Mark Shea’s Economic Inquisition

The-Pope-and-the-Inquisitor

The topic of income inequality is popular not only among secular progressives but politically minded Catholics as well. If income inequality is a problem—and even libertarians would agree that it can be, depending on how the inequality comes about—the proposed solution is often for the government to “do something” about it, usually through confiscatory taxation of wealth and its distribution to whomever our politicians deem worthy of it. In the ideal progressive polity, our tax dollars would not only meet the needs of the poor but perhaps find their way into green-energy projects, spreading democracy abroad, and ensuring that everyone receives the kind of education that the state would like citizens to have.

Catholic objections to the libertarian rejection of confiscatory taxation are nothing new. Mark Shea recently denounced as “heresy” the libertarian argument that the state has no role to play in the distribution of society’s wealth. It is difficult to tell if Shea and those of like-mind reject the libertarian position simply because, in their view, it is a heresy—end of story—or if they’ve really examined the position and found it wanting on some logical or factual basis as well. Though Shea himself describes the strawman libertarian position he ridicules as “utopian,” suppose there were a version of the argument that made sense to him. Would it then still have to be rejected preemptively because it is “heresy,” or might we be obliged to pay attention to it?

I do not pose these questions on the assumption that libertarianism actually is a heresy, though I do believe that any idea taken to certain extremes is likely to become not only heretical but irrational and immoral as well. I am of the mind, however, that the Church does not reject what is true or good. Not only are several core libertarian principles on the matter of wealth distribution true and good, but they are also found in the seminal encyclical defining Catholic social thought, Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum. It is not controversial to suggest that Murray Rothbard, regardless of what we may think of some of his extreme positions, understood what libertarianism was (he practically invented it out of classical liberalism in the twentieth century); the same Rothbard viewed this encyclical as “to some extent middle-of-the-road and with a pro-labor bias” but “fundamentally libertarian and pro-capitalist.” Even if one ends up holding that he has completely misread and mischaracterized the encyclical, his statement ought to pique our curiosity. Why would the founder of modern libertarianism recognize his own philosophy in a Catholic social encyclical?

There are several reasons for this, and they all relate in some way to the proper role of the state in the distribution of wealth. First, Leo XIII unequivocally defends the natural, individual and inviolable right to private property (#9). Whatever a person creates through their own labor is rightfully and properly theirs, and no other person may seize it for themselves by force. It may well be that Rothbard and the anarcho-capitalist movement he spawned go too far in categorically rejecting the state and its claims on our income, but when we further consider the limitations that Leo XIII places on the state it is clear why he could appreciate the encyclical. For Leo XIII explicitly declares that charitable aid to the poor is not a matter for human laws to dictate, except in cases of extreme need (#22). How extreme need is to be understood is not made clear in the encyclical, but it is at least debatable that such needs are a) best assessed at the local level, not requiring an army of federal bureaucrats, armed agents, and massive budgets to meet, and b) may be at least partially or even wholly addressed without confiscatory tax policies.

Shea and other like-minded Catholic critics cite the same encyclical by Pope Leo XIII in an attempt to demonstrate the “heresy” of libertarianism, for at one point it does declare that free agreements between workers and employers regarding wages are not sufficient for economic justice (#45). And yet this was no stumbling block for Rothbard and other libertarian Catholics, for Pope Leo XIII never insists that the solution is, for instance, a mandatory minimum wage set by the federal government. More importantly, what we often don’t see in the various citations of this mandate are the conditions placed upon it by Leo XIII: the wage-earner is only deserving of wages that will support a clean and moral lifestyle. It is incumbent upon the worker to save and spend wisely, and certainly not the fault of the employer if he does not.

We could haggle endlessly over what truly constitutes a living wage, but I never see empirical evidence put forward to establish that equilibrium wages (what would result from totally free bargaining between workers and employers) in the United States would result in widespread destitution for morally upright workers and their families. On the contrary, it is now well-established that marriage practically abolishes poverty, that most minimum-wage employees are not supporting families (thus undermining the claim that we “need” the state to dictate wages), and that “poverty” in America is a dubious term. Among the poorest areas of the United States one will find high rates of crime, drug abuse, educational failure, sexual deviance, illegitimacy, and so on. This is not to say that people in these areas ought to be written off, but it is to say that no employer is obliged to subsidize their moral failings—and neither are we, the frugal, well-behaved wage-earners to whom Leo XIII refers. This is not just about the moral failings of the poor, as libertarians do not want to pay for the birth control pills of middle class college students or provide massive bailouts and subsidies for major banks and businesses either.

There are also the semantics of “distribution” and “redistribution.” Markets distribute wealth as much as governments do. If the empirical case can be made that they distribute wealth more fairly and rationally than governments, then what happens to the dogmatic insistence upon the role of the state in this process? It may also be that different cultures have different optimal balances between market freedom and state action. A small ethnically and culturally homogenous nation such as Denmark or even a larger one such as Canada may find a popular consensus for social democracy, if not outright socialism. That same model, to the extent it has been imposed by force upon America with her unique history and traditions as well as her vast array of diverse cultures, has been a colossal failure. It is also arguable that Danes, Canadians, and other participants in the social democratic model are in for a massive shock as they absorb more immigrants from the global South and their own aging and shrinking populations contribute less and less to the social safety net.

All of this is to say that complex economic and ethical issues cannot be resolved by shouting “heresy!” It would be antithetical to the spirit of Catholicism to suggest that anything other than the common good ought to be the ultimate goal of economic policies. It would also be antithetical to the spirit of Catholicism to suggest that there is only one way to promote it, and that all other ways are automatically heretical and forbidden. Libertarianism is only a “heresy” in the same way that every other idea becomes a heresy; when it is taken to irrational extremes or when it explicitly rejects a fundamental teaching of the Church. There is no reason why any self-identified libertarian has to do either.

Editor’s note: The image above titled “The Pope and the Inquisitor” was painted by Jean-Paul Laurens in 1882.

Joe Hargrave

By

Joe Hargrave is an adjunct professor of political science at Rio Salado Community College in Tempe, Arizona.

  • Bedarz Iliaci

    1) State welfare is not Charity but justice. By Catholic doctrine, I believe, the State may justly adjust private property (i.e. by distributing large landed estates). Also, the surplus of the rich belongs to the poor in justice. This being a Catholic principle.
    2) State does justice to the Deserving poor. It was always a State duty to care for widows, orphans etc.
    3) Charity is what is done individually to Undeserving poor. State has no role here.
    4) Inequality is a political problem more than a moral problem. Republics, in particular, can not suffer arbitrary economic inequality.
    5) The private property of which the Church speaks is poorly represented by mutual fund owning kind of property that is typical of 21C capitalism.

    Property, properly speaking, needs to be a public and stable relation between a person and the thing he is owner of. Momentary and fleeting and private (even the mutual fund unit owner may be unaware of the companies he owns through his mutual fund today) ownership does not promote the key virtue of stewardship that the true ownership does.

    Thus, the pattern of anonymous ownership means that the large corporations are effectively owner-less and thus we see the decay of due stewardship and we do not see social benefits of widespread ownership that a true ownership (stable and public) should provide.

    6) These points are invariably missed in the libertarian critiques of the Distribution-ism. The Economic Right can not imagine a non-Marxist critique of their position.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      Good heavens! Where to begin a response… Your principles are absurdly broad and not only fraught with danger, but would and do lead inevitably to statism. “State welfare is not Charity but justice.” And thus, since all are entitled to justice, all are entitled to state welfare. This “entitlement” culture is what destroys an economy, after destroying the family. “The surplus of the rich belongs to the poor in justice.” And who shall define who is “rich” and who is “poor” and what is a “surplus”? Why, those in power, who gain power by purchasing their votes through public welfare, exactly as foreseen by de Tocqueville. “Republics, in particular, can not suffer arbitrary economic inequality.” Actually, they cannot suffer or survive the desire to eliminate economic inequality. And millions have died in the demonstration of this. You are correct in one thing: I cannot imagine your position as anything other than Marxism.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        “As St. Ambrose put it: ‘You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.’ (De Nabute, c. 12) These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional.” – Populorum Progressio 23

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          Absolutely. But you cannot distill the Christian ethos of St. Ambrose from the functioning of the modern welfare state.

        • tamsin

          Hey everybody, vacation at MPS’ house this summer, all summer. How’s the weather? What shall we pack?

          • Art Deco

            He lives in Scotland,so the weather stinks. If he’s an atypical Brit, he might just be sober in the evening; they need to liquor up big time to cover the dental pain they all suffer due to willful neglect. His wife will serve us ace British fare – bangers and mash, toast on racks stone cold, stringy overcooked roast beef with yellow-pink sauce (as Henry Mitchell said, “the yellow has something more persistent in it – boiled hooves, perhaps”), fruit stewed in treacle and glopped with custard and creme, and of course, lots of warm beer and haggis. He’ll entertain us all with long discourses about the work of Frenchy philosophers and theologians active around 1920. “Blondel, Maurras, Yves Congar, next question…”.

            • TheAbaum

              Haggis.. enough said.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                “Is there that owre his French ragout
                Or olio that wad staw a sow,
                Or fricassee wad make her spew
                Wi’ perfect sconner,
                Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
                On sic a dinner?
                …..

                Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
                And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
                Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
                That jaups in luggies;
                But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer
                Gie her a haggis!”

                • Crisiseditor

                  Michael,
                  You are a rare gem. Keep it coming!

                • slainte

                  Do you like Haggis, MPS?
                  .
                  I sampled it once at a London hotel as part of a breakfast buffet…it tasted somewhat like white pudding. Not bad.
                  .
                  Now Escargot is scary fare. Slugs in garlic butter sauce is an incomprehensible concoction which constitutes nothing less than an assault on the palate!

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    Yes, I love haggis, with bashed neeps and & champit tatties – but scarcely for breakfast!

                    Escargot cooked in garlic butter tastes of garlic butter and nothing else. They are much esteemed in Burgundy, which produces great wines and little else of note..

                    • slainte

                      Are bashed neeps…mashed turnips?
                      And are champit tatties… mashed potatoes with scallions?
                      .
                      Without meaning to cast aspersions, I cannot bring myself to look at Escargot while my siblings enjoy it,,,clearly a matter of taste.
                      .
                      I believe it was the Marriott Hotel at Heathrow that served Haggis as part of its breakfast buffet…at least it did about five years ago. I thought at the time that it was an acommodation for Scots guests or venturous Americans. : )

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Mashed swede – With us turnips are small and white, swedes large and yellow with a purple rind.

                      Haggis is eaten for breakfast, just not to my taste

            • tamsin

              If we suffer with Him, we shall be glorified with Him.

              It’s in the Bible.

            • fredx2

              And don’t forget the Scotch eggs.

              • Art Deco

                You mean soft-boiled eggs in a sausage cup? I haven’t seen one of those in 35 years. Are they really Scottish?

        • TheAbaum

          Nice, but that still sounds like the impetus to engage in authentic personal charity, not erect a wasteful and counterproductive welfare state.

          • Art Deco

            Welfare states and personal charity address problems of a different character, one systemic, one episodic.

            • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

              And whereas charity alleviates the episodic, the welfare state exacerbates the systemic.

              • Art Deco

                No, certain programs can exacerbate certain problems. There are costs and benefits to whatever course of action you take. No need to be dogmatic about it.

                • TheAbaum

                  The welfare state and the war on poverty has not only not effectively mediated (let alone eradicated) systemic poverty, it has given rise to the culture of copulation.

                  • Art Deco

                    Somehow I do not think that Social Security benefits have much effect on the quantum of copulation in this world. Means-tested programs for those neither elderly nor disabled have had their ill-effects, but you unload all of them and that’s a modest fraction of common provision and redistribution.

                    Also, the generators of this sort of behavior are not purely economic, which is why the reduction in AFDC / TANF rolls had little effect on illegitimacy rates.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Social security is only one part of the welfare state, it was sold with lies and deceptions, but it hasn’t been responsible for the degradation of society that we’ve witnessed in the past five decades.

                      In one respect, it doesn’t violate the laws of insurable events. The peril of superannuation is outside the control of the insured, unlike the peril of unwed pregnancy, which is a peril almost completely under the control of the individual.

                    • Art Deco

                      but it hasn’t been responsible for the degradation of society that we’ve witnessed in the past five decades.

                      Get a grip.

                      If you follow youth culture, you realize it was a Pandora’s box-it’s enculturated now.

                      Enough. The ruin of social mores was manifested in every class of society, well beyond the slum and trailer-park segment which makes considerable use of TANF and made use of AFDC (and public housing and Food Stamps, &c).

                • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

                  Fair enough.

    • Ford Oxaal

      You say, “It was always a State duty to care for widows, orphans etc.” Correct me if I am wrong, but I am not sure the state, at the federal or state level, does anything whatsoever for widows. Perhaps the state should divert some of its so-called “social justice” billions and throw the widow a mite or two.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        Social Security Administration throws poor widows a mite. Look into it.

        • Ford Oxaal

          So my sister’s husband died young, and I doubt they had jack built up in social security. Is there some form somewhere she is supposed to fill out, or would that take an admin/accounting genius? She had zero involvement with the livelihood and whatever maze of forms that would have entailed (all of which are likely in a landfill at this point).

          • TheAbaum

            “would that take an admin/accounting genius”

            It’s on the website. Margaret Oliver is no longer there to guide you therough the process or give you that reassuring touch on the forearm (1:00 in the film linked above)

            I have an MBA in Accounting, and have been licensed as a CPA for a long time. I always dread when somebody wants advice on that.

            I guess it would help if I were also an attorney, an actuary and had a working crystal ball.I don’t know of anybody who carries those credentials concurrently.

            • Ford Oxaal

              Nice. Well, you’d think with all the benevolence of the ‘system’, a widow in mourning and destitution would not need a team of administrators and inquisitors to get taken care of. Or do you have to prove disability and add another layer of professionals to the mix?

              • TheAbaum

                Death benefits are not supposed to require disability, just minor children or attainment of retirement age. but as you can tell from all the ads on TV, “insurance, bought and paid for” requires an attorney with the skills and knowledge to fight for your rights.

                • Ford Oxaal

                  What a joke! Our big fat society can’t even put widows on the priority list. So if you are not retirement age, no minor children, no corporate serf training because you were busy raising fabulous children, no disability because you don’t weigh enough, you are SOL!! LOL to so-called welfare — the greatest patronage scheme ever invented.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            She needs to go to the SSA, they practically fill out the forms for her.

        • TheAbaum

          Social Security was devised in the 1800′s as a population control device, when the progressive movement took it’s first steps into the culture of death with it’s noxious embrace of Malthus.

          The idea was that people had children to indemnify themselves against the “risks of superannuation”, so if the government provides a guarantee against old-age penury, it would reduce the “surplus population”.

          It is of course interesting to see the propaganda from the early years of Social Security. There were promises that it was “insurance, bought and paid for” and that the tax would always be 1%.

          Don’t believe me, look how it was sold:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVJ3exBxOsE

          • Art Deco

            I think you have confounded American Social Security with some other country’s system. Social Security here was founded in 1935 as a response to the Depression.

            • TheAbaum

              I always look to the writer, not the copy machine to interpret some work.

            • fredx2

              I think he was talking about Bismark in Germany and their institution of a social security system.

              • TheAbaum

                I was, nice catch.

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      I would point out, as I did above, that there is a simple answer to the claimed libertarian injustice in #1: Avoid death taxes by putting a portion of your estate, in charity, in the names of poor relations and in the names of other poor people.

      • TheAbaum

        I can show you a whole host of “charities” established by the bequests of the uber-rich that are little more than endowments to the culture of death.

        • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

          I’m not quite rich enough for Mr. Gift Tax- but there too smart distributism helps. Make your gifts under $14,000/year/beneficiary while you are still alive, and you’ll never pay either estate tax or Gift Tax.

          • TheAbaum

            Make your gifts under $14,000/year/beneficiary while you are still alive, and you’ll never pay either estate tax or Gift Tax.

            No.

            Theodore, making your gifts under $14k avoids the gift tax (for a particular year), but leaves the assets in your estate for estate tax.

            • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

              If you make the gift while you are alive, the gift is no longer IN YOUR ESTATE. It now belongs to the person you gave it to. It’s in THEIR estate.

              The big key to passing on a family business without estate taxes- be pro-life, be procreative, be prolific, and give shares in the business worth less than $14,000 per share to each of your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren before you die.

              In other words, be pro-life and be generous.

              Gee, where have we heard of THOSE virtues before?

              • TheAbaum

                Theodore, until you are licensed as an attorney, a CPA or an enrolled agent, remain quiet and listen. This is the same imprudence that got you in your mess with the time share.

