Action Alert!

Moral Hazard

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Mar 23, 2009

When Benedict XVI commented that the massive distribution of condoms is not a solution to the AIDS epidemic, but in fact makes it worse, several European leaders and the Western press denounced him. They said that he had the facts wrong and that his position is dangerous because it threatens the lives that condoms save.

Of course, the Pope did not have his facts wrong and, even more importantly, he clearly had in mind a rather simple syllogism: Promiscuity is the leading cause of AIDS; public endorsement and distribution of condoms tends to increase promiscuity; therefore fighting AIDS with condoms is like fighting fire with gasoline.

But because Benedict challenged the world to think about this issue—to consider whether the public recognition, approval and support of promiscuity can contribute to health at any level—the Western elite moved to silence and discredit him. Though they postured as defending human life, the real motive is fairly clear: Those who do evil hate the light.

In this context, Time magazine’s weekly “Lexicon” entry for March 9th was particularly instructive:

Moral hazard n. — The idea that people may take more risks when they know there’s a safety net in place. USAGE: “Administration officials say it is impossible to help large groups of borrowers without introducing some degree of what has come to be known as moral hazard.” —Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21, 2009

Really, it doesn’t seem too difficult a concept to grasp.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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