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Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy Hardcover – May 22, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


''Defending the Free Market addresses the morality of entrepreneurship from the point of view of a sophisticated economist who is also an inspiring theologian, leading us on a journey to the free and virtuous society, animated by human creativity in the image of the Creator.'' --George Gilder, New York Times bestselling author of Wealth and Poverty

''I've been doing financial counseling and education for over two decades, and one thing that has always stood out to me is how much money is connected to every part of our lives, from relationships to politics to ministry. Money is never just about money; it's always just part of the issue. That's why I appreciate Father Robert Sirico's ministry. Sure, he talks about money, but he also shows how all of these different aspects of our lives interact with and impact each other.'' --Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio show host

''I've been eagerly anticipating such a book from Father Sirico for a long time. The man has delivered magnificently. Defending the Free Market does more than the title suggests. It celebrates the miracle of freedom and points a lost generation back to the free and virtuous society.'' --Lawrence Kudlow, anchor of CNBC's The Kudlow Report

''Father Robert Sirico is a voice who must be heard. Defending the Free Market provides a solidly Christian perspective on capitalism and free markets--and makes the compelling case that we cannot possibly understand economics and how markets function without understanding the true nature of man.'' --Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship(R) and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview

''Every American concerned about our economy and the erosion of individual liberty should read Father Sirico's insightful and well-reasoned book. As he makes crystal clear, our prosperity will continue to be provided not by government but through the proven power of the economic and personal freedoms we enjoy within American free enterprise.'' --Rich DeVos, cofounder of Amway and chairman of the Orlando Magic --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Inside Flap

Is There a Moral Case for Capitalism?

Socialism has been discredited. The totalitarian states of the twentieth century have collapsed. And we beneficiaries of the globalized world economy are grateful that we enjoy plentiful food, clothing, shelter—and cheap electronics.

But can any moral person really be for capitalism?

Consumerism is an appalling spectacle, with Americans glutting themselves on all kinds of excess, while people in the developing world starve. The rich seem to be hogging far more than their share of the world’s resources. Free markets may be efficient, but are they fair? Aren’t there some things—life-saving health care, for example—that we can’t afford to leave to the vicissitudes of the market?

Now, in Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, Father Robert Sirico—a Catholic priest, former leftist associate of Jane Fonda, and now a longtime champion of the free market—answers all these objections. Father Sirico shows how a free economy—necessarily including private property, legally enforceable contracts, and prices and interest rates freely agreed to by willing parties to transactions (not set by government bureaucrats)—is the best way to meet society’s material needs, from basic nutrition to sophisticated health care technology. Well-intentioned activists who seek to enlarge the state’s economic role are only killing the goose that laid the golden egg. The fact is, private enterprise in the free market has lifted millions out of dire poverty—far more people than state welfare or private charity have ever rescued from want.

But a free economy isn’t just by far the most efficient way of producing the largest amount of goods and services for the world’s population. Economic freedom is also an indispensable support to the other freedoms we prize—such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The right to economic freedom doesn’t make things more important than people—just the reverse. It’s only if we have economic rights that we can effectively protect ourselves from government encroachment into the most private areas of our lives—right down to our consciences.

As governments across the globe continue to act with unprecedented irresponsibility—burdening the creators of wealth with ever more regulation and borrowing colossal sums of money just as populations are set to decline precipitately—our prosperity, our economic freedom, and our most basic rights are threatened. The comfortable lifestyles and plentiful goods we take for granted are at risk. But so is the liberty whose source is found in our inherent dignity as human beings, endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. Father Sirico sounds a timely warning—and reveals the principles that must be the basis for the recovery of our freedoms.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596983256
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596983250
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rev. Robert A. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America, following undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London. During his studies and early ministry, he experienced a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today's social problems. As a result of these concerns, Fr. Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute with Kris Alan Mauren in 1990.

In April of 1999, Fr. Sirico was awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian Ethics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and in May of 2001, Universidad Francisco Marroquin awarded him an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences. He is a member of the prestigious Mont Pèlerin Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Philadelphia Society, and is on the Board of Advisors of the Civic Institute in Prague. Father Sirico also served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1994 to 1998. He is also currently serving on the pastoral staff of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Fr. Sirico's pastoral ministry has included a chaplaincy to AIDS patients at the National Institutes of Health and the recent founding of a new community, St. Philip Neri House in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Books he has written:

* Catholicism's Developing Social Teaching (Acton Institute, 1993)
* Moral Basis for Liberty (Foundation for Economic Education, 1996)
* Il personalismo economico e la società libera (Italian language edition)
* Capitalism, Morality and Markets (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2001)
* The Entrepreneurial Vocation (Acton Institute, 2001)
* The Soul of Liberty (Acton Institute, 2002)
* Defending the Free Market (Regnery, 2012)

Books he has co-authored:

*Skepticism, Faith, and Freedom (Acton Institute, 2007)
*A Field Guide for the Hero's Journey (Acton Institute, 2012)

Books he has edited:

* The Social Agenda: A Collection of Magisterial Texts (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2000)

