In defense of capitalism
Quote:Yes but all the Popes before Vatican II rejected the errors of Socialism and the errors of Capitalism, which is why they called for a Third Way.

I do not believe that there is a Third Way between Socialism and Capitalism. Yes I have read quite a lot of Chesterton's and Belloc's writings on the subject, but it's not altogether convincing. Let's face it--property belongs to some person or organization. Under capitalism, most property belongs to individuals or organizations in the private sector. Under socialism, most property belongs to the government. Distributism tries to somehow combine both private and public ownership of the same piece of property, and it doesn't work. The government says you own something, but can control what you can do with it. Let's say I live in a Distributist society and own a piece of farmland. If I have no taste for agrarian life and I put it up for sale--and a much larger landowner offers me the best price for it, the government will outlaw the sale, because in their opinion the landlord who wants to buy it already owns enough land. The obvious question that would come up is, "Do I really own this piece of land or does the government own it? If it is indeed mine, why can't I sell it to the person I want for the price I want? Combined public and private ownership of property does not sound like a good idea to me.

Quote:Capitalism has its own horrors, such as pitting brother against brother in the name of profit (i.e. survival of the fittest).

Competition in fact is the very thing in the capitalist system that limits the profits that companies can make (they have to keep their prices competitive or lose customers) and that brings prices down, benefiting consumers. Rather than brother competing against brother, would you rather the two brothers collude to fix the price of any given product? The brothers may get along with each other better, but the consumer ends up the loser.

Quote:Capitalism sees no end to greed in that the goal of capitalists, really, is to amass as much as they can (hence their capital) even to the detriment of others who are in need.

Misuse of a good thing may pervert it into an evil thing. Moral people should use their judgment and listen to their consciences in figuring out when economic free market principles are appropriate and when they are not. Yes, there are miserly and immoral capitalists out there, but I'd say they are in the minority. Philanthropy has a long and honored tradition, especially in the US. It was once widespread in Europe too, among the aristocracy, and later among industrialists, but apparently the turn they took down the Socialist road has dampened their philanthropic spirit. Now that the government has decided to interfere so much more in the market, we may see something similar in the US too.
Quote:"Modern capitalism 'as it is actually practiced' has caused the once dignified craftsman or tiller of the soil to abandon his privately-owned, productive property in the face of ruthless competition by more powerful concerns, and to settle for a wage exchanged for meaningless labor. Man the laborer is no longer the subject of economic activity, working out his salvation while practicing a vocation or trade important to the community or satisfying to the soul; he is instead a mere commodity"

There are many reasons why the small farmer or craftsman has been displaced by more "powerful concerns". One is that the powerful concern in question produced goods more cheaply and efficiently than the small farmer or craftsman. While it is true that the small farmer or craftsman may have produced higher quality than the large company, few consumers could afford it. Today, there are still small farmers and craftsmen out there, but their goods are considered luxury items. Let's face it, those "powerful concerns", unattractive though they might be, made life affordable for increasing numbers of people. Which is why the population of the West suddenly soared during the Industrial Revolution.

As for the rest of that quote, why would a man with productive property that he owned leave it for a wage job at a factory? Either the property was not that productive, or he didn't really own the property, or someone offered him a good price for it and he sold it voluntarily.
Quote:In Distributism, productive property is owned by the many, rather than the few. In practical terms, it means small business, co-operatives and worker-owned and managed businesses run the day-to-day workings of commerce. Big businesses are encouraged by government to break up into smaller, independent units. Government, in turn, is reduced in size and scale, with local government handling most of the responsibility thus eliminating the need for overregulation and reducing the size and scope of government, as well as the demand on taxpayers. Hence, a true market-based economy arises, one not plagued by the lust for dominance that infests both Capitalism and Socialism.

In many capitalist countries, productive property is owned by the many--last I heard, 70% of the working population here in the US is employed by small businesses. Some large corporations such as Home Depot have quite a large share of their stock owned by their employees. We have antitrust laws. This shows that a many of the best features of Distributism are present in free market countries. I don't understand the part of the quote that says the government would be small. Since the government has so much power over the distribution of property, it seems to me that a Distributist government would be very large and powerful indeed, if only in order to enforce its decisions.

Quote:Frankly, I've never seen a good demonstration of how Distributism differs very much from Socialism, since both rely on government power to redistribute wealth.

