When does trade become extortion? Economists say never, at least in principle. Free trade is a voluntary exchange between two parties who both stand to gain from the trade. Where’s the extortion? Let’s consider a criminal transaction in the airport of some backwoods country. A customs agent says you have to pay him a thousand… Continue reading When Does Trade Become Extortion?
I’ll do one more post on freedom — saving the real thing for last. You find my other posts on freedom summarized here. Now it’s time to call in the big guns — the spiritual argument. In the Anglican liturgy of my tradition, it says that to serve God is “prefect freedom”. What?? Service? Freedom?… Continue reading Perfect Freedom
What? Why? Well, I’ve done several posts on freedom. The first was on empty freedom. Then degraded freedom followed by fake freedom and radical freedom. But why escape from freedom? Actually the idea came up in those previous posts. In Economics and Freedom, our addiction to empty freedom is seen as an impediment to real… Continue reading Escape from Freedom
Is consumerism a mental illness? Well, that depends on what it means to be mentally healthy. A paper from the World Psychiatric Association defines mental health as a state of internal and external equilibrium that produces a feeling of personal well-being. Let’s look at those pieces. Internal equilibrium is a matter of finding a satisfactory balance… Continue reading Is Consumerism a Mental Illness?
We live in a bizarre world where we believe in libertarian free-market ideology, while we let the corporate sector practice socialism. Yet we don’t admit to either of them. “Wait”, you say. “I’m no libertarian. I believe in public parklands, and city street cleaning, and municipal firefighters and all kinds of other public services. The… Continue reading Corporate Libertarian Socialism
Sometimes it seems like everything is the exact opposite of what it claims to be. Take capitalism. It claims to be a decentralized Invisible Hand of free competition — ensuring that all economic abuses are reined in by the discipline of competition so that nobody is able to exploit anyone else. In practice, it is… Continue reading Bitcoin — Not As Advertised
Back when I taught Economics to gullible undergrads, and to even more gullible grad students, I posed a conundrum. (I couldn’t push it too hard for fear of heresy.) But it’s actually not that difficult if put in straightforward terms, so those who have not been afflicted with Economics courses should bear with me. It… Continue reading A Bizarre Theory That All Economists Believe
Believe it or not, I’m going to trash Bitcoin on spiritual grounds. Is there no limit to my irreverence? Most people know almost nothing about bitcoin and the bewildering array of cryptocurrencies that are swirling around it now. Even for computer nerds like me, it’s a serious struggle to get a handle on it, and… Continue reading Beware of Bitcoin
I’ve written about freedom before, where I began by presenting some ideas from William Cavanaugh’s book Being Consumed, in a post called Economics and Freedom. Then later I threw my own quirky economic ideas into the mix with another post called Fake Freedom. But now I’m tackling a formidable French author, Jacques Ellul, on the… Continue reading Radical Freedom
We have to stop looking at the food bank as a place that keeps the destitute alive — keeps them out of sight over there, so we can feel good about ourselves over here. We have to stop looking at food bank recipients as society’s lost souls, cast aside with little left to contribute to… Continue reading More Than Food Banks