This volume compares free enterprise and Jewish Law approaches to various economic issues revolving around the values of competition, efficiency and economic freedom. Synthesizing economic analysis with the talmudic and responsa literature, the text examines modern business practices from the perspective of Jewish ethics and extrapolates Jewish law's position on such contemporary public-sector issues as the proper scope of government, equity in the distribution of the tax burden, wage-price controls, income redistribution, labor relations and strikes, environmental pollution, public work projects, and charging interest. Major topics examined from the perspective of both economic theory and Jewish law include: monopoly and restraint of trade, ruinous competition, contract law, external costs and benefits, the ethics of business pricing policies, regulation of market conduct, the role of government in the free enterprise economy, and public finance. The major theme developed in the text is that Jewish law rejects the model of the self-regulating marketplace. Both market conduct and business pricing policies are subject to moral imperatives and judicial regulation. Judaism's concern for religious goals and promotion of its notions of industrial and social justice effectively compromise somewhat the value of efficiency and restrain the profit motive and the pursuit of economic freedom. Competition, economic freedom and efficiency are indeed not given unbridled expression in the free enterprise oriented economics today. The above values are sacrificed somewhat in the interest of advancing such social goals as nationalism, self-sufficiency, equity in the distribution of income, affirmative action and industrial justice. A comparison of the role Jewish law assigns the public sector with the role of governments of modern "mixed" economies assume today reveals a remarkable similarity in degree of affinity and faithfulness to the free enterprise model.
by Aaron Levine
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