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15 Comments
  1. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    May 22, 2013 3:58 pm

    Doin’ ya’ll’s work for ya':

    from a blog called The Anglican Examiner, about Francis Perkins–

    “Perkins was an Anglo-Catholic, which is to say she was an Episcopalian who was
    drawn to the catholic heritage of the Church of England and its American daughter,
    the Episcopal Church. Throughout her twelve years in the New Deal, she spent one
    day a month in silent retreat at the Catonsville, Maryland, convent of All Saints’ Sister
    of the Poor, an Episcopal religious order. She was steeped in the writings of the
    British Anglo-Catholic socialists, in Thomas Aquinas, and the papal encyclicals.”

    Our dear departed friend, Charles Whittier, Religion Specialist for the Congressional Research Service used to go to the same convent in Catonsville every month too.

  2. May 22, 2013 4:07 pm

    A very good post, though it really ought to be titled “Germany Si” instead of “Europe Si” given the number of times you are forced to concede that things really are screwed up in Southern Europe. Of course, the irony is that Germany is only around 30% Catholic, while aside from Greece the Southern European countries are almost 100% Catholic. Why do you think that Germany has been so much more successful in enacting the policies of CST than, say, Italy, Spain, Portugal, or Ireland?

    • Kurt permalink
      May 23, 2013 12:11 pm

      Why do you think that Germany has been so much more successful in enacting the policies of CST than, say, Italy, Spain, Portugal, or Ireland?

      That is the topic I would do my thesis on if I was a doctoral candidate.
      With German unification, Catholics felt they would be become victims of discrimination (and did so become). They organized the Catholic Center Party (Zentrum) to defend Catholics and Catholicism. It was the only multi-class German political party. While representing a minority, the Zentrum was positioned between the Right-Wing parties and the Socialists (SPD). Growing Socialist strength forced Bismarck to abandon his anti-Catholic policies (Kulturkampf) and seek Catholic support against the Socialists (prompted by a very real worry of a “Red-Black” alliance of Socialists and Catholics against him). Among Bismarck’s concessions to the Catholics were national health insurance and other demands of the Center based on CST.
      The Center continued the play this critical and deciding role during the early Weimer period (where they did make good on the Red-Black alliance against both the Right and the KPD. )

      The Zentrum’s postwar successor, the Christian Democratic Union (and the Christian Social Union) ,continued this role. It was particularly aided by the influence in the Party of blue collar Catholics, an element absent in places like Spain and Portugal where the working class was either anti-clerical, unchurched or, if Catholic, unorganized . Therefore Catholic Action was more a tool of the Right-Wing than of a CST programme.

    • Akos Tarkanyi permalink
      May 23, 2013 12:34 pm

      Yes, it is basically about Germany’s success story. But the Sandinavian countries also seem to be closer to Catholic social teaching than the US modell. I don’t know why the Southern European countries did not apply Catholic social teaching in their politics.

      • Kurt permalink
        May 23, 2013 3:34 pm

        Akos – You won’t hear this from the Right-Wing that mouths “subsidiarity” while not really knowing or accepting the term. Germany and the Low Countries can be said to better follow CST than the UK and Nordic countries in their practice of subsidiarity. The major difference in the social insurance programs of these two groups is that the Protestant UK & Nordic nations have government administered social insurance. Under CST inspiration, the other nations have social welfare porgrams controlled by workers and beneficiaries. Of course the US Right Wing will wail against ggovernment, but suggest that workers control the pension and health insurance funds and they will quickly back government administration.

  3. jmedaille permalink
    May 22, 2013 4:58 pm

    One question: Where did you get the numbers for “social spending” in the U.S.? Your number seems high to me.

    • May 22, 2013 8:15 pm

      It’s from the OECD statistics on public social expenditure. It would include Medicare and social security.

  4. May 23, 2013 12:14 am

    Very good analysis by Morning’s Minion. It is the basic premise of the original argument I would contradict. The United States has NOT been moving toward socialism at all. In fact, since the Reagan administration, it has been becoming more and more unmoored plutocratic capitalistic. Even Obamacare is just a method by which more people could feed the private insurance machine to get minimal health care. The other premise that I would contradict is that we have here a “free market.” The market is manipulated and controlled by the 2% at the top to the detriment of the rest of the populace. It is a rigged game in which the welathy never lose.
    What is interesting in the Ayn Randian arguments of the George Weigels and Paul Ryans is that they declare the magisterial power of the pope to be absolute, except on capitalism. Weigel criticized Pope Benedict’s encyclical on the economic machinations as “naive.” they hide behind subsidiarity and ignore the Church’s teaching when inconvenient for them.
    The little known or appreciated fact is that it was a professor of The Catholic University of America, Msgr John Ryan, who laid the groundwork for much of FDR’s New Deal.

    • May 27, 2013 9:17 am

      Weigel criticized Pope Benedict’s encyclical on the economic machinations as “naive.”

      He did? I’m not surprised in a way, but still, intriguing.

    • Jordan permalink
      May 31, 2013 2:56 pm

      emmasrandomthoughts [May 27, 2013 9:17 am]: Weigel criticized Pope Benedict’s encyclical on the economic machinations as “naive.” He did? I’m not surprised in a way, but still, intriguing.

      What intrigue? Those who drink freely of the unholy pact made between the hierarchy and God’s Own Party must earn their panem cotidianum by continually cutting down the Vatican’s long-standing, more moderate, and more reasonable support for market social democracy.

      If only Congress were multiparty. Then we Catholics of orthodox social convictions could ditch the evangelicals, NRA types, and limousine libertarians. Sadly, a staunch CST party is not possible under American federalism. I still see no other way to bring Christ’s message to a pluto/oligarchy.

