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The Golden Rule and the Spirit of Capitalism

We Americans seem lately to be turning nearly every aspect of life into a competition in which somebody must win and somebody must lose. Many popular TV programs have people competing not just in answering quizzes or solving puzzles but also in activities like singing and dancing. Shows with singing and dancing for their own sake, without the voting or the criticism, are very rare. Romance becomes a competition on programs such as The Bachelor. Comedy Central has a show…
John P. Tiemstra
June 30, 2017

The Road to Serfdom Runs Both Directions

John P. Tiemstra BELIEVING IN CAPITALISM I like capitalism, I really do. I think it's a fine economic system, probably the best. It's way better than socialism or feudalism. It is much better at handling the consequences of economic change and promoting economic growth. Also, by decentralizing the decision-making process, it gives individuals more autonomy and control, more opportunity to exercise stewardship over their economic lives, and that's a good thing too. My opinion on this subject has not stopped…
John P. Tiemstra
November 1, 2013

Theologians and Economists in Dialogue

Discussions between theologians and economists can dissolve into a great mass of frustration and confusion. Since the subject matter often involves issues of public policy, like globalization, health care, recession, finance, workers' rights, or corporate wrongdoing, it is tempting to compare these episodes to the dysfunctional dialogues between the Republicans and the Democrats in Washington. At best, we attribute the problems to a simple failure to understand the academic discipline of the other party. I think it is more common,…
John P. Tiemstra
November 1, 2010

Financial Crisis and the Culture of Risk

In the Josiah Stamp Memorial Lecture which he delivered on January 13, 2009, at the London School of Economics, Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reser ve System, listed the causes of the credit boom that led to the current financial breakdown: "widespread declines in under writing standards, breakdowns in lending oversight by investors and rating agencies, increased reliance on complex and opaque credit instruments that proved fragile under stress, and unusually low compensation for risk-taking." This is not moral…
John P. Tiemstra
May 1, 2009

Price Discrimination and Fairness

Introduction Elderly people board busses to Canada to buy prescription drugs for less than they are priced in the U.S. Savvy travelers use "hidden cities" and split tickets to qualify for lower airfares. Couch potatoes disconnect their TV cables every three months so they can qualify for "new subscriber" rates. Supermarket cashiers swipe their own "preferred customer" cards for consumers who "left their card at home." People think about hiring CPAs to figure out what telephone plan will be the…
John P. Tiemstra
April 16, 2004