God is a Capitalist

Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Baptists do economics

Baptists form the largest Protestant group of Christians in the US and so could have a large impact on how US voters understand political economy. But do Baptists have anything unique contributions to offer on economics? Chad Brand, professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, answers that in his 2012 book Flourishing Faith: A Baptist Primer on Work, Economics, and Civic Stewardship.

The most important contribution Baptists make is their history of distrust of government resulting from centuries of persecution. Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican Protestants all formed close ties with the state from their births. They were supported by taxes and used the brutal power of the state to enforce their particular views, often against Baptists, whereas Baptists generally insisted on a separation of the two spheres.

Readers today might be confused about that historical antipathy toward the state because since the rise of the Moral Majority in the 1980s Baptists seem to have decided to take a shortcut to building the Kingdom of God by using the power of the state. Dr. Brand reminds us, “Scripture teaches that all humans are sinners. A PhD from Harvard does not diminish that, and might even make it worse if those elites believe that their education makes them morally better people.” Brand echoes the public choice political economy of James Buchanan that economists and politicians are not saints or angels and usually have some goal in mind besides the public good:

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Supervisors are killing your business!

Research has shown that high turnover rates at companies are largely due to supervisors who are jerks. Why should that matter to business people? One reason it should be important is because the expenses of attracting, hiring and training good workers are much higher than business people recognize and can mean the difference between success and failure. As a Forbes article said,
...people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers, and a survey by B2B marketplace Approved Index confirms that this adage is true. In its survey of 1,374 employees in the U.K., nearly half (42%) of them have left a job because of a bad boss and almost a third of them feel their current boss is a bad manager. When asked why they disliked their managers, 41% cited a lack of recognition, while 40% said they felt overworked.
One of the reasons employees feel overlooked, overworked and underappreciated is because supervisors focus on pleasing the manager above them, not on developing a well-functioning team below them. That is human nature.

Monday, August 21, 2017

White supremacy is part of the left, not the right

The white supremacist organizers of the tragedy in Charlottesville, WV last week called their rally “Unite the Right.” That title reveals a deep ignorance of history and sorry reasoning skills. Racism has never been part of any definition of the right by any leader of the right in history.

There are two divisions within the right and left today – economic and social. Economically, the left is socialist and demands state control of the economy; the right favors free markets. The free market right opposed slavery in the 19th century, which caused the left, socialists who favored slavery, to give their discipline the name of the “dismal science.” See Wikipedia’s article on Thomas Carlyle.

Leaders of the left have often claimed that slavery was the natural consequence of capitalism, in spite of the historical evidence that all of the leaders of capitalism opposed slavery. Capitalists have always and at all times insisted that the only job of the state is to protect the life, liberty and property of every person equally. The left knows this but doesn’t want the public to know it. So they lie. Slavery was not a market failure or the logical result of capitalism. Slavery was the largest failure of government in the history of the West.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Is God a Capitalist?

The title is similar to that of my book, God is a Capitalist, but this is a different book that I only recently discovered and it makes some really good points. 

Pastors in the US have abandoned their flocks to the mercy of atheist wolves according to Gregory B. Grinstead in his book Is God a Capitalist? God’s Perspective on Governments and Economic Systems. Grinstead writes with authority, to evangelicals at least, having pastored the Palmdale Christian Fellowship for over 25 years.

Grinstead is referring to the desertion of pastors on the subject of economics and government. I don’t have the author’s background as a pastor, but my own experience and reading suggest that pastors throughout history have tended to baptize the status quo. If tyrannical emperors were in power that was God’s will. Now that democratic socialism is in fashion, that’s God’s will. Christianity failed to develop a sound, Biblical theology of government and economics until the 16th century when Catholic scholars at the University of Salamanca devoted their work to the task. Their principles bore miraculous fruit for three centuries, but it has all been forgotten in the deluge of atheistic socialism that began a century ago.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Zuckerberg – Embarrassed by riches