      • June 2, 2013 9:21 am

        God’s Own Party, LOL! I have many relatives for whom this is true. I used to joke with my mom, “If I went over to my uncles’ houses on Christmas and put a picture of George W Bush over the face of Jesus in the nativity scene, would they even notice the difference?”

  5. Josh DeCuir permalink
    May 23, 2013 9:42 am

    “This means we need proper regulation in economic life. This is especially important in the financial sector, which tends to be the major source of dysfunction and instability in our modern economic system.
    As we look back on the crisis, the results are in: Catholic Social Teaching 1, Libertarianism 0. And yet, libertarians don’t seem to have internalized this lesson, criticizing even mild attempts to tighten regulatory oversight.”

    How you justify this breezy conclusion is beyond me. First of all, if you are suggesting that Dodd-Frank has somehow stemmed the tide of systemic risk in the financial sector, then you seem to be wholly ignorant of the fact that too-big-to-fail is actually institutionalized in Dodd-Frank. Secondly, the largest financial institutions are actually now bigger than before Dodd-Frank was enacted. All the while, the regulatory costs that have been imposed on smaller state-based and community banking institutions are proving to be cost-prohibitive, thereby shrinking the market even further.

    Contrary to your strawman characterization, what most responsible libertarian economists have suggested is that instead of enacting hoplessly complex regulatory schemes (most of which have not even been issued yet), which imposes prohibitory regulatory costs which only the largest institutions can afford to both influence and control, decreasing would-be comeptition from smaller banks, we should instead enact lesser, but firmer regulations that clearly establish the rules of the game. Indeed, the only voices today advocating “breaking up” the big banks are those on the libertarian side of the equation.

    But if Dodd-Frank represents the victory of Catholic Social Teaching, I’m afraid Catholic Social Teaching is in deep doo-doo.

    • May 23, 2013 11:36 am

      This comment is deeply flawed. I am the first to admit that Dodd-Frank is imperfect and too weak. I am the first to admit that too-big-to-fail is a bigger problem than ever. But Dodd-Frank does a number of good things. It allows for high capital and liquidity standards, including capital surcharges for the megabanks (aligned with Basel III); creates a resolution authority designed to wind down banks by imposing losses on shareholders and creditors rather than taxpayers; implements a Volcker rule to stop banks acting like hedge funds; extends regulatory oversight to the shadow banking sector, and seeks to bring more transparency to derivatives. In each of these cases, we are seeing ferocious industry pushback against these rules, and this pushback is having some success.

      But to claim that Dodd-Frank makes the landscape worse – or supports too-big-to-fail – is preposterous. And calling for “lesser, fimer regulation that clearly estbalish the rules of the game” is incredibly naive. Sorry, I recognize this for what it is – an industry talking point. I’ve heard these arguments for years. It was what lay behind the light-touch “principles-based” regulation before the crisis. It was what lay behind the disastrous hands-off approach to risk management underpinning Basel II.

      And no, libertarians are NOT the only ones calling for breaking up the big banks. While there are indeed some principled free market people doing so, the loudest voices are still coming from the left – from people like Simon Johnson and Elizabeth Warren.

      • Josh DeCuir permalink
        May 23, 2013 2:22 pm

        I have a number of responses. First, your description of what Dodd-Frank does is misleading, if for no other reason than what you claim the law accomplishes has not actually occurred, i.e. there is no definitive rule that has been issued. Just as an example, there is no “Volcker Rule” in effect; the final rule (which apparently is running into hundreds of pages at this point). I agree with you that there is much in Dodd-Frank that is good: regulation of shadow banking; the “living wills”; increased capital ratios (although Dodd-Frank had little effect on this given the Basel III standards which were already set to go into effect), but to claim what you do is a bit too much at this point in the regulatory stage of the

        Secondly, empirically, you simply cannot justify that Dodd-Frank has had any effect on the financial sector, at least in so far was weakening it. Indeed, empirically, given the size of the financial institutions today, and the shrinking market share of local banks, ably demonstrates that the largest financial institutions are in a more dominant position today than pre-2008. You may take comfort from the fact that they are more highly regulated; I shudder at the risk they still pose.

        I notice you leave unaddressed the claims I made about the regulatory costs being imposed on smaller banks; I have no interest at all in protecting the financial sector, but I think to hang your hat on what is left to implement under Dodd-Frank is flawed: we need to end too-big-to-fail, not institutionalize it. Bipartisan voices, as your rightly suggest, have made this point increasingly. You seem to dismiss it.

        I never claimed some or all of what Dodd-Frank does is bad or not needed; all I did was point out that your claim that Dodd-Frank/”Catholic Social Teaching” has somehow weakened the financial sectors lamentably large role in our economy is simply empirically unsubstantiated. You claim only that Dodd-Frank is “too weak” and “imperfect.” I say based on the actual evidence thus far, it is making the problem worse. You may call this nothing more than an “industry talking point;” I call it empirical fact.

  6. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    May 23, 2013 10:18 pm

    Reading over these comments, I feel the need for a bit of a historical laxative here. the problem is the cart is before the horse historically in reference to what is now described as Catholic Social Teaching in these comments. It may be that modern European democracies come closer to those teachings. And since those modern-era teachings are pretty humane, that is a good thing. But don’t forget that the RC Church came rather late to those ideas, after having explicitly anathematized them in the past. The credit for having originated that decency belongs somewhere else. Though the RC Church does deserve credit for using it institutional heft to support it…..eventually.

    This is the explanation for the curious disjunct on these matters between Catholic themselves. It is a rather late acquisition, and hardly is deeply ingrained. Thus, it can be fudged pretty easily. See the Acton Institute for details.

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