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PopeWatch: A Libertarian Take

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Marian Tupy at Reason has a libertarian take on the economic message of the Pope in Evangelii Gaudium:

 

It’s official: 2013 has been the Year of the Pope. The latest evidence? Time has named Francis its Person of the Year, noting that the pontiff, during his first nine months in office, “has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.” Indeed, the pope’s writings and public pronouncements reveal a deeply caring and passionate man who speaks from the heart. In Evangelii Gaudium, an “apostolic exhortation” released late last month, the pope bemoans inequality, poverty, and violence in the world.

But here’s the problem: The dystopian world that Francis describes, without citing a single statistic, is at odds with reality. In appealing to our fears and pessimism, the pope fails to acknowledge the scope and rapidity of human accomplishment—whether measured through declining global inequality and violence, or growing prosperity and life expectancy.

The thesis of Evangelii Gaudium is simple: “unbridled” capitalism has enriched a few, but failed the poor. “We have to remember,” he writes, “that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity.”

Just how free the free market really is today is debatable. The United States is perceived as the paragon of free-market capitalism. And yet over the last two decades, according to Wayne Crews of the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington has issued 81,883 regulations—or nine per day. Maybe the marketplace should be regulated less, and maybe it should be regulated more. But unbridled it is not.

Moreover, the government redistributes some 40 percent of all wealth produced in America—up from 7 percent a century ago. Much of that wealth comes from the rich and pays for everything from defense and roads to healthcare and education, which are enjoyed by Americans from all income groups. The top 1 percent of income earners  earned 19 percent of all income in 2010 and paid more than 38 percent of all income taxes. The top 10 percent paid more than 70 percent of all income taxes. Maybe the rich should contribute more, and maybe they should contribute less. But contribute they do—well in excess of the biblical tithe.

As for the negative consequences of “trickle-down” economics that the pope bemoans, let’s look at them in turn.

First, consider inequality. Academic researchers—from Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia University, to Surjit Bhalla, formerly of the Brookings Institution and Rand Corporation, to Paolo Liberati of the University of Rome—all agree that global inequality is declining. That is because 2.6 billion people in China and India are richer than they used to be. Their economies are growing much faster than those of their Western counterparts, thus shrinking the income gap that opened at the dawn of industrialization in the 19th century, when the West took off and left much of the rest of the world behind.

Paradoxically, the shrinking of the global inequality gap was only possible after India and China abandoned their attempts to create equality through central planning. By allowing people to keep more of the money they earned, the Chinese and Indian governments incentivized people to create more wealth. Allowing inequality to increase at home, in other words, diminished inequality globally. And global inequality, surely, is the statistic that should most concern the leader of a global religion.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch would note that Ms. Tupy’s analysis is not being cited because it is necessarily correct in all of its particulars, but because once a Pope advances economic arguments, especially about the role of the State in the economy, he enters the world of debate and analysis.  A Pope telling the Faithful to not forget the poor is not making an argument but relaying a command of Christ.  A Pope who writes “Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while  presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and  processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation  of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond  a simple welfare mentality.” is endorsing a policy of incessant government interventions in the economy which invites debate and argument, and not simple obedience.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

35 Comments

  1. What are we measuring? People’s income or quality of life understood in some humanistic sense? This seems to be mostly economic. It is difficutl to say we are doing any better now than beforehand in economic terms. Globally, the situation may be better off. But for American society it is probably worse off.

  2. “The United States is perceived as the paragon of free-market capitalism” because the most wealthiest companies and people reside in The United States of America.

    Bill Gates is now the richest person in the world, according to Forbes.

    FatCats like Bill Gates and Buffet are still poking their nose into the reproductive rights of women in third world countries by the entitlement of wealth. Sure they pay taxes, but they also have a very sinister agenda.

    What’s the unemployment level like in America? Not good. Still.

    Yes,not as bad as India and China, and far better working conditions than these countries, but USA is developed, as you cited, India isn’t. It’s also due to religious and cultural factors in India that keep it poor (Caste system). So maybe a developed nation like US is more accountable?

