The Eternal Mediocrity of Mexico

By Ricardo Valenzuela

At the beginning of the 80s I was taking a training with the Bank of America in its different offices in California, Chicago, New York. In one of my stays in Los Angeles, I was invited to a talk that would offer the Nobel laureate, Milton Friedman, one of the men I have admired the most and, above all, the guide which shaped my ideas of economic freedom. The event took place in one of the elegant lounges of the bank that was crowded with people from early on. A crowd that included the famous actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who years later would become governor of California. But my big surprise was the arrival of Ronald Reagan who a year later would be president of the United States.

The theme of the conference was the critical situation that world banking system was going through, listing motives from the misbehavior of the world economy, the novel currency flotation system, the absence of political leaders with real ideas of what economic development is etc. At a certain point of his talk, this wise character made the venue vibrate when he said: “This situation is so serious that the main banks of the world have lent more of their capital and reserves to countries that can be considered bankrupt.” Before a gloomy murmur of the assistants, Milton Friedman makes a long pause that is taken advantage of by someone who, breaking the protocol, almost screaming question. “Countries in bankruptcy How, where?” The … Read the rest

The Economic Errors of the Pope (and other Statists)

Catholic statists (including the Pope), like to lecture about “just” wages while they all but ignore issues that are a) real, b) causing great harm to families and c) can be fixed without violating Catholic doctrines on subsidiarity and private property rights. Mention this uncomfortable truth and you’ll be cursed, libeled and then blocked (as I was by Comrade Shea over the weekend).

If you are a Catholic (or even just a person of goodwill) and you are interested in practical ways to fix economic inequalities, why not start with the single largest real threat to wages and private property?

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The Staggering Cost of Economic Illiteracy

Over the last five years the Bishop of Rome has made manifest his ignorance of (or opposition to), Church doctrine on moral issues. Now he has chosen to demonstrate to the world another area in which he is ignorant; history, finance and economics.

We are naturally sad at the latest humiliation for the Church and the increase in confusion that will inevitably result from this promulgation of ignorance, but I am hopeful that God will do great things through the errors of this pontificate, and perhaps one way that will be manifested in the life of Catholics is the total annihilation of the neo-ultramontanist heresy which grips so many on both Left and Right.

Dr. Samuel Gregg offers an exceptionally charitable perspective on the document here.  His conclusion:

Finance is unquestionably a sphere of life in which people are subject to specific temptations—just as politics and the priesthood are callings with their own potential pitfalls. Oeconomicae pecuniariae et quaestiones goes some way towards helping people make good choices in an industry upon which every single one of us is in some way reliant for our economic well-being. Unfortunately, it’s also a reminder that the Church has much more work to do if it’s going to make constructive contributions to the reform of a segment of modern economies that, ten years after the financial crisis, is still in desperate need of substantive change.

The Pope’s essay is here.… Read the rest

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

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