Capitalism and the Gospel

April 12, 2004 | 112 comments
By

Claudia enjoyed her two weeks of fame on the T&S blog, and I am looking forward to my time in the blogger’s chair. We have few enough venues for informal exploring and reflecting, and this seems to be one of the best.

My initial question is: Are capitalism and the gospel at odds with one another? I am not thinking about greed and cruelty, the usual line of criticism against capitalism, and I am not suggesting socialism as a better course. My thoughts were spurred by the General Conference talk on “the heart of a mother.” As I listened to the talk, the speaker (whose name I missed on my web-originating broadcast) was promoting motherhood over against career, and that is where I think capitalism undermines the church and the gospel.

We often say that cultural systems like capitalism and democracy are neutral on gospel issues. Neither one cares about your religion. You can be Catholic or Mormon under capitalism without suffering any handicaps in the pursuit of wealth. What I wish to challenge is precisely this sense of neutrality. Capitalism may not care about your religion (it is essentially godless itself), but it cares deeply about certain things: about savings, investment, and hardwork. The capitalist system offers fabulous rewards to those who save and invest, who prove skillful in corporate management, and who work hard. The best of these people receive immense salaries and considerable notoriety. They are promoted, given perks, honored, awarded authority and power, confirmed in their masculine identities, counted as important.

The capitalist system does not denigrate others who play more lowly roles like artists, or school teachers, or mothers. They are acknowledged and even applauded but they are not honored and rewarded with the high impact labels and responsibilities that go to corporate executives and useful talent and certainly not with the wages. The players outside the corporate system are marginal to capitalism as producers of wealth but also marginal as figures of note.

This may not undermine the gospel in farm economy or in other systems where capitalism is only one system among many. But when it attains the immense power that it possesses in the United States, it can come to control human values and to pervade the entire cultural system. When we ask what do you do, we want to know what place you have in this vast, interlocking corporate system that includes universities, museums, and charities, as well as business corporations. If you are not part of that network you are in danger of having a null identity. “Slipping into irrelevance,” is the way one mother put it to me. That is what I think the Conference speaker was getting at. She was trying to reinforce the family cultural system against the onslaught of the corporate system that has its roots in corporate capitalism.

It is a pitiful effort, though many influential voices are being raised in this cause. Kim Clark at the Harvard Business School has been preaching the doctrine of family and community ever since being made Dean. Words for the family are spoken frequently at law school and business school commencements. Family is rudimentary enough and compelling enough to have many allies. But despite all this, there is a danger that these will be words flung in the teeth of the gale. The corporate system is too entrenched, too powerful, too pervasive. Our young women will embrace family values, to be sure, but they will continue to go to law school and medical school in increasing numbers. Reading the handwriting on the wall, they will go for careers. Heroically, they will do their mothering tasks as well, with the help of cooperative husbands, but they won’t defy the mandates of the corporate world. They will demand a part in the vast cultural system that dominates the nation. They will indeed have hearts of mothers but they will own a tailored business suit. With so little to protect them in this demanding culture, the pure mothers, those with no careers, are in danger of becoming increasingly bitter and defensive.

Tags: ,

112 Responses to Capitalism and the Gospel

  1. Steve Evans on April 12, 2004 at 4:43 pm

    bug

  2. Kristine on April 12, 2004 at 5:05 pm

    Richard, I think you are exactly right. One of the thing that bothers me about the fight against same-sex marriage is that I think it may be a distraction from these economic issues which represent an even bigger threat to families.

    One problem I see with Sister Beck’s talk and with other attempts to address this problem within the church is that they try to lay the entire responsibility of bucking the system on the shoulders of mothers. And while I believe that Mormon mothers are among the most capable of humans, there simply isn’t any chance for them to swim against the tide alone. Unless the Church enlists fathers as well, and starts setting an example of decent corporate behavior towards families (maybe starting with a generous maternity leave policy at BYU, or decent wages for secretaries in the COB), we can’t hope to put up any real resistance, and we will continue to alienate young women who sense the unfairness of their being asked to “slip into irrelevance” without any meaningful support.

  3. Russell Arben Fox on April 12, 2004 at 5:07 pm

    Richard, your line about “trying to reinforce the family cultural system against the onslaught of the corporate system that has its roots in corporate capitalism” made me think about the MEANS of such reinforcement, particularly the material aspect. I’ve frequently found myself caught up (not at all unwillingly) arguments in the blogosphere regarding the social structuring, requirements, and even restrictions, which are necessary to be able to make a one-income family, or even a family of any size or shape where professional advancement and income aren’t given pride of place over communal concerns, capable of flourishing in our present economic environment. If you think Kim Clark’s defense of “the doctrine of family and community” is likely being made in vain, could that not be at least partly because he, and all the students he speaks to, are already too far entrenched in the corporate ethos themselves? Your post title very broadly speaks of “capitalism and the gospel”; maybe the only real resistance to corporate values and the alenation it often engenders must begin with building and preserving of social and economic alternatives to corporatization itself?

  4. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 5:09 pm

    This is an interesting question. A couple of points. First, I think that these sorts of discussions frequently get confused because we don’t really have a clear concept of what we mean when we use a term like “capitalism.” Are we talking about an economic system based on private property and freedom of contract. (Note: this doesn’t necessarily include corporations.) Are we talking about a particular culture of professionalism and careerism. (Note: this is not exactly the same thing as an economy based on private property and contract.) Etc.

    Second, reading between the lines, I suspect that Richard’s longing is addressed less toward socialism or some other form of statism, than toward an economy organized around family relationships, communal reciprocity (ie less formal contracting and more I help you out when I can and you help me out when you can), and the like. I think that he rightly points out that the current economic system in the West tends to marginalize the family as an important social unit. On the other hand, it is not clear to me that pre-capitalistic familial economies were necessarily better for the family. For example, there is ample historical evidence that where economic activity centered around familial relations that there were powerful pressures to treat family members as economic assets, frequently leading to undesirable consequences, i.e. arranged marriages for economic gain. While a familial based economy may lead to greater “family togetherness” (a very lame phrase, but I can’t think of a better one right now) because the home is no longer divorced from the economy, it can also to a more brutally invasive form of economic pressure on the home.

    Finally, I think that the answer to Richard’s question has to be “No, they are not consistent.” However, that answer may tell us less than we think it does about capitalism (whatever that means). This is because I suspect that there is no system of worldly social organization that is consistent with the gospel. It seems to me that there are two implications that can be draw from this. First, in doing normative assessments of differing social systems the question of their absolute congruence and incongruence with the gospel may be less important than the question of their gospel-incongrency as compared with alternative systems. Second, we ought to find ourselves being critical of any system of social organization in which we find ourselves. Hence, a certain Gospel-inspired alienation from capitalism by be less about capitalism and more about the inevitability of gospel-inspired alienation. We are strangers in a strange land. None of this is meant as a per se defense of capitalism (again, I am hesitant to use the word), or as a rebuke of those who use the gospel to criticize it. I am simply curious about the framework in which those discussions operate.

  5. Adam Greenwood on April 12, 2004 at 5:17 pm

    There are two capitalisms at work here. One is more or less the law of gravity–it tells you that certain actions make certain results more likely, not that the results are desirable, no more than the law of gravity tells us our mass *ought* to interact with other mases. Call this theoretical capitalism.

    Intertwined with this is Capitalism-as-it-is, which teaches us that money and position are the measure of all things. It is here that every orthodoxy is questioned in the name of efficiency (“do pro-family policies really make for good business? Our study reveals that, at best . . .), here that Pride and Greed are exalted as the great benefactors of mankind, and here that the capitalist virtues–hard work, prudence, foresight–are praised not for themselves but for what they bring. We wish for unparallelled prosperity, without which we will be unable to create more prosperity, and so on. What is prosperity for?

    In the theory of capitalism, a man can sensibly opt for lower pay to work less hours and to have his family live close to his extended family. He has merely chosen one sort of payoff for another. But we don’t think of it that way. Such a person has a taint on them. I feel it myself.

  6. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 5:18 pm

    Russell: If the criticism of Clark can be made that he is too entrench in the “corporatization” of the world to be an effective voice against it, I think that a parallell criticism can be made of academics in the humanities and other social critiques of capitalism. They are fequently too ignorant about commerce and how it functions to be effective critics or offer workable solutions. I am not making a personal attack on you any more than I took you to be making a personal attack on Kim Clark. My only point is that there are systemic problems flowing in both directions.

  7. Grasshopper on April 12, 2004 at 5:28 pm

    Richard, I think your post is right on. I know that I (as the breadwinner in our one-income family) have felt the pressures of corporate America. As I recently read Thomas Friedman’s “The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization”, it struck me how the unquestioned assumptions underlying globalization have to do with the benefits of riches *per se*. Corporate culture does not explicitly challenge religion head to head, but it has its own god: Mammon.

    Orson Scott Card has an excellent essay on the subject of Careers and Church:

    http://www.nauvoo.com/vigor/13.html#seven

  8. Adam Greenwood on April 12, 2004 at 5:28 pm

    As for gay marriage, the simple truth is that losing the battle of the day enfeebles the whole movement, while winning invigorates. We’re here to capture the public mind with an idea of marriage. That idea will bear more fruit than one.

    In any case, I suspect I’m the only one who is at all cheered by the idea of a higher wage for fathers than for anyone else. Could BYU even do that legally?

  9. Russell Arben Fox on April 12, 2004 at 5:30 pm

    Adam: “One is more or less the law of gravity–it tells you that certain actions make certain results more likely….”

