Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Milton Friedman on Greed

Earlier I had proposed a question on greed.
Milton Friedman responds.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday Evening Highlight

Upon reading Fulton Sheen's You, I get to chapter "How You Are Re-made?" which has a great ending.
Do not fear God with a servile fear, for perfect love casts out such fear. Be bold enough then to believe that God is on your side, even when you forget to be on His. Live your life not by law, but by love. As St. Augustine put: "Love God and then do whatever you please." For if you love God, you will never do anything to hurt Him or break off relationship with Him - and then you will always be happy.
Furthermore- Pope Benedict had stated:
in his homily, to urge the faithful to imitate that trust in God, rather than submitting to "the tyranny of materialism" or "selfish illusions and false ideals." [...]
Economic development is certainly necessary, the Pope said, but "it is high time to place greater emphasis on this: every human being, every tiny human person, however weak, is created in the image and likeness of God."
Trust in God is a formula for hope, the Pontiff said. He reminded Christians: "Africa is called to hope through you and in you." By the witness of Christians, he proclaimed: "Africa can become the continent of hope!"
Do you think the Holy Father's words "tyranny of materialism" is against those who believe in a free market or those who look to government to intercede and save the economy?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Love and Economics on Econ Log with Bryan Caplan

Bryan Caplan, professor of economics at GMU, blogs at EconLog and he raises questions on Jennifer Roback Morse's book Love and Economics.

Why do I link it here?
Morse defines herself as a Catholic first, a parent second, and an economist third.
With priorities like this, why shouldn't we look into her work more.

She also rebuts Caplan and others in the comments.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cardinal Fulton Sheen Challenge

The fact is: you want to be perfectly happy, but you are not. Your life has been a series of disappointments, shocks, and disillusionments. How have you reacted to your disappointments? Either you became cynical or else you became religious. If you became cynical, you blamed things rather than yourself. [....] In every instance, you made happiness extrinsic to yourself. No wonder you are never happy. You are chasing mirages until death overtakes you. But cynicism did not work, because in seeking pleasures you missed the joys of life. Pleasure is of the body; joy is of the mind and heart. [....] You can quickly become tired of pleasures, but you never tire of joys. A pleasure can be increased to a point where it ceases to be a pleasure; it may even begin to be a pain if carried beyond a certain point[....]

Furthermore, have you noticed that as your desire for pleasure increased, the satisfaction from the pleasure decreased? Do you think a philosophy of life is right that is based on the law of diminishing returns? (emphasis mine) - Fulton Sheen - Are You Happy?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

Obama orders funding embryo stem cell

I watched the signing ceremony on CNBC for President Obama's "lauded and historic" signing; an executive order to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Larry Kudlow following the signing quickly added, "This is a bad idea. I have moral and religious objections to this type of stem cell research. It's a hot button issue. I'm not objecting to having private investment in the free market for this, but to ask the taxpayers, who have religious and moral objections, to pay for this is just a bad idea. It's a hot button issue."

Following that quote, the CNBC host reported that many stem cell research companies are already seeking those funds.

A glance at major news headlines tells a one-sided story. One states, "Stem-cell policy change liberating to researchers" [emphasis added]. Empryonic stem cell researches could get any person in the world for funding, but only now do they feel "liberated" now that the restrictions lifted on federal funding have been removed.

Many people assume (and rightly so due to the media) that funding for embryonic stem cell research stopped in 2001. This is incorrect. Connecticut, Arkansas, and most notibly California have been funding for it.

There are currently 70 stem cell lines that are producing very positive results and effective treatments - using adult stem cells.

This begs the question: Why is embryonic stem cell research still being pushed? Follow the money.

On a side note, if Roe v. Wade was overturned, embryonic stem cell research would not fit the criteria for an Abortion in the legal sense.

"Ab" in Abortion means literally "to pull away from". The term Abortion in US criminal law did not include the killing of the child. For example, in Virginia's anti-abortion statute, which passed in the 1850's through 1971, the language read, "No abortion, except to save the life of the mother or the child." So, clearly, Abortion did not mean the killing of the child, rather the separation of mother and child. And since the embryo is concieved in a petri dish, this would not be concidered an abortion.

If Roe v. Wade was thrown out due to no grounds to make the ruling in the first place, then to protect life you would need personhood amendment's in the states which defined life at conception, and did not take into account the means of conception, whether it be a petri dish or intercourse.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Three Sentence Challenge, Encyclical Edition : UPDATE

Let us say the Holy Father is working on his new encyclical and needs assistance in his economic thought.
He will take three sentences from anyone.
What would you write?

I had made the challenge, but I had not given my own three sentences.
  1. Incentives matter
  2. Institutions (rules of the game) matter
  3. Price controls do not only have short term effects but long term effects.
I think if Frederick Bastiat were alive, he would advise the Holy Father with words from one of his famous essays.
In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.
I wish I had challenged five sentences so that Bastiat could add the next paragraphs:

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.

Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

Any system built on Greed will fail...

I look forward to this new encyclical with each passing word of its coming.
Morals are an important issue that should be addressed.

The question will be, do most Catholics believe that Capitalism is based on greed?
I know there are economic professors who teach that greed is good, but as Catholics, we recognize greed as one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Are professors and Catholics discussing two different types of greed?
Or can Catholics not be Capitalists?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Catholicism and the Sciences

Many are still taught today that Galileo went against the Catholic Church when he proclaimed the Earth went around the sun. This is false, and that it is still taught / believed is very troublesome.

Truth is that many Catholics shared this belief of a helio-centric universe. It was Galileo's interpretation of scripture that caused the troubles, we all read about in history books.

Find more here.

Being a Catholic, does not take away economic logic. Demand curves slope downwards, and a price fix on anything will surely cause a problem in either a shortage or a surplus. As long as we don't make outlandish claims against scripture i.e. Jesus belongs to any political party, believes in any type of governing body, etc.

Thus we can disagree with Catholic Social Teaching as it is not dogmatic. I hope this will be the beginning of my posts against some beliefs held widely within the Church. For instance, that Fair Trade is good for the Third World.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Pigou Club for Children?

If I'm a Green Puritan it makes sense. Children impose a negative environmental externality. Therefore, the social cost of a child is greater than the private cost. So we draw our little externality graph, and pick Q*, and tax each additional child for n >2 to get the "socially optimal" number of children. With moral and economic understanding like this, I wouldn't be surprised to see it suggested at some point. 
Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population growth through contraception and abortion must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming. He says political leaders and green campaigners should stop dodging the issue of environmental harm caused by an expanding population.