Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Free Market, Human Dignity, and Moral Responsibility


When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.  - Frédéric Bastiat

Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.  - St Pope John Paul II

I espouse and defend a free market economy because, properly understood and practiced, it is the only economic system that is based on the premise of respect for private property (Thou shall not steal) and the moral responsibility for people, in the words of St Paul, to “work with your hands … and not be dependent on anybody.” Furthermore, I believe that a market economy demonstrates a far deeper respect for people and what they are capable of, as well as for their God given moral responsibilities, than all other so-called compassion-based economies that, in the West, are only thinly disguised systems for the modern State to arbitrarily define and regulate what is best for its citizens.

Where is the respect in telling someone, for example, “There there … it’s okay. We get that you are incapable of making it on your own. You can depend on the State, from womb to tomb” or “You aren’t smart enough to make decisions for your own life. The State will do it for you”? And where’s the respect for private property when, in order to care for all these dependents, not to mention a badzillion other outlays paying for “rights” no one had ever heard of until recently, the State demands an exorbitantly higher percentage of the tax-payer’s money (private property) than God Himself, who only requites a tithe? Talk about a pathological god-complex. 

Dear US Government: “You Shall Not Steal” applies to you, too!

At this point, a lot of people bring up the needs of the destitute, victims of disasters or foolishness, the mentally ill, and etc. and the question of who is responsible for caring for such people, if not the State. While this is a critical issue, for sure, I believe we must first be clear about exactly what it means to respect the property and moral responsibility of all people. If not, what we end up with are systems -- laws, regulations, and policies -- that actually disregard and disrespect those who are not destitute, victims, or mentally ill.

Underlying this debate regarding economics is the question of who defines the truth about human nature and goodness. I say “debate,” but a more accurate description may be “war,” because what we are facing here is a kind of spiritual warfare over who does the defining. While Western Civilization in general and the US in particular were grounded in the wisdom and precepts of the Old and New Testaments and, accordingly, in the belief that we humans have a given nature with a given moral compass, we now appear to be moving away from such an understanding, at lightening speed. Today, there are no “givens,” there are only competing factions of independent Definers-of-Truth being managed by a State that sees itself as the Final Arbiter of Truth regarding whose life is valuable and whose is not; whose contributions to the market place and society are useful and whose are not; and of what constitutes goodness.

As I see it, the battle here is not to place a more compassionate human face on systems (economic or otherwise) that are degrading and defrauding human dignity. All forms of governing that establishes and enforces laws and regulations that are contrary to the truth of what it means to be a human being and, as the US’s Declaration of Independence asserts, are contrary to what “the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them,” must be resisted and rejected.

I believe that only a free market economy corresponds to and compliments the truth of what it means to be a human being, including the tasks and responsibilities that comes with the gift of life and of creation. All other systems of economics actually interfere with and restrict, to one degree or another, the freedoms necessary for the individual to fully steward his personhood and possessions, before his Creator.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

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