Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Epstein on Buffett . . . and the Pope

Prof. Richard Epstein writes, here, that Warren Buffett is like the Pope . . . in being misguided about morality and the market economy.  He writes: 

A successful and sustainable political order requires stable legal and economic policies that reward innovation, spur growth, and maximize the ability of rich and poor alike to enter into voluntary arrangements. Limited government, low rates of taxation, and strong property rights are the guiding principles.

Unfortunately, many spiritual and economic leaders are working overtime to push social policy in the exact opposite direction. At the top of the list are two prominent figures: Pope Benedict XVI and financier Warren Buffett. . . .


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I don't think the Pope, even in Caritas et Veritate precludes Epstien's formulation. Of course, Epstein's formulation may be necessary for the success and stability of the American political order, but not sufficient. That sufficiency is shored up by considering Catholic Social Teaching.

Also, see this 2006 quote from Benedict XVI, which I think remains in line with the Pope's social encyclical:

"The faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics."
-(chiesa.espressonline May 29, 2006)

Posted by: CK | Aug 23, 2011 1:26:17 PM

At this incredibly late date, with so much damage done in the name of the Pelagian/Libertartian fantasy world pushed by ideological publicists like this Epstein chap....WHO CARES???????????

Posted by: Bruce Cole | Aug 23, 2011 2:18:39 PM

I think it is intellectually dishonest to suggest Love in Truth or God is Love or even the entire Tradition of the magisterium has much support for libertarianism, which is what Epstein espouses.

This does not judge the correctness of these views, but a Church dramatically shaped by Western and European culture (which Benedict has indicated was not "accidental") has no Tradiiton of libertarianism.

Epstein "outs" the pope as being opposed to libertarian strains of thought. In the Catholic blogosphere, half the effort to excoriate Epstein is based on the idea that the pope finds libertarianism as laudable and morally praiseworthy. Epstein correctly notes this is in error. The pope rejects limited-government Paul Ryan-esque approaches to social welfare support from the government. Again, this is not a judgement on the correct-ness of this position.

It does inform ill-considered mass support from American, conservative Catholics for commentary (in highly read conservative journals) that the promotion of welfare is "class war," promotes "violations of the Tenth Commandments," and promotes envy. This glorification of political positions is a novel theological approach to condemn the social welfare state and lacks historical support. This again is not a discussion og the correctnesss of this position, just that this position exists, lacks any historical role in the Tradition or the magisterium, and is misplaced in its vehemence in blog commentary.

But conservatives need to accept the fact the pope is not on their side on this matter and cease the pretense that this life-long German beneficiary of the social welfare structures of Europe is really a Red State closet Ayn Rand advocate. He is not.

Posted by: Dan | Aug 25, 2011 8:37:52 AM