Why Is It So Hard to Make a Living?
DO YOU find that making a living has become harder? Most people have found this to be the case. Paychecks do not buy as much as they used to. Housewives observe that nearly everything in the stores costs more.
The root of the problem is inflation—that is, constantly rising prices. That has been the pattern for many decades now. And in 1974 the rate of inflation world wide was higher than ever before. Because of inflation, it takes more and more of your money to buy the same things.
What was especially troublesome last year was that prices rose much faster than wages. And for some people wages rose very little, or not at all. This meant that nearly everybody was a little poorer by the year’s end.
For others, though, the problem is much worse. The New York Times reported: “No matter how severe food price inflation has been in the United States, it has been mild by comparison with many other countries where prices have doubled and tripled in recent months. For many poor people the price of a single meal now exceeds a day’s income.”—(Italics ours)
This condition is a striking fulfillment of Bible prophecies regarding our time, one of which foretold: “A whole day’s wage for a loaf of bread.” (Rev. 6:6, Weymouth) High prices, food shortages, disease epidemics, world wars and other unprecedented troubles in our generation were prophesied to result from the ride of the ‘horsemen of the apocalypse,’ all identifying our time as the foretold “last days.”—Rev. chap. 6; 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
WHY HAVE PRICES GONE UP?
What factors in our time have created this tremendous surge in prices? There are several, one of which has been shortages of food and various raw materials. Too, the population “explosion” has put growing pressure on all commodities. Then there was the huge increase in oil prices within the last two years.
But a more fundamental reason for inflation for so many decades is that too many nations, and peoples, have been living beyond their incomes. This is especially so in the more “advanced” industrial countries. For many years, most governments, businesses and many individuals have been spending more money than they have been making. So they go deeper and deeper in debt. In the last few years this debt burden has grown faster. Now, the public and private debt in most nations is at its highest point ever.
Such borrowing and spending stimulates a greater demand for goods and services than normal. But when the supply of money grows faster than do the available goods and services, prices rise. Then workers demand higher wages to make up for higher prices. Thus, a vicious circle is formed and an inflationary “psychology” is built up that is very difficult to stop without the taking of drastic measures.
WHAT IS BEHIND IT?
What has been behind this binge of borrowing and spending? Very often it has been selfishness, not being satisfied to live within one’s income. It is the desiring of more than one really needs or can afford.
Hence, if a person’s income (or a nation’s) does not permit him to buy the things he craves, he often goes into debt. But there is always a day of reckoning. Debts have to be paid back, or bankruptcy results. And that is happening more often now, not only to individuals but to businesses and banks. Why, entire nations are now near bankruptcy!
Mounting debts have resulted in much distress, sleepless nights, working at two jobs, bickering between husbands and wives, even family breakups. There is no evading the truth, stated in the Bible, that “the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things,” and that because of it many “have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”—1 Tim. 6:10.
So while there are several reasons for inflation, one of the most basic is that of living beyond one’s income. Regarding this cause, the New York Times observed:
“The Times of London printed an article by Christopher Derrick the other day on ‘the moral problem of inflation.’
“‘What is inflation, after all?’ he asked. ‘It’s an economist’s word for overconsumption; for living beyond your income; for taking more out of the kitty than you put in.’
“‘The fact is that we’ve all . . . come to take for granted a quite fanciful and unrealistic notion of the standard of living to which we are entitled.’”
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
There is little you can do to stop worldwide inflation. You cannot control shortages, or price increases by producers. However, there are things that you can do to help your family to cope with the problem. The Bible not only pointed to such aids long ago, but also gives us the incentive to put them to work.
To live with inflation, you need to have a very realistic view of what you can do with the money you earn. Concentrate on the things you need, rather than on the things you would like to have but cannot really afford. Regarding this, read in your Bible the inspired apostle’s words at 1 Timothy 6:6-8.
In difficult times, hard measures need to be taken. And these are difficult times. It is a time to reassess your resources, time to sit down with your family and list the income you have against your expenses, then discuss how to cut back expenditures.
One immediate step that many people can take is not to add to their debts, unless it is an emergency. Constantly going into debt keeps a person “in the hole” financially. And if misfortune strikes and the borrower cannot meet his payments, then the lender takes back his merchandise. The borrower also loses the money he has already paid.
The inspired advice of Proverbs 22:26, 27 is just as practical today as always: “Do not get to be . . . among those who go security for loans. If you have nothing to pay, why should he take your bed from under you?” While this refers more to a person who countersigns a loan, the principle is still applicable to a person who borrows but is not able to pay back.
Even if a borrower meets all his loan payments regularly, the interest charges are now usually so high that he ends up paying far more for the item than the listed cost. That is like throwing away good money. As the Bible says, by paying so much to money lenders, “the borrower is servant to the man doing the lending.”—Prov. 22:7.
