Monday, October 1, 2012

"New Kinds of Enterprise"

It's been a while since I wrote a "Caritas in Veritate" post:
Family business, literally and figuratively, took me out of town for a week. While filling in for the boss at a factory, I learned quite a bit about day-to-day operations at Spiral Light Candle. I also learned that I'm not a "40-year-old kid any more:"

Business, Technology, and Change

As I said last time, some things change. Transistors were cutting-edge technology in my youth. Quantum computers aren't available at the computer store here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota: but I'll probably have something using quantum mechanical phenomena on my desk eventually. And that's another topic.

Other things don't change. For example, stealing is a violation of natural law, whether the technology involved is a rock or the Internet.

More Than Just Profit

"Caritas in Veritate, 46, makes the point that doing business isn't the same as it was a few years ago. In a way, that's good news. We may develop new sorts of business enterprises: ones that don't fit neatly into the old 'profit/non-profit' mold.

Whatever form these enterprises take, Benedict XVI says that they can - and should - have a goal other than just making a profit:
"...Whether such companies distribute dividends or not, whether their juridical structure corresponds to one or other of the established forms, becomes secondary in relation to their willingness to view profit as a means of achieving the goal of a more humane market and society...."
("Caritas in Veritate, 46)

"New Kinds of Enterprise"

The Pope hopes that "these new kinds of enterprise" will find ways to fit into economic and legal structures in all nations. This wouldn't mean abolishing old-school 'for-profit' businesses, or forcing 'non-profit' outfits to make more money than they spend. The idea, I gather, is to add options to the existing legal and economic frameworks.

I think that's a good idea: but then, I'm okay with the idea that tomorrow won't be pretty much the same as yesterday.

Why Change?

Why try to change the way business works?

What we have today is not a perfect system, globally or regionally.

We can do better.

Wriggling out of the notion that what's been done before is the only way to make an economy work will give more folks more opportunities. I think that, in the long run, we'll all benefit by widening the definitions of how organizations can do business. As Benedict XVI put it, writing about these new types of enterprises:
"...they steer the system towards a clearer and more complete assumption of duties on the part of economic subjects. And not only that. The very plurality of institutional forms of business gives rise to a market which is not only more civilized but also more competitive."
("Caritas in Veritate, 46)

Something New

I've said this before, fairly often. The basic rules of the Catholic Church are quite simple:
These rules haven't changed. What has changed is how we apply them to the way we live.

Two thousand years ago, nobody donated money by visiting a charity's website. Two thousand years from now, folks will almost certainly have to be reminded that implications of 'everybody is our neighbor' still apply in whatever social, legal, and economic contexts we've developed by then.

Today, the job at hand is learning how to build new economic relationships in a world of about 7,000,000,000 people. I think it's a wonderful opportunity to let more folks get involved in trading goods and ideas. I also think it's going to take a lot of work.
More posts about "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth)
"Caritas in Veritate"

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

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.