Everytime the world went through difficult economic times; governments, economists and the population in general wonders what is really the best way to structure our lives, social and economic relationships. In this note, without demeriting any school of economics, today we will see what the DSI * Social Doctrine of the Church says about a point in the middle. Let us remember that many in this institution have received a strong and intense academic training and also as millenary institution it has went through all types of governments and political systems, learning from its successes and failures. Some consider that Faith should be separated from Politics and Economics; however faith also seeks the welfare of man, which is why it is paradoxical to try to eliminate it from the debate in the search for the best system for the common good.
In 1931, after the Great Depression, Pius XI wrote: “In such a serious conflict of opinions, while controversy burns on both sides, and not always peacefully, let us urgently return to the deposit of truth, because some, driven by bad councils want total revolution ”. Almost 100 years later, we are in a similar situation, faced with devastating economic, social and health effects, we see that neither the Free Market nor a Expanded State have been able to mitigate the economic and social effect of the pandemic. Some have indicated that China’s model of an omnipresent state has managed to contain the pandemic in their country, implicitly indicating that the path of coercion, violating individual freedoms may be valid. It is all very subtle but with strong ideological content on both sides. The Social Doctrine of the Church indicates something very simple “The Government must be fair to the most economically needy but also fair to the entrepreneurs who generate wealth and jobs.”
In the 1937 document “Divini Redemptoris” on extreme socialism and on Christian social doctrine, Pius XI has had the courage to systematically criticize communism, which he defined as “intrinsically evil”, for attacking the most sacred of human nature: Freedom. Peace is always the fruit of justice and justice is giving each one his or her own, no more, no less. This applies to State Organizations, Financial Systems, Companies, Families and Individuals. On the other hand, since last year we have been insisting that this situation should NEVER allow anyone to take economic advantages above what is due. If businessmen and governments fall into this temptation to take advantage of the pandemic, it would clearly lead to social consequences unwanted by all. So there is a middle ground between capitalism and socialism. (Let’s not talk about corruption, since this is unacceptable in both sides). Thus, at this time, the free market as we knew it is not being able to meet these extreme needs and therefore western market economy countries have implemented unlimited state support because it is about saving lives and providing food, the basics of the basics. The state role is precisely for these moments of economic uncertainty, the support must be both for companies, financial institutions and the most vulnerable sectors, without exceptions or privileges of any kind.
Social peace is forged with justice and solidarity. It does not matter if one is a believer or a non-believer because even for its own convenience it is important to be in solidarity so that there is no social explosion, that finally and in any case some extreme populist proposal is considered. Communism that restricts freedoms, feeds and flourishes from the injustices of the wealthiest sectors. A paradigm to change in these times is related to the operation of companies that normally looked only at future value, or the theory of “future added value”, not the previous accumulated value. In other words, it is very difficult, but not impossible for an entrepreneur or financial institution with good reserves to say, “I am going to share with my employees what I already earn thanks to them” and “I will keep their jobs even using my reserves” – Utopian? No. The new world we live in is trying to survive, so continuing to want to earn more and more money at the expense of this global disgrace is clearly something to be despised. It is the moment to be in solidarity. It is understood of course that there are companies without reserves, indebted and with owners also in sincere difficulties, but there are many that are not and have the capacity to endure and not fire. We recommend reading the document “Laborem Excercens” by John Paul II http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/es/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091981_laborem-exercens.html.
In 1891 as a response to the Industrial Revolution and the situation of the Working Class and the risks of the Marxist Doctrine, Leon XIII wrote the document “Rerum Novarum” where he says that “The human condition must be respected, which cannot be equaled in civil society the high with the low. ” Communism always intended, but it is clearly a vain attempt against the nature of things because talents, abilities, health, or strength will never be the same, and as a result of these differences, different levels of wealth are created. However, it is very correct that Governments must ensure that everyone receives the same fair Education, Sanitation and Food, but differences will always exist because each person is unique and unrepeatable, they cannot be equaled, the fallacy of Equality leads to restricting freedoms. In other words, there is nothing wrong with being richer than others, the problem is the lack of generosity with that wealth. The document “Rerum Novarum” talks about the rights of the weak, the dignity of the poor and the obligations of the rich. In particular, the unbridled greed that produces physical suffering and death. The Encyclical of Pius XI confirms the principle that wages must be proportionate not only to the needs of the worker, but also to those of his family. The State, in relations with the private sector, must apply the principle of subsidiarity, a principle that will become a permanent element of social doctrine. The Encyclical rejects liberalism understood as unlimited competition between economic forces, while reaffirming the value of private property, insisting on its social function.
Capitalism, in its extreme version, feeds and feeds on what is known as “greed” or “insatiable desire for money” Constantly and permanently seeking ever greater profits at any price, achieving lower taxes, having an extreme free market , and falsely arguing that “he who does not have is because he does not work“, being even derogatory in his treatment. This error of unlimited greed generates a lot of suffering in the weakest, economically speaking. Socialism, in its extreme version, feeds and feeds on what is known as “envy”, or “social resentment” that is generally expressed with anger and extreme hate speech, which is “justified” with the sophistry of impose “social justice” using force, and leads to political actions that seek with nice names to “avenge / correct this situation.” Normally these forced “wealth distributions” unintentionally promote laziness and low productivity. This trend generates economic systems that make companies shrink, increasing unemployment, mass poverty and a vicious circle that must be avoided. The common factor in both economic systems Capitalism and Socialism is “pride and the excessive desire for money”, -in both systems- and they are reflected in the total lack of dialogue and in the way of facing the search for solutions. Only a middle ground between the two systems will help to achieve a consensus that really benefits the people and not just the leaders of the left or right who use their speeches seeking power for power.
