• http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    Marxist based command economies don’t work, don’t provide a decent return for labor, are hostile to the family as against the collective, are culturally and politically oppressive.

    But will the free market take credit for a universal right to abortion, for same-sex marriage, for the decay of the family, for euthanasia, for low culture? Fair is fair, no?

    So what works on a human scale?

    • ivan_the_mad

      Protests against Pavel asserting that we’ve never really seen an ideal free market incoming … Too bad most of the readership is right of center, I’d be tickled pink to see protests against Pavel asserting that we’ve never really seen an ideal socialism/communism …

      This is why I find the distributism of Belloc, Chesterton, et al. so very attractive, because it is an attempt to realize the social doctrine and categorically address people as ends in themselves.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Scale is the key. Economies as we are finding out, simply don’t.

      I’m a big proponent of local currencies for this reason.

  • ivan_the_mad

    It is a joyful phenomenon that men of goodwill discover not infrequently the Church’s teaching on some matter or other. CotCC 2424-2425 are especially important to note as some have attempted to justify the pursuit of profit and economic efficiency in themselves by asserting as a secondary effect the increased material well-being of the poor (even though Somebody admonished us that “man does not live by bread alone”), or to assert that regulation by the political authority is unjust. The Church is quite clear that our intended ends matter: “A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable.” You can’t have profit as your end, i.e. economics is not an end in itself. It can be a useful tool to determine the means towards a moral end. For a Catholic, economic activity is inherently constrained.

    • vox borealis

      But as with so many things, the devil is in the details. The CCC does in fact call for “reasonable” regulation of economic activities by the state, but “reasonable” is a malleable and imprecise term, necessarily so. The CCC explicitly rejects communism and socialism and capitalism. The CCC calls for a just wage, which is defined only as a wage sufficient for the wage-earner and family to live a dignified life. Again, how do we define that? The CCC states clearly that profit for its own sake is wrong, but that more generally profit is good (especially inasmuch as it leads to more employment, etc). In the CCC, the state is called upon specifically and primarily to provide the security required for economic well being, but it also tasked with promoting economic human rights; yet the CCC also states that the latter is more appropriately the job of individuals and associations (2431: “Another task of the state is that of overseeing and directing the exercise of human rights in the economic sector. However, primary responsibility in this area belongs not to the state but to individuals and to the various groups and associations which make up society”).

      In other words, the CCC presents a very Catholic (surprise!) perspective: both/and, reasonable, etc., but it does not give much guidance for the *how*, and indeed leaves this largely up to the laity and the state to work out on its own, provided the motives and values are properly ordered. Not every tax increase to help the poor is necessarily or automatically good or bad, nor is every tax cut necessarily good or bad. In fact, reading the CCC, it is not even clear that the proposed increase in taxes on rich, suggested by the article cited in the post, is necessarily good even if it brings about more economic equality, because economic equality is not presented in the CCC as goal (though “inequality of resources and economic capability” on an international level is identified as a real problem).

      • ivan_the_mad

        Yup, the means dwell within the realm of prudential judgement: 2423 ” The Church’s social teaching proposes principles for reflection; it provides criteria for judgment; it gives guidelines for action”. No surprise there.

        The stuff in the CotCC provides a very high level overview the doctrinal patrimony of the enyclicals, look to them for more detail. For instance, regarding a more equal distribution of income, Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum is quite clear that a more equitable distribution of property is a good thing (section 47), and for some of the same reasons posited by Reno. Will the tax in Buchheit’s article acheive this? I don’t know. Do we want to bridge the gap of income inequality? For a multiplicity of reasons, the social doctrine says yes!

      • ivan_the_mad

        But I think now, upon further reflection, I see one of your points more clearly, and grant it: Many policies are not per se good or bad, it depends upon whether they serve to further the goals towards which we ought to tend, as held forth in the social doctrine. They are indeed prudential judgements that depend on circumstance for their fitness and society, writ large or small, to carry out.

  • Stephen J.

    Scripture tells us very plainly that those who cannot work must be fed (a very socialist plank), and that those who do not work shall not eat (a very capitalist one). It would seem, then, that we have to be able to say what counts as “work” to be able to verify who’s engaging in it and who isn’t.

