Going My Way? Winding Through the Stumbling Blocks
Between Georgism and Catholicism
[A presentation made at the annual conference of the Council of
Georgist Organizations, held at the University of Scranton, and
cosponsored by the University in a program entitled
Rerum Novarum. Reprinted in GroundSwell, July-August
There have been and are many Georgist Catholics, and Catholic
Georgists. The divisions inside each group are perhaps as deep as
the divisions between them. This bodes well for future cooperation
between at least some Georgists and some Catholics.
Some outstanding Catholic Georgists or fellow-travelers in
politics have been Edward McGlynn, Al Smith, Edward Dunne, Daniel
Hoan, Margaret Haley, Joseph Tumulty, Mrs. Henry George, and Mark
Fagan. Some current Georgist/Catholics are John Kelly of Peoria,
Terry Dwyer of Canberra, and David Kromkowski of Maryland. Some of
them, like McGlynn and Smith, met stiff resistance from upper
echelons of the RCC hierarchy, but that is one of the internal
divisions we will explore. Some, like Patrick Ford and Terence
Powderly, submitted to the pressure.
As to McGlynn, this writer has researched his case and published
his findings in Henry George, Father Edward McGlynn, and Pope Leo
XIII. (NY: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 2000). Here I simply take
judicial notice of that monograph, rather than repeat
it. Copies are available from the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.
Catholic land reformers of other stripes have also met
hierarchical repression: the Worker Priests of France; the
Liberation Theologists of Brazil; etc. The knee-jerk reaction has
been to cry Marxism, and clamp down. (Now that the
Al-Qaeda bogey has displaced the Soviet one, some new approach may
be needed.) In turn, some Catholic land reformers in power have
suppressed the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and confiscated its
lands, as in Mexico. Catholic King Louis XV of France expelled the
Jesuits, who did not return until 1814, under aegis of The Holy
Alliance. Either way there has been considerable hostility. The
hierarchy has generally allied with big landowners, while many
priests, like France's Abbe Pierre, have identified with the
This paper surveys the issues in three classes: A, Issues that are
not peculiarly Catholic; B, Issues that are peculiarly Catholic; C,
Points of similarity and agreement. I have not come here to reopen
the Thirty Years War. My hope and intent is to foster
A. Issues that are not peculiarly Catholic
A-1. The Social Gospel vs. Individual Salvation
With the ascendancy of altar-calling evangelist Billy Graham,
Protestant Christianity leaped far away from the Social Gospel of,
say, Walter Rauschenbusch and Washington Gladden of the Progressive
Era. The Elmer Gantry phenomenon was of course well known before
that, as was the Monkey Trial culture of Dayton,
Tennessee, but they were on the downswing until the Cold War era.
Then, Protestant Americans responded en masse and without much
discretion, leading to caricatures of Graham like Jim and Tammy
Bakker, Paul Crouch, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell,
and the like. Like Graham, they attacked the social gospel at the
same time they preached individual salvation.
Recently, in heavily churched protestant Alabama, Professor Susan
Pace Hamill, a committed southern Methodist allied with a Baptist
school, sought to mobilize the churches to a progressive tax reform.
She focused on raising the trivial property taxes levied on giant
holders of timberlands. She did convert a popular politician, Gov.
Bob Riley. They enlisted a substantial minority of the churches, but
a majority, with most of the money, turned against them. The
majority of church leaders argued that a progressive tax system
would undercut their role as charity-givers.
Nothing in Georgism makes one oppose individual salvation, or
embrace sin. George himself was floridly religious, and many clergy
of all faiths took his part, while many anti-Georgist academicians
sneered at his effusiveness as emotionalism. But most
Georgists would give priority to some kind of social gospel.
Note, though, that some leading anti-Georgists were leaders of the
social gospel movement. Professors John B. Clark and Richard T. Ely
were highly visible, but their social gospel entailed privatizing
all lands, protecting them from property taxation, and traducing
Henry George and his ideas and allies.
