Sex, Economics, and Austerity

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John Maynard Keynes was the sexiest economist who ever lived. This might seem like half-hearted praise since in our mind’s eye the typical economist appears as a dowdy and almost always balding man, full of prudential advice about thrift and the miracle of compound interest. Keynes, with his caterpillar moustache and mesmerizing bedroom eyes, cut a more dashing figure.

He had many lovers of both genders, and was married to one of the great beauties of the age, the ballerina Lydia Lopokova. His genius at playing the stock market allowed him to enjoy the life of bon vivant, socializing with the writers and artists of the Bloomsbury group such as Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster rather than dull number crunchers he knew at Cambridge and in the British Treasury. While other economists focused on maximizing economic growth, Keynes wanted to go further and maximize the pleasures of life.

Given all this, it’s perhaps not surprising that a much-publicized recent attack on the Keynesian policy of using government deficits to overcome economic recession resorted to homophobia to discredit it. Last Friday, in a question and answer session following his lecture, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson startled his audience at the Altegris Strategic Investment Conference in California by calling Keynes a childless gay man who couldn’t give his wife conjugal satisfaction and had no concern for the impact of deficits on posterity.

A storm of criticism followed, and in an effort to salvage his reputation, Ferguson—a vocal critic of both President Obama’s mild stimulus policies and the more ambitious Keynesianism of economists like Paul Krugman—quickly and comprehensively apologized, saying his original remarks were “stupid as they were insensitive” and “disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation.” Ferguson’s gaffe came in the wake of the recent news that an influential 2010 study by his Harvard colleagues Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, which had seemed to show a hard threshold beyond which deficits hampered economic growth, turned out to depend heavily on an Excel spread sheet error as well as other elementary methodological flaws. While austerity’s advocates have enjoyed an inexplicable ascendancy in the political world since the beginning of the current great recession, the scrutiny of Ferguson as well as Reinhart and Rogoff has put deficit hawks on the intellectual defensive.

Ferguson’s repudiation of his original homophobic comments should be commended. But Ferguson has a history of making jibes about Keynes’s sexuality. University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers called attention to the fact that in Ferguson’s 1999 book The Pity of War, Keynes is described as being depressed by World War I, in part, because “the boys he liked to pick up in London all joined up.” Later in the same book, Ferguson toys with the idea that Keynes may have been influenced to become a harsh critic of the Treaty of Versailles by an attraction to the German negotiator Carl Melchior. (It's embarrassing to have to refute arrant nonsense with facts and logic, but Keynes was likely depressed by the war because he didn’t like pointless mass slaughter, while his Treaty of Versailles critique was vindicated by the post-war political and economic chaos he predicted).

But there is something deeper and weirder going on here. Homophobic slurs against Keynes, it turns out, have a long pedigree. As both Berkeley economist Brad DeLong and the Washington Monthly’s Kathleen Geier have documented, the attempt to dismiss Keynes as someone heedless about the future because he was a childless gay man has been a staple of conservative thought for nearly seven decades.

The accusation was first made by the brilliant Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter, who in a 1946 obituary complained that Keynes “was childless and his philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy.” The words of Schumpeter—still remembered for his contention that capitalism rests on “creative destruction,” and a conservative who thought intellectuals such as Keynes were undermining the moral foundation of the free market—have been echoed by many other thinkers, including George Will, Gerturde Himmelfarb, Greg Mankiw, Mark Steyn, and V.S. Naipaul. (Himmelfarb argues that Keynes’s famous statement  “In the long run we are all dead” has “an obvious connection with his homosexuality,” while Mark Steyn described the economist as a “childless homosexual” and “libertine.” Harvard economist Greg Mankiw also used the word “childless” to describe Keynes, raising the question, what’s wrong with Harvard?)

The Schumpeter claim has had a surprisingly robust life despite the fact that it is both biographically wrong and logically absurd. Keynes was not childless by choice. He and Lydia Lopokova wanted to have a larger family, but failed due to a heart-breaking miscarriage. Moreover, childless people of any sexual orientation are more than capable of caring about the future of the species. Would we want to dismiss such famous non-parents as Immanuel Kant, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, and Beethoven, not to mention Christ, of being exclusively focused on the present moment?

