The Cathedral grounds and Pastors Office are now open. Masks are encouraged. Please practice social distancing and avoid gathering in groups.

The Paradox of Thrift

From Rev. Jeremy Simons, Cathedral Chaplain
May 18, 2020

The Paradox of Thrift is the theory that increased savings in the short term can reduce savings, or rather the ability to save, in the long term.
The theory originated with the famous economist John Maynard Keynes, who noted that saving money would reduce the amount of money that people spend and invest. The resulting loss of business would contribute to unemployment and eventually lower economic growth.
We may be especially familiar with this concept right now because as we stay at home, we are aware that the businesses that we used to frequent are struggling financially. We are seeing the economy suffer dramatically.
The paradox is that we normally think of savings as something good – and feel guilty for our failure to do it. And it is true that saving is important for each of us. But it is also important to the economy for people to spend money, and when many people are able to spend money everyone prospers.
Seeing this paradox illustrated in our suddenly moribund economy has made it clear to me. Those of us who have lost incomes find ourselves unable to spend the way we have before. Those who have not lost income are more aware than ever, not only of the importance of helping each other, but of the importance of finding ways to spend and support the economy.
It puts a new wrinkle on these familiar teachings:

“Everything whatever you wish people to do to you, do you also to them. This is the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 7:12
“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be given into your bosom.” Luke 6:38

This is the law of heaven, where there is no scarcity, where resources never run dry, and where what you receive is determined solely by what you give.

“With people who do good with all their heart good is flowing in from heaven on every side into their heart and soul and inspiring them greatly to act as they do. At the same time love and affection for the neighbor to whom they do the good is increasing, and with this love and affection a delight that is heavenly delight, beyond description. The reason why all this happens is that the good of love from the Lord reigns everywhere in heaven, flowing in unceasingly in the same measure as it is being given out to another.” Arcana Coelestia 9049

In this world there is scarcity, and if we fail to manage our resources we will suffer. But the larger reality, and the more important truth, is that we receive as we give, and what we do affects everyone.
There is nothing like an epidemic, and the resulting economic turmoil, to drive this home.

Read more messages from the Pastors