Friday, September 25, 2015

Material well being and morality

Wall Street Journal's logic. They say:
"In the Americas 'thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities,' the pope said. 'Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.'

The pope’s call to a common humanity is much-needed, but to our ears the most striking word in that passage is 'north.' Here is the Latin American pope acknowledging that the migrants are moving north to the United States, not the other way around. This is the same United States that practices the capitalist economics the pope has excoriated on so many other occasions. There must be something moral to free-market economics if it creates so much opportunity that attracts so many of the world’s poor."
Hmm. Interesting take. There is something material about the US economy for sure.  How they confuse material well-being with morality is another issue. Beyond the confusion between the ideology of free-market and the economic system actually in place in the US, I think it's safe to say that one can understand why immigrants move North, while at the same time believe that there are better alternatives to the US version of capitalism. There is something striking in the WSJ piece indeed, but it isn't the word north.

PS: Their editorial reminded me of Joan Robinson, who said (Economic Philosophy, p. 45) that "as we see nowadays in South-East Asia or the Caribbean [and one could add Middle East or Latin America], the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all."

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