Here is a podcast on basic economics from Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.
Dr. Morse is the founder of the Ruth Institute, a global non-profit organization focused on keeping the family together, protecting the rights of children and helping the millions of people who have been harmed by family breakdown.
She has authored or co-authored four books and spoken around the globe on marriage, family and human sexuality. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Polish. Her newest book is The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims.
She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Rochester and taught economics at Yale and George Mason Universities.
A bit more about her economics credentials: Dr. Morse served as a Research Fellow for Stanford University’s Hoover Institution from 1997-2005. She received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester in 1980 and spent a postdoctoral year at the University of Chicago during 1979-80. She taught economics at Yale University and George Mason University for 15 years.
The MP3 file is here. (49 minutes)
- The study of economics is anti-postmodern – there is objective truth independent of what people think
- The study of economics believes in fixed principles of human nature
- Economics studies the allocation of scarce resources that have alternative uses
- Economics studies how people exchange resources
- How both people who engage in a voluntary trade always believe that they will be better off
- How both people who engage in a voluntary trade both benefit from the exchange
- How incentives motivate people to act
- Understanding supply and demand
- Understanding how “free” government services are rationed
- Understanding opportunity costs
- How prices signal producers to produce more or less, and consumers to buy or not buy
- Market-driven prices versus price controls
- The role of substitution
- The necessity of allowing failure in a free market
The requirements of economic growth:
- private property
- the profit motive
- free trade
- entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation
- the rule of law
If you want to learn more about basic economics, I recommend picking up a book or two by Thomas Sowell – the first book I usually give away is “Intellectuals and Society”, and then next “Basic Economics”. A shorter introduction is “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism” by Robert Murphy. You can find a good list of books on the website of The Institute for Faith, Work and Economics.
I think it’s important for Christians to understand basic economics, because so much of the impact we have depends not only on our personal finances, but on our ability to promote economics policies that will affect our personal finances. For example, whether you have a job or not depends on economic policy. Whether you can get food and other required resources depends on economic policy. Often, big-government regimes with poor economic policies (e.g. – North Korea) will make it impossible for you to have other liberties, like religious freedom.
Just think about how hard it would be for you to pursue a Christian life plan in a place like Venezuela, where your priorities would not be apologetics, but just finding food and avoiding death and theft at the hands of criminals. Closer to home, we are now seeing Seattle restaurant workers having their hours cut and even losing their jobs – because they decided to raise the minimum wage rate (bad economics).
This latest study from the UW team looks at the effects of both the first and second jumps. The second jump, in January 2016, raised the minimum wage to $10.50 to $13. (The minimum wage has since gone up again, to the current $11 to $15. It goes up again in January to $11.50 to $15.)
The team concluded that the second jump had a far greater impact, boosting pay in low-wage jobs by about 3 percent since 2014 but also resulting in a 9 percent reduction in hours worked in such jobs. That resulted in a 6 percent drop in what employers collectively pay — and what workers earn — for those low-wage jobs.
For an average low-wage worker in Seattle, that translates into a loss of about $125 per month per job.
“If you’re a low-skilled worker with one of those jobs, $125 a month is a sizable amount of money,” said Mark Long, a UW public-policy professor and one of the authors of the report. “It can be the difference between being able to pay your rent and not being able to pay your rent.”
The report also estimated that there are about 5,000 fewer low-wage jobs in the city than there would have been without the law.
As I blogged previously, 93% of economists agree that raising the minimum wage hurts job seekers. It actually hurts young and/or minority job seekers the most, because they are the ones looking for entry-level jobs. That is why in countries that have embraced bad economic policies, the unemployment rates for young people are at or above 50%.
Look at what the far-left UK Guardian says:
In Greece, 59.2% of under-25s are out of work. In Spain, youth unemployment stands at 56.5%; in Italy, it hovers around 40%.
[…]In the words of Enrico Giovannini, Italy’s employment minister, this is a disaster all the more shocking because it is hitting Europe’s best-educated generation: in Spain, nearly 40% of people in their 20s and early 30s have degrees; in Greece it’s 30%; in Italy, more than 20%.
Having an education isn’t what gets you a job. What gets you a job are the economic policies that make it viable for an entrepreneur to risk their capital in the hope of being able to keep more of what they earn – instead of paying it to the government so that bureaucrats can spend it on social programs.
Imagine it was you who lost your job or couldn’t find work due to bad economic policy. Think of how that would affect your ability to even drive to church on Sundays, or purchase a Bible, much less being able to organize an apologetics event at the university and pay for a speaker to fly in and stay in a hotel. Economics is important for Christians to understand, because so much of our influence and effectiveness depends on it.