Chesterton Remarked…

Chesterton Remarked… November 16, 2012

…that the problem with capitalism is that there are too few capitalists.  He’s right, of course.  The Church teaches that ownership of property is a good thing and that as many people as possible should be able to do it and make a living wage for their work.  Crony Capitalism, like communism, tends to try to concentrate more and more wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands.  What Chesterton (and the Church he listened to) wanted was property in the hands of every person.  So when I read stories like this, I gotta cheer for the monks and boo and hiss the monopolists.

Says reader Drew Bowling:

Stand with the monks. Capitalism has collapsed into a nihilistic monopolized private sector that thrives off rent seeking and cartel behavior. Corporate welfare and regulations that benefit big business at the expense of market entry, widespread ownership, innovation, choice and competition — this is what platitudes about the free market, trickle down ideologies and plutocratic endeavor have wrought. Conservatives who seize this reality and transform markets to work for all, in particular markets oriented toward supporting family life, will be way ahead of the political game.

Speaking of monopolies and giving everybody a fair shot at owning property, here is Paul VI:

 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.

Vatican II affirms this emphatically. (24) At the same time it clearly teaches that income thus derived is not for man’s capricious use, and that the exclusive pursuit of personal gain is prohibited. Consequently, it is not permissible for citizens who have garnered sizeable income from the resources and activities of their own nation to deposit a large portion of their income in foreign countries for the sake of their own private gain alone, taking no account of their country’s interests; in doing this, they clearly wrong their country. (25) –From Populorum Progressio

HT: Daniel Nichols 

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  • tz

    Then there’s the Usurers – since when is it no longer a sin? Unremmittable student loan debt, taxpayer bailouts for billionaire banksters who go on to foreclose.

    As Acton said, power corrupts. That includes economic power, and it should be obvious now that it simply buys political power.

    There are builders, and makers, when the Government permits them, then there are the freeloaders: (Warning, if you get angry easily, don’t read this book).

    Those who are being good stewards of the product of their work and skill should be allowed to keep it. Justice requires it. The wealthy and powerful looters and moochers should have their wealth redistributed to those who are needy not by their own choice.

    Regulatory bodies are always captured, so calls for more regulation are counterproductive. Empower individuals to easily use the courts when harmed or defrauded (The pure food and drug act comes to mind)

  • Dan C

    The real usurers are those in the financial sector who make money off money. Not money off investment in companies, but money off investmemt in financial instruments detached from Creation.

    • Adam L

      I’d say the primary form of usury is the charging of interest on money loaned out that banks never actually had in the first place (i.e. fractional reserve banking).

  • Dan C

    Here is a premise:

    I have long maintained good work is morally praise-worthy. I hold this again for the small business man. Small businessmen routinely fail and lose capital and lay employees off. This occurs more often than not. Routine small business failures have occurred at high rates in both good economic times and bad economic times. I hold that such activity is morally blameworthy. When busineses fail, which more than half do in their first two years, employees suffer most.

    Most of the reason the oft-praised, small business folks fail are basic business model failures, essentially bad planning, as well as failures to buffer and save resources for tougher times. In the analysis of small business failures, poor planning and rankly amateurish decisions determine the failure.

    The problem is that such a failure ruins others’ money, destroys employees’ livelihoods, and, for the family-friendly, disrupts families. As such, I think it is important to emphasize the moral responsibility small businessmen undertake and that they currently fail to meet this responsibility routinely.

    In light of the moral praise of capitalism, I call the capitalists and entrpreneurs to do the work of calling the small business man to higher virtue and, really, better leadership and planning.

    • Adam L

      I would be more concerned with large corporations that receive welfare and other forms of government favoritism and thus manage to “succeed” in a skewed market, rather than being upset at people who start small businesses because they are inexperienced and lack omniscience about the future and consumer preferences. Not to mention the huge regulatory burden they have to deal with which the connected larger companies use to keep competition out of their markets.

      • Dan C

        Small business constitutes is an enormous sector of our economy and is responsible for a large share of the capital lost to bankruptcies. In all fairness, small business employs a huge portion of workers in the US.

        • Adam L

          I understand the point that you are making, and it’s a legitimate one: that people who start small businesses need to take into consideration how what they are getting themselves into will impact the lives of others, and therefore they should make a reasonable effort to make sure that they are informed and are running their business in a competent manner. However, the point that I was making was that those who head large corporations and use political connections to skew the market in their favor, and then get themselves bailed out at taxpayer expense are far more morally blameworthy than someone who starts a small business which then goes under a year later due to their own mismanagement. At least the small business owner suffers some kind of consequence for their mismanagement, instead of shifting those costs to the rest of society.

          And while it’s true that small businesses, as a whole, are the largest employer, most individual small businesses probably have fewer than ten employees, so the amount of damage that they do to society is very limited, as opposed to a large corporation where an executive’s decisions impacts far more people, both directly and indirectly, especially if they are exercising political connections. Plus I think any employee would likely realize going in that there is more risk and less job security when working for a new start-up than for a large and well-established company. I would also add that there is a benefit to employees in having so many businesses around, in that there are more firms bidding for their labor.

          Plus I don’t think we want to say that business failure is in itself proof of moral blameworthiness. I realize that wasn’t what you were saying, but I fear it could be too easily misunderstood and taken in that direction.

  • Irenist

    St. Joseph Abbey, et al v. Castille, et al has the potential to be a huge deal. Glad to see it mentioned here.

  • Michaelus

    Too few capitalists indeed – this is the reason for the massive wealth and income gaps in the US – gaps that grew under Obama and that will continue to grow even if the top income tax rate is increased. Larger companies thrive by using regulation to prevent competition. This is why there are no new oil companies, no new banks, no new hospitals, no new airlines and even no new cigarette companies. This is why Obamacare passed (because it grants a handful of insurance companies total control over a huge part of the economy). The only antidote is to increase the number of people who own productive property (not overvalued residences that produce nothing). I am hopeful that the unemployed will figure this out and start to do something on their own rather then continuing to beg the rich for jobs (it is hard to do of course).

  • Ted Seeber

    I found a comment more interesting than the story. In a State where Voodoo is almost a schismatic sect of Catholicism (and in some cases, not so schismatic) they created a State Board whose *explicit* mission is to prevent communicable disease and zombies.

    There’s something ironic about that.

    • beccolina

      Durned guvmit, interferin’ with good citizens’ right to make their own mindless undead.