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, attracted a lot of attention with his commencement speech last May at Harvard, the school he dropped out of. He started off with some good advice to the graduates:
Now it’s our turn to do great things. I know, you’re probably thinking: I don’t know how to build a dam, or get a million people involved in anything.
But let me tell you a secret: no one does when they begin. Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started.
If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook.
Movies and pop culture get this all wrong. The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie. It makes us feel inadequate since we haven’t had ours. It prevents people with seeds of good ideas from getting started. Oh, you know what else movies get wrong about innovation? No one writes math formulas on glass. That’s not a thing.
Then he wanders into fantasy land. But I want readers to understand that I’m not criticizing Zuckerberg alone because he is merely regurgitating all of the nonsense that he swallowed through public education, college and the media, all of which promote unvarnished Marxism. He said,
Let’s face it. There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while millions of students can’t afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business.
Look, I know a lot of entrepreneurs, and I don’t know a single person who gave up on starting a business because they might not make enough money. But I know lots of people who haven’t pursued dreams because they didn’t have a cushion to fall back on if they failed.
Even at his young age, Zuckerberg should know that there are thousands of angels investors and venture capitalists scouring the country looking for the next killer app like Facebook. No one who has an idea for anything will be short of interested listeners. What’s really lacking are 1) people willing to put in the hard work to refine their ideas and 2) good ideas. No one deserves to have someone else pay to implement their idea if it’s a lousy idea. So how do we know it’s a good idea? Someone else is willing to pay to make it a reality. Experienced angel investors and venture capitalists do the hard work of analyzing ideas and risking their wealth to see that good ideas bear fruit. 

Then Zuckerberg delivers the socialist pitch:
We all know we don’t succeed just by having a good idea or working hard. We succeed by being lucky too. If I had to support my family growing up instead of having time to code, if I didn’t know I’d be fine if Facebook didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be standing here today. If we’re honest, we all know how much luck we’ve had.
How can it be luck if he spent so much time coding? Luck is the spin of a roulette wheel. Success at it requires no skill, hard work, intelligence or good ideas. If luck, then a defensive lineman on the Harvard football team who never wrote a line of code would have as much chance at starting Facebook as Zuckerberg did. But he admits he did work a little on the project, and suffered criticisms, before he succeeded :
Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook....
But be prepared to be misunderstood. Anyone working on a big vision will get called crazy, even if you end up right. Anyone working on a complex problem will get blamed for not fully understanding the challenge, even though it’s impossible to know everything upfront. Anyone taking initiative will get criticized for moving too fast, because there’s always someone who wants to slow you down.
The washing of his brain in socialist ideology through almost sixteen years of the US educational system programmed Zuckerberg to ignore reality and fixate on socialist fantasy. In spite of his insight and hard work, his entrepreneurial skills, he has been trained like Pavlov’s dog to express false humility and give credit to luck. Christians might ask why not claim it was an act of God? But that’s another essay. Socialists worship luck today. He continues:
Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New Deal and Great Society. Now it’s our time to define a new social contract for our generation.
We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.”
And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People like me should pay for it.
Of course, he and his wife created the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to give much of their wealth to help others and that is very admirable, but he has not done anything that most other wealthy people in the US have not done since the founding of the nation. The wealthy in the US have always been very generous to the poor. So why admire the socialist programs of the New Deal and Great Society? And why promote universal basic income? And why credit luck for his success? Because giving his money is not penance enough for his success. He will still be very rich and it embarrasses him.

Helmut Schoeck explains the psychology of wealthy people promoting socialism in his amazing book, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior. Most people suffer incurable envy of those in their social class who succeed more than others. They resent successful people and want to see them crash and burn. Before he achieved his dream, Zuckerberg probably envied (resented) the success of others, so he knows what others are thinking of him. He seeks to deflect the resentment of others and he knows the ritual to accomplish it, having watched other wealthy people perform it often. He must put on his wool shirt and attribute his success to something other than his own work and abilities, such as luck. And he must declare the system to be unfair and call for greater “justice,” that is, wealth redistribution, by the state. These rituals performed on a regular basis pacify the resentful spirits of the media and academia.

If Zuckerberg were a Christian he would be able to handle his amazing success much more gracefully. He would find no virtue in recommending a satanic system that oppressed the people of the USSR, China, North Korea, Venezuela, Greece and many other socialist countries. He would be grateful to God, give a portion of his wealth to the poor and enjoy his wealth, knowing he deserves it.
As Solomon wrote, "A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God," Ecclesiastes 2:24.