Category: The Economy

Will There Be Zombies? Part 1
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Will There Be Zombies? Part 1

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As we all know, the end of the world is coming soon. No, I don’t mean the eschaton, the final event in which the Son returns all things to the Father. That will be, by all accounts, a very cinematic event, full of all sorts of special effects. It will be, no doubt, very entertaining […]

Big Deal or No Big Deal?
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Big Deal or No Big Deal?

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As the August 2 deadline for a debt-ceiling deal drew near, many expected a big deal that would significantly change the direction of federal fiscal policy. After weeks of tumultuous negotiations, partisan bickering, and impassioned histrionics, the agreement that finally emerged was, to put it bluntly, no big deal. Ironically, the most accurate assessment I […]

The Reagan Stimulus vs. the Obama One
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The Reagan Stimulus vs. the Obama One

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How ironic that as America debated its debt ceiling all summer and faced a stunning credit downgrade, the nation approached a most timely anniversary: It was August 13, 1981, that President Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Act. Understanding Reagan’s thinking 30 years ago is critical to discerning where we are now. Reagan’s initiative was the […]

Protect the Poor, Not Poverty Programs
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Protect the Poor, Not Poverty Programs

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One of the disturbing aspects of the liberal/progressive faith campaign known as the Circle of Protection is that its organizers have such little regard – indeed are blind to — the innate freedom of the human person. Their campaign, which has published “A Statement on Why We Need to Protect Programs for the Poor,” equates […]

CL24 - hbratton notxt
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The Number One Failure of Modern Economics

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  In a recent Reuters opinion column, Mark Thoma faults academic economists for their failure to predict the housing crash. He says their failure can be attributed to the disconnect between academia and economic forecasters. I don’t agree with Thoma, but I do think he gets it right when he says the failure of modern […]

Bernanke and the Potemkin Economy
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Bernanke and the Potemkin Economy

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On July 11, The Center for Vision & Values posted my article decrying the insulting name-calling directed toward Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke. The very next day, Bernanke made me question my forbearance by telling Congress that a third round of “quantitative easing” or “QE3” could be a near-term option. Now it’s my turn […]

Fertile Ground for Farm Subsidy Cuts
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Fertile Ground for Farm Subsidy Cuts

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With […] a growing consensus that federal spending at current levels is unsustainable, political support for farm subsidies is waning fast. What’s more, high crop prices and clear injustices are building bipartisan support for significantly cutting agricultural subsidies in the 2012 Farm Bill. The New Deal introduced an enormous number of agriculture subsidy programs paved with good […]

Distributism and the Health Care System, Part 2: Ending Oligarchies and Monopolies
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Distributism and the Health Care System, Part 2: Ending Oligarchies and Monopolies

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It should be clear that the vast majority of current thinking about the problem does little to address the underlying causes of our dilemma [see Part 1].  And this is odd because the mechanics of prices are well known and have been since the time of Aristotle. No competent economist of whatever school disputes these […]

Distributism and the Health Care System, Part 1: Free Market Confusions
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Distributism and the Health Care System, Part 1: Free Market Confusions

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Distributism would be of little practical use if it could not provide useful answers to practical problems of the type we face practically everyday. I believe distributism does indeed provide a useful set of tools to analyze these problems and to devise useful solutions. But the proof of this claim can only come in the analysis of […]

Debt, Finance, and Catholics
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Debt, Finance, and Catholics

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Debt and deficits seem to be on everyone’s minds these days. Whether it be worries about the American government’s fiscal woes, Europe’s fragile banking system, or the debt-as-a-way-of-life culture that disfigures so many lives, many people are seeking guidance about how to release ourselves from this mess with our souls intact. In this regard, Catholics […]

Size Matters
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Size Matters

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The current deficit and debt ceiling negotiations happening in Washington represent politics at their worst – politics on steroids.  Amidst the posturing and prevaricating, however, one conservative has emerged with a legitimate plan to liberate America from its bondage of debt.  This week, Senator Tom Coburn released a 600-page plan that would reduce the deficit […]

Could You Survive Another Great Depression?
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Could You Survive Another Great Depression?

