Is a “profit alone” mentality enough for a business or for a nation? If the economy is running well, should we bother to look any deeper, or just leave well enough alone?
Carly Andrews, at Aleteia, says profit alone isn’t good enough, based upon a presentation that professors Alberto Quadrio Curzio and Giovanni Marseguerra made at a recent Vatican conference. The pair spoke primarily about three parts of Catholic social teaching that they believe would help the global economy.
Examined first is the issue of subsidiarity. This is the teaching that says those closest to an issue or problem should be the ones to deal with it. For instance, local church food banks are best equipped to assess needs in their area, know where to get food, what types of food are best for their consumers, etc.
In a call for subsidiarity we therefore see a call – to some extent – for government decentralization, that is, a limited government, allowing for an increase in personal freedom and responsibility, which prof. Curzio and Marseguirra claim puts the “creativity of the person” into action, “stimulating the participation of social intermediary bodies, including communities, in the production of goods and services and constructing and aggregating in solidarity.”
Next is the teaching on solidarity, or the ideal of doing good not simply for myself, but for the common welfare. I seek not only what is best for me, but what is best for all concerned. This puts a distinctly different light on the “profit-above-all-else” mentality.
Finally, Curzio and Marseguerra look at the combination of subsidiarity and solidarity, or development.
According to Curzio and Marseguerra, the world’s current crisis requires us to rethink our approach towards international relations and rediscover a “dynamic solidarity” expressed in three components of development: economic development, “promoted by institutions, society, business”; intergenerational development, which is based on “sustainable social security systems that leads to the valorization of the family”; social development, which “promotes the cohesion of society.”
Andrews also spoke to Andrew Abela, Dean of the School of Business & Economics and Associate Professor of Marketing at the Catholic University of America. Abela wants to be clear that America, with its focus on profits, is losing sight of a bigger and more important picture.
We’ve made an enormous mistake in America in particular, thinking of corporations or companies as being solely oriented towards profitability,” he states. “And the reality of any company is that is simply not the case, to the extent that you reduce down your goals solely to profitability, you have a company that won’t stand the test of time.”
He therefore expressed the importance of providing a place for solidarity in the workplace, that is, “for those human interactions that extend beyond the marketplace within the workforce,” and then, he explains, this solidarity is “complimentary with subsidiarity, since you are empowering people, respecting their ability in the workplace, and treating them as people with their full dignity.”
Andrews goes on to cite Obamacare as one of our nation’s worst violations of the teaching on subsidiarity: it takes out local control of health care completely and allocates it to a distant, bloated, and bureaucratic government.
Could our economy benefit from an understanding of Catholic Social Teaching? It is certainly worth our time to have the discussion.
Read “Can Catholic Social Principles Save the Economy?” at Aleteia.