Category Archives: economic proposals

Installing a ceiling fan is now a two person job

So my son turned thirteen this year and my wife and I thought it would be a great idea to redecorate his room to a more mature theme. One part of the redecoration process included installing a new ceiling fan. We shopped around and finally decided on a Hunter Fan.They are an American company however like all other fan they manufacture their products in China. That, notwithstanding, they have consistently demonstrated a commitment to quality. As a side note, I am not unfamiliar with fan installations as I have been a homeowner for about twenty years doing many of my own projects. However this installation will remain distinct from my previous four fan installations. Hunter has a different size downtube and a different hanging bracket from all other fans I have installed. The downtube was not a big deal, although it required an additional trip to the hardware store. The bracket, on the other hand, was a significant change. The traditional bracket allowed one to hang the fan, then connect the wiring. The Hunter fan’s bracket design forced me to hold the fan and connect the wiring at the same time. I cannot understand why they would deviate from an industry standard bracket. I do know that this is not the manner in which a company should distinguish themselves from the competition. Installation jobs should be easier for the homeowner, not more difficult. So, I think Hunter Fans must have been trying to improve the economic conditions in the U.S. by forcing homeowners to hire a fan installer and not just one but maybe two or three. Here is my tribute to their efforts:

Thank you Hunter Fan Company for taking a one person installation job up to a two-three person job through your fan design. Your concern and forthwith contribution to the economic recovery through this engineering nightmare is admirable. I will gladly take the frustration of trying to hold a fan motor in one hand while at the same time connecting wirenuts with the other hand balanced on an 8ft ladder, as my small sacrifice to the economic recovery. You could have stayed with the tried and tested fan mount that allowed both hands to be free to connect the wiring, but you boldly redesigned it. I ‘m sure it was for the sake of the suffering Americans looking for employment. For that, I am grateful. Hunter Fan Company, you are a true patriot (Patriotic music slowly fades…).



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What can the poor do for us? John Chrysostom on the poor

When therefore thou seest a poor man, and sayest, “It stops my breath that this fellow, young as he is and healthy, having nothing, would fain be fed in idleness; he is surely some slave and runaway, and hath deserted his proper master:” I bid thee speak these same words to thyself; or rather, permit him freely to speak them unto thee, and he will say with more justice, “It stops my breath that thou, being healthy, art idle, and practisest none of the things which God hath commanded, but having run away from the commandments of thy Lord, goest about dwelling in wickedness, as in a strange land, in drunkenness, in surfeiting, in theft, in extortion, in subverting other men’s houses.” And thou indeed imputest idleness, but I evil works; in thy plotting, in thy swearing, in thy lying, in thy spoiling, in thy doing innumerable such things.

And this I say, not as making a law in favor of idleness, far from it; but rather very earnestly wishing all to be employed; for sloth is the teacher of all wickedness: but I beseech you not to be unmerciful, nor cruel. Since Paul also, having made infinite complaints, and said, “If any will not work, neither let him eat,” stopped not at this, but added, “But ye, be not weary in well doing.” “Nay, but these things are contradictory. For if thou hast commanded for them not to eat, how exhortest thou us to give?” I do so, saith He, for I have also commanded to avoid them, and “to have no company with them;” and again I said, “Count them not as enemies, but admonish them;”6 not making contradictory laws, but such as are quite in unison with each other. Because, if thou art prompt to mercy, both he, the poor man, will soon be rid of his idleness, and thou of thy cruelty.[1]

Isn’t it interesting how the same questions about the poor remain with us today? In my experience, many Christians want to ensure that the poor “deserve” their money before they give it away. In doing so, do we forget the gospel? Do we forget that we didn’t deserve God’s mercy toward our idleness? In many ways we were far worse than the idleness accusation leveled by those in Chrysostom’s day. As strangers to the gospel, we were actively going our own way (Isaiah 53). Of course we are great at “theologizing” our decisions to withhold from the poor: “God requires me to be a good steward of my money” or “I don’t want to facilitate their bad habits.” However, is this an act of cruelty? Maybe so. What if they really need it, but we withhold it? What if they are a fellow Christ-follower? (which of course we always doubt their profession!) Most times, people are asking for an insignificant amount of resources from us. Five dollars or even twenty dollars for most working families out of a weekly budget will not impact the families life in a significant way. In light of this, maybe John Chrysostom is right in advising God’s people to give to the poor to avoid cruelty.

[1] John Chrysostom. Homily 35 on St. Matthew in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume X: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew ( ed. Philip Schaff;New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 235.