    The problem is that since we tend to define “work” as “any investment of effort which produces value over and above one’s own personal gratification” (anything done purely for one’s own gratification is “play”, even if it produces value as a side benefit), whether something is “work” or not depends on whether we value what it produces. And value, having an inescapably subjective component, is vulnerable both to external distortion through propaganda, whether you call that propaganda “advertising” or “education”, and internal distortion through sinful impulses — as well as simply having irreconcileable gaps based on sheerly different experience, where the poor man cannot value what the rich man does for society because he personally never benefits from any of it, nor can the rich man appreciate what the poor man values because he personally has never lacked for any of it.

    The challenge would seem to be to foster a socialist culture within a capitalist legal framework, to encourage the willing sharing of wealth from rich to poor, rather than try to fob off our charitable duties on the State and thus create a clear incentive to minimize the cost of those duties. We must encourage enough generosity in the rich that they are always willing to give more than the Law says they have to, and enough dignity in the poor that they are not willing to take any more than they need to get back on their feet — but neither of those attitudes can be cultivated by law alone.

    • Marthe Lépine

      I don’t think that it is a matter of the rich willingly giving, but rather a matter of the rich being willing to provide the means for the poor to support themselves through their own work, e.g. provide jobs here, whether or not it would be possible to make more money by using slave work from developing countries. And this does not necessarily mean depriving people from developing countries from having jobs. For one thing, there are other ways to work than having a job. For example, I know of development organizations that work at making subsistence farming more profitable for the small farmers; at providing opportunities for earning money through small businesses as crafts and local goods sold on local markets; at supporting cooperatives, all based on first asking subsistence farmers and other like them what THEY think would help them and then helping them getting it.
      And these are just a few examples of ways for the richer among us to share their wealth. If profits were not the one and only goal, many such things would raise the poor from their condition and reduce the scandalous inequalities within economies. Just insisting on “charitable works” on the part of the rich, in my opinion, only allows “philanthropists” to feel superior and virtuous, and does not even show a minimum of respect for the human dignity of the poor.

  • vox borealis

    There is more to Catholic Social Teaching than simply subsidiarity and the right of private property.

    So true.

    Interestingly and anecdotally, in 13 years of Catholic schooling (during the Cold War!) and many more going to Mass on Sunday and Holy Days, I have not once ever heard the term subsidiarity. We did hear often that Communism was bad, largely because it was atheistic, rather than because of its economic underpinnings or any affinity to private property rights (the latter most all of my Catholic school teachers seemed to view with great skepticism). On the other hand, any form of taxation (except for defence budgets) and welfare was necessarily seen as a good thing, even if certain programs did not seem to promote employment or self sufficiency.

    So, I guess I kind of understand why some more “conservative”/right-leaning Catholics have gotten very excited about the notion of subsidiarity. If they were like me, when they first learned of the term, it came as a real shock, opening new avenues for understanding the role of individual and associations and the real limits of the State vis-a-vis Church teaching.

    Of course, many (myself included at times) have taken solidarity too far. Hopefully now we will see a more balanced approach from both church leaders and laity.

    • Theodore Seeber

      The day I see somebody take solidarity too far, is the day a dying town in the midwest starts offering libertarian homesteads in return for giving up city and county services.

      • Beccolina

        I know a few people here who would go for that. There are many people who like the idea of being dependent only upon God and themselves for everything they need. I even know one family who has chosen complete independent, off-the-grid homestead living. They grown or raise everything they eat, make all their clothing, etc.

  • Alexander S. Anderson

    I’ve been noticing a remarkable shift in thought from the folks over at First Things. Some of them are beginning to realize that “economic freedom” is often the occasion of the dissolution of the family. I’ve been very excited with the response when this discrepancy is noticed. Hopefully the transformation continues.

    • Jon W

      Seriously. Did you get a load of the comments after Reno’s article? I thought they were going to be all spluttering criticisms, but there seems to be a lot of grudging admission that maybe ol’ Rusty’s got a point.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Heh, this indeed. I am certainly encouraged!

    • Stephen J.

      I have to admit that your assertion rings my “correlation is not causation” alarm bells; in what way does the economic freedom Reno talks about specifically contribute to family breakdown trends? Given that it is only among the wealthy upper class that marriage is still doing relatively well, and that the people most in favour of centrally regulated economies are also the people most explicitly dedicated to deconstructing the family, I’m not sure I see the connection myself.

      • Theodore Seeber

        Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

  • Peggy R

    I am generally a free-marketeer, though, yes, our freedoms have led to immoral activities–because we’ve chosen not to live as a moral society.

