I have been watching a travel show on PBS for years and hosted by Rick Steves.
I ran into his bio on Wikipedia and I was just floored by one item listed there at the bottom.
The simplicity of the idea and the scope and depth of an idea of how someone could use their retirement funds as a relatively safe, conservative way to serve mankind, the community and in the spirit of the Christ. I am dumbfounded sometimes by creativity or the random acts of seeming kindness I sometimes run into in this world.
The idea is simple. You get a lot of volunteer organizations like the YMCA and Rotary Club involved to house homeless mothers. Your initial investment is the investment of your retirement fund to buy an apartment building. You are not giving it away. You are leasing it to a community need for a decade or two. With insurance and maintenance your investment is tangible and safe.
You give a pathway for a flow of semi-charitable good works and outside the realm of direct organized religion or government. Religions have a tendency to become bureaucratic and sad to say in some instances corrupt in the distribution of alms and charity to people. Government is government.
Why not do charity and or good works on your own and after fifteen or twenty years take back your investment plus accumulated unearned equity. I do not want to put a label on this such as passive good works or compassionate brotherhood. Compassionate conservatism as a term in the secular sense has perhaps failed terribly and gotten us into two wars overseas.
In 2005 Rick and Anne Steves purchased a 24-unit apartment complex in Lynnwood, Washington and fixed it up to serve as transitional housing for homeless mothers and their children. The Steves invested much of their retirement nest egg and are allowing free use of the complex for 15 years--leaving management responsibilities to the local YWCA Pathways for Women, while Rotarians in the Edmonds Noontime Rotary Club help maintain the buildings, do grounds upkeep, and provide everything from the furniture to the flowers. In addition, the club raised USD $30,000 in donations to build a play structure for the children of Trinity Place. About 100 mothers are expected to ultimately live there.
Steves is an active Lutheran, and has written and hosted educational videos on subjects such as Martin Lutheran and the European Reformation of the Church. He also raises funds for Bread for the World. -- Wikipedia
Think of all the secular no-religion Americans who have seen their 401ks shrink and pension funds evaporate. Think of the bemoaning of “my individual piece” of Wall Street melting away.
Think of all the mutual funds invested in China and Aluminum mines with people making slave wages. Think of the returns on investment of China put into U.S. Treasury notes to feed our national debt and our insatiable godless consumerism. Think of a China that individually dominates or dictates out national policies, really a country we are afraid to challenge at the moment. Think of a godless China that sits on the United Nations Security Council that will veto any humane actions on Darfur to protect its very real national investments in Sudan.
Think how we as individuals do not have to invest in some godless macro Wall Street ponzi schemes in the future. Think about taking the time out to touch and research the needs of your community. Think about investing your money, your nest egg, in the future of the welfare and best interests of your community.
Think of what Jesus would do with your investments.
While you would like to give away everything to the poor, why not just share with them for a while and make the world a tiny bit better. The world is better because you touched the world and the world seems to matter right in front of your eyes.
I would label this as Community Christian Capitalism because it is capitalism. It also serves the community. It most definitely has a Christian flavor.
You are making a cash investment to get back a cash return. Instead of instant millions in immediate return, you get a safe old fashioned rate of return on cash investment which also serves the needs of the community. There is something about this scheme that touches upon the things missing today in over-organized religion or failed government. It has to do with people and community needs and meeting the needs of the less fortunate in a humane and dignified manner. Churches and religions used to touch the earth and communities.
In an abstract dominant secular world “we have to touch people” again. We need to serve others in order to serve our own spiritual selves and needs. This is humanity. This is Christ!