    I would disagree with here. Capitalism is a construct; it depends upon assumptions about and concurrences with definite social practices. That said assumptions and concurrences are taken as the received order of things doesn’t mean they are natural, or arise spontaneously, like gravity. There are places and ages in which the accumulation of capital, profit-oriented trade, and the specialization of labor is not and was not workable–the aboriginal outback of Australia, Hutterite communes in Manitoba, arguably the entire Middle Ages outside of Italy. (Are or were any of those places or times admirable? Maybe not. The point is, alternatives are realities; capitalism doesn’t have a lock on the way the world “really works.”)

  10. Adam Greenwood on April 12, 2004 at 5:39 pm

    And I would argue that there were certain consequences for the wealth and functioning of those communities, that’s all.

  11. Greg Call on April 12, 2004 at 5:39 pm

    I think the taint that Adam refers to is unfortunately as present inside the Church as outside. In my experience, it is not uncommon that stake and ward leaders are almost exclusively those that have succeeded the economic sphere. Because callings are (fairly or not) linked to approbation, I think one may become confused as to what is *actually* valued by Church members and leaders. If we can’t successfully carve out alternative ideals to “capitalism” (sorry Nate) in the Church, that does not bode well for an effort to do the same out in the world.

  12. Russell Arben Fox on April 12, 2004 at 5:42 pm

    Grashopper: thanks for linking to that excellent essay; it’s one of my favorites, written back when OSC was a Democrat is more than just name only.

    Nate: true–but what if what is at issue is not what is “workable,” but how “workability” is defined? It’s absolutely correct that many critics of market economics have next to no knowledge of how “commerce” works (guilty!). But is that really relevant to a discussion, such as Richard’s, which addresses the existence of an “immense power that…can come to control human values and to pervade the entire cultural system”? That calls for a different sort of critique, one that is by definition not “inside” or “entrenched” in the system, or so it would seem to me.

  13. Adam Greenwood on April 12, 2004 at 5:44 pm

    The problem is that the market does work as a rough measurement of certain sorts of ability. People who have the right stuff but who have chosen to be paid in other than worldly coin are hard to tell from ineffecitve people who talk a big game, like myself.

  14. Jim F. on April 12, 2004 at 5:47 pm

    Greg, though I’m sympathetic to your concern that stake and ward leaders tend to be those who have succeeded in the economic sphere (but I’m not sure it is as universal–“almost exclusively”–as you suggest), I am more and more persuaded by the standard explanation: the jobs of bishops and stake presidents are, to a large degree, administrative. It, therefore, isn’t shocking that those who are good at administering in the secular world tend also to be those asked to administer in the Church. Given the choice of two bishops, one who is quite spiritual but incompetent as an administrator and one who is a competent administrator, but not endowed with anything more than average spiritual gifts, I think I would choose the latter (having seen the disasters, even spiritual disasters, that the former can produce). Obviously I would prefer a Church leader with both deep spirituality and better-than-average administrative gifts, but they aren’t always available in the average ward.

  15. clark on April 12, 2004 at 5:52 pm

    Jim, I largely agree with you. At the same time, however, I recall a talk on managers versus spiritual leaders. I think it was Elder Oaks, but don’t recall for sure. He was basically saying that members in the US and Canada were great managers but often lacked (or didn’t trust) the spirit enough. Those in say the more Latin countries often were poor administrators but were great spiritual giants. Yet, as I recall, Elder Oaks lamented our focus on management.

    As I recall, I sensed a certain reliance on some of Nibley’s works in the talk. Anyone else recall the talk I’m thinking of?

  16. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 5:54 pm

    Russell: I agree with your point to a certain extent, although I think even the more meta critiques require some familiarity with the realities of commerce. There are a surprising number of these criques that demonstrate great ignorance of such things. (Would you take seriously a businessman’s criticisms of German romanticism — despite their meta-character — if there was no evidence that the man was aware of Goethe or Hegel?)

    There are of course philosophers and academics in the humanities who have trenchant, insightful, and informed things to say about capitalism. I would be the last to deny this. On the otherhand, it is far from obvious that say a Ph.D. in English Literature gives you any particular insight into the functions and effects financial markets, yet it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that meta-criticisms of capitalism (capital being what financial markets are about) might be profitablly informed by knowledge of such things. Finally, I note that you were making a criticism about the reasons why Kim Clark’s criticisms in particular were ineffective. I was simply trying to make a mirror point. Russell, obviously I am always interested in what you have to say about capitalism and commerce — the Germanic and meta- nature of your criticisms notwithstanding ;-> Why else would I spend so much time provoking you on these sorts of topics and reading & responding to your posts?

  17. ed on April 12, 2004 at 6:01 pm

    Richard and Russel (an perhaps others) have used word “corporate.” I wonder if they could elaborate on what they mean by this.

    I’m never sure when I hear this word used, what aspects of the system it is meant to critique. How is “corporate capitalism” different from “capitalism,” and why criticize “corporations” rather than “businesses” or even just “individuals.” This may seem like a minor point, but I agree with Nate that we need to know what we’re comparing “corporate capitalism” to.

  18. Grasshopper on April 12, 2004 at 6:02 pm

    Clark, are you by chance thinking of Nibley’s own “Leaders to Managers: The Fatal Shift”?

  19. Greg Call on April 12, 2004 at 6:04 pm

    Jim,
    “Almost exclusively” was perhaps too strong, but fair to my admittedly non-representative experience in New York City and the Bay Area. I defer to your experience as to the importance of administrative skills, but I still wonder whether we couldn’t search more diligently for that stay-at-home dad or elementary school teacher that has just enough admin skills to be a Stake President, or even a General Authority.

    Clark, I’m not sure about the Oaks talk, here’s a link to Nibley’s “Leaders to Managers: The Fatal Shift”
    http://www.zionsbest.com/managers.html

  20. clark goble on April 12, 2004 at 6:05 pm

    Adam, I think I am a little more with Kristine on this one. Already in Utah men get better jobs than women. My female friends who’ve tried to find a job find it difficult to find anything other than entry level ones despite degrees, simply because there is a culture that women ought to be at home. This often isn’t a formal discrimination, but it is often there.

    Even if you agree that women ought to be at home there is the problem of women without kids as of yet (for various reasons, including economic reasons related to health insurance). There are also widows and women who are single. To give men *more* money than women seems to be outright persecuting these people. It also goes against most of our sense of fairness and equity.

    Now I think women should, if possible, be with their children. Especially kids of young ages. However I think all other women really ought to be working and contributing to society. Further I think the economic reality is that women have to keep up on their careers otherwise if tragedy strikes, they’ll be less likely to be able to find a good paying job. (Tragedy being economic or the death of a spouse)

    For those reasons the attitudes towards women in Utah regarding the workplace *truly* bother me.

  21. Kristine on April 12, 2004 at 6:06 pm

    I’m not really up for a fight with Adam today, but if nobody else is going to take on the higher wage for fathers idea, I might have to. Somebody, please?

  22. Russell Arben Fox on April 12, 2004 at 6:07 pm

    “Given the choice of two bishops, one who is quite spiritual but incompetent as an administrator and one who is a competent administrator, but not endowed with anything more than average spiritual gifts, I think I would choose the latter (having seen the disasters, even spiritual disasters, that the former can produce). Obviously I would prefer a Church leader with both deep spirituality and better-than-average administrative gifts, but they aren’t always available in the average ward.”

    Jim’s comment reminded me of another comment by Scott, in an old thread of Jim’s. Scott’s comment wasn’t really followed up on by anyone, which was too bad; he had some trenchant things to say about the culture of management, and the possible necessity of such, in the church: http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000279.html#001718 .

  23. clarkgoble on April 12, 2004 at 6:07 pm

    Nibley had a few on the same thing. But that’s his most famous talk. I think Oaks (if that was who) was subtly influenced by that talk. But the talk was specifically about leadership in the church and was given within the last 10 years.

  24. clarkgoble on April 12, 2004 at 6:07 pm

    Nibley had a few on the same thing. But that’s his most famous talk. I think Oaks (if that was who) was subtly influenced by that talk. But the talk was specifically about leadership in the church and was given within the last 10 years.

  25. Ben Huff on April 12, 2004 at 6:12 pm

    Clark, yes, there is a Hugh Nibley piece about “Leaders and Managers” I came across recently; it sounds like Elder Oaks was working in the same vein.

    http://speeches.byu.edu/devo/82-83/NibleySu83.html

  26. clark goble on April 12, 2004 at 6:13 pm

    Aarggh. Double post for some reason. (I only hit “post” once — I swear!)

    Anyway, to go with Russell’s comments, I notice that many, if not most, BYU teachers are in Bishoprics and Stake Presidencies. So I think the idea that only corporate managers get called to be SP is wrong. Indeed in the 15 years I’ve been in Utah I don’t think I’ve had one. I’ve had lawyers, policemen, lots of BYU profs, a chemist, and a few other odds and ends. But no businessmen.

    Even among the 12, there are far fewer businessmen than you might think at first. We have a nuclear engineer, several educators (although most had been in management as well), lawyers, doctors, and so forth.

    While I understand the stereotype of the successful businessman being SP, I wonder if it happens as much as the rhetoric would indicate?

  27. Kristine on April 12, 2004 at 6:21 pm

    Clark, lest you be offended– we were writing at the same time. I’m not appealing to someone besides you, I just hadn’t seen your response when I wrote.

  28. Melissa on April 12, 2004 at 6:22 pm

    Well, having a guest blogger like Richard Bushman renders my good intention to wean myself from T&S hopeless.

    Richard writes,

    “The corporate system is too entrenched, too powerful, too pervasive. Our young women will embrace family values, to be sure, but they will continue to go to law school and medical school in increasing numbers. Reading the handwriting on the wall, they will go for careers.”

    While I agree with this reasonable prediction, I’m not sure whether the choice of LDS women to pursue careers is or will be for the reasons implied. I am not sure that this trend is due merely to our capitalist culture. Of course capitalism influences values and largely determines who gets recognition, position, and wealth. But, can’t some of this trend be attributed to something more worthy than money and status?