I agree with Anastasia.

Quote:It may be the most efficient creator of wealth, that I don't really doubt, but I ask is that the point?

If you're asking whether creating wealth for wealth's sake is the point, then no. But wealth is very useful in getting other important things done. The increasing wealth brought about by free markets in the West have allowed them to support vastly larger populations than would have been possible had they stuck to agrarian production, which Chesterton and Belloc advocate. Geographically large countries like the US or Canada might be able to swing it, but imagine, for example, little Switzerland, trying to support its population solely on its own produce. They tried that a long time ago and were not successful--this is why so many young Swiss men hired themselves out as mercenary soldiers. Couldn't make a decent living farming. Hence the tradition of Swiss Guards at the Vatican, and frequent historical mention of elite Swiss regiments in the armies of kings all over Europe. Today, of course, Switzerland is a prosperous nation largely because of industry & finance.
Most business is owned/run by a handful, those that attend Bilderberger meetings and plan the future for the rest of us, those often inter-mingled in Govt, such as Paulson and Cheney....further, most land was placed in Govt hands, often at the request of corporate funded environmental groups, etc.90% or more of land in Nevada is but one example...driving the cost way up on the remaining 10% of land.....

Daily, small businesses are pushed out and driven under by chains and big box stores, wehre corporate CEO's and handful of investors make the main $$, some trickle down gets to us proles....

Because politicians embrace Keynsiasn and socialist schemes and have done for for centuries, that is why Distributism has not been implemented.....cannot blame distributist and say "gee, when has that ever worked" when the corporate/Govt people have made darn sure it cannot.

Distributist ideas ahve worked in Taiwan and working in Mondragon corporation, to name 2 of several victories.....but with the corporate control of the countries, coupled with their CEo's in Govt and a bought/paid for monopoly media, likel, reppression will continue of alternative ideas....

It really is unfair to say it cannot work when it has never been implemented on wide scale or unfair to attach labels that clearly it is not....

Capitalism is not Catholic, distributism-as put forward by Leo XIII, Pius XI, etc and Chesterton, Belloc, McNabb and many others, is Catholic (Fr. Fahey in his 6 points supports distributism, not capitalism, which is obssesed with materialism, self gain and in the end, always winds up in monoploy control by corportists and Govt)

To note, most states, you can eventually buy a house and own it outright, but not the land, which is always in hands of the state...

Most of us in debt, the only winner is Federal Reserve, started and run by capitalists, producing nothing and in-debting the nation, with collusion of CEO Congressman.....

This topic is tiring and sad to see trad Catholics embracing an Americanist, Protestant system......
James02 Wrote:On Austrian Economics, it is important to distinguish what is meant.  Austrian Economics, where it concerns the business cycle theory, the problems with socialism, and the problems of fiat currency, is absolutely correct.  When they become  advocates of anarcho-capitalism, they run afoul of Catholic teaching.

The Austians have proven themselves 100% correct in recent years and if you have been following them, you were well prepared for this current depression.

When they venture into social libertarianism, such as on abortion and queers, they are incorrect.  Again, it comes down to Original Sin.

Nope, never implemented and based on writings of athiest Jews  Rothbard and Mises......Mises was anit-Christain and beleived Christ was to be left out of does come down to Sin and neither Austrians, nor socialists, no capitalists understand this...everything is about self gain and self interests........Medialle notes this in his book, both are built on secularism and hence, both fail when even remotely implemented.

There is in my mind in lieu of this thread an old maxim-never argue long with minds that are closed or unable to even consider alternative theories..

I did and now no longer, thanks in part to FE, a Americanist, a defender of N.O. Mass or capitalist........

Hence, I leave you on this thread..see you on others.....
Belloc Wrote:There is in my mind in lieu of this thread an old maxim-never argue long with minds that are closed or unable to even consider alternative theories..

Which one of us is closed minded?  I have criticized the Austrians where due, and I have pointed out their success.  On the economics front, people like Ron Paul,  Shostak, Rockwell, Woods, and Mike Shedlock (the last three Catholics, don't know about Shostak) have correctly predicted this current depression utilizing Austrian Economics.  Can you admit they were correct, at least in their forecasts?  If you can't, then you are the close minded one.

