Monday 21st August 2017

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… Catholic Social Teaching, Political Ideology, And Corporate America

January 10, 2017 Featured Today No Comments

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

(Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. Among his books is The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic, and two recent edited volumes: The Crisis of Religious Liberty and Challenging the Secular Culture: A Call to Christians. His latest book, Catholicism and American Political Ideologies: Catholic Social Teaching, Liberalism, and Conservatism, will be published later this year. This column originally appeared in Crisismagazine.com and is reprinted with permission.)

+ + +

In the recent presidential campaign we observed the strongly critical reaction of business and economic commentators, surely representing the views of many corporate leaders, to President-elect Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade and especially his zeroing in on China. In the last couple of years, we have witnessed the willingness of many big companies to put economic pressure on states that have tried to resist the homosexualist agenda, such as in the public restroom controversy in North Carolina and protecting religious liberty of people in Indiana who in conscience can’t provide services for same-sex “weddings.”
Then, there are such long-term trends as CEO compensation exponentially outstripping that of other employees and the readiness of companies to pick up stakes and move longtime facilities out of areas irrespective of resulting unemployment crises and strains on families and communities.
Too often, people associate well-deserved criticism of Corporate America with leftism and think that it’s always conservatives who instinctively rally to its support no matter what. The reality is quite different.
We can readily acknowledge the economic benefits, including a rising standard of living, which economies of scale have made possible. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to anoint large business enterprises as the universally best arrangement for economic life or ignore troublesome attitudes and practices of their leading decision-makers. While one can appreciate why corporate CEOs should be compensated at a level higher than others in the organization, it’s hard to justify gross disparities in corporate compensation.
It’s not leftist or socialistic to criticize this. After all, didn’t Aristotle suggest that there was an appropriate range for property and wealth and that too little and too much would likely cause problems? It’s harder still to accept the not infrequent phenomenon where a CEO performs poorly and is let go and then latches onto another big corporation where he’s paid even more. It’s even harder to justify disadvantaging lower-level employees because of poor decisions by management. That was something Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno specifically singled out for criticism (n. 72).
We can rightly question how well central points of Catholic social teaching are upheld by what seems to be the prevailing mentality in Corporate America today. We can start with the need to keep people employed and ensuring a just wage — or what Pope St. John Paul II came to call the family wage. Will most big companies go out of their way to provide this when employees lack bargaining power? While companies certainly need to make a reasonable profit, how many see their employment costs as simply a factor of production that they should be prepared to trim in the interest of an unduly high profit margin?
Just picking up and moving to another part of the country or overseas or just outsourcing production to China, Southeast Asia, or India in the interest of lower labor costs doesn’t sound like corporate decision-makers are too concerned about either the employment situation or the income needs of their fellow citizens. While it’s true that Catholic social teaching has insisted that well-off nations assist poorer nations, as Blessed Pope Paul VI said in Populorum Progressio they should be prepared to share their superfluous wealth (n. 49). In other words, the needs of their own citizens would always come first.
It is reasonable to conclude that this statement in the encyclical isn’t directed just to political leaders, but to economic ones as well. Pope Paul also emphasized that free trade cannot be a dogma, but has to be “subject to the demands of social justice” and “kept within limits which make it just and moral” (nn. 59, 61).
Are the corporate leaders whose companies are inordinately benefiting from current trade arrangements with China concerned about the moral issues involved with unfair Chinese trade practices, hemorrhaging of American jobs, a diminished quality of goods for American consumers, and resulting strains on the U.S. economy? Even apart from Catholic social teaching, people have questioned if profits are crowding out patriotism.
In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI cautioned about the deleterious effects of corporate outsourcing to boost their shareholders when “the workers, the suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment and broader society” are hurt (n. 40).
We should also recall that such a leading light in Catholic economics as Heinrich Pesch, SJ, who was said to have inspired Quadragesimo Anno, argued that there is no problem, economically or morally, with some measure of protectionism.
Then there is subsidiarity. Even while conceding the value in some contexts to economies of scale, it applies as much to the private economic sector as to government. The overwhelming trend to merge and consolidate makes one think that corporate decision-makers are oblivious to it. How much of the corporate world embraces the participatory norm that Pius XI and John Paul II stressed when it comes to workplace decision-making?
In Laborem Exercens, John Paul stressed that workers have a “right to rest,” comprising Sundays and some vacation time (n. 19). We can hardly say that corporate leadership, especially in the retail and restaurant sectors, thinks much about this. Most apparently believe that this will hurt their profit margins.
This is contrary to what the Church says: Profit (as important as it is) cannot override peoples’ good. Small local family enterprises are the most likely ones to close on Sundays, even though their bottom lines suffer more for it than a big company’s would. The corporate defenders, from the ranks of liberal economics, will say that people should be free to choose if they want a job that requires Sunday work. That indeed conforms to the central tenet of liberalism in all its historical manifestations: Man is his own sovereign, the shaper of his own moral compass.
This latter point underscores the amorality that afflicts much of contemporary corporate culture. Amorality easily results in openness to the outright immorality of the broader secular culture and is spawned by the fact that the corporate ranks are populated with members of the “knowledge class,” the beneficiaries of instrumentalist, ideologically charged education in a post-liberal arts era.
So, many big companies eagerly embrace the homosexualist agenda. Many are also big givers to Planned Parenthood. Even if corporate decision-makers aren’t inclined to jump aboard the leftist cultural agenda, they often don’t have the courage to resist the interest groups. It seems that many in Corporate America not only need a heavy dose of business ethics, but of sound ethics and virtue in general.

