A Moral Understanding Of Wealth

I have to admit, I love watching a good movie. I like when it makes me laugh, when it makes me cry, and when the movie causes me to think. I recently watched a movie titled “The Outsider.” It starred Naomi Watts, one of my favorite actresses, and Tim Daly, who I love in Madam Secretary. In this movie Watts was a plain woman of the Amish faith, and Daly played a gunslinger. They fall in love, (she is shunned by her faith group) but at they end both plain woman and gunslinger come to a new found understanding of faith. Cheesy but fun!

A key moment in the movie is when Watts realizes, after marrying Johnny, that she no longer heard the music of nature. It happens because she falls into sin, and loses the ability to ear the music. To me this was very sad, and I think it reflects many today who are losing their ability to hear the music, as many are leaving the faith. That will be another blog entry. For today, I want to focus on the term music, at least as it applies to “Playing the Music of Capitalism.” I read this very good article the other day. It explored the conservative think tank, the Enterprise Institute, which I plan on becoming more connected with. The person that is leading that organization is Arthur Brooks. I have read his work, and find his arguments compelling. I’d like to share a couple of thoughts with you.

Brooks made a very interesting comment, “Our side has all the right policies, but without the music, the public just hears numbers, and we have no resonance.” In context he is talking about the ability of people to rise above their current situation. His point is that providing an opportunity for people to work and accomplish things is the right policy. However, I do think their needs to be strong social safety nets, but I agree that we need policies that help people achieve.

In the article there is a great example of what happens when we rely too much on government. The article discusses a Soviet Union poster from 1964 which displayed one worker who is drunk “scratching his head as he looks at the one-ruble note in his hand,” and the other worker, which “is a hale and hearty type proudly looking at the ten rubles he has earned. The caption: Work more, earn more.” We are talking about the Soviet Union, and this demonstrates to me the futility of big government and loss of incentive.

Brooks makes a great point, “In some ways, the Soviet poster serves the great AEI mission that began with its founding in New York in 1938: to cultivate a greater public knowledge and understanding of the social and economic advantages accruing to the American people through the maintenance of the system of free, competitive enterprise.”

Many times the conservative message lacks what Brooks call music, or emotional resonance. “Its what he means by the music. It begins by emphasizing that those who benefit most from freer markets are the have nots: those without inherited wealth, prestigious credentials, social or class advantages – in other words, people whose only hope for a better life is a social order that will reward hard work and enterprise.” All over the world economic development has helped people escape extreme poverty.

Brooks argues, “Capitalism has saved a couple of billion people and we have treated this miracle like a state secret.” I, for one, believe in the power of business to do social good. Many people, through entrepreneurism and hard work, have lifted themselves out of horrible social conditions. I still believe in the Horatio Algiers story.

Sometimes we drink the Koolaid, and believe that working hard is a bad thing, and we just need more help from the government. Arthur Brooks states, “Capitalism succeeds not because it is based in greed, but because the freedom to trade and do business with others is in harmony with our God given nature.” Although I have a problem with connecting God with politics or money, I think he has a good point.

Are there problems with Capitalism? Absolutely! People are fallen and therefore use something than can produce good for evil. Making money is not the only thing that is twisted and made bad.

I still believe in the free market and I still believe in our country.

And that is my thought for the day!

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