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Toward a Realistic and Moral Capitalism
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Austin Hill and Scott Rae
The Virtues of Capitalism:  A Moral Case for Free Markets (Chicago:  Northfield, 2010.  153p.)

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The title of this volume intrigued me, especially the phrase "Moral Case."  I was afraid this would be another simplistic attempt to baptize historical cultural capitalism with a Civil-Religion form of American popular cultural Christianity.  But the title skews our expectation.  This book is not an apologia for religious economics, but rather a balanced look at what has happened in the US and reasons why it has happened.

I discovered this was a responsible, thoughtful, measured discussion taking into account several viewpoints, critically and constructively.  These authors discuss openly the excesses and the moral problems of doctrinaire capitalism, and propose a refined, responsible market system that will encourage entrepreneurship, creativity and competition while maintaining moral integrity and benefit for the common good.  They look at historical economies and societies, and especially provide a good analysis of the biblical foundations for a just society in which the poor and powerless are cared for and protected.

Modern urban Americans will benefit from the good analysis they provide of the ancient agricultural and tribal society providing the context of the Hebrew moral culture reflected in the practical Torah laws guiding Israel.  This discussion will be an instructive source for pastors and church leaders.  Hill and Rae do not write as theologians sacralizing secular economics.  They do not write as politicians soliciting the support of uncritical religious patriots.

They analyze religious streams in politics and economics as well as economic or political doctrine involved.  They reference social philosophy and the theories underlying the development of the American experiment.  They discuss recent collossal abuses and failures of the American banking and business system, including the causes of the current world crisis brought about by the lifting of constraints on greedy and irresponsible corporate banking.

They reconstruct the key legislative factors in an understandable way, pointing out abuses and personalities involved in each step.  They also point out the dangers in government micromanagement and how this was part of the precipitous pendulum swings we have experienced over the last 10-15 years, including the slow recovery from the problem government and banking caused.

I appreciated the clarity they brought to the roles of President Bush and the Congress in the bubble and burst of 2003-2008.  The lines of action and intent are developed well here.  They provide a helpful comparative analysis contrasting the US with the European philosophies and practices related to economics and business.

This book will be helpful to managers, legislatures, pastors and denominational leaders, and anyone who wants to think seriously about the terminology we use and the moral implications for living in a free society.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] Globalization 101
[review] Dealing with Worldview in Business
[review] Ethical Challenges of Intellectual Poverty in Modern America
[review] Rome as a Business Conglomerate: Reflections on History and Modern Business
[review] The Thrilling Challenge of Business and Merger

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First reading notes written 11 December 2011
Review posted on Amazon and Thoughts and Resources 20 December 2011

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2010 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Please give credit and link back.  Other rights reserved.

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