Monday 22nd January 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Free Trade And Catholic Social Teaching

July 10, 2016 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] in Crisis. 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. He recently completed writing a book that critically examines and evaluates current American liberalism and conservatism in light of Catholic social teaching.)

+ + +

It is shaping up that one of the major issues this election year is going to be free trade and the international trade deals that the U.S. has negotiated over the past quarter-century. The major agreements that come to mind, which have generated so much controversy, are the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Marrakesh Agreement, which brought the World Trade Organization into existence. Looming on the horizon also is the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Free trade, of course, is a staple of classical liberal economics and has been embraced by many of today’s “conservatives,” although politicians across the spectrum have generally supported free trade deals as a way of supposedly increasing American economic prosperity. The debate rages as to whether these and various bilateral trade arrangements have been, on balance, beneficial or hurtful for the U.S.
The biggest issues have been whether these deals have caused a decline in the American manufacturing sector, exported jobs, and resulted in our markets being inundated by sub-par goods.
Some say that we need “fair trade” instead of free trade, and it’s clear that free trade has become almost a dogma for some economists and policymakers. What does Catholic social teaching say about trade?
Of the social encyclicals, probably Blessed Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio addressed it the most. He emphasized that the rule of free trade cannot govern international relations. To be sure, he could see its advantages. If economic power were equal, it would be “an incentive to progress and a reward for effort” (n. 58). It’s the same as competition and the market domestically: While competition is valuable it must “be kept within limits which make it just and moral, and therefore human” (n. 61). Prices supposedly set freely by the market — and he puts “freely” in quotes to underscore that market forces frequently don’t work in practice the way economic theory says — “can produce unfair results” (n. 58).
These unfair results can have sad human consequences. As with the domestic economy, just because the parties have agreed to something, it doesn’t mean that it will be just. Pope Paul here was thinking of such things as unequal bargaining power and general conditions of sharp economic or wealth disparity among nations.
This conjures up the notion of “liberty of contract” on the individual level. This governed American economic thinking and resulting constitutional jurisprudence in the period, roughly, from 1870 to 1937, and stymied many attempts to enact needed labor legislation. Somehow it was believed that the worker who had to accept a subsistence-level wage and pathetic working conditions — with no chance of employment otherwise — was acting “freely” in agreeing to an implicit contract an employer offered him. The law couldn’t “interfere” with his “choice,” despite the fact that the worker had no bargaining power at all.
In other words, Pope Paul and all of the Church’s social teaching were saying that morality in economic matters, as in other realms of life, must not be fashioned by man — what is just and moral is not a mere human concoction. He also said that the consequence both domestically and internationally of making competition the sole ordering principle is that it “too often creates an economic dictatorship” (n. 59).
In the early 20th century the economist Fr. Heinrich Pesch, SJ, developed solidarism or the solidaristic system of human work, a blueprint for an economic system built squarely on Catholic principles and the natural law. His writing influenced the shaping of the Church’s social teaching and it has been said that Pope Pius XI’s great encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, promulgated five years after Pesch’s death, distinctly bore its imprint.
Decades later, Pesch’s thought appeared to have influenced the Solidarity trade union movement in Poland that laid the groundwork for the collapse of Eastern European Communism. Pesch rejected a regimen of completely free trade, for the same reason that is echoed in Populorum Progressio: the problem of commutative justice — that some countries would not gain the same advantage from it as others. Indeed, some would be positively hurt, as when cheap foreign products flooded their markets and overwhelmed their domestic producers.
This is part of the current problem in the U.S.: It’s more beneficial for companies’ bottom lines to import goods — and, increasingly, use services — produced by cheap labor overseas than to keep Americans employed.
So, Pesch asserts, there is no problem with some amount of protectionism. As he put it in his main work, the mammoth Lehrbuch der Nationalökonomie, the notion of an “international market” should be promoted, “but always in such a way that the national market will remain a strong first line of defense.”
So nations rightly must take care of their own economic needs first. He also said that the trading policies of a nation have to be altered “as the requirements of the national welfare change, and as circumstances internally and externally vary.”
He added that while no nation can go its own way, its “national autonomy,” rightly understood, must be preserved and it must be careful not “to sacrifice certain economic sectors” if that would go against its “best interests.” It hardly has to be stated that those interests would include something as basic as a nation’s need to keep its people employed.
As Pesch bluntly says, “the national economy may not be sacrificed to the world economy in the name of free trade.”
By the way, if anyone thinks that in her concern about international charity and solidarity the Church insists that better-off nations have to ignore the needs of their own people in the interest of being international benefactors — more generally, that national interest has no place — he should note that Populorum Progressio (nn. 48-49) says that they are obliged to contribute their “superfluous wealth” and “some of their production” (italics added) to poorer nations.
We don’t have an obligation to suffer so Third World economies can develop. The meaning of all this for the U.S. is that there is nothing from the standpoint of Catholic social teaching that should make it feel embarrassed or reluctant to alter her current free-trade regimen to protect American jobs if that is what’s necessary to help the economic situation of the country.
In light of what Pope Pius XII said about treaties in the usually forgotten encyclical Summa Pontificatus (n. 77), this should not be done unilaterally, but the U.S. — for the sake of keeping intact what he called the “mutual trust” among nations — should renegotiate provisions of agreements if they are the cause of certain of her current economic problems.
We have mentioned bodies like the World Trade Organization. Some think it is part of the reason for U.S. trade problems, and additionally some are critical because having to follow its decrees compromises national sovereignty. Also, like most international organizations, it features all the usual discontents of bureaucracy.

