Devising economics as if people matter

Last month we considered the biblical doctrine of work and began to look at the growing numbers of the unemployed. Yet the problem of unemployment is not one of statistics but of people. In the Third World there is the threat to physical survival; in the West there is the psychological trauma. Industrial psychologists have likened the loss of a job to bereavement and have described its three stages. The first is shock. To be declared “redundant” (an awful word) is to receive a serious blow to one’s self-esteem. “I felt immediately degraded,” said one man, and thought to himself: “I’ve become a statistic. I’m unemployed.” The second stage is depression and pessimism. By now savings are eroded, if not exhausted, and the prospects of finding a job are increasingly bleak. People lapse into inertia. Said one: “What do I do all day? I stagnate.” The third stage is fatalism. In the case of the long-term unemployed, both hope and struggle decline. The spirit becomes bitter and broken. Such people are demoralized and dehumanized.

Further, the worldwide problem of unemployment is going to get worse. I have read a statement attributed to Robert McNamara, President of the World Bank, that “by the year 2,000 A.D. there will be 6 billion people unemployed.” What causes this galloping problem? It is partly that when developing nations have become industrially developed, the steel and ships and commodities they produce will compete with those of the West—and in many cases displace them. It is also partly that microelectronics (silicon chips) will shortly complete the industrial revolution. The experts say that computers will take over the running of factories, the plowing of fields by driverless tractors, ...

John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (, a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

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