Archives for category: Economic


Pluralism holds the key to the vitality of American religiousness as well as to the development of religious civility. One might think that economists long ago would have pointed this out to their colleagues in sociology who were so enamored of the strength of monopolies, since Adam Smith had laid out the whole analysis with such clarity long ago. Trouble is that until very recently, economists were so little interested in religion that the entire chapter on these matters in Smith’s classic The Wealth of Nations was (and is) omitted from most editions. It was not until I began working out the stimulating effects of pluralism on my own that someone suggested I read Smith–and I found this puzzling because initially I could find nothing on the topic in the readily available editions. Today, colleagues in economics find my emphasis on pluralism and competition fairly obvious, while many sociologists of religion continue to believe that I am obviously wrong–that competition harms religion and that I have been misled by inappropriate analogies with capitalism. Of course, the great majority of social scientists pay no attention to such peripheral matters, being secure in their knowledge that religion is doomed and soon must vanish.

Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Christianity, 2011, HarperOne, HarperCollins paperback edition 2012, page 367.

Here is an online source for Smith’s Wealth of Nations:

I came across a 2014 essay at First Things, by Samuel Gregg.

I wrote the following on Facebook:

Wow. Please read.

Gregg discusses economic freedom in Asia, and says:
“The ADB estimated that between 1990 and 2005 approximately 850 million people escaped absolute poverty. That is an astonishing figure.”

The article is a year old, and the numbers and predictions can be checked for this year, if you care to.

He discusses other examples. If you are a statist, this should shame you. If you believe in your political party, you are probably a statist. If you believe in and hold up the authority of the state and the obligation of the people to subject themselves in obedience, you are a statist. Statism, corporatism, socialism, and various other progressivisms are failed and detrimental to the human condition. Flatly, progressivism is against the human soul. Progressivism as practiced for the last century or so in the USA and much of the rest of the world destroys people by claiming to save them. Progressivism destroys the individual from within.

If you are a staunch Democrat, you are probably a progressive. I aver you hate humanity by your actions and attitudes. You can pretend to “do it for the children,” but you in fact do it for the authority, and the authority is invariably corrupt. The power is corrupted. It is always so.

All authority must be strictly and powerfully constrained. That is hard to do, because who watches the watchers? Still, it must be so. Authority must be strongly constrained, or it is tyranny.

We cannot allow for absolutist authority in any regard. We cannot allow for absolute religious authority. We cannot allow for any sort of political or regulatory authority, because it always seeks its own. It always becomes corrupt. It always corrupts all it controls. We must have strict controls on anything even resembling authority. Of course, all authorities cry foul and claim I’m rebellious, and worse.

Gregg closes thus, “None of this means compromising on the demands of justice. It would, however, allow the “seeing” of Catholic social teaching to take wider account of the empirical without being empiricist, to look at what actually works without lapsing into pragmatism, and to remove some of the conceptual blinkers that have inhibited many Catholics’ vision of how to transform the world’s economies into arenas of human flourishing. The well-being of the poor surely demands nothing less.”

Feel free to comment. I welcome opportunity to stretch and challenge my thinking.

A market is a place where individuals can meet to cooperatively interact, voluntarily, as individuals. The Market is the same. It simply facilitates the cooperative actions of individuals. It cannot be personal. It cannot have objectives. It is simply the mechanism whereby individuals do what individuals agree together to do. What’s not to like?

The gravest sin of humanity has nothing to do with equality or inequality, it is simply coercion. If I force you against your will in anything, I am a grievous sinner, having sinned against you, against your Creator, even against all humanity and what being human means.

GARY M. GALLES writes for here,, and he takes the Pope to task for anthropomorphising the market.

Sure, the market is impersonal, but it doesn’t exist except for the individuals that participate in it. There is no snowstorm if there are no snow flakes. There is no market if there are no individuals. There is no morality except in an individual and in recognizing each individual’s God-given uniqueness and worth.

It is simply a fact that no external force can truly control an individual. Each individual must exercise self-control and act morally in all. It is a heart issue. When all participants in any interaction act morally and with integrity, then all benefit. Not only does each get a fair (though unequal) slice of the pie, the pie gets bigger. The market helps facilitate the right actions of each individual, but it is the individual heart where it starts, or it cannot happen. Out of the corrupt heart, flows only corruption.

Noteworthy quote, “Restricting markets does not mean that what would take their place would be caring, personal relationships—it may well be abuse of others by governments (as so dramatically demonstrated by our past century’s experience). Overriding the voluntary arrangements people create for themselves means depriving them of their liberty and forcing them into collectivized alternatives they do not choose. That in no way guarantees a more loving or caring society. That cannot be created by force.”

That last line is particularly important. Nothing good can be created by force. Nothing can. It is impossible for compulsion and coercion to create any good. Good can arise in spite of coercion, but that is because of the nobility of the human spirit and the unlimited power of a determined soul.


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