    I’m thinking of 19th Century plural wives who left their their children with sister wives and traveled east for advanced degrees. It seems to me that they did so because they could. Their domestic situation allowed them to do so. Isn’t it possible that women are choosing careers because they genuinely want to do so and now they can (due to legal, political, economic and social changes that have occurred)?

    I know countless LDS women, married and single, with children and without who love what they do, including me. If I were interested in power and prestige I would have taken classes at the Law School at Yale instead of studying Ugaritic there (my brother thought that choice was utterly ridiculous). Are all these women just buying a bill of goods from a capitalistic Babylon by having careers or are there other possibilities?

  29. jeremobi on April 12, 2004 at 6:26 pm

    Isn’t our contemporary understanding of capitalism rooted in 16th-century Europe, when capitalists–people who used money to make money–got a new religion? By equating godliness with working hard at a worldly calling, Protestantism brought honor to the previously despised craft of profit-making by yoking it to a set of moral values: delayed gratification, enterprise, self-denial.

    Nonetheless, it seems clear to me that post-industrial capitalist economies are on shaky moral foundations. The Capitalist Eden is not the world we live in now. Somewhere in the passing of the centuries, the abstemious tradesmen tasted of the fruit. Freed from want and tempted by wealth, we regularly throw off (I know I do) the discipline that had allowed wealth to coexist with morality in the first place.

    Hence the cultural contradiction of capitalism: easy credit with no money down.

  30. Russell Arben Fox on April 12, 2004 at 6:26 pm

    Nate: “Russell, obviously I am always interested in what you have to say about capitalism and commerce — the Germanic and meta- nature of your criticisms notwithstanding ;-> Why else would I spend so much time provoking you on these sorts of topics and reading & responding to your posts?”

    I thought it was just because you were a just and good blog administrator. (sniff) Thanks.

    Ed: “Richard and Russell (and perhaps others) have used word ‘corporate.’ I wonder if they could elaborate on what they mean by this.”

    I can’t speak for Richard, but I suspect we have similar definitions. I mean the ideology which emerged concomitant to late 19th-century and early 20th-century technologies, the result being the rise of monopolies and other large economic interests whose output had such uniformity and range that local variations, amateur initiatives, personal vocations, family co-ops, etc., were often driven out of the market. (This is what I assume Richard was getting at when he spoke of the “farm economy or…other systems where capitalism is only one system among many.”)

  31. Melissa on April 12, 2004 at 6:33 pm

    A higher wage for fathers???

    An anecdote:

    My good friend fought this very policy in court about 30 years ago and won. At the time there was a standing, though unspoken rule that fathers got paid more (like 15-30% more!) than others teaching in the school district. She was a single mother of three at the time and was struggling to make ends meet. She considers the battle that she pursued and won against the school district on this issue one of the most important victories of her life.

    A higher wage for fathers (or for tall people, or for green-eyed people, or for people with the right last name) is problematic for the basic reason that it is unjust. Do we really still have to fight for equal pay for equal work? (sigh)

  32. Adam Greenwood on April 12, 2004 at 6:34 pm

    I’m not in the mood for a fight either, Kristine. Perhaps we should wait till another day and another post? I’ll agree to waive Clark Goble’s comment.

  33. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 6:34 pm

    Russell: I think that you need to hone your definition a bit more. Late 19th century monopolies were vigorously attacked (e.g. the Sherman Act, Credit Mobilier Scandal, etc.) in the name of competition and free markets. (Nostalgic, agrarian, communitarians were hardly the only critics of the robber barons.) Is this part of what you mean when you say “corporate”?

    It seems that this term gets used in a kind of “know it when I see it” way. Of course, those who don’t see may simply be too embedded in the system…

  34. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 6:40 pm

    “Do we really still have to fight for equal pay for equal work?”

    Melissa: But this is simply to restate the morality of capitalism and the marketplace? It assumes that people should be rewarded on the basis of their economic productivity and output. Isn’t the whole point of this thread that we ought not to adopt such a stance. Economic production should be organized around more human values, take account of differing levels of need, etc. Or are you going to the barricades in favor of Adam Smith and commericial liberalism?

  35. Ben Huff on April 12, 2004 at 6:40 pm

    One thing that makes this question more wrenching for me is that there are so many wonderful human achievements that become possible because of specialization and corporatization. Air travel, General Conference broadcast via internet, Pavarotti at the Met, Joni Mitchell on CD, that I can play whenever I want, the Apple G5 with cinema LCD display, fresh sweet mangoes in Indiana in March, the modern university. But I have spent how many years away from my family in Utah, and away from any serious prospect of marriage, to come out here to Indiana to study with a couple of professors who are slightly more relevant for the topics I want to write on? In Europe as I understand, people aren’t as keen to travel for their education; hence the quality of universities is more uniform; hence travel is less necessary; but the very best universities for graduate education are supposed to be mostly in the States. I can’t pretend that much of what people achieve in their corporate career life isn’t virtuous and praiseworthy. But at what cost?

    For me, extreme economic specialization is at the heart here, because it pulls families apart — kids to school, dad to the office, mom at home or whatever. But the expansion of the money economy (transformation of everything into an asset whose value is measured in money — i.e. capitalism) tends to go hand in hand.

  36. Kristine on April 12, 2004 at 6:41 pm

    Oh, I don’t know, Adam. I think Melissa and I & Clark can take you. Why don’t you lay out the argument?

  37. Adam Greenwood on April 12, 2004 at 6:48 pm

    I guess I’m going to have to withdraw the olive branch, Kristine. I should have known that I couldn’t express a preference for father’s working without reddening the enlightened.

    My answer to the existence of single women and women beyond childrearing age and women who can’t have children and women who are divorced and men who are single and men who are divorced and men and women who whatever is to ask why it matters? Any norm will disadvantage some; destroying norms disadvantages everyone. Not only that, but we’re not contemplating higher wages for fathers as a mere incentive. We’re talking about doing it so that fathers can support wives and children.

    Discrimination is just if there is some reasonable difference between the subjects. Is the difference between men and women nothing more than the difference between the green-eyed and the brown-eyed, or the tall and the short? Are my children and wife at home a sort of quirk, no more significant than my facial hair? Never. “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” are the words graven on my heart. Your friend never, I hope, did a blacker deed.

  38. Russell Arben Fox on April 12, 2004 at 6:49 pm

    Critics of the emergent corporate capitalism of the late 19th century came in two stripes: populist and progressive. (Well, actually, more than two, but that’s in the U.S.; for better or worse, the Marxist critique never caught on in America.) Populism, though it took many forms, was clearly animated by the ideal of pre-turn-of-the-century economic diversity and interdependence, as you say. On the other hand, was the progressive, Teddy-Roosevelt-type defense of capitalism against monopolies also already “corporate”? I would tend to say yes (Christopher Lasch is the one to read on this point), but not in an uncomplicated way. To be sure, my history is simplistic. It’s not as if capitalism all of a sudden went from posing no threat to “family and community” to being a “corporate” ideology one day in 1895.

  39. wendy on April 12, 2004 at 6:52 pm

    I’m trying to decide whether I went to law school and became a lawyer because I wanted a place in the “corporate culture”, as Richard calls it, or simply because I wanted to and could, as Melissa says. I went to law school mostly because I wanted to be intellectually challenged, and to mingle and make friends with intelligent people. While the work at a big law firm is tedious, the people that I associate with are all intelligent and interesting. I do not believe that as a full-time, stay at home mom, I would have the opportunity to grab lunch, for example, with the kinds of men and women that I do now. Do stay at home moms hang around with men other than their husbands at all, other than in the bloggosphere? That is the kind of social interaction that I like and take for granted.

    At the same time, it was important to me that I have an answer to the question “what do you do?” that distinguished me from every other woman in the world. “I went to a state school, got married and had kids” wasn’t the sound bite that I thought reflected me best. “I went to a state school, got married, went to an Ivy League law school, practiced corporate law for a few years, then had kids” says “take me seriously”. It just does. In that respect I think Richard’s observations are correct.

  40. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 6:56 pm

    Russell: The populist/progressive divide is a bit too simple, depending on how broadly one defines the progressive position. It is important to remember that there was a liberal critique of corporations that goes back to at least Adam Smith, who had a number of uncomplimentary things to say about joint stock companies. (Note: He talked about joint stock companies, not just charter corporations.)

  41. Adam Greenwood on April 12, 2004 at 6:56 pm

    Kristine:
    Lazy.

  42. Ben Huff on April 12, 2004 at 6:59 pm

    Oh,oh. Looks like Nate is weighing in with Adam! (Spooky writing on same topic same time as you Melissa)

    Does it help if Adam says, “husbands and fathers get paid more”?

    The value of women and others who work outside the money economy but whose work is invaluable gets sleighted when money becomes too much the driving factor in a community’s life. France and some other European countries have major government incentives for those who bear and raise children. And those who raise well-adjusted, responsible children unquestionably do society a great service which is currently almost invisible to the money economy. As a result, capitalists lose interest in raising responsible children, and bingo the plight of children in the U.S. today.

    But are financial incentives for raising children the solution here? The further extension of the money economy? Will this not lead to children being objectified and manipulated as in the family farm situations Nate mentioned? And if supporting a wife gets in there, too, objectifying women and even objectifying the institution of marriage? Or does it empower women if men have a financial incentive to be married?

  43. Melissa on April 12, 2004 at 6:59 pm

    Nate,

    I was going to respond by saying that for me this is a matter of justice, which is a different issue than the morality of capitalism and the marketplace (despite my lazy use of a phrase traditionally associated with it.) But, then I could see that pretty quickly our conversation would move to an argument over theories of justice. I’m still in the process of working out my own theory of justice. I whole-heartedly agree, however, that “economic production should be organized around more human values, take account of differing levels of need, etc.” But, I don’t think that gender should be the determining factor in that organization.