                Last chance at making this simple: Make a gift to an individual in excess of 14k, you pay gift tax, if you limit your gifts to then money stays in your estate to be subject to the estate tax. Catch 22.

                The simple fact is the estate tax is a gift to estate attorneys, CPA’s and banks and trust companiies and life insurers.

                • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

                  Somewhere your math isn’t adding up to me.

                  Let’s take a hypothetical estate worth $7 million. Before death, you identify 503 people to each give something less than $13,899 to, and save a little left. You actually *put that money in their name*.

                  This reduces your estate to $8,803, far below the estate tax minimum.

                  What is left to tax?

                  • TheAbaum

                    And while you are at it, let’s assume that this contrived situation has a decedent who knows exactly when they’ll die, what they’ll need to deal medically, has no outstanding debts, etc, etc.

                    I haven’t even gotten into the situation where there’s a closely held business and it’s not something you slice and dice and where the business’s value isn’t even close to being certain.

                    When you have EA, Esq. or CPA after your name, feel free to discuss. Until then, stop indulging your pride.

                    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

                      In this day and age, most people know to within a year or two when they are going to die.

                      Can you please answer the basic math question please? If you’ve been generous enough to give away all your wealth to relatives in your retirement in return for them taking care of you (the standard method of retirement pre Social Security Administration, and pre- Ayn Rand) what is left to tax?

                      As for the situation of a closely held business, well, that’s centralization of ownership, and that’s something that is against both the universal destination of goods, and in the long run capitalism and the free market itself (because when you have an oligarchy, that tends to turn into a dictatorship and a limited market, not a free market).

                    • TheAbaum

                      No they don’t.

                      It’s not a math question. I’m sorry you don’t understand that.

                      As for your last paragraph, it’s fairly clear you don’t understand what the term closely held business is either.

                      Once again, Theodore, until you are qualified, remain quiet and listen. This is the same imprudence that got you in your mess with the time share and the same lack of discipline that causes you grief with regulating your appetite.

                    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

                      My point was a math question.

                      There is a limit in the law to gift giving of $14,000/year/person. For estate worth X, to avoid taxes, be generous to Y people. Y=x/14,000. You’re just trying to figure out how to avoid the math problem and avoid being generous.

                      The only relatives I’ve had die that suddenly, have been suicides- and I’m pretty sure they knew they were going to die.

                      And once again, you use the concept of prudence to justify sin and avoid virtue. There’s nothing prudence can’t explain away to you libertarians- doesn’t matter what selfishness you want to justify, prudence covers it all.

                    • TheAbaum

                      I’m sorry, I can’t fix stupid.

    • TheAbaum

      “1) State welfare is not Charity but justice.”

      No, it’s the destruction of souls.

    • Watosh

      Now Bedarz Iliaca understands the position of the Catholic church, rather than echoing some popular misconceptions and partial truths that are peddled by free marketeers as being the best of all possible economic worlds. It would seem that when I apply to General Electric for a job, that my salary is something we freely agree to, and therefore blessed by Catholic teaching.
      . Well it is true no one forces me to take take whatever General Electric wants to offer me, but I am in a poor position to bargain with GE over what salary I want. Ge has an immense advantage over me when it comes to arriving at the wage they will pay me. Ge will pay me the least amount of money that they can, knowing that my options are to either take it or leave it, and since the GE has a large labor pool available of individuals, they will not suffer from my decision not to accept their salary.

  • LgVt

    It seems to me that in discussions of economics such as these, there are two distinct lines of thought that, while often treated interchangeably, must be recognized and distinguished from one another.

    The first is that there is a duty to support and improve the lot of the poor, and we must find the best ways to do this. This line of thought is right, and praiseworthy, and all Christians should engage it.

    The second line of thought, on the other hand, is that the rich have too much, and we must do something about that. This is an open appeal to the deadly sin of Envy, and a giant middle finger to the Tenth Commandment, and all Christians should run away from it as fast and as far as humanly possible.

    • John Doman

      Excellant. Exactly what I was thinking.

    • ForChristAlone

      Man’s free will should always be respected – even when it comes to taxes. To confiscate another’s wealth – whether it be individuals or governments doing the confiscating – against the free will of a person is stealing. “What”, you say, “people should only pay taxes willingly?” Exactly. Anything other than this is loss of freedom and tantamount to stealing and will only lead to civil unrest in the end. The consent of the governed applies also to their freely giving of their financial means for the good of society. Anything short of this is power being exercised against the will of the people.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        “If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.” – Populorum Progessio (1967) 24

        • TheAbaum

          Wonderful. But terribly nebulous and open to abuse, by politicians who have quite enough tools in visiting deception and demagoguery upon us.

          • Art Deco

            You’ve read about the large scale seizures of rural property in Venezuela in recent years, I take it.

        • slainte

          MPS writes, “If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.”
          .
          No doubt the French Revolutionaties (Voltaire, Robespierre and company) believed that the lands and properties of the Catholic Church were unused and poorly used and detrimental to the interests of the country and the common good, and thus, with blood running in the streets, these self appointed arbiters of “best use” corrected the problem through expropriation in the name of Liberte and Egalite.
          .
          For those who disagreed, the guillotine awaited.

          • TheAbaum

            Where have you been, citizen?

            • slainte

              I gave up blogging for Lent and spent most of April in the west of Ireland where the weather, which is usually very damp and rainy, was bright and sunny…a small miracle. The faith is still alive and well there, but vocations are down.
              .
              By the way, the bangers and mash and the white and black puddings in Ireland are really quite excellent. I have no doubt that they are equally as good in Scotland. : )

              • TheAbaum

                I gave up coffee. Slept better, and didn’t miss it until Holy Saturday morning.Also a small miracle.

                Declared victory and let a nice Dunkin’ slide down my gullet. I might revert back to green tea, maybe some Irish breakfast tea when I need a better jolt.

                • slainte

                  Congrats on abstaining from coffee…not easy.
                  .
                  I bet you felt the impact of the caffeine when you had your first Dunkin. After refraining from coffee for a while, I’m amazed at how powerful caffeine is as a stimulant. Starbucks is like jet fuel!

                  • TheAbaum

                    Got half decaff

                    Even if Tarbucks/Charbucks hadn’t told me I was unwelcome, it’s nasty stuff.

                    Hey, did you hear they had to delay plans for a juice bar? They couldn’t figure out how to burn Tropicana,

          • Rich

            Complete non sequitur argument. The Catholic Church in its 1967 document was not advocating nor endorsing, nor in any way advancing the idea of bloody revolution. The principles of the common good are the very REASON expropriation might be useful. To argue thus adds nothing.

            And, should some future “revolutionary” decide to use the document’s argument FOR revolution and the taking of capital in a bloody way, that abusive interpretation of the document does not negate the value of its initial point. The very point so many here refuse to really engage and write off as nebulous and open to abuse. Oh, so we should ignore it then…I see.. go ahead and keep the rich even richer while those in obviously degraded situations languish. And NOT all of those situations are due to THEIR moral failure. There is quite a bit of moral failure in these comboxes right here. Just because you think someone might abuse it does not mean you should summarily ignore it.

            • TheAbaum

              Define “landed estate”.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                “Yep, the biggest landed estate is the federal government.”

                Indeed, and it is worth recalling that it was by redistributing the Royal Demesne, the Forest lands, the common land of manors and the lands of the Church, as well as the confiscated estates of émigrés and other malignants that the French Revolution turned 10 million landless peasants into heritable proprietors. To any form of collectivisation, there were implacably opposed and they broke up the common lands where they found them.

                As De Tocqueville said of the French Revolution, “Not only did it consecrate private property, it universalized it. It saw that a still greater number of citizens participated in it.”

                • TheAbaum

                  De Tocqueville also warned us about the potential for soft tyranny.

            • slainte

              Rich….see my response to Art Deco below.
              The French Revolution and the abuses I described actually happened and they will continue to happen for as long as we exclude God from our governing structures.
              .
              Ben Franklin, a liberal of that era, reminded us that a well functioning republic depends upon a moral citizenry.
              .
              I would suggest that an effective implementation of the principles espoused in the papal encyclical cited by MPS requires a moral citizenry whose morality is rooted in the Judae-Christian tradition.

              • Rich

                I dont disagree with that at all. The problem I find quite often among libertarians is this utopian idea that if we JUST had virtuous people, we would not need the government. Very true. Everyone would live perfectly and justly, and there would be little need for a large entity of that sort.

                Given that we are NOT in a utopia, I think it then behooves us to face things AS they ARE.

                You say an effective implementation REQUIRES that populace…I disagree. There is a point when there is TOO much wealth in the hands of too few. Waiting for virtue is actually a sin of omission. I refer you to paragraph 202 of Gaudiem Evangelium, the most recent document from our current pontiff:

                “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for
                the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.”

                • TheAbaum

                  The problem I find quite often among statist idolaters is is this utopian idea that if we JUST had more government, we would have more virtuous people. Very untrue. Everyone would live perfectly and justly, and there would be little need anything but perfect obedience to the state.

                  Given that we are NOT in a utopia, I think it then behooves us to face things AS they ARE.

                  • Rich

                    You are putting words in my mouth, and are calling names. Idolater. So long as you can look in the mirror and call yourself the same, I am fine with the moniker, I am not perfect. Ad hominem aside, your premise is not mine. You argue poorly.

                    Here is the paragraph preceding 24 in Populorum Progressio:

                    23. “If someone who has the riches of this world sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?.”[21] It is well known how strong were the words used by the Fathers of the Church to describe the proper attitude of persons who possess anything towards persons in need. To quote Saint Ambrose: “You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself. The world is given to all, and not only to the rich”.[22] That is, private property does not constitute for anyone an absolute and unconditioned right. No one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need, when others lack necessities. In a word, “according to the traditional doctrine as found in the Fathers of the Church and the great theologians, the right to property must never be exercised to the detriment of the common good”. If there should arise a conflict “between acquired private rights and primary community exigencies”, it is the responsibility of public authorities “to look for a solution, with the active participation of individuals and social groups”.[23]

                    There is something to be done. The conversation could happen. Needs to happen.

                    • TheAbaum

                      I’m poor, I needed your prose, I took it.

                    • Rich

                      Nice. More veiled ad hominem, and now…condescension! Excellent. Your tone of condescension (which I will say is not gracious nor Christian) is your unfortunate trademark. Course, you did choose the A bomb as your moniker and avatar.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Do you understand the term “ad hominem”?

                    • Rich

                      Yeah, to the man. If you call someone a name, you’re attacking them, not the argument in question. Quite often your style of argument is a tad abusive, condescending and almost bullying. Me discussing this, i am aware, is ad hominem itself. (but I didnt start it. :) ) Peace, bother.

                    • TheAbaum

                      No, it means that an argument should be rejected on the basis of who the person is, rather than the merit of the argument. I could just as easily said you chose “rich” because you are obsessed with money. I didn’t, I let your statements betray that.

                      I don’t suffer fools gladly. Five year olds use the excuse “he started it”.

                    • Rich

                      It does not mean that, completely. And you can take my meaning.

                      I can see you are not in any way open to ever conceding a point, and you need to constantly assert yourself like a boorish battering ram. Slainte has a much better style.

                      To your five year old comment/slight: Out of the mouths of babes…

                    • TheAbaum

                      “Out of the mouths of babes…”

                      Something else you don’t understand.

                      If you can’t fight or take a punch don’t step in the ring.

                    • Rich

                      So you say.

                      If anyone lectures, its this whole website. Including you.

                      You’re such a wonderful example of Chrisitian charity. Cant wait until I come here again and find more welcoming ridicule and condescension. (sarcasm, and yes, I understand it…sigh.)

                    • TheAbaum

                      Yeah trot old the old attempt to conflate pusillanimity with charity.

                    • Rich

                      I would not call my activity here consumption.

                      Since all we are engaging in here now IS ad hominem, I concede all argumentsl. You win!

                    • TheAbaum

                      You are using the site. That’s consumption of its services.

                    • thebigdog

                      “bullying” .. the cry of the control freak masquerading as a victim.

                    • Rich

                      I have read his comments for many many months now. He has very little patience, and lacks charity. It is evident. Many here would certainly concede. But forget it. You guys rally around each other. I wish you peace. No victim here. I did not feel bullied at all. I can stand up for myself well enough.

                    • thebigdog

                      His comments are those of a Catholic man in America who has not become completely feminized… and if you didn’t feel bullied, why did you use the word?

                    • Rich

                      Because I have read his other comments on many other threads.

                      They speak for themselves.

                    • TheAbaum

                      As do your eyes. Of course, unlike you I wote a check.

                    • Phil Steinacker

                      Who are you to judge?

                    • Phil Steinacker

                      Frankly, Rich, you need to step back and re-read the superior condescension and moreal judgement dripping from your own words.

                      I thin yo umake good arguments, actually, but it surely seems like the attitude you think you detect in the words of your sparring partner are the direct result from the subtle self-righteousness and moral preaching of a nag which is inherent in y our tone.

                      Given that there is considerable merit running through your comments – not to say that youcompletely persuade me but that I cannot summmarilydismiss you, either – it seems to me you would do well to excise such chiding tones from your words. TheAbaum is only responding to your (perhaps unconsciously) picking a fight with him by lacing your words with low-key insult as if you are his moral better.

                      At least the parts of his comments to you are more honest in their openness than yours which escape your own detection, though I don’t see them as nearly the problem that you do.

                      Nobody likes a nag, Rich, especially one who fails to establish the right to take such a snotty atitude toward others. In this regard I award you the Mark Shea Award for Kind and Humble Correction – although you certainly do not rise to the heights that His Pompousness has establshed as the bar in such matters.

                    • TheAbaum

                      TheAbaum is only responding to your (perhaps unconsciously) picking a fight with him by lacing your words with low-key insult as if you are his moral bettor.

                      No. Completely conscious.

                    • Rich

                      This is well said. I can concede this. Not the calumny, but I was not accusing individuals so much as an idea. An idea which would certainly need clearer definitions and elucidation. And, as you imply, there are many even in the same camp who have a hard time agreeing on terms.

            • Micha_Elyi

              The very point so many here refuse to really engage and write off as nebulous and open to abuse.
              Rich

              That’s not a sentence, Rich, it’s a sentence fragment. You’re using the English language poorly and while “those in obviously degraded situations languish” we, your moral betters, have decided your Internet connection must go to someone who lacks one. Pray that we do not also order that your tongue be cut out as well–to benefit the mute, of course.

            • Micha_Elyi

              The very point so many here refuse to really engage and write off as nebulous and open to abuse.
              Rich

              That’s not a sentence, Rich, it’s a sentence fragment. You’re using the English language poorly and while “those in obviously degraded situations languish” we, your moral betters, have decided your Internet connection must go to someone who lacks one. Pray that we do not also order that your tongue be cut out as well–to benefit the mute, of course.

            • Micha_Elyi

              “The very point so many here refuse to really engage and write off as nebulous and open to abuse.”
              Rich

              That’s not a sentence, Rich, it’s a sentence fragment. You’re using the English language poorly and while “those in obviously degraded situations languish” we, your moral betters, have decided your Internet connection must go to someone who lacks one. Pray that we do not also order that your tongue be cut out as well–to benefit the mute, of course.

            • Micha_Elyi

              “The very point so many here refuse to really engage and write off as nebulous and open to abuse.” –Rich

              That’s not a sentence, Rich, it’s a sentence fragment. You’re using the English language poorly and while “those in obviously degraded situations languish” we, your moral betters, have decided your Internet connection must go to someone who lacks one. Pray that we do not also order that your tongue be cut out as well–to benefit the mute, of course.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            Slainté: The States-General, you will recall, had been summoned because the government was bankrupt. Jean de Dieu-Raymond de Cucé de Boisgelin (Splendid name!), Archbishop of Aix, visited the Necker, the Finance Minister and former Swiss banker with a proposal. The bishops would buy up the National Debt (£16 m sterling) for ready cash as a loan to the government at 4% (£640 K per annum)

            Necker was rather taken with the proposal, but his wife, the daughter of M. Curchod, the pastor of the village of Crassier in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, protested that this compact would establish Catholicism for ever as the State Church in France, and he broke off the conference. On such things, the destiny of nations turns.

