Editor’s note: This essay appeared in Capitalism and the Common Good According Michael Novak: A Law and Liberty Symposium on First Things
First Things editor R.R. Reno, a good friend of 25 years, is surely right that Michael Novak’s classic book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982), is a work birthed in response to intellectual trends of the 1960s and 1970s.
No one likes being in a prisoners’ dilemma. The tragedy of the prisoners’ dilemma, as it were, is that all the players in the game can see the cooperative, Pareto-superior outcome, but they can’t reach it, at least not without changing the game. They can’t reach it even though it’s right there, seemingly within grasp, and even though they all agree they’d all be better off if they did reach it.
Many obituaries of Antonin Scalia were accompanied by a picture of the justice and Ronald Reagan standing together on the day of his nomination. And that photograph perfectly captures Scalia’s importance to the American polity. Scalia changed our jurisprudence as much as Reagan changed our politics.
In an essay at City Journal I explore some of the deep connections between these two iconic figures of the conservative movement:
Suze Orman writes for an audience in search of investment advice and financial security, and her great success can be measured in numerous bestsellers. An Orman book sells really well because it properly makes simple what is simple: the common-sense path to financial health. Unsurprisingly, Orman doesn’t much excite economists, whose profession seems intent on turning human action into that which is bland and utterly incomprehensible. Economists “find her investment advice simplistic,” write George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller, adding that “Our economist friends cannot stand [Orman’s] mommy-knows-best/I-told-you-to-do-that voice.” Yet their book Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception uses…