I think that I am caught between a rock and a hard place in trying to find somewhere to rest my weary head in the combative American political landscape. There are those who believe that Government is pretty much inherently incompetent in dealing with economic interventions of any sort. There are those who see multinational corporations as ruling the world and hiding behind “free market” rhetoric, and politicians serving their interests primarily over and above the interests of the common good. There are those who see Trade Unions as parasitic entities siphoning money away from innovation and investment in more work and workers in the future. Others see Environmental groups as part of the Leftist Movement away from Christian theology and ethics. Still others see the Church as just another large Institution, trying to impose a brand of morality on all people- or speaking out on areas it has no business advising- like business-, while not doing very well at cleaning up their own messes.
I do think that I tend in a more statist direction than most self-described conservative Catholics I encounter. I fear government’s power more because of the characters who are running the show, than because of an innate fear of government itself. It’s like the throwing the baby out with the bathwater scenario- because of all the bad apples making bad decisions regarding our common governance, it is tempting to say the heck with it- burn the parliament building down! I suppose I am more of a ‘mend it don’t end it’ sort in the way I interpret Catholic social doctrine on the proper role of governance and political authority. I think that you have to have the ability to respond with representative governing authority to the largest threats to the common good- be they from corporate sources, unionist sources, internal or external threats of a violent nature.
I don’t agree with the corporate welfare strategies of pouring public monies into huge bail-out offerings to failed institutions that created their own demise through incompetence or destructive greed. I would love to have an audit of the Federal Reserve Board, and even wean us off the Fed entirely at some stage. But I am in favor of huge public investments in big projects like the Space Program, Game-Changer High-Tech research like Fusion Energy, Coordinated Management of Environmental Resources, National Guard for Homeland Security and Emergency Response, National Electrical Grids, High-Speed National Train Transport Routes, and Assisting the Social Work of America’s Church communities- providing funding for the human services, not interfering with the Gospel message. I see the role of our political authorities at every level, in setting a high bar for the Right to Life, and related human rights- all in the context of our personal and social responsibilities to serve the universal common good.
In short, I believe in Truth/Freedom- freedom alone won’t cut it- freedom without truth is no freedom at all- there has to be a very clear link to the Natural Law at every strata of society- in governance, in business, in unions, in communities, in the schools, and by way of promotion and public assistance where necessary- in our homes. All of this takes money- governance and all it entails takes money- we can’t simply print money and make everyone a millionaire- obviously. But we don’t always have balanced budgets in our homes- we take loans that are affordable and bring long-term benefits- like in our university educations, our homes, our transportation, and we invest some of our money in private and public ventures- to pool our money with other people for our common protection, our common good in many areas of need. I don’t see a way to becoming an enthusiastic supporter of any of the major ideologies and political parties right now. So, I just stick close to the Church and such gifts as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church- and I take in passages such as these from Paragraphs #388 and #389
388. Considering the human person as the foundation and purpose of the political community means in the first place working to recognize and respect human dignity through defending and promoting fundamental and inalienable human rights: “In our time the common good is chiefly guaranteed when personal rights and duties are maintained”. The rights and duties of the person contain a concise summary of the principal moral and juridical requirements that must preside over the construction of the political community. These requirements constitute an objective norm on which positive law is based and which cannot be ignored by the political community, because both in existential being and in final purpose the human person precedes the political community. Positive law must guarantee that fundamental human needs are met.
389. The political community pursues the common good when it seeks to create a human environment that offers citizens the possibility of truly exercising their human rights and of fulfilling completely their corresponding duties. “Experience has taught us that, unless these authorities take suitable action with regard to economic, political and cultural matters, inequalities between citizens tend to become more and more widespread, especially in the modern world, and as a result human rights are rendered totally ineffective and the fulfilment of duties is compromised”.
The full attainment of the common good requires that the political community develop a twofold and complementary action that defends and promotes human rights. “It should not happen that certain individuals or social groups derive special advantage from the fact that their rights have received preferential protection. Nor should it happen that governments in seeking to protect these rights, become obstacles to their full expression and free use”.