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Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil -- I Timothy 6:9-10a

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For August 27, 2014


Aug 15


To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost and blogcast on grace and race including  his interview with Rev Leon Brown. This appeared on Heidelblog.


Our problem with race is an instance of a more general problem: tribalism. Though it is natural for us to divide into groups and have an affinity for each group, when loyalty to that group trumps our commitment to principles and morals so that what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom, we have tribalism. And we have this problem with a number of different kinds of groups including, race, economic class, religion, political ideology, theology, and national identity.

And though the Church has the answer in the Gospel, it often seems that those outside the Church are living that answer while we get mired in tribalism.

One more problem here is that those of us who are White need to reach out knowing that we will not understand what Blacks have gone through because such understanding requires that we share their experiences ourselves. But we can still reach out by listening in order to learn, by being sympathetic, and by showing solidarity with those from different groups. We need to show solidarity with those from different races, economic classes, religions, political ideologies, theologies, different nations, and whatever else divides us.

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Aug 26


To Joe Carter and his blogpost comparing Great Britain's economy to that of  the 50 states. This appeared in the acton blog


There are a number of problems here. First, if you want to criticize Great Britain's economy, realize that starting with Thatcher's regime, there was a neoliberal drive to privatize many of what was public services. In addition, there was an attack on some unions during that time. So what is it that we are singling out when criticizing England's economy when both economies still pursue neoliberlism?

But we also want to note that single variable evaluations do little to tell the whole story. For example, we can compare the purchasing power as done above. However, if we don't factor in state provided services, such as healthcare and other safety nets, then how do graphs like the one above give an adequate enough picture of wealth? This is especially true regarding healthcare because healthcare costs here are one of the most common causes for personal bankruptcy. How many people from the UK suffer from healthcare related bankruptcy?

We might also want to ask what similarities exist in the countries being compared. The above point about the UK adopting neoliberal capitalism is such and example of a commonality between the two. 

We might also want to ask what does comparing a nation that was once a mighty empire to the states prove? Does it prove that Britain should resort back to being an empire?

So we might ask what other information being excluded in order to try to prove the point above. Of course that point is that as long as we take care of the richest among us, the rest of us will do well.

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To Anthony Bradley and his blogpost on when the Church was the center of society and took care of the poor. This appeared in the acton blog.

Are we comparing apples to oranges here? After all, when the church met needs during the 1600s, wasn't there a smaller population who were more dispersed with an agrarian lifestyle and economics? How does that compare to now? 

In addition, how well did the Church meet the needs of the poor especially of those who lived in urban areas? What were lives of the poor like right before FDR's programs? Did his programs help people who were previously living in poverty?

And how will the Church react to the nonChristian poor whose lifestyles go contrary to the Scriptures?

Finally, how interested are today's churches in meeting all of the necessary needs for all of the poor?

That we would want the Church to be more involved with poor is commendable. But to use that as an attack on government so that government can forget representing the poor because the Church is taking care of them seems to forget that our government should be a government of all of the people. 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two Unrelated Events That Show What We Miss

While this blog was taking a break, two events occurred which can tell us what seems to forever go over our heads. The first event was the suicide of Robin Williams. While most heralded Williams talents and comedic genius, his real contributions were left unsaid. For while getting too caught up in how he performed, and he went beyond performing by giving of himself personally, we missed who he was as a person. He was a giver, he was empathetic, and he was compassionate. And he exceeded many Christians in what should be considered these Christian qualities because he had an outward-directedness to his life. But most of all, he was sensitive. We could see that in the roles he played and how he played them.

Perhaps if we watched his movies and learned the sensitivities his movie characters displayed from films like Dead Poets' Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, and Good Morning Vietnam  we could grow as people. His roles in those movies taught us things about what it means to be human. And how he played those roles showed that these sensitivities were a vital part of who he was for both good and bad. Becoming more human is what we will miss if we only focus on his tremendous talents. For it is about being human that Williams has much to teach us.