Still, the best response to Schumpeter and Ferguson may be to rethink—and re-argue—the link between sex and economics. We can reject the homophobia but take up the question they raise: What is the connection between Keynes the great lover and Keynes the great economist? To answer it, we have to acknowledge that economics is not a morally neutral science but rather is intimately connected with questions about what we want from life , including the type of sex we want to have.

Historically, attempts to prohibit sodomy (defined broadly as non-procreative sex) have had an economic dimension as well as a moral one. Economics, for the ancient Greeks, was household management (oikonomia being the Greek counterpart to our word husbandry). While the pre-Christian Greeks didn’t have any notion that homosexuality was sinful, they did develop the idea there was a tension between sodomy and the procreative goal that they saw governing proper household management.

By remembering how the Greeks saw economics, we can make sense of the curious argument made by Aristotle—that usury was similar to unnatural sex, a case of money being generated by interaction with an outside party rather than the growth of a household through the fruitful union of husband and wife. In the Politics, Aristotle argues,

“There are two sorts of wealth-getting, as I have said; one is a part of household management, the other is retail trade: the former necessary and honorable, while that which consists in exchange is justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain from one another. The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of any modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.”

Aristotle’s linkage of non-procreative sex with usury profoundly influenced Christian thinkers. Thomas Aquinas, whose Summa Theologica codified the fusion of Aristotle with Christianity, argued that sodomy and usury were both “sins against nature, in which the very order of nature is violated, an injury done to God himself, who sets nature in order.” Echoing Aquinas, Dante placed sodomites and usurers in the same circle of Hell in the Divine Comedy. In his 1935 tract “Social Credit,” Ezra Pound, whose obsession with crackpot economics took him down many historical byways, argued that “usury and sodomy, the Church condemned as a pair, to one hell, the same for one reason, namely that they are both against natural increase.” 

There is a flipside to this tradition of seeing sodomy as the enemy of the natural economy of the household: The counter-tradition of liberal economics founded by Adam Smith challenged the household model by seeing economics as rooted in the free trade of goods between households and nations. Precisely because Smith was more receptive to previously condemned or taboo economic activities like trade and manufacturing, he was also more open to sexual liberalism.

Smith’s friend Alexander Dalrymple is now thought to have written an anonymous tract, Thoughts of an Old Man (1800), recalling that the founder of modern economics believed that “sodomy was a thing in itself indifferent”—a radical thing to say even in private at a time when sodomy was a capital offence, condemned by church and state. Interestingly, Smith was more reluctant to challenge the traditional prejudice against usury, although his students would conclude that the normalization of usury was the rational outcome of Smithian economics.

Smith’s new and somewhat inchoate ideas were pushed further by Bentham, who in an unpublished essay observed that sodomy “produces no pain in anyone” but “on the contrary it produces pleasure.” Pain and pleasure were key categories for Bentham as he developed the philosophy of utilitarianism, which argued a new goal for society: "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.” 

It’s no accident that in 1787 Bentham wrote a “Defence of Usury,” which tried to convince Adam Smith to take a more benevolent view of the hitherto morally sanctioned economic activity. On the subject of both usury and sodomy, Bentham’s inclination was to take Smith’s liberal impulses to their logical end. Bentham was in favour of consensual adult acts (be they sexual or economic) that led to greater happiness, whether they violated pre-existing taboos or not.

Although Keynes would revise the classical liberal tradition in many ways, he shared Bentham’s aversion to unnecessary pain. In his essay “My Early Beliefs,” Keynes put forward his core creed: “The appropriate subjects of passionate contemplation and communion were a beloved person, beauty and truth, and one's prime objects in life were love, the creation and enjoyment of aesthetic experience and the pursuit of knowledge.  Of these, love came a long way first.”

