Tag Archive for ‘Catholic Social Teaching’
Next let us turn to Woods’ comments on my discussion of scarcity as an economic concept. I again quoted Paul Samuelson who introduces the topic as fundamental to economic analysis and concludes by saying: “If you add up all the wants, you quickly find that there are simply not enough goods and services to satisfy even a small fraction of everyone’s consumption desires.”
Next we must look at another rhetorical device of Woods which serves to distract the attention of the reader from the point at issue and to prejudice him against what I actually wrote. Woods mentions the interventions of bishops’ conferences into economic matters. As a matter of fact I said absolutely nothing in my article about bishops nor do I want to go into the complicated question of their competence in the matter, except to say that it clearly is not the same as that of the popes.
Dr. Woods’ article, “Catholic Social Teaching and the Market Economy Revisited: A Reply to Thomas Storck,” is, I must admit, superficially attractive. It appears to crush opposition under a weight of impressive learning. But, I would suggest, when his assertions are examined, Woods’ citation of authorities, like his argument in general, fails.
Almost five years ago I wrote for ChroniclesMagazine.org a piece attacking Thomas Woods’ views on the relationship between Catholic social teaching and the science of economics. In brief, my complaint was against Woods’ contention that certain teachings of the popes on social matters overstep the boundaries of legitimate Church teaching because they contradict the findings of economics, as Woods conceives them to be.
Over the month a small controversy has broken out over my article criticizing Thomas Woods’ two lectures given at the Mises Institute in 2002 and earlier this year. Mr. Woods then replied to me, and as I was away for nearly two weeks, I am belatedly replying again to Woods. Unfortunately I will largely have to repeat myself, since Woods did not choose to actually engage my arguments, but rather largely ignored them.
Yesterday, we posted a magnificent article by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, an assistant professor of philosophy at a papal institute, the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria. Dr. Kwasniewski has been following the debate over Thomas Woods’ “The Trouble With Catholic Social Teaching” and has weighed in with his own critique. Last night, Tom Woods replied on the LewRockwell.com Blog.
This, in the end, is what it all comes down to: What is the purpose of the market and of economic freedom? For that matter, what is the purpose of government? The Church has, for 2,000 years, offered a very specific answer to both questions. Here’s a hint: It’s not providing the maximum number of goods at the lowest cost to the greatest number of “consumers.”
Even among otherwise orthodox Catholics in the United States there is generally little knowledge of or interest in Catholic social doctrine, that body of Catholic teachings which concerns man in society, especially with reference to the political and economic orders. Since Leo XIII began vigorously to develop and apply this teaching to the changing conditions of the modern world, especially with his encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), Catholic social doctrine has seemed to many to constitute an alternative both to free-market capitalism and all forms of socialism and communism. But lately an objection to Catholic social teaching has arisen from an unexpected source, in fact, from some of those who claim to be especially devoted to Catholic life and tradition as it existed before the Second Vatican Council.
My earlier posts (Part I, Part II) on Tom Woods’ article “The Trouble With Catholic Social Teaching” have generated much discussion, on this site and elsewhere—a healthy sign, it seems to me, that many conservative and traditionalist Catholics are trying to grapple with the Church’s consistent social teaching rather than simply bracketing it and substituting some form of conservative economics.
A friend e-mailed yesterday to say that he didn’t understand the crux of my disagreement with Tom Woods. As he sees it, Tom is simply concerned with government intervention into the economy, confiscatory taxation, coercive laws and regulations, and the welfare state, all of which (he quite rightly points out, as Chronicles has for over 25 years) have been largely destructive. But these destructive things, my friend goes on to claim, have been central to Catholic social teaching.