Religious ethics rarely enter into mainstream economic theory, but they are topics that [economics professor cum Eric Cantor slayer David] Brat, who describes himself in his writing as a Calvinist, has turned to repeatedly. In a 2011 article, “God and Advanced Mammon — Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?” published in a journal of religion, Mr. Brat questioned whether Christianity could be reconciled with government programs.
“Are you willing to force someone you know to pay for the benefits for one of your neighbors?” he asked. “Very few Christians I know are willing to say ‘yes’ to this question.”
— Campus Colleagues, Basketball Teammates, and Now, Political Rivals: David Brat and Jack Trammell show unease in the spotlight, Trip Gabriel and Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times, today
May I suggest that Professor Brat get out more? Quite a few Christians I know are willing to say “yes” to that question. I bet that quite a few Christians you know are, too. Maybe even some of your family members. And even you yourself. (I’m not Christian, so I don’t count.)
The Times article continues:
In the same essay, he argued: “If we make all of the people good, markets will be good. If markets are bad, which they are, that means people are bad, which they are. Want good markets? Change the people.”
Several economists said in interviews that Mr. Brat often appeared not to be writing as an economist. “I did find him pretty confusing,” said Justin Wolfers, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, and a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “This dude just really wants us all to go to church, and that appears to be his economic policy conclusion.”
Confusing? I dunno. I understand him perfectly, I think. And I agree with him. If we make all of the people good, markets will be good. If markets are bad, which they are, that means people are bad, which they are. Want good markets? Change the people.
Uh-oh, hedge fund managers and Goldman Sachs partners. Obviously, few of you are evangelical Christians. So this guy, who wants good markets, has his sights set on you. But, luckily not on that carried-interest tax-benefit thing y’all get to use, praise the Lord.
So maybe you hedge-fund types can skip church again this Sunday, after all.