Two economies

Let’s call it the Augustine Group. Why Augustine? Because it was Augustine who said that there are two cities, that is, two societies – the Church and the world. In the ‘City of God’ Augustine says there are these two distinct communities, one is hidden in the other. There is ‘Society’, our nation or whatever other community we identify with, and within it there is that other community we call the Church. Everything that we have to say depends on the distinction between Society and the Church, or between the Church and the world, or between the Christian and non-Christian. The distinction between them and the comparison between them that it allows us to make, is the basis of any Christian contribution to economics. We simply contrast these two societies.
Our starting point is that Christian baptism is the fundamental distinction. The non-baptised non-Christian is the man of the present. The baptised, the Christian, is the man of the present and the future. He is present, here and now, but the future is also hidden within him. The non-Christian is the creature of just one time – this time, now. But the Christian is man of two times, the present and the future, and he combines the present and future. He binds this present fragmentary time into that whole and entire time, so that through him what is partial receive its renewal from the whole. He combines the short-term and the long-term, so that together they belong to the that unbroken time we call eternity.
The Church is the economy of love. It is exactly like any a single household, made of members of a family who love one another. The Church is a single family; its members treat one another as brothers and sisters, parents and children. They do not charge one another for their services because they do not regard each other as members of different households.
We can not only say that there are two societies, but also that there are two economies, the present worldly economy and the present-and-future eternal economy. The present worldly economy is one in which men compete for glory and honour, but within it there are little economies – households – in which a man and woman are bound to one another in love. The Church is that unique entity that combines these two, for it is the household united by love which extends to include all. It is the world become a single family and household. This enables us to ask what features of this economy will help it to last and so to have a future (and stretch towards eternity), and to ask what features make the future of this economy more doubtful. The contrast between the economy of the Church and the economy of the world enables us to ask about the long-term of the economy of the world, and so the contrast between them is the basis of any Christian analysis of economics and the economy.

Why hasn’t anyone done there what we did here?

Melanie Phillips – I had the privilege of getting to know Irving Kristol a little in the last years of his life. ‘Explain about Britain’ he would say to me more than once. ‘Why hasn’t anyone done there what we did here, set up publications and think-tanks and talk radio to break the power of the Left in the universities? I just can’t understand why everyone is just sitting there and letting it happen! What’s wrong with them all?’

Double our debt? Not a chance!

Karl Denniger at Market Ticker – The fact of the matter is that you have been lied to for the last decade about our economic state, and if we do not divert from the road we are on our economy, our monetary system and our government WILL COLLAPSE.

The correct action to take in 2000 was to force the bad credit from the system and accept the impact on GDP. It would have caused about a 10% contraction in GDP at that time – a mild Depression (or a really nasty recession, depending on how you count it.) Now, having instead blown another credit bubble, we essentially doubled the debt in the system over the last ten years, while GDP grew by about 40%. The result of this was a horrible stock market crash, 6.7 million jobs lost (and underreported), personal income tax receipts are down 21%, corporate tax receipts are down 58%, the deficit is tracking at $1.8 trillion this year alone (and $9 trillion more predicted over the next decade), government is now spending nearly 200% of taxes taken in, 13% of mortgages are either delinquent or in foreclosure, more than 20% of all FHA loans are delinquent or in foreclosure, home prices have fallen by half in many places and are not done declining and the rest of the world is wondering if we’re going to try to hyperinflate and destroy our currency. If we try to double our debt once again over the next ten years we won’t make it there. The available free cash flow cannot support the interest payments now, and won’t be able to if we add more debt to the system.

For a clear and patient explanation of the results of this widening gulf between slow-growing GDP and rapidly-growing compound debt interest see Chris Martenson’s Crash Course (chapter transcripts beneath each video)

Is our affirmation your right?

Rusty Reno on an emerging right to cultural approval and endorsement in Marriage, Morality and Culture

The controversial question of same-sex marriage marks decisive new phase in our cultural drive toward an every deeper freedom to live as one pleases. Freedom from censure is no longer sufficient. Today, we see an emerging right to cultural approval and endorsement… Our present and widespread social censure of moral censure inculcates and reinforces a non-judgmental ethos. Now we are embarking on a much more aggressive program. Everybody should have access to the cultural symbols of affirmation. …
But we cannot turn culture into the equivalent of a public access channel. As Aristotle explained in his account of moral formation and human flourishing, culture humanizes us by demanding our obedience. Happiness does not come from living according to your desires. It comes from desiring to live according to demanding and disciplining social norms that transcend individual desires….It is sociologically incoherent to imagine that we can both radically redefine marriage and transfer its “transcendent, cultural, and social significanceâ€? to same-sex couples, as if the former does not alter and undermine the later.

