One of the more interesting aspects of the recent GOP presidential debates has been the astounding exhortation of extreme individualism, the notion that every person is in it for him or herself, and that government should not provide any sort of safety net or assistance to those in need (there is another debate tonight in Florida sponsored by Fox News and Google) . From Social Security to healthcare to workers’ rights to taxes, most of the Republican field eschews any affirmation of policies and programs that benefit public welfare. Anything the government does that may assist individuals is deemed socialist and un-American.
As the economy continues to stutter, the narrative of extreme individualism has become dominant, and talk of commonweal is sidelined. Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic notes that even Democrats try to frame their debate around raising taxes not in terms of something good for the whole, but as a mathematical equation:
These days, when you hear Democrats defend proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy, usually they argue about the numbers. We need more revenue in order to maintain vital government services, those who can afford to pay more should pay more, etc. And that’s fine as far as it goes.
This idea that every person is in it for him or herself should offend, or at least concern, Catholic sensibilities. The history of Catholic social teaching offers an abundance of resources about the need to develop societies that care for the least among us. While the church does not necessarily endorse any one way of doing this over another, its teaching is clear: we are all in this together.
September 23, 2011
Humane Economy | Tags: catholic, economy, humane, social, teaching |
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