    On my view the capitalistic system is deeply flawed. The “equal pay for equal work” slogan addresses historical inequality in pay based unjustly (and often arbitrarily) on gender not on need. I therefore generally support the idea as a make-shift resolution to a serious problem. However, I think that many of the problems in our economic distribution are simply systemic problems of capitalism. How do you ascertain need? Who decides? What values do you use to undergird your economic policies? Since so much is subjective it seems that injustice is always possible.

  44. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 7:00 pm

    “”I went to a state school, got married, went to an Ivy League law school, practiced corporate law for a few years, then had kids” says “take me seriously”.”

    It seems to me that it depends entirely on which Ivy League law school you are talking about ;->

  45. Adam Greenwood on April 12, 2004 at 7:04 pm

    In Nate’s defense, I’ll note that he has a habit of siding with straight-ahead Mormons like me on tangential issues, while never committing himself to the main discussion. It helps maintain the debate as an intellectual exercise instead of a wrestle for the soul of the Church and encourages those of us in minority positions to keep talking.

  46. Melissa on April 12, 2004 at 7:06 pm

    Ben,

    No kidding! Especially this topic :)

  47. ed on April 12, 2004 at 7:07 pm

    Russel says: “I mean [by ‘corporate’] the ideology which emerged concomitant to late 19th-century and early 20th-century technologies, the result being the rise of monopolies and other large economic interests whose output had such uniformity and range that local variations, amateur initiatives, personal vocations, family co-ops, etc., were often driven out of the market.”

    I’m actually surprised at your answer. I’m not well read on late-19th-century capitalist ideology. But I don’t think monopolies are a major problem for modern economies. I think our economy creates enormous variety, not merely homogeneity, and I think it provides lots of scope for entreprenuership and initiative in creating businesses both big and small.

    Finally, I don’t see how any of these things are very relevant to the problems of materialism and careerism that Richard talks about. I would think this might be related to the sheer size of business organizations, but you didn’t mention that. It also occurs to me that the professions of law and medicine (mentioned specifically by Richard) produce primarilly people who go into private practices and partnerships, not corporations. The lawyers that go to work for corporations often do it so that they can spend more time with their families!

    I guess I’m still not clear on the connection between materialism/careerism and capitalism, much less “corporate capitalism.”

  48. Ben Huff on April 12, 2004 at 7:10 pm

    As my dad would say, once upon a time, investing in one’s children was in part a way to provide for your old age. Now, other people’s children provide for your old age (Social Security), so what’s the point in having children of your own? (Dad, are you reading?)

  49. Melissa on April 12, 2004 at 7:12 pm

    This is why I never ask anybody what they “do.” I don’t want to be taken seriously because I went to such and such a school. Yuck! I want to be taken seriously just because–how’s that for a lousy argument? I’ll never forget going in to talk to the Temple President with a serious question. After I asked my question, the Temple President proceeded to ask me who my parents were, if and where I served a mission, who my mission president was, if I had attended BYU, if I were married, what my current calling was and more! After I answered all the questions “correctly” (i.e. could be taken seriously) then my question was entertained.

    It seems to me that as a Mormon woman you have to have two different CVs. One so that male Mormon leaders will take you seriously and one so that the rest of the world will.

    Why don’t we ask each other what we love instead of what we do like I’ve suggested before?

  50. Ben Huff on April 12, 2004 at 7:13 pm

    So Adam, you’re defending Nate from the charge of agreeing with you? : ) !

  51. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 7:19 pm

    Gang: I am not siding with Adam on this. Rather, I am pointing out that the “equal pay for equal work” slogan is deeply implicated in liberal capitalism. Melissa, being a good divinity student, quickly back pedalled, as I suspected that she would. The slogan, she seems to argue, is just tactical and actually serves some unspecified theory of justice, which we know can’t be liberal commercialism. Phew! Dodged a bullet there!

    Despite all of the huffing by Kristine and Melissa, however, I actually suspect that there is considerably less difference between her and Adam on this issue than there would be between say them and me. Both Kristine and Adam are critical of allowing wages to be determined by contract and market competition. Both want wages to be determined according to some criteria independent of the economic value of the the labor as measured by the market price. They are really just quibbling over details.

  52. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 7:24 pm

    “Why don’t we ask each other what we love instead of what we do like I’ve suggested before?”

    Melissa: I think that the answer to this question is that your solution has simply not reached enough people yet. This, in turn, is obviously because you don’t spend enough time posting comments here ;->

  53. jeremobi on April 12, 2004 at 7:26 pm

    “I went to a state school, got married and had kids” wasn’t the sound bite that I thought reflected me best. “I went to a state school, got married, went to an Ivy League law school, practiced corporate law for a few years, then had kids” says “take me seriously”.

    I appreciate your candor and I, too, wonder why we are so easily conditioned to spend our time and energy in efforts be taken “seriously”. I’m conflicted because I’d much rather have fun.:>) And just how intelligent and interesting are associates who are so easy to impress?

    I sense that much of this is part of our national culture. I’m often pleased when abroad to have a new acquaintance ask “How are you?” and never get around to the dreaded Americanism, “What do you do?”

  54. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 7:28 pm

    Ed: I suspect that when Russell uses the term monopoly he means something more like “A large economic endeavor run by greedy managers,” rather than something like “A firm able to exercise market power and extract rents.” Read in this light, his definition of “corporate” makes a bit more sense.

  55. ed on April 12, 2004 at 7:28 pm

    Adam, what about if we were to replace higher pay for fathers with higher pay for parents?

    I don’t have any problem with the idea that men and women are, on average, different. But I also don’t have a problem with a family that decides to have the mother work and the father stay home with the kids. My problem with higher pay for fathers (as well as my issue with the proclamation) is that it doesn’t seem to allow for these individual differences. Maybe women are more “nurturing,” or something, but that doesn’t mean every woman needs to be more nurturing than every man.

  56. Melissa on April 12, 2004 at 7:34 pm

    Cute!

    Do you think I can get people to “take me seriously” if I explain that the reason I didn’t finish my Ph.D. was because I was posting on T and S? :)

  57. Russell Arben Fox on April 12, 2004 at 7:38 pm

    Ed: “I think our economy creates enormous variety, not merely homogeneity…”

    Depends on if you’re talking about material goods or life-choice goods. (Yes, I know; another arbitrary distinction.) Corporations can create more, and better, and more various styles of widgets; they are not especially adapt at (and frankly, not very patient with those concerned with) creating alternative widgets. Richard’s original example was of a young woman who finds the ethos of our contemporary economic world so all-encompassing that she can’t see anyway to be who she is without doing what (almost) everyone else is doing: going to medical school or law school. Which can of course lead to wonderfully fulfilling and various ends…but our ability to “see” those life choices and those ends (as Jim put it here: http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000659.html#008982 ) is shaped and too often defined by the rather narrow scope presented to us in terms of corporate/economic success. In that sense, the dominance of the capitalist system homogenizes and alienates.

    (P.S.: It’s “Russell,” not “Russel.”)

  58. Kristine on April 12, 2004 at 7:39 pm

    Adam, I’m not lazy! I just taught my daughter how to spell “fire drill,” bandaged my son’s finger and made dinner. I’m back to being a rational producer of blogwords now, so you can value me again :) Good grief!

    If your goal is to encourage mothers to care for children in the home, why not do it by compensating her for that work? There are clear benefits to society that accrue from such labor (this is one of the reasons why AFDC was started), and you avoid the obvious pitfalls of giving some workers more money for the same job. I *do* think fatherhood is more significant than green eyes, but I’m not sure it’s possible to set up a just payment system that takes that into account. It doesn’t take too much thought to figure that the father wouldn’t necessarily invest the extra money in his family–he might spend it at the pub before he even got home, and you’d have to set up a pretty invasive apparatus to protect the state’s/corporation’s extra investment in his family. By contrast, everybody who has ever looked has found that giving money to mothers tends to generate serious investment in children, regardless of other circumstances. And I just like the idea of having people who pay lipservice to the value of motherhood put their money where their mouths are.

  59. Kristine on April 12, 2004 at 7:44 pm

    By the way, Adam, I think that fathers could just as well be the ones staying home with the children and being compensated for it, but I’m guessing that saying so would bring up a gender-essentialist argument that I am happy to leave for another day :)

  60. ed on April 12, 2004 at 7:45 pm

    Sorry about that Russell, you may feel free to refer to me as “Edd.”

    Your distinction between material goods or life-choice goods is helpful, I think. But I’m not convinced that capitalism has decreased our menu of life choices. I would think quite the opposite.

  61. Frank McIntyre on April 12, 2004 at 7:48 pm

    No time to play today, just one thought:

    Melissa says– “”I went to a state school, got married, went to an Ivy League law school, practiced corporate law for a few years, then had kids” says “take me seriously”.”

    How about, “I’m a mother.” ?

    Of course, it doesn’t have any Ivy League in it. Maybe it doesn’t say “take me seriously”, but then, maybe it does. You have no degree on the wall or paycheck proving that you are a great, high-powered mother. It’s confrontational in that it might make people feel bad or not like you. But it _does_ very quickly establish what you value. It may also remind _you_ what you value.

    It is why Sister Beck’s talk was so important– motherhood lacks the paychecks and the plaques, so specific commendation of good mothers should be done often and loudly.

    God defines himself by his Fatherhood. “What does He do?” He answers “This is my _work_ and my glory…” We could do worse than defining ourselves by our parenthood.

    If one does not have a competing occupation, then one is not even evading the implicit question of “what is your occupation”. So there’s one small step towards ripping down the glamorization of mammon and money.