            However, in bringing forward this proposal, the bishops had shot themselves in the foot, for it suggested to the Assembly a neater solution. They confiscated the Church lands and put the clergy on a salary, an arrangement that continued until 1905. The Restoration government was not inclined to tell the peasants, many the veterans of Napoléon’s campaigns, that their holdings were to be confiscated and returned to the Church

            For 20 years, the formerly bankrupt government carried on a war against the whole of Europe, during most of which, it maintained an army of 700,000 men in the field, whilst halving the taxes of the peasantry, an army that gave a code of laws to a continent and restored the concept of citizenship to civilisation

            • slainte

              Those wishing to justify wrongful takings have traditionally employed the mechanics of first demonizing the person or entity whose
              possessions are sought, then alleging a better claim of right to the possessions sought, and finally implementing a distribution scheme of acquired booty which buys off the opposition and deflects public attention from the inequity of the wrong act.
              .
              The small number of over-reaching members of the Catholic clergy doesn’t constitute justification for the French Revolutionaries violent
              destruction of a Catholic society or the wrongful taking of church properties.
              .
              It is unfortunate that so many members of the French public supported these thugs and became complicit in the wrongful taking, upon their receipt of a proportionate share of the ill gotten gains, lower taxes, and a code of laws that removed God from the governing structures of France.
              .
              The ends were wrong; the means were wrong.
              .

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                We will never understand the Revolution, until we appreciate its hostility to corporations.

                There is the famous declaration of August 18, 1792: “A State that is truly free ought not to suffer within its bosom any corporation, not even such as, being dedicated to public instruction, have merited well of the country.” Then, there is the Le Chapelier law, “The guild no longer exists in the state. There exist only the particular interests of each individual and the general interest. No one is permitted to encourage an intermediate interest that separates citizens from the common interest through a corporate spirit”

                F W Maitland asks, “To whom belong these broad lands when you have pushed fictions aside, when you have become a truly philosophical jurist with a craving for the natural?” He notes that “for a long time past French law has afforded comfortable quarters for various kinds of groups, provided (but notice this) that the group’s one and only object was the making of pecuniary gain. Recent writers have noticed it as a paradox that the State saw no harm in the selfish people who wanted dividends, while it had an intense dread of the comparatively unselfish people who would combine with some religious, charitable, literary, scientific, artistic purpose in view.”

                Thomas Jefferson was notably sympathetic: “This principle, that the earth belongs to the living and not to the dead, is of very extensive application and consequences in every country, and most especially in France. It enters into the resolution of the questions, whether the nation may change the descent of lands holden in tail; whether they may change the appropriation of lands given anciently to the church, to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry, and otherwise in perpetuity; whether they may abolish the charges and privileges attached on lands, including the whole catalogue, ecclesiastical and feudal; it goes to hereditary offices, authorities and jurisdictions, to hereditary orders, distinctions and appellations, to perpetual monopolies in commerce, the arts or sciences, with a long train of et ceteras.” One recalls that he succeeded in banning entails and perpetuities in his native Virginia.

                • slainte

                  MPS,
                  Is it your thesis that the self appointed, elite French Revolutionaries and their philosophe advisors (collectively the “Fraternite”) wanted both the State and the French people to be liberated (“Liberte”) from the supervening authority of God and His Church (collectively the “Corporation”) so that the Corporation would no longer subvert the State’s intent to ignore the natural dignity due man as Imago Dei and return him to a state of nature where all men were equal (“Egalite”) in their status as servants (or slaves) of the state?

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    Slainté

                    Not only the Church; as F W Maitland explains, “as with the churches, the universities, the trade gilds, and the like, so also with the communes, the towns and villages. Village property—there was a great deal of village property in France—was exposed to the dilemma: it belongs to the State, or else it belongs to the now existing villagers. I doubt we Englishmen, who never clean our slates, generally know how clean the French slate was to be.”

                    They rejected the whole notion of corporate personality. Unfortunately, for this theory, “an uncomfortable suspicion that the State itself is but a questionably real person may not be easily dispelled” and, in the generations following, France became the home of Anarchism, with Sorel and Proudhon claiming to be the true heirs to the principles of ’89.

                    In Germany, one had the inevitable reaction, with Hegel vigorously asserting the personality of the state: “Since the state is mind objectified, it is only as one of its members that the individual himself has objectivity, genuine individuality, and an ethical life. Unification pure and simple is the true content and aim of the individual, and the individual’s destiny is the living of a universal life” and the Pandektists claiming that the state is “the corporation of corporations.”

                    • slainte

                      “…the State ‘has the supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the State… for the right of the world spirit is above all
                      special privileges.’”

                      Source: William Shirer quotes Georg Hegel in “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” (p.144) (1959)
                      .
                      I have zero interest in being a member of “mind objectified” or the “world spirit”…I belong to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church first, foremost, and always.

        • Aldo Elmnight

          Reads like a Marxist’s dream.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            Not for nothing did R H Tawney call Karl Marx “the last of the Schoolmen”

            • TheAbaum

              If I ever have enough money to indulge the fantasy, I will travel to Marx’s grave site and relieve myself on it.

              • slainte

                Why would you want to fertilize the weeds surrounding his grave? :)

                • TheAbaum

                  The weeds might be feeding off the last vestiges of his corpse?

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      Unfortunately, we live in a finite universe and a finite world, thus, in a very real sense, the second is intimately connected with the first, but the solution for decoupling the two is the virtue of generosity.

    • TheAbaum

      “The first is that there is a duty to support and improve the lot of the poor, and we must find the best ways to do this. This line of thought is right, and praiseworthy, and all Christians should engage it.”

      Indeed-and that means shutting your mouth and reaching into YOUR pocket, until it hurts, not voting for a guy who promises to reach in “somebody elses”.

      • Micha_Elyi

        That’s what LgVt just said, honey.
        But LgVt said it more humbly.

        • TheAbaum

          So?

          What part of “indeed” did you miss?

          There’s a select group of people that get to call me “honey”. You aren’t in that group.

          You seem to throw that term of endearment about rather freely, apparently as condescension.

          Exercise some humility and don’t take liberties.

    • Keith Parkinson

      “the rich have too much, and we must do something about that. This is an open appeal to the deadly sin of Envy,”

      Not necessarily. My family has a ton of money. I have as much as I could possibly find a use for. I am neither envious nor jealous of the rich, because I don’t want what they’ve got. If I had more money than I do, I would just waste it. And I would have to answer for that waste.

      Most people I know who have more money than I do, waste it. They don’t really want the responsibility that comes with having great means. They don’t know how to invest, patronize, or donate (and neither do I). So they spend the money on stuff they don’t need and don’t really want, because it’s there.
      The stuff they buy with that money then becomes a burden to them, because it’s more than suits them, more than they can use. It makes them less happy, not more. There is considerable science behind what I’m saying, but also experience.

      So no, I don’t think that people with stagnant wealth should be taxed more because I’m envious, or jealous. I don’t want them to have so much, but I don’t want the money, either. I want them to be taxed so that they have an incentive to do something with their money other than waste it in consumerism. I want them to start a charity, start a school, start a summer camp, buy a chain of restaurants, contribute to a scholarship fund, give back to their alma mater. I think that money that is *used* should not be taxed and that money that is not used should be taxed heavily. This isn’t envy. It’s pity.

      • LarryCicero

        Who determines what wasting money means? Money that is not used, is usually being used by someone else. What unused money are you referring to that should be heavily taxed? Pity(charity) is not taxation.

        • TheAbaum

          Would this qualify?

          I’m reminded of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”

          http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-04-24/oregon-may-shut-303-million-health-site-to-join-u-dot-s-dot-exchange

          • LarryCicero

            That waste is a pity, but certainly not charity.

            • TheAbaum

              Agreed.

              And a reminder that those who advocate blindly handing whatever the government demands are imprudent civic actors.

        • Aldo Elmnight

          Unless the rich person is hidding currency under their bed or burning it, they are not wasting it. The yatch, rolex or ferrari they purchase are all made by high skilled craftsmen who earn a good wage. It seems the consumption by the rich provides more of the type of jobs descrbed in Rerum Novarum than regular joes like us.

          • TheAbaum

            People don’t get rich by hiding money in a mattress, either.

          • LarryCicero

            Agreed. Or burying it in a hole.

        • Keith Parkinson

          What wasting money means is determined by common sense and reality. Here are three ways to waste money:

          1. Buying gold bricks and keeping them in storage rather than taking the slight risk of investing it intelligently;

          2. Luxury purchases: huge gaudy diamond necklaces, fancy cars, etc

          3. Personal property that is valued much much higher than average for the kind of property it is. (Mansions, jets, automobiles, etc.)

          I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I’m thinking of.

          If you choose to use your money in any of these ways, you still can, under my plan. And it’s not like I want to tax you into destitution. It just seems sensible to me that people who use their money this way get taxed more than they are now.

          And yes I do think of this as a moral judgment. We get our ideas of morality from government policy all the time. In this case the government says: You are wasteful. Yes, we are penalizing you for being so. And society should think less of you (not more, like they do now) for using your money this way.

          Our system as it stands now inevitably praises the rapper who buys a huge diamond necklace over the intelligent entrepreneur who builds a small empire and then uses it to start up valuable nonprofits like schools, tutoring and day-care services, summer camps, etc.

          • LarryCicero

            I would say buying the music of a rapper is a waste. But if you are suggesting taxing luxury items, you are punishing the makers of those items. For example, when the do-gooders thought prohibition was a good idea, it brought about all kinds of unintended consequences. Producers of beer, alcohol and liquor, were put out of work. So were the related businesses such as coopers, or barrel makers, delivery men and tavern owners. It also created a black market which was great for organized crime.
            Investing in gold bars does not harm anyone and is a protection against inflation or the devaluing of the currency. People work in mines and gold has useful purposes, including gaudy jewelry. I recently visited St Louis and marveled at the beautiful cathedral which it seems you would consider an extravagant waste. What you claim as common sense really is not. Taxing luxury goods does not help those who are working in the luxury goods industry.

          • carl

            Government is largest institution replete with human failings and you want them in charge of our morality…you can’t see the insanity of this argument?
            In fact government is often the source or human failings.

          • Carl

            There is certainly a case for anti-trust laws and eminent domain, but the intent of these laws is not to confiscate but to compensate owners with “just compensation.” The Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.
            Your argument is currently being adjudicated because the left wants to take property away if they determine that better economic use can be made of said property (increase tax base). When original intent of the Fifth Amendment was for the Public welfare. In other words Army Corps of Engineers need to build storm surge protection or a certain property would be a perfect place for a military defense position.

      • TheAbaum

        “Not necessarily. My family has a ton of money. I have as much as I could possibly find a use for.”

        If you have a “ton of money” you certainly have excess.

        Time to man up, or shut up.

        Gifts to the United States
        U.S. Department of the Treasury
        Credit Accounting Branch
        3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
        Hyattsville, MD 20782

        You want “them” to start a charity? YOU are my them.

        • Keith Parkinson

          So I should tell my parents to give their money to the government? I think you misunderstand. Nobody wants to give their money to the government, and nobody trusts the government to be wiser than their own initiative. So if given a choice between “use your money or be taxed more heavily”, they would use their money. Donate it to the parish, help fund a summer camp, whatever. See?

          And if they don’t, well, taxes are the price of admission. We live in a society in which becoming rich is incredibly easy and almost anyone can do it. In return, we have to contribute to keep that society running. I don’t see what’s so difficult about this, or why people jump to hyperbole and call it “confiscatory.” If you profit more by a given arrangement, you are more dependent on it, and you owe more to keep it working.

          • Carl

            No.
            When 3/4 of any government budget is for social welfare programs and growing it’s confiscatory.
            When the deficit is multiple times the tax revenue it’s confiscatory.
            No
            Can you reference this “taxes are the price of admission” in either Church Teaching or our US Constitution? I know these thoughts reside in Marx and Communist writings.

            • Art Deco

              When 3/4 of any government budget is for social welfare programs and growing it’s confiscatory.

              Which government did you have in mind?

          • TheAbaum

            Good grief, that’s vacuous.

          • RufusChoate

            In the United States – Government at all level owns about 40% of the Land, grossly inhibits commerce and has consumed about 19% to 30% of the total GDP to aid a population of poor that has remained at 15% for the last 75 years by what definition is this successful or just?
            The Modern Welfare State exist to grow the power of state by limiting and controlling its citizens to enrich itself.

            • Art Deco

              I think it’s more along the lines of 28% of the land. The ratio of public expenditure to domestic product was fairly consisted at about 32% during the period running from 1974 to 2007, of which much does not consist of income transfers or collective consumption scheme.

              • TheAbaum

                That’s the federal figure from a 2012 Congressional Research Service report. Add state and municipal holdings and I’ll bet 40% is close.

                • Art Deco

                  No, that’s the summary of all levels derived from the Bureau of Economic Analysis figures.

                  • TheAbaum

                    Well then I guess they disagree and we are left to wonder.

                    https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42346.pdf

                    From the Summary

                    The federal government owns roughly 635-640 million acres, 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of
                    land in the United States.

                    “Cold-hearted orb that rules the night,
                    Removes the colors from our sight.
                    Red is grey and yellow white,
                    But we decide which is right
                    And which is an illusion.”

                    -Moody Blues “Knights in White Satin” 1967.

              • RufusChoate

                Yes, the Federal Government occupies about 28% the additional 12% is State and Local preserves, parks, land and Real Estate. You are correct in the percentage of GDP consumed at all levels of government. Not mention the anti-Free market programs that increase the cost of commodities like corn for fuel… etc. ..

                • Art Deco

                  New York has large state parks, but that is fairly atypical. Local parks are generally components of urban landholdings and are contextually small, no where near 12% of the surface area of the U.S. (Urban settlements in toto would not occupy more than about 5% of the land area of the U.S.).

    • Dan C

      Catholic thought on private property does open the possibility to putting particular responsibility for the redistribution of wealth on the rich. It is willful ignorance to pretend it doesn’t.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Careful, Mr. Hargrave. Mark Shea and his cohort of devotés will respond to this well-reasoned argument with decidedly uncharitable anathemas. As soldiers under fire say: “Incoming!”

    • Salvelinus

      There is a legend in these parts. If you say Mark Sheas name three times, he appears.

  • Salvelinus

    Careful. .. Shea might show up, frothing and uncharitable as he is.

  • Maggie Sullivan

    http://prolifecorner.com/a-luxury-four-star-pilgrimage-with-mark-shea/

    A LUXURY FOUR STAR pilgrimage with Mark Shea?

    Mark Shea has proven himself to be a fraud, a total and complete fraud.

    • Art Deco

      I would be somewhat wary of that squib, and do not think it demonstrates him a fraud. However, M. Shea sets himself up for this by savaging others.

    • TheAbaum

      A LUXURY FOUR STAR pilgrimage with Mark Shea?

      A strange mixture of a cult of personality and Simony.

      • chezami

        Simony?

    • chezami

      Alas. There was no cruise. Try to keep current.

      • Maggie Sullivan

        Makes no difference if their was a cruise or not. Mark shea planned it as a four star luxury cruise after he mocked Michael voris for having a retreat during lent.

        Just because his cruise may have fallen through makes him no less a hypocrite.

        • chezami

          Umpteenth time. What I mocked was the concept of a Lenten Caribbean cruise. I have no problem with cruises per se, just as I have no problem with somebody enjoy a gourmet meal. But not on Good Friday. Time was Catholics understood things like that. But do continue this silly jihad.

  • BigDuane

    Mark Shea is too condescending for my taste, which limits his credibility in my eyes.

    • Art Deco

      ‘Condescending’ is a rather anodyne way of describing him.

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      In my experience, condescension can often be a cover for want of substance.

  • Art Deco

    The difficulty you get with the encyclicals is that their content is a butter knife for adjudicating contemporary disputes over political economy. They would seem to rule out systems inspired by Objectivism or Social Darwinism, but neither is a live option anywhere in the occidental world. They would also rule out the command economy, but that is no longer a live option either bar the residuum of Communist countries. Betwixt and between, some of the statements in the encyclicals would require clarification because they would be nearly impossible to operationalize in the present form.

    On an unrelated point, discourse intended for general audiences and loyal to the Magisterium used to be the province of such men as Ralph McInerny, Peter Kreeft, Michael Novak, Richard John Neuhaus, Joseph Fessio, and James Hitchcock. Other than Robert George, you do not find voices of this quality among those under 60, though perhaps some of the contributors to The Latin Mass might qualify. It should trouble us that the leading Catholic writer under retirement age in this country is the fellow you reference, who has a long history of making obnoxious and intemperate statements about just about anyone who has fallen afoul of his moods.

    • slainte

      Papal encyclicals set broad principles for the well being of the Common Good which, if properly implemented within an ordered moral framework guided by subsidiarity and solidarity, would generate salutary results.
      .
      Remove God from the equation and replace Him with secular humanism and unfettered rationalism (the hallmarks of many liberal societies) and disorder, if not tyranny, follows…the age old effects of human pride and hubris.

      • Rich

        I disagree. God can be present in the actions of many mixed groups of peoples, working for what they can best perceive to be a common good. Thwarting that because they do not ascribe to a uniform creed (which borders on ideology for more than a few ultra conservatives) is tantamount to sin in my book.

