Category: Business and Society

Check out this Seattle Weekly article, detailing the experience of Armen Yousoufian, who sought public disclosure of records in 1997 relating to “the proposed new Seahawks stadium, now called Qwest Field, which was built largely with public money.”

When faced with government foot-dragging in release of the records, “Instead of giving up, Yousoufian was energized by the rejections. ‘They picked on the wrong Armenian!’ he liked to say.”

John Stossel exposes government welfare for billionaires in the form of public money for sports stadiums in his book Give Me a Break, in a section titled, “Sports Tycoon Freeloaders.” Sports teams very often hold local governments hostage, threatening to move unless new multi-billion dollar stadiums are built. So the taxpayers end up footing the majority of the bill.

Stossel relates a conversation with Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox, who says that the government “had to” fund his new stadium, but ends up admitting: “You mean, if somebody walks up to you and hands you money, you shouldn’t take it? The fact is–I was offered this stadium by elected officials.”

Stossel gets it right in his analysis of these situations:

Every scheme to create jobs through government spending means people who work and pay taxes have less money to spend on projects they would choose. But we in the media miss that. I can interview the people who got jobs or benefits from the government project, but I can’t find the people who didn’t get a job because money was diverted.

In light of the recent exodus from the AFL-CIO, Dr. Charles W. Baird examines the nature of labor unions through the lens of Catholic social teaching. “Catholic social teaching has supported labor unions as part of a general defense of freedom of association,” he writes. “This defense has not extended, however, to unions that are coercive or politically partisan.”

Read the full text here.

Dr. Charles W. Baird is professor of economics at California State University, East Bay and author of Liberating Labor: A Christian Economist’s Case for Voluntary Unionism.

A recent interview with Dr. Baird on the AFL-CIO split is available for download here (MP3).

Blog author: abradley
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
By

Crude oil prices have reach a record high $62 per barrel. Combined with Time Warner’s worse-than-expected recent earnings stocks dropped today as investors waited uneasily for the government’s latest petroleum inventory report. A barrel of light crude was quoted at $62.40, up 51 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gasoline rose more than a cent to $1.7945 a gallon while heating oil gained a cent to $1.7350 a gallon. As American refineries operate at nearly 100% capacity, prices at the pump may continue to rise due to increased summer demand, pending tropical storms and hurricanes, and increased tensions this week because of Iran’s nuclear threat. Are we learning anything here about the complex, multi-facted dimension of the economy?

From SoYouWanna.com:

“Socially responsible investing is when you take your beliefs and values and apply them to how you invest your money. This is also known as having a ‘double bottom line,’ because not only are you looking for a profitable investment, but also one that meets certain moral criteria and that lets you sleep well at night. Your second bottom line could be moral, religious, or based on whatever Chicken Soup for the Soul principles help guide you through life.”

Acton’s Sam Gregg underscores this last point in a commentary on why Christians should look closer at the ethics behind “ethical” investing.

HT: the evangelical outpost

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
By

On this date in 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was killed, shot dead from behind by Jack McCall while playing poker. He held a pair of aces & a pair of 8s, forever giving that combination the nickname “Dead Man’s Hand.”

Poker has come a long way since then, becoming a global multi-million dollar industry. There’s a good discussion over at World Magazine Blog, asking where parents should “draw the line,” given the rising popularity of poker among youth.

This story from CBS’s Morning Show last year profiled a mom who hosts poker nights for her son and his friends. Liz Perry says the kids are “having a great time. They’re …home. They’re not out on the street. They’re all great students great athletes and at night, this is a great way for them to hang out with each other and be with each other.”

Christian responses to gambling, card playing, and other games of chance vary, from the moderately permissive to the prohibitionist. Social conservative groups worry about the effect of gambling on young children. Keith Whyte, who runs the National Council on Problem Gambling, says “for most kids, gambling if they choose to engage in it will not be harmful. But for a percentage, four to six percent of kids will develop a serious gambling problem.” Some advocate greater government regulation and/or prohibition of gambling, saying that to do otherwise is to implicitly endorse the practice.

I would assert that governments should logically first cease the active promotion of gambling (via lotteries) before they take greater measures to restrict or discourage other forms of gambling. I just can’t see a substantive difference between spending money on the Mega Millions jackpot and having a night of poker with friends…except that the former is essentially a regressive tax promoted by the government.

Blog author: jballor
Monday, August 1, 2005
By

Here’s a view of procreation that doesn’t line up with the UN-sponsored “World Population Day”. In the midst of a discussion about a Jewish tradition mandating that each couple has at least one male and one female childe, Bryan Caplan at EconLog writes,

I’m on the record in favor of having more kids. I believe that, in most cases, both individuals and society would be better off if families had three or four. A lot of people have small families because they are mildly tired when they are young, and fail to consider that as a result they will be very lonely when they’re old. Two grown children is not enough to get a decent quantity of phone calls and grandchildren.

“Congress should not expand the powers of the FCC by giving it a new role to regulate the latest technologies. Instead, lawmakers should direct the FCC to simply resolve issues derived from the past AT&T monopoly and government control of spectrum. And then they should keep the agency from regulating new communication platforms, deferring to the communications marketplace for that job. What’s more, the current static legal classification of different types of communications services needs to be overhauled.”

–from Braden Cox, “Reform FCC — Limit It!” at Tech Central Station

I express concerns about the creeping power of the FCC here and here.

Blog author: jballor
Friday, July 29, 2005
By

Alan Warren / Associated Press

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, July 28, 2005
By

Slate features an article by Henry Blodget, a former securities analyst, which examines the investments of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts. In an analysis that has more than you would ever need to know about a person’s finances (and perhaps reads a bit too much into the investments), Blodget writes of Roberts, “His fortune is self-made, which suggests a bias toward self-reliance rather than entitlements and subsidies.” That sounds promising.

HT: Fast Company Now

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
By

S. T. Karnick over at The Reform Club comments on a recent suit filed against DuPont over Teflon, claiming that “DuPont lied in a massive attempt to continue selling their product.”

Karnick observes that abuse of the tort system is rampant, in part because “it has been perverted into a proxy for the criminal justice system: a means of punishing supposed wrongdoers through the use of a weaker standard of proof—preponderance of the evidence instead of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Trial by Fury

Law professor Ronald J. Rychlak outlines the changes over time to America’s tort law system in his recent book, Trial by Fury: Restoring the Common Good in Tort Litigation. The weakened burdens of proof is one of the trends that Rychlak investigates, in addition to increases in damage awards, the recognition of new torts, and the growth of class action suits.

Rychlak argues for a recovery of the purpose of the tort system. He concludes in light of the changes in tort law, “Effective tort reform, therefore, must return the system to one based on fault and causation, that holds responsible those who caused the damage, makes the injured whole, and does not impose upon the innocent.”