A Sound Culture

Many falsely believe that Corporate America is a hotbed of arch-conservatism. Besides being an engine of cultural leftism, its elites probably mostly range from “moderate” Republican to enthusiastic Democrat. They have not only made their peace with the regimen of heavy governmental regulation that has long been pushed by the left, but have learned to turn it to their advantage. So, we have “crony capitalism.”
Traditionalist conservatism, as Mark C. Henrie writes, sees a parallel between the cultures spawned by the corporate-oriented economy and the welfare state and socialism: Both involve a weakening of sound morality, personal responsibility, commitment, human dignity, and the common good.
Corporate America, on trade and other issues, seems to be insufficiently attentive to the imperative of the social use of private property — stressed by Aristotle, Catholic social teaching, and the American Founding Era — as it was in a different context in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It also seems impervious to the fact that a sound economy — and politics — requires a sound culture, and that it ultimately hurts itself by encouraging cultural corruption.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Cardinal Sarah urges faithful to resist ‘revolutionaries’ who attack faith and family

At a memorial Mass honoring the martyrs of the Vendée region in France, Cardinal Robert Sarah challenged Catholics to oppose “the modern persecutors of the Church,” and warned that today’s attack on the faith is centered on a bid to…Continue Reading

Calls for prayer amid ‘abhorrent’ violence in Charlottesville

Washington D.C., Aug 12, 2017 / 03:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The head of the U.S. bishops conference called for prayers after one person was killed and over a dozen injured during a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. “The abhorrent…Continue Reading

Knights of Columbus ‘modernize’ Fourth Degree uniforms

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 3, 2017 / 02:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The classic ceremonial hats and capes of Fourth Degree members of the Knights of Columbus that you may have seen at Mass or at parish events will now be…Continue Reading

Priest stabbed during Mass at Mexico City cathedral dies in hospital

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 3, 2017 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Father José Miguel Machorro, who was stabbed in the neck and torso mid-May at the conclusion of Mass at the cathedral of Mexico City, died while at hospital on…Continue Reading

Abortionist praised by Pope speaks at Catholic church, pro-life protesters kicked out

