow. All principles / laws are fixed, such as gravity. God is the author of those laws. “As you sow, so shall ye reap.” The five monotheistic religions have several scriptures that lead to –“If You Keep My Commandments, Ye Shall Prosper in the Land”, “any blessing is obtained by obedience to the law upon which it is based”. An example of this would be “If you want to get straight A’s and graduate magna cum laude at the top of your class, you better study REALLY hard and diligently. You can’t go party every night and expect to do well.” There is no such thing as an honest way to get rich quick (with out any effort on your part) that will work for the buyer (only the person who sold it to you makes money) You cannot succeed (at least honestly, and in the long run) in defiance of the commandments, principles and laws.

2. Faith Begins with Self-Interest: Motivation / Incentive – Willingness to Believe You Can Prosper, and that is okay to prosper. The scriptures say repeatedly “and I will prosper you in the land”. Faith is nothing more than putting belief into action. This is not only about religious things (such as it is in your eternal self-interest to obey God’s commandments), but even extends to turning on a light switch, or starting your car. You go to work because you believe you’ll get paid. You start a business because you believe you can make money. No one takes risk or incurs debt to start a business just because they want to be nice to people and give away stuff for free. No! They want to make money and better their and their families’ conditions. Self-interest is NOT the same as selfishness. You cannot violate true principles, and prosper. Do not turn to force or lying to achieve your ends.

3. Agency Implies Stewardship: Victim vs. Responsibility. Men are agents unto themselves – free to choose what to do with their lives. They also have been given many blessings and advantages in life, be they from when and where they born, and to whom, their education, talents, helpful friends, relatives, and mentors, etc. We have a responsibility before God to use out talents wisely, to better ourselves, and to help others in the process, to be producers. Do not be wasteful, or a victim, but be a producer. In the end, producers must account for how they used their stewardships. See Matthew 25: 14-30 The Parable of the Talents. If you have a job, do it well so you will get paid and can support yourself; if you have a business, those things such as building, equipment, supplies, and even your customers are in your stewardship – you have them, so use them appropriately to the fullest, so you can support yourself and family, and improve your conditions – while giving something good to your customers.

4. Perspective Determines Action: Knowledge is Power – People Behave According to How They Believe. Do you have a scarcity mentality? A mentality of abundance? Do you see the glass as half empty, to half full? If you are counting pennies and costs so closely that you do not act on opportunities and your values, you risk ending up like Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” If you open yourself to possibilities, while keeping a careful eye on what is required, you can rise upward, ever higher.

5. People are Assets: Material Things have NO Intrinsic Value. Banks don’t care about the physical particulars of the house. They just want to know if you are a hard worker and can make the payments for the next 30 years. Likewise, a thing is just a thing, it is what the person needs, can do, and can become that really matters. Karl Marx and Communism are based on materialism, that the value is in the thing, and how much of it an individual, or classes of people have. Socialism also see it this way “The rich have too much!”, “They shouldn’t have more than anyone else, it’s unfair!”, “They got lucky!”, “They are the winners in Life’s lottery!” In contrast, true principles say to teach the people correct principles, and they will govern themselves – and greatly improve everything around them.

6. Human Life Value (HLV) is the Source and Creator of All Property Values: Your Talents, Intangible Traits, Values, Knowledge, Abilities, Skills, Education, Assets, Family and Friends (that are assets) and any other thing that increases your quality of life and your ability to produce more value. For example, learning a new skill or trade increases your HLV by increasing your knowledge and, perhaps, you can now create value for others using your skill. Sell it, trade it, and utilize it. Again, the bank wants to see what you can do to repay the mortgage or business loan. Your personal improvements, skills, education, experience, etc., is what matters, as it also does to a prospective employer. Employers want to know “what you can do for my company?” What can you do with what you have in front of you? Will you take some raw materials, or unorganized data, and make something useful, and of greater value?