The primacy Keynes gave to love is the key to understanding his greatness as an economist and moral figure. Valuing love as he did, Keynes was willing to ignore or overturn traditional creeds that, to his mind, inflicted unnecessary suffering whether it be the prohibition against homosexuality or the use of austerity as a solution to economic crises.

If Keynes’s economic vision is intertwined with his larger views on sex and love, meanwhile, the same is surely true of the many strands of pro-austerity thinking that oppose Keynesianism. Schumpeter was fundamentally a nostalgist who longed for a return to the heroic days of bourgeois family capitalism, a world he knew was irrevocably lost. No wonder Schumpeter was so unsettled by Keynes, a man at home with both modern economics and modern sexuality.

As Mark Blyth has shown in his new book Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, the power of arguments for austerity come from the fact that they invoke the traditional moral system of the West, a way of thinking that is rarely questioned because it seems like common sense. Implicit in austerity are all sorts of moral adages: no pain, no gain; suffering builds character; thrift is virtue.

Keynes was able to see through the fallacy of austerity because he didn’t think traditional moral strictures should be uncritically accepted. Rather, he wanted to test these strictures by their consequences. If we follow Keynes’s example, we can use the same critical intelligence that has overturned the prejudice against homosexuality and start challenging the orthodoxy of austerity. No wonder Keynes remains a threatening figure for conservative economists and moralists alike.

Comments

Since nobody else has commented yet, may I say that this is an original and unexpected analysis of the parallel between social/cultural and economic conservatism. Both involve philosophical ideas that make SOMEONE ELSE'S SUFFERING a good thing, as long as those who have the power to impose their will on others are not the ones suffering. I also see a parallel with the attitude of the predator and the rapist: becoming a victim is, to them, a sin that justifies the abuse of victims as punishment.

Conservatives of the cultural type claim that virtue consists of a willingness to punish others who GET CAUGHT violating the moral codes, but not the moralist himself (mostly HIMself), who may be violating the same moral codes, but was smart enough, powerful enough, rich enough, and/or connected enough to get away with it.

Conservatives of the economic type, likewise, claim that "the market" as the ultimate arbiter of economic "morality" and thus "justifies" the rigging of the market to make workers (who actually DO the work that makes things) poor in order to make owners and managers (who contribute less than the workers) wealthy and untouchable by the justice system.

The two branches of conservatism have come together in worshiping power and demonizing the powerless as "takers" in the policies they champion. Why are people who work many hours a week on multiple jobs not making enough to thrive, and sometimes not even to survive, without being forced to beg for help and be condemned as "takers?" Why are people who have never worked at all, but have inherited wealth which reproduces itself without their effort (or, to be fair, may have worked very hard in the past, but at gaming the market system rather than PRODUCING something) lauded as "makers" and "job creators?" Because the OUTCOME of competition, REGARDLESS of the integrity of the MEANS of winning, is the most commonly praised "virtue." In fact, our society ADMIRES those who cheat and WIN by cheating, and ONLY condemns cheating when someone is caught LOSING DESPITE CHEATING; while ALSO condemning as "stupid" anyone who loses TO A CHEATER by playing honestly. The Yiddish word GONIF, which originally was a morally condemning term for a THIEF, has been redefined to mean a SMART OPERATOR. And I can almost imagine the word TZADIK, meaning righteous, being used as a slur meaning STUPID.

But if we adopt a TRUE Judeo-Christian morality, we have to admit that public policy ought to protect the PUBLIC GOOD, even if it cuts down the amount that the GONIFS are able to steal from the TZADIK. This is Keynesian economics, realizing that PUBLIC debt owed back to the members of the public itself is not, in itself, harmful to the economy, as long as the economy becomes prosperous enough to carry it. It is Keynesian, rather than austerity, economic policy that gets us out of depressions: make as many households as possible prosperous and it will make the businesses and wealthy more prosperous than ever, since money BUBBLES UP rather than trickling down.

We must become Keynesian again, or we will eventually be DICKENSIAN.

You may be able to help me. I am a student of economic history, and am at a loss to name ONE depression that was ended by Keynesian means. Which ones did you have in mind? I will note in advance that our own Great Depression is unique in two respects: first, the length and severity of the downturn; and two, the fact that it was the first attempt by the Federal government to interfere directly in a market correction.

