Agencies of Scale

By JohnR |

When Augustine came to Rome from his home in North Africa just before 400 A.D., he was coming to the cultural centre of that part of the world, rather as one trying to “make it” might travel now from a small mid-western town to New York City. But whereas New York has been a major […]

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Economies of Freedom and Necessity

By JohnR |

I overheard two depressing conversations recently.  One was on the streetcar, where a man was introducing his companion to another friend.  The companion asked the friend, “what do you do?” and she replied, “I’m in development.  I work for a company marketing solar panels.”  The other conversation was in a coffee-shop, and one fellow was […]

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The DJ and the Stock Market.

By JohnR |

Though there are smaller examples from earlier times in history, it is the British East India Company that is usually thought of as the first great “joint-stock company,” and it is shortly after its founding around 1600 that the “stock market” began in Amsterdam. The basic idea of the joint-stock company is simple: a number […]

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The Laws of Inheritance

By JohnR |

“Did you earn it or inherit it?”  This is the question that Socrates asks the shield-manufacturer Cephalus at the beginning of Plato’s Republic.  Socrates asks this question about Cephalus’s wealth, noting that people who inherit wealth from another tend be less careful about its use than do people who have earned it themselves. Already this […]

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