Morality & Markets

If you were encouraged by Paul Ryan, you may appreciate this interview with Fr. Robert Sirico.

From the conversation:

LOPEZ: How can you get more greed with socialism than capitalism?

FR. SIRICO: To the extent that socialism holds back creativity and thus productivity, it increases poverty. When people become desperate, even good people can become self-centered. Few of us are at our best in crowds where everyone is trying to get out the same exit, or when trying to grab for the last remaining sale item. Socialism begins with the material world (the redistribution of pre-existing things); capitalism begins with ideas and dreams (the creation of things). Socialism increases the hoarding instinct and often places power in the hands of petty dictators (wait in line in a governmental office to see what I mean). We all know where that leads.

Of course, I am not saying that a system of free exchange will abolish greed. But even here, free markets and competition tend to temper greed, subordinating it to the service of others, which is the only way you are going to be successful in the market.

LOPEZ: How is government-run health care uncompassionate?

FR. SIRICO: As in most institutions dominated by politics and bureaucracy, a gap grows between those being served and the ones doing the “serving.” This is especially the case when the bureaucracy is far away from the need and the principle of subsidiarity is ignored. The latter do not know the former and it is difficult to have real compassion without personal relationships. Human beings are lost sight of in politics and bureaucracy.

LOPEZ: So after the president’s health-care try, what would you suggest we do?

FR. SIRICO: Politicians are generally followers, not leaders. In order to change the way society works, we need to first change, not primarily the politicians, but the way citizens think. Americans simply need to get over the notion that they can get something for nothing. When put that way, everyone agrees, until you start to zero in on one of their particular goodies or pet subsidies: Think student loans, Social Security, tariffs that benefit my business, or subsidized loans and grants that benefit my company or farm. A free and competitive economy in all these and other areas, under the rule of law of course, is a more risky place, but ultimately for everyone concerned a more prosperous place as well.

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