Why Should Small Businesses Be Important To Every American?
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “Let’s set out from the outset here, these Wisdom Wednesday conversations with David Simpson that we have are meant to be provocative. They are meant to challenge some current, secular orthodoxy that most people hold and to try to get to the root of it: Upon what is this based?“ Check out today’s transcript AND Clip of The Day for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
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Mike: The Legatus group tries to impart Christian values into business. I had two gentlemen who were on hold who wanted to yell and scream and jump up and down and holler and inform the world of my incorrectness, that Christianity and business are incompatible. (This discussion is based around Tim Wu’s “Small is Bountiful essay from the New Yorker)
David Simpson: Of course not. Ethics are just the norm of behavior in all behavior.
Mike: No, no, you’re not thinking with your John Lockean private property rights mind. All that is needed is ownership, desire, and customers. As long as everybody in every transaction understands private property rights and ownership, all will be right with the world, just like it was for the pharaohs of Egypt.
Simpson: I kind of left that world a long time ago. I guess I’m going to have a hard time getting back into it to argue the other side. What happens when we start with our private property bashing one another, what goes on at that point?
Mike: That’s just the way it has to be.
Simpson: So it’s just dog eat dog, let’s get after it?
Mike: That’s right. Just ask Murray Rothbard. He’ll even give you a formula, which is not to vilify Murray, because he was certainly brilliant in so many things. I tend to think, though, Austrian-style economists tend to look at Mises. They may look at Hayek second. They won’t ever look at Roepke. The reason they won’t look at Roepke is because Roepke was a Catholic, and because Roepke had
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values and morals, and because Roepke smacked Mises down when Mises said something about: You could have this plant here and do this, that, and the other. Roepke said: Or you could just have them work seven hours a day, come home and work an hour or two in the garden, and they still have living and a life.
Mike: What a great idea. Of course, business and faith are two separate issues. I say you obviously then have no concept of the Old Testament prohibition against what’s called usury. Usury in business today is rampant, isn’t it?
Simpson: It’s the fire that’s going to burn the world up, that’s what it is. No one even admits it. They think it’s as American as apple pie. I put an essay at the end of my book about, well, the principal part was usury, about interest. The official ban on usury didn’t end in the church until 1917, very late. Talking about what you were mentioning about how the market and freedom and ownership will solve all things, there’s a friend of both you and I who wrote a book. I think it’s called Faith in the Market. I’m not going to mention who he is. I like the guy.
I was reading his book and I was on one page and he said: The market this, the market that, the market this. In other words, the market will solve all these things. For fun, I took the word “market” out and put the word “God” in. I realized that if I were to do that and give that to most of my friends they would laugh me off the planet. They’d say: God can’t possibly do all those things. Give me a break! They believe the market can. Some impersonal, nonexistent, fake force can do everything, but you give them the real force, the real person, the real creator of the universe and they would laugh you out of the room. They believe in a fairy tale. They believe in a thing that doesn’t really exist.
Mike: And they’re willing to pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to it.
Simpson: You know it.
Mike: Let’s set out from the outset here, these Wisdom Wednesday conversations that we have are meant to be provocative. They are meant to challenge some current, secular orthodoxy that most people hold and to try to get to the root of it: Upon what is this based?
Simpson: That’s a great idea. It’s a great way of putting it. I’m glad you put that into context. Most of the people who believe in the market, as I once did, are my friends. I love them dearly. I believe in much of the economic school of thought that they hold. But when they jettisoned ethics, when they said: We don’t have to have a morality for this. The market will just fix all evils if we just have competitive enterprise. That’s not true. We saw the aberrations. Let’s be realistic. It’s created the aberrational existence that we live in now. Don’t tell me it doesn’t lead to error and wrongness. It already has. You have to sometimes look at the patent facts in front of the world around you and say: Did this come from what we’ve been doing or did this magically fall out of the sky? I think it came from what we’ve been doing.
Mike: Joseph Pearce has this post at the Imaginative Conservative website last night, “Morality in the Marketplace: A Catechism for Business.” I was reading Pearce. Pearce has been on the show once and I’ll invite him back soon. We’ll cover a paragraph of this and then we’ll flesh it out from here.
. . . Mr. Abela and Mr. Capizzi, are at considerable pains to lay such stress on the volume’s purpose, as is indicated by the fact that the word “for” is actually stressed in italics in the book’s title. [Mike: The title of the book is A Catechism for Business.] It is therefore perilous to overlook the importance of the preposition with regard to understanding the purpose of the book. It is not a book of anything but a book for something. It is intended as a practical handbook and guide for use by business leaders and those training to be business leaders and is not meant, at least not primarily, to be a textbook for those studying philosophy or theology. Those wishing to study the Church’s teaching at a deeper level of engagement philosophically and theologically would do better to grapple with the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church or indeed to engage directly with the papal encyclicals and Church documents from which A Catechism for Business quotes selectively and only in snippet-sized pieces.
Having said the foregoing in defense of the book, it must be conceded that the selection of passages from the Church’s documents can sometimes raise eyebrows or even ire . . .