Of course, some of my fellow Christians will protest this. They will say that he was not a believer in Christ, which is probably true, and that much of his material went against the Scriptures, which is somewhat true. And so they conclude that we have nothing to learn from him. But the Scriptures beg to differ with that kind of arrogance. Romans 2 tells the Jews then, and includes all of us who are religious now, that we can be easily shamed by the conscience-driven acts of unbelievers because of our own sins. God can use the goodness that most unbelievers have to remind us of how sinful we are especially when we get caught up in performing religion rather than practicing it. And we perform religion when we use it to exalt ourselves above others (see the parable of the two men praying and Paul on judging others).

The Scriptures provide a guide on how to filter the material that comes from people like Robin Williams. So rather than shunning what he has to say because we ourselves prefer to perform religion, we should use the Scriptures to discover what we can learn from people like Williams.

The other event that occurred was a community's reaction to the shooting of one of its own in Ferguson, Missouri. Those of us who have shredded Francis Schaeffer's warning  against seeking our own personal peace and prosperity will not only have the greatest difficultly in understanding the reaction of the people there, we will exhibit the greatest resistance to even learning about the people's protest. In fact, most, if not all, Whites in America will not be able to understand how the people in Ferguson feel. Why is this the case?

Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef uses topics like love and poverty to show us that understanding comes from experiencing, not studying. This is why he says that unless we fall in love, we can never understand it. He says something similar about poverty. The same applies to understanding lives of the people in Ferguson. The killing of Michael Brown was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  And regardless of the actual facts in the Michael Brown case, it is what the people of Ferguson have had to live through, along with the belief in Michael's innocence, that have many in Ferguson saying, "enough is enough."

Enough is enough of what? A spiraling increase in crime and racially targeted police stops make up part of the problem. So is the racial makeup of Ferguson's police force. In addition, we have a national problem where it has become to easy to perceive that Whites are favored by police while Blacks are automatically viewed as suspects. New York City's Stop And Frisk program lends much credence to this police discrimination against Blacks. And then we have had a number of shootings with impunity of Black kids by White police officers or even citizens. And there have been reports that some Blacks are framed for drug offenses they did not commit. When we add to that the fact that the economic recovery has bypassed almost all but the very rich, we get a sad, Picasso-like picture of life for people who live in areas like Ferguson.


Certainly justice must be done concerning the shooting of Michael Brown. But life will still go on in Ferguson after the investigations have been publicly released. And with that life are the problems that were a part of life in Ferguson before the shooting. And that is what we will be missing if we focus too much on the shooting of Michael Brown. This is not to minimize the shooting and the investigation. Shootings, like the one of Michael Brown, are a tragic part of the lives of many minorities in America. However, I am saying all of this to draw attention to the problems of regular life in communities like Ferguson as well. Perhaps, if we studied and learned about these kinds of problems in the communities near us, we wouldn't need public flareups or dramatic events to discover the problems that many of our fellow citizens live with on a daily basis and to react to them.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Reviewing The Cultural Case For Capitalism Part 8 Of 12

In this week's episode of Jonathan Witt's A Cultural Case For Capitalism, Witt wants to draw a sharp distinction between the Free Market and Crony Capitalism. In addition, he wants to tout the achievements of the global market that, is in large part, a result of Crony Capitalism. It's as if he wants it both ways.

Again, Witt's target is Wendell Berry because of Berry's criticisms of Capitalism. We should note that Witt does appreciate some of what Berry says. However, Witt believes that Berry's writings approaches "land idolatry," something we should keep in mind for later, and it is, as written above, that Witt believes Berry can no longer distinguish between "free economies" and Crony Capitalism. Crony Capitalism is where competitive advantages in business comes from a collusion between those in the private and public sectors. This is why Witt presents as an alternative "the American Experiment of broad economic freedoms and limited government." 

One problem with Witt's solution is that this American Experiment contained neither. We should note that many American based corporations were able to establish themselves because of government provided protectionism and maintain themselves or grow because of State Capitalism--which is where a significant part of the business comes from the state. Another problem with Witt's solution is that his support for "limited government" practically conflates democratic governments with elite centered governments by aiming to limit all of them without distinction. This not only limits the power democracy can have in society, it fails to eliminate elite centered rule because such rule stems from power and power is not limited to those who have authority. Power is equated with having the ability to make changes whether one has the governmental authority or not.