BIELLA, Italy, July 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Despite vocal opposition, a notorious Italian abortionist was allowed to speak at a Catholic parish on Wednesday, while pro-life critics were locked out, silenced or kicked out. Despite her abortion advocacy, Emma Bonino was praised by Pope Francis in…Continue Reading

Gard family announces that Charlie has died

London, England, Jul 28, 2017 / 11:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A spokesperson for the parents of terminally ill British infant Charlie Gard has reported that their “beautiful little boy” has died. He had been taken into hospice care on July…Continue Reading

John McCain Burns Mitch McConnell Sides with Democrats

In a move that’s no surprise to anyone, John McCain voted against the embarrassingly named “Skinny Repeal”, voted against his party (or is it his party?) and voted to keep Obamacare going as is. Smarter people than me say that…Continue Reading

Catholic men’s conference in crosshairs of left-wing activists

Christine Niles, a Vietnamese immigrant who helps run a parachurch organization in Michigan that promotes Roman Catholic teaching, expected to spend this week preparing theological materials and getting ready for the group’s annual conference for men. Instead, Niles, who is…Continue Reading

Bishops to Trump: Don’t abandon young people to deportation

Washington D.C., Jul 20, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Undocumented young people brought to the U.S. by their parents contribute to American society and deserve continued protections from the Trump administration, said the U.S. Catholic bishops this week. “These…Continue Reading

Facing outrage – Facebook unblocks Catholic pages

Dozens of Catholic Facebook pages have been blocked, according to several Catholic news organizations. UPDATE: Facebook has unblocked more than 20 Catholic-interest pages – blaming the issue on a technical glitch. “All Pages have now been restored,” a Facebook spokesperson…Continue Reading

Bishops stress hospitality for Camino de Santiago hosts

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Jul 14, 2017 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of Spain and France have published a new letter emphasizing the importance of hospitality for people who host pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, offering guidelines…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah wants ‘liturgical reconciliation’ between old and new forms of Mass

Sarah says phrase ‘reform of the reform’ should no longer be used but wants ordinary version of Mass to be more like the extraordinary form The Cardinal leading the Vatican’s divine worship office has called for a truce in the…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Today . . .

Planned Parenthood is Spending $500,000 to Create an Army of Pro-Abortion Activists

Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups have long envied the grassroots power of the pro-life movement. Now, the nation’s largest abortion chain is trying to buy its own grassroots base, starting with half a million dollars. BuzzFeed News reports Planned Parenthood just kicked off a campaign to set up 600 volunteer-led teams to promote abortion across the United States. Each team in the abortion group’s “pink army” will be located near one of its 600-plus facilities,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah: ‘We are called today to witness, which means martyrdom’

August 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — This evening, we offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of the souls of all of the volunteers of the Puy-du-Fou who have died since the beginnings of this beautiful work, 40 years ago. Every night, all of you who are gathered here, awaken the memory of this place through your work. The castle of the Puy-du-Fou, with its hurting ruins, abandoned by man, seems to rise like a cry…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood CEO Claims President Trump Has “Both Barrels Aimed at Women” on Abortion

The CEO of America’s largest abortion business slammed President Donald Trump again this week for his pro-life policies. Cecile Richards, who makes nearly $1 million a year running the “non-profit” Planned Parenthood, claimed Trump is out to get women because he supports cutting off taxpayer funding to abortion groups. “The actions we’re seeing and what we’ve seen out of this administration from day one have had both barrels aimed at women,” Richards told Politico.

Australian bishops oppose forcing priests to reveal details of confession

Vatican City, Aug 14, 2017 / 07:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of Australia have indicated that they will resist the Royal Commission’s proposal that priests be legally obligated to disclose details of sexual abuse revealed in the confessional, facing criminal charges if they don’t. “Confession in the Catholic Church is a spiritual encounter with God through the priest,” Archbishop Denis J Hart of Melbourne said in an Aug. 14 statement.

