Rorate Caeli

Politics - Papal reminders
An out-of-control Welfare State leads to out-of-control spending:
society needs genuine fraternal support

Leo XIII wisely taught "that God has left the limits of private possessions to be fixed by the industry of men and institutions of peoples." That history proves ownership, like other elements of social life, to be not absolutely unchanging, We once declared as follows: "What diverse forms has property had, from that primitive form among rude and savage peoples, which may be observed in some places even in our time, to the form of possession in the patriarchal age; and so further to the various forms under tyranny (We are using the word tyranny in its classical sense); and then through the feudal and monarchial forms down to the various types which are to be found in more recent times."

That the State is not permitted to discharge its duty arbitrarily is, however, clear. The natural right itself both of owning goods privately and of passing them on by inheritance ought always to remain intact and inviolate, since this indeed is a right that the State cannot take away: "For man is older than the State," and also "domestic living together is prior both in thought and in fact to uniting into a polity." Wherefore the wise Pontiff declared that it is grossly unjust for a State to exhaust private wealth through the weight of imposts and taxes. "For since the right of possessing goods privately has been conferred not by man's law, but by nature, public authority cannot abolish it, but can only control its exercise and bring it into conformity with the common weal."

Yet when the State brings private ownership into harmony with the needs of the common good, it does not commit a hostile act against private owners but rather does them a friendly service; for it thereby effectively prevents the private possession of goods, which the Author of nature in His most wise providence ordained for the support of human life, from causing intolerable evils and thus rushing to its own destruction; it does not destroy private possessions, but safeguards them; and it does not weaken private property rights, but strengthens them.
Pius XI 


The State has the further right to intervene when particular monopolies create delays or obstacles to development. In addition to the tasks of harmonizing and guiding development, in exceptional circumstances the State can also exercise a substitute function, when social sectors or business systems are too weak or are just getting under way, and are not equal to the task at hand. Such supplementary interventions, which are justified by urgent reasons touching the common good, must be as brief as possible, so as to avoid removing permanently from society and business systems the functions which are properly theirs, and so as to avoid enlarging excessively the sphere of State intervention to the detriment of both economic and civil freedom.

In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of State, the so-called "Welfare State". This has happened in some countries in order to respond better to many needs and demands, by remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. However, excesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoked very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the "Social Assistance State". Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.

By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending. In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and who act as neighbours to those in need. It should be added that certain kinds of demands often call for a response which is not simply material but which is capable of perceiving the deeper human need. One thinks of the condition of refugees, immigrants, the elderly, the sick, and all those in circumstances which call for assistance, such as drug abusers: all these people can be helped effectively only by those who offer them genuine fraternal support, in addition to the necessary care.

John Paul II 


NIANTIC said...

Whenever the State takes over the responsibilities of its citizens it crushes the human spirit and it becomes a dictatorship. It creates a nation of "takers" who become addicted to the "largesse" of government. Like robots they will dutifully pull the levers on election day for the party that "gives and promises" no questions asked.
They and their masters are the servants of Satan. They have become slaves and live wasted lives. Once a nation turns its back on God and His Laws it only speeds up its own destruction.
Sorry for this negative comment but the truth is staring us in the face (speaking of the USA specifically). One of the great scandals is the fact that a majority of those calling themselves Catholics vote for the party of death without blinking an eye. And that includes bishops and priests as well. Lord have mercy!

P.K.T.P. said...

Democracy is the culprit. Empower everyone equally and what you get is auction politics. The voters sell their votes for their own enrichment and the largest blocks win. Overall, the largest block is a majority of citizens but, since nobody knows if he will be in that block at any one time, everyone votes for universal social entitlement programmes. This then bankrupts the country, since the cost is too high to sustain. One added cost, of course, is the bureaucracy which performs the redistribution of wealth for each entitlement scheme. There is no profit motive for the Service and every aspiring administrator wants to rise by creating a new department having at least two new subordinates, for one could become his rival.

Once the country nears bankruptcy, the voters flee to the conservative belt-tightening parties. They accept small loss and pain today to avert something far worse (like Greece), and they hope that, somehow, others will suffer more than they do. It sets citizen against citizen.

When the entire society eventually crashes under a crushing debt, as it will, people reluctantly accept a dictator to restore order. These dictators do not belong to traditional families informed in the Catholic faith; they are not Christian princes. They are strongmen and tyrants. Enter Hitler and Mao and Stalin.

I'm not sure why I write this stuff. Who cares? Nobody will actually vote democracy down once it's entrenched, and the direction it takes a country is irreversible. Most people simply hope to die before the major crash comes. But most people do at least sense that a crash will come sooner or later. People do realise that every action has effects. Once your society has been deChristianised and secularised, nobody cares about others and nobody sacrifices for others. Everybody just tries to get what he can for himself. What you want is what you get. Nobody wants to suffer, so we 'get' free housing, free abortions, free education, free health care, and an easy way out called euthanasia.


Zak said...

Ah yes, which "particular monopolies" are preventing developments today? International oil companies. The business of oil itself is a monopoly now. Ah yes, national defense; that's another.

When will we have enough of their patent buy-outs of self-sustaining electromagnetic induction motors and the hundreds of other free-energy devices that obscure inventors have produced throughout the 20th century?

How many people want to live on 19th century heat mechanics technology for the next several centuries?

Africa sure can't. But that's probably intentional.


Apstemp said...


As much as I often skip your long statements, I do recognize you as being truly Catholic, and of good will.

I expect that you write this stuff so that people may reflect upon their current condition, and may turn away from their sinful lifestyles.

History has proven that we can only get bread and circuses for just so long. The modern era has shown that we are now our own barbarians. When the empire collapses, it will be ourselves who are doing the invading and the plundering, just as it will be ourselves who are beginning new monasteries to preserve knowledge, technology, and husbandry. Ultimately, it will be those with the Catholic culture and outlook that will save the nations, just as it was in the time of Noah, Moses, the Maccabees, the Apostles, and onward to our time.

Catholic Prophecy has much to say about this, and I expect that we will see much of it revealed and confirmed in the days to come.


A Canberra Observer said...

Zak raises an interesting point. States that eschew spending tax dollars for the commonweal in favour of the free market yet spend an extraordinary proportion of same tax receipts on defence must figure in this calculus somehow.

Mike said...

Excellent summary P.K.T.P. Thank you.

Hugh said...

Excessive state welfare and accessibility to it certainly causes learned helplessness among its recipients. The "begging-bowl" psychology is a socially rampant one in many welfare states. The very policies adopted by governments throughout the sixties onwards have created a form of mental disease among identifiable social groups.
However, looking at the figures for out-of-control spending, nothing can equate with the scandalous sums of public money squandered on armaments. This is further compounded by developed countries encouraging their poorer neighbours to ruin their own economic prospects by wasting their own scarcer resources on the same evil.

Matt said...

Now that we grasp the academics of this, what are we supposed to do with it? Discussing this with others only generates the same reaction with anything they consider political. You get nowhere with it and they vote for Obama or any other Damnocrat. As much as we dread it, prepare for a second term.