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Winters goes after Laissez-faire

In continuation of his discussion of libertarianism, Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter goes after the idea of laissez-faire. I actually agree with much of what he says on what is really crony capitalism, although I make a few distinctions of my own. You can read his work at Sadly, he won't comment on mine - as in the world of ideas, if you are not paid to blog, he ignores you.

Laissez-faire believes in a free market until it doesn't. Instead, it believes in the power of the market and those who are able to control it and, to the greatest extent possible, employees and the government. While they say workers can always leave (and their rights are as important as consumer rights), in practice they do not. Indeed, in some Latin American countries, capitalists do not blanch at the death of workers that try to organize against their absolute right to control the workforce. Even in China, the Communist paradise, attempting to strike or organize an independent union can get you killed. At Wal-Mart it can get you fired. It is possible to be a capitalist and observed Christian personal morality to a tee - attending Church and even being such a good donor that the bishop wants to meet you at whatever social event takes place to support the Lenten Appeal. It is impossible, however, to be a capitalist and adhere to the Church's economic gospel. It is also possible to be a Marxist and believe in Christ. Its called liberation theology. There is something to it - because Jesus stands with the workers - although he does not stand for violence in their name. Indeed, Democratic socialists have found that violent Marxism is its own kind of state capitalism - Laissez-faire for the leaders of the revolution.

There is a type of libertarianism which, I am sure, Acton does not go with: social libertarianism - and its close kin - social liberalism. These ideologies may or may not believe in some level of government regulation of the marketplace - the more toward liberalism the more economic regulation is seen as essential. Indeed, these ideologies are quite in agreement with the value of solidarity as the Church teaches it. They may even believe in personal morality - however they do not believe it should be enshrined into law. Neither birth control nor abortion may be banned - nor recreational drugs, alcohol or cigarrettes. This is not because we believe in the virtues of smoking but because laws to do so, absent the unanimity of the General Will, violate the consciences of those who disagree when the general will does not exist. In other words, they require enforcement by a police state. I am sure that there are those in the USCCB that prefer Acton's libertarianism to social libertarianism because they consider the latter to be an attack on morality. It is not. It is an attack on the forced morality of the Pharasees. You know what that means? Jesus is with us too.

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