A bishop’s plea: Don’t forget victims of war and cholera in Yemen

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Aug 11, 2017 / 04:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A deadly cholera outbreak in Yemen could continue indefinitely without an end to the civil war, says a bishop in the region who has pleaded for the faithful to pray and for an end to arms sales to the parties. “As I believe in the power of prayer, I can only ask the faithful around the world, to keep in mind the…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Jean Vanier… To Love And Be Loved

By DONALD DeMARCO Jean Vanier was born on September 10, 1928 in Geneva, Switzerland. His father, Major-General Georges Vanier, served as the 19th governor general of Canada. Jean received a broad education in Canada, England, and France. He served with the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy. He earned a doctorate in philosophy and…Continue Reading

Our Lady Of Fatima… The July Apparition And Subsequent Controversies

By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY (Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of articles on the one hundredth anniversary of our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Fr. Connolly is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. Part six, because of its length, has appeared in two separate issues of The Wanderer. This is the…Continue Reading

Dissonance, The New Normal

By LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON Almost daily, the media report on instances of radical dissension in America. People are split on numerous political, social, and religious issues, show no inclination to compromise, and increasingly rely on obstruction to pursue their positions. The result is discord, confusion, outrage, greater polarization, and violence. In the absence of national…Continue Reading

Religion Is Not Simple

By JOHN YOUNG Some people claim that true religion is very simple, and that if we delve into difficult theological questions we will lose that simplicity. Jesus said we must become as little children if we are to enter God’s Kingdom; He didn’t say we must become theologians. Frank Sheed’s response to the claim that…Continue Reading

Rose Of Lima, A First For The Americas

By RAY CAVANAUGH The first saint born in the Americas, Rose of Lima practiced both charity and asceticism with extreme intensity until her death at age 31. She is now the patroness of South America, and churches across the world bear her name. This August 24 marks the 400th anniversary of her death. The future…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Silence Is Human And Divine

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Perhaps you, like me, have sometimes been left with the sudden and awkward realization that you are in fact speaking to yourself when, confronting another human being with whom you thought you were communicating, you were met with total silence and completely ignored. More and more, the ubiquitous earphones have become mandatory equipment for many…Continue Reading

What Is Divine Grace?… Sanctifying Grace: Light Excludes Darkness

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 In the previous article, we investigated the nature, purpose, and work of actual grace. In this article, we will look at sanctifying grace. We have seen that actual grace, although supernatural, is transient, not permanent. It is like an electric current which, passing for an instant through the wire wound around an iron…Continue Reading

Celebration Of The Sacrament Of Penance

By DON FIER The doctrine of indulgences, as we have seen over the past two weeks, is an important part of the life of the Church. Although the Catholic understanding of indulgences has been clouded by abuses, most notably in the 16th century when Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses, its roots go back to the beginning of the Church…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. You have expressed your disagreement in the past with the practice of omitting “hard sayings” from the Mass readings or giving the option of using the “shorter version” of a reading, which usually means leaving out a strong passage. I noticed that this happened with the Gospel for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Is this what you had…Continue Reading

God’s Inscrutable And Unsearchable Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-First Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 22:19-23 Romans 11:33-36 Matt. 16:13-20 In the second reading today, St. Paul marvels at the depth of the riches, the wisdom, and the knowledge of God. He proclaims that God’s judgments are inscrutable and His ways are unsearchable. Of course, in our humanness, we often seem to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Karl Leisner

By CAROLE BRESLIN There was a priest, Blessed Karl Leisner, who heard his call to the priesthood during a Schoenstatt Retreat. The Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt is an apostolate of the Roman Catholic Church, a Marian movement founded in Germany in 1914 by a Pallottine priest, Fr. Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968). Members of the Schoenstatt were formed for a renewal in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Alphonsa Of The Immaculate Conception

By CAROLE BRESLIN There are many different churches that are in full communion with Rome. One of these is in India: the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala, India — once called the St. Thomas (the Apostle) Christians. From this tiny group of Catholics have come a growing number of holy men and women recognized by Rome. So far, there are…Continue Reading