Tuesday, July 08, 2014

On the campaign trail, Brat declared that bankers should have gone to jail and that “crony capitalists,” like Cantor, had undermined the system. “I’m not against business,” he said. “I’m against big business in bed with big government.”

Instead of arguing for any specific regulation, however, Brat said that the system simply needed more virtue. “We should love our neighbor so much that we actually believe in right and wrong and do something about it,” he wrote in a 2011 essay for Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology. “If we all did the right thing and had the guts to spread the word, we would not need the government to backstop every action we take.”

The idea that religion plays a role in economic growth was most famously advocated by the German sociologist Max Weber. In his 1905 book, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” he argued that Protestant countries developed more quickly because they embraced hard work as a virtue. Over the decades, others have continued to see merit in the theory, including J. Bradford DeLong, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who presented statistical evidence for it in a 1988 paper. Even Friedrich Hayek, a professed agnostic, grudgingly acknowledged the role of religion. “Like it or not,” he once wrote, “we owe the persistence of certain practices, and the civilization that resulted from them, in part to support from beliefs which are not true.”

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