The Ultimate Deal: Privatizing the Presidency

Dispossessed of jobs and their dignity for a generation now or more, the Trump voters are glowing as they await what they were promised: nothing less than the reversal of a great tidal wave of economic history, the one popularly referred to as globalization or offshoring or free trade.As their unlikely tribune of the plebs, they have elevated a man with businesses in 18 countries, including Trump-branded hotels in India (2), Istanbul, Uruguay, the Phillippines, South Korea, Panama, Rio de … [Read more...]

Lights Coming Back on in Gary

I knew my involvement in civic matters in northwest Indiana would eventually take me to Gary, about 25 miles from my town of Valparaiso. As I’ve driven along Interstate 90 heading to and from Chicago, I’ve often peered down from the expressway into the city’s empty streets and dilapidated neighborhoods. For many long-time residents of the area, the town’s very name is an epithet for a landscape of failure and fear where it’s thought that no one stays who can find a way to leave. I admit I have no … [Read more...]

What I Saw on the Porch

In temporary relief from the ongoing telenovella of our impending national election, we habitues of the Front Porch Republic met up last weekend at the architecture building on the campus of the University of Notre Dame for a daylong celebration of "place, limits, liberty." These annual shmoozefests are always a delight, given the wonderful mix of temperaments and the high degree of literacy displayed everywhere. Amidst a certain Spenglerian gloom, hilarity is always breaking out, I dunno quite h … [Read more...]

What Wretches Feel: Neoliberalism is dying, we must replace it with something better

"The global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world. This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite."- Sen. Bernie Sanders "The true strength of our democracies ... must not be allowed to collapse under the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal, which weaken them and turn them into uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires."- Pope Francis  The neoliberal status quo is … [Read more...]

Dumb Things I Used to Believe

Having come into the Church as a convert on Easter Sunday, 1986, I am what’s called a JP II Catholic. I remain one, although I would have to explain that adjective differently today, thirty years later.Before Saint John Paul the Great came to prominence, I had already made a summer visit to see up close his country’s great cultural adversary, the U.S.S.R. Given my political views in those days, my travels made it clear to me: we were winning the Cold War, Reaganism was the right way to fight … [Read more...]

A Saint for a New Socioeconomic Order

Saints, G.K. Chesterton once pointed out, are an antidote to whatever the age neglects. Such figures restore the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever it has overlooked.In today’s world of Trumpism, our little band here at the Dorothy Option is arguing that a large dose of Dorothy Day is long overdo for American society. But just as Chesterton juxtaposed brilliantly St. Francis and St. Thomas, the more to underline their complementarity, so we might propose a figure (also with a cause for … [Read more...]

Substituting Charity for Justice

 In an address delivered today, Pope Francis observed that, "The just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labour is not mere philanthropy.  It is a moral obligation."There is also a passage from Benedict XVI's Caritas in Veritate that runs as follows: Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his … [Read more...]

Why you might not want a ‘strong work ethic’

We've all heard about how important it is to cultivate the illusive Work Ethic. And it seems it should be as "strong" as possible--moderation is not a virtue in this framework.But what exactly is the Work Ethic? Max Weber defined it by citing Benjamin Franklin who said: "Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that … [Read more...]

“Running In and Out with a Flag” (the Distributist League)

“Look here,” G.B. Shaw once gently chaffed his friend and debating partner G.K. Chesterton, “Is there really a Distributist League, or is it merely Titterton running in and out with a flag?”Shaw was referring to W.R. Titterton, the de facto organizer of the League, who once described their meetings thusly:“The formal business of the [Distributist] League was followed by after-meetings in the general bar of the Devereux, where an account by one of the members describes pint pots banging on … [Read more...]

Deconstructing the Corner Drugstore

If you haven't read Jeremy Beer's The Philanthropic Revolution: An Alternative History of American Charity, well then tant pis pour toi, as the French used to say. It's an eloquent historical essay on how we got from a theologically-grounded and localized culture of charity to the technologically-driven, globalist system of institutionalized do-goodery today. From the jacket blurb: "[Beer] exposes the way modern philanthropy's roots are entangled with fear and loathing of the poor, anti-Catholic … [Read more...]