The Most Important and Beautifully Expressed Insight into Economics I've Ever Heard
The other day I listened to the podcast in which Ricochet member R. J. Moeller interviewed Fr. Robert Sirico about the good father's new book, Defending the Free Markets: The Moral Case for a Free Economy. One of Fr. Sirico's insights struck me as so compelling that I found myself scrolling backwards and forwards on my iPod to listen to it over and over.
A lot of people, R. J. noted, would grant that there are practical arguments for free markets--the markets work, after all, producing goods and service--but nevertheless wonder why Fr. Sirico insists on making the moral case. Could Fr. Sirico explain himself?
Fr. Sirico's reply:
Think about who human beings are, the fact that we have a physical body and the fact that we also transcend our physicality. We all know that. We just observe ourselves and we see our physicality. But then we experience our transcendence when we fall in love or when we appreciate art and beauty.
Those are indications that there is something more than the purely material to our existence, that there is something spiritual to our existence. Our touching the material world with our transcendence – with our minds, with our reason, with our creativity, with our courage – brings forth from nature resources that would lie dormant and useless to humanity but for the fact that we touched them and brought them forth.
This begins the moral argument for the free society and the free economy.
The fundamental economic act: touching the material world with our transcendence.
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
Update: Over on "Values & Capitalism," the blog of the American Enterprise Institute, R. J. has just posted a review of Fr. Sirico's book.