Why Do Christians Struggle with Economics?

“Here is a theory (with a debt to Rothbard, Hoppe, Kinsella, et al.) about why this situation persists. People who live and work primarily within the religious milieu are dealing mainly with goods of an infinite nature. These are goods like salvation, the intercession of saints, prayers of an infinitely replicable nature, texts, images, and songs that constitute non-scarce goods, the nature of which requires no rationing, allocation, and choices regarding their distribution.

None of these goods takes up physical space. One can make infinite copies of them. They can be used without displacing other instances of the good. They do not depreciate with time. Their integrity remains intact no matter how many times they are used. Thus they require no economization. For that reason, there need to be no property norms concerning their use. They need not be priced. There is no problem associated with their rational allocation. They are what economists call “free goods.”

If one exists, lives, and thinks primarily in the realm of the non-scarce good, the problems associated with scarcity — the realm that concerns economics — will always be elusive. To be sure, it might seem strange to think of things such as grace, ideas, prayers, and images as goods, but this term merely describes something that is desired by people. (There are also things we might describe as nongoods, which are things that no one wants.) So it is not really a point of controversy to use this term. What really requires explanation is the description of prayers, grace, text, images, and music as non-scarce goods that require no economization.”


The Revolution Continues, Aided by Left and Right

Few people know this-and fewer care-but it’s a matter of Catholic doctrine that private property rights are sacred. Pope Leo XIII warned of the consequences of ignoring divine law in Rerum Novarum in 1891 when he wrote, “the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies.”

Predictably, the revolutionary mindset he warned about has overtaken all but a few, such that even “conservatives” are horrified that Starbucks would ask someone who a) demands free services and b) refuses to buy anything, to leave. With the criminalization of thought, the war on parental rights, persecution of churches and religious groups and now the open assault on private property rights, we’ve thus passed one more critical milestone on our descent into the tyranny of the mob. If a $20 billion a year corporation and the cops are afraid of the mob, what are your chances at defending your property and lives?


The Scourge of Protectionism

American protectionists all cheered last month when they learned they were going to be able to pay higher prices on steel and everything made with steel-thousands of products.

Will they also cheer now that their employers will sell a lot less of more than 100 different products ranging from food to cars? And why is it that when it comes to economic matters and history, Americans are so willfully ignorant? Prediction: When the market crashes, trade collapses and unemployment skyrockets, will they blame the anti-trade protectionist policies?


Socialism Has a Perfect Failure Rate; Why Do Intellectuals Love It So?

In 1970, S. Korea and Venezuela had a similar GDP. Venezuela had a huge advantage: the largest oil reserves in the world. But while S. Korea embraced capitalism, Venezuela embraced socialism. Korea is an economic miracle and Venezuelans are literally starving to death.

Anti-Gouging Laws Hurt the Vulnerable and Increase Suffering

The approaching Hurricane Matthew has led to news reports that governments are warning residents and businesses in Florida about price gouging. It brings up a question related to my recent post on FB about a narrow question of economics. Do anti-gouging laws actually hurt people?  Or is that just a myth of the cultural Marxists to scare people from helping one another and turn instead to benevolent Uncle Sam for rescue?
Here’s the very real scenario: people hit the stores to stock up on the essentials: beer, milk, bread, etc. Consequently, the stores run out of those essentials. Entrepreneurs who are beyond the danger zone of Hurricane Matthew see an opportunity, buy up beer, milk and bread, buy coolers and ice, load up their trucks and vans, and drive into the danger zone to sell these supplies.
Naturally, they do not sell them at the same price they bought them for. They want to make a profit. First, they add the cost of the ice, the cooler, and the gas, and if they are smart, they add the value of their time for the shopping, loading, driving and working, meals on the road, lodging, and then they set a price above this amount which would represent some hoped-for profit margin. The price could easily be double or triple the normal price.
Now, the state would consider this gouging. Many on the Left and Right rage against the practice. And yet, aren’t these entrepreneurs actually doing the consumer a fabulous service? The items would otherwise not be available to them at ANY price, after all, and they are not forced to buy the items to begin with.  If they do, they are demonstrating they desire the currency less than the beer, milk and bread. The currency will not help them survive the crisis or ease their suffering.  You cannot eat or drink currency (at least, not in a way that is pleasing to the senses).
There may even be competition in this niche, perhaps a Mexican who doesn’t assign as high a value to his time or is willing to engage in all this activity for a lower anticipated profit margin, and sells for say, just double the normal while the white man from Alabama sells for triple.
Before you take issue with the items I chose, replace them.  What about bottled water? Or disposable diapers, generators, batteries, gasoline, phone chargers…or anything you can imagine.
Do you think this example is price gouging? Do you believe it is immoral? Or is this kind of entrepreneurial activity actually a good and praiseworthy endeavor typical of the kind of conduct that helped to build this nation?