And in fact, Witt seems to be targeting democracy when speaking about limiting government. For when Witt rightly criticizes Crony Capitalism, he neglects to tell us that unfair advantages in the Free Market can be gained through secret deals between businesses and elites in the private sector. His example of the American Tobacco Company, having morphed into the Tobacco Trust, provides such a example of that happening. In Part 7 of A Cultural Case For Capitalism, Witt tells the story of the founder of the American Tobacco Company, James Buchanan Duke, and how he "aggressively expanded" the new technology of a cigarette rolling machine invented by James Bonsack. Hidden behind the phrase "aggressively expanded" is the fact that a secret deal between the two, which included diminishing royalties, gave Duke a price advantage over other companies which made it necessary for other companies to eventually join Duke's group to survive.  1 Eventually, his Tobacco Trust was found to be in violation of antitrust laws and was ordered to break up. 2

If anyone wants to claim that the government's use of antitrust laws in principle is an example of government overreach, he/she will have to argue with one of the economic heros of the modern Free Market and of those, like Witt, who write at the Acton blog, Milton Friedman. For it was Friedman who said that there are two threats to the Free Market: government and businesses. And he added that it is government's responsibility to the Free Market to prevent any business from gaining unfair advantages that would reduce competition.

So what we have here with Witt's parts 7 and 8 of A Cultural Case For Capitalism is a double standard where if businesses gain a competition destroying advantage through government favors, it is called Crony Capitalism. But if there is collusion between businesses to gain the same kind of advantage, it is used as a positive example of building a company. Again with the emphasis on limited government regardless of whether it is democratic, this points to Witt favoring elite centered rule with the real power resting with non-elected elites from the private sector. 

Now we must deal with Witt's endorsement of the global economy and large corporations. Here, Witt points to a one factor analysis--that the current economy has reduced abject poverty in the world. Witt does acknowledge corporate abuses in this but praises the result in a way that suggests that the ends justify the means. His one factor analysis also suggests that, like what he accuses Berry of, he has submitted to an idolatry--it is the love of money.

So here, we really need to ask critical questions about this victory which Witt so praises. We need to ask how much misery has actually been reduced by this global economy when some countries are seeing a reduction in the number of people in the middle class because more are approaching poverty and how much misery is being alleviated by the reduction Witt brags about. We might also ask about other costs such as damage to the environment, exploitive working conditions, and a loss of freedom along with a reduction in reliance on democratic procedures.

We might also want to look at the specifics of the numbers themselves. When I have seen these kind of claims, most of the reduction of those living in such poverty are from Asia. And while a substantial number of them come from India where free trade measures have moved tens of thousands of Indian farmers to commit suicide due to debt, another significant number of people being raised out of "extreme poverty" come from China. And the problems with using numbers from China are multiple. 

The first problem with using China is that, because of the global economy, China has suffered severe environment damage such as dramatic increases in air pollution. Second, because of this global economy, some workers are pressured into accepting sweatshop labor conditions for the privilege of working and being raised out of extreme poverty while others lose their jobs. And finally, one cannot attribute China's improved numbers to the Free Market since their market is significantly controlled by the State. So to include China's numbers in with the statistics being used to make claims about the Free Market reducing world poverty is deceptive at best.

What we see with Witt's new global, free economy are inconsistencies along with partial information used to obscure its complete impact on the world. But most of all, this economy is reducing the control people have over their lives by shrinking democracy and shifting that control to elites in the private sector. And I write this as someone who views Wendell Berry's alternatives to Capitalism as being impractical. 

References
1.  Brandt, Alan M.: The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America, p. 29. Basic Books, 2007 cited in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Tobacco_Company

and 

https://www.tracy.k12.ca.us/sites/rlee/Shared Documents/History of the Americas II/Industrial America Unit/Industrialist Biographies/Duke Bio 2007.pdf

 

2.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Tobacco_Company  








Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For August 13, 2014


Aug 6

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on the comments policies of his blog. This appeared on his Heidelblog.


