4 Responses to Catholic Teaching On Economic Life

  1. Deacon Chip says:


    I have been trying to wrap my mouth around this for literally *decades*; it is no small failing of my college-level education that the principal of subsidiarity was never articulated. But there it is: the issue behind all the other political issues over which we fight — subsidiarity!

    I regard myself unabashedly as a conservative. And I can now say why I think that’s the correct camp with which to align. If we push more and more power and authority to the federal level, the distance created between the helper and those being helped prevents the community from passing on its own mores to the individual being served. So you end up with unwed mothers at home on public assistance, with the barrier of the AFDC rules and regulations to prevent the father of her children from moving back in, and her from getting up and going to try to work to improve her situation. Likewise, you give people of good will, who would normally step out to help someone in need, the impression that “the guhmint will take care of ’em…nothing to see here…”

    So there it is: subsidiarity. Washington should get out of our local business. How many state abortion laws would return to pre-1973 situations if the federal government got out of the abortion business? How many charities would flourish if the feds got out of both the public assistance game, and the taxation game that supports it?

    I think I’ll run for office now as a subsidiarian (or would subsidarist be more appropriate?)

  2. As a Democrat, I think this is terrible because of the structure of the American government into basicially three levels — federal, state, and local or municipal. I think so much compromise could be made between liberals and conservatives, if we all rallied behind the principle of subsidiarity and moved the debates on so many issues – economic matters, energy policy, health care, education, fighting poverty – to the states and not leave it at the federal level. This would allow fruitful democratic debate. I’m not sure if many conservatives are not so closed to “liberal” suggestions or influences, partially or entirely, insomuch because they think they are fundamentally wrong, but because on some issues they are inclined to agree on, they may fear it being implemented at a federal level.

    I think you’re right, as shown by the fact that as a self described conservative I nonetheless agree with everything you have to say in this post.

    Incidentally, I think that you make an important point about what capitalism is and is not. One of the huge mistakes that I think people often make (whether liberal or conservative) is to go from the idea that economically it is best that exchange be free to a moral claim that it is somehow right to do whatever seems profitable in the short term. This is what liberals often accuse capitalism of being, and what some libertarian-conservatives claim for it as positive.

    The correct view, to my mind, is to take capitalism simply as the most efficient economic environment in which we should do business, but to look to morality for how we should treat our fellow men.

  3. It seems to me difficult to argue about Economics, if we don’t agree on some definition of money that explains:
    How can money dessapear?
    How can money be invisible when we use a debit card in the market?
    What is the scientific explanation of the interaction between moral, markets and money?

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