Wednesday, October 08, 2003

My recent efforts to find shoes reminds me of a commonplace, but one worth recalling once in a while. Things are worthwhile in themselves only to the extent that they help and do not hinder our Salvation. Thus, wine, for instance, is a good thing insofar as the pleasure it gives increases the joy in our lives, and bad insofar as it becomes not a means to joy, but an end itself.

So it is with free trade. To the extent globalization and free trade improves the lives of people on each end of a transaction, it should be welcomed. To the extent it facilitates the exploitation of people at either end, it should be condemned. It has no moral worth in and of itself, but many conservatives and conservative Catholics seem to hold it is an article of literal faith (often more strongly than they hold things like the Immaculate Conception) that free trade is always and everywhere Good. Our shopping habits can have as much to do with Salvation as our sexual ones, but few people pause to ponder them.


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