Catholicism and Libertarianism

Joe Hargrave and his Critics

And yet -- no one really thinks that "the market" should be entirely unregulated. And, in fact, it is pervasively, thoroughly, comprehensively (and sometimes stupidly) regulated. Everyone agrees – that is, everyone who is in the conversation agrees – that “the market” is not and should not be entirely “free.” Or, put differently, a “free market” – in order to be meaningfully free – is a (reasonably and intelligently) regulated one. We enforce contracts. We impose liability for harms caused. We regulate all the time and everywhere. The real debate (among people who concede the basic point, which Catholic teaching firmly and unambiguously affirms, that ordered-freedom, not statist command-and-control, should characterize “the economy”) is about how to locate the point at which regulations begin to stifle, rather than to promote, human flourishing and the common good, properly understood.

It is not, in my view, helpful to label as “idolatry” the unremarkable view that we can and should evaluate policies with respect to their effectiveness and that the effectiveness of policies is related to, and perhaps depends on, a number of things that the economists like to remind us about. No one thinks that government should do nothing. But, some of us think – and there is absolutely nothing not-Catholic about thinking – that there are limits to (a) what governments are morally authorized to do and (b) what governments, practically speaking, do well. To say this is not to make an “idol” of the market (though it is to avoid the error of making an “idol” of populism or statism).

-- Rick Garnett, "Laissez-Faire libertarism" as a straw man (Mirror of Justice)

Q: Can the free market adequately care for the poor?

Thomas Woods Jr. and his Critics

The Seattle Catholic Exchange

Prompted by an article, "Distributism as Economic Theory," by John Clark (Latin Mass Spring 2002).

The Woods-Storck Debate

  • Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: An Unresolved Tension, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( March 22, 2002). Delivered a the 8th Austrian Scholars Conference at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala. From the author:
    What follows is a discussion of Catholic social thought and the question of the just wage. I have nothing but the most profound respect for the nineteenth- and twentieth-century popes, who led the Church with courage and principle. As for the concept of the just wage, however, the time has come to acknowledge, with the late Scholastics, that the just wage is the market wage. As Fr. James Sadowsky of Fordham University has argued, if a business can "afford" to pay a just wage, market competition for labor will yield one. If it cannot, then it won't. In advocating socially desirable outcomes, it is essential to study how best they can be brought about.
  • Morality and Economic Law: Toward a Reconciliation, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( March 20, 2004) The Lou Church Memorial Lecture in Religion and Economics, Austrian Scholars Conference, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, March 20, 2004. | Audio
  • Economic Science and Catholic Social Teaching, by Thomas Storck. (Chronicles Magazine June 17, 2004)
  • On the Actual Progress of Peoples, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( June 22, 2004)
  • The Difficulties of Thomas Woods, by Thomas Storck. (Chronicles Magazine July 11, 2004)
  • Catholics and Capitalism, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( November 12, 2004)
  • Catholic Social Teaching and the Market Economy Revisited: A Reply to Thomas Storck, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. ( January 12, 20010). This paper appears in the current issue of the Catholic Social Science Review (vol. 14, 2009), under the heading “Symposium: The Implications of Catholic Social Teaching for Economic Science: An Exchange between Thomas Storck and Thomas E. Woods, Jr., with Responses.” [1] The Thomas Storck paper to which this one is a reply may be found here | Based on a panel discussion 03-14-09 at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama (Audio). Responses to the exchange:
  • Is Thomas Woods A Dissenter? A Further Reply, Pt. 1 (01-18-10) | Part 2 (01-20-10) | Part 3 (01-22-10) | Part 4 (01-25-10). By Thomas Storck. (Chronicles Magazine)
  • Is Thomas Woods a Dissenter? (Response from Thomas Woods) Friday February 5, 2010.

On Thomas Woods' The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy

On the Woods-Ferrara Debate

Exchange between Distributist Review and

Exchange btw/ Thomas Storck and Fr. Robert Sirico

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Thomas Storck has been intrigued with Catholic social thought since he first read Richard Tawney’s Religion and the Rise of Capitalism in high school. This book began a life-long interest in the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

Mr. Storck was received into the Church in 1978 and in 1983 began writing regularly on Catholic social teaching, Catholic culture, and other theological and philosophical topics. He is the author of three books, The Catholic Milieu (Christendom Press, 1987), Foundations of a Catholic Political Order (Four Faces Press, 1998) and Christendom and the West (Four Faces Press, 2000).

His work has appeared in numerous publications and websites in North America and Europe. He served as a contributing editor for Caelum et Terra from 1991 until the magazine closed in 1996 and the New Oxford Review from 1996 to 2006. Since 1998 he has been a member of the editorial board of The Chesterton Review.

Mr. Storck has taught history at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, and philosophy at Mt. Aloysius College in Cresson, Pennsylvania and Catonsville Community College in Catonsville, Maryland. He holds an undergraduate degree in English literature from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and an M.A. from St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, with additional studies in history at Bluffton College and in economics at the USDA Graduate School in Washington, D.C. [Source]

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Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is the author of nine books, including two New York Times bestsellers: Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse. His other books include Who Killed the Constitution?: The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush (with Kevin R.C. Gutzman), Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass, 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, and The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy. A booklet, Beyond Distributism, was published in 2008 under the by the Acton Institute.

For eleven years Woods served as associate editor of The Latin Mass magazine; he is presently a contributing editor of The American Conservative magazine. A contributor to six encyclopedias, Woods is co-editor of Exploring American History: From Colonial Times to 1877, an eleven-volume encyclopedia.

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Christopher Ferrara is founder of the American Catholic Lawyers Association. Active in the pro-life movement, he has won a number of acquittals and dismissals of pro-life activists at the trial level and is well known for his legal service in the fight to save the life of Terri Schiavo. He has written a number of books including EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, and The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church -- the latter, strangely enough, co-authored with his current nemesis, Thomas Woods.