        • slainte

          Rich, there is only one Truth and the fullness of that Truth is in the Roman Catholic Church which was formed by and for Our Lord Jesus Christ who is her Head.
          .
          It is not sinful to recognize and acknowledge this objective truth.

      • Watosh

        Today’s western world demonstrates this.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    For about a thousand years, the Church engaged in an enormous exercise in redistribution of income.

    in 778-779, Charlemagne as King of the Franks made an ordinance, in a general assembly of his Estates, spiritual and temporal: “Concerning tithes, it is ordained that every man give his tithe, and that they be dispensed according to the bishop’s commandment.”

    A Capitular for Saxony in 789 appointed tithes to be paid out of all public property, and that all men, ‘ whether noble, or gentle, or of lower degree, “should give according to God’s commandment, to the churches and priests, of their substance and labour: as God has given to each Christian, so ought heto repay a part to God.” Finally, a Capitular of 800 made the payment of tithes universal within the fiscal domain of the whole Frankish kingdom. Following this, Leo III greeted him with the cry: “Life and victory to the august Charles, crowned by God, great and pacific Emperor.”

    From this time onwards, therefore, we may say the civil law superseded any merely spiritual admonitions for the payment of tithes. Their payment was no longer a religious duty alone; it was a legal obligation, enforceable by the laws of the civil head of Christendom.

    It was the French Revolution that abolished the dime or tithe in 1789, a thousand years after the Saxon Capitular.

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      Always wondered how the French could afford such large cathedrals.

  • TERRY

    “confiscatory taxation of wealth and its distribution to whomever our politicians deem worthy of it.”

    There’s the crux of the issue.

    How many of you out there – rich or not – who had to give up some of your fortune to a politician would actually trust him/her/it to make an equitable distribution of it?

    • TERRY

      FYI – I am 70 years old, I’m retired on a fixed income and every month I send at least $225 to the Edmundite Missions in Selma Alabama. In addition I give to my local church every week and give away clothes and food and cash. Every year I come close to the actual definition of tithing but 9% seems to be as far as I can get.

      I’m not tooting my own horn but if I make a remark like the above I should have some creds to back it up.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        9% is 9%. You’re doing well. I’m closer to 15%, but I’m not on a fixed income.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Nevertheless, the Church has always assigned an important, but limited rôle in development – ““Individual initiative alone and the interplay of competition will not ensure satisfactory development. We cannot proceed to increase the wealth and power of the rich while we entrench the needy in their poverty and add to the woes of the oppressed. Organized programs are necessary for ‘directing, stimulating, coordinating, supplying and integrating’ (St John XXIII, Encyc.letter Mater et Magistra) the work of individuals and intermediary organizations. It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity. But they must also see to it that private initiative and intermediary organizations are involved in this work. In this way they will avoid total collectivization and the dangers of a planned economy which might threaten human liberty and obstruct the exercise of man’s basic human rights.” – Populorum Progressio (1967) 33

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      So don’t. Do it yourself. If enough people make their OWN distributions, the government won’t have to do it.

      Every dollar you give away is 28 cents the government won’t get.

      • TheAbaum

        Everybody should give, but I have it on good authority that the poor will always be with us.

        Too much is made of the almighty greenback. A fifteen year old girl contemplating becoming pregnant out of wedlock needs serious moral intervention, not the promise of a check after the baby is born.

        We have no apparatus to deliver that message. It is appalling that Bishops encourage this behavior (yes, Stephen Blaire) by offering a knee-jerk defense of the welfare state and this is how I recognize those that believe more in the gospel of Marx, than the Gospel of Mark.

        • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

          “Everybody should give, but I have it on good authority that the poor will always be with us.”

          Good thing too, apparently some of us have such a large problem with a lack of generosity with our fellow human beings that we’d be subject to the gift tax for giving away too much to one individual. :-)

          “A fifteen year old girl contemplating becoming pregnant out of wedlock needs serious moral intervention, not the promise of a check after the baby is born.”

          Most 15 year old girls don’t contemplate it until the baby has already been conceived. Serious moral intervention indeed, but without that promise of the check after the baby comes, she has only one other choice and that’s the one we don’t want to give her.

          “We have no apparatus to deliver that message. It is appalling that Bishops encourage this behavior (yes, Stephen Blaire) by offering a knee-jerk defense of the welfare state and this is how I recognize those that believe more in the gospel of Marx, than the Gospel of Mark.”

          Cardinal Reinhard Marx seems to believe more in the Gospel of Luke.

          • TheAbaum

            “Most 15 year old girls don’t contemplate it until the baby has already been conceived.”

            On what basis do you offer this testimony?

            I’ve told you before, I’ve read thousands of MA maternity care cases. That you can’t imagine it’s intentional doesn’t mean it’s so.

            I have an acquaintance whose amenability to the welfare state is impeccable. In his sixth decade, he’s started to question how it is that when another yet another teenager announces her pregnancy to the matriarch of the inner city church he attends, the only questions asked are about particulars of the baby shower and has the girl been to the CAO (county assistance office).

    • TheAbaum

      “How many of you out there – rich or not – who had to give up some of your fortune to a politician would actually trust him/her/it to make an equitable distribution of it?”

      Equitable to most voters means I get something I want free or on the cheap-hence the whole contraception debacle of 2012.

    • Nick_Palmer3

      Let’s do a market test. If the government is an excellent adjudicator of needs and distributor of resources (at least compared to private charities), then it would be rational for a “christian” or socially responsible person to give surplus money to the government, not charities. It would find a better use. Right? Now, who should have the best insider information as to the government’s competence? I would suggest that those who run and work for the government would.

      Here in good ol’ Massachusetts we have an option on our state income tax returns to pay a higher tax rate than legally mandated. The legal tax rate is 5.3 percent. But by checking the little box one can pay 5.85 percent. For perspective in 2009 1.84 million tapayers filed individual returns. How many socially responsible, left-leaning, big-government taxpayers opted to pay more? 931. That’s 0.05 percent. John Kerry? Nope. Elizabeth Warren? Nope.

      What do they know that we don’t?

      Oh, and Mr. Obama? Mr. Shea? The Feds gladly accept extra taxes, too!

      • TheAbaum

        We have a market test.

        Every leftist’s favorite one percenter, Warren Buffett did not only leave his well-publicized (remember the injunction about doing good deeds in sceret) testamentary bequest to the federal government, he explicitly designed it to minimize the tax liabilities the IRS has sometimes taken a decade to pry out of his grubby mitts.

        For now, he’s busily keeping his White House puppet from allowing the Keystone pipeline, so those BNSF tank cars stay full.

        Post Script:

        Gifts to the United States
        U.S. Department of the Treasury
        Credit Accounting Branch
        3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
        Hyattsville, MD 20782

      • Art Deco

        Just to point out, a program such as Social Security or unemployment compensation attempts to undertake something systemic that does not map particularly well to the book of private charities and is of a dimension which could not be managed by private charities.

        Keep in mind, also, that various components of ‘the welfare state’ are not the issue of the Roosevelt Administration, but have a 19th century pedigree. These would be various and sundry programs for long-term care, foster care, and schooling. These do impinge on the traditional book of the Church and more generic philanthropies. The question at hand would be whether attempting to run them on donations would be practical or would improve social conditions at all. Ditto the question of how to finance medical care.

        • TheAbaum

          Just to point out, a program such as Social Security or unemployment compensation attempts

          Ah, such is the magic of insisting that only the government is exempt from the legal reserve system that applies to private insurers (including fraternals).

          • Art Deco

            Adam, it’s an income transfer program. You’re complaint is non sequitur.

  • TERRY

    I am reminded of Mitt Romney’s comment about the 47% of the population who are getting some form of government assistance who would NEVER vote for him.

    Of those 47% – how many of them do you believe actually couldn’t get by without assistance?

    And how many have figured out a way to game the system so they can get by without having to work? I would almost bet that most of you know someone like that who has figured a way to game the system.

    And after you figure in those who are gaming the system – how many are left who REALLY need assistance but who can’t get it because the till is empty?

    OMT – Guess who (among others) is a client of venture capital firm Bain Capital?

    The Oprah Winfrey Foundation

    Source – Deroy Murdock, NRO August 31/Sept. 1 2012.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    My personal test of extreme need- is there a market for welfare? Charity should, if all are blessed with the virtue of generosity, be sufficient to feed, clothe, shelter, and provide clean air, water, and medical care for everybody.

    ONLY in a culture where generosity is insufficient, is there any need for welfare. The IRS and Congress used to agree with this- The Philadelphia Nun’s Loophole, named after St. Katherine Drexel, used to state that if you gave away more than 80% of your income every year, you owed no taxes.

    We need that loophole back- and libertarians who hate confiscatory taxes *SHOULD* have the option of becoming more generous. I strongly suspect that if they did, the federal government would find no market for either welfare or Obamacare- no need at all.

    Now beyond that, I make no secret of being a distributist. A market should be free and fair, and that means the rat race of meritocracy should be more like God does for each of us with time: Grant us 24 hours each day, no more, no less. In fact, I prefer a hard local currency based entirely on time, printable from any home printer, but with a hard limit of your primary income being your time, and your primary expense being your labor. Every coupon of an hour, a minute, a second you give, is based on your time and talent and is an IOU, a debt instrument drawn against your personal time.

    What a different world THAT would be.

  • hombre111

    Hmm. Had to go all the way back to Leo XIII. Wouldn’t dare look too hard at more recent popes, especially Pope John Paul and Pope Francis.

    • http://romishgraffiti.wordpress.com/ Scott W.

      That’s about as non-responsive as one can get even for you.

    • Crisiseditor
      • TheAbaum

        Steak for somebody whose cries indicates a need for breast milk, unfortunately.

    • Athelstane

      If it’s more recent Social Teaching encyclicals you want, Centesimus Annus (1991) by John Paul II is arguably even more favorable to markets than Rerum novarum.

      • hombre111

        He also talked about the evils of predatory capitalism. Hmmm. Cafeteria conservatives, picking and choosing among popes? Were the liberals on to something?

        • Art Deco

          In the mind of an old man who thinks in cartoons, ‘conservatives’ are in favor of predation.

          • hombre111

            It’s kind of like the pro-choice ergo pro-abortion argument. Conservatives are in favor of unregulated predatory capitalism, ergo, they are in favor of predation.

            • Art Deco

              There is no such thing as ‘unregulated predatory capitalism’ in any occidental country, nor does anyone this side of Ayn Rand advocate any such thing. Please in the future try not to demonstrate you are utterly ignorant.

              • hombre111

                To the extent that capitalism is unregulated, it becomes predatory. The regulations put into place during the Great Depression were removed, one by one. Greenspan argued that the market was logical, and therefore needed no regulation. And so, the world lost half its wealth in two weeks (Krugman). But, of course, the .01% is doing fine, fine, and finer, thank you.

                • Art Deco

                  You mean former Enron advisor Paul Krugman, whose wife writes that wretched column for the New York Times (on which she slaps her husband’s byline)?

              • hombre111

                To the extent that capitalism is unregulated, it becomes predatory. The regulations put into place during the Great Depression were mostly repealed, and so the bubbles started to appear. Finally, the bubble that caused the Great Recession. Banks used all kinds of schemes to sell homes to people who could not afford them. These fishy mortgages were bundles with other mortgages, which Standard and Poores (now controlled by the big banks) then rated AAA. The Bank of America actually bet against investors who were buying their junk. Then the world than lost half its wealth in two weeks (Krugman), but Wall Street and the .01% are wealthier than ever, while the middle class is quickly becoming the lower class. In my town, there are payday loan places every third block. Said in the paper the other day at that the interest they charge can be as much as 558%! Now Wall Street is getting into the charter school movement, because that gives them access to the public trough. Etc. Etc. Etc.

                • Art Deco

                  The regulations put into place during the Great Depression were mostly repealed, and so the bubbles started to appear.

                  It has been explained to you before that there were in 2008 ten separate federal agencies charged with regulating different components of the financial sector and reams and reams of paper not only in the statutory law but in the Code of Federal Regulations. The notion that Depression-era regulations or any other set of regulations were ‘repealed’ is manifest tommyrot.

                  The most troublesome problems concerned a financial instrument which did not exist prior to 1995 and concerned the activities of the AIG Financial Products Unit, who were not predatory, just stupid.

                  A second locus of trouble concerned Washington Mutual and Countrywide, two companies pursuing merger strategies driven by currying favor with regulators enforcing the Community Re-investment Act, a piece of legislation passed in 1977 inspired by the notion that bankers pass up remunerative business opportunities because they raaaaacisst.

                  A third and very consequential locus of trouble concerned dodgy accounting practices and the ruin of underwriting standards at the Federal National Mortgage Association and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. These two entities were Depression-era enactments with scads of Democratic Party operators on their board and in their senior administration, including Barney Frank’s boy toy.

                  A fourth locus of trouble concerned Citigroup, which had a loan portfolio with $300 bn in assets of dubious quality and an international scope, with two-thirds of its deposits domiciled abroad.

                  • hombre111

                    Yak. Yak. The simple fact is that, following Greenspan, the regulators chose not to regulate, trusting in the logic of the market place. Somehow, they forgot to account for old fashioned chicanery and greed.

                    • Art Deco

                      The truth is contrary to your narrative, so you ignore it.

    • thebigdog

      “Had to go all the way back to Leo XIII”

      Pope Leo XIII was the 256th Pope, Pope Francis is the 266th Pope…. all the way back? There were 255 Popes before Leo XIII. Oh, the arrogance of modernity.

      http://www.tfpstudentaction.org/politically-incorrect/socialism/what-the-popes-really-say-about-socialism.html

  • Fred

    I really appreciate your addressing this important and sensitive topic Joe, and I see many thoughtful responses already. I could right volumes on my thoughts about the subject, however, the bottom line is that I just wish there was much more honest discourse about it because people seem to be afraid to speak and there is a great divide in our society on this and so many other important things. Beyond the truly needy and incapable who among us doesn’t want to lend a hand up to help those in a hard way and not just provide a hand out. But how hard is to watch a secular entity breed entitlement and resentment while praising grossly offensive ideals of killing children and promoting the perversity of same sex marriage. There are inequity issues in our society to be sure, but the happiest people I know have little in what others would call earthly possessions but have joyous relationship with the Lord so maybe our sense of inequity needs a sharper focus.

  • Sherry

    Really confused how Shea advocates an Economic Inquisition given that he simply rejects what the author does as well, the idea that the state must do nothing, along with the idea that if the state does what it should, utopia shall commence.

    The reality is that we must in our own lives, to a person, to a people, to the world, be charitable; the Calcuttas of our world, the poor are everywhere. They will always be with us, but that by no means eliminates the charge upon all of us who have, to be generous.

    It is a hard truth, one we’ve forgotten in the comfort of our capitalist Catholicism, which is not a demand we become socialist or confiscate wealth. We are called, to “sell what we have” and build up treasure in heaven. Being lazy, we like easy answers. I’ll be the first to say, my initial reaction to that is, “You first.” because I have a nice home, I have ten kids, I have bills. Surely someone else should take care of this.

    Government to the rescue! Taxes and state redistribution seems like an easy answer. But I’m then reminded of the words of Christmas Present, the stinging rebuke to my comfort, “Are there no work houses? Are there no prisons?”

    Merely confiscating the wealth of those we don’t know, to give benefits to people we don’t know, brings us only irritation, envy, resentment and inefficiency. Only true generosity, rendering to the poor the good we have to share, will bring about the true spiritual benefits of charity.

    Poverty is never just money, it is the feeling of being isolated, alone, without recourse, without hope, without help, without someone who cares if you exist, without the ability to somehow, get out of the pain. If we would really change the world by how we live, we must recognize, it won’t be without sacrifice, and it won’t be if we do not freely begin to serve. Not easy medicine for any of us.

    • Crisiseditor

      The title choice was mine, not the author. It merely suggests that Shea was heresy hunting and found his victim in elements of libertarian economic thought. It is admittedly provocative yet accurate and undeniably effective in grabbing readers’ attention, something good titles ought to do. Your reflections are full of wisdom. We should all heed them.

      • TheAbaum

        “It merely suggests that Shea was heresy hunting ”

        Who commissioned him to do so? Perhaps he’s still afflicted with the Protestant idea that zeal is authority.

        • Sherry

          Forgive me, it seems Crisis magazine was Headline hunting, and those who find Shea abrasive, are not discussing the theoretical point of this article, but rather the personality of a writer at another site.

          Perhaps more trust is warranted to the audience, that the serious content of the discussion, rather than use another person as a foil to bait the reader, would bring about the desired outcome, namely that we recognize none of our political ideologies hold within them, the whole of Catholic teaching.