Re: "first attempt by Federal government.." What did FDR do?

ThinkingDem

A brilliant piece of argument, polemic, moral suasion! Brava, bravo.
Best regards

Interestingly, it's not just conservatives who've made this argument. Here's Robert Skidelsky (Keynes's admiring biographer):

"Homosexuality is the quintessentially useless passion, in the sense that it has no purpose outside itself (unlike heterosexuality, whose biological purpose is procreation). As such it was the most radical of the assaults on the Victorian principle of living, particularly in its weakening of the motive for saving or accumulation. To ignore the possible influence of its ‘childless perspective’ on Keynes’s attitude to life, and thus on his life’s work, would be biographical philistinism."

Skidelsky, "The Revolt Against the Victorians" in Skidelsky, ed., The End of the Keynesian Era, 1977, pp. 6-7. Here's a picture of the relevant page: https://twitter.com/dcfowkes/status/331359055908065280/photo/1

That's interesting, but I don't think it really provides an adequate defence of Ferguson's remarks. Skidelsky is only saying that we must look at Keynes' thought in the light of his homosexuality and how people thought about it at the time - which is a reasonable enough thing to say and not why anyone is criticising Ferguson.

What Ferguson did was to argue that Keynes' homosexuality and childlessness were the reason why he did not care about the long run - because he was, therefore, too selfish or ignorant to care about the future, whereas a married straight man with children instinctively would. This stereotyping, demeaning and untrue view of homosexuals is a horrible thing to believe, and the context in which you raise it - Keynes or anything else - is largely irrelevant. That is the shameful thing that Ferguson did. The mask, one might suggest, momentarily slipped.

Now, we need to go a little further here, because there is another interesting point which the article alludes to but does not flesh out. Ferguson was insinuating that Keynes did not care about the future. However, if we look at the full quote that Ferguson paraphrased, it reads as follows:

"But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again."

You can clearly see that Keynes is criticising economists for being lazy and making useless predictions, not arguing that the future does not matter. Or, to quote Krugman, who spells out this point in more detail:

"As I’ve written before, Keynes’s point here is that economic models are incomplete, suspect, and not much use if they can’t explain what happens year to year, but can only tell you where things will supposedly end up after a lot of time has passed. It’s an appeal for better analysis, not for ignoring the future; and anyone who tries to make it into some kind of moral indictment of Keynesian thought has forfeited any right to be taken seriously."

Should we be surprised that Ferguson's whole point rests on a Fox News style misquote? Given his past performance, perhaps not.

Leave it to the left to reach the inane conclusion that Keynes' sexual athletics must be why conservatives "are threatened" by him. Who exactly is threatened by Keynes? Laughing at the man, early and often, is more likely among those who value reason over emotion. The author's conclusion is pathetically "high school" but rather typical of the immature left, which never strays far from sloppy, rapid-fire categorization.

To find Krugman cited in this piece is no surprise. He is another "economist" who should be laughed at early and often. Failed economic principles resurrected and endlessly flogged as viable theories is not the mark of a ground-breaking thinker.

It is as interesting that someone should try to defend Keynes via his homosexuality as that one should attack him.

Reality is simple: you cannot spend more money than you take in forever. You cannot borrow money forever. You cannot borrow or spend your way to prosperity. We borrow over $1 trillion dollars a year, and interest ALONE on our national debt will soon exceed the Pentagon's budget. These are not "right wing" speculations. They are facts, Period.

Further, the more important aspect of Keynes personality we need to look at is his lifelong association with radicals like Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, and most ominously George Bernard Shaw, who was one of the first people he wrote when completed his masterpiece of BS, the "General Theory".

Read the last chapter of that book. What is unmistakeable even for an average mind is that he was Fascist, and I mean that in a technical sense. He wanted potential government control over all aspects of economic life, with large, supportive corporations to be left alone as long as they toed the line. He praised in his lifetime the economic policies of Adolph Hitler. He in turn was praised by Benito Mussollini--the former Communist who came up with the name "Fascism", kids--who called Keynes ideas "pure fascism". Yes, that is a quote.

