In our current debate about guns and gun control we learn that many respectable businesses (and probably also universities) have investments in gun manufacturers, thereby being indirectly guilty of mass murder of young people in schools and others when weapons of mass destruction are being used. I would not be surprised if Princeton and Harvard and all the respectable schools have these investments, as they benefited also from slavery. Once you start down the path of divestment you will have no end of controversy about what is a legitimate investment and what is an immoral one. Capitalism never claimed morality as the foundation of the free market (true, Adam Smith did, but he had a rather unusual perspective), preferring to believe that individuals with freedom had more chance of being moral than monarchs and other political powers in the mercantilist system. I doubt economic systems can be moral because that is not their purpose. Nor can governments be moral, only individuals, and that with great difficulty. If institutions like universities and churches and religious orders could not be expected to have moral economic practices (pace, the Vatican) why should we expect in a secular age to have any more luck with morality? The danger of Pharisaism is greater than the risk of immorality, I think.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.