Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Ok, sorry for the long delay between posts. I am working on some things for my classes that I hope to be able to post in snippets in the coming weeks.

It may appear from previous posts that I am not much of a fan of Capitalism, but while I am critical of it, I do believe it to be the most efficient and productive economic system in terms of wealth and standards of living. The evidence is very clearly in favor of this, I would have no way of arguing against it if I tried.

Most of my criticism is directed toward materialism and individualism, the "structures of sin" which are by-products of Capitalism and very prevalent in our society. The problem with Capitalism is that it creates a guise for these structures of sin. It convinces people that if they act in their self-interest, they will bring about the greatest societal good. This theory is only good in practice when there is a great number of competitors to hold each individual in check, keep him on his toes so to speak. Contrary to common belief, competition isn't the norm in our current capitalism. Big business and banks rule the show. They not only control credit, pricing, and output, but they also use their profits to lobby and persuade politicians. This is not a conspiracy theory, but the reality of our situation.

Even the people who run these businesses and banks, who want the good of all, and subscribe to the notion of acting in self-interest for the common good are not getting it because their self-interest directs them to exploit workers, keep costs (their wages) as low as possible, take care of their own, and maximize profits so that they get a nice bonus check for what? a bigger mansion? more cars? They don't do it to hire more people and increase the welfare of their employees.

The greatest evil in our current system of Capitalism, is not the free market or the government, but individuals acting only for themselves out of love for wealth and power. The free market and the government provide the arenas in which they act.

If the "invisible hand" of the market really worked, wouldn't there be less poverty and inequality? Milton Friedman, perhaps the biggest advocate of a free market, thought this would happen. Yet, we are in a very bad recession caused by greed and self-interested individuals who bear none of the punishment. This is passed on to the losers of the market, the lower class.

There is no question that authentic freedom is a good thing, including freedom in economics, but the power to do what one wants whenever he wants it is not authentic freedom. True freedom is the ability to do the right thing for the good of all. Our current notion of freedom limits our true freedom. Individuals who act for themselves only, inhibit the power of others to act for the good of all.

But this begs the questions: What, if not capitalism, is our alternative? Socialism? Something in between?

I believe that a capitalistic system full of virtuous individuals is our best alternative. Socialism takes away our right to private property along with many other freedoms. Extreme liberalism or individualism denies our social nature and dependency on each other. No economic system is good without upholding our natural rights that stem from our dignity as persons created in the image and likeness of God, pervaded by charity and justice, a constant pursuit of the common good, and the solidarity of all nations. This sort of economic system will have the freedoms of capitalism, but will look more like socialism because those who win in the free market will use it for the benefit of all.

Is such a system possible? That's like asking if removing all sin is possible. We are incapable, but God enables us for by Him we can do all things, without Him we are nothing. True reform lies not in creating or repealing public policy, but in the conversion of hearts. We must continue to strive for our own virtue and that of others by turning to God in prayer and leading by example.

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