Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's Wrong with Austrian Economics?

Before your eyes roll to the back of your head to peruse its own lids, just stop and think for a moment. Settle yourself. Take a deep breath, and consider this. Does Jesus really care about everything that we do? I mean everything?!

If you're like me, then you're probably going to have to answer in the affirmative here. Jesus does care, and since economics is really just a study about human action in the realm of capital, money, investing, purchasing, etc., then Jesus cares about economics.

With that out of the way, then, if you are into Social Justice, what economic system we "buy into" really matters. Many Catholics, particularly of the "conservative" bent, have turned to Austrian economics as the Catholic economics because it emphasises, rightly, the importance of subsidiarity when so many other economic systems function either in the realm of big government interventions that are justified by socialist principles or into systems that are so far removed from the real and practical concerns of the individual as to make them useless guides to Christian behavior. These economic systems tend to make it difficult for a Catholic to balance solidarity with subsidiarity, those two great sisters of Social Doctrine.

The most popular advocate for Austrian economics is Thomas Woods, Jr. a Senior Fellow at the von Mises Institute and a devout Catholic. He has written several books on economics and the most popular of those have been The Church and the Market and Meltdown. Woods is an astute thinker most of the time. He was astute enough, at least, to abandon his radical traditionalist buddies. Woods co-wrote The Great Facade with Christopher Ferrara, radical traditionalist par excellence, which argues that the Second Vatican Council introduced a fake Catholic Church to the world, one which must simply be abandoned wholesale. However, Woods' passion for Austrian economics is likewise problematic. It is problematic not so much for what it affirms, but for what it denies.

In Church and the Market Woods' main thesis is that Austrian economics demonstrates beyond a shadow of doubt, that is it demonstrates to any right-thinking mature person of which camp he is of course a member that economics is a hard science which provides us with necessary and irrefutable truths about human activity. But that's not all. These necessary truths, these a priori facts, are so sound that should Catholic Social Doctrine advocate behavior that they irrefutably discovered to be harmful to persons, then Catholic Social Doctrine should be ignored. What, after all, does religion have to tell us about 2+2=4? Nothing.

This is dangerous stuff which Woods plays with, and unfortunately, after having read the book, I was left with more questions that before and a great deal of concern for Thomas Woods, Jr. These questions, though, lead me to investigate the roots of Austrian economics and praxeology, an invented science by Ludwig von Mises, who is considered one of the great founders of Austrian economics. Praxeology is the study of human action. At its root, then, Austrian economics is built upon a philosophical system in praxeology that needs to be investigated. In the following posts, I will try to do just this.

The most important point, however, is that I do this not because it's fun, or because I enjoy economic theory all that much. I do this because Jesus cares about what we do, everything! So I need to find out if Woods is right about Austrian economics and about praxeology. The goal, however, is always Jesus.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Contemplation Conundrum

I had a very interesting evening of conversation with a non-Catholic Christian friend of mine. There was all sorts of agreement on principles about this and that. What we disagreed about was the notion that reaching the highest state of contemplation, ala St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Thomas Aquinas, means that one is no longer capable of sin. That's right... no longer capable of sin.

I fear my Protestant friend is misreading these great saints, but not having read them, and or having read them so very long ago, I cannot say for sure where he is losing his way.

It did strike me, though, that this was just another form of the Protestant "once saved always saved" business. When God has created this relationship with an individual, so my friend argued, then why would He change His mind? Wouldn't he always want you to be with him and to be able to avoid sin? We went on into a tanget about whether God can change His mind at that point.

At any rate. He has promised to send me the pertinent passages for this debate. We shall see where they lead.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


My, but that was a long break, and goodness has this been a long...long year.

Well, it's not quite a year since I started this blog, but things certainly did go very, very screwy once I did.

Within the last year, since July of 2009 I've had three different job titles with three different job descriptions with three different offices. I began to feel like Milton.

The ups and downs have been tremendous, but in the last year I have also started to increase my notoriety for public speaking, radio work, writing, administering, and on and on. It has been a year of incredible growth, and not always the kind of growth that I had was always what the Master desired.

At any rate, now that I am a year older and a tad bit wiser, I do hope to be able to blog with some regularity, and cover the topics that I used to for that short period of time. These topics do center around the Social Doctrine of the Church, and I am more than sure that I will be "thinking out" several issues on the Social Doctrine on these pages. There is so much confusion out there and so little easily accessible guidance.

Do stay tuned and I will try to give my take on Caritas in veritate, the other works which I have read in the last year, Austrian Economics as that is laid out by Thomas Woods, Jr., and my take on a program for understanding the basics of the Social Doctrine. Peace.