Acton Institute Powerblog

PowerLinks 07.08.16

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Jesus and ‘The End Of Jobs’

Over the last few years, and especially of late, there is a swelling chorus of concern that we may be on our way to a future in which there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around. Not just a shortage of good jobs, mind you, but a shortage of jobs, period.

Four Reasons Religious Freedom Matters for Society
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Religious freedom bears implications for our lives, just like the biblical view of freedom and economic freedom. In fact, religious freedom is entwined with these other freedoms.

The Next Accountability: Getting What We Want from Schools – Without Technocracy
Greg Forster, Friedman Foundation

For decades, the word “accountability” brought education reformers together. Today, it’s driving us apart.

How the Reaction to Kevin Durant Explains Our Conflicted Feelings About Free Trade
Jim Geraghty, The Corner

In some ways, sports fans’ hyperbolic reaction to professional athletes’ free agency decisions mirrors the country’s perspective on free trade: we love having freedom of choice for ourselves, but we don’t like other people having those same choices.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • “Jesus and ‘The End of Jobs'” is incredibly bad on several levels. The history and economics is very inaccurate.

    “Since the 1980s, American business has largely believed that maximizing the wealth of shareholders is the true and ultimate purpose of a corporation.”

    Why 1980? Because socialists want people to believe that with the election of Reagan the US became a wild west capitalist nation. But the theologians of Salamanca taught that a business’s most important task is pleasing consumers and profits profits are nothing but a measure of how well the company pleases consumers.

    “In practice, this has translated into a belief that the priority objective is to ratchet up share price as quickly as possible.”

    Wrong! That comes from the stupid practice of giving execs stock options. The execs share in the benefits without suffering from any of the losses. That makes them short term oriented and major risk takers.

    “the large bulk of most CEOs’ compensation comes from grants of stock and stock options and, in total, is more than 300 times that of their average employee.”

    That’s based on a dishonest selection of just the top CEOs in the country. When all CEOs are considered the figure is close to the original 30.

    “In turn, CEOs quickly realized that cutting costs, rather than making investments for future productivity, was the quickest and easiest way to boost profits…”

    That works only in the short run. To survive long term, businesses have to please consumers. If cutting costs hurts quality or makes the product less desirable then the business will fail.

    “More than a few thoughtful observers believe, however, that the most important factor propelling us toward a jobless future is not our fixation with shareholders, but with technology.”

    Technology has always and everywhere destroyed jobs. That’s how the West has become rich. I agree that there is a shortage of jobs. That’s too obvious to ignore. But technology has always created far more jobs that it has destroyed, when the market was free. Socialism destroys the job creating power of entrepreneurs through high taxes, regulations and inflation. Technology fails to create more jobs than it destroys only under socialism.

    “…economic historian Robert Skidelsky, comparing the exponential growth in computing power with the less-than-exponential growth in job complexity, has said, “Sooner or later, we will run out of jobs.”

    Skidelsky ought to know. He is more Marxist than Marx. As computers and robots take over the more mundane jobs, we have spent more of our income on services, especially education, healthcare and entertainment. If we could be so lucky as to have machines do everything, we would be so wealthy that we would have to work about 15 minutes a week to earn a good salary, and we would work at healthcare, education or entertainment. But that will only happen in a free market. In our socialist society we are more likely to see much higher unemployment instead.

    “All of which makes me suspect Jesus had more on his mind than he gets credit for in his parable about a vineyard (business) owner…”

    The whole section is a lesson in really sloppy hermeneutics. Jesus used business examples because he had been a businessman. He took over Joseph’s business as a building contractor in order to support his mother and siblings. But that doesn’t mean that he approved of everything or that he was teaching business principles. It’s clear from all of the Gospels that Jesus was teaching people about God’s character and our personal responsibility to him. The point of the parable of the vineyard was to teach Jews why Gentiles would be accepted into the kingdom in spite of centuries of rejecting God.

    “…good jobs are among the most important of the objectives, and blessings, of business done God’s way.”

    No, good jobs are not the objective. Creating jobs is trivial. The USSR and China under Mao had no unemployment. North Korea has plenty of jobs as does Cuba. If you really want more good paying jobs, let the economy go! Socialism destroys jobs, but socialists always blame greedy businessmen, bankers, immigrants and trade.