Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Trade Barriers Hurt More People Than You Think
Robert Higgs, FEE

Depriving American consumers of opportunities to purchase goods that suit them better than domestic alternatives causes them harm.

Faith, economic freedom and innovation in the Latin world
Ricardo Luna, Washington Times

According to the United Nations, since the year 2000, cooperation between government, business and civil society (including churches) has resulted in the greatest progress in the eradication of poverty.

For Iraqi Christians, mix of hope and horror is a daily affair

While long-Christian villages are being liberated, the threats facing Christians remain real, even in areas outside of ISIS control. The result is a mixture of celebration and fear, hope and horror, faced daily by Christians seeking to remain in a land that embraced the faith during the time of the apostles.

Student Loan Forgiveness Won’t Solve the $1.3 Trillion Problem
Mary Clare Reim, The Daily Signal

With outstanding student loan debt now exceeding $1.3 trillion, it is no wonder that the sticker price of college tuition has gotten a lot of attention in 2016. Yet few proposals have gotten to the root of the college cost problem.

sweatshop-workersA recent study of Ethiopian workers released last week by the US National Bureau of Economics Research found “sweatshops” were unpleasant, risky, and paid even less than self-employment in the informal sector. But, the researchers also found, countries were still better off than not having those jobs at all. As Michael J. Coren of Quartz writes,

By encouraging mass hiring in the economy, even low-wage factories could lift everyone’s wages. Fewer desperate workers competing for jobs meant employers must pay more for labor, argue economists Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago and Stefan Dercon of Oxford University in the latest study. But countries could ensure those factories treated their workers more fairly, and remove barriers for entrepreneurs building their businesses.

“More manufacturing firms is a good thing,” said Blattman in an interview. “This is going to happen. This is the development process in most countries. We shouldn’t sugar coat it.”

I think that’s the right approach: Don’t “sugar coat” the hardships such work entails—but don’t ban sweatshops either.

A “sweatshop” is the pejorative term for a workplace that has working conditions those of us in the West deem socially unacceptable. Because of Western laws and norms, sweatshops are now found mostly in developing countries.

To understand the defense of sweatshops requires recognizing that it is not a defense of deplorable living or working conditions. In fact, a moral defense of sweatshops is based on limiting or ending deplorable living or working conditions. The disagreement centers around how we go about that task of pursuing justice.

Samuel Gregg, director of research at Acton Institute, was recently interviewed by Carl E. Olson of Catholic World Report about his new book For God and Profit.  Gregg is a frequent contributor to CWR on the topics of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory.

The first question asked of Gregg was “Is it fair to say that Church teaching about money and economics is widely misunderstood and often misrepresented? If so, what are some of the reasons?” His response:

Catholic social teaching outlines clear principles for people who want to addresses issues surrounding finance and economic life in a way that takes human flourishing seriously. These include the principles of the dignity of the person, solidarity, subsidiarity, the preferential option for the poor, the principle of common use, the principal of private property, to name just a few. These principles are drawn from Revelation and the natural law. But they are not well understood by some Catholics. One reason for this is that they tend to be buried—including, I must say, in the social encyclicals—amidst a range of historically-contingent reflections and the offering of prudential judgements on present-day affairs.

The English language version of Rerum Novarum (1891) is about 14,000 words. Laudato Si’ (2015) is approximately 40,000 words. More than one person has suggested that this partly reflects the magisterium entering into the details of far too many economic subjects, the vast majority of which Catholics are free to disagree about among themselves. If we’re interested in equipping lay Catholics to think through economic issues, more time should be invested in explaining principles of Catholic social teaching and how they relate to each other. Less time, I’d argue, should be spent addressing questions upon which Catholics may legitimately hold a variety, even sometimes quite different views.


Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 24, 2016

“Billions of souls have been able to pull themselves out of poverty,” says Arthur Brooks, “thanks to five incredible innovations: globalization, free trade, property rights, the rule of law and entrepreneurship.”

By the way, these five things were all made possible by the historically anomalous peace after World War II that resulted from America’s global diplomatic and military presence.

When I was a kid, when we Americans saw the world’s poor, they saw us, too. We saw their poverty; they saw our freedom and our prosperity. They threw off the chains of poverty and tyranny by copying our American ways. It was the free-enterprise system that not only attracted millions of the world’s poor to our shores and gave them lives of dignity, but also empowered billions more to pull themselves out of poverty worldwide.

The ideals of free enterprise and global leadership, central to American conservatism, are responsible for the greatest reduction in human misery since mankind began its long climb from the swamp to the stars.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 24, 2016

Socialism Kills More Babies than War
Chelsea Follett, FEE

Recent reports that infants now die at a higher rate in Venezuela than in war-torn Syria were, sadly, unsurprising – the results of socialist economics are predictable. Venezuela’s infant mortality rate has actually been above Syria’s since 2008.

The Millions of Americans Without Bank Accounts
Gillian B. White, The Atlantic

Even as more people gain access to basic financial services, a large segment of the population is still financially invisible.

Pope says contributions are great, but charity needs personal touch
Junno Arocho Esteves, Crux

Coming face to face with the poor may pose a challenge and tempt people to turn the other way and give in to “the habit of fleeing from needy people and not approach them, or disguise a bit the reality of the needy,” the pope said Oct. 19 during his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Three Key Passages Concerning Stewardship in the Bible
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

We were created to be stewards of God’s creation through our work. There are many passages concerning stewardship in the Bible that tell us this, but the following three are important because they give us a biblical framework for stewardship in our lives.

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…)