Moral Considerations

Recent Popes have called for a reform of international economic institutions and of international organizations generally. While they have urged more international arrangements to deal with truly international problems, they have always called for respect for the principle of subsidiarity.
In his social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI said that subsidiarity was crucial for globalization — even in its economic dimension — not just to preserve freedom and avoid tyranny, but also for the sake of producing “effective results” (n. 57).
As trade will be the subject of substantial debate during this election year and beyond, Catholics should note what the Church’s social teaching and the tradition it has brought forth have said about it and our national candidates and government officials should approach it with moral considerations at the forefront and with the kind of balanced perspective — being attentive to the many different factors that are at stake — exhibited by them.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Nikki Haley blasts Venezuela for targeting Catholic bishops

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s denunciation of a pair of Roman Catholic bishops is the latest example of a government turning to tyranny, according to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. “Maduro’s reign of violence, repression, corruption, and bankruptcy…Continue Reading

Wedding on Pope’s airplane not as spontaneous as it appeared, evidence indicates

January 19, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A wedding ceremony presided over by Pope Francis on a recent flight in Chile and portrayed as spontaneous by the couple appears in fact to have been planned well in advance. In the website of the Chilean…Continue Reading

NEW SURVEY: CATHOLIC WOMEN “DISENGAGED & DISENGAGING” — AND DON’T LISTEN TO US BISHOPS

Nearly five years into Pope Francis papacy, with its great expectations for a revival of Catholicism among the flagging faithful, a new large-scale survey of American Catholic women finds the flock faithful but disengaged from the rituals of the church…Continue Reading

‘Catholic’ Georgetown to Offer LGBT Housing to Students

Georgetown University, founded in 1789 and ostensibly a “Catholic” school, will offer a “gender & sexuality” housing complex for students starting in the 2018-19 academic year, which will operate as a residential center for homosexual, transgender, and “q

Catholic Bishop: “Abortion is a Uniquely Intimate Form of Violence With Bitter Public Consequences”

The “March for Life” this January, like every January over the past several decades, reminds the nation that killing an unborn child is never a private matter. Abortion is a uniquely intimate form of violence – but violence with bitter…Continue Reading

Vikings quarterback lists winning pass as 3rd best life-moment, behind finding Jesus

January 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) –  Vikings Quarterback Case Keenum said throwing the game-winning pass in the last few seconds of Sunday’s championship game against the New Orleans Saints was only the third best moment in his life. Keenum’s first best…Continue Reading

On the purpose of politics and the salvation of souls

“Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal creator of all things, today became our Savior by being born of a mother. Of his own will he was born for us today, in time, so that he could lead us to…Continue Reading

Don’t let fear keep you from welcoming the stranger, Pope says

Vatican City, Jan 14, 2018 / 04:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At a special Mass Sunday for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said that while it is normal to be afraid of the unknown, we can’t let…Continue Reading

Notre Dame could face legal investigation for flip-flopping on contraception coverage

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, January 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of over sixty Notre Dame alumni attorneys has written an open letter to the university’s president, Father William Jenkins, CSC, to protest the university’s decision to continue the dissemination of…Continue Reading

Poland: Marches of the Three Kings Draw 1.2 Million

Under the motto “God is for everyone”, 1.2 million Poles in more than 660 cities and towns in Poland and abroad joined in the March of the Three Kings. This year’s event was accompanied by fundraising “Kings for the East”,…Continue Reading

Bishops’ letter on sexual identity prompts LGBT counter-lobbying

Washington D.C., Jan 5, 2018 / 12:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Several Catholic bishops’ call for clarity and compassion on sexual identity issues such as transgenderism drew the ire of a dissenting Catholic group which is part of a well-funded LGBT…Continue Reading

Rural Minnesota Catholic parish dismisses musicians over gay marriages

For weeks now, a Catholic parish in the rural St. Croix River Valley north of the Twin Cities has been praying through turmoil, brought by a trio of startling dismissals. On one hand, even many of the most distressed don’t…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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Catholic bishops side with labor unions in Supreme Court case

WASHINGTON (RNS) — U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are backing public sector unions in an upcoming Supreme Court case, pitting church leaders against the Trump administration and conservatives in a legal battle over how organized labor is financed. In an amicus brief filed on Friday (Jan. 19) in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sides with the union, which is being challenged by…Continue Reading

Trump’s historic speech to March for Life: Abortion is ‘wrong, it has to change’

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 19, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — In the first-ever live streamed address of a sitting president to the March for Life, Republican President Donald Trump vowed his administration will work to uphold the sanctity of life. “Under my administration, we will always defen

">45 years of legalized abortion . . . When will our Country Awake?