For what it is worth, I would have been very happy if “capitalism,” as a word, had not been mentioned at all. I wrote a whole book on politics and economics, Small is Still Beautiful: Economics as if Families Mattered (ISI Books), in which I studiously avoided using the c-word.
Mike: It’s interesting, if you trace the etymology of the c-word, you’re not going to like from where the c-word came. You’re not going to like who it was that first employed it. It was not in a positive manner. So we have Pearce commenting on the subject. Then I have this from two days ago. This is about how small things and small businesses are making a rebound, and about the beauty of smallness.
Simpson: Right, you sent me that. That was wonderful. One of the major examples he gave was all the microbrewers. You and I love to yell “Beer, beer!”
Simpson: Right. And I liked the way he said they were differentiating themselves by not saying we can produce it cheaper or faster.
Mike: They don’t even try.
Simpson: He goes: We actually just taste better. I thought for those of you that like taste, maybe it’d be something they’d go for.
Mike: It’s a great example of, when you go to your local microbrewery, you don’t haggle over the price of a pint. If you find it at the local supermarket, it costs $7.99 for a six-pack or $8.99 for a six-pack. There’s Budweiser or Coors or some mass-produced you-know-what sitting there and you can buy that for $4.99. But you go: You know what? I really like Abita or Covington Pilsner. Lately I’ve been going: I don’t care if Adam Acquistapace is going to charge me $8.99 for a tall 20-ounce bottle of Chimay. I’m going to buy it anyway. I’ll support the monks. I would do it anyway, but I don’t have a problem with my knowledge of the fact that a small business or a small brewer has produced the product. I’m willing to forego the price point. What is at work here? What is the Wisdom Wednesday philosophy? There’s something that is at work here that we don’t think about and we certainly don’t meditate on it and don’t try to apply it to other things in our lives. There’s a very important point that’s going on here, isn’t there?
Simpson: I think there’s several. I’m not sure the one you’re alluding to specifically, but I think the guy hit the nail on the head when he said taste. If you want something of taste in a higher quality, you’re going to pay a little bit more. But that also means, I think underlying that, that someone took the time and the patience to become an artist to give you something that’s more flavorful and artistic. Now you’re talking about a human being who produced the thing. All of a sudden we’re going: Wait, this guy has to be paid more to spend his time doing this service for me. No, we’re not going to ship this to China and employ slave labor to do it. We’re going to have a guy who’s supporting a family, who’s living in the town, or as you said, maybe religious brothers or sisters doing something as a devotion and to support their cause. These are all human ideals. This isn’t a liberal idea. Some of my conservative friends say: Now you’re starting to sound like the liberals. You’re a pinko. You want to care for people. We’ve got to get product out there. No, this isn’t a liberal idea to care about another human being making a living. It’s about doing the right thing at all times. Like you said, what about working for five, six, seven hours and then going home to your family? That’s an evil?
Mike: It’s totally despicable. It’s what Gru would do in the movie Despicable Me while he was bad buy.
Simpson: I know you do because you work a lot. If you let work eat your life alive it will, unless you make a conscious effort to say I’m turning off at some point in time to give to other things, you will never give to that other thing. Why wait till you’re 70 years old to “retire” and then do the things you always wanted to do? Why don’t you do a little bit of what you want to do every day of your life?
Mike: The other point about — I can’t find the story. I’m going to print it out and as soon as I do, I’m going to find 16 copies of it. That happens to me every day. One of the other points that he was making in —
Simpson: It was from The New Yorker, I think.
Mike: Not only is there the human component that you’re doing business with someone that you know — I don’t think he actually called it republicanism, but there is that community thing that’s going on, too. I know the guy that made the cabinet. I don’t have to ship it back to Peoria. I can actually say: Hey, the cabinet you made broke, dude. If
he won’t fix it, you won’t be making any more cabinets for me. There’s a very good chance he’s going to say: I’ll come by and make it right. [/private]
FOLKS, a message from Mike – The Project 76 features, Church Doctrine videos and everything else on this site are supported by YOU. We have over 70, of my personally designed, written, produced and directed products for sale in the Founders Tradin’ Post, 24/7, here. You can also support our efforts with a Founders Pass membership granting total access to years of My work for just .17 cents per day. Thanks for 17 years of mike church.com! – Mike
This is one of these little unseen things or unprocessed things that happens in business and in doing business and doing it locally that you don’t consider. The way I try to think about it is: Can I get it from someone local? Is there a mom-and-pop shop or whatever? Will it fulfill what it is that I’m trying to do? Then I might have to go: Do you really have to have that to do this? Number three: Do I have demonstrable evidence that this guy or gal is reliable and is a good person doing good business? If they meet all three of those criteria, I go: I could go to Lowe’s or Home Depot or a big-box guy. I’m going to save and they’ve got barcode scanners. It’s like a candy store when you go in there. Maybe the candy store also makes you buy things that you don’t need. Maybe the small-business person is also serving another purpose in community, which is: No, I don’t carry all that. What do you need that for?
Simpson: Right. Once again, we’re back in the Shire.
End Mike Church Show Transcript