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I just read two very interesting articles on the U.S. economy, written from historical perspectives. They compelled me to share my own historical perspective. And what I want to say is more about our changing culture than our economy. One of the articles, by Julie Crawshaw of MoneyNews.com, notes that the “Misery Index”—the combined unemployment […]

Distributism and the Current Crisis, Part 3: Localizing the Economy
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Distributism and the Current Crisis, Part 3: Localizing the Economy

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[Part 1, Part 2] Political subsidiarity would mean little if the industrial system remained concentrated; it does no good to collect taxes locally if the production of goods, and therefore the production of taxable values, is not also widespread. We’ve noted the problems and inefficiencies of the current system, a system that is highly dependent […]

Solutions for the "Tax Gap"
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Solutions for the “Tax Gap”

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In 2010, there was a “tax gap”—i.e., the difference between federal taxes owed and those actually paid—of $410–$500 billion. Some of the gap stems from the complexity of the tax code. Much of it, though, is deliberate­­: self-employed individuals working for cash, table-servers under-reporting tips, taxpayers claiming unauthorized credits and deductions. And don’t forget the […]

Commodifying Compassion
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Commodifying Compassion

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Religious progressives are often quick to condemn those who extol the virtues of market economies for focusing too much on material concerns. This charge of materialism is, in fact, a core and valid insight contained in most critiques of consumerism, a phenomenon in which people tend to equate their own value and meaning with the […]

Energy Freedom Now
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Energy Freedom Now

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Mark Twain is usually credited with the quip that “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”  The same is certainly true of our dependence on foreign, and often unfriendly, sources of energy – particularly when gas prices soar and every American feels the pinch. The difference, of course, is that we […]

Distributism and the Current Crisis, Part 2: You Say You Want a Devolution?
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Distributism and the Current Crisis, Part 2: You Say You Want a Devolution?

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[Part 1] Conservatives express great frustration with the egregious violations of the Constitution by the legislatures and the courts, violations which ensure that power gravitates to the federal government, while the states become mere bureaucratic subdivisions of the federal apparatus rather than partners in a political union. In response, they call for a devolution, a […]

The Limits to Bernanke's Power
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The Limits to Bernanke’s Power

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As chairman of our country’s central bank, the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke is expected to put the economy on a sound footing and foster strong economic growth. Unfortunately, Bernanke faces “mission impossible”—partly because the policies implemented by Congress, the president, and bureaucrats account for much of what happens to the economy, and partly because […]

Minimum Wage Law Backfires in American Samoa
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Minimum Wage Law Backfires in American Samoa

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A 1961 Reader’s Digest piece called it “America’s shame on the South Seas.”  American Samoa remains relatively impoverished compared to the rest of the United States to which it is attached. Recent efforts to invigorate its economy offer a lesson in government planning and unintended consequences that those who seek to help the poor would […]

Distributism and the Current Crisis, Part 1: The Scale of Government
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Distributism and the Current Crisis, Part 1: The Scale of Government

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Discussions of what to do about the current crisis commonly take the form of an argument between “socialism” and “capitalism.” However, such a discussion is flawed in both of its terms. Real socialism collapsed in 1989, and few would want to return to that horrific system. What is less well understood is that pure capitalism […]

Europe's Not-So-Revolutionary Youth
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Europe’s Not-So-Revolutionary Youth

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As the European Union’s financial crisis continues to unfold across the old continent, many young Europeans are belatedly realizing their economic future looks rather bleak. Unfortunately, the tens of thousands of young Europeans who have taken to the streets of cities such as Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Athens, and Paris in recent months to express their […]

Who Owns Our Jobs?
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Who Owns Our Jobs?

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We have all been trained up to the belief that jobs are something in the gift of great corporations or government bureaucracies. True, there are still places in the economy for the small businessman or woman, the sole practitioner, the craftsman, or the small farmer. But in general, we regard the capital requirements of job […]

Our Health is Overinsured!
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Our Health is Overinsured!

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One of the arguments for healthcare reform is that millions of Americans with employer-provided healthcare are underinsured. Proponents of this view are saying that people are underinsured if they are paying too many of their healthcare costs out-of-pocket. Quite the contrary, a little reflection on what insurance is and is supposed to do suggests that […]

A Circle of Exchange is Better than a Circle of Protection
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A Circle of Exchange is Better than a Circle of Protection

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Strife over the budget in Washington continues, with religious leaders and organizations weighing in on both sides. The positions of Christian participants in this battle are as intractable as the secular combatants and for the same reason: A fundamental difference of outlook concerning the role of government and the effect of government programs. This clash […]

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