    I am not all bent out of shape about “income inequality” as so many are. There are a variety of reasons why some people earn more than others, circumstances and effort, broadly speaking are the two primary factors. We could develop mathematical equations to show that not every one’s income rises at the same rate: there are life cycle stages, effort, abilities, circumstance, technology, and so forth. Income obtained from govt is necessarily limited (the goal is not to make millionaires out of govt dependents), while privately earned income can go as high as the earner wishes to make it.

    I don’t have much new to say that I haven’t said on this site on this topic for the past year or more. As far as the social safety net budget and the annual income of a few men, that’s all well and good bumper sticker talk, but those 3 men aren’t paying the bills. We ALL are who are not recipients.

    The economic progress of women is probably the most problematic factor to the wellbeing of families.

    • Beccolina

      “The economic progress of women is probably the most problematic factor to the wellbeing of families.”

      This statement always bothers me. On one level, I agree with it and can clearly see how a society where the father works, either for a paycheck or works the land to provide and the mother does the work of the household and childcare lends itself to stronger, more stable families. On the other hand, where does this leave single women? I know several Christian women, including my sister, who are in their thirties, would love to meet a Christian man, get married, have a family, be a mom, etc. Yet it hasn’t happened. I can’t speak to the individual reasons why each might not have met someone to marry, but they need to be able to support themselves. They have educations and jobs and should have those available to them, and a fair paycheck for their work. It isn’t as if they all hit a point in their lives where they said, “I could marry Mr. over there, but I want a career and independence instead.” They were single in HS, not choosing to play the silly and damaging dating games, and ended college single as well. They weren’t avoiding marriage and family, but the opportunity never came. I certainly wouldn’t object to economic progress for them, especially since many of them find themselves able to help out friends and relatives in ways others with family commitments could not.

      More damaging to the family has, I think, been the attitude and culture that says, “A woman’s paycheck is more valuable than her time with her children. Working outside the home is more fulfilling and important that doing laundry, dishes, dirty diapers, etc.” Yes, my sister can take cruises for vacation, and take off for a weekend camping trip without a second thought, and when she cleans her house, it STAYS clean, but that doesn’t mean she is happier than I am, or the many stay-at-home moms I know. Educating women, giving them equal pay for equal work, etc. is not the problem. The problem is when this becomes more important than marriage and motherhood to society and to women.

      • Peggy R

        I married at 35. I used to make 6 figures. I substitute teach for peanuts so I can be home w/my kids.

        • Newp Ort

          And surely you did not save any of those six figures and now live paycheck to paycheck like the rest of us. Thank you for giving up your economic progress, doing your part to stop wrecking families.

          Seriously, though, is it possible you made the right choice for you and your family, while others chose differently and are not necessarily destroying our society?

        • Beccolina

          And when my husband finished school and started a job with a livable wage, I quit my teaching job to stay home (I never made 6 figures, but we got by). That doesn’t affect my unmarried sister. Should she have not gotten her bachelors and masters in chemical engineering because her economic progress might harm her future family? If she never marries, or not until she is past menopause, why shouldn’t she at least have an interesting, challenging career? Believe me, she’d be happy to give it up and be a stay-at-home mom, but for that she need a husband, and they don’t grow on trees, nor are they available at Amazon.com.

      • Newp Ort

        Your sister is what is traditionally called an “old maid.”. She should resign herself to this lot and get some unattractive glasses and a job at the library.

        • Jon W

          She should definitely get the glasses. Then when she takes them off in the third act she becomes suddenly gorgeous. It’s an inexplicable, but scientifically verifiable, phenomenon.

          • Newp Ort

            No, no, she has the glasses on when the movie is mostly over and he is having the vision of what the world is like without him. She never married and “SHE’S JUST CLOSING UP AT THE LIBRARY!”

          • Beccolina

            She had the glasses, but opted for contact lenses. :) It is inexplicable to me why someone who is beautiful, brilliant and creative (& a good cook) is still single. I would have thought her a much better catch than myself.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Circumstances and effort? Yes, for a certain amount. But personally, I refuse to believe that a CEO is worth 450 janitors.

      At the upper edge of the range, you’ve got to start suspecting fraud as well.

