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Dec 14, 2007


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David M. Smith

Great post, Michael.

Freedom to choose in general, and free enterprise in particular, really is what helps the poor. All my life, (50 years), I have been told about how we need to help the poor in China, India, and Africa, with our charity. Most of my life, my charity has only provided immediate relief, but finally as China and India have developed property rights and free enterprise, the poor in those countries are being helped and are able to care for themselves without as much charity. The solution to poverty really is, working, earning, spending, investing, and giving.

Perhaps living in California has blurred my perspective a little, but my impression of most people nowadays is that everyone is expected to maximize their earning potential. I realized many years ago that in order to maximize my earning potential, I would need to compromise my integrity. Therefore, I decided to maximize my integrity, (which sometimes seems impossible) and let my earnings follow. We really can’t serve two masters.

Michael W. Kruse

I'm not opposed to relief by any means. The desperately poor need the basics of life in order to function at higher levels. I just concerned that we use our aid with and eye toward developing prosperous and just economies.

The maddening the thing about so many social justice advocates is that they focus almost exclusively on relief while they demonize trade and seem to do all in their power (intentionally or not) to block the emergence of economic prosperity.

Relief? Yes. But with aim of economic prosperity.

"Therefore, I decided to maximize my integrity..."

IMO, the most valuable thing any of us possess. A wise investment decision. :)

Brad Cooper


Once again....BINGO! :)

(I'll chime in on this tonight...have to play a quick game of double solitaire with my wife and then get ready for work....I'll think about it at work.....)

Brad Cooper


I didn't really have a lot of time to think about this tonight after all....

But I did think a little about how SURVIVOR is in fact an economic model that reveals the ease with which people will ditch integrity and doing the right thing in order to win a million dollars. I actually find the human dynamics of the show quite intriguing. The way the show is designed brings these issues to the forefront.

When people do lie and stab people in the back, they quickly defend their actions by saying its a game or that they really didn't have any choice. Of course, they do have a choice. And even though it is a game, they have a choice how they will play the game.

And of course, when it's down to the end (the final two before the jury...and the reunion show), it becomes very clear that the people who were lied to and stabbed in the back view it no differently just because it is a game. Furthermore, I've seen that in real life that people will do the same kinds of things for far less than a million dollars.

Well, thanks for another great post, Michael. The four scenarios are a very helpful way to think through how important it is to integrate all of these different elements into our personal finances.


Good stuff.

How much of our wealth we should consume is a question we really need to grapple with. In my view, Christians in the west have wasted an tremendous amount of wealth on frivilous or trivial consumption over the last fifty years. When historians look back in fifty years time, I suspect that our time will be seen as a time of enormous waste and incredible wasted opportunities.

I am amazed that Christians in America have conferences to discuss the future transfer of wealth from the world to the church. Can they not see that God has already done it. The wealth held by Christians in the West is absolutely enormous by historical standards. Given what we have done with what we already have, I would be surprised if God would trust us with a whole lot more.

Michael W. Kruse


Thanks. It is precisely the integration I'm going for and I agree with you about when historians look back in 50 years.


Thanks. I think the Survivor thing is a lot like the Trolley and Hospital dilemma post I wrote about a few days ago. I think the show is set up to create artificial choices to force destructive behavior. If I'm asked to do something unethical at work, I refuse, and get fired for it, I don't die (i.e., get voted off the island). I suffer a setback and get another job. :)

Brad Cooper

Hey Michael,

I've got to disagree with you about the artificial nature of Survivor and more than that what happens in real life.

First, no one on Survivor is forced to exhibit destructive behavior. In fact, some actually do quite well without exhibiting such behavior. And although the situations are artificial in the sense that they are designed by the show's producers, they are very parallel to real life situations.

More than that, I have seen these same kinds of destructive behaviors time and time again. Rather than getting fired, these people more often than not stay at the same place of employment for many years. They also frequently make more money and even get promotions.

I have many actual persons in mind....And in fact, I cannot think of anyone who was fired for these kinds of reasons. Rarely are they even confronted--even if the bosses actually know. Their behavior is simply tolerated. People are usually fired--voted off the island--due to laziness or causing too many accidents or too much scrap or just not showing up. They're almost never fired for lack of integrity or backstabbing or causing trouble for someone else.

Quite frankly, the thing that fascinates me most about the show is the way people's behavior on the show parallel's situations I have encountered in real life.

Michael W. Kruse

I agree that elements of these shows highlight certain realities. However, how many people have the chance to compete zero-sum for one million dollars (or even a fraction of that) where they no longer have to live with people they competed with or transact future business. Most (not all)people who do end up in a postition of responsibility to have opportunities at this kind of money do it by exhibting integrity and finding win-win solutions for everyone inovlved. The arbitrary constraints and lack of future ongoing consequences of decisions is what I find least realistic.

Still, it is often entertaining television. :)


I can orient my life to not meet my maximum earning potential and still make 150K? Sign me up. :-)

Tell Isaac that the ones around here call us "slaves", not "staff". Then again, you probably won't want to pass that along. But you could tell him that he is quite erudite for a feline.

Michael W. Kruse


Glad you got kitty's letter. Isaac call us staff because he is a benevolent ruler. We know our real places.

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