Capitalism tends to make Christians uneasy and conflicted. On the one hand, we recognize that free enterprise has been the most effect means of poverty reduction in the history of the world. But on the other hand, we are forced to admit that the system can be used to destroy the good, the true, and the beautiful.

How can we resolve this tension?

One important step, as Nathan Smith explains, is to better understand the “ideological heart of capitalism”—the doctrine of revealed preference as a theory of value:

Note: This is the fourth post in a weekly video series on basic microeconomics.

Now that we know what the supply and demand curves are we can put them together to understand how they affect prices.

In this video from Marginal Revolution University, we learn how prices reach equilibrium and how the market works like an invisible hand coordinating economic activity. We also discover why at equilibrium the price is stable and gains from trade are maximized, and why when the price is not at equilibrium, a shortage or a surplus occurs.

(If you find the pace of the videos too slow, I’d recommend watching them at 1.5 to 2 times the speed. You can adjust the speed at which the video plays by clicking on “Settings” (the gear symbol) and changing “Speed” from normal to 1.25, 1.5 or 2.)

Previous in series: How to understand the supply curve

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Can You Have a Good Life if You Don’t Have a Good Job?
Michael Lind, New York Times

Should the goal of public policy be to ensure that all Americans can have good jobs — or good lives? Politicians of both parties say one thing. Policy experts of both parties say another.

To reduce recidivism rates, give prisoners more books
Ephrat Livni, Quartz

The US Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 75% of released inmates are rearrested within five years—which is not just a societal problem, but also a major taxpayer expense. Yet a cheap, effective, and simple solution exists, several studies have shown: Reading reduces recidivism.

Immigrants Play a Disproportionate Role in American Entrepreneurship
Sari Pekkala KerrWilliam R. Kerr, Harvard Business Review

Immigration is one of the most divisive and polarizing topics today. Do immigrants take American jobs, or help our economy grow? Do immigrants drain our welfare funds, or can they help refill public coffers as our baby boomers retire?

How the Faith of C.S. Lewis Influenced His Views of Human Nature, Economics, and Politics
Art Lindsley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

“The more that people in government control our lives, the more Lewis encourages us to ask “why, this time power should not corrupt as it always has done before?””

bible-moneyIn a recent article in Commonweal, the Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart responds to a rebuttal article written last year by Acton research director Samuel Gregg. Hart say that “on at least one point Gregg did have me dead to rights: I did indeed say that the New Testament, alarmingly enough, condemns great personal wealth not merely as a moral danger, but as an intrinsic evil.”

What is Hart’s basis for the claim? That he can read the koine Greek. He believe the “actual biblical texts” are “so unambiguous that it is almost comical that anyone can doubt their import.”

Well, Dylan Pahman, an Acton research fellow and managing editor of our Journal of Markets & Morality, most certainly does doubt their import:

global-poverty-2-15The number of people living in extreme poverty continues to decline, notes a report released yesterday by the World Bank.

In 2013, the year of the latest comprehensive data on global poverty, an estimated 767 million people were living below the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day. This is a decrease of about 100 million compared with 2012. The decline is primarily attributed to the reductions in the number of the extreme poor in South Asia (37 million fewer poor) and East Asia and the Pacific (71 million fewer poor). Those areas show a change in the extreme poverty headcount ratio of 2.4 and 3.6 points, respectively

The one region where poverty remains doggedly persistent is Sub-Saharan Africa. This area has the world’s largest headcount ratio (41.0 percent) and is home to the largest number of the poor (389 million)—more than all other regions of the globe combined. The report points out that this is a “notable shift with respect to 1990, when half of the poor were living in East Asia and Pacific, which, today, is home to only 9.3 percent of the global poor.”

The key difference between East Asia and the Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa? Economic growth. Unfortunately, while noting this fact, the researchers who wrote the World Bank’s report claim the real problem is inequality. While inequality may be symptomatic of extreme poverty, it is not the primary cause—as the World Bank’s own report reveals.

For example, the report tut-tuts the increase in income of the top 1 percent (which is a key driver of income inequality):

Blog author: jballor
Monday, October 3, 2016

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.

And embedded in Jack White’s song are some rich theological insights. For more on the backstory for the song and the ad, check out this piece at the Consequence of Sound.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 3, 2016

Religious freedom on campus: What students can and can’t do
Candi Cushman, ERLC

How would you respond if one of these scenarios happened to your child, or to a student in your youth group?

Local Entrepreneurs, Not Foreign Do-Gooders, Are the True Hope of Africa
Paul Miniato, FEE

There are a billion people in the world trying to get by on a dollar a day. This grinding poverty persists despite huge amounts spent on private and government foreign aid since World War II.

Our New Report Offers a Free-Market Alternative to the Farm Bill
Daren Bakst, The Daily Signal

Why is there a special taxpayer-funded safety net to help many farmers with risk, when other businesses manage risk without such federal government intervention?

How ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Built Modern Conservatism
Christine Woodside, Politico

Think literature can’t change society? With catchy stories and a lucrative royalty stream, Rose Wilder Lane helped reshape American politics, from her young readers to the Koch brothers.