The Catholic University of America

Jay Richards, assistant research professor, business, and Michael Novak, distinguished visiting fellow, business, published op-eds in a special section to the Washington Times on Faith at Work: Economic Flourishing, Freedom to Create and Innovate. See below.

Shelving the 'Greed Myth' and other economic illusions

From: Washington Times
Date: Oct. 6, 2016
Author: Jay Richards

Since 1990 extreme poverty has been cut in half worldwide and is continuing to plummet. The Brookings Institution projects that this kind of poverty might more or less disappear by 2030. Globally, infant mortality, malnutrition and illiteracy are all declining.

How did this happen? More global trade, more economic freedom and more innovation. Free markets, in other words.

Unfortunately, many Christians and other people of faith still think there’s something unsavory about a free market economy (or what some call capitalism) and pine for some unrealized alternative. In the meantime, they support economic policies that do more harm than good.

This is a tragic mistake, based not so much on a flawed moral vision as on economic ignorance. The good news is that you don’t need an advanced degree in economics to sort things out. You just need to learn to ask — and properly answer — eight simple questions, and to recognize the economic myth that corresponds to each question. ...

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Invention and discovery generate wealth

From: Washington Times
Date: Oct. 6, 2016
Author: Micahel Novak

... Moreover, during just the past 30 years, two of the nations on earth with the largest number of poor persons — China and India — liberated more than a half billion of their citizens from poverty.

This was the swiftest, largest advance out of poverty in history. These nations used the very secrets uncovered by Adam Smith: private ownership and personal initiative.

What is the cause of the wealth of nations? At root, it is invention and discovery — such as the invention of the pin machine, which Smith describes in his very first chapter of “The Wealth of Nations.” It is the use of the mind in organizing work efficiently (with less wasted time and effort), and in finding new ways of doing things. It is supplying the incentives that prompt people to do things with energy and desire, rather than being coerced into what they are doing.

The new economy in which we live is often called “the free market economy.” But markets are universal. Markets were central during the long agrarian centuries, through biblical times, in all times. For this reason, the term “the market economy” or even “the free-market economy” somewhat misses the mark. ...

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