    I’m all for being entitled to everything you work hard for, particularly if you pay your taxes. Capitalism has a right and responsibility. Pope Francis is correct to question unbridled Capitalism in the West. Especially when people like Gates use their money for no good. Or other celebrated personalities like the Kardashians use it for wiping their bottoms (sorry to lower the standard and write that name on your blog).

    Here is something you may (or may not) find interesting. Sorry in advance if I bore you.

    The Labor government here in Australia (equivalent to your Democrats), recently got defeated by The Liberal government- and fortunately so.

    Our current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is not only a practising Catholic (and former Seminarian), he was educated at a prestigous Jesuit school (yes a Jesuit-run private school), but a great believer in small government, thriving big business and less government regulation.

    He is currently working to overturn the idiotic taxes and means-tested family assistance programmes that the demented previous Labor government installed- notably the Carbon Tax (a pollution tax that has killed industry here in Australia, notably manufacturing- ironic since smoggy China is our biggest exporting nation), the mining tax (mining is the backbone of our economy- Labor hated seeing the rich get richer), and the “School Kids Bonus”, also means tested, pointless ineffective and wasteful.

    He has also refused to give rescue packages to our most iconic Automotive Company- Holden- meaning it will shut all of its manufacturing in Australia in 2014. A very sad but unavoidable outcome.

    He is also trying to reverse our countries debt, brought about by the wasteful previous government (does It sound familiar?)

    It’s interesting to note that PM Abbotts greatest supporter and mentor is no-other than Cardinal George Pell- you may know him as one of Pope Francis “magnificent 8”- an advisory body made up of Cardinals appointed by Pope Francis himself. You may not consider them “magnificent”, so Ill beat you to it and acknowledge that.

    By the way, the High Court of Australia, yesterday, overturned the Same-Sex Marriage Act- reversing the Senates decision to allow Gays to “marry”. A decision spear-headed by Abbott who opposes same-sex “marriage”, and this despite of the fact his sister is a Lesbian and a vocal advocate of “gay rights”.

  3. A Pope who writes “Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.” is endorsing a policy of incessant government interventions in the economy which invites debate and argument, and not simple obedience.

    “Incessant” seems like weasel word to me. May I presume that if the pope calls for a plethora of non-incessant government interventions in the economy that ‘simple obedience’ is the proper response?

  4. Nope. When a Pope makes policy recommendations regarding how an economy should operate he is entering into an area where he has no charism of infallibility, and his ideas stand or fall on their merit like everyone else’s.

  5. 2nd Thessalonians 3:10-12

    10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living.

    John 6:25-27

    25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.”

    Exodus 20:17

    17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    John 12:3-6

    3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.

    —–

    I could go on, but I think we all get the idea.

  6. Donald, thanks (and sorry for being snippy). “A Pope telling the Faithful to not forget the poor is not making an argument but relaying a command of Christ.” That is pretty much the lead in to the quoted section of Evangelii Gaudium. In section 203, he says, “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies.” And then also, “Casual indifference in the face of such questions empties our lives and our words of all meaning.” He wraps with this theme in section 207 with a warning against thinking the Church can “comfortably go its own way without creative concern and effective cooperation in helping the poor to live with dignity.”

    As I argued in a separate thread, this is undoubtedly a multi-step process of becoming less “comfortable” or casually indifferent with the status quo. (The pope’s exhortation to us is that we proclaim the Gospel in every interaction with one another, including interactions of a financial or economic nature, and I take that to be the final step of this multi-step process.) The first steps are to identify shortcomings of the existing system and then establish the goals of a well-ordered economic system. I think that is what he is doing here.

  7. “processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.”
    So you are thinking the pope means that the above listed processes, sources of employment , and going beyond a welfare mentality should be carried out by a big government ? Could these processes, source of employment and leaving behind a welfare mentality come about through private and or even religious organization?

