Hints at content of the new “social” encyclical

From CNA with my emphases and comments:

Italian newspaper reveals key paragraphs from Pope’s upcoming social encyclical

.- The upcoming social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI "Caritas in veritate" – Charity in truth – will bear the date of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, but will likely become public on July 6 or 7, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera said on Saturday.

An article by Gian Guido Vecchi quotes what he claims are several original paragraphs of the Pope’s third encyclical.

"Without truth, without trust and love for what is truthful, there is no conscience or social responsibility, and the social action falls under the control of private interests or logics of power, with destructive effect on society, even more on a society in way to globalization, in difficult moments like the current ones,” the Pope will say in “Caritas in veritate,” according to Vecchi.  [This is very much out of context, but I am not so sure that we should run down "private interests".  "Private interests" produce the social benefits which we hope to have.  "Private interests" don't necessarily mean "selfish interests".]

Corriere della Sera says the Pope highlights in the upcoming document that globalization is not an evil in itself, but it cannot be left to self-regulation.

“In the midst of the new international economic, commercial and financial context,” the Pope will suggest an international agreement to lead the process of globalization: “an authority that should be regulated by law, should stick coherently to the principles of subsidiarity ad solidarity, should be aimed at achieving the common good and committed in fostering an authentic integral human development, inspired in the values of charity and truth.”  [I like this (remembering that it is out of context).  Rule of law is necessary so that people can depend on things like contracts.  Then, through a healthy subsidiarity, government should get out when matters can be handled at a lower level (even though we know that "the people" are higher than government.).]

In what Vecchi describes as “a very theological and theoretical” document, Pope Benedict will highlight from the beginning that “the charity of truth, which Jesus Christ has shown to us along all his earthly life and, above all, with His death and resurrection, is the main resource at the service of the true development of each individual human being and humanity as a whole.”

According to the Pope, the current crisis has been sparked by "a deficit of ethics in the economic structures.” A reform of the current system, therefore, will require “a common code” based on “the truth from both faith and reason,” capable of providing “the light through which the human intelligence arrives to natural and supernatural truth of charity.”

Vecchi claims that the Pope will recall the “social responsibility of private companies,” but will underscore that “true development is impossible without honest men, without financial operators and politicians who strongly feel in their own consciences the call for the common good.”

The encyclical will also pay attention to the “ecologic health of the planet,” but will remind that “the duties we have to the environment are connected to the duties we have toward the human person”, because “the first capital to be protected and cherished is the human person in its integrity.”

According to Vecchi, the encyclical will hardly be “good news to the liberals and bad news to the conservatives,” as claimed by some analysts who have not seen the text of the document.

“The Pope quotes Paul VI’s Populorum progressio, which in 1967 denounced the gap between rich and poor countries, but the encyclical also takes from Humanae vitae in criticizing abortion and contraception,” Vecchi writes.

 [About abortion...] The encyclical, in fact, is likely to say that “openness to life is at the core of every true development,” and regarding the ambiguous policies aimed at “reducing the need for abortion” by means of other social policies, the Pope warns that “if personal and social sensibility toward the welcoming of a new life is lost, even other forms of welcoming (life) useful to social life become fruitless.

The encyclical will also tackle global injustice, especially world hunger.

“Charity in truth requires an urgent reform to confront courageously and without hesitation the great problems of injustice in the development of the nations,” the encyclical will say.

The document will also say that “food and water are universal rights,” and will remind that the Greek word Oikonomia – from which the word “economy” comes -  means the rule or management of the oikos, the home: “the development of all nations depends above all in recognizing that we are one single family.”

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

105 Responses to Hints at content of the new “social” encyclical

  1. John Hudson says:

    Re. \’private interests\’. These may or may not produce benefits for society or, as we have discovered (again) in the current financial crisis, the benefits they produce may be short-lived and superficial, riding as they may on the backs of much deeper structural contradictions.

    But even if all is going well, and the private interests are contributing benefits to society, what the Holy Father warns us of is *control* of social action, i.e. of social policy and legislation, by private interests. Father, you and I are both blessed to live in idyllic rural settings where we are not bombarded on a constant basis by advertising messages as we go about our daily business. We can to a very large degree shape both the physical and moral environment in which we spend our time, individually and in a local community with those who live nearby. The social life of cities — the social life of the vast majority of people on the planet — takes place in an environment that is increasingly determined by people other than the inhabitants of that environment. That these people represent private interests rather than, say, state interests seems to me largely immaterial to the basic loss of local control of the social environment.

  2. ED2 says:

    I wonder if it will say anything about health care being a universal right. If health care is a universal right, then shouldn’t governments work to secure it? But then I get the impression that people at this site, who I trust know what they’re talking about, would rather the government stay out of health care completely. I’m so confused. This is something I think about constantly because as a soon to be health care professional, I will have to know where I stand on this as it will affect decisions I make about whether to accept Medicaid or other government funded programs as payment. So I’m really hoping for some guidance on this.

  3. laminustacitus says:

    “The document will also say that ‘food and water are universal rights,’ and will remind that the Greek word Oikonomia – from which the word ‘economy’ comes – means the rule or management of the oikos, the home: ‘the development of all nations depends above all in recognizing that we are one single family.’”
    Reminds me of F.A. Hayek’s critique of the word “economy” since it is very misleading, etymolgoically wise, to what the economy really is, which is a process that is not an entity as a “household”, with all actors proceeding towards one shared goal, but rather the result, and harmonization of the individual actions of men who don’t always share the same goal, “I, Pencil” is a great display of that. Instead, Hayek suggested the term “Catallaxy” as a term with far better etymological roots to describe the economy

    As far as the encyclical goes, I’m very interested to know what economic sources the Pope is influenced by, and I hope he understands the economy as catallaxy, and not as a singular household. The fact that the late John Paul II actually met with economists, F.A. Hayek included, and his own Centesimus Annus gives me some optimism for its content.

  4. Mark says:

    “But then I get the impression that people at this site, who I trust know what they’re talking about, would rather the government stay out of health care completely. I’m so confused.”

    It can be confusing, because many theologically/liturgically/morally/etc conservative Catholics are also “economically conservative” which actually isnt part of Catholic Social Teaching at all (and which is really just part of radical ideological capitalism), and does give the impression that the Church is a just a Republican political mouthpiece sometimes.

    It is, however, a distinguishing feature of the neo-con/trad dichotomy. Neocons are likely to be sort of libertarian economically, whereas Trads are likely to adhere to some Third Way philosophy ala distributism, corporatism, Social Credit, etc. It is clear from comments in favor of “private interests” and that stuff on the Acton Conference that Fr Z is economically the former, but please dont take that as the Church’s final stance; do the research yourself.

    Really, the more Catholic position is that the State should probably fund healthcare. Ideally through enforcing tithes to the Church and funding Church-run hospitals, but in a non-Catholic state, we obviously have to settle for something somewhat different. However, that does not necessarily mean the Federal government. That does not seem subsidiary. Stuff like that the States should handle.

  5. Mark says:

    “That these people represent private interests rather than, say, state interests seems to me largely immaterial to the basic loss of local control of the social environment.”

    Thank you. There is nothing more barbaric than civilization (civilization meaning, literally, the process of city-fication, the construction of a complex web of socio-economic specialization centralized on urban nodes).

    I really hope the Holy Father doesnt just speak in vagueries, but his recent comments to the effect of “the Church doesnt offer economic solutions” worry me. He could do a lot of good by coming out and MORALLY condemning usury, advertisement, and a radically individualistic (instead of communitarian) view of the market. He could re-introduce the concept of Just Price to the dialogue. But especially the issue of usury and debt-money.

  6. JP Windswept says:

    Mark,

    You, my friend, sound like the ideologue, here. As someone who holds advanced degrees in both philosophy and theology, has spent well over a decade studying Roman Catholic Social Doctrine, the writings of Pope John Paul II (especially his encyclical letter C.A.), and economic thought, I can tell you that groups like the Acton Institute and individual thinkers like Michael Novak are very, very well within the Roman Catholic tradition and — as a matter of fact — they express it exactly.

    If you disagree, I would like to see your evidence … not so much your outlandish bombast.

  7. JP Windswept says:

    The paragraph that most troubles me is the following one:

    “In the midst of the new international economic, commercial and financial context,” the Pope will suggest an international agreement to lead the process of globalization: “an authority that should be regulated by law, should stick coherently to the principles of subsidiarity ad [sic] solidarity, should be aimed at achieving the common good and committed in fostering an authentic integral human development, inspired in the values of charity and truth.”

    I would like to know what it means; and, as Fr. Z. has pointed out, since it is taken out of context we can’t quite know at this juncture. So, the questions I would ask are these: Does the proposed international agreement advocate an *economic* authority who would *legally* regulate aspects of the economy? Who would define the common good? What is the common good? Who gets to decide? Would the pope advocate that intermediary associations advance the human good or that some economic authority be appointed to arrange the economy so as to support and pursue the common/human good?

    Read from one perspective, the paragraph could be marshalled in support of a “soft” socialism, which would be quite antithetical to the contemporary tradition in Roman Catholic Social Doctrine. Also, it would force an objection by Hayek-minded persons — the subsequent dialogue would prove interesting. But, from another perspective — which would require the right understanding of the relationship between the free society and the market — it could be a helpful development of the tradition and a booster for Hayek-Mises-Roepke-minded people, among others.

    In any case, I wonder whether the forthcoming encyclical letter will force a re-lecture of C.A.

  8. TJM says:

    JP Windswept, you mean picking other people’s pockets (theft) to benefit a more “deserving” group of people isn’t the bedrock of Catholic Social Teaching? Fie! Many “Catholics” who look to the state for solutions to many of these social ills are really state-worshippers and not Catholics. They just like to call themselves Catholic because it dresses up their political agenda in religious language. Tom

  9. JP Windswept says:

    Tom,

    Exactly! You’ve hit the nail on the head. There is a definite difference between an economy that is supported by the rule of law and one that is ruled by someone’s law(s). All too often, societies have set off to defend the little person by ruling an economy by an arbitrarily (albeit promulgated) law, yet have ended up by committing the worst injustices against those same little people. Witness the expressed high-minded ideals of Marxism, which nonetheless resulted in the brutalities of 20th century Europe.

  10. JP Windswept says:

    What I fear is the apparent talk of planning that looms behind the words. Hayek and others (e.g., Michael Oakeshott in “Rationalism in Politics”) have offered brilliant treatments of the errors of planning.

  11. Tom says:

    Didn’t the Holy Father have an uncle who was a priest who wrote on economic matters who was in the distributist school of thought?

    That may give us a clue where this is going. Maybe

  12. Sieber says:

    Fr. Z’s parenthetical comment,”Rule of law is necessary so that people can rely on such things as contracts”, is precisely what has been abrogated by our government i.e. GM bond holders.
    Forty years ago home loans were made solely on the basis of the husband’s income. Then government said half of the wife’s income must be included. Then government said that both incomes must be considered, in toto. Then government said more loans must be given to minorities. Then government said half of all loans must be given to low income buyers. Then financiers sought new ways to cycle monies back to banks so that lending laws could be followed. Builders, bankers and brokers were subject to law suits, based on discrimination, should they disallow a loan. Obviously, some of the government rules were appropriate, just as obviously some government rules led to our current situation. Where was the tipping point? How does a community of nations institute a global body of regulation that remains in dynamic tension for the common good, indeed is this possible?
    Evidently the new encyclical will say that it must be done.
    Then the Raider Nation and the Cheeseheads will each say, “See the Pope is on our side. Ours is the only way.” and so it goes….and so it goes.

  13. Mark says:

    “Read from one perspective, the paragraph could be marshalled in support of a “soft” socialism, which would be quite antithetical to the contemporary tradition in Roman Catholic Social Doctrine.”

    Only because Catholic social doctrine is against Globalization in general.

    But if there is going to have to be a World System (and it would be pretty hard to deconstruct at this point) some sort of authority to prevent the structures of exploitation currently inherent in the world market might be a good idea.

    Though I think it is dangerous to make that sort of deal with the devil and accept globalization at all, because such an authority structure could come to be used for great evil too.

    “All too often, societies have set off to defend the little person by ruling an economy by an arbitrarily (albeit promulgated) law, yet have ended up by committing the worst injustices against those same little people. Witness the expressed high-minded ideals of Marxism, which nonetheless resulted in the brutalities of 20th century Europe.”

    An oversimplification at best. The communists were wrong for numerous reasons, including atheism and opposition to private property, but that was not the reason for their brutalities.

    They committed brutalities because of complex socio-political realities ultimately resulting from the inferior role in which they were/are embedded in the world economy.

    The internal economic system of a nation matters little, it’s what your role is in the World System. All other things being equal, America could have internally adopted communism for our domestic economy, and the Russians capitalism for their domestic economy, and everything still would have been the same vis a vis quality of life in each, because the world system as a whole is still viciously capitalistic, and America is at the core, has the hegemony.

    “Conservatives” of the aging generation were indoctrinated during the Cold War to hate communism (correctly) but then also to enthusiastically imbibe American Captalism (incorrectly) as the alternative. Many Catholics who are “conservative” personalities still are in that stream of thought, and feel justified in their ideological free-marketism because of the Church’s uneasy alliance with American Capitalism as the lesser of two evils (or so it seemed at the time). Even though the propaganda framed the issue as one of what domestic economies would be like (really irrelevant) when the two evil empires (america and russia) were really ultimately fighting over which system would be used for the WORLD economy (and, in that regard, the soviets never had a chance…they functioned externally as capitalists for the most part, regardless of their “internal” economy).

  14. Mark says:

    “Obviously, some of the government rules were appropriate, just as obviously some government rules led to our current situation. Where was the tipping point?”

    The tipping point was when the concept of a mortgage was invented at all. You realize they could cancel all mortgages today, and the houses would all still be there?! And the only people who would lose anything would be the usurous bankers (who do not, contrary to popular belief, lend from deposits).

    The problem is one radical, fundamental. No amount of tinkering with more or fewer regulations is going to do anything. It’s how our money works on a fundamental level.

  15. jpwindswept says:

    Mark,

    You wrote: “Only because Catholic social doctrine is against Globalization in general.”

    Really? Michael Novak has a great treatment on this theme in his book “The Universal Hunger for Liberty.” As a matter of fact, Catholicism is in no way opposed to globalization. Consider Christ’s mandate to the Apostles, which closes out the Markan Gospel: Go, make disciples of all nations. And, to be sure, the grand projects of evangelization and mission work which spread across much of the New World were the first exercises in globalization. After all, the word “Catholic” is another word for globalization — it means, “universal.”

  16. jpwindswept says:

    Mark,

    You write: “Conservatives” of the aging generation were indoctrinated during the Cold War to hate communism (correctly) but then also to enthusiastically imbibe American Captalism (incorrectly) as the alternative. Many Catholics who are “conservative” personalities still are in that stream of thought, and feel justified in their ideological free-marketism because of the Church’s uneasy alliance with American Capitalism as the lesser of two evils (or so it seemed at the time). Even though the propaganda framed the issue as one of what domestic economies would be like (really irrelevant) when the two evil empires (america and russia) were really ultimately fighting over which system would be used for the WORLD economy (and, in that regard, the soviets never had a chance…they functioned externally as capitalists for the most part, regardless of their “internal” economy)”

    It is quite false to suggest that domestic economics is somehow irrelevant. I am not even sure what you are trying to suggest, here. And, I am trying to lend a charitable reading to those words. But, they seem so entirely nonsensical in any reading.

    Nonetheless, the whole of that paragraph represents a very selective reading of Roman Catholic social doctrine. I would argue that there is indeed a strong link — not just a Machiavellian one, if we can call it that — between American free market economics (or, capitalism — rightly understood) and Roman Catholic political theology and social doctrine. Consider the thrust of Centesimus Annus as well as how its ideas were rolled out by Pope John Paul II in other works, whether homilies, addresses and speeches, or papal documents of a non-encyclical (but also encyclical) variety. One such work that comes most readily to mind is the homily that he delivered — I believed during the 90s — in Baltimore. In more recent times, I would point to Pope Benedict XVI’s address at the White House, which he gave in April of 2008.

    Historically, we also know that many of the founding fathers as well as the intellectual giants of the time were reading works of Roman Catholic philosophy and theology. A number of recent scholars have published essays and books drawing lines between late Scholastic theology and free market or capitalist economics. As a matter of fact, the Austrian economists — Ludwig von Mises and others — root their work in the Scholastic and Thomistic theology of Salamanca. And, the Acton Institute — and other groups — root their work in the Austrian scholars.

    So, it is simply untutored to claim that the link is accidental. There is historical but also magisterial cause for a strong link.

  17. laminustacitus says:

    “The internal economic system of a nation matters little, it’s what your role is in the World System.”
    Absolutely false, mind reading some economics before you say things like this? The fact that the economic structure of a nation actually does have an effect upon its prosperity is an undeniable fact both a priori, and a posteriori.

    “They committed brutalities because of complex socio-political realities ultimately resulting from the inferior role in which they were/are embedded in the world economy.”
    Or because socialism is a doctrine which advocates violence (i.e. confiscating property) as a means to achieving prosperity, and once you accept violence as a means, the genie is out of its bottle.

    “All other things being equal, America could have internally adopted communism for our domestic economy, and the Russians capitalism for their domestic economy, and everything still would have been the same vis a vis quality of life in each, because the world system as a whole is still viciously capitalistic, and America is at the core, has the hegemony.”
    Wrong, socialism cannot calculate the prices needed to ensure the prosperity of an industrial economy via central planning (as proven by both L.v. Mises, and F.A. Hayek in the ’30s) while capitalism has markets which can calculate prices for goods via catallactics, which is essentially the market harmonization of individual preferences.

