Category Archives: Morality

Hour of Decision for the USA: Will the Experiment Continue? Part Three: The Moral Economy

In this special series, we are focusing on foundational principles essential for sustaining the American Experiment in virtue-based liberty. Part One articulated the essential moral principles necessary for flourishing. Part Two offered a clarion call for human dignity, cherishing life from conception to coronation and championing care for all persons, especially the vulnerable.

In 1992, Bill Clinton ran for President with the famous tag line, “It’s the economy, stupid.” He recognized that most people spend most of their waking hours working. America’s future depends upon a robust economy with opportunities for all.

Economics is a moral science. Until the 20th century it was a subset of moral philosophy in most schools. Then the “scientific” and “technological” folks took over and separated markets from morality, trade from truth. Today we are left with polarized positions, with some advocating unrestrained free trade and others desiring even more federal control, taxes and programs.

For any economy to run well – local or global – there must be certain moral and practical principles in place. Our world is a beautiful one with opportunities for all to flourish and resources for value and wealth creation. We do not have too many people on the planet. Our economic woes are not for lack of resources. We struggle because of unjust people and systems; in other words, breakdowns in the moral economy.

Economies are moral and social systems of exchange. Here are some of the ingredients necessary for a flourishing economy:

  • Personal responsibility and virtue that leads to mutual trust
  • An entrepreneurial ethos
  • Fidelity to verbal and written covenants and contracts
  • Personal property opportunities and rights protected by law
  • Access to markets
  • The rule of law and a legal system marked by integrity
  • Focus on value creation, not just profit

When all or most of these principles are in place, there is greater prosperity. The perversions of these are found in Marxist-influenced systems of central control or the related crony capitalism where the powerful and wealthy control markets and stifle creativity and competition.

The USA is at a socioeconomic tipping point, with a lower percentage of adults working to sustain a higher percentage not working. A flourishing future demands that this ration change as quickly as possible. Tax and welfare policies, regulatory agencies and local and state governments must partner with business and community leaders to re-empower entrepreneurship, offer incentives for welfare recipients to work and develop public/private partnerships to repair and rebuild the infrastructure needed for that 21st century global/local economy.

It is time for solutions, not soundbites, for accountability and wise management of public resources. Balanced federal, state and local budgets will help. Fair tax policies, ending favors to elites and pathways from welfare to work will forge a preferred future.

The economy is a moral system. Let’s put “moral” back into “economics” and watch our nation and world enjoy unprecedented prosperity.

Vision 2016 Part 2: First Principles

As we continue this important series, it is vital that we agree on and understand the principles that support and shape our nation’s flourishing. Policies and programs, including necessary political compromises are built on particular conscious and unconscious values. Here are some of the key ideas for our nations future.

We the People unite in creating an America where…

  • Freedom of conscience and religion is protected as the first freedom and the deepest values of our citizens inform civil debate.
  • Life is cherished from conception to its natural end and no active measures are adopted to prematurely end it.
  • The freedoms of peaceable assembly, the redress of government and speech must be protected not restricted and the marketplace of ideas unhindered by bureaucratic notions of “fairness.”
  • Moral persuasion is as influential as public legislation.
  • Our natural rights are protected – not bestowed – by the government.
  • Government is subsidiary to the person, family, community, religious group and other voluntary agencies. In other words, sovereignty and support structures first rest with the people, not the federal government.
  • The Constitutional balance of power matters and all legislation gets to the floor for public debate by elected leaders and citizens.
  • Access to education, business markets and other opportunities are not stifled by corrupt business and political powers.
  • Equality of opportunity is not necessarily of equality of outcome.
  • Cultural, gender and racial diversity are celebrated along with unity on the guiding first principles of liberty, virtue and the common good.
  • Marriage is defined as one man and one woman, with legal allowance (state-by-state) for other approved adult relationships such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Marriage so defined is one of the empirical cornerstones of future success for the next generation.
  • Citizens must show an official ID from their state and prove their residential status in order to cast a ballot. ID cards should be offered to qualified persons without charge. No votes cast by non-citizens count in any elections.
  • Disagreements do not devolve into personal attacks and caricatures and stereotypes do not obscure issues worthy of serious reflection.
  • History and hope meet and Americans can cherish their heritage and humbly resolve not to repeat her egregious errors. We live in a land of saints and sinners, humble servants and rapacious overlords, amazing sacrifice and regrettable indulgence.

With these first principles in mind, the coming posts will consider domestic and foreign policies that will bless both our nation’s residents and liberty-loving people around the world.

Vision 2016 Part I: Foundations for Our Future

A Time for Reflection
For half a century, America has been at a civil crossroads. Will the founders’ experiment in virtue-based liberty continue or will it be replaced by disempowering ideologies? Will American “first principles” of freedom of conscience/religion, assembly, redress and speech remain robust, or will political correctness stifle the full exchange of ideas? Will government return to its subsidiary role of protecting natural rights or continue the one hundred year trajectory of bestowing rights as largess from a Leviathan?

Will a civil center be recaptured so people of all faiths and philosophies argue peaceably, allowing their deepest convictions to guide them, or will elite secularists force free discourse underground? Will citizenship and the rule of law mean something or will pseudo-compassionate amnesty programs overwhelm labor markets and foster a one-party state?

Thinking further, will historic guilt lead to unwise capitulation to neo-racist supremacists or will Martin Luther King’s dream of “all God’s children” living together with equality and justice reassert itself? Will Americans shed their racial bias and welcome as friends all cultures and races? Will life from conception to coronation find protection or will social engineers dehumanize “unneeded” persons under the guise of economics, science or social good?

Globally, will the USA support its ally and the only democracy in the Middle East or capitulate to jihadists bent on Israel’s destruction? Will America stand with all people of conscience facing persecution or continue the present trajectory of submission to Islamicist supremacy?

The compelling issue for America’s future is a vision of the common good that will catalyze citizens to create a better future.

Forging a flourishing future requires devotion and discipline, inspiration and integrity, passion and principle as well as policies that work. I offer the following as a way of inspiring all people of conscience to contribute to their communities, our nation and world.

What is Vision?

Vision = a picture of a preferred and achievable future.

Vision = a pathway toward flourishing for all.

Vision = life between fantasy and fatalism, requiring faith and work.

Vision = offers hope that empowers present sacrifice for future generations.

What follows in the coming weeks are principled and practical aims designed to appeal to people committed to the common good; people that understand that liberty is rooted in virtue and self-regulation is essential for maximal freedom. I look forward to a great conversation.