As a blog is a space for personal thoughts as well as analysis, I thought I would provide a little list today of some likes and dislikes in keeping with the blog’s political and economic leanings. They are not in any particular order or any depth. Please feel free to post some of your own.
1. Corporation tax
I am not a fan of corporation tax. This should be distinguished from rates paid to municipal authorities as remuneration for services provided (e.g. sewers). We cannot escape from the capitalist structure of our world. Private business creates wealth, which is vital for our survival and development. Inflicting corporation tax on a business seems like punishment for a good deed (creating wealth and employing people). I would prefer to encourage business, not discourage it.
2. Mixing deposit banking and investment banking
I like the distinction made in Roman jurisprudence between the depositum and the mutuum. A significant part of the financial instability (and consequent economic instability) that the Western world has experienced in the centuries of its existence comes from the mixing of these two types of banking, with the result that the money of depositors is used in speculation, and when that speculation makes a loss, the depositor’s account is diminished. Governments providing guarantees to depositors (up to a certain amount) does not fix this problem – separation of the types by breaking up institutions is preferable.
Scoop has called this the “cruellest tax of all”, and I am rather inclined to agree. It eats at savings, it influences contractual negotiations, and instils a fear of the future. Like most people, I prefer as many fixed variables as possible in calculations.
1. Constitutions that limit the power of the state as much as possible
At the risk of provoking opprobrium, I will go on the record as saying that I am not a very trusting person. This may be in conflict with certain parts of the Christian ethical tradition, but it is also true that Christ told His followers to be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16). Where power is left in the hands of the state, even where the intention of the executive, legislature, and judiciary is to do good, there is always the risk that power will be abused. Why? Because the state is staffed by humans and humans are flawed.
2. Freedom of speech
As Jordan Peterson has remarked, freedom of speech, both within one’s mind and between different people, is necessary for intellectual development. The growth of knowledge and wisdom involves exposing oneself to ideas that may not be very attractive at first. Our very concept of duty presupposes a dislike of doing or believing what is good. If we liked doing something, it would not be a duty, but a pleasure. Clamping down on freedom of speech not only creates resentment at the suppression of a basic liberty, but also stifles debate and intellectual progress.
3. Bottom-up intellectual inquiry within Christianity
If Christianity is true, it has nothing to fear from the truth. Sometimes in our progress towards understanding, we have to suspend some basic positions and methods, take a step back, and come at the problem as if we did not believe what we currently believe. God gave humans a rational, inquiring mind. It seems strange to suggest that we should not use it. This does not mean there is no role for faith or tradition – far from it. Sometimes, though, we need to exercise some humility.
God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.