Why were he and his Russian wife allowed to travel the Soviet Union without supervision? Because they were regarded as ideologically safe. George Bernard Shaw praised both Nazism and Communism, and there is no reason to believe Keynes did not share his fundamentally elitist and amoral worldview. Keynes simply thought Fascism was more intelligent.

People like you are ruining this world by stupidity, by allowing vicious and evil human beings to continue their quest to destroy all semblances of a truly Liberal political order, and all traces of anything approaching honest morality.

Peterk10, bearachtraining: GIVE US A BREAK! Your opposition to ANYTHING that might suggest Keynes had a point is becoming a hallmark of knee-jerk Republicanism.

“Failed economic principles resurrected and endlessly flogged as viable theories is not the mark of a ground-breaking thinker.” Why is forcing millions upon millions of people into penury – as the austerity policies of the right-wing “thinkers” are doing right now – a viable alternative? What is ground-breaking about that, except to provide employment for grave-diggers?

“you cannot spend more money than you take in forever”. No one, least of Keynes, is suggesting that we do. Besides, it is conservatives who have already done much of the borrowing and, at least in Canada, it was liberals who stopped the bleeding and it was conservatives who started borrowing again.

“You cannot borrow or spend your way to prosperity.” Tell that to the businesses who borrow billions every day. The system as it is would collapse if they didn’t or couldn’t borrow – and nearly did in 2008.

Keynes’ “lifelong association with radicals like Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, and most ominously George Bernard Shaw” is at best a deflection and holds no more interest or significance than Margaret Thatcher’s association with thugs like Augusto Pinochet or Mitt Romney’s cozying up to the NRA.

“[He] praised in his lifetime the economic policies of Adolph Hitler” Or maybe not. “During the 1930s, Keynes was an early advocate of rearmament to deter what he referred to as the brigand powers of Germany, Japan and Italy. In July 1936, Keynes sent a letter to the editor to the New Statesman saying ‘a state of inadequate armament on our part can only encourage the brigand powers who know no argument but force, and will play, in the long run, into the hands of those who would like us to acquiesce by inaction in these powers doing pretty much what they like in the world’”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Economic_Consequences_of_the_Peace Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

There IS a crisis in the global economy and it is NOT being solved by the austerity policies so beloved of right-wing economists, nor will it be solved by making the rich richer and the banks bankier. Such policies are much more likely to lead to disruptive political movements and social unrest. Ignoring left-wing economic ideas because they are left-wing is no more productive than embracing right-wing ideas because they are right-wing.

The consequences count.

Thanks, Roscoe, for proving my point about immaturity and a penchant for sloppy categorization. I merely placed a comment on a blog, without self-identifying as anything more than someone who disagrees with Keynes and Krugman. You immediately place me in convenient "right-wing" categories so you can lob your tired verbal bombs.

Sorry if I mistook your critique as something coming from the blathering right-wing. I should have realized that your careful use of language actually precludes my assumption you have a right-wing bias. Words like “inane” and “pathetically high school” and “immature” and “sloppy” to describe those with whom you disagree are in fact just too big to be coming from a right-winger. My apologies.

Touché, Rosco.bell. Well done.

When used by the left wing the word austerity is to sound fiscal policy what the word social justice is to actual fairness. It is a propagandistic meme designed to allow the short sighted to convince the stupid that 1.4 trillion dollar deficits can be sustained forever. To be clear, that IS what is being proposed. Obama's latest budget does not balance EVER, within the lifetime of ANYONE. And that is just the annual budget. NOBODY, on the left or the right, is proposing actually paying down our debt, except Rand Paul, whose proposal is serious, and Paul Ryan, whose proposal is far too weak.

Mussollini did praise Keynes, and Keynes did praise Hitler, but I am not going to take the time to look it up. I would ask, though: what would Keynes have objected to in Hitler's use of state power to buy up large segments of the private sector and enhance employment? And Hitler DID have a plan to balance the budget: invade the rest of Europe. He was far more sane than Lenin.

