"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, August 08, 2016

Is "You're Fired" unChristian?


Over at dotCommonweal, Catholic leftist Anthony Arnett takes a predictable elitist swipe at Donald Trump, businessman via the Vatican’s Vocation of the Business Leader.

Let us tread carefully in weaponizing the social guidance of the Catholic Church. Certainly if Trump deals unjustly, there’s a case against him.

However, it’s not ex cathedra Church teaching that Adam Smith is bunk, that running a business as efficiently as possible is somehow anti-human, anti-Christian or anti-God. It is not immoral to fire an incompetent employee.

If Adam Smith is correct, the “invisible hand” is part of the natural law

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”

and we are not commanded to ignore our God-given reason in creating prosperity. If an employee can't cut a good steak, make a potable brew, or get the bread to rise, he's gotta go.

Indeed, here’s an interesting piece on a little-known piece by Pope Pius VI instructing the thinkers in the Church to study Smith carefully.
Our predecessors of happy memory never hesitated to hold fast to what is true and good, and it is in that spirit that we write concerning the publication of an erudite volume entitled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
Within its pages, we find a charted design for the liberation of the masses of peoples from the causalities of tyranny, oligarchy and Gallicanism. The preservation of liberty and the free exchange of goods highlight the many useful elements of this volume. That the human race is marked indelibly by image of our Creator, which reckons freedom and reason as its components, has been advocated therein.

2 comments:

Tonestaple said...

I don't think Adam Smith had it quite right: the regard for their own self-interest. That doesn't seem to include everyone and it won't be terribly persuasive to an awful lot of Christian folks who think acting in one's own interest is getting pretty close to sin. But if you state it as something like "People only act for gain," you can get further. Even monks and nuns act to gain although their goal is not material; it's closeness to God. And the rest of us act for various kinds of gain: love of family, material goods, and closeness to God. But we only act if we have a goal which may or may not be naked self-interest.

Tom Van Dyke said...

FTR, Smith is quite altruistic toward the poor, and is fine with only the rich paying a carriage tax that provides a benefit to all who use the roads [akin to a graduated income tax].

However, the Catholic Church does not [or shouldn't] treat commerce as firstly an altruistic act; prosperity is not created by giving away the store. In fact, it will soon close, and then nobody eats.