  18. Latekate says:

    Mark: “An oversimplification at best. The communists were wrong for numerous reasons, including atheism and opposition to private property, but that was not the reason for their brutalities.
    They committed brutalities because of complex socio-political realities ultimately resulting from the inferior role in which they were/are embedded in the world economy.”

    No. They committed brutalities because they were atheists and have a Darwinist worldview, that the strong must rule the weak, that human nature is perfectable, that the material world is all there is, and that people are simply higher order animals in need of management just like cattle or other domesticated beasts.

    Mark: “The internal economic system of a nation matters little, it’s what your role is in the World System. All other things being equal, America could have internally adopted communism for our domestic economy, and the Russians capitalism for their domestic economy, and everything still would have been the same vis a vis quality of life in each, because the world system as a whole is still viciously capitalistic, and America is at the core, has the hegemony.”

    As Voltaire said “Define your terms!” (or something like that). Caitalism is simply the private ownership and control of the factors of production and distribution of goods and services instead of a ruling elite (government) owning/controlling them. Private ownership may be “vicious” but can only be “vicious” on a small scale, unless it is harnessed to the power of the state.

    Mark: ““Conservatives” of the aging generation were indoctrinated during the Cold War to hate communism (correctly) but then also to enthusiastically imbibe American Captalism (incorrectly) as the alternative. ”

    Up to a point. Now the indoctrination is overwhelmingly Marxist, both in academia and in the media. Capitalism is a great thing in itself. We are all capitalists. Harnessed to the state it becomes corporatism or fascism.

    Mark: “Many Catholics who are “conservative” personalities still are in that stream of thought, and feel justified in their ideological free-marketism because of the Church’s uneasy alliance with American Capitalism as the lesser of two evils (or so it seemed at the time).”

    I can’t speak for all “conservative” Catholics but I followed the capitalist stream of thought TO Catholicism. Christianity is entirely compatible with capitalism and individual salvation. The Ten Commandments are easily followed by capitalists but nearly every commandment must be broken in Marxism/collectivism, which is, BTW, ideological”. The teaching of Jesus is completely compatible with capitalism, it conflicts with Marxism and it’s rejection of the individual having worth beyond usefulness to the collective.

    Mark: ” Even though the propaganda framed the issue as one of what domestic economies would be like (really irrelevant) when the two evil empires (america and russia) were really ultimately fighting over which system would be used for the WORLD economy (and, in that regard, the soviets never had a chance…they functioned externally as capitalists for the most part, regardless of their “internal” economy).”

    The “planning” of the soviets and the Chinese did not work as well for the “common good” as turning the people loose to be entrepreneurs and capitalist. Those collectivist economies became more “American” and wealth generating (improving the common good) as the US economy lurches toward the impoverishing and totalitarian practices that failed in those countries. If capitalism were freed, if we trusted in the Lord enough to get out of the boat of the state and simply let people work and trade freely miracles would occur. But some people have to try to be as gods themselves, it is their nature.

    I am looking forward to reading this encyclical free of the leftists spin.

  19. jpwindswept says:

    “The internal economic system of a nation matters little, it’s what your role is in the World System. All other things being equal, America could have internally adopted communism for our domestic economy, and the Russians capitalism for their domestic economy, and everything still would have been the same vis a vis quality of life in each, because the world system as a whole is still viciously capitalistic, and America is at the core, has the hegemony.”

    Mark, this is just idiocy on stilts!! I am sorry. I know that is harsh and un-kind. But, it is *definitely* true. It just bespeaks volumes of ignorance of history and economics, not to mention what we now know it was like to live under such an arrangement. I would advise you to (re?)-read Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom” as well as Jan Chryzostom Cardinal Korec’s “The Night of the Barbarians: Memoirs of the Communist Persecution of the Slovak Cardinal.”

    By the bye, I just re-read that paragraph of your’s, Mark, and my jaw quite literally dropped. Are you actually serious??? Are you 12?

  20. Tom says:

    Milton Friedman: ” the only moral responsibility of a corporation is to make a profit through legal means”

    Doesn’t sound too Catholic to me

  21. Ted K. says:

    The idea of government run health care has entered these discussions, so I would like to make a few comments as one living in Canada, who is assured of adequate health care from cradle to grave, whether one is rich or poor, has a job or not, is even employable at all because of handicaps, or for that matter, very wealthy. Some may think that this is the government playing God, where instead of prayers one only needs to pay taxes. But I assure you that when one is well off it is easier to forget the role of God in being belessed with gifts.
    Governments are meant to help people, whether the individual or the society as a whole, and when it comes to providing adequate health care for everyone, governments are in the best position to do so efficiently and thoroughly for the common good.
    We have heard criticism of how the Canadian system has it faults, but I only have to wait a month to see my GP for an annual, and I can live with that. In case of emergency, good immediate care is swift, and I do not have to worry about any medical bills.
    There is only major issue with health care today, that of its financing. How long should one wait to see a specialist? Obviously if one is well off in some places, that is not even an issue. People seem to forget that governments are not God, that the resources of a society for funding health care are quite limited. How far does one go in providing money for adequate health care for EVERYONE? That is the real problem, not so much whether it is privately run or government run. The approach of Darwin/Huxley of survival of the fittest in some places is not a Christian answer. The one who just lost his job at GM should have as much a health safety net as the top civil servant, and that is the duty of governments to assure.
    Health care is very expensive. The Harvard medical graduate wants to recoup money to pay off his huge tuition loans. The medical technology companies want a good return for their investors. The insurance companies in USA are there to make good profits for their shareholders. The cost is structural, the way the system works.
    In Canada payscales for the medical profession are set by the government, but then, so are tuition fees at the universities. In other words, you become a doctor to help people, not to make vast sums of money. What is not controlable by the government, such as the cost of technology, is where big problems arise. And how far do you go with this technology? Again, if you are wealthy, that is not a problem.
    As a society we must share our blessings, and the experience of Canada has been that the government is in the best position to do so. My only criticism would be that there should be a better way to have the public decide more on the resources, such as showing exactly how much of ones taxes goes towards health care instead of just taking the money from general revenue.

  22. JP Windswept says:

    Milton Friedman: ” the only moral responsibility of a corporation is to make a profit through legal means”

    Doesn’t sound too Catholic to me

    Right, unless, of course, making that profit enables a corporation to, among other things, pay its employees … who can then feed, clothe, educate, and provide medical care to themselves, their families, and their children. Yeah. Not Catholic at all, in fact.

  23. laminustacitus says:

    “Milton Friedman: ‘the only moral responsibility of a corporation is to make a profit through legal means’

    Doesn’t sound too Catholic to me”
    Too bad you lack a deep appreciation for what Friedman is saying: corporations are meant to supply goods, and services to those who demand them thus making their lives better, and during that transaction make a profit to secure further business. Milton Friedman is arguing for man to service his fellow man his desired goods, and services, and to make his living by doing so. How does that contradict any Catholic teachings?

  24. Mr. H. says:

    Very much looking forward to this encyclical!

    The Holy Father will be addressing a subject that I have been giving much thought to lately.

    Mr. H
    http://www.allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/

  25. Paul Jones says:

    “The document will also say that ‘food and water are universal rights,’”

    Economic illiteracy.

  26. JoeyG says:

    Laminustacitus,

    I don’t think necessarily what Friedman is saying contradicts Catholic teachings so much as he leaves out much to be desired for a fuller view of the picture. It seems like the same canned arguments are getting thrown past one another in this discussion, and it might be futile to foray into the wash… but I think the concern that Mark and others would raise against liberal economics is that the “common good” is richer than the “each for his own best interest” model Friedman proposes. If it’s just about providing desired goods, the simplest problem to point to on that is that goods desired in a market aren’t necessarily “good” objectively, and supplying them just to make a living is not necessarily a just course of moral action.

  27. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    JP Windswept,

    Be honest. You got your views of economics from a bunch of atheist/Jewish/Heretic sources, or from “catholics” who got their views from them. None of the sources understand the nature of man, and especially his fallen nature. Once these “catholics” were throughly convinced they then went hunting and pecking trying to find anything that could be taken out of context from Catholic theology, in order to support their silliness. The only one of you with any honesty is Tom Woods, who rejects the Church’s authority to teach on economic issues, and therefore can be honest in rejecting the great Social Encyclicals of the 20th Century. Belloc predicted years ago where capitalism would lead, and always leads – to a system where the vast majority of people are wage slaves, real wealth is in the hands of a few, and the government takes care of all the people who slip through the cracks (welfare state) on the backs of the wage slaves. Your system has never worked, and can never work, for the same reasons communism can not work. Once a special interest group or individual gets an advantage, he will change the system to ensure his advantage is enshrined in law. Capitalism’s twin evil of democracy, makes this very simple, by contributing to people who will keep the status quo, so they can purchase their elected offices, the person with the advantage ensures he keeps it.

    Finally, for someone with “advanced degrees” your ability to reason seems limited (although I am not surprised, since there is no institution that I know of that offers advanced degrees in those subjects, and has an orthodox curriculum,). Your comment on the Milton Friedman quote illustrates this perfectly: Profits do not enable a corporation to pay its wage slaves. Profits are what is left over after you have paid them. And according to Milton it is right and proper that a corporation pay as little as necessary to its employees in order to maximize profits. Paying employees anything beyond this is stealing from the corporate share holders.

  28. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Paul Jones said:

    ““The document will also say that ‘food and water are universal rights,’”

    “Economic illiteracy.”

    Illiteracy in Moral Theology

  29. Matt Q says:

    Hey, this a bone thrown to the rabid left-wingers. Now we can yell and stammer they want to turn the clock back with fiefdoms to keep the huddled masses in line. Loud and clear. In other words, it’s aimed at the big, bad United States who takes care of ( and funds ) the rest of world already. Has the Holy Father picked up their mantra, “Pay their fair share?” In other words, pay all their share!! Success is rewarded with confiscation ( which in turn would breed mediocrity ). We’re supposed to do all the work and pay all the bills. It’s aimed at our utilization of the resources and the maintenance of the environment. Better care of the environment is found in the free world because it takes money to take care of the environment and clean up after ourselves. Beyond us and Europe, no one else does. Look at what a living sewer China is, and that government for you. How about India?

    Man has the right to enjoy the fruits of his labor, and I do not believe anyone has the right to tell another what they have to give up, what they can’t have or what they must give away. Is this perhaps why the foreign policy of the Church coddles the dictatorships and despises the free world? It would be best for the Holy See to keep in mind the majority of its money comes from the Faithful of the United States and the free world.

    Why isn’t there an encyclical aimed at the poor that it’s morally corrupt just to sit around and receive handouts from others? Honestly, the poor of this world are so because they have corrupt governments who take all the bounty the rest of world gives them or whatever little they produce themselves, but somehow that isn’t enough. Somehow it’s always someone else’s problem to solve.

    This upcoming meeting with the Holy Father and Obama should be really interesting. Abortion aside, it looks quite convincing Omaba is the hero of the Pope’s encyclical as it supports the left-wing, Marxist premise that the government is always the answer which is why the rest of the world will remain poor because Government is considered the answer. Oh, BTW. Our dear America is already under deconstruction.

  30. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Matt Q,

    Thank you for your honesty. You are just as much of a dissenter on Catholic Social Teaching as Nancy Pelosi, but at least you are an honest dissenter. Unfortunately, you are the typical American, who sees everything in terms of politics, and believes might or in this case money makes right. The Church should preach the truth, with no regard for where their money comes from. And the Church should definitely not change its teachings to better fit in with Americanism.

  31. laminustacitus says:

    Christopher Sarsfield
    “Be honest. You got your views of economics from a bunch of atheist/Jewish/Heretic sources, or from “catholics” who got their views from them. None of the sources understand the nature of man, and especially his fallen nature. Once these “catholics” were throughly convinced they then went hunting and pecking trying to find anything that could be taken out of context from Catholic theology, in order to support their silliness.”
    Economics is a science, it does not matter who teaches the doctrines, it only matters that it is true. In fact, you are attacking the authors because you don’t know how to attack their theories, or if you did do so it would be very easy to show you as wrong, be honest. The sources of economics do understand man, and how he creates his society – in fact, the fallen nature of man plays no part in economic theories for they do not really care about what the essence of man is, only the concatenation, and causation of economic phenomena.

    ” The only one of you with any honesty is Tom Woods, who rejects the Church’s authority to teach on economic issues, and therefore can be honest in rejecting the great Social Encyclicals of the 20th Century.”
    More ad hominems without any substantial criticism. Tom Woods, understanding economics as a science, knows that it is outside the realm of papal infallibility, and that the church can never declare a false law of economics true. Tom Woods even goes further to show how it is capitalism that is the fulfillment of the desires of the “great Social Encyclicals of the 20th Century”.

    “Belloc predicted years ago where capitalism would lead, and always leads – to a system where the vast majority of people are wage slaves, real wealth is in the hands of a few, and the government takes care of all the people who slip through the cracks (welfare state) on the backs of the wage slaves.”
    And yet the “Wage slave” seems to be doing pretty well these days doesn’t he, especially in comparison with his position in an agrarian society. Belloc was a terrible theorist, he never knew the laws of economic, and the deficiencies of distributism have been torn to pieces by good economists like Tom Woods. One critical error of distributism is the fact that it does not allow the concentration of capital, and thus the economies of scale that triggered the Industrual Revolution, enabling the mass production of luxury goods for the worker.

    “Your system has never worked, and can never work, for the same reasons communism can not work.”
    The fact that we can communicate online together in order to have this debate shows that capitalism works. Plus, there has never once been a famine in a capitalists society, not once, and man has also been raised up from the crushing poverty of an agrarian society.

    “Once a special interest group or individual gets an advantage, he will change the system to ensure his advantage is enshrined in law.”
    And that won’t happen in a distributist society? Self interest follows wherever man does, and that does seem to be a consequence of the fallen nature of man that economists “never” took into consideration, doesn’t it?

    ” Capitalism’s twin evil of democracy, makes this very simple, by contributing to people who will keep the status quo, so they can purchase their elected offices, the person with the advantage ensures he keeps it.”
    And do you really think that the situation would change dramatically if it weren’t for democracy?

    “Your comment on the Milton Friedman quote illustrates this perfectly: Profits do not enable a corporation to pay its wage slaves.”
    So nobody in the United States economy is being paid? This comment brings us to ridiculous conclusions, and I must say that you are embracing distributism as the world it never said could emerge thanks to capitalism emerges.

    “Profits are what is left over after you have paid them.”
    And somehow that means that workers will not be paid? I’m lost in your logic right now.

    “And according to Milton it is right and proper that a corporation pay as little as necessary to its employees in order to maximize profits.”
    Or corporations can make enough money that they can not only pay their employees well, which they do – it is an empirical fact that workers much prefer even sweat shops to agriculture -, and also make a profit. But of course, the previous conclusion is just to anti-Catholic its wrong for some reason…

    “Paying employees anything beyond this is stealing from the corporate share holders.”
    Employees have no right to a wage that is x high, rather they earn a wage by selling their labor to entrepreneurs who desire that labor. A wage is a contract, it is a quid pro quo through which the worker agrees to work y hours in exchange for the entrepreneur paying him x dollars.

  32. Maureen says:

    With our pope’s encyclicals, it’s always misleading to go by quotes from here and there. I think it’s worth waiting to see what he says.

  33. laminustacitus says:

    JoeyG,
    “I don’t think necessarily what Friedman is saying contradicts Catholic teachings so much as he leaves out much to be desired for a fuller view of the picture.”
    Keep in mind attaining “fuller view of the picture” often means negating laws of economics, which is quite impossible.

    “It seems like the same canned arguments are getting thrown past one another in this discussion, and it might be futile to foray into the wash… but I think the concern that Mark and others would raise against liberal economics is that the “common good” is richer than the “each for his own best interest” model Friedman proposes.”
    (Good) economics rejects the “Common good” theory because of the fact that the epistemology of economics is rooted in methodological individualism, and it follows that only an individual thinks, and acts, and therefore knows their “good”. The idea of a “Common good” is based upon the lofty idea that there is some good that transcends every individual’s own judgments of value, but what it usually results in is whoever is in power defining the “Common good” according to their own judgments of value.

  34. What’s with the Anti-Semitic statements, Sarsfield? Why was it necessary to smear a racial/religious group on this topic of economics. Do you believe the Jews run the International Banks?

  35. Mark says:

    “Man has the right to enjoy the fruits of his labor, and I do not believe anyone has the right to tell another what they have to give up, what they can’t have or what they must give away.”

    No one is suggesting this. The solution definitely does NOT involve working people and then confiscating what they make to give to others. That is an incredibly simplistic and fear-mongering portrayal. That’s how the capitalists frame it to scare hard-working middle class types, who would have every right to be scared if that was what were actually being proposed. But it’s not.

    It would involve, however, several fundamental changes to the WORLD economy (again, domestic doesnt even matter so much) in such a way as to de-specialize hegemony, disperse relative “cores” so that they are a local phenomenon (they will always exist to some degree, but it doesnt have to be so extreme), end Unequal Exchange, and most importantly stop the unnatural practice of treating money as a privately produced commodity in itself (ie, usury, debt-money, a “money market”, financial instruments that are essentially just gambling, etc)…

    “Is this perhaps why the foreign policy of the Church coddles the dictatorships and despises the free world? It would be best for the Holy See to keep in mind the majority of its money comes from the Faithful of the United States and the free world.”

    A “free world” who essentially steal it from the Third World, who become dictatorships because that’s what poor countries tend towards.

    I say “steal” because we use unnatural processes (usury and unjust price) to suck resources from the countries actually PRODUCING things by merely “owning” the capital, and the money. Because of a materialistic “supply-and-demand” view of value. And the alternative is not “centralized price fixing” or any such boogyman.

