Chapiter 2 — Economics
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.”
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.
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.
is derived from two Greek roots: Oikia,
house; nomos, rule.
economy is therefore about the good regulation of a house, of order in
the use of the goods of the house.
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.
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.
thing is good when it attains the results for which it was instituted.
end of economics
engages in different activities and pursues different ends, in different
orders, in different domains.
is, for example, man's moral activities, which concern his progress
towards his final end.
activities influence the development of his intellect, the ornamentation
of his intellect, and the formation of his character.
participating in the general well-being of society, man engages in
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.
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
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
are all human needs.
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.
join goods to needs — this is the goal, the end of economic life.
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.
goal is to join goods to needs, not only just to have them close
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
is religion's place to intervene; it is a moral activity, not an
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Benedict XV wrote, “It
is in the economic field that the salvation of souls is at stake.”
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
Anno, May 15, 1931.)
is order everywhere — order in the hierarchy of the ends, order in the
subordination of the means.
is the same Pope who says in the same encyclical:
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.”
immediately after, the Holy Father adds:
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
the choice of the means to straighten a disordered economy, we will
therefore choose the means that will respect man's freedom.
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.
applies to all levels of social hierarchy, according to respective
it concerns the family, the domestic economy must seek the satisfaction
of the needs of all members of the family.
to the provincial economy, it must seek, within provincial jurisdiction,
the satisfaction of the temporal needs of all the province's
with the federal economy, it must satisfy human needs in what is within
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.
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
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.
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.
is the Social Credit philosophy. It is, at the same time, truly more
Credit decentralizes the financial system. Centralization, State
control, are the negation of democracy.
social and very human end of the economic organism is summed up in this
sentence of Quadragesimo
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.”
and EACH must be secured with all the goods that nature and industry can
end of economics is therefore the satisfaction of ALL of the consumers'
needs. The end is consumption; production is only a means.
make economics stop at production is to cripple it.
request from it the satisfaction of the needs of only a portion of
society, when goods glut warehouses, is unreasonable and inhuman.
abandon economics to hazard, to conflicting forces, is to capitulate
shamefully, and to deliver the people to the teeth of the strongest.