Monday, May 7, 2012

"Human Costs Always Include Economic Costs"

'As You Recall, In Our Last Exciting Episode'

I remember when some shows actually had an announcer say something like "as you recall...." Which is another topic. Probably for another blog>

My last two posts about "Caritas in Veritate" are a sort of lead-up to this post:
If you notice that I'm backtracking a bit in this post: don't worry. I haven't lost my place in the encyclical letter. I'll be referring to "Caritas in Veritate" 30, 31, and 32 because I see connections between them.

Authority, Research, and Me

Bear in mind, by the way, that I've got the authority of "some guy with a blog:" I don't speak for the Church. I've said that fairly often, partly because I can't know which of these posts of mine is the first one someone sees. One of my priorities is to not start spouting theological hooey online. And that's yet another topic:
That's not likely to happen. I'm careful about checking my information, link to resources that let you do your own research. I've also got an informal arrangement with some folks who keep an eye on what I've posted.

"Deeds Without Knowledge are Blind"

I think reason, knowledge, faith, and science, are important. I'm a practicing Catholic, so I'd better think that. We're supposed to think about our faith. We're also expected to make rational, informed decisions:
"...Charity does not exclude knowledge, but rather requires, promotes, and animates it from within...."

"...Deeds without knowledge are blind, and knowledge without love is sterile...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 30)

Getting the Big Picture

"...moral evaluation and scientific research must go hand in hand, and that charity must animate them in a harmonious interdisciplinary whole...."

"...among the causes of underdevelopment there is a lack of wisdom and reflection, a lack of thinking capable of formulating a guiding synthesis[78], for which 'a clear vision of all economic, social, cultural and spiritual aspects' [79] is required...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 31)
There's quite a bit more, and I haven't even gotten to today's section of "Caritas in Veritate" yet. I think one point that section 31 makes is that it's important to look at more than just one aspect of an issue. Being aware of details is important, too: but odd things can happen when someone doesn't see the big picture.

In the movies, being clueless about the 'big picture' can be funny. One of my favorite 'big picture' gags involves a deputy sheriff issuing a speeding ticket. To the pilot of a spaceship that crash-landed in a barn. The pilot, Blaznee, has green skin: and a head the size of a beach ball, with twin antennae:
Deputy Russell
"No license, no registration, no headlights, no plates, not taillights, no wheels, and I caught you going 3000 miles per hours, that's 2945 miles an hour in excess of the posted limit...."
"...$10 for every 5 miles an hour over the limit, [looks at calculator] ohh, you're going to do time pal. You may even get the chair for this."

"Maybe you better step back and get the big picture here."
(Script Act 3 "Spaced Invaders" fan site)
That's funny. My opinion. Your experience may vary.

Situations where folks in charge don't seem to understand what their outfit is supposed to be doing? That's not so funny.

Human Costs, Economic Costs

"...there is a convergence between economic science and moral evaluation. Human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 32)
I don't have a problem with managers and supervisors getting paid more than folks under their charge. I've been on both sides of that picture: and I'll gladly take a smaller paycheck, do my job, and let someone else do the hard work of coordinating the operation.

Done well, administration is really hard work. My opinion.

Then there are managers and supervisors of the clueless variety.

Dilbert comic strip, Scott Adams(January 18, 2005), used w/o permission
(Dilbert comic strip, Scott Adams(January 18, 2005), used w/o permission)

In Scott Adams' Dilbert comic strip, that's funny. Again, your experience may vary.

Real-life situations like that: not so much.

Insecurity, Productivity, and Ethics

I've said this before: In my opinion, ethical behavior is, in the long run, 'profitable' behavior. Sometimes we have to wait a long time before natural law kicks in, and I've been over that before. (April 26, 2012)

Back to "Caritas in Veritate," and why maintaining good working conditions makes sense:
"...Economic science tells us that structural insecurity generates anti-productive attitudes wasteful of human resources, inasmuch as workers tend to adapt passively to automatic mechanisms, rather than to release creativity. On this point too, there is a convergence between economic science and moral evaluation. Human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 32)
I think an important point here is that consequences go both ways. In a 'business' situation, if the boss decides to make folks work too long, too hard, or in dangerous conditions: those employees won't be able to do their best for the company. The same goes for the boss who insists that employees do something that simply doesn't make sense. My opinion.

Maybe more managers, supervisors, and executives, would act sensibly: if economic consequences happened faster. Then again, maybe not.

Moving on.

Dignity of the Individual and Economic Logic

In a way, this is more of the same. Ethical behavior 'pays off.' In the long run.
"..The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner[83], and that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone. All things considered, this is also required by 'economic logic'...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 32)

We Gotta Think?!

"...This requires further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals[84], as well as a profound and far-sighted revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its dysfunctions and deviations...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 32)
Maybe life would be simpler, if nobody had to think about what effect their actions have on others: or why we do what we do. Maybe. That's not the way things work, though. Not for someone who thinks that free will matters. (June 7, 2011)

I don't think we should all become navel-gazers. And that's still another topic. I do, emphatically, think that everybody can profit by stepping back from the daily routine now and then: and thinking about the effects working 40 hours a week, or 80, or whatever: and reviewing why goals are important.

Of course, there's the unsettling possibility that, on reflection, buying a house I can't afford, with money I don't have, to impress someone I don't like, isn't a very good idea. I've posted about the Sunday Obligation; and 'success,' real and imagined, before. (July 16, 2011, May 14, 2011)

I've mentioned this before: my teen years were in the '60s. I didn't look it, but I was one of 'those crazy kids' who weren't entirely sold on lockstep conformity and sacrificing 'whatever it took' to make more money.

In a way, no wonder I converted to Catholicism. And that's - good grief, yet again another topic.


One of the things about the Catholic Church that surprised me was:
  • The Church has a strong commitment to environmental and ecological issues
  • This commitment is logical
I was really at the Church's policy, since the sort of 'environmental awareness' I'd gotten used to tended to be of the 'telepathic pea plants' variety.

Here's how section 32 of "Caritas in Veritate" wraps up. This excerpt pics up at the end of the last one.
"...This is demanded, in any case, by the earth's state of ecological health; above all it is required by the cultural and moral crisis of man, the symptoms of which have been evident for some time all over the world."
("Caritas in Veritate," 32) [emphasis mine]
The sort of ecological responsibility the Church insists on is more like the old 'don't eat the seed corn' wisdom I grew up with. And that's - what else?? - another topic. I put links under Ecology, the environment, and Saint Francis of Assisi, below.
More posts about "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth)
"Caritas in Veritate"

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.