Find out more:
Official Blog:
Acton Institute profile:
PovertyCure voice:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Sandie Eggers, author of Embrace Each Day With Joy on May 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Q: What do you get when you combine The City of God by St. Augustine, Economics in One Lesson: 50th Anniversary Edition by Henry Hazlitt and a neighborly chat across the fence?
A: Defending the Free Market by Father Robert Sirico

Through the erudite yet warm and understandable prose of Fr. Sirico's masterful work, Defending the Free Market, the reader is led to a better understanding of both the theoretical underpinnings and practical, contemporary application of economics and the free market. All of this is enveloped with the highest truths of God's vibrant and ongoing creative work and man's right relationship with his Creator. For anyone who desires a free and virtuous society, an end to poverty, and the expansion of human flourishing, Defending the Free Market is a must read. As a Christ-follower, entrepreneur, and free market patriot, I highly recommend this work. --Sandra(Sandie) Eggers, author, speaker, and Christian life coach.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Matt Zainea on May 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Fr. Robert Sirico has put to paper a winsome, warm, deeply cogent, and powerfully theological analysis of free markets and their power to enliven the human spirit.

The warmth of his book is seen in the telling of his own journey through the ideas of economics, compassion, and human flourishing. His personal stories are brief but reveal an understanding of how many people, including himself in early adulthood, wander into broken social ideals with altruistic intentions. By handling this personally he side steps mudslinging, over generalizations, and demeaning caricatures and instead offers an invitation to his opponents to think deeper about their causes and commitments. It is a book any Christ follower who is serious about living out a biblical worldview should read. It is also an excellent book to buy if you or a friend of yours disagrees with free markets but are open to respectful dialogue about the subject. A sceptic of free markets can read this without feeling attacked or demeaned.

The demeanor that Fr. Sirico adopts throughout the book is definitely a strength of his writing, however, the true power of the book is his ability to root his argument in foundational ideas. He anchors his argument for the primacy of free markets not in end results such as wealth creation, jobs, and human flourishing, though he will get to these. Instead he rightly roots his argument in the intrinsic dignity of the human person. Anthropology is at the root of most of our political and social disagreements. If biblical anthropology is correct then the uniqueness and the dignity of the individual will thrive when free to move virtuously in the marketplace with their labor, savings and expenditures.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By ar on May 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Defending the Free Market" author Father Robert Sirico brings a fresh and unique perspective for the essential ingredients needed in building a prosperous economy. As an economist and theologian he presents a convincing case for the critically important interrelationship between free enterprise, entrepreneurial creativity and virtuous and moral business leadership. Together these attributes will ensure a society where human freedoms, liberties and dignity prevail.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Fr Gregory on May 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Roman Catholic priest and founder of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, Fr Robert Sirico has done his readers a great service in laying out the moral foundations of the free market. Whether the reader agrees with him or not (and I do agree with him), his new book Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy helps clarify why the free market is not simply a useful thing but a morally good thing. This is, as he points out at the beginning of the book, a daring argument to make.

Daring though the argument is, especially for a Catholic priest, it is also one that is essential. For too many people (including business people), free market economic theory and policies are little more than a justification for greed. While not denying the excesses of capitalism and real sins of capitalists, Fr Sirico wisely doesn't allow sin to have the final word. Rather, and like St Augustine who inspired his own spiritual journey, he helps his reader see the goodness hidden beneath the distorting effects of moral failure.

Though irenic in tone, Sirico is unwilling to cede ground to those who imagine--wrongly in his view--that "socialism, liberalism, collectivism, and central planning" (p. 185) are morally superior and more effective in generating wealth. They aren't and however noble the intention they are come up morally and practically short because they neither anthropological sound nor effective in caring for the material needs of the human person. The latter is especially the case when we turn to the needs of the most vulnerable among us. It is the free market that best fits the truth of the human person.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By David Bahnsen on June 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Father Robert Sirico does not count as any ordinary Priest ... He is truly a remarkable man of God, evidenced by his care for his parish over many years, and visible in his demeanor, warmth, spirit, and character. I am blessed to call him a friend, and equally blessed to have him as a spiritual and intellectual influence in my life. When I found out that he was doing an easy-to-read apologetic for the free market through Regnery, I knew that he would be successful at popularizing the message of the free and virtuous society. I had no idea how successful he would be.

His new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, is a perfect complement to the work that Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute has been doing as of late. Essentially, an impressive group of faith-oriented free market intellectuals are taking to the streets pleasing with those of us who believe in the superiority of capitalism to quit trying to make our case on utilitarian grounds, and rather to make the case for the moral superiority of an economics of freedom and responsibility. Sirico accomplishes this and then some with this 200-page little gem, and he uses his own personal testimony to tell the story. Father Sirico is a product of the 1960's left, and his conversion out of the radical socialism of the 1960's brought with it a conversion back to the faith of his childhood. Readers will be captivated by the manner in which these various moving parts are juxtaposed in Father Sirico's journey. At the end of the day, not only did God receive back a wayward son, and not only did Father Sirico find his calling in life, but all of us now are the beneficiaries of his journey, both in his testimony and in his message.
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