Theologian and author Michael Novak delivers a lecture on the ethics of capitalism from the Judeo-Christian perspective.
Tom Becker is the president of Chautauqua Institution. Becker joined Chautauqua in March 1985 as a vice president of the Institution and vice president of the Chautauqua Foundation. Over the years he was promoted to executive vice president and CEO of the Foundation.
In 2001, he continued as chief executive officer of the Foundation and was named executive vice president of Chautauqua Institution. As chief executive, Becker oversaw the growth of the Foundation into a professional fund-raising organization and led it to raising over $100 million in support of the Institution.
Michael Novak is an American Roman Catholic philosopher and diplomat. The author of some 25 books on the philosophy and theology of culture, Novak is most widely known for his book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982), which has also appeared in numerous translations. In 1994 he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, a million-dollar purse awarded at Buckingham Palace. He writes on capitalism, religion, and the politics of democratization.
He served as U.S. chief ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1981 and also as the ambassador to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Novak is currently George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.
Novak is a member of the Catholic Advisory Board for the Ave Maria Mutual Funds. Novak is also a board member of the Capital Research Center and the Center of the American Experiment.
Novak was born in 1933 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He earned an M.A. in history and philosophy of religion from Harvard University in 1966, a Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus (a degree in theology), from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1958, and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and English (Summa Cum Laude) from Stonehill College in 1956.
Economic system in which most of the means of production are privately owned, and production is guided and income distributed largely through the operation of markets. Capitalism has been dominant in the Western world since the end of mercantilism. It was fostered by the Reformation, which sanctioned hard work and frugality, and by the rise of industry during the Industrial Revolution, especially the English textile industry (16th18th centuries). Unlike earlier systems, capitalism used the excess of production over consumption to enlarge productive capacity rather than investing it in economically unproductive enterprises such as palaces or cathedrals. The strong national states of the mercantilist era provided the social conditions, such as uniform monetary systems and legal codes, necessary for the rise of capitalism. The ideology of classical capitalism was expressed in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (1776), and Smith's free-market theories were widely adopted in the 19th century. In the 20th century the Great Depression effectively ended laissez-faire economics in most countries, but the demise of the state-run command economies of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (seecommunism) and the adoption of some free-market principles in China left capitalism unrivaled (if not untroubled) by the beginning of the 21st century.
Some will always have more than others, but not sharing what has been given to you is totally wrong. How much is enough? Just recently a football quaterback signed a contract to get paid $15.3 million per year. There is something terribly wrong about this. Millions of dollars for entertainment and the trash collector,whose work is more important, won't even earn one-tenth of this in a lifetime of work, yet this quarterback will earn that much in a year.
Money makes money, therefore, it must be shared with those who don't have the means. Corporate executives continue to make millions in bonuses,while laying off thousands of workers so they can maintain their shareholders' profits and their inflated salaries and high-end bonuses.
Greed, greed, greed and more greed continues to rule governments, politicians and corporations.
It's just ridiculous his idea that God created humans for friendship. If we assume the existence of the god of the bible, that god is a criminal and the enemy of humanity. There is no freedom from that god, or you accept my friendship or else you go to hell. So much for frienship. The ethics of the bible is the ethics of a tyrant being. The rights that we discuss today do not come from the bible but from human experience and refection. It hurts my ears to this man, with all his distortions in order to acommodate his fairy tale.
Finally someone is pointing this out. The gap between rich and poor is a false problem. If a man walked onto the scene who could solve every problem in every realm instantly would you bemoan the gap between smart and dumb? There is no known purpose or value to the requirement that all wealth be distributed evenly.
Imagine briefly such a perfect world, where everyone has all the same valuable products and services at their disposal (and supposedly identical values and desires). Now I create a pocket tele-transporter and can travel anywhere in an instant. To me this is great. To the equalitarian it is nothing but trouble. I have solved no problem. I am nothing but someone who has messed up his world-wide equality spreadsheet. My action represents freedom. His desire is only for "fairness", and in his eye freedom is subordinate to fairness.
Picture the first amphibian crawling out of the ocean, and the equalitarian pulling her back in.
