Monday, July 9, 2012

Getting Religion Back into Our Economic Lives

Our nation's freedom depends on getting religion back into our nation's economic life, says Fr. Robert A. Sirico,  president of the Michigan-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, in  his new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.  
“Can it be mere coincidence that we are beset by decline just as the Judeo-Christian worldview has retreated from the public square?”  asks Fr. Sirico. He argues that “the link between economic liberty and public morality is not tenuous; it is clear and direct” and explains his thinking about how bad ideas on economics stem from bad ideas on the nature of the human person in a compelling interview with National ReviewOnline. 

Some highlights:

On the difference between socialism and capitalism
To the extent that socialism holds back creativity and thus productivity, it increases poverty. When people become desperate, even good people can become self-centered. Few of us are at our best in crowds where everyone is trying to get out the same exit, or when trying to grab for the last remaining sale item. Socialism begins with the material world (the redistribution of pre-existing things); capitalism begins with ideas and dreams (the creation of things). Socialism increases the hoarding instinct and often places power in the hands of petty dictators (wait in line in a governmental office to see what I mean). We all know where that leads.

On church and state
I think it is good to remember that the internal polarization that took place after the Second Vatican Council between those who adopted the hermeneutic of rupture and those who maintained the hermeneutic of continuity (to use the pope’s categories) is that the former tended to abandon a more theological understanding of the Church and its role in the world and diminished it to a merely political, “historically conscious,” and socially activist (sometimes even socialist!) paradigm. This means that those who opt for the rupture model care more deeply about politics — in fact, it seems to be all they care about sometimes – and see it as the core of the Church’s mission, whereas those who see the Church today as the same Church prior to Vatican II believe that the primary role of the Church is human redemption and salvation. When, in effect, Caesar impedes the Church’s salvific mission (which is what the building of our institutions is all about), then this clearly ties back to what the Lord said in Matthew 25: What you do unto one of the least of His brethren you also do unto Him.
On why government-run health care is uncompassionate
As in most institutions dominated by politics and bureaucracy, a gap grows between those being served and the ones doing the “serving.” This is especially the case when the bureaucracy is far away from the need and the principle of subsidiarity is ignored. The latter do not know the former and it is difficult to have real compassion without personal relationships. Human beings are lost sight of in politics and bureaucracy.

Read the whole interview at National ReviewOnline.

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