Author Topic: Flee to the Fields  (Read 35589 times)

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Flee to the Fields
« Reply #60 on: July 19, 2011, 06:32:15 PM »
I'm reading It's a Jetsons World by Jeffrey Tucker... and just finished the chapter called "Why Religious People Struggle with Economics". You can read it here: http://mises.org/daily/5156/Why-Religious-People-Struggle-with-Economics

I really like how he discusses the ideas of scarce vs non-scarce goods...

Offline johngalt

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Re: Flee to the Fields
« Reply #61 on: July 21, 2011, 11:40:15 AM »
Thanks LvsChnt

I have not read the rest of the book, but I find it interesting that a Mises disciple is speaking of economics in terms of a "zero sum economy", e.g. where there is only a fixed amount of goods (really wealth)....a bit ironic?

I also find that his arguments for this distinction between scarce and so called non-scarce goods to make the case against his position, not support it, for example he describes the story about the merchant and the pearls:
"One day he found the pearl of the highest possible value, and he sold all he had just to buy and hold it. The pearl, of course, represents salvation and the love of God — nonscarce goods, because there is enough for everyone who desires them." 

The merchant will sell all of his "scarce goods" for the "non-scarce" onces?  Isn't this contrary to the point he is trying to make? 

Also, more of a theological error, when he states "Let's say that Jesus had not offered salvation to all but instead had restricted the number of units of salvation to exactly 1,000." 

Here, he is theologically inaccurate, for Jesus' blood was not shed for "all", but for many - pro multis, not pro omnes. 

Non theologically though, I don't find it accurate either, because it ignores the human will.  Not everyone will chose to "buy" the good, whether it is so-called non-scarce or scarce.  His arguments are not supported by normal supply and demand "realities" either.  If "salvation" is free and universally available, why is the price so high?, why would there be those willing to pay so much for it?

Also he states:
"No matter what the results, the history of Christianity would have been very different if Jesus had not made salvation a nonscarce good, but instead had limited the supply and charged the Church with allocation."

Jesus did not make salvation a "non-scarce good", and he did charge the Church with application, not allocation...."For many are called, but few are chosen."

I agree though, that, in the opinion of many economists, "Religious people Struggle with Economics" because the term economics has been "coined" of very recent times in our development....

per John C Medaille in "Toward A Truly Free Market"
     "In fact, the twenty volume Oxford English Dictionary, begun in 1878 and completed in 1928, and meant to be the final resource on all English workds, does not even have an entry for economics, neither in the main portion, nor in the suplement."  The term has been coined to differentiate from "political economy", which included a Humane aspect, e.g. a humane science, in order to become something more like a physical science, which operates independently of human intentions.

Also, from the same book, (not speaking about Religious people in general, but specifically, the Catholic/Distributist perspective):
   "While distributism adds to modern economics precisely what it lacks to become a real science - the science of political economy - distributists themselves ahve often been reluctant to put their case in economic terms.  The distributists have often argued from moral terms:  they have placed their arguments in the necessary connection between free property and free men; they have argued on agrarian terms, on the natural rhythms of life and social order often disrupted by modern capitalism; they have argued from the Roman Catholic teaching and social encyclicals.  But on the whole, they have been unwilling, or (I'm afraid) unable, to enter the economic debate on purely economic terms."

Basically, modern "economics" have tried to take out the human part of the exchage of goods and services, but this is like taking the eggs out of scrambled eggs, and still calling them scrambled eggs.  Medaille argues that we must use the arguments of the economist and economic perspective to argue the case, on purely economic terms, because, as indicated by the bias in the title of the chapter by Jeffrey Tucker, those economists won't listen to arguments that are not in purely economic terms, regardless of the truth they may hold:
   "If the distributist would only enter the economic lists, he would find weapons and armor enough to stand against any opponent.  Our theory is competitive at the intellectual level and thoroughly demonstrated at the practicle level;  we fill the gaps in the science of political economy that neoclassical economics, and all it's variants, cannot.  We do not need to stand on the margins, but in the mainstream.  In this particular historical moment, when capitalism itself seems to be in crisis, we need to make our voices heard, and heard in a language the world can understand."

I think this last statement is the only way we can hope to make a significant (large scale) change to our current economic morass.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Flee to the Fields
« Reply #62 on: July 21, 2011, 12:47:45 PM »
Interesting... I read the chapter as an example of why confusion can sometimes come into play when we mix nonscarce (grace, salvation, etc.) with scarce (material, finite things) goods. When he said salvation is offered to all, I can't see how that is theologically incorrect. I understand that, in the Latin prayers of consecration, it is pro multis, rather than pro omnes... but I don't think the offer of salvation is limited, but rather (because of free will) those who accept it are limited.

And, the pearl of great price parable (in the way I read it) refers to the value salvation has over all things as if it were a scarce material good, showing just how much value we should place on it, even though it is not a scarce good. I think his points about the availability of salvation to all (although not all accept it), intercession of saints, prayers, etc. and how none of them take of space, infinite copies can be made without displacing other instances of good... no depreciation... are used as a means to differentiate between the material goods of this world and those of the spiritual.