It is certainly your prerogative to block or delete any comments you want. It is your right to censor the comments published here. But at least use this c-word in describing what you are doing especially when you so filter the comments to support your view and are selective in the evidence you cite when forming opinions about others and their ideas--like you do with socialism. BTW, you might want to add that you not only filter by what is consistent with the Reformed faith, you filter by what is consistent with conservative politics.

Your policies here are just a small part of why I disillusioned with the Reformed Churches by by fellow believers in the Reformed faith. 

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August 8


To Steve Berman and his blogpost on Ann Coulter and Kevin Brantly. This appeared in the restates website


I like what was said about Brantly. But I cannot share your assessment of Coulter. It seems that not only does she encourage a tribalism conservative Americans, there are indications that she also favors a collective narcissism--where normal people display narcissistic tendencies about a group they are involved with rather than themselves as individuals. 

But it isn't just that. The way she disagrees with nonconservatives doesn't foster discussion; rather, it seems to purposely instigate animosity. And in that sense she acts as an entertainer who profits from riling people up. It is Christian to entertain that way?

This post is very good in how it supports Kevin Brantly with the mission and risks he undertook. Thank you for that. But as for Coulter, we need to realize that the measure of a person is not seen in how they interact with friends and like-minded people, but it is seen in how they speak to all others. This is where Coulter's conservative tribalism and desire to promote a collective narcissism around America conflicts with what the Scriptures would have her write.

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August 11

To R. Scott Clark and his short blogpost on social justice and religious liberty. This appeared on Heidelblog.

I agree with the statement. But we should also note the past problems where people used religious liberties to deny others their rights. This occurred during Jim Crow. We cannot afford to defend such misuses of religious liberties.

In addition, it isn't that defending the rights of others is as important as helping the poor. It is that both of those is as important as sexual purity.

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August 12

To Joe Carter and his blogpost citing an article that is against a national guaranteed income for people.  This appeared in the Acton blog

We have a choice in an economic system that financially sacrifices people in order to maximize profits. We can call for the government to provide a guaranteed income or we can guarantee a growing poverty level. BTW, Martin Luther King was in favor of the first option.

When chosen by itself, I agree that the guaranteed basic income poses problems. It is a handout without empowerment. Thus, perhaps, instead of ruling out a guaranteed basic income, we should examine the different ways in which other countries are addressing this issue and see what changes we could make.

Finally, something I learned from reading Denmark's approach is that levels or classes in society are not always determined by income and healthcare as they are in America. There are other factors that distinguish classes of people such as profession and location. So there can exist other motivating factors for people to live by besides the fear of starvation. In addition, we should note the collective spirit needed for people of a country to care about the welfare of others.

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To Sarah Stanley and her blogpost on the left's challenges to the influence on government exercised by corporations. This appeared in the Acton blog.

We're going to compare how Adam and Christ represented all of humanity with how corporations represent a group of people and we are doing this because we object to corporations being forced to expose their lobbying activities? And we are to accept the differences in money spurred representation in legislation between corporations with money and poor people who are without? Is that because we prefer the $1 - 1 vote system to the 1 person - 1 vote system.

It seems that the person cited, William Cavanaugh, is doing all he can to confirm what the Left has said about the Church. That the Church is just another institution of indoctrination to maintain the status quo for the benefit of those with wealth and power.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost citing Hayek regard inequality and poverty alleviation. This appeared on the Acton blog

Basically, Hayek's view is that one must cater to the rich first before one knows what to give to the poor. So before we knew that the poor needed housing, food, and healthcare, only the rich had to have access to these luxuries.

My suspicion is that Hayek's views are written to protect the rich from living more like the rest of us and so instead of being told the truth, we are told that our welfare is tied to protecting and even catering to the rich first. BTW, what are the rich actually doing for us in this age of runaway wealth disparity?

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To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost on Chesterton and Christians living as exiles in the world. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Christian engagement in the world is complex and nuanced. We are told to follow Christ and his presence in the world was because God loved the world. At the same time, we are told that to love the world is to not have the love of the Father. How do we reconcile those two ideas?

