Sunday, August 15, 2010

Feel the Global Love

This is to continue on my discussion that, as Milton Friedman once forcefully argued, the marketplace is an institution that serves to break down tribal and kinship boundaries. Consider my Dad. Before he turned 20, he had been assigned to the U.S.S. Leutze, served in the South Pacific, been blown off of the ship into the ocean by the explosion of a Japanese kamikaze, seen his shipmates die, and witnessed the liberation of a Japanese military concentration camp for Korean women forced into sex slavery. If you want a visual of some of this, consider the picture at the top of the post. This is the U.S.S. Leutze just after the Kamikaze attack. If I understand what Dad told me correctly, he was manning the guns at the left foreground. He believes that he was the closest sailor to the explosion who wasn't killed. (Parenthetically, how awesome is it that I can type in "Leutze kamikaze attack" on Google Images and in a fraction of a second find this picture, which I don't know if my father ever saw.)

If anyone could have a rational reason not to forgive people of another group, it would be my Dad and the Japanese. Whether he forgave Tojo, or the commander of the Kamikaze force, or the pilot of this plane, I will never know. But I do know that by the time I was old enough to understand, he didn't carry any grudge for the modern Japanese people. He admired their technology, their ingenuity, and the quality of their manufacturing. When he was searching Consumer Reports for the best buy on a TV or a DVD palyer, he never said "Oh, that's a Toshiba or a Sony, I don't want something made by the Japanese in my house." I don't know how Dad would have reacted if someone had given him a piece of paper that said "I forgive the Japanese and I am donating $200 to help them rebuild their economy." But he did essentially that every time he bought a Japanese camera or DVD player. And, those Japanese electronics items eventually represented some kind of reconciliation between the Japanese and their former victims in Singapore, Malaysia, etc..

[Even if Dad had felt that he wanted to stop at the Japanese economic boundary, the market would have made it difficult for him to engage in those preferences. If you don't like, for example, the French, how do you know what French-made items are in your car or computer or in the jet that flies you to Atlanta or San Diego?]

I don't believe that the market is a sacred institution. But I believe that objectively it has properties that I have been discussing. I think that it's important to state this kind of opinion, particularly when there seems to be a strong tendency in Christian circles to bash the market. I know that some people believe that in doing so they are prophetically "speaking truth to power." But who really knows at any one time which prophets are right and wrong. In Israel and Judah, the prophets we read in the Bible weren't speaking to a land with no other prophets; they were speaking to a land in which there were a lot of prophets. Some of them were just off base, even if what they were saying was very comfortable to the religious leaders of the time.

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