Fr. Sirico: Politics isn’t the solution to our economic problems

CNA has an article about my friend Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute (btw… Acton University: June 18 – 21, 2013).

My emphases and comments.

Rome, Italy, Nov 29, 2012 / 01:33 pm (CNA).- The solution to the ongoing economic troubles is to adopt a worldview that combines both economic and moral truths, Father Robert Sirico said as he presented his new book.  [Not new in the USA or to readers of this blog.  I wrote about it HERE.]

Father Robert Sirico, co-founder of the Acton Institute think tank, introduced his book titled “Defending the Free Market: the Moral Case for a Free Economy” on Nov. 28 in Rome.

[Hardback HERE, Kindle HERE. (UK HERE).  And if you don’t have a Kindle yet, consider getting one.  I love mine.]

“I wrote the book because I was concerned that there’s such a false set of assumptions of what a market economy is and that it’s completely disconnected from the moral life,” he explained.


Fr. Sirico, originally from Brooklyn, said that his approach to economics is anthropological and combines economic truths with moral ones.

When it comes to the current economic crisis, Fr. Sirico faults regulations that were based only on good intentions. [They wind up hurting the people they were intended to help.  For example, when Haiti was torn up by the earthquake, it was thought that bringing in solar energy equipment could help many people.  All sorts of things were imported.  But there was already a company in Haiti.  The imports hurt that company and the people who worked for it.  The local company should have been helped.]

“The intentions were that people would have access to credit to buy homes, but the problem is that good intentions aren’t always the sound basis for sound economics,” he said.

He noted that “it’s going to be difficult for young Italians to reach adulthood with their dignity intact for quite a while, because they presume that the State will provide for them, cradle to grave.”

“Also they don’t have much access to work, which incentivizes them to stay at home, which delays them from getting married and having children,” he said. “You then have fewer and fewer Italians supporting the elderly and this becomes a vicious cycle.”

Fr. Sirico believes that Italians need to rethink how they and their government handle the economy.

The priest, who disagrees with the notion that the way for a business to succeed is to take advantage of others, said the solution is to apply subsidiarity, which means that needs are best met at a local level.

“We need to stop presuming that the government is the provider and find creative and innovative ways which can serve people and which will build a virtuous cycle instead of a vicious cycle,” said Fr. Sirico.

“You get clients by offering them a better service and product quality, which is unique to them and meets their needs,” he stated. “It’s service that people need to prioritize, not taking advantage.”

Looking to the future, Fr. Sirico thinks there are “bumpy years ahead of us.”

The root of all our political and civic thinking in the U.S. and in Europe is that the government has the dominant role in our lives,” he argued.

Instead of this model, he thinks that the role of government needs to shrink and the ”civic voluntary dimension of society” needs to increase.

“Unless we correct ideas, nothing else is going to work because politics isn’t the solution to this problem,” he said.

I would like also to point everyone to a new book that Fr. Sirico cooperated in putting together.

US paperback HERE and Kindle HERE.

UK paperback HERE Kindle HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. AvantiBev says:

    Excellent, excellent, excellent book! I read it this summer and recommended it to several friends of various political persuasions and different religions. Such a blessing after 40+ years of hearing priests, nuns, bishops, and Catholic laymen advocate for every big, centralized sclerotic program they could as “for the children” or “for the poor”. Here in Chi town such programs were for the Daley family, friends, distant relatives and for the never ending job security of the bureaucrats and those (un)civil servants.
    Father Sirico also says a beautiful Latin Mass EF, thankfully only 45 minutes from our summer cottage. The greatest compliment I can give him or any man is to say my Daddy would have loved reading his works and hearing him speak. Of course Father Sirico IS ITALO-AMERICAN. :-)

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  3. muckemdanno says:

    Unfortunately, the politicians believe that they actually have the solutions. They all have their “education” plans, their “economic” plans, their “jobs” plans, etc., etc., etc. Since their plans become the law, resisting them lands you in prison.

    The free market can only return in Western Europe and the U.S.A. after their centrally planned system actually collapses, as it did in Russia and Eastern Europe. Until then, the politicians will continue to force all of the people into their solutions. Rebellion and secession are certainly out of the question without a violent bloodbath.

  4. majuscule says:

    I’ve been meaning to get a copy.

    I love to read the one star reviews at Amazon. Not that I rely on them.

    Wolf in sheep’s clothing!!!

    Standard right-wing “Demonize the poor” philosophy….!!!

    Shill for the Prerogatives of the #1!!!!

    Good enough for me. I’m loading my Kindle!

  5. One of those TNCs says:

    He’s a smart man and it’s an excellent book. Get yourself a copy or ask your local library to get one for you (and others.)

  6. 1catholicsalmon says:

    An excellent Christmas gift for our son who’s studying politics and international relations! Thanks for the post.

  7. We’ve been using politics to solve a problem that is deeper than politics, there in lies the problem.

  8. Not only is politics not the solution, I am inclined to say that it is a huge part of the problem. Relying on politics to try to fix our issues has greatly contributed to the mess what we are in. In my opinion, a wholesale rejection of politics, leading to a complete, paradigmatic change in the socio-political landscape, is what is required. Strike the root, as they say.
    Just my two cents, anyway.

  9. Kerry says:

    My current work is in that part of modern cabinet making called fixtures; we make almost anything for stores. You’ve seen this work in Target, and lots very large companies. The terrible irony, what we make has a shelf life of about 5 years, is tossed out and replace with the same, or sometime, a different fixture. When I made custom furniture I often told my customers that nothing I build you will ever be thrown away. I’d prefer we were building cathedrals….

  10. Mundabor says:

    Italy is a strange animal in many ways, but certainly the – in itself brilliantly working – system of family support must get into a crisis if it becomes a system of widespread life-long dependency. What is important to get is that Capitalism is in itself not bad (actually it is very good, as it create prosperity and opportunities) and good Christians will always make a good use of it without needing an Obama to mount a planned economy apparatus for them or let them feel they need Big Mom in Washington.

    All in all, it is fair to say this lesson is probably better understood in vast sectors of the Italian population than in today’s USA.

    I’d never thought I’d write this, so it means something is seriously wrong with the old US of A.


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