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Economics and GAUDIUM ET SPES

 
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Joseph Milne



Joined: 17 Apr 2008
Posts: 326
Location: Herne Bay, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:26 am    Post subject: Economics and GAUDIUM ET SPES Reply with quote

In the Encyclical GAUDIUM ET SPES (1965) a set of principles are expressed about the purpose of wealth and the place of private property in society. It is worth considering how far these general principles go towards the just use of the earth and the common good according to natural law and the economics of Henry George. Bellow I quote paragraphs 69 and 70.

Joseph


GAUDIUM ET SPES, Pope Paul VI, 1965

69. God intended the earth with everything contained in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should be in abundance for all in like manner. Whatever the forms of property may be, as adapted to the legitimate institutions of peoples, according to diverse and changeable circumstances, attention must always be paid to this universal destination of earthly goods. In using them, therefore, man should regard the external things that he legitimately possesses not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others.(9) On the other hand, the right of having a share of earthly goods sufficient for oneself and one's family belongs to everyone. The Fathers and Doctors of the Church held this opinion, teaching that men are obliged to come to the relief of the poor and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods.(10) If one is in extreme necessity, he has the right to procure for himself what he needs out of the riches of others.(11) Since there are so many people prostrate with hunger in the world, this sacred council urges all, both individuals and governments, to remember the aphorism of the Fathers, "Feed the man dying of hunger, because if you have not fed him, you have killed him,"(12) and really to share and employ their earthly goods, according to the ability of each, especially by supporting individuals or peoples with the aid by which they may be able to help and develop themselves.

In economically less advanced societies the common destination of earthly goods is partly satisfied by means of the customs and traditions proper to the community, by which the absolutely necessary things are furnished to each member. An effort must be made, however, to avoid regarding certain customs as altogether unchangeable, if they no longer answer the new needs of this age. On the other hand, imprudent action should not be taken against respectable customs which, provided they are suitably adapted to present-day circumstances, do not cease to be very useful. Similarly, in highly developed nations a body of social institutions dealing with protection and security can, for its own part, bring to reality the common destination of earthly goods. Family and social services, especially those that provide for culture and education, should be further promoted. When all these things are being organized, vigilance is necessary to present the citizens from being led into a certain inactivity vis-a-vis society or from rejecting the burden of taking up office or from refusing to serve.

70. Investments, for their part, must be directed toward procuring employment and sufficient income for the people both now and in the future. Whoever makes decisions concerning these investments and the planning of the economy—whether they be individuals or groups of public authorities—are bound to keep these objectives in mind and to recognize their serious obligation of watching, on the one hand, that provision be made for the necessities required for a decent life both of individuals and of the whole community and, on the other, of looking out for the future and of establishing a right balance between the needs of present-day consumption, both individual and collective, and the demands of investing for the generation to come. They should also always bear in mind the urgent needs of underdeveloped countries or regions. In monetary matters they should beware of hurting the welfare of their own country or of other countries. Care should also be taken lest the economically weak countries unjustly suffer any loss from a change in the value of money.
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Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Joseph,

Thank you for this it is really beautiful and useful. What lovely language too especially in the first principle you quote above.

I particularly like this:

Quote:
Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should be in abundance for all in like manner.


It reminds me of another well known phrase 'justice tempered with mercy'.

Best wishes, Leonie
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Joseph Milne



Joined: 17 Apr 2008
Posts: 326
Location: Herne Bay, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad you liked it, Leonie. There is a lot to ponder there!

Joseph
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Brian Chance



Joined: 09 Nov 2008
Posts: 115
Location: Croydon Surrey U.K.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Leonie says, this is beautiful and it is beautiful because it is the truth.

“Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should be in abundance for all”

This is how life could be lived and I believe that there is an increasing hunger to find the way to move in that direction. Is it not extraordinary that the natural law to make this possible is somehow constantly obscured?
Perhaps it is time for those of us who own our homes to look into our hearts. Where do those increases in house values actually come from? That still small voice has the answer. They are a loss to somebody else. It is the ownership of the land under homes that in this country separates the rich from the poor and makes Pope Paul’s world a hopeless dream.
We know the solution but we need to find words as simple and powerful as those of Pope Paul to show those who are searching.
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Joseph Milne



Joined: 17 Apr 2008
Posts: 326
Location: Herne Bay, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it is indeed beautiful and true, and yet the natural law, which once was recognised as written in very heart, has become obscured. Or rather, it has been relegated to an impossible utopia. The economists and philosophers of the Enlightenment sought a compromise between utility and ethics. They believed that a society of essentially good people, which Plato and Aristotle speak of, was not feasible. Therefore a code of mitigated self-interest was conceived as a practical or pragmatic option. Thus if each individual pursues their own ends without harming anyone else, this will turn out best for the greatest number.

What is forgotten in this compromise is that Nature does not work for the interests of each part for itself, but for the sake of the whole. And a society is not really a society that does not work for the good of the whole. Thus this simple and obvious truth:

Quote:
“Whatever the forms of property may be, as adapted to the legitimate institutions of peoples, according to diverse and changeable circumstances, attention must always be paid to this universal destination of earthly goods. In using them, therefore, man should regard the external things that he legitimately possesses not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others.”


Speaking of the divine order of the universe, Plato says in the Laws:

Quote:
He who supervises everything has put all things together with a view to the safely and virtue of the whole, and each part suffers and does what befits it, insofar as it can. Rulers have been set up over the suffering and activity of each of these at any time, down to the smallest aspect, and they have achieved perfection to the last detail. And one of these is your part, stubborn one, and it constantly strives and looks toward the whole, even though it is entirely small; but it has escaped your notice, in this very regard, that all generation comes into being for the sake of this: that a happy existence might characterize the life of the whole – it hasn’t come into being for your sake, but you for the sake of it. For every doctor and every artful craftsman does everything for the sake of the whole, creating a part which strives for what is best in common, for the sake of the whole, and not the whole for the sake of the part. (Laws, 903b)


Unlike the other species, man has the choice of seeking to live in accord with the perfect order of Nature or of following lesser desires. But if he lives according to lesser desires he not only misses the perfect end of Nature, he also denies his own natural reason which he has for the sake of fulfilling his vocation within the whole. Nature is merciful and does not compel man to live in accord with the natural order or truth of things. Nature allows society to deviate far from the common good, yet this gradually builds up a debt which must one day be paid. In living out of accord with Nature we see the destruction this is doing to the earth. The Natural Law calls us from all sides, and offers the solution to all our problems and sufferings. All that is required is listening to our own natural reason and the natural inclination of the heart to goodness.

I say “all that is required” knowing perfectly well it is an enormous task. But is there anything better to attempt?

Joseph
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