Most Americans vote according to economic considerations and not such social issues as protecting the unborn and marriage. The famous 1992 campaign slogan “It’s the economy, stupid!” still accurately describes most Americans’ voting habits.
However, what most Americans fail to realize is that economic freedom is directly linked to moral obedience. Indeed, economic freedom is impossible without moral obedience because a moral system supports every economic system.
What many people consider to be freedom – license – is in reality moral slavery. The modern conception of moral freedom is unrestrained license, the opportunity to do what one wants without hindrance. However, unrestrained license in society creates a moral vacuum where individuals seek their fulfillment or pleasure without concern for consequences. And this moral vacuum causes societal vices such as reckless spending.
An individual who becomes enslaved to his moral vices often finds it difficult to deny himself anything on an economic level. If a person is unable to control his own spending habits and is addicted to gambling, pornography, or drugs, he will be less able to make prudent decisions regarding his financial welfare.
Individuals’ economic decisions do not occur in a vacuum: One person’s actions affect multiple individuals. If a man considers his gambling or drinking habits more important than providing for his family’s basic needs, then his family will likely be in economic peril. Similarly, if a woman consistently spends her money on frivolous items, her family could face economic ruin.
The same principle holds true in national matters –citizens and politicians who refuse to obey morality will ultimately destroy their country economically. The American culture is consumption-driven, creating an economy where people consume most of their wealth, often on frivolous items. The American savings rate (the percentage of disposable personal income that people save) is shockingly low by historical standards at 3.9%, and has been in near continuous decline since the 1980s.
The refusal of Americans to halt their own reckless consumption is reflected in excessive taxation and spending by their politicians. The American government now faces trillions of dollars in debt because legislators fund countless programs and projects. To pander to their constituents, legislators even fight small budget cuts.
In the long run, only countries grounded in sound moral principles can economically survive and thrive. If America wishes to get back on a sound economic footing, Americans must promote a culture of virtue or, at the very least, discourage a culture of vice.
This post previously appeared on the New Agora.