Apologies for the light posting this week. I am at Acton University, an annual four-day summer school exploring the moral and philosophical foundations of economics and business. It is held in beautiful Grand Rapids, Michigan.
If you think having dinner with new friends from Poland, Argentina, and Venezuela before a lecture from a Nobel laureate, you may enjoy Acton!
This is not an Excel lesson
We’ve been over this before. I write about more than Excel, because my blog intends to address an audience, not a discipline.
One thing I hear a lot when I mention the different projects I’m working on is “Are you getting paid for that?”
This is one of those questions that I knew was built on false assumptions. I knew it was shortsighted, but I didn’t understand how it is fundamentally flawed economics.
It took a lecture on the economic thought of a Russian theologian (really!) to make the connection.
Sergei Bulgakov insisted economics was more than just the mechanics of exchange. It was about cultivating bonds between creator and matter, buyer and seller. Bulgakov took the roots of “economics” seriously — that is, oikos and nomos. Management of the “whole house” in the sense we use that expression — everything.
Economics is not simply the movement of money from buyer to seller. Money is just a medium of exchange. It is not wealth.
Therefore, immediate montetary gain is a poor way to build a business.
Instead, look at the social bonds and social capital you are cultivating.
Why am I writing this?
Like I mentioned, I want this blog to be for a specific user group and not a discipline. My user group is liberal arts-minded people who have landed in a role that is much more quantitatively focused and feel like they aren’t doing their best.
Of course, learning Excel goes a long way in addressing this “pain point.” But so is understanding the real nature of exchange and economics.
Many analysts are so stuck in the world of bean-counting and budgets that they really do see economics as a mechanical exchange of dollars.
It is only natural in this mindset to look at any project and ask, “are you getting paid for that?”
The Acton lecture walked me through the distinction between money and wealth. It’s why I go to Acton: to understand the philosophy of our economy.
Thank you, Fr Hans, for a wonderful lecture — so good that I won’t even ask what to pay you 🙂