A new economy
3 February 11
Like many others, we have woken up to the perils of our modern economic systems of globalisation, consumerism and greed. The only way we can effect change for our children’s sake is to bring a new economy into being.
Our vision for the new economy is a world where maximum profits are eschewed in favour of modest returns obtained fairly. People will value relationships over commerce and so buying and selling is conducted with the best interests of both parties held in mutual regard.
In the places where the new economy operates, people seek fewer personal possessions, are satisfied with modest returns, share assets and enrich their lives through relationships instead of materialism. It is the world we all desire to inhabit and one which we can bring into being.
Since we started participating in a new economy, we’ve discovered the flip-side of our greed is modesty. When we reduced our prices and were truly satisfied with less, we discovered others who offered commerce based on the same unselfish principles.
Our new experience is that in genuinely seeking a lower income, we have become richer. Our economic transactions are enriched by relationships with the people with whom we conduct business. Our money lasts longer, buys more and ensures goodwill as we invest in fair trade, local production, secondhand items, recycled products and family businesses.
As we have travelled, we have met people who have shared stories of how they are bucking the ubiquitous economic system and are choosing a way of love, sharing, caring and unselfishness. Although these ideals appear to be costly in an economy based on greed, we have been inspired to hear how individual decisions effect collective change and still produce satisfying economic benefits.
While sharing a camping site with other travellers, we met Tony from Malta. He runs a backpackers’ on the Mediterranean island and has discovered a a way to earn a modest income while keeping his customers happy. Last year, Tony dropped his daily rate down two Euros.
Although he reduced his tariff, Tony didn’t cut costs in any other area. He still provides clean, neat facilities with the expected extras like a kitchen, internet access and privacy. As a result, Tony’s clients stay longer — they know they can’t find a better deal on the island. The backpackers help look after the common rooms because they are grateful for the extras. Because Tony isn’t trying to extract more money out of his customers, in return his clients aren’t trying to extract more value out of their stay by being messy or demanding.
Previously, we have heard stories that say that if you reduce your income, people will take advantage of your goodwill. We have thought that we needed to extract as much money as we could from others because we know we’re being screwed by others.
Tony’s testimony inspires us to be the change we want to see in the world. If we lower our economic demands on others, in return we will have to pay out less money.
This is a principle of the heart — and as such a new economy will only work if we are motivated by love, concern and unselfishness. It must be first demonstrated in faith by us before we see the principle in action in the lives of those who are requesting money from us!
It has been our past experience that when we have received a lot of income, the money has also flowed through our hands quickly. When we sought the maximum profit margins, we, too, were oppressed by others and had to pay top dollar for the things we acquired.
After hearing Tony’s story, we decided to enter the new economy. When we advertised our car for sale, we offered it for $3000. Our car’s fair market value was about $3700 and car yards were advertising similar models at prices over $4000. It was a blessing when our buyers paid a $500 deposit on the car and said we could keep using the car until we no longer needed it. Although we had, in effect, sold our car, we got to keep it too — plus we had extra money in our pocket! Two weeks later, on the day that we were leaving home, our buyers collected the car and paid the rest of the money. Our transaction was fair for both parties — we were generous with the price and they were generous with the terms. There was no coercion on either side to extract maximum profit or reduce the price through hard bargaining.
We have continued our pursuit of the new economy with our biggest asset — our home. When we offered our house for rent, we advertised it for a modest rental fee of $300/week. The expected rental return for our house would be about $450/week. In return, we sought a family who would love and care for our property and with whom we could share our lives.
So it is by faith that we commit ourselves to the new economy. Instead of extracting the maximum rent plus a bond from our tenants, instead of seeking to provide ourselves with security through legal contracts — it’s only an illusion, after all — we have opened our hearts to a family, given them our home and asked that they love it as their own.
That’s right — we’re putting our money where our mouths are and are not securing a bond nor any contracts from our tenants. By faith we believe they will do the right thing in the principles of love and the new economy.
Though they haven’t even moved in yet, by faith we are certain that our relationship with our tenants will be enduring, that they will be happy in our home, and that the rent will be paid on time.
We invite you to observe how the principles of the new economy can change our lives and those around us. As we invest in what we believe, we know that these principles will spread from person to person until we truly have brought a new worldwide economy into being!