THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The Framework of Economic Justice: Free and Open Markets

Today’s blog posting is adapted from the book, Economic Personalism, which you can get free from the CESJ website, or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Not too long ago a book came out purporting to instruct people on how to development and implement a truly free market.  Since this posting is not a book review (and we don’t want to give the author of the tome more credit — or blame — than he, she, and, or, it has already garnered) we will refrain from saying any more than the author’s idea of a truly free market sounded a lot like some of the more restrictive forms of socialism.

Not our idea of a free market.


Evidently, in common with many people, the author believed that to be truly free, you must do exactly what he, she, and, or, it tells you to do or you are not truly free . . . come again?

Anyway, what do we mean by “free and open markets” in the Just Third Way of Economic Personalism?

In personalism, a limited economic role for the State means that everyone, rather than a private sector or State élite, exercises economic power. That in turn necessarily implies free and open markets. Within an understandable and fair system of laws, the free market is the most objective and democratic means for determining just prices, just wages and just profits (the residual after all goods or services are sold). As Leo XIII said,

Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man. (Rerum Novarum, § 45.)

The history of civilization demonstrates the consequences to society when the market is restricted and controlled by a few. Eventually, those who control the market for goods and services control the marketplace of ideas. Economic freedom and intellectual honesty seem to be inseparable.

"Well, you could try my way . . ."


A free and open market is one in which economic value judgments and choices are made by many people, not just a few. The greater the number of people who vote with their own economic power, the more objective and democratic the results.

Where only a few have the power to determine prices, wages and profits, their judgments are necessarily more subjective and arbitrary. When the State, the capitalist, or even the labor union can dictate wages, prices and profits, the result is a tyranny over the marketplace, and — eventually — control over people’s subsistence.

Establishing a free, open, and non-monopolistic and open market would be accomplished by implementing the following reforms:

·       Gradually eliminating all special privileges and monopolies created by the State,

·       Reducing all subsidies except for the neediest members of society,

·       Removing barriers to free trade and free labor, and

·       Ending all State-controlled or collectivist methods of determining prices, wages, and profits.

Norman G. Kurland


Naturally, there is more to it than these four pillars, and these — while they do require State action to implement — are geared toward reducing the economic role of the State.  We’re not allowed, as the late Dr. Milton Friedman remarked in a letter to Dr. Norman Kurland, president of the interfaith Center for Economic and Social Justice, just to sit back and let it happen “naturally.”

No, Dr. Friedman, it won’t just happen, because right now the State controls the economy in virtually every country, and it isn’t going to let it happen, because it isn’t going to allow anything that threatens its power (or that it thinks is going to threaten its power) get away with “just letting it happen.”  It requires acts of social justice . . . that is, if you want to do it peacefully.  If you want a bloody revolution, then just follow Dr. Friedman’s prescription . . . and wait for the collapse.