Chapiter 2 — Economics


When one talks about economy, one has a tendency to think of thrift, of savings. Have we not often been told: “Save your money, save your strength.”? We are clearly advised: “Save; do not spend.”

Nevertheless, we are also faced with the reflection: “Here is an economy which is not economical!” Thus, without being trained to the subtleties of the dictionary, people already grant a broader sense to the word economy.

For example, do not little girls of fourth-year primary school already study domestic economy? Going from domestic economy to political economy is nothing more than a question of extension.

The word economy is derived from two Greek roots: Oikia, house; nomos, rule.

The economy is therefore about the good regulation of a house, of order in the use of the goods of the house.

We may define domestic economy as good management of domestic affairs, and political economy as good management in the affairs of the large communal home, the nation.

But why “good management”? When can the management of the affairs of the small or large home, the family or the nation, be called good? It can be so called when it reaches its end.

A thing is good when it attains the results for which it was instituted.

The end of economics

Man engages in different activities and pursues different ends, in different orders, in different domains.

There is, for example, man's moral activities, which concern his progress towards his final end.

Cultural activities influence the development of his intellect, the ornamentation of his intellect, and the formation of his character.

In participating in the general well-being of society, man engages in social activities.

Economic activities deal with temporal wealth. In his economic activities, man seeks the satisfaction of his temporal needs.

The goal, the end of economic activities, is therefore the use of earthly goods to satisfy man's temporal needs. And economics reaches its end when earthly goods serve human needs.

The temporal needs of man are those which accompany him from the cradle to the grave. There are some which are essential, others which are not as vital.

Hunger, thirst, bad weather, weariness, illness, ignorance, create for man the need to eat, drink, clothe himself, find a shelter, warm himself, freshen himself, rest, to take care of his health, and to educate himself.

These are all human needs.

Food, drink, clothing, shelter, wood, coal, water, bed, remedies, the school teacher's teaching books — these are all factors that must be present to fulfill these needs.

To join goods to needs — this is the goal, the end of economic life.

If it does this, economic life reaches its end. If it does not do this, or does it badly or incompletely, economic life fails its end or only reaches it imperfectly.

The goal is to join goods to needs, not only just to have them close together.

In straight terms, one could therefore say that economics is good, that it reaches its end, when it is sufficiently well-regulated for food to enter the hungry stomach, for clothes to cover the body, for shoes to cover naked feet, for a good fire to warm the house in winter, for the sick to receive the doctor's visit, for teachers and students to meet.

This is the domain of economics. It is a very temporal domain. Economics has an end of its own: to satisfy men's needs. The fact of eating when one is hungry is not the final end of man; no, it is only a means to aim better towards his final end.

But if economics is only a means to the final end, if it is only an intermediate end in the general order, it is nevertheless a distinctive end for economics itself.

And when economics reaches this distinctive end, when it allows goods to join needs, it is perfect. Let us not ask more of it. But let us ask this of it. It is the goal of economics to achieve this perfect end.

Morality and economics

Let us not ask of economics to reach a moral end, nor of morality to reach an economic end. This would be as disorderly as to attempt to go from Montreal to Vancouver in the transoceanic liner, or from New York to Le Havre, France, by railroad.

A starving man will not appease his hunger by reciting his Rosary, but by eating food. This is in order. It is the Creator who wanted it this way, and He turns from it only by departing from the established order, through a miracle. He alone has the right to break this order. To satiate man's hunger, it is economics therefore that must intervene, not morality.

And similarly, a man who has a sullied conscience cannot purify it by eating a good meal, or by consuming copious libations. What he needs is the confessional.

It is religion's place to intervene; it is a moral activity, not an economic activity.

There is no doubt that morality must accompany all of man's actions, even in the domain of economics. But morality does not replace economics. It guides in the choice of objectives, and it watches over the legitimacy of the means, but it does not carry out what economics must carry out.

So when economics does not reach its end, when things stay in the stores or are not produced, and needs continue to be present in the homes, let us look for the cause in the economic order.

Let us blame of course those who disorganize the economic order, or those who, having the mission to govern it, leave it in anarchy. By not fulfilling their duties, they are certainly morally responsible, and fall under the sanction of ethics.

In effect, if both things are truly distinct, it happens nevertheless that both concern the same man, and that if one is immolated, the other suffers from it. Man has the moral duty to make sure that the economic order, the social temporal order, reaches its proper end.

Also, although economics is responsible only for the satisfaction of man's temporal needs, the importance of good economic practices has time and time again been stressed by those in charge of souls, because it normally takes a minimum of temporal goods to encourage the practice of virtue.

