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Friday, October 4, 2019

One or Two Cheers for Capitalism? with Mark Galli

One or Two Cheers for Capitalism?

Like many, I remain ambivalent about capitalism. This economic system is responsible for creating wealth in previously unimaginable amounts, which has benefited every class (despite what the Marxists say). As the Economist reported last year, in 1981, 42 percent of the world was considered “extremely poor,” according to the World Bank. By 2013 (for which we have the most recent reliable data), that figure stood at 1.7 percent. That’s about 1 billion people who moved out of extreme poverty, and another 4 billion became non-poor. A great deal of this had to do with both India and China opening up their economies up to capitalism.
On the other hand, capitalism encourages, nay demands, the twin vices of greed and materialism to breathe. Add to that self-interest, which sabotages local and national communities, as well as families.
Author and blogger Branko Milanovic summarizes four salient features of his book, Capitalism Alone that highlight the paradoxical nature of what he claims is “the only mode of production in the world” practiced today.
This brings to mind something C.S. Lewis said about lending money at interest, a key feature of capitalism. After noting how ancient Greeks and the Old Testament, as well as the church of the Middle Ages—that is Greek pagans, Jews, and Christians--forbade the practice, he says in Mere Christianity,
I should not have been honest if I had not told you that the three great civilizations agreed (or so it seems at first sight) in condemning the very thing on which we have based our whole life.

Speaking of Greed

As we begin the 2019 Major League playoffs and World Series, we might harken back to the greatest scandal in baseball history (if not sports history): the infamous “Black Sox Scandal” of a century ago, when members of the Chicago White Sox took money to throw the World Series. The reasons for the betrayal and the manifold consequences are nicely summarized in “Black Sox Forever,” by Harry Stein, author of the novel Hoopla, which was about the scandal. In the end, he asks,
So, pondering the Black Sox and their legacy gives rise to a more pertinent question: Were we better off then? Was it healthier for children, and even their elders, to live in a world where those in the news, and in the history books, stood as unblemished models of achievement and virtue?
And then surprised me with his answer.

Four Cheers for Life!

On a more optimistic note, here is a fine essay addressing those who wonder if it’s responsible to bring children into the world, given the future suffering many predict awaits us. Authors Anastasia Berg and Rachel Wiseman argue that we should continue to have children because “bringing forth and nurturing life is the most literal way of affirming it” and because “parenting is the greatest responsibility a human can bear toward another.”

Immigration Deformed

Friend and immigration expert Matt Soerens at World Relief explains the how reducing the US refugee ceiling will have long-terms consequences: it will make it more difficult to jump start our refugee programs when we decide to do so. Matt is one of the most winsome and smartest advocates on immigration today; you should invite him to come to your church or convention.

Bored with Boarding

The season of travel is long over now, but it doesn’t take a great memory to recall onerous the process of boarding planes. Here’s a video on why it is the way it is, and a perfect (but unusable) method that would speed things up considerably.
Grace and peace,

Mark GalliMark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today

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