          Economics, like everything else that is ever of import, is more nuanced, more demanding than either political party would have us think, and ethical economics that bring about social justice to the extent possible in this world, must begin in the hearts of each of us, toward even those we consider to be “heresy hunters.”

          • Art Deco

            is more nuanced, more demanding than either political party would have us think

            Lady, political parties are corporations that engage in electioneering. It’s jejune to complain the issue of their candidates and press agents are not like articles in American Economic Review. They hardly could be.

            • Sherry

              I had a reply which Disquis ate. I don’t for a moment think the political parties subscribe to any ethic save win baby win.

              What I want to get at is the reality we’re supposed to address, what are we as drops in the economic ocean supposed to do?

              What we can’t do is presume because what we can do is little, we therefore are okay to do nothing. (Despair or at best, deliberate hardening of the heart, I do enough). I pay my taxes.

              We also must not presume, the good we then opt to do, however it is manifest, shall therefore be recognized here as good, or that it will resolve/eliminate the problem. (Presumption being the permanent delusion of the political promise, if you vote for me, all good shall follow, if you vote for them, a plague of 40 years, boils, blood, floods and locusts shall follow). We’re only called, to be Catholic, which is to love all, to give all, to pray all, to surrender all to the One who loves all and made all.

              • TheAbaum

                “I pay my taxes.”

                So what. It’s not like you have a choice.

                • Sherry

                  Exactly. I don’t have a choice. Therefore, it is not a moral act of virtue with respect to serving the poor. We’re not going to get into heaven because we paid our taxes, no matter how good our tax policy ever is…which it isn’t. Rendering to Caesar what is Caesar may involve obedience, but the spiritual benefit of charity, of performing a corporeal act of mercy to the poor does not come from doing what one cannot avoid doing, but by giving from one’s self, not a mandate of the state. Jesus doesn’t praise the woman for paying her taxes, he praises the woman for giving all she has.

                  • TheAbaum

                    If you are saying that the duty of charity is a personal obligation that cannot be satisfied by delegation to the state, I agree with you.

                    • Sherry

                      Yes! And too often, I am afraid, it is a temptation to allow the state to “lift” the burden of the poor, at the expense of what good might be done to our own souls, were we to actively begin serving the poor with our time, treasure and talent. I know it to be a personal failing, to think I’ve done enough, I’ve given, I’m good. It doesn’t mean the state doesn’t have a role, only that we must be deliberate in our own actions with respect to the poor, and not allow ourselves the indulgence of believing because we have a state policy in place, we are morally free from this responsibility.

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    Paying taxes lawfully imposed would be an exercise of the virtue of obedience and St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that, after the virtue of religion, obedience is the most perfect of all the moral virtues, because it unites us closer to God than any other virtue, inasmuch as obedience detaches us from our own will, which is the main obstacle to union with God (ST IIa, IIae, 104)

                    Now, St Paul says everyone is to obey the governing authorities (Rom 13:1) and to be submissive to rulers and authorities (Titus 3:1). Thus, paying taxes lawfully imposed would be an exercise of the virtue of obedience and a mortification of self-will.

                    • TheAbaum

                      The U.S. Internal Revenue code is excessively long and complicated, it is arbitrary and capricious, and many provisions (Treasury Regulations, Revenue Rulings, Revenue Procedures, Private Letter Rulings). Its enforcement exacerbates this attributes. It’s existence is an assault on subsidiarity. Since I am an American Certified Public Accountant, I’m rather familiar with its inanities.

                      There’s a difference between legal and lawful. I imagine that the St. Thomas and St. Paul would be quite offended that anybody would speciously invoke them to solicit fealty to this abomination.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      There are many injunctions to obedience in the NT

                      “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” – 1 Peter 2:18

                      “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” – Colossians 3:22

                      “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” – Ephesians 6:5

                      Does anyone suppose the obedience due from subjects to the civil magistrate is less?

                    • slainte

                      MPS writes: “…Does anyone suppose the obedience due from subjects to the civil magistrate is less?”
                      .
                      Voltaire, Robespierre, and others of that persuasion knew that obedience to the Catholic Church was the enemy of the change they required in order to abolish Catholicism in France.
                      .
                      Obedience to liberal civil authorities, however, was not just a moral good, but a non-negotiable reality which admitted no dissent.
                      .
                      Obedience thwarts the primacy of the human will and is therefore an obstacle to be overcome by change agents.

                    • TheAbaum

                      I am not a slave.

                      Hitler and Stalin were “civil magistrates”, was I supposed to follow their orders blindly?

                      You have however qualified for the school of absurd exegesis that allowed U.S.antebellum protestants to claim a Biblical basis for racial slavery.

                      This is the mental defect in European thinking that gave us two world wars and tens of million dead, thanks for putting it on display. An authotheistic monster grabs the reigns of power.

                      Go worship your golden calf, if I burn, it won’t be for idolatry to the false god state.

              • Art Deco

                No, people associate with political parties because they have certain dispositions and affiliations. These nowadays map well to public policy. This can be corrupted by careerism and opportunism, but the comprehensive careerist is, I submit to you, fairly atypical in American politics and more likely among lobbyists and political staff (though John McCain willy-nilly managed to cadge a couple of hustlers to run his presidential campaign).

                And you miss my point. Ordinary public discourse is not academic discourse. Of course it simplifies. It cannot avoid that.

          • TheAbaum

            I’ve read this three times and I’m still not sure what you are trying to say.

            • Sherry

              Crisis magazine indicated that they chose the headline to grab attention, something I questioned since Shea and the author agree on two key points, the fallacy of believing the state need do nothing for the poor, and the equally incorrect vision that if the state does the right thing for the poor, utopia follows.

              I thought the addition of Shea was a bit of baiting to get people jumped up, like saying Rush Limbaugh or MSNBC, Fox or Faux news, whichever jumps up the political antennae. I thought the topic itself better, namely what are we to do, both to a person and as a people, as Catholics with respect to economic policy and the poor, and why. To be followed then by the questions why haven’t we, why aren’t we, and what must we begin doing?

              I thought the Shea reference 1) Unnecessary to the topic at hand and 2) an unnecessary temptation to be uncharitable.

              • TheAbaum

                You know, whenever you write “faux news” you reveal bias and quite frankly ignorance, but thanks for letting me know why your post was so deficient.

                • Sherry

                  Not at all, I watch Fox news in addition to other news outlets. I used the phrase as indicative of how tag names are used to illicit responses. I know it is done to be inflammatory, that’s what I was trying to explain, that those tags, like using Mark Shea’s name, are designed to get people riled up.

                  • TheAbaum

                    It’s not his name, it’s his prose.

              • Crisiseditor

                If you think Mr. Shea and Mr. Hargrave are fundamentally in agreement, then you have completely misread the article. If you take Mr. Shea out of the article because you think he is irrelevant, you are left with no debate at all. Indeed, the article is a sustained response to Mr. Shea’s “heresy” charge against libertarianism. Mr. Shea RAISED the topic in the first place. If people are critical of him, it is because he has said or done something that they find worthy of criticism. It comes with being a public figure. No need to protect him. He can defend himself.

          • Ed Hamilton

            The article addresses the problem of closing the discussion by claiming “heresy”. That’s beyond abrasiveness. I’m glad somebody called him out on it. The points of the article include the problem of waving a banner claiming heresy. And its happened enough that the name of Shea needs to be mentioned. He won’t be corrected and is hindering discussion.

      • Dan C

        There is no need to hunt for heresy if Crisis were to honestly read the social encyclicals.

        • Crisiseditor

          So we are to blame for Mr. Shea’s heresy hunting? (Is that a concession that the title description is accurate?) We are simply providing a forum for debate. The author’s opinions are his own. The social encyclicals are not dogma. There is not just one interpretation for them all. If you think there is, then you need to read them again.

          • Dan C

            Libertarianism in the Acton concept, the Ayn Rand formulation, the Sam Gregg fantasy, etc, are all in grave error actually deviating from the Church on (get ready for this next term) non-negotiables. These non- negotiables are that private property has limits and government has responsibility for property redistribution to name a few.

            This is what is problematic. Libertarianism is the. 21st century economic error. Marxism was the 20th century error.

            • Crisiseditor

              You are making a strawman argument. No one here is defending Ayn Rand. Nor is any Crisis author that I can tell claiming that private property rights are absolute or that taxation is not a function of government. What many have argued is that excessive state interference in public life is harmful to the common good. We see this everywhere. It is particularly harmful to religious rights which is why papal social thought is so protective of private property rights. The Church is always in danger of losing its rights when the State seeks to increase its power beyond just limits. If you don’t see this, you are not paying attention.

            • Art Deco

              Why not explain just what it is that the Acton Institute advocates that contravenes a ‘non-negotiable principle’?

            • TheAbaum

              “Libertarianism in the Acton concept, the Ayn Rand formulation, the Sam Gregg fantasy, etc, are all in grave error actually deviating from the Church on (get ready for this next term) non-negotiables.”

              What are you talking about?

              Ayn Rand wasn’t a libertarian. She called her views “objectivism”. She despised libertarians.
              Her “objectivism” contained some assertions that had no particular enmity with the Church’s (reality is independent of the mind, some ethics are absolute) and some that were diametrically opposed to the Church (her opposition to charity, and the radical individualism). At a personal level, there wasn’t much of anything to recommend her.

              She despised libertarians, calling them “hippies of the right”. There is overlap between the groups, but just because libertarians quote “Atlas Shrugged” doesn’t make them the same.

              The objectivist party is even smaller than the LP.

      • Dan C

        Your other error is to catechetize in a way that leads readers to think that no where in the Catholic tradition or the writings of the popes are their clear indications that government is to redistribute property for the common good. When you avoid this, you lead folks far astray. You have plenty of commentators displaying that error.

        • Crisiseditor

          At a time when the United States government has amassed a national debt exceeding $17 trillion that future generations will be forced to pay without any remuneration, while billions of tax dollars line the pockets of crony capitalists and record numbers of citizens (and non-citizens) are on the welfare roles, it is incredible that your greatest priority is to defend government redistribution of wealth. No papal encyclical has ever sanctioned such reckless misallocation of public funds.

          • Dan C

            Caritas in veritate has some clear recommendations. It uses specifically the word “redistribution” maybe a half a dozen times.

            He knew who he was talking to.

            • Joe Hargrave

              Can you really not conceive of a way to distribute wealth other than confiscatory taxation?

              What about a value-added tax on consumption instead of a confiscatory income tax? Does CST really demand the existence of a predatory and sometimes criminal institution such as the IRS?

              • Dan C

                1. My first virtue I assess in any policy prescription, after watching the chaos this Reagan economy has wreaked on communities is thus: will it promote stability for communities and families? So far, these radical prescription are havoc-provoking and disrupt communities. Many isolationist type libertarians are semi-gleeful about this disruption anyway, proclaiming that “the whole system is going to collapse” etc, in, again, a gleeful manner. I am looking for stability for communities, something value-added not subtracted. Every libertarian proposal somehow subtracts from communities- schools, libraries, even fire protection is somehow always less at the conclusion of their proposal. Stability is key for families. Nothing in any libertarian proposal promotes such.

                2. As a hint: dialogue with me will not occur with “confiscatory” taxes and “predatory” IRS. This is talk-stopping language. Its like discussing just war with a pacifist- why bother, we know what his punchline is. Yawn. “Taxes are confiscatory.” Your entire argument then has been made by hundreds before you. Got it. Dialogue over.

                • Joe Hargrave

                  I never said “taxes are confiscatory” – I said opposed confiscatory taxes and have explicitly proposed other forms of taxation as a possible compromise. Surely you can tell the difference between these statements and ideas.

                  • Crisiseditor

                    Don’t bother, Joe. He’s not interested in rational discourse. His mind is closed. Besides, we’re zealots don’t you know. “Yawn…dialogue over.”

                • TheAbaum

                  ‘this Reagan economy’

                  Reagan left office 25 years ago and is dead. We are on his fourth successor. You are beyond silly.

                  “Dialogue over.”

                  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

              • Dan C

                Try this as a question to a non-beliver you want to have dialogue with (because I am a non-beliver): Wouldn’t a consumption tax like a sales tax be more just and efficacious than progressive income taxes?

                My response would be:

                1. In what way is it more efficacious (I actually think it fails this standard)? In fact, Delaware promotes business based on this opposite approach.

                2. Critiques of such taxes are that they are regressive and increase tax burden on middle class and lower class people (I recognize that this was a Tea Party and Presidential campaign point for Republicans in 2012). How does your proposal overcome these very harsh criticisms?

          • Dan C

            Libertarians though are religious zealots. I post here, much like I do when I post against anti-vaccination zealots. The anti-vax zealots will be unmoved by my arguments. My job here is not to move Crisiseditor, some embracing libertarianism zealotry, but to note to those other conservatives toying with libertarianism that much like an old sea-farers map that “here be monsters.”

            • TheAbaum

              Statists are religious zealots. Opposition to unlimited government is a prudential decision shared by many political viewpoints and those with none at all.

              That you classify many disparate and unaffiliated groups under the banner “Libertarian” shows the paucity of your views, not theirs.

              Dialogue over.

  • Vinnie

    The basis that you start from – “It is incumbent upon the worker to save and spend wisely.”

  • littleeif

    Perhaps at some future time, Mr. Shea will awaken to realize that it is painfully apparent to everyone a claim of heresy is a dodge of reasoned argument, that a lay person making the charge gains no moral authority by it and risks respect for his opinion and diminishes the perception of the authority of his faith. Add a fall back position to the heresy dodge of snarkiness and outright meanness and you have the complete, ugly Mark Shea brand of Christian apologetics. Who is it supposed to convert, convince or attract?

  • TheAbaum

    Who is Mark Shea?

    Does he have any substantiative knowledge of economics, (there’s no indication of this on his web presence) or is he just another opinionated guy waving an encyclical and extracting a phrase here or there-you know, the way some Protestants wave a Bible in your face with a finger on passages that discuss Jesus “brothers” when they want to diminish Mary.

    Before he criticizes others, he ought to consider some people have reservations about turning your faith into a cottage industry.

    • Art Deco

      1. He’s a lay Catholic writer resident in Seattle who at one time was a regular contributor to the paper edition of Crisis.

      2. He’s maintained since 2002 a blog called “Catholic and Enjoying It”. Around about ten years ago, this was the leading Catholic blog in the United States bar Amy Welborn’s Open Book. His utterances there have grown increasingly intemperate over the years.

      3. There are voices within the Catholic press &c. who know him in the flesh and profess to be fond of him, but in his public writings has manifested some severe personality defects. How this plays out in print you can query Fr. Brian Harrison, Christopher Fotos, Victor Morton, Tom McKenna, “Sydney Carton”, and Joseph D’Hippolito. You could even ask me, but I’ve only ever been subject to one of his malicious drive-bys.

      4. No, he does not know anything about economics or business.

      • Carl

        Mark Shea also is a contributor to EWTN’s National Catholic Register. Here is his latest: http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/giving-living-water-to-the-thirsty/
        Shea can write wonderful Catholic teaching, I’m no authority, I just find much of his writing very edifying. But when he goes off on politics….let’s say Shea makes for good conversation.
        For example, if Libertarianism is aka heresy so is Republicanism, and certainly modern Democratic Partyism!
        We should be Catholics who are trying to influence our world.
        Shea reminds me of Henri Neuman who wrote an unbelievable book on the Prodigal Son but who’s anti-war politics is ridiculous. Much like Neuman though I’m afraid to buy his books because I’m afraid of getting to a section of political screed that will make me regret buying the book. Church bazaars are good places to buy typically for about a $1 to be safe. LOL

        • Art Deco

          For example, if Libertarianism is aka heresy so is Republicanism, and certainly modern Democratic Partyism!

          This is a nonsense statement.

          • Carl

            The only ism worth living for is Catholicism. This is not to say a Catholic associating with any political party is necessarily a sin or bad. As long as their influence is based upon Church teachings. For example I don’t think a Democrat could have ever voted reasonably for Obama, at least here an abstinent vote would have helped McCain and Romney which in turn promised to help Catholicism.

        • carl

          In 2008 Shea advocated not voting at all because McCain was not a perfect Catholic politician—agreed. But it appears Shea would only vote for Jesus by his descriptions, so what does this accomplish but a surrender to the liberal/leftist politics.
          At least McCain promised to put conservative judges on the SCOTUS. Obama has stacked the court with abortionist and set back the pro-life issue decades if not for ever—if not the whole conservative agenda.
          This political ideology is not only not Church teaching it is suicidal.

          • chezami

            Nope. Have never advocated not voting.