    “Why isn’t there an encyclical aimed at the poor that it’s morally corrupt just to sit around and receive handouts from others?”

    Because such a poor really doesnt exist except the decadent “poor” of the United States, who nevertheless the system is more than capable enough of handling. If all the necessities of life for everyone can be produced by a smaller subset of the population (and currently this is very true)…it is very Calvinistic to insist on everyone working for works sake because of some idea that people need to “earn” their right to life in the form of necessities. If three percent of people can produce all the food needed to feed the world…demanding that all of the other 97% work to create demand for other extraneous things, is just decadent. And we dont really demand that in the US, at least. We wink and nudge while all sorts of people make money for unproductive “services”.

    “Honestly, the poor of this world are so because they have corrupt governments who take all the bounty the rest of world gives them or whatever little they produce themselves, but somehow that isn’t enough. Somehow it’s always someone else’s problem to solve.”

    No, those countries are poor because we have essentially enslaved them via neoliberal capitalism in the world market. And poor countries tend towards dictatorship by default.

  36. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Laminustacitus,

    Let me summarize your responses to me:

    “Economics is a science, it does not matter who teaches the doctrines, it only matters that it is true. In fact, you are attacking the authors because you don’t know how to attack their theories, or if you did do so it would be very easy to show you as wrong, be honest. The sources of economics do understand man, and how he creates his society – in fact, the fallen nature of man plays no part in economic theories for they do not really care about what the essence of man is, only the concatenation, and causation of economic phenomena.”

    Of course I did not let Catholicism influence my views, and by faith I have to say I believe in original sin and its effects, but I can not let that interfere with my view of self interest because it is essential to my view of economics.

    “More ad hominems without any substantial criticism. Tom Woods, understanding economics as a science, knows that it is outside the realm of papal infallibility, and that the church can never declare a false law of economics true. Tom Woods even goes further to show how it is capitalism that is the fulfillment of the desires of the “great Social Encyclicals of the 20th Century”.”

    Of course the Social Encyclicals must be rejected and Tom Woods is right to do so.

    “And yet the “Wage slave” seems to be doing pretty well these days doesn’t he, especially in comparison with his position in an agrarian society. Belloc was a terrible theorist, he never knew the laws of economic, and the deficiencies of distributism have been torn to pieces by good economists like Tom Woods. One critical error of distributism is the fact that it does not allow the concentration of capital, and thus the economies of scale that triggered the Industrual Revolution, enabling the mass production of luxury goods for the worker.”

    Yes Belloc was right about where capitalism would lead, but without it this immoral means would not have this wonderful end.

    “The fact that we can communicate online together in order to have this debate shows that capitalism works. Plus, there has never once been a famine in a capitalists society, not once, and man has also been raised up from the crushing poverty of an agrarian society.”

    Yes my system has never worked, but it gave us these great things… wait the American system is not my system… oh well in debates truth is less important than winning.

    “And that won’t happen in a distributist society? Self interest follows wherever man does, and that does seem to be a consequence of the fallen nature of man that economists “never” took into consideration, doesn’t it?”

    Of course that will happen, but it happens in any system… I promise it does.

    “And do you really think that the situation would change dramatically if it weren’t for democracy?”

    Look democracy is my dogma. Yes this is true, but it would happen no matter what… I promise.

    “So nobody in the United States economy is being paid? This comment brings us to ridiculous conclusions, and I must say that you are embracing distributism as the world it never said could emerge thanks to capitalism emerges.”

    Hope no one notices my straw man. I know this is not what he is saying but all is fair in war and debates (at least for neocons)

    “Or corporations can make enough money that they can not only pay their employees well, which they do – it is an empirical fact that workers much prefer even sweat shops to agriculture -, and also make a profit. But of course, the previous conclusion is just to anti-Catholic its wrong for some reason…”

    I know this is not anything like what Milton meant, but I would look awful, if I dealt with the conclusions that flow from Milton’s statement.

    “Employees have no right to a wage that is x high, rather they earn a wage by selling their labor to entrepreneurs who desire that labor. A wage is a contract, it is a quid pro quo through which the worker agrees to work y hours in exchange for the entrepreneur paying him x dollars.”

    I can’t agree with Milton, because it will make look bad, but I can not lie and say it is not true. Best to dodge the question and give some Austrian definitions of wage, to confuse the issue at hand.

  37. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Mr. Pryor,

    Yes, I am an anti-semetic, anti-atheist, anti-heretic, because I mention that leaders of certain economic movements got their principles from non-Catholic sources, and then I name the sources… grow up.

  38. Mark says:

    “What’s with the Anti-Semitic statements, Sarsfield? Why was it necessary to smear a racial/religious group on this topic of economics. Do you believe the Jews run the International Banks?”

    I cant speak for Sarsfield, but to be fair he did say “atheist/jewish/heretic” so his comments werent targeted directly at the Jews.

    And it is atheists, Jews, and Protestants who have been the impetus for the evil economic ideologies. Marx wasnt Hindu. The Puritans werent Buddhist. Milton Friedman (perhaps responsible for more deaths in the 20th century than anyone else)…wasnt a Muslim. Rockefeller wasnt Catholic. Nor were any of them non-white, by the way.

    The fact is that there is an American ruling class formed of Protestants, Jews, and a lot of secular-humanist/atheist types that are the ones for the most part setting this sort of policy, and it is disturbing to see Catholic ally themselves with them ideologically.

  39. Sarsfield certainly targetted three groups. Jews were one of those groups. Ideologies should be identified by their principles not the race or religion of those who teach the philosophy. Socialism is no more Jewish than it is Irish or Italian. The same goes for Communism, Capitalism, or any other economic system. There was no reason to identify Jews when discussing the economy or the Pope’s coming encyclical.

  40. Mark says:

    For anyone interested in true Catholic third way ideas and honest application of the Social Doctrine of the Church (instead of rejecting it “because Popes arent infallible on economic science”) or twisting it so that Catholicism becomes a strange sort of puppet for Republican-style American-spectrum “conservative” politics, should check out places like the Michael Journal. They have many very good articles, these are just two:

    http://www.michaeljournal.org/appenC.htm
    http://www.michaeljournal.org/distrib.htm

    This video has also become quite famous on the internet among those whose minds are open to alternatives:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVkFb26u9g8

    And since “economics is a science and the source doesnt matter”…dont throw the baby out with the bathwater and be so quick to dismiss things from “Marxian” economists (economics based on some of Marx’s purely economic thought removed from his radical adjunct political philosophy). Consider the concepts of unequal exchange and the exploitative nature of the World system (they do a good job of analyzing the problems, even though their proposed solutions miss the mark):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World-systems_theory
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unequal_exchange

  41. laminustacitus says:

    “Of course I did not let Catholicism influence my views, and by faith I have to say I believe in original sin and its effects, but I can not let that interfere with my view of self interest because it is essential to my view of economics.”
    You don’t even make sense.

    “‘More ad hominems without any substantial criticism. Tom Woods, understanding economics as a science, knows that it is outside the realm of papal infallibility, and that the church can never declare a false law of economics true. Tom Woods even goes further to show how it is capitalism that is the fulfillment of the desires of the “great Social Encyclicals of the 20th Century”.’

    Of course the Social Encyclicals must be rejected and Tom Woods is right to do so.”
    They aren’t rejected, read my post more carefully.

    “Yes Belloc was right about where capitalism would lead, but without it this immoral means would not have this wonderful end”
    Besides the fact that he has been empirically proven wrong by history…

    “I can’t agree with Milton, because it will make look bad, but I can not lie and say it is not true. Best to dodge the question and give some Austrian definitions of wage, to confuse the issue at hand.”
    You can actually discuss economics, or accuse me of dodging the question; either one is fine by me.

    “Yes, I am an anti-semetic, anti-atheist, anti-heretic, because I mention that leaders of certain economic movements got their principles from non-Catholic sources, and then I name the sources… grow up.”
    Or you can actually critique the ideas rather than those who created them, that is generally a more scholarly thing to do; special relativity is not wrong because of the fact that Einstein was a jew.

  42. kgurries says:

    “Ideologies should be identified by their principles not the race or religion of those who teach the philosophy.”

    Good point, J.C. Pryor!

  43. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Mr. Pryor,

    I get my principles from Catholicism. My economic beliefs are based on the Catholic understanding of man. If someone called me on it, that would not make them anti-Catholic. If a person’s understanding of man is wrong, the systems he proposes, which will be made up of the actions of men will most likely be wrong, or if they are right it will be luck. My other point was that Liberals in economics get their views from people that hold non-Catholic (therefore erroneous) views of man, and those views are the foundation of their systems. These views and systems are essential Anti-Catholic.

  44. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Laminustactus,

    I am trying to find out what you actually believe. I read your post. Woods does reject the teaching in the Social Encyclicals, therefore I say he rejects the Encyclicals. If you want to play games and say that Woods accepts the ends of the Social Encyclicals, better economic lives, but only rejects how to get there, and therefore that is not really rejecting the Encyclical, I am not going to play. So let us be specific:

    Do you believe the teaching of Leo XIII on a just wage? And that the proper role of government goes beyond just enforcing the agreement between the laborer and employer?

    If you do not, then you reject the teaching of the Church, and it is a waste of time discussing this with you. I mostly discuss economics from authority, ie the Church teaches this. If you are not going to listen to the Church, why would I think would listen to me? I would continue to show your system is Anti-Catholic, so that the Catholics reading know that by accepting your theories they are dissenting from the Church and will end up in the same boat as Nancy Pelosi. In sum I am interested in talking about Catholicism, and what the Church has to say on economics.

  45. laminustacitus says:

    “Do you believe the teaching of Leo XIII on a just wage?”
    I believe that the just wage can only be found in the markets through catallactics.

    “And that the proper role of government goes beyond just enforcing the agreement between the laborer and employer?”
    I believe that if government has any role in a society, which I believe to be a fair question, it should be defined with respect to upholding contracts, and property rights.

    “If you do not, then you reject the teaching of the Church, and it is a waste of time discussing this with you. I mostly discuss economics from authority, ie the Church teaches this.”
    The church, amongst other things, teaches ethics, and it can teach economic ethics, but it cannot teach economics per se for pure economics is a science whose validity cannot be established by papal mandate.

  46. prof. basto says:

    What troubles me reading the passages quoted from the projected encyclical is the papal endorsement – if the quotes are accurate – of an international agency to regulate the economic markets.

    I do not deny that the Church has a say – and a fundamentally important say – in social matters. After all, there are issues that are related to ethics, to morality, to moral theology, and the realm of the Church’s magisterium is not only a realm of doctrine on Faith, but also of doctrine on Christian morals. So, both Faith and morals, are within the realm of the Church’s teaching authority (munus docendi).

    As a result, the magisterium can interfere in economic matters, by enunciating the principles of morality to which the economic system should abide – or be made to abide – which moral principles should guide all social relations (including financial transactions and deals) and all the activities of the State.

    But the role of the Magisterium in the economic arena is to ennunciate the general moral principles that should guide economic agents and States, not to dive into matters of specific economic policy that may be subject to legitimate dispute without affecting Catholic morality.

    So, it is troubling to see an encyclical endorsing an specific point of economic policy – such as the creation of an international authority to oversee markets. Can’t the principles of morality and justice espoused by the magisterium be implemented with other models of regulation that do not include yet another international organization? What assures us that the creation of an agency will end up fostering the ends desired by the magisterium? Why is it that international regulation would provide better results?

    It seems to me that those are points of pure economic policy, and that the moral principles promoted by the Magisterium can be achieved in a variety of regulatory scenarios. So, a papal encyclical shoudn’t endorse an specific regulatory model. Endorsement of an specific regulatory model is not within the competence of ecclesiastical doctrine. Shouldn’t “Ceasar” be left to decide the specific economic policy, provided that the general moral principles of the magisterium were adhered to?

  47. TJM says:

    Rather pertinent to this whole discussion is the fact that Catholicism enjoys far more freedom in capitalistic societies like the US but is suppressed or severely limited in socialistic and command economies(both right wing and left-wing). Just thought I point out the obvious to those of you getting lost in your nice economic theories. Tom

  48. Michael says:

    If there is to be globalization it can only be successful on Catholic terms. It seems to naive to think that any global form of governance can be achieved which will not immediately turn on its most obvious rival, the Catholic Church. Why would not the Church clearly oppose political and economic globalization in all forms. Subsidiarity and hopes for a Catholic world demand it.

  49. Boko Fittleworth says:

    This is gonna be huge! I predict we’ll be discussing the import of the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical for DAYS after its appearance. Weeks, maybe even.

  50. Boko Fittleworth says:

    Of course, pro-abort “Catholics” will be bringing this up for years. I love my German Shepherd!

    Personnel is policy. Disciplinary documents that are enforced matter. All else is ashes.

  51. JP Windswept says:

    Mark,

    I see no support for your outrageous claims. How do you explain the tight alignment between — for example — a certain stripe of neo-conservatism and Catholic social doctrine? Moreover, how do you explain the historical associations? Also, where do you find evidence — in the magisterial literature and elsewhere — for discrediting the alignment?

    Once again: Let us see some actual proof in the form of quotations, citations, and the like. Give them to us. Quite frankly, you won’t be able to do so because they don’t exist. There is nothing to stand behind your bombast.

  52. Yet Another Matt says:

    The ‘New World Order’, of which this pope has spoken of before in a favorable light, bothers me a great deal. I don’t see how it will end well, and I don’t see how a global government, in any of the forms presented thus far, let alone the now defunct League of Nations or the satanist United Nations, could possibly be good. Food and water are “universal rights”? HAH! Not according to those running the show. They will make you pay money for the rain if they can get away with it.

    That said, I’m anticipating more on the subject from the pope, perhaps he can explain why I shouldn’t run off to the wilderness.

    I wish there was more on this subject than just ‘give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar’, but maybe it’s just that simple (and brutal for us non-caesars), but the whole world is owned by someone or some government already…

  53. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    laminustacitus,

    So I take that to mean you reject Leo XIII\’s teaching on a just wage. So the Church has no authority to teach what the role of government is because this is part of the economic science. So let\’s go there. Economics is not a science in the same way physics is. For example how many physicists reject the Newtonian laws of thermodynamics? I do not know any. Yet how many economists reject the \”laws\” of the Austrian School of Economics? Maybe 95%. How could this be? How can so many economic scientists disagree on everything? Maybe because your \”science\” is untestable as a science. Give me a uniquely Austrian school teaching and I will show you theory rejected by the vast majority of economists, and untestable in any scientific way. Economics is primarily about ethics, and as such the Church has an absolute right to teach and be obeyed. The example I gave was the just wage, and the Church absolutely has the right to say that it is sinful for an employer to pay a laborer less than a just wage, what a just wage is, and beyond that, to teach that it is within the legitimate role of government to ensure that employer\’s pay a just wage. This is ethics, where you pretend the Church can teach, but yet you reject their teaching.

  54. roydosan says:

    “How do you explain the tight alignment between—for example—a certain stripe of neo-conservatism and Catholic social doctrine?”

    Because the neo-cons are happy to accept the Church’s teachings on abortion but reject/ignore the Church’s teachings on economics. They are guilty of a hermeneutic of discontinuity just as much as the creative liturgists.

  55. TJM says:

    roydosan, I think the Church ranks the evil of abortion much higher than economics. So I think you may be espousing “cafeteria” Catholicism yourself. Tom

  56. laminustacitus says:

    “So I take that to mean you reject Leo XIII’s teaching on a just wage.”
    No, keep in mind that never once did he endorse a government-dictated just wage as a necessity, he just kept the door open for that possibility if all other means failed. However, economics teaches that the path of a government-dictated wage is bound to end in an uncompetitive wage market, and that there are further problems like the subjectivity of value.

    “Economics is not a science in the same way physics is.”
    They are both sciences, I never said that they are the same type of science, but nevertheless they are still sciences.

    “Yet how many economists reject the “laws” of the Austrian School of Economics? Maybe 95%. How could this be?”
    I wonder how many economists would reject that economics is a science? Just because they don’t agree what the “laws” are (whoever rejects certain laws like that of supply, and demand is a hack who doesn’t deserve the title: “economist”, by the way}, does not mean that they don’t agree economics is a science, which is the crux of the matter here that you conveniently avoided.

    “Give me a uniquely Austrian school teaching and I will show you theory rejected by the vast majority of economists, and untestable in any scientific way.”
    Two fundamental errors: a, you regard the argumentum ad numerum as a objective criterion for truth, which it is not, and b, you equivocate the methodologies of the natural, and social sciences in your use of the term: “scientific”. Plus, you have to attack all schools of economics to prove that economics is not scientific, I’m not arguing one school of thought here.

    “Economics is primarily about ethics, and as such the Church has an absolute right to teach and be obeyed.”
    No, economics is about discovering the concantenation, and causation of economic phenomena. Pure economics is value-free, and therefore does not include any ethical judgments of value.

    ” The example I gave was the just wage, and the Church absolutely has the right to say that it is sinful for an employer to pay a laborer less than a just wage, what a just wage is, and beyond that, to teach that it is within the legitimate role of government to ensure that employer’s pay a just wage.”
    Value is subjective: what a “just” wage is will depend on the circumstances of the individual, and the calculation of that “just” wage; ergo, cannot be determined by individuals outside of the contract. The calculation of wages also play a role in how many workers will be able to be employed, so if you set a high “just” wage, you are bound to see a lot of workers who will not be able to be hired simply because no entrepreneurs will hire them. In your post, you act as if determining what a “just” wage is is as simple as merely declaring a monetary total, but it is not for it is a price that if artificially tampered with can have terrible effects upon not only hiring entrepreneurs, but also workers who are trying to be hired.

