Category: Economics

pessimism2Global poverty is on the decline. Technological progress is pacing at break-neck speed. Freedom and opportunity are spreading across the world. And yet our political classes and popular masses continue to preach of impending doom.

Why do we have so much pessimism in an age of such pronounced prosperity?

In a splendid essay for The Spectator on the “doom delusion,” Johan Norberg argues that, on the whole, there is actually great cause for optimism. Writing in a vein similar to thinkers such as Matt Ridley and Deirdre McCloskey, Norberg reminds us that, according to a range of data about poverty alleviation, economic growth, scientific discovery, and population growth, the present looks great and the future looks even brighter. (more…)

Brooks-2x1500We continue to see the expansion of freedom and the economic prosperity around the world. And yet, despite having enjoyed such freedom and its fruits for centuries, the West is stuck in a crisis of moral imagination.

For all of its blessings, modernity has led many of us to pair our comfort and prosperity with a secular, naturalistic ethos, relishing in our own strength and designs and trusting in the power of reason to drive our ethics.

The result is a uniquely moralistic moral vacuum, a “liberal paradox,” as Gaylen Byker calls it — “a hunger for meaning and values in an age of freedom and plenty.”

In the past, American prosperity has been buoyed by the strength of its institutions: religious, civil, political, economic, and otherwise. But as writers such as Yuval Levin and Charles Murray have aptly outlined, the religious and institutional vibrancy that Alexis de Tocqueville once hailed appears to be dwindling, making the space between individual and state increasingly thin.

The revival and restoration of religious and civic life is essential if we hope to cultivate a free and virtuous society, occurring across spheres and sectors, from the family to business, from the church to political institutions.

Given the increasing attacks on religious liberty, Christian colleges and universities are standing particularly tall, even as they endure some of the highest heat. In a recent talk for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, David Brooks demonstrates the cultural importance of retaining that liberty, explaining how his recent experiences with Christian educational institutions have affirmed their role in weaving (or re-weaving) the fabric of American life. (Read his full remarks here.) (more…)

Photo courtesy of flickr

Photo courtesy of flickr

This past week, one of the rising political figures in the Democratic Party, Mayor Peter Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana penned an op-ed for the South Bend Tribune arguing that raising the minimum wage is “the right thing to do.”

Mayor Buttigieg, cites three reasons why he believes raising the minimum-wage is the right thing to do: It’s good for business, good for the economy, and good for family.  All these “goods” assume that raising the minimum-wage does not reduce employment.

So what do basic economic principles say about raising the minimum wage? Take a look at this graph.

RMUqwRR (more…)

IMG_7231When we think of the intersection of work and calling, many of us think immediately of our long-term career aspirations. Despite most of us beginning our careers in some sort of menial labor, these are not the types of services or stations our culture deems significant or inspired.

Yet for the Christian, economic transformation begins where creator and producer meets neighbor, no matter the product or service. Our fundamental calling is to love our neighbor, and that begins the moment we get our hands dirty. God is glorified in all of our labor, and that includes the work of the fast-food cook or the late-night cleaning crew.

“Loving your neighbor is not just taking them soup when they’re sick,” says Pastor Tom Nelson, author of Gospel Shaped Work. “It’s making a good hamburger.” (more…)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

In a recent interview with MercatorNet, Samuel Gregg explains why the integration of markets is not in itself a bad thing.  Gregg starts out by explaining why Brexit does not contradict economic globalization, but why it is actually beneficial to the global economy.  Hey says:

But Brexit is also quite compatible with economic globalization. Economic globalization is rendering trade blocs such as the EU increasingly irrelevant. Britain now can choose to trade freely with whoever it wants, instead of waiting for every single member of the EU to agree.

The interview continues to talk about Gregg’s 2013 book Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future and what exactly is America trying to avoid by not becoming Europe.  He explains: (more…)

Photo from Wikimedia

In a recent article published for The Catholic World Report Samuel Gregg highlights some similarities between Pope Francis and the former president of Argentina, Juan Perón.  Gregg asks: “Does a long-deceased Latin American populist provide us with insight into Pope Francis?”

Juan Perón served as the president of Argentina from 1946-1955, while Pope Francis was just a teenager, and again from 1973-1974.  According to Gregg, the economic views of this potentially influential leader on Pope Francis are:

“best described as a mixture of economic nationalism, extensive wealth-redistribution, efforts by the state to coordinate different groups from the top-down (also known as “corporatism”), and a suspicion of markets. This resulted in heavy tariffs on foreign products, subsidies for domestic businesses (especially those close to government officials), and nationalization of key industries.”

(more…)

virtual-choir-whitacre-water-nightThe rise of globalization and the expansion of trade are continuously decried for their disruptive effects, particularly as they apply to “authentic community.”

Indeed, our strides in global connectedness have often come at a local cost, with the small and familiar being routinely replaced by the big and blurry, the intimate with the superficial, and so on. The shift is real and widespread, but it needn’t be the framework of the future.

Disruption is sure to continue as collaboration expands and innovation accelerates around the globe. But while we’re right to be cautious of the merits of such change, we mustn’t forget the opportunities it presents, not just for our economy or personal wellbeing, but for community itself.

Examples of these fruits abound and surround us, from trade to technology to niche hobbies to global missions and so forth, but I was reminded of it recently while watching a “virtual choir” performance by Eric Whitacre, the famous composer and conductor.

Known best for his choral works, Whitacre continues to leverage the technological tools of globalization to gather singers from around the world, each submitting an individual video to contribute to a massive global choir. (more…)