Category: Economics

sharing“There are solid grounds for believing that the first Christian believers practiced a form of communism and usufruct [i.e., the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance],” wrote Peter Marshall in Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. As evidence Marshall cites the second chapter of the book of Acts:

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. (Acts 2:44-47, ESV)

Marshall is (mostly) correct. The early Christians did engage in a form of voluntary usufruct and wealth redistribution. Since then, many Christians have asked why we don’t follow that sort of proto-communist model today. If the economic system was good enough for the apostles, why isn’t it good enough for modern society?

A hint at why the system is not longer used is found in the verse that immediately follows the passage cited above:

(more…)

box2Contrary to popular perceptions, people with disabilities are equipped with unique skills and creative capacity, giving them a powerful role to play in the world economy, whether as restauranteurs, goldsmiths, warehouse workers, marine biologists, car washers, or Costco employees.

Unfortunately, those gifts are not always recognized by the marketplace. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for those with disabilities is more than double the average for those without.

Thankfully, that blind spot is slowly being revealed, whether by forward-thinking entrepreneurs and executives or in the case of Vanderbilt’s Kennedy Center, university researchers and church congregations.

Thanks to a significant grant from the Kessler Foundation, researchers at the Kennedy Center are working with local churches to find new ways to provide work for young people with disabilities: (more…)

SexTraffickingReality has no shortage of enemies. In America alone there are millions of people who will throw away common sense, empiricism, and established economic principles when it conflicts with their pet political ideology. Oftentimes the best we can hope for is that the reality-denying does not tip over into outright advocacy of evil.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened at a one of my favorite online publications. Since its inception, The Federalist has been churning out a steady supply of fresh, often funny, and indispensable content from a conservative perspective. The work being done by the editorial staff, several of whom are my friends, is nothing short of amazing.

But even the best editors can make a mistake, and The Federalist has made a huge unforced error in publishing Lucy Steigerwald’s article, “Prostitution is Just Another Vice—So Legalize It.”

The article not only promotes the evil of prostitution, but it display an almost total lack of understanding about the topic of prostitution. I don’t mean that as an insult, but as an accurate description of the almost complete lack of research that was done on the subject. For example, the article not only denies that prostitution hurts women, but implies that there is little to no connection between prostitution and sex trafficking.
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
By

first-thanksgiving-kidsThis week school children across the country will be hearing the tale of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. You probably heard a similar story when you were in a kid that went something like this:

The Pilgrims sailed over to America from Plymouth, England on the Mayflower. During their first winter in the new country many of them starved because they were unable to produce enough food. In the spring, though, a Native America tribe taught the Pilgrims how to plant crops that would flourish, such as maize (corn). That fall, after an abundant harvest, the Pilgrims gave thanks by celebrating the first Thanksgiving feast with the Indians.

What is often left out of the story is what happened next: The Pilgrims continued to face food shortages for three more years.

Kids don’t often hear this not-so-happy ending. They are also rarely told the reason why the Pilgrims went hungry. “Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages,” says Benjamin W. Powell. “Bad economic incentives did.”
(more…)

industrial-revolution-1024x665Economist Deirdre McCloskey is set to release the long-anticipated conclusion of the Bourgeois Era trilogy sometime next spring.

The book, Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World, will build on her thesis that our newfound prosperity is not primarily due to systems, tools, or materials, but the ideas and rhetoric behind them.

“The Great Enrichment, in short, came out of a novel, pro-bourgeois, and anti-statist rhetoric that enriched the world,” she writes, in a lengthy teaser for National Review. “It is, as Adam Smith said, ‘allowing every man [and woman, dear] to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty, and justice.’”

In an age where the Left continues to make age-old Marxian arguments about the destructive ju-ju of accumulated wealth, and where the Right is increasingly prone to react on those same grounds, McCloskey reminds us that the premises are entirely different. (more…)

Marco Rubio has inspired plenty of chin-stroking over his recent remarks about welders earning more than philosophers.

“We need more welders and less philosophers,” he concluded in a recent debate.

The fact-checkers proceeded to fact-check, with many quickly declaring falsehood (e.g. 1, 2). Yet the series of subsequent quibbles over who actually makes how much continue to side-step the bigger issue. Though the liberal arts are indeed important and ought not be viewed simply in terms of “vocational training,” mainstream American culture is certainly fond of pretending as much.

The individualistic  dream-stoking rhetoric, inflated expectations, and subsequent angst have become all too nightmarish a cliche among my generation, joined by ever-increasing attempts to secure more government goodies to keep the machine humming along. Surely there are many who approach the liberal arts with a healthy perspective, but at the same time, the jokes about the barista going for his third Master’s degree aren’t exactly jokes.

Rather than approaching each individual as a creative person with unique gifts and educational aspirations, we continue to pretend that one vocational or educational track ought to apply to all. At the same time, rather than approaching the so-called “job market” as an ecosystem of creativity and collaboration, filled with countless human needs waiting to be met, we revert to thinking only of ourselves, self-constructing our preferred vocational destinies while we move through the college assembly line. (more…)

covOver the past few decades, economist Thomas Sowell has been one of the most effective, yet under under-appreciated, proponents of conservative and libertarian economic thought. He is also one of our most powerful critics of the often destructive and harmful effects of liberal economic policies.

Sowell frames the differences between the left and the right as a “conflict of visions”, a political divide separated by “constrained” and “unconstrained” visions. As Wikipedia helpfully summarizes this view:
(more…)