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Jim Wallis and Arthur Brooks Debate Moral Economy

On October 13, 2011, Arthur Brooks of AEI and Jim Wallis of Sojourners spoke at the Christian Community Development Association Conference in Indianapolis. Kristin Rudolph of the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD) describes the event:
“God doesn’t mind prosperity as long as it is shared,” said Jim Wallis, president of the liberal Christian activist group, Sojourners, while debating Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. Wallis and Brooks debated each other at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) conference in Indianapolis on October 13, 2011. Wallis argued that “reducing the deficit is a moral issue,” and the government must protect “the safety nets of the poor” because “God doesn’t judge nations by their GNP, by their military fire power, or how much their popular culture is the envy of the world. God says I will judge you by how you treat the most vulnerable in your midst.” Wallis said the debate over the economy is not a “debate,” but a “dialogue … about an economy that has become unfair, unsustainable, unstable, and is making many people unhappy.” Brooks agreed that many Americans are unhappy, and there is a serious problem with the economy. But he responded, “I don’t think the debates we’re having are really getting at what we’re trying to get at” because “we’re having materialistic conversations about moral matters.” The debate is off because “money doesn’t make you happy and the pursuit only of money will make all of us worse off,” Brooks explained. “So what do we seek, if it’s not money? It’s called earned success,” he said, which is “the belief that you have created value in your life or value in the life of other people.” Brooks said “it is our moral calling to look for better ways to allow more people to avail themselves of a system in which they can earn their success.”
Read the entire article here. Arthur Brooks and Jim Wallis will continue the Values & Capitalism debate series, “Is Capitalism Moral?” this fall.