Over the last five years the Bishop of Rome has made manifest his ignorance of (or opposition to), Church doctrine on moral issues. Now he has chosen to demonstrate to the world another area in which he is ignorant; history, finance and economics.
We are naturally sad at the latest humiliation for the Church and the increase in confusion that will inevitably result from this promulgation of ignorance, but I am hopeful that God will do great things through the errors of this pontificate, and perhaps one way that will be manifested in the life of Catholics is the total annihilation of the neo-ultramontanist heresy which grips so many on both Left and Right.
Dr. Samuel Gregg offers an exceptionally charitable perspective on the document here. His conclusion:
Finance is unquestionably a sphere of life in which people are subject to specific temptations—just as politics and the priesthood are callings with their own potential pitfalls. Oeconomicae pecuniariae et quaestiones goes some way towards helping people make good choices in an industry upon which every single one of us is in some way reliant for our economic well-being. Unfortunately, it’s also a reminder that the Church has much more work to do if it’s going to make constructive contributions to the reform of a segment of modern economies that, ten years after the financial crisis, is still in desperate need of substantive change.
The Pope’s essay is here.
“Here is a theory (with a debt to Rothbard, Hoppe, Kinsella, et al.) about why this situation persists. People who live and work primarily within the religious milieu are dealing mainly with goods of an infinite nature. These are goods like salvation, the intercession of saints, prayers of an infinitely replicable nature, texts, images, and songs that constitute non-scarce goods, the nature of which requires no rationing, allocation, and choices regarding their distribution.
None of these goods takes up physical space. One can make infinite copies of them. They can be used without displacing other instances of the good. They do not depreciate with time. Their integrity remains intact no matter how many times they are used. Thus they require no economization. For that reason, there need to be no property norms concerning their use. They need not be priced. There is no problem associated with their rational allocation. They are what economists call “free goods.”
If one exists, lives, and thinks primarily in the realm of the non-scarce good, the problems associated with scarcity — the realm that concerns economics — will always be elusive. To be sure, it might seem strange to think of things such as grace, ideas, prayers, and images as goods, but this term merely describes something that is desired by people. (There are also things we might describe as nongoods, which are things that no one wants.) So it is not really a point of controversy to use this term. What really requires explanation is the description of prayers, grace, text, images, and music as non-scarce goods that require no economization.”
Few people know this-and fewer care-but it’s a matter of Catholic doctrine that private property rights are sacred. Pope Leo XIII warned of the consequences of ignoring divine law in Rerum Novarum in 1891 when he wrote, “the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies.”
Predictably, the revolutionary mindset he warned about has overtaken all but a few, such that even “conservatives” are horrified that Starbucks would ask someone who a) demands free services and b) refuses to buy anything, to leave. With the criminalization of thought, the war on parental rights, persecution of churches and religious groups and now the open assault on private property rights, we’ve thus passed one more critical milestone on our descent into the tyranny of the mob. If a $20 billion a year corporation and the cops are afraid of the mob, what are your chances at defending your property and lives?
American protectionists all cheered last month when they learned they were going to be able to pay higher prices on steel and everything made with steel-thousands of products.
Will they also cheer now that their employers will sell a lot less of more than 100 different products ranging from food to cars? And why is it that when it comes to economic matters and history, Americans are so willfully ignorant? Prediction: When the market crashes, trade collapses and unemployment skyrockets, will they blame the anti-trade protectionist policies?