One Catholic position on this, expressed by Brian Benestad, is
that overcoming evil deserves priority over improving
human institutions. It is more than just priority, but
virtual exclusion of any social gospel. Benestad holds that Georgism
(and other worldly reforms) may do more harm than good, by
misleading people into thinking the world may be saved without
overcoming personal sin.
There may be some truth in that. Many Georgists are too flippant
about their personal behavior, using their underlying Georgism as an
excuse. Some speculate in land, saying that institutional wrongs are
not cured by individual rights. The problem is, they forget that where
your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The older
they get the tighter they cling to that treasure. If they dont,
their wives and children do. I could name names, but so could you.
The point here, however, is that this issue is not peculiarly
Some Catholics may believe that it is: that the RCC has the only
pathway to salvation. Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said as much in 2000,
and as Benedict XVI repeated it in July 2007. Here we have the
problem of Evil within the RCC itself. Even if one believes that the
sacraments are divine, and that experiencing them will purify one
from Evil, the moral authority of the RCC and its officers has
dropped severely in the last few years, following a long series of
sex scandals, cover-ups, and heartless hardball litigation against
complaining victims, from coast to coast. The Diocese of San Diego
pleaded bankruptcy, and apparently lied to cover up the true value
of its assets, according to Federal Bankuptcy Judge Louise De Carl
Adler. In one ploy, they listed their landholdings at assessed
values, far below market values.
The Diocese of Los Angeles just agreed to pay out $600,000,000 to
victims of abuse. Articulate critics, including the L.A. Times,
freely allege that this payment is being made to protect Cardinal
Roger Mahony from being cross-examined under oath. The
profit-centered Times cannot afford to be careless about this, for
its market base includes the 4.2 million Catholics in Mahonys
Diocese. Mahonys critics include many local Catholics, while
Mahony himself commutes to Rome for validation and instruction.
Protecting the Institution and its hierarchs has taken priority over
serving the flock and healing the victims a case of goal
displacement parallel to what we see in secular institutions.
This is not the time or place to rub salt in these wounds. We seek
reconciliation, and appreciate the many good works of the RCC and
its communicants. Neither, however, is it the time for RCC spokesmen
to preach Holier than Thou. Denial and coverup have been
tried, and failed: it is time for disclosure and reform, a modern counterreformation,
if you will. We know the RCC can do it, for they did it before. If
allying with Georgists will help, many of us are ready to cooperate.
A-2. Specifics vs. Glittering Generalities
Georgists are specific some think TOO specific about
reform. Many of the religious, at the other extreme, expound
glittering generalities but resist getting down to brass tacks.
These religious are of all faiths, not just Catholic. Its
important to see the stars above, but I submit we must also keep our
feet on the ground, though the ground be muddy.
Rerum Novarum (1891) and its followup, Quadragesimo Anno (1931),
were more specific than most religions are at most times.
Quadragesimo Anno (Q.A.) especially came at a critical time when
nations everywhere sought radical reforms, and Q.A. pointed a way.
The problem was, many of these specifics did not turn out well.
In the U.S.A. Fr. Charles Coughlin, pioneer radio priest,
popularized both the Encyclicals as never before. Irish Catholic
laymen like Raymond Moley, James Farley, Joseph Kennedy, and James
Byrnes gained great power in the early New Deal, as did also Msgr.
John A. Ryan of the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC).
Their best-known product was the National Recovery Act (N.R.A), also
known by its logo, The Blue Eagle. NRA was a cartelization of
American industry supposedly modeled on Aquinas ideas of
guilds, elaborated in Q.A. The Agricultural Adjustment Act (A.A.A.)
was the farm counterpart. Both programs died, although A.A.A.
survives under other names.
