Like many writers who are both Christian and politically conservative, Tom Rose asserts that America was founded on Christian principles, and that these principles provided a foundation and framework for libertarian economic ideals. Free Enterprise Economics in America is his defense of the free market as the economic system most consistent with biblical ideals of liberty and personal freedom.
The free market, according to Rose (and most of its defenders, for that matter), is predicated on personal choice. People choose what they want to buy, what they want to produce, where they want to work, etc. Personal property ensures personal responsibility, and the delegation and distribution of goods is based on this common responsibility, which in turn provides the basis for exchange.
Rose identifies competition as the primary built-in regulator of a free market. Producers looking to out-sell their opponents will lower prices, while two interestedconsumers bidding against each other for the same goods will drive prices up. This modulation is to be encouraged as fluctuation necessarily hinges on a common mean, and prices remain (for the most part) fair.
Consumer sovereignty means that producers are kept in line by the needs and demands of those for whom they produce. According to Rose this is the other great regulator of a free market (a market unregulated by the government), and one that works hand-in-hand with the great motivator, profit. Profit is the incentive for which people work hard, produce efficiently, and spend freely.
Freedom is at the heart of all Rose's arguments. His belief that the Bible sanctions individual human freedom as an inalienable right prompts him to understand free market economics as the only appropriate economic system from a Christian perspective. While he may or may not be right, he does misinterpret some verses to support his position ("where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" in II Cor. 3:17 is not a defense of personal political or economic liberty).
This is a good defense of free market economics from a position growing in popularity. In some ways it seems quite compelling; in others, it leaves big questions unanswered. (Like, how will the free market discourage monopolies? is unmitigated growth desirable? should we be concernedby the acquisitive nature of the capitalist system?) Wherever your own convictions lead you, if you're a Christian trying to understand what your relationship to business and the economy should be, this book will add an interesting element toyour investigations.
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