A couple of good books

Better than any other approach a free market helps to raise large groups of people out of poverty and promotes happiness through earned rewards.

During the recent Acton University I think an overarching theme of the talks and presentations was that those who believe in a free market economy must get better at making moral arguments.

May I recommend a couple books?

The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise by Arthur C. Brooks.


Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy by Robert A. Sirico


Also, have a look at Poverty Cure.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr. Z, I hesitate even to mention this because I’ve seen how some people react to the name, but are you familiar with Thomas Woods? He wrote a book called “The Church and the Market”.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I agree with your comment. Sirico is a great mind in this field. We need young persons to study economics and the Gospel from a moral point of view, and not either rampant capitalism nor socialism.

  3. Konrad says:

    One should not confound free enterprise with unristricted enterprises. The Great Chesterton wrote some books about that: e.g. http://www.scribd.com/doc/25499546/Chesterton-Outline-of-Sanity

  4. randomcatholic says:

    @Konrad: Well said!

  5. Here come the Distributists. Right on cue.

  6. wmeyer says:

    The problem I see in distributism is that it depends on a controlling agency to enforce its goals. Remove that, and it is simply capitalism. Now, if we wish to promote the goals as a practical application of subsidiarity, that’s a different matter. But enforcement is repugnant, as it is a slippery slope. Can we not see that the current HHS mandate is all the proof we need that enforcement by an agency is unacceptable?

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If distributism were to be easier and cheaper than other methods, you wouldn’t need legislation to push it.

    In its own way (which is admittedly a very corporate way), Amazon has allowed a lot of very small producers to put out their own stuff as their own. Similarly, the post office and the classified ads (for many years); various shipping companies like FedEx; Etsy and the like; and other distributors that do stuff piecemeal.

  8. alanphipps says:

    “Here come the Distributists. Right on cue.”

    With all due respect, Fr. Z, is this sort of singularly dismissive comment necessary? [It wasn’t dismissive. It’s just a statement of fact.]

  9. jasoncpetty says:

    When you linked to that povertycure.org site, I was really hoping it was a joke and there would be a 404 file awaiting. [Pretty nasty comment.]

  10. randomcatholic says:

    I personally have grown used to snarky comments like Fr. Z’s. [?!?]

    The Acton institute (and father) need to be given some gentle criticism.

    What is a market? It is a force of nature. Liberals want to deny its existence, and conservatives want to deify it, but a market is simply an amoral naturally occurring force, neither good nor evil. That said, in father’s defense, in a market’s forced absence, terrible things can happen.

    One area I have studied a bit is starvation. In the Soviet Union during Stalin people starved to death who lived miles away from government owned farms where food was rotting on the vine. The reason they starved is that there was no market to provide an incentive for getting food to market. Markets are efficient means of getting products to where they are demanded. Even today, food is relatively plentiful, and anywhere in the world where there is starvation, I will show you a lack a market, and a lack of a market is always a political act. This is a powerful point to bring up to those who advocate population control. The Church’s position (as articulated by the various papal encyclicals) is both cogent and consistent. There is no reason for global population control as there is plenty of food for everyone, starvation is always a political act, and markets supply food demands. Therefore, supporters of markets can make a powerful argument that the absence of markets is a terrible thing. They would be right.

    Yet, it must be reiterated that markets are an amoral force. They are just as efficient at satisfying a demand for pornography, or abortion, or surrogacy (see Fr. Z’s own recent post on this), or narcotics, as they are at satisfying a demand for food. So the “conservative’s” attempts to promote markets as somehow a “moral force” is seriously problematic.

    Father Z can be as dismissive, snarky, and rude as he wants. [For pity’s sake. Here’s my response: piffle. Furthermore, if you have a problem with what I do, go look at some other blog. Finally, I think – because I am in a bad mood – I don’t see any reason to have your comments post here without review in the moderation queue. Have a great day.] The fact is though that he is a critic of several papal encyclicals, not the least of which is the one containing the social thought of Benedict XVI. I admire Fr. Z’s blog…. but I will take the Successor of Peter over some priest with a blog any day.

    I had plenty of priests and nuns tell me it was okay to ignore Humane Vitae for instance, including one who said “I am a scientist and an ObGyn. I think I know better than the Pope when it comes to issues regarding reproduction thank you very much. These matters should be left to the laity” My life began when I ignored that man, and listened to the Popes.

    Likewise, we have plenty of priests now telling us it is okay to ignore the Popes on social teaching. [You have got to be kidding me.] “Listen to laity!” they say (by whom they mean free-market laity) and then present people like free-market economists as hard scientists teaching objective truth. They are essentially saying: “This is an economist, and he is a scientist. I think he knows better than the Pope when it comes to issues regarding economic justice thank you very much. These matters are better left to the laity.”

    With respect, my experience has taught me that the Popes were right on Humane Vitae, and my reason (again) forces me to stand with them on economic justice, some priest with a blog and another with an “institute” notwithstanding… [I think you may not know what you are talking about.]

  11. NescioQuid says:

    I find US politics incredibly divisive. What happens if you are centre-left when it comes to some structure of social welfare, but conservative in terms of family and social values, and again veering right towards forms of deregulation?

    I will keep an open mind and give the Sirico book a read, but for me, where I currently stand, the pure free market is flawed in appropriately judging the merits of individual contributions. The free market for instance, rewards a dermatologist dealing with cosmetic plastic surgery far more handsomely than one dealing with HIV/AIDS sufferers. The free market rewards footballers, and other celebrities far in excess of professionals like doctors and engineers. The list goes on…

  12. NescioQuid says:

    Blimey RandomCatholic, I appreciate your zeal for justice (of the distributive kind) but you’re more than a bit harsh in your comments towards Fr Z. It sounds somewhat acrimonious truth be told. I scrutinised Fr’s comments again, and really couldn’t understand why you were so irritated.

  13. wmeyer says:

    NescioQuid: The free market is not perfect, it’s merely better than any of the conceivable alternatives. The current trend to increasing market interference by politicians whose comprehension of the mechanics of economics is apparently nil is a huge problem, and will, in the near future, collapse the economy.

  14. randomcatholic says:

    @Fr. Z.

    Thank you for at least addressing what I had to say, and no doubt you will not post it, and that is fine. [If that’s the way you see it, then so be it.]

  15. robtbrown says:

    NescioQuid says:

    The free market rewards footballers, and other celebrities far in excess of professionals like doctors and engineers.

    Actually, you’ll find that in the private, market driven medical system in the US doctors are rewarded more than in national health care systems.

    The high pay of entertainers (athletes, actors, et al) is a function of the size of the market.

  16. oakdiocesegirl says:

    And now for a preview of USA health care under full implementation of PPACA, once the Govt must approve all health care payments: [I hope this link works in this blog. It’s a really good unbiased description, from Medical Economics; but I needed my password to read it…]

    *** Greek health system crumbles under weight of crisis ***


    ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s rundown state hospitals are cutting off vital drugs, limiting non-urgent operations and rationing even basic medical materials for exhausted doctors as a combination of economic crisis and political stalemate strangles health funding.

  17. oakdiocesegirl says:

    Oh, nuts-doesn’t work! Well, if you can figure out how to read it, you’ll avoid travelling to Greece in the foreseeable future if you have any anticipated health problems whatsoever.

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