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Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For Dec 11, 2013

This is a new category of posts. It is dedicated to those conservative blogs that have blocked my comments for various reasons. IMO, they have blocked my comments because they don't want their readers reading my criticisms of their conservatism. It is for those blogs that I am creating this new kind of post. This post will be posted on Wednesdays.

December 9, 2013

To Joe Carter's Acton blog post on the Minimum Wage Debate. I was responding to point 6 that documented a disproving of the hypothesis that increasing the minimum wage does not hurt employment rates.


There is a problem with this post on the minimum wage, it is done assuming that the current economic system is the only system by which we should look at the question. The current system has as its ethic, the maximization of profits, that is the grabbing all one can for oneself. 

But note that that ethic can only be followed by some, not all, in society. To give an example, unions are blamed for the demise of some major American industries, such as steel manufacturing, because they were accused of grabbing too much for their members. But this blaming uses a filter to weed out other factors that might have been involved such as the advantages that competitors had. For example, the fact that our industries were competing with foreign companies that were subsidized. Or another advantage that was often ignored by those singling out union wages includes trade protection laws were in effect. 

We'll note however that many of the same people who blame unions for the demise of some of our industries defend CEO pay and the current ratio between CEO pay and lowest employee pay. So the maximization of profits, or the grabbing of all you can, is presented as a privilege for those at the top and a stigma for those at the bottom. And the problem that this ethic has that one is getting for oneself without regard for how it affects others. And when the privileged are honored for this ethic, it becomes the ethic of society because the privileged are portrayed as role models for success. 

Now let's look at point #6. The hypothesis that the increase in minimum wage has no effect on employment rates was proven wrong was proven wrong under the set of conditions involved that are determined by our particular economy at this time. And the problem with using this disproving of the hypothesis is that it assumes that the current conditions are constants and absolute rather than variables and adjustable. And this is an important point when discussing what is proven right or wrong especially regarding a social science, which is the kind of science Economics is. So suppose that investors take a smaller cut, would an increase in the minimum wage cause a decrease in employment? Or we also know that speculation is a significant part in the suppliers' price, so if we reduced or eliminated food speculation, could the savings be passed on to employees without causing a decrease in employment.

Or perhaps one of the biggest factor is that our economic system works on a competitive basis. If we eliminated or reduced the level of competition in our economic system, would an increase in minimum wage cause a decline in employment? Or if we had single pay, universal healthcare, would the increase in minimum wage cause a decline in employment? There are other variables we could discuss as well.

So the problem with Point #6 is that it assumes the current conditions to be absolute and thus we assume that an increase in minimum wage would always hurt employment. So perhaps instead of considering an increase in minimum wage alone, we should consider a change in our economic system as well because the suffering of the working poor is being ignored by our economic indicators and research though the continued increase in wealth disparity between rich and poor and between Black and White is too big to ignore.


I would address the other points but that would make this too long of a comment.

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To R. Scott Clark's Heidelblog's blogpost on Trust and Community. This post lamented the diminishing of trust people have in each other.


In making the case for the need for trust in others, Connie Cass is cited for observing that such trust is an essential part of democracy. Maybe we should look at a celebrated cultural value that might be a cause in the demise of democracy and perhaps in the loss of our trust in others as well. That celebrated value is today’s emphasis on individual liberty.
Today’s emphasis on individual liberty makes individual liberty the only liberty. When people embrace this emphasis on individual liberty, then societal liberty, which is what we can call democracy, can only be perceived as a possible threat because binding democratic decisions could be clash with an individual’s choice. Thus the enforcement of binding democratic decisions would be interpreted as coercion.
So we have a dilemma here. On the one hand, we should want more trust and community, the combination of which helps facilitate and maintain democracy, but on the other hand, the emphasis that some have placed on individual liberty can only see community and democracy as possible threats to individual liberty.
Thus, one of the ways we can build trust and community is to realize that individual liberty is not an absolute and thus the only liberty. Rather, individual liberty must be balanced with the need for societal liberty, as exercised in democracy, as a way to further trust and community and, as a fringe benefit, democracy.

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To Steven Rummelburg blogpost on New Age Monsters in The Imaginative Conservative. This post blamed the Enlightenment and today's emphasis on self-esteem for our society's demise.