And if they were correct in explaining and predicting this crisis, then we need to analyze it from a Catholic perspective and come up with policy solutions.  For example, if you are an Austrian, then you understand that inflation is one of the worse social crimes there is.  And yet the Church has never addressed it.  I am confident that when the Church does get around to investigating inflation, it will thoroughly condemn it in the strongest language as ripping off the poor and widows.  But that hasn't happened yet.

Now the problem with Austrians is the problem with socialists -- Original Sin.  You can't have a strong government because you give power to men corrupted by Original Sin.  You can't have zero government because evil men will band together and prey on their neighbors.

However, the only time in history where God set up a government, He set up a country of 12 states with local rule, with a very weak central government, which officials were given the title "Judges".  We need to return to that model.

Quote:Milton Friedman is probably responsible for more deaths in the 20th century than anyone else.

I don't understand this. Please explain.

Quote:It does most efficiently produce the most wealth in an absolute sense, but it also creates the largest gap between rich and poor, concentrating that wealth in the hands of those at the top or the core of the world trade network (who, ironically, do little productive except control the capital).

Why is everyone so concerned with the gap between rich and poor? The only important concern in my opinion at least is that the poor 1) have their physical needs taken care of and 2) have an opportunity to use their talents to better their lives and those of their children (who, one hopes will in turn do as well as or better than their parents). Why is it important whether the richest man in a country makes 100 times the income of the poor or 10,000 times that, as long as the poor have #1 and #2? I would say that the free market is a major factor, if not the major factor that allowed Western countries to eradicate absolute poverty (i.e. the lack of #1) completely from within their borders. It doesn't exist here anymore--we only have relative poverty.

As for controlling capital, I would say that is an extremely productive activity. Think of what capital is. It is the savings and the business profits earned by thousands of people working many thousands of hours--that is available to be loaned out to other businesses or individuals so that they can make their plans become reality. Deciding where to invest that money is a very important job--think of how much time was put in, how much immediate enjoyment was deferred in order to create that capital.

Quote:And countries that try to be self-sufficient are basically forced in various ways to participate in the World System.

Because it works basically like a pyramid scheme. Unequal exchanges cause the people at the periphery (doing the actual productive work, really) to funnel wealth to those at the core (which nations mainly just have the advantage of controlling capital).

Economic self sufficiency is probably the hardest, longest way to pull a country out of poverty. I've pointed out already that the creation of capital takes time and self denial through constant, gradual saving. A country that shuts out foreign investment basically forbids its people to take advantage of the savings already accumulated by people in other lands. If they need capital, they are forced to accumulate it themselves. This lengthens the time they spend in poverty. Labor is very simply not enough to produce goods and services. You need raw materials upon which to work, equipment with which to work it, sometimes education in order to learn skills, etc. How are you going to pay for all that, if not with capital? And if there is an abundance of it abroad and the owners of that capital are willing to lend it to you, why not borrow it? I have heard it said that the two European countries that went through the toughest period of development during the Industrial Revolution were the UK and Russia. The UK because they were the first to industrialize. There was little capital to be had from abroad, foreign investment probably not being widely practiced, so they had to finance their development themselves. British industrialists lived very frugally despite their profits--since they couldn't borrow they had to reinvest most of their profits into their business. Hence their Scrooge-like reputation. Russia had an especially hard time too because they turned Communist during their time of industrialization. They closed themselves off to foreign capital.

Quote:It's sick, really. I feel guilty just thinking about it in my way, because I know (it has been demonstrated to me mathematically), that my computer here where I sit in a very real sense equivalent to 5 dead African children.

How so?

Quote:The world market (like the local markets) should work on a system of Just Price, Social Credit (or at least some sort of non-debt) money, and some sort of structure that, while not necessarily being as efficient, is more fairly distributive. Certainly, we must get rid of Usury (treating money as a commodity) and the relativist notion of Supply and Demand as determining value.

Who is to determine Just Price, if not the laws of supply and demand? Maybe God could do that, if we could get Him to take charge of the Department of Commerce. But since we can't hope for that, we must find another way. My own belief is that God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us the laws of supply and demand in order to determine Just Prices for us.

As for treating money as a commodity, that cannot be helped. Because it IS a commodity. And a scarce one at that. I have already pointed out that it takes both time and self denial to create. People who are patient and who are willing to defer self gratification will always be fewer than people who are otherwise. Seems logical to infer from this that capital will always remain scarce.

