Great day at Acton University. Aside from the many interesting people I ran across, the four classes I had leant me perspectives I hadn't had coming in (which are the best kind of classes.) The 45 minute lectures and 30 minute Q&As are all available on the website for a fee of $2.99 for those interested.
In the "Rise and Fall of Neoclassical Economics" by Dr. Robert Nelson I learned a lot about what the 'current' economics taught at schools theory is. I've read lots about Austrian economics over the past few years but I was largely ignorant about what the mainstream teaching was based on and Nelson made a compelling argument that it is a sort of religion in its structure. I'm sure his new book, The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion versus Environmental Religion would be a fascinating read.
Dr. Todd Flanders had a wonderful lecture about Frederic Bastiat titled "Christian and Apostle of the Market". It was fun discussing Bastiat's Christian roots, a little of his history, and then reading how he brilliantly whittles down an issue to its essence and show the fallacy of much of yesterday's (and today's) flawed economic thinking.
Dr. John Pinheiro's talk on the Political Economy of the American Founding helped add a little fullness to my vision of what the Founders (Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton) were like. Reading too much of from the Lew Rockwell site will seriously skew your opinion of Hamilton and probably give you just as unrealistic picture of who Jefferson was. Like many things, it is important to understand why the men held the opinions of politics that they did which was in many ways a reflection of the times and how they viewed the world at that time. It is very easy (for me anyway) to view the men as living in a vacuum and writing and debating the virtues of liberty and government without also rounding them out with their flaws and theories. One interesting one is that Jefferson believed that the Louisiana Purchase would allow for people to become more spread out - including slaves - which would diffuse the tension of slavery. The solution to secession was dilution I guess.
The final session was by professor Ross Emmett about innovation and entrepreneurship. This is one of those lectures where you really have no idea what will be discussed and whether or not it will be pertinent to your life or way of thinking. Fortunately, he very compellingly made an argument that our current way of seeing innovation is too simple (and allows for points of meddling from governments). The current thoughts sees innovation as working: creating new product -> commercialization -> consumption -> profit. He argued persuasively that creation and innovation is a complicated collaborative process with an interplay between consumers and creators. Therefore, the question we should ask is not, " What are the features of an innovative and entrepreneurial society," rather, "What are the features of a society which enables people to express love and charity toward others?" The second question, he argues, will naturally lead to innovation and entrepreneurship.
Today: Poverty in the Developing World by Michael Miller. I'm sure this will focus in small part on Acton's new initiative which launches in a few months, Poverty Cure.
Biblical & Theological Foundations of Environmentalism - Dr. Jay Richards
Myths about the Market - Dr. Jay Richards
Development, Microfinance, and Foreign Direct Investment - Aneilka Munkel