Focus on the Economy

Article excerpt

TO rebuild our nation, we do need to internalize and as a community ensure our adherence to these basic principles regarding the economy:

1. Men and women are the primary productive factor in any economy. It is mainly and principally their work upon materials and resources drawn from nature that gives economic value and produces the goods and services in the economy. And it is truer today than ever that in the world we should be able, with the proper orientation and under proper arrangements, to find the materials and resources necessary for the sustenance and development of all.

2. Our work expresses our whole personality and bears its full imprint. We bring into it all the values and virtues we have, including the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that we have acquired and keep on acquiring. The fruit and product of our work thus becomes our very own: We own it and we should enjoy it for the satisfaction of our manifold needs as well as for our further personal development.

3. At work, invariably others are involved. We work with them. In virtually all instances, we work for them. Thus, the very process by which we add value and contribute to the production of goods or the provision of services is distinctively social. The fruit and product of our work, therefore, also has a social dimension: It also has to be for the benefit of others.

4. The individual and social dimension of work in the economy should always be jointly considered. We cannot over-stress individualism, highlighting only the individual aspect. Nor can we over-stress collectivism, highlighting only the social aspect. A proper balance has to be struck, one where individual efficiency and productivity is maximized and at the same time where the general welfare and social responsibility are given due consideration.

5. Markets that are free and open, through the force of competition, can stimulate entrepreneurship and boost efficiency and productivity. Open movement of goods and services, financial and human resources, even across borders in an increasingly global economy, can bring in the economic tide that lifts all boats and creates many more opportunities for increased income, wealth, and welfare for everyone.

6. Markets, however, have to be made to operate within an institutional regime that ensures the care for the human and social dimension. Public authority must set up such an institutional regime to guarantee that appropriate standards of fairness and justice, transparency and ethics, accountability and social responsibility are observed in all aspects and facets of the economic process. It is the duty of public authorities to regulate this process so that the human infrastructure for markets is properly taken care of. This includes the provision of all social services for individuals in need of special assistance that markets often cannot provide. …