Wednesday 17th July 2019

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

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

"If men only know what awaits them in eternity they would do everything in their power to change their lives."
St Jacinta of Fatima

Has The Church Been Infiltrated?… And If So, By Whom? @TaylorRMarshall https://t.co/wvpa2x3kD0

Load More...

Tucker Carlson: big business is now at war against your family

July 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The first thing to note about Tucker Carlson is that when he’s on stage and riffing on his irritations, he is hilarious. He began his keynote speech at the National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday…Continue Reading

Teacher sues Catholic school for firing her over pro-abortion posts on social media

BERKELEY COUNTY, South Carolina, July 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A former teacher filed a wrongful termination suit against a South Carolina Catholic school that fired her for championing legal abortion on social media in violation of long-settled, well-known Catholic doctrine.…Continue Reading

Bombshell Claim: Scientists Find “Man-made Climate Change Doesn’t Exist In Practice”

A new scientific study could bust wide open deeply flawed fundamental assumptions underlying controversial climate legislation and initiatives such as the Green New Deal, namely, the degree to which ‘climate change’ is driven by natural phenomena vs. man-made issues measured as…Continue Reading

Cineplex explains decision to screen Abby Johnson’s ‘Unplanned’ in Canada

July 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The pro-life film Unplanned, which tells the true story of pro-life activist Abby Johnson’s conversion from the abortion industry, will be shown in Canada after all thanks to a decision by film distributor Cineplex. Unplanned tells the…Continue Reading

Viganò criticizes Pope Francis’ handling of abuse allegations

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2019 / 02:47 pm (CNA).- Recently published remarks from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano take aim at two situations described by the former nuncio as “allegations of offenses against minors during Pope Francis’ tenure.” In fact, in…Continue Reading

U.S. Bishops Approve the Pope’s Capital Punishment Ban

Sæva indignatio. Few writers in the history of English letters could express “savage indignation” at human folly as did Jonathan Swift who wrote those words for his own epitaph. Our times give ample opportunity to empathize with him, and that is…Continue Reading

Due to backlash, Pell to live in ‘secure compound’ if appeal succeeds

Sydney, Australia, Jun 25, 2019 / 12:03 am (CNA).- While Cardinal George Pell of Australia is appealing his sexual abuse conviction in court, he and his supporters are making arrangements for a “safe hideaway” for the cleric, should his conviction…Continue Reading

Forced abortion decision overturned on appeal, according to reports

London, England, Jun 24, 2019 / 11:03 am (CNA).- A controversial UK court decision to force a disabled woman to have an abortion has been overturned on appeal. In a decision reportedly reached June 24, the English Court of Appeal, consisting…Continue Reading

Rosary Rally in Reparation for Homosexual and Transgender Grooming of Kids in “Drag Queen Story Hour” at Public Library in Md

A small group ranging from ten to 15 LGBTQ-obedient bots danced and played loud gay anthems like “YMCA” and “We are Family”, and holding a sign which read “Toleration is Godly”, sequestered behind yellow tape on one side of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Rosary Rally Sunday to Protest Maryland Drag Queen Story Time for Kids

Personhood Maryland is asking pro-life Christians to gather at the Lexington Park Library for a peaceful prayer vigil on Sunday, June 23rd from 3:30-5:30 pm Eastern to stand against the Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) and Drag 101 event scheduled…Continue Reading

Supreme Court rules WW1 Peace Cross memorial is here to stay

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 this morning in favor of a nearly 100-year-old World War I memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland, known as the “Peace Cross,” allowing it to remain standing.…Continue Reading

Vatican’s doctrinal office expected to release document on gender theory

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican’s doctrinal office is preparing a document which will address Church teaching and the anthropology of the human person in the context of so-called gender theory, according to a Vatican…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 . . .

Vatican’s former doctrine head criticizes Amazon synod working doc for ‘false teaching’

July 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The cardinal who was tasked by Pope Benedict with defending the doctrine of the Catholic Church has criticized the Pan-Amazon Synod’s working document (Instrumentum Laboris) for its “radical u-turn in the hermeneutics of Catholic theology” and for its “false teaching.” Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), said the “main problem” with the working document is that “key terms are not being clarified.” His statement…Continue Reading

2 priests, 2 pro-life activists arrested trying to save babies inside New Jersey abortion center

MORRISTOWN, New Jersey, July 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Two Catholic priests and two lay pro-life activists were arrested this morning for entering and refusing to leave an abortion facility, offering red roses to the women inside and encouraging them to choose life. At least one woman turned away and didn’t go through with an abortion, Red Rose Rescue spokeswoman Lisa Hart told LifeSiteNews. The woman’s mother was forcing her to have the abortion.

