Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 9, 2015

price-knowledgeI’m something of a cheapskate (or as I prefer to think of myself, prudentially frugal) and so I take special pleasure in finding a good deal. I’m also, by nature, rather grateful and so I frequently thank God for helping me to find goods and services at bargain prices.

But sometimes I remember to step back and be grateful for the larger system God has created that makes such exchanges possible: the price system. 

As I’ve said before, a “price is signal wrapped in an incentive to be coordinated by God.” Humans may set individual prices but it was God who designed the price system as a means of coordinating human activity for the purposes of human flourishing.

This isn’t an obvious concept, though, or necessarily easy to grasp. To better appreciate the benefits of the price system, it’s helpful to understand what would happen if it didn’t exist. What if there were no prices? How would you use available resources?

To appreciate why market prices are essential to human well-being, economist Howard Baetjer Jr. from Towson University explains market prices through the railroad thought experiment.

Sphere from dollar and euro on white isolated background. 3dWhat do people around the globe think of capitalism? To find out the answer the Legatum Institute commissioned YouGov to ask ten questions of populations in seven nations.

First, the bad news. Contrary to overwhelming evidence, large majorities in all seven of the nations surveyed agree that the poor get poorer in capitalist economies. The survey also notes that majorities of the populations in America, Brazil, India, Thailand, and Indonesia support protectionist measures to defend their manufacturing industries from low cost imports and pluralities support restrictions in Britain and Germany. The U.S. is also the most deeply pessimistic about the future and has a “suspicion about big businesses’ ethics.”

The good news is that despite this negative view, more people in all seven nations believe that the free enterprise system is better at lifting people out of poverty than government. They also understand the value of family and community for free enterprise to work. Overwhelming majorities in all seven countries recognize that strong community and family life underpin a strong economy.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 9, 2015

In Praise of Lord Acton
David Henderson, EconLog

In preparing for a conference I’m attending in Indianapolis, I read two chapters from Lord Acton’s book of essays titled Essays in the History of Liberty. What a treat!

What Happens When Low-Wage Workers Are Given a Stake in Their Own Company?
Teresa Ghilarducci, The Atlantic

HEB, a Texas grocery chain, is divvying up 15 percent of the company’s stock among 55,000 of its employees.

After Kelo, Governments Keep Nabbing Property
Jared Meyer, The Federalist

After the Supreme Court allowed governments to take anyone’s property for just about any reason, lawmakers pretended to fix the problem. It’s still there.

Borrowing While Poor
Gillian B. White, The Atlantic

Upcoming regulation won’t fix the underlying problem of payday loans: a lack of access to credit.

cop21-label_reduitHoo boy…the circus is coming to town. Paris is hosting the Conference of Parties (COP21) in December, that is, and the Big Top of big-government solutions to climate-change claims will, of course, include shareholder activists, many of them dressing up their progressive “sustainability” agendas with lots of churchy talk.

These activists are closely linked in a broad religious and secular campaign that in fact reduces shareholder value in support of “social justice” and other such ideological abstractions. For example, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility includes Boston Common Asset Management, LLC among its roster of Associate Members. According to its website,

Boston Common Asset Management is an experienced investment manager and leader in global sustainability initiatives. The firm’s unique investment process enhances conventional investment analysis with its proprietary Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework. The firm’s overall goal is to preserve and build capital by constructing diversified portfolios of high quality, sustainable stocks, with a keen focus on valuation, and to thereby outperform not only over a market cycle, but to achieve this with greater consistency and less volatility than market benchmarks.

Readers, please, feel free to scoff. It was impossible for your writer to refrain from chortling himself, and his bathrobe is still moist from the coffee snorted, in the manner of the late Danny Thomas, down the front. For those not in on the joke (here’s a clue for you all: I boldfaced the punch line above), I give you this, from an essay by BCAM’s Lauren Compere published Wednesday at the Huffington Post: (more…)

Last weekend was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, an annual day to put special emphasis on praying for the persecuted Church. Remembering the persecuted church around the globe, though, should be a continual effort for all Christians. We need to continually remind ourselves that our brothers and sisters are beaten, jailed, or even killed for their faith.

One group in particular that we need to remember to pray for is the underground church in China. In this brief video by Deidox Films, Li Yang provides a glimpse into an underground home church.

In this short addendum, Li Yang answers the question, “Is Christianity legal or illegal in China?” He explains why the question is difficult to answer and how the Chinese government protects its Communist ideology from the threat of Christianity.

Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith in the studio

Yesterday at The Federalist, I examined the claims of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during last week’s GOP primary debate that the “mainstream media” is dominated by “liberal bias.”

While there is some truth to this claim, as I point out in my article, the data paints a more complicated picture: Conservative outlets such as Fox News and (editorially) the Wall Street Journal outperform the closest left-leaning ones, CNN and the New York Times, by wide margins.

I write,

It would be fair to counter that cable news is not the only source on television, and not even the most-watched. Fox has no evening news like ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. The fact that, according to a recent study by the American Press Institute, “Democrats are more trusting of news from the three broadcast networks and the newswires, while Republicans are more trusting of news from cable” suggests the slant there tends to favor the Left.

However, people divide their news consumption today between mediums. That same study notes, “The 24-hour cable channels … are the source most often cited for four of the topics probed: politics, international news, business and the economy, and social issues.” So when it comes to political issues, the most common source, 24-hour cable news, is fairly evenly divided: Fox News generally has a Nielsen rating about equal to CNN’s and MSNBC’s combined.

A bit later on, I return to this point: (more…)

Series Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).