If you want intelligent analysis of the faults of our system, read my treatment of it: http://www.goodnessmovement.com/Page23.html . What you think you know consists in logical fallacy, presumption of facts which are not true, and the repetition of talking points created by people just as ignorant as you.

Sodomy is unnatural sex, and Keynesianism is unnatural economics.

This is why the link is significant.

If you believe in and defend unnatural laws then you will beget unnatural outcomes.

In addition to our headlong pursuit of irrelevant or moribund philosophies, our problems are being magnified by a mostly talentless yet greedy (psychopathic) elite who are well versed at demanding 10^Nth more than they contribute to our society, culture, and the planet.

We have become top-heavy in free-loaders who believe wealth is best acquired by obtaining a metaphorical "membership of Wall Street" in order to play at the "Casino of Delusions."

Once the abuse of paper currency has become the fastest and surest way of creating "wealth" (i.e., the "money making money" syndrome) then surely we have entered some kind of an "end game".

Over 70 percent of the world's richest people are essentially stupid, unwise, emotionally troubled, psychologically crippled, and a corrosive burden on the rest of us. Just study their body language and troubled faces. Goldman Sachs? What a bunch of spoiled (but dangerous) children. I wouldn't wish to share my Dinner with any one of them ... even if Lobster Thermidor was on the menu.

Do I need to write any more?

I wish people would stop referring to him as "Harvard historian" Niall Ferguson. Granted, he is employed by the History Department at the right-wing think-tank called Harvard University, but he has demonstrated in his public statements over the last decade that he really doesn't know much about history. He has also demonstrated he knows nothing about economics. His rise to fame and fortune rests on a "counterfactual", i.e. a novel, a work of fiction, about what would have happened if Britain had not entered World War I against Germany. British conservatives loved it, because it essentially blamed England for all the woes resulting from The Great War and therefore for also causing World War II. Since British conservatives loved him he was given a sinecure at Cambridge, and when American libertarian conservatives heard about him arguing against liberal policies they offered him an even higher-paying sinecure at Harvard. Everybody would be better off ignoring him.

He also penned a hagiography on the Rothschild dynasty, whose TV serialization he then fronted: with personal visits to a Rothschild mansion and a face-to-face interview.

Methinks we can safely assume Niall (a Scot) actually believes he can now walk on water.

Both usury and homosexuality are forbidden by The Law given to us by The Ruler of the Universe for our protection against evil (Lev. 25:36-37, Lev. 18:22).

Usury is the mechanism by which the entire world has been driven into debt-slavery to a small cabal of ultra-rich banksters. We are trying to destroy our planet for profit and the moment we succeed we are ALL dead. TOTALLY INSANE.

Homosexuality is an unnatural perversion that is not only unhealthy as well as disgusting, but a CHOSEN behavior that is destroying the basic family unit and society, substituting perverted sexual desire and gratification for Love. Homosexuality is the door by which ALL other perverted sexual behavior is made possible (e.g. pedophilia).

There is NO such thing as "homophobia" except in the minds of people who think that someone who doesn't have enough common-sense to know what to do with the equipment they were issued should be allowed to continue their UNLAWFUL (i.e. CRIMINAL) behavior with impunity.

ANYTHING in this world that is against God and Nature should be stopped IMMEDIATELY for the everyone's collective and individual benefit. That includes materialism, finance/usury, all of these "endless" wars, the raping of this planet for its natural resources, the poisoning of this planet in the form of chemicals, GM crops, etc. which are making everyone sick and the constant wasteful nature of the human-animals we TEMPORARILY occupy (the REAL you is a spirit-being, who is supposed to be in control of the human-animal body rather than the other way around). We are human+BEINGS, or has everyone forgotten that?

Only by returning to The Law given to us at Mt. Horeb in Sinai can we ever hope to have TRUE Freedom, Justice, Peace, Prosperity, Safety and Security for ALL (Malachi 4). Wouldn't you rather live in a world where THAT is the norm instead of in some Orwellian police-state where everyone is a corporate debt-slave working for the evil system, women are raped, children are molested, churches/synagogues/mosques, etc. steal from everyone, and everyone is out for themselves rather than the greater good?

