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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Economics for Everybody Review

I don't know if you've ever been in the position to feel like a homeschool product is literally an answer to prayer, but that's exactly how I feel about Economics for Everybody!

A few weeks ago, I was in the midst of planning my son's freshman year of high school, when I got an e-mail about a new economics curriculum that was coming out.  Taught by Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr. and produced by Compass Cinema (the company that produces Visual Latin), Economics for Everybody is a series of video lessons geared toward absolutely everyone, hence the title.  In addition, it can be used by high-schoolers in particular in their study of Economics (although supplemental resources are recommended to round out the course).  Since my son was going to be needing an Economics course, the timing on this was literally perfect.  God is good that way :-).

I could not be more thrilled with Economics for Everybody.  Dr. Sproul is a very engaging speaker, and manages to turn what could otherwise be a very dry subject into something relevant and interesting.  Subtitled, "Applying Biblical Principles to Work, Wealth & the World", Economics for Everybody does just that.  Every step of the way, economic ideas are explained in light of Biblical wisdom, beginning with the idea that God owns everything, and we are to be good stewards of what He has placed us in charge of for the benefit of all.  Beyond the videos, there is a study guide with detailed notes from each lesson as well as questions you can go over.  It's a wonderful, comprehensive resource for students, or even for churches and small groups to use.

Below are the topics covered by each of the 12 lessons:

1. And God Created Economics | Stewardship in God’s Image

What is Economics? – God’s Attributes & Actions – Man in God’s Image – Creation Mandate – Stewardship – Why Study Economics – Missionary Impact

2. The Economic Problem of Sin | Law, Liberty & Government

The Fall of Man & Scarcity – Impact of Fall on Stewardship & Work – Grace of Law – Economic Aspects of 10 Commandments – Civil Government – Liberty vs. Tyranny – Theology to Anthropology to Politics to Economics

3. The Path from Work to Wealth | Production, Property & Tools

What is Wealth? – Principles That Lead to Wealth – Work – Production – Ownership & Private Property – Land, Labor & Capital – Savings & Capital Accumulation – Division of Labor – Tools – Mass Production – Lower Prices & Increased Purchasing Power

4. The Route From Scarcity to Plenty | Money, Markets &Trade

Famines, Scarcity & Prosperity – Value – Economic Demand – Markets – Free Trade – Money – Laws of Supply & Demand – Price – Marginal Utility – Impact on Prices – Greater Selection of Goods & Services at Lower Prices

5. The Role of the Entrepreneur | Capital, Calculation & Profit

What is an Entrepreneur? – Importance of Capital – Economic Calculation – Job Creation – Technology – Profit – Competition – Self-balancing Free Market

6. A Tale of Two Theologies, Part 1 | From God to Politics

Consequences of Economics – 19th-century England vs. 20th-century Soviet Union & Impact on Christianity – Comparison of Christianity vs. Atheism – Two Systems at War – Theologies – Anthropologies – Political Philosophies – Political Systems

7. A Tale of Two Theologies, Part 2 | Economic Philosophies & Systems

Comparison between Christian & Atheistic Economic Philosophies – Private vs. Public Ownership of Property – Free Market vs. Command & Control/Socialistic – Interventionism – Freedom & Growth of Christianity

8. Government Intervention | Basic Principles & Education

German Socialism in WWI – North Star Principle: Biblical Stewardship – Intervention & Stewardship – Areas of Interventionism – Quick History of U.S. & Economics – U.S. Educational Policy & Stewardship

9. The Two Mysteries of Monetary Policy | Inflation &Depressions

Two Mysteries: Devaluation of Dollar and The Great Depression – What is Money? – Government & Banks – Interest Rates – Federal Reserve – Inflation & Stealing – Interventionist Monetary Policy & Stewardship – Inflation leads to Boom & Bust Cycle – Influence of Central Bank – Great Depression – Govt Policies & Stewardship

10. The Welfare & Corporate States of America | The Costs of Redistribution

The Welfare State – Biblical View – Brief History – Problems of Intervention – Growth of Welfare State – Christian Questions – The Corporate State – Cronyism – Politics and Business – Government Spending – Government Taxation – Government Borrowing – Impact on Stewardship

11. Economics Has Consequences | The Real Effects of Sin

North & South Korea – Impact of Economics on Christianity – Sin & Economics – Socialism: Scarcity & Police State – Gradual Socialism/Interventionism: Nation of Rent Seekers – Regulation & Bureaucracy – Free Markets – Economics & Religious Freedom

12. Kingdom Economics

Genesis 3:15 & The Serpent – Moses & Slavery – Sack of Rome and Augustine’s City of God – Hitler’s Mein Kampf – Gradual Socialism & Christianity – Liberty & Economics – The Kingdom and the Future

To get an idea of how it works, you can watch the first lesson.  And you can see a short clip below.

The pros:  Economics doesn't get more interesting than this.  Trust me.  I have a degree in Social Science Education (meaning I taught Economics), and I've studied Economics plenty.  But Dr. Sproul presents things so clearly, so simply, and most importantly, so Biblically, that I understand it in a whole new way.  The theology is solid and life changing if you really embrace it.  I'm thrilled for my children to have the opportunity to learn Economics from God's perspective.  Even my son, who is on the Autism Spectrum and not strongly academic, "gets it".  And he'll watch this willingly, where I would have to fight tooth and nail to get him to read an Economics text.  The study guide is thorough and such an added value to a program that's already very reasonably priced!

The cons:  Not that it's a problem for me at all, in fact for me it's a "pro", but this curriculum is definitely Christian in its worldview, so I imagine if you aren't, it wouldn't be a very good fit for you.

The bottom line:  Wow!  Every Christian homeschooler, every Christian in general, should check this out.  It teaches way more than just Economics, as you will come to know the very nature of God and His desires even deeper as you use this curriculum.  Dr. Sproul is a wonderful teacher.  In fact, I'm blessed to live about 30 minutes from his church, and now I know why so many of my friends make the drive there every Sunday!  My son will definitely complete this course for his high school Economics.  And I will definitely watch it with him, because I'm really enjoying it too.  I can't wait for each of my children to view it and learn God's principles regarding Economics for themselves.

You can purchase Economics for Everybody from Compass Cinema's website.  It is currently being offered for a special "pre-sale" price of $29 for either the DVDs or the download instead of the full retail price of $45.  That cost includes the study guide as well.  Really, it's an amazing deal!
Legal disclaimer:  Compass Cinema offered me the chance to take a look at this curriculum in advance of its release in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own. 
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