Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Capitalism & the Catholic Church

Capitalism, with its vigorous blending of personal initiative, personal responsibility, and personal reward, has always been supported—in its highest manifestations—by the Catholic Church; as it provides the soundest corollary to Catholic social teaching which undergirds the seeking for personal salvation through initiative and responsibility congruent with the greatest reward of life revealed by the ancient teaching.

Yet the Church has always called out the tendencies of greed and exploitation that often accompany unbridled capitalism, and this article from the Wall Street Journal discussing a new look at global capitalism from French President Sarkozy, addresses both the good and the bad of the best economic system human beings have yet devised, that brings an increasing prosperity and freedom to the population of the world.

An excerpt.

“These days, it seems difficult to defend the efficacy, let alone the morality, of an economic approach to human interaction that is now blamed for having put the entire global economy at risk. But that is exactly what we need -- most importantly, from America's next leader.

“Sometimes it takes an outsider to help us gain perspective. Deep within the condemning speeches delivered by Mr. Sarkozy, both in New York and Toulon, are the grains of a new approach to capitalism that should give Americans reason to hope, not only for economic salvation but for a sense of redemption on a deeper level. France's president held out the possibility that all is not lost, that we can fix what is broken. "The financial crisis is not the crisis of capitalism," according to Mr. Sarkozy. "It is the crisis of a system that has distanced itself from the most fundamental values of capitalism, which betrayed the spirit of capitalism."

“It is a distinction that could make all the difference. The world at large is drawing lessons from this economic crisis that will influence the political destiny of mankind. Mr. Sarkozy is trying to harness the collective dissatisfaction into a bold call for global reform. He is calling on world leaders to hold a summit before the end of this year to lay out proposals for a new approach to international financial and monetary relations. It could be the world's biggest boondoggle -- or the dawn of a new beginning for capitalism.

“If we are to build a new foundation for global financial and monetary relations on the scale of the Bretton Woods Agreement conceived as World War II was still raging, we must summon the intellectual depth and political will that can only derive from a strong sense of moral purpose. Give credit to Mr. Sarkozy for demonstrating leadership in attempting to salvage what we know is true -- that democratic capitalism is the best hope for mankind -- while jettisoning the abuses and fraudulent practices that have distorted the outcomes of free-market competition. The French president's call for a global summit should be heeded.

“What are the basic principles that we can forge together toward this "true capitalism" that Mr. Sarkozy has described, this market economy that utilizes the power of genuine competition to serve the needs of individual producers and consumers? It is a capitalism that accords primacy to the entrepreneur -- that compensates hard work, innovative solutions, stalwart commitment and personal discipline. The values that define the character of individuals should find expression in the policies that underpin the legitimacy of governments…”