Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Symptoms or Systemic?

In thinking about this economic "bail-out," I am wondering .... are we treating symptoms again? ... or is it a systemic problem in our culture?

It seems that the highest moral good in our culture is economic prosperity. When we have a problem, it usually goes back to "it's the economy, stupid!"

People are making moral decisions based on how it will affect them financially. Older people are living together, so that they don't lose their deceased spouse's retirement. Younger people are living together outside of marriage to save money. Companies conduct unethical practices to make more money, as long as it is legal .... forget the ethics.

We now have a high rate of out-of-wedlock births in some segments of our culture because they would lose their government welfare benefits if they got married. That created a multi-generational practice of not getting married. Now many men and women don't even aspire to marriage because they have never experienced a family situation with a mother and father.

Some people base their giving to needs based on whether they can get a tax-deduction for it. I wonder what would happen if we went to a flat rate tax, with no deductions, would the churches and nonprofits survive?

At some point, our government and our culture is going to have to ask ourselves whether economic prosperity is going to be the guiding decision of our country? We are going to have to ask whether it is in the best interest of our country to have easy credit, even if it means an economic slow-down or that not everyone will attain the American dream of home ownership.

Michael Novak said:
Western democratic capitalism is like a three-legged stool, resting on political freedom, economic freedom, and moral restraint. Take away moral restraint, and the stool collapses.

Is the stool collapsing? Is the reason a lack of economic freedom or political freedom or is it a lack of moral restraint?