Chapter 8 - Other Structures
In addition to housing, there was a lot of other building going on back in the day of the Gospels. Synagogues, tombs, prisons, barns – there’s quite a list.
Along with agriculture, textiles, and, what we might term today, light industry, it appears that construction was the chief component of economic activity.
Again, not so different from today.
One might think Trump would be well represented in these passages given his profession as a builder – and indeed he is...
Chapter 7 - Dwellings
The Gospels are full of houses. They are mentioned seemingly at all times and in all books. The disciples had them. Jesus’ friends had them, as did his enemies. Everyone but Jesus himself seemed to have one.
Donald Trump certainly is famous for his dwellings – and achieved much of his wealth through their building. He currently lives in perhaps the most famous house of them all: The White House. Building homes is the family business, though the Trumps have certainly diversified. This particular section of the Trump and the Gospels study seems, therefore, particularly prescient somehow.
From an economics standpoint it would seem pretty obvious that homebuilding, like today, was a cornerstone of economic activity. As is seen in the chapters on labor and produced goods it is also apparent that tools and jobs were abundant in the home building sector, if you will.
Chapter 6 - Forgiveness
This chapter looks at a subject closely related to last month's "Commerce and Banking" installment: Forgiveness. While Christianity's general philosophy lies on this bedrock principle, to see forgiveness in an economic context is intriguing. Modern bankruptcy law institutionalizes forgiveness of loans for instance, as does the practice of forgiving the loans of nations, forgiveness of credit card loans, etc.
Trump himself has benefited greatly from such practices going way back, including the forgiveness of his $500,000,000 to the bondholders of his Atlantic City casino in the 1980's. He has even bragged about his numerous bankruptcies and their qualifying nature for his presidency. That's what this series tries to do; to see Trump in light of the economic lessons of the Gospels.
On a more personal level, Trump has famously stated that he doesn't think he has asked God for forgiveness though he is a Presbyterian and practices holy communion.
Chapter 5 - Commerce and Banking
In the Gospels There are some fascinating mentions and analogies, as well as key parables, that get at key economic activities, at least peripherally.
In this section we see that buying and selling, wages, pay, borrowing, debts, creditors, deposits, and accounts were all well established in Jesus’s time as would be expected in an advanced civilization such as Rome.
Can we see President Trump in these passages? For the most part it is left to you the reader, with a little help along the way.
Chapter 4 - Management
Probably the “toughest” section of this book for people to take is this one as it contains the unvarnished instructions of the boss of the Gospels. It should be no surprise that the words are often difficult, even impossible for most of us, to live by. This includes Trump as it includes most everybody else.
The economic lessons are sometimes difficult to discern though each passage has some basis in an economic axiom, and may be at odds with modern economic practice. This is where the “rubber meets the road” in terms of the metaphysical/philosophical meeting the physical realties of economics.
This section of the book breaks from the counting of words and tries instead to discuss categories of instructions.
The Gospels contain a rich assortment of various professions with close to fifty counted, ranging from the most recognized, like fishermen, to the most despised, the Pharisees, to the lowest on the ladder, slaves, to the top, governors, rulers and the like.
Where is Trump found in these passages? Seemingly everywhere from the standpoint that it is easy to see many of these jobs as either a metaphor, a foil, or other contextual roles for him. What job would he have held, or been ascribed to him, is interesting to try to discern. Perhaps it is Governor (Pilate), King (Herod), Caesar, Hired Hand, Shepherd, Ruler, the list goes on. Perhaps some of each. Trump and the Presidency are multi-faceted and not easily found in the Gospels, nor in Roman Times, nor in Jesus’ space and time. There was no democracy in the Gospels.
Chapter 2 - Kingdoms
For the most part in this book the spiritual/metaphysical is given back seat status. Economics is largely on the opposite end of the spectrum in that it deals with the physical world of factors of production, goods and services, capital, labor, rent, etc. That being said, Adam Smith referred to the “invisible hand” as a manifestation of market forces, in and of itself, a kind of nod to an unseen, if not metaphysical, force. Kingdoms in the Gospels exist in both contexts.
Chapter 1 - Treasure, Gold, Money
Nothing is more basic to modern economics than money - so too apparently in Jesus’ time.