    Now as for the unfortunate and misleading conflation of capitalism with free markets with corporatism with greed, I can only wish I had the time…

  62. jeremobi on April 12, 2004 at 7:50 pm

    “Do you think I can get people to “take me seriously” if I explain that the reason I didn’t finish my Ph.D. was because I was posting on T and S? :)”

    I imagine my committee members will hold their collective nose and sign on the line–no matter what I produce. Not for me, grant you, but for their own investment.

  63. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 7:51 pm

    “corporate/economic success”

    Russell: This is another phrase that I am a bit mystified by. What exactly are you talking about? Are you equating these two things? That seems like a bad idea. For example, the 1960s and the 1970s saw a rise of corporate conglomorates. The idea was that big, powerful, sprawling corporations were good things, an example of managerial success. The problem was that these corporations were inefficient and uneconomical. Hence the hostile take over rage of the 1980s which ruthlessly fired the managment of these behemoths and dismembered them in favor of smaller, faster, more innovative firms.

  64. Kristine on April 12, 2004 at 7:52 pm

    Nate, you’re right that Adam and I are quibbling over details. But how can the market possibly assign a fair price to childcare? Or elementary education? It seems to me that the near-collapse of public schools in all but a few incredibly expensive areas is a direct result of letting the market dictate prices for services that it can’t correctly value because so much of that service is directed at productivity which is merely potential for a much longer time than the market can take account of.

    Ugh. I’ll try to say that more coherently after the kids are asleep. Sorry

  65. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 7:53 pm

    “Now as for the unfortunate and misleading conflation of capitalism with free markets with corporatism with greed, I can only wish I had the time…”

    Frank: I have been trying for several months. Good luck…

  66. Nate Oman on April 12, 2004 at 7:58 pm

    Kristine: I don’t have a lot of time to respond now. To a certain extent you are talking about an externality problem. There are a couple of ways of solving this. The short answer is that if you can give someone a property right in the positive externality that will solve the underproduction problem. Alternatively, you have to provide some sort of a subsidy.

    Finally, I find it almost incomprehensible that you take the decline of public education as your example of a market failure, given the way in which the deployment of government subsidies has made public education what it is. Mind you, I am in favor of subsidizing eduction. (I am in favor of subsidizing most things that produce positive externalities for which I can’t create a property right.)

  67. Sam Jackson on April 12, 2004 at 8:11 pm

    Richard wrote that “The capitalist system does not denigrate others who play more lowly roles like artists, or school teachers, or mothers . . . [B]ut they are not honored and rewarded.”

    I completely agree. The fact that capitalism undervalues motherhood is similar to its undervaluation of other socially valuable, but less profitable, pursuits.

    Despite our understanding of Christ’s life and mission, as members of the Church we tend to fall into this same trap of equating money with social value. We pay homage to the concept of “service” in our meetings while pursuing careers with the primary purpose of making money. Service too often means taking a loaf of bread to a neighbor or helping a member move. While these are laudable goals, I believe our careers should be equally “anxiously engaged” in service.

    Note, for example, the shortage of Mormons pursuing careers as civil rights advocates, biological researchers, or directors of homeless shelters. We tend to speak of the affluent doctors, lawyers, and business professionals in our Church as “successful” and “righteous.” We justify our pursuit of employment that pays more than we really need to support our families by quoting King Benjamin’s words that “ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good . . . “ It is no wonder in this climate that both men and women in our Church are drawn to lucrative corporate positions rather than to careers dedicated to serving the less fortunate—or to careers as mothers and fathers.

  68. Greg Call on April 12, 2004 at 8:40 pm

    Sam,
    Not to defend careerism at the expense of service, but I think many a Mormon man chooses to go into more lucrative fields (law, medicine, business) so that his wife may stay home with the children if she chooses. It is getting more difficult to support a family, especially a large one, on one paycheck, and even harder when that one paycheck is small. When a home sells in the major metropolitan suburbs, especially those with good school systems, often the seller is a retiring boomer who supported his wife and children on one moderate income (and is making a killing on the sale); and the buyers are two-income professional couples that have either put off having children or have professional care for their children. Now maybe the housing market is simply distorted. But it seems to me that having one’s spouse stay at home seems to be becoming a luxury good, and one that many Mormon families desire.

  69. Kristine on April 12, 2004 at 8:54 pm

    Greg, do you think it’s a problem that Mormon men feel compelled to choose lucrative fields so that they can fit some culturally favored pattern of child-rearing?

    It seems to me that by insisting that women staying at home is the best, even the only righteous choice, church culture/doctrine/practice (it seems especially hard to tell where those lines are in discussing families) is closing off more creative possibilities–i.e. both parents work as schoolteachers; father is a stay-at-home dad/painter while mother works; father and mother work together out of their home office; etc. It seems to me that a rigid commitment to a single (male) income family has the potential to pull two people out of potentially valuable avenues of working service (mom is stuck at home with kids instead of doing public-interest law part-time; dad is stuck working 90 hrs./week at a law firm instead of being a public defender with predictable hours that let him spend time with the kids. I think valorizing the dad at work/mom at home model also lets people off the hook in terms of thinking about how their work contributes to society–if the mere fact of either having or being a stay-at-home-wife makes one righteous, then the content of one’s workday is not subject to the kind of scrutiny that it perhaps ought to be.

  70. Sam Jackson on April 12, 2004 at 9:00 pm

    Greg,

    You’re absolutely right. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a stay-at-home mom is not a luxury good because it is in the interests of the child and the family, and thus in society’s interests, for the mother to stay at home, even though this value may not be easily expressed in monetary terms. I have observed, however, that some members choose to make $300,000/year rather than $200,000/year, in the name of needing that much money to help their families. While I believe providing well for your family is a worthy objective, I don’t believe this objective necessarily trumps all other worthy objectives, including using one’s career to help a broader cross-section of society. That’s all I’m trying to say. I think we basically agree, but let me know if I’m misunderstanding you.

  71. Ivan Wolfe on April 12, 2004 at 9:11 pm

    Exactly how much does one have to earn to truly support a famlily. My father earned no more than $50,000 just before retirement (he earned a lot less when starting out) and we grew up in Alaska – a state with a fairly high standard of living.

    My mother stayed at home and they had 7 kids.

    Growing up in that, I find it hard to believe when I hear people who earn 80,000 plus a year claim that the wife has to work to keep the family fed.

    Of course, my dad always drove used cars that were at least ten years old and we lived in smallish house, but we had all we needed.

    It seems many people are just consuming more than they truly need.

  72. William Morris on April 12, 2004 at 9:11 pm

    Kristine:

    I see a few couples trying to make that accomodation, but I think it’s difficult to do that when children are young. Childcare is prohibitively expensive for most of us so it’s just easier for mom to stay at home — even if it means making some career/income sacrifice.

    Plus not all careers/professions lend themselves to part-time work.

    The problem, of course, is that when moms (or in one case I know dads) get thrown off track for 5-7 years, it makes it difficult to re-enter the job market.

    Here’s what I’d like to see:

    Mormon child-care co-ops. This might be very difficult to do. Everybody involved would have to agree on things like discipline, appropriate activities, etc. But if when our child hits 18 months or so, my wife could work two days a week, work in the co-op two days a week, and then have one day with our child and for errands, that would be awesome.

    And if I could work my way into a position where I could freelance or work part-time and participate in the co-op that would be even more awesome.

    Mormons home school. Why not child-care cooperatives? Anybody have any experience with this. I could see major barriers to making one happen, but if done right…

  73. jeremobi on April 12, 2004 at 9:17 pm

    “There are a couple of ways of solving this. The short answer is that if you can give someone a property right in the positive externality that will solve the underproduction problem. Alternatively, you have to provide some sort of a subsidy.”

    In the neoclassical vision, politics enters via market failure, extending the idea of self-seeking into non-market institutions, particulary the state.

    That is, the state may provide public goods, correct externalities, and solve collective action problems through coercion, right?

    Will you grant any autonomy to politics? Say, via power-centered, state-centered, or justice-centered approaches to political economy? If not, I fear you may always be disappointed with the likes of Russell and others trained in the political economics tradition of political science where until recently there has not been much sympathy for “totalizing missions” emating from economics or politics.

    Attempts to show that economics and politics can be accomodated within a single decision-making principle of human behavior, one based on individual rationality ask too much. It seems quite clear to me (but maybe only because I’ve been trained this way) that a primary focus on individual rationality passes too easily over considerations of power, need, and entitlement.

    Markets are assessed by criteria relating to the pursuit of utility. But politics is more complicated. There are ideas of justice, minimum provision, equality, and participation. Political rights and obligations engender different norms than do preferences. Thus there are bans on trading rights even if such trades are Pareto-superior.

    And aren’t there some goods where buying and selling tend to undermine the enjoyment of the good, even how we think about it? Is “paid compliment” an oxymoron if we view authenticity and sincerity as critical? Isn’t one problem with buying phone sex is that intimacy means something more than quiet, suggestive conversation between strangers? To be clear, I don’t suggest that the state is the proper arena for these sorts of goods either.

    This finally gets me back to the theme of this thread. Capitalism, however defined, may not be in opposition to the Gospel. But it is clearly inadequate to accomodate the full range of human interaction. Market exchage does not make us human. To the extent that one can buy or sell rights to gospel-centered concepts such as love, friendship, respect, or the integrity of persons reduces these concepts in some moral sense. The lawyer or academic who works for a cause he or she does not believe in not only sells labor, but also relinquishes identity.