  • Mike Smith

    Living wages always presented a giant hurdle for me, because I understand the concept and the heart behind it but it is practically impossible to define properly. The biggest indicator of that is by looking at any living wage calculator out there. You will see that the living wage for a single individual is drastically different than the living wage for, say, a single mother of two, or the living wage of a husband taking care of a family with a single income.

    So, is it “fair” or just for the single adult and the single mother to make incredibly different amounts of money for theoretically the same exact job? If they were both, say, a cashier at a retail store, would it be fair for the worker on register five to make almost twice as much as the worker on register four because of the sheer fact that their social situation is different? Are wages compensation for your labor, or are they support for your social environment?

    To define a living wage you need to define the impossible, namely what is “enough” to live, and whether there is a difference between surviving and living. You need to define need itself, at which point anything above would be excess. How many square feet is sufficient to constitute enough shelter to live? How much food? How many sets of clothing? Etc. It often beckons me to the arguments I have with people about the cost of raising a child. Arguably, in a hunter gatherer sense, it costs very little, but in modern times, how much of that cost is mere excess? Need vs. excess is the real core issue, and I’d be an arrogant liar if I told anyone I had the answer as to how to define either and how it should be addressed.

    It also beckons the parable from Mark about the poor widow and the rich man giving to the treasury. “For they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:44). That woman arguably NEEDED that money, but she still gave. She gave from her needs, beyond what would even be considered surplus. Perhaps the world would be a better place if we could individually take up that standard rather than relying on OTHERS to have that standard enforced upon them.

  • carl

    Shea calls Lila Rose a Liar for doing undercover work exposing the atrocities at abortion clinics. He expects good Catholics to say pretty please will you tell me all the horrible things you have done…

    Anti-Torture crusader, here again Shea goes to far, he confounded Abu Ghraib prison scandal to Bush torturing, and almost any discomfort in the eyes of a captured terrorists as torture. Again, good Catholics should say pretty please will you tell me where the bomb is?
    And now he claims to be a Social teaching expert when he can’t even name the four pillars of the Social Doctrine. He got Subsidiarity, Common Good, and Solidarity right—legitimate role of the state is NOT one of them. Human Dignity is the fourth. Again, good Catholics should say to their government, pretty please can I have a hand out! What does this say about Human Dignity? Yes, Life issues are a major part of this Human Dignity but so is work, self-sufficiency, and the family structures. In fact they are primary!!
    And Mark Shea always uses “conservatives” or orthodox Catholics as his primary examples when espousing his opinions and throwing darts. I’m convinced Shea attempts to hide his leftist leanings behind a cloaked sheen of religiosity.

    • TheAbaum

      “I’m convinced Shea attempts to hide his leftist leanings behind a cloaked sheen of religiosity.”

      A rather common and pedestrian vice. Maybe he is some kind of masonic secret agent attempting to weaken the Church from within.

      • chezami

        This is really great! Masonic secret agent. Wonderful!

    • http://romishgraffiti.wordpress.com/ Scott W.

      One does not have to be a Leftist to object to lying and torture.

      • TheAbaum

        But one does have to be a leftist to confuse torture and discomfiture, and to remain quiet when the EPA intentionally exposes people to diesel fumes and to quietly acquiesce to:

        “f you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

        “This was the result of a youtube video”..

        Too bad the left isn’t as concerned with bovine excrement as it is bovine flatulence…

      • Carl

        So precious, so you agree with Shea, that the largest institution that lies and commits torture, government, should be our main source of “charity.” (aka heresy)

    • Jasper0123

      I think it’s more about masculinity, Shea is very uncomfortable with it. Notice the pattern who he attacks; Allen West, Palin, Santorem, Corapi, Voris..

    • jonnybeeski

      Have you read “the Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom? It is short, and has some remarkable incidents vis-a-vis refusing to lie.

  • Pingback: Crisis Has a Remarkably Silly Piece Up

  • FrankW

    It has always been my understanding that Catholic doctrine identifies the duty of meeting the needs of the poor as a role that the Church should primarily handle, as opposed to the state.

    The issue of income inequality needs to be put in perspective. The world, whether we like it or not, is not fair. Not everyone can be a physician or a chemical engineer. There are going to be careers which pay some people higher than average wages. There are going to be people who enter the workforce with limited or no specialized skills, and in doing so, limit their ability to earn an average wage. Each able-bodied and able-minded person capable of working has a responsibility to himself and anyone who relies on him (spouse and children) to work to achieve his highest potential, hopefully inspired by love for God and his family.

    This begs the question: Does the Catholic Church have a role to demand that all work be equally compensated, regardless of the value society places on it? Should a fast food clerk be paid the same as an elementary school teacher? Should a professional 18-wheel truck driver be paid the same as a physician? Does the work of a janitor demand the same pay as the work of an attorney? In other words, should market forces dictate salaries, or should salaries be based on other criteria, such as effort?

    No one is saying that a free-market society is perfect. However, one thing we do know is that the free-market society in the United States is the best the world has ever seen. It allows those with higher incomes to give more money to charity, which, along with the government provided safety-net, does more to help the poor in our nation than any other nation the world has ever known. So my question is, if our free-market economy is not good enough, someone show me a more charitable system, please.

    And finally, while Mark Shea has his strengths, when he wanders into politics, he has had a tendency to lose his sense of rationality. When that happens, Shea comes across as bully who cannot stand it when an opinion which he opposes actually makes sense. His responses consist of belittling such opinions instead of rationally responding to them to prove them wrong (which he apparently cannot do). Sorry to call him out like this, but I’ve seen him do it too many times in the past.

    • www.solavirtus.com

      Completely agree. Didn’t come to hammer on Shea, but when I pointed out the inconsistency of “you can’t steal unless you are a government,” the result was lots of bellowing and whining and making fun but very little defense of the premise underlying the claim. It gets old.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Yet in Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI says, “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.”

      He also issues a stern warning, “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.” (ibid 120)

      • FrankW

        Okay, then once again I ask: if our free-market economy is not good enough, someone show me a more charitable system, please.

        Most people who live in the US do not realize that the government provided safety net we have here is unlike the vast majority of nations on earth. That safety net is only possible because of the strength of our economy, and combined with charitable giving, is easily the best in the world. Of course there are still problems (we do not live in Utopia), but our nation is better equipped to handle them because of our economic system.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          Norway, with a population of 5.019 m, has a pension fund of $853.9 billion, holding 1% of global equity markets. The US would require a fund some 60 times that.

          • TheAbaum

            How much does Norway contribute when there’s an earthquake or tsunamai?

            Sounds like they are hoarding money for themselves.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              They are investing the proceeds of a diminishing resources with a fluctuating value (oil and gas) to enable them to pay pensions to future generations of their citizens when these resources run out, instead of taxing the current generation of workers to support the dependent elderly.
              With a total fertility rate of 1.88 and a life expectancy of 81, this seems like a wise provision.

              • TheAbaum

                Oh so when you think it’s prudent, hoarding is ok.

                Got it.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  A sinking fund to meet a future obligation is not “hoarding.” There is a present duty to provide for a known future liability.

                  • TheAbaum

                    Oh so when you think it’s prudent, hoarding is ok.

                    Got it the first time.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      It is not a matter of prudence, but of common honesty. A debtor cannot be generous with its creditors’ money

                    • TheAbaum

                      Well then you haven’t been paying attention to the finances of the governments you think we owe blind obedience to.

                      This is just more of your imputation of indisputable morality to any act a government undertakes.

  • chezami

    Can’t really improve on Robert P. George’s remark re: Libertarianism on my Facebook page:

    “Well, it IS a species of heresy: http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2010/05/libertarianism.html
    I wonder if he will be the next target of a 15 Minute Hate.

    • Art Deco

      I can. George brief remarks fail to make note of some of the troublesome aspects of non-Objectivist strains of libertarianism (as Shea notes, “ideology for people who don’t have children”) and also endorses civil rights laws, which have had baleful downstream consequences (as Gottfried Dietze predicted).

    • TheAbaum

      Right, because one somebody hollers heresy, we are all obligated to treat them as having spoken Ex Cathedra. They are insulated from any of the treatment they give to others.

      The funny part of this is that there is no “libertarianism”. It is the protestantantism of politics and equally likened to herding cats or choosing a Linux distro.

      • Art Deco

        I would refer you to his book The Clash of Orthodoxies. He has been a vigorous advocate for the Church’s positions in the academy and speaks both to academic and general audiences.

        I think his brief squib here does an injustice to the subject, though.

        • Crisiseditor

          Would you believe I came up with the cover design for “Clash of Orthodoxies”? One of my contributions to conservative publishing. Since we are on the topic of books, another good one is “Freedom and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate” edited by the late, great George W. Carey.

          • Art Deco

            I think the copy I have was published by Spence, a firm which is now defunct.

            • Crisiseditor

              The first edition was published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI Books is their imprint): http://isibooks.org/catalogsearch/result/?q=clash+of+orthodoxies

              • Art Deco

                Yes, I get the ISI catalogue. I think I am confusing it perhaps with a book by J. Budziszewski which was much briefer. I miss Spence. They only came out with 3 or 4 new titles a year and some of them were of scant interest (Living it up with National Review), but they usually had a gem you could get.

        • TheAbaum

          I’m not saying he’s not credible, just not authoritative or inerrant.

    • Jasper0123

      Shea never deals in hate, only in charity, listen to the man.

      • TheAbaum

        And luxury cruises. You think he’s donating his piece of the action from the cruise line?

        • Joseph D’Hippolito

          The Abaum, I doubt he is.

        • chezami

          Alas, there has been no cruise. Try to keep current.

          • TheAbaum

            Another poster claimed he conducted one. If the claim was incorrect for any reason other than cancellation die to inadequate subscription, I’ll retract that remark.

      • ColdStanding

        Jasper, chezami is Mark Shea’s handle. Mark Shea = chezami.

      • Charles

        As someone who was recently banned from Shea’s blog for posting a link to a Tim Staples article which respectfully critiqued a stance that Mark Shea defends, I would argue that his debate tactics are anything but charitable. When I sent him an e-mail kindly asking why I had been blocked for merely posting a link to the article, he called me a troll. Classy guy, that Shea.

      • Art Deco

        Shea never deals in hate, only in charity, listen to the man.

        We have listened on occasion, and we’re chuckling at you.

        Shea deals in charity only when he has someone like Brian St. Paul redacting his work.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        Saying that Mark Shea “deals in charity” is like saying Vladimir Putin deals in real estate.

  • cestusdei

    I am not a libertarian, but I do not think that the governments role is to redistribute income. Rather it is to foster economic conditions that allow opportunity for everyone while caring for those who are obviously disabled. Limited government is best.

  • thebigdog

    For those unfamiliar with Mark Shea, he spent years pridefully defending his ridiculous position that water boarding three known terrorists was the moral equivalent of abortion. He enjoys bloviating in a condescending manner and is little more than the Victor Buono of the Catholic blogosphere.

    • Charles Ryder

      Bigdog,

      You have to strike the “Victor Buono” remark. It’s not Christ-like.

      • thebigdog

        Why, what do you have against Victor Buono?

    • http://romishgraffiti.wordpress.com/ Scott W.

      One does not have to propose that water-boarding is the moral equivalent of abortion to know that water-boarding is still wrong.

      • thebigdog

        Sane people understand that the two concepts are like comparing not wearing a seat belt with a hit and run.

      • TheAbaum

        ” to know that water-boarding is still wrong.”

        No, one merely has to be confused.

        • http://romishgraffiti.wordpress.com/ Scott W.

          There’s no confusion. Water-boarding is not only immoral, it’s dishonorable. It desecrates the virtue of Justice, offends against the dignity of the human person, and is a threat to the souls of its practitioners.

          • Art Deco

            It’s dishonorable to subject someone to simulated drowning?

            • chezami

              Yes. And the only people in the whole Church who find this confusing are postmodern “conservatives” who sold their souls for a pot of GOP message a decade ago and have never been able to admit their sin.

              • Art Deco

                Thanks for sharing.

              • Carl

                Meanwhile the current Commander in Chief still water boards US servicemen as part of their training exercises and you are still silent!
                Torture devolves into the eyes of the beholder, solitary confinement is heaven of earth to a Trappist or Carthusian Monk while still being “torture” to the rest of us.
                Really? Conservatives own torture? They “own” starving grandma, children, and the sick. Global warming, dirty water and air, industrial blight? LOL

                • TheAbaum

                  There is a difference between torture and discomfiture, it’s the kind of distinction that the left purposely obscures in their quest.

                  Meanwhile the leftist EPA purposely exposed people to diesel fumes and not a peep.

              • TheAbaum

                And the only people in the whole Church who find this clear are faux pacifist “liberals” who sold their souls to the Democrat party message decades ago and have never been able to admit their sins (heresy and idolatry).

          • TheAbaum

            Nonsense, peddled by loons.

            The connection with abortion is merely the ne plus ultra of this lunacy.

  • Aldo Elmnight

    I wanted to post this statement on Mark’s post but apparently I am blocked. I guess it is another Catholic teaching to suppress those who disagree with you.

    “”equitable distribution of income” note it speaks of the distribution of income not wealth. Income implies work being done. What you site in way supports the confiscation of wealth by the government and then distributing it.”

    • TheAbaum

      If I’m reading this, you aren’t blocked and your response makes an excellent point.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Income does imply work being done, but not necessarily by the recipient of the income – Try feu-duties, rents, ground annuals, interest on bonds and much else besides.

  • Zmirak

    Bravo, Joe! Popes have again and again disclaimed their competence to propose technical solutions, or concrete applications of the very general Catholic principles they have taught. I am glad of this, NOT because I fear for the market economy–popes have all too little influence over such worldly phenomena–but because it preserves papal authority. Nothing like infallibility, not even magisterial authority, applies to pronouncements like Paul VI’s confident assertion in Populorum Progressio (sp?) that inequality between nations can and ought to be rectified through taxation of the rich and foreign aid to third world governments. Reality has proved that this assertion was false. Does that invalidate papal authority? Of course not. It shows its proper limits.

  • Catholic Fast Food Worker

    The article’s misrepresentation of Mark Shea’s views on economics is an action not worthy of being published in this venerable magazine. I’m disappointed. Mr. Hargrave, please destroy the golden calf of neat-&tidy libertarianism that you’ve built up for yourself. Do you really believe our Lord Christ Jesus would be an ardent Defender of “libertarianism”, like you seem so fond of being? Please, abandon the fervent support of philosophies that support wealthy individuals, “selfishness”-lovers (like Ayn Rand), and the Moral Indifferentism that unbridled libertarianism is prone of supporting. Join the Holy Church in proclaiming Christ the King of everything- the spiritual realm, morals, humanity, & yes even economics.

    • TheAbaum

      Blah, blah blah..and the theft of a pseudonym to boot.

      • Art Deco

        I think Rand was speaking of a selection of organizations active ca. 1972 e.g. the Society for Individual Liberty (a secession from the Young Americans for Freedom) and the Libertarian Party.

        It could be, though, that Rand was antagonistic to any social nexus she did not control. People who’ve written of the world of Objectivism incorporated which assembled around Rand and Nathaniel Branden ca. 1962 have likened it to a cult in its vibe and that the members thereof resumed their antecedent personalities once the circle dissolved on occasion of the falling out between Rand and Branden in 1968.

        • TheAbaum

          It’s still funny to see libertarians’ reaction to that quote.

    • Carl

      Jesus said to “render unto Caesar.” He did not petition Caesar for Charity. Libertarianism in a sense is forever part of man’s God given Free Will. Individuals must love others freely and without coercion.
      Peter said that “Love is always patient and kind, it is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited, it is never rude or selfish. it does not take offense, and is not resentful.”
      Playing the “rich have too much” card sounds a lot like the sin of covertness, resentfulness, and jealousy.
      Yes, the Rich can be unkind, boastful and conceited, but where is it written or who has the right to take something not earned or owned by someone else? That’s stealing!

      • TheAbaum

        Posting and arguing with yourself is pretty strange,

        • Carl

          I think that’s the point, much of the economics and charity issue is a personal one and each person must wrangle within themselves. Am I doing God’s will or am I being selfish.
          Government regulating charity is not going to end well—-never does.

          • wineinthewater

            I think something often missed is that what the state does is not charity. It is nothing like charity. It is fulfilling its obligation to ensure the common good of all citizens. And the Catholic Church teaches that the state has the right to redistribute wealth when the distribution of income in a society is unjust in order to meet that obligation.

            The irony is that the state only has the right to redistribute wealth when the populace has failed to ensure the common good through charity. If we “good Christian nations” were really such good Christians, no one would have unmet needs and the state would have no justification for redistributing wealth.

            • Jonk

              Of course, we’ve discovered in practice that the real irony is that when we let the state take care of people, they get paid less in wages, not more.

