The moral advantages of the system. A Free Market Best Promotes Moral Virtues

While some people have raised moral objections to free-market systems, we think it is important to mention an alternative perspective: there are many moral advantages to free markets.

In saying this, we must guard against a possible misunderstanding. In the following pages, we are going to list several moral virtues that are encouraged by free-market systems. But we do not believe that free markets make morally perfect people!

As Christians, we believe that there is a sinful inclination to do evil in the heart of every person on earth (as well as, by God’s “common grace,” an opposite inclination to do good). We believe that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and that, except for Jesus Christ, no sinless person has walked the earth since the time of Adam and Eve.

Therefore, every economic system on earth has sinful people in it, people who do morally wrong things. There are people who lie, cheat, and steal, and hope to get away with it. In addition, in every society there are a few very evil people whose repeated wrong choices have deepened and strengthened the hold of sin in their hearts.

Neither are we saying that free markets are the cure for every conceivable human defect. They do not eliminate stupidity, obliterate selfishness, eradicate greed, or control the behavior of companies to everyone’s satisfaction. Flawed human beings could never create a flawless system.

The question, then, is not, “Do free-market systems still have some evil people in them?” Of course they do. The proper question is, “Does a free-market system tend to discourage and punish wrong behavior and tend to encourage and reward virtuous behavior, and does it do these things better than other economic systems?” We believe it does, and that is what we explain in the rest of this chapter. We list what we see as sixteen advantages of free markets in four categories, then close the chapter by looking at five moral objections to these systems.

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