  74. Kristine on April 12, 2004 at 9:19 pm

    Nate, part of the problem with the way education is subsidized is that those subsidies follow market patterns–gov’t. likes to pay for buildings, computers, bureaucrats with many letters after their names, and doesn’t like to pay people who are actually in the trenches–in general, the further one gets from actual children, the more one can make as an “educator.” But it is a particularly fraught example, and I’m not really committed to it. Take earlier childhood education–daycare, preschool as an example instead. Everybody knows that the first three years are critically important, and absolutely no one is willing to pay anything to make sure those years are well-spent–corporations won’t pay for decent parental leave, neither government nor corporations will invest in good childcare, most companies aren’t very serious about providing flex-time, reduced work hours for parents, etc. I think that shows pretty clearly that the market can’t properly price things that have only potential values (like small human beings).

    Alas, I’m no economist, so if you start talking about creating “property rights” and solving “underproduction problems,” you’ll have to be a little more pedantic (c’mon, I know you can do it :) !) if you want me to keep up.

  75. William Morris on April 12, 2004 at 9:23 pm

    Ivan:

    I hear you there. I work as a barely above level entry pr professional at a state university. Nice benefits. Nice hours [except for the 1 and 1/2 hour commute each way]. I enjoy what I do. I get decent pay.

    But there are two major problems:

    1. Housing is so expensive in the San Francisco Bay Area that most of my salary goes to rent and there is pretty much no possibility for home ownership.

    Anecdote: My wife and I live in a not scary neighborhood, but one that isn’t super safe either — semi-gentrified you might call it. A three bedroom cottage [cottage is the word used in the flyer — which means small rooms, of course] on our block is on the market for $480,000.

    2. The schools where I live are not good. This isn’t a problem at the moment as our child is not even a year old yet. But at some point we’re going to have to leave the are even though we love our ward and I have a good job.

    And while the bay area is an extreme case, home ownership is becoming more difficult, I think, for non-dual-income couples. And of course it’s a perpetuating cycle. More dual-income couples means the housing market stays tight and high. and because the market stays tight and high more couples have to have a dual income.

    Of course, we could move someplace less expensive [and will need to], but our families are all in northern California and that interaction means a lot to us, esp. now that we have a kid.

    I personally would love to see Americans take a more European model — with denser housing/shopping/public spaces/transportation/schools options. I’d have no problem being a renter if I could live in a community that had that type of density. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of those locally, and those that there are are expensive and not-super family friendly.

  76. Clark Goble on April 12, 2004 at 9:24 pm

    I think the big problem with Capitalism, which as Nate suggests, may be where both Kristine and Adam are heading, is that money represents what people want, not what they *should* want. I’m not at all convinced changing that by fiat (i.e. items of fixed or regulated worth) would help. I honestly think it would hurt.

    While I agree with Kristine that it would be nice to have women’s home-work more valued and noticed, I’m not sure of an obvious way of doing this. Further I think the problem is that even people who have kids will neglect their responsibilities when they are able to. (i.e. I remain convinced that there are more irresponsible parents than responsible parents) However I must admit that *knowledge* seems the issue. I think that knowledge of homemaking’s cost is important. Then too I think that knowledge of how much we pay in hidden taxes is apt as well.

    Ideally a good capitalist economy has a free flow of information so individuals can make fair judgments. In practice that often is where capitalism breaks down. It’s too easy to hide or lose information.

    To Kristine’s other point about alternatives, I tend to agree. I’d just point out though that many women find it difficult if not impossible to work during the nine months of pregnancy and for quite some time after that. It seems a bit much to expect small businesses to “retain” a job for them when they return. In some industries more than a year is a very long time. I know in my own business there is no way we could possibly do that. Add in a few kids and it is much harder for women to remain competitive in many fields. It certainly is unfair, but it is a fact of life. I think that this is, in part, a problem of our educational system though. I read a great story of a woman who left emergency practice to raise a family for seven years. Even though she had great training, there was nothing to get her back up to par to return to her career simply because of the changes in those seven years.

    In other words while I’m sympathetic to many of Kristine’s points, I think that our educational system as well as our economy isn’t typically set up to do it. There always will be exceptions. But that’s what they are: exceptions.

  77. Greg Call on April 12, 2004 at 9:25 pm

    Kristine,
    I think I agree with everything you said. My comment was intended to be descriptive, not normative. I didn’t intend to suggest that we should insist that the working-father/stay-home mother arrangement is the most–let alone only–righteous choice available. Just that the current cost of living forecloses, in many places, the option of having one spouse work in an altruistic job and the other stay home full time.

  78. William Morris on April 12, 2004 at 9:27 pm

    Oops. Posted too soon.

    My point is that even those of us willing to find sacrifices in this regard are starting to be pinched in areas that (some of) our parents didn’t, I think.

  79. Dave on April 12, 2004 at 9:35 pm

    On capitalism: While not perfect, it is arguably “better” for the gospel than other alternative systems of economy and government: communism, monarchy, decentralized agricultural manorialism, corrupt state capitalist authoritarianism, or theocracy. I think it’s really a two-stage argument: (1) Free religion flourishes only where free exercise is granted as a personal right to citizens. (2) Only governments that have a good measure of inherent legitimacy (those resting on the meaningful consent of most of those governed) are confident enough to grant broad liberty (political, ecnonomic, and civil) to the governed. Only capitalism seems to be able to maintain stable, legitimate government extending civil rights, including freedom of religion, to its citizens.
    I don’t see how political and economic liberty can be considered a threat to the gospel. There is simply no better real-world alternative.

    On women: How ironic that a bunch of Mormon men are lamenting the fact that capitalism seems so tough on women. IMHO, the Church does a better job at erasing female identity than does 21st-century American capitalism. In fact, careers offer bright Mormon women something the Church doesn’t–meaningful participation, equal opportunities, and relatively equal rewards (money, benefits, perks, promotions, etc.). Mormon career women don’t shun motherhood anymore than Mormon career men shun fatherhood. They’re just going where they are valued and appreciated. [Caveat: Choice is good. Women aren’t forced to have careers. If they choose not to, to be “pure moms” instead, that’s great. I do not criticize such a choice. That’s not the thrust of my argument here.]

    On the 30% pay premium for having testicles: You can probably guess what my objective evaluation of that idea is, but I’m too polite a visitor to really unload on this. If it really “feels right” to you, consider a counter-proposal that any working woman with children at home should get a 30% pay premium over men because she almost certainly puts in extra work at home (cooking, cleaning, laundry, kids) than men do. Really, they do work harder, which is a better argument for a pay premium than I’ve seen anyone else put on the table. So shouldn’t we give working mothers a 30% premium? If you don’t buy this argument, then you certainly shouldn’t buy the original proposal to pay men (or married men, or married men with children, or divorced men with alimony and child support payments, or men who spend a lot on alcohol, or men with a gambling habit, etc.) more than the going wage.

  80. jeremobi on April 12, 2004 at 9:45 pm

    Greg:

    I sense you are right about the choices of many LDS couples. I have a sister and brother-in-law who make no bones about HIS paycheck providing for HER opportunity to stay home, but I can’t help but wonder if they might wake up one day twenty years from now and wonder if there were other acceptable options.

    What troubles me is the way this choice may lead down a path where we begin to think we are entitled to more in a dual labor market. I’m probably wildly wrong, but I think I hear a good number of professional people in my ward suggest low-pay service industry and manufacturing jobs are for non-members.

  81. Kori on April 12, 2004 at 9:49 pm

    William Morris;

    Your idea of child-care cooperatives is interesting. However, I am not sure whether one can find serious work two days a week. Part time workers tend to get marginalized. Also, in some professional fields, employers pay for part time work but expect full-time hours. I am very interested in employers offering creative options for women who want to raise children (5 years unpaid leave, real part time options for women exiting and entering the workplace before and after bearing children, certification programs and continuing education options for women taking time off work for young children, etc.), but from rumors on the street—employers are not kind to women who want to take time off for family.

  82. Clark Goble on April 12, 2004 at 10:00 pm

    The problem with part time work is that it only makes sense for certain jobs. Unfortunately it typically makes sense only for lower value jobs. Higher value jobs often depend upon information response that *can’t* be put off to only a couple days a week. There are exceptions of course. But by their very rarity fewer people will have the opportunities for those.

  83. Greg Call on April 12, 2004 at 10:04 pm

    My all-time favorite bishop once publicly described his repentance for thinking that his incredibly demanding i-banking job was his contribution to the family and thus his wife to be grateful for the “opportunity” of shouldering all the other family responsibilities. He had come to understand that his job was where he is fulfilled and affirmed, and that it is sin to think of it as his sacrifice for the family. It was an incredibly brave and honest testimony, especially considering the audience.

    Dave said “Caveat: Choice is good. Women aren’t forced to have careers. If they choose not to, to be “pure moms” instead, that’s great.”

    Isn’t the point of Richard’s post that “capitalism” (apologies to Nate and Frank) increasingly precludes this message of affirmance?

  84. Greg Call on April 12, 2004 at 10:08 pm

    Aargh. Should be “and thus expecting his wife to be grateful”

  85. Kaimi on April 12, 2004 at 10:19 pm

    William,

    My kids have had some experience with church co-op preschooling. President Belnap cleared it to use the church, and the group of ten moms rotated teaching the pres-school, being nursery aids, or having free time. Half of them were free at any given time. It required some co-ordination — mostly by Jen Buckner and Lorinda Belnap — but worked quite well. The kids loved it.

    A child-care co-op could probabyl be done along roughly the same lines — it would require work, but would be potentially beneficial.

  86. jeremobi on April 12, 2004 at 10:32 pm

    Dave: “While not perfect, it is arguably “better” for the gospel than other alternative systems of economy and government: communism, monarchy, decentralized agricultural manorialism, corrupt state capitalist authoritarianism, or theocracy. I think it’s really a two-stage argument: (1) Free religion flourishes only where free exercise is granted as a personal right to citizens. (2) Only governments that have a good measure of inherent legitimacy (those resting on the meaningful consent of most of those governed) are confident enough to grant broad liberty (political, ecnonomic, and civil) to the governed. Only capitalism seems to be able to maintain stable, legitimate government extending civil rights, including freedom of religion, to its citizens.”