    “This is ethics, where you pretend the Church can teach, but yet you reject their teaching.”
    As I’ve shown above, its not that simple.

  57. mpm says:

    “For example how many physicists reject the Newtonian laws of thermodynamics? I do not know any.”
    Comment by Christopher Sarsfield — 29 June 2009 @ 5:49 am

    Actually, no modern physicist would reject outright the laws of thermodynamics, the 2nd of which can be summarized as the concept of “entropy”. However, as men (not scientific men, subject to the scientific method), they often try to find, and publish their most “popular” books on, some imaginary means of rejecting it, by musing about multiverses, creation “ex nihilo” via “quantum foam”, and a lot of other nonsense. The point of all of that is to reject what they must accept via entropy: ultimately, it’s all winding down, there was more potency in the beginning than now or in the end, space is not classical, “Newtonian” symmetric infinities in all directions, etc.

    Your problem (this is a diagnosis) is that you identify what “you understand” of the Catholic Social Teachings as “the Catholic Social Teachings”, and when other Catholics disagree with you, you accuse them of being un-Catholic or non-Catholic. There is nothing new in your “error”, it has been one of the staples of the “reception” by people of Catholic Social Teaching since Leo XIII.

    I think you are inimical to the idea of freedom, in the sense that individuals, especially if they have expertise in some area covered by the Social Teaching, are obliged to think through what the best (or perhaps least bad) way of implementing the principles might be in the current circumstances. There is a moral obligation for professional people (based on the moral obligation to tell the truth), not to propose “solutions” to social problems (economic or otherwise) that they have no good grounds for thinking may improve the status quo.

    Restated: If it won’t work (in fact, or in my honest competent opinion, at least), it should not be done. If it can work, I can propose it, and should do so if I think it is the best suggestion I have. If it will do more harm than good, I am obliged to be “against it”.

    Leo XIII did not write Rerum Novarum as a kind of “Social Ten Commandments”, good for all time. He was speaking, at a given moment of time, to Catholics and others about particular social ills that were already being discussed (to put it lightly) by them, over the kitchen table and in the newspapers, in the streets, etc.

    To really understand Rerum Novarum, and not employ it as a means of advancing one’s own idea of how things should be, one must see what was said in the light of what was going on, and what came of it. One of the things (just one, and not necessarily the most important) was the legal acceptance in the United States of the validity of “labor unions”. It took some decades for that to happen, and it took arguments of American politicians, made in the American context, for that to happen. [I don't speak about Europe or Italy because I don't have a detailed knowledge of the history.]

    Does that mean that “labor unions” or “syndicates” are a “Catholic” idea? and came from “Catholic” sources? Of course not. And that is a verifiable, historical fact.

  58. Peggy says:

    I eagerly await reading this document. I was trained as an economist and read Milton Friedman before I became aware of Catholic thinking on it all. I don’t have it all worked out, frankly. I have many questions and concerns about reconciling the way markets work with some of the moral ideals put forth in prior encyclicals. A “just wage” is quite a morally correct idea and morally supportable, but a practical way of achieving that goal without distorting the market unreasonably or without employing needlessly brigades of economists, accountants, laywers, and so forth in evaluating individual wages and adjudicating each wage to ensure compliance is quite unworkable and a poor use of resources. Better to let things happen as they may and intervene rarely under some high standard of “market failure.”

    I agree as one poster pointed out that the church should pronounce moral principles based on Catholic social teaching. Heretofore the Church has never prescribed specific economic policies. Surely, if the Church can grant prudential judgment on the very serious matter of just war, then it would not prescribe a specific public policy on economics, globally or within a state.

    The WTO already exists to address matters of trade including opening markets to competition. The telecom agreements, eg, produced huge changes in domestic policy in many industrialized and developing nations and produced economic growth and technological advancement especially for developing nations which had room to grow. Sometimes those agreements can pry away at dictatorships’ policies that keep a nation poor.

    Two notes based on prior comments:
    1. It seems to me a chicken-egg issue, a nation’s poverty led it to dictatorship or whether a dictatorship led to poverty. For example, whatever condition that Zimbabwe was in when Mugabe came to power, was certainly better than it is today, an understatement if there was one. I think we need to examine what happened in these countries after the colonials left.
    2. How does any one with a straight face suggest that Milton Friedman is responsible for the most deaths in the 20th century? He was a brilliant economist, but surely not a saint, any one here would say. But a murderer? Please explain, Mark June 28 at 6:06 pm.

  59. roydosan says:

    Tom, not sure how I can be accussed of cafeteria Catholicism both abortion, and ultra liberal capitalism are opposed to the Church’s teachings and both must be rejected. It seems you are relativising economic sins. Relativism has also been condemned by the Holy Father.

  60. Maureen says:

    Basically, I don’t see a problem with all people having a right to food and water and health care. The thing is how you define the workings of this right. There’s a lot of difference between “you have a right to be allowed to seek food and water and health care, and nobody can steal it away from you under the guise of you not being important enough to need it any more” and “you have a right to get food and water and health care for free, to whatever extent you want it, from the government”, or “Catholic charity ought to do everything to provide everyone who needs it with food, water, and health care, as a matter of hospitality and neighborliness, because we are our brother’s keeper; and we ought not to slough off our brothers on some impersonal government or faraway taxpayer”.

  61. Mark says:

    “How does any one with a straight face suggest that Milton Friedman is responsible for the most deaths in the 20th century? He was a brilliant economist, but surely not a saint, any one here would say. But a murderer? Please explain, Mark”

    Well, for example, have you read Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”? Now, she’s a socialist, so her proposed (left-wing) solutions are off, but she shares with much of the Alternate Economics crowd, on both the right and left, a good insight into the problems.

    The Chicago School’s neoliberal capitalism is responsible for so much poverty in the third world, so many wars, so many famines.

  62. Peggy says:

    Mark,

    With all due respect, you must be kidding. The Chicago school of economics makes the most regulated companies uncomfortable. It’s too free even for them and many US govt folks. The poverty of the third world is a result of the corruption of the dictatorships. If they had freer societies (politically, economically, and religiously) these nations and their peoples would have greater prosperity–and yes, the corrupt governments would not be cutting self-serving deals with MNFs which seek to manufacture there. It’s not capitalism that’s the problem, it’s greed, not solely of the capitalists themselves, but of the dictators and their clients. I think, as I said above, one must also examine the post-colonial era and look at what transpired as the Europeans left and no longer ran those nations. I daresay it’s the lack of economic development that has these nations mired in poverty. Though, I will note that a rise in economic development brings increased contraception, abortion, smaller families and so forth. Those ills are important to examine as well. Interesting that B16 includes them in the encyclical.

    Greed’s been around for a long time, eg, Judas–and well before.

  63. Mark says:

    “The poverty of the third world is a result of the corruption of the dictatorships. If they had freer societies (politically, economically, and religiously) these nations and their peoples would have greater prosperity”

    No, the causation is the other way around.

    Poor countries are poor (and thus tend towards dictatorship) because of the subservient role in which they are embedded in the world economy, the exploited function they have in the world division of labor; through unequal exchange, unjust price, and the idea that the biggest profit goes not to the people who actually do the hard work but merely to those who “own” the capital.

  64. Peggy says:

    I skimmed some of the reviews of Ms. Klein’s book. She doesn’t like that free marketeers come in to argue for pro-market solutions in the wake of an upheaval. Seems to me that pro-govt forces try the same thing, as Obie and Rahm have said about not wasting this opportunity for change. The market solution is better, it’s freer. It’s hard to cry about New Orleans schools being run by private interests after Katrina. They are probably better run than if the city continued.

    The Chilean privatizations were mentioned by a few reviewers. As a professional economist on telecom liberalization in developing nations, I and my colleagues over the years have touted that as an economic development success story. There are indeed entrenched interests in public utilities in the developing world, and in Europe, where most PTTs are govt entities, until the WTO terms of the last decade. I don’t know why Pinochet felt compelled to privatize at gunpoint, as a reviewer claims. I know Pinochet was an evil dictator, however. Obviously, privatizing companies, while in itself a good thing, also put money in his own pockets, which is not the economic policy goal. Friedman isn’t into government greed or despotism. He wrote “Capitalism and Democracy” after all.
    ***
    I got kid issues. I don’t think capitalists are creating disasters to recreate a private solution. I think it is better more often than not to pursue a market solution when an opportunity arises. There’s nothign about killing people involved in that.

    The dictatorships are holding people back from freedom and prosperity; maybe not oppulent wealth but a “fair wage”. Gotta go…kids.

  65. laminustacitus says:

    “‘The poverty of the third world is a result of the corruption of the dictatorships. If they had freer societies (politically, economically, and religiously) these nations and their peoples would have greater prosperity’

    No, the causation is the other way around.”
    Then its quite a shame all of economics is against you right now. Prosperity depends on a free market, which in turn depends on property rights, which a dictatorship is often loathe to give to its citizens. In addition, property rights are almost unknown in the third world nations of today.

    “Poor countries are poor (and thus tend towards dictatorship) because of the subservient role in which they are embedded in the world economy, the exploited function they have in the world division of labor; through unequal exchange, unjust price, and the idea that the biggest profit goes not to the people who actually do the hard work but merely to those who “own” the capital.”
    And there’s not a shred of theoretical, or empirical evidence for why your statement is true.

  66. mpm says:

    Words of Pope Benedict at the Angelus today (29 June 2009):

    È ormai prossima la pubblicazione della mia terza Enciclica, che ha per titolo Caritas in veritate. Riprendendo le tematiche sociali contenute nella Populorum progressio, scritta dal Servo di Dio Paolo VI nel 1967, questo documento – che porta la data proprio di oggi, 29 giugno, solennità dei santi Apostoli Pietro e Paolo – intende approfondire alcuni aspetti dello sviluppo integrale nella nostra epoca, alla luce della carità nella verità. Affido alla vostra preghiera questo ulteriore contributo che la Chiesa offre all’umanità nel suo impegno per un progresso sostenibile, nel pieno rispetto della dignità umana e delle reali esigenze di tutti. [from vatican.va]

    The italicized last sentence means: “I entrust to your prayers this latest contribution the Church offers to humanity in its task of sustainable progress,” he added, “with full respect for human dignity and the real needs of all.”

  67. Peggy says:

    Thanks for adding to the discussio, Lamin…us. Yes, property rights and just courts, contract rights respected, etc, cannot happen in a corrupt dictatorship.

    –On the poverty/dictatorship causation theory, I think one needs to look at these former colonies of Brit powers and examined what happened in the vacuum that those powers left, how the dictatorships rose to power, how they keep the people down today.

    –Mark, I’ll play nonetheless. First, I reject out of hand your (Ms. K’s) claim that somehow Friedman’s ideas included dictatorship and mass murder to implement them. He was explicitly in favor of political liberty as a necessary component of economic liberty. That said, quantify the deaths from implementation of Friedman’s ideas in the developing world and compare them to the deaths from communism (Marx’s economic idea, which involved the state which allegedly would disappear), and the deaths from Nazism in the 20thC.

    Look forward to your reply. Gotta get on with my day. Kids are kind of antsy. But, this is important, the odd theories and accusations you are propounding here.

  68. Mark says:

    “Prosperity depends on a free market, which in turn depends on property rights, which a dictatorship is often loathe to give to its citizens. In addition, property rights are almost unknown in the third world nations of today.”

    There are two factors to consider when one speaks of “prosperity”. The first is total wealth available to the country in question, the second is fairness or efficiency of distribution of that wealth.

    The latter factor may be effected by the internal economic or political situation of a nation, but that only becomes important if the country has a positive balance of wealth to be concerned about the distribution of in the first place. Third World countries dont. And it’s not for lack of labor, potential skill, or raw materials.

    In fact, this latter concern is really a red herring, because most countries that do get a positive inflow of wealth (unfortunately, almost always from exploitative trade relationships with other countries)…naturally tend towards liberty and prosperity internally, though certainly not perfectly.

    Democracy and freedom are a LUXURY of the rich nations, not the cause of their wealth. Discrepencies within those countries however (the fact that there are American “poor”) serves a political end by convincing the voting populace of the apparent connection between democracy and better conditions for the poor. When really the American “poor” are not better off because of democracy, but rather have democracy and greater prosperity merely because they are citizens of a NATION that has the hegemonic power in the world.

    Freedom from domestic political and internal economic oppression are great as luxuries for the populaces of the Lord countries, but neo-liberal capitalism positively doesnt want it (except in pretense) for the Tenant/Serf countries.

    It’s not so much a question of tinkering with or “fixing” the internal economic systems of these nations. It’s a question of their subservient relationship to other countries externally.

    “And there’s not a shred of theoretical, or empirical evidence for why your statement is true.”

    There is plenty, if you dont dismiss it a priori:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unequal_exchange
    http://www.michaeljournal.org/poverty.htm
    http://www.michaeljournal.org/distrib.htm

  69. JP Windswept says:

    I would like to point out that Mark has yet to provide us with any proof that capitalism stands in opposition to authentic Catholic social doctrine.

    Regardless, now he has said that: “The Chicago School’s neoliberal capitalism is responsible for so much poverty in the third world, so many wars, so many famines.”

    Well, I don’t know about the Chicago School’s contribution to poverty and whatnot; but, I would recommend that everyone take a gander at Michael Novak’s book “Will it Liberate.” On the whole, the book is an argument against Marxian liberation theology. But, it also includes a powerful endorsement of capitalism.

    In a nutshell, Novak argues that capitalism has done more to help the plight of the poor than any other economic system. To provide an example, consider the situation of a corporation moving into a part of the third world. Some have argued that these corporations model the theology of the body. Let me explain, whenever a corporation moves into a third world country, it must build roads and other forms of infrastructure in order to get its goods in and out of the country. Also, it must hire people for that roadwork. It must hire workers to staff the factory or plant. It must hire people to train and educate those same workers and construction laborers. As it does, educational standards and provisions in surrounding areas rise — in order to be competitive for those jobs, for example, candidates must seek out better education in order to make themselves competitive candidates. In order to maintain a well-oiled staff, corporations must provide health care and the like. All in all, the quality and standards of life rise.

    The idea that these corporations wreak havoc on these poorer countries — the rich exploiting the poor and so forth — is nothing more than a very simple minded Marxist fiction. And, it more than certainly does not sit well with the volumes of evidence now available to us.

  70. Mark says:

    “That said, quantify the deaths from implementation of Friedman’s ideas in the developing world and compare them to the deaths from communism (Marx’s economic idea, which involved the state which allegedly would disappear), and the deaths from Nazism in the 20thC.”

    Structural Adjustment was the biggest genocide of the 20th century, and a direct result of Chicago School neo-liberal economic ideas.

    “According to UNICEF, over 500,000 children under the age of five died each year in Africa and Latin America in the late 1980s as a direct result of the debt crisis and its management under the International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment programs.”

    http://www.globalissues.org/article/3/structural-adjustment-a-major-cause-of-poverty

  71. mpm says:

    “Causality” is theory, how about some praxis?

    How about “micro-credits”?

    This form of cooperation between “capitalists” in the developed world (nasty people seeking a decent return on their money), and “entrepreneurs” in the developing world (often women looking for additional ways to provide for their families), takes the “initiative” out of the hands of beaurocrats (in either world) and provides capital for specified projects directly.

    As you probably know, micro-credits are loans (often tiny, like $30, to specific individuals in, say, Africa, who need some capital, to be able to provide some very local for-profit service to their communities, which often are bereft of currency. They put the proposals up on one or more online sites, and those who wish to deal with them, accept the proposals — which bear interest — for the stipulated time-period.

    The beauty of this concept is that local “entrepreneurs” (some would probably sneer at them as capitalists), many of them women, borrow the capital needed to purchase some form of capital-machinery needed for them to be “efficient” in producing something needed locally, but which is too small for international concerns (private, governemental, or NGO) to be bothered with.

    I believe that the experience on both sides has been overwhelmingly good, although I’m not sure about the experience in the current crisis (I haven’t checked).

    The “freedom to undertake a project” (entrepreneurship) is exercised, at a practical level, the personal responsibility of the locals is committed and developed, they acquire real experience, they often improve their own standard of living (relative to their own prior standard), and their purchases often assist local economic activity.

    For more information, you can Google and look around. One website that has additional explanations is the following: [http://www.mixmarket.org/en/overview.asp]

    So, having eliminated EITHER source of “the causality of poverty”, what’s wrong with this solution?

  72. JP Windswept says:

    Again, the thrust of Mark’s (or, is it Marx’s) statement that capitalism breeds poverty and war, is nothing more than a string of Marxist ideological fictions.

    Can anyone — including Mark or Marx — name a single time when a contemporary capitalist nation (e.g., the USA) went to war with another contemporary capitalist nation?

  73. Mark says:

    And that’s only “direct results”. I do not see, for example, a dichotomy between deaths caused by capitalism (both before and after Freidman) and deaths caused by Nazism and Communism, whose evils were all just a sociological function/result of capitalism.

    We all know that World War II and the Nazis were just a result of a financial situation imposed upon Germany after WWI. And Communism’s brutalities too were a result of the exploitation of second world nations vis a vis first world nations (remember, communist countries all continued to function as capitalists in their external economic relations).

  74. Mark says:

    “Can anyone—including Mark or Marx—name a single time when a contemporary capitalist nation (e.g., the USA) went to war with another contemporary capitalist nation?”

    In a major way, no, of course not. Which is just what we would expect! The Core of the World System has a vested interested in maintaining cohesion among its constituent parties. But it also has a vested interest in maintaining the existence of a Periphery from which wealth is funneled in. The wars are always going to be between the different zones of the world division of labor, specifically to maintain that division.

