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This guest post is by Joel Poindexter.

Christians who identify with a Left political ideology frequently appeal to state intervention in the market as a means of promoting the common good. This is especially true as it relates to many Christians who place an emphasis on promoting social justice. Having attended a Jesuit University where progressive politics were dominant and social justice was held in very high esteem, I can readily attest to this. For examples beyond my personal anecdotes, see the anti-libertarian conference Erroneous Autonomy at The Catholic University of America, and note some recent trends among protestant Christians.

I assume that proponents of such government action often have the best of intentions. I believe they act in good faith, both as Christians and as individuals dedicated to caring for the less fortunate. I also happen to agree that social justice can even be a worthy goal for Christians, provided it is confined to voluntary arrangements. However, a state-based approach to caring for those in poverty is especially problematic for the Christian.

Among favored government regulations of such social justice advocates are minimum wage laws and welfare programs intended to reduce poverty, including food stamps and medical subsidies. These aid programs are widely viewed as benevolent merely because of the surface results. After all, we can see the poor child who is fed and clothed through welfare payments.

However, the libertarian cannot help but see that what undergirds this regime is coercion. The state, by definition, applies force to achieve compliance. Hence, individuals in society face threats of imprisonment or financial penalties should they fail to abide by the law. This utilitarian approach has a host of negative consequences. Read More→

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I tend to find myself in the minority among friends with the viewpoints I hold as a libertarian and a Christian. I can frustrate my conservative and progressive friends at the same time in a single statement. I have had to learn to navigate the high seas of conservativism and progressivism, knowing that I can find some common ground among both.

A progressive friend of mine is the supervising an independent study for a doctoral student, and asked me to suggest some reading materials from the free market/Austrian economics perspective. There are plenty of materials I had to forego, not because I found them lacking in value (I really wanted to suggest everything ever written by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.!), but because it was a doctoral student looking for some academic works. After consulting with Art Carden and Norman Horn, I responded with the following list:

Bastiat Collection – Best works from within are The Law and That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises

Man, Economy, and State by Murray Rothbard

Capital and Interest by Bohm-Bawerk

Principles of Economics by Carl Menger

Applied Theory of Price by Donald McCloskey

Individualism and Economic Order by F.A. Hayek

Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith

There’s also a wealth of materials on econlib.org

I also added the following: “You can read Keynes’s General Theory, but honestly Keynes is part of the reason we have a consumerism problem (The whole, ‘Feed the addiction to keep economy growing’ approach!).”

For those of you looking to suggest reading materials for your friends, mind your audience. If the author labels every minor deviation from complete and total free markets as “socialist,” then that author will be unlikely to speak meaningfully to the progressive. Likewise, a conservative reader may be rather turned off by harsh criticism of those who adhere to a “God and country” viewpoint. Remember that everyone is at a different point in a journey, and if you wish to reach them, then meet them where they are. Otherwise, you are probably wasting your time.

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Aug
01

Economics and LEGOs!

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EconPop combines three of my favorite things in their latest episode: economics, movies, and LEGOs! The LEGO Movie was one of the best films I have seen in the past year, and I recommend it for the entire family. Besides being utterly hilarious, you get some sound economics on the side. After you see it, watch this EconPop video:

Enjoy!

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Jun
10

Econ, econ, everywhere!

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I love a good movie, and I love good economics. As we have mentioned before, the EconPop show is a great show to get your fix of both: “the show that scans the ravage wasteland of popular culture to find the seedling of economics within.” Check out these great videos from Andrew Heaton and the creators of the Keynes-Hayek Raps. You’re bound to find a movie you like.

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