  8. Anzlyne, in the section following that statement, the pope writes,

    We need to be convinced that charity “is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)”. The part within quotation marks is from Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate. (Read Francis through Benedict.) My personal belief is that charity and mercy for the poor should be conducted via wholly voluntary (i.e, private and religious organizations and interactions) such that there is a very direct interaction between the giver and the receiver. I am not certain if either of these popes (or any previous pope) share that view. For one, they are very much concerned with indirect relationships in our global economy. If I buy an article of clothing locally, am I exploiting a garmet worker in Bangladesh? I don’t know for sure, but they are saying I cannot be casually indifferent to the matter.

  9. Economic action, like all human action, almost always implicates moral concerns, and indifference is never the appropriate response to those concerns. But neither is concern grounded wholly in sentiment or impulse. It is an odd moral imperative that would impel us to buy a widget from a worker who is economically comfortable rather than from a worker who is in economic distress, simply because we believe that the latter charges too little for his labor. Punishing third world subsistence workers in favor of first world middle class employees has to be about the dumbest idea of morality imaginable.

  10. Punishing third world subsistence workers in favor of first world middle class employees has to be about the dumbest idea of morality imaginable.
    Right. On the theme of this global economy or “macro-relationships” that we are in with third world subsistence workers, Francis is saying in section 205 “we can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market” to produce equity. And in section 206: “Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else; consequently, no government can act without regard for shared responsibility.”
    These statements taken together are saying that consuming and investing with only our own interests in mind is bad option. If we protest the working conditions of third world garment workers by taking our business elsewhere, we put their jobs in jeopardy and risk making a bad situation worse. I don’t read Evangelii Gaudium as making that decision for us, but rather as making a statement that something needs to be done. Failure to do something, i.e., accepting the status quo casually, is missing an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to both the exploiters and the exploited.

  11. Spambot,
    We are mostly in agreement. That said, experience has revealed (at least to me) that the notion that “something needs to be done” is often both dangerous and false. In a fallen world not all problems have solutions, or at least solutions that are not worse than the problems. Of course, prayer for those in pain and those in need is always good, but some problems really do bely practical solutions. A view that nothing can be done that would be helpful is not indifference. Many of our most serious social problems can be traced to a 43% illegitimacy rate and similar divorce rate, both caused is some substantial part by laws grounded in well-intended polices advance by well-meaning progressives who seeing an imperfect status quo decided and continue to decide that “something needs to be done.” Imbedded in those efforts was and still is a malignant hubris that informs relentless advocacy imbued with a self-righteous confidence that is as unearned as it is false.

  12. “Imbedded in those efforts was and still is a malignant hubris that informs relentless advocacy imbued with a self-righteous confidence that is as unearned as it is false.”

    Bravo Mike! How many government policies fit under that assessment!

  13. Bravo Mike!
    I’m not feeling the love.
    Imbedded in those efforts was and still is a malignant hubris that informs relentless advocacy imbued with a self-righteous confidence that is as unearned as it is false.
    Pope Benedict XVI addressed that somewhat in Caritas in Veritate: ‘The sharing of goods and resources, from which authentic development proceeds, is not guaranteed by merely technical progress and relationships of utility, but by the potential of love that overcomes evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), opening up the path towards reciprocity of consciences and liberties. The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim “to interfere in any way in the politics of States.”[quoting Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio] She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation.’
    It is true that good intentions, i.e., the desire to overcome evil with good, is not sufficient to get good public policy. I suspect that some public policy can produce good (though suggestions are tough to find on politically conservative sites). So I am reading more of Pope Paul VI’s letters, encyclicals etc. in this regard.

  14. Libertarians are ridiculously unserious. How are defense, education and roads redistribution at all, and not just basic societal functions? Furthermore is anyone really disputing that the free market has led to large advances in several areas? That doesn’t mean it can’t have side effects.

    not to mention the silly “because we have regulations we’re not super-capitalist” angle. The healthcare plan is the primary area where there’s going to be state control, if you accurately define socialism as state ownership of enterprise (and not the way it’s sometimes used interchangeably with liberal economic aims that have existed since Woodrow Wilson and FDR) then no we aren’t really socialist.