  75. Veritas says:

    Please could antisemites learn to spell the word correctly? Could critics of capitalism please include a definition so that we might know precisely what we are talking about?

    Perhaps the best enconium on capitalism is contained in the Communist Manifesto whch shows how it transforms the world and suggests that it makes possible a better future for all. Readers of Graham Greene’s book Mgr Quixote may remember the amazement of the priest when he read about the bourgeoisie in the copy of the Manifesto loaned by his Communist friend.

  76. Jordanes says:

    Mark claimed: We all know that World War II and the Nazis were just a result of a financial situation imposed upon Germany after WWI.

    No we don’t. WWII and the Nazis were a LOT more than that. It’s a fatal blindness to reduce human motives, actions, and experience to economic ones, as you are doing.

    Poor countries are poor (and thus tend towards dictatorship) because of the subservient role in which they are embedded in the world economy . . .

    A tautology. All you’ve really said is poor countries are poor because they are poor countries. That’s what it means to have a “subservient role in the world economy.”

  77. Veritas says:

    Mr Sarsfield should reflect that the good Lord got his religious conditioning, including the Scriptures which He quotes, from non-Catholic sources. St Thomas got much of his thought from that non-Catholic Aristotle. Reading his book on the Lord it appears that the Holy Father on biblical matters owes much to English Protestants and German Lutherans- look at the footnotes- who can be described as non-Catholic sources. You enjoin someone to grow up, well grown ups can spell ant-semitic, and are aware that truth on secular matters is not confined to any religious body and that we can all learn from the world.

  78. Mark says:

    Salient defining features of the capitalism being critiqued here include:

    1) a theory of comparative advantage that does not take into account unequal exchange

    2) a relativistic determination of value by supply and demand, which turns the way things work practically into an ideology about how they should

    3) usury, the private creation and renting of money as debt, treated as if it were a commodity in itself, and abstract financial instruments which are essentially gambling

    4) a world-wide division of labor between the nations “owning the capital” at the core, and those actually supplying the labor and materials (and also markets) at the periphery

    5) a distributive mechanism whereby massive technological advancement and ability to produce huge amounts of wealth…has bafflingly not eliminated the need for everyone to work a full-schedule in order to live

  79. Veritas says:

    typing error – anti not ant

  80. shadrach says:

    Which economic system facilitates greed most?

  81. laminustacitus says:

    “1) a theory of comparative advantage that does not take into account unequal exchange”
    The theory of comparative advantage is a correct theory – whine about it all you want on moral grounds, but it will still be as true as ever. In fact, it is only be accepting the truth of comparative advantage that an economy can flourish.

    “2) a relativistic determination of value by supply and demand, which turns the way things work practically into an ideology about how they should”
    Value is subjective. You cannot disprove that truth so instead you throw names at it like “relativistic” to suit your purposes.

    “3) usury, the private creation and renting of money as debt, treated as if it were a commodity in itself, and abstract financial instruments which are essentially gambling”
    Money is a commodity, another economic truth that you cannot disprove, so you instead call it names. Plus, all human endeavors over time are essentially “gambles”, me expecting that tomorrow my computer will not short-out is a “gamble”; “gambling” is a part of our existence over the temporal dimension. Man always must decide what risks to take, and what risks not to take, but there is no way of getting around taking risks.

    “4) a world-wide division of labor between the nations “owning the capital” at the core, and those actually supplying the labor and materials (and also markets) at the periphery”
    Do you know how a nation builds up capital? They do so with property rights because owning $1,000,000.00 worth of capital in a country without property rights is absurd, yet there is still that need for capital if the nation desires cheaper production via an economy of scale that rises the standard of living.

    “5) a distributive mechanism whereby massive technological advancement and ability to produce huge amounts of wealth…has bafflingly not eliminated the need for everyone to work a full-schedule in order to live”
    It is absolutely bafflingly that people are working more to earn more, isn’t it?

  82. laminustacitus says:

    “In a major way, no, of course not. Which is just what we would expect! The Core of the World System has a vested interested in maintaining cohesion among its constituent parties. But it also has a vested interest in maintaining the existence of a Periphery from which wealth is funneled in. The wars are always going to be between the different zones of the world division of labor, specifically to maintain that division.”
    You’re going off the deep end.

  83. ED2; In response to your post (the second one on this thread) let me tell you about a man I encountered a nuimber of years ago while visiting in your country.

    I’d say the man was in his fifties. He had had a heart attack not too long before and this had necessitated open heart surgery. When I met him he was up and about again but he could not go back to his former job because iof his health. He literally had no idea how he was going to survive. Given his age and his health his chances of getting a reasonable job were not great and he need a job with a decent salary because open heart surgery does not come cheap. He told me he was going to have to cash in his army pension to pay off his hospital bills. I knew that had he lived in Canada his bills would have been paid and he would have likely qualified for a disability pension which, while not great, would have fed him and kept a roof over his head.

    I also recall a long time back when Canada didn’t have medicare. A friend of mine who had, frankly, married too young, was struggling to pay the bills for his and his wife’s second baby.

    Looking back, I suspect that had abortion been legal back then and not such a taboo he would likely have opted for his wife to have an abortion.

    I’m not trying to pressure you folks into accepting medicare. We’re better off if you don’t because a lot of your companies relocate up here in order to avoid the expense of paying for health insurance coverage for their employees. In fact, I understand that it has come to a point where a lot of the pressure for medicare in your country is now coming from the corporate sector which finds paying for private health insurance coverage is just getting too expensive.

  84. In his post of June 28 at 1:29pm Mark said:

    “It can be confusing, because many theologically/liturgically/morally/etc conservative Catholics are also “economically conservative” which actually isnt part of Catholic Social Teaching at all (and which is really just part of radical ideological capitalism), and does give the impression that the Church is a just a Republican political mouthpiece sometimes.”

    EXACTLY! On ealier threads (CF Amerika e.g) I have strugled to make this same point.

    So many American Catholics are orthodox on abortion and euthanasia and just conservative (there is a difference) on everything else.

    As a result they tend to marginalize the Catholic Church, except for the Nancy Pellosi brand of Catholicism, and restrict the true Catholic views on issues such as abortion to the extreme right/GOP side of the puplic square.

  85. Latekate says:

    Mark: “Salient defining features of the capitalism being critiqued here include:

    THANK YOU for defining capitalism as you understand it. It explains a lot.

    Mark: “1) a theory of comparative advantage that does not take into account unequal exchange”

    There is no way on earth, even if your Marxist planners were the wisest men who ever lived, to eliminate unequal bargaining power or “unfair advantage”. People are born with different talents and into different economic circumstances and with different levels of knowledge. Simple capitalism does NOT attempt to “correct” what God in his wisdom has decided would be the lot of mankind on earth, it is simply a process of trading freely. The thing that is righteous, that concerns the Almighty, is how we INDIVIDUALLY address inequalities and unrighteousnesses we are capable of addressing. There is nothing noble or Christian about pointing a sword or gun at people and FORCING them to live as we say they ought.

    Mark: “2) a relativistic determination of value by supply and demand, which turns the way things work practically into an ideology about how they should

    Supply and demand are not relativistic at all. Factors constantly change, are adjusted by quantity, availability, ability of people to purchase, whether or not people even want the supply, it is a naturally occurring adjustment process that spurs innovation and competition as entrepreneurs try to make money supplying products and services as cheaply as possible…and that is ALL. That you can even debate this on a PC is supreme irony. What people DO, how they participate morally is not up to pure capitalism, that is the province of the Church to teach and lead. As far as “ideology”, that is simply a word that has become loaded with negative connotations and you are using it here in an attempt to smear as in “your have ideology”-I have truth”. My free market “ideology” really is true and does not require aggression, killing and theft. Your Marxist “ideology” DOES.

    Mark: “3) usury, the private creation and renting of money as debt, treated as if it were a commodity in itself, and abstract financial instruments which are essentially gambling”

    Money is simply an medium of exchange and a factor of production. To produce on any kind of scale large amounts are required and so is debt. Money IS a commodity, when there is none production is limited. There is nothing wrong with lending money for interest. What is wrong is state entities controlling an economy, deliberately impoverishing a people through regulations, treaties, taxation, and currency monopoly and debasement and forcing them into debt and then a private banking system “owning” people. That is the basis of usury, getting people into a debt situation that is unfair using force/aggression. Gambling is a personal vice, like drug use, frequenting prostitutes, etc. Vices are what people have, period. It is not up to other humans to try to force people to not have vices. If ignorant people are hornswoggled into investing in things they do not understand that is sad. But it is sadder yet that they are so regulated and managed that they can’t invest in their own businesses and opportunities closer to home that they DO understand.

    Mark: “4) a world-wide division of labor between the nations “owning the capital” at the core, and those actually supplying the labor and materials (and also markets) at the periphery”

    Do you understand what you have written? You wrote “NATIONS”, nations are STATES, states who back their preferred classes and collectives at the expense of everyone else. They back the companies that pay them off to pass regulations, treaties, etc. that favor them and hinder their competitors, laws that “socialize” costs while “privatizing” benefits, like the banker bailout, the UAW/Auto manufacturer bailout, wars for oil pipelines; you are complaining about state bestowed preferential treatment and it is the STATE, not capitalist trading, that sells their aggression to the high bidders and players.

    Mark: “5) a distributive mechanism whereby massive technological advancement and ability to produce huge amounts of wealth…has bafflingly not eliminated the need for everyone to work a full-schedule in order to live”

    And this is not the result of the laws of supply and demand, free market investment and competition, or ownership of private property at all. It is the result of a MANAGED economy and currency monopoly by the private banking cartel, the Fed. The economy is managed by government for special interests who pay them off to pass laws favorable to them and using tax dollars to pay their way. It is not the mechanism of private ownership (always in the guise of “protecting” the public) of the factors of production and distribution, it is the opposite. It is a mechanism of one group of people threatening to kill or jail those who do not live according to the rigged rules they have set up…and then blaming the resulting negative effects “free market failure” and insisting “we” “ned” MORE of their management and “oversight”! Can you not conceive of a society of private people living peacefully and trading for what they need, helping each other through charity? There is a reason capitalism is derided as a great evil and the state is exalted as a savior. It has been indoctrinated into millions of children over the past hundred or so years, chaining people with their own minds.

    Mark: ““According to UNICEF, over 500,000 children under the age of five died each year in Africa and Latin America in the late 1980s as a direct result of the debt crisis and its management under the International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment programs.”

    The UN advocates forced collectivism. Even now Obama is trying to ratify the horible “Convention on the child” UN “treaty” which eliminates parental rights of citizens of the US, supposedly a sovereign state. This has to be done via treaty because parents would never submit to such legislation through legal means. Your use of such a marxist organization and its Machiavellian “for the Children” methods of enslavement show your state worship. The poor will always be with us. Even poor children. The IMF, the World Bank, these are all statist layers of bureaucracy. The is nothing free market or capitalist about them. The Chicago School of Economics is statist, Milton Friedman was one of the architects of the (unconstitutional) income tax. He also placed his faith in the state to “regulate” and create a utopian society. He was less socialist than you, perhaps, but he was what the statist liked to point to as a “free -marketer” so that true free marketers would be seen as “fringe”.
    No, food, shelter, health care, “education”, TV’s, …none of these are “rights”. They are economic goods and services which cost money and must be paid for. There is no free lunch, just as Christ died for our sins on the cross SOMEONE must pay for these economic goods and services. You claim that we need the state to intervene and redistribute wealth to make things “fair” and force people to work for whatever the state says they should at whatever the state deems righteous, for the poor, etc.. You even cite UNICEF statistics on the deaths of children while ignoring the millions of deaths caused by marxist states in their efforts to force obedience, conformity and redistribute wealth.
    I am so tired of Marxists infiltrating every aspect of every organization and claiming some kind of moral high ground for the promotion of theft, killing, dumbing down, lying, and the reduction of humanity to “mere creatures of the state”, herd animals, hive dwellers. Every one of your complaints is against some form of state managed crony capitalism not free market economics. You simply want another gang stealing and redistributing YOUR way, “for the Children”, the poor, blah, blah.
    You want to live by the sword and force your “fair” utopia just as the crony capitalists want to run our lives for their financial gain. There is no freedom without the existence of private property, if there is no freedom and we become hive worker drones for the ruling elites (who, like you, always know best how others’ money and lives should be spent) we will see, and are seeing, the rise of eastern mysticism, the withdrawal into the self as people try to deal with their short circuited human potential and find some kind of meaning.

    Mark: “In a major way, no, of course not. Which is just what we would expect! The Core of the World System has a vested interested in maintaining cohesion among its constituent parties. But it also has a vested interest in maintaining the existence of a Periphery from which wealth is funneled in. The wars are always going to be between the different zones of the world division of labor, specifically to maintain that division.”

    With states we will always have war, war is a racket, with all due respect to those who believe in “good” wars. The little people fight and die killing people they do not know for bogus reasons for ruling elites to grab wealth, power and control. If people understood how they are manipulated into the obscenity of endless warfare they would be horrified at military displays and parades glamorizing it. But wars are fought by Marxists and crony capitalists alike, far from being opposites, the ideologies are simply “two wings on the same bird of prey”.

    Mark (and the other collectivists here), your worldview is simply NOT coherent and is NOT compatible with Christianity, despite what some well-meaning (and some not well meaning)but economically ignorant Catholics have promoted.

  86. Latekate says:

    So sorry!
    Correction:, this paagraph should read:

    And this is not the result of the laws of supply and demand, free market investment and competition, or ownership of private property at all. It is the result of a MANAGED economy and currency monopoly by the private banking cartel, the Fed. The economy is managed by government for special interests who pay them off to pass laws favorable to them (always in the guise of “protecting” the public)and using tax dollars to pay their way. It is not the mechanism of private ownership of the factors of production and distribution, it is the opposite. It is a mechanism of one group of people threatening to kill or jail those who do not live according to the rigged rules they have set up…and then blaming the resulting negative effects “free market failure” and insisting “we” “ned” MORE of their management and “oversight”! Can you not conceive of a society of private people living peacefully and trading for what they need, helping each other through charity? There is a reason capitalism is derided as a great evil and the state is exalted as a savior. It has been indoctrinated into millions of children over the past hundred or so years, chaining people with their own minds.

  87. Mark says:

    “The theory of comparative advantage is a correct theory – whine about it all you want on moral grounds, but it will still be as true as ever. In fact, it is only be accepting the truth of comparative advantage that an economy can flourish.”

    Comparative advantage is true indeed. But forcing developing economies to participate in “free trade” which involves unequal exchange is really not a just use of comparative advantage, it is an exploitative one.

    “Value is subjective. You cannot disprove that truth so instead you throw names at it like “relativistic” to suit your purposes.”

    The (Christian) economics of the Middle Ages had a notion of Just Price that would still be equally valid today. It would not have to involve micromanaging prices in some impossible centralized bureaucracy, but could be achieved through monetary policy (on a domestic and international level) that used free credit based on real wealth to close the gap between total purchasing power and prices.

    No one is saying that, all other things being equal, someone couldnt charge someone else a lot of money for something if they were willing to pay it, but rather that the distributional mechanisms of the world economy would be changed.

    So that, for example, a pair of shoes produced in China for 70 cents but sold in the USA for $35 would no longer find $34 of those dollars going to the distributor or mere “owner” of the capital while the ones who actually did the work get pennies because of exploitative gradients in the world economy.

    But no one is saying that ultimately the $35 couldnt be charged, even though the total amount of raw materials, capital, and cost-of-living for the employees averages out to much less.

    “Money is a commodity, another economic truth that you cannot disprove, so you instead call it names.”

    Money currently functions as a commodity, yes. But all theologians through Christian history up until the last ~150 years condemned such an idea as unnatural and usurious. Selling money (or “time” for that matter) is wrong. Time is God’s, and money is merely a system for regulating distribution as a means of exchange. Money is a public good that should be issued by the State for free to facilitate all exchanges, not private banks as debt.

    “Plus, all human endeavors over time are essentially “gambles”, me expecting that tomorrow my computer will not short-out is a “gamble”; “gambling” is a part of our existence over the temporal dimension. Man always must decide what risks to take, and what risks not to take, but there is no way of getting around taking risks.”

    That’s not what I meant by gambling. I meant the existence of financial instruments so removed from the actual production of the necessities (or even luxuries) of life that they are essentially a market on markets, a game of supply and demand for supply and demand!

    Stocks are one simple (and actually probably one of the least evil/most harmless) example. The idea of buying the rights to a portion of a company in exchange for a guarantee of a percent of its profits is theoretically sensible and okay. Even selling your portion if you believe that the dividends you will get will be less than the price that the next person is willing to pay (because he thinks the dividends will pay off that much) is still understandable, if getting more and more removed from actual goods and service.

    But almost no one buys stocks anymore because of how much they think they can get in dividends from the actual company. People instead swap stock in a wild casino game of vague future expectations for how much the stock is going to be worth based on a demand itself only based on expectations of future demand, ad infinitum, like a game of hot potato.

    “Do you know how a nation builds up capital?”

    Originally, by having colonies (or territory to expand into), and exploiting them for resources (and markets). But the whole world cant do that. The colonies cant have colonies, because then the colonies’ colonies would need colonies, and it’s turtles all the way down. The world economy as it currently exists is built on what is essentially a massive pyramid scheme.

    “It is absolutely bafflingly that people are working more to earn more, isn’t it?”

    The goal of the economic system is (or should be) the production of the greatest possible wealth with the least amount of effort. As technology has allowed us to produce things with less effort, it is absurd that there is still a mad puritanical drive to “employ” everyone when not everyone needs to be employed anymore (thanks to technology) to meet everyone’s needs.

