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Jan 16, 2008

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Bruce Gerencser

Hello,

Free market economics or capitalistic markets, as practiced here in the U.S. are rooted in theft also.

Corporation promises employees X. Corporation can't do what it says so it reneges or files bankruptcy. This is stealing.

Corporations move jobs overseas to countries where the labor force can be exploited. They steal from those who invested their lives in the US factory and they steal from the third world worker by rendering him unable to care for himself (low wages, moving off an agricultural economy)

Because profit and shareholder peace are the only two things that matter in corporate America our land, water and natural resources are pillaged. They steal from future generations to make products today

Personal example. My wife works 10 years for a company. When hired she was promised X. X has been taken away. Wages frozen. The comp has stolen from her what they promised. Here in the Midwest this happens every day.

I could go on and on.........my point is that socialism may not be the answer but capitalism is not the answer either.

Michael W. Kruse

Hi Bruce. Sounds like you’ve been going through some difficult times.

In response, I’d note that economic freedom can’t guarantee that injustices won’t happen anymore than political freedom can guarantee that crimes won’t occur. There is no system that brings perfect justice but let’s not fall into the New Creation Now fallacy.

I would dispute several of the claims you mention about theft or exploitation while still acknowledging that instances you mention have impacts on real people’s lives. From the tone of your post, I willing to guess that is a conversation you’re not open to. :)

Economic freedom and market exchange circumscribed in a strong juridical framework is the most just, most productive, and least environmentally destructive system ever conceived. No society including the USA has fully adopted this system but the closer a society approximates it the better life becomes. Utopia is not attainable but a market economy is greatly superior socialism.

Peace!

Bruce Gerencser

The entire manufacturing sector is in shambles here in the Midwest.

When I read the Scriptures I see tinges of socialism and capitalism. I like to attach the modifiers of moral or ethical to both terms.

You mention strong judicial framework and maybe that is where the answer lies. Unfortunately, we have a declining structure in the US. I am no George Bush fan and I think the current administration has colluded with major corporations to hurt the working class. It is patently immoral to allow corporations to walk away from their retirement and medical obligations. (As GM and Ford have done)

My wife's employer made a retirement promise 10 years ago. We planned with that promise in mind. Now they renege. There is no penalty for them doing that. Nothing that forces them to be true to their word (as a just judicial system would)

I do think the issue is complex and I am always willing to listen to others. I do have a bleeding heart as I watch the middle class here in Ohio sink. Where does it all end? Will we all be greeters at Walmart some day? :)

Bruce

Neil

What is needed is a good system of checks and balances. A truly free market in a fallen world will result in oppression and the problems that Bruce cites. On the other hand a purely socialist model takes all motivation for progress and development out of the equation.
Scripture is quite clear about the obligations the wealthy have to take care of the poor (that means there are wealthy people and poor people) in society. It's not socialist (or Communist;)) to suggest that we need universal health care provision, minimum wage increases, affordable housing etc. it's simply a moral obligation that needs to be factored in to a free market economy.

Michael W. Kruse

Bruce, I agree with you about reniging on pension funds, corporate bailouts, and corporate subsidies. I think most of this stuff is unjust. The problem is that where ever sinful human beings and freedom are involved there is going to be injustice. The challenge is to maximize freedom and minimize injustice. There is no system this side of the New Creation that can create a perfectly just world.

Part of what you are writing about in Ohio is the effects of “creative destruction.” I wonder if you saw the three YouTube clips I posted in November about global challenges? I think you might find the first one particularly applicable.

There are two ways we improve economically. We can earn more or we can pay less for the goods services we buy. Wal-Mart pays low salaries but studies from a variety of economists demonstrate that Wal-Mart keeps the prices on basic necessities like food and clothing (a high percentage of the poor’s budget) far lower than they otherwise would be. The lower cost that benefits the many greatly offsets the lower wages paid to a relative few. Economic change always involves trade-offs. That is the complexity of the real world.

Pollution per capita has been in decline for thirty years in the US. Nations with market economies better habitations than either former Soviet nations or developing nations. As per capita income rises people become more and more concerned about the environment.

“Capitalism” or “market economies” are not synonyms to describe the American economic realities. The American economic system is one approximation of it. My concern is that we not be in a hurry to dump the unprecedented benefits trade and markets have brought to humanity, simply because we have not achieved utopian standards.

Michael W. Kruse

Neil, I’ve often written that economic freedom (free markets) is no different than other freedoms like free speech. We value it and protect it but we recognize it is not absolute. The freedoms exist amidst a constellation of rights and obligations that must weighed against each other.

While I agree with your ethics I’m not necessarily with your prescription. It may seem self-evident that minimum wages or universal healthcare are the answers. But two hundred years ago it may have seemed self-evident that leeches were the cure for pneumonia and that universal access to leeches should be provided. :) Good intentions need to be matched with sound solutions.

It might be obvious to us that society would be better off if people didn’t say hurtful things and hold events like KKK rallies, so we will just censor their free speech. Similarly it might seem obvious that appropriating other people’s money to pay for universal healthcare has a higher utilitarian value than letting people exercise freedom with their money. But where is the end of such utilitarian justifications for impinging on freedoms?

Society has a responsibility for the poor but “society” is not a synonym for “government.” Government is but one institution in society. I’m not doubting in the least that government has a supplemental role in aiding the poor but it is my position that we would be well advised to turn first the full array of societal institutions rather than turning first to government intrusion.

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