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Filed under Community, economic proposals, Ethics, Spirituality, Theology

NY Times created a visual based on a survey conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. The results might reveal unexpected priorities of millennials. Generally millennials are regarded as concerned most about social issues such as climate change and immigration. The survey shows that lowering unemployment and health costs as the domestically most important issues. In fact climate change and immigration policy scored the lowest of the domestic issues, followed closely by reducing big money in elections. In a time period where education is prioritized, the millennials put little emphasis on building a world-class educational system, while at the same time being energized by president Obama’s push to address student loans. I don’t really know what to make of all the data as the Public Religion Research Institute survey of millennials places the top three domestic issues as Jobs and unemployment, Federal deficit, and Education. What is clear is that jobs are important to millennials in both surveys.

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May 2, 2012 · 2:54 pm

Moral Sentiments of our capitalist friend Adam Smith

In an earlier post, I referred to Adam Smith’s work, Theory of Moral Sentiments. It was suggested that Scottish philosopher would not be happy with the current state of his capitalist experiment in the new world. Smith wrote of the gluttony of the rich producing products domestically which creates an excess for the peasant to acquire thereby fulfilling the needs of a given community. According to Smith, the rich are,

“They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species” (IV.I.10).

However this “gluttony of the rich” to which Smith refers does not operate in a vacuum. Those in this community, rich or peasant, should model proper moral sentiment. Adam Smith saw the “invisible hand” of capitalism intrinsically connected to proper moral behavior. Moral behavior that has regard for others in his community. He writes,

Proper resentment for injustice attempted, or actually committed, is the only motive which, in the eyes of the impartial spectator, can justify our hurting or disturbing in any respect the happiness of our neighbour. To do so from any other motive is itself a violation of the laws of justice, which force ought to be employed either to restrain or to punish. The wisdom of every state or commonwealth endeavours, as well as it can, to employ the force of the society to restrain those who are subject to its authority, from hurting or disturbing the happiness of one another….A sacred and religious regard not to hurt or disturb in any respect the happiness of our neighbour, even in those cases where no law can properly protect him, constitutes the character of the perfectly innocent and just man; a character which, when carried to a certain delicacy of attention, is always highly respectable and even venerable for its own sake, and can scarce ever fail to be accompanied with many other virtues, with great feeling for other people, with great humanity and great benevolence. It is a character sufficiently understood, and requires no further explanation. (Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part V- Of the Character of Virtue, Section II.- Of the character of the individual, so far as it can affect the happiness of other people)

It is clear from Moral Sentiments that the current status of capitalism was not the capitalism envisioned by Adam Smith. It seems that capitalism of the twenty-first century, particularly in U.S., has a virus. Ironically, the virus of capitalism finds its origins in something Americans proudly embrace: “rugged individualism.” However, now “rugged individualism” has shed virtue and become “everyman for himself.”

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Where are the morals in business? Adam Smith would not be happy!

Early economist assumed all had moral compass

“People suggest that Smith was all about self-interest and, therefore, a wholly unfettered, laissez-faire economy, consisting perhaps of “Rambo” capitalists….This version of Smith originates from his famous “Wealth of Nations,” which was published in 1776, 19 years after his first book, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.””

I have been contemplating the notion that capitalism is fatally flawed without an ethical underpinning. Adam Smith presumed that this would always be present in his system outlined in Wealth of Nations. The absence of a moral sentiment [as outlined in The Theory of Moral Sentiments] creates an environment that we see emerging today. Perhaps the Enron scandal should have been “the shot heard round the world” in the world of political philosophy. In this scandal, a divorce between Adam Smith two essays took place. A new post Enron landscape emerged that valued pure capitalism without any ethical restraint. The latest reflection of this economic mutant thinking is the financial meltdown of 2006. The result is the same in both cases. Greed overtook an moral obligation to show restraint even in the face of extra profits. Without a moral compass, the gap between the oppressed and the powerful will continue to grow.


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Moral Subjectivism Test Case: Carbon Mitigation vs. Honduran Farmers

Carbon Blood Money in Honduras By Rosie Wong, March 9, 2012

“Small farmers in this region have increasingly fallen under the thumb of large landholders like palm oil magnate Miguel Facussé, who has been accused by human rights groups of responsibility for the murder of numerous campesinos in Bajo Aguán since the 2009 coup. Yet Facussé’s company has been approved to receive international funds for carbon mitigation under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).”

How might the farmers and the world respond to this situation, based on David Hume’s view of rules of justice?

“the rules of equity or justice depend entirely on the particular state and condition in which men are placed, and owe their origin and existence to that utility, which results to the public from their strict and regular observance. Reverse, in any considerable circumstance, the condition of men: Produce extreme abundance or extreme necessity: Implant in the human breast perfect moderation and humanity, or perfect rapaciousness and malice: By rendering justice totally USELESS, you thereby totally destroy its essence, and suspend its obligation upon mankind. The common situation of society is a medium amidst all these extremes.” Hume, David (2011-03-24). An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (pp. 11-12). Kindle Edition.


Filed under Community, economic proposals, Ethics, Philosophy