  15. No worries Spam, feelings are way over-rated. Regarding conservative-oriented public policy approaches I suggest you visit the websites of AEI, Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institute and the dozens of other conservative-oriented think tanks. You will find many hundreds of proposals and ideas for addressing all our myriad of social problems. The difference is that these proposals and ideas are not utopian and therefore not grounded in the danger of assuming men are angels and earth can be Heaven.

  16. Mike, thanks for the suggestion about Heritage. I’ve not thought about them for many years. (Fond memories [off topic] of young conservative pizza parties they threw. I was there to applaud a young and idealistic David Brock, way way back. I don’t what happened that changed him, but it must be very sad. And I met Dinesh D’Souza.) Trying to immerse myself in Catholic teaching, I’ve shied away from secular sources, but perhaps time to go back.

  17. PJ,
    You seem to have a fairly wooden and cartoonish understanding of libertarianism, which actually includes a myriad of subsets with different assumptions regarding defense, education and roads — with few or none actually characterizing the government provision of such services as redistribution.
    What is unserious is loose thinking about free markets and “side effects”.
    Finally, the definition of “socialism” varies considerably, but the most common involves “the means of production, distribution and exchange owed *or regulated* by the community as a whole.”

  18. Paul W Primavera might have added

    Lev. xix. 9, 10

    And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field; neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God

    Deut. xxiv. 20, 21

    When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

    These are not exhortations, but laws and attract a considerable body of commentary in the Talmud, transgression of which was punishable with stripes. The owner of the crop could not discriminate among the poor; he might not even help one in gathering; nor could he hire a labourer on the condition that his son should be permitted to glean after him. He who prevented the poor from coming into his field by keeping dogs or lions to frighten them away, or he who favoured one poor man to the injury of another, was considered a robber of the poor.

  19. Spambot quoted Pope Benedict VI who wrote in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate:

    “We need to be convinced that charity is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)” Pope Francis quotes this as well in his Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium.

    Can we all agree on this? I believe that this goes to the heart of this issue.

  20. Donald, Israel was ‘compelled’ collectively by the Law to enact social justice: they left behind corn, cancelled debt and a hundred other things. I think the problem Christians usually have these days is not that it is ‘compelled’, but that it happens in a non-Christian society where people’s sense of justice is out of whack and decisions are made in opposition to God’s will. Am I correct?

  21. Michael Patterson Seymour, it is NOT the job of secular government to steal from those who produce and work to give to those who refuse to do so. You do NOT get to redistribute my income for your pet social justice projects. The command is for us Christians to give voluntarily and NOT abdicate our responsibility onto Caesar Augustus. Now keep your fingers out of my paycheck.

  22. Perhaps it’s more about the way we go about it. Right now measures seem to backfire all too often. Better approaches need to be discovered. I do think it’s OK for the government to help people truly in need. I don’t think it’s OK for the government to offer assistance to people who seek abortions or suicide or that kind of thing.

  23. “Donald, Israel was ‘compelled’ collectively by the Law to enact social justice:”

    How much of that was ever actually carried out historically is open to debate Jon. Much Biblical Old Testament legislation seems to be aspirational rather than implemented historically. Christ of course in the New Testament never gave the slightest hint that Caesar should compel people to help the poor. He enjoins us each to help the poor and we cannot escape that duty by fobbing it off on the State, with all the evils that brings in its train.