Social insurance also fitted with Q.A., although Francis Townsend,
a dentist from Pasadena, led the movement, then considered far-out
and radical. Joe Kennedy led the new Securities and Exchange
Commission (S.E.C.), although it was understood his rule would be
mild. Generally, President Roosevelt (FDR) depended on votes from
big city machines, many of them run by Irish Catholics, and wove
their views into his policies. After Louis Howe died in 1936, Ed
Flynn of the Bronx became FDRs chief strategist, urging FDR to
the left, but still following advice from Q.A. The Moley Brains
Trust had pushed business cartels, modeled on Aquinas
merchant guilds (but also drawing on earlier work by Charles Van
Hise and Herbert Hoover). Flynn pushed the Wagner Act, empowering
labor unions, modeled roughly on Aquinas craft guilds. Senator
Robert F. Wagner, of Germanic ethnicity, was also a Roman Catholic.
In the postwar period some of the New Deal social safeguards have
been dismantled, with at least the tacit approval of the postwar American
Pope, Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York. Spellmans
mantra was anti-Marxism; his financial angels were Mr. and Mrs.
In Europe, the history of Q.A. was unfortunately bound up with the
growth of Fascism. Mussolinis corporate state
supported and was supported by Q.A. Worse, most of the fascist
dictators of Europe were cradle Catholics, and weaned on R.N. and
later, on its sequel, Q.A.: Antonio Salazar in Portugal, Francisco
Franco in Spain, Adolf Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy,
Arthur Seyss-Inquart in Austria, Msgr. Jozef Tiso in Slovakia, Ante
Pavelic in Croatia, Admiral Miklos Horthy in Hungary, Marshal
Philippe Petain in France
it is a long list, unrelieved by
There is an extensive literature on the cases above, and more.
Some of it is cited in my monograph on Fr. McGlynn; more is in the
appendix available on request.
A-3. Noblesse oblige in lieu of taxation
We saw above how the Alabama Baptist churches put down Bob Riley
and Susan Pace Hamill by arguing that an egalitarian tax system
would weaken their character as individual voluntary donors to the
poor. They also worried that the poor would regard welfare as an
entitlement, instead of charity, and not be properly grateful.
In European history, of course, the Catholic Church was the
welfare system of the middle ages, handling charity, medicine,
education, etc. These were to be financed by voluntary
contributions, and/or from the rents of church lands, which were
extensive and, since the church never sold, growing indefinitely.
Private landowners have ever preferred voluntary donations to
mandatory ones, since they may stop voluntary ones at any time.
The Catholic welfare system was perhaps workable when there was
just one church. Everyone belonged, everyone feared damnation,
everyone kicked in. Today, however, Catholics are a minority of the
population, with personal wealth and income below the average and
falling, as Catholic Latinos enter at the bottom of the
ladder. Besides Protestants and Jews there are now members of every
Asian faith, with higher incomes and better prospects than the
Latinos. Half the population of Beverly Hills, for example, is
now of Iranian extraction, along with the current Mayor. Conditions
are not right to replicate the Medieval system of Europe. Rerum
Novarum (R.N.) speaks of worker associations to provide welfare for
other workers, with no reference to property owners.
Our social security system works on that basis, too, which is why
it is so egregiously regressive. How about property owners?
A-4. Genetic differences
James Madison wrote as follows:
"The diversity in the faculties of men from which
the rights of property originate, is not less an obstacle to a
uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the
first object of Government. ...
"The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature
of man; ... the most common and durable source of factions, has
been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who
hold, and those who are without property have ever formed distinct
interests in society. ...
"To secure the public good, and private rights, against the
danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the
spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great
object to which our enquiries are directed: ..."
Federalist Paper #10
Leo XIII puts the same idea in Rerum Novarum, that differences in
wealth arise from differences in ability. The (mostly) protestant
champions of Eugenics believed the same.
In the French Revolution, likewise, the anti-clerical leaders of
the 3rd Estate used the Theory of previous accumulation,
meaning we all started free and equal, and then some saved more,
accounting for their wealth for the 3rd Estate represented
successful merchants, not proletarians. This idea harks back at
least to the Stoics and Epicureans, who saw it as an ahistorical
assumption. It evolved later into a self-evident axiom, requiring no
proof. "Rationalism is essentially unhistoric, even
anti-historic", said sociologist Franz Oppenheimer.
