From communism to flourishing

Philip Luca is the Communications and Marketing Manager for the Telecommunications Industry Association and serves on the board of the American Marketing Association as VP of Social Media in Washington, D.C. He grew up in Romania, experienced communism for a few years, and its effects for many more.  He came to America in 2005 to attend Liberty University. Today he shares how his life experiences  have influenced his views on work and economics, and the eternal significance he sees in his career in America.

How did your experience growing up in Romania affect your understanding of work and economics?

I grew up in a good family. Life was simple, but stable. I went to public school all the way up to college and enjoyed every bit of it. My parents made sure we had all that we needed. We were never rich, but we were never poor either.

Romania is one of the poorest countries in Europe. The failed experiment of communism left the country crippled economically. Innovation and research were stifled by government involvement.

The country’s mammoth industrial factories fell to ruin due to lack of demand and lack of quality products. They were supposed to produce a set amount of products per year, and when a market economy was reinstated, they could not handle the competition. Products across the board were lacking quality because without competition, there was no reason to improve. With one brand of tractors, farmers were always sure to buy the same thing every time. They didn’t have a choice.

Has life in America changed your understanding of work and economics?

In Romania, the economy was never good. For as long as I can remember, the economy was in transition. That meant nothing was growing.

Something happened during the harsh years of communism. People started asking, “If it was ours in the first place, is it stealing if we take it back?” So people starting stealing from their work place – anything from nuts and bolts to sacks of flour. Nobody thought much about it.

Since there was no legitimate way to recognize individual effort, services and products were traded on the black market. People needed to trade, and since the government did not provide a framework, they created one of their own: under the table, illegal, and efficient. It took a while for me to see and believe that an economic system can function properly when it has a sturdy framework.

The U.S. system is not bulletproof, but it works. It provides a legal, honest way to make a living and reward value. When property is respected, intellectual property flourishes. By comparison, when the idea of property is not respected, innovation dies. Nobody wants to spend long research hours in the lab only to see “the party” reap the benefits without sharing any of the profits. Without innovators and risk-takers, an economy cannot grow – not when you are competing in a global market. Competition has always beaten forced labor in the long-run.

Living in the U.S. also gave me the confidence that I can be productive for myself and those around me. In Romania, there is always this sense of guilt that you owe your country something, that you should be grateful for the socialized healthcare and pension system, even though it’s beyond bankrupt. When an economic system gives people a sense of accomplishment, it enables them to be producers. A system that inhibits innovations creates consumers that don’t seek how they can add value to their community, but seek how they can derive value from the system.

Why do you think your career in technology and social media is significant to God? How does your work add value to the world and contribute to building the kingdom of God?

I believe work is good because it helps us to relate to the world in a significant way. We take the natural resources around us, and we create with them. We build industries, we create art, we build societies. One technology may lead to another and open a whole new set of opportunities that were never there before.

The internet is one such opportunity. The interconnected world can yield much faster results, and it can connect people of similar interest from all across the world. I believe that in the age of connection, we can be much better stewards of the gifting that God has given individuals as well as communities. We can do fundraisers for people we have never met, we can support a child or a family for a year, and we can Skype with refugees.

I believe that helping believers understand how to take advantage of this technology and put it to good use is one of the best things I can do for the kingdom. We can connect more people to a wide array of resources – from physical to intellectual, artistic, and spiritual. Sharing the gospel and the teaching of Jesus can be done much faster and much more richly in our connected age. I hope that my efforts would be part of the story of the Church reaching a lost generation through any and every means possible.

*The blog was originally published on the Creativity. Purpose. Freedom. blog. 

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