Considering the source, I find this post a bit dubious. After all, didn't conservative political leaders do all that was mentioned above before it became popular. Ronald Reagan called people like Osama Bin Laden 'freedom fighters' and supported them while condemning Nelson Mandela. He, and his successor, George H. W. Bush, supported Saddam Hussein and called him a moderate, that is until Hussein invaded a neighbor and rich friend of the Bush family. Then we have Margret Thatcher who praised Pinochet and condemned Mandela.

And we have our own actions to account for. We helped overthrow democratically elected governments in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile to install dictators who gave us business favors.

But most of all, conservatives emphasize individual liberty so much that some see it as the only liberty. And thus they see democracies as potential sources of coercion because their binding decisions just might infringe on an individual liberty or two.

And as for Paul, the quote from him leaves identifying the actual characteristics of spirit that is working in the sons of disobedience rather difficult. But what is not vague is Paul's description of the love of money being the root of all kinds of evil. What conclusions should we draw using Paul's description of today's ethic of maximizing profits, not increasing the minimum wage, and today's neoliberal capitalist economy?

Thus, for this post to make its intended point, it needs to do so without regard for collateral damage. For this post has a valid point regarding the teaching of self-esteem in the schools. It isn't just the enlightenment and the proliferation of high self-esteem that contributes to today's problems, it is some of the ideology that conservatives hold near and dear too. 

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Dec 10

To an Acton blogpost that provides a lecture by Dr. Wayne Grudem on how to eliminate global poverty from an economic and Christian perspective. Click here for the post.



What has disappointed me about a fellow Westminster seminarian is that he tends to use the Bible to confirm already held conservative political leanings rather than thoroughly examining those leanings by using the Scriptures. And because of that, Grudem seems to struggle with examining the system he embraces from an outsider's perspective.

One of his points concerned the importance of economic freedom and the building gross national product. Grudem ties prosperity with a country's economic freedom. Of the top economically free countries Grudem mentioned, all have universal healthcare that is either all public or a mix of public and private where private providers are there to supplement public provision. In addition, the healthcare systems are well regulated by the government. BTW, the US was not in the list of the top economically free countries in the world. 

Continuing on his emphasis on economic freedom, Grudem stresses the Free Market, he prefers not to use the word 'Capitalism' because of its negative connotations, where the individual determines what to buy, sell, and produce rather than the gov't. But one of the problems here is that we don't exist just as individuals, we exist in groups. And so as a group, does Grudem's definition of the Free Market allow for labor to determine what to produce with labor consisting of a specified group of individuals? For once we allow workers to determine the means of production, we have Socialism. Perhaps in his book, some more details can clarify the confusion here, but in his talk, we don't have enough information to determine if workers are included with those who participate in the Free Market.

Next, Grudem focuses on increasing productivity as a means of bring prosperity. However, and we see this in this country, because of factors like technological unemployment, increases in productivity do not always translate into increases in prosperity. This point is supported by the fact that American workers are more productive now than before but they have not shared in the increased prosperity evidenced by wage stagnation. In addition, wealth disparity has grown as American workers have become more productive.

In addition, attempts to increase worker productivity can be supported by the market regardless of the means of increasing productivity. The stress that Grudem puts on increasing productivity leads to less worker control and more managerial control of production. And though Grudem would oppose this though it is smiled on by the market, increased managerial control for the sake of increased production can  involve sweatshop labor and practices that harm the environment.

Finally, the energy that fuels the Free Market, which is greed,  is the same fuel that causes people to abuse the Free Market and those involved. The only institution that has the power to control these abuses is the one which Grudem says should have less and less say in how the Free Market operates. That institution is gov't. 


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To Joe Carter's blogpost about the Pope's criticism of Capitalism on the Acton blog


Every economic approach has tradeoffs. And those who claim that the Left is utopian while believing that we can live off the fuel of greed while controlling its toxic emissions should check the mirror before speaking. Claiming that every Leftist position is utopian is a simple way of dismissing what the Left has to say without examination.

The Pope's statements could be taken in two ways. First, one could look at it as a total rejection of today's form of capitalism--realizing that there is more than one form of capitalism. Second, one could look at it as a correction for how capitalism is being implemented. In either case, the kneejerk defensive reaction against the Pope's statements reveals more about capitalism's apologists than the Pope's statements and with good reason. Today's growing wealth disparity and growing authoritarian gov'ts where neoliberal capitalism is being practiced should stir some ample dissonance for neoliberal's apologists and dependents.

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