Economics for Everybody (Book and DVD Review)

economics-for-everybodyWhen I was in college, two of my required courses were Macro- and Micro-Economics. Back then, my head really wasn’t into studying the science of how money, trade, and the market work. The only thing I remember from the “macro” course (or was it “micro”?) was that no one in class discovered that Antonio Freeman was our classmate until the last day of the semester when the professor called out each student’s name to return our final exam. Come to think of it, why were we in class that last time when our final grade was already determined? Weird. At the reciting of the football stud’s name, everyone in class turned in unison to spy at the back of the room a letterman-jacket-clad, dark-sunglasses-sporting, hiding student-athlete who knew he was months away from starring for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL. That’s the one thing I remember from college economics.  But I digress.

So when I recently received an offer in the mail for the Ligonier Ministries course Economics for Everybody: Applying Biblical Principles to Work, Wealth, & the World, by Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr., I figured, what have I got to lose? Perhaps I’ll learn something and we’ll have a resource to teach my kids basic economic principles when they get to middle/high school level. I’ve heard R.C. Sproul Jr. before, and I’m not a big fan of his perspectives on home education, and for some reason his speaking style tends to grates on me, but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and content of this course.

Sproul Jr., who is not a trained economist but rather schooled in the liberal arts and theology, takes a biblical-libertarian view of economics, which puts him at odds with the vast majority of today’s professional economists and nearly all of today’s country’s economies, which he describes as more or less “interventionist.” So if the viewer keeps this perspective in mind, there is much to be gained from this biblical, redemptive-historical, and worldview approach to introducing basic economic principles.

The course is divided into 12 lessons that are from 15 to 27 minutes in length. Each of the video lessons includes shots of Sproul Jr. talking to the camera, coupled with graphs, charts, and plenty of humorous video snippets from old movies and videos (circa 1920-1960s). The soundtrack is well fitted to the content to make it fun. Lesson topics include:

  1. And God Created Economics
  2. The Economic Problem of Sin
  3. The Path from Work to Wealth
  4. The Route From Scarcity to Plenty
  5. The Role of the Entrepreneur
  6. A Tale of Two Theologies, Part 1
  7. A Tale of Two Theologies, Part 2
  8. Government Intervention
  9. The Two Mysteries of Monetary Policy
  10. The Welfare and Corporate States of America
  11. Economics Has Consequences
  12. Kingdom Economics

The 2-DVD course also includes a 234-page paperback study guide with expanded lesson/lecture notes, test questions at the end of each chapter, and discussion starters. The list of additional resources for further study is helpful for those who want to go deeper. Note there is also an abridged version of the DVD course called Economics Has Consequences: Liberty, Tyranny, and the Impact on Christianity. This condensed video is about 2 hours long, and concentrates on the real world political, economic, and religious effects to which different worldviews lead.

The course website says:

The news is full of it. But most Christians know very little about it. Economics: it’s everywhere, influencing everything—and so rarely understood. Economics for Everybody seeks to remedy that through an insightful and entertaining exploration of the principles, practices, and consequences of economics. Thoroughly unconventional, it links entrepreneurship with lemonade, cartoons with markets, and Charlie Chaplin with supply and demand. If you’re confused about economics, this is the place to begin. We not only explain how economics works, we show how economic freedom is directly related to religious freedom; we explore the differences between socialism, interventionism, and free markets; and we explain how stewardship is at the heart of a healthy economic system.

I was somewhat disappointed with the conclusion of the course. It seemed that Sproul Jr. was building up to an alternative vision of how Christians and libertarians (and especially those who consider themselves both) can live in a world of economic state intervention. But his solution fell flat: get politically involved at every level to elect libertarians to get the government out of the economy. Oh, well. I guess after hearing for 11 lectures how things used to be and perhaps ought still be in the USA, there’s not much else that can be done. At this point most are resolved that Keynesian economics is here to stay.

Remembering that Economics for Everybody is a basic introduction to economic principles and how a biblical-libertarian view interprets the economy, this course is a satisfying refresher course for all those who slept through college economics.

Links

Economics for Everybody website

Economics for Everybody blog

Economics for Everybody trailer

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