This was not written with a Catholic audience in mind, so I'm guessing wasn't intended to encompass theological differences. In some ways, the principles of economics are viewed differently than, say, math or physics. The laws of cause and effect are sometimes thought not to apply scientifically in the disciplines which involve human action. I think his point and the points Thomas Woods made earlier on the vid (that is unfortunately no longer available to view) have to do with the idea that, there are certain economic laws that apply to human beings in whatever political/social/religious society they live. Applying a particular judgment based on social justice may not have anything to do with economic fact and most likely will not end up yielding the desired (social) effect.


Offline johngalt

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Re: Flee to the Fields
« Reply #63 on: July 21, 2011, 08:46:43 PM »
LvsChant

Agreed that salvation is offered to all, but being offered to all, does not neccessarily mean that it is not finite, or limited in actuality (even if due to rejection via free will).   In the same way, many goods are offered to all, but in reality, not everyone wants them.  Those goods are certainly finite, but they are offered to all who would purchase them.

I guess I find it a bit ignorant for him to say that religious people struggle with economics, which I think is like saying religious people struggle with Chemistry.  The struggle the religious have that he is witnessing, has more to do with the fact that modern economics have tried to eliminate the human aspect out of economics, attempting to render it a "hard" or natural science like physics, chemistry or biology.  This is not possible, as indicated by Medaille, and others, as the mere fact that economics is dealing with the actions of the human person.   Planets and objects are solely controlled by the physical laws, and therefore, are subject to those laws.  Humans can act and determine their own courses, and therefore, even though we too are subject to the laws of gravity, we are not solely bound by it to determine our path.  This is where modern economics has broken down.  It is not a hard science, because it is a humane science, and designing an economic system as if the bodies in motion could be controlled by the "economic laws" like the planetary motions are controlled by the laws of physics is obviously false.

You said "In some ways, the principles of economics are viewed differently than, say, math or physics"  I would agree, but say that always economics should be viewed differently than math or physics, because it is dealing with the actions of humans, and, humans are not "dumb objects"  that are controlled by those "laws" are we?

Quote
I think his point and the points Thomas Woods made earlier on the vid (that is unfortunately no longer available to view) have to do with the idea that, there are certain economic laws that apply to human beings in whatever political/social/religious society they live."
Which laws are those?  They apply to human beings just the same way gravity dictates the actions of the planets?

Quote
Applying a particular judgment based on social justice may not have anything to do with economic fact and most likely will not end up yielding the desired (social) effect.

Agreed.  But applying a particular judgment based on "economic theory", specifically trying to eliminate the human element from that theory most likely will not end up yielding the desired (economic) effect either.  This is the law of unintended consequences, and certainly applies to any system that cannot be reduced to very few variables...


Offline DWSDVSE

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Re: Flee to the Fields
« Reply #64 on: February 25, 2016, 06:48:19 AM »
I am curious... I've been reading some economics from the von Mises Institute... How does Belloc's economic point of view compare to Austrian economics?

Unfortunately, the whole "social justice" theme has permeated much of modern Catholicism, so I am guessing you are right about your last comment...

Old thread, but since this topic, and the book in the title is what brought me back into a rural and survivalist mindset a few years back, I wanted to point this article out: https://mises.org/library/road-servile-state

Belloc and Hayek are of very like mind on most topics. (Of course some would say Hayek wasn't a true Austrian, but I digress, lol)

Distributists, the Southern Agrarians (who I think are just American Distributists), and Austrians all work from the view that economics is properly a branch of philosophy and both draw upon the Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophical world view. Virtually every other school of economics has what von Mises would call "Physics envy" and they want to make it all about math and models, there is no room for free will.

Personally, I've benefited greatly from both schools and consider myself a fellow traveler of both schools. This of course makes one rather unpopular in economics circles, ha! I read a book that I believe sums up the differences between the two schools, why they are the only two schools worth anything and how to surmount the divisions between the schools by going to what they both seek- Redeeming Economics: Rediscovering the Missing Element Book by John D. Mueller. He argues that the best solution is “Ite ad Thomam” as they say. His neo-Scholastic economics seems to hold promise. It’s made me start back over at the beginning and I’m working my way through the Aristotelian-Thomistic Canon and hoping to get a good foundation to expand upon his work.

Sadly in these Post-Benedictine days, I don't see too much coming from Rome in favor of such plans.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Flee to the Fields
« Reply #65 on: March 02, 2016, 09:23:52 AM »
Thanks, darkwater... I have not done as much reading on economics and the various philosophies much in the past couple of years, but must agree with you wholeheartedly on this statement:

"Sadly in these Post-Benedictine days, I don't see too much coming from Rome in favor of such plans."

I also dread hearing any news about off-the-cuff comments made to reporters during a plane trip... and I'm always hoping he will stick to things like global warming... (rather than birth control, etc.)