How Did “I” Become an “I”? A New Historical Work on Liberalism

It’s time for another book review.  I am reading several books but just finished one by Larry Siedentop, entitled Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (Penguin, 2014, 434 pages).  The author has a fascinating and somewhat counterintuitive thesis that what we call “Liberalism” ( I will capitalize the word) was really “created” by Christianity and arose over a long period of time from the 3rd or 4th century AD to the later Middle Ages.  Contrary to many scholars… Continue Reading ››

New Hampshire and the Debate Hypothesis

By any reasonable measure, Marco Rubio struggled, mightily, during parts of the G.O.P. debate on Saturday night. Chris Christie savaged the Florida Senator for his inexperience and his reliance on canned talking points. Rubio responded, to a degree, with canned talking points, thereby demonstrating Christie’s basic critique that Rubio is an empty suit, similar to Barack Obama in 2008.* The conventional wisdom is that Rubio’s performance arrested his Iowa momentum and will blunt his support in the New Hampshire primary.… Continue Reading ››

The Mosque and the President

OK, President Obama spoke at an Islamic mosque yesterday.  I say “so what.”  But hear me out.  I have no issue with him speaking to any religious group in his capacity as president of the United States.  Even what he said, at least as reported, was not particularly problematic. He said for example, that Islam had been part of American history since African slaves were brought to the colonies.  That is true.  Now if he had gone further to say… Continue Reading ››

Income Inequality–is this something Christians should be concerned about?

In the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Sanders lost to Mrs. Clinton on all the major issues except income inequality, as reported in the WSJ (gated): The pollsters asked caucus-goers to choose one of four issues that mattered most to them in voting for a candidate. Mrs. Clinton easily won on health care, terrorism, and even the economy and jobs (51% to 42%).  But Mr. Sanders won big on the fourth issue: income inequality, which 27% of voters said was most important. The… Continue Reading ››

Progressive Taxation: A Complementary Post to Jeff Haymond

What an interesting post and discussion in the comment section on progressive taxation.  I hope Jeff Haymond doesn’t mind.  Let me just add a little on the philosophical and ethical side, since the theological/Biblical has been pretty well covered and the economic problems have also been addressed.  One word raised several times in the “Comment” section was “fair.”  Another implied issue was equality/inequality in terms of the desired outcome of progressive taxation and its rationale.  I want to address these… Continue Reading ››

The Trend of Economic Freedom in the United States

Yesterday the Heritage Foundation released the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom. This annual publication is produced by the Heritage Foundation in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal. In addition to the 2016 Index the foundation also published Economic Freedom in America, a supplement outlining trends in economic freedom in the United States. Figure 1 illustrates the overall composite freedom score of the United States from the inception date of the index in 1995 to the latest figures which cover through the midpoint of… Continue Reading ››

The morality of progressive taxation–explain it to me!

I have one question which I need answered, especially since I’m teaching my macro class about taxation this week and next.  Where is there Biblical justification for progressive taxation?  Specifically, I’d like to know why two people should be treated differently by the tax code if one makes $100k and the other makes $300k, from a Biblical perspective. Please do not bring the poor into this with your Biblical analysis; surely no one will argue that $100k is poor.  And… Continue Reading ››

Tweets About GOP Debate

#GOPDebate And away we go. Good for Fox not to buckle into Trump's silly demands. Sad a presidential candidate ducks a journalist. — Mark Caleb Smith (@markcalebsmith) January 29, 2016 Yes. The ding ding is back and intent. Ding Ding for Republican nomination. #GOPDebate — Mark Caleb Smith (@markcalebsmith) January 29, 2016 Clever use of Trump's words against him by Cruz. Good thinking. Gentle rebuke with humor. #GOPDebate — Mark Caleb Smith (@markcalebsmith) January 29, 2016 Fox should ignore the… Continue Reading ››

President Obama and Executive Power

In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover for the presidency of the United States.  In his campaign, he had promised American voters a “New Deal.”  Little known to most Americans today, Hoover had prepared the way for Roosevelt’s New Deal with several initiatives like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and public works like the Boulder Dam.  Roosevelt, however, would take these precedents and expand them to the extreme.  During his first 100 days in office, Congress passed everything he wanted… Continue Reading ››

How Big Should Government Be? Not Big Enough for Many.

Have we reached a critical mass of voters?  On what issue you might ask.  On whether big government is bad on the whole.  I have read a couple of articles recently, addressing that question.  I don’t honestly know whether or to what extent people may believe big government is basically good.  But here is a quote from the author of the article, Jim Geraghty, writing in National Review, January 21, 2016 (read it at  He quotes from research by… Continue Reading ››

Quote of the Week!

“We are certainly as far from capitalism in its pure form as we are from any system of central planning. The world today is just interventionist chaos.”–F.A. Hayek