Quote:It is all very evil and extremely powerful. It's scary

Perhaps you ought not to put so much credence in the neo Marxists.

Quote:Austrian economics got started with the Spanish Scholastics of the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a great economic system with its roots in Catholic tradition.

I am glad to meet someone else on this board who is aware of that! Jesuit priests Fr. Francisco Suarez, and Juan de Mariana are two of the Spanish Scholastics I've heard of who contributed to the development of free market economics. I have just acquired a copy of Fr. Mariana's Treatise on the Alteration of Money. It's a common misconception to think that free market economics is an exclusively Protestant innovation.

Quote:The problem with the english version of capitalism is that the Anglican religion didn't do its part to protect the common good and virtue of society, probably because the religion was founded on the basis of the Church doing whatever the state told them.

Actually I think British capitalism got its bad name from the fact that they were the first to industrialize and could not take advantage of foreign investment. When other European nations (and the US) started down that road, they had British capital available to them and had an easier time. While we Catholics certainly disagree with much in Anglican theology, I think we can give the Anglicans credit for being charitable and decent enough people.

Quote:has anyone here thought of distributing something to Vox and Quis for FE? (I know some of you have)

Yup! I have no paypal account, but I'm already planning my next amazon spree.

Quote:Feudal man did not work for himself; the serfs worked for their overlord, who in turn worked for his overlord, and so on up the chain.

Actually the serfs did work part of the time for themselves and part of the time for their lord, who paid tribute to his lord, on up to the king. Serfs are an intermediate stage between slave (who work 100% of the time for the lord's benefit) and free peasant (who gets to keep the fruits of his labor minus taxes, of course).

Quote:Modern so called capitalism isn't what we're talking about here: if the government is bailing out private companies and supporting this thorugh taxes, it's not capitalism. Capitalism in about the state not interfering in business unless someone's life or property is taken.

I agree with this.

Quote:OK, I read it and don't really see how it changes anything. When you take something that belongs to person 1 and give it to person 2, it's stealing.

And this.

Quote:A one time redistribution might be necessary to start with a blank-slate, but after that there would be nothing socialistic.

Yes there would have to be, if the government insists on keeping the distribution of property equal. Otherwise, the Distributive country in question would, over a generation or two, lapse back into a free market society. That is because God, in His infinite wisdom, made us unequal. For the sake of legal justice, we are considered equal under the law, but otherwise we are in fact unequal. People vary widely in their strength, intelligence, looks, talents, character, capacity for work, self discipline, etc.

Think of what would happen after the redistribution of property. Everyone gets his regulation piece of land, or, for those not agriculturally inclined, an equivalent in tools or materials to carry out some other trade. Over the years, the best farmers are going to produce the most and be more likely than others to save enough to enlarge their land holdings. The best craftsmen's goods are in high demand so they earn more from their trade and will probably want to enlarge their workshops. The best professionals will have the most clients. Those people who dislike the risk and long hours it takes to run their own farm or business may want to sell their property and just work as employees for the successful producers. The proceeds from the sale of their property they may choose to invest in someone else's farm or business. After a generation or so, you end up with something that looks suspiciously like a free market economy.

The only way to prevent this from happening and keeping the distribution equal will be through the government clamping down on the high producers and telling them they can't produce so much, or allowing them to produce, but taking away the excess income and redistributing it among the less successful--looks quite a bit like socialism, doesn't it?

That's why I do not think Distributism is a real Third Way. In the end, you wind up with the same two choices you had before: Capitalism or Socialism.

Sorry, just to clarify my statement about the serfs; I didn't mean they worked for the lord in the way a slave does, just that they were not self-sufficient businesses. They were still working for a boss, to use modern terminology.
tumbleweeds Wrote:That's why I do not think Distributism is a real Third Way. In the end, you wind up with the same two choices you had before: Capitalism or Socialism.

I think a "Third Way" is fascism. Though you could argue that it is unstable and will evolve into socialism. Fascist Italy was an attempt at the third way, and was well supported by Catholics. It was also called corporatism. Basically you have private property, but it is heavily controlled by the government. (As an aside, the classical meaning of the word "fascist" has nothing to do with anti-semitism). Of course it failed.

I think you can see two outcomes of fascism, either the owner gets all the risk and the government gets all the reward, or the owner gets all the reward, and the government gets all the risk. This latter is what we are seeing in our Fascist country, the USA.


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