  24. Donald

    [I sent a response about an hour ago, but it seems to have disappeared. Let me try to ‘reconstruct it now]

    I have never really voiced my opinion etc on what we are experiencing in this period of time in America and what we are witnessing in Washington. Like so many others I am very concerned-worried about what is going on [and I do not think it is simply a matter of the present occupant of the White House. This has been building for some time and is not going to go away with the next election]

    I reject (as does the Church) “Statism” an ideology which sees “the State” [read government] increasing its hegemony and control over every aspect of a country’s life: social, cultural, economic and yes even religious] While not all forms of Statism are the same, its common denominator is belief that “the State is everything” [or at least should be].
    Pope Pius XI, facing Soviet Communism in Russia, the rise of National Socialism [Naziism] in Germany and Fascism in Italy and Spain did not only condemn those forms of Statism but gave a slight course correction to the social teaching of the Church found within Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum. Pius XI in Quadragessimo Anno [On the Fortieth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum] gave us the fundamental social principle known as ‘subsidiarity’. Technically it means that larger entities should not take over what smaller units can do. Practically it means ‘local’ and ‘smaller’ is best.

    Getting to your question I need to say that I hold to what Pope Benedict wrote in his first encyclical; Deus Caritas Est: Charity is the mission/responsibility of the Church; justice is the mission/responsibility of the State. Along with that I would point out Saint Augustine’s teaching that justice is charity seeking to give to the other what is their due [charity informs all the virtues]

    The Church has always condemned Communism, as it has the marxist elements within the Liberation Theology movement [the whole movement or theology is not marxist] The Church condemns Statism. Writing shortly after the demise of communism in Russia and eastern Europe, Blessed John Paul wrote Centissimus Annos [on the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum]. He wrote of the newer things that had recently developed-the demise of communism with Democratic Capitalism as basically the sole social/economic principle at work in the growing global society. In that Encyclical JPII stated that now we live and move and breathe in this ‘world view’. Democratic Capitalism is NOT inherently evil. However, like every other human endeavor etc it needs the dialogue of salvation with the Church, a dialogue in which, per JPII, the Church reminds ‘the world’ of the social moral principles or as Benedict would say, calls the world to bring charity into its macro-relationships as well.

    This was not quite a yes or no which you probably wanted, but I believe we are much closer than we may realize in our approach to what is going on in America today. I hope this makes sense and answered your question Donald

  25. Good point, Donald. We don’t knwo the extent to which Israel implemented it. We do know God instituted those laws. And there is a vast difference between the O.T. arrangement and livin as Christians under a secular state. I know this. We are called as the church to be charitable amidst the world. This is part of what it means to work toward the fullness of God’s kingdom. I’m not sure how we should view governemnt’s role in this.

  26. Thank you for your response Botolph. My own opinion is that charity ceases to be charity when it is compelled from the giver. I think it has been quite a temptation for many within the Church to look to the State to perform “charity”. I think a better role for the State, absent emergency relief, is to stay out of the way and allow people to help the poor. The State getting in the way has been graphically underlined recently, for example, with the State driving the Catholic Church out of adoptions in Illinois by requiring that the Church not “discriminate” against Gay couples in adoptions. Rather than looking to the State to have a role in the corporal works of mercy, Catholics should be fighting to keep the State out of charity altogether. Separation of State and Charity! I like it!

  27. My own opinion is that charity ceases to be charity when it is compelled from the giver.

     

    For what it’s worth, the great Jewish scholar Maimonedes recognized 8 levels of charity. I believe there may be a Catholic analogue, but I am not certain. The highest level consists of teaching a fellow Jew to fish, i.e. giving him a gift or a loan, entering into a partnership with him, or securing him employment. The next level involves giving anonymously to an unknown fellow Jew, and so on. The least level involves is helping a fellow Jew unwillingly, or, according to some translations, out of mere pity. I am not certain if being coerced into giving falls into that 8th category, or belongs to some still lower level unworthy of even being considered charity, but I suspect that in those cases where the money goes to some cause or recipient that the coerced giver recognizes is worthy of charity, it might well make the cut, though I suspect the scholarly opinion on the matter would be contentious.

