Economics and purposeful human action

Economics involves the study of purposeful human action. When economists write about “methodological individualism” as being at the basis of their subject, some Christians have a tendency to think that this is problematic: after all, we are called to live in society. However, methodological individualism simply means that it is only the individual that can act purposefully. We should not think of the economy as an abstraction. Economic decisions, outcomes and even complex social structures ultimately arise from the decisions of individuals. If there is dire poverty, oppression and corruption in a country, this does not happen without sinful actions by individuals in the economic sphere. Even if structures of sin exist, whereby the culture is so warped that we find it almost impossible to resist the temptation to sin ourselves (for example, if we simply cannot run our small business without paying a bribe), as St. John Paul II reminded us, such structures of sin always derive from the actions of individuals. That is true even if those actions were historical and interact with the actions of many others.

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The NHS – an article of faith

The UK system of health provision is unusual. Our death rate from Covid is also unusual. It is widely reported that our figure for deaths per million of population is one of the highest in the developed world. We could look at this figure and put the blame in all sorts of places. If only we had tightened borders more quickly, we would have had fewer cases, and fewer deaths; if only we imposed lockdown more quickly; if only we had a population more willing to comply with the state’s desire to track and trace us; if only we were on two islands 2,500 miles from the next nearest large country; and so on…

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The family, the common good and government

St. Mary’s University continued its series of events on the Common Good, working with Caritas Social Action Network, the Centre for Social Justice and Together for the Common Good. The first event in the series can be watched at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23N5rqHn7FI and the second event on The Common Good and the Family will be available from the youtube channel shortly. Below is Cristine Odone’s contribution to the second event.

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Competition and co-operation – they are not alternatives

If you ask most people – perhaps Christians especially – what the opposite of competition is, they will suggest it is co-operation. So often you hear the phrase “co-operation not competition”. But co-operation is not the opposite of competition. Monopoly is the opposite of competition. I do wonder if any of the people who call for co-operation rather than competition have ever tried to run a businesses without co-operating with others: it would not be a success.

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Taking and returning liberties

AJP Taylor wrote in his Oxford History of England:

Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state beyond the post office and the policeman…He could travel abroad or leave his country forever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money without restriction or limit. He could buy goods from any country in the world on the same terms as he bought goods at home. For that matter a foreigner could spend his life in the country without permit and without informing the police…All this was changed by the impact of the Great War…The state established a hold over its citizens which though relaxed in peace time, was never to be removed and which the Second World War was again to increase. The history of the English people and the English State merged for the first time.

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Why Saving Catholic Schools from Covid’s Impact Is a National Imperative

Why Saving Catholic Schools from Covid’s Impact Is a National Imperative

This article was originally published in Forbes in July 2020. Previous articles on education have emphasised that Catholic social teaching has mandated that there should be no discrimination against Christian schools when it comes to funding education. This policy imperative runs into different obstacles in different political environments. This article looks at the challenges in the US, especially in the covid crisis.

“Go and set the world on fire.” Those simple words from St. Ignatius of Loyola coloured all of his works, most notably the establishment of the Jesuits, among whose leading contributions is Catholic education.

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Subsidiarity post-covid

Subsidiarity post-covid

“[I]t is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do.” (Quadragesimo anno, 79).

In the current crisis, there is much talk of “policy reset”. Some of that talk seems strange. We have the most centralised health service in the Western world and it has not obviously performed better than healthcare services in other countries. The NHS has also moved infected people out of hospitals and into care homes with disastrous consequences. Despite that, reliable sources in the UK government seem to be suggesting that, following the crisis, there will be a move to centralise political control of the NHS further and also that the NHS will take control of social care from local authorities.

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