Wallis: It’s Time to Fire Your Bank!

I was glad to see Sojourners‘ Jim Wallis on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night! The Sojo folks coined the phrase “It’s time to fire your bank!” and Stewart seemed to really like the concept!

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I like Wallis’ quip referring to father of capitalism Adam Smith from The Theory of Moral Sentiments and also the economic analysis of excessive capitalism from Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter:

“What happens when ‘the invisible hand’ lets go of the common good? Adam Smith says without a moral framework the market really can’t function properly, and Schumpeter, the Austrian economist, said, ‘When there’s no ethical sensibility, the market ends up devouring every other sector and finally ends up devouring itself.'”

2 thoughts on “Wallis: It’s Time to Fire Your Bank!”

  1. Right you are. Jon must have had him flustered. Wallis does give the right quote in his book and gave a better description of the ideas on Tavis Smily and Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.
    Wallis: “The emperor has no clothes here. The market’s become a golden calf. The market is god. The market’s fine if it stays within a moral framework. Even Adam Smith talked about the invisible hand of the market making things coming out okay. Well, things haven’t come out okay and the invisible hand has let go of the common good and our values. Smith said without a moral framework the market really can’t function properly, and Schumpeter, Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian economist, said, “When there’s no ethical sensibility the market ends up devouring every other sector and finally ends up devouring itself.”–on Tavis Smiley

    Wallis: “At some point you cross a line, and they’ve crossed some lines here. I mean, to go from a ratio of CEO salaries to average workers of 30 to one, which is what it was thirty years ago, to now 615 to one, come on, I mean, we’ve crossed some lines here, and so we have to — Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian economist, said when you’ve got no moral framework for the market, no ethical sensibility, the market devours other sectors and finally devours itself. Gandhi said the seven deadly sins are wealth without work — two of them — and commerce without morality. So we’ve crossed some lines here. How do we come back to some of our most basic, oldest virtues here? And I’m hearing conversations on Wall Street and right in my own hometown of Detroit that say, “We’ve lost our way here, let’s try and find it again.” And I think, yeah, some structural accountability, but also some spiritual transformation at the level of our family life and time with kids and all the rest. That’s what’s coming out of this. I think that could be redemptive.”–on Religion and Ethics Newsweekly

    That’s what we’ve seen. The book says relationships matter between bankers and lendees and people – employers. Social sins will find you out. So Gandhi had two of his deadliest social sins: Wealth without work, commerce without morality. The common good is our own good. The book is trying to say let’s start a national conversation, and I’m feeling a lot of people eager for it.

  2. That’s not what he said though. He didn’t attribute it to Joseph Schumpeter:

    “The ‘invisible hand’ Adam Smith talked about, the market, what do you do when ‘the invisible hand’ lets go of the common good, just lets go of it? Adam Smith in his previous book, ‘The Moral Sentiment,’ said this, he said ‘where there is no moral framework, no ethical sensibility, the market ends up devouring all the other sectors and then devours itself.'”

    Joseph Schumpeter was literally not mentioned. I liked the interview too and I’m glad you gave credit to Schumpeter because I was looking for that actual quote online, but don’t give him credit for the attribution when he failed to give it.

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