It is so often assumed that a free market economy functions on its own. Some claim that it is enough to establish the means of exchange, assure the security of contracts and the market will be put in motion and thrive.
However, that is not the case. Free markets depend upon the moral profile of those who participate in them. In his book, A Humane Economy: The Social Framework of the Free Market, economist Wilhelm Röpke points out ten elements needed for free markets to flourish. They include:
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1. Individual effort and responsibility.
2. Absolute norms and values.
3. Responsibility for planning one’s own life.
4. A proper coherence with the community and family feeling.
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5. A sense of tradition and the succession of generations combined with an open-minded view of the present and the future.
6. A proper tension between individual and community.
7. Firm moral discipline.
8. Respect for the value of money.
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9. Courage to grapple on one’s own with life and its uncertainties.
10. A sense of the natural order of things and a firm scale of values.
Taken from Wilhelm Röpke, A Humane Economy: The Social Framework of the Free Market, Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1960, p. 99.