Rick Santorum: The Free Market and Morality

The former Pennsylvania senator answers the Big Question, "Does the free market corrode moral character?"
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Rick Santorum: What you’re seeing now is because we have seen a breakdown of trust in the system, the free market system isn’t working. It isn’t working because people no longer trust that what company say is going on within their company is actually real. And when that happens, people don’t lend money to them, people don’t, you know, do business with them, people don’t trust that the relationships that they have established are going to be fulfilled in a way that the people who are [asserting], you know, will.

I think instead of making the point that the free market system doesn’t promote moral character by seeing all these scandals and seeing the breakdown of the free market system, what you’re seeing is that the reason for the breakdown is because people have, in fact, abused that trust. That is not to say that everybody involved in the free market system is going to be an honorable actor is going to be moral. But what it shows us is that if they aren’t now indeed they fail and [do they] not succeed but the system fails.

And so the lesson learned, in my opinion, out of this whole scandal is that businesses and our society needs to focus a lot more on these basic principles of honesty and integrity and trust to make sure that the free market system continues to work well for America.

 

Rick Santorum: Yeah, it’s a great hope. I’ll never forget after the events of 9/11, one of the things President [George W.] Bush said, “[We’ve got to] spend money.” Here we are at the time we’re being attacked and I criticized him at the time for saying that. But is that what really this is about? Is it just the most important? Yes. We want to keep our economy going and certainly that was the president’s point. But it was also a time that we have to look at sacrifice and service and we’re engaged in a struggle here, and the struggle in this case was the war.

The struggle now we’re dealing with is trying to right the economy. But there’s a larger struggle here and that’s every person’s individual struggle with who were they and what are they going to be and how do they fit in to this picture. And, I think, we need leaders who are frank with folks, that life is about struggle. We’ve sort of lost the virtue of struggle.

If you look back in your own life or you look back in the history of our country collectively, the times where America has been at its finest and where individuals are in its finest is, in fact, during those very difficult times. That’s when you build character. That’s when you find out the [middle] of the people and what this country really is all about. It’s not in the good times. The good times can tend to be the most immoral times and can be the most decadent times, and times we look back and sort of blush a little bit, “Geez, you know, that was…” It was certainly the time of excess.

 

Rick Santorum: What I would say is that our founders in our founding document have a phrase which hopefully most Americans know that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” and we can go, “all men were created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

That’s a phrase that I was taught when I was a young kid. I don’t know how often it is taught in the schools today. I would hope it would be taught and it would be dissected and understood. But the concept there was that you had people who believed in truth, then, in fact, you could discern truth. That there were was, in fact, a right and wrong. And that the person that laid out what was right and wrong was a deity, was God. That there was a God, there was a creator, and that we are part of his creation. And as a result, we have a moral obligation that he has dictated for us.

That was the basic foundation of America. It was a Judeo-Christian ethic. It was Judeo-Christian reasoning. There’s a merger of faith and reason that gave us that we could not only have truth revealed to us divinely, but, in fact, we could reason our way to the truth. And if it’s the truth, by the way, it turns out to be the same, whether it’s divinely revealed or reasoned.

 

Rick Santorum: I wrote a book three or four years ago called “It Takes a Family” and spend most of that book talking about the founder’s vision. And ‘cause I think this is a country [USA] that is still based on that incredible unique vision of our founders that has had such a huge impact on the world.

We need to continue to remember that the freedom that we saw was not a freedom that our founders saw as license, the freedom to do whatever you wanted to do irrespective of its impact on someone else. If you’d have said that to Adams or Franklin or Jefferson, they would have looked at you as if you were from, I don’t know where, because that concept was foreign to them, that was not what freedom. Freedom was the ability to be able to do what you ought to do without government telling you something that you knew was in your heart and soul wrong.

 

November 12, 2008