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Moralnomics: What the US Bishops Fail to Realize

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Originally posted in April, 2012

Item: Members of the USCCB have criticized the recent budget proposals of Congressman Paul Ryan, and even labeled some of them in part to be “immoral.”

It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant many of the bishops are of economic realities, including the ever-increasing danger of more government involvement in our lives through wealth confiscation.  So despite their “partial awakening” based on the health care mandate in Obamacare, it comes as no surprise, then, that the bishops still live in their fairy-tale world where a would-be “moral government” largely replaces voluntary charity through compulsory taxation and redistribution as it sees fit.  In such a world, various attempts to curb the dangerous growth of government (like those proposed by Paul Ryan) are seen as “immoral” whenever such attempts impact favored programs of government-directed redistribution.

But is it really that simple, or are the bishops failing to see the malevolent impact of a growing government despite some good intentions?  Is it wise to keep making deals with a devil to accomplish ends that could and should be accomplished by other means?

What follows is a series of related questions concerning a few more things to ponder when looking at the morality of government economic actions and the support for such actions provided by US Bishops.  I hope they provide good and beneficial food for thought.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Do most US Bishops ever receive any real training or education in economics and entrepreneurship to give them a better understanding of the private economy? 
  2. Do most US Bishops believe that the government must be more involved in helping the poor instead of calling on the government to give way to private charities?  Have the US Bishops ever called upon the US government to look for ways to turn its control of various programs over to private concerns? 
  3. Do the US Bishops really understand that government money obtained through taxation is money forcibly taken from the people?  Do they further understand that money obtained in this matter does not constitute charitable giving? 
  4. Do the US bishops believe more in the virtue of private charity or forced redistribution? 
  5. Do the US Bishops fully understand that the Catholic Church cannot do the charitable things it does without voluntary contributions?  Why not advocate the same approach for helping the poor without government involvement or direction? 
  6. Do the US Bishops fully appreciate the lessons set forth in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus (1991)?  How often do they refer to those sections of the encyclical that promote private enterprise over government programs of redistribution? 
  7. Do the US Bishops recognize that the more government redistribution programs there are, the less people can and will give voluntarily?  By advocating more and more government programs, the bishops are supporting the reality of more and more people not having the means to give freely in a Christ-like manner.  Isn’t the development of individual souls more important than a government program? 
  8. Do the US Bishops recognize that the more power given to the government via higher taxation, the more power the government gains to impose all sorts of things on the people,…like health care mandates?

Bonus Question Not Limited to Economics and the Role of the Government

  1. Will the US Bishops ever write a public letter directly to President Obama that sets forth many of his positions and policies that are objectively immoral, and then unequivocally declare them to be immoral without using any kind of euphemistic language?

Now that would be an extremely moral and upright thing to do.

May the Good Lord increase the wisdom of the US Bishops and the rest of the faithful with each passing day.




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