    Someday, we may have robots able to produce everything for us. At that point, why should anyone have to work? But under our current system, such total unemployment would be seen as a blight, not a blessing. It’s ridiculous.

  88. mpm says:

    Mark says:

    Salient defining features of the capitalism being critiqued here include:

    1) a theory of comparative advantage that does not take into account unequal exchange

    Versus the actual classical comparative advantage where Ricardo showed that (1) England could import wine from Portugal cheaper than by producing it domestically, and that (2) Portugal could import British wheat cheaper than growing it domestically; and (3) that the King’s mercantilist (socialist) policies were standing in the way of that occuring?

    2) a relativistic determination of value by supply and demand, which turns the way things work practically into an ideology about how they should

    A price must necessarily be a relative value if we are going to exchange; so much of what you have that I want; so much of what I have that you want; that’s the “exchange rate”, or in single currency terms, the “price”, whether its pure barter or money intermediates.

    There’s no ideology involved. Here’s how things work: gum costs $1, I want gum; I give up $1 and receive the gum. Is that how things OUGHT to work? Damned if I can think of a better way for them to work!

    The great Marx might say, “But you don’t NEED the gum.” Ok, than let’s say “dinner” costs $1, and repeat the exercise!

    3) usury, the private creation and renting of money as debt, treated as if it were a commodity in itself, and abstract financial instruments which are essentially gambling

    Cf. “micro-credits”, and whether that is an evil practice, in and of itself;
    All financial instruments are abstract, that’s the point. Currency is abstract, that’s the point whereby it can be “currency”.

    The gambling you mention happends: I know some of the perpetrators personally. However, they gamble for their own reasons, and because they think they can get away with it. And not everyone in finance “gambles” (unless making decisions the outcome of which is not absolutely certain is to be considered gambling; but in that case, where they already knew the outcome with certainty in advance, you would call it theft!).

    4) a world-wide division of labor between the nations “owning the capital” at the core, and those actually supplying the labor and materials (and also markets) at the periphery(/em>

    You mean like in a board game like Risk? The world is what it is. The POINT is to improve things, not to decipher reasons why they cannot be improved.

    5) a distributive mechanism whereby massive technological advancement and ability to produce huge amounts of wealth…has bafflingly not eliminated the need for everyone to work a full-schedule in order to live

    I don’t even know what that means. Some folks have always generated “huge amounts” of wealth over the millenia (of course relative to what “huge” meant at their moment of history. The really, really rich and powerful ones, usually arranged to have themselves set up as Kings or Emperors. Free market economics, is not a science about what people should do with their wealth, but rather a rebuttal that the King (mercantilism), or the State (socialism), can “pick winners” for the common good better than the millions of human beings who are not the King or the State.

    St. Paulinus of Nola was the richest individual in the Empire in the late 4th C. I think one of his family estates was in France and is called “Aquitaine”. Yet he used his wealth in a Christian manner, and in spite of that people still had to support themselves. Today’s big billionaires almost all come from Silicon Valley (not Wall Street). Do you think they use their wealth like Paulinus of Nola?

  89. Peggy says:

    All of us sitting on our fat butts doing nothing would be a blessing, eh? Okey, dokey.

    RE: IMF, WB, and WTO. First off, I am all for national sovereignty for all nations, not just the US. These agencies do offend me on that basis. Yet, if a nation wants to trade with others, and develop economically, it may need to step up to the plate. Further, as another poster well-noted, these are multinational statist agencies–bureaucracies–funded by the first world, widely staffed by developing nation or 2nd tier nation citizens, full of corruption, with many plans designed to fail. The success of these plans also depends on the political will and intellectual capacity of the nation planning a modernization to do what needs to be done. It is unconscionable of those governments not to have just labor policies. It’s annoying to see the liberal WTO protesters call for US domestic labor/environmental regulations to be ratcheted up to allegedly level the playing field, while third world nations, not only allow poor pay, but also inhumane work conditions. I think you, Mark, have no idea of the extent of corruption in the developing world that keeps the people from prosperity. The widest gaps between rich and poor citizens occur of a developing nation, not in the US or developed West. While the West as a whole is rich compared to the developing world, note the different forms of government, the assignment of property and contract rights, and workers’ rights, between the developed and undeveloped worlds. The poor in the US have it very, very good, compared to the poor in the developing world.

  90. In reply to Tom’s comment: ["Milton Friedman: ” the only moral responsibility of a corporation is to make a profit through legal means”

    Doesn’t sound too Catholic to me]

    JP Windswept says: “Right, unless, of course, making that profit enables a corporation to, among other things, pay its employees … who can then feed, clothe, educate, and provide medical care to themselves, their families, and their children. Yeah. Not Catholic at all, in fact.”

    But JP! All of these laudable effects follow FROM the corporation’s making a profit. Neither Friedman nor you are saying that these things are in anyway the moral responsibility of a corporation. But what happens if these benefits that accrue begin to come in confict with what is the corporation’s moral responsibility which is making a profit?

    For example, what if it becomes apparent to the owners of the corporation that labour costs, (normally the chief expense) can be drastically lowered by automating and eliminating thousands of jobs?

    According to this statemnt by Friedman the corporation not only may but has a moral responsibility to eliminate these jobs meaning that the employees will no longer make the money to feed, clothe, educate, and provide medical care to themselves, their families, and their children.

    It is at this point that Friedman’s principle becomes immoral.

    An economic system is meant to serve the people. The people are not meant to serve the economic system.

    Capitalism is an economic system. It is nothing more nor less than that. To the extent that it suceeds in producing wealth and distributing it eqjuitably it is a good thing. Where it fails in so doing it may be necessary to modify it, regulate it or, if a better system comes along, replace it altogether.

  91. Mark says:

    “There is no way on earth, even if your Marxist planners were the wisest men who ever lived, to eliminate unequal bargaining power or “unfair advantage”.”

    “My” “Marxist planners”??? Please do not put words into my mouth or set up straw men like that! I do NOT propose price controls nor centralized planning nor confiscation and redistribution of private property (unless, possibly, it was originally amassed through an injustice/stealing in the first place that needs to be corrected) nor anything like that.

    “People are born with different talents and into different economic circumstances and with different levels of knowledge.”

    No one is disagreeing, though the “different economic circumstances” is a bit troubling as it suggests people disadvantaged NOT necessarily by lesser talent or ability, but merely lower class, merely being embedded in the socio-economic network at a less advantageous node, having more or less value as a human being based merely on “social capital” as it were.

    Now, some of that is inevitable, but the gradients that exist could be much more diffused/subsidiary/local, instead of a vast world system that essentially has one mega-gradient (the “Western” core vs. the second world semiperiphery and third world periphery). The vicious efficiency of the hyper-specialization we have today in the world market does not need to exist, as it turns out that a rising tide does not, in fact, raise all ships.

    “The thing that is righteous, that concerns the Almighty, is how we INDIVIDUALLY address inequalities and unrighteousnesses we are capable of addressing. There is nothing noble or Christian about pointing a sword or gun at people and FORCING them to live as we say they ought.”

    And no one is proposing that. But the idea that if we are privately charitable (which will never solve industrial society’s poverty) we can go on taking advantage of our pleasant position in a system that has fundamental systematic injustices built into it, which is exploitative by nature…is naive. But of course it’s what people WANT to hear. Because the obligations placed upon us if we realize how many dead African children an hour of watching television is economically equivalent to…is terrifying.

    “My free market “ideology” really is true and does not require aggression, killing and theft. Your Marxist “ideology” DOES.”

    Again, putting words in my mouth. Accusing me of being a Marxist. Accusing me of wanting some sort of violence.

    It would not require any force or coercion. It is the capitalists who use war to enforce their world order when poorer countries try to question it.

    But really it would involve merely changing monetary and trade policy, in ways that would not have to be micro-regulated or constantly enforced.

    “There is nothing wrong with lending money for interest.”

    No, not if you are actually lending money you actually have. But that’s not what banks do. They privately create money based on the debt of the loan itself. They arent lending from deposits, they are creating money as debt.

    “And this is not the result of the laws of supply and demand, free market investment and competition, or ownership of private property at all. It is the result of a MANAGED economy and currency monopoly by the private banking cartel, the Fed.”

    Well, here we do agree. I just dont see how you cant see the logical connection between the evils of the Fed and capitalism causing poverty in the third world.

    “Can you not conceive of a society of private people living peacefully and trading for what they need, helping each other through charity?”

    I certainly can. In fact, it’s what I’d like to see. Unfortunately, the current way trade is conducted internationally, and monetary policy domestically, has injustice systematically and structurally built into it and isnt peaceful.

    “They are economic goods and services which cost money and must be paid for. There is no free lunch, just as Christ died for our sins on the cross SOMEONE must pay for these economic goods and services.”

    Not really. God pays for them. The Earth pays for them with its abundance. Past generations paid for them by inventing technology and laying the infrastructure.

    Why couldnt we sit back and let robots farm for us and live off the food, without us having to “do anything” to “earn” it?

    I know we may not be quite at that point technologically yet, but we are certainly at a point where thanks to technology, a small subset of the population working would be enough (is enough, actually, alreaady) to take care of everyone’s necessities. The average income on earth is $7000 a year. It’s no American decadent lifestyle, but it is certainly infinitely better than a couple billion people currently live.

    The only problem is distribution. But dont assume from that I support some sort of socialistic coercive redistribution of wealth ala pooling all the wealth and distributing it equally regardless of contribution. That obviously doesnt work. But the mechanisms of just distribution (which I know isnt the same as equal or level distribution) are broken.

    They would require some state involvement inasmuch as the State is the proper mechanism for representing the public in the question of public goods (though not when the current system allows it to be usurped by private interests), but this involvement would certainly not be coercive or any sort of centralized pricing or anything like that. It would mainly involve supplying debt-free social credit money to make financially possible what is physically possible, providing the citizens with their fair citizen dividend, and then doing all the stuff about enforcing conracts, stopping theft and fraud, and all the other property rights stuff that people keep mentioning (and which I agree with).

    “You claim that we need the state to intervene and redistribute wealth to make things “fair” and force people to work for whatever the state says they should at whatever the state deems righteous, for the poor, etc..”

    Where have I said this? Please, you are jumping to conclusions, because the wizards of your ideology have set up a dichotomy that ignores third way alternatives.

    “With states we will always have war, war is a racket, with all due respect to those who believe in “good” wars. The little people fight and die killing people they do not know for bogus reasons for ruling elites to grab wealth, power and control.”

    I mainly agree. But the problem isnt States per say, a natural part of God’s order, which free market anarchist types seem to ignore. The problem is an unsustainable economic and monetary system that requires wars to create markets and enforce the neoliberal order in the world.

    “If people understood how they are manipulated into the obscenity of endless warfare they would be horrified at military displays and parades glamorizing it. But wars are fought by Marxists and crony capitalists alike, far from being opposites, the ideologies are simply “two wings on the same bird of prey”.”

    I agree totally. Dont accuse us of collectivism when we’re not.

  92. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    When you read the Non-Catholic capitalists on the Catholic Social Teachings contained in the great encyclicals, they are able to be honest. For example Murray N. Rothbard called Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno “virulently anti-capitalist and, in fact, pro-fascist.” I would disagree about the term fascist, for example I do not consider Engelbert Dollfuss of Austria a fascist, yet he did run Austria according to the principles of QUadragesimo Anno, and I do believe that the teachings of Quad. Anno are binding on Catholics, and all men of good will for that matter.

    Finally, we are forgetting the most important point, which system is the most supportive of man’s final end. Capitalism is completely inimical to this. Name a single country that has survived the twin assaults of Capitalism and Democracy. Once these take hold invariably the country goes down hill and see you pornography, abortion, divorce, contraception emerge. The vast vast vast majority of America is living in an objective state of grave sin, and the economic/political system has a great deal to do with it.

  93. laminustacitus says:

    “But forcing developing economies to participate in “free trade” which involves unequal exchange is really not a just use of comparative advantage, it is an exploitative one.”
    The law of comparative advantage is extremely important for a developing economy since it allows that developing economy to figure out where it is most competitive. There is no use for England to produce both wine, and wool when it can produce only wool, which is has a comparative advantage in, sell that wool for wine to Portugal, and end up with more of both because it specialized.

    The (Christian) economics of the Middle Ages had a notion of Just Price that would still be equally valid today.”
    There was no such thing as “economics” before the School of Salmanca, and the Medieval notion of the just price was a purely political notion that did not take into consideration economics.

    “It would not have to involve micromanaging prices in some impossible centralized bureaucracy, but could be achieved through monetary policy (on a domestic and international level) that used free credit based on real wealth to close the gap between total purchasing power and prices.”
    “Free credit”? What do you mean by that?

    “Selling money (or “time” for that matter) is wrong. Time is God’s, and money is merely a system for regulating distribution as a means of exchange.”
    First of all, you need to think of a far better critique of usury. Second of all, the reason why many Medieval scholastics arrived at their opinions about usury as the seller forcing the user to buy a good twice was a result of them not realizing the temporal dimension, and that individuals value goods in the present more than goods in the future, and that the rate of interest is the catallacts of that time preference.

    “Money is a public good that should be issued by the State for free to facilitate all exchanges, not private banks as debt.”
    And this monetary system has lead to extreme inflation (compare the dollar’s worth in 1800 with its worth in 1913, and then compare the dollar’s worth in 1913 with its contemporary worth), and business cycles due to the skewing of the structure of production due to monetary injections resulting in a boom-bust cycle.

    “Originally, by having colonies (or territory to expand into), and exploiting them for resources (and markets). But the whole world cant do that. The colonies cant have colonies, because then the colonies’ colonies would need colonies, and it’s turtles all the way down. The world economy as it currently exists is built on what is essentially a massive pyramid scheme.”
    Your explanation cannot explain the rise of the textile industry in Great Britain, nor the rise of industry in the United States. You must look at domestic capital accumulation, and the concentration of domestic capital into the hands of a few entrepreneurs via commercial banks.

    “The goal of the economic system is (or should be) the production of the greatest possible wealth with the least amount of effort. As technology has allowed us to produce things with less effort, it is absurd that there is still a mad puritanical drive to “employ” everyone when not everyone needs to be employed anymore (thanks to technology) to meet everyone’s needs.”
    Demand is infinite, and ergo individuals will always desire more than they already have, and will proceed to work more to satiate those demands.

  94. Mark says:

    “The widest gaps between rich and poor citizens occur of a developing nation, not in the US or developed West. While the West as a whole is rich compared to the developing world, note the different forms of government, the assignment of property and contract rights, and workers’ rights, between the developed and undeveloped worlds. The poor in the US have it very, very good, compared to the poor in the developing world.”

    THAT’S the illusion they’ve created. They’ve convinced you that, because of a mere correlation, that democracy or a domestic free market is CAUSING our prosperity. But really, democracy is simply the pacifying luxury of a nation that holds an advantageous (ie, exploitative) position in the world system and so has enough wealth to make a free and prosperous society from the spoils of it’s thievery.

    There are Scandanavian countries that are “Socialist” and it “works” for them. Not because socialism works (it doesnt) but because their position in the CAPITALIST world system allows them enough wealth to do that effectively (at least, the people report high levels of subjective happiness).

    Heck, they could have a King instead of any sort of democracy, and he wouldnt dare be oppressive if they were rich (you can only oppress the poor). Consider Dubai, authoritarian but rich, and most people there wouldnt complain about quality of life. Democracy is just a luxury of the rich nations, not a cause of wealth.

  95. Peggy says:

    Oh, for gosh’s sake.

    An illusion? Interestingly, even in the US early post-colonial era (even during the Revolutionary War itself), while the UK and France were monarchies, John Adams noted the connection between the liberty in the US and the more even distribution of wealth. He didn’t quite say that, but he and Abigail noted the desperate poor in the streets while the monarchs, especially in France of course, were living quite opulently. Not a site in even early America. [See David McCollough's bio of Adams.] When people have liberty to use their skills to the benefit of others and to gain a living, they and all citizens thrive.

    I also think culturally the US is different from Europe, though that is changing. The Scandanavian nations are largely homogeneous, though now immigration from African nations is changing that and creating dependent populations. We have large dependent populations which strain the US system. We are not culturally homogeneous either. We’re a nation of immigrants–I’ve not even gotten to the illegal immigration issue. The monarch in question I understand to be rather benevolent and likely has approved some democratic liberties to the people. The decrease in reproduction rates is a great concern for the fiscal wherewithal of social welfare systems in Europe and the U.S. So, socialism is not working in that regard and it is facing breakdown.

    Yes, Scandanavian nations were a part of the general cultural, scientific, and educational advancement of the western world. That certainly provides them with a more functional work force than the developing nations have, among many other resources. So, it’s a fault of capitalism and mercantilism, only a few centuries old, that the third world was forgotten until recently and is allegedly treated unfairly? This is getting into large questions about the development of civilizations and why Europe developed ahead of other continents. This is too big for the question of the best form of economic systems that are at issue today. Arguably, the imperial powers of Europe brought all of this know-how to their colonies; yes, they were feudal with the native peoples. But then they left which the natives wanted. Why didn’t the native peoples achieve self-governance with some level of liberty and economic progress following the exits of the European powers?

    I’ve got to feed the family. A tout al’heure.

  96. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Peggy,

    In early America land was practically free. The population density was low. Of course someone could come here and farm. But what do you think Mr. Adams would have thought of the pre-Civil War New York and the Irish slums. I won’t defend England, anymore than I would a communist nation, but America had natural resources the others did not, and how did they come by them… oh yeah they stole them from the Native population. It had nothing to do with liberty, but in south it did have something to do with slavery.

