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You Can't Buy Your Way to Social Justice

You Can't Buy Your Way to Social Justice

Why the activism of some fellow Americans scares me.

I'm afraid of some American Christians.

I am an American, but I haven't lived in the United States in a while. I live in Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa, and when you pick me up at the Minneapolis airport, I might invite you to ...

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Displaying 31–35 of 94 comments.

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Roger McKinney

May 21, 2013  9:25am

Paul, you’re doing battle with a straw man of your own fevered socialist imagination. Economics does not “reduce human work to the primary purpose of maximizing material gain.” Economics merely assumes that most people despise poverty and shows how to reduce it. No company, except a government established monopoly, can make a profit without serving customers better than competitors because customers can choose not to buy a service or product. Profits demonstrate who serves people the best. I don’t understand why Christians accept crude economic illiteracy as something spiritual but would find other scientific literacy shameful.

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Roger McKinney

May 21, 2013  9:25am

No leading free marketeer has ever advocated for totally unregulated markets. All have insisted on the rule of law punishing theft and fraud. The Popes are either dishonest in promoting the straw man fallacy or ignorant. The Church’s policy seems to be that the state should limit markets to the point that people begin to starve to death then back off a little. I don’t need to provide references because there are dozens of articles on the internet about it if you cared to do a little work. To understand why your activism hurts poor people, you need to understand basic economics. Once you understand economics it’s just common sense. Choose what you want to believe. I don’t care. Destroy the lives of poor people all you want and tell yourself you did it for their own good. Stubbornly refuse to understand how economies really work. But I don’t see how ignorance makes someone more spiritual.

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Clark Coleman

May 21, 2013  7:33am

Has it occurred to the purchasers of fair trade coffee that coffee is a silly luxury, not to mention the fact that it is a chemical dependency? Would it not be better for them to take their coffee budget and use it to give extra money to the church? With all the talk of how Christian stewardship should point us to living more simply, I would think that coffee would be on the list of things to eliminate from our lives completely, so I don't see how drinking any particular coffee is all that righteous.

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Paul Schryba

May 20, 2013  9:54pm

All economics, beyond material availability, is based on human behavior. Human economics has no existence apart from human behavior. Material consumption is based on human choice. Christian doctrine affirms that humans have free will. Human beings are commanded by Christ to love- not to maximize material gain. The purpose of work is for love and service, to share our gifts and talents. To reduce human work to the primary purpose of maximizing material gain, is idolatrous. ("You cannot serve God and money.") A method of distributing goods and services are needed; 'economics' in that sense in not evil, but necessary. However, when people are reduced as means to material ends, where maximizing material gain becomes the PRIMARY goal, then man serves economics- not the other way around. The purpose of GM is to provide transportation; if it does it effectively and efficiently, it is rewarded with profit. In our idolatry, the purpose of GM is to make money-transportation is the means.

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Paul Schryba

May 20, 2013  8:59pm

Roger: If you read Catholic teaching, you will see that Catholics are not at all opposed to 'free markets'- only unregulated free markets where the desire for 'profit' harms human dignity. Catholic teaching does affirm a greater role for government intervention in the economy than your beliefs allow. According to you, you imply that purchasing goods that are made at fair wages, in good working conditions, and with environmental considerations will hurt the poor by increasing unemployment. You give no references. If that will hurt the poor, than that implies that buying goods made at bare subsistence wages, in poor conditions, created using environmentally harmful methods alone will help the poor. I do not believe that is true. I do not believe that is morally defensible. I will choose to support, where I have a choice, those businesses that pay a just wage, with good conditions, made in an environmentally friendly manner. Love my neighbors-not seek to maximize profit from them.

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Displaying 31–35 of 94 comments.

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