      • Peggy R

        Really? Maybe for some people, but generally no. Part of the higher growth in earnings and the increased income gap is that taxes have been lowered immensely over the past 50 yrs or so, allowing incomes to rise to previously unseen levels for those willing to take risks. But, persons dependent upon govt for income, whether by inability or unwillingness to work, have regulated incomes that rise very, very slowly since we’re not in the business of providing lives of great comfort to the needy, just subsistence. Almost-zero remains almost-zero over time, while those out there taking risks, working hard, maybe greedy and putting love of money about all else, are earning more and more over time. (This is mathematically why the “poor remain poor” and the “rich get richer.”) And a person’s income can go up and down over a lifetime. Last decade’s millionaires are not this decade’s.

        • Theodore Seeber

          “Take risks” to me = “doing business so haphazardly as to be fraudulent towards either my employees or customers, and that is risky because they might find out”. There is very little risk in taking small profit off of marginal value; there is a lot of risk in taking usurious levels of interest and dividends from people who can’t afford it.

          Circumstances and effort alone will provide you with a comfortable income large enough to share in charity and invest in the future. Circumstances + effort + fraud will get you enough income to completely free yourself from anything resembling morality- unless you get caught. And that last bit is RISK.

  • Ryan O’Shea

    The ideological approach will forever be a failure for there is a frightful inability to hold two seemingly contradictory notions in balance at once: that profits and private property are good and must necessarily be defended for the rich have their wealth from god and have the dignity of being His creation; and that it is our obligation to love and care for our fellow man and use our blessings to bless others.

    Now I grant that the voices we’re most likely to hear are from the opposite ends-the extremes-between these two points, and the vast majority in the center we don’t hear because they’re too busy being balanced in their lives to read blog comments. Allow me to propose a solution.

    The parish as the hub of an individual’s life (and of course, eventually, the community, both big and little ‘c.’
    -Tithe (one tenth) of one’s income to the parish, as minimum stewardship (sort of all over the bible) (where your treasure is there your heart will be also-Jesus)
    -Additional giving for acts of charity and mercy
    -Because of such generous, faithful giving, the parish now has more funds at its disposal for helping in the parish community, and the community outside the parish. (after all, it is easier and more appropriate for needy to go to place that for 2000 years has been identified with charity and help in time of need, than for parish members of varying levels of sincerity to go and knock)
    -Life centered on the parish now has renewed zeal for other facets of christian life, like being christian and a disciple, and being transformed into an apostle by growing love and devotion to Christ and his church.
    -More people come to the church and start tithing. the cycle continues.

    So, I admit, I didn’t make this up. It’s what the church has always stood for, though it seems that its call to growing personal holiness and conversion has been attenuated by the voices clamoring for ideological bandwagon solutions, which can’t work, because they substitute a false cause for an immediate effect-the appearance of solution by means of believing some narrow ideology. The only way to get to the top of the mountain is to climb, and the only way to win fellow climbers is to be honest about the mountain and the path to the top. Some might emphasize foodstuffs, others oxygen, but only the man climbing really understands that both are equally important.

    • Dan C

      ‘”…that profits and private property are good and must necessarily be defended for the rich have their wealth from god and have the dignity of being His creation…”

      All sinners are dignified acts of Creation of God, not just the rich. But the rich get specially singled out among the Lucan beautitudes. “Woe to the rich..”

      Before we attend to that, I must note that instinctively it is routine to praise the wealthy. All the time. This is the rhetoric. The language of politics has even been sabotaged in favor of the wealthy in which even the middle class are “moochers,” a position held by Grover Nordquist for overf 20 years, but it is clearly become mainstream now.

      Helping the poor has not been a feature of any political campaign since Reagan. That is out of the picture for the near-term as being a feature of politics.

      So…I am describing a picture that is counter-Christian, a picture in which the political instruments of power and their campaigning moves away from the supporting the poor to even castigating middle class routine supports. The wealthy get routine praise in most political constructs now.

      We are long past “defending the wealthy.” That is reflexive. And not really Christian.

      One has a lot to work through to understand the Lucan beautitudes. “Blessed are the poor…” went hand in hand with “Woe to the rich…”

      Your emphasis on “defending the wealthy” is misdirected.

  • vox borealis

    I find the following two statements from the CCC of particular interest:

    2421 The social doctrine of the Church developed in the nineteenth century when the Gospel encountered modern industrial society with its new structures for the production of consumer goods, its new concept of society, the state and authority, and its new forms of labor and ownership. the development of the doctrine of the Church on economic and social matters attests the permanent value of the Church’s teaching at the same time as it attests the true meaning of her Tradition, always living and active.

