Category: Entrepreneurship

Blog author: jsunde
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
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As protests for a $15-per-hour minimum wage continue to rage across the country, cities like Seattle and states like California and New York have already begun to adopt such schemes.

But alas, prices are not play things, and such measures are bound to reap a range of deleterious effects, from raised consumer prices to increased unemployment to reduced working hours to outright business closures. Contrary to the popular narrative, those consequences tend to hit small businesses and less-skilled workers first and hardest.

With the recent laws, the destruction has already begun. To illustrate the damage thus far, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) is cataloging hundreds of stories on its Faces of $15 website, including a range of videos highlighting the frustrations and responses of business owners, employees, and faithful customers alike.

In the following 5 case studies, we see but a glimpse of the minimum wage’s cramping effect on human enterprise, creative service, and economic diversity.

1. Abbot’s Cellar

For Abbot’s Cellar, a newly founded restaurant in San Francisco, the recent wage hike made their start-up model unfeasible, even despite tremendous initial success. “How are businesses that have practically no margins as is – mom and pops, small businesses – how are they supposed to just absorb that?” asks Nat Cutler, one of the owners.

“San Francisco is a city that seems like it’s supposed to be built on a Bohemian, small-business, mom-and-pop-type vibe,” he continues. “That’s the culture of the city. I worry that the type of change that’s happening is going to take away from the great culture that was here…I wish a little more thought would be put into the long-term impact.” (more…)

Blog author: KHanby
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
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“An underlying theme in basic economics says, ‘offering a product for free can destroy the local economy’” writes Luis Miranda.  Miranda recently watched Poverty, Inc and since seeing the award winning Acton Institute documentary he has shared some of its lessons in an article at The Indian Economist.  He begins by explaining how often times aid can harm its recipient more than help them.

A farmer in Rwanda goes out of business because he cannot compete against an American church sending free eggs to feed starving Rwandans. A rice grower in Haiti stops growing rice because he is unable to compete against very cheap rice coming from rich farmers in the US who receive huge subsidies. A local cobbler goes out of business in Africa when TOMS shoes land up in the village and are distributed for free.

In all these cases, the donors had honest intentions. The American church wanted to feed starving people in Rwanda. The US government wanted to feed the disaster-stricken Haitians. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, genuinely wanted to help Africans who did not have proper footwear.

Miranda continues to share key takeaways from Poverty, Inc.  Next he shares how although aid can appear to be effective in the short term, it can create negative effects in the long term. (more…)

Yesterday, Pope Francis hosted a private audience in his Apostolic Palace for a few hundred international entrepreneurs and business leaders. The members of the International Christian Union of Business Executives (UNIAPAC) had gathered inside the Vatican’s walls for two days of meetings for the “noble purpose of reflecting on the role of business persons as agents of economic and social inclusion.”

Pope Francis, not always an affirming supporter of free market capitalism, focused on some of his usual challenging caveats to business persons. While business is certainly noble and its success is a vital part of the promoting economic growth for the common good, fallen man should nevertheless be constantly wary of his weaknesses for material idolatry (especially money), selfishness (not showing solidarity), and unguarded concern for acts of corruption (intentional deceit), the latter of which Francis said was “the worst of social plagues.”

This holds true for “all human activity”, the pope reassured those present, and not just business activity. It is an anthropological-spiritual discipline that we must keep on the forefront of our daily decision making. In this way, we sharpen our prudence and hone our focus when treading uphill individual paths to holiness and salvation. By way of constant prayer and deep spiritual discernment, man can more likely make the best moral choices, even in the most cut-throat and difficult business situations.

But sometimes this is risky for the seeker and promoter of virtue.

papa-uniapac

Pope Francis addresses UNIAPAC Christian entrepreneurs and business executives at a private audience on November 17, 2016.

(more…)

Blog author: jsunde
Thursday, November 3, 2016
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imrs (2)UPDATE: Given the recent attention drawn to this post, permit me to clarify that I do NOT endorse replacing education with paid labor, nor do I support sending our children back into the coal mines or other high-risk jobs, nor do I support getting rid of mandatory education at elementary and middle-school ages. Due to the confusion it brought, I have removed “bring back child labor” from the title, as many falsely took it to mean a call to “bring back” earlier laws, conditions, or jobs, which is not my argument. My recommendation here is simply that we challenge our cultural assumptions about labor at all levels, from parenting to education to policymaking, and ensure we take a more holistic approach to education that recognizes the dignity of each human person.

