Is Capitalism Good?

Unless you have had your head in the sand you have no doubt taken note of the debate over capitalism going on in the U.S. Howard Dean, former head of the DNC recently said in a televised interview that "we have had enough of capitalism in the last eight years." Of course, the federal government grew exponentially larger under President Bush than it did under his Democratic predecessor. The United States is by no means an example of pristine capitalism. There seems to be on the horizon some developing issues that may diminish capitalism in the U.S. to an even greater degree.

So, the goodness or badness of capitalism is a timely question for us.

Justin Taylor has posted on a newly released book which advances the notion that capitalism is a positive good.

For some time now I've been looking forward to the publication of Jay Richards's book, Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem, which has just been published by HarperOne.

Dr. Richards (M.Div.; Union Theological Seminary in Virginia; Th.M.; Calvin Theological Seminary; Ph.D. in philosophy and theology, Princeton Theological Seminary) is a clear writer and a sharp thinker. (His expertise is wide-ranging; a previous book, published by IVP, was a philosophical defense of classical theism; another one was a co-authored defense of intelligent design.)Here are a couple of blurbs for this new book:

"In Money, Greed, and God, Jay Richards has written the definitive case for capitalism, a crisply written and incisive discourse on wealth and poverty, money and morality for the 21st Century."
--George Gilder, co-founder of the Discovery Institute and author of Wealth and

"Jay Richards understands the objections to capitalism, and here explains why they do not convince him. The empirical findings revealed in Money, Greed, and God run against those objections."
--Michael Novak, Chair in Religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute, author of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
The outline of Dr. Richard's book is based on a series of popular myths:

1. Can't We Build a Just Society? Myth no. 1: The Nirvana Myth (contrasting capitalism with an unrealizable ideal rather than with its live alternatives)

2. What Would Jesus Do? Myth no. 2: The Piety Myth (focusing on our good intentions rather than the unintended consequences of our actions)

3. Doesn't Capitalism Foster Unfair Competition? Myth no. 3: The Zero-sum Game Myth (believing that trade requires a winner and a loser)

4. If I Become Rich, Won't Someone Else Become Poor? Myth no. 3: The Materialist Myth (believing that intellect cannot create new wealth)

5. Isn't Capitalism Based on Greed? Myth no. 4: The Greed Myth (believing that the essence of capitalism is greed)

6. Hasn't Christianity Always Opposed Capitalism? Myth no. 5: The Usury Myth (believing that charging interest on money is always exploitive)

7. Doesn't Capitalism Always Lead to an Ugly Consumerist Culture? Myth no. 7: The Artsy Myth (confusing aesthetic judgments with economic arguments)

8. Are We Going to Use Up All the Resources? Myth no. 8: The Freeze Frame Myth (believing that things always stay the same—for example, assuming population trends will continue indefinitely or treating “rich” and “poor” as static categories)

Conclusion: Working All Things Together for Good

Appendix: Is the "Spontaneous Order" of the Market Evidence of a Universe without Purpose?

Taylor also links to an audio lecture by Dr. Richards (Don’t Just Care – Think: Myths Christians Believe About Wealth and Poverty.) and the following video: