sábado, 27 de agosto de 2011

Explicando Quantitative Easing

O vídeo abaixa trata com humor do quantitative easing do Federal Reserve. É óbvio que há algumas falhas de argumentação, mas não deixa de levantar boas questões sobre o pensamento econômico.

segunda-feira, 22 de agosto de 2011

Distributivismo e Tea Party


Morgan Warstler escreveu um texto afirmando que o que o movimento Tea Party está buscando já está definido no distributivismo. Sugere que todos leiam sobre o assunto. Interessante. Não sei se o Tea Party defenderia o distributivismo (deve haver membros da escola austríaca no grupo que detestam questões morais), mas obviamente seria ótimo se todos conhecessem mais sobre distributivismo.

by Mrogan Warstler

Tea Party Babies!

I want to talk economics with you.  In the annals of the American Economy there was a golden age where we did not face a choice between Big Government and Big Business.
Back before FDR, there was a real economic theory that has died and we need to resurrect it, pat it on the back, and cheer for it like we cheer for Rick Perry.
It was called Distributism.  Yes, yes, I know it sounds like something a commie would cough up while we were waterboarding him.  It is an “ISM.”
Fear not.  It really is an old fashioned good idea.  And it is old.  Any given spell checker says, “distributism,”  it isn’t even a word.
Defintion:  ”According to distributism, the ownership of the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the general populace, rather than being centralized under the control of the state (state socialism) or a few large businesses or wealthy private individuals (plutarchic capitalism). A summary of distributism is found in Chesterton’s statement: “Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.”

This looks exactly like a progression to our Modern Internet.
In my last post I argued that what matters is that we cut the taxes of the Tea Party.  Tea Partiers tend to be Small Business Owners.  Small businesses create all the new jobs.  So, when the GOP negotiates Tax Reform, what we should really mean is:
  1. The bottom half of America must pay at least as much as they pay now.
  2. The Wall Street investor class and the Fortune 1000 management can pay more.
  3. The owners of small businesses across the US, the savers, the scrimpers, the Tea Party faithful pay MUCH LESS.
There is a real economic thought behind this approach.

The Catholics invented it.  Who knew, right?  Maybe we should forgive them some of their more eggregious sins.  According to the Catholics, we shouldn’t treat the Fortune 1000 as well as we treat Small Business owners.

sexta-feira, 19 de agosto de 2011

Thomas Woods - Crítica ao Distributismo


Como eu digo sempre, ainda estou estudando distributismo. Uma das melhoras formas de aprender é lendo quem odeia a teoria. Talvez a principal voz de ódio venha de Thomas Woods (foto acima). E ele escreveu um texto chamado What is Wrong with Distributism que mostra sua crítica ao distributismo.

Fiquei interessadíssimo, mas ao lê-lo, vi que ele não responde nenhuma das defesas dos distributistas.

Basta ler o post abaixo de Thomas Storck ou mesmo o que diz o Papa abaixo ( ou na encíclica Caritas Est), depois de ler o texto de Woods que vai abaixo.

What's Wrong with "Distributism"

Mises Daily: Sunday, October 06, 2002 by

Internet among Catholics. The question, simply put, has been whether the free market is or is not in conformity with Catholic principles. Having already weighed in on this matter at considerable length in a paper for last year’s Austrian Scholars Conference (and to be published in the Spring 2003 issue of the Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines: "Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: An Unresolved Tension"), I will limit myself to a few basic points.

There are some Catholic conservatives who seem to think they are striking a blow for traditional Catholicism and against liberalism and the Enlightenment by opposing the free market and favoring some alternative--usually the so-called "distributism" of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, according to which that social system is best in which productive property is widely dispersed rather than concentrated. These two figures rightly enjoy great renown throughout the Catholic world for their outstanding writing on a variety of subjects, though of course they had no formal training in economics.
In 1871, Carl Menger had written his Principles of Economics, a work of profound genius that essentially launched the Austrian School of economics, but relatively few Catholics who spoke on the so-called "social question" made a serious attempt to reckon with it, or indeed were even aware of it. Those who have written on distributism in recent months appear to share in this ignorance, never once citing even a single economics text--as if a discipline that is devoted to the application of human reason to the problems of scarcity in the world could actually in itself be antagonistic to the Catholic faith.

Even granting the distributist premise that smaller businesses have been swallowed up by larger firms, it is by no means obvious that it is always preferable for a man to operate his own business rather than to work for another. It may well be that a man is better able to care for his family precisely if he does not own his own business or work the backbreaking schedule of running his own farm, partially because he is not ruined if the enterprise for which he works should have to close, and partially because he doubtless enjoys more leisure time that he can spend with his family than if he had the cares and responsibilities of his own business. Surely, therefore, we are dealing here with a matter for individual circumstances rather than crude generalization.
Suppose, moreover, that "distributism" had been in effect as the Industrial Revolution was developing in Britain in the late 18th century. We would have heard ceaseless laments regarding the increasing concentration of economic power and the dramatic growth in the number people working for wages. What we probably wouldn’t have heard about was the actual condition of those people who were seeking employment in the factories. They weren’t lucky enough to be able to make a profitable living in agriculture, and their families had not provided them with the tools necessary to enter an independent trade and operate one of the small shops that delight the distributist.

Had they not had the opportunity to work for a wage, therefore, they and their families would simply have starved. It is as simple as that. Capitalism, and not distributism, literally saved these people from utter destitution and made possible the enormous growth in population, in life expectancy, in health, and in living standards more generally that England experienced at the time and which later spread to western Europe at large.

In a book correcting the leftist biases in older histories of the Industrial Revolution, Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek amplified this point.
"The proletariat which capitalism can be said to have ‘created’ was thus not a proportion which would have existed without it and which it had degraded to a lower level; it was an additional population which was enabled to grow up by the new opportunities for employment which capitalism provided."
Ludwig von Mises makes the same crucial point:
"It is a distortion of facts to say that the factories carried off the housewives from the nurseries and the kitchens and the children from their play.  These women had nothing to cook with and to feed their children. These children were destitute and starving. Their only refuge was the factory. It saved them, in the strict sense of the term, from starvation…. the fact remains that for the surplus population which the enclosure movement had reduced to dire wretchedness and for which there was literally no room left in the frame of the prevailing system of production, work in the factories was salvation. These people thronged into the plants for no reason other than the urge to improve their standard of living."
Distributism, in such a context, would have spelled certain doom for the proletariat it claims to defend.
Also coming under assault from distributists is the much-maligned "profit motive," a theme that has dominated many a sinister Hollywood film.  "If you think acting for the sake of profit is meritorious in Christ’s eyes," one critic wrote, "you are sadly deceived."
Now even a distributist would not deny--since he cannot--that it is morally licit for a man to want to improve his position, both for his own sake and for that of his family. Moreover, the restoration of Catholicism amid its present difficulties is certainly going to require the assistance of men of wealth to endow colleges and other salutary endeavors, and that wealth will have to be acquired somehow.

But without a "profit motive," there is no way to be sure that this morally legitimate desire to improve one’s lot and provide for his family is pursued in a way that benefits society as a whole rather than simply himself. A small industry has arisen over the years devoted to poking fun at Adam Smith’s "invisible hand," the image by which Smith sought to describe the salutary process by which each man’s desire to improve his condition benefits those around him as well; and some moralists have argued that the fact that the baker bakes his bread not out of universal benevolence but out of a desire for profit is so much the worse for him from a moral point of view.

But there are only two options here: either man can pursue his ends without regard for the needs and wishes of his fellow man, or he can act with regard to those needs. There is no third option. By seeking to "maximize profits"--a motivation that is routinely treated as a terrible scourge on civilization--man ensures that his talents and resources are directed toward areas in which his fellow man has indicated the most urgent need.

In other words, the price system, and the system of profit and loss that follows from it, forces him to plan his activity in conformity with the expressed needs of society and in the interest of a genuine stewardship of the things of the earth. This is how a rational and civilized society ensures that its resources are apportioned not according to some arbitrary blueprint but according to the needs of the people. Profit signals, then, make for peaceful social cooperation and the most efficient use of scarce resources. Without them, as Mises showed in his classic essay on the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism, civilization literally reverts to barbarism.

Moreover, no Catholic would deny that a life of pure self-indulgence is morally inferior to one in which one’s wealth is put to lasting and productive use. But even to raise this point is to distract attention from the real issue. It should be obvious that to acknowledge a "profit motive" is not to say that people should think only about money, or that money is more important than God, or any other such nonsense.

As Mises explains,
"The immense majority strives after a greater and better supply of food, clothes, homes, and other material amenities. In calling a rise in the masses’ standard of living progress and improvement, economists do not espouse a mean materialism.  They simply establish the fact that people are motivated by the urge to improve the material conditions of their existence. They judge policies from the point of view of the aims men want to attain. He who disdains the fall in infant mortality and the gradual disappearance of famines and plagues may cast the first stone upon the materialism of the economists" (emphasis added).
The point is, since we know that man has perfectly valid reasons for seeking the highest return on his investment, or earning the highest wage, instead of wasting time on foolish and irrelevant lamentations regarding the greedy people in the world--a matter of moral philosophy rather than economics--we ought to employ human reason to learn how this perfectly moral desire for gain redounds to society’s benefit by ensuring that people produce what society urgently needs rather than more of something that society already enjoys in abundance. Stated this way, the profit-and-loss system of an economy based on the division of labor, an indispensable institution of civilized society, suddenly appears not only profoundly moral but actually obligatory, which is probably why opponents of capitalism never do state it this way.

If the engine of the enormous improvement in living standards that everyone in the developed world has enjoyed these past two centuries is not to be ground to a halt, it is essential that we understand the mechanisms that have made it possible. Such an appreciation of these indispensable aspects of the free economy is altogether absent from most exponents of distributism--who, in their eagerness to caricature the market as the site of ceaseless "exploitation" and greed, consistently neglect to acknowledge its achievements and virtues.

Richard Tawney’s characterization of Luther’s anger at and ignorance of economics may be apt here:
"Confronted with the complexities of foreign trade and financial organizations, he is like a savage introduced to a dynamo or a steam engine.  He is too frightened and angry even to feel curiosity.  Attempts to explain the mechanism merely enrage him; he can only repeat that there is a devil in it, and that good Christians will not meddle with the mystery of iniquity."
The popes have repeatedly observed that it is more difficult for a man to increase in virtue and to save his soul when living in utter destitution, so one would expect present-day Catholics to appreciate the value of a system that has made possible the greatest explosion of wealth the world has ever seen--including stunning increases in life expectancy, caloric intake, housing quality, education, literacy, and countless other good things, as well as dramatic decreases in infant mortality, famine, and disease. And contrary to what the propagandists assert, nothing could be more obvious than the fact that the benefits of capitalism have overwhelmingly benefited the poor.

Donald Boudreaux recently offered a useful thought experiment: suppose an ancestor from the year 1700 could be shown a typical day in the life of Bill Gates. He would doubtless be impressed by some of what makes Bill Gates’s life unique, but
"a good guess is that the features of Gates’s life that would make the deepest impression are that he and his family never worry about starving to death; that they bathe daily; that they have several changes of clean clothes; that they have clean and healthy teeth; that diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, tetanus, and pertussis present no substantial risks; that Melinda Gates’s chances of dying during childbirth are about one-sixtieth what they would have been in 1700; that each child born to the Gateses is about 40 times more likely than a pre-industrial child to survive infancy; that the Gateses have a household refrigerator and freezer (not to mention microwave oven, dishwasher, and radios and televisions); that the Gateses’s work week is only five days and that the family takes several weeks of vacation each year; that each of the Gates children will receive more than a decade of formal schooling; that the Gateses routinely travel through the air to distant lands in a matter of hours; that they effortlessly converse with people miles or oceans away; that they frequently enjoy the world’s greatest actors’ and actresses’ stunning performances; that the Gateses can, whenever and wherever they please, listen to a Beethoven piano sonata, a Puccini opera, or a Frank Sinatra ballad."
In other words, what would most impress our visitor are the aspects of Gates’s life that the software giant shares with ordinary Americans. When you consider the differences that characterized rich and poor prior to the Industrial Revolution, on the other hand, the "capitalism-promotes-inequality" myth is further exposed as the ignorant canard that it is.

Lurking beneath all this criticism of the market is a naivete regarding the state that almost defies belief coming from a serious Catholic. The current federal apparatus, whether occupied by Republicans or Democrats, can hardly be anything but anathema to anyone with conservative sensibilities, Catholic or not. Private corporations, even the largest among them, can go bankrupt--as did Kmart not long ago, which no doubt gave the critics of chain stores their share of satisfaction.  But there is little prospect of the American government going out of business.

Even supposing economic regulation to be a good idea, the suggestion that the present regime ought to be given still more power, or that such power would not certainly be abused (might campaign supporters find their businesses mysteriously immune from prosecution?), really requires much greater justification than it has thus far been given. Say what you will about Home Depot, but it is not responsible for confiscating 40 percent of my income for purposes I find morally repugnant; neither does it wage aggressive war on Third World nations or oversee an educational system that produces dumbed-down "multicultural" idiots. That anyone would want to give this creature still more power, for any reason, suggests a profound lack of prudence, judgment, and good sense.

Those who care to support locally based and smaller-scale agriculture have already been doing so for two decades now by means of community-supported agriculture, which is booming.  On a purely voluntary basis, people who wish to support local agriculture pay several hundred dollars at the beginning of the year to provide the farmer with the capital he needs; they then receive locally grown produce for the rest of the year. The organizers of this movement, rather than wasting their time and ours complaining about the need for state intervention, actually did something: they put together a voluntary program that has enjoyed considerable success across the country. Perhaps, if distributists feel as strongly about their position as they claim, this example can provide a model of how their time might be better spent.

In his outstanding history of economic thought, Murray Rothbard went to great lengths to highlight the contributions of the Spanish scholastics, whose critical insights on a variety of crucial economic subjects Catholics might well consider a source of pride. But since these writers came down so often on the side of economic freedom, distributists treat the Spanish scholastics like the family’s crazy old uncle that you hope your friends never find out about.

This is the real shame, since here were theologians who both set forth moral principles and sought to understand the mechanisms they were discussing. More recent papal encyclicals, such as Pope John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus, have likewise begun to reflect an understanding of the role of prices, entrepreneurship, and various other aspects of the market economy, thereby acknowledging what educated people around the world have themselves begun to see. Only through a genuine understanding of the mechanisms of the free economy, rather than through caricatures of them, can the moral dimension of economics be sensibly discussed.

quinta-feira, 18 de agosto de 2011

Economia Precisa da Moral


En route to Madrid, Pope says economies need morals
By David Kerr
.- Pope Benedict XVI used his flight to Madrid for World Youth Day to call for a new ethical code in global economics. Spain currently has the highest unemployment rate in the industrialized world, with nearly 50 percent of its young people unable to find work.

“The economy doesn’t function with market self-regulation but needs an ethical reason to work for mankind,” the Pope told reporters aboard the papal plane.
“Man must be at the center of the economy, and the economy cannot be measured only by maximization of profit but rather according to the common good.”

Pope Benedict drew upon his 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” or “Charity in Truth” in which he asserted that the dignity of the person must be central to all economic decisions.

He told reporters that the current economic crisis afflicting many young people in countries like Spain again shows that a moral dimension isn’t “exterior” but “interior and fundamental” to the formulation of economic policy.

Among the welcoming party at Madrid’s Barajas Airport were Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and his conservative opposition leader Marian Rajoy. With both men
listening, the Pope once again dwelt upon matters economic in his opening remarks.

“Many young people look worriedly to the future, as they search for work, either because they have lost their job or because the one they have is precarious or uncertain.”
It was a sentiment that echoed King Juan Carlos’ comments moment before. He said Spain’s youth are “frustrated by the lack of personal and work possibilities, and rebel against the serious problems facing the world today.”

Last night, around 5,000 individuals took to the streets of Madrid to protest, they said, against the cost of the papal visit to Spain. Police arrested eight of the demonstrators after groups of protesters started taunting and attacking young pilgrims.
Organizers of World Youth Day say the event is being fully paid for by the Catholic Church and pilgrims but not by the Spanish state. They also point out the economic boost that a million or more visitors to Madrid are giving to Spain’s ailing economy. 

segunda-feira, 15 de agosto de 2011

Defensores da Escola Austríaca e a Doutrina social da Igreja



Thomas Storck is the author of Foundations of a Catholic Political Order, The Catholic Milieu, and Christendom and the West. His work has appeared in various publications including Homiletic and Pastoral Review and the book, Beyond Capitalism and Socialism. Mr. Storck is a former contributing editor of New Oxford Review and Caelum et Terra and serves on the editorial board of The Chesterton Review.

In his 1965 book, Christianity and Social Progress, Fr. John Cronin wrote as follows:
The social teaching of the Church has presented problems to many Catholics. Today we speak in terms of awe and reverence of the great encyclicals of Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI. Yet the social messages of these pontiffs met resistance as well as acclaim. There were some who openly opposed these teachings. Others gave them the “silent treatment,” by ignoring their pleas and making no effort to put them into practice.1
Although fifty years after Fr. Cronin wrote no longer does everyone “speak in terms of awe and reverence of the great encyclicals of Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI,” still his words are helpful reminders that Catholics have not always had that docility toward the teaching Church which one would expect from those presumably convinced that the Church speaks with the voice of Christ. And in fact today dissent from those teachings is far more common and more open than was the case when Fr. Cronin wrote those words. While one is hardly surprised to find dissent from Catholic teaching among liberal Catholics, it is just as common to find it among conservative Catholics. These latter, however, since they see themselves as faithful adherents to Catholic doctrine, necessarily must create some strategy of disguising their dissent from Catholic teaching. There are, it seems to me, three main strategies used by conservative Catholics to justify their dissent from papal social teaching. Let us take a look at each of them in turn.
Our first type is the most bold, and in a way, the most honest of the three. This is the strategy of a straightforward denial, an outright rejection of social doctrine. This is the strategy common among Catholic adherents of the Austrian school of economics, for example, those associated with the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. Let us review some of their statements. First Thomas Woods:
The primary difficulty with much of what has fallen under the heading of Catholic social teaching since Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891) is that it assumes without argument that the force of human will suffices to resolve economic questions, and that reason and the conclusions of economic law can be safely neglected, even scorned… This attitude runs directly counter to the entire Catholic intellectual tradition, according to which man is to conform his actions to reality, rather than embarking on the hopeless and foolish task of forcing the world to conform to him and to his desires.
Moreover Woods rejects as “perfectly nonsensical” the claim that his position “involves himself in ‘dissent’ from Church teaching.”Why? Because,
In the absence of any attempt to address these issues [i.e., the alleged conflict between Catholic teaching and reason], it is difficult to see how the economic claims of the social encyclicals can actually constitute authoritative Catholic doctrine binding upon the consciences of all the faithful.4
And he further states:
One hesitates to describe Catholic social teaching as an abuse of papal and ecclesiastical power, but surely the attempt to impose, as moral doctrine binding the entire Catholic world, principles that derive from the popes’ intrinsically fallible reasoning within a secular discipline like economics, seems dubious. At the very least, it appears to constitute an indefensible extension of the prerogatives of the Church’s legitimate teaching office into areas in which it possesses no inherent competence or divine protection from error.5
And lastly a statement made by another Catholic Austrian, William Luckey:
The fact that Catholic economic teaching, put forth as unchanging and required of belief, did not square with what Austrian economists know to be true, has created an agonizing crisis of conscience for such economists.6
There is certainly no lack of boldness here, even of what we may call chutzpah.
As far as I can see, very few priests have adopted this mode of dissent from Catholic teaching. That may be because few priests who value a reputation for adherence to the magisterium want to be associated with a method of dissent which is so obvious and clear. For the Austrians make no bones about rejecting Catholic social teaching. It is true that they claim such teaching is not authoritative, but it takes a strong stomach to so openly reject what clearly the supreme pontiffs themselves regard as an important part of their teaching authority. Therefore, one or other of the next two strategies is more likely to appeal to those who, for whatever reason, don’t have such strong stomachs.
Our next type of dissent is perhaps associated most prominently with the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and its president, Fr. Robert Sirico, but also with such figures as Michael Novak and George Weigel. This strategy is a little more nuanced, and a bit more plausible than the Austrian method. But it is just as much dissent. What is this strategy? It is to claim that whatever Catholic social teaching may have taught in the past, beginning with Pope John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, this has changed and the Church has finally embraced free-market economics. Let us again look at a few of the statements of this point of view. Fr. Sirico wrote,
The Church, during certain periods, has strongly criticized what was construed to be the free society, partly because some social thinkers conflated the theories of economic liberalism with moral libertinism, viewing them as one in the same and as mutually reinforcing.7
But now, so he says, because “of the courage of John Paul II and his case in favor of the free society… No longer do we feel compelled to speak of classical liberalism and religious orthodoxy as belonging to two separate intellectual worlds.” And more to the same,
Centesimus Annus represents the beginnings of a shift away from the static zero-sum economic world view that led the Church to be suspicious of capitalism and to argue for wealth redistribution as the only moral response to poverty.8
Lastly Michael Novak,
Thus Pope John Paul II has brought economic liberty…into Catholic social teaching….9
Now it is not the case that Centesimus initiated a new direction in the Church’s social teaching, for the interpretation of Fr. Sirico, Michael Novak and others depends on a selective and tendentious reading of that encyclical. (For a discussion of this, see my article What Does Centesimus Annus Really Teach?) And in fact, these authors have not been as loud in claiming a radical change in Catholic social teaching since the appearance of Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate.  Indeed, Weigel is known as the writer of an absurd rant on that encyclical. But more importantly, this kind of dissent, to the extent that one can say it was ever done in good faith, fails to address two important questions. In the first place, if we consider the teaching of the Church as coming from Jesus Christ, how is it possible for the Church to change what was admittedly a part of her patrimony of moral teaching? Does this not open up pretty much all of Catholic doctrine to change at the whim of the reigning pope? And secondly, if John Paul really could and did set social doctrine in a fundamentally new direction, could not a future pope either restore it to its former state or set out some other approach to social doctrine? And thus if all we have here are the changeable and hence fallible opinions of the reigning pope, why should any Catholic care about Catholic social teaching anyway? Only if it is the teaching of Jesus Christ ought we to care about Catholic doctrine, and if it can be altered so easily, then it could hardly be the teaching of Jesus Christ.
I do not deny, to be sure, that portions of the papal social encyclicals are of limited authority, either because they apply for the most part to conditions that no longer exist or that existed only in some places, or because they were simply prudential applications of general principles made by a particular pontiff. Such statements as these do not have universal or binding authority. But the kind of change in direction which Fr. Sirico and his associates have spoken of concerns the fundamental principles of social doctrine, principles which have been reiterated by popes since at least Leo XIII, including by John Paul II. It is hard to see how these could be altered without holding that the Church has taught error as part of her doctrinal patrimony, or that social doctrine is not really part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Finally we come to what seems to be the most recent effort to undermine the demands of Catholic social teaching. This is the most nuanced strategy of all, for it does not depend either on outright rejection of papal teaching or on a tendentious reading of one document among many in a long series. Rather it depends on the undoubted fact that most Catholics have not read the social encyclicals and therefore are profoundly ignorant of their contents. Thus if they are misrepresented by these authors, few will be the wiser. But the misrepresentation engaged in by these authors is clever. It does not involve selective quotations as does the method of Fr. Sirico. Rather this third group of writers makes the assertion that papal social teaching simply sets forth certain more or less vague goals, and that everyone is free to work toward those goals by any means he thinks best. And the goals are generally said to be such platitudes as that we should help the poor or better the condition of workers, and things of that sort. For example, one recent commentator wrote, “The basic error is the failure to see that the foundational teachings and principles of CST can be applied in practice in a wide variety of ways—and working out the application of such principles in any given case rightly falls mainly to the laity, not the hierarchy.” The difficulty with this writer’s approach is that he fails to note that the popes, while not for the most part setting forth detailed prescriptions which are universally binding for applying social doctrine, have ruled out a number of approaches as erroneous, and insisted on a number of points as binding (I will note some of these below).
In today’s climate of bitter partisan debate such statements can easily be seized upon by those whose principles are in fact opposed to those espoused by the popes. So that someone who truly believed, or who claimed to believe, that the best way to help the worker was by abolishing the minimum wage or multiplying Wal-Marts throughout the world, could use this approach to claim support for his opinions in papal teaching as much as those who pursued the traditional social apostolate of the Church, by encouraging unions or cooperation between workers and employers.
As I mentioned, it is true that the popes have not usually given us detailed instructions for how to obtain justice in society. But they have done much more than given us mere vague goals, however laudable these might be. They have set forth certain constant teachings, e.g., that of the just wage or of the social duties and character of private property. They have ruled out certain approaches to solving the social question, e.g., a reliance only upon market forces or upon class warfare. They have likewise rejected both socialism and classical liberalism, which today is often called neo-liberalism. They have indeed sometimes praised experiments in attaining the goal of achieving justice and reducing poverty, but they have set certain limits on those experiments. They have insisted that wages should not be set simply by market forces, they have praised labor unions, they have again and again made it clear that the state has a role to play in the economy and is not simply the “night watchman” state beloved by classical liberals (conservatives or libertarians). And the intermediate groups or bodies which the popes have frequently highlighted as having an important role in regulating the economy are not primarily for-profit businesses or mere voluntary associations. They are bodies akin to the medieval guilds, whose regulations had the force of law and in which membership was compulsory for anyone who wanted to carry on a certain trade or business in a medieval city. In other words, while the popes leave much to circumstances of time or place in implementing the demands of justice, the atmosphere of the social encyclicals is not that of neo-liberal economics. It is much more akin to the social democracy of western Europe than to anything in the United States. In fact, while what seems to be the U.S. post-war economy is singled out for criticism in Centesimus as “the affluent society or the consumer society [which] seeks to defeat Marxism on the level of pure materialism by showing how a free-market society can achieve a greater satisfaction of material human needs than Communism, while equally excluding spiritual values,” what appears to be the West German social market economy is hailed as “a positive effort to rebuild a democratic society inspired by social justice [which tries] to avoid making market mechanisms the only point of reference for social life, and…tend[s] to subject them to public control which upholds the principle of the common destination of material goods” (no. 19).
In the beginning of this article I quoted some words of Fr. John Cronin about dissent from Catholic social teaching.  After the words that I quoted above, he went on to say:
Such resistance is not unusual when Church teaching conflicts with the strong personal interests of the faithful. All of us have met Catholics who were bitter because of God’s law on divorce or birth control.  These persons tend to blame the Church for doctrines they find distasteful, as if the Church originated these decrees, instead of merely transmitting God’s teaching.
It might strike some as odd that Fr. Cronin compares opposition to the Church’s social doctrine to opposition to her teachings about family life. But he is correct to compare the two. In each case the Church is setting forth Christian morality, in one case concerning sexuality and the family, in the other concerning our life in society, especially with regard to our economic activity. And in each case Christian morality is in conflict with powerful drives stemming from our fallen human nature. While Catholics seeking to be loyal to the Church are rightly aware of the need to subject the sex drive to God’s law, they are usually less aware of the need to subject our desires for money and material goods in the same way. But neither drive can be left to rule itself. Holy Scripture is as full of warnings about the dangers of riches and their pursuit as about the dangers of sexual immorality. If we are to be fully Catholic we must recognize both areas of morality and be obedient to Christ’s law as taught by the Church. Otherwise, whatever strategy we may adopt to justify ourselves, we will in fact be dissenters from Christ’s teaching rather than faithful Catholics.
1. Baltimore, 1965, p. 168.
2.  “Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: An Unresolved Tension,” paper delivered at the Austrian Scholars Conference at the Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, March 2002, p. 4. The entire paper is (or was) available at www.mises.org/asc/2002/asc8-woods.pdf.
3. “The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching,” lecture delivered at the Austrian Scholars Conference, Mises Institute, Auburn Alabama, March 2004, p. 2.
4. ”Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: an Unresolved Tension,” pp. 33-34.
5. Ibid., p. 35.
6.  Quoted in “The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching,” p. 6.
7. Religion & Liberty, September\October 1997.
8. ”Away From the Zero-Sum View” in A New Worldly Order: John Paul II and Human Freedom, Washington, 1992, p. 156.
9. ”Tested by Our Own Ideals” in ibid., p. 139.

sábado, 13 de agosto de 2011

800 Paisagens Sobre Dinheiro na Bíblia


Dave Ramsey sobre dinheiro nos versículos da Bíblia.


What does the Bible have to say about money? God has given us more than 800 Scriptures about money. Here are a few of the many verses that will help you understand how God views finances.

Matthew 6:24
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
Luke 8:14
"...but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures..."
Proverbs 6:6–8
"Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest."
Proverbs 22:7
"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender."
Romans 13:8
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law."
Proverbs 21:20
"In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has."
Proverbs 21:5
"The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty."
Proverbs 13:11
"Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow."
Proverbs 29:15
"The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother."
Proverbs 22:6
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
Luke 14:28–30
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying 'This man began to build and was not able to finish'?"
Proverbs 27:23
"Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds."
Proverbs 16:3
"Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established."
Genesis 41:35–36
"And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine."
Proverbs 28:20
"A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished."
Psalm 62:10
"...if riches increase, do not set your heart on them."
Proverbs 24:27
"Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house."
Psalm 20:4
"May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed."
Isaiah 30:1
"'Woe to the rebellious children,' says the Lord, 'Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin.'"
Matthew 6:21
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Genesis 2:24
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
Ephesians 4:2–3
"With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
1 Timothy 5:8
"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
Proverbs 29:17
"Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul."
Proverbs 23:13–14
"Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell."
2 Thessalonians 3:10
"For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat."
Proverbs 16:31
"The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness."
Proverbs 11:1
"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight."
Galatians 5:22
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness."
Proverbs 22:26–27
"Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts; if you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you?"
Psalm 109:11
"Let the creditor seize all that he has, and let strangers plunder his labor."
Proverbs 17:18
"It's stupid to guarantee someone else's loan."
Proverbs 11:15
"He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, but one who hates being surety is secure."
Psalm 37:21
"The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives."
Proverbs 6:1–5
"My son, if you become surety for your friend, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; for you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird for the hand of the fowler."
Ecclesiastes 11:2
"Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land."
Proverbs 27:12
"A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed and pay the penalty."
James 4:14
"For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."
Proverbs 13:22
"A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous."
Deuteronomy 25:4
"You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain."
Matthew 10:16
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
Proverbs 10:22
"The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it."
Proverbs 14:29
"He who is impulsive exalts folly."
Proverbs 1:5
"A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel."
Proverbs 31:10–11
"Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain."
Nehemiah 5:3
"There were also some who said, 'We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.'"
Ecclesiastes 6:7
"All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not satisfied."
Colossians 3:23
"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men."
Proverbs 23:4–5
"Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven."
Proverbs 3:27–28
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it.' When you have it with you."
Proverbs 16:9
"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."
Proverbs 19:21
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 22:1
"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold."
Ecclesiastes 5:5
"Better not to vow than to vow and not pay."
Matthew 5:40–42
"If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you."
Psalm 50:15
"Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
Philippians 4:6–7
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19
"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Psalm 24:1
"The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness..."
Deuteronomy 26:12
"When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase..."
Genesis 28:22
"And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You."
Matthew 23:23
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone."
Ezra 1:4
"...together with a freewill offering for the house of God..."
2 Corinthians 9:7
"...for God loves a cheerful giver."
Malachi 3:11
"'And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,' says the Lord of hosts."
1 Corinthians 13:3
"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."
Luke 18:11–12
"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself ... 'I give tithes of all that I possess.'"
Leviticus 27:30
"And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. It is holy to the Lord."
Deuteronomy 14:22
"You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year."
Nehemiah 10:38
"...bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse."
Malachi 3:8
"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings."
Malachi 3:10
"'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,' says the Lord of hosts, 'If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it."

quinta-feira, 11 de agosto de 2011

Dale Ahlquist sobre Distributivismo

Dale Ahlquist is the president of the American Chesterton Society. He is the creator and host of the Eternal Word Television Network series, "G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense" on EWTN. Dale is the author of three books, including Common Sense 101: Lessons From G.K. Chesterton, the publisher of Gilbert Magazine, and co-founder of Chesterton Academy, a new high school in Minneapolis. He and his wife have six children.