Empedocles at A Pox on Both Your Houses is on the same theme with Social historical kinds and Marriage

The question we must ask is not what is the definition of marriage, but what is its function. The function of marriage is to provide an environment for he successful raising of children. This is the only explanation that accords with its historical origins (although the forms it has taken through the centuries has differed). And as I mentioned, for each function there will be attendant virtues. Love is the primary virtue of marriage; it is what allows a marriage to perform its function of providing an environment that is safe, stable, healthy, and nurturing for children to be born into. There are other virtues in addition to love that allow a marriage to perform its function: having the means to support the child…

and Multicultural elitism

Multiculturalism would say that it is the majority that must give up their cultural practice and adopt the practice of the minority group, that unless the majority accommodates the cultural practice of the minority, some moral evil has occurred. Thus we see all these ridiculous efforts in the western world to appease other cultures by abandoning their own cultural practice and accepting practices and demands that they would normally not…. Multiculturalism, thus requires that everyone else remain monocultural while we good multiculturalists float above all cultures, enjoying all the various cultural production of the Earth. And so multiculturalism requires a two-tiered system: a foundation of monocultures, and an upper-crust of those multiculturalists who do the celebrating of diversity….despite multiculturalism’s egalitarian rhetoric, it is in fact an elitist ideology, requiring two separate systems in order to exist.


Money: A Crisis of Value St Paul’s Cathedral Institute’s 2009 series will address the moral questions raised by the dramatic financial situation, and whether opportunities for society’s good can come from the economic crisis.

A profound misunderstanding of the human person

Today ours is an increasingly diverse society in which we can observe the fragmentation of shared values and the emergence of extremist action, with profound on-going effects. In response to this emerging situation, our society has, on the whole, remained with its same priorities and pushed forward with the cause of the individual and of personal autonomy as the central values on which to build. The logical consequence of this is a particular and radical understanding of society itself. In this view, society as such exists to keep the peace between people of quite divergent views. Society’s task, basically, is to protect us from each other. In fact this is the core ‘credo’ of a secular, liberal society: society is the peaceful coexistence of potential or real enemies. This thinking underlies much of our public culture. The ‘social cohesion’ currently being sought is, it seems to me, based on this premise.
Yet this premise is, of course, quite inadequate. It is inadequate simply because it does not reflect the concerns and culture by which most people actually live. Up and down our society, in families, within friendships, even as neighbours, and in the very notion of civic friendship within many towns and villages, we seek for something far more than ‘protection from each other’. We share dreams and ambitions; we gather round mutual interests and enthusiasms; we appreciate ‘good things’ together; we still share, in these groups, patterns of thought, or at least profound instincts, about what is to be held as good and wholesome, and what it not. Within all these groups there is a great deal of shared perception (or moral belief) about what is ‘the good life’. These values, and the reflection that carries them, continue to be handed on from generation to generation, adjusted and enriched as that is done.
Yet these patterns of moral reflection, for that is what they are, are often marginalised by being unrecognised, disowned or sentimentalised within our public culture. Hence they are gradually being eroded. They are, in fact, being replaced by a static appeal to the opinions of a supposed majority or of well-organised pressure groups. ‘Political correctness’ is a typical and central expression of this process. And within political correctness, as a method of establishing a public moral culture, as many examples how, reasoning is minimised as a way of making moral judgements. In fact we can say that in forming our public culture we have moved away from rational ethics, the detailed discussion of difference, into a public strategy that is determined simply to control all expressions of difference, often removing difference from the public forum, for difference is seen as a potential point of conflict.
The roots of this thinking, and the project of social cohesion that flows from it, lie in a profound misunderstanding of the human person.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham Social Cohesion and Catholic Education (PDF)

Far-sighted investment in future stability

Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien Homily preached at Mass for Pentecost 2009 St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh

Before any society can prosper and endure it must give support and encouragement to the institution of marriage and the place of the family. As a society we have failed utterly to do this and have instead in recent years acted again and again to undermine marriage and weaken the family: in abolishing tax benefits for married couples; creating tax credits which favour couples who are not married; giving legal status to cohabitees; speeding up divorce and creating same sex marriages. In these and other ways we have attacked and damaged the foundation stone of our society, the foundation on which any stable society is built. I think of the tuition and support available to young people as they prepare to sit their driving test. Our government knows that a stringent test and structured tuition at the start will pay dividends later in better driving standards and fewer accidents. I would hope that we will now try to see marriage preparation in the same light; and encourage those who are living together outwith marriage to consider preparing for that great Sacrament. What we require is nothing less than a nationwide programme of marriage preparation courses and ongoing reconciliation services to help couples who inevitably face difficulties and strains in their relationship. This must all be funded at public expense as a far sighted investment in future stability and will offset the multi-billion pound cost of family fracture, divorce, breakdown, depression and social collapse we currently pay for. I see this as not a competition between morality and money, but rather a recognition that embracing morality can potentially save us vast amounts of money.

The Church-State relationship in Scotland is very different from England. Here the bishop talks as a bishop must, like a schoolmaster, with the directness that comes from compassion. He reasons pragmatically, from common good, even from the common purse. Of course O’Brien is a Roman Catholic bishop and Cardinal. So, my dear bishops of the Church of England, can you do likewise? Or shall we leave you and follow the Cardinal?