Clue: The pie of wealth changes sizes.
I am heartened by the fact that the overwhelming bias of comments are a refutation of Mr. Novak's world view.
However I am also painfully aware that Mr. Novak will have the advantage of a "bully pulpit", which allows his opinion to be broadcast to a greater audience than the combined voices of those refuting his distortion of the facts.
This unfairness of access to the public podium, is not a result of random chance, but rather the end product of a long time well funded campaign to sow dis-information amongst a public lacking the skills or inclination to independent research, allowing them to derive the truth amongst the cacophany of voices in the media.
See the two following links.
The drafters of the constitution were always suspicious of the motive of those who seek power and encouraged a Jeffersonian democracy
This talk of economic progress is based upon an economic model which theoretically permits (demands) unlimited growth. Such a well-known flaw in the economic system seems to evade public discussion of progress ritually.
The idea therefore of progress in production is novel and compelling in an ex tempore worldview, as the exceedingly facile Mr. Novak illustrates. This entire discussion hinges upon the acceptance of these "First Principles" which so swiftly reduce the utility and likelihood of any epistemological investigation of the discussion.
His argument for the 'maintenance' of the lower classes reminds me in quality of those arguments that slave-holding states were actually practicing more compassion by providing for African-Americans' shelter, food, and the certainty of labor. The idea that this maintenance can be ascribed to or associated primarily with "friendship" rather than with motivating and compelling the human means of production seems to me very reductive. Although commerce indeed denotes this fraternity, the economic concept of exchange value which is a mathematical indicator of this relationship would seem to indicate through this increasing inequality its waning spirit.
And finally, I would like to point out that his concept of "envy" seems profound only because it suffers from a fallacy of definition. This view of envy dispenses with the competing theory of oppression. There are many other problems with ascribing motives to people (especially groups of people who have apparently been socially designed to bear in common certain characteristics), but it is worth noting that he draws upon the archaic meaning of "ill will" in this example. In its modern sense, it would be equally salient to say that the people who garnered more wealth for themselves must probably have been invidious to have achieved this.
Mr. Novak is many things, but a numbers guy he isn't. If the wealth of the poor increases by 10% and the wealth of the rich increases by 1%, yes, then if the rich man has 10 times the wealth, his wealth increases by more. But over 10 years, the disparity will decrease. Basically, inside of a war of rich vs. poor, nobody wins. If the rich would be more generous and understanding and the poor would work harder, perhaps we could have a better world all around. Generalities, of course...
As far as his lemma that people hope because they are made in the image of a Creative Divine Invisible Guy in the Sky, I think he has it exactly backwards. It is our sense of hope for a better life that makes us keep pushing on in the face of death, even to the point of fantasizing a grand life beyond death. To fuel this fantasy, the myth of God was born. :-)
And yes, capitalism rocks. To paraphrase Churchill, capitalism is the absolutely worst way to distribute wealth -- except for all the other ways.
This man is an asshat of the highest order. If, as Novak claims, one measure is to be the increase of wealth for the poo, note that wealth has decreased for many in the last 20 - 30 years, and a majority of the "wealth" of the poor hasn't increased at all. In fact, there's been a decrease in real-value wealth on the lower end of the economic scale. The man pays no attention to inflation as well. As I said, an asshat of the highest order.
As rodrigap said , Mr. Novak flunks the math that is the foundation of his argument. Novak claims that if a rich person's standing grows by 1% per year while that of a poor person grows by 10% per year , the inequality gap will widen as " a matter of arithmetic necessity."
Take this example: Richman has $1 million , which grows at 1% per year. Poorman has only $1000 , but it grows at 10% per year. Now , come back after 100 years of such an arrangement to see how much worse inequality has become , due to Mr. Novak's "arithmetic necessity".
Richman now has $2.7 million , so he's sitting pretty alright.
Poorman now has $13.8 million! He's now the rich guy.
So much for Mr. Novak's math skills. He should stick to religion , where math - and other reality-based arguments - can't make him look like a fool so easily.
It speaks poorly of his audience that they were taken in by this hack.