7. Dollars Follow Value: What is Money? What are Dollars? What can I do to Create More Value? “Money Doesn’t Exist – It is a Concept -- Currency is REAL” MONEY is used to represent how much we value something, such as what wish to buy. CURRENCY is what you have in your hands at the moment, especially if it is gold or silver coinage. The value is not in the paper dollar; it is in what you are willing to give up for that dollar. You give up dollars for a product or service. A haircut is worth $13 to me, but not $50. To me, a $25 dinner at a fancy restaurant may not worth the cost, unless I want to take my girlfriend out for a special dinner – so now the great food, atmosphere, and the shared experience will be worth the higher cost. I would gladly pay the $50, plus a hefty tip, because the complete experience had that high of a value to us. Remember, people are willing to trade away their dollars, to obtain something that they perceive is worth giving up their money. If you want to make more money, do not sit around thinking “how can I make more money?” Instead, start asking yourself “what can I do to create more value (for others)?” When you become productive, and have something to offer (products, service, labor), others will value that, and pay you in return.

8. Exchange Creates Wealth: Value is in What People Decide. An item will sell for whatever the buyer and seller agree it is worth. Ever see two people haggling in a market? Both sides end up happy when they mutually agree on what the item’s sale is worth to each. Is a gallon of gas worth $3 to you? Is it holding on to that $3 instead of buying the gas worth more than staying home from work and risking getting fired? In a free market, people will pay for something, based upon how much they value it at that moment, compared to the alternatives and consequences (going without, waiting until prices come down, missed opportunities and experiences, etc.). This is opportunity cost. Let people freely produce what they can, and then let them freely offer it to each other, and buy and sell according to what they value and how much. This creates wealth, when every man is responsible for his own creature (stewardship). In contrast, Gambling equals Something for Nothing. This is a violation of true principles. Most people lose in Vegas. The vast majority of lottery winners are broke within five years, usually two.

9. Profit is the Tool of Validation: Profit is Evidence. If you make money by selling something, it proves people want that item or service, and how badly. $15/hr pay is justified – you trade your hour away for $15, boss trades the money for your hour of work. It is okay to earn money; it is okay to make a profit.

10. Productivity is the Standard: Velocity of Money – Productive vs. Idle – Fulfilling the Measure of Your Creation. As you make money, you have more money to use to not only improve yourself, but also to reinvest or start new businesses, and make MORE money again. Since Adam and Eve were cast out from Eden, God has always commanded people to be fruitful, to work for our living, to be productive and not idle. Basically to make something of ourselves and better our situation and that which is around us. If you live by true principles, you do not worry about accumulating things, you worry about being productive. How can I create value? What can I produce?

11. Force Destroys Freedom and Prosperity: Deception and Coercion. Nothing will kill private enterprise faster than others taking unjustly what you have earned. It doesn’t matter if it is through lying or stealing, by individuals or by government. Fraud, high taxation, socialist redistribution policies -- “rob from the rich to give to the poor” – all make the producer feel robbed, and over time he shuts down, and becomes like the rest of the drab and dreary comrade peasants of the Soviet Union. A great literary example of this is “Atlas Shrugged”, by Ayn Rand.

12. Collective Action Has No Unique Moral Authority: Both individuals and governments have the God-given right to defend themselves against robbery and violence. But forced charity is still forced charity. You do not have the right to steal one of your rich neighbor’s five cars and give it to the poor single mom down the street, because you think the rich man has more than he needs. Neither does government have this right, either through taxation or confiscation. See Frederic Bastisat, The Law.

13. Personal Liberty Requires Private Property: Happiness – Private Property Ownership is at the Core of Our Government – Abolition of Private Property is Main Characteristic of Communism. Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence has “All men are endowed by their Creator with the Inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and Property.” He replaced PROPERTY with HAPPINESS, because he reasoned that a man cannot be truly happy without the right to own and control his property and the fruits of his labors – profit. Without property, men are easier made dependant on the State, and brought into bondage.

This is why Communists always fight to eliminate property ownership. More to come in the future…meanwhile; stay away from ANYTHING, which says “The Government Can Pay for This”.

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