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Pillar: Business & Economics

Business & Economics

The fifth pillar, business and economics, is built upon concern for the common good and the ways in which the economic order contributes to—or detracts from—human flourishing. Public Discourse examines the ways in which the market is shaped by—and gives shape to—our understanding of the human person, the role of the family, the rule of law, and education and culture.

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A Tale of Two Countries: How Norway Embraces Markets While Venezuela Does Not

When people quickly compare the Norwegian and Venezuelan economies, they tend to see the one trait they have in common: a big public sector. However, when we study these countries in depth, it becomes evident that the two follow opposite economic principles. While Norway’s economy is among the freest in the world, Venezuela has become a prime example of what a socialist economy looks like.

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“Going Dark” and the Politics of Software Code

Apple has been entangled in several recent controversies over its decision to adopt unbreakable encryption for its iPhone. The company has inscribed an absolute right to privacy in its code and, in so doing, has failed to take into account the proper moral and legal limits on that right. Other technological solutions should be considered that could balance the rights of physical security and privacy.

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Can Social Conservatives and Libertarians Still Be Friends?

American Compass and younger conservatives need to do more than complain about doctrinaire libertarians. There is a large need for careful thinking about the societal and cultural implications of economic policies, but blanket declarations of war against “libertarian fundamentalists” or “market fundamentalism” are no substitute for thoughtful analysis.

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What Economic Models Can and Can’t Tell Us

What is the value of human companionship or gathering together on Easter? What is the value of knowing that your elderly parents are safe from a highly infectious disease? There is no way to put either one into epidemiological or economic models. The debate between those insisting we need to follow the advice of epidemiologists and those insisting we ought to prioritize the economic effects of that advice may actually be a proxy war about what constitute the most important things in a society.

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Trump Administration Fights the Establishment Clause Virus, Too

When the Trump administration’s clarifying guidelines go to court, they not only should be upheld. One hopes, and even dares to expect, that the compelling circumstances of this public benefit program will bring forth a needed clarification of Establishment Clause law, one which finally buries the impetus behind any confusion surrounding the CARES Act and religious eligibility.

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A Tale of Two Nations? Populism, Plutocrats, and the Managerial State

Michael Lind’s The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite addresses the growing gap between the successful and those left behind in the United States and in other developed Western societies. Contemporary “demagogic populism,” he argues, is a symptom of the disease of technocratic, neoliberal elitism, the cure for which is a return to democratic pluralism.

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Can We Measure the Value of Saving Human Lives in Dollars? Somber Calculations in a Time of Plague

In fighting Coronavirus, the precautionary principle is reasonable: we need to act so as to bring as close to zero the probability of the most extreme results. However, the precautionary principle does not point in only one direction. Closing down an entire society for a prolonged period of time is uncharted territory, with many perils. We must also bear in mind the pre-eminent importance of the common good to avoid a catastrophic social collapse.

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Is Economic Analysis Just a Weapon in Public Policy Wars?

In a war, you know your goal, and then you decide on the best means to achieve that end. If you think about economic debates as a form of war, then choosing an economic model is not the first question. Instead, once you know your preferred policy outcome, you then choose an economic analysis that leads to that conclusion.

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Understanding the Right to Privacy in the Age of Big Data

The Christian moral tradition provides a solid foundation for the right to privacy by linking it to the act of communication and sharing information, a fundamentally relational activity oriented toward both the personal and common good. The failures of Capital One, Ring, and others illustrate that it cannot be left up to individual institutions to protect their clients’ privacy. We must therefore develop stronger legal institutions that embody the principles of both privacy and transparency.

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A Decade of Debates

The team at Public Discourse doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do think we’re asking the right questions, and getting the right thinkers to propose some of the answers. That’s one thing that we hope will always be our hallmark: thoughtful, reasoned discourse, which is rigorous yet still accessible to the educated layman.

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