    2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with “communism” or “socialism.” She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for “there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.”

    One of the “problems,” I think, is that current Catholic doctrine in the area of social justice was developed to respond to 19th century circumstances, with further consideration given to the rise of centrally planned economies (themselves in many ways also a response to 19th century industrialism) of the early 20th century.

    In other words, while the basic morality and doctrine is certainly timeless, the teaching itself is articulated to respond to circumstances a century or more in the past, at least in the west. Modern, western economies–even allegedly “free market” economies like in the US—are simply not the same as the economic systems of the 19th and early 20th century. For example, all western economies are far more regulated than they were in the 19th century, perhaps too regulated, perhaps simply poorly regulated, but regulated nonetheless. Increasingly western economies are post-industrial, with large segments of the population involved neither in farming or building, but in service, retail, information, health care, etc. Far more people now have investments in the market, either as small time investors (i.e., buying stocks) or because their pensions or other retirement funds are tied up in investments. People are living longer, so they are now more likely to outlive their contributions to things like Social Security (not in all cases, I know). Meanwhile, the State is now overall more powerful than it has ever been in human history, and modern States assume more and more functions that in previous generations were dealt with by families or associations or local communities or not at all. The world today is not the world of Leo XIII.

    As a result, I think, it is more and more difficult to apply what the CCC says to specific policies and problems. What I am saying is that the CCC—and that is to say, the Church’s teaching in this area—needs to be updated. Not changed. Updated, to respond to changing conditions, as it was in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    • ivan_the_mad

      But the Church has continued to develop the teaching, noted instances being Quadregisimo Anno and Centesimus Annus. The latter was released in 1991, and BXVI released Caritas in Veritate in 2009. There are a good ten or fifteen other encyclicals dealing with social doctrine that have been issued since LXIII’s monumental and foundational Rerum Novarum; indeed, the CotCC references not few in the footnotes.

      See here for a more detailed overview than that provided by the Catechism, and for a cornucopia of references to the varied encyclicals that have continued to develop the social doctrine: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html

      • vox borealis

        Yes, I know there have been encyclicals. But there can also be a certain amount of document overkill. Yet far more Catholics are likely to have a copy of the CCC on the shelf than the many encyclicals. Yet the CCC, basically the summation document (as you alude) still makes reference back to the same century-plus-old starting point.

      • vox borealis

        In fact, re-reading the compendium, which you linked (at least the sections dealing with morality and the economy), I am struck by how little it actually says. Basically, the Compendium spends much time describing how different the (global) market is today, then calls for regulation to promote stability of the global financial market. It also calls for a newer understanding of solidarity, i.e. a sort of international solidarity through international regulation. But otherwise, that’s it. The other sections on businesses and profits and solidarity-subsidiarity, etc. read pretty much the same.

        Re-re-reading it, I *am* struck by how much the compendium downplays subsidiarity, relatively speaking. I guess that is a change.

    • New Catholic

      Good points, though I wouldn’t say that the Church’s teaching needs to be updated, so much as to be rearticulated in a way that addresses more directly the questions raised by modern developed economies.

      • vox borealis

        Right, I guess that’s what I meant.

  • Kate

    I have never understood why so many Christians are vehemently against poverty and at the same time indifferent to evil. America’s “47%” are on the whole fed, clothed and schooled. Their only true need is to receive the Gospel. That some CEO makes 450 times as much as the janitor is an irrelevant fact that should not concern us. It should concern the CEO, however, as he or she will be faced with the impossible task of passing a camel through the eye of a needle on the path to heaven.

    Jealousy is its own demon. Turn away from it. Enjoy your POS car and your Target shoes and fix your mind on things above.

    • Bill

      wow, that’s a really vapid response

      • Paul H

        Really? I thought Kate made a very good point. Why should I care if some CEO makes 450 times more than I do? Good for him! (Or bad for him, because of the whole eye of the needle thing, as Kate pointed out.) I have never understood the concern over how much money the rich make. It comes across to me as jealousy, though that may not always be the true motivation.

        However I do agree with much of Mark’s post. I think he makes some good points.

        • Newp Ort

          I too thought Kate’s comment excellent. But I thought it was satire.

