Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 14, 2016
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socialism-0916“In spite of socialism’s sorry track record, millions of well-meaning people think it’s a virtual synonym for compassion,” says Lawrence Reed. “But socialists themselves are constantly retreating from their own handiwork. It’s socialism until it doesn’t work, then it was never socialism in the first place. It’s socialism until the wrong guys get in charge, then it’s everything but.”

Socialism never seems to have any theory of wealth creation, only fanciful schemes for its reallocation after somebody goes to the trouble of creating it.

Oxford Dictionaries (whose slogan is “Language Matters”) defines socialism as “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

What is meant by “the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole”? If you own a convenience store, are you supposed to put to some public vote the decisions about what to stock the shelves with or whom to hire for the night shift?

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 14, 2016
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Friendliness Is an Economic Revolution
Nathan Keeble, FEE

We’ve lived like this so long most people’s reaction is no longer one of amazement when these things happen.

Are Americans Enamored with the Wrong Kinds of Entrepreneurs?
Roger L. Martin, Harvard Business Review

Americans adore entrepreneurs. In every poll that I have seen, entrepreneurs are held in high esteem even as big business is generally viewed with disdain. Why?

Muslim attacks on Christians are rising in Egypt
Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post

A “disturbing wave of radicalism” has deepened sectarian tensions, as community leaders and human rights activists say the smallest disagreements are setting off violence.

India Surprises with a Wealth Tax on the Black Market
Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution

In a move to curb the black money menace, PM Narendra Modi declared that from midnight currency notes of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 denomination will not be legal tender.

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Vernon L. Smith speaks to Samuel Gregg at Acton University.

UPDATE: The full interview is now available online.

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In June, Nobel economist Vernon L. Smith gave an Acton University speech titled “Faith and the Compatibility of Science and Religion.” While he was in Grand Rapids, he sat down with Victor V. Claar and went into some of the specifics of his lecture, as well as his vast experience in economics, including experimental economics. Their conversation was recorded as the cover feature for the Fall issue of Religion & Liberty. As a preview for this publication — which will be available soon — enjoy part of the conversation between these two esteemed economists:

Victor Claar: How did you first become interested in economics?

Vernon Smith: Well, I was an undergraduate at Cal Tech. I didn’t even know that economics existed. I was studying physics, chemistry, and mathematics. As a senior, we had a course, Principles of Economics. I was just fascinated by economics. By then, I pretty much decided I probably wouldn’t continue in science or engineering. I hadn’t decided what to do instead. But I took that course, and then I knew what I wanted to do next, which was to go back home: to the University of Kansas. I chose Kansas because that’s where I was from and, being entirely self-supporting, I could take advantage of their low in-state tuition. So I got a master’s degree there in economics. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Friday, November 11, 2016
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Edward Feser, with a nod to Thomas Aquinas, discusses whether there might be such a thing as virtuous Schadenfreude. As Feser puts it, “On the one hand, the suffering of a person is not as such something to rejoice in, for suffering, considered just by itself, is an evil…. However, there can be something ‘annexed’ to the suffering which is a cause for rejoicing.”

My collaborator and friend Victor Claar and I ran up against something like this in our engagement with Thomas on the topic of envy, and Thomas’ treatment of these questions should be read as an annex to the part of the Summa that Feser looks at. Envy is defined, following Aristotle, as grief or sadness or sorrow at the good of another. When you take the responses of grief and joy to another’s good or ill, you can plot them into four possibilities: joy at another’s good, joy at another’s ill, grief at another’s good, and grief at another’s ill.

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Envy and Schadenfreude are linked because they are opposite reactions to the evil or good of another. The envious person is the kind of person who will rejoice in the ills suffered by another, and vice versa.

And just as Thomas cautions against joy at the suffering of another because suffering in itself is evil, so too does he caution against grieving at the good of another, even as he leaves open the possibility of what might be called “righteous indignation” at the unjust or undeserved goods enjoyed by an evil person. In this case, Thomas warns against such feelings, because it really is only up to God to judge what someone really and truly deserves, and, in fact, something might be “annexed” to that good that makes it turn out to be even worse for that person.

For more on envy in relationship to economics, check out: Jordan J. Ballor and Victor V. Claar, “Envy in the Market Economy: Sin, Fairness, and Spontaneous (Dis)Order,” Faith & Economics 61/62 (Spring/Fall 2013) 33-54.

Victor has also spoken on envy in numerous venues for Acton, including Acton University. Here’s a link to a talk from a number of years back.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, November 11, 2016
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ThankYouService“Thank you for your service,” they say, as they shake our hands and pat our backs.

We smile and thank them for their gratitude and try to think of something else to talk about. These encounters with strangers happen from time to time, though always on Veteran’s Day. It’s the one time we can count on civilians—a group from which we came but can never fully return—to think about us.

On Veteran’s Day, they think of the men and women who march in the VFW parades. They think of their grandfathers, the gregarious World War II sailors, eager to share sea stories, and their uncles, stolid Vietnam-era airmen reticent to talk about the war. They think of the aunt who served in the Persian Gulf and the neighbor’s son who recently shipped off to Afghanistan.

They think of us when they see us in airport terminals, young soldiers and marines, giving our teary-eyed parents a welcome-home embrace as we return from recruit training. They think of us when they see us on airport tarmacs, older soldiers and marines, kissing our runny-nosed kids goodbye as we leave for missions of peace-keeping or war-making.

They think of us as we are in the movies: marching off to war with stoic resolve and assaulting beachheads with quiet determination. They think of us aligned on parade grounds, weapons and uniforms sparkling in the sun, postures the very picture of discipline.

They think that military service is about combat and heroism and uncommon acts of valor.

But there are things a veteran knows.
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, November 11, 2016
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How the faithful voted: A preliminary 2016 analysis
Gregory A. Smith and Jessica Martinez, Pew Research

The 2016 presidential exit polling reveals little change in the political alignments of U.S. religious groups.

Is the Market Our God?
David Gordon, Mises Wire

Cox says that he is not opposed to the capitalist market if kept in its proper place, but he contends that people wrongly worship the market as God.

Make Religious Freedom Great Again
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

Donald Trump promised that he would make America great again. If he is to make good on that promise, he’ll need to start by robustly restoring our first freedom: the free exercise of religion.

Creating marketplace success — and successful, godly people
David Durell, Washington Times

Innovation and creativity are credited with much of the vast material wealth and cultural richness that has been built in the West. There are multiple theories to explain this phenomenon, but in my experience, this dynamic stems from the nature of God, the first Creator.

Yesterday, Hillary’s concession and Donald’s victory speeches would be made only one mile apart at the Midtown Hilton at the Javits Center in New York City. As the night wore on, the Clinton party quickly soured in the ballroom while the Trump camp began uncorking the bubbly. The opposing sentiments set the two camps a world apart.

Clinton’s presidential campaign director John Podesta, with aplomb, delivered unwanted news: for now the Democrats’ dream had died and all those sobbing at the Javits Center should wipe dry the tears and call it a night. They would get some rest to renew their political fight.

The reaction, however, was far from noble among Clinton’s media ‘adorables’ here in Italy. There was weeping to be sure, but also gnashing of teeth. (more…)