Sunday, July 18, 2010
What a Catholic who is a capitalist believes
Capitalism is a economic system. It is not an ideology, not a political system, not a social system, not a religion, by itself, it does not define a culture.
Economic systems are about scarcity. What's perpetually scarce is intelligence, labor, and raw materials. As a Catholic, I believe that these are gifts from God and therefore subject to God's plan for how we use them. That's important because this is an area in which we are not autonomous from God. What is scarce will always engage moral questions of who owns it, who gets to use or consume it?
In Capitalism ownership of the means of production is held privately. The owners of capital make decisions on supply, demand, and allocation in free markets. That's the outline definition.
I am a capitalist who thinks that addressing poverty is important to giving capitalism a moral foundation. This puts in me in opposition to Ayn Rand and her followers who minimized if not deprecated charity as a virtue.
If I were to look at what the critical question today worth talking about is whether the poor have a claim to the wealth of others by the fact they don't have it. Is wealth inequality in itself contrary to God's justice? My own opinion is that poverty entails suffering from deprivation: not enough food, not enough shelter, not enough health care - the critical needs for life are not being met among people without an ability to earn it in a capitalist economy.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 3:18 PM Permalink