God is a Capitalist

Monday, December 11, 2017

Will political polarization cause divorce?

A few writers have wondered since the election of President Trump if the country is so fractured that another great divorce like that of the Civil War is in our future. Pew Research has provided the statistics to fuel the debate. Recently, John Hawkins wrote “Do Conservatives And Liberals Have Enough in Common to Keep A Country Together Anymore?” on Town Hall. As if counseling troubled marriage partners, Hawkins asked what we have in common?
The Constitution? Conservatives believe in it. Liberals believe in a “living Constitution” which is fundamentally no different than having no Constitution at all.
Religion? Conservatives tend to believe in Judeo-Christian values. Even atheists who are conservative tend to at least be friendly to those values. Liberals mock Judeo-Christian values.
What about patriotism? Conservatives tend to love their country. Liberals love this country like a wife-beater loves his spouse.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Capitalism creates psychos according to professor

Socialists continually flail stuffed monster versions of capitalism they have sewn together from pieces of their fevered imaginations. Usually I just ignore them because their versions of reality are irrational and I don’t want to be the greater fool who debates with a fool. But a recent assault on capitalism caught my attention because it came from the University of Chicago, Hayek’s old haunt.

John Rollert, an adjunct assistant professor of behavioral science at Chicago Booth and in-house ethicist, wrote “The savage ethics of ‘American Psycho’” for the Booth School of Business blog. Now it’s hard enough to get the average US citizen to watch a You-Tube video on economics, let alone read a book. When they do, they often come across nonsense such as this from Rollert:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Don't let socialists ruin Thanksgiving

The socialist who claims to be an evangelical, Jim Wallis, posted an article in his Sojourners magazine recently encouraging families to debate politics while trying to digest turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Here is a portion:
A sad reality in the past year or more has been our ongoing struggle to engage in difficult conversations — with our longtime friends, with coworkers, or even with family members across the Thanksgiving table. We’ve always had differences around social and political issues — racial justice, immigration, religious identity, health care, guns, etc. — but those divisions are starker than ever. Our traditional and social media have become so fragmented and polarized that we find ourselves practically inhabiting a different reality than those we disagree with; we only really hear or engage with the perspectives of those with whom we already largely agree. This is not a tenable situation for our country — or for our families. If we are to maintain meaningful relationships, we need to actively engage in difficult conversations with people we disagree with and find some common ground for the common good.
I believe that there are moral issues, values choices, and faith matters that lie just beneath the political headlines. Conversations around those — leading to action — can get us further than our political debates. I also believe there are two great hungers in our world today: the hunger for spirituality and the hunger for justice, and the connection between the two is absolutely vital now.
Socialists like Wallis want to politicize every aspect of life. Socialists should put on the left pant leg first, and condemn as racist everyone who does the right first. Socialists should brush their teeth from left to right and those who go the opposite direction are guilty of hating the poor and wanting them dead. The left hates all police so the right has to defend them even if they’re guilty. The right supports the military so the left feels compelled to trash it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Jekyll and Hyde nature of individualism and what is means for China

Nobel-prize winning economist Edmund Phelps ties economic growth to the spread of individualism in his forthcoming book. A November 3 Streetwise column by James Mackintosh, “What Martin Luther Says About Capitalism,” summarizes Phelps’ book:
The more individualistic a country is, the better it has used its labor and capital. ...even in recent years, countries with more individualistic cultures have more innovative economies. They demonstrate a link between countries that surveys show are more individualist and total factor productivity, a proxy for innovation measuring growth due to more-efficient use of labor and capital. Less-individualistic cultures, such as France, Spain and Japan, showed less innovation than the individualistic U.S. 
In God is a Capitalist I summarize the work of Geert Hofstede who trail blazed research on the connection between individualism and economic growth in the 1970s, Shalom Schwartz in the 1990s, and William Easterly in 2011. All found very strong correlations between individualism and economic growth.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Was the Reformation worth the deaths?

October 31 wasn't just Halloween. It was also the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany and launching the Protestant Reformation. Tuesday was the 500th anniversary of that event. Economist Bryan Caplan asks if the lives lost in the wars that followed were worth it?
...the Reformation's main fruit was over a century of horrifying warfare. The Thirty Years' War, with a death toll around eight million, is the best known. The French Wars of Religion claimed yet another three million lives. These numbers are even more gruesome when you remember that Europe's population was far lower back then: For 1500 AD, Angus Maddison assigns twelve million to Germany and fifteen million to France.
For what did these millions die? The standard story, as far as I can tell, is that the Reformation helped free Christianity from the "corruption" of the Papacy. Priests stopped scalping tickets to heaven and supporting their mistresses with the proceeds. Is that supposed to be worth millions of lives? 
That's an odd question coming from a libertarian like Caplan because he is really asking “how much is freedom worth?” Of course, Caplan is an atheist so he sees no value in religious freedom.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Trump's tax plan doesn't excite

Knowing my interest in economics, several people have asked me what I think of President Trump’s tax plan. From what I understand, the plan would reduce corporate taxes and the top rate on personal income taxes. Politicians will spend enormous energy debating, editing and refining this plan over the next several months, but it amounts to little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

My attitude infuriates Republican groupies who see the plan as the salvation of the country. But we old folks have seen it before. President Reagan slashed the top personal income tax rate from about 90% to around 35% and the economy took off like a rocket, or so Republicans keep telling themselves. In reality, the economy rebounded sharply from one of the worst recessions in the 20th century if we sum the 1981 and 1982 recession that six months separated. Together they were as bad as the “Great Recession” that began in 2008. If the Fed or the government don’t do something stupid, as Hoover did with the Smoot-Hawley tariff, entrepreneurs will always make the economy rebound sharply after such a deep recession.

Next, Reagan pumped billions of dollars into the economy with a massive military buildup in his poker game with the USSR. The military spending caused the budget deficit and federal debt to explode. Republicans had until then opposed deficit spending for long periods but learned to love it under Reagan and still seem to be very fond of it. Deficits and the debt don’t disturb anymore.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Millennials are socialists for a reason part 2

Last week I wrote about the power of family values and envy to direct the political philosophies of young people and how that has become apparent in the tilt of millennials towards socialism. There is another reason why millennials are more socialist, although it may be a rationalization for it than a cause. That is the socialist propaganda that asserts the US and UK are free market economies.

An article at project-syndicate.org, “The Case Against Free-Market Capitalism” by Ngaire Woods, perpetuates the myth:
Free-market capitalism is on trial. In the United Kingdom, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accuses neoliberalism of increasing homelessness, throwing children into poverty, and causing wages to fall below subsistence level....
Just a quarter-century ago, the debate about economic systems – state-managed socialism or liberal democracy and capitalism – seemed to have been settled. With the Soviet Union’s collapse, the case was closed – or so it seemed.
Since then, the rise of China has belied the view that a state-led strategy will always fail, and the global financial crisis exposed the perils of inadequately regulated markets.” Woods calls the US “the paragon of free-market democracy.