According to a common political narrative prior to the 2016 elections, progressivism has been ascendent and conservatism has been on an inevitable decline in America in significant part due to demographic changes. Among those changes is the growth of the Latino population, which is assumed to be a natural constituency for progressive politics. In the wake of the election, this may be one among many narratives that need to be re-thought.

Evangelicals are one of the fastest growing segments in Latino communities, and they demonstrates a high affinity to a pro-growth, free oriented agenda. Among Hispanics who affiliate with evangelical denominations, 40 percent identify as conservative against just 25 percent who identify as liberal. Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative, joined us here at the Acton Institute on November 17th to argue that past failures to garner support for market ideas among Latino populations have not been due to a rejection of those ideas by Latinos; rather, the failures have been the result of a lack of effort to promote the virtues of free-market, pro-liberty ideas within that community.

You can view Garza’s full Acton Lecture Series presentation via the video player below.

“The mundane progress driven by ordinary economic and social processes in a free society becomes dramatic only when its track record is viewed in retrospect over a span of years.” –Thomas Sowell

In a recent edition of Uncommon Knowledge, economist Thomas Sowell discusses his latest book, Wealth, Poverty, and Politics, which provides a comprehensive argument for the origins of prosperity.

“There’s no explanation needed for poverty. The species began in poverty,” Sowell says. “So what you really need to know is what are the things that enable some countries, and some groups within countries, to be prosperous.”

Revisiting many of the same themes and economic arguments found in his other works, Sowell adds a wider historical exploration of culture, geography, and politics, connecting the dots between each and critiquing competing social analyses along the way (e.g. Keynes, Piketty, etc.). (more…)

The nation of Spain is prosecuting 37 people – including former officials in the ruling center-Right party – for steering government contracts to their politically connected friends. It will not help the defense that the suspects gave themselves audacious, Godfather-inspired nicknames like Don Vito and “The Little Meatball.” While a disturbing example in itself, a series of studies show that corruption is becoming a growing threat in the EU – and the larger the government, the greater the level of perfidy.

The number of single-bid contracts in the European Union nearly doubled between 2006 and 2015, and the number of bidders per contract fell by 40 percent during the same period. The penchant for cronyism in such arrangements is obvious.

As government officials award contracts based on favoritism, citizens must resort to bribery in order to procure the services their taxes already funded. Transparency International found that, “[o]n average, one in six households” in Europe and Central Asia “paid a bribe when they accessed public services.” EU bribery rates – which range from zero percent in the UK to 42 percent in Moldova – generally track with the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, where the UK ranks only behind Switzerland, and Moldova ranks a dismal 117.

Interestingly, in Western EU nations, the most likely bribe recipients were part of the government-run healthcare systems. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Popcorn and lemonade sales point Detroit to fiscal health
Christopher Brooks , Washington Times

I have had the privilege of being born, raised and shaped by Detroit. Seeing the world through the lens of this beautiful but broken city has framed my view of human flourishing in ways that are truly amazing and counterintuitive

“Unfettered” Free Trade? If Only…
Scott Lincicome, Cato at Liberty

One of the most pervasive themes of the last year is the notion that America’s populist uprising, and the success of President-elect Donald Trump, has in large part been a direct response to the United States’ – and in particular the Republican Party’s – libertarian obsession with “unfettered” free trade.

Communities, not countries, are best equipped to fix the world’s economic woes
Peter Block, Quartz

As anxieties about an economically unstable future grow globally, there is an alternative mindset much closer to home—literally just around the corner, in fact. Instead of relying on federal policy, our local communities are constructing an economy and a way of being that promises more stability and more local control.

Why Don’t Food And Housing Count As Health Care?
Christianna Silva, FiveThirtyEight

The federal program that provides food and other services to low-income mothers, pregnant women and young children, known as WIC, can have a big impact on participants’ health. It has been shown to reduce premature births, increase vaccination rates in children and lower obesity rates. Yet as far as the government is concerned, WIC doesn’t count as health care spending.

 When you hear reports on the unemployment rate it’s usually a single number. For example, in October that number was 4.9 percent. But that single number is the national average, and can conceal a wide range at the state and local level.

For instance, in September South Dakota and New Hampshire had the lowest rates in the country—2.9 percent—while six states (Nevada, Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Alaska) all had rates that were twice that number.

Not surprisingly, states with unemployment rates that are rising tend to vote differently in national election than states where people are having an easier time finding jobs. As Anna Louie Sussman of the Wall Street Journal notes, of the 17 states where unemployment rose over the past 12 months, Trump won 13 while Clinton only won four.

President-elect Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump

Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, wants to change the rules of one of the biggest crony capitalist organizations in Washington.  He wants to make it easier for the Export Import Bank to dish out large amounts of corporate welfare to companies such as Boeing, which already brings in revenues upward of $95 billion per year.

USA Today reported in a recent article that “Graham, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds foreign operations, has added a provision to the 2017 spending bill that would allow the Export-Import Bank to consider projects of more than $10 million.”

Many supporters of free trade have long opposed the cronyism and corporate welfare of the Export-Import Bank, all while only celebrating minor victories.  In the summer of 2015, the Export-Import Bank’s charter expired forcing it to close its doors until five months later when Congress reauthorized the bank for another five years.

Another minor victory for those who oppose the Export-Import Bank might be the election of Donald Trump.  Although evidence from Trump’s past portrays him as a mercantilist, the president-elect is on record of making critical remarks toward the Export-Import Bank:

I don’t like it because I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s a one-way street also. It’s sort of a featherbedding for politicians and others, and a few companies. And these are companies that can do very well without it. So I don’t like it. I think it’s a lot of excess baggage. I think it’s unnecessary. And when you think about free enterprise it’s really not free enterprise. I’d be against it.


Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 21, 2016

acts2-5“The early church was socialist.”

Talk about economics and the church and you’ll eventually hear a Christian make that claim. The idea that the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles supports the idea that Christians should be socialists is an oft-repeated as if it were both obvious and true.

But is it? Art Lindsley explains why those passages do not pertain to socialism: