Saturday, February 28, 2009

A new Social Encyclical to be coming

Pope Benedict XVI is working on a new encyclical on macro and micro economic policies.

Can find more info here.

What do you expect Pope Benedict XVI to address in this encyclical?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Signs and Symbols Help to Communicate

Man is an empirical being. We have been given our senses to learn things through our interaction with the world. Many philosophers try to use this as the staple to their thought, but man is not simply a body. We have a soul.

This is the notion that we begin to understand once we begin studying Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has given us certain Sacraments so that we may experience God within the world through our senses of the body.

The Catechism tells us that Man "needs signs and symbols to communicate."(no. 1146)

In the market economy, we have a sign that helps us to communicate. It allows us to know who needs what resource more than another in comparison with other individuals.
There is not enough information within the world for us to know how much of something or another any individual but ourselves need. Preferences are known only to the individual self, unless he tells another. Even then, his preference will change from one moment to the next and the person he had told will no longer know for a fact what the other needs.
If conventional communication such as speech is not suitable for us to notify others of our ever changing needs, how does man interact without conflict?

The answer is prices. Prices are the sign within the market economy. When one purchases an apple he sends a message to others that there is one less apple in the world. The prices of all the other apples would then change to signify the use of an apple. In this format, man can successfully interact without conflict.

What other signs help us communicate? What other symbols allow us to socially cooperate with one another peacefully?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Archbishop Chaput on Catholic Politcal Vocation

This is the entire text of Archbishop Chaput's speech in Canada.
It is well done and I recommend all to read it.
It can be best summed with his concluding paragraphs:

Anyone who hasn't noticed the despair in the world should probably go back to sleep. The word "hope" on a campaign poster may give us a little thrill of righteousness, but the world will still be a wreck when the drug wears off. We can only attain hope through truth. And what that means is this: From the moment Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life," the most important political statement anyone can make is "Jesus Christ is Lord."

We serve Caesar best by serving God first. We honor our nation best by living our Catholic faith honestly and vigorously, and bringing it without apology into the public square and its debates. We're citizens of heaven first. But just as God so loved the world that he sent his only son, so the glory and irony of the Christian life is this: The more faithfully we love God, the more truly we serve the world.

Archbishop Chaput lists four things Catholics should be reminded of

  1. "all political leaders draw their authority from God"
  2. "in democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs"
  3. "It doesn't matter what we claim to believe if we're unwilling to act on our beliefs."
  4. "The Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years."
I do disagree with Archbishop Chaput on President Obama's election:
But it does place some of today's talk about a "new American mandate" in perspective. Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis. That's the mandate.
To fix an economic crisis, we would expect the use of economists and to have an understanding of how the economy works. President Obama was elected, but this does not mean that he was elected to interfere with something he knows very little of. Electing an official does not grant someone the ability to meddle with things they do not know. Remember voters aren't experts on all things. Should they vote to fix the economy if they know little of it?
Let us remember Bryan Caplan on 20/20, "If you do not know what you are doing, you are not doing the country a favor by voting."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Welcome Catholic Economists - Ash Wednesday

It is the final hour of Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent which prepares us for the death of Christ and the beginning of our freedom from sin. Today is the reminder for all Catholics that from dust we came and to dust we shall go. It is a reminder that death awaits us and that we should not be saddened by this fact but rejoice.

This is an important fact because today we find ourselves in a crucial situation. The doom and gloom of the economy has been broadcasted by the media and our government officials. They claim that without government action the economy will fail and people will face harsh times. There are many others who conclude that government intervention will only cause the harsh times to be extended.

We, the Catholic Economists, hope to open discussions for what Catholic Social Teaching says about the economy; if Catholic Social Teaching is supported with economics; and many other questions that we may arise.

As Catholics, do not be afraid of the doom and gloom tales of the economy. The economy is merely a word that represents all of human interaction. For the economy to "fail" would mean that we all fail at interacting with one another. Unless you believe you are failing at interacting, there is no need to fear. Life is meant to be a challenge. Everything we need has already been given to us(our daily bread) , and with that we begin with a prayer.

Allow us on this blog to proclaim your glory and not stray from the teachings of the Church. Grant us the wisdom, the knowledge, and the ability to spread our Catholic views while applying economic thought. We pray for the intercession of the Holy Mother that we do not cause hate but spread a message of love.
St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
St Bernadette, pray for us.
St Bellarmine, pray for us.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Atlas may have Shrugged; Christ Did Not.

In the Economic Way of Thinking blog (which if you hadn't already began reading, you should), Scott Beaulier cites Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Below is the citation,

FRANCISCO: “Mr. Rearden,” said Francisco, his voice solemnly calm, “if you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?”
HANK: “I…don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?”
FRANCISCO: “To shrug.”

What do you take from this quote? What does it mean for Atlas to shrug?

Has there ever been an individual who held the fate of the world on his shoulders, and did he shrug?

As a Christian, I believe there is someone who had bore the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he did not carry the world; it was a cross. Through all the tribulation that He had faced, He did not shrug.
And asking the same question as Rand did, "
if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?”
If he was told to shrug, I am glad that He didn't listen.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Prodigal Parent

This past summer I sat in a seminar with Jennifer Roback Morse leading to a discussion afterwards on parents leaving their children and then having to return.

What's your take on the Prodigal Parent?

Yes, mother, this one is to you...

For those who don't know the story of the prodigal son, you can find it here.
There are many points in the parable, but the easiest read is the reception in the return for the son. Should there not then be a reception at the return for the mother?