I remember a certain kind of television commercial that I vaguely saw about a million times when I was growing up. It was for some breakfast cereal. It would always end with a quick parting shot of the bowl of cereal surrounded by a lot of other food with the announcer’s voiceover urgently telling us, “Part of this complete breakfast!” The unconscious message was that the cereal alone was the complete breakfast. The “part of” was the part we missed. In order to achieve that elusive standard of completeness, we really had to have all that other stuff too. I can’t remember what it all was. It went by too fast. I know there was a glass of orange juice. There might have been a side of baked beans for all I know. And maybe some liver steaks. It is quite possible, in fact, that the breakfast shown would have been just as complete without the cereal. At any rate, the cereal alone was not enough, even though most people bought it thinking it was.
Most of our modern ideas suffer from being no more than breakfast cereal. Most of the energy and attraction in them is in the packaging. Inside there is very little substance. A lot of it is fried air with sugar coating. There may be a few grains of truth, but not enough, not the whole truth. Yet the world feeds on these light and snappy ideas and on nothing else. The rest of the complete breakfast is completely missing. Even those ideas which are profound and practical for our world still suffer from incompleteness. We can have the right ideas about politics and economics, but life is more than politics and economics. The affliction of specialization is myopia. As specialists we are under the delusion that our small area of expertise informs us about everything else. We know more and more about less and less. Truth has been carefully compartmentalized. Colleges and universities have been carefully departmentalized. We are all specialists, and none of us are generalists, and there is no glue to hold all our fragmented truths together. There is thinking, but no thought, as in a complete understanding that is comprehensive and coherent.
G.K. Chesterton had a word for all the specialists of the modern world. It is a surprising word. A jarring word. The word is “heretics.” The problem is not that the specialist–or heretic–is wrong, but rather narrow and incomplete. The heretic is someone who has broken himself off from a wider view of the world. The heretic, says Chesterton, has locked himself in “the clean, well-lit prison of one idea.” Another way Chesterton puts it is that the heretic has one idea and has let it go to his head. It is a case where myopia leads to madness.
Chesterton was one of the last of the great generalists. He wrote about everything. Everything: history, current events, art, literature, politics, economics, social theory, science, philosophy, and religion. But his dozens and dozens of books and his thousands of essays were not simply random observations and disconnected thinking. His writing was all part of one very consistent and coherent and complete system of thought. We could argue that Chesterton really wrote only one book, but it was in many chapters, many volumes. In one of those essays, he says, “There is only one subject.”3 Elsewhere, he writes,
Men have always one of two things: either a complete and conscious philosophy or the unconscious acceptance of the broken bits of some incomplete and shattered and often discredited philosophy.4
To try to sum up Chesterton’s “complete and conscious philosophy” is a good exercise. Like any good exercise, however, it is not easy. Chesterton saw the world as a wonder, a miracle that does not explain itself. He saw life as a gift, the best kind of gift—a surprise, and something undeserved. Thus, gratitude and joy informed his perspective of everything. He believed in the dignity and liberty of the human person, made in God’s image, but sullied by sin. He believed that we generally want happiness but often pursue pleasure in the mistaken sense that it is the same thing as happiness. He saw morality and civil order as safeguards against sin and utter selfishness. He saw the home and the family as the centerpiece of society because they are the centerpiece of living. Home and family are the normal things. Trade and politics are necessary but minor things that have been emphasized out of all proportion. He saw that proper proportion was the key to art as well as the key to justice. And sanity.
As a young man, Chesterton flirted with socialism, but he soon realized that it was mostly a reactionary idea. The rise of socialism and its attendant evils was a reaction against industrial capitalism and its attendant evils. The danger of fighting injustice is that if the battle is misguided, even a victory is a defeat. Good motives can have bad results. This is the point Chesterton makes when he talks about how the “virtues wander wildly”5 when they are isolated from each other and wandering alone. In a broken society where we have this seemingly endless battle between the left and right, the virtues on either side are doing war with each other: truth that is pitiless and pity that is untruthful.
The conservatives and the liberals have successfully reduced meaningful debate to name-calling. We use catchwords as a substitute for thinking. We know things only by their labels, and we have “not only no comprehension but no curiosity touching their substance or what they are made of.”6
It is interesting, it is fitting, that the philosophy which Chesterton embraced as the only real alternative to socialism and capitalism (as well as to liberalism and conservatism) goes by a name that is utterly awkward and misunderstood. As a label it is so useless it cannot even be used as a form of abuse. Its uselessness as a label demands that it be discussed. To say the name immediately requires explanation, and the explanation immediately provokes debate. The troublesome title is “Distributism.” It has to do with property. It has to do with justice. And it has to do with everything else.
The word “property” has to do with what is proper. It also has to do with what is proportional. Balance has to do with harmony. Harmony has to do with beauty. The modern world is out of balance. And it is ugly. We have only glimpses of beauty, glimpses of things as they should be. These glimpses are our inspiration.
The word “economy” and the word “economics” are based on the Greek word for house, which is oikos. The word “economy” as we know it, however, has drifted completely away from that meaning. Instead of house, it has come to mean everything outside of the house. The home is the place where the important things happen. The economy is the place where the most unimportant things happen. The backwardness of the situation is something constantly pointed out by Chesterton: “There is nothing queerer today than the importance of unimportant things. Except, of course, the unimportance of important things.”7
There is another rather neglected meaning to the word “economy”: the idea of thriftiness.
The best and last word of mysticism is an almost agonising sense of the preciousness of everything, the preciousness of the whole universe, which is like an exquisite and fragile vase, and among other things the preciousness of other people’s tea-cups. The last and best word of mysticism is not lavishness, but rather a sublime and sacred economy.8
Chesterton points out that inside the word thrift is the word thrive.9 We can only thrive within our means, just as we can only be free within the rules. The modern understanding of the word economy is, once again, just the opposite. It is about accumulation instead of thrift. Even worse, it is about mere exchange. It is about trade, and not even about the things that are traded. It is about figures in a ledger. It is about noughts. It is about the accumulation of zeros. It is more about nothing than it is about something.
Our separation of economy from the home is part of a long fragmentation process. Each of the modern ideas that might have once been part of this complete breakfast have come to claim that they are complete all by themselves. We have separated everything from everything else. We have accomplished this by separating everything from the home. Feminism has separated women from the home. Capitalism has separated men from the home. Socialism has separated education from the home. Manufacturing has separated craftsmanship from the home. The news and entertainment industry has separated originality and creativity from the home, rendering us into passive and malleable consumers rather than active citizens.
There is more to Distributism than economics. That is because there is more to economics than economics. Distributism is not just an economic idea. It is an integral part of a complete way of thinking. But in a fragmented world we not only resist a complete way of thinking, we do not even recognize it. It is too big to be seen. In the age of specialization we tend to grasp only small and narrow ideas. We don’t even want to discuss a true Theory of Everything, unless it is invented by a specialist and addresses only that specialist’s “everything.” In reality, everything is too complicated a category because it contains, well, everything. But the glory of a great philosophy or a great religion is not that it is simple but that it is complicated. It should be complicated because the world is complicated. Its problems are complicated.
The solution to those problems must also be complicated. It takes a complicated key to fit a complicated lock. But we want simple solutions. We don’t want to work hard. We don’t want to think hard. We want other people to do both our work and our thinking for us. We call in the specialists. And we call this state of utter dependency “freedom.” We think we are free simply because we seem free to move about.
Chesterton’s opening line in his book about his visit to America was this: “I have never managed to lose my conviction that travel narrows the mind.”10 As with all his paradoxes he points to a truth that is the opposite of what we expect. The man in his field, the man in his garden, thinks about everything. The man who is traveling thinks about only a few things. He is distracted not just with details but with destinations. He thinks the thing he has come to see is the only important thing and this makes him narrow. The real purpose of traveling is to return. The true destination of every journey is home. That is the main idea behind Distributism.
