Thursday, August 3, 2017

Economics and Morality

To buy we need to sell. Economics studies the way we provide ourselves to live, the means and consequently what and how we need to sell to buy. So begins an article in a diocesan bulletin by a seminary professor. When we examine what we buy and sell, products that in the past weren't even imagined as products of commerce are now traded.

Water is today a common product for commerce and can be bought at any convenience store. A bottle of water costs 900 won, the same size bottle of gas would cost 700 won. Strange that in a country without any resources of oil, a bottle of gasoline is cheaper than a bottle of water. Our senses tell us that the world of economics has its own system and rationality and the bias we have picked up accepts it as being indifferent to the problems of morality and ordinary common sense.

In the social gospel of the Church, this kind of thinking is confronted face on and we are asked to examine our place and role in the economic activities in which we participate.

Frederic Beigbeder a French writer is quoted as saying that our society when it comes to economics has thrown aside common sense and morality and with humor shows the distortions.

"The poor to buy a pair of expensive sneakers will sell drugs and the rich will sell expensive sneakers to buy drugs from the poor." This French writer makes clear that we are nurturing a monster in economics that has no connection with what is important. Consequently the more developed we become in financial matters the more hard-hearted life becomes for many. This is the reason the social gospel recommends that we look carefully at what we buy and sell.

With the increase of wealth, we see also the increase of deprivation in the lives of many.The social gospel asks us to reflect on what we buy and sell. A moral element is involved and we need to see it. We are at the center of commerce.

The Pope in a message to the prime minister of England in 2013 stressed the ethics of truth. "This includes, first and foremost, respect for the truth of man, who is not simply an additional economic factor, or a disposable good, but is equipped with nature and dignity that cannot be reduced to simple economic calculus. Therefore concern for the fundamental material and spiritual welfare of every human person is the starting-point for every political and economic solution and the ultimate measure of its effectiveness and its ethical validity."

Many authorities speak with complicated theories and many fancy words.  What is important is that the economy is for the welfare and justice of all. The economy that is not for all people is stealing from the poor. Should we not be conscious of this when finances are used for vanity and exorbitant luxuries?

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