In The Church and the Market Dr. Woods proposes that economics is not a value-ladened science. This is false for the reason that economics has a certain end or aim. I will provisionally define economics as the science of the management of wealth. Along this definition, something may be economic or uneconomic, but what are we to take as the meaning of these terms. There is the proper management and the improper management of wealth or the perfect and imperfect management of wealth. The aim and end of economics is to study the management of wealth and its perfection.
A moral philosopher may call Socialism immoral or unethical because it is a violation of the natural law concerning the right to private property. The economist would call Socialism uneconomic because it is a system of poor management of wealth. It leads to a decrease and decay in wealth, whereas the purpose of an economy is the growth and distribution of wealth.
If we understand economic in this way, we may further extend it into domains that have been previously avoided, perhaps for good reason, but I am only musing.
The moral philosopher would rightly say that certain drugs are immoral because they so hinder our rational faculties that they deaden reason and destroy virtue. We may further go on to say that such drugs are uneconomic for the same reason but in hindering a person from acting in the economy in a rational way. A drug addict is not only morally compromised, but economically he destroys wealth and hinders the economy’s aim and purpose. Hence, in the short run selling highly addictive substances may produce wealth, but in the long wrong it ends up destroying wealth. This destruction is then contrary to the market.
We might think also of uses of the environment. It may be a great increase of wealth to ravage land, but in the long term this only hinders the economy and destroys wealth. This is uneconomic.
The profit margin is a measure of whether something is economic or not. It measures whether the amount of wealth produced/gained (assets) exceeds the wealth expended (liabilities). The proper management of wealth will see an increase in assets over liabilities not only in the short term but in the long term.