Pope Benedict XV wrote, “It is in the economic field that the salvation of souls is at stake.”

And Pius XI:

“It may be said with all truth that nowadays the conditions of social and economic life are such that vast multitudes of men can only with great difficulty pay attention to that one thing necessary, namely their eternal salvation.” (Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931.)

There is order everywhere — order in the hierarchy of the ends, order in the subordination of the means.

It is the same Pope who says in the same encyclical:

“This is the perfect order which the Church preaches, with intense earnestness, and which right reason demands: which places God as the first and supreme end of all created activity, and regards all created goods as mere instruments under God, to be used only in so far as they help towards the attainment of our supreme end.”

And immediately after, the Holy Father adds:

“Nor is it to be imagined that remunerative occupations are thereby belittled or deemed less consonant with human dignity. On the contrary, we are taught to recognize and reverence in them the manifest will of God the Creator, Who placed man upon earth to work it and use it in various ways in order to supply his needs.”

Man is put on earth by his Creator, and it is from the earth that he has the duty to wrest satisfaction of his nature's needs. He does not have the right to shorten his life by doing without the goods that his Creator has put on earth for him.

To make the earth, the earthly goods, serve all of mankind's temporal necessities is exactly the proper end of man's economic activities: the adaptation of goods to needs.

Features of a human economy

Since men are beings who, by nature, live in society, a really human economy must be social. It must serve all members of society.

An economic organization that would allow the use of earthly goods to serve the needs of only a few, leaving the others in privation, would certainly not be social;  it would therefore be inhuman.

If some members of society are practically banished from the economic benefits of society, and allowed, only grudgingly, what is strictly necessary to prevent them from rebelling against it, being treated rather like enemies to be pacified than like entitled members, the economic system is not human, but monstrous. This is an economic society of wolves.

In the jungle, in the struggle for life, the strong win and the weak disappear. Such a law is inadmissible among people, who are intelligent and social beings. A struggle for life among human beings can mean nothing but a collective struggle against common enemies: the wild beasts of forests, ignorance, the adverse elements. A really human economy must be based on the co-operation in life.

On the other hand, human beings, if they are social, are also free beings. And if a human economy must ensure the satisfaction of the essential needs of all men, it must do it without getting in the way of the person's free blossoming.

The economy must not do violence either to sociability or to genuine freedom. A society of men is not a herd. An economy that sets conditions for the right to life on enrollment, is not human; it goes against man's nature.

In the choice of the means to straighten a disordered economy, we will therefore choose the means that will respect man's freedom.


If the end of economics is a temporal end, it is therefore also a social end, to be reached socially. If it must satisfy man's temporal needs, it must satisfy the temporal needs of ALL men.

This applies to all levels of social hierarchy, according to respective jurisdictions.

If it concerns the family, the domestic economy must seek the satisfaction of the needs of all members of the family.

Passing to the provincial economy, it must seek, within provincial jurisdiction, the satisfaction of the temporal needs of all the province's inhabitants.

Likewise with the federal economy, it must satisfy human needs in what is within federal jurisdiction.

Encompassing the world economy, it is important that some connecting organism exists between nations, an organism respectful of the constituting parties' autonomy to orient the world economy towards the satisfaction of the temporal needs of all men. The earth was created for all mankind.

But a good organization of society makes sure that the satisfaction of the temporal needs of ALL be effected as completely as possible within the circle of inferior levels, organisms in the more immediate contact with individuals.

So, instead of substituting itself for the family, to help the indigents, the State would be much wiser to legislate and organize the economic order in such a way that the family can itself respond, as perfectly as possible, to all of the needs of the members who compose it.

So, instead of substituting itself for the province, under the pretext that the provincial treasuries are broken and incapable of providing for immediate needs, the Federal Government would be much more in order if the provinces had financial means in keeping with their real wealth.

This is the Social Credit philosophy. It is, at the same time, truly more democratic.

Social Credit decentralizes the financial system. Centralization, State control, are the negation of democracy.

The social and very human end of the economic organism is summed up in this sentence of Quadragesimo Anno:

“Only will the economic and social organism be soundly established and attain its end, when it secures for all and each those goods which the wealth and resources of nature, technical achievement, and the social organization of economic affairs can give.”

ALL and EACH must be secured with all the goods that nature and industry can provide.

The end of economics is therefore the satisfaction of ALL of the consumers' needs. The end is consumption; production is only a means.

To make economics stop at production is to cripple it.

To request from it the satisfaction of the needs of only a portion of society, when goods glut warehouses, is unreasonable and inhuman.

To abandon economics to hazard, to conflicting forces, is to capitulate shamefully, and to deliver the people to the teeth of the strongest.


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