  97. Latekate says:

    Mark: ““My” “Marxist planners”??? Please do not put words into my mouth or set up straw men like that! I do NOT propose price controls nor centralized planning nor confiscation and redistribution of private property (unless, possibly, it was originally amassed through an injustice/stealing in the first place that needs to be corrected) nor anything like that.”

    You post UNICEF as a source?? Are you aware of the political views of the UN and UN supporters? This ridiculous apologetic : ” And Communism’s brutalities too were a result of the exploitation of second world nations vis a vis first world nations (remember, communist countries all continued to function as capitalists in their external economic relations).” blaming capitalism for Communist brutality?
    There is also this gem:
    “Poor countries are poor (and thus tend towards dictatorship) because of the subservient role in which they are embedded in the world economy, the exploited function they have in the world division of labor; through unequal exchange, unjust price, and the idea that the biggest profit goes not to the people who actually do the hard work but merely to those who “own” the capital.”

    Sorry, but lamenting “unequal exchange”, “unjust price” (and WHO is the god-man or god-planners who decide this stuff, hhmmm?), profit “to the people”, and the derision of capital ownership and the lack of acknowledgement of the entrepreneurial risk and vision/planning is CLASSIC Marxism!

    Mark: “People are born …….ent levels of knowledge.”
    ********
    No one is disagreeing, though the “different economic circumstances” is a bit troubling as it suggests people disadvantaged NOT necessarily by lesser talent or ability, but merely lower class, merely being embedded in the socio-economic network at a less advantageous node, having more or less value as a human being based merely on “social capital” as it were.”

    Not always, and again, WHO gets to decide what “classes” should exist? Do we have NO classes or societal divisions, an egalitarian levelling of all to serf status (except the god-planners, of course,) shall we not rest until we, in our hubris, make Christ a liar and there are no poor among us? I’m not sure what you mean by “social capital”. Some folks are more politically talented than others. Some folks are born into humble circumstances, which can be a gift, a crucible of character formation. These are things that cannot be “corrected” forcibly, only mitigated by voluntary kindness and love. Remember: “The glory of His humble birth relieves us of our poverty”. I am in full agreement that the world is not fair, but promoting using state force to correct naturally occurring negative circumstances, and even some exploitation (for their will always be bullies) will always result in tyrants gaining state power and using it to make things even worse.

    Mark: “Now, some of that is inevitable, but the gradients that exist could be much more diffused/subsidiary/local, instead of a vast world system that essentially has one mega-gradient (the “Western” core vs. the second world semiperiphery and third world periphery). The vicious efficiency of the hyper-specialization we have today in the world market does not need to exist, as it turns out that a rising tide does not, in fact, raise all ships.”

    It would not be an issue in a free market. When people are dumbed down and tracked into being employees and debt slaves, when economic opportunity is tightly managed and controlled via regulations, credentialling, treaties, licensing, taxation, and political cronyism those who are protected by the state become unnaturally large and powerful and take advantage of the unprotected with impunity and the assistance of the state (read about how Hawaii became a state). THAT is the core of most of what you are railing about. And you are simply advocating more state control and scapegoating of capitalistic behavior.

    Mark: “And no one is proposing that. ”

    You are proposing it to the degree you want the state to regulate, etc., capitalistic behavior.

    Mark:”But the idea that if we are privately charitable (which will never solve industrial society’s poverty)”

    Not as long as the state is in the way taxing away our money and deciding who is deserving of state charity, managing economic opportunity, etc..

    Mark: ” we can go on taking advantage of our pleasant position in a system that has fundamental systematic injustices built into it, which is exploitative by nature…is naive. But of course it’s what people WANT to hear. Because the obligations placed upon us if we realize how many dead African children an hour of watching television is economically equivalent to…is terrifying.”

    I’m not sure how you are equating dead children with the value of TV watching. That is apples and oranges. But imperialism is a bad thing and it is only possible through the use of state force, military might to force occupation and exploitation. (A lot of Africas problems are internal warfare and tribalism as well.)

    Mark: ““My free ……..arxist “ideology” DOES.”
    ******
    Again, putting words in my mouth. Accusing me of being a Marxist. Accusing me of wanting some sort of violence.”

    I am going by your posts, see above. Also the state, government IS VIOLENCE. They are a legalized mafia, a protection racket. They are not YOUR protectors, they are exploiters, looters, killers and liars.

    Mark: “It would not require any force or coercion. It is the capitalists who use war to enforce their world order when poorer countries try to question it.”

    Mark, think about this. How can a private individual, a capitalist, make war on anyone? MAYBE a rich guy like Warren Buffet could assemble a small army but it is very expensive and he could have no where NEAR the capability in occupying or killing as a state. He would be much more easily defeated by militias or other private security forces. Poor countries are usually run by corrupt states that sell out their people, much like the US government is selling out the citizens to loot as much as they can as the system crumbles. If they aren’t corrupt our state kills the leaders and installs puppets like Saddam, the Shah, the Saudis etc. GOVERNMENT, faith in the state, is the problem, not capitalism.

    Mark: “But really it would involve merely changing monetary and trade policy, in ways that would not have to be micro-regulated or constantly enforced.”

    More government intervention which is causing the inequalities to begin with. It is illogical to expect people to be “good”, have a monopoly on absolute power and not abuse it. It is ignoring the doctrine of original sin. “Who will protect us from the protectors?”

    Mark: ““There is nothing wrong with lending money for interest.”
    *********
    No, not if you are actually lending money you actually have. But that’s not what banks do. They privately create money based on the debt of the loan itself. They arent lending from deposits, they are creating money as debt.”

    No argument there at ll. And they are doing it with a state controlled and enforced banking and currency monopoly. We should be able to be able to choose from among a variety of currencies. I know I wouldn’t choose one thats value fluctuated or inflated anytime some power grabbers wanted a war. End the Fed swindle. It is theft of gigantic proportions.

    Mark: ““And this is not the result of the laws of supply and demand, free market investment and ……….cy monopoly by the private banking cartel, the Fed.”
    ************
    Well, here we do agree. I just dont see how you cant see the logical connection between the evils of the Fed and capitalism causing poverty in the third world.”

    Capitalism can’t do much at all, certainly not cause poverty all over the world UNLESS capitalists (and capitalists are afflicted with original sin as are marxists) pay off government to run interference for them, protect them, start wars for them, bully for them, ethnic cleanse for them.

    Mark: “Can you n………ed, helping each other through charity?”
    **********
    I certainly can. In fact, it’s what I’d like to see. Unfortunately, the current way trade is conducted internationally, and monetary policy domestically, has injustice systematically and structurally built into it and isnt peaceful.”

    And all of that is THE STATE. You are blaming capitalism for state activity, intervention.

    Mark: “They ……..economic goods and services.”
    *************
    Not really. God pays for them. The Earth pays for them with its abundance. Past generations paid for them by inventing technology and laying the infrastructure.”

    So you are going to work for free at a hospital, a nursing home, a sewage treatment plant, an assembly line…whatever is required to produce the food, clothing, medical supplies and services?? God works through us. People have to eat, have to survive to “invent technology and lay infrastructure”. Capitalist behaviors, unwedded to government, are the best way, the most efficient way to produce and distribute goods and services. We are not in the Garden of Eden, man has to toil for his bread. Who decides who toils and who receives?

    Mark: “Why couldnt we sit back and let robots farm for us and live off the food, without us having to “do anything” to “earn” it?”

    Fine by me. Go for it. Where is your robot farm?

    Mark: “I know we may not be quite at that point technologically yet,”

    Those past generations missed a few things? Who is going to build the robots? Will they do this for free and not have to eat, wear clothing, receive medical care, etc.?

    Mark: ” but we are certainly at a point where thanks to technology, a small subset of the population working would be enough (is enough, actually, alreaady) to take care of everyone’s necessities. The average income on earth is $7000 a year. It’s no American decadent lifestyle, but it is certainly infinitely better than a couple billion people currently live.”

    Why not get rid of the state killing and loting and let people be free to trade. THEN you would see the whole world achieve a level far better than your $7,000. Why limit people that way?

    Mark: “The only problem is distribution. But dont assume from that I support some sort of socialistic coercive redistribution of wealth ala pooling all the wealth and distributing it equally regardless of contribution. That obviously doesnt work. But the mechanisms of just distribution (which I know isnt the same as equal or level distribution) are broken.”

    Well, your previous postings are full of “just” this and “unjust” that so obviously you feel competent to judge what is just and what is not and desire profit to the workers and not the owners, the risk takers and visionaries. That kind of system has never worked either and is immoral to boot. Anything other than free market economics is going to be based on aggression and theft OR you are alluding to some kind of indoctrination (also aggression and immoral) into an Obamian/Clintonian slave state where people do not receive money but are “provided for” by a state.

    Mark: “They would require some state involvement inasmuch as the State is the proper mechanism for representing the public in the question of public goods (though not when the current system allows it to be usurped by private interests),”

    Wrong. This would be the province of the Church, for Christians. The state is raw aggression, theft, murder, deceit. They do not represent “public” anything. They represent themselves and their own power. In fact “public” is a myth. Anything “public” is actually owned/controlled by the ruling gang, the state. Just try to use any public property as you wish. You can’t. It is only yours to pay for. They even think they own us, so they tell us what we can eat, decide our medical care, etc., etc.

    Mark: ” but this involvement would certainly not be coercive or any sort of centralized pricing or anything like that. It would mainly involve supplying debt-free social credit money to make financially possible what is physically possible, providing the citizens with their fair citizen dividend, and then doing all the stuff about enforcing conracts, stopping theft and fraud, and all the other property rights stuff that people keep mentioning (and which I agree with).”

    The state does none of this. They enforce the contracts they want and ignore the others, like Obamas ignoring the contracts of the auto company bond holders and enforcing the UAW contracts. The state IS coercion, raw force, “a boot on the face of mankind”. Monetary control is causing the mess we are currently in. “Fair citizen dividend”???? This IS wealth redistribution by the state! Or are they simply going to print up money backed by nothing?

    Mark:”“You claim that we need the state to intervene and redistribute wealth to make things “fair” and forc….deems righteous, for the poor, etc..”
    **********
    Where have I said this? Please, you are jumping to conclusions, because the wizards of your ideology have set up a dichotomy that ignores third way alternatives.”

    See the post directly above!

    Mark: ““With states…………sons for ruling elites to grab wealth, power and control.”
    ***********
    I mainly agree. But the problem isnt States per say, a natural part of God’s order, which free market anarchist types seem to ignore.

    Righteous authority is a natural part of Gods order, not false god-men attempting to create utopia on earth.

    Mark: “The problem is an unsustainable economic and monetary system that requires wars to create markets and enforce the neoliberal order in the world.”

    That is STATE created and enforced.

    Mark: “Dont accuse us of collectivism when we’re not.

    I haven’t. You are.

  98. shadrach says:

    Latekate,

    How can a freer capitalist system be brought to adhere to the strong Catholic values you obviously hold?

  99. Mark says:

    “The law of comparative advantage is extremely important for a developing economy since it allows that developing economy to figure out where it is most competitive. There is no use for England to produce both wine, and wool when it can produce only wool, which is has a comparative advantage in, sell that wool for wine to Portugal, and end up with more of both because it specialized.”

    A great classic example that unfortunately is much more simplistic than the situation today. We’re not talking about one nation trading end-product for end-product. We’re talking about, essentially, trading capital for the end-product produced with that same capital.

    And it gets ridiculous when one starts to see real examples. Africa has the advantage in labor and raw materials, America only in “capital,” in “money” and machinery.

    And the exchange works something like this: Africa grows cotton, sells it to us for money. Uses that money to buy looms from us. Then takes a loan to buy BACK the cotton. Makes shirts on the looms with it. Sells those shirts to our companies. Uses that money to try to pay the debt. But our companies end up selling those shirts back to the African populace anyway in exchange for more money that they borrowed on the promise of future cotton production. And so the cycle continues…

    It’s absurd. The cotton and shirts are both produced there, and consumed by them there. Common sense would make this a purely domestic interaction for them. But instead of making a profit, they wind up in debt to the capitalists who do, in fact, make a profit at every step along the way, selling things “back” to them just because of our higher position on the market slope of capital.

    And why do we have the capital in the first place? Where do we get that “surplus” that cultural inheritence? Because Europeans colonized Africa 150 years ago and really did use military power and such to produce work (at the expense of greater entropy there), and then about 50 years ago just left them with their “freedom” and no capital, no longer needing to use political force, because the economic relations of dependency were already at that point firmly established.

    “There was no such thing as “economics” before the School of Salmanca, and the Medieval notion of the just price was a purely political notion that did not take into consideration economics.”

    And they got by somehow.

    ““Free credit”? What do you mean by that?”

    Social credit. Debt-free money based on the total wealth of the nation, to facilitate all exchanges. To make financially possible what is physically possible.

    “First of all, you need to think of a far better critique of usury. Second of all, the reason why many Medieval scholastics arrived at their opinions about usury as the seller forcing the user to buy a good twice was a result of them not realizing the temporal dimension, and that individuals value goods in the present more than goods in the future, and that the rate of interest is the catallacts of that time preference.”

    If you are loaning money at interest that you actually have then, yes, in a productive investible economy…”opportunity” (or “risk”) has value.

    That is very different than privately creating money out of the debt of the loan itself, the collateral or even just promise to pay, and then expecting interest on top of that.

    “And this monetary system has lead to extreme inflation”

    The debt-money system has, yes. But if money were issued without interest, if the same proportion were kept between money and total number of exchanges requiring it (not necessarily a direct proportion, the algorithm could be more complicated) there wouldnt have to be any inflation.

    “You must look at domestic capital accumulation, and the concentration of domestic capital into the hands of a few entrepreneurs via commercial banks.”

    On that I think we agree.

    “Demand is infinite, and ergo individuals will always desire more than they already have, and will proceed to work more to satiate those demands.”

    Demand is potentially infinite. Saying it “is” infinite is only true in the type of consumerist economy produced by capitalism.

    There are plenty of people who would be happy not working as long as they got their basic necessities.

    And if 10% of the population working can take care of the necessities for everyone…why shouldnt some people be able to expect their necessities without having to work? Technology has made it so they dont have to. In the past 90% of people had to work the fields to feed all 100%. If technology has made the jobs of 80% of those people obsolete…why should they be punished for that since the amount of production and number of mouths to feed is the same? Why shouldnt they be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of technology if they want? Those who want more luxuries, non-essentials, would be free to still work. But we dont need to create demand to create superfluous employment. A social dividend should gradually replace a wage as technology makes more and more labor superfluous.

  100. Mark says:

    “You post UNICEF as a source?? Are you aware of the political views of the UN and UN supporters?”

    The UN is an organization made up of multiple parties, including the United States, with varying political views, and the Vatican itself is cautiously optimistic towards the possibilities of it. You are the one sounding like an isolationist conspiracy theorist now.

    Some of the UN’s current leftist social agendas of course trouble me probably even more than they trouble you (the promotion of democracy and such, for example, not to mention abortion and contraception.) But just as social conservatives bafflingly tend towards economic conservatism for some reason, economic liberals (as the poor nations rightly, and for obvious reasons, tend to be) also bafflingly tend towards social liberalism. I personally dont see the connection except that the same word is used to describe each, but the powers that be have convinced people that the one is part and parcel with the other (ie, social and economic conservatism or liberalism.

    “Sorry, but lamenting “unequal exchange”, “unjust price” (and WHO is the god-man or god-planners who decide this stuff, hhmmm?), profit “to the people”, and the derision of capital ownership and the lack of acknowledgement of the entrepreneurial risk and vision/planning is CLASSIC Marxism!”

    Please be careful. Marxism and Marxianism are very different. Marxism is a radical and revolutionary political philosophy that makes value judgments. Marxianism, on the otherhand, is just a particular impersonal analysis of the economy like any other “school”…separating some of Marx’s purely economic insight from his political ideology.

    I dont deny that some of these economic analyses and ideas are Marxian-inspired, but they are being used with CATHOLIC social teaching and political ideology, not Marxist.

    Pope Benedict himself has admitted that Marx’s analysis of the economic situation was, if somewhat biased, still very acute and perceptive. The problem was he turned an analysis into an ideology. He identified the problems correctly, but then bootstrapped them to evil and unworkable solution and, in fact, a materialistic all encompassing philosophy.

    And because of that, a lot of people throw out the baby with the bathwater. But some of the economic principles he elucidated, the ones that can be more or less fully disentangled from his political and philosophical ideology, are not to be rejected just because of the source.

    “Do we have NO classes or societal divisions, an egalitarian levelling of all to serf status (except the god-planners, of course,) shall we not rest until we, in our hubris, make Christ a liar and there are no poor among us?”

    No, of course not. But currently the economy is not based on merit, as people like to portray. Capitalism institutionalizes certain private interests and rewards greed and immorality.

    “And you are simply advocating more state control and scapegoating of capitalistic behavior.”

    What “state control” do I advocate? I advocate a restructuring of how various economic processes or systems work, changes that would have to be initiated by the State I suppose (but merely through legislation), but I dont think the net result is any more (in fact, quite a bit less) State control than we currently have.

    “You are proposing it to the degree you want the state to regulate, etc., capitalistic behavior.”

    I dont want the State to regulate capitalistic behavior particularly, where are you getting that?

    I want the State, for example, to issue our money instead of private banks. I want the State to forgive debts and refuse to be complicit in the schemes of con-artist capitalist “traders” with poor countries. I want the State to refuse to use the army to help the capitalists carry out their schemes. I would want the State to illegalize many abstract financial instruments with no particular connection to real goods and services, and other processes that lead to the concentration of capital in a few hands.

