Opinion

Mix morals with public policy

O

n April 1, President Barack Obama announced that 7.1 million people had signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This exceeded the goal set by the White House and quashed the low expectations many had about the law’s success.

Still, controversy remains. Particularly, economic arguments for and against the ACA are still being traded back and forth. Crunching the numbers of healthcare is important to see if the law is effective, but at the heart of this and many other economic issues lies a deeper moral issue.

The term “moral economy” means, quite simply, an economy based on justice and fairness. This sounds like a utopian vision, but the term helps remind us of a simple fact: the economy is made up of living, breathing people that are affected in fundamental ways by economic policy.

Economic issues are inextricably bound to the personal well-being of individuals, and that is why the moral economy should be incorporated as a framework for evaluating policy decisions.

The idea of moral economics has been espoused by philosophers, theologians and activists, and has become a standard talking point for many politicians. This can be seen everywhere from Pope Francis’ remarks on economic fairness to the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina.

The ACA is a good example of legislation that contributes to a moral economy. For example, one of its major provisions is that insurers cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. This of course has economic effects that disrupt many insurance companies’ traditional business model. However, I think most people would agree that if it is possible to get a suffering person medical care, then there is some sort of moral imperative to do so.

Economic utility is a useful heuristic for making decisions, but it can sometimes ignore the moral justness of a decision. Politicians should, therefore, combine both frameworks when making decisions for our country.

One of the best parts of the moral economy framework is that economic utility and moral justness are not necessarily opposed. In fact, increasing the well-being of individuals will usually increase their economic output, which in turn ripples throughout the economy.

 

Joshua Myers is a freshman majoring in philosophy.

 
April 13, 2014

Reporters

Joshua Myers


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Miami Hurricanes started the season No. 8 nationally in both major polls. Now, they’re nowhere t ...

With a bye week on the horizon, the meager University of Miami offense has nearly two weeks to attem ...

As bleak as it seems now for the University of Miami, the Canes can still take a repeat trip to Char ...

A half dozen takeaways from UM’s demoralizing 16-13 loss at Virginia on Saturday: ▪ As was the case ...

So, who’s the quarterback now? The No. 16 Miami Hurricanes came to Charlottesville on Saturday with ...

Home Truth, the story of Jessica Lenahan’s pursuit of more effective domestic violence laws, screene ...

Members of the UM community who want to donate to relief efforts for those impacted by Hurricanes Mi ...

The University of Miami’s Model UN is working to expand its membership and reputation with its first ...

During a keynote address at a conference in Los Angeles, entrepreneurial heavyweight Magic Leap anno ...

A colorless, odorless gas used by a UM scientist to study ocean currents helps save his vision. ...

The Miami Hurricanes volleyball team improved to 10-5, 6-2 in the ACC, with a 3-0 sweep of Boston Co ...

The Miami women's tennis team closed the Bedford Cup with a perfect day, winning each match in ...

Playing in front of a boisterous home crowd, the University of Miami soccer team earned a, 1-1, draw ...

The Hurricanes fell in their ACC road opener to the Virginia Cavaliers. ...

The Canes have won five straight games and are 2-0 in the ACC, but they know they have a tough road ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.