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It’s economy, stupid.

Charlie Wingard

Charlie Wingard

Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson and Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Yazoo City, Mississippi

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Today’s fiscal meltdown in Detroit foreshadows America’s tomorrow. Washington’s promiscuous spending, immoral borrowing from future generations, and unfunded entitlement liabilities propel the nation toward catastrophe.

To keep Mr. Clinton’s 1992  presidential campaign focused, strategist James Carville coined the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Too bad he didn’t drop a word. “It’s economy, stupid” would better serve our nation.

Speaking at Westminster in 2009, the late Dr. Cortez Cooper reviewed Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary’s multiple definitions of the word economy:

ECON’OMY, n. [L. oeconomia; Gr. house, and law, rule.]

1. Primarily, the management, regulation and government of a family or the concerns of a household.

2. The management of pecuniary concerns or the expenditure of money. Hence,

3. A frugal and judicious use of money; that management which expends money to advantage,and incurs no waste; frugality in the necessary expenditure of money. It differs from parsimony, which implies an improper saving of expense. Economy includes also a prudent management of all the means by which property is saved or accumulated; a judicious application of time, of labor, and of the instruments of labor.

4. The disposition or arrangement of any work; as the economy of a poem.

5. A system of rules, regulations, rites and ceremonies; as the Jewish economy.

6. The regular operation of nature in the generation, nutrition and preservation of animals or plants; as animal economy; vegetable economy.

7. Distribution or due order of things.

8. Judicious and frugal management of public affairs; as political economy.

9. System of management; general regulation and disposition of the affairs of a state or nation, or of any department of government.

Dr. Cooper observed that we reserve the word today almost exclusively for the ninth definition, and mean by it the management and regulation of a nation’s financial and commercial system. Had we paid more attention to several of the earlier definitions, he opined, perhaps we wouldn’t face perilous national deficits and debt.

Imprudent national spending reflects the disordered economic life of  many American households. As a nation we require as little financial discipline of our leaders as do of ourselves.

We would do well to rediscover this definition of economy:  “a frugal and judicious use of money; that management which expends money to advantage, and incurs no waste; frugality in the necessary expenditure of money . . .  Economy includes also a prudent management of all the means by which property is saved or accumulated; a judicious application of time, of labor, and of the instruments of labor.”

Note to self: “It’s economy, stupid.”


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