Give President Trump Credit for Protecting Pro-Life Doctors and Nurses From Abortion

I am sometimes asked how religious people could vote for a man with the personal history of Donald Trump. Consider this Smith on the Election, but I always answer that I think it was an act of self defense. The Obama Administration had been very hostile to the free exercise of religion–even to the point of trying to force nuns to participate in contraception coverage–and Hillary Clinton threatened to be even worse. And now, Trump…Continue Reading

Canon lawyer calls for Amoris Laetitia’s 8th chapter to be ‘withdrawn’ on EWTN show

January 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Fr. Gerald Murray, a regular commentator on EWTN’s news program The World Over, told show host Raymond Arroyo in a recent interview that the infamous chapter 8 of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia is in “error,” and that he hopes it will be “withdrawn” by the pope. Murray, a canon lawyer, also condemned the interpretation of Amoris laetitia published by the Argentinean bishops of the Pastoral Region of Buenos…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

A Book Review… Priests As Builders Of Western Civilization

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN Heroism and Genius: How Catholic Priests Helped Build — And Can Rebuild — Western Civilization, by William J. Slattery (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2017), 272 pp. $24.95. Available through www.ignatius.com or call 1-800-651-1531. A work of great erudition and comprehensive scope, Fr. Slattery’s eloquent book provides a survey of the seminal ideas…Continue Reading

A Nation Of Sheep

By DONALD DeMARCO In a sociology text book (Sociology) that has been widely used in Canadian universities, the author makes the following statement: “Canadian society could not continue to exist unless the thousands of new members born each year eventually learned to think, believe, and behave as Canadians. . . . The continuity of our…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider… Explains The Kazakhstani Profession Of Truths On Marriage

By CARL BUNDERSON ASTANA, Kazakhstan (CNA/EWTN News) — Fidelity to the words of Christ makes it necessary to profess the truth about sacramental marriage, Bishop Athanasius Schneider told Catholic News Agency (CNA) in a recent interview. Bishop Schneider, an auxiliary bishop of Maria Santissima in Astana, was a drafter of the “Profession of the immutable…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood Now Offers “Transgender” Hormone Therapy

ORLANDO, Fla. — Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, has expanded its services to offering “transgender” hormone therapy, according to a January 10 report from Liberty Counsel. Planned Parenthood’s 2016-2017 annual report states: “We’re expanding access to care — from pioneering research on self-injectable birth control to offering new services for our transgender patients.…Continue Reading

Chinese Government Destroys Major “House Church”

BEIJING (AsiaNews) — New details have come to light about the forced demolition of the Golden Lampstand Church in the city of Linfen on January 9. The faithful have also released a video of the building being destroyed, while they were forced to watch from a distance as the walls, the tower, and the cross…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… We Fight Distractions To Grow In Holiness

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Life in this world is a gift from God: Don’t let it become a distraction from the one He offers us forever in Heaven. We have more information, more images, more choices in our possession than ever before. Each of us has only so much concentration. If we don’t learn to discern and to make…Continue Reading

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ… Confirmation: From The Standpoint Of Tradition

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 12 We have studied the Sacrament of Confirmation from the point of view of Sacred Scripture. Now it is time to investigate it from the point of view of Tradition — that, is, the oral teachings from the apostles that were handed down through the early centuries of Christian history. Non-Catholics of all sorts…Continue Reading

Declaration Of Matrimonial Nullity

By DON FIER Last week, we saw that the Church teaches that certain conditions must be fulfilled for valid reception of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. As summarized by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, “to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony, a man and woman must both be baptized. They must be free to marry and to express their mutual consent.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Jesus is the king of the universe, so why did He choose to be born in a lowly stable instead of in a palace, or at least in an ordinary house? — R.S.. via email. A. If Jesus came into the world as a powerful king, or perhaps as a military warrior, or as a wealthy member of the…Continue Reading

Love And Obey The Lord

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Deut. 18:15-20 1 Cor. 7:32-35 Mark 1:21-28 In the first reading today God tells Moses that He will raise up a prophet like Moses for the people of Israel. We know there were many prophets in Israel; some have writings contained in the Scriptures, some are mentioned by…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Raymond Penafort

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church has been blessed with a plethora of doctrinal resources, thanks in large part to Pope St. John Paul II. The Code of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the many encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, books, and letters continue to provide the Church with a solid foundation for learning and applying the truths of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

By CAROLE BRESLIN Our Lord has no limits and conditions for persons whom He calls to sainthood. They may be the richest, such as St. Francis of Assisi, or the poorest such, as the children of Fatima. They may be powerful, such as St. Louis, king of France, or humble, such as our Lady. They may be the most brilliant,…Continue Reading