Since then social scientists have found that differences in wealth
are much too great to be explained that way. Marginal differences in
height, strength, speed, or intelligence cannot explain quantum
differences in wealth.
Academic Eugenics is rising again, in works like Murray and
Herrnstein, The Bell Curve; and Greg Clarks forthcoming A
Farewell to Alms. Georgist Robert Andelson, a Professor of
Philosophy and an ordained Protestant minister, also preached
Eugenics. The point here is that this issue is not peculiarly
Catholic. It may not be Catholic at all, any more, for it is not
clear that Leos rationale for inequality represents either a
majority or an official Catholic view today.
A-5. The doctrines of discovery and conquest
Europeans of all faiths used religion, among other things, to
rationalize their invasion and seizure of heathen and empty
lands around the globe. In 1095 Pope Urban II called for the
Crusades: "Wrest the land from the wicked race quoth he, and
subject it to yourselves." We are paying the price today. In
1208 Pope Innocent III blessed Simon de Montforts genocidal
internal crusade against the highly cultured but heretical
Albigensians and Waldensians of Toulouse and Languedoc. This paved
the way for Louis IX to annex southern France, and be sainted. Pope
Gregory IX then assigned to Dominicans the long task of mopping up
remaining heretics, beginning The Papal Inquisition. It took 100
years or more. In 1486 Pope Innocent VIII confirmed the act of his
predecessor Sixtus IV appointing Tomas Torquemada grand inquisitor
of several kingdoms of Spain which quickly spread into the entire
nation, routing out Moors, Jews, and various egalitarian heretics,
and of course seizing their lands.
In 1494 Pope Alexander VI (Roderigo Borgia) rather immodestly
divided the western hemisphere in two, between his native Spain and
Portugal, pole to pole. The indigenes were not consulted
heathens were a nullity. This presumption, however, was not
peculiarly Catholic. Soon Dutch, French and English empire-builders
(and a few Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Belgian, and Russian
brethren) sent their missionaries to convert the heathen they had discovered.
Protestant England built the widest empire of all, bearing the
white mans burden of civilizing savages and spreading
English versions of The Bible. Among other conquered victims were
the Catholics of Ireland, whose lands were divided among the Protestant
A-6. Doctrine of Original Sin
Original Sin is not a peculiarly Catholic doctrine. It is
prominently associated with John Calvin of The Reformation. New
England Puritans followed it. James Madison of Virginia was a
Calvinist: he believed in original sin, and set up checks and
balances to hold it and the popular will in check. The sin
he most guarded against was the sin of dividing landholdings among
all the people. He also tried to guard against an imperial
presidency, an issue that hangs in the balance today in spite of all
John Locke, whom most Georgists revere, did not believe in
Original Sin. In his classic Essay Concerning Human Understanding he
pictured the newborns mind as a blank slate, or tabula rasa,
to be filled up with experience and reflection, unblemished by
either sin or virtue. Locke also disputed the divine right of kings,
who at that time in England were the Catholic Stuarts, but that does
not make him anti-Catholic today unless modern Catholics
uphold the divine right of kings, which I doubt. It is from this
presumption of a free, self-authored mind that the Lockean
doctrine of "natural" rights derives, and Lockes
idea of property. The idea is that we own ourselves, and therefore
own what we produce with our own labor. (Here we will find a
distinct issue between Catholics and Georgists, treated later.)
The tabula rasa idea does seem to rule out original sin, but here
we must reckon with St. Thomas Aquinas, whose ideas Leo XIII
elevated as official Catholic doctrine. Aquinas expounded tabula
rasa long before Locke revived it. Aristotle (disputing Plato)
published it even longer ago, and of course Aristotle influenced
most of the early churchmen or scholastics.
