To recap my last post. When examining the appeals to morality, made in almost any thread you get involved in discussing economics, money and our present recession, I find at least three recurring types of arguments that are being appealed to. 1) Two wrongs dont make a right type arguments 2) Money/greed is the root of all evil types of arguments and 3) Invisible hand (hat tip to Art!!) type arguments.
I also argue that maximizing our satisfaction is at the heart of these arguments. Two wrongs dont make a right is never satisfactory because it risks a never ending spiral of retribution, vengeful hearts are never content. Money is the root of all evil recognizes the hollowness of chasing monetary wealth. Chasing money often leads to compromising all principles and is denounced in virtually every culture. The notion of an invisible hand tries to remind us of our ignorance of the big picture and tries to assure us that there is something looking out for the big picture so we should just let go and stop trying to control that which we cant control. We will always end up with collateral damage with any effort and be less satisfied.
The root of the word economics is oikos (household) and nomos (custom or law) so within the word is a suggestion that there are customs or laws governing the trade of goods and services. In any society that ever existed it is through its laws and customs that the collective morality is expressed. In addition, virtually every economist Ive ever read opines that each of us in our economic decisions is trying to maximize our own welfare. It seems to me that economics is about trying to maximize our own welfare while maintaining an eye to the customs which have been agreed upon within your culture/community. When I hear people trying to argue that economic decisions are value free or amoral I just have to chuckle. No decision is value free. If one claims something is just about money and not personal that reveals a fundamental flaw in a view that money isnt personal. Money IS personal. That is why people are so passionate in their feelings about it.
Lets agree at least that every decision we make with our money says something about our morals. It must. We use money to express what we want, what we are willing to pay for, what we value and what has meaning to us. We would never pay for something totally meaningless to us. Even when I bought Happy Meals for my son and had ZERO interest in the worthless plastic toy inside, I knew my son was going to get great joy from not only the toy but the totally empty calories, and I WAS willing to pay for his joy, no matter how fleeting I knew it was.