Sunday, April 13, 2008

The concept of jubilee

THE once-glowing core body of law within the Judeo-Christian Bible has become all but ignored - indeed, rejected - by the colder temper of our times. This core provided for periodic restoration of economic order by rituals of social renewal based on freedom from debt-servitude and from the loss of one’s access to self-support on the land. So central to Israelite moral values was this tradition that it framed the composition of both the Old and New Testaments.

Radical as the idea of cancelling debts and restoring the population’s means of subsistence seems to modern eyes, it had been a conservative tradition in Bronze Age Mesopotamia for some two millennia. What was conserved was self-sufficiency for the rural family-heads who made up the infantry as well as the productive base of Near Eastern economies.

Conversely, what was radically disturbing in archaic times was the idea of unrestrained wealth-seeking. It took thousands of years for the idea of progress to become inverted, to connote freedom for the wealthy to deprive the peasantry of their lands and personal liberty."

Natural resources

"Robert Kennedy, Jr., might be correct that electricity is best provided in Chile by means other than hydroelectric dams (Letters, April 8). His presumption, however, about the source of prosperity casts doubt on the quality of his argument.

Mr. Kennedy opposes dams because he wants to protect "nature's bounty." But nature is not bountiful. If it were, human history would be one of prosperity and long, healthy lives rather than one of oppressive poverty and short, miserable lives. Nature is miserly. The bounty that Mr. Kennedy presumes comes from nature is, in fact, the relatively recent product of human creativity and industry unleashed by free markets - and now threatened by the mindless worship of nature.

Donald J. Boudreaux"

Friday, April 11, 2008

Global labor arbitrage...again

Perhaps the arbitrage won't last as long as I thought and expressed in a previous post here. Over at Czech Republic Economy Watch, Edward points out that Vietnamese are flocking to the Czech Republic to fill jobs. Also Vietnamese workers back in their home country are looking for pay increases; apparently
"More than 20,000 Vietnamese workers went on strike demanding a 20% increase to their US$59 monthly salaries on Monday at a Taiwanese-owned factory that makes shoes for US apparel giant Nike."