George had a more optimistic view of human nature, hence his faith
in democracy, as direct as possible. This, however, is not a
peculiarly Catholic issue, since Calvin et al. shared the Catholic
belief in original sin, and the Catholic seer Aquinas expounded
Rousseau believed we are born good; Rome banned his works.
Machiavelli apparently believed people are born bad, and Rome also
banned HIS works. Perhaps there is some kind of consistency behind
that, but without more evidence it is not clear what the common
B. Issues that are peculiarly Catholic
B-1. Democracy vs. Authority
The word authority resounds through much Catholic
teaching, usually with a good ring. To many democrats and
libertarians and creative thinkers and scientists the ring is bad.
It evokes repression and tyranny and corruption of power and
backwardness. It calls up Crusades, persecutions, inquisitions,
Falangists, suppression of science, male chauvinism, tortures,
burnings, stonings, massacres of Anabaptists and Cathars and
Albigensians and witches, superstition, worship of relics and graven
a panoply of evils sponsored by authority.
It sounds un-American and, well, authoritarian.
On the other hand, it is true that democracy can degenerate into
plutocracy, as we observe today. Citizens are so easily bamboozled
into voting against their own interests, witness our
you fill in the blanks. The Age of Enlightenment, supposedly
democratic, actually fruited in the Age of Benevolent Despotism. A
philosopher and statesman like A.R.J. Turgot could see and speak the
truth more plainly and directly than democratic writers
like Locke and Adam Smith, for in England one needed a rich patron
whose personal interests were adverse to most other citizens.
Smiths patron, the Duke of Buccleuch, was Englands
biggest landowner. Smith had to tiptoe around His Grace to lay it
between the lines. He also had to reckon with his friend Charles Champagne
Charlie Townsend, author of the Townsend Acts, excise taxes
that helped trigger the American Revolution. Today, extension of our
democracy into unwilling foreign nations is widely
regarded as a sham, a cover for plutocratic imperialism,
petrolocracy, and kleptocracy.
Modern public schools, originally so promising, come increasingly
under the sway of small-minded petty bourgeoisie who suppress any
teaching about economic justice, and instead are reviving the
anti-scientific spirit of Dayton, Tennessee.
Turgot and the Physiocrats, some of the clearest economic thinkers
of all time, were part of the French monarchy. Turgot championed,
among other things, a school system where sound economic studies
(like his) would be required of all students. Napoleon, the
autocrat, probably did more to spread ideas of economic justice
around Europe than any democrat.
The ancient Jews set up a separate class of Levites who owned
little land, and whose job was to teach The Covenant to others who
Thus it is conceivable that the Catholic school system might
become a vay-hicle (as my Irish grandfather said it) for conveying
ideas of justice to a new generation of students. If so, however, it
would call for a different set of directives from the new Pope
Benedict XVI than we have seen so far.
B-2. Laissez-faire vs. Aquinas
Aquinas, endorsed by Leo XIII and all of his successors, believed
in substantial regulation of free markets, without much or any
confiscation or taxation of land rents. This belief was applied with
religious zeal in the 1930s in FDRs New Deal, and, with
a fascist twist, in Mediterranean and Central European nations.
Following the Great War it was reapplied, in more humane and pacific
fashion, in the social democracies, where leaders like Schumann, De
Gasperi, Adenauer, and others had learned their Encyclicals early
on. (English and Scandinavian socialism had other roots.)
Modern Georgists lean more towards laissez-faire, free markets,
and the price system. They count on taxing land values to achieve
social justice and economic security, free of vexing regulations and
bureaucratic intrusions. This remains a rather sharp difference that
we should jointly address and resolve.
It is worth remembering that the original Henry George, married to
a Catholic, allied with socialists in the election of 1886.
Following that, the extremists on both sides set to feuding until
their alliance exploded in faction. (One suspects the work of agents
provocateurs stirring up excitables, paranoids and fanatics on both
sides.) It is not that modern Thomists would accept the socialist
label, which to them carries baggage they reject. However, with a
little semantic sophistication on both sides, a little
distinguishing of the essential from the incidental, it should be
possible to unite on a common core of beliefs.
