Charting the Course: Values for Navigating Life in the Marketplace
Dr. Bruce Howard
Authentic Publishing (2008)
Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (11/08)
Before the 2008 bailout and the Wall Street woes, there was Dr. Bruce Howard and his timely book, “Charting the Course: Values for Navigating Life in the Marketplace.” Dr. Howard is a professor of business and economics at WheatonCollege, and has spent years pondering the marketplace, fiscal forces and how they work. In this short, 177-page, paperback the author expounds his analysis of markets, why they work the way they work, and the place of individual values in the processes.
The largest portion of “Charting the Course” is dedicated to explaining the development of market economics for the unenlightened. Dr. Howard uses his 27 years of teaching skills to take the reader from the known to the unknown with very simple explanations and illustrations from his own life, to help the reader grasp the basics of the marketplace. In this series of chapters the author shows how the marketplace is amoral, and runs just as effectively in producing penicillin as well as pornography, peanuts as well as prostitution. He shows how the main allocation mechanism is built exclusively on imputed value, the value the consumer puts on a product. Dr. Howard then works out the way forward to producing a more ethical marketplace, laying out a very moral, though not moralistic, road map.
Beyond the helpful lessons on how markets work, is the middle section of the book, where Dr. Howard charts the trail from economic liberty to slavery. In this segment of “Charting the Course” the author interacts with the free market economists Friedrich Hayek and Adam Smith, and shows what the various components are in economic slavery. The most poignant aspect of this discussion is the warning alarm he sounds that speaks to the danger of our present economic crisis. And to think, Dr. Howard wrote this material long before the summer and fall of 2008!
The final piece of “Charting the Course” took a surprisingly helpful turn toward vocational assessments, and personal career principles. Here Dr. Howard gives very practical advice on knowing when to take a job, when to move, and how to make good decisions. He also covers the place of duty, choices, and leadership. The wisdom of these chapters will be found beneficial by many.
Though it becomes quickly obvious that the author is working from Christian presuppositions, “Charting the Course” does not come across preachy or sanctimonious. The wise down-to-earth approach of Dr. Howard will make this a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library, and the thoughtful insights will be a great discussion piece in any leadership training. I highly recommend “Charting the Course.”