Why is it that the same economic forces that produce good things for us like penicillin and housing are just as effective at bringing us things like pornography and heroin? How can the same systems of production generate such a wide array of good and bad outcomes? Markets are morally neutral. But people are not. Markets recognize no moral difference between good and evil. Markets don't inherently recognize any values other than those brought by men and women to the marketplace each and every day. At the core of the market system is a concept of value that says things are worth what I, the individual, say they are worth. We can have a deep respect for the power of markets to efficiently and effectively produce goods and services that increase society's standard of living. But should we uncritically embrace a system that has as its most foundational principle, a concept of value that is so intensely humanistic, egocentric and relativistic? There is a way forward. While it is true that markets have no values, they are wonderful mirrors for reflecting the values that people bring to the marketplace each and every day. If people bring the right values, then markets will produce the right outcomes. People from all walks of life have a shared vision for the economic world in which they want to live. We do know what is right. The task before us is to take what we know and apply these practical principles in daily economic life.
Dr. Bruce Howard joined the faculty of Wheaton College in 1980 and currently serves as professor of Business and Economics. He holds a PhD in economics and a master's of administration in accountancy. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He has also has worked with Tyndale House Publishers since 1980 and currently serves as a member of the board of directors. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Howard worked in the banking and health care industries.