Pillar: Business & Economics

Business & Economics

The fifth pillar, business and economics, is built upon concern for the common good and the ways in which the economic order contributes to—or detracts from—human flourishing. Public Discourse examines the ways in which the market is shaped by—and gives shape to—our understanding of the human person, the role of the family, the rule of law, and education and culture.

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Common Good Capitalism and the Dignity of Work

Common good capitalism is about a vibrant and growing free market. But it is also about harnessing and channeling that growth to the benefit of our country, our people, and our society. Because after all, our nation does not exist to serve the interests of the market. The market exists to serve our nation and our people. Adapted from remarks delivered at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America.

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Piracy, Protests, and the Problem of China

America’s relations with China should proceed from the recognition that the Chinese government is lawless. China flouts the rule of law, not occasionally or incidentally but characteristically, because the government understands itself as the source of law and unconstrained by it. The problem of China reminds us of the deeper laws that all nations must respect and that determine whether or not our positive laws are legally just.

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Immigration: Winners and Losers?

Attempts to discover the effect of immigration on government budgets are highly susceptible to the decisions economists make about how to measure all those benefits and costs and how to account for the effects on the indigenous population. The quick answer to “What is the effect of immigration on government budgets?” is “It depends on how you measure it.”

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Humane Development: Why Fundraisers Need the Liberal Arts

A new book argues that fundraising is not an independent activity external to the purpose of a non-profit, but an integral part of the existence and mission of the organization. Rather than becoming a class of experts, fundraisers should be well-formed persons and citizens, who can learn the craft of fundraising and practice it in a manner that supports rather than undermines the free and relational nature of civil society.

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Immigration: Can We Talk About This?

How do we determine the right level of immigration? Assuming the optimal number of immigrants per year is neither zero nor infinite, what is it? Five hundred thousand? One million? Two million? Five million? If we can start our discussion about immigration from a shared set of ideals, then we can begin the laborious task of determining the levels and types of immigration that will allow the continuation of the American experiment.

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Whither Humane Economics? In Defense of Wonder and Admiration in Natural Science

What is needed for a humane economics is not theological economics, but a rediscovery of the call to understand the world through an economic science replete with wonder and admiration—something missing in contemporary economics as much as in the drab theology of many ethicists. Properly delineated, this is not a rejection of ethics in economics, but a recovery of the normative dimension of reality.

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The Economics and Ethics of “Just Wages”

As with the concept of the just price, the idea of the just wage combines the subjectivity of the diverse needs and preferences of individuals with the objective demands of justice. The teaching of the Catholic Church on the just wage avoids both the Scylla of economism and the Charybdis of moralism.

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Thomas Aquinas on the Just Price

St. Thomas Aquinas’s treatment of the question of the just price is often misunderstood by both Catholic integralists and classical liberals. These misunderstandings deprive us of lessons that could otherwise help us combine the goods of freedom and virtue as individuals and in society.

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Putting Adam Smith Back Together

The choices underlying marketplace transactions are more complicated and less narrowly self-regarding than we often suppose. By returning to the full corpus of Adam Smith’s writings, we can escape economistic conceptions of human beings and enhance our understanding of how market economies actually work.

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Community-Based Businesses Help Tame Market Economy Excesses

Capitalism is an amoral economic system. An amoral economic system or “the free market” cannot guide human beings and their behavior. On the contrary, the market must actively be guided and tamed in order to ensure that it benefits communities. Supporting community-based and community-oriented businesses is one important way to achieve this end.

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What America’s Public Debt Crisis Says about Us and What We Can Do about It

Our personal habits and our political culture are not unconnected. When personal debt is at an all-time high, it seems unreasonable to expect that thrift would somehow become a public virtue. If we do not act responsibly with the budgets of our own families, it seems unrealistic to expect fiscal responsibility from those who are entrusted with spending other people’s money.

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Rewilding Civil Society

In conservation biology, a complex ecosystem whose health was slowly compromised over time can be revivified through a cascade of positive changes set in motion by reintroducing one of that system’s previous components. That’s exactly what today’s civil society needs, and conservative policymakers can help. We mustn’t shy away from using policy to achieve important ends—not just freedom, but the lessons, beliefs, and norms that make a free society succeed.

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If the Dalai Lama Ran General Mills

Business leaders are turning to the modern mindfulness movement to make their employees happier and more productive. But what is mindfulness? And do its practices really work if they are motivated by the desire for profit?

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Just Tariff Theory

The notion that tariffs are bad has been supported by world-renowned economists for centuries. Yet we are currently in the midst of a trade war. Maybe what we need is a Just Tariff Theory: a system to weigh the economic harms of tariffs against the political benefits they may have.