The Distributist ideal is that the home is the most important place in the world. Every man should have his own piece of property, a place to build his own home, to raise his family, to do all the important things from birth to death: eating, singing, celebrating, reading, writing, arguing, story-telling, laughing, crying, praying. The home is above all a sanctuary of creativity. Creativity is our most Godlike quality. We not only make things, we make things in our own image. The family is one of those things. But so is the picture on the wall and the rug on the floor. The home is the place of complete freedom, where we may have a picnic on the roof and even drink directly from the milk carton.
We will stop here a moment and address the feminists who recoil in horror as they read this use of the male pronoun and the warlike word, “man.” Chesterton’s view of women is not that they are chattel but that they are queens of their own realm. Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad. The world outside the home was one mass of narrowness, a maze of cramped paths, a madhouse of monomaniacs.
It is not difficult to see why . . . the female became the emblem of the universal… Nature… surrounded her with very young children, who require to be taught not so much anything as everything. Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist.
Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment… is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worthwhile to cast this burden on women in order to keep commonsense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless, and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.11
Chesterton could be very specific at times, but in general, he was a generalist. His critics always rush in with objections to his generalizations forgetting that they are generalizations, and generalizations by their nature allow for exceptions. The problem in the modern world is that the exceptions get all the attention. The generalizations get none. The exceptions have become the rule. It is now an exception for a woman to raise her own children. But Chesterton’s Distributist ideal not only called for mothers to stay at home, it called for fathers to stay at home as well. The home-based business, the idea of self-sufficiency would not only make for stronger, healthier families, but a stronger, healthier society. If everything in a society is based on nurturing and strengthening and protecting the family, that society will survive centuries of storms. A home-based society is naturally and necessarily a local and de-centralized society. If the government is local, if the economy is local, then the culture is also local. What we call culture right now is neither local nor is it culture. It is an amorphous society based on the freeway off-ramp and tall glowing signs that all say the same thing. Convenience is our culture. We all convene at the convenience store, where we get our gas and our munchies and our magazine and we are careful not to look anyone in the eye, not even the Pakistani clerk who waves our credit card across the laser beam. This is a revealing snapshot of our fragmented society: passive, restless, shutter-eyed, lonely, not at home.
It would take “a clear and conscious philosophy” to build a Distributist society, not a philosophy of broken and leftover ideas. The first clear and conscious idea would be to recognize that money is not the most important thing. It is the means and not the end. The end is a quiet, happy home. It is many small places with many local heroes.
So. How does this all happen? That is the grand question when it comes to Distributism. Chesterton argues that the main thing about Distributism is that it is voluntary. If we are not creatures of free will, if everything is predetermined by God or by Fate or by Biology or by Birth Order or by the Big Bang, well, then I suppose it is not worth wasting energy talking about how we can bring about a Distributist society. Let’s just kick back and pop open a beer.
Though Chesterton would argue that a Distributist society would be most fully realized if it were based on a Catholic worldview, he would not insist upon that basis as essential for achieving such a society. In fact, he would argue that such a society is more congenial to the different religions than any other societal plan. Freedom of religion, as it now supposedly exists under a huge centralized government, actually needs to be “enforced” by that government. The result, as we have seen, is that religion has actually been stifled where the government watchdog is there to “guarantee” the freedom. But local-based governments (supported by local-based economies) are more conducive to religious freedom because people of the same religion would naturally gravitate together. The main reason that people of the same religion tend to scatter in our society and that people of different religions tend to mix uncomfortably is that our society is not based on the home. It is based on the opportunities outside the home. The better jobs are always elsewhere. It is not their religion that makes people chose a place to live; it is their job. It is convenience. It is not philosophy.
The dilemma of Distributism is the dilemma of freedom itself. Distributism cannot be done to people, but only by people. It is not a system that can be imposed from above; it can only spring up from below. It can only come from what Chesterton calls “the non-mechanical part of man, the sacred quality in creation and choice.”12 If it happens, it seems most likely that it would be ushered in by a popular revolution. In any case, it must be popular. It would at some point require those with massive and inordinate wealth to give it up. In most popular revolutions, this has been achieved by means that are not always soft and cushy. In order to avoid a lot of blood and broken glass, religion can provide a very practical solution. It usually does. The Christian argument, if taken seriously, should be more terrifying to a rich man than a mob with axes and torches. The Christian argument has to do with eternity and not just immediate creature comforts. The central figure of the Christian religion said quite unambiguously that it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. No matter how the rich man may try to breed smaller camels and manufacture larger needles, no matter how hard he snorts and stomps, he cannot get around the reality that to cling to his riches is to put his soul in peril. Although there are commentators who rush to soften the interpretation of this passage, the message is unfortunately backed up by the rest of the New Testament, most notably in St. Matt. xix:16–22, where a very good man is told to sell all he has and give to the poor, and in St. James v:1–6, where the description of the eternal scenario for the rich is not very soft at all. The implication is clear. As Chesterton says, “The obligation of wealth is to chuck it.”13
But the rich are a small part of the problem–only because there are so few of them. The larger part of the problem is the mentality that drives so many people to chase after money. Again, religion provides a practical solution. There is a commandment that states, “Thou shall not covet.” This little known commandment would have to be rediscovered and re-emphasized in order to build a Distributist society.
Most people have never heard of Distributism. They know only about socialism and capitalism and favor one or the other while they suffer under a combination of both. Our schools have ill-served us, for the idea has never been taught. If more people were exposed to the idea they would realize that it makes sense. They would at least realize that there is an alternative to the two ideas that they claim polarize them but which in fact unite them in despair. The big schools right now tend to teach the smallest ideas. But Distributism is, like any secret, something that cannot be kept secret forever, in spite of institutionalized censorship. It will be taken seriously in spite of those who sneer at it. It will be stumbled on by those who try to avoid it. To quote Chesterton in reference to something else, Distributism “has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”14
It is quite possible to defend Distributism as the best system with which to build a fair society and a solid economy. We can have the discussion, if we must, by confining ourselves to the subjects of law and labor practice and ownership policy and taxation and the rest of the textbook and newspaper stuff. We can provide answers for all the arguments and objections that come from either the socialists and the capitalists. It would be a fertile and provocative discussion to be sure. But it would always be incomplete. Distributism is only part of this complete breakfast. There is more to it than commercial breakfast cereal to be sure. There is more to it than state-issued gruel. We can make the argument that it is daily bread. But it needs the other staples of human life to supplement it. It needs the milk of morality, the meat of meaning, the juice of joy. We must have a code to guide us, a purpose to push us, a philosophy to fill us. Man cannot live by bread alone.

To purchase the Kindle version of Beyond Capitalism and Socialism, click here.
1. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, from The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987–2005), Vol. 1, p. 225. All further citations are from G.K. Chesterton; volume and page numbers are from the Collected Works unless otherwise indicated.
2. The Catholic Church and Conversion, Vol. 3, p. 104.
3. Illustrated London News, February 17, 1906, Vol. 27, p. 126.
4. The Common Man (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1950), p. 173.
5. Orthodoxy, Vol. 1, p. 233.
6. William Cobbett (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1925), p. 125.
7. Illustrated London News, January 3, 1914, Vol. 30, p. 17.
8. Daily News, March 23, 1907, from microfilm.
9. William Cobbett, op. cit., p. 212.
10. What I Saw in America, Vol. 21, p. 37.
11. What’s Wrong with the World, Vol. 4, pp. 117–19.
12. George Bernard Shaw, Vol. 11, p. 441.
13. New Witness, Oct. 14, 1915, from microfilm.
14. What’s Wrong with the World, p. 61.