    • Elmwood

      Kate, get out there and start preachin’ the gospel and put all of us who care about catholic social doctrine to shame. Just shut yer mouth and get back to work and shoppin’ in Wallmart you jealous 47%. All that matters is individual morality: American materialism is inherently good, what makes it evil is us.

  • New Catholic

    Good points, though I wouldn’t say that the Church’s teaching needs to be updated, so much as to be rearticulated in a way that addresses more directly the questions raised by modern developed economies.

  • Marthe Lépine

    I am so tired of that old saw: “those out there taking risks, working hard, … are earning more and more over time.” I have worked hard, taken risks, never able to get any help, but my income had definitely NOT increased over time. In spite of working towards two university degrees, and as a single woman, without help, in spite of work weeks of between 45 and 60 hours, I have hardly ever been able to keep my head above the water. I have been trying very hard to earn a living without the benefit of a job, and consistently fallen between the cracks, in spite of all my efforts. The idea that a person who is willing to work hard is going to make it is just a big LIE. And this is based on experience, not ideology. It is a very good excuse to refuse to see that many people are condemned to poverty with no fault of their own, just that some people just get excluded just because they have tried to support themselves without the benefit of a job. Many people, not just myself, are forever caught in the trap of self-employment: if something is available for businesses, they don’t qualify because they are individuals; and if something is available for individuals, they don’t qualify because they are businesses. Being self-employed means that you no longer have rights, not any of the rights of a worker, anyway, but you only have obligations…

    • Newp Ort

      If you are not earning more and more over time, clearly your efforts are insufficient. You need to work harder and riskier.

      Be aware though, just as the millionaires of this decade are the multiple-hundred-thousand-aires of the next (and vice versa), the barely-making-ends-meet of this decade are the dirt-poor of the next decade (not so vice versa; once you get dirt poor you tend to stay that way – amusingly the same is true of billionaires!). Risk is Risky, but it’s like the lottery – you can’t win if you don’t play!

      Also keep in mind that “The economic progress of women is probably the most problematic factor to the wellbeing of families.” As a woman, the more economic success you have (outside of home economics – get it?! LOL!), the more you are contributing to the destruction of families and by extension society at large. You will never make 450x what your neighbors pull down if you keep being so selfish and female.

    • Kelly Two

      Hmmm, Martah, what were those two college degrees you were working towards? Far too many people end up with very expensive and almost worthless degrees from college. I’m not sure what you mean by “trying very hard to earn a living without the benefit of a job.” Are you self-employed or a freelancer? Jobs with corporation so indeed have a great many advantages over being self-employed, esp. health insurance and retirement programs. Might be time for you to give up the self-employment idea, and go get a job that has a steady paycheck and benefits. Do what you love on the side. There’s no glory in being struggling and stressed out.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Kelly, you must be from another generation! My two degrees were certainly not part of the “very expensive and almost worthless degrees from college”: Commerce (bachelor degree when I was still 18 years old) and Economics! However, back in 1961 when I got my first degree, and at least in Quebec (but probably elsewhere), nobody wanted to hire women for the kind of jobs I could do. Whenever I did manage to get a job, I acutely felt the rejection, from other women because I earned more than them, and the men because I was “stealing their jobs”. The managers were not much better, therefore advancement was limited. I did manage for a while to get government jobs and actually become an expert in taxation, but when that went sour (through no fault of my own), I found the private sector wanted tax experts who were accountants and lawyers and could work at finding all the loopholes for the rich, while economists had the very bad habit of looking at a larger picture that included tax equity, and maybe even social responsibility, among others. Therefore to “go get a job that has a steady paycheck and benefits is easier said than done; I just could not get a job in the private sector in the mid-70′s. Since I also happen to be very good at languages, I picked up free-lance translation work to tide me over until I found a real job (free-lancer and self-employed are actually one and the same), therefore never claiming any unemployment assistance or social assistance, which I had assumed at the time was a responsible thing to do, but at the end finding a job became more and more elusive. Now that I am almost 71, it is a little late to go get a job… I think part of the problem, in my country at least, is that there is confusion between self-employment – done for practical reasons – and entrepreneurship – those who have the dream of making a contribution by starting a small business. And self-employed people, who often work alone, tend to be expected to assume all the responsibilities that businesses are expected to meet, but without the opportunities, such as access to financing, because then they are considered as unemployed workers and, worse for a single woman, who is seen not only as unemployed, but without a man to cover her “debts”, e.g. loans that would be considered perfectly normal for small businesses run by men.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Oh and by the way, Kelly, when my parents registered me to college, I was still only 14 years old, way too young to make a career choice (this is one reason I have later found it difficult to even accept the talents God gave me, and even to reject them and claim that they were ordeals – what would my life have been like IF I had not finished high school at age 14?), but my mom had her heart set on my becoming an accountant – without taking the trouble to find out if women were accepted in that profession – and since I have known a certain amount of abuse in my family, I did not have enough self-confidence to refuse to do what I was told, even if it was totally contrary to my future well-being (a thing that I could not possibly have understood at that age, anyway.)

