To Arthur Brooks video on Joseph Sunde's post on what is needed to change things. This appeared on Acton's blog.
There seems to be both one wrong message and a mixed message. The wrong message is that the Left is about things. That is wrong. The Left is first about extending democracy, which in turn, empowers many by dispersing power and preventing from consolidating.
Next, the mixed message is that to avoid austerity, we need to reform entitlement. Of course, reforming entitlements can often mean bringing austerity by harming the safety net he defended. This simplistic, reductionistic proposal does not look at the overall picture. There is another side to why we are approaching insolvency. That side is how those with wealth and power are insulating themselves from responsibility and obligation to support the system. They do this through tax cuts for themselves, decreased regulation on their businesses, and siphoning entitlements by paying poverty wages. So the test question for Arthur Brooks is, is he for mandating livable pay for low wage earners so that low wage employees of corporations do not have to receive entitlements? We should note that these entitlements act as subsidies for employers who are gaining a significant amount of entitlements despite their wealthy status.
Certainly transformation of faith, community, work, and such would be helpful. But to place the onus on that is to imply that the system has no faults. The above shows how parasitically exploitive the system is and the parasites include those with wealth and power. And yet, where is Brooks's message to them and the entitlements they are receiving?
To Bruce Frohnen and his blogpost about the overrating of gov't transparency and accountability. This appeared on the Imaginative Conservative Blog.
Of course, what is the alternative to transparency and accountability? Isn't it what we have now because despite the number of regulations that are in place, key regulations were either removed, blocked, or not enforced. And blame our financial woes on the regulations that were in place, as this article does, does not tell even half the story.
We have a choice. We can either pursue our individual lives and hope for a friendly tyranny, or we can opt for the hard way of self-rule where we use democratic procedures, and that includes more than a democratically elected government, to hold accountable those who would abuse us and others. Should we choose the former option, we might do well for a time but we will eventually have leaders who have the same self-seeking values and mindset which we have who will not be friendly to our pursuits. Should we pick the latter option, we might not do as well financially but we will have a better control on those who would harm while they were seeking their own ambition and treasure. My suspicion is that those who speak ill of the latter choice do so because they are benefitting from someone else who favors the first choice.
To Joe Carter's blogpost on the difference between conservative Christian and liberal Christian economics. This appeared on the Acton blog.
There are two problems with the first difference between conservatives and liberals here. First, certainly there is a law of unintended consequences, but should that law have us throw out the baby with the bathwater or consider the tradeoffs?
The debate regarding minimum wage. Yes, raising the minimum wage will have a positive immediate effect on those who are working for poverty wages. But, will they have the long term negative effect that conservatives project? And if so, how should we react?
So if raising the minimum wage hurts the poor by increasing unemployment or raising the cost of living, what is the conservative answer to the problem of people who are working full-time hours for poverty wages? What is the conservative solution to the problem of gov't subsidizing business's payroll when its employees need gov't aid to live because their wages are too low?
Second, should we also ask this question, should we accept a system that punishes the poor for demanding a living wage? The Conservative approach assumes that the system is adequate. But if full-time work leaves people in poverty, aren't we blaming the poor by proclaiming that only they should change? Doesn't the Conservative approach here simply ask the poor: "Do you want employment with your poverty?" After all, the wages paid by too many full-time jobs do not alleviate poverty. And thus since poverty is a fixed cost, employment is presented as a luxury.
The second difference borrowing a page out of Golda Mier's playbook. While the Prime Minister of Israel, Mier denied the existence of the Palestinian people. And the Conservative approach, according to Carter says that because today's poor have more than the poor during Biblical times, can the Biblical passages about the poor apply to today? The problem with this Conservative approach is that it never bothers to ask the poor what life is like. If it did, it would find that the poor are not a monolithic group. Some are getting by aid, some have to choose between food and heat or food and healthcare, and some are homeless. And the sum of those do not include all of the poor.
But perhaps this quote of Carter's that really shows the crux of the problem. According to him, the Conservative asks this question:
But what does it mean for the wealth to exploit the poor when the poor have nothing of value that the rich would want?
This shows the crux of the problem because, according to the Conservative approach, people only have extrinsic value. Just because each person is made in the image of God, that cannot imply that each person has intrinsic value. Rather, each person has an extrinsic value as determined by the rich. And that value, in a business culture where the only ethic is to maximize profits, can be manipulated so as to reduce people to be objects for profit. Some won't be given jobs while others will be paid poverty wages. Compare that with what James says to the rich in James 5:1-6 or with Moses wrote down regarding how we are to treat the poor. Or compare the Conservative approach here with this blog's Scripture verse for January
He who oppresses the poor to make much for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty--Proverbs 22:16
One of the problems with the third difference is that it is contradictory. To say that the rich need the help of the gov't to abuse the poor and to say that the rich will "more often than not" get help from the gov't to take advantage of the poor contradict each other. One requires the universal quantifier that says that those with wealth must get the help of gov't to facilitate its dirty work while the second says that just happens in the majority of cases.
The second problem is that it is only when we have "crony capitalism" that this occurs. Certainly, crony capitalism does occur. And when it does, more often than not, it is business that performs the role of the serpent while gov't performs the role Eve. And of course, wealth is the apple. If you take away gov't, business's character does not change. It is still the serpent. It is still driven by the love of money. And it is that love that enables business to abuse others.
Another way to meet this objection to be Spockian about it. When Conservatives say that the rich must have the help of gov't to hurt the poor, we should point out that such a statement implies that the rich either are unable to hurt the poor without gov't or are unwilling to hurt the poor without gov't. And to test that, one only needs to remove all gov't with its laws and regulations to see if the poor are still abused.
Have the rich used gov't to exploit the poor? Certainly. But the rich have both the power and willingness to hurt the poor without gov't because their first love is money and people have only extrinsic value.
The fourth Conservative point.
It is absurd. First, Conservatives are the only ones who love babies? Second, Conservatives are unaware that they have confused the concepts of economics and commerce. Commerce is about profits. Economics is about a pie in which commerce is a slice. But even if we were to grant the Conservative use of the phrase 'economic growth,' we should note that economic growth is limited because we live in a finite world. A number of people have pointed this out. And what Chilean economist, Manfred Max-Neef, has pointed out is that there comes a time when economic growth does not further human development; rather, it hurts it and holds it back. And an example of that time is when people have only extrinsic value which is assigned to them by the rich.
The Left's criticism, and note that the Left's viewpoints have not been addressed in this article, is that the purpose of institutions is to indoctrinate people to maintain the status quo for the benefit of those with wealth and power. When we read Carter's blogpost here distinguishing conservative economics from that of liberals, we need to ask, is he trying to prove the Left to be correct or is that just a coincidence?
Finally, we might also want to ask Conservatives, if their noble intention of caring for babies drives their economics, does their noble intention have unintended consequences or is it only the noble intentions of liberals that can cause problems?