What's really provocative about the article, however, is the contention of economist Susan Lee that theologians say too much and know too little about economics. (Lee holds a doctorate in economic history from Columbia as well as an M.A. from Union Theological Seminary.) In short, she says that theologians want to help the poor by focusing on the equitable distribution of wealth, whereas economists want to help the poor by firing the engines of free trade and "growing the pie," (or, "make the pie higher"). I can't decide if this is a kind of capitalist benevolence -- "We're going to help everybody this way" -- or a veiled threat: "If you redistribute wealth, we'll ALL end up starving." I don't have a Ph.D. in economics, which makes it hard to mount a defense of theological economics that doesn't sound like The Dude: "Yeah well, that's just, ya know, like, your opinion, man."
12 February 2010
Do theologians understand economics?
My friend Tommy sent along this link to an article from the blog of the American Enterprise Institute. At AEI, they're free marketeers through and through, so it's not surprising that the writer would be critical of any redistributive economic plan, whether theologically motivated or not.