The idea of living as exiles can help but does not provide the full answer. After all, the Jewish exiles from the Old Testament had lived in the Promised Land, we haven't. So some of how the exiles lived can apply to us. But so can some of how the Hebrews wandered the wilderness can apply to us because they, like us, have not been to the Promised Land. Then we have Jesus who came as a suffering servant to imitate. But we also have his warnings against laying up our treasures in heaven and not letting life's worries, riches, and pleasures replace our faith.

From this all too brief survey of both sides of loving the word, an all too clear pattern emerges. We are to love and care for the people of the world while being detached from the sinful drives and pleasures that permeate the world. And perhaps the Church needs to not only provide a hope for after the world, it needs to provide a hope for helping the world too along the same values we use to love the world.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

May The Rule Of Force Be With Us?

Early on in the War on Gaza, a Palestinian teen was kidnapped, killed, and burned. Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu correctly promised to bring those responsible to justice and then used his response to the killing in comparing Israel to those around it. He stated that Israel allows no room for murderers while its neighbors regard murderers as heros (click here). 

Now that was a long time ago in the beginning of the War against Gaza. That was in early July of 2014. Fastforward a whole month to now and we get a different picture of Netanyahu and Israel. Netanyahu is now asking for America's help in preventing Israel from facing war crimes charges before the ICC (the International Criminal Court). In fact, the Israeli government has not even decided if it will cooperate with a possible UN investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel (click here). Why? Because according to Netanyahu, Israel doesn't commit war crimes, only Hamas does, and we've heard this from Western leaders before. For it was George W. Bush who said that the US doesn't use torture--he could have added that we use a thesaurus instead because he called the American treatment of enemy combatants  "enhanced interrogation." As for the assertion that Israel does not commit war crimes, we need to read how, a while back, Major General Doran Almog avoided being arrested in Heathrow Airport on war crime charges (click here).

Perhaps the 2003 invasion of Iraq is a vintage example of what we are seeing in the armed interventions being committed today. Then, President Bush's justification for the invasion included accusing Iraq of breaking of international law. At the same time, Bush's America refused to be accountable to international law. In fact, the US even applies economic pressure on countries that would support making America accountable before the ICC (click here and there). Despite our claims, we weren't submitting to the rule of law, we were following the rule of force.

Of course all of this exempting the powerful from playing by the same rules as everybody else has its start with the UN Security Council veto. This insures that permanent members of the Security Council can make null and void any of its pronouncements against  themselves and their friends. This is how Israel can thrive despite the number of UN resolutions it routinely breaks in maintaining the Occupation while other countries can be attacked or even invaded based on a single accusation made by one of the powerful ones.

So what we have today are America's invasions, its adventurism in Africa, the expansion of the Drone Wars, Russia's involvement with the Ukraine, and Israel's slaughter in Gaza, all with no legal repercussions ever taken. It is all a repeat of the American 2003 invasion of Iraq as well as other crimes committed before. This is despite the international resources we have to legally address war crimes committed by anyone. Instead, what we are left with is Thucydides. For it was Thucydides who, when writing about the Peloponnesian War, observed:
The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must 1

Perhaps, this is why Machiavelli is so widely read and respected. And since history shows that what Thucydides said has always been the case, why get upset? There are two reasons to protest the continuing of this time honored tradition. But the first reason depends on who is doing the protesting. 

A while back ago while attending a protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, the speaker called the protesters, "people of conscience." Why did he use that name? It was because what we had in common was a conscience that overrode our loyalties to nationality, political groups, religion, and ethnicity. We had Jews, Christians, Muslims and Seculars who were protesting Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. We should note that the alternative to being a person of conscience is either submitting to tribalism or trying to escape to some fantasy island of our own making. 

