Monday, December 7, 2020

Religion in the public square - The Law and Economics movement in the United States




What’s more, in the 1970s and ’80s a whole new field of law emerged out of the theories and ideas that Bork and his fellow Chicago School libertarians had been crafting. Its name is simple and deceptively generic: Law and Economics. Getting lawyers and especially judges more fluent in economic analysis is a good thing, of course. But the animating idea behind Law and Economics was political—that a main point of the law, not only of antitrust, is to maximize economic efficiency, that the law’s bottom line is the economic bottom line. So if you happen to think it’s a good idea for judicial decisions to also consider fairness or moral justice, or other values or versions of social happiness that can’t be reduced to simple metrics of efficiency, Law and Economics says you’re a fool. Like its brilliantly anodyne name, the equations and other math in Law and Economics texts give it an impartial, scientific sheen. The founders of Law and Economics understood that we do indeed live in a political economy, that determining who’s entitled to what is the result of all kinds of power struggles and societal choices—so they wanted their hard-core free-market politics explicitly encoded into America’s underlying legal DNA.

Andersen, Kurt. Evil Geniuses (p. 134). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Bolding has been added.

If Satan were to plan to take over the United States of America, Satan could choose no more effective way than to incorporate the worship of Mammon into law. Satan found his acolytes to do just this.

This valuing of economic efficiency above all other values has created the infection rates and death tolls of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The Republican leaders from the President, to Governors, to local county and state officials have chosen by designing and enforcing their public health policies between the economy and the health of their communities. They, at the President’s insistence, have chosen the economy and the consequences have become horrific and will only get worse.

If an observer were to ask, “From what does just a deadly mindset and value system arise,” the answer can be found in Chapter 11 of Kurt Andersen’s book, Evil Geniuses, in which he describes the rise of the “Law and Economics” movement in the United States. Those in power decided that money is the highest and most sacred value in the land and the whole legal system which governs and oversees the US economic system must be designed to enforce this supreme value.

What do you think about this valuing of money over other values in guiding our political policies to create a just, equitable, compassionate, and happy society?


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