What a Chinese economist learned from American churches

“Only through awe can we be saved. Only through faith can the market economy have a soul.” -Zhao Xiao When French diplomat and historian Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s, he marveled at the “associational life” of American communities, noting the particular influence of religion and local churches. Continue Reading...

The cultural connection between economics and belief

Is there a connection between economics and belief? In a recent Karam Forum lecture for the Oikonomia Network, theologian Jay Moon uses a Perplexus ball to explain the overlapping influence and impact of distinct cultural spheres — what anthropologists call the “functional integration of culture.” According to anthropologist Darrell Whiteman, every culture can be understood as having three interconnecting sectors: (1) an economics and technology sector, (2) a social relationships sector, and (3) an ideology and belief sector. Continue Reading...

When online conformity mobs imitate government coercion

The social-media outrage machine is rather predictable these days. It doesn’t take much for companies and celebrities to offend the cultural consensus, spurring online mobs to respond, in turn: not through peaceful discourse or by turning their attention elsewhere, but by fomenting rage, abuse, and assault on the subject(s) in question. Continue Reading...

The cramped morality of trade protectionism

“If a product is seen only as the opportunity for work, it is certain that the anxieties of protectionists are well founded.” –Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Sophisms Drawing inspiration from a 1847 essay by the inimitable Frédéric Bastiat, economist Donald Boudreaux tackles a popular argument from today’s trade protectionists: namely, “that protectionism is justified if enough consumers or voters are willing to pay higher prices in order to help workers.” The problem, of course, is that such a perspective debases the value of labor to the value of products and vice versa, ignoring the many other relationships and ripple-effects that production and trade are bound to inspire. Continue Reading...