May 14, 2009
Economics and Virtue
Posted by Ronald Colombo

At the risk of engaging in a degree of self-indulgence here, please allow me to share with you an editorial I penned that The Huffington Post was kind enough to publish this week.  Entitled "A Crisis of Character", the editorial touches upon a theme raised in this forum on faith and corporate law: namely, the indispensability of virtue to a well-ordered corporation, economy -- well, just about anything.  The editorial makes the point that law, regulation, and markets are all of limited efficicacy in curbing wrongdoing.  At the end of the day, our companies -- and our society -- will only be good as its people.  Not exactly rocket science, but something that, I feel, has been sorely missing from the debate over our current economic crisis. 

Yes, Justice Holmes was onto something important when he observed that law is largely written for the "bad man".  Indeed, he was basically parrotting Aquinas on this point.  Nevertheless, we may wish to reconsider the role that "sin and structures of sin" can play in making the "bad man" even worse (as per Pope John Paul II observation's).

(An aside:  I very much look forward to Benedict XVI's upcoming encyclical on the economy, which, I expect, will sound these same themes - and then some.)

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