The current financial crisis is also a moral and ethical crisis. Michael Smith says the current crisis is a result of separating capitalism from conscience.
For one thing, Smith says, many people have heard of Adam Smith's "invisible hand" but very few of us remember that he was more than an economist, he was a moral philosopher.
Never has a financial crisis focused so starkly on moral, ethical and even spiritual issues. The words used by commentators have run the gamut of emotions: greed, dishonesty and fear, panic replacing confidence, risk and hubris versus prudence, and faith in the banking system or lack of it. Never have the virtues of trust and integrity been more needed in the global economy....
...those who are driven solely by the profit motive and “the love of money”, described by St Paul as “the root of all evil”, are discovering that security based on material wealth is an illusion. A curious weakness of human nature says that the more we have, the more we still want. When Rockefeller was asked “How much is enough?” he is said to have replied, “Just a little more”. Yet the roots of security and satisfaction lie elsewhere, not in amassing wealth but in seeking the divine purpose for our lives....
...As Stephen Young, of the Caux Round Table group of business executives, argues in his book Moral Capitalism, the separation of Smith’s two texts has given us a distorted notion of how capitalism should work.
Capitalism cannot be separated from conscience and even a divine providence, a guiding hand. For without conscience, without the “invisible hand” of divine grace, untamed capitalism too easily leads to corruption — and to the greed and dishonesty, the loss of humanity and common sense, that we have recently seen in the financial markets. To rescue capitalism and the banking system, we need to revisit Adam Smith’s moral philosophy — and our own consciences.
hat tip to Thinking Anglicans.