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.
My, my, the clowns do come out in force. Mr Frith Woodward - your claim that religion is "not tolerant of freedom" suggests you know a lot less than you should. People that bundle all religion into one basket are very much like people who bundle all of one nationality or ethnicity into the same stereotyped categories. And it's not the greatest place to be.
Novak himself might be unlikable - I'm not a fan - but religion, w/o any question, has been a net source of progress toward equality in the western world. The fundamental contribution of Judeo-Christianity has been to elevate the individual above the state and the institution. The entire concept of individual freedom and equality arises out of the Judeo-Christian ideas on the value of the one vis a vis the value of the many.
Does that mean that religion hasn't been frequently hijacked and abused as means of control and power over other humans? Of course it has, in myriad shameful ways. But so has almost everything else - including politics and science. That it has isn't an indictment of religion per se, but of human nature and its bottomless capacity to turn whatever is in front of it toward private self interest.
There is currently no great need for people to boost agricultural efficiency.
Two hundred and fifty years ago, in the US, 90% of the population worked the land time to grow food for themselves and the rest of the population, today less than 5% of the population provide enough food to feed us all, and two thirds of their production is sold abroad.
The republican party for political reasons promote a meme, postulating that most people receiving government assistance are just lazy and living of your back, it's an insidious and socially divisive tactic of which they should feel great shame, but I can only assume that most republicans are not familiar with the major tenets of the bible they are so quick to quote.
To further illustrate the extent of misconceptions many people labor under under due to a vigorous program of dis-information, consider the following;
Something doesn't add up!
Reading the CIA Online World Fact Book I came across some surprising statistics, the top three exporting countries in the world are #3-USA #2-China and #1 with only a population of 82 million is Germany!
My first thought was something doesn't add up about the story of US manufacturing job losses in the last few years.
We were told manufacturing jobs, were transferred to other countries, due to the following reasons,
-short working hours
-too much holiday time off
-medical care costs
-unemployment insurance costs
Well something doesn't add up!
In Germany workers,
-earn close to US wages
-by law a union representative sits on the board of directors of all public companies
-environmental regulations are much tougher in Germany
-workplace safety regulations are tougher
-they work fewer hours per week
-every worker has a minimum four weeks of vacation plus holidays for a total of 39 days per year, the US has a minimum of one week vacation plus holidays for a total of 13 days per year
-Germany has universal free medical care which is considered one of the best in the world
-unemployment insurance last much much longer than in the US
-etc. etc. etc.
There are however at least two areas in which the US leads Germany,
-as a larger country it has vastly more natural resources.
-AND! US workers are the most productive workers in the world and have been so for many years!
Something doesn't add up!
If Germany, with more of the "problems" purportedly hobbling US manufacturing can provide it's workers and citizens with one of the highest standards of living and the US with more natural resources plus a more productive work force cannot,
SOMETHING DOESN'T ADD UP!
I will however admit that many of these facts come from the CIA World Fact Book, which is probably some kind of Commie/pinko organization.
His message of inequality is plain wrong, indeed the mathematical mistake is his. Inequality in America has increased in relative terms, say the earnings of the 10% richer divided by the earnings of 10% poorer. If growth of the poorer in higher than the richer, inequality decreases.
Originally Posted by Eris
Realising we have enough resources to feed the world is even simpler arithmetic! What a horrible man.
His point was about incentives. There is enough food in the world, but there are not enough people that are willing to work or produce food for other people that cannot pay for them. In other words, there are no enough people (like me) that are willing to work for free for unknown people do not produce their own food. Still simple arithmetic.
If a portion of citizens of some rich country wants to help poor people from poor nations, that's all right, the capitalism does not preclude citizens' rights to do so. Citizens can simply donate to some NGO. If the donation comes from the government of a rich country, than it is unfair to its citizens. Some citizens might not agree with the donation, nevertheless the government imposes that part their wages will be collected as taxes and will be used to help people from a poor country anyway.
Mr. Michael Novak,
As Amory Lovins once said “in God we trust, everyone else has to bring data”.
I found your speech somewhat disturbing and bordering on cognitive dissonance, as well as in some places displaying prevarication.
The capitalist system is the best system so far, for generating more money for more people, however we do not have a capitalist system, we have a crony capitalist system, which has been gamed to benefit the few.
It is not surprising that capitalism has been waylaid; to quote Lord Acton "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
Or perhaps a better reference from the bible; Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple.
The problem as always is, no matter how many exhortations there are in the bible of the importance of ministering to the poor, too many Christians become addicted to being in the shadow of of power and close off their conscience, take the thirty pieces of silver and become shills to the wealthy and powerful.
Many join places like The American Enterprise Institute and use their literary and oratorical abilities to become “the devil’s advocate” and why not? The money and benefits of a sinecure are very comfortably when compared to the sack cloth of the believer willing to speak truth to power.
On a minor point, though, it always starts with just a little distortion and then grows and grows; you mentioned that the flat earth concept was “the accepted science of the day and only godly faith gave explorers the strength to sail to their death at the end of the world”.
This is patently untrue, Galileo (certainly a scientist of his time) was brought before the inquisition and found “vehemently suspect of heresy, due to his belief of the heliocentric Copernican model” and subsequently he was banished to his villa near Florence for the rest of his life.
Religion has engendered many great concepts, causes and deeds over the years, however there is also the dark side, the mention of which I find you parsimonious, what of the victims of Jones town, the many death camps over the centuries, were the guardians of the faith, even today in the nation’s capital there is The “Family” and their obscene belief that obtaining power demonstrates God’s will and excuses and condones any and all actions, sins and atrocities by the powerful.
Where is the outrage?
I would suggest you spend some time reading the bible, especially the parts about bearing false witness.
Proverbs 19:5 A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will not escape.
And finally may I suggest you contemplate repentance.
Acts 3:17 -26 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.
He makes a valid point, in that equality is unnatural. However, I think his logic is faulty. I don't know a whole lot about economics, but I feel like he's forgetting inflation. He can hide behind his numbers all he wants, but as Eris points out, there's clearly more than enough to go around, and just saying something is "natural" doesn't mean it can't be changed.