It is also worth remembering that the Mayors of Milwaukee from
1910-12, and again 1916-50, were nominal socialists who
implemented a good deal of Henry Georges program. Hard-core
socialists of New York dismissed them with the sneer of sewer
socialists. Daniel Hoan was also a Catholic. Socialist Norman
Thomas always included a Georgist plank in his platform. Upton
Sinclair fused Georgism with quasi-socialist programs.
Aquinas believed in just price, enforced by controls
if need be. Georgists who believe in the price system preach against
such controls. My advice is, leave that to ordinary neo-classical
economists, who do it every Sunday anyway, it is their main stock in
trade. Georgist time is too precious and our task is harder.
Remember, also, the reaction against Turgot when he suddenly
decontrolled the price of grain, 1774-76. Sometimes a good idea must
be sneaked in gradually. There are always ignorant and excitable
spirits out there, studiously stirred by calculating ones, to make
trouble for good leaders.
Aquinas would also cap interest rates, and Rerum Novarum and Q.A.
echo that. This is a tougher nut to crack. My first hope is that
most Catholics have moved on from this position. My greater hope is
that more people will realize that land speculators, above all men,
love low interest rates, because they push up land prices. This is a
point that ordinary neo-classical economists do NOT preach on every
Sunday; they are remarkably obtuse about it. All I can offer here is
that I will continue working on it, as I have for the last several
B-3. Protecting the Environment
In a pronouncement that political and church
leaders called an unprecedented religious defense of the
environment, His All Holiness Bartholomew I declared here Saturday
that the degradation of the natural world is "sin." The
remarks of the spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox
Christians were believed to be the first time that a major
international religious leader has explicitly linked environmental
problems with sinful behavior. Bryan Stammer, L.A.
Times, July 20 1997
Fancy that, it was the first time a major religious
figure called spoiling the environment a sin. In the
Vatican, crimes against nature has a different meaning,
one that the leaders obsess over while saying little about the
Georgists occupy an unique cockpit among economists because we
alone have insisted that land, the natural world, is different from
other assets, and must be husbanded and cherished. Malthusians have
also seen that land is limited, but they see only natural scarcity,
not the artificial scarcity that George highlighted, so Malthusians
focus on limiting population and immigration. Georgists are like
Catholics in refusing to endorse limiting population as the panacea
that Malthusians call it.
Georgists, however, are divided between old-line Georgists, whose
sole focus is on a land-value tax that encourages production without
stint; and new-line Georgists who see a role for user charges based
on such things as extracting exhaustible resources like groundwater,
congesting highways, and polluting the air. Based on the relative
ages of people involved, it is fair to predict that in a few more
years Georgism will have evolved into a more pro-environmental and
Meantime it is past time the Vatican redirected its energies from
damning homosexuality to damning rape of the Earth and pedophilia
among its own shepherds. Ivan Strenski, the Holstein Professor of
Religious Studies at the University of California, states that the
rate of AIDS among priests is four times the national average. I say
nothing about abortion because there is no clear Georgist
position on that tortured question, nor have I authority to declare
B-4. Ownership of the person and property
Georgists follow John Locke, who posited that we own ourselves and
therefore the things we make. That is the basis of property rights,
said Locke. In time it was fused with the labor theory of value, and
ran into trouble as said value theory did, but that is another
Catholics, in contrast, do not believe we own ourselves, Brian
Benestad writes. That makes suicide a sin, but suicide is rare so
that is hardly the main point. What it does is rationalize all forms
of taxation that take from labor. It would appear to rationalize
military drafts (although the levee en masse was introduced by
anti-clericals in the French Revolution). It would seem to
rationalize the old corvees and robots of continental Europe.
