21 May, 2015

Achieving Distributism - Part I

There is a persistent question which is hurled before us as a gauntlet. Just how do distributists propose that we achieve the wider distribution of productive property? We are accused of secretly advocating a powerful central state on the grounds it is necessary to forcibly redistribute the property to fit our scheme. We are accused of having no plan other than to rob the current owner of what is lawfully his in order to give it to others. This is a charge that must be taken seriously and clearly answered.

Catholic Social Doctrine: St. John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, Part Two

In this article I will conclude the discussion of Centesimus Annus and bring the series on papal social teaching to an end. The fourth and longest chapter of Centesimus Annus concerns the twin truths of the right to private property, and at the same time, of the universal destination of material goods. This is the same truth that Leo XIII stated when he said, ” … the earth, though divided among private owners, ceases not thereby to minister to the needs of all” (Rerum Novarum, §7).[1] That is, the reason that God has instituted the private ownership of property among men is not to exclude anyone from his share of the earth’s bounty, but rather to make possible the efficient and peaceful provision of sufficient goods for all. Thus private property is simply a means to an end; it is not an end in itself. Though it is surely a means consonant with human nature, and therefore it cannot be abrogated by human law, it is nevertheless subordinate to its end, and thus can be regulated so as to better attain that end. Thus the chief matter that the Holy Father takes up in this chapter is what he calls “the legitimacy of private ownership, as well as the limits which are imposed on it” (Centesimus Annus, §30).

Justice, Fairness and Taxation, Part Two

This article was originally published by
The Distributist Review on 8 November, 2010

In Part I of this article, I pointed out that a purpose of the Keynesian redistribution of wealth was to keep the engine of Capitalism working. It’s adherents advocate it from a sincere belief that this is the best way to help everyone. It sustains the poor and maintains the wealthy. The conservative and libertarian pundits who praise the small business owner do so on the assumption that he is an entrepreneur seeking to become a wealthy monopolist. They also believe that wealthy monopolists are required in a society to provide enough jobs for the mass of people. In other words, they advocate the growth and consolidation of businesses into wealthy monopolies because they sincerely believe it is for the common good. Distributists, on the other hand, seek to eliminate monopoly as a means of establishing the common good.

09 May, 2015

Catholic Social Doctrine: St. John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, Part One

In this article I will begin the discussion of Centesimus Annus, the latest social encyclical, written to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Rerum Novarum, and issued on May 1, 1991. In some quarters Centesimus was hailed as a new direction in papal social teaching, and even as a repudiation of past doctrine. However, as we will see, this was not at all the case. But because this charge has been widely made, I will denote much of this article and the next to showing the continuity of Centesimus with the prior social doctrine of the Church.

Justice, Fairness and Taxation, Part One

This article was originally published by
The Distributist Review on 1 November, 2010

John M├ędaille’s recent article on the “Fair Tax” stirred up quite a conversation on the nature and acceptability of methods of taxation in relation to distributist principles. Although some of the controversy was due to a misunderstanding of his actual views, distributists do need to present their ideas on taxation to stir up debate in a way that clarifies the issues. I’m hoping this article will be a useful contribution along with Mr. M├ędaille’s efforts to that end.