See, we have only one immediate hope to stop today's global downward spiral. That hope is that enough people of conscience will emerge who will put a stop to the current insanity which has been embraced by most, if not all, of our leaders. We need Americans of conscience to stop America's foreign policies. We need Russians of conscience to stop what Putin is doing. We need Jews of conscience to stop Netanyahu in his tracks. And we need Muslims of conscience to not only stop ISIS, but to stop Hamas as well. We need people of conscience all over the world to stop fellow countrymen whose avarice and ambition drive them to abuse others. 

Why call what is going on today insanity? We have the West, for the sake of economic expansion, provoking a nuclear superpower in the Ukraine. On the other side, you have a delusional thug, Putin, who wants to return Russia to the glory days of when it rivaled the US and to prove his point, he is currently increasing the number of violations of American airspace with his bombers. Do either Obama or Putin understand what happens if there is a mishap here?

At the same time we have Netanyahu slaughtering over 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza over the kidnapping and brutal murder of 3 Israeli teens while claiming that the difference between his country and its neighbors is that his country follows the rule of law. Doesn't he know history? Doesn't he know that nobody stays on top for ever? And doesn't he know what paybacks are? 

Then we have ISIS in Syria and Iraq and if we are honest, we will admit that we had role in creating or sustaining this monster. We should note that its leader was incarcerated by American troops with the invasion of Iraq. We should also note that some of the support for ISIS is due to the oppression of Sunni Muslims by Iraq's Shiite government. Again, paybacks are not pleasant. And of course, this list of insanities is only a small partial list of what exists in our world.

And all of that brings us to our second reason: the inevitable proliferation of WMDs. And we could include with this proliferation the current destruction of the environment. It is the combination of world conflicts in which we have this inevitable proliferation with the current destruction of the environment that the current Doomsday clock has been set to 5 minutes before midnight by those at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (click here and there).

We don't have much time to put up with the insanity of those whom we have granted authority. And even if we did, we are sociopaths if we don't feel moved to stop the suffering of those who are bearing the brunt of the violence and attempts to dominate being exercised by our world leaders.

Those of us who are economically privileged can still choose to temporarily bury our heads in the sands of our prosperity and pursuit of pleasures. But the insanity of our leaders will either crash our world or that of our children.

So that's how the world is today. We are following yesteryear's delusions brought by greed and the desire to dominate with today's technological weaponry. Our advances in technology have far outpaced any moral progress we might attribute to ourselves. We have advanced in weaponry but we still lack self-control. Despite the abundance of compliments with which we shower ourselves, we follow the rule of force because we can. And we do all of this with a flare of self-righteousness and entitlement. 

So it is simple. If we don't change, we don't survive. If we don't change our desire to dominate and accumulate, we will destroy ourselves. And if we don't survive it will be because of the insanity of our leaders and the passivity of the rest.


References
1.    https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/melian.htm





Monday, August 11, 2014

ONIM For August 11, 2014

Christian News


World News



Pick(s) Of The Litter



Friday, August 8, 2014

Reviewing The Cultural Case For Capitalism Part 7 Of 12

In this week's episode of Jonathan Witt's A Cultural Case For Capitalism, Witt wants to answer the question of what Capitalism has done for us. And though he doesn't fully accomplish that task, he uses a sour grapes story to introduce the subject and makes at least one disturbing revelation about why he so favors Capitalism.

The sour grapes story Witt uses comes from Wendell Berry who is a neo-agrarian supporter. Berry is down on capitalism because of how his grandfather with his tobacco farm faired in a time when the American Tobacco Company dominated the scene by eliminating all competitors. Berry blames Capitalism via American Tobacco Company's monopoly for his grandfather's financial hardships because once establishing a monopoly, this company set the prices so low that Berry's grandfather could not make decent money from his tobacco crops. 

Witt wants to set the record straight that it was not Capitalism's fault. And though Witt makes a couple of valid points to contest Berry's claims, the direction Witt takes us is still unsettling. We won't go through his whole argument here, but we should note that Witt faults Berry for not protesting the product, which were cigarettes, being made. Rather Berry focussed on Capitalism. Witt faults Berry's grandfather's choices and the government for the grandfather's economic woes. This is because his grandfather's choice of crop to farm caught up to demand and the government instituted policies that hurt the market price of cigarettes.  

