by Jordan Ballor -
One of the complaints often rendered against the market economy is that it encourages selfish behavior. This picture of the marketplace is that of a kind of war of all against all, with each participant out only to maximize his or her own individual benefit. As American social gospel advocate Walter Rauschenbusch contended in his Christianizing the Social Order, “The trader has always been the outstanding case of the man who plays his own hand and sacrifices social solidarity for private gain.” This characteristic, claimed Rauschenbusch, has been exaggerated in the modern era, such that “the trading class has become the ruling class, and consequently the selfishness of trade has been exalted to the dignity of an ethical principle. Every man is taught to seek his own advantage, and then we wonder that there is so little public spirit.” [Read more...]
by Jordan Ballor -
by James McAlister -
Many of us are numb today. Numb with the implications of what happened last night. Numb with dread.
Endless days and countless lines of print will be expended in the post mortem of the election, from a conservative perspective. Romney’s failures and shortcomings will be examined with electron microscopes. Why didn’t he do this? Shouldn’t he have done that? “For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these…”
But these things don’t really amount to much. Because the real reason for our election results were neatly summarized by Bill O’Reilly at about 7:00 last night, as the faint shape of events to come began to emerge. [Read more...]
by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon -
St. Luke’s account of Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree (19:1-10) is a story rich in spiritual reflection; preachers and Bible-readers, coming from a variety of backgrounds, have explored the narrative unto great profit for the education of the soul.
A certain liturgical use of the text is particularly instructive; namely, the story of Zacchaeus has long been read in the dedicatory service of a new church building. This liturgical custom—warranted by Jesus’ assertion, “Today, I must stay at your house” indicates a symbolism: The home of Zacchaeus represents the consecrated places where Christians gather to meet, worship, and commune with Jesus.
There is an irony here: Even as we insist that Jesus preached the Gospel to the poor, he sometimes did so in the homes of wealthy. The reason was very simple: the wealthy had larger homes; a greater number of people could actually assemble there. (Some folks, doubtless, will be offended by this consideration, but let me mention that the first complaint [Read more...]
The recently discovered tape on which Barack Obama said back in 1998 that he believes in redistribution is not really news. He said the same thing to Joe the Plumber four years ago.
But the tape’s surfacing may serve a useful purpose if it gets people to thinking about the consequences of redistribution.
Those who talk glibly about redistribution often act as if people are just inert objects that can be placed here and there, like pieces on a chess board, to carry out some grand design.
But if human beings have their own responses to government policies, then we cannot blithely assume that government policies will have the effect intended. [Read more...]
by Ken McIntyre -
The collapse of marriage, along with a dramatic rise in births to single women, is the most important cause of childhood poverty—but government policy doesn’t reflect that reality, according to a special report released today by The Heritage Foundation.
Nearly three out of four poor families with children in America are headed by single parents. When a child’s father is married to his mother, however, the probability of the child’s living in poverty drops by 82 percent.
by Charles Kaupke -
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the need for the wealthy to “pay their fair share” so that the federal government can pay down its debts and continue to fund programs to provide basic human necessities for the poor, such as food, shelter, and prophylactics. Their argument is that the greedy rich have been stealing increasingly large percentages of the nation’s GDP, and have been hoarding their riches, rather than generously giving them to the federal government to be used for the common good. The only solution is to increase taxes on the rich, so that instead of letting billionaires covetously hold onto (and thus waste) their excess wealth, which they don’t really need, the government can take that cash and use it much more effectively, to give the rest of us free stuff. After all, it just isn’t fair that some Americans control billions of dollars’ worth of wealth, while others struggle to make ends meet.
Sounds plausible, right? Of course it does. Unfortunately for those who make a living out of inciting class warfare, it’s not true. [Read more...]
by Samuel Gregg -
When it comes to applying liberté, égalité, fraternité to the economy, modern liberals have always been pretty much fixated on the second member of this trinity. It’s a core concern of the bible of modern American liberalism: John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971). Here a hyper-secularized love of neighbor is subsumed into a concern for equality in the sense of general sameness. Likewise, economic liberty is highly restricted whenever there’s a likely chance that its exercise might produce significant wealth disparities.
So while it’s tempting to ascribe the Obama administration’s more or less naked appeal to class envy in the current electoral cycle as resulting from immediate calculations about how to defeat Mitt Romney, one shouldn’t forget just how central the endless pursuit of ever-greater economic equality is to the modern Left’s very identity. [Read more...]
The words “happiness” and “free enterprise” don’t usually appear in the same sentence. Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, explains that the two are intimately and profoundly connected. The free enterprise system not only creates real wealth, it also provides individuals with the best chance to achieve personal satisfaction.
