Sunday, January 24, 2016

Living the Decent Life

Recently, the world news reported how a few rich persons have more wealth than billions of the poor. We have heard similar news repeatedly over the years, and  wealth continues to be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer persons, and unless something is done, matters will only get worse.

Catholic Times' column on the issue reminds the readers that for a Christian, God in his creation intended the goods of creation to be enjoyed by all. "God intended the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being. Thus, as all men follow justice and unite goods should abound for them on a reasonable basis" (The Church Today # 69).

Catholicism has not denied the right to private poverty, but it is not the highest right. Abuse of this right of private property should be regulated with certain limitations. Development of the market and increase of money is not always for the benefit of all the citizens.  

Thinking that economic development alone is going to be distributed to all the citizens is false. The increase of the national wealth, has as in the past, made the gap between the haves, and the have-nots  larger. Economic development is a good  when it benefits all the citizens. Markets should be controlled by mechanisms that will help to make an adequate distribution of wealth.

It is not that we have a lack of food that people go hungry, nor a lack of clothing for the  many who  do not have clothes to wear. The reason that children are dying in Africa from sickness is the market system is not working. "Seeing their poverty, hearing their cries and knowing their sufferings. We are scandalized because we know there is enough food for everyone, and that hunger is the result of a poor distribution of goods and income. The problem is made worse by the generalized practice of wastefulness” (Joy of the Gospel #191).

We need to meditate on these words of Pope Francis. When the economy is doing well not all benefit and when big business does well not all do well. To help all live decently there is a need for restrictions on personal wealth and freedom of the market, and expansion of welfare. 'Common good thinking' should be our  goal: not only the ethical thing to do but the way we will all live the decent life.

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