    You are on to something here, but you’re looking at a chicken and egg problem. There is an ambivalent relationship between democracy and captialism (both terms lead us into a conceptual bog). Does capitalism support democracy or does it subvert democracy? Does democracy support capitalism or subvert capitalism? Can states democratize and marketize simultaneously, or are these conflicting processes in which one goal needs to take priority over the other?

    I recogize the historical evidence behind the logic of “no bourgeoisie, no democracy” (Moore). Yet it is hard to escape the counter-point that capitalism subverts democracy by fixing rates of political access and participation: the rules of politics are made by those with means. This is a given, unless we are willing to concede that democracy is not about equality, but the freedom to become politically unequal. If this can be assumed then liberalism, not democratic participation is the key…and we can have a liberal monarchy that provides civil rights and freedom of religion to subjects.

    If we point the causal arrows the other direction we can see how either welfare statism works to mitigate and correct for the harmful impacts and shortfalls of capitalism (Keynes)or converts “our free government and market system into a collective monster…” (Friedman).

  87. Julie in Austin on April 12, 2004 at 10:51 pm

    Y’all have really hit a nerve here–not so much on the big issue as the smaller one of church child-care co-ops.

    I wrote a book last year, when my kids were 1 and 4, working about 30 hours per week on it. I was able to do this because (1) my husband flew solo from 5:30pm until bedtime and (2) my friend, who was RS Pres. at the time and working part time, swapped child care with me for 10-20 hours per week. I wish every women could have this arrangement to pursue what she wants, but I suppose it is unrealistic.

    I was also part of a co-op in Davis, CA where about 20 women from 2 wards traded off on a point system.

    It boggles my mind that Mormon women are expected to run RS, visit teach, and go to the dang OB/GYN constantly (OK, maybe it just seems like I’m always pregnant) with nothing more formalized for child care.

    I know there are huge liability issues here (CES can no longer offers child care during Institute classes!), but why on earth do singles wards have housing coordinators but our beautiful buildings sit empty during the day when they could be packed with screaming kids?

    I realize that, as mentioned above, not every career can be translated to a 20 hour per week gig, but many can (so can school, etc.) and I think a lot of women would be a lot happier with this type of arrangement.

  88. Kori on April 12, 2004 at 11:08 pm

    Julie, is there any way to regulate the quality of care without stepping on toes? Regarding the Davis set-up, were you happy with the care?

  89. Ben Huff on April 13, 2004 at 12:08 am

    “By contrast, everybody who has ever looked has found that giving money to mothers tends to generate serious investment in children, regardless of other circumstances.”

    I suspect you’re right Kristine (although as women get more enculturated in careerism this may be less so?). Women generally will care for the kids better than men, with the same resources. This seems strong support for the idea that the norm should be women staying home with the kids, since while men can’t be trusted to take care of kids, they can generally be trusted to knock themselves out on the hamster wheel of careerism!

    (Of course, this doesn’t reflect well on the men)

    But certainly everything that can be practically done should be done to increase options, like having both parents work part-time etc. Great to hear about Julie’s success! My sister and her husband both work full-time right now, but with my parents nearby, and a cousin who has several kids and is a great mother, and the fact that he works weird hours at the hospital, their daughter always is with either a parent or close family member pretty much 24/7. In some ways I think our society is dealing with a lag-time adjusting between the old model and a new model like what Julie has experienced. In the old model extended families and closer-knit, denser, less mobile communities (as well as economic activities in which children could productively help) helped to make child care more efficient. Really, my sister and her husband are operating on the old model. Now that our communities and families are more fragmented by the mobility that partly comes with specialization, we may have to rely more on intentional communities, like church child-care coops in those beautiful, empty buildings. Maybe we can make peace with the new capitalism yet!

    Or maybe videoconferencing via internet, and other technological advances, will soon make it easier for people to live and work near their families, allowing us to go back to the old model? When it comes to human relationships like child-care, I think the old model is inherently superior, if you like your extended family, because when you hand off your kid to someone you don’t know, it is just so hard to know what the quality of care will be.

  90. Susan on April 13, 2004 at 12:18 am

    I listen to this conversation. I feel like I just came back into a room I left 20 plus years ago and the same conversation is going on. It’s very difficult to love your family and children, have certain kinds of aspirations and passions, and know exactly how to work through them within a family and church context. I still don’t have any easy answers. Just know more about various shades of pain–and also satisfaction and joy, I think. I’ve caused more than my share of both.

    At this point in my life, I have a number of women on my team at work (editors and writers in a documentation group at a software company), who have one or two small children at home. We often end up talking about child care, couple relationships around child care, home care, balancing work and life. . . . . I admire and like these women immensely; they are all trying very hard to do a good job with young children they love–and with challenging, time-consuming jobs. They are all working very hard at being good mothers. I’m always struck by how difficult it is to find a way to talk to them about my own experience when my children were young, to replay for them a conversation like this one. I’m not sure what my point is. Just musing. . . . . The conversation has such a distinctive Mormon cast to it–the structure of the guilt and concerns and options.

  91. Ben Huff on April 13, 2004 at 12:39 am

    C’mon, Melissa, it’s *less* surprising you and I wrote about the same thing at the same time, when what we wrote about is how many wonderful things come from corporate culture!

  92. Clark Goble on April 13, 2004 at 12:40 am

    “…but our beautiful buildings sit empty during the day when they could be packed with screaming kids?”

    To keep them beautiful? (grin)

  93. Adam Greenwood on April 13, 2004 at 1:21 am

    It’s disgusting to compare fatherhood with alcoholism or a gambling habit. Faagh.

    As for why I wasn’t proposing a working mom bonus, the answer is that I believe in roles. I am not satisfied with the grudging admission that these roles might be acceptable too, as a choice for some people. Its not a choice, its a sacrifice.

  94. Adam Greenwood on April 13, 2004 at 1:25 am

    Its disgusting to compare fatherhood with alcoholism or gambling. Faagh.

    As for my focus on fathers and not mothers, the short answer is that I believe in roles. We are not satisfied with the grudging admission that we have made a choice that might possibly be tolerable. We aren’t making a choice, we’re making a sacrifice. We aren’t doing what we want, we’re doing what we ought.

  95. Dave on April 13, 2004 at 2:49 am

    Greg,

    Yes, I suppose he is just saying that choice is being foreclosed. But another way to look at it is that life is just more expensive and people choose things (a big house, or just a house, 2nd car, vacation in Hawaii, college fund for the kids) over the Mormon vision of the ideal mom-at-home family combined with “doing without.”

    But there is plenty of middle ground where people make tradeoffs–exit the workforce for a few years when kids are young, or part-time options, or make sure Dad get a really good-paying job. But I don’t hear members complaining, just leaders lamenting the fact that life in 2004 isn’t like life in 1952 or 1902. I think they exaggerate, seeing a big problem where people just face the normal time and money choices they have always faced.

    Adam, I think the “unequal pay for equal work” discussion deserves its own thread.

  96. Bob Caswell on April 13, 2004 at 3:13 am

    “It’s disgusting to compare fatherhood with alcoholism or a gambling habit.”

    I hate to burst your bubble, Adam, but for being so “disgusting” of a topic, we ought to discuss it before it gets any worse.

    Maybe we do need a new thread.

  97. Bob Caswell on April 13, 2004 at 3:32 am

    I too would like to join the team opposed to giving fathers a higher income. But I hope Adam and I can still be friends. :-)

  98. Ethesis on April 13, 2004 at 9:47 am

    Just thinking … in this part of the country many churches seem to exist purely for their child care operations and pre-schools.

    In my old practice group, in Wichita Falls, we had some part time workers. One set of legal secretaries worked every other week, alternating, and it worked out very well.

    I’ve dealt with a number of part-time attorneys, male and female, who made it work well.

    But yes, the problem with many of these is that employers will try to erode them into working full time.

    The Chronicle had a great article by an academic couple that was part time, (and another about how it fell apart after the divorce) and I’ve seen that work as well as read about problems with it.

    The subsumed issue is a fast economy vs. a slow one and a brittle economy vs. a resiliant one.

    Oh, and BTW, lots of doctors and nurses are able to pull off part time work. My wife is a CNRA and she and some other nurses in the ward have a dinner group. That group has part timers in it.

    Entire professions are organized around quasi-part time or intermitant models (e.g. nursing).

    While I’m not the biggest fan of the two big legal insurance plans (Pre Paid Legal Services and Legal Services Plan), both tend to use a lot of part timers in their quasi captive delivery firms.

    ok, now time for my favorite rant.

    Most people seem to think of the Church as a “?”

    Hold that thought.

    All directives from Salt Lake, no matter what they are, will have a core effect and will have trailing edge effects in terms of how they effect the membership. No matter what is said, or is not said, there will be fringe results which are not the intent of the speaker.

    The best image of the Church in action is a flotilia of sail driven barges on the ocean, dealing with wind, currents and other things, taking a great circle route to a goal.

    If you’ve dealt with currents, you know that if you just point straight to your goal, you won’t get there.

    If you’ve sailed in the wind, you know that you can’t just point straight towards your goal.

    And barges adjust very slowly to changes in direction.

    Finally, great circle routes are faster because the Earth is curved, which is why ships and planes take them.

    That’s the Church. Lots of course adjustments, many of them not terribly obvious, all by imperfect people.

    Back to the topic.

    In a slow economy there are inequities and family connections are very important. As it is, I was struck by an article in the BYU alumni magazine about how the greatest indicator of wealth was family connections and socialization.

    The authors had done research, expecting wealth to be a matter of intelligence and hard work and been very depressed by how hard many poor people work and how smart many were.

    In a fast economy there is more chance for people to progress based on merit, but less room for people who aren’t heavily engaged.

