Money and morals
In a blog post on Free market — free from our control, Father Ted says:
Millions will suffer because of the greedy decisions of the few; no matter what happens these few will walk away with millions. And no one will hold them or their cheerleading investors accountable. It is the free market after all, and accountability would put regulation on it – put on cost on those who profit most from the free market. And that, in this theory, is unthinkable, as are the consequences of said greed.And why do political parties, especially those which love to make character and ethics a major issue, never want to address the ethics of the economy? Why is it that when it comes to money – to greed aka “profits” – Americans do not want to hear about morality?
As I noted in a post on my other blog, Notes from underground: Time to curb the ‘asset strippers and robbers’ who ruin the financial markets, say archbishops -Times Online, the current financial crisis seems to be having the effect of waking Christian leaders from a long slumber, and they are at last beginning to say something about economic ethics and morality and money.
There’s been quite a bit of discussion recently about Jonathan Haidt’s rather dubious research into the foundations of morality (see Notes from underground: The moral high ground — or is it?) but his five moral factors — Harm, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority and Purity — seem to be missing at least two: Honesty and Love.
At least Haidt didn’t include the cardinal virtue of the free market fundamentalists: Greed.
St Paul writes of principalities and powers, or, if you prefer, rulers and authorities, which he describes as “spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies” (see Ephesians 6:10-12). Since the early 1980s the religion of Mammonism has been gaining ground in the West, and spreading through globalisation into the rest of the world. Actually, the religion had two denominations: Free Market Capitalism and Marxist-Leninist Communism. Both agreed that man ought to be subject to the power of economics and money; they just disagreed about the name and characteristics of the deity. For the Marxist-Leninists the name of the deity was “the dialectical forces of history” while for the free marketeers (also known as neoliberals) it was “the free rein of the market mechanism”.But since about 1990 one denomination has lost much of its support and neoliberalism has reigned supreme.
For Christians, however, economics, like the Sabbath, was made for man, not man for economics. The Lord is a great king above all gods, including the god of economic forces. Giving free rein to the market mechanism is not just immoral, it is idolatry.