  • Marthe Lépine

    One of the linked articles claims that capitalism has helped millions out of poverty… Does it mean those workers in Bangladesh who work in textile factories? See this link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/24/bangladesh-garment-collapse.html
    This has happened about 5 months after a fire that killed dozens of workers in the same country. I thought the following comment was relevant:
    “Put quite simply, the owners simply do not consider the workers as human beings, and so refuse to treat them as such. However garment owners aren’t the only ones committing mass exploitation, though they are the high profile ones that make so much money by exploitation that they can afford Ferraris in a nation that charges 300% car import duties; or pay cash for multimillion dollar properties in London or New York. No, the entire society is one where it is not uncommon for young kids to help out their parents as hired domestic help for many ordinary middle class households. The owners are simply an extreme capitalistic outshoot of that mentality.

    The garment industry is also a double-edged sword, where the alternative to inhumane working conditions and low pay is no pay and abject poverty, and it makes the situation very complicated.

    The exploitation is committed directly and indirectly, willingly and unwittingly. The victims are exploited directly and willingly by the greedy garment owners; indirectly but willingly and knowingly by the major corporations and multinationals; and often indirectly and unwittingly by the consumers here in the West.”
    And my question is: Are these workers among those millions of people brought out of poverty by capitalism?

  • Angsgar

    Who would have thought that Jesus Christ is the savior to mankind not Ron Paul? Who would have thought that St. Peter holds the keys NOT Murray Rothbard? Austrianism is like the Mormonism of politics.

    • Newp Ort

      The savior is the Son. Rand Paul.

      If Austrianism is like Mormonism, what i’d like to know is: do they have as many hot women?

  • Sam Schmitt

    And my question is: Are these workers among those millions of people brought out of poverty by capitalism?

    No, they must be the among the millions brought out of poverty by socialism.

    • Newp Ort

      Yes Sam, she was advocating socialism. Any of us that bring up problems within our capitalist system are dyed in the wool socialists.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Sam, do you mean by “socialism” that “unemployment-creating” minimum wage? From the same source as above (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/25/bangladesh-building-collapse-garment-factories-evacuation-order.html), “Bangladesh’s garment industry was has grown rapidly over the past decade, a boom fuelled by some of the lowest labour costs in the world. The national minimum wage, which was doubled in 2010, stands at $38 per month.” I bet those workers thank God every day for the chance to be lifted out of poverty by capitalism while other workers in more (too-)developed countries are greeted into poverty by having their jobs sent to Bangladesh, because those “awful and unfair unions” have lifted their salaries to some “un-competitive” level…) Capitalism is so so superior to socialism (for the 1%)! Of course it is none of our business to make any judgement – it is God’s job! And don’t you dare blaming consumers here for purchasing only cheap Bangladesh-made clothes, with the little money they have left once their jobs are gone “south” and their laziness is finally rewarded by cuts in social benefits. After all, those who have earned their money through the hard work of exporting jobs to $38 a month minimal wage countries in order to earn higher profits cannot “be punished for their success” by having to pay taxes…

  • Ben h

    Why I agree with many of the concerns about our current economic system I can’t see the benefit of the policies normally suggested as an alternative (and which appear to be suggested by each author). I mean more taxes and welfare (ie more power to the government), really? knowing the character of the people who run our country?

