Sharing and Basic Economics
Sharing is the process in which one individual or a group regularly makes available to another individual or a group a resource or some resources that are needed by that individual or group in order for that individual or group to survive and to move ahead in life. Sharing is similar to giving, so the resources that are shared are somewhat like gifts, but sharing is different. Sharing is a more frequent exchange of resources than that which may be done in the giving of a gift on some special occasion, like a birthday or anniversary or Christmas.
Sharing is an absolutely necessary process for human survival. There should be no doubt about that when one considers the fact that every human infant is the most dependant creature on earth. He or she cannot move on his or her own even to get to a nipple for some food that is necessary for his or her survival. And some of these needs will continue for years, not just for a few days or months. No child can survive and move ahead in his or her life unless someone is sharing some essential resources for living with him or her on a regular basis. This will become clear as you consider the following simple definitions for an understanding of basic economics.
Definitions for basic economics
Resources are the natural things, including money, and lessons that enable an individual to live and to participate in human society. Basically they are one’s physical body, what one has received from those who have shared with him or her, what one has received as gifts, and what one has been able to acquire from his or her own efforts.
Work is what an individual does to acquire the necessary resources for life through his or her personal efforts. It is both physical and mental.
Commerce is the process in which an individual and individuals in groups exchange their efforts and monetary resources for the resources of life.
Costs are what one has to pay for everything that is not directly provided by one’s self or received as a resource that has been shared or given as a gift.
Profit is the surplus funds or resources that remain from one’s work after the costs of labor, materials, services, and other expenses have been deducted.
Value is the assumed worth of everything that is involved in the commercial process. But it is very subjective and subject to change as a result of various factors in the market place of the world, such as the supply and demand for specific resources. For example, the value a worker places on his or her efforts and abilities may be based on his or her image of its worth, but in reality it is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it.
Taxes and fees are funds that are collected by various levels of government from citizens that are to be used for the common good and benefit of the people.
Risks are present in every aspect of life and work because things may happen in the processes of living that will hamper the productive efforts of individuals and add to their costs of living and working, and others may not share some necessary resources with them. Some of these risks are outside of an individual’s direct control. Others will require that some adjustments be made in his/her life and work if the individual is to continue to survive and to be able to move ahead in his/her life. Personal health is one risk. Competition is another risk. Natural disasters are other types of risks. Changes in the market place present other real risks.
These definitions and principles of basic economics are clearly demonstrated in the lives of individuals and groups of individuals in the world. They are true for every individual no matter where he or she lives.
Problems in the process of sharing
It should be obvious from the above definitions that no individual is or has been completely self-sufficient in his or her life. Even if he or she was born to wealthy parents they had to share their resources with him or her during his or her childhood and give him or her access to some of that wealth; but even then he or she would never be wealthy enough to buy everything that he or she needed or wanted for his or her survival or comfort, not for one’s life-time, which is at best uncertain, and certainly not forever, where human wealth has no value. Everyone needs someone who will share with him or her!
Initially that is probably one’s parents, but they may be good sharers or they may not be. When a child’s needs are not being met by his or her parents, someone else may step into that child’s life to share some necessary resources with him or her. It may be a nurse, another relative, an adoptive or foster parent, a friend, a teacher, a coach, a social worker, a counselor or advisor, a pastor or priest or rabbi, a military officer, a police officer, an employer, or a caring stranger. Some individuals receive more help than others. Some individuals are able to make effective and productive use of the resources that others share with them. Others waste some of these resources, and some see their resources destroyed or severely damaged by the risky forces of the human situation over which they have no direct control.
Although every individual has the same amount of time everyday, that is the extent of our equality. Every situation into which a person is born is different from that of every other person’s situation. Children from the same parents each have different genes. Even twins are different from each other, simply due to the fact that they are twins. The passing of time each day changes the situations in which each person lives.
Individuals are different in regard to their personal resources, abilities, motivations, needs, standards for living, family and social situations, experiences for success, reactions to risks and hardships, and willingness to share with others. Some individuals may find it very easy to establish themselves in the market place of the world where they can achieve some level of independence by successfully meeting their personal needs while others may have very severe difficulties in even entering the commercial process or maintaining their position in it for an extended period of time.
Since many of the decisions in the commercial market place of the world are made by those in control of the money and the resources for production and there may not be much agreement regarding the absolute value of things involved in the commercial process, the process is not always fair to isolated individuals or groups. That is why certain laws of commerce and employment are necessary, but they cannot provide perfect solutions to every problem or unfair situation.
Since so much of the commercial process is concentrated on the success of one’s self, no one should expect it to be too compassionate. Corporate success and governmental success may not give much attention to the needs of ordinary individuals who are not in positions of power and influence. Examples of this are all too common. That is why individuals need to give something beyond the efforts of personal work to the process. They need to participate and share in the processes of decision-making and management, as best as they can, so that corporate and government leaders and representatives will be responsive to individual needs. This is not easy, as many individuals throughout the world have discovered, because many people with power tend to protect that power as they seek to use it for selfish ends. But attention to others is one of the basic needs of all individuals that can only be met by those who share themselves and their resources with others.
The eternal value of sharing
Since there are no “free lunches” in the market places of the world, and gifts are usually only distributed on special occasions, we must all learn to share more of our resources with others. Such sharing and a shared resource is not something that one earns, because then it would be a salary. Sharing is not a responsibility that is required by any law, because then it would be a duty. Sharing resources and yourself with others can enable individuals to survive and to help them to move ahead in their lives to become independent individuals in the world. Sharing can really make an individual a part of the human community. No one can be a part of this community without doing it!
But sharing not only has great benefits for individuals during the days of their lives, it also has value for eternity. Sharing one’s resources and self with others is one human activity that God really blesses and honors. It is a basic part of his plans regarding his creation of the universe and all of the resources that we have in this world. It is an essential factor in his laws regarding our stewardship of these resources (see Matthew 25:31-46 and Matthew 22:39 in the Bible). Sharing is a really GOOD process because it does have eternal value. Its benefits exceed one’s lifetime. Sharing one’s resources and self with others is a process that is GOOD forever!