Here is my latest entry for Our Daily Journey. It’s a thought that occurred to me, perhaps by the Spirit of God, as I attended Acton last week.
read > Matthew 12:22-37
“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad” (v. 33).
Despite the recent economic meltdown, most people would agree that free markets have improved the lives of billions of people. We live longer and wealthier than anyone ever has, in large part because free markets incentivize us to create products that other people want to buy. Entrepreneurs who knew that they would profit from their efforts invented vaccines, computers, microwaves, and indoor plumbing.
However, free markets are not an unqualified good. They are simply the most efficient way to provide consumers what they want. What markets can’t do is tell us what we should want. If consumers want relief from the heat of summer, markets will connect them with the sellers of air conditioners. If consumers want to get rich quick through games of chance, markets will supply them with casinos.
In short, markets amplify whatever we are. If you want to know who you are, look at what you buy, for what you buy is yourself writ large. What is on your ipod, credit card statement, or television schedule? The fruit you find there indicates what kind of tree you are.
Markets also amplify by enlarging our effect on others. A medieval materialist would horde his gold and that would be the end of it. But now, through the amplifying power of markets, a materialist who buys a behemoth home supports an entire industry that builds McMansions, and an immoral person who clicks on pornography encourages sellers to make more of it.
Every purchase is a vote for the product we buy. Every movie we see or book we read signals the market to make more of that. If we choose coarse, banal, or risqué entertainment, our culture will flood the market with more of the same.
No man is an island. That has never been truer than now.—Mike Wittmer
more > Read Luke 12:13-21 to see how our choices amplify ourselves and Romans 14:13-15:4 to see how our choices may help or hurt others.
next > How might a “buycott” be better than a “boycott”? Rather than draw attention to offensive items by noisily avoiding them, what if we banded together to publicly support the good stuff?