The terrible economic news from both Europe and the United States has led to much soul-searching on both sides of the Atlantic. How did we get here, and how can we get out of this jam? In my past columns for Hoover’s Defining Ideas, I have insisted that both economies will be able to extricate themselves from their deep slumps only by promptly reversing those policies that have brought them to the brink. A successful and sustainable political order requires stable legal and economic policies that reward innovation, spur growth, and maximize the ability of rich and poor alike to enter into voluntary arrangements. Limited government, low rates of taxation, and strong property rights are the guiding principles.
Unfortunately, many spiritual and economic leaders are working overtime to push social policy in the exact opposite direction. At the top of the list are two prominent figures: Pope Benedict XVI and financier Warren Buffett.