Brooks’ lecture, titled “Earning Happiness: The Moral Promise of Free Enterprise,” makes a strong case that the free market economic system is most conducive to human welfare. Brooks explains
“Free enterprise matters not just because of its unparalleled material benefits but because of its unparalleled moral benefits.”
by Walter E. Williams -
Benjamin Franklin, statesman and signer of our Declaration of Independence, said: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” John Adams, another signer, echoed a similar statement: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Are today’s Americans virtuous and moral, or have we become corrupt and vicious? Let’s think it through with a few questions.
Suppose I saw an elderly woman painfully huddled on a heating grate in the dead of winter. She’s hungry and in need of shelter and medical attention. To help the woman, I walk up to you using intimidation and threats and demand that you give me $200. Having taken your money, I then purchase food, shelter and medical assistance for the woman. Would I be guilty of a crime? A moral person would answer in the affirmative. I’ve committed theft by taking the property of one person to give to another. [Read more...]
by William Sullivan -
It’s campaign season, and as usual, Democrats are employing their class struggle rhetoric to position a redistributive government agenda as the only way Americans can be saved from themselves and the greedy capitalists who prey upon them.
Accustomed though we may be, this might seem an odd campaign strategy in light of recent polls showing widespread distrust of, and even contempt for, the federal government. But they have no choice but to keep their talking points emotional rather than substantive, you see. The core economic model of the American left is Keynesianism, which is less a viable economic path than it is an unrealistic pipe dream that stirs the collectivist’s blood, much like the notions of world peace and Utopia.
Keynesianism is a model based upon how collectivists think the economy should operate, rather than how it actually operates. As Ron Ross puts it, “Keynesianism is definitely not an evidence-based model of how the economy works. [Read more...]
by Rabbi Aryeh Spero -
Who would have expected that in a Republican primary campaign the single biggest complaint among candidates would be that the front-runner has taken capitalism too far? As if his success and achievement were evidence of something unethical and immoral? President Obama and other redistributionists must be rejoicing that their assumptions about rugged capitalism and the 1% have been given such legitimacy.
More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad themes of morality rooted in a specific religious perspective. We call this the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing endorsement of capitalism as a moral endeavor. [Read more...]
by Arnold Ahlert -
There is an economic paradox that few people understand, much less wish to acknowledge, because to do so would reveal the level of societal deterioration that has caused it. In simple terms, there are two schools of economic thought: one posits that massive amounts of government spending, aka stimulus in all its odious forms, is the only way to save an economy.
The other posits that until massive over-spending by government is brought under control, aka austerity, economies over-burdened by debts and deficits will continue to founder. Who’s right? There is merit to both arguments — but only because we’ve reached the aforementioned level of societal deterioration. Let me explain.
For decades, the growth of government both here and in Europe, has been inexorable. [Read more...]
by Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
The free market must operate within certain moral, institutional, and legal norms, or else it becomes something other than a free market. The free market is not an autonomous, free-for-all area exempt from moral law or from the hand of positive law. The market must always be protected and kept free, and it must be safeguarded from those who would seek to use it wrongly, whether by fraud, manipulation, abuse of economic power, or monopolization. It operates within the Rule of Law. …
The social doctrine of the Catholic Church undeniably puts great emphasis on the free market as a valuable, indeed “irreplaceable” economic and social institution. (Compendium, No. 349) Drawing largely from John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus annus, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is bullish on the free market and supports it as the best general means to assure proper allocation of scarce economic resources, of achieving economic efficiency, and of benefiting the common good.
The free market is an institution of social importance because of its capacity to guarantee effective results in the production of goods and services. Historically, it has shown itself able to initiate and sustain economic development over long periods. There are good reasons to hold that, in many circumstances, “the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs.” [Read more...]
by Emil W. Henry, Jr. -
The Obama presidency has turned the American Social Contract on its head.
In this election cycle, one noticeable phenomenon is how the Republican presidential candidates are emphasizing our country’s founding principles — liberty and freedom — more than in any campaign in the modern political era. Each speaks often of the Declaration of Independence. Citing articles of the Constitution is commonplace.
The president’s record of evoking such themes stands in stark contrast. In his State of the Union address, for example, our president made only one perfunctory reference to the Constitution and then went on to misquote it. [Read more...]
The Washington Times -
The White House hyped the news Friday that January payrolls had risen by 243,000. The hitch is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also dropped 1.2 million from the calculated workforce. Somehow this net loss of a million workers in a single month was transformed into an improvement in the unemployment rate. As the old saying goes, figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.
“Job growth was widespread,” the BLS reported, but most Americans sense that something isn’t quite right with the numbers. The most important change was the deep decline in the workforce. While the overall population jumped an 1.6 million in January, the workforce declined a record-setting 1.2 million. This figure represents those who out of sheer frustration or for other reasons have dropped out of what the government defines as the active labor pool. They are worse than simply unemployed; they are both jobless and hopeless. [Read more...]