Inequality and CEO Pay

Inequality and CEO Pay

Should we care about income or wealth inequality? Plenty of economists and plenty of Christians think we should. Catholics (should) have the default position that all people have equal human dignity, from the unborn to the infirm. Contrasting this position with data that shows incomes for CEOs of big American companies vs. agrarian workers in developing countries causes people to push for high taxes on the rich faster than you can say “preferential option for the poor.” A few thoughts: 1) God blesses people with different talents (so much so that there is even a parable with that title). These talents may of themselves result in some people being paid more or less than others, since some talents can be pretty much universally valuable (strength, work ethic, compassion, honesty, intelligence, empathy, etc.). Other talents may command higher or lower wages based on changing trends, technologies, fads, etc., which are out of the worker’s control (see here for more). So, there is a lot that a worker can do to control his own wage, but some that is out of his control. Thus, we have a moral obligation to help those with lower income than we, as is obvious on virtually every page of Scripture. Likewise, though, we shouldn’t expect perfect income or wealth equality, as St. Maximilian Kolbe understood. Attempts to equalize (by force of law) the sizes of the slices of the pie inevitably result in a shrinking of the pie. The poor might get a larger share of income, but at the expense of making society at large worse off. 2) The topic of income or wealth inequality...
They incested, er, insisted there is no slippery slope.

They incested, er, insisted there is no slippery slope.

Supporters of traditional marriage occasionally suggest that, once the green light is/was given for same-sex marriage on the principle that marriage is for two consenting adults who love each other, then there is no reason why other types of relationships should be excluded or shunned. Polite, progressive society mocks these Chickens Little as posing a reductio ad absurdem that soon we will have state-sanctioned polyamory, pedophilia, bestiality, and let’s throw in necrophilia for good measure. Not only are traditional marriage supporters today’s version of the KKK, but they have such outlandish and unfounded fears! Exhibit A:  “Australian judge says incest may no longer be a taboo.” “[T]he only reason it is criminal is potential birth abnormalities, which can be solved by abortion.” Do they have a different definition of “solved” down under? Exhibit 2: “Incest a ‘fundamental right’, German committee says.” “Government-backed group said relationships between brothers and sisters should be legal.” I don’t know if it’s significant, but both stories are from the Telegraph; all the incestuous news that’s fit to print? It looks like they even used the same hand-holding couple in the pictures but just had them change outfits. So, let’s hope for some consistency. Supporters of “marriage equality” should be expected to support such Aussie and German trends, no? If the requirement is “consenting adults who love each other,” then incest can fit the bill. There is no logical reason to defend same-sex “marriage” but oppose incestuous marriages. The fact that the Australian judge even brought up children is moot since the same-sex debate discards any consideration of children or anything else besides the two consenting adults...
Watch these before quoting me a social encyclical

Watch these before quoting me a social encyclical

I’ve been largely absent from blogging the past few weeks (you’re welcome!) due to work. Weren’t all-nighters supposed to end in grad school? Anyway, I stumbled across a series of four videos that would make excellent primers for anyone interested in economic or political issues, including folks of a religious inclination who wish to bring Christian social thought to bear on such issues. I’ve been saying, until I’m blue in the face, that Catholics will never be taken seriously in the policy arena unless we get our economic and political understanding right. Unfortunately, most offered Catholic opinions, informed as they are on Catholic social teaching (Rerum Novarum and such) are usually woefully ignorant of even basic economics (sometimes admittedly so). It’s great to know that the Church supports a living wage, but what exactly does that mean in practice? Is it even possible to practically implement? While the Church’s voice can legitimately be taken seriously in debates on bioethics, because Catholics have delved deeply into that and related disciplines, it seems to almost proudly stand aloof from the discipline of economics. Check that; I suppose one could consider the antiquated antagonism of the “capital vs. labor” mentality as a branch of economics, but it’s been overturned for a few centuries now. Despite that, the Church and her social theorists seem determined to cling to economic theories that still want to rage against the (literal) machine. These four videos provide some refreshing insights for those interested in Catholic social doctrine. Since papal encyclicals are not infallible, even those that suggest that human laborers have more dignity than human capitalists, keep...
Conservatives and the Culture of Death

Conservatives and the Culture of Death

Some of my best friends are conservatives. Okay, since I’d probably consider myself a Catholic classical liberal, I line up with conservatives far more often than progressives. At one point I considered myself conservative without having to add qualifiers. My transition away from the label was slow and had many causes: Sean Hannity dressing down Fr. Thomas Euteneuer in an attempt to be Catholic and in favor of contraception; George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” which was statism-lite; the GOP’s complete abandonment of the principles of the Contract with America (remember wanting to abolish the Department of Education?); Michael Savage’s (and others’) anti-immigrant xenophobia; Mark Levin’s lame attempts at being outrageous; etc. I actually liked Sean Hannity for a while when he was more reserved and thoughtful. But then his intro theme to his radio show included the poetic line “♪ We’ll put a boot in your a**, ♫ it’s the American way ♪,” which seemed to signal his new direction. Essentially, most regular conservatives seemed to parrot the lines of media conservatives, who (in search of ratings, no doubt), preferred bombast to reasoned, sober argumentation. Name-calling and dismissals of folks deemed to be “big libs” was sufficient to defuse progressive beliefs. Of course, the grass certainly isn’t any greener on the progressive side, which seems heck-bent to adopt policy positions on the basis of whichever is furthest from orthodox Christianity. But two recent headline-grabbers again reaffirmed my desire to keep the modern conservative movement at arm’s length. First was Sarah Palin’s “waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists” line. It’s not easy to combine the advocating of torture with sacrilege and still keep it...
Good Friday morning read

Good Friday morning read

This is probably the third year in a row that I’ve recommended Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Discourse 16. Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion as a must-read for Good Friday. The stations of the cross and the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary focus us on the physical sufferings of Jesus, and perhaps some emotional ones too as He underwent the humiliation of the crowing of thorns and His naked crucifixion. We can overlook the tremendous mental sufferings He endured as He contemplated all of humanity’s sins against the all-good and all-loving God. Read it all, and then end with his closing prayer: O Heart of Jesus, all Love, I offer Thee these humble prayers for myself, and for all those who unite themselves with me in Spirit to adore Thee. O holiest Heart of Jesus most lovely, I intend to renew and to offer to Thee these acts of adoration and these prayers, for myself a wretched sinner, and for all those who are associated with me in Thy adoration, through all moments while I breathe, even to the end of my life. I recommend to Thee, O my Jesus, Holy Church, Thy dear spouse and our true Mother, all just souls and all poor sinners, the afflicted, the dying, and all mankind. Let not Thy Blood be shed for them in vain. Finally, deign to apply it in relief of the souls in Purgatory, of those in particular who have practised in the course of their life this holy devotion of adoring...