Category: Economics

“What would happen if instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we consider what God has already given us — our talents, our dreams, our motivations — and offer them back to Him as an act of worship?”

In a new video from HOPE International, we’re challenged to counter our tendencies to approach God through an attitude of lack and self-doubt (“if only I had x I would do y”), trusting instead that God has already given us exactly what we need to obey, serve, and flourish.

After reviewing a series of Biblical examples, we’re reminded that God routinely sparks the most miraculous transformations by beginning with the basic resources at hand, from a boy’s loaves and fishes to David’s sling to a widow’s jar of oil. (more…)

Blog author: jsunde
Thursday, November 6, 2014
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cutting-roomCan something as simple as a shoe build civilization?

I recently had the pleasure of touring the Red Wing Shoe Museum in Red Wing, Minnesota, home of the Red Wing Shoe Company, and the answer became quite clear.

Founded in 1905, Red Wing Shoes has from the very beginning focused on producing boots and shoes for those who “work on their feet.” At a time when blacksmiths, carpenters, lumberjacks, and farmers had few options for footwear, founder Charles Beckman grew frustrated with the status quo, and responded by building “purpose-built” footwear to meet the needs of manual laborers.

Their slogan: “Work is our work.”

The company quickly gained a reputation for high-quality shoes and boots, and still maintains its status as a premier shoemaker for specific trades, supplying footwear for everyone from snake handlers to skyscraper builders to oil rig workers to restaurant chefs. Although most of us wouldn’t think to look at the feet of those who provide such services, the company continues to quietly empower labor of all kinds across the world. (more…)

On Tuesday, Acton welcomed economist and author Robert P. Murphy to the Acton Building’s Mark Murray Auditorium as part of the 2014 Acton Lecture Series. He spoke on the topic of The Importance of Sound Money, providing a solid lesson in the history of currency in the United States and other major countries, and an overview of the problems that have resulted from our government’s abandonment of sound monetary policy.

Murphy’s presentation is available for viewing below.

minimum_wage_custom-8614e5bd8d516fbadd22d4a09fff441a70ba1596-s6-c30Last night the election results revealed wins for Republicans in almost every state. But in four states where the GOP gained ground — Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota — the poor and unskilled suffered a loss.

In each of those states, voters passed ballot measures that will increase the government-mandated minimum wage. Beginning in 2015, the wage in South Dakota will increase to $8.50 an hour. In 2016, Alaska’s wage will be $9.75 an hour and $9 an hour in Nebraska. Arkansas will also raise the wage-floor to $8.50 an hour by 2017.

While the measures appear compassionate — who doesn’t want hard-working people to receive more money? — the effect will be that each of those state will likely see unintended consequences of the action.

Here are four ways the increased minimum wages will hurt low-skilled workers:
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We’ve developed a bit of a backlog of audio to release over the course of the summer and fall, so today we begin the process of shortening that list by sharing some recent lectures from the 2014 Acton Lecture Series with you.

On August 26, Acton was pleased to welcome Ron Blue to Grand Rapids for an address entitled “Persistent Generosity.” Ron has spent almost 50 years in the financial services world and the last 35 working almost exclusively with Christian couples. What he has observed is that those who are long term consistent in their generosity exhibit three characteristics that have nothing to do with money: they are content, confident, and able to communicate with each other, their children, and advisors if they use them. In this address, Ron shares his personal experience and impressions drawn from 50 years in the financial sector, gives unique financial advice from a faith-based perspective, and shares the two questions that must be answered and one decision that must be made in order to exhibit the characteristics of persistently generous people.

On October 2, we welcomed Gerard Lameiro to the Mark Murray Auditorium to address an audience on the topic of “Renewing America and Its Heritage of Freedom: What Freedom-Loving Americans Can Do to Help.” In his address, Lameiro commented on what freedom is and what it is not, and then walked through a substantial, solid, and moral case for freedom, acknowledging that God is the author of all liberty and that truth, human dignity, and morality are inextricably linked to freedom. You can find more information on Lameiro and pick up a copy of his latest book (which shares the title of his lecture) at his website, and you can listen to him on the Radio Free Acton podcast right here.

unequal_soup_business_deskThe topic of economic inequality continues to be at the forefront of our current political discussions, thanks in no small part by a president who calls it “the defining challenge of our time.”

But although such concerns are more typically lobbed about rather carelessly and thoughtlessly — cause folks to fret over the “power” of small business owners and entrepreneurs in a mythological zero-sum market ecosystem — there are indeed scenarios in which the rise of such inequality ought to give us pause.

In his book Integrated Justice and Equality: Biblical Wisdom for Those Who Do Good Works, John Teevan challenges those former assumptions, noting the dangers of observing inequality at the surface (“the rich get richer!”) and the destruction of knee-jerk redistributionist policies. Yet he also duly recognizes that what lies beneath that surface can sometimes be rather nasty indeed.

We may not live in the landed aristocratic context of the French Revolution, but distortions to market forces are increasingly promoted, leading to lots of tiny barriers over the long run. When passed and implemented, these are bound to trap the downtrodden and further insulate the rich and powerful. Where the “rich get richer” in this type of setting, problems surely abound. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, October 30, 2014
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Following up on the recent discussions of envy, here’s a bit from Russell Kirk’s book on economics:

It would be easy enough to list other moral beliefs and customs that are part of the foundation of a prosperous economy, but we draw near to the end of this book. So instead we turn back, for a moment, to one vice we discussed earlier—and to the virtue which is the opposite of that vice.

The vice is called envy; the virtue is called generosity.

Envy is a sour emotion that condemns a person to loneliness. Generosity is an emotion that attracts friends.
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incomeinequalityWhen historians and economists look back at our era (starting around the time of the “Great Recession” in 2007) they’ll be hard-pressed to understand why so much of the policy debates centered around an issue of relatively minor importance that has existed since the beginning of humanity: income equality.

The standard that really matters — and yet is relatively ignored — is consumption. In economics, consumption is the use of goods and services by households. Ensuring people have an income sufficient to meet their own consumption needs is the ultimate goal. And as a new paper by Scott Winship finds, income inequality doesn’t appear to affect consumption standards.

Winship’s paper examines the relationship between income inequality and living standards among the middle class and the poor worldwide. Some of the key findings are:

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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 27, 2014
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What’s the perfect minimum wage? $10 an hour? $20? $50?

Economist David Henderson explains why it should be “zero.” As Henderson explains, when the state mandates a minimum wage (or an increase), it makes harder for unemployed people to find work and forces business owners to cut the hours of lower-skilled employees.

AirportOver at The Federalist today, I ruminate on a conversation I overheard at an airport recently. I was an innocent auditor, I assure you. In the words of Sam Gamgee to Gandalf, “I ain’t been droppin’ no eaves sir, honest.”

The conversation had to do with the prices of goods and services on offer at airports. To simply blame (or credit) capitalism with the situation is misleading. As I conclude, “We should try to understand the words people are using, the way they are using them, and the assumptions underlying such uses.” After all, capitalism means different things to different people in different contexts.
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