love_gov_screenshot_independent_instituteDespite the partisan rhetoric that tends to dominate in America, most of us realize that, for all our disagreements, our neighbors often have the best of intentions. But when it comes to public policy, good intentions are not enough to create human flourishing. That’s why a primary task of the Acton Institute is “connecting good intentions with sound economics.” Without sound economics as a foundation, good intentions tend to lead to detrimental unintended consequences.

Convincing the public of this reality isn’t easy, but a video series produced by the Independent Institute provides some amusing and thought-provoking examples. The series Love Gov portrays the federal government as an overbearing boyfriend—Scott “Gov” Govinsky—who imposes his “good intentions” on the hapless, idealistic college student, Alexis. The results of Gov’s well-meaning actions are frequently not what Alexis would have expected.

Here is the trailer and the first two videos of the award-winning series:

strong-weak-chart-andy-crouch12In our discussions about politics, society, and culture, the vocabulary of “human flourishing” has become increasingly popular, moving dangerously close to the status of blurry buzzword.

Yet at its best, the term captures the connective tissue between the material and the transcendent, the immediate and the eternal, pointing toward a holistic prosperity that accounts for the full complexity of the human person.

In his latest book, Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing, Andy Crouch examines the broader ideal. ‘“Flourishing’ is a way of answering the first great question,” he writes. “What are we meant to be? We are meant to flourish—not just to survive, but to thrive; not just to exist, but to explore and expand.”

In order to actually embody that answer, Crouch believes we have to grasp the underlying “paradox of flourishing.” “Flourishing comes from being both strong and weak,” he writes, requiring us to “embrace both authority and vulnerability, both capacity and frailty – even, at least in this broken world, both life and death.”

In truth, most of us tend to elevate one to the detriment of the other, relishing in abuse of power or pursuit of poverty. Yet as humans created in the image of God, and as citizens of an upside-down Kingdom, we are called to embrace and combine each together. Such is the path to real life and abundance, both in the now and not yet. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 21, 2016

How the Free Market Helps Combat Racial Discrimination
Walter E. Williams, The Daily Signal

Racists cannot trust free markets to racially discriminate. Free markets, with their dispersion of power, have little respect for race.

Ignorance Is More Costly in Politics than in Markets
Gary Galles, Mises Wire

For months, I have seen articles about the massive economic ignorance infesting candidates’ views and how they would “fix” what they think are the nation’s problems. They essentially say that neither candidate knows enough to pass an economics principles course, much less enough to advance Americans’ general welfare. I cannot disagree.

Freedom is key to creating wealth, prosperity
Jack Kemp, Washington Times

Too often in our descent into the policy minutia of budget and trade deficits, fiscal and monetary policy, we overlook the broader and bigger picture.

What the Greatest Catholic Philosopher Had to Say about Private Property
Richard M. Ebeling, FEE

The “just price” was the judgement of what both users and producers thought a good was worth.

trump-clinton-debateLast night Chris Wallace moderated the third and final debate of this presidential season. Many commentators have remarked that it was the most substantial policy debate of the year. But because of the interruptions and recriminations, it can be difficult to ascertain exactly what each candidate was proposing.

Below I’ve summarized the actual policy statements made by each candidate about the economy, and included the verbatim text of their remarks from which the summary is taken. In the summaries (the sections in bold), I’ve stripped away the claims made by each candidate about the other and focused solely on the position they advocated or defended.

Clive Staples LewisC.S. Lewis wrote much about the tension between self-interest and selfishness, offering renewed clarity on these topics, says Art Lindsley. To Lewis, there is a huge difference between self-interest and selfishness, and there is a proper place for self-interest in our lives:

When Lewis first came to faith, he did not think about eternal life, but focused on enjoying God in this life. Lewis later said that the years he spent without the focus on heavenly rewards “always seem to me to have been of great value” because they taught delight in God above any prospect or reward. It would be wrong to desire from God solely what he could give you, without delighting in God himself.

Lewis never disparaged the place of heavenly rewards, but he saw that the paradox of reward might be a stumbling block for some. On the one hand, the purest faith in God believes in him for “nothing” and is not primarily interested in any benefits to follow. On the other hand, the concept that we are rewarded for what we do is taught in numerous biblical passages and presumably is a positive motivation for doing what is good.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Crony Economy
Robert Verbruggen , The American Conservative

Bipartisan outrage doesn’t stop government picking winners and losers.

Pricing the Poorest Out of Opportunity
Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek

Once upon a time the land of Tyrantia was ruled by an evil king who took intense pleasure in inflicting pain and suffering upon the poorest people in Tyrantia. “Ha, ha, ha!” laughed the evil king one night to his evil wife, “I’ve just devised an excellent scheme to cause poor people to needlessly suffer even more!”

Modern slavery is still rampant in the countries that produce most of the world’s goods
Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz

For many in the West, slavery is a far off, historical concept. But a new index shows that consumers all over the world are getting products that at some stage were touched by the hands of modern-day slaves.

How American Capitalism Serves Poorer Nations
Tom Rogan, Opportunity Lives

It’s time the record was set straight: American capitalism is a great servant of poorer nations.

Blog author: KHanby
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This is a guest post by Philip Booth, Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics, St. Mary’s University, Twickenham; Academic and Research Director, Institute of Economic Affairs. Booth will be speaking in London on Dec. 1 at Acton Institute’s The Crisis of Liberty in the West conference (register here). This post is based on remarks prepared for delivery at the United Kingdom Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office conference on Preventing Violent Extremism by Building Inclusive and Plural Societies, Oct. 19-20.

Economic freedom and economic harmony

 By Phillip Booth

In a free society, persons participate in economic exchange and civil society freely, without interference as long as they do not harm others. Of course, actions such as inciting violence and so on need to be dealt with and possibly prosecuted. But, individuals and families, often working as communities and through civil society organisations are able to go about their life without undue impediment. In such a situation, the government does not have positive powers as such – or at least not many of them – it exists to promote justice, provide for the needy who cannot be provided for in other ways, ensure that there is peace and civil order, and so on. Such a society should be one in which parents can send their children to religious schools of the parents’ choice and where people can worship freely – again, assuming that such schools or religious groupings are not inciting violence and threatening peace.

Phillip Booth

Phillip Booth

When thinking about economic freedom, perhaps we focus too much on the economic efficiency benefits of a free society and do not talk enough about how such a society also promotes peace and harmony.

Business is especially important here. This cannot be stressed enough. There are relatively thick ties within families and within churches and mosques, for example. However, there are often very thin ties between churches, mosques other religious groupings. Business makes those thin ties thicker. It requires people of different faiths to co-operate. People encounter a much greater variety of persons who are different from them in the business world – as customers, employers or suppliers – than they do in any other area of their life. Indeed, in the business world, discrimination is expensive. If I don’t want to be served by a Pole, a Muslim, an Italian or a Chinese person in a restaurant in London, I would probably end up at a very bad restaurant! If I did not want to be driven by a Muslim taxi driver, in some cities I would literally never get a taxi. Business is a mutually enriching activity and so encountering others different from ourselves through business co-operation is very important.

This is a not a relativist position. It is not an attempt to suggest that all religions are equally true. However, co-operation through business is an essential part of a free and tolerant society. (more…)