In Virtue/Vice, Dr. Christine B. Whelan blogs about news, books, scientific and psychological research and her general musings about virtue and vice in our everyday lives.
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Does the Economy Shape our Morals?
I totally missed when it came out a few months back… and in case you, did, too, check out this Economix blog about whether the bad economy might reshape our collective morality.
My colleague Jesse McKinley has a fascinating article today about how legal-marijuana advocates are promoting the fiscal virtues of their cause. Not coincidentally, another banned substance was legalized in the wake of major economic upheaval: alcohol, during the Great Depression. The “Noble Experiment” known as Prohibition ended in 1933, when a legalized alcohol market promised more job opportunities and additional sales tax revenues for governments under stress.
I’m curious how much today’s economic pressures will eventually reshape Americans’ thinking on other “social issues.” After all, many states desperate for revenue have already started expanding state-sanctioned gambling, whose perceived sinfulness no longer appears to outweigh its fiscal usefulness.
But what’s weird to me is that legalizing pot has become a moral issue. Yes, self-harm is immoral. And if getting high makes you unable to uphold your responsibilities, that’s not good either. But for the vast majority of pot smokers, we’re not in either territory.