Acton Institute Powerblog Archives

Business and Society

A polite rebuke of Pope Francis’ economic confusion

Review of Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Robert M. Whaples; The Independent Institute, Oakland, CA; 2017, 234 pp. Having toiled in the free-market research universe for nearly two decades, perhaps the most common misperception I’ve encountered is “whataboutism.” Readers know of which I write: “What about BP and Deepwater Horizon?” or “What about Enron?” and, perhaps most stridently, “What about the mortgage-lending industry’s complicity in causing the Great Recession?” When this rhetorical strafing fails, there’s always the “What about the poor?” and the “What about the environment?” macro-strategies. Continue Reading...

Riding the net neutrality see-saw

This week, I was one of several commenters consulted in Nicholas Wolfram Smith’s article “FCC Repeal of Net Neutrality Leads to Lively Fight” for the National Catholic Register. I think Smith did a fine job conveying my primary concern: But according to Dylan Pahman, a researcher and managing editor of Acton Institute’s Journal of Markets & Morality, one of the problems with the 2015 net neutrality regulations was that it gave the government far too much regulatory power over ISPs. Continue Reading...

Financial deregulation expands opportunity

The Dodd-Frank Act became law in 2010, adding more regulation to a banking industry that was already heavily regulated.  The main purpose of this 2,300 page act was to give consumers protection against big profit seeking banks but the unintended consequences prove to be much greater.  Continue Reading...

Love is the Truth

This ad perhaps captures Deirdre McCloskey’s observation that “love runs consumption” better than anything I have yet seen. Coca Cola – What Goes Around comes Around from THE APA on Vimeo. Continue Reading...

‘You are the spring that puts all the rest in motion’

By Jacques Reich (undoubtedly based on a work by another artist) – Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1900, v. 5, p. 438, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8565386 “You are the spring that puts all the rest in motion; they would not stir a step without you.” John Wesley (1703–1791) was talking about the slave trade and was impugning the buyers and owners of slaves as equally culpable as those who captured and sold them, those who “would not stir a step” without buyers for their wares. Continue Reading...

The true face of ‘capitalism’

Frank Borman, then-chairman of the Eastern Airlines, said that “capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without Hell.” That’s one way to take Peter Heslam’s reflection on the closing of BHS in the UK, “Business with a Human Face.” I would add that the purportedly impersonal nature of market exchange is also what attracts many of its supporters. Continue Reading...

Don’t Politicize Transgender Issue

I want to be very clear from the outset that moral concerns surrounding transgender identity are not unimportant. But in the likely event that we don’t come to any national consensus on that question any time soon, it is important not to overlook other moral and social concerns that are far more pressing. Continue Reading...

A Policy Solution to Fix Inequality and Boost GDP

Andrew Biggs of AEI has a piece up today at Forbes addressing the gender pay gap and provides a neat solution: “forbid women from staying at home with their children.” As Biggs points out, such a policy would address perhaps the greatest root cause of gender pay inequality: varied work experience attributable to choices women make. Continue Reading...

The Odds are Never In Our Favor

In this week’s Acton Commentary, I take a look at “The Moral and Economic Poverty of the Lottery.” I take a look at the main parties involved: the winners, the players, and the government, and conclude, “Far from a force for good, lotteries are a danger to society.” The problems with lotteries and gambling more generally are various and sundry. Continue Reading...

Cultural Stewardship and Institutional Scrutiny

In today’s Acton Commentary, I have some further reflections on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The basic thrust of the piece is to encourage institutional thinking. We should expect that humans are going to institutionalize their goals because humans are natural institution builders, or culture makers. Continue Reading...