Gateway to Wisdom Essays and Notes

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Gateway to Wisdom Essays and Notes

By: John A. Baden, Ph.D.
Posted on March 25, 2015 FREE Insights

This is Bozeman, a website to soon be launched, will feature FREE's essays on Liberty, Ecology and Prosperity.

The title of the series is Gateway to Wisdom.

This is Bozeman EDITOR’S NOTE BY TODD WILKINSON: John Baden will be writing a weekly column to appear every Monday at This Is Bozeman. He will explore the culture, economy, and institutions that he believes foster an ideal mix of liberty, ecology, and prosperity. “First some modifiers,” he writes. “I’m referring to responsible liberty, sustainable ecology, and modest prosperity. They don’t easily go together.”

JOHN WRITES: An important part my context is our ranch setting. This morning, the sandhill cranes returned and a herd of elk was on our south hayfield. Ramona and I love living here.

I am an economic anthropologist by inclination and training. This is not a field I recommend as a career but it has worked very well for me. I’ve only once taught a course with that title, in the Honors Program at Indiana University. However, the mix of economics and anthropology has provided powerful insights when considering environmental policy reform.

The theme of my series is how to conjoin liberty, ecology, and prosperity--and asks who sabotages achievement of this happy conjunction.

“Political capitalism” is the system characterizing America today.  It exists when political and economic elites cooperate to protect and advance their favored positions, usually through subsidies and regulations. Although it is predation via politics, political capitalism has no happy natural equilibrium. Its operations harm the middle and lower classes and often the quality of our environment. It ultimately relies upon coercion rather than willing cooperation and is profoundly negative sum.

There is no gentle way to fix the macro components and consequences of political capitalism. These include; massive subsidies, entitlements and transfers, an estimated $220 trillion actuarial deficit (America’s Fiscal Insolvency and Its Generational Consequences, Testimony to the Senate Budget Committee, February 25, 2015, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Professor of Economics Boston University), a declining civic culture and ignorance of American history, an increasing proportion of children born without benefit of married parents, greater welfare dependency, and pernicious class envy and disdain.

Despite large-scale systemic maladies, people find many opportunities to reform and improve the “romance” sector of our environmental policy arena. This sector includes parks, wild lands and water, wildlife, range, and impressive geological features. This collection is the material of scenic calendars and coffee table books. That's where we live.

My “Gateway to Wisdom” series will focus on this romance sector of environmental policy. The “sludge” portion is surely important, it kills and retards many living things, but I much prefer romance. It's no accident Ramona and I live on a beautiful ranch between Bozeman and Yellowstone. I invite readers to join us through FREE's essays forthcoming in This is Bozeman.

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