Diversional Welfare State

In a 1987 essay in The Review of Politics, Glenn Tinder draws on Pascal, and Tocqueville, to describe what he calls the “diversional welfare state.” By that he means that the welfare state distracts us from what is truly important - God: “the welfare state of today may be . . . . Continue Reading »

Welfare Slavery

Gombis ( The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God , 51-2)illustrates the way powers work by transcending individual choice and creating enslaving institutions by describing a discovery that he and his wife made when they began to work with the urban poor. Why do people remain in . . . . Continue Reading »

Gospel to the Poor

Francis’s exhortation has gotten attention from the press mainly because of its economic observations. But the starting point for those observations is evangelical: “To whom should she go first? When we read the Gospel we find a clear indication: not so much our friends and wealthy . . . . Continue Reading »

Happy Workers

A lot of our happiness is outside our control, a University of Minnesota research project concludes. In that portion that we do control, four factors stand out: faith, family, community, and work. Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute finds the last the most surprising: “Popular . . . . Continue Reading »

Heavenly Merchandizing

Mark Valeri attends to minutiae as he examines the interaction between religion and commercial activity in early New England ( Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America ). He attends to “merchants accounts and ledgers, businesscorrespondence and personal letters, . . . . Continue Reading »

Papal Economics

Maciej Zieba’s PAPAL ECONOMICS: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate is a careful, informative study of Catholic social teaching as embodied in papal encyclicals. Though the book does briefly trace the history of Papal statements on democracy . . . . Continue Reading »

Hidden Economy

When Twitter went public recently, it was valued at $24 billion, with revenue of $535 million. 300 billion tweets have been sent since Twitter began, and that number increases by half a billion a day. What’s curious about this, James Surowieki writes in The New Yorker, is that Twitter uses . . . . Continue Reading »

New Corporatism

Nathan Heller explores the “new corporatism” touted by Apple, Google, Amazon and others in The New Yorker : These companies are “proud models of novel efficiency, and yet, in the same breath, they claim that efficiency isnt their real priority. Brad Stone says that Bezos touts his . . . . Continue Reading »

Social economy

I have many commendations, and one complaint/caveat about Charles Taylor’s discussion of the formation of an “economic” image of society in the early modern period ( A Secular Age , 176-84 ). Kudos for Taylor for his modification of the Weber thesis. Like Weber, he traces the rise . . . . Continue Reading »

Business of Breaking Bad

As “Breaking Bad” winds down, the Economist suggests that the show offers as much insight into business as a Harvard MBA at a fraction of the cost. What makes high-school-teacher-turned-meth-producer Walter White’s business successful? There are three ingredients: “The first . . . . Continue Reading »