Context Matters…

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For us, even now in the twenty-first century, we can still be appalled by the filthiness and suffocating pollution in the fast-growing cities of the modern economies arising in the 19th century.  But we forget to appreciate what it meant for people to escape from the wages of medieval times to incomes two or three times the medieval level, as most people in Britain, America, France, and the German lands came to enjoy in the 19th century.

Edmund Phelps (2013), Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change, p., 52.

h/t: Cafe Hayek.

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Individualist Not Collectivism

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Yuriy Gorodnichenko and Gerard Roland (2010) …. presented a model showing that while an ethic of individualism produces dynamic effects on growth, an ethic of collectivism produces only static gains.  They also found evidence that individualism significantly contributes to long-run growth.  In a subsequent paper (Gorodnichenko and Roland, 2011) they explored the effect that other factors might have on long-run growth and found that individualism was the most important and robustly significant factor of all.

David Rose (2011),The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior (links added), p. 15.
h/t: Cafe Hayek
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Not Being Nice, But Not Being Evil…

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The problem that societies must solve, if they are to enjoy the benefits of efficiently organizing economic activity in large groups, is not getting people to care more about each other, or getting them to do nice things for one another.  The problem that societies must solve is combatting their willingness to take advantage of each other, to behave opportunistically.

David Rose (2011), The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior, p. 79.

h/t: Cafe Hayek.

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An interesting observation

Bildbeschreibung: Blick auf den Schriftzug übe...

Entance, Mall of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Art Carden in a post entitled The Most Bourgeois Place on Earth? writes about a recent visit that he paid to the Mall of America near Minneapolis-St. Paul; (I correct the quotation to rid it of what appears to be a formatting error):

 

As an undergrad, I took an interesting introductory American Studies course. During one lecture, the Professor lamented the fact that elderly men now gather at shopping malls where elderly men of previous generations would gather in front of the courthouse. I think this is a sign of progress. As symbolic spaces go, courthouses are emblems of conflict. Malls are emblems of cooperation. That modern life’s dominant public space is a house of commerce rather than a house of conflict is something to be celebrated, not lamented.

 

h/t: Cafe Hayek.

When I spoke at Acton last week I mentioned in passing, and to the surprise of some, that I like WalMart. Having been been rather less well off economically than middle class–or even at times, working class–I think stores like WalMart are of great benefit to the vast majority of the poor and working class.

And like the author of the above quote, I rather prefer shopping malls to court houses for the reason he gives. Whatever their shortcomings, malls are symbols of cooperation. Often when I’m stuck for a sermon idea, I’ll dress in civvies and go to the mall.

Yes, malls can be havens of materialism and are often overrun by tweens, teens and the elderly and other with no place else to go. But to whom else are we to bring the Gospel but those without a place or direction in life? Aimless and board are just other ways of saying lost.

So while mindful of their faults, let us thank God for the contemporary agora.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

 

 

 

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The World is UNDERpopulated

While many myths compete with “the-world-is-over-populated-with-humans” myth for the honor of being the myth with least empirical and theoretical support, no myth surpasses the over-population myth in groundlessness and, really, absurdity.  I like the take of the Boston Globe‘s Jeff Jacoby.

And see here just how out of touch with reality is the myth of over-population.

h/t: Cafe Hayek’s Don Boudreaux (The World is UNDERpopulated).

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