    “I’m not sure how you are equating dead children with the value of TV watching. That is apples and oranges. But imperialism is a bad thing and it is only possible through the use of state force, military might to force occupation and exploitation. (A lot of Africas problems are internal warfare and tribalism as well.)”

    Internal warfare is the RESULT of poverty, caused by exploitation. I dont see how people dont see that obvious connection.

    It’s a cycle, but the ultimate cause of such warfare is economic. As someone said, Core countries (though they didnt call them that) dont have wars with each other.

    TV watching is equivalent to dead African children because of our function in the world economy, which in the current structures of exploitation is a parasitic one. I forget the exact process, I’ll try to look it up, but I once saw a professor show, in an equation, how many dead Third World children various of our luxuries were worth. This wasnt just theoretically. In order for us to do more than just “break even” (and we do…we live lifestyles that our production in our “work” doesnt justify) somewhere else in the world is doing less than breaking even, in calculable amounts (they get less than their labor deserves, and that, on average, leads to deaths, because people have a certain caloric requirement they MUST meet to live).

    “I am going by your posts, see above. Also the state, government IS VIOLENCE. They are a legalized mafia, a protection racket. They are not YOUR protectors, they are exploiters, looters, killers and liars.”

    Depends who is controlling them, if it is the capitalists (ie, those who make money simply by owning and renting capital), then I totally agree.

    But that is not the State or government per se. The State is a natural society, a perfect society, and one whose existence is supported, and demanded, by Catholicism.

    I hope people realize that all this rhetoric is coming from anarchists.

    “More government intervention which is causing the inequalities to begin with. It is illogical to expect people to be “good”, have a monopoly on absolute power and not abuse it. It is ignoring the doctrine of original sin. “Who will protect us from the protectors?””

    There is no government intervention involved, in fact it would greatly simplify the number of things the government would need to do.

    “No argument there at ll. And they are doing it with a state controlled and enforced banking and currency monopoly. We should be able to be able to choose from among a variety of currencies.”

    That’s one solution that I sympathize with and certainly wouldnt condemn outright, but ultimately I think privately produced currency in a “money market”, even if it isnt a monopoly, is still riddled with problems and unnatural.

    Coining money is a perfectly valid function of the State (because the State can enforce the acceptance of legal tender for the payment of debts).

    The problem is that this money is now loaned into existence at interest (so we have the principle but not the interested created, in an unsustainable process).

    The government could just create as much as needed to facilitate all exchanges, to close the gap between prices and purchasing power caused by growing wealth needing to be represented by more money. It is an absurd situation that in our system it is plenty that causes a shortage.

    “Capitalism can’t do much at all, certainly not cause poverty all over the world UNLESS capitalists (and capitalists are afflicted with original sin as are marxists) pay off government to run interference for them, protect them, start wars for them, bully for them, ethnic cleanse for them.”

    And they do. They inevitably will, because they have things to offer people, and people (afflicted with original sin) love things. Unless the system is structured in such a way that wealth can’t get concentrated in a few hands like that.

    “And all of that is THE STATE. You are blaming capitalism for state activity, intervention.”

    Then perhaps you are calling “capitalism” something I am not. I’m not ultimately against a free market. In goods and services, at least. But there are some things which are public goods the State should provide, which primarily come down to Money itself, which should be a public instrument of distribution and means for exchanging commodities, not a commodity in itself.

    Perhaps YOU should define “capitalism” because I am talking about a system that involves structures that concentrate the means of production (ie, “capital”) in the hands of a few individuals (ie, “the capitalists”) and allow them to from there to control the state, the media, culture, and grow exponentially richer at the expense of exploited poor nations with whom they make unequal exchanges based on their (originally dishonestly obtained) control of the capital and the money and the markets.

    “So you are going to work for free at a hospital, a nursing home, a sewage treatment plant, an assembly line…whatever is required to produce the food, clothing, medical supplies and services??”

    No! Again, where did I ever say that?!? You are arguing with Communism or something, but that’s a strawman as no one here is arguing in favor of that.

    No one would work for free. The exact opposite, most people could get basic necessities without working, and if they wanted anything above that (and most of them still would) they’d work for whatever wage they could get like anyone else (in fact, the dividend paying for necessities would make minimum wages and stuff unnecessary).

    Previously 90% of people had to work the fields to feed(/shelter/clothe,etc) the whole populace, and the other 10% formed the class of rulers, military, merchants (who were parasites) and artisans and the secular clergy (who allowed high culture to exist, thank God).

    Now, only 10% of the people need to work to feed the whole populace thanks to technology. But bafflingly that efficiency is a bad thing?!?! As it leaves that 80% “unemployed”. We shouldnt need to create superflous demand to create superfluous “employment” for these people.

    If a subset of the population can provide the necessities for everyone thanks to technology, the ones who would have worked in a past age…shouldnt be punished because technology has replaced them. But instead of viewing it that way (ie, technology as a way to create more and more leisure for the laborers) it is viewed as a way for those who own it (the capitalists) to amass more and more money because they no longer have to pay that labor. A totally reversal of how it should be viewed.

    “We are not in the Garden of Eden, man has to toil for his bread. Who decides who toils and who receives?”

    The market. Most people would not be satisfied with bare necessities and would want to work to receive more. But those who are satisfied shouldnt have to work just for the sake of working when there is already a surplus. That is unsustainable, frankly, on our environment and natural resources.

    The dividend would only be based on how much the country as a whole produced, remember. If a bunch of people “retired” and this lowered total productivity, the dividend would naturally lower accordingly. This lower level would be unacceptable to a certain proportion of the retired, who would thus go back to work, and a new equilibrium would be found.

    “Fine by me. Go for it. Where is your robot farm?”

    There is no totally automated food production yet, obviously. That is the extreme example. But the fact that less than 10% of the population is now needed to produce the same stuff that used to need 90% of labor (ie, making food to feed the whole population…and with a much bigger population at that!) demonstrates the same principle to almost as amazing a degree.

    “Who is going to build the robots? Will they do this for free and not have to eat, wear clothing, receive medical care, etc.?”

    Why would that be the case? If all the non-workers even were receiving the basic necessities, those who chose to work anyway would get even more, obviously. And in this way it would not be total enforced egalitarianism or get rid of the market. Some people could still choose to be useful in a way that they could profit from.

    ““Fair citizen dividend”???? This IS wealth redistribution by the state! Or are they simply going to print up money backed by nothing?”

    They are going to print up money backed by the national credit! Based on the new production each year, the exchange of which needs to be merely facilitated. Money-supply and GDP just need to be kept proportional. The dividend would not come from taxes, it would be from the new money issued each year to represent the credit that the American People have as a whole each year based on their private production and volume of private exchanges that year.

    “That is STATE created and enforced.”

    The State IS the capitalists, in our current system. The ones who control the means of production concentrated in their plutocratic hands control the politicians, the media, etc. And “democracy” and “freedom” havent helped that, they’ve made it worse.

    “Mark: “Dont accuse us of collectivism when we’re not.

    I haven’t. You are.”

    NO. I do not advocate socializing the means of production!!!! I am, however, opposed to the structures and systems which allow the means of production to be concentrated in a few hands. They should be privately owned, but by each laborer (or guild) privately. Everyone shouldnt own everything (communism). But the farmer should own his land and plow. The worker should own the machine he works at, or have his share in the Factory, etc.

  101. laminustacitus says:

    “And it gets ridiculous when one starts to see real examples. Africa has the advantage in labor and raw materials, America only in ‘capital,’ in ‘money’ and machinery.”
    Capital, and entrepreneurship matter for more than a plenitude of either labor, or natural resources; the latter two also requires both a legal system that supports property rights so that entrepreneurs will invest in the roundabout structure of production without fear that the government will confiscate their investments, and a large stock of capital that enables modern mass production also requires a large amount of up-front investments that will simply not be done if the risk is too high. Really, how tranquil are the socio-economic climates of most African nations, and would you truly invest a sum of $1,000,000.00 there even though you won’t break even from the investment in years.

    “And the exchange works something like this: Africa grows cotton, sells it to us for money. Uses that money to buy looms from us. Then takes a loan to buy BACK the cotton. Makes shirts on the looms with it. Sells those shirts to our companies. Uses that money to try to pay the debt. But our companies end up selling those shirts back to the African populace anyway in exchange for more money that they borrowed on the promise of future cotton production. And so the cycle continues…”
    Domestic investments are no longer enough, nations, if they desire to prosper, need foreign capital investments, and hence need to create a stable economic, and political climate to their nations attractive investment opportunities. Look at how that strategy has been working in Asia, much of China’s capital is due to foreign investments. However, African nations cannot get their act together, and cannot create a stable rule of law, and will hence not develop until they do.

    “It’s absurd. The cotton and shirts are both produced there, and consumed by them there. Common sense would make this a purely domestic interaction for them. But instead of making a profit, they wind up in debt to the capitalists who do, in fact, make a profit at every step along the way, selling things “back” to them just because of our higher position on the market slope of capital.”
    They are in dept because of the amount of interest they have to pay on their loans- those high interest rates are a result of how high-risk investments in Africa are, because they are high-risk, entrepreneurs will only invest if the chances for profit are high enough to counter-act that risk.

    “And why do we have the capital in the first place? Where do we get that “surplus” that cultural inheritence? Because Europeans colonized Africa 150 years ago and really did use military power and such to produce work (at the expense of greater entropy there), and then about 50 years ago just left them with their “freedom” and no capital, no longer needing to use political force, because the economic relations of dependency were already at that point firmly established.”
    The results of colonization are tragic; nevertheless, African nations cannot live in the past, they need to create a stable rule of law if they desire to prosper – that’s their problem right now, Africa is always in turbulence, and markets don’t emerge in turbulence.

    “‘There was no such thing as “economics” before the School of Salmanca, and the Medieval notion of the just price was a purely political notion that did not take into consideration economics.’

    And they got by somehow.”
    They lived in an agrarian society that damned most of the population to dreadful poverty, and squalor. They did get by, but it wasn’t an optimal getting by.

    “‘And this monetary system has lead to extreme inflation’

    The debt-money system has, yes. But if money were issued without interest, if the same proportion were kept between money and total number of exchanges requiring it (not necessarily a direct proportion, the algorithm could be more complicated) there wouldnt have to be any inflation.”
    Any public, and state-controlled currency is going to be pure fiat, and hence based on debt. The method to break the domination of “debt” currency is to back-up that currency with some form of commodity, and that can only be done was money has finally be de-nationalized.

    “‘Demand is infinite, and ergo individuals will always desire more than they already have, and will proceed to work more to satiate those demands.’

    Demand is potentially infinite. Saying it ‘is’ infinite is only true in the type of consumerist economy produced by capitalism.”
    I could either defend the demand is infinite judgment as a basic proposition of economics, or I can do something a bit more sneaky: does not man’s sinful nature lead to the judgment that his demand will be infinite, that he will always desire more than he has, consumerist culture, or not?

    “And if 10% of the population working can take care of the necessities for everyone…why shouldnt some people be able to expect their necessities without having to work?”
    Because every human being must labor for their own subsistence, no body has the right to exist as a parasite off of the labor of others.

  102. Mark says:

    “Really, how tranquil are the socio-economic climates of most African nations, and would you truly invest a sum of $1,000,000.00 there even though you won’t break even from the investment in years.”

    Yes, you will. We break much more than even from our neoliberal capitalist dealings with Africa. We suck the wealth out of it constantly.

    “Look at how that strategy has been working in Asia, much of China’s capital is due to foreign investments. However, African nations cannot get their act together, and cannot create a stable rule of law, and will hence not develop until they do.”

    No, it’s because Asia is mainly in the Second World, the semi-periphery, and thus is increasingly becoming the site of actual manufacturing as the First World floats “up” into ever more nebulous “service” economies truly funded by a handful of capitalists “owning” the “capital” used in the second and third worlds.

    “They are in dept because of the amount of interest they have to pay on their loans- those high interest rates are a result of how high-risk investments in Africa are, because they are high-risk, entrepreneurs will only invest if the chances for profit are high enough to counter-act that risk.”

    But there is no risk because the money they are lending they simply create based on the debt. If they lose it they, at worst, break even.

    “The results of colonization are tragic; nevertheless, African nations cannot live in the past, they need to create a stable rule of law if they desire to prosper – that’s their problem right now, Africa is always in turbulence, and markets don’t emerge in turbulence.”

    The capitalists dont want them to. If everywhere was America, America wouldnt be America. If all the tenants were lords, there would be no lords.

    “They lived in an agrarian society that damned most of the population to dreadful poverty, and squalor. They did get by, but it wasn’t an optimal getting by.”

    My point about technology. 90% used to be needed to feed the whole populace. Now, thanks to technology, less than 10% working in agriculture can feed everyone. And yet capitalists demand the surplus be “employed” through created consumerist demand. And, hence, decadence and rampant immorality.

    “Any public, and state-controlled currency is going to be pure fiat, and hence based on debt. The method to break the domination of “debt” currency is to back-up that currency with some form of commodity, and that can only be done was money has finally be de-nationalized.”

    No. No. No. Backing money with any one commodity is almost as stupid as backing it with debt. The supply of gold or silver may have traditionally acted as pretty good barometer of how much of a money supply was needed, but only in an incredibly imprecise and indirect way.

    Fiat money would NOT have to be debt based, if you mean loaned into existence at interest. The government could print it as permanent money, spend it into existence on infrastructure or through the citizen dividends, and it would have legitimacy based on the credit of the nation as a whole, the value of the real goods and services produced that year, and the government enforcing it as legal tender in the courts.

    “Because every human being must labor for their own subsistence, no body has the right to exist as a parasite off of the labor of others.”

    Except, apparently, the capitalists.

    Really, that attitude is very puritanical. No one must earn the right to exist. As the Pope’s new encyclical will say, the necessities of life are a RIGHT, and this is clearly within the stream of what other Popes have taught.

    Consider this from a Michael Journal article:

    “A social dividend to all? But a dividend presupposes a productive-invested capital!

    Precisely! It is because all members of society are co-capitalists of a real and immensely productive capital.

    We said above, and we could never repeat it enough, that financial credit is, at birth, the property of all of society. It is so because it is based on real credit, on the country’s production capacity. This production capacity is made up partially of work, and the competence of those who also take part in production. But it is mainly made up of other elements which are the property of all.

    There are, first of all, natural resources, which are not the production of any man; they are a gift from God, a free gift that must be at the service of all. There are also all the inventions made, developed, and transmitted from one generation to the next. It is the biggest production factor today. No man can claim to be the only owner of progress, which is the fruit of many generations.

    No doubt that one needs men of our present times to make use of this progress — and they are entitled to a reward: they get it in remuneration: wages, salaries, etc. But a capitalist who does not personally take part in the industry where he invested his capital is entitled to a share of the result just the same, because of his capital.

    The largest real capital of modern production is, in fact, the sum total of the progressive inventions, i.e. discoveries, which today give us more goods with less work. And since all human beings are, on an equal basis, coheirs of this immense capital that is always increasing, all are entitled to a share in the fruits of production.

    The employee is entitled to this dividend and to his wage or salary. The unemployed person has no wage or salary, but is entitled to this dividend, which we call social, because it is the income from a social capital.

    We have just shown that the Social Credit dividend is based on two things: the inheritance of natural resources, and the inventions from past generations. This is exactly what Pope John Paul II wrote in 1981 in his Encyclical letter Laborem Exercens”
    http://www.michaeljournal.org/lesson5.htm

    People have a right to expect the necessities of life, one because the resources are given by God for all mankind, and two because they are heirs to the progress of numerous generations who through increased technological efficiency have made full employment a superfluous ideal.

  103. Latekate says:

    Mark, Your Marxist ideas, yes, Marxist, are not compatible with Christianity. That you claim that Catholic social teaching supports them (and some agree with you) is an indication of how far the Church fathers have let her be used and spun into a mere cheerleader for antics like “cap and trade” and other government looting. I have nothing to add to your own remarks. Anyone reading them can see plainly what you advocate: men as gods over other men…for the utopian greater good.

  104. Mark says:

    It is just ridiculous that you are calling me a Marxist. I advocate nothing of the sort. I do agree with some of the problems identified by some “Marxian” economic analyses (namely, the concentration of capital in the hands of a few and systematic exploitation hidden in the structures of international trade), but I disagree totally with the socialistic and communist political solutions they offer; I do not believe that the capital should be collectivized or nationalized, I believe each worker should ideally privately own the specific capital they use individually. And certainly I disagree with the atheistic, materialistic, class-conflict dialectic philosophy likewise denoted by “Marxism”.

    I have explained this before in this thread, so I dont know what else I can say except that I flatly deny that. If I do identify with an economic philosophy it is distributism, effected mainly through Social Credit monetary policy, Pio-Leonine corporatism, and, yes, [relatively] free markets.

    It is only your own ideology that makes a demon of everyone that condemns the evils of capitalism and assumes that they must then be Communists.

  105. Mark says:

    Really, if you are going to name-call, Fascism would probably be a better/more-accurate accusation (though still wrong) to hurl at us anti-capitalists here. Because, trust me, we’re not communist, socialist, Marxist, or any of that nonsense. We are critiquing capitalism from the RIGHT, not from the Left.

    Capitalism is the economic form of Classical Liberalism, and though Cold-War-nostalgia GOP politics may have convinced most Americans that capitalism represents “economic conservatism,” that is only because the spectrum of American politics is rather narrow, and skewed to the Left by nature (eg, even our “conservatism” is well within the purview of Classical Liberalism).

    I’m just telling you, our critiques of capitalism are Right-Wing, not Left. Calling us Fascist might strike a cord, but calling us Marxist is just silly. If you dont believe us when we say that, then nothing we can do to convince your paranoia.