More recently, the idea we do not own ourselves helped rationalize
the payroll tax introduced in the peak of Catholic influence on The
New Deal. (Francis Townsend, who instigated the system, had wanted a
sales tax, which is bad enough, but at least raised money from
spenders other than workers.) Then it rationalized withholding of
taxes from payrolls (Beardsley Ruml, a Czech-American Catholic and
Rockefeller man, and Milton Friedman, supposedly a guru of low
taxes, teamed to introduce withholding). Note that Friedman and Ruml
subjected only wage income to withholding. Property income soon
evolved into the major tax shelter.
I am temporarily at a loss to wend my way through those stumbling
blocks, but I promise to keep trying. I hope my opposite number will
do the same. As a Georgist I abandon the notion that labor alone
creates wealth and capital. I attach no conditions, but what am I
offered in return?
C. Points of similarity and agreement
C-1. Natural Law and Rights; Justice
Both Catholics and Georgists give great weight to natural law and
rights. These ideas have been rejected by most of the intellectual
world, leaving Catholics and Georgists as natural allies to defend
Ironically, the Enlightenment philosophers, who are thought to
have undermined Catholicism with their Deism, also generally
believed in Natural Law and Rights. The world is wonderfully tangled
and complex, and in that complexity we can probably find ways to
support each other.
C-2. Mechano-mysticism in modern economics
Both Georgists and Catholics view much modern economic literature
as pretentious trash, and alas, the view is mutual, for most
professional economists today see us as outside the mainstream
mainstream meaning themselves. Our reasons for distaste are
nothing new, and were expressed long ago by Erasmus, In Praise of
Folly, by Spinoza, and by the very John Locke we have been
discussing. Here is Locke:
It is ambition enough to be employed as an
removing some of the rubbish been much more
that lies in the way to knowledge which certainly had advanced in
the world if the endeavors of ingenious and industrious men had not
been much cumbered with the learned but frivolous use of uncouth,
affected, or unintelligible terms
. Vague and insignificant
forms of speech, and abuse of language, have so long passed for
mysteries of science
that it will not be easy to persuade
either those who speak or those who hear them that they are but the
covers of ignorance, and hindrance of true knowledge.
Essay Concerning Human Understanding, The Epistle to the
Open almost any modern economics journal and you will see how
little the world has changed since 1690, in spite of Lockes
efforts. If the intellectuals ever heeded him, they have regressed.
Its a massive herd behavior, hard to stem.
The Catholic Journal of Social Economics is one of the few
journals that maintains some readability, and Notre Dame has long
been a haven for heterodox economists who strayed from
the flock. Alas, its administration finally caved under the pressure
of methodological correctness and reined in its heterodox Department
much as the U.C. Riverside Administration did 15 years ago.
The Georgist-inspired American Journal of Economics and Sociology
is another haven for independent individualistic writers. Perhaps
the editors of these two journals should get together and explore
their common interests.
C-3. Population Policy
Georgists and Catholics both deny that population control is the
panacea for apparent resource scarcity. The Georgist position is
perhaps better rationalized. It goes way back to Georges long
campaign to get good lands used better, with the corollary of
constraining settlement sprawl: not just urban, but also rural,
sylvan, extractive, hydraulic, and what have you. As noted above, it
needs tweaking today to incorporate the role of taxes based on
extraction and pollution.
I will let others articulate the Catholic position. To an outsider
it looks like a tradition too single-mindedly based on the sanctity
of the individual human life, without much thought for the aggregate
and long-term effects on human or non-human life. I hope there is
more to it, and some learned Catholic will supply the missing
I was pleasantly surprised, as I worked along, how few of the
stumbling blocks I had listed are peculiar to Catholicism; and how
many are passable. The ones listed in B may remain, but
I am optimistic that with good will on both sides we may find
pathways through them, or over or around or even under them, to work
together towards our common goals. I have not minced words to avoid
tough problems, but tried to define issues clearly as a prelude to
resolving them. Catholics of good will will not take offense, but
detect the search for reconciliation beneath my frank words. I look
to Catholic Georgists like Kelly, Kromkowski, and Dwyer to carry
this resolution further.