posted on 29 October 2015
by Rodger Malcolm Mitchell, www.nofica.com
What is the relationship between morality and economics? A few thoughts on the subject.
What is morality? How did it evolve? Is it strictly a human function or do animals have moral codes?
Merriam-Webster says morality is:
These definitions beg the questions, "'Right' and 'wrong' for what purpose?" "'Good" or 'bad' by what standard?"
Think about your answers these questions:
Here is my proposed definition of morality: Any act that provides an evolutionary advantage for the survival of a species is moral.
Or said another way, a moral code is developed as the means to provide a species survival advantage.
In that sense, all social animals, from ants to humans, have created and follow rules, which together constitute their moral code.
Some rules are hardwired into each member's genes, and some are optional for any individual member. But those, who choose to disobey the rules, are frowned upon and often are punished by the majority members of the species. Such people are felt to be immoral. Their actions threaten species survival.
Judeo-Christian religions have created the "Ten Commandments," the first four or five of which (depending on the religion) support the religion, while the other Commandments (protect parents and prohibit murder, adultery, stealing, lying and covetousness) are to strengthen the society.
Other religions have codes of conduct, listing different actions as immoral, as do every nonsectarian group, all for the same purpose: To strengthen the group.
Certain acts may be perceived to provide individual, personal advantages. But if these advantages harm the evolutionary interests of the species, they will be seen as immoral; laws will be passed to prevent them; and the perpetrators often will be punished.
Evolutionary advantage is the basis for our legal code, though many laws are created by immoral or ignorant people; these are the laws that damage the evolutionary interests of our species.
Laws that prohibited African Americans from full participation in society were immoral, not only because they were unfair, but because they were antithetical to species survival.
Consider prejudice: Unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, regarding any group. Blanket hatred of blacks, yellows, browns, reds, Jews, Muslims, Christians, aliens or women all can be considered unreasonable - and all are immoral because they damage the evolutionary interests of our species. They make our species less safe.
As a species, our most powerful evolutionary feature is our intelligence. Evolution provided human females and males with equal intelligence. Thus the Muslim world's suppression of women deprived it of half their population's brain power, and no doubt is a reason for the dearth of recent scientific contributions by Muslim nations.
Russia's, Germany's and much of Europe's loss of Jews to Israel and America damaged economic growth in those nations. The killing and ongoing suppression of Jews cost our entire species.
One cannot even begin to measure the economic cost of America's bigotry aimed at people of color. Consider what we must have lost economically, because thousands of potential George Washington Carvers, Neil deGrasse Tysons, and James Wests never received the education necessary to fulfill their latent talents.
Deporting undocumented aliens, only because they did not jump through the Byzantine hoops demanded by immigration law, deprives us of the species survival assets these people would have brought.
Religion did not create morality; morality created religion. Religion persists despite providing no scientific truths, but rather because it is a powerful social builder and enforcer of moral rules.
Sadly, religion also tends to foster prejudices. Religion is like Longfellow's Jemima: "And when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid."
We tolerate the prejudices of religion, because its social building and moral enforcement is so beneficial to the survival our species. That is the fundamental purpose of religion.
Similarly, the fundamental purpose of economics is to identify and to advance the means for our species' survival. That indeed, is the purpose of all sciences, and it provides the connection between religion and science: The same purpose with a different means.
Science misused can be as damaging as religion misused. Bigotry is religion misused. Austerity is economics misused. Any political group that endorses bigotry and/or austerity damages the evolutionary survival of the human species.
That's what I think.
THE RECESSION CLOCK
Recessions come after the blue line drops below zero.
Vertical gray bars mark recessions.
As the federal deficit growth lines drop, we approach recession, which will be cured only when the growth lines rise. Increasing federal deficit growth (aka "stimulus") is necessary for long-term economic growth.
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