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Ecclesiastes: Autonomy and Stagnation
Autonomy and Stagnation is the title of my economic commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes.
The book is a carefully crafted argument in favor of God's law, but this is not clear until the final chapter. Until he gets to it, the author plays a game of one-man tennis. He serves. He replies. He replies to his reply. Back and forth, back and forth: the reader hardly knows which side to root for. "Who's ahead?" The task for the commentator is to figure out which version of the Preacher he is dealing with in any given passage.
This rhetorical strategy is based on the unique background of the author. The Preacher was probably Solomon. He was rich. He had seen it all. And it all added up to vanity: chasing after wind. Well, not quite all, but most. Only in the final chapter does he say what works.
Chapters on economics include cyclical history vs. progress, imputation and value, the sovereignty of death, uncertain legacy, predictable sanctions, two kinds of time, consumption, oppression, peace and quiet, the division of labor, vows and promises, autonomy and economic growth, faith in progress, constant improvement, time runs out, change, money & power religion, money and markets, wasted efforts in life, inputs and output, and the vanity of death.