American Monetary Association Show Welcomes John Stapleford for Discussion of Christian Principles in Economics

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The popular author joins the AMA podcast to discuss how Christian ethics and the traditional economic thought of Adam Smith still applies to today’s economy

American Monetary Association

John Stapleford, author of “Bulls, Bears and Golden Calves: Applying Christian Ethics in Economics” sat down for an interview with the American Monetary Association during its 31st podcast. The former senior economist for Moody’s and directory of the Center for Economic Policy and Analysis at the Caesar Rodney institute discussed his book, which centers on how Christian principles drive a free market economy to success.

“How do you use self-interested behavior and use it to make people pursue a greater good?,” asked Stapleford, summarizing the thesis of his book. His theory of economics mirrors that of Adam Smith, which assumed that the majority of people act out of self-interest. Stapleford listed three principles that help drive self-interested people to work for the greater good: competition, a judiciary system that enforces contracts and property rights that encourage stewardship.

One component must drive the economy to success: moral principles. “You have to have some degree of moral consensus,” said Stapleford. “ The court system can’t just do it all. Competition can’t do it all. If people don’t agree that child pornography isn’t a good thing, you’re going to destroy your society. If you don’t have some moral consensus, transaction costs go sky high even though courts enforce the contract. Nobody’s gonna trust anybody, and it’s very difficult for an economy to function—especially a market economy.”

With that principle, Stapleford asked the question, “Is our free market more viable in the context of Judeo-Christian ethics?” Stapleford feels that all people essentially have a conscience. Therefore, society is predisposed toward basic moral principles. “The Judeo-Christian position is that God’s laws have been revealed to everyone,” Stapleford added. Biblical law assumes that all people essentially have a conscience, a sense of right and wrong.

He said that the Internet has turned into a fascinating, knee-jerk enforcer of moral law. “In developing countries where you have a better flow of information—television, the internet, more cell phones, etc.—there’s less corruption,” explained Stapleford. “Once somebody can find out that you can be corrupt, you’ll have less corruption. People leave the coast of India, go out on their wooden boats and catch fish. They used to come back into the fish market and they would take whatever price they were offered. Now, they catch their fish, get on their cell phones and they call four or five fish markets to get the best price.”

In developing countries where the flow of communication is limited, however, corruption is rampant and the people are unhappy. “In a country like Venezuela,” Stapleford continued, “where power is so centralized and resources are allocated on a basis of who Hugo Chavez likes, the economy breaks down. Venezuela has the worst economy in Latin America. They’re actually starting to approach the African economies when it comes to standard of living.”

About American Monetary Association
The American Monetary Association is a non-profit venture funded by The Jason Hartman Foundation which is dedicated to educating people about the practical effects of monetary policy and government actions on inflation, deflation and freedom. Our goal is to help people prosper in the midst of uncertain economic times. For information, visit American Monetary Association online.


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Nicole Thome