Sunday, October 25, 2015

Prosperity should be a technique, not a theology !

If you have been following the news and social media, you might come to the conclusion that the problems which arise in our society is that people tend to conflate technique with theology when it comes to material prosperity.

a) What is the theology of Prosperity ?

Prosperity as a theology is dangerous idea. It means that belief and faith becomes a sufficient condition to attain material prosperity in this world. It comes in many guises, not necessarily in the form of a religious group. Some authors like to sell the idea that by simply thinking and locking yourself mentally to the idea of abundance, you will achieve material wealth.

This is the a very misleading but sophisticated manifestation of wishful thinking.

It's not just faith that creates the idea that God will make you rich. We adopt faith in projecting the returns of unit trusts, that some of life insurance will make our children rich after we leave this world. That buying a Brazilian property would result in yields and passive income exceeding 15%.

In my personal world of engineering, finance and increasing law - faith is almost worthless. You can make an iron-clad will and your crafty children may find ways around it, challenging your mental capacity if it suits their case. Laws need to changed to protect husbands who get incapacitated during their marriages, worse, some feminists on social are attacking the idea quite aggressively.

And faith in easy answers is getting stronger. Easy answers sell better than complex ones.

Most of us don't want complicated answers because it gets into our way of living the lives we enjoy.

b) What is the technique of Prosperity ?

Not everyone is ready to pay the price to learn a new technique. It requires time, energy and most who understand the technique would not part with that knowledge so readily.

Techniques are hard truths which an investor needs to confront. Many of these are economic or mathematical in nature and requires decades of study.

The risk-free rate is 2.7% about exemplified by returns of the Singapore Savers Bonds. Buy anything with lower yields and you might end up looking like an idiot. Anything which offers higher yields will contain hidden risks such as shifts in markets or the default in the provider.

Buying many different assets generally would not make your richer but can keep your performance closer to the average, but it certainly prevents you from looking like an idiot when the market starts to turns against you.

c) Separate your spiritual and material desires.

You may share your spiritual desires with God, but you are better off trying to meet your material needs via Science/Social Science. It's not the easiest path in the modern world, but it's worth putting effort into studying marketing and scams just to find out how to react when "well-meaning" people present their ideas to you.

20 years ago, I fought a pitched battle against evangelists in NUS on the bulletin board systems, and I held the record of being sent to the NUS Office of Student Affairs thrice in during my undergraduate days.

Today, I celebrate being alive, financially independent and finally getting vindicated.

Keep the Faith Against Faith, because Reason will win over the long term.

Keep the fires burning !

Flame on !


  1. Hi Christopher,

    Great food for thought.

    For me prosperity is a technique one has to believe in.

    Of course only after one has defined what prosperity means for oneself such as "Prosperity is not just about making money, it’s much more about the freedom to live the way I want - a life by design and peace of mind."

  2. Another benefit of looking at Prosperity as a technique is that it's value neutral. If another better technique comes by, feel free to use it.

    Some folks in the TA world are stuck looking at tea leaves because they cannot imagine a better way to select stocks.

  3. Very interesting Chris. What do you think would be the best way go achieve a measured amount of prosperity.

    By the way, I can totally imagine you as a litigator, arguing cases passionately in court. Whether your clients deserve that amount of compassion, is another issue on its own.

  4. My book details the steps required to do it, but in short, if you can earn more, save more and invest better, it would only be a matter of time before you can start living on your investments.

    Then you can design a new lifestyle from ground up.

    Your faith and religion should be a separate consideration and may not play a role in the process although readers would have noticed that I have written very passionately about the way the Protestant Work Ethic and Nirvana has influenced my approach towards personal finance.

    Am i contradicting myself ?

    I remain an atheist. Let the reader be my judge.