We must shield ourselves from the extremes, both on the right and on the left, which are doing so much damage. The concept of the “Universal Destination of Goods” says that private property, acquired by work, or received from another by inheritance or by gift, has the original function that it should be at the service of all. “The property of a good makes its owner an administrator in order to make it bear fruit and communicate its benefits to others” In other words, and urgently, Paraguayans who are economically better today should know that their assets “even when they are owned legitimately, they preserve a universal destiny from their origin ”or in other words, they are to be shared as far as possible by their own will or through reasonable taxes, since“ any form of undue accumulation is not fair ”and also generates the soup of cultivation so that the message of hatred for the rich is preached by extreme socialism that has already done so much damage in the world. Similarly, Paraguayans who are not doing well economically today should know that violence and imposition are not the right way.
It is difficult to bear the injustices of the wealthiest economically speaking, who do not have the gift of generosity, therefore, this is where the role of the State must act to mitigate it through taxes, expenses, subsidies, investments and serious charges in cases of corruption, that generate credibility, stability and more employment; in extreme cases give direct help, this being exceptional, because laziness should never be encouraged from the State. Extreme economic liberalism also does not work because human beings are not naturally generous, but are intrinsically driven by greed, putting their hope and security in accumulating only for themselves or for their family or their loved ones or ideological companions, which It seems naturally fair for having “earned” it or having received something that is theirs and that “they do not have to share.” These conflicts have always existed and the State must fulfill the role of a good Father of the Family who seeks to help find the balance point between his children, some of whom have had more luck or more capacities to build their wealth, while others have not had this luck or ability to achieve it. “Production goods -material or intangible- such as land or factories, professions or arts, require the care of their owners so that their fertility benefits the greatest number of people. The owners of goods for use and consumption must use them with temperance, reserving the best part for the guest, the sick, the poor.
“The political authority has the right and the duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of property rights based on the common good ”, “ Think, for example, of the situations where it is necessary for the State itself to promote the economy, due to the impossibility of that civil society autonomously assume the initiative; Think also of the realities of serious social imbalance and injustice, in which only public intervention can create conditions of greater equality, justice and peace. In light of the principle of subsidiarity, this substitution should not be prolonged or extended beyond what is strictly necessary ”. The principle of subsidiarity applies when the State must carry out a task aimed at the common good when it realizes that the private sector does not carry it out adequately, be it due to impossibility or another reason. At the same time, this principle calls on the State to refrain from intervening where smaller groups or associations can support themselves in their respective fields. This is also the heart of the “Social Market Economy”. John Paul II says “There are many brothers in need who wait for help, many oppressed who wait for justice, many unemployed who wait for work, many peoples who wait for respect” How is it possible that, in our time, there are still those who are dying of hunger; who lacks the most basic medical assistance; who does not have a roof where to shelter? The means of production “cannot be possessed against labor, they cannot even be possessed to possess” Their possession becomes illegitimate “when it serves to impede the work of others or obtain profits that are not the result of the global expansion of the work and social wealth, speculation and the breakdown of solidarity in the world of work ”.
“The economic well-being of a country should not be measured exclusively by the amount of goods produced (GDP), but also by taking into account the way in which they are produced and the degree of equity in the distribution of income, which should allow everyone have what is necessary for the development and improvement of one’s own person. “Goods, even when they are legitimately owned, always preserve a universal destiny. Any form of undue accumulation is immoral, because it is in open contradiction with the universal destiny that God the creator assigned to all goods ”. “Wealth perform its function of service to man when they are destined to produce benefits for others and for society:” How could we do good to our neighbor – Clement of Alexandria asks – if no one owned anything? ». In the vision of Saint John Chrysostom, wealth belongs to some so that they can earn merit by sharing it with others. Wealth is a good that comes from God: whoever possesses it must use it and make it circulate, so that the needy can also enjoy it; evil is found in disorderly attachment to wealth, in the desire to hoard it. Saint Basil invites the rich to open the doors of their stores and exclaims: “A great river flows, in a thousand channels, on the fertile ground: thus, by a thousand roads, you bring wealth to the houses of the poor”
Wealth, explains Saint Basil, “is like the water that flows more and more pure from the source if it is drunk frequently, while it rots if the source remains unused.” “The rich man, Saint Gregory the Great will say, does not he is but a manager of what he owns; Giving what is necessary to those who lack it is a work that must be carried out with humility, because the goods do not belong to the one who distributes them. Whoever has wealth only for himself is not innocent; giving them to those in need means paying a debt ”This middle point is very well documented: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_sp.html.
A quote from Aristotle: …”In the middle is virtue.”
Happy Easter 2021. Article by https://twitter.com/angelopalacios