Morality and Capitalism

Usually I would choose not to venture into a topic such as this. But it has made an appearance a couple of times in my life over the past week. First, last week I went to a local bookstore where Jim Wallis was talking about his new book, Rediscovering Values, which, in large part, addresses the moral void that led to the predicament (particularly in regards to our economy) we currently find ourselves in. The second instance was an article written by Richard Mouw, the president of Fuller Seminary. Both of these men emphasized the lack of morality in recent years in capitalism and capitalism, if filled with Christian morals, would not be painted in the negative light it presently is. Neither of these men expounded too much on what they meant by Christian morality but Wallis did mention watching after the forgotten or overlooked people in corporations. Not only should the lowest of employees be taken care of, but also the people who are affected by the corporation. I read a story the other day about Howard Schultz. Howard’s father was once injured severely on the job at a time when worker’s comp was not available. His mother at the time was seven month’s pregnant and his father was unable to work. Thus, they found themselves in a financial difficulty. When Schultz began Starbucks, he wanted to make sure everybody was valued and a large part of expressing this value was a health-care package for even part-time workers. There is a reason why so many people want to work for a company like Starbucks.

Another reflection about Wallis’ talk and Mouw’s article was more startling. I guess it can be summed up in this: How committed am I to being a part of capitalism instilled with morality? I mean, it’s easy to blame capitalism for the problems our country faces. It’s more difficult to locate part of that blame within my own life. And it’s easy to buy from small businesses every now and again but it’s easier to drive to the nearest Target or Wells Fargo or Panda Express and give them my business. I think a lot of people in America (including myself) too often leave problems like the recession we are in to the experts – we do not think that we can do anything to solve the problem. But by doing this, we ignore that we are a part of the problem and that we can do something, even in very small ways, to begin to make a difference. For change to occur, it takes commitment. And commitment is hard to find in people these days.

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One Response to Morality and Capitalism

  1. christophermahlon says:

    I’m struggling more and more with the fact of capitalism. I can’t have any answer to a critic who says I don’t practice what I preach, since capitalism is inescapable if you live in the West.

    Still, in my studies I haven’t seen many examples of it being a success in the industrializing world. (Only a few qualified success stories.) And in the US, I’d argue that capitalism– especially advertising– has been morally corrosive to us.

    What I struggle with most is the fact that, at base, capitalism is predicated upon people’s willingness to take advantage of each other. Upon people’s greed. Bluntly put, it’s an economic model with a sin foundation, and it really bothers me.

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