Capitalism

Common Sense Versus Nonsense

William J. McGee, the consumer advocate on the Department of Transportation's Future of Aviation Advisory Committee wrote "Forcing the F.A.A. to Fly Blind" in The New York Times (April 9, 2011), where he laments Congress' cut in the FAA budget, saying, "A $4 billion cut will necessarily reduce the work force further. And it's hard [...]

There Is No Third Way

Catholic discussion of economic policy usually takes place on a ridiculous level of abstraction. What is fairness, and can the market accomplish that? Shouldn't the civic order bear responsibility for the health and well-being of its members? How can we balance the demands of social equality and individual ownership? These are all very high-minded questions, [...]

Slaves to Words

We could definitely use another Abraham Lincoln to emancipate us all from being slaves to words. In the midst of a historic financial crisis of unprecedented government spending, and a national debt that outstrips even the debt accumulated by the reckless government spending of previous administration, we are still enthralled by words and ignoring realities. [...]

Five Things Every Catholic Businessperson Must Know

A few years ago, I had an interesting conversation with one of our country's most well-known and respected business leaders. It started as I was chatting with the man's wife, and she asked me what I did for fun. I could have told her I enjoyed golf, or gardening, or skiing, or any number of [...]

More Ammo for the Anti-Capitalists

  As if we needed another reminder of the fruits of avarice, the business press is on fire with the news of the conviction of Raj Rajaratnam, the founder of the hedge fund Galleon Group, on all 14 charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. I hope he looks good in federal orange. As the [...]

What Would Jesus Cut?

  That is the question asked by the left-leaning Christian organization, Sojourners, in its campaign of the same name. It is a most appropriate question given the battle over the budget and given this time of year, not long after the most holy holiday of the year for Christians. Sojourners claims that, despite record budget [...]

Does the Church Condemn Capitalism?

The headline of a report on a recent survey summed up its findings: "Capitalism Against Christianity, Americans Believe." Is that good news or bad news? What should Catholics think? Does Catholic social teaching imply opposition to capitalism? The answers you get to those questions would no doubt differ dramatically depending on whom you ask. Although [...]

Millionaires in America

  Recently, CNN’s Money.com posted an article bearing the title, “U.S. Millionaires Population Expanded by 8 Percent in 2010.” According to the article, there are now approximately 8.4 million millionaires in the United States, and last year’s increase was due primarily to rising stock prices, following a 27-percent decline in the number of millionaires in [...]

Catholic Social Teaching and These Changing Times

Today, Gaudium et spes must be read in the light of Centesimus annus and other writings of the late-Pope John Paul II. These remain, by far, the most concrete, sophisticated, and accurate descriptions of the contemporary world. They are rooted in a thoroughly contemporary grasp of the philosophy and theology of the human person, community, [...]

The Love That Moves the Sun: Caritas and Capitalism

In one of the two greatest lines of world poetry, Dante bows gently toward "The Love that moves the sun and all the stars." Many moralists speak of love as the one fundamental and universal moral principle, the golden rule honored in all traditions. But what do we mean by love? In English we are [...]

Theology of the Corporation: A Conversation with Michael Novak

Religious philosopher Michael Novak, cofounder of Crisis Magazine, was the 1994 recipient of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. According to many observers, Novak's influence played an important role in the drafting of Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II's 1991 encyclical on Catholic social teaching. In particular, Novak's work is seen within the Holy [...]

Why Catholics Don’t Understand Economics

For years I've puzzled over the question of why Catholics have such trouble coming to terms with economics. This problem applies only to modern Catholics, for it was Catholics in 15th- and 16th-century Spain who systematized the discipline to begin with. That was long ago. Today, most of what is written about economics in Catholic [...]

An American Tragedy

I taught for a while in Paris and, after knocking off work, would walk down the rue des Écoles, past the College de France, past the statue of Joachim du Bellay, to the Cinéma Henri Langois -- the best repertory cinema I know -- to see a Western. I took my seat in the dark [...]

A Society of Mutual Benefactors

Checking out at the grocery store the other day, I paid for my sack of rolls. The checkout person handed me my bag. "Thank you," I said. "You're welcome," she said. I walked away with a sense that something was wrong. Do checkout people usually say "you're welcome" and nothing else? Not usually. Usually they [...]

Boomer Religion

  For anyone who strongly identifies with traditional Christianity, the October 6-9 series on Fox News's Hannity, with Sean Hannity interviewing Michael Moore, was rich in irony and vaguely distressing. The occasion was Moore's new film, Capitalism: A Love Story.   Two bright, likable, and deeply sincere married men of middle age passionately argued the [...]

Baptism Is Not an Economics Degree

I've often heard people talk about their most beloved aspect of our Faith. When asked, "What's your favorite thing about being a Catholic?" some well-instructed souls will cite the Eucharist, while others will speak of their devotion to Our Lady. The pointier heads in the room might cite the Church's rich storehouse of worldly and [...]

Is Capitalism Catholic?

People who study economics are often told that modern capitalism is an outgrowth of a certain English Protestant or agnostic tradition represented by writers such as John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill. The notion of a link between capitalism and Protestantism owes a lot to Max Weber's famous thesis The Protestant [...]

Catholic Social Teaching and the Welfare State

It might surprise some to learn that the basic idea behind the "welfare state" did not originate with either Marxist revolutionaries or bleeding-heart liberals, but rather with a head of state usually identified with conservatism: Otto von Bismarck. Faced with a growing threat from the German socialist movement, in the 1880s Bismarck established four programs [...]

The Money Meltdown: A Conversation with Thomas Woods Jr.

The economy is in free fall and we may be facing another Great Depression. In response, the government is scrambling to spend its way back to health. Is this really the best solution? Brian Saint-Paul spoke to Thomas Woods Jr., author of the New York Times bestseller, Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock [...]

The Bust: How It Happened, and Where We’re Heading

For the securities industry to unravel as spectacularly as it did in September, many parties had to pull on many threads. Mortgage bankers gave loans to Americans for homes they could not afford, often based on inflated house appraisals and no documentation of income or assets. Mortgage bankers immediately transferred these mortgage loans to Fannie [...]

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