A lesson in economics for the ABC

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, recently gave a speech on economics at Trinity Episcopal Church on Wall Street. He denounced materialism, but one of his respondents, Susan Lee, a former New York Times and Wall Street Journal editor, warned against clergy who ignore the moral need for wealth creation.

“Perhaps the biggest gap comes in assumptions, most importantly how theologians use economics like a Chinese menu; they like to pick and choose,” Lee said. “When they look at capitalism, theologians often assume there can be profits without private property, work without incentives, enterprise without income inequality, investment without market rates of return. Or to get real specific, theologians assume that you can have the invention of medical marvels like pacemakers without the development of unnecessary consumer products like 37 brands of breakfast cereal.”

Jeff Walton’s report of Williams and Lee is here. Lee’s remarks are found in the second half of Walton’s article.