How not to think clearly on faith and economics

Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Seminary, recently addressed a meeting of Evangelical leaders held at Wheaton College and has released a reconstruction of his remarks. It is an interesting address which spends four paragraphs explicitly addressing questions of economics and economic policy. Continue Reading...

A polite rebuke of Pope Francis’ economic confusion

Review of Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Robert M. Whaples; The Independent Institute, Oakland, CA; 2017, 234 pp. Having toiled in the free-market research universe for nearly two decades, perhaps the most common misperception I’ve encountered is “whataboutism.” Readers know of which I write: “What about BP and Deepwater Horizon?” or “What about Enron?” and, perhaps most stridently, “What about the mortgage-lending industry’s complicity in causing the Great Recession?” When this rhetorical strafing fails, there’s always the “What about the poor?” and the “What about the environment?” macro-strategies. Continue Reading...

Adam Smith on the causes—and cures—of crony capitalism

“For Adam Smith, crony capitalism fails on two grounds,” says Lauren Brubaker. “It is unjust, favoring a few at the expense of the many, and it is destructive of the desired end of political economy—economic growth.” Brubaker says Smith’s writings can help us properly frame the problems of crony capitalism, understand the causes, and formulate solutions for preventing or mitigating the corruption of free markets: For Smith, the tendencies to cronyism, which are anchored in human nature, can be tempered by: (1) limiting government to a few essential powers (defense, administration of impartial justice, and certain limited public works and institutions); and (2) educating the public concerning the “folly” of attempts to direct the economy by legislators. Continue Reading...

How protectionism is hindering Puerto Rico relief efforts

A week after being devastated by Hurricane Maria, the citizens of Puerto Rico are as CNN points out, “suffering in primitive conditions without power, water or enough fuel.” Unfortunately, the recovery efforts are being impeded further by a nearly 100-year-old crony capitalist law. Continue Reading...

The J. Wellington Wimpy crony capitalist policy

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today,” was a catchphrase made famous by J. Wellington Wimpy, a character in the comic strip Popeye. But it also describes, with slight modification, the attitude of crony capitalist companies to American taxpayers: “I’ll begrudgingly pay you in the future for services provided today.” A couple of week’s ago I wrote about the greatest crony capitalist deal in Wisconsin history. Continue Reading...

What Pope Francis doesn’t understand about speculation

In a recent visit to a steel factory in Italy, Pope Francis said, “One sickness of the economy is the gradual transformation of entrepreneurs into speculators.” “The speculator doesn’t love his business, doesn’t love the workers, but only sees the business and workers as the means to make profit,” the pontiff added. Continue Reading...