But Witt goes beyond that. Witt defends the monopoly and the profit policies pursued by the tobacco company. Witt wants to answer the question asked at the beginning: What has Capitalism ever done for us. He answers the question by describing how this particular tobacco company contributed to the economy. It contributed by producing an affordable product and by expanding tobacco farming in the region. So with results like that Witt asks, how could one fault either the tobacco company or the kind of capitalism it practiced?

We should note here that Witt has his own Wendell Berry moment of faulting the wrong thing. For while Witt finds fault with how Berry blamed capitalism and not cigarettes, he celebrates the establishment of a monopoly. This wrong, or at least inconsistent, for Witt to do. Why? It is because he believes in the free market and a free market relies on competition. But competition does not exist when a monopoly is in place--even Milton Friedman would acknowledge this. Thus, though a market for making cigarettes existed during Berry's grandfather's farming days, it wasn't a free market for the farmers. 

So it seems that having a free market isn't as important to Witt as he claims (he mentions "free market" in at least parts 1, 2, and 8 of this series). What is important is that business is in control of the market. This takes us back to our opening diagram (pictured below).


American Capitalism Today

By rejecting government, provided that Witt does not believe businesses should be run democratically, his acceptance of a business dominated market means that he is in favor of a business Elite Centered rule--and that rule is not just an economic one. And it appears that Witt recognizes the founder of the American Tobacco Company as having sole ownership rights of the company, since he found it, with no ownership considerations being granted to the farmers though they supplied the raw material for his business. Rather, according to Witt, these farmers are either to be grateful for the tobacco company doing business with them and expanding the number of farms, including the farmers who did not do well, or produce another crop. This, of course, provides further confirmation that Witt's views are in quadrant #3. And we should note that the further down in quadrant #3 one goes, the more tyranny will be practiced. In addition, the further to the left one goes in quadrant #3, the more wealth disparity will be seen (click here for the original explanation). This point about wealth disparity is what Berry is protesting in the first place.

But there is a more important observation to be made here. That observation revolves around the measurements Witt uses to justify a business or even economic system. To Witt, it is all about numbers. If a business or system is lowering the price of a product and expanding the number of employees, as the tobacco company referenced in this blogpost by Witt did, then no further questions are to be asked. We don't consider Berry's concerns about inadequate compensation for his grandfather's crops because Witt has already addressed them by blaming the farmers for their choices and the government for intervening. We simply look at the lower prices the consumers pay as well as the expansion in the number of tobacco farms. And to Witt, this is how Capitalism is to be judged. Capitalism is to be judged by the "prosperity" it brings to a select group of stakeholders.

Is it any wonder then that Martin Luther King made the following assessment about Capitalism while he was comparing it to Marxism and socialism? King said the following (click here for the source):
thus capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism 
When numbers, especially those related to consumption and wealth for some, are the only measurement used to determine the value of Capitalism, then King's analysis becomes inescapable. This is especially true because negative outcomes for non-select stakeholders are so easily swept away by the favorable numbers. This is when we are told no further questions are to be asked. The "no further questions" would concern themselves with fairness and morality for all stakeholders as well as show concern for the environment. But using just numbers, and carefully selected ones at that, is the standard operating method for many who justify and promote Capitalism. It isn't that numbers themselves which is the problem; it is that they don't tell the whole story.

This is the direction we are heading for with Capitalism. It is first Elite Centered where democracy is shunned in favor of control by the wealthy from the private sector. Then collective ownership rights are also spurned regardless of the inter-dependencies involved in a business or the economic system as a whole. Such a combination promotes both a wide wealth disparity and tyranny. And we will note that tyranny can come from the private sector as well as the public one. This is all done in the name of increased prosperity but for select groups. And as increased prosperity either trumps fairness and morals or makes them moot, materialism, rather than human values, become dominant in assessing systems. With all of that being where Witt is taking us, it is ironic that Witt, and others like him, claim to have the moral high ground over others who disagree. Then again, maybe it isn't ironic, perhaps it is just part of the necessary marketing Capitalism uses to retain customers despite the sounds of suffering and discontent.