Writing on the website Catholic Moral Theology, David Cloutier offers kudos to George Weigel for “offering [in his latest column] a forthright statement of the constructive and positive economic hopes that conservative American Catholics want.”
Dr. Cloutier, a theology professor at Mount St. Mary’s University, then puts forward three concerns with the column. His first, with a link I added:
Where is Blessed John Paul II’s prominent criticism of “superdevelopment” and consumerism? Where is Benedict XVI’s concern about “hedonistic lifestyles” devoted to moneymaking? . . . How is it that we get this kind of “shared prosperity” and economic growth without falling into crass consumerism?
Implied in [George Weigel's] comments is the idea that our welfare spending is tied to our unemployment. Get unemployment down, and we’ll be able to scale back welfare. But will we? At present, there are tens of millions of American households who are working, but who are also receiving substantial benefits in numerous forms. Why? Because they work at jobs that pay less than what is necessary to live on (the substandard wages are subsidized by things like the EITC and SNAP), and often do not provide benefits, most notably health care. . . . Let’s get real about just wages, and then we can talk about the dignity of work and the need to reduce welfare spending.
Mr. Weigel lauds (again, rightly) charitable giving. As he points out, Americans give $300 billion a year to charity. Lest one be too impressed, however, this is out of $10 trillion or so in annual spending. Not exactly a tithe here. [And] it is misleading to imagine that such giving all ends up providing charity care at the local soup kitchen or cover the rent of someone who has unexpectedly lost their job. . . . Moreover, this point overlooks the gaping canyon between need and actual donation.
For his fully developed arguments and generous quotations of John Paul II, go read the whole piece.