2000 years since Christ came and showed us by Example that it is not only possible but necessary to LIVE by The Law (Matthew 5:17-20, John 14:6), which is the ONLY Way to truly Love one's neighbor (spiritually, not physically). Has anyone taken notice?

Usury is CRIMINAL.
Homosexuality is CRIMINAL.
War is "legalized" murder and is CRIMINAL.
Taxes are "legalized" theft and are CRIMINAL.
Legislating (making up our own laws to make the rich richer and the poor poorer) is CRIMINAL (Deut. 4:2).

The above are all COMMON-SENSE and are clearly spelled out in The Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). When will we learn? Will we ever?

Hi J14a,

I find myself agreeing with several of your points. Like the unjustness of laws that favor the rich over the poor, for example. And I'll at least go along with you as far as saying that there have been way too many unjust wars throughout history. But I also see you conflating several subjects that I see as unrelated. So I have just got a few questions for you.
1) What did Jesus say to do with Caesar's stuff?
2) Do you have money in a savings account? Or even an interest checking account?
3) Do you know if your wardrobe is free of cotton/poly blends?

Jeet Heer's thoughtful essay has brought out the crazy, that's for sure. Or perhaps the act of shining a light in dark places has caused various uncomfortable denizens to feel the need to scuttle and protest (a little too much).

Roscoe Bell has responded more than appropriately to PeterK10's content-free invective, but now "the Ruler of the Universe", whose transparent and incontrovertible guidance must apparently lead us to full theocratic tyranny -- or how else can one interpret "ANYTHING in this world that is against God and Nature should be stopped IMMEDIATELY for the everyone's collective and individual benefit." Those pesky passive voices: "should be stopped" by whom, exactly, justice14all? Will take on the onerous burden of being dictator of the world and locking up the disgusting rest of us that God has told you are bad bad bad?

In these days of blogging, it is probably correct to read such inflammatory responses as evidence of nerves touched -- so kudos again to Jeet Heer, who made me think and who made uncomfortable conservatives' heads explode!

We can borrow forever as long as we have no intention of ever repaying the principal. That type of behavior will eventually require military action; the timing being dependent upon who ends up owning the debt, and in what proportions.

In the meantime, I see it as a system rigged to secure the interest "earned" and a battle over who will be forced to pay it.

Due to excessive greed, the owners of capital continue to ship jobs overseas, and we have an estimated 11 million illegal workers in this country. The natural result of such activities has been an overburdened safety net and the government becoming an employer of last resort.

No, we cannot borrow forever. Interest must be paid on the debt, and the amount we have to pay annually goes up both as the debt goes up, as well as when the interest rates we must pay go up to support the increasingly dubious proposition that lenders will get their money back.

Currently, we would be in serious trouble if the Federal Reserve were not propping up the Obama regime by creating money to buy up well over half the debt being generated. Historically, this process always leads, sooner or later, to inflation, which we can expect in large doses if and when our economy recovers. Since that appears unlikely until at least 2016, we will not see how much damage is being done until at least then.

If you study history, though, countries file bankruptcy often.. It can be a good thing for developing countries, but for a nation like the United States, it will mean global depression.

What you have failed to grasp, as well--because everyone does--is that our system is not based principally on "capital", per se, which is net savings from some economically productive activity. Rather, it is based upon the ability of large banks and central banks to create "capital" ex nihilo, and thus make more money, and secure a larger share of our country, than even the largest corporations which actually make something. Market capitalization of Goldman Sachs alone is something like $1 trillion. Where did that come from? From their ability to create money, and then make claims on the productive efforts of the rest of us.

Most of the people spouting off on this topic are speaking from nothing but stereotypes, and the prior indoctrination that created them. This applies on both sides of the argument. Conservatives, for their part, miss the fact that our system is not Capitalist, and it is not free.

Again, I discuss these things in depth at http://www.goodnessmovement.com/Page23.html

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