True, not going into debt may mean not buying some of the nice things you desire. But is that not better than taking on burdens that can easily result in greater troubles?
Lowering one’s desires, avoiding the snare of materialism, surely makes sense in view of today’s high prices and unsettled economic conditions. “Better is a dry piece of bread with which there is quietness than a house full of the sacrifices of quarreling.”—Prov. 17:1.
What other immediate steps can be taken to ease the pressures of making a living today? How about examining some areas where you could save money and that would even do you good in other ways at the same time?
CUTTING BACK NONESSENTIALS
One area where much money can be saved is in recreation, or entertainment. Today some feel that they are not having recreation unless they spend money to go to movies, theaters, sporting events or to eat out at restaurants. Yet in the “old days” most families did not have money for such things, and most of today’s forms of entertainment were not available to the average person anyhow.
Such forms of recreation, even on an irregular basis, can be very costly now. Hundreds of dollars can be saved by finding other recreation, such as within the family circle or with friends. Outings and visits to interesting places can be enjoyable and relatively inexpensive. Playing games with one’s children, or with adults, can be a refreshing break from the pressures of the day. Get-togethers with friends, without one’s spending a lot of money on food or drink, can be pleasurable. Indeed, when families concentrate on finding ways to enjoy themselves without spending much money, they are often surprised at the good results.
A forgotten form of recreation for most people, but now being enjoyed by a growing number of families, is to read wholesome books and magazines together. Taking turns reading aloud and commenting on what is said is stimulating and educational.
Another area where great savings can be attained is in weeding out bad habits. Many people spend large sums of money each year on the tobacco habit—smoking. Yet, as the Bible indicates and as medical science has verified, smoking is a “defilement of flesh.” (2 Cor. 7:1) It is costly as well as injurious. Cutting out something that is so detrimental makes sense anytime, does it not? Also, the overuse of alcoholic beverages can be very costly in both money and health. While God’s Word does not condemn drinking alcoholic beverages, it does counsel moderation. (Prov. 23:29, 30) The price of such beverages is very high today, so cutting back on these will save money and perhaps one’s health too. The Bible’s counsel was echoed recently by a newspaper, written for mine workers in the United States, which gave these suggestions for economizing: “If you like drinks and do it often, drink less. If you smoke, it’s a good time to quit.”
Many people who never gambled before are turning to it. They think they can make “easy money” this way. Others gamble to ‘get away from their troubles.’ As a newspaper editor in Japan said: “I see people today betting to forget their troubles. They have no hope of buying a house because of inflation. They can’t plan for the future, so they live for today.” Yet, the overwhelming majority of gamblers must lose! Losing is built into gambling, because the “house” always makes a profit. Does this seem like a way to get away from troubles? On the contrary, it usually increases them.—1 Tim. 6:9.
Of course, much more could be said about saving money in other ways, such as buying cheaper foods but searching for more interesting ways of preparing them. Some are planting gardens where land is available. Housewives can save much money by learning how to sew, and by not being overly concerned about keeping up with the latest fashions. With less concern about such passing matters both women and men could often wear clothing much longer than they do now.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Will inflation ever end? Will the economic problems of today’s world be solved? Of course, with strenuous efforts world leaders can make some progress. But, at the same time, the situation is as New York magazine describes it:
“It seems that this country and the rest of the industrialized world is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and depression.
“We are overextended. We have borrowed too much from the future in an effort to meet these tremendous expectations of ours.”
While human observers can only guess at the future, there is a truly reliable source of information as to what the near future holds. That guide to the future is God’s Word, the Bible. Its prophecies for our day already have proved strikingly accurate; so will its prophecies about the future.—2 Pet. 1:20, 21.
God’s prophetic Word reveals that shortly mankind in general will ‘reap what has been sown.’ (Gal. 6:7) The entire present system of economic, political and religious rule built on selfishness is about to plunge into the greatest time of trouble ever known in history. Jesus foretold this for the very near future, saying: “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matt. 24:21.
That “great tribulation” will bring this system of things to its finish, cut off by God. Those who have trusted in human schemes and in the power of money are bound to come to disappointment; according to the principle at Proverbs 11:4: “Valuable things will be of no benefit on the day of fury, but righteousness itself will deliver from death.”
After this coming time of distress God’s new order will bring the most peaceful and fruitful age ever experienced by humans. Under the rule of one government by God, his heavenly kingdom, people on earth will never again have to worry about high prices or shortages. “A banquet of well-oiled dishes” is what that future holds, and not just for those with a lot of money, but for all mankind living then.—Isa. 25:6; Ps. 72:16; Matt. 6:9, 10.
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PRICE INCREASES IN ONE YEAR
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THE BIBLE FORETOLD: “A whole day’s wage for a loaf of bread.”—Rev. 6:6, Weymouth Translation.