Not Cool, Verizon

Preparing for my trip to Germany, I got on Verizon’s webpage and used their trip planner to try to determine which international options would be most cost-effective for me. As I kept trying to fine tune my estimates, I noticed that it kept suggesting the same plan. So then I tried something:

What happens if I kick all the settings to their maximum?

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-8-30-30-am

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Why I Voted for my Kids Instead of Mitt Romney

Last night I picked up Kyla and George from their after-school program. Kyla got into the car and announced that they were having a mock election at school tomorrow, and that she was going to vote for Mitt Romney, because Barack Obama would raise our taxes!

To which I responded, “What!”

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Three Reasons Why Market Liberalism is a Religion

Like all fundamentalist faiths, Chicago School economics is, for its true believers, a closed loop. The starting premise is that the free market is a perfect scientific system, one in which individuals, acting on their own self-interested desires, create the maximum benefits for all. It follows ineluctably that if something is wrong within a free market economy – high inflation or soaring unemployment – it has to be because the market is not truly free. There must be some interference, some distortion in the system. The Chicago solution is always the same: a stricter and more complete application of the fundamentals.

 

– Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Several years ago I read Fr. Sergei Bulgakov’s claim that Marxism is not social science but a kind of religion. Recently I realized his argument could also be applied to the laissez-faire capitalism promoted by “market liberalism” (which is basically libertarianism). Beginning with Bulgakov, here are a few reasons why I think market liberalism is a religious movement. Continue reading “Three Reasons Why Market Liberalism is a Religion”

My Childhood Experience of Poverty

 

 

An old photo of me at a disappointing Christmas (courtesy of Linda Dunn)

When you are a child, there is a lot you do not understand about money. You notice that your mom scolds a bit louder and cries more often. Sometimes you pour water on your cereal instead of milk, you eat lots of things from cans, and you get a smaller, dingier room in a new neighborhood. You understand that your mom needs money. So you color her something resembling a green rectangle, and you watch a sad smile spread across her face as she thanks you, then tries to explain why you don’t need to color green rectangles anymore. Continue reading “My Childhood Experience of Poverty”

Christianity and Capitalism: Windows to Hell (Part 3): Why Christian Enthusiasm for the Free Market Doesn’t Make Sense

Photo by Ikiwaner

An icon takes something material and makes it transcendent by pointing away from itself. I think the economy should work like an icon. That means the meaning of market activities cannot be found in a market. This is something we forget a lot of times. Part of what it means to be in a market society is that we work ourselves to death and never bother to ask, “Why?” Maybe I am nuts or maybe I am naive, but I don’t think this is what life is supposed to be like.

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Christianity and Capitalism: Windows to Hell (Part 2): Why Christian Enthusiasm for the Free Market Doesn’t Make Sense

 

 

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.  –Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

To explain how capitalism enables a “sick epectasis,” I need to offer a brief history of the liberal (i.e. “liberated”) market.

Pretty much every economist agrees that capitalism originated with Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (a book which most partisans of capitalism have never bothered to read). Smith’s genius was in recognizing that the market is not a zero-sum game in which one person must lose for another to win. Two people, motivated by their self-interest, could both benefit from an exchange. A number of other ideas are connected to this basic insight. Continue reading “Christianity and Capitalism: Windows to Hell (Part 2): Why Christian Enthusiasm for the Free Market Doesn’t Make Sense”

Christianity and Capitalism: Windows to Hell (Part 1): Why Christian Enthusiasm for the Free Market Doesn’t Make Sense

The Virgin of Simon Mall
(Photo courtesy of Dill Hero)
 
 
Part one of a three part series where I explore the relationship between an Orthodox view of matter and political economy.

Being an Orthodox Christian means kissing a lot of icons.

Many Christians shun icons as some kind of “idol worship.” This is an old argument, going back to the eighth century when some Byzantine emperors decided to do away with images of Christ and the saints. Over about 150 years of debate, the church decided that to do away with icons was to deny the incarnation of Christ. As St. John Damascene wrote, to oppose icons is to be Manichaeans. Thus Jaroslav Pelikan said that the council that reinstated icons was, in a way, reaffirming the two natures of Christ. Matter could be venerated because Christ made matter good again. (Find a more “artistic” perspective on icons and a bit more history here.) Continue reading “Christianity and Capitalism: Windows to Hell (Part 1): Why Christian Enthusiasm for the Free Market Doesn’t Make Sense”