When Does Trade Become Extortion?

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?

Bait and Switch

My complaint isn’t with the market. Try running a complex society without trade or money. My complaint is how so many never practice what they preach. It’s a matter of bait and switch. That means promising something good but delivering something else. Economists are masters of bait and switch. The bait of utopian capitalism is… Continue reading Bait and Switch

The Wendigo Economy

Indigenous mythology is usually dismissed as pagan, even though the wiser among us know that our own deepest wisdom is steeped in mythological roots. It’s just considered legitimate to discount indigenous narratives as naive, and glorify even our own dumbest mythologies as profound. But it’s even dumber when a culture fails to develop a crucial… Continue reading The Wendigo Economy

Preference for the Poor

There are so many issues around poverty, but the spiritual issue is largely ignored in our consumption-worshipping culture. We’re all supposed to be medium-poor in our frugality of spirit, as we renounce the excesses of empty affluence. Instead we glut ourselves on all the commodities we can wring out of the market, and we ignore… Continue reading Preference for the Poor