John Stonestreet and Maria Baer on Thomas Keller’s $850 Meal Isn’t a Moral Failure

Unsplash/Nadia Valko

Earlier this month, when celebrity chef Thomas Keller was interviewed by NPR about his new cookbook, his interviewer wasn’t all that interested in the recipes. Instead, he wanted to talk about the $850-per-plate price tag at Keller’s recently reopened San Francisco restaurant.

With so many people struggling financially due to the pandemic, asked the reporter, is it really “fair” to charge that much per plate? Or is it, to use his words, “tone deaf.”

That an interview, which was likely intended to be a puff piece, turned into a social justice diatribe is further proof that worldview affects everything.

To be clear, I cannot imagine ever spending $850 for a meal, but the reporter’s problem had nothing to do with prudence or financial stewardship. The problem with the price tag, according to the reporter, is not that some people would not have access to food, but that everyone would not have equal access to Thomas Keller’s food. In other words, his was a problem with the free market. And, of course, having a problem with the free market is all the rage these days.

Often called capitalism, a term popularized by Karl Marx and intended to be derogatory, the free market is an economic system. Unlike Communism, it is not a complete worldview. In other words, it doesn’t try to answer questions about the nature of reality, who we are, why we’re here, what’s right and wrong, what’s ultimately wrong with the world, and how it can be fixed. That’s a significant distinction.

The failures of Communism (everywhere it has been tried) are due to the fact it assumes wrongly about reality, morality, and human nature. Its failures are intrinsic. A free market, on the other hand, is premised on allowing consumers and entrepreneurs to make their own decisions. Its failures are the failures of the human beings it involves.

Economic freedom for a largely moral people leads to the explosion of wealth, innovation, and generosity. Economic freedoms outside a moral framework can lead to exploitation. Thus, instead of the totalizing control of a Communist framework, a free market leans on the state to provide legal protections and religious institutions to provide moral instruction.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Maria Baer