5.2.7 Questions for discussion half way through unit
Back to 5.2.6
(a) Are there ways in which the financial and economic crisis of the years from 2008 affected you personally, whether directly or indirectly?
(b) The ‘universal destination of material goods’ can sound like a very abstract idea – but discuss what it should mean in practice for (i) people with savings to invest, (ii) small business owners, and (iii) directors of large corporations.
(c) How can prophetic critique of abuse of economic power be made today?
Who should make it?
What experience do you have of such positive benefits?
Do you also have negative experience of business, whether as an insider or from the outside (e.g. as a consumer)?
What is needed in the way businesses are run if their potential positive benefits are to be realized?
(e) CST now holds that charging of interest on loans can be distinguished from usury. How can this distinction be made in practice?
In Australia there is a legal cap on the interest rate that ‘pay day lenders’ – that is, lenders of small amounts to people on low incomes – can charge, of 4% per month (48% per year). Is such a cap a good idea? Do you think it could ever be justifiable to charge an interest rate higher than 48%?
(f) The first half of this unit has brought out that CST is strongly pro-business while arguing for a form of market economy that is not, in the strict sense, capitalist.
At the end of 5.2.5, I raised the question: what should such an economy be called? Discuss the relative merits of the possible labels below and of any others you can suggest.
- ‘Market economy’, ‘free economy’, ‘business economy’: these are John Paul II’s three suggestions in Centesimus Annus, #42.
Here are some other possibilities:
- ‘common good economy’
- ‘shalom economy’ – after the word in the Hebrew Bible for human wellbeing
- ‘solidary market economy’ – after the term that is sometimes used to sum up CST’s overall position, ‘integral solidary humanism’ (Compendium, #327), and because such an economy embodies solidarity
- ‘integral market economy’ – for that same reason and because such an economy contributes to integral human development
- ‘social market economy’ – because in it markets are to benefit the whole of society, not just individuals
Maybe you have a better suggestion than any of these.
What is needed is a simple, clear label that puts across that CST’s economic position is both contrary to capitalism (in the strict sense) and pro-market.
What should it be?
End of 5.2.7
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