Vincent Lambert, France’s Terri Schiavo, dies after 9 days without food and water

July 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Vincent Lambert, the disabled man a court ordered to be starved to death in a French hospital, died this morning. After nine days without food and fluids, showing a remarkable will to live despite the cruel death of thirst that doctors had prepared for him, France’s Terri Schiavo departed from this earthly life at 8:24 a.m. on Thursday, July 11. He died of heart failure induced by the malfunction of his kidneys…Continue Reading

Cdl. Zen warns Pope Francis that Vatican directives for China church may lead to ‘death of true faith’

HONG KONG, July 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong has spoken out forcefully against the Vatican’s newest “pastoral document” for the Chinese Church which gives reasons for why priests should register with the communist government. Cardinal Joseph Zen presented nine criticisms to Pope Francis and Cardinal Pietro

Archbishop Fulton Sheen to be beatified

Vatican City, Jul 6, 2019 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis approved the miracle attributed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen Friday, making possible the American television catechist’s beatification. The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated the decree approving Sheen’s miracle on July 6. The miracle involves the unexplained recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy born apparently stillborn in September 2010 to Bonnie and Travis Engstrom of the Peoria-area town of Goodfield. He showed no…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Archbishop Sheen To Be Beatified

By COURTNEY GROGAN VATICAN CITY (CNA) — Pope Francis approved the miracle attributed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen on July 5, making possible the American television catechist’s beatification. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated the decree approving Sheen’s miracle on July 6. The miracle involves the unexplained recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy born…Continue Reading

California Confessional Bill Withdrawn… Thanks To All For A Smashing Victory

By BILL DONOHUE (Editor’s Note: Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented July 9 on the final outcome of the California confessional bill.) + + + The seal of Confession is safe in California. The bill to bust it has been pulled. Yesterday, [July 8] on the eve of a scheduled hearing on SB 360, California…Continue Reading

Looking For Light In A World Of Shadows

By DONALD DeMARCO Nothing is random in the light of eternity and when viewed in this way, everything makes sense. To God, there are no accidents. Even forgetfulness can be an occasion of grace, a moment when we find light in a darkened world. There were distractions that might have made my forgetfulness explainable that…Continue Reading

Trump’s Patriotism Vs. The New Anti-Americanism

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Despite all the grousing and griping about his “politicizing” of the Fourth of July and “militarizing” America’s birthday, President Donald Trump turned the tables on his antagonists, and pulled it off. As master of ceremonies and keynote speaker at his “Salute to America” Independence Day event, Trump was a manifest success.…Continue Reading

Analysis . . . New Vatican Constitution To Centralize Power In State Secretariat

By ED CONDON VATICAN CITY (CNA) — At the end of June, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary of the Pope’s C6 Council of Cardinal Advisers, announced that the group hoped to present Francis with a final draft of a new Vatican constitution in September. Praedicate Evangelium, as the new governing document for the Roman Curia is…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Serve Others With Charity

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Gen. 18:1-10a Col. 1:24-28 Luke 10:38-42 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about Martha welcoming Jesus and serving Him. Martha became burdened with the task of serving and asked the Lord if He did not care that Mary, her sister who was sitting at the feet of…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . Sexual Immorality Begins With Teaching Failures

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. “But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Answering a question in a recent column about the meaning of “Jesuitical,” we said that it can mean “dissembling or equivocating, in the manner associated with Jesuits.” We cited as an example of an attempt to skirt around some clear moral teaching of the Church a 2017 comment by the superior general of the Society of Jesus. When…Continue Reading

Before And After the Pill . . . Its Redefinition Of Human Sexuality And Impact On Society

By FR. SHENAN J. BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. He travels around the world spreading the Gospel of Life. Fr. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI in August 2011. (This commentary first appeared July…Continue Reading

Love God And Love Neighbor

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Deut. 30:10-14 Col. 1:15-20 Luke 10:25-37 Toward the end of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses pleads with the people of Israel: “If only you would heed the voice of the Lord your God….” It was the failure of the people to follow the Commandments of the Lord that…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Sts. Louis And Azelie-Marie Guerin Martin

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Lord sends the Church the men and women who are needed to keep her holy in times of trouble. Among these are: St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Faustina, and the first married couple ever to be canonized together: Louis and Azelie-Marie (Zelie) Martin. Their feast day is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Nazaria March y Mesa

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the 2,000-year history of the Church, there have been periods of great conversions followed by a waning of the faith among future generations. After the initial persecution of the Church during the few hundred years following Christ’s crucifixion and death, the Church grew rapidly. In Latin America, the Catholic Church expanded rapidly after the appearance of…Continue Reading