            • Joseph D’Hippolito

              Then the Vatican should “re-distribute” some of its own wealth to those dioceses and archdioceses that need severe financial help to keep churches and schools open.

      • hombre111

        Jesus said, “Woe to you rich. You have had your reward.” Not that ought to cause some sober second thoughts.

        • Joseph D’Hippolito

          And woe to the hypocritical Catholic hierarchs who parade in medieval finery and issue fine statements yet don’t do a damn thing!

        • Augustus

          The rich can be selfish, but the poor can be envious. We all have our faults and sins regardless of our income. That does not mean that the state can justly take whatever it wants from whoever it wants for whatever reason.

          • hombre111

            “whatever it wants from who(m)ever it wants for whatever reason” equals a straw man, equals a logical fallacy.

        • ColdStanding

          Shameless prooftexting, hombre111! You need to read about the meaning of “rich” in the time frame in which Jesus spoke those words to come up with a more nuanced and pastoral reading of that line. Some of your parishioners might be into making money. You wouldn’t want to offend them, would you?

      • Catholic Fast Food Worker

        Yes, I’m so unkind to wealthy people. Carl, may you answer to me who said: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” I really can’t recall who said it. I said nothing offensive of wealthy people, I love them all- although I might not support their views. If you want to read real admonishments against wealthy people, read the Bible. Read the Old Testament prophets, St. John the Baptist, & even our Lord Jesus. You’re in for a surprise.

        • Joseph D’Hippolito

          Do you know why Jesus said that? Because Jews of the time believed that material wealth was a direct blessing from God. The “rich young ruler,” likely a member of the religious establishment, was not satisfied despite his wealth. That’s why he came to Jesus (“Good Master, what must I do to gain eternal life?”). When Jesus told him to “sell all he had to the poor,” He was encouraging the man to follow Him without any worldly attachments.

          Jesus never condemns wealth per se. He condemns wealth being the focus of one’s life. St. Paul said “the love of money,” not money itself, “the root of all evil.” That kind of love, ultimately, reflects excessive love of self.

          Had the rich man taken Lazarus into his home, fed him and cared for his sores — or took him to somebody who could — he likely would not have received divine condemnation after death. He would have done just what “good Samaritan” did, and the “good Samaritan” obviously had the funds to do what he did.

    • Joe H

      I didn’t misrepresent Mr. Shea. I’m only addressing one claim he made: that libertarianism is heresy. That’s not a misrepresentation. Read his post. That’s what he believes. It also seems to be what you believe, referring to it as a “golden calf.” Frankly this post isn’t really about Mark Shea, for all Shea did was represent and repeat a large chorus of Catholics who believe as you do.

      I don’t support Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, which she herself said was not libertarianism. I also don’t support “unbridled” libertarianism. I want everything to be bridled, even libertarianism, by reason, logic, and justice. Libertarianism, like anything else, can become irrational. To me libertarianism does not mean “unquestionable and fanatical adherence to a set of dogmatic principles”; it means a preference for liberty, one that can and should be checked against the natural moral law and Church teaching but which ought to be allowed to expand as greatly as it might without crossing those boundaries.

      • Catholic Fast Food Worker

        Fair enough, Mr. Hargrave, reasoned response. But really, how many Libertarians actually follow your version of “libertarianism”? (I’m a former libertarian, I even got to meet Ron Paul, whom I respect, so I know libertarians, & your view of libertarianism is a miniscule minority view.) If we allow Libertarianism to “expand as greatly as it might” (as you suggest), Catholicism will lose; what checks will be in place to not let it “cross the boundaries”? In no society where Libertarianism is allowed to take place will the Church grow. Libertarianism places the laws of randomness and chance as king, there is no guiding social force. Libertarianism places the randomness of economic markets over human personhood. Libertarianism gives no voice to moral values. What the world needs most is a Golden rule standard not a minimalistic Silver rule standard that Libertarianism purports to support. And from my own personal past affiliation with Libertarianism (a seductive heresy), the only logical conclusion of libertarianism is that of Ayn Rand’s “objectivism”/libertarianism. She is the ultimate logical conclusion of Libertarian thought; she is also one of the most significant sources of current Libertarian leaders (Ron Paul, even Paul Ryan, etc.). I rather stick with St. Thomas Aquinas and GK Chesterton, Dorothy Day & others.

        • Joe H

          CFFW,

          I think you will find that with any system of thought, whether it is an all-encompassing faith such as Catholicism or a political view such as libertarianism, that there is a minority who understands it well and practices it consistently, and a majority that does not. The unfortunate reality is that we have to share the label. Can you imagine if Catholicism were held to the same standards you would hold libertarianism to, though? If it were judged by what the average self-identified Catholic thought about issues such as marriage, abortion, etc.? Would you find that to be just or fair?

          You say the Church won’t grow in a libertarian society. And yet 19th/early20th century America was pretty close to a libertarian society, and it was also when Catholic immigrants from Europe began coming here by the millions, building churches, hospitals, schools, entire towns. Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI & XII all recognized that the Church was doing exceptionally well in America – and not so well in Europe, where socialism, communism and fascism were coming into being. History seems to contradict your thesis.

          I don’t know why you think libertarianism praises randomness either. It isn’t a tenant of libertarianism that people behave randomly. If anything libertarians are inclined to believe that people generally behave rationally, at least when it comes to satisfying their desires (which may be corrupt, of course). Rational interaction between free people creates an economic order, and believe it or not, in this order there are more incentives to be virtuous than there are to be wicked. It is the promise of free stuff from the government, for poor and rich alike, that creates the greatest incentive for wickedness in our society. Statism does NOT eliminate competition; it changes the objective of competition from profits earned from willing customers to handouts won in political contests for other people’s money.

          Ayn Rand is not a significant influence on Ron Paul. He criticizes her lack of charity explicitly in his books. And his son Rand is not named after her – his name is Randall. Ron Paul is primarily influenced by the Austrian school, by Mises, Hayek and Rothbard.

          All I can say is that you ought to read some of these guys for yourself before you judge. Maybe you were a libertarian at one point, but did you immerse yourself in the foundational literature?

          • Catholic Fast Food Worker

            Maybe you might be judging me (even though you accuse me of judging others)? Yes, I was well aware that Sen. Rand Paul was NOT named after Ayn Rand; where did I state otherwise? I’ve read numerous books by Rep. Ron Paul. (I met Ron Paul and his wonderful wife briefly at a campaign event; his son, Sen. Paul I’ve seen but did not get to talk with during a trip to DC.) I know their biographies fairly well, believe me. As to the question of whether, I have “immersed myself in foundational literature”? Yes, I have. And the only sensible literature in libertarianism was that of Thomas Woods (a devout Catholic). I mean to say these above things with all due respect. Besides those points, although I still disagree, the rest of your post was helpful to me. Thank you, Mr. Joe H.

        • HigherCalling

          (Very) simply put, Liberalism tends toward social immorality, and Libertarianism tends toward social amorality. Neither comport with Catholicism. You might like this. It’s long but worth reading — gets better as it goes:

          http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2007/dennehy_freedom1_nov07.asp

        • Joseph D’Hippolito

          “If we allow Libertarianism to “expand as greatly as it might” (as you suggest), Catholicism will lose.”

          Catholicism is already losing, and it’s not because of libertarianism. It’s because of ecclesiastical hypocrisy, immorality and apostasy.

      • chezami

        The article is not titled “Does Shea think Libertarianism Heretical?” (Guilty as charged). But “Mark Shea’s Economic Inquisition”. The suggestion that I advocate an Inquisition is a lie. I don’t. But it is, I think, a fine act of projection on the part of Crisis to assume I do, and the virtual auto-de-fe here, which manages to find me vehemently suspect of being a Mason infiltrator, as well as damned to hell has been the completely predictable result. Me: I think Murray Rothbard makes the case for the heresy of Libertarianism eloquently:

        The Catholic anti-abortionist, for example, declares that all he wants for the fetus is the rights of any human being, i.e., the right not to be murdered. But there is more involved here, and this is the crucial consideration. If we are to treat the fetus as having the same rights as humans, then let us ask: what human has the right to remain, unbidden, as an unwanted parasite within some other human being’s body? This is the nub of the issue: the absolute right of every person and hence every woman, to the ownership of her own body. What the mother is doing in an abortion is causing an unwanted entity within her body to be ejected from it: If the fetus dies, this does not rebut the point that no being has a right to live, unbidden as a parasite within or upon some person’s body.

        Rothbard on parents and their (born) children: “Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights.”

        Also there’s this gem from Rothbard: “Now the man who seizes another’s property is living in basic contradiction to his own nature as a man. For we have seen that man can only live and prosper by his own production and exchange of products. The aggressor, on the other hand, is not a producer at all but a predator; he lives parasitically off the labor and product of others. Hence, instead of living in accordance with the nature of man, the aggressor is a parasite who feeds unilaterally by exploiting the labor and energy of other men. Here is clearly a complete violation of any kind of universal ethic, for man clearly cannot live as a parasite; parasites must have non-parasites, producers, to feed upon. The parasite not only fails to add to the social total of goods and services, he depends completely on the production of the host body. And yet, any increase in coercive parasitism decreases ipso facto the quantity and the output of the producers, until finally, if the producers die out, the parasites will quickly follow suit.”

        Of course, by “coercive parasitism” Rothbard means any form of social assistance to “parasites” like the truly indigent, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, orphans, and so on. So, a question: If your mother or grandmother is on Social Security or Medicare, is she a parasite?

        Good luck reconciling this insanity with the teaching of the Church.

        Dear Crisis: What *happened* to you guys anyway?

        • Augustus

          I can see why so many people dislike you. You play dirty. The title, as the editor stated above, was his idea, not the author’s. I don’t understand how it can be projection since you are the one with the reputation for being uncharitable to others. The outpouring of hostility is the fruit of your labor. You reap what you sow. The lie charge will need to be supported with evidence that it is not only false but that it was intentional. If you can’t then you are the one who is in the wrong for making a false accusation. Additionally, you misrepresent the author who focuses exclusively on “the libertarian argument that the state has no role to play in the distribution of society’s wealth.” He admits that “any idea taken to certain extremes is likely to
          become not only heretical but irrational and immoral as well.” The author further admits that Rothbard does indeed hold “extreme positions” which he does not endorse. I too believe Rothbard is extreme in many ways but that does not mean that EVERYTHING he ever said was “heresy.” The matter of Social Security and Medicare is more complex. We pay into those programs with the expectation that we can use them later in life so it is not welfare in the strict sense. However, they are currently underfunded and will go bankrupt if not reformed. There is no reason why the federal government should be in the business of providing such programs. And Leo was quite skeptical of them, as the author noted. So don’t employ guilt by association. The author did not endorse all of Rothbard’s ideas. And I’m sure he would argue that the ones he does support are compatible with Catholic teaching.

    • Jonk

      I’m sure Jesus was a huge fan of letting Caesar take care of the poor and the sick. I remember the passage: “For I was hungry, and you paid your taxes, so you’re good.”

  • wineinthewater

    Mark Shea paints with far to broad a brush, but he makes essential points that Libertarians should give strong heed.

    The Catholic Church teaches that the state has the right to tax. A libertarianism that rejects all taxation as illegitimate “taking by force” – which is not an uncommon libertarianism – is out of step with Catholic moral teaching. But that still leaves ample ground to criticize certain exercises of taxation and certain uses of tax revenue.

    The Catholic Church also teaches that the government has the right to redistribute wealth when the distribution of wealth in a society is unjust, and when the incomes of some faith to meet their needs. A libertarianism that rejects all redistribution of wealth is out of step with Catholic moral teaching. But that leaves ample ground to criticize the standard of “unjust distribution” used by the government, and the extent of the redistribution.

    The Catholic Church also teaches that one of the roles of the state is to restrain evil. A libertarianism that objects to all regulation of the market is out of step with Catholic moral teaching because the true purpose of regulation is to restrain evil in the market. But that leaves plenty of room to criticize certain regulations, or the extent of regulations.

    And so on….

    I think some aspects of libertarianism mesh quite well with Catholicism. But some do not mesh so well, and once they have been adapted to be in harmony with Catholic moral theology, I sometimes wonder if the result can truly still be called libertarianism.

    • Art Deco

      Well, the purpose of political terminology is that it is a useful short-hand. I think Michael Novak once offered the term ‘Catholic whig’ as a descriptor. F. v. Hayek described his views as ‘old whig’.

      Ayn Rand herself had no time for the Libertarian Party and her acolytes have a different take on practical politics. (Whether than extended to the Reason Foundation I am not sure). Much of what is called ‘libertarianism’ nowadays is a long kvetch about the drug laws, or a mess of magical thinking about international relations, or conflates freedom of contract with the ruin of social architecture by imposing principles of consumer satisfaction on human relations generally.

    • Jonk

      “The Catholic Church also teaches that the government has the right to redistribute wealth when the distribution of wealth in a society is unjust, and when the incomes of some fail to meet their needs.”

      I’d like a citation, por favor. I’ve been digging for CST proclamations that the government should *do* something, and have yet to find it.

      Regarding your other two examples, some forms of taxation can be voluntary (sales tax, for example, as purchasing and providing goods and services is a voluntary transaction). Also, CST also teaches that too much government involvement in economic affairs can become evil, as well.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Try my earlier citation from Populorum Progressio: “24. If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.”

        That is concrete and explicit enough.

        • Jonk

          Thank you. I have a few quibbles with the quotes not being so broad as you suggested, but I appreciate the citations.

          With the amount of times I’ve been blown off and called names for asking where in CST the directive that government must perform some of these functions, I was beginning to think it was some secret knowledge that the rest of us weren’t prepared to know.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            Is Populorum Progressio broad enough?

            “It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity. But they must also see to it that private initiative and intermediary organizations are involved in this work. In this way they will avoid total collectivization and the dangers of a planned economy which might threaten human liberty and obstruct the exercise of man’s basic human rights.”- Populorum Progressio (1967) 33

            Nor is this limited to national authorities, “We give willing and wholehearted support to those public organizations that have already joined in promoting the development of nations, and We ardently hope that they will enjoy ever growing authority. As We told the United Nations General Assembly in New York: “Your vocation is to bring not just some peoples but all peoples together as brothers. . . Who can fail to see the need and importance of thus gradually coming to the establishment of a world authority capable of taking effective action on the juridical and political planes?” op cit 78.

          • jonnybeeski

            How about Divini Redemptoris, Paragraph 75: “It must likewise be the special care of the State to create those material conditions of life without which an orderly society cannot exist. The State must take every measure necessary to supply employment, particularly for the heads of families and for the young. To achieve this end demanded by the pressing needs of the common welfare, the wealthy classes must be induced to assume those burdens without which human society cannot be saved nor they themselves remain secure. However, measures taken by the State with this end in view ought to be of such a nature that they will really affect those who actually possess more than their share of capital resources, and who continue to accumulate them to the grievous detriment of others.”
            From Para. 49: “The wage-earner is not to receive as alms what is his due in justice” or from 50: “Is it not deplorable that the right of private property defended by the Church should so often have been used as a weapon to defraud the workingman of his just salary and his social rights?” and the whole series of paragraphs from the upper 40′s through the 50′s is critical of lack of generosity and charity on the part of those who are rich

      • wineinthewater

        Economic well-being is a part of the common good and the state has the obligation to ensure the common good, in fact, that is the whole reason the state exits.

        “Authentic economic well-being is pursued also by means of suitable social policies for the redistribution of income which, taking general conditions into account, look at merit as well as at the need of each citizen.” The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church #303.

        “The responsibility for attaining the common good, besides falling to individual persons, belongs also to the State, since the common good is the reason that the political authority exists.” The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church #168

        But even more fundamentally, redistribution of income is ultimately really just a form of taxation.

        I think the important thing that is often missed here is the difference between the state’s obligations and the state’s rights. The state has certain obligations, and has the right to pursue certain means to meet those obligations. So, the state has the right to tax, but does not have the obligation to tax. The state has the obligation to ensure the common good and has the right to use taxation to meet that obligation. That is a very important difference often missed on both the right and left.

        The state’s right to redistribute income does not mean that the state has the obligation to redistribute income. The state’s right to redistribute income does not mean that all of the redistribution of income that the state does is prudent or even just.

  • Dan C

    Community colleges are hugely supported by tax payers.

    • Joe H

      So are the roads. Still gotta drive. There’s no contradiction or moral problem with trying to change a system that you are compelled to use. Besides, I only have a serious problem with confiscatory taxes. There are other ways to raise public revenue.

      • Dan C

        The author is a direct beneficiary of a government program. Yet is denouncing, particularly for the poor, similar benefits.

