25 April 2010

Merchants and Warlords

The economic surge across Europe at the turn of the first millennium created new opportunities for long distance trade. Merchants thus had an incentive to take political action to lower the transaction costs associated with doing business. The overlapping taxes and incompatible monetary systems of the feudal system gave them reason to escape to territory where they could conduct their business without interference from feudal lords.

Merchants who were able to form or settle in self-regulating towns, where impersonal legal codes protected their property rights and set predictable tax rates, prospered. In turn, this prosperity gave them the power and means either to form their own armies for self-defense against warlord predation, or to bargain with kings who promised them protection and universal fair trade rules that extended over larger territories
Marten, Kiberly in “Warlordism in Comparative Perspective”. International Security, Vol. 31, No. 3: Winter 2006/2007; p. 60.

20 April 2010

Courage is Missing

Courage is always missing in politicians. It is like saying basketball players aren’t normally short. It isn’t a useful attribute. To be morally courageous is to say something different, which reduces your chances of winning an election. ..... My generation has been catastrophic. I was born in 1948 so I am more or less the same age as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Gerhard Schröder, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – a pretty crappy generation, when you come to think of it, and many names could be added. It is a generation that grew up in the 1960s in Western Europe or in America, in a world of no hard choices, neither economic nor political. There were no wars they had to fight. They did not have to fight in the Vietnam War. They grew up believing that no matter what choice they made, there would be no disastrous consequences. The result is that whatever the differences of appearance, style and personality, these are people for whom making an unpopular choice is very hard.

Traditionally leaders rose to power through wars or conquest. We have had six, seven generations of leaders who came to power exclusively by political manoeuvring, which is historically very unusual. It’s like inbreeding: there are no external inputs, no new kinds of people, only the political class breeding itself. This isn’t an argument in favour of war, just a historical fact.
Tony Judt on The Way Thing Are.

16 April 2010

WW2 was a Failure?

Not one of the positive goals set forth in the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms has been realized. There is no peace today, either formal or real. Over a great part of the world there is neither freedom of religion nor freedom of speech and expression. Freedom from fear and want is no~ an outstanding characteristic of the present age. The right of national self-determination, so vigorously affirmed in the Atlantic Charter, has been violated on a scale and with a brutality seldom equalled in European history."

No war in history has killed so many people and left such a legacy of miserable, uprooted, destitute, dispossessed, human beings.
William Henry Chamberlain in America's Second Crusade.

12 April 2010

Fools and their Money

Capitalism doesn’t like it when idiots have too much money. So it uses people like Goldman to help take it away from them. That’s what Lloyd Blankfein meant when he said Goldman was doing “God’s work.”

We don’t know if God wanted Goldman to blow up the world economy…but capitalism seemed to be calling for it. And it looked like capitalism was going to blow up the bomb tosser, too. Unfortunately, the feds stepped in. They bailed out AIG…and the whole financial industry – including Goldman. Now, they lend the big banks money for practically nothing…which the banks lend back to the feds at 4%. The banks make money. They restock their reserves with US Treasury debt. And the feds get to finance their gigantic deficits. It’s great for everyone – until it blows up too.
Bill Bonner on Separating Fools from their Money

08 April 2010

Cultural Mandate

The only way to cultivate and fill the earth without descending into a barbaric struggle for survival is to take advantage of the social division of labor, capital accumulation and wise entrepreneurship. Allowing these sources of economic progress to flourish requires the security provided by peace and private property sustained by and combined with cultural values such as a forsaking of theft and low social time preferences.
Shawn Ritenour on Why Economics Should Be Important for Christians. The complete article is worth a read.

05 April 2010

Jesus is Lord and King

Jesus in the Gospels... has received God's anointing as the chosen king, but another king is currently on the throne. The story of the Gospels is one in which Jesus inaugurates a new reign of God and deals a deathblow to the imposter king through his death on the cross. If the Cross is the defeat of the old king, the Resurrection is the enthronement of the new. Jesus now literally sits... at the right hand of God. Though the preexistent Christ has always been God's agent in the creation and rule of the world, the human Jesus is now joined to that role as Lord and king over all.
J.R. Daniel Kirk in A Resurrection That Matters