1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
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Critics of capitalism often argue that this economic system is irretrievably tainted by the sin of greed. They claim that by empowering government to "spread the wealth around" we can free ourselves from the tyranny of greed, purging the influence of sin. But are they right? At this event, Victor Claar, associate professor of economics at Henderson State University, will discuss the role of envy in collectivist and redistributive economic systems. Beginning with an explanation of the classic theological understanding of envy, Claar will argue that "grieving the good of others" is an unavoidable aspect of social democracy.
|6:00||Introduction:||Eric Teetsel, AEI|
|6:15||Address:||Victor Claar, Henderson State University|
|7:00||Respondents:||Emily Batman, AEI|
|Adam Phillips, ONE|
|7:30||Question and Answer|
WASHINGTON, SEPTEMBER 20, 2010--In the sixth event hosted by the AEI Project on Values and Capitalism, Victor Claar, associate professor of economics at Henderson State University, addressed the role of envy in a market system. Though envy is inevitable in a competition-based market system, Claar claimed it is not easily remedied through leveling systems such as socialism or communism. Joseph Sunde of RemnantCulture.com said that because envy is rooted in the heart of an individual, material equality will not eliminate it. AEI's Emily Batman noted that though envy can diminish the self-worth of the person experiencing it, envy also creates, in part, the competition necessary to spur a successful free-market economy.
- "The other thing that makes it [envy] unique as compared to sins like sloth and greed and lust is envy's the only one that's never fun . . . even for a moment. . . . So understanding the temptation of envy is a tricky thing because most of the time we're tempted into temporary flights of fancy that lead us into temp[orary], short-lived benefits but that bring along longer-term costs, but in the case of envy there's no short-term benefit."
--Victor Claar, Henderson State University
- "What I found confusing . . . is just that most of the justice that's inspired by envy is just egalitarianism, and we've already talked about why equality isn't the same thing as justice. . . . Your inspiration for justice should actually come from a love of God and not by anger at unequal outcomes. So, a love of justice inspired by envy is never going to be anything more noble than a call for a recount."
--Emily Batman, AEI
- "I think the root causes, in some sense, are untouchable by policy. . . . I think if we think we can adjust the material scales and rid immorality or rid the individual sin, I think we're fooling ourselves and it's a very materialist view which is ironic because it's often touted in this very anti materialistic way."
--Joseph Sunde, RemnantCulture.com
Victor V. Claar is a professor of economics at Henderson State University, the public liberal arts university in Arkansas, where he specializes in courses on the principles of economics. He serves on both the graduate faculty and the Honors College faculty. Mr. Claar is the author of Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices (IVP Academic, 2010). Before arriving at Henderson, he taught for nine years at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, as an associate professor. Mr. Claar recently spent a year as a Fulbright scholar, conducting research and giving graduate lectures at the American University of Armenia.
Emily Batman is the program manager for AEI's National Research Initiative. She is a graduate of Wheaton College, where she studied political science and communication.
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