        He is not a driver on the road, or even a student at the college. He is much like the county road worker on the government payroll. He is not a “maker.” He is employed by a County Community College at the tax payers expense.

        All while denouncing such matters, particularly spending significant effort on those who are less wealthy than he.

        • Augustus

          You are not thinking clearly. The author is EMPLOYED at a community college provided a service to the public. He is an ADJUNCT professor which means he is not paid well and likely receives NO benefits, unlike a full time professor would. He is not receiving welfare as you imply by comparing his wage to welfare benefits received by poor people. He has explicitly said that he sees important roles for government but he simply objects to the way the government raises revenue. If you think that is out of bounds for discussion among Catholics, you have not read closely the social encyclicals.

    • Jonk

      Argumentum ad Hominem not only makes it look like you have no real argument; it also makes you look like a bit of an ass.

      • Dan C

        Only in this forum is it possible to have teaching at a community college be a slur. For me, it is an aspiration. But here, it is not a social boon, hence “ad hominem.”
        Which is part of the critique of libertarianism.

        • Jonk

          I didn’t say you insulted him. Rather, I said your criticism focused on the person, rather than his argument. I know, it’s not the internet usage, just the correct one.

  • Dorie

    Mark Shea’s goal in discourse is to get as many people talking about Mark Shea as possible. So good for you in joining in the cause.

    The guy is a serious egomaniac who apparently spends all day and much of the night on Facebook. He has a superficial understanding of Catholicism, marked mostly by his replacement of Sola Scriptura with “Sola Magisterium” with only the fuzziest notion of what “Magisterium” really means. His rhetoric is all about the Straw Man. His tiresome shoehorning every ideological opponent into boxes he can then label with Cute Capitalized Titles is predictable and risible. He’s become one of the most corrosive voices in the Catholic blogosphere today.

    • Joseph D’Hippolito

      Dorie, Mark Shea is going to go to Hell unless he repents.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Quite frankly, I really don’t give a rip about Catholic economic teaching because the ecclesiastical leadership barely makes an attempt to live up to the standards it wants the State and the laity to embrace.

    Case in point: Pope Francis. We’ve heard ad infinitum et nauseum about how much he “cares” about the “poor.” Well, if the pope really cares, then he can demand that the Vatican Bank sell some of the billions it owns in stocks, bonds, certificates, shares in various corporations or other financial vehicles, and give the proceeds to dioceses and archdioceses who have trouble keeping schools and churches open, many of which serve the poor this pope and this church claim to “love.”

    Ecclesiastical leaders don’t bother with such brave acts because Catholic economic teaching is nothing but a stratagem to gain more political influence. Case in point: “Caritas in Veritae,” Pope Benedict’s encyclical that advocated the creation of a global political authority “with teeth” (words from encyclical) to govern the economies of all nations — including their domestic economies — “for the common good.” The likelihood of such a body being formed is remote. Yet the church can (and should) do the kind of thing I advocated in the previous paragraph.

    Ultimately, the Catholic Church doesn’t see the poor as human beings created in God’s free image — which includes will, talent and personal responsibility. Instead, the church views the poor as puppy dogs who are incapable of caring for themselves. Case in point: These words from Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago:

    “The poor need us to keep them out of poverty, and we need the poor to keep us out of Hell.”

    That comment reflects the enabling mentality of the bishops, most of whom support some form of the European welfare state…despite the fact that many of those welfare states are collapsing economically.

    It also reflects an evil symbiosis. As long as the poor exist, those who aren’t poor have the chance to help them, thereby helping themselves. This goes far beyond what the Protestants would call, “works righteousness.” Ultimately, it’s a narcissistic call to keep the poor impoverished for the benefit of those who aren’t poor. That truly is exploitation.

    • Joseph D’Hippolito

      One more thing. Given the Vatican’s wealth, Peter’s Pence is as big a ripoff as anything promoted by TBN or evangelical preachers on television.

  • Isaac S.

    Thanks for this article. I get very frustrated by Shea and others of the “Catholicism=Marxism” vein. If Christ had intended government policy to be the solution for poverty you would think He might have mentioned it once or twice in the Gospels. The bottom line is that we are all called to help the poor personally, with our own time and money. Casting a vote to take someone else’s money and give it to the poor is not a virtuous act and is not something called for anywhere in the Gospels or Catholic tradition.

  • kristan

    as a practicing Catholic I find it soooooo difficult to deal with Mark Shea with charity. He is frequently arrogant, condescending, and lacks charity himself. UGH! He needs a serious dose of humilty!

  • Sid

    While I am no Todd Shea fan, it’s hard not to muster some sympathy for him in light of this howler of an article by Joe Hargrave. The author is quite adept, it seems, at skimming Catholic teaching while sufficiently hollowing it out in order to baptize a number of nefarious ideas.

    The Church has adamantly condemned modern liberalism, there can be no doubt about that.

    Any meaningful, recognizable form of American libertarianism, American constitutionalism, or American tea partyism is not aligned with the fullness of Catholic truth, at a minimum, if not hostilely arrayed against multiple points of Catholic truth.

    Our author fails to explicate that while Catholic principles can be applied in different ways for different circumstances, the principles still stand, and government should and must have at its disposal a battery of government-based tools and policies from which it can draw upon, on a discretionary basis, in order to pursue the common good. It’s one thing to oppose certain government interventions as a matter of judgment, but quite another to categorically rule licit ones out on an absolutist basis as contravening the required purity of ‘freedom’, ‘market economy’, ‘constitution’, ‘the American way’ or some other claptrap that is serving as the golden calf du jour.

    No, this is not Catholicism. One only has to read the ravings of a Ludwig von MIses or the ludicrous oratory of a Sarah Palin to see that faux conservative liberalism, is, and always will be, a form of liberalism.

    • Art Deco

      The Church has adamantly condemned modern liberalism, there can be no doubt about that.

      You mean Mr. Hargrave has run afoul of a condemnation of a terminological ghost? Put some flesh on that, chum.

      • Sid

        If you have not done so, I think you can read the the official authoritative encyclicals of the 1830-1950 period to clarify this matter.

        • Art Deco

          Rubbish. If you’ve a complaint about political economy, you have to get down to brass tacks and tell us why a particular social form conflicts with authoritative teaching. Taxonomies are short-hands useful for discussion, and that is all. You’re trading in useless wordplay and evasion.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      And of course, in attacking the author for “skimming Catholic teaching,” you do not cite a single example of welfare state policy that is in harmony with Catholic social thought. In trashing von Mises and Sarah Palin, you likewise do not bother with specifics. Thanks for your input, Sid. Now start reading more of Todd (sic) Shea. His writing is about as accurate and enlightening as your own.

      • Sid

        Dr. Williams, while I have enjoyed much of what I have seen from you in bygone eras, it is unfortunate that you appear to have taken some turn in your thinking, if this is indeed the case. Or perhaps I misunderstood you all along?

        Do you really need me to quote von Mises with regard to distributism and Cathoic values? Really? One wonders what you would have to say to Chris Ferrara after reading his ‘Church and the Liberterian’, a magnificent Catholic work that aptly dissects libertarianism for all that it is.

        Social welfare programs are generally in harmony with Catholic doctrine, apart from the matter of judgment regarding discretionary matters. How one might claim that food stamps or Medicare are objective forms of heresy would seem to be beyond general comprehension.

        I made an important distinction between judgments regarding government interventions and improperly claiming a whole host of them should be off limits to government entirely in an absolutist sense in the service of some liberal [yes, it's liberal] ideology.

        It would nice, not to mention constructive, to see you agree with and affirm this or, if you should actually disagree with it, provide some substance as to why you do so.

        If you really want to claim that variegated schools of the American right are in harmony with Catholic truth, I think you have a pretty darn steep incline to climb with little chance of success.

        • Art Deco

          Why not quit throwing chaff in everyone’s face?

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          Heresy? It was only Mark Shea who sniffed out heresy in the political views of others. And there is an enormous difference between doctrine – to which all Catholics must adhere – and political or economic policy. I have simply pointed out that statism is rotten government and generally deteriorates into authoritarian rule, a situation we are rapidly approaching in the U.S. And yes, Medicare, Social Security, and other programs in which Americans are REQUIRED to participate (“for their own good,” of course) are harbingers of this.

          Loss of economic freedom will, sooner or later, result in loss of political freedom. The fact that we as individuals owe charity to the poor does not mean that the government we elect must or ought to assume that role for us.

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  • Joe Hargrave

    Some additional thoughts, for those interested:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2014/05/03/shea-i-a-follow-up/

    • Jasper0123

      Joe, good for you for apologizing to Shea in that article on TAC.

      • Joe Hargrave

        Jasper, “apologizing” is a strong term. I’m not sorry for my critique of his ideas, but I am sorry that so many people made it personal in the comments – even if they agree with me (and not all of them do).

  • Becky Chandler

    This is an over-broad and twisted conception of libertarianism
    which is being critiqued. You don’t have to read much Rothbard to
    realize that he is coming out of theThomistic-Aristolean natural law
    tradition. I personally think that libertarianism, to the extent it
    is based on natural law, as conceived and bastardized by Locke and
    other Enlightenment thinkers, is altogether too narrow. However,
    libertarianism itself is a rather narrow political theory – which
    alleviates that problem. Libertarianism is not just about “free
    markets.” Chesterton, Belloc and Dorothy Day were all
    distributists and are considered to have been either libertarians or
    proto-libertarians. St. Augustine is considered to have been a
    proto-libertarian..

    Libertarianism does not pretend to be a complete moral, or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory. It is a subset. of
    moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social
    life. Since it is only a political theory, libertarianism is only
    deals with what is proper or improper for government to do, and
    government is distinguished from every other group in society as
    being the only societal institution of legal organized violence and
    force.

    The late Fr. James A Sadowsky, S.J. expressed the narrowness of libertarianism
    well:

    “When [libertarians] say that one has the right to do certain things we
    mean this and only this, that it would be immoral for another, alone
    or in combination, to stop him from doing this by the use of physical
    force or the threat thereof. We do not mean that any use a man makes
    of his property within the limits set forth is necessarily a moral
    use.” ~ Fr. James A. Sadowsky, S.J., in “Private Property and
    Collective Ownership” http://bit.ly/1fZiIh9

    • Joe Hargrave

      Well said, Becky. I wish more people understood libertarianism as you do; unfortunately, most people have the crude view of it expressed by Shea. There are plenty of self-described libertarians that espouse it too.

  • thebigdog

    Pope Benedict said that one of the greatest heresies the world is faced with today is “the dictatorship of relativism”

    As Christians, if we are serious about combating evil, we must look for sin in ourselves first. If Mr. Shea is serious about heresies, he should repent of causing public scandal by claiming repeatedly that there is no difference morally between Democrats and Republicans. He went so far as to say that one was the Evil, Stupid Party and the other was the Stupid, Evil Party.

    In order to make this ridiculous claim, he had to draw a moral equivalence between the Democrats publicly supporting abortion and homosexuality with the Republicans sanctioning the water-boarding of three known terrorists.

    Mark Shea, I believe that Pope Benedict included you when you spoke of the dictatorship of moral relativism and you should publicly apologize for spreading that nonsense.

  • James Scott

    What make’s Mark Shea broad and clearly unwarranted & imprudent charge that Libertarianism is “heresy” is he come off as no different then
    your average pseudo-”Traditionalist” who claims democracy as a form of
    government is “heresy” and catholic monarchy is the only true form of government. My eyes hurt from how they roll to the back of my head when I read his political nonsense.

    Politics is a matter of prudent judgement. As Mr. Zimrack correctly notes the Pope’s don’t mandate any particular mechanism of Governing only that men act from Christian Principles.

    In theory a social democracy or Catholic monarchy run by moral men would be better then a libertarian government run by the godless. But vice versa would be true too.

    When is comes to explaining the faith Mark Shea is one of the great voices of the Church. When it comes to politics the man is what can I say?

    Rubbish.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      Ah! Common sense is always refreshing. Excellent post.

    • John

      One of the great voices of the church? I thought that was people like St Paul, the great popes, church fathers, not just some blogger who sheds more heat than light. Catholic blogging puts people off the faith!

      • James Scott

        I see no logical reason why I can’t praise lay teachers for the abilities God gave them as i see fit to praise them?

        Mark is a great voice, Scott Hahn is as well. Karl keating Edward Feser etc….and others that take my fancy.

        If you don’t agree with me that is fine I don’t care.

        We are each entitled to our own prudent opinions.

        • James Scott

          Forgot to mention David Armstrong.

  • JP

    In reality, the word “Libertarianism” acts as a straw man. One may as well make the charge that such and such are Monarchists. For the Libertarian ideal is just that – an ideal. If one looks at most if not all of the 50 states he surely won’t find “Libertarian” locales. In a society that currently redistributes over 4 trillion dollars of private wealth, the charge of Libertarianism rings hallow.

  • FW Ken

    Ignore Mark Shea.

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  • Greg Cook

    While Mark Shea is a pompous, loud-mouthed ass, he is not far off in his critique. Libertarianism can only work with a virtuous citizenry. Consumer culture encourages vice, not virtue. Libertarianism lets rapacious corporations off the hook but calls government to task. Libertarianism gives cover to every kind of greed and excess without any reciprocal duties. Libertarianism as a whole is agnostic except that it reifies the market. (Idolatry, anyone?) And libertarianism is especially good at portraying the unenlightened as subhuman scum. Maybe all that’s not heresy, but it sure does stink.

    • Greg Cook

      What I said about Mark Shea was uncharitable: I apologize. I stand by my characterization of libertarian ideology.

      • James Scott

        Well as long as you don’t say anything stupid like calling it a heresy then it’s just your prudent judgement on politics vs Joe’s opposing opinion.

        Neither is religiously or morally compelled to accept the other’s opinion. That is how it should be.

    • Bonchamps

      “Libertarianism lets rapacious corporations off the hook”

      This is not true. It is the state that enables corporations to engorge themselves with subsidies, bailouts, protectionist measures, regulations that keep potential competitors down, etc. Libertarianism wants to force uncompetitive, government-connected companies to compete in the open marketplace – something they generally like to avoid.

      In other words, libertarianism is pro-consumer, which often makes it anti-big business.

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  • bill b

    I just read in the NY Times that Judge Judy makes 47 million dollars per year. Jamie Diamond who heads Chase Bank made 20 million last year. That’s a 27 million dollar profit differential for calling defendants “idiots”. Meanwhile people picking plums in the fields who work harder than both the Judge and the Banker are rooming together with five others in a bad rental property.

    • Art Deco

      If you’re correct about the figure for Judith Scheindlin’s compensation, that’s regrettable in what it says about what you can sell in this time and place (though I think JJ is not a disagreeable cultural feature per se, just not one who would justify the compensation). It differs from that of James Dimon in that it’s an arms length transaction between JJ as an independent contractor and whomever produces the show in question.

      Executive compensation at Dimon’s level is self-awarded, for the most part (or, rather, awarded under the influence of CEO self-award as a vector). Corporate CEOs used to be a great deal more circumspect about this sort of thing. The most highly paid executive in America in 1980 had a compensation package worth 300x gross domestic product per capita (or about $15.5 million per annum at today’s nominal income levels). The chief executives of Ford and General Motors were paid about 80x gdp per capita (or $4.3 million per annum in today’s context, less than a third of what auto executives were getting when they asked for federal aid in 2009). Peter Drucker, hardly a populist sentimentalist, called for statutory limits on the range of compensations a commercial company might offer (expressed in a ratio of greatest to least).

      ‘Working harder’ is an odd way to put it. Both sorts are earning in the labor market, but they are doing quite different things. Again, in our era, manual workers are not systematically working longer hours than administrative employees on salary. The contrary is true. It’s not unusual for people with demanding employments to exaggerate their working time, but it would not surprise me in the least if Dimon expected his direct reports to put in 60 or 70 hour weeks.

      Again, the wage rates of migrant farm workers reflect the voluntary decisions of the employers and workers in those markets (keeping in mind that decisions made under bracero regimes are not properly termed voluntary). Push comes to shove, that’s what people are willing to pay and that’s for what people are willing to work. Rerum Novarum was explicit that this form of decision-making was illegitimate, but offered no real alternative.

      • bill b

        There is always an over supply of poor labor via procreation at the bottom ( hence papal silence therein) even in China where procreation is curtailed….and even if it crosses borders to fill a gap. I unloaded large trailers of watermelon when I was 16 years old for $1.25 an hour for a Jersey City politician’s family owned produce company off the books ( no medical if you fell off the truck). It was an 8 hour bicep/ back workout in the heat. But it …to a 16 year old in those far away days was a rite of passage in a tough town….and many of the tough guys of the streets had that same job and there were no fights there.

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