Ethics of Free Marketeers

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“If men were angels, no government would be necessary”. James Madison
Madison went on to say that government must be controlled and limited for the same reason (government men are also not angels). So, the tension between freedom and government is established, and is often defined by the extremes of the fundamentally dishonest from whom government must protect us, and the arrogantly abusive government bureaucrat from whom we also need protection. The best solution is “ordered liberty”: the minimum government regulation needed to maximize freedom.

But, the extent of the regulation can be minimized, if we decrease the need for regulation by maximizing the level of honesty, integrity, fairness and fair dealing in the economy. We start by acknowledging that both “non-angels” & “angels” exist, and proceed to create more angels by:

  1. demonstrating the long term personal benefits of their honest business activity,
  2. identifying and celebrating them, and
  3. finally urging others to emulate them.

The more Enlightened Capitalist “angels”, the less need for government regulation and entitlements. (We don’t present this as paradise on earth and certainly don’t expect government will “wither away”, but maximum liberty can result.)

Having identified how Enlightened Capitalists benefit the economy and individual prosperity, the question is: How are they created; is there a commonality of upbringing or core beliefs that they share? If there is, that environment should be encouraged. While the definitive study remains to be done, there appears to be a commonality of core beliefs instilled by religious traditions of humility as a child of God, recognition that God is a loving Creator who rewards kindness, and fostered by an upbringing that rewards work, extols frugality and presents sharing and generosity as joyous.

So, we must move on several tracks:

  1. encourage and strengthen the environments that will produce men and women of integrity and honesty who genuinely care about others and find joy in helping them, and
  2. find, present, celebrate and emulate Enlightened Capitalists who create and share wealth, as a way of showing that Enlightened Capitalists prosper,
  3. cleanse our ranks by no longer defending those who give capitalism a black eye by relying on connections or coercion for wealth.

Then, armed with this credibility, we can turn to exposing today’s “robber barons”:

  1. crony capitalists – government program beneficiaries and career politicians who promote regulations that only allow the well-connected to prosper,
  2. some trial attorneys, who encourage litigation, which discourages entrepreneurs
  3. some union bosses who damage the economy and cost their members their jobs, while salting away great wealth for themselves,
  4. some large corporate managers who reward themselves despite doing great damage to their companies and depleting shareholder wealth.
  5. con-men who use the veil of capitalism to hide their thievery.

Finally, having cleansed capitalism and exposed crony capitalists as destructive influences, our identification and celebration of Enlightened Capitalists will both put us on the side of “the angels”, the people and freedom – a potent combination.