  28. It is perfectly fair to posit that coercion and charity are incompatible. Yet, I am not so dogmatic as to believe that it is inappropriate for a free people to choose to use government as an instrument for charity. Although we can and should acknowledge the inefficiencies and other imperfections of such an approach, there can be advantages too. And I don’t think it is fair to characterize related taxes paid by those who favor such approach as truly coercive in character. To me, the extent to which government should be used as an instrument to help those in need is more a matter of prudence than principle. There are serious doubts as to whether the needs of the feeble and poor can really be adequately satisfied without some public sector role. But it is also true that government rarely excersises this role very well, and the risk that such a role necessarily induces increased sense of pernicious entitlement is very real. Careful and realistic calibration is essential, and in my view the role should be limited to the most basic essentials, generally limited in duration, and designed as much as possible to encourage rather than discourage family integrity. Perfection is not a practical option, and some over-inclusion and some under-inclusion is inevitable.

  29. Donald, you speak of separation of state and charity. But I wonder if we can be consistent wtih that. The Enlightenmen proposed secular territory or what we might call neutral ground. As Christians, we know there’s no such thing: Christ is the Lrod and Savior of the wrold, not Caesar. And the implications of this should be felt even as we pray: thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If it will one day be wholly true, should we not work toward that? Should we not insist that GOd’s laws and imperatives are good for everyone? That it is good to protect life, to nurture it, to foster the welfare of others, etc.? This was the medieval vision, was it not? Was this not lost wtih the onset of modernity to where, little by little, the secular ‘ate up’ the sacred? Is it wrong to seek that unity once again, however imperfectly it may be achieved? In other words, should we not work toward social justice, particularly in terms that we as Christians can happily agree upon?

  30. “Christ is the Lrod and Savior of the wrold, not Caesar.”

    If you mean that in a secular ruler sense I completely disagree with you and so did Christ who stated that His Kingdom is not of this world.

    “Should we not insist that GOd’s laws and imperatives are good for everyone? That it is good to protect life, to nurture it, to foster the welfare of others, etc.? This was the medieval vision, was it not?”

    Not really. Church and State generally fought like cats and dogs in the Middle Ages which was normally a good thing because CS Lewis was right on the money:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  31. Indeed, Lewis disliked anything like that, whether from church or more likely, from the secular State as he saw it in his day.
    I agree that his kingdom is really ‘not of this world’. Yes, utopians can be monstrous in their attempts at imposing what is good for others. I’m not sure we can think in erms of a strict dichotomy, however. There is no private Chrsitianity or personal salvation. It is by definition public. As Wright points out, the proclamation is public that Jesus is Lord. The world rightly shakes upon hearing that. That’s why they fought the church to such an extent. The interaction is not clear; I do think we should bring the imploications of Christianty to bear upon all of life as much as possible. Again, I know of the problems that can ensue. It remains a paradox.

  32. “Finally, the definition of “socialism” varies considerably”

    No it doesn’t. Socialism is state ownership of enterprise. People play loose with it when it comes to govt. programs in general but obviously these are present in all current Western democracies to varying degrees.

  33. 120. If, however, for this purpose, private resources do not suffice, it is the duty of the public authority to supply for the insufficient forces of individual effort, particularly in a matter which is of such importance to the common weal, touching as it does the maintenance of the family and married people. If families, particularly those in which there are many children, have not suitable dwellings; if the husband cannot find employment and means of livelihood; if the necessities of life cannot be purchased except at exorbitant prices; if even the mother of the family to the great harm of the home, is compelled to go forth and seek a living by her own labor; if she, too, in the ordinary or even extraordinary labors of childbirth, is deprived of proper food, medicine, and the assistance of a skilled physician, it is patent to all to what an extent married people may lose heart, and how home life and the observance of God’s commands are rendered difficult for them; indeed it is obvious how great a peril can arise to the public security and to the welfare and very life of civil society itself when such men are reduced to that condition of desperation that, having nothing which they fear to lose, they are emboldened to hope for chance advantage from the upheaval of the state and of established order.

    121. Wherefore, those who have the care of the State and of the public good cannot neglect the needs of married people and their families, without bringing great harm upon the State and on the common welfare. Hence, in making the laws and in disposing of public funds they must do their utmost to relieve the needs of the poor, considering such a task as one of the most important of their administrative duties.

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