    A lot of people want ‘more regulation’ but don’t appreciate that many of the problems with the way the economy currently is flow from the fact that we have too much of the wrong sort of regulation. Dealing with the sort of regulations we have now imposes a significant cost on business without really restricting business behavior or size very much. The smaller the business the more difficult it is to comply with the tangle of federal, state and local regulations. The biggest businesses often lobby for additional regulation as it imposes small costs on them (in relation to their size) but drives smaller competitors out of business.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Ben: For a country with little and/or unenforced regulations, why not take Bangladesh as an example? After all, more workers were killed there a few days ago than the total number of people killed or maimed the day of the Boston Marathon… Are they not our brothers and sisters in Christ, even if they are Moslem? Let’s continue to blame unions here for bringing up wages to uncompetitive levels! While unemployment in Spain has now reached 27% – at this rate, it will soon be possible to bring back the jobs from Bangladesh…

  • Elaine S.

    First of all, we need to be clear about where the whole 47% meme came from. I believe it originally referred to the 47% of American taxpayers or potential taxpayers whose federal income tax liability, at the end of a recent year (think it was 2009 or 2010) was zero. In other words, they ended the year not owing any taxes to Uncle Sam and in most cases recieving a refund. Somehow that got twisted into “47% of Americans don’t pay taxes”. The 47% figure also, I believe, coincides at least roughly with the percentage of Americans who receive Social Security or some other kind of payment from the government (not necessarily a monthly payment), and so it morphed further into “47% of Americans are moochers living off the taxpayers.”
    Well, first of all, just because a person has no FEDERAL income tax liability doesn’t mean they “don’t pay taxes.” They still pay state income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, use taxes, etc. Second, the reason so many people don’t owe federal taxes at the end of the year is because of tax deductions and credits (EITC, home mortgage, child tax credit) that a lot of GOP types fought tooth and nail to keep (the “Bush tax credits”, though Obama added some new ones as well). Finally, a lot of these people actually did pay taxes through withholding from their paychecks, which they get back the following year via refund. In effect they loaned Uncle Sam their money interest-free for a full year or more.
    Now, I think there are reasons to be concerned about the long-term sustainability of our tax system when fully half or more than half (by now) of Americans are not, ultimately, paying into it long term. If the 47% argument is simply meant to point out that we can’t expect ONLY the wealthy to carry the nation’s entire tax burden, fine. (I myself believe that it’s better for everyone to pay a small tax than for only a few to pay a huge tax, since those few will always find a way to avoid paying it.) But that’s not the same as writing off everyone else as mere “takers” or moochers.

    • Paul H

      Well said. Also, please don’t forget payroll tax (for Social Security and Medicare). The 47% who pay no federal income tax certainly pay their fair share of payroll tax (unless they are unemployed).

  • Elaine S.

    “many of the problems with the way the economy currently is flow from the fact that we have too much of the wrong sort of regulation.”
    My day job involves reviewing proposed state-level regulations. The factors we are supposed to consider in our review include the effect the regulations may have on small businesses, small municipalities, or non-profit entities. We also are instructed to consider how clearly the rule can be understood by the average citizen, whether or not it contains clear standards or criteria for agency decisions that affect the public, and whether it provides some kind of appeal process for those adversely affected. Rules, per se, aren’t what’s bad for business, but rules that are unclear, arbitrary and unreasonably burdensome are.
    Most states — 42 or 43 last time I looked — have some kind of rules review agency or body, usually part of the legislative branch, that performs this function; but the federal government doesn’t. If you live in a state that has a rules review agency, then you have some mechanism available for at least getting your concerns about a proposed rule heard — and I heartily encourage you to take advantage of it.

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar

    There’s quite a bit of difference between “welfare payouts” and “welfare costs.” Payouts is the sum total of the checks. “Costs” includes the entire budget of the department disbursing those checks (the checks are typically 1/3 of the budget, or less), and a percentage of the tax department’s budget equal to the percentage of the total budget devoted to the disbursement, AND an equal percentage of the cost of government debt extant. Or, if P = Welfare Payouts, W = Welfare Department Budget, B = Total Government Budget, R = Revenue Department Budget, and D = cost of government debt, the total cost of welfare is

    W + (W/B)(R + D)

    where W = P x 3 (or more)

    Incidentally, the notion that the rich get tons more tax money than the poor is entirely accurate. And frankly, I think that if you’re going to have a government that has provisions for the poor to feed at the public trough is going to have a very hard time preventing the wealthy from doing so also.

    The whole welfare state is pretty much Henry VIII’s fault anyway, for stealing all the Church’s property, and demolishing the social safety net that had cared for England’s poor for centuries.


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