Skip to comments.A Vatican Document to Make Socrates Proud
Posted on 04/13/2012 6:58:25 AM PDT by marshmallow
As Pope Paul VI once famously told the United Nations, the Catholic church likes to think of itself as an expert in humanity. Development of Catholic social teaching over the last 120 years is a good example, as the church has tried to bring its moral tradition to bear on questions of economic justice.
Yet whenever the church tries to say something on economics, it faces a damned if you do, damned if you dont dilemma about whether or not to get concrete.
If the church sticks to abstract principles, its accused of being pie in the sky and irrelevant. If it endorses specific policy proposals, its accused of exceeding its competence, blurring the lines between church and state, and confusing prudential judgment with dogmatic certainty.
Too much specificity courts other risks too:
* Ideological criticism from the left or the right, depending upon whose ox is being gored. (A variant is ideological cherry-picking; sort of like Kennedy and the Khrushchev letter, both conservatives and liberals tend to focus on what they like in Catholic social teaching and pretend the other stuff doesnt exist.)
* Media focus on the most sensational policy stance, usually distorting the big picture. (Remember reaction to Benedict XVIs call for global governance in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate? To read paranoid anti-globalist blogs, you might have started scanning the horizon for black helicopters bearing the papal coat of arms.)
Given that this briar patch seems basically unavoidable, whats the church to do? As it happens, a new document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, entitled Vocation of the Business Leader, hints at an intriguing solution.
In a sound-bite, the idea is to be didactic on principle but interrogatory on policy. The church may not have to offer specific answers;..........
(Excerpt) Read more at ncronline.org ...
In a free society with a just government,prices and wages are determined by the market. Profits, in the long run, depend on the quantity of the money supply and the market's uniformity of profit principle, and the average rate of profit equals the sum of net consumption and net investment rates.Whether or not taxes is fair is subjective, but increases in income and inheritance taxes are an assault on saving and suppress economic progress.
Yet that quote, with its incessant reference to “fair”, implies that these are all moral decisions under the control of the business owner.
That is a good point. The Church of course deals in issues of morality including how we treat each other and this includes all our actions and is not limited to non-work areas.
In a free society with a just government,prices and wages are determined by the market.
Yes, and we are to be Christian in all our dealings. An extreme example to illustrate: Say there is a market opportunity created by low supply of drugs in NYC. The market will allow extremely high prices for heroin. What should the Christian businessman do?
The answer is obvious, but the point is that the market alone is not the sole determinant of Christian business activity. So in this sense, a Christian capitalist does seek ways to deliver fair returns, wages, prices, etc.
But it is not an either/or, market/morality. The point of the article, I think, is to prod how both can align and both have positive force.
Another example: Market forces create a high demand for generators and water in a hurricane-striken area. The market will support the high prices required for businessmen outside the area to deliver these goods. In fact, only high prices will allow these goods to reach the market. What does the Christian capitalist do?
I think the answer here is an illustration of the good that can be done by the market. The answer IMHO is the Christian capitalist jumps on this opportunity and charges the higher prices necessary. As more do, supply increases, prices decrease and the market 'contributes to the well-being' of the area served.
Stupid compassion would say it's immoral to 'gouge' which would result in less goods and less well-being. As a result of artificially restraining market forces.
When one starts holding up all economic decisions the the mirror of "fairness", the result can be the opposite of the intentions, e.g.:
Buggy whip workers had families. Buggy whip workers had a right to a job. Buggy whip workers had a right to a living wage.
Was it "fair" and "moral" to lay off all those buggy whip workers?
One can be fair and moral without being stupid. :)
In the example of buggy whips, a Christian capitalist could think like this:
Buggy whips are not gonna make it much longer; I need a new business plan. I have a good staff that I would like to keep and whom I would like to continue to provide jobs for and who would like to continue working for me.
What skills does my staff have that can transfer to another business that has a good chance of market success? How do I maximize my competitive advantage in already having a staff of skilled and loyal people in order to succeed in this new industry?
Good morals and good marketing are not necessarily either/or. On the contrary, when combined the two can make each other better.
thanks for your reply.