The abundant prosperity of the modern age has brought many blessings when it comes to child-rearing and child development, offering kids new opportunities for education, play, and personal development. Yet even as we celebrate our civilizational departure from excessive child labor, we ought to be wary of falling into a different sort of lopsided lifestyle.

Alas, as a day-to-day reality, work has largely vanished from modern childhood, with parents constantly stressing over the values of study and practice and “social interaction” even as they insulate their children from any activity that might involve risk, pain, or boredom. As a result, many of our kids are coming far too late to the arena of creative service and all it brings: dignity, meaning, freedomvirtuecreativitycharacter, and neighbor love.

Operating out of a justified fear of the harsh excesses of “harder times,” we have allowed our cultural attitudes to swing too far in the opposite direction, distorting work as a “necessary obligation of adulthood,” a gift too dangerous for kids. Working from these same distorted attitudes, the Washington Post recently published what it described as a “haunting” photo montage of child laborers from America’s rougher past. (more…)

Today at Mere Orthodoxy, I argue that

the duty of the Christian statesman (or stateswoman) to the poor requires defending human rights, supplying urgent needs, reducing barriers to market entry, and guaranteeing access to the institutions of justice, seeking realistic, gradual reform as possible and prudent.

Of particular interest to readers of the PowerBlog, I dedicate substantial space to explaining and advocating for free markets:

Jobs are what the poor need, and jobs are created by businesses. People settle for bad jobs only when good ones aren’t available. Thus, eliminating barriers to market entry ought to be of primary concern to the Christian statesman, combatting the unjust inequality created by closed markets. Barriers to entry include onerous occupational licensing and patent laws, high corporate taxes, zoning laws, overregulation, and subsidies. These things close markets to new competitors because, even though it might seem against their interest (except for subsidies), large, established firms are more likely to benefit from them and lobby for them (which is called rent seeking)….

In free markets, properly understood, these barriers are kept to a minimum, increasing competition and wealth creation. The more businesses there are looking for workers, the more demand there is for labor. Thus, not only will there be more jobs, but wages will be higher as well. It should be no surprise that the decline in American entrepreneurship has coincided with wage stagnation. Beyond wages, an additional benefit of increased competition is that it also drives down the price of consumer goods, thus lowering the cost of living for everyone as well. Free markets help the poor—and everyone else—in terms of production (labor), distribution (wages), and consumption (lower cost of living).

(more…)

Blog author: jsunde
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
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Does the work of a coffee buyer have an impact that stretches on into eternity? Does coffee tasting matter to God?

In a new video from Chapel Hill Bible Church, coffee taster and buyer Jeff McArthur shares how he came to see the deeper meaning of his work, both in the day-to-day trades and exchanges with his customers and community and in the relational ripple effects that reach on into the broader economic order.

“I feel like sometimes God has us in roles for reasons that we don’t immediately see,” McArthur says. “We’re helping to impact who goes into the café in the morning to get their coffee, but we’re also impacting the lives of those producing partners of ours as well.”

McArthur, who serves as Head Roaster for Counter Culture Coffee, outlines a range of areas in which simple, mundane tasks or responsibilities yield tremendous fruit, both material and spiritual. (more…)

When Bob Dylan wrote, “The Times They Are A Changin’,” I doubt he had the Swedish Academy in mind. Nevertheless, by awarding him the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature the Academy has made a bold statement for a change in the way songwriting is viewed as literature.

Many people have already complained that there were many more worthy potential recipients. But let’s face the facts: Bob Dylan won, and they lost.

He likely didn’t even know he was competing. (Reportedly, he was in Las Vegas for a performance when the award was announced.) But he won.

Now, I suppose it could be argued, as have some, that he hasn’t really produced any literature. Whatever one thinks of him winning, however, I don’t think that’s fair. Haters gonna hate, I guess.

The official press release, cited here in full, states, “The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 is awarded to Bob Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.’”

This isn’t much to go on. One would think that with such a revolutionary choice, more explanation would be in order. But, I mean, c’mon. (more…)