    Much of life is the conflict between the two.

    Should the stock market be open 24/7 or should it run twice a week? Should you be able to make multiple trades in a day or only trade once a month? Should a fee tail be an essential government activity or banned?

    In the 1940s to 1950s we had a quasi slow economy combined with a quasi fast economy. Lots of growth, but lots of quiet static places. That’s gone. We have a fast economy in its place with 401ks rather than pensions (for example).

    I’ve had the same job the last three years, but three different employers and two different locations (mergers, spin-offs, etc.). Rather than working down town I’m working six miles from the house, no week-ends (well, less than one a year).

    My wife works two days a week (sometimes more, they’ve problems with staffing, but when she works the schedule they agreed on, its two days a week, prn — she could stick to that if she was just willing to let people suffer. I don’t blame her for not, and because of the scheduling, we see a lot of her).

    Yes, we could have moved into a more expensive house, bought more expensive cars, etc., but instead we have more time with our kids.

    This post would have been finished sooner (I took a break to talk with our oldest) …

    Anyway … there are lots of issues surrounding this one, both the fast vs. slow economy issue, the part-time (and quasi-part time — in law, 40 hour work weeks are part time) issue and the way the Church interacts with the slow moving, hard to adjust, journey it is on. Herding sheep across the mountains would be easier (and another good metaphor).

  99. Lyle on April 13, 2004 at 10:33 am

    Fabulous question & discussion.

    Happily, the Gospel itself creates a culture which while not devoid or immune to the socio-economic system in which it survives (whether City & Herding animals or now), does create goals & values that can inform how individuals choose to live their lives. Whether or not the individuals choose to become “irrelevant” in the primary social culture of Capitalism…is itself irrelevant. Father doesn’t care, except to the extent that he wants us to magnify our talents, whether Jane or John are CEOs or stay at home parents. Hearts & Souls are changed & grow on an individual basis…and the true love of Christ. The most important influence, is the one that Dean Clark & the Gospel talk about: inside your home, with your family & your friends & peers. While we can lament the # of individuals who chose MBA/JD/MD…this has two net benefits:
    First, they can take advantage of the false social capital (i.e. that they are somehow more important) imbued upon them to the advantage of their families & to serve the Kingdom. Second, the gospel has to be preached to all…even the rich. So, if member referalls are the best way to do missionary work…it stands to reason that Trump doesn’t have much of a chance to hear the restored gospel unless him & one of the Marriotts is discussing some type of joint venture over a martini – sprite lunch.

    Rather than focus on the problems of Free Market Moving Capitalism, Richard has put me to thinking about how the current system has helped provide an environment that is open to the Restoration of the Gospel & Building up the Kingdom of God.

    It creates a system that:
    a. rewards individuals for helping other individuals get what they want; i.e. the market only works because it helps Jane & John both get what they want.
    b. allows individuals to interact outside of their socio-economic class.
    c. fosters some gospel values
    d. seems almost tailor-made to help the LDS Church become influential in the world.

  100. Kristine on April 13, 2004 at 11:10 am

    Adam, where did you see anyone compare fatherhood to alcoholism or a gambling habit??

  101. Julie in Austin on April 13, 2004 at 2:46 pm

    Kori–

    The way it worked in Davis is that you could ask anyone in the coop to watch your kids. As a result, they would get (and you would give up) a certain number of points per hour and per child.

    So, your kids were only watched by people of your choice.

  102. Matt J on April 13, 2004 at 3:12 pm

    As far as fathers getting paid more, I am a father of 4 with a stay-at-home wife and I estimate that this fact saved me over $10000 on taxes last year. Add to that the gender gap in salaries among computer scientists (which equals $???), and I feel over-compensated. I don’t feel like I can ask for even more because my lifestyle is somehow more desirable to society.

  103. Sci on April 13, 2004 at 4:18 pm

    Sam: Note, for example, the shortage of Mormons pursuing careers as civil rights advocates, biological researchers, or directors of homeless shelters.

    Thanks Sam, I appreciate your comment, it made my day. Sometimes I have my doubts about the moral status of spending all of my time pursuing truths in biological science…

  104. Nate Oman on April 13, 2004 at 4:28 pm

    “Will you grant any autonomy to politics? Say, via power-centered, state-centered, or justice-centered approaches to political economy? If not, I fear you may always be disappointed with the likes of Russell and others trained in the political economics tradition of political science where until recently there has not been much sympathy for “totalizing missions” emating from economics or politics.”

    Jeremobi: This is a very good set of questions. The short answer is that I am not sure. I am actually less sympathetic to the neo-classical vision than you are assuming (justifiably perhaps, given my posts) that I am. On the other hand, to the extent that one is arguing against “capitalism” because of the presence of market failures (rather than because one wishes to carve out some space for “the political”), I do think that trotting out some of the law and economics is useful. Here is why. Most criticisms and valorizations of “free markets” depend — in my view — on an overly simplistic notion of property and contract, ie on the institutional preconditions for markets. Both institutions are taken as being relatively simple and relatively fixed. However, even a cursory study of the legal rules governing such institutions reveals that niether assumption is true. It is worth pointing out that there are institutional arrangements that can overcome market failures, including some that are less overtly “regulatory” than many assume, e.g. the Coasian insight that externality problems can be solved with the assignment of property rights rather than Pigouvian taxation or ex ante regulation.

    That said, I actually don’t think that neoclassical unitility calculations provide us with either a secret for explaining all human behavior or any thing close to a master normative criteria. On the other hand, I think that the tools are more valuable in both fields than is generally assumed by many political theorists who often don’t bother to become informed about or walk through the arguments relating to those tools. I want to actually put the arguments on the table and talk about them before they get subsumed and dismissed in some potentially vacuous “-ism” analysis.

    So where does my skepticism and discomfort with the neoclassical model come into play? I am willing to discuss and entertain what you call “state-centered” or “justice-centered” visions of political economy. However, I do think that it is valid to use the tools of neoclassical analysis to think about the trade offs inherent in such approaches. Perhaps, one can dismiss this trade off-analysis by appeals to concepts of incommensurability or accusations of sub silentio commitment to deck stacking assumptions. There is some substance to both appeals, however in my (admittedly limited) experience these approaches are more often used to side-step difficult questions than to address them.

    Finally, I point out that I am not a political philosopher, although I enjoy political philosophy, find it insightful, and like to play at political philosopher from time to time (just as I like to play at being an economist). I made a conscious decision to turn away from political theory in favor of law for two reasons. First, I disliked the disciplinary insularity of the political philosophy. Second, I am not convinced that the issues raised by political theory are always best worked out at very high levels of abstraction. Hence, in working out the autonomy of “the political” or of “justice,” I am more likely to look at it in terms of the competing approaches to concrete legal institutions. Should tort law be understood and structured in terms of neoclassically optimal safety investment or in terms of corrective justice? Should contract law be structured around encouraging efficient levels of investment or in terms of distributive fairness or personal autonomy? Contrary to what you assume, I am far from convinced that the economic approach should always prevail. My preference for this level analysis, however, comes from the fact that when people start throwing around things like “capitalism” and “the ideology which emerged concomitant to late 19th-century and early 20th-century technologies, the result being the rise of monopolies and other large economic interests whose output had such uniformity and range that local variations, amateur initiatives, personal vocations, family co-ops, etc., were often driven out of the market” I am not sure what they are talking about.

  105. Janelle on April 13, 2004 at 5:05 pm

    As to fathers being paid more — Amen, Melissa!

  106. lyle on April 13, 2004 at 9:00 pm

    sorry…can’t remember where, but someone asked for statistics re: the PEF

    http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/49768

  107. Jim F. on April 14, 2004 at 12:10 am

    Perhaps I’m the one who didn’t understand Richard’s post, but isn’t the real question he asks, “How do we see the world with Gospel rather than secular eyes?” There are lots of ways that question needs to be qualified. It isn’t obvious, for example, that there is always a dichotomy between them. It seems to me that his post is an excellent one precisely because it asks that question, not because some of our buttons about men and women, etc. have been pushed.

  108. jeremobi on April 14, 2004 at 11:27 am

    Nate:

    Sorry for the late response, duty called elsewhere and I responded. I don’t often get the time to browse the posting on T & S, so I’m sure I miss much of what you state and where you are coming from. To be sure, I did not mean to come off as someone opposed to the tools of the neoclassical approach. I’ll read your posts differently now. Thanks. I’m probably just oversensitive due to the viciousness of the one-eyed champions of each approach sitting in offices down the hall from me.

  109. Dave's Mormon Inquiry on April 14, 2004 at 3:58 am

    The Bushman Cometh
    Barry Bonds isn’t the only one hitting home runs this week. T&S stunned the Mo-Blog by signing up a franchise player from the vast Mormon free agent pool, the eminent LDS historian Richard L. Bushman. He may be only a

  110. Tutissima Cassis on April 28, 2004 at 5:36 pm

    Markets and the Old Neighborhood
    raises an interesting question over at Mirror of Justice. He writes: Generally speaking, I believe that markets work, that efficiency matters, and that property- and entrepreneurship-rights are both practically and morally important. At the same time, …

  111. Tutissima Cassis on April 28, 2004 at 5:38 pm

    Markets and the Old Neighborhood
    Rick Garnett raises an interesting question over at Mirror of Justice. He writes: Generally speaking, I believe that markets work, that efficiency matters, and that property- and entrepreneurship-rights are both practically and morally important. At th…

  112. Tutissima Cassis on April 28, 2004 at 5:40 pm

    Markets and the Old Neighborhood
    Rick Garnett raises an interesting question over at Mirror